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Passover, Martin Luther King, and Labor

Monday, April 06, 2015
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Event Type:
David Giesen
Location Details:
Muddy Waters Cafe
521 Valencia St.

Drop in on a reading/study group plumbing the justice details of Leviticus, part of the book most influential in Martin Luther King's career, and the book which shaped the voices of Amos and Hosea, the men inspiring Cornell West's Black Prophetic Fire. This is not a religious studies group, it's an intellectual bootcamp exploring the nitty-gritty economic and social mandates of the Hebrew Bible.

The Exodus story provides inspiration for any people desirous of freedom. The constitution which the Hebrews adopted subsequent to the legendary Exodus enumerated social mandates that make all demands of today's Labor Movements pale!

An intellectually honest approach to appreciating MLK and the great sweep of Black Liberation history in the US would have to include a (re)reading of the book which inspired so many of the 19th century spirituals and so much of 20th century Black Church and civil rights liberation rhetoric, and yet which so few otherwise earnest, liberal, progressive do-gooders have taken account.

The world's first documented constitutional society was in ancient Israel. The collection of history, stories and homilies known as the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament depicts a community which strove to adhere to a constitution which in many significant respects could well inspire and point the legislative direction for today's social justice advocates.

periodic (7 year) debt abolition
mandatory (!) vacation time
universal land enfranchisement
mandatory social security
no tax on work

Taken together, these five laws in ancient Israel resulted in a staggeringly huge middle class, almost no bureaucracy, universal literacy (on par with Cuba), and an astonishing absence of hierarchical governance and society.

"Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land.
Tell old Pharaoh, Let my people go."
Spiritual, first published c. 1862

"Like anybody, I would like to live - a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." MLK, 1968

These are words that touched hearts, launched action, and which only hint at the depths of specific freedom legislation which the Hebrew Law in the Bible book of Leviticus enunciated.

You are invited to join The Commons SF in a secular reading of several texts treating the sociology of the Bible without dependence upon supernatural forces, reading for profound lessons to be learned by justice advocates today. Louis Wallis' "Sociological Study of the Bible" and John Kelly's "The Other Law of Moses" will be supplied.

For more info: info [at]
Added to the calendar on Sun, Apr 5, 2015 5:35PM
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