scarce in this neighborhood

“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!” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Last week, I said I wanted to talk about fear on this blog. And wow, what a way to start. With a man who was more afraid to miss God’s will than to die. I wish I could say that was my life, too. But I can’t. God’s still working.

Who hasn’t noticed the huge resurgence of superhero movies the last year or two? (I swear this relates to MLK, trust me.) It seems that if comic books ever created one, there’s been a recent movie about him/her. Or will be in 2013. 

I’m thinking maybe the best way to finally secure my financial future in writing is to find some obscure superhero and turn him into a movie. There’s got to be one left no one has grabbed. Maybe I’ll go with the one a friend invented several years ago, Captain Never On Time, the distracted superhero. I think I’d find him easy to write.

But why the sudden interest? I wonder if maybe we’re looking for a hero. We know they’re an endangered species. We seek one. At the same time, we don’t believe in them. Which makes the search kind of challenging. Witness the “new” superman logo above. No longer super–more dark and uncertain (

And maybe we don’t believe in them because, looking into our own hearts, we know there is little commitment there to go beyond our comfortable lives and really seek the promised land. A wish, perhaps. A deep desire. But a commitment that puts that vision above the fear? I wonder if we’ve lost it in this century.

Honestly? I think MLK Jr would be appalled to witness us all too willing to post Facebook messages about how much we hate the injustice of the world (or our personal version of injustice) but be extremely skittish about putting our time, pocketbooks, or reputations on the line to actually seek the Promised Land. Never mind our busy lives. And I am one of the guilty.

As was said in the movie I saw the other night,

 “I tried to find one (a hero); but warriors are busy fighting one another in distant lands, and in this neighbourhood heroes are scarce, or simply not to be found.” (Gandalf, The Hobbit) 

I think that’s the appeal for me of my favorite pieces of literature. Frodo and Sam were more afraid not to do what they were meant to do than to die trying. Jean Valjean was more afraid not to be the good man God spared him to be than to face imprisonment and death. I find those the compelling stories of my reading life. I want them to be the stories of my real life. I want to see the vision of  the Promised Land and not be afraid to say, “That’s where I’m going.” Whether or not I make it doesn’t really matter, because it’s pointing my face the right way and keeping it there that matters. No matter what.

That’s what King understood. That’s what made him a hero. Lord, give us more women and men who understand.

4 thoughts on “scarce in this neighborhood

  1. Yep, it' that clinging when we can't see how long it my be that makes people great. I've always loved the passages in Hebrews 11 that remind us of the heroes who never saw what they believed in, but still believed.


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