Strength to Love was published in 1963. It is a compendium of Dr. King’s sermons on peace, nonviolent protest, activism, and love.
The strong man holds in a living blend strongly marked opposites. The idealists are usually not realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not generally known to be passive, nor the passive to be militant. Seldom are the humble self-assertive, or the self-assertive humble. But life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony. The philosopher Hegel said that truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in the emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.
Jesus recognized the need for blending opposites. He knew that his disciples would face a difficult and hostile world, where they would confront the recalcitrance of political officials and the intransigence of the protectors of the old order. He knew that they would meet cold and arrogant men whose hearts had been hardened by the long winter of traditionalism. … And he gave them a formula for action, “Be ye therefore as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” … We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.
As the first volume of sermons by an African American preacher widely available to a white audience, Strength to Love was a landmark work. His fusion of Christian teachings and social consciousness remains in print and continues to promote King’s vision of love as a potent social and political force for change, the efficacy of religious faith in surmounting evil, and the vital need for true human integration. This volume brought to the forefront King’s identity as a compelling, well educated, and compassionate preacher at a time when many whites knew him only as a civil rights leader. (“Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle,” Stanford University Civil Rights encyclopedia.)
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