Saturday, December 09, 2006

MLK and the apple tree

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

This quote illustrates a hope in God in the face of disaster that I find quite inspirational. Every small enacted hope requires faith in the God who raises the dead and calls into being the things that are not (Romans 4.17). Such a faith neither desperately clutches at the present out of fear of change and loss, nor does it need to reject the present as irrelevant in the light of impending catastrophe. The good gifts of today can be celebrated without idolatrous hoarding or thankless world-denial. Although Stoic thought (and some forms of Eastern philosophy) would counsel us to minimise our desires to avoid the pain when (as is almost inevitable) they are frustrated, Christian hope is free to love deeply, to mourn keenly, to yearn fearlessly.


Anonymous said...

It's a quote that means a lot to me, but it's the original Luther, not MLK. A kind commenter on my blog posted the original: "Und wenn ich wüsste, dass morgen die Welt in tausend Stücke zerbräche, ich würde heute noch einen Baum pflanzen.":When I would know, that tomorrow the world will break up in thousand pieces, I would plant a tree today.

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Thanks to Rev. Sam. I am something of a King scholar and wasn't familiar with this quote. However, it has his spirit so perhaps he quoted his namesake at some point.

byron smith said...

Rev Sam - I too had thought it was Luther, but do you have a reference? I did a little web-scouring and most places seemed to indicate that it has been widely attributed to Luther, but first appears in 1944 attributed to a priest named Karl Lotz (see e.g. here) and that it was MLK who popularised it. I wonder whether it mightn't have shifted back to his namesake when it was known that he hadn't come up with it.

Anonymous said...

i feel quite useless in the face of such deep and heavy things. this poem/hymn cuts to my quick at such times, and i'd like to pass it on [were that any words of mine could ever be this beautiful].
many, many prayers,

My goal is God Himself - not joy, nor peace
Nor even blessing, but Himself, My God.
'Tis His to lead me there, not mine, but His -
"At any cost, dear Lord, by any road!"

So faith bounds forward to its goal in God
And love can trust her Lord to lead her there;
Upheld by Him, my soul is following hard,
Till God himself hath full fulfilled my deepest prayer.

No matter if the way be sometimes dark,
No matter though the cost be oft-times great,
He knoweth how I best shall reach the mark -
The way that leads to Him must needs be strait.

One thing I know, I cannot say Him nay;
One thing I do, I press towards my Lord:
My God my glory here from day to day,
And in the glory there my Great Reward.

(source unknown)

Anonymous said...

Nope - no reference - it was my memory originally, and I relied on that commentator (see my post) who gave me the original. Perhaps we should send him an e-mail to get the source!