This presentation will address Dr. King's triplet social evils in the U.S: racism, poverty, and militarism. First, I will briefly introduce the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and place him in the historical context of his African American Baptist tradition, the civil rights movement, and the war in Vietnam. Second, I will analyze the political impact of King’s prophetic mysticism in addressing the three social evils in the 1960s. And third, I will conclude with how King impregnated the civil rights movement with a vital philosophy in which spirituality and social justice are seen as both well integrated through his deeds and words. King never wrote his prophetic social writings in isolation from his religious and cultural environments. Rather, King needs to be seen in the light of a continuous line of prophetic mystics that are primarily rooted in the Judeo-Christian biblical tradition, and yet not completely deprived of other possible influences coming from Asia, namely King’s method of nonviolence owed his influence to the Indian sage Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as the Mahatma (or “great soul”).
Dr. Cristóbal Serrán-Pagán y Fuentes is Full Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and has taught undergraduate students at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, since his arrival in 2007. Dr. Serrán-Pagán is a member of The International Thomas Merton Society since 1997. He has served as an advisor and co-chair to the Robert Daggy Scholarship Program for many years. He was a recipient of the Daggy Youth Scholarship program (1997) and the Shannon Fellowship (1998). He is the editor of the Thomas Merton series, Merton and the Tao: Dialogues with John Wu and the Ancient Sages (Fons Vitae, 2013) and the author of Saint John of the Cross: His Prophetic Mysticism in the Historical Context of Sixteenth-Century Spain (Pacem in Terris Press, 2018). He is a regular contributor to Merton conferences in Europe (England, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Poland), Argentina, Canada, and the United States. His publications include articles on Merton and the Spanish mystics in Thomas Merton: A Mind Awake in the Dark (Three Peaks Press, 2002) and Seeds of Hope: Thomas Merton’s Contemplative Message (Cistercium-Ciem, 2008), Merton on Dr. King, D. T. Suzuki, and Thich Nhat Hanh all published in The Merton Seasonal. He got two articles published in the peer-reviewed journal The Merton Annual for the International Thomas Merton Society (ITMS): one article is Panentheism in Thomas Merton and Teilhard de Chardin (2021) and the second article is Divine Mercy in Merton and in St. John of the Cross (2017). His most recent publications include articles on St. John of the Cross in Religions (2020), Merton and Zhuangzi in Paidagogos --Society for Philosophy, Theory & Praxis of Education (2017), 7 entries of the Thomas Merton Encyclopedia (2015) translated into Spanish (now found in the Diccionario de Thomas Merton), one article honoring Merton's Centenary in We are Already One (2015), and the last article published on Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh by Studia Anselmiana 182/Analecta Monastica 21 in Rome (2020). He is the guest editor for the special issue on “Spanish Mysticism” in the peer-reviewed international journal Religions.
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