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In his words: Excerpts from ‘Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land’


1:00 P.M. EST Feb. 21, 2011 | ATLANTA (UMNS)

“Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land” is the first book by the the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
“Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land” is the first book
by the the Rev. Joseph Lowery,
who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
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On the death penalty

I think sin is involved in the death penalty. It is crystal clear that no human being has the right to take another human being’s life. This is the principal of capital punishment—seeks to defend. But it’s really the principle that capital punishment corrupts. The time has come for us to renounce violence.

On the power of voting

Don’t let anybody fool you. It is important. It is significant. It is essential. And if you do not vote, you are not a good Christian. … I think folks who don’t vote are flirting with hell. Because what you are doing is not using that which people fought, bled and died for and what God gave us.

‘Stir what you’ve got’

What Paul told Timothy in his second letter was this: “Timothy I know you are wrestling with some problems, but I want to remind you to stir up the gifts of God that I know are within you.” A lot of us are like Timothy; worried about what we don’t have when we are not using what we do have. God has given us what we need. Just stir up what you’ve got.”

At Rosa Parks' memorial service

I was there when Rosa Parks started and I wanted to be there when she departed. … Ceremony is a fitting tribute; it’s translating thoughts into words and symbolic acts. But the truth of the matter is that ceremonies end with the benediction. You can’t do justice to Rosa Parks letting your tribute end in ceremony. You have to move from ceremony to sacrament. Sacrament takes up where ceremony leaves off.

Celebrating Coretta Scott King

What a family reunion! Lord, just the other day I thought I heard you say, “Coretta, my child, come on home. You’ve earned your rest. Your body is weary. You’ve done your best.” Her witness and character, always strong. Her spirit, a melody from heaven’s song. Her beauty, warm like the rays of the sun. Good night, my sister. Well done, well done.

The inaugural benediction

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back; when brown can stick around; when yellow will be mellow; when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. Let all those who do justice and love mercy say, Amen.

—Excerpts from “Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land,” used by permission of Abingdon Press © 2011.

Back to: Civil rights icon Lowery launches book

Civil rights leader Lowery shares sit-in story

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