God, Sex, and Dazzling Sentences

“I’m fucking for God.”

I didn’t say it. Martin Luther King Jr did.

(IF possibly imaginary CIA wiretaps-and-transcripts and biographers Taylor Branch, Marshall Frady and “friend” Ralph Abernathy are to be believed.)

I read that line twenty-two years ago and never forgot it.

I was fifteen. I’d just seen MLK’s “I have a dream” speech. Water was in my eyes and fire was in my loins. I was moved by his passion. I wanted more of him. I wanted him.

Alas, he was dead.

And so the biography aisle at the local library would have to do. I was ready to be inspired by his larger-than-life excellence, righteousness and heroics: Time Magazine Man of the Year (1963). The Nobel Peace Prize (1964). The Civil Rights Movement. Loving husband. Devoted family man. Divinely-inspired poet/preacher. Martyr.

Oh yes, I wanted lots of that hot stuff.

Greedy, I started with the biggest, thickest book (that’s the way I like most things).

I was looking for the story behind those soul-stirring speeches and unflagging commitment to justice. I was looking for a manual of how I too could become that extraordinary and selfless. I was looking to worship a hero.

Instead, I read pageafterpageafterpageafterpageafterpage (you get the idea) detailing my beloved MLK’s affairs, orgies, and just plain lewd talk.

Now, that wouldn’t phase me. Some might even say I like that sort of thing. But then…

Then I was fifteen, idealistic, and a virgin. Then it was all very simple – and confusing.

And so I’m still mad at the writer of that biography. I was convinced he was lying. I suspected he was a sheet-wearing racist who wanted to discredit a great man – because you’re either a great man or a cheater. I hadn’t yet expanded my morality to include both/and. It was either/or. And so MLK had to be one or the other: how could he be a man of God and a man fucking for God?

I can’t remember the name of that writer or the title of that book but I still remember that sentence.

‘Course, the biographer can’t really take credit for it – that’s (allegedly) allllll MLK, baby – but it has stayed with me and formed the basis for two of my pet theories:

For connection. For communion. For ecstasy. For transcendence. For rapture. For redemption.

And maybe for some holy words.

Like: I love you.

Or: Love each other.

Because in the beginning was The Word.


Sunday School for Sentences will be a sixteen-part series. Missed one? Here they are:

  • Prologue: God, Sex and Dazzling Sentences
    1. Sunday School for Sentences #1: Explain the Expected in Unexpected Ways
    2. Sunday School for Sentences #2: The (Textual) Reverse Cowgirl
    3. Sunday School for Sentences #3: Object Lessons (from Kanye West and JD Salinger)
    4. Sunday School for Sentences #4: How to Give Good Quote
    5. Sunday School For Sentences #5: Why You Should Write Bad Poetry
    6. Sunday School for Sentences #6: Two Damn Fine Writing Tips
    7. Sunday School for Sentences #7: There Are No Magic Words
    8. Sunday School for Sentences #8: How To Execute a Climax or Series of Climaxes. I’m talking About Writing. Mostly.
    9. Sunday School for Sentences #9: Thread the Grommets, Lace the Corset, Feed the Rabbits
    10. Sunday School For Sentences #10 – Work It
    11. Sunday School for Sentences #11: The Pigs In Space Edition
    12. Sunday School for Sentences #12: Screw SEO. I Write (Wackadoo Titles) for PEOPLE, Not Search Engines. And So Should You.
    13. Sunday School for Sentences #13: How to Write an Intimate Cosmology of Cheesecake, Cheesecake Shots (or not) and Shoplifting
    14. Sunday School for Sentences #14: What Picasso And Dave Chappelle Know about Writing. For Realz. 
  • About the author

    Kelly Diels I'm Kelly Diels. I'm a writer. I've written for Salon, Jezebel, XO Jane, Problogger, Write to Done and more. I'm currently working on a book about The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand. Interested? Please subscribe to my newsletter and I'll share more thoughts and chapters with you as I write them. You can also find me on Facebook and yes please, please do.