Friday, August 20, 2010

Burning with hatred

If it wasn’t such a sick and tragic issue, I would have found the headline from CNN’s website quite funny:

‘Burn Quran Day’ an outrage to Muslims

Next thing you know, CNN will feel the need to tell me that it gets hot in the summer here in Florida. Or, that it tends to be darker at night than it is during the day.

Occasionally, I use this blog for “shooting fish in a barrel.” That is, for speaking out against statements or events which are so egregious that I can’t imagine anyone not objecting to them. At least, not anyone who might be reading this blog. Even though it might be a bit self-congratulatory, I still think it’s worth it – how many times have we heard “where were the voices of dissent from X on issue Y” after the fact? It seems that, as a religious leader, it’s important to go on record (however small that record may be) as being against horrifically awful things, especially at a time when many are not against those horrifically awful things. This is such a time.

What possible justification could there be to burn the Quran? What religious impulse drives someone to condemn all Muslims, of all stripes, as a religion “of the Devil”? What possible good can come of this? It is, plainly and simply, disgusting.

I’ll admit, I usually get a rather mild sense of self-satisfaction from these “fish in a barrel” posts. It feels good to be out and vocal on issues of tolerance. It feels good to condemn bigots. Usually. Not this time.

This time, for whatever reason, it feels inadequate.

I don’t know what else to do, so I’ll do this blog for now. I am, in all likelihood, modifying my sermon tonight to include this. And, like I am right now, I’ll call on people to do something. Write a letter to your paper. Post something on Facebook. Blog about. Talk about it.

And, if you happen to know any Muslims, make sure that they know that you find this sacrilegious, and disgraceful. I can’t imagine how painful and lonely it must feel to watch someone burn your sacred book, and call you evil*. Make sure that our friends and neighbors know that they are not alone, and that we won’t stand for hate.

* As I finished typing those very words, I went back and read the rest of the CNN article (it was too sickening to read entirely, at first). I discovered that, ever the ecumenical hater, Pastor Terry Jones has agreed to also include a couple of copies of the Talmud in his little extravaganza. So, I may get the chance to find out exactly how it feels, after all.

From the CNN article:

The Founding Fathers were also inspired by Christian thinkers like John Locke, who declared that the true Christian's duty was to "practice charity, meekness, and good-will in general toward all mankind, even to those that are not Christians."

Pastor Jones, should you happen to read this, please, be American, and be Christ-like, and practice good-will in general toward all mankind.

1 comment:

msands said...

Behind on my blog reading as usual, so my apologies for being a bit slow on the uptake here, but I'll take opposite (or perhaps more correctly the agnostic) position.

Who gives a $#!% what a bunch of fanatics (of any stripe) burn? Burn the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Talmud, the U.S. Constitution (include the Bill of Rights for Extra Irony!), Catcher in the Rye, the Collected Works of Shakespeare, Where the Red Fern Grows, old copies of Mad (or Playboy) Magazine, or the stupid advert circulars that fatten our Sunday newspapers (my favorite for camp fires), what difference does it make? If -- IF -- there is "[T]truth" in any of those publications, how could it or its ostensible accompanying wisdom possibly be diminished in any way by the mere childish symbolism (for that's all it is at the end of the day) that some people insist upon attributing to (or seeing in) a pointless act of arson? Truth, if indeed it exists as such and especially if it ever could be expressed in the scribblings of people, by definition cannot possibly be that fragile. Human feelings, sensibilities and egos, of course, can be and usually are, but who ever found any [T]truth worth knowing in those places?

Unless you're talking about the destruction of literally the last copy of something that cannot be replaced in any form or format (or a burn protocol that violates common sense or local fire safety regulations including "Spare the Air" days here in California), I simply cannot be bothered to summon the energy to care any less about what someone burns, when or why. I only ask the burners please just don't disrupt traffic, thank you very much, as you make a fool of yourself and generally prove the very point you probably set out to protest in the first place.

And finally, I'm constrained to identify the obvious: The sort of outrage expressed in posts like this (as genuine and heart-felt as it was I'm sure) is exactly what these ridiculous people are hoping to provoke. There's a reason why they don't show the ball-park streaker on TV....

Sorry, but there it is. Peace from NorCal (where we loves a good book burnin'!).