Friday, September 10, 2010

Burning the Qur'an

Tomorrow, that inescapable sunbaked walrus-moustached pastor from Florida either will or won't burn a whole bunch of Qur'ans. I marvel at this whole event, for a variety of different reasons. This odd person does, of course, have the absolute right to do what he's doing. We're a free people, and part of that freedom means...outside of threatening direct physical harm...that we can engage in pointless, stupid, and offensive symbolic actions. As much as I find him reprehensible, I can't see how he could be prevented...or should be prevented...from doing what he may or may not do.

Yet listening to this guy talk, I marvel at the ability of humans who claim to follow Jesus to completely fail to grasp the rather basic moral tenets of Christian faith. Yeah, you can be prophetic, and you can fight the power. But under no circumstances are you ever to be intentionally obnoxious to those you don't like, particularly those who are outside of the church. Giving offense for the purpose of giving offense is a violation of the central ethical tenet of Jesus people. It's a non-trivial oversight, and yet another reminder of the value of attending a church where the pastor has to be seriously vetted somewhere, somehow. What he's doing might fly as an American right, but wouldn't pass muster in any significant American Christian movement. In our every-church-an-island non-denominational world, we forget that having those connections helps damp down free-range wackjobs like this.

But more than that, I marvel at the amount of attention this is getting.

It's...well...mindboggling. This pastor leads a church that is smaller than mine, and honey, that's saying something. The group of human beings he speaks for would fit on a single Metrobus with room to spare. Yet this has surfaced in news cycle after news cycle. There are about 150 million self-identified American Christians, give or take. Of those 150 million Jesus-following human beings, this guy represents around fifty. That's, what, 0.00003%?

If the American Body of Christ was a human body, this guy speaks for one barely visible hair protruding from a tiny zit on our left butt-cheek. Really. I've done the calculations. If you figure on a single human hair weighing 0.25 milligrams, and assume a 68 kilo human, well...the proportions work. His actions are functionally meaningless.

And yet, for some reason, this is an international incident. The Vatican has made pronouncements. Christian leaders of every persuasion and the White House have made appeals, most of which have been focused on Insuring The Safety of Our Troops.(tm) As if the Taliban will somehow stop blowing things up or pitching out their delusional and falsely hateful vision of America if this one nutmonkey doesn't do something.

And the ego of this guy, preaching his strange angry stuff to a tiny angry flock! It was probably oddly swelled anyway. That comes when you're isolated from every other church around you, as they appear to have been. But now? Gads. He thinks he's a leader, an opinion maker, a meaningful voice in the national dialogue, the Joe the Plumber of American Christianity.

Why are we choosing to follow this? Across the vast and complex cornucopia of human drama on a planet brimming over with billions of souls, is this really a Top Ten Issue?

Whatever happens tomorrow can hardly be said to matter at all. More Qur'ans will be damaged or destroyed in random house fires. Moderate Muslims and even some highly conservative ones will recognize the utter irrelevance of the Dove World House of Angry Pancakes. The folks who irrationally and mindlessly hate America will not hate us any more or any less.

Strange, strange times.


  1. I think this is just another distraction cooked up by our Arch Nemesis. As long as he can keep us embroiled in a debate over pastors like him and Mr. Phelps, he can keep us from doing what we SHOULD be doing. The mosque "at" Ground Zero is another one. The conspiracy theorist in me has to ask, too, "what is our government going to do this weekend that they are keeping these sorts of things on the news and keeping themselves largely off of it?"

  2. I don't get it either. It's like the hysterical, paranoid, misinformed, bigoted, and mean wings of both of our religions need each other.

  3. As much as I find him reprehensible...

    and you're not being offensive?

    Yet listening to this guy talk, I marvel at the ability of humans who claim to follow Jesus to completely fail to grasp the rather basic moral tenets of Christian faith.

    and yet two men having sex and getting married is ok with you, in fact, you do celebrate it, no? Basic moral tenets - you brought it up.

    Maybe, just maybe burning a Quran will be a notice that "they" "we" whomever (America/ US)- is still free to do so before "they" think Shari law will be forthcoming without a fight.

  4. The folks who irrationally and mindlessly hate America will not hate us any more or any less.

    Agreed - except being the homosexual supporting, largest porn exporter in the world, and all those other things Islam hates and "progressive liberals" like to celebrate, they might not be completely without minds, or irrational. Just saying...

  5. I think we have Gen Petraeus to blame for this one. He drew attention to this guy.

    Now there are these guys in Kansas who are all pissed because they say they were burning Qur'ans first!

    a zit on the ass of the flee on the tail of the dog...

  6. I just make a copies of PDF files that contain the text of the Koran.

    Then I delete them from my hard drive.

    It's cheaper, faster, cleaner, and has a smaller carbon footprint.

  7. Hmm . . . The guy in Florida seems to have forgotten the second law, loving neighbor as self, to say nothing of loving enemy, praying for those who persecute you, etc.

  8. I've been thinking of writing a little script that would automate the process. That I could delete Korans with mind-boggling efficiecy, perhaps at the rate of several times per second. This would leave my hands free to engage in all sorts of irreligious activities, such as eating a pork chop or watching a Lady Gaga video, or maybe both at the same time. I could even program my computer to delete Korans continuously while I sleep.

  9. This 'newsworthy' item kills two birds with one stone. It provides the media with another way to identify Christians as a radical hate group, and it provides the war-mongers an opportunity to shift the blame for the failure of their 'peace keeping' efforts.

    The reason politicians and the news media survive is because they know how to push our buttons and make us mad at one another. The longer we're squabbling among ourselves--one tiny, insignificant faction against another--the less we'll look at what's actually happening in the world around us and how we're being manipulated.

  10. @Browning- Okay, I know I shouldn't be encouraging you like this, but that is pretty funny.

    I gave up on corporate media aways back. It's a business and no longer a real source of information. The fourth estate has been in slow decline for years now, thus we get "The Great Koran Burnination 2010!". One has to really invest time and effort in seeking out news these days.

    I have to say I do have a problem with the continuous portrayal of Imam Rauf as a 'moderate'. I would have immense respect for the man if he would simply and openly condemn the terrorist compulsions of those who claim Islam and behead, stone or otherwise injure others with which they disagree. Condemning nations that deny freedom of conscience would be a good start for the Imam.

  11. Here is an informative rundown (done with a bit of humour) of past Qur'anic burnings from the Acts 17 Apologetics crew:

    The original burn a Qur'an Day

    Christians should defintely read, rather than burn, the sacred texts of other traditions.