I'm not a big fan of burning books. I figure I'm blessed enough to live in a country that allows free speech and protects it, so I need to be supportive of folks giving voice to their opinions. That's one of the great things about America--that we're free to disagree with each other, and our government, and as long as we don't turn violent doing it, no one needs to go to jail.
So, when I hear about book bannings, or book burnings, I confess, I have judgement. I imagine someone is so fearful of an idea that they give it more power by taking drastic steps against it and calling all kinds of attention to it, instead of saying, "Well, that's the way some people think about that, but I disagree because...." I believe the latter way encourages people to think about what they believe, and the former way encourages people to be afraid of what others believe.
Being a person of faith, I think fear is a big sign for me that I'm not looking at something with faith and love. So, when I heard that there's a church in Florida burning as many copies of the Qur'an, I sighed.http://cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2010/07/29/ricks.burn.koran.cnn
Not surprisingly, this pastor's view and tactics are so extreme that they have gained a worldwide audience. Also not surprising, people oversees see this as a mainstream "Christian" response. Which really torks me off. I'm really tired of extreme Christians commandeering the media and implying they speak for me. Let me be clear: they don't.
Someone who comes much closer to speaking my truth is a Christian pastor in my denomination (United Church of Christ) who has a church in the same town. Here are his thoughts, actions, and beliefs: http://creativeseminole.com/2010/08/19/if-they-can-burn-it-we-can-read-it-a-ucc-ministers-response-to-burning-the-quran/
Just to call out a key phrase, when he was asked what he'd say if he could preach to the Qur'an-burning congregation for 5 minutes, he said:
"The danger to our faith comes not most from outside, but from the shadows within. We must pay attention to our neglect to look at ourselves, instead of automatically pointing the finger elsewhere. God’s call is for constant opening.”Amen, Pastor Reimer. See, this is why I love my church. We don't see different ideas as a threat. We see them as an opportunity to learn and expand our love. And isn't that what Jesus was about? Expanding our love for one another?
This means, then, that I have to expand my love for the Qur'an-burners, and their pastor, no matter how crazy or disturbed or fear-driven I may think he is. So, don't worry Pastor Jones, I'm praying for you, too.
Some churches have joined together to agree to include words from the Qur'an in their worship on Sunday, September 12. I hope you'll consider joining them and embracing expansion, love, and freedom of religion.
“I’m not trying to make this a national or international event, but I feel that those who understand that allowing [the Qur'an burning] to pass silently by allows Dove Outreach to win in the fight against tolerance and religious compassion will stand up and share scripture from the Qur’an.”And the article ends with this, which is why it is important to not do nothing:
Not a moment too soon. In the words of German poet Heinrich Heine written in 1820, now enshrined on a plaque at the site of Nazi Propoganda Minster Joseph Goebbels’ book burnings, “There, where they burn books, they will in the end burn people.”