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My Lord, do I REALLY have to write this post?

September 9, 2010

for good or evil, your choice

Fire is final.

Nothing remains but ash and cinder.

For that reason, I really cannot think of a dumber way to note the anniversary of 9/11 than to burn copies of the Qur’an.

I won’t link to the church where this is being done. Fortunately for them, they are burning this book in the United States, where your freedom of speech trumps your freedom from opinions every time (or at least until Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 finally does come true). Unfortunately for us, they are burning this book in the United States, where we have been at war with countries that identify themselves as Islamic for several years now, and where our own population seems deeply split over how to reconcile our multi-faceted identity.

You might be old enough to remember what a stir it cause when our first Catholic president came into office. It was seen as the end of the world by some. Christians across the country raised voices and fists in some of the most misguided protests ever, proclaiming that now we would be ruled by the Pope instead of by President John F. Kennedy.

Then as now, the biggest complainers were the most ignorant. And ignorance is the primary reason for fear. And no one in the group of ignoranti (is that a group designation yet) is about to educate themselves in order to lessen their fear. Those of us who HAVE studied Islam and who have read the Qur’an and who have actually entered into conversation with Muslims tend to be on the bleeding edge of progressive Christianity. We have no influence or microphone to reach out to folks who aren’t going to bother to educated themselves about Islam.

We say it is a faith of peace and they sneer, unwilling to recognize the war-like nature of their own corporal punishing martial society.

We say it is a faith of respect and they laugh, unwilling to admit that a homeless person who wandered into their own churches would be escorted out quickly before worship started.

We say it is a faith of devotion and they shake their heads as they pile into their minivans on their way to another Sunday morning sports program.

I’ll say this now: the reason I have such great respect for Islam is that I’ve met the deeply faithful people who have practiced it. They have not tried to kill me. They have not tried to convert me. They do not “hate our freedom.” They have the same problems with Western culture that I do. They have families they love and countries they love, and one of the latter used to be The United States of America. I pray that doesn’t change. I pray Christians who would burn copies of the Qur’an might find a deeper sense of vision for their faith and expressions. I pray they might re-read the words of Christ and the Apostle Paul and get back into a clearer sense of their faith. I pray for the day when the people who say and do the stupidest, craziest things don’t win the gift of having a microphone pointed at their mouths so they can spew more hate.

God, on this Rosh Hashanah,  I pray again for acceptance and for peace. Amen.


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