Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Everyone expects the American Inquisition

Let's hope the world sees the fool in Pastor Terry Jones

Published: Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Keene Sentinel {New Hampshire)

From a certain angle, Terry Jones, the fundamentalist Christian preacher with the handlebar mustache, bears an uncanny resemblance to a man of the same name whose job was to behave like an idiot on TV. The comedian Terry Jones was a fixture on the Monty Python show whose humor would likely fly over the head of Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., who’s intent on burning a pile of Muslim holy books.

The problem, as noted in this space about a month ago, is that some Muslims may take Pastor Jones’ planned torching of Qurans on Sept. 11 as a useful tool in stirring up the same radical behavior that he decries; they present the 58-year-old prelate as a spokesman for American values — an ambition that’s being helped along by a few unbalanced Americans who are actually praising the pastor’s cause.

Which is? Pastor Jones says he wants to “send a message to radical Islam.” When pressed to explain just what that message might be, he’s said that Americans don’t want sharia law and sharia courts in their country. Most Americans, and probably most Muslims, would be surprised to hear that junking the current U.S. judicial system for traditional Islamic law was even being considered.

Understandably, Pastor Jones’ planned book burning has stirred outrage among his countrymen, including the head of the nation’s military mission in Afghanistan who warns of a possible backlash against U.S. troops there. With luck, most Muslim leaders will take note of this reaction, and assure their followers that Pastor Terry Jones is a joke — and a very bad one, at that.
I'd have to defend this  crackpot pastor's right to burn the Islamic holy book provided he obeyed local ordinances on open fires. In this part of Jersey he couldn't get a bonfire permit, although he could grill, fry, roast, kabob, boil, or steam all the books he despised  on a Weber barbecue in his backyard. We can only guess at what other books he'd consign to the flame. Maybe he'd toss some Elvis records in there as a nod to tradition. There'd be some dispute over whether or not he could do it as a public-invited entertainment as part of Children's Day church picnic in a rented county park picnic grove. & it's not safe to burn loose paper in an indoor fireplace - keep that in mind on Christmas afternoon.

Anyway, Jones pastors a pipsqueak 50 congregant church in a mega-church part of America  where he would  be considered a failure as a church-grower.  & he's not gonna grow the kind of church he wants in a university city with a gay mayor & 12 Starbuck's.   50 dedicated  Christians would be  capable of doing a tremendous amount of good. Jesus himself couldn't count that many committed followers when he was nailed up to die, based on who had the courage to show up at the execution site.  It was his refusal to stay dead that got the  big attention. So Pastor Jones, to my mind, is going way off message.

Let's not forget that a woman in Iran is currently condemned to die by stoning.  One of Jesus' most remarkable & courageous acts was when he interceded to prevent a stoning. He didn't stop it by burning the Hebrew scriptures that prescribed it as punishment for a variety of offenses.

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Jesus had the ultimate viral message advantage. The media gateway through which his message was broadcast to the masses--narrow enough that only the Bible and a few Chaucer's tales could fit--gave him a terrific platform. Plenty of eyes!
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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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