I’ve been writing and adding and editing this for a few days. I’ve seriously considered not posting it. As I read it one more time this afternoon, I realized that no matter how much I’m aware that my thinking is not perfect and my wording is not as clear as I’d like it to be, I clearly want to say something. Even if I only go in circles around it because that’s what my head is still doing, I need to say it aloud.
I’ve never been a big fan of book burning. At least not the kind that is motivated by hate and fear (two strong emotions that usually arrive as a couple to the party).
I’ve been reading some of the conversation about the now infamous Qur’an burning scheduled for this weekend at a small church in Gainesville, Florida. My unfiltered responses are not all appropriate — they include name-calling and creative ideas for plan-thwarting, some of which are not helpful. Okay, most of them are not helpful.
A whole lot of people are saying that this should not happen – but I want to be careful to not be swayed only by a majority opinion or my own knee-jerk reaction. I do know that the majority is not right purely because it is the majority and I’m very aware that my knee-jerking is not always accurate.
I’ve been thinking about why I find this plan reprehensible. Why am I so bothered on so many levels?
Additionally, I’m trying to separate my level of botheredness (a personal response) from my sense that this plan is more than just dangerous for troops deployed in places like Afghanistan and more than just insensitive to people who hold to different belief systems than those acting.
What I really want to understand is how my relationship with the holy, gracious, righteous God of the Universe — the One, should impact my response.
I mentally applied the over-popularized and imperfect WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) test to this and it fails. In John’s Gospel (chapter 3) we are clearly informed that Jesus did not come into the world to judge, but to save. So, Jesus would not burn the Qur’an as some sort of public display of disapproval. The only people he publicly confronted were the religiously pious from his own community.
I considered whether we see any thing like book burning in Scripture and can only think of the incidents like one recorded in the book of Acts when people who had been involved in the occult burned their own stuff upon their own conversion.
I have juggled and pondered this from a few different angles. I’ve been reading and listening.
Then it hit me. It isn’t about me figuring out why this is wrong — the wrongness of the action is obvious and complicated. What really, really bothers me in this scenario is that this church is doing this IN GOD’S NAME. Like others who have gone before, they are taking the Lord’s name in vain.
With that sorted out, I begin to understand why my anger is mixed with hurt …is mixed with disappointment …is mixed with a sort of shame that knows that those who are watching from a place outside a relationship with God will too easily lump all who claim the designation “Christian” as coming from the same DNA and this conclusion will likely keep them from ever knowing the God who loves them beyond their imagining.
This is what has me bothered most of all.