Burning Books

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.

5 thoughts on “Burning Books

  1. antlike says:

    Exactly, Ruth. I add this from a book Jim reads to us every Christmas,

    “There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all out kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”
    – A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

  2. Ken Mullins says:

    This is one small (50-members) church–that is NOT associated with any denomination. Why does the press insist on fanning the flames?

    Ruth I am in complete agreement with you!

    Freedom allows us (mankind) to do Satan’s work in God’s name — this is truly blasphemy.

    • antlike says:

      Well, I am SHOCKED to hear this from you, Ken! How could it possibly be that our transparent, fair-minded, unbiased press did NOT tell us that this is a small 50-member church, not associated with any denomination??? Why does it NOT amaze me that they would stir up trouble? If 50 or 500,000 of us do something good decent, the same press self-righteously stays silent. Good news is no news at all. It would not take too many good-hearted people to travel over there and completely take over the event, don’t you think? 😉

  3. Chris Bengele - Class of '93 says:

    Ruth, I share your belief on this particular issue. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail. Not all individuals of the muslim faith subscribe to the violent extremist beliefs of those few that capture our attention on the evening news. To put it in perspective, that would be the equivalent of stating that Eric Rudolph, famed bomber of abortion clinics, was representative of the Christian faith.
    Heinrich Heine wrote (in a popular book burned by the Nazis in the ’30’s) that “where they burn books they will also ultimately burn people.” And so it followed…..for both the Nazi’s and the Klan, both groups which professed vehemently their beliefs were in line God’s wishes.

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