It seems that the only thing in the news this week has been all about the proposed Qur’an burning. Ever heard of the Burning Man Festival? I once watched a documentary on this yearly spectacle in America’s Southwest. The Burning Man never gets public outcry, but maybe that is because if the effigy they used was sacred, everyone would know what it was just to be mad about it. Or maybe no one cares because there are naked people at the Burning Man and everyone likes naked people. It made the documentary more interesting, that is for sure. I wonder if people burned the Qur’an naked, there would be no violent response. Then maybe American’s wouldn’t pay attention, either.
The President, the General, and my parents say that publicly burning the Qur’an will hurt Americans overseas: “You are putting lives at risk; there will be needless deaths!” (as if any death was ever needed). I tend to believe this view. Yet I can also see why others would think that it might not really be that big of a deal. Regardless of what the hypothesized results will be, of this Qur’an burning party, I am pretty sure that most people all around the world think its stupid. Burning hairspray is cool. Burning bras- that was cool in the 60’s. Burning books? Um, didn’t we learn in American English from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 that book burning is the end of society as we know it? But burning one fifth of the world’s population’s holy book!? Dude, we don’t burn cows as a public outcry against Hindus! We only burn cows if we like our steak very very well done! But that is a whole different thing.
Truly, a large portion of Muslims don’t believe in violence. Note: I am not saying there are not verses in their Qur’an which aren’t violent against others who don’t believe in Islam, I am only saying that there are a lot of moderate or nominal Muslims who don’t subscribe to these verses. I was actually just looking through a list of verses in the Qur’an which many Muslims understand to mean living in tolerance with Jews, Christians, and other minorities who are “people of the book.” The historical concept of dhimmi under Sharia Law doesn’t call for the death of the non-believer, either, although maybe a second class status. To me, it doesn’t matter what the Qur’an says. It matters what people understand it to say.
In the Bible, we have terribly violent things too- in the Old Testament at least. I will not lie by saying that some of the Old Testament law has really disturbed me in some points. And, unless you are a studied and practicing Christian, one might easily not understand why we can justify these verses and why we don’t follow them today. After all, Christians have had their own share of violence. The Crusades are a horribly wonderful example: killing off the Muslims for Jesus. Many ethnic wars, including the Rwandan Genocide and even WWII, have roots in severe twisting of Christianity. The KKK clan and terrorist bombers at Abortion Clinics are other examples of a skewed worldview which some claiming Christianity have held to. Still, someone pointed out that the percentages of extremists in Islam is a little higher than the modern day terrorist claiming Christianity. I don’t want to get killed by a Muslim. Personally, I just don’t want to get killed, even if it is carried by Interfaith Terrorists, Inc.
You want to know what I think? Probably not, but here I go: Sure, Islam can be very violent. Christianity can be too. If following the Torah, Jews would be very violent as well. There really is no helpful point in arguing whether a religion is violent or not. It doesn’t matter. Buddhism isn’t violent, but anything without Jesus never has pure peace.
I think most American Christians- those who are cultural Christians, without “sincere love” (as the Bible calls it), those who are legalistic, and who are so self-righteousness they have no humility to try to understand someone else- these are no different in the slightest than Muslims, moderate or extreme. Yes, I am bashing on Christians. I am the first to say that I fit in this category much too often. I might not be killing people, but sometimes, inside, I am no different than an extremist Muslim. Didn’t Jesus say that hate is the same thing as murder? I think there are plenty of good ol’ American boys and girls who hate Muslims.
I have the feeling that if someone publicly burned our Bible, with huge amounts of media attention leading up to it- on our Christmas – America would probably be a little feisty, as well. Proposed Qur’an burning day, September 11th, happens to be at the end of Ramadan this particular year. Which is a holiday equivalent to our Christmas. Then take into account all the lifestyle differences, cultural aspects, and acceptances of living in the Islamic world (poverty, life expectancy, war). Add to that an extreme form of Islam actively being propagated (mind you, while the truth of Jesus is NOT being shared- most Muslims in the Islamic world have never even heard of Jesus, even if they have heard of Christianity)- heck- there will be problems! When it comes down to it, Islam is no worse than anything other than pure religion, which I believe is knowing grace in Jesus.
The point is, although there is a problem with Islam, there is no reason to be disrespectful, better-than-thou, or feed into a national phobia against Muslims. It doesn’t help. I don’t really like Islam, mainly because its a quickly spreading belief system which I don’t subscribe to. Even so, I think my Muslim friends are great and I love the values and sincerity they have. I think most American’s don’t like Islam solely because they feel it is a threat to their lifestyle and culture. If we are trying to live out sincere Christianity, above Americanism, we can’t just go around combating Islam by feeding hate and spreading gossip. I’m not too into promoting blind tolerance, either. I guess this gets political, and I don’t really like politics, defining the Separation of Church and State, blah, blah, blah. So, instead I will say maybe our first step should be to take the time to get to know a Muslim or two- not with the goal of converting them, yet with the goal of living out grace and love beside them. No need to be burning things or burning things while getting naked.
So, I guess I am glad the pastor got smart and canceled it after all.