By John Immel
(Mp3 Audio) 58 mb 50 min audio
I feel my temperature rising
Higher and higher
It’s burning through my soul
Abdul, Abdul, Abdul
Gonna set the book on fire
My brain is flaming
Don’t know which way to go
Lord have mercy
What would Jesus do?
Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love
Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love
A recent release on Elvis Gospel Greats released by Infi Del Records.
The Muslim world heard about this issue half a planet away, so it is a fair expectation that few people haven’t heard that Terry Jones, a preacher in Gainesville, Florida was going to burn Islam’s bible on 9/11. The common summary of the story is: Preacher says Islam is of the devil: crazy preacher is gonna burn the Islamic Holy book. Mass criticism flooded the ether from all quarters seeking, begging, cajoling Terry Jones to stand down.
Is burning the Qur’an an effective means to combat Islam? Are the critics right to condemn Terry Jones (or any other person so inclined) to burn the Qur’an?
The answer to these questions hinge on two things:
- What were the specific criticisms leveled for Terry Jones to desist?
- What did Terry Jones really think he was trying to accomplish?
We will talk about Terry’s thoughts shortly, but I want to tackle the criticisms first starting with the most absurd.
“Burning the Qur’an! See! See! Christian Terrorism, Christian Terrorists, Abortion Bombers, Timothy McVeigh, Timothy McVeigh, Timothy McVeigh! We’re all gonna die!”
I am no fan of the historic manifestations of tyranny within Christianity. And I am on record, ardently and often, railing against the current soft tyranny spreading through the Christian ranks empowered by those same historic doctrines. There is no excuse for it. There wasn’t any back then, and there isn’t any excuse for it now, resurrecting those doctrines with the fruit of history displayed for anyone who will look. But how Oklahoma bomber Tim became a poster child for the Sermon on the Mount Jesus Religion and that specific event somehow translates into a mass movement of Christian terrorists is flat mystifying.
Calling Timothy McVeigh a Christian is a lot like playing six degrees of Kevin Bacon and summarily declaring Kyra Sedgwick responsible for all crimes committed by blonds. Or maybe it is like saying a guy who read every issue of Sports Illustrated, owned a football, ran a passing route in high school, and went to see four Redskins games, is an NFL football player, even though he doesn’t have a contract or a product endorsement. And never mind his own words define him as a football agnostic with a specific interest in Chinese badminton. The connections could not be more tenuous, contrived, and philosophically vacant.
If Christians persist in the historic ideas that create tyranny, it is conceivable that they could become the very monsters everyone fears. But to date, American Christianity has little resemblance to the flaming stake, rack, and iron maiden wielding European religion.
The endless intellectual gymnastics employed to find a moral likeness between general Christianity and radical Muslim action is a mystery. People will argue the fiction of McVeigh’s Christianity as specific proof of Christian Terrorism as if his single incident is the same as the multiplied hundreds of suicide bombers, beheadings, genital mutilations, honor killings, and centuries of war waged across continents in the name of Islam.
What strong delusion have we drunk to preoccupy such moral equivalency?
Pat Robertson from the 700 Club weighed in with these words: “Imagine a preacher that is so egotistical that he would sacrifice the lives of missionaries and soldiers to go forward with something … this is so stupid.”
This is a curious denigration since Pat has long been on record railing against Islam, declaring it “of the devil” and “not a religion but a worldwide political system designed to subjugate the world.”
This comment is less inflammatory?
How many people has Pat Robertson’s ego killed? How many people died laughing when watching the 700 Club while his ego rattled on and on about Satanic plots to cause earthquakes?
What standard does Pat set as a broadcaster when he makes Terry Jones responsible for other people’s actions?
Since when are murderers absolved of killing an innocent party because someone in another continent burned a book, stepped on an ant, cut down a tree, or ate some M& Ms?
But beyond that moral absurdity, I really wish we would get our Altruism right. I mean if preachers are going to teach the Kantian ethic and denigrate a man for his egoism, then at least ascribe that action correctly. Strictly speaking, Terry Jones cannot sacrifice a missionary, so his ego is irrelevant. The missionaries can sacrifice themselves in the name of selflessness. If the standard is Altruism, then let’s not rob these folks of their moral superiority with faulty doctrine. But who am I to quibble?
As for Mr. Robertson’s qualification to judge stupid, he was the one who offered this gem of cause and effect for the Haitian earthquake: it was the result of a deal with the devil.
Forest Gump said: “Stupid is as Stupid does.”
“Burning the Qur’an is a message of hate to peaceful Muslims.”
Terry Moran, broadcaster for ABC, in an interview with Terry Jones, September 9th, 2010 made this point twice. He said, “Once again though, a billion and a half Muslims in the world, most of them do not approve of Al Qaeda and of the terrorism associated with it. The message you are sending to moderate Muslims is one of hate.”
The response to Terry Moran should be: if there are a billion and a half Muslims and MOST of them oppose organizations of terror, why is the majority so incompetent at stopping their advanced methods in violence?
Muslim incompetence can only mean a couple of things. That this pacifist, “Can’t we all just get along,” Muslim majority are not as opposed to the methods of expanding Islam as we have been led to believe…
The force of violence at the hands of al Qaeda, the Taliban, the PLO, et. al. is so successful that mere public opinion is irrelevant to the issue. They cannot be a harmless, conscientious, objecting majority and a victim of fringe element super minority at the same time.
So … it doesn’t matter which one is the truth. It means that the resistance to Islam is not hate but an accurate and essential responses to a dangerous certainty. If the co-religionists cannot bring their ‘radicals’ to heal and this issue is simple minorities vs. majorities, then it is the right and responsibility of the remaining 5.5 billion people populating the planet to succeed against those who actually manifest their hate by MURDER, WAR, and DESTRUCTION.
“Oh, this is just Islamophobia.”
This is one of the weakest ad hominem accusations; the man is flawed so how can his ideas be true?
The real human disqualification would be the man who refuses to be fearful of things that actually DO cause harm. That man is insane. Insane men are ineligible from intellectual consideration.
For example, a healthy fear of falling from the Twin Towers is an appropriate recognition of gravity. Okay, they are not standing any more, but the point remains. A man who advocates taking a “Leap of Faith” to jump between them insisting that, “Gravity is really just a peaceful force, all those other people who fell to their death were just statistical aberrations, and probably deserved what they got because they made gravity feel bad. Come on… let us peacefully co-exist with gravity. It won’t hurt us. You’re just a scaredy cat gravity bigot.”
Having a healthy fear of the unapologetic declarations and actions of Islamic leaders, governments, and organizations is not some trivial fear to be dismissed like the boogieman under the bed. The burden of proof is on the insane people who continue to evade reality and obscure the objective declaration of generations of Imams, Caliphs, and Islamic states.
If we should be guilty of any prejudice, it is that we should not suffer fools lightly.
“Terry Jones is an adolescent attention seeker.”
This criticism came from both the religious and non-religious camps.
He wants people notice him?
Uh… so what?
For you religious folk, riddle me this: name for me any preacher that doesn’t spend their entire life seeking the attention of other people. For Christians, the command to evangelize assumes the desire to get people to pay them mind, and preachers will forgo almost any dignity to achieve that outcome. So listening to the average Tub Thumper pontificate about his selfless, “none of me and all of Him,” peace, kumbaya kumbaya, motive as justification for HIS attention getting while denigrating another for the same preoccupation is wonderful sanctimony.
The non-religious sources are best expressed by the Washington to New York media elites. ABC led the charge to get a mic in front of Terry Jones’ face.
As an aside, objectivity is no longer in their lexicon. Moral judgments radiated through every word and filled every glare. They gave Terry Jones the special look they reserved for Ronald Regan at the onset of Alzheimer’s. They made no effort to conceal their contempt for this hayseed Southern cracker preacher. What a glorious parade of moral narcissism.
Anyway, these are the same people who break their neck to get the cameras rolling for any anti-American, pro-Marxist, pro-Islam, George Bush effigy burning protest. Their contempt or affection for preachers has everything to do with social and political simpatico. If it is Jeremiah Wright, they speak in glowing words for his American denigration. Reverend Jessie Jackson can proclaim and participate in all manner of social mayhem and agitation and the public is treated to … silence. And scant years ago, early in the second Gulf War, these same media elite salivated over a minister who preached hell, fire, and damnation at dead US soldier funerals.
They will pimp out their cameras for any anti-American story and claim moral neutrality, but suddenly find “What Would Jesus Do?” religion when they think they’ve found a loco Nazi preacher burning books.
But here is the most wonderful of ironies. If the moral judgment is that Terry Jones is just looking for attention, then this is an easy remedy. From national radio talk shows, to international news agencies, to local TV anchorettes: since you are the ones with the mic and camera, don’t put him on the air; don’t carry the story.
They act as if they have no interest in this dynamic.
They are the ones that have created entire industries built on attention seeking. America is daily treated to an endless river of Hollywood debauchery that is straight up, Gucci-clad trailer park drama. Paparazzi gossip rags are a billion dollar business that exists for the express purpose of selling 15 minutes of fame to the least common denominator of human depravity. And they want to lecture a preacher on knowing his hayseed place in polite obscurity?
But don’t be fooled. Nothing delights the American media more than advancing the social notion that there is a moral equivalency between Christian “Extremism” and Muslim “Extremists.” The goal is to portray all Christian action or idea as out of the main stream to marginalize our cultural impact. If all Christians are nutbars, then who wants to listen them?
“Burning books is Nazi hate…”
Terry Moran, ABC News: You are in the tradition in burning books of the Nazis who burnt the Talmud and the Torah of a long line of haters. Why shouldn’t people assume that you are the same?
Mr. Moran’s comment is yet another manifestation of the ongoing effort to brand an equation between governmental monstrosity and Christianity. In an upcoming work, I will address the culpability that the German church sustains for the rise of the National Socialists. But Terry Moran’s oblique assertion is: Nazi = the Christian version of fascism. Burning Books = Nazi. Terry Jones = Christian. Christian Burning Books = Nazi.
This is a wonderfully implied tautology, but erroneous tyrannical algebra.
National Socialism is infinitely closer to Soviet Bolshevism and Maoist Communism in political, social, and economic ends. The only real distinction between them is the Marxist preoccupation with Atheism. Any number of Democratic Socialist movements remain “religion” friendly. For example, South America is deeply Catholic and virtually over run with Social Democracies that consider themselves extensions of Catholic ethics; and the result is effectively the same—oppression in the name of the State.
Burning books is at no point limited to Germany’s National Socialism—Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Woodrow Wilson’s American Presidency. This “… long line of haters…” needs to be evaluated for WHO they are and WHAT they hated. In every instance, they were Collectivist Tyrants and they hated contrary Ideas.
It is always totalitarian statists determined to crush ideas from public consumption that destroys the instruments of transmitting ideas. So, this effort is not limited to striking a match for some book-hating, religious nut. McCain-Feingold and the Fairness Doctrine are the American Government efforts to crush dissenting ideas from entering the public arena. I don’t hear Terry Moran moralizing about Nazi haters in Congress.
But let’s do a brief historical review of Muslim “book burning.”
Most college educated Americans have been indoctrinated into this historic narrative. The destruction of western civilization at the hands of some animal- skinned, club-wielding Neanderthals called the Goths, Huns, and Vandals circa 350 AD. Rome Falls. Everybody abandons stone houses. Everybody builds mud huts. The Catholic Church oppresses Copernicus and Galileo. The Catholic Church burns witches at the stake.
Alakazam! Poof! Dark Ages.
This narrative stands against the easily verifiable historic realities: Middle East, Egyptian, and Mediterranean cities continued to thrive as centers of learning, commerce, and development long after the fall of Rome. It wasn’t until the mid 7th century that the decline began. In case you are unfamiliar, the founding of Islam dates roughly 620 and was in full tilt conquest boogie by 700 AD.
For many years Islam has been credited with being a center of culture and science and ‘saving’ civilization. All orthodoxies defy challengers and the historic Islamic narrative that virtually ignores Islam’s marauding, knowledge-destroying, and culture-annihilating ways is academic cannon comparable to Augustine’s Original Sin: challenge at your own risk, you heretical, hell bound apostate.
But bold academics are successfully piecing together the plague that is Islam from the historic data. Contemporary historians pose this question: how is it possible for every copy of all classical authors — Diodorus, Manetho, Herodotus, et al. — men who wrote Egypt’s history to vanish from Egypt, Syria, and the broader Middle East, unless the Caliphates specifically set out to eliminate all unapproved knowledge? The only reasonable answer is that the Caliphs had a policy of knowledge destruction: aka book burning.
Arguably, the single greatest blow to human knowledge came in A. D. 642. Alexandria, capital of Byzantine Egypt, surrendered to Omar, the Caliph of Baghdad. On orders, the Muslim army used the scrolls and papyrus in the Alexandrian library to heat the water for the public baths. Those were some expensive baths.
The accumulated learning of the Western World was stored and subsequently burned by the anti-rational, anti-literate doctrines of the Caliphate.
Since moral equivalencies are all the rage, Terry Jones is a wee tyke of a piker in book burning karma.
Another criticism falls into the “do unto others,” category. Christians wouldn’t like them to burn our bibles, so we probably should avoid burning their Qur’an. But here is the thing: they burn our bibles as a matter of government mandate. That is right. Bibles are persona non grata in Islamic countries: burned on site. And here is a curious factoid: the US government made an effort to uphold Islam’s mandate. Stated plainly, American Government was complicit in upholding Sharia law.
Here is a summary of the reported story:
One Brian Hughes made a documentary showing military personnel in Afghanistan with bibles. Hughes said: “The only reason they would have these documents there was to distribute them to the Afghan people and I knew it was wrong, and I knew that filming it … documenting it would be important.”
In response to the documentary, Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, Afghan Prime Minister from 1995 to 1996, responded with this: “This is very damaging for diplomatic relations between the two counties … everyone knows people are very conservative here, very faithful to Islam. They will never accept any other religion. … Someone who leaves Islam is sentenced very severely — the death penalty [is imposed]. There must be a serious investigation now that it has come into the public and [into the] press.”
So, the Religion of Peace declares that those who leave the faith are subject to death.
Another player in the Afghani Islamic world was center stage in a Christian Bible burning incident in 2009: Sayed Aalam Uddin Asser. He said: “It’s a national security issue … our constitution says nothing can take place in Afghanistan against Islam. If people come and propaganda other religions, which have no followers in Afghanistan, [then] it creates problems for the people, for peace, for stability.'”
As an aside, any time a tyrant mentions the words peace and stability, this is really code for “It threatens my iron clad hold over the people who have no freedom to execute any personal liberty.”
Anyway, to satisfy the dictatorial sensibilities of the Afghan world, the US military was reported to have burned the bibles. Here is how Reuters reported the fallout on Tuesday, May 5, 2009.
KABUL (Reuters) – Bibles in Afghan languages sent to a U.S. soldiers at a base in Afghanistan were confiscated and destroyed to ensure that troops did not breach regulations which forbid proselytizing, a military spokeswoman said.
The U.S. military has denied its soldiers tried to convert Afghans to Christianity, after Qatar-based Al Jazeera television showed soldiers at a bible class on a base with a stack of bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages.
U.S. Central Command General Order Number 1 forbids troops on active duty — including all those based in Iraq and Afghanistan — from trying to convert people to another religion.
“I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera’s clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed,” spokeswoman Major Jennifer Willis said at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul…
Question: could those bibles have been returned to the US for distribution in a free society? That seems reasonable. But it didn’t happen. Do you hear Christians threatening death and destruction, burning the Afghan flag in effigy, rioting in the streets because of a violation of Christian deep-seated offense?
The argument that gets the most traction that has been repeated most often is best summarized by General David Petraeus. Burning the Qur’an dramatically increases civil unrest and places troops in danger. The logic being, if we make otherwise “moderate” Muslims mad, this will drive them to become “radicals” and radicals kill people. This seems like a reasonable argument. Save lives, don’t rock the boat. Why agitate when we really want to just get along? What rational soul could argue with that?
This would be reasonable if not for a four realities:
- We have invented the concept of a moderate Muslim. Andrew McCarthy wrote an article titled Inventing Moderate Islam, August 24, 2010, for National Review Online. Mr. McCarthy was the lead prosecutor in the Trial of the Blind Sheik, the author/instigator of the original World Trade Center bombing. The prosecution set out to paint him as a Muslim extremist. But here is the catch: the more the prosecutors researched, the more they realized that Omar Rahman represented the mainstream of Islamic belief. Andrew McCarthy details why it is insane to invent a Muslim Moderate: such a creature does not exist. The Westernized Moslem that inhabits American borders — the ones that smile at you in the drive way — are the ones who want the freedoms of American liberty based on specifically American secularist philosophical ideas; the freedoms they could NEVER secure in Islamic countries.
- Those Muslims indulging in this freedom are described by their co-religionists in two ways: apostasy or jihadist deception. For example, the 9/11 attackers drank alcohol and went to strip clubs to fit in until they could strike. So, the measure of a Muslim’s commitment to Islam or American freedom is not observable here because the force of Sharia does not compel compliance. Notice that what they say in Arabic to Muslim audiences is often not what they say to Americans in English. Give these same neighbors six months in Saudi or Syria and they will either be killed for their apostasy, silenced under a burka having their clitoris clipped to prevent infidelity, or they will sound exactly like the other “moderates” advocating a Mosque at Ground Zero: Let us build it … or else.
- In Islamic countries the men who executed the 9/11 attacks are considered the “Magnificent 19,” and heralded as devoted followers of Sharia Law. Sharia, as taught in all schools of Sunni and Shi’ite jurisprudence, make it a duty of all able-bodied adult Muslims to wage jihad against the infidel or materially support those who do so. This mainstream Sharia is advocated by Islamic scholars and taught from Jakarta to Casablanca, London to Houston.
- Many Imams have declared war against America and her citizens. This tends to pass off our radar as the mad ramblings of some religious nut job. Our problem is we are looking at the world through our prism: freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Here, most voices speak independent of government authorities, so we are forgiving of those nut jobs. Mostly. But no such civil liberty exists in totalitarian states. Any sentiment that hits the public airwaves IS a reflection of the existing government, which means it is the Government of those countries that are speaking those threats.
They already want to kill us.
Those otherwise peaceful Muslims have already shown themselves incompetent to bring their co-religionists to heal.
A greater percentage of 1.5 billion people deciding to join the “Kill Americans” rally is a statistical irrelevancy when the source of the threat is an Islamic state driven by doctrinal mandate.
These are the realities, so the exhortation to “Save lives, don’t rock the boat” is really a concession to extortion; a concession to a classic Islamic methodology. Concede what we want or ELSE.
- Build the Ground Zero Mosque or we will be angry.
- Give us the West Bank or we will drive you into the sea.
- Don’t print what we don’t like or we will kill you. (Salman Rushdie is still hiding.)
- Don’t make cartoons or we will riot. Muslims set Europe on fire over some pictures.
This list of wanton extortion and summary destruction could go on for pages.
And here is the thing: as a matter of public policy, our leaders have no business conceding the demands of such political and social thuggary. The sensibilities of murderers and tyrants are not the defining issue.
No matter how far we have strayed from his principle, the function of American government is to defend the freedoms of the individual. Those charged with the defense of the Constitution should be unanimous in focus and force to that end. We must never concede the moral premise that underlies this extortion. It does not matter how offended they are; OUR freedoms are purchased for OUR citizens (including burning books) by the responsible commitment to our governing philosophy outlined in the Declaration of Independence and enumerated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This is the sole privilege of OUR governing structure.
Men do not have a moral requirement to treat threats to life and property and freedom as mere differences of opinion. At the first inkling of extortion, the first shadowy hints, the earliest fog of intended or implied force that rolls towards a free people — from foreign governmental voices approved by sponsoring states — should be met with the absolute resistance of HELL NO!
It does not matter what they ask for, no matter how grand an idea it is portrayed, or how benevolent we’d like to be, if the outcome needs the threat of death and destruction to achieve, it is corrupt from the root and needs summarily crushed under the weight of public denunciation and government force. We are a free people. We should never ever suffer being threatened any place on the planet from voices of dictatorial governments.
The American Constitution requires our leaders to defend our citizens, not the sensibilities of foreign nationals engaged in systematic conquest. Our leaders swear an oath to that specific end. They can never be complicit in negotiating the demands of murderers. The despots and tyrants must comply with civilized standards no matter the sensibilities of race, color, or creed.
“But that is so … extreme! Be reasonable.”
That’s just it. This is a reasonable. Broadmindedness is not a license for moral equivalency or willful blindness. The cause and effect of ideas and outcomes are directly linked. It is madness to listen to the endless declarations of war, death, and destruction from Islamic centers and proclaim the actual war, death, and destruction merely the rogue happenings of a fringe few.
The reasonable thing is to accept that which is before you. The unreasonable thing is to continue this mad effort to refuse definition, make all ideas approximations, be adamant that principles are bendy, and make the highest virtues “tolerance” and sacrifice.
“Well, he who is without sin cast the first stone!!”
How Jesus words have become the definitive amorality is a study in mystical comedy and error. But the outcome is exactly what a wise woman said through the voice of her greatest protagonist: “By extorting your acceptance of the supernatural absolutes, it has forced you to reject the absolute of nature. By making moral judgments impossible, it has made you incapable of rational judgment. The code that forbids you to cast the first stone has forbidden you to admit the identity of stones and to know when or if you are being stoned.”
In case you missed the point: America, we are being stoned.
Now we need to address the second question at the beginning of the article. What was Terry Jones trying to do? For those of you inclined, read the full interview (here). My goal is never to misrepresent by cherry-picking the context, merely brevity. I will summarize with some edited quotes:
Pastor Terry Jones: [For this year’s protest] we came up with the idea of the international burn a Koran day. [We are] more aware of the dangers of Sharia law and the dangers of radical Islam… [The symbolic action of burning the Qur’an is a message] that radical Islam, sharia law, sharia courts, what they seem to try to institute after a period of time is not wished in America.
Pastor Terry Jones: Well, basically, like I said we feel… [we should] send a message to moderate Moslems to stay peaceful and moderate. [They should]… respect, honor, obey, submit to our constitution.
Pastor Terry Jones: And what we are doing, you actually find in the Bible in Acts 19:19. As the people converted to Christianity, they brought books, books of magic. They brought books that they felt were damaging, dangerous, and they burnt those books.
Pastor Terry Jones: [What would stop you from burning the Qur’an?] I guess the same thing that caused us to do it, um, just a deep conviction from God that something has to happen.
Here is my summary of Terry Jones’ stated goal and his corresponding moral justification.
Goal = Send a symbolic message.
Why? Islam via Sharia law is dangerous and evil.
To whom? Moderate and Radical Muslims—American’s have had enough.
- The Bible says…
- We feel this is what God wants us to do.
Uh… here is the problem. Terry Jones’ moral justification is the same logic that Muslims use to strap on bombs and blow up shopping malls. When Moral Clarity is founded on Authority and Feeling, there can NEVER be a rational conversation.
Point 1: the Bible says…
What is written on the pages of the Christian Cannon and what instruction we should take away from the Acts 19 book burning is highly debatable. But the rationale for Terry Jones’ actions is not debatable. His logic is simple: because the Bible says X, I am therefore authorized to do Y. Terry Jones is arguing “authority.”
The moment one justifies action based on “authority,” a person can have the argumentative skill of a 12-year-old and toss out this very effective rejoinder: “So?”
This argument works because authority is really an expression of ethics. If one does not accept the source of authority, what then compels compliance? The only answer to that is force. The people with the biggest bonfire, the biggest sword, the greatest will to commit bloodshed are the ones who end up with the “authority.”
Ethics are impossible to define until cultural philosophical unity achieves a definition of GOOD. Let me say this differently. Unless a culture agrees on common values, they do not have a philosophical unity. The values determine what actions, (the ethics) the culture should and should not take. The authority to compel compliance is based on those ethics.
So, force and authority is ultimately the same thing: the power to compel an outcome.
Authority is nothing more than a culturally accepted monopoly on force to achieve philosophical compliance. A culture agrees that 65 MPH is the max speed for free people, driving their own car, should be allowed.
That guy in the blue uniform and the shiny badge with his palm extended can stop a 3-ton car because Americans accept the premise of his authority to enforce the ethical action. Without that philosophical unity, we’d keep driving and that shiny badge would be part of the roadkill. Without the authority to stop the car, the policeman needs an AK 47.
So when a Christian, or an Agnostic, or a Marxist is making an appeal to his “authority,” (in the name of God or the People) he is really making a justification for the use of force to compel others to accept his edicts. This is the same rationalism that Islam uses to subjugate nations: It is Allah’s will.
This is the same rationalization that has been central to the historic Christian tyranny: it is God’s will.
Point 2: We feel that this is what God wants us to do…
“We FEEL… All hail Christian Existentialism. All hail our feelings! God’s truth is divined by your feelings!”
Like many Christian doctrines we’ve borrowed our interpretive assumptions from other sources and superimposed them on our understanding: we borrowed Existentialism from some 17th century philosophers.
I don’t know if Leonard Peikoff originated this, but he sums up the impact of those 17th century philosophers — Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre — with his pithy observation: “nausea becomes a metaphysical…” When feeling is the source of truth, GOOD is as flimsy as the air. Why? Because I FEEL hot, I FEEL cold, depending on what temperature I value, GOOD is as whimsical as my skin.
Metaphysics is the study of how we define existence. Existential means experience. (Not quite but just go with it) When Man starts with experience, the sensory feedback of that experience as the starting place of existence, it leads … well… nowhere. Anything and nothing becomes truth, because even nausea can mean something is Gospel.
Absurd you say? Of course, you are right. And that was exactly the conclusion of those philosophers; the universe is absurd. I won’t detail the impact of the Existential Philosophers on Christianity here, but Christianity has been profoundly altered by Existentialism. So much so that we have conceded that Christian Faith is in fact Kierkegaard’s “Leap of Faith,” which is tantamount to saying that Tinkerbell pixie dust is the foundation of our thinking. Sprinkle a little Disney dust on everything and it magically becomes something true. Of course, this means Christians have abandoned the realm of reason to anyone and everyone.
Logically, (um, does that word apply here?) Christians often cite feelings and “deep-seated convictions,” as the foundation for their actions, which means that we often sound like Scrooge after a visit from Christmas Past: “Was that God or a piece of under done potato?”
We don’t trouble ourselves to think too much. The result: when confronted with things Christians don’t understand or arguments they cannot overcome, they offer up this weak mantra: “Well, I just believe, I just believe, I just believe…” As if bargaining with the Ace of Irrationality is the ultimate intellectual trump card in the grand game of Ideological No limit Hold’em. “I don’t really know why I believe what I believe, but … who cares…. The bible says it. I believe it. That settles it. I’m all in. Dare you to call my bet!”
Forgive me for switching similes but this mindset is a sword short of the barbarian’s philosophical development. The barbarian is not troubled with understanding WHY something is, nor seeking to understand the cause and effect of … anything. Whatever IS … is because the gods made it that way. If he’s hungry, hunt. If he feels lustful, rape. If it doesn’t work, hit. If he wants something, take. If he does not understand something, destroy.
And how does the Barbarian obtain his moral clarity to use his sword? He goes to the local mystic who reads the bones, or the tea leaves, or the feelings in his entrails. That man invokes the Higher Powers, the demons, the Ba’als, the Angles, the Universe, Gaia, and says, “Yea, verily… thou art the chosen one. Hug a tree, sacrifice a human. You are absolved of your destruction!”
And this is the exact progression that merges authority (force) with feeling (faith) to produce endless death and destruction.
It is to this philosophical world view that Jesus speaks this warning. “If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.”
However disproportionate the criticisms of Christianity are when contrasted to Islam, this is why people are so terrified of Christian proclamations. They hear the same mystical barbaric justification in our message of burning love: God loves you but will burn you if you don’t live like we tell you. They hear the same pixie dust argument and despair an appeal on any objective standard. When Christians stab a finger at a bible passage and insist on their authority to demand an outcome, the average person has learned to say: “So?” The specter that hovers over all subsequent conversations is how much force are those advocating mystical authority willing to use in compelling philosophical compliance. This is why James Madison observed correctly that Ecclesiastical Establishments during more than 18 centuries have been on trial and their fruits have been, more or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, and in both: superstition, bigotry and persecution. Christians have shown themselves utterly servile, ignorant, superstitious, and bigoted. The inevitable outcome of such a world view leads to persecution. And it is for this reason that we sustain little credibility in social and political conversation.
This must be fixed. And the symbolic action of burning the Qur’an is not the means to that end.
By admission, Terry Jones wanted to burn the Qur’an as a symbol of limits, resolve, and ideological distinction. This is a tragically misplaced emblem because the moral justification roots are the same driving force of Islamic jihad.
Keeping “moderate” Muslims and “radical” Islam in line with our Constitution comes from the NON-symbolic action of hammering our government representatives to address reality and enforce our laws. The privilege of American Freedom cannot, shall not be a weapon of our own destruction by conceding Sharia within our borders.
Freedom of Religion is not a freedom to deny civil liberties, or parade military success before our faces, or offer animal or human sacrifices.
Nor should our representatives be complicit with Islamic despotic states: just because he is OUR despot does not make him a GOOD despot. GOOD Despots are mystical creatures like Unicorns. They don’t exist and it destroys credibility when adults act like they are real.
Nor is pacifism a morally superior ethical state. A pointed weapon is not an argument. And letting someone point a weapon and chanting “Oooohhhhmmmmm,” to the universe and wishing upon a star is not a response to extortion. Personal restraint in the face of insult is not at all the same as ignoring nuclear weapons development in the hands of men who have shown themselves utterly willing to use any weapon to commit terror on the world. The first is an effective manifestation of turning the other cheek; the second is madness. The first ends the endless human tendency towards blood feud; the second is a concession to barbarism.
As founded, the American Republic is the greatest governing invention the world has ever seen masterfully designed to walk the tight rope between individual liberty and governing power to enforce public peace. The American state functions as the defender of the individual citizen. To fulfill their Constitutional oath, our leaders must be willing to execute violence in defense of freedom. If our senators, congressmen, and presidents, and governors cannot execute this responsibility, they do not belong in “authority.”
To Pastor Terry Jones I say this: These are public policy issues and determined by civic participation. No symbolism is required.
To everybody else in general: The way to defeat Islam is to print 300 million copies of the Qur’an and explanations of the Hadith and Sira so that people in the West can see exactly what it teaches, and then successfully offer effective counterarguments.
If nothing else: use that knowledge to insist on the manifest grim realities and drub our policymakers about the shoulders unit they understand, we will not tolerate polite fictions in Government policy.
The disaster of American Foreign Policy has always stemmed from our elected officials pretending that dictators and tyrants are essential for peace and stability. Now they are bringing that same moral and political evasion into domestic social policy. The days of their condescending paternalism, pacifying the electorate with polite fictions, and outright falsehoods must be numbered if the United States is to survive.
(If you don’t believe me, look at European democracies: that is where we are headed.)
All ideologies have a large distribution of belief, dedication, and zeal and just like Christianity when people proclaim their commitment, it is no guarantee how much they truly grasp about the Qur’an and the interpretive traditions of Hadith and Sira. Like the Catholic Latin liturgy that no one really understood, much of Muslim practice and authentic prayer must be done in the language of Muhammad: rote Arabic. It is very likely that many who call themselves Muslim do not have even the basic linguistic skills to understand the content of Islam, let alone a solid grasp of the interpretive traditions. And by its very nature, Islam keeps women largely ignorant by segregating them from any mainstream conversation.
How many people — particularly broadminded, peace-loving American women fully immersed in the assumptions of free societies who are seduced by some posturing University Professor to disdain Western Imperialist Religions — would be saved the disaster of subjugation to Sharia Law if they understood the substance. I expect full disclosure would be eye-opening too many sympathetic to the Islamic “Freedom of Religion” cause.
For the most part, Christians, and more generally Americans, approach religious choice like a smorgasbord: take it or leave it … we’ll pray for you. In a “purist” Islamic state, there is no such freedom. By admission, in Afghanistan, they kill people for choosing any other faith.
But this full disclosure defense cannot be mounted if we treat the Qur’an like Harry Potter books — the boogieman of bad will bite people in the butt and drag them into the occult for just touching the book. Burn it! Burn it! Burn it!
Here is what burning the Qur’an really symbolizes: intellectual bankruptcy.
The only reason to have a “Pastor Approved” book list, burn books, scare people into intentional ignorance, or destroy the mechanism of transmitting ideas, is because you cannot offer a superior argument that advances through reason. When the barbarian comes a-killing, the only means of ending the destruction is superior force, because he has no interest in the cause and effect of ideas or the moral outcomes of his actions. The barbarian is never willing to talk, because his weapon of persuasion is his greater will to destroy. He engages in endless extortion: give in to my demands or die. So when you need force (authority) to secure philosophical compliance to people engaged in ideas, what this really shows is your intellectual bankruptcy. The fruit of bankrupt ideas is death… always. When ideas produce death, the only way to keep people worshiping at the altar is to compel their submission.
Hunk of Burnin’ Love
I feel my temperature rise
Higher and higher
It’s burning through to my soul
Abdul, Abdul, Abdul
Gonna set the book on fire
TRUTH is never decided by force. Ever! Truth is never decided by authority: Christians, Preachers, Pastors, Apostles, and Prophets — that goes for you.
If you cannot offer better ideas, ideas that liberate man from the oppressions of Men, ideas that bring peace from the endless warfare of the ages, ideas that eliminate suffering, ideas that develop prosperity, and ideas that persuade people of Truth’s GOODNESS, then it begs the question: do you really have the truth?
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