I am nothing short of awe stuck at the world-wide crisis that has ensued after a previously obscure pastor of a church of but 50 congregants in a small Florida town threatened to burn a Quran. I have heard him castigated, called names, belittled, and lambasted over his threats, and that has been from the more conservative of outlets. So, what does this all mean? Six thoughts:
First, the seemingly constant profaning of Christianity not withstanding, people in their hearts I think expect more from the pastor of the little church down the street. After all, they many times call him to speak over their dead relatives he has never known or seen as they stop yucking it up long enough to look their own immortality in the face. Many still go to him to marry their children, or these days their parents, or to perform some sort of meaningless ritual over their newborn children in hopes that the preacher has some sort of special powers to get their offspring safely into the everafter. That only one Quran burning has been mentioned, to a degree I think, is encouraging, all things considered. Think about it, given the multitude of churches in this country, the protracted engagement with Islamic fanatics we are experiencing, the ineptness (don't make them mad) and absurdity (blind and dangerous political correctness)upon which our defense against them is being based, and the rarity, or perhaps more aptly, the absence of such actions as this pastor's speaks highly of the American Church and its standing in the hearts and minds of the citizenry. Ultimately, I think people want to know that the little church on the hill still has the answers to the deep questions of life should they ever feel the need to ask them, and burning another religion's holy book may be quashing that a bit.
Second, and discouraging as can be, is the fact that that same obscure pastor evidently holds the power of life and death, peace and tranquility, and quite possibly world peace itself within the grasp of two match clutching fingers. Aaaahhh am I missing something here? Consider this laundry list:
- the Twin Towers bombing
- the Millennium Bomber
- the 9/11 attacks
- the Bali Bombing
- the London subway bombing
- the Madrid train bombing
- the Ft. Hood shooter
- the foiled shoe bomber
- the foiled underwear bomber
- the foiled Fort Dix attack
- the oft shouted refrain "death to America"the Pan Am bombing
- Egyptian Air 990 tragedy
- And many many more
Now what do these all have in common besides the fact that they are massacres or attempted massacres and were carried out in the name of Islam? That's right, they all took place before the Reverend Jones made his threats. What? Are they going to kill people if he does this? How will we know when they start? Now while I don't agree with the pastor and know that he can't back up his actions with scripture, since when does having a boneheaded idea qualified you for such wrath from everyone from the president of the United States to every morning drive time DJ in America? This poor fellow might have just unwittingly set himself up as the administrations George Bush of terror attacks for the foreseeable future. I can hear our president now: "Let me be clear. If Reverend Jones had not threatened to burn that Quarn... why those terrorists would have been home tucking their children into bed instead of slipping through Secretary Nepalitano's elaborate web and blowing people up."
Third, and even more discouraging yet, is America's collective panicked reaction to this man. It does not bode well for us or show insight and leadership that this nation, its president, its news media, and its commanding officer is willing to give away such power to any old hair-brained pastor with ten bucks, ten followers, a match and a penchant for notoriety. Fear appears to be the order of the day with reporters waiting breathlessly, fingers crossed for the good of the world, hoping against hope that this lone Gainsville resident won't exercise his constitutional right and cast us all into mayhem.
Let me proclaim that this is not America! This nation would be doing a great service to itself if it would fear that fear more than it feared threats from wild eyed religious murderers and thugs who are going to carry out thier threats regardless.
Forth, is the misguided contempt born out of fear for anyone who dares oppose anything Islamic. Need we be reminded that this pastor is not going to kill anyone at all? Those who oppose the Mosque do so peacefully. All who resist are accused of being complicit of coarse. But at what point this side of converting does one take a stand? For the fearful, my guess is nowhere.
Such accusations of complicity are nothing new. President Lincoln, told a story in reference to the struggle in which he was engaged of a highway man robbing a traveler. The highwayman warned the traveler that if he did not comply with his demands that the traveler would be complicit in making him a murderer in addition to a thief. This pastor will likewise be accused out of fear as well as those who oppose the Mosque.
Fifth, we are lost. I touched on this in "Religions Rule", but this is another case of a shell culture; one that has no defining element other than its claim to have no defining element; a culture fat on the luxuries of prosperity, drunk on a government playing sugar-daddy god; and a culture that thinks its liberty comes with the air it breathes. It is no match for the struggle that is upon it, and this hyperventilating over the frustrated actions of a previously--and soon to be again--obscure pastor of a small church gives credence to such charges. America needs to be shaken and given a slap across its collective face if it is to rise up and meet the challenges that are before it.
Sixth and last. The afore named Cordoba Center about which this all begun is being billed as an attempt for Muslims and Americans to sit around and sing Cumbaya. It has failed at this, but it has been successful at achieving the opposite as demonstrated by threats of burning Qurans. As far as those who are in favor of it are concerned, no change. They were in favor of appeasing Islamic radicals before, they are now, and they will be after it is built. As for those it was supposedly attempting to reach, they are insulted, impugned, and further alienated and provoked.
So what are we to gather from this besides the conclusion that violence garners the coward's respect? Are the architects of this Center so completely socially inept that they truly thought that this was a good idea, or was it never intended to do any good but is rather achieving its goal of being a victory Mosque by stirring up trouble so the ones stirred up can be blamed? I honestly don't know, but given its proponent's willingness to abandon their purported aspirations of reconciliation in favor of stridently installing it over the protests of decenters does make me wonder if it ever had any other purpose.