Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Gulf of Araby between

In theory, if my house were to catch fire, and all of my books burn, the burning of my Bible would break my heart no more than many and less than some of the books on my shelf. My Bible is precious to me, because I received it my junior year of high school, when I went on a religious retreat (Junior Encounter) and the girls who were staff signed it, and wrote prayers or notes of encouragement, or marked their favorite passages for me, including Matthew 6:26-34 on the fall of the sparrow, which I read and read and read that horrible year. I would grieve the loss of that book in the way I would grieve the volume of Sybil's Garage that has my friend Keffy's story, "Machine Washable" in, which he signed for me, or the books my Clarion instructors signed, or my copy of The Magicians, because when I asked Lev to write something nice when he signed it, what he wrote was so lovely I cried, just a bit. I would miss the books for the memories.

My heart would break in an entirely different way, of course, if someone took the Bible from my shelf and burned it because I am Catholic.

I went to law school. I taught the first amendment. I am aware that free speech - the Constitutional value I hold dearest - means letting the Nazis march through Skokie, and letting a man with the temerity to call himself Reverend stage a burning of holy texts.

But Terry Jones (I'm sorry, I cannot call him Pastor. It disgraces those men and women of God who truly fill that roll) should know that what he is planning is an act of grandstanding politics, not of religion. It is an act of hatred, and separatism, and is not, in any way, Christian. 

Islam, of course, has a term: "The People of the Book." This term comes from the Qu'ran, that very text Terry Jones wants to destroy, and it requires that tolerance be given to other religions - including Christianity - which recognize the God of Abraham as God, and have a book of prayer. If Jones were to read the Qu'ran, perhaps God would move him to extend that same tolerance. Miracles are always possible.

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