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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dial 911: The Quran is Burning!

A lot of people are upset about the fact that a group of Florida Christians plan to burn one or more Qurans on September 11.

The Florida Christians (who constitute an honest-to-goodness cult) claim they mean to demonstrate the Quran is false. They mean to show sharia law is not to be imposed on the United States. Among the numerous opponents of this policy we find Catholic personalities as diverse as Cardinal McCarrick, the famous liar of Washington DC who mis-represented Pope Benedict's directive to deny Eucharist to pro-abort politicians, and Bill Donahue, the extremely orthodox man who heads up the Catholic League. Both of these men, and many others beside, have condemned the intended action as horribly insensitive and thoroughly to be opposed.

The usual reasons are brought forward: burning the Quran will merely inflame Muslims, it's twisted, mean, dangerous.

Look! Already, Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan have turned from their long and vociferous support for America! Due to this lone Florida pastor and his little flock, entire nations of Muslims have changed their incredible and moving protestations of love for us into loud protests against us. What a shock.

People who never gave a fig about American soldiers are suddenly concerned about the additional deaths of American soldiers that may result now that the media have turned the Christian pastor into an international celebrity (not that his current world-wide celebrity status is due to anything the media did, of course - it's all Bush's the pastor's fault). The Greens haven't weighed in on the pollution produced, but that's just a matter of time, really. It probably will increase the bedbug infestation in New York.

While I appreciate the concerns brought forward (as I'm sure the Florida pastor who planned the demonstration also does), it's not immediately clear to me what is wrong with his plan.

Christians have a long history of burning heretical religious works.
Starting with Niceae, many of the ecumenical councils burned the works of the heretics they condemned - Arius' work was consigned to the flames and Arius himself banished following the Nicene Council (325 AD).

This tradition of book-burning was maintained in the millennia which followed, culminating in the 1420 AD Council of Constance. That council not not only burned the works of Jan Hus, for good measure, it burned Hus.

No one knows better than Catholics what kind of violence book (and book writer) burning can cause. After all, the Hus barbecue was the immediate cause of the ten to fifteen years of Hussite Wars which subsequently ravaged Bohemia. Those wars not only introduced into Europe the use of gunpowder as a tool of war, it marked the beginning of the end of heavily armored knights on the battlefield, and permanently changed the way war was waged on the continent.

But that violent consequence did not stop Rome from burning either books or the heretics who wrote them. Within a century, Luther's works were set alight, and the heretic Giardono Bruno was burned along with his works while Galileo was alive (1600).

The burning of a book is a way for the one doing the burning to show authority over both the book and its author. By burning a book, the one who burns it not only makes the statement "I do not wish these works to exist" but also "I have the right and the authority over these works to make sure that they don't exist."

In other words, the burning of a Quran is a fitting counterpoint to the 9/11 mosque.

The Muslims want to build the 9/11 mosque in order to demonstrate their power over the khaffir and dhimmi, their victory in New York City, lo!, just ten years ago. Funded by jihad terrorists, it is the boot in the face of us non-Muslims.

Our Florida pastor has decided to reply by declaring Christ's authority over the Quran, burning it in a Christian setting on the very anniversary of the Muslim battle, as a way of demonstrating that Christ, not Mohammed, is supreme.

In doing this, that Christian pastor follows a long Christian tradition.
As a Catholic, I have great respect for Catholic-Christian tradition.


Ben said...

Donahue states that this is "morally" wrong.

If it is morally wrong then one committing the act would be committing a sin.

He states that this would "assault the sensibilities of Muslims worldwide". Because he doesn't offer the exact sin being committed if one participates in burning the Koran, I'm left with rooting it out on my own. Is assaulting another one's sensibilities a sin?

When one defaces Christian artifacts it is freedom of speech.

When one defaces "insert any religion other than Christianity" artifacts it's a national travesty.

The hypocrisy is astounding.

Right or wrong, if Christians were protected to the same extent Jews,Muslims,New-Age/Pagans ARE protected, I might be more sympathetic; all I see, and maybe I'm committing the fallacy of selective attention, is a double standard.

To your point, though, you are correct, the medievals didn't mess around. You probably are already aware of Aquinas' view on heretics and how heretics should be treated, might be worth re-reading.

Matheus F. Ticiani said...

As much as I admire your writings here, I'm afraid you are WAY off base here, Steve...

I mean, a fundie Protestant preacher emulating the Inquisition...are you really sure about that? :)

Regarding all the interesting facts you mentioned of Church officials burning documents, didn't Pius XII burn a fiercely anti-Nazi encyclical he had just written when he learned about the kind of reprisal Christians inside concentration camps used to get?

You say you are sure that the fundie preacher is aware of the concerns raised by the issue, but if he really knew the extent to which both radical Muslims and their liberal love-hate partners master socialist dialectic, wouldn't he consider that, perhaps, his act of demagoguery is much more likely to fuel support for the 9/11 mosque instead of being a reply, as you put it, against it?

And isn't the timing for this fundie to play "paladin of Christian tradition" just wrong? The neocons of whom fundamentalist Protestants like him are spiritual advisors indirectly decimated an entire Christian community through their adventure in Iraq.

But they were just a bunch of Chaldean papists, so who gives a crap about them, I guess...

Pardon me if this is too politically incorrect, but wouldn't be a better way for this fundie to "declaring Christ's authority" to just abandon his Protestant heresy and embrace the church Christ founded?

Steve Kellmeyer said...


I clean forgot about Thomas! Of course!

"On the part of the Church, however, there is mercy which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but "after the first and second admonition," as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death."

2nd part of the 2nd part, Question 11, Article 3

Steve Kellmeyer said...


Great points - I'll put up another post to address them.

Ben said...

The dictatorship of relativism has spoken:

Is it morally wrong to burn the Koran?

Is it wrong to destroy any printed religious material which contradicts the Faith?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I have perfect confidence that Matheus' issue is not with the burning of the Quran per se, but with concern for the lives and livelihoods endangered by the act.

It's a legitimate concern, in the sense that we should always look at consequences before we act.

Indeed, if this were an act directed towards other, less violent groups, I would have more concern, possibly the same level of concern Matheus has.

But it's precisely because Muslims are outrageously violent at the least provocation that I tend to have very little concern about consequences at all.

When response is consistently and overwhelmingly disproportionate, then there's no point worrying about it because ANYTHING you do (except becoming Muslim) will tick these people off.

The clockwork regularity of the disproportionate response renders everything I do morally equivalent when it comes to evaluating consequences.

All consequences for every action is the same, so I need only look at act and motive now.

This is a very unusual situation in moral theology, which is why so many people aren't factoring it into their moral analyses of this situation. We keep pretending the outcomes will be different if we just fine-tune the way we do things.

They won't.

Once we recognize that, the whole equation changes.