The good news is that Terry Jones and his church will not be burning Qurans this weekend. He said he’s already accomplished his mission of exposing Islam’s radical side, so no need for the additional fire hazard.
The question still looms in the air: how did a no-name pastor of a tiny church in small-town Florida become prime time news? Without all the media coverage, even if he and his flock had gone ahead with their demonstration, it would have made little or no difference to the world. So why the publicity? Why all the chatter across Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, blah blah blah blah blah….?
Because, the truth is that we need Terry Jones and people like him.
For the past couple of weeks, people of all faiths and no faith, ranging from the not-quite-as-far-as-Jones right to the radical left have been fuming. Preachers have railed against his hateful, unChrist-like attitude. Many churches even plan to include a reading from the Quran in worship this weekend. His small-mindedness has been lifted up as a prime example of what this country is not about, and he has been scorned by most thinking, halfway thinking, and even strictly recreationally thinking people.
In short, Terry Jones makes the rest of us look good. Yep. I can point to him and his lunacy and rest secure in my own sanity. I can righteously condemn him as a bad, bad man and thank the heavens that I’m not like that. No, I’m not a religious bigot, because that’s what Terry Jones and Fred Phelps (who is still planning to carry on with his Quran burning) are and I’m nothing like them.
It’s another verse in the hit song “not me,” whose other popular verses include, “I’m not racist because I don’t where a white pointy hat and burn crosses in peoples yards,” “I’m not homophobic because I don’t picket military funerals with a sign that reads, ‘God hates faggots,’” and “I’m not an economic oppressor because I’m not the CEO of a mortgage company.” This song is widely popular mainly for its amazing effectiveness in excusing our apathy, inaction, and ignorance while supporting our lifetime denial of our own privileges and what they cost most of the world’s population.
It’s like snakes, heights, and spiders. These are among the top five fears of Americans, which is just plain silly because all of them combined do not come close to killing the number of people as America’s biggest killer- obesity. Our poor diets and physical laziness are killing us off much faster than any of those scary things, and yet nobody runs screaming from the couch or a bowl full of buttered popcorn. We avoid those top scary things and then feel sure of our safety; we are lulled into a pathetic half-coma that strangles us in the night.
Some no-name burning a few Qurans, without the media attention, would not increase tensions between peoples and countries nearly as much as millions of people who don’t bother to befriend their neighbors, seek to understand those who are different than them, nor to consciously live life-styles that contribute to peace and justice. Maybe, along with a reading from the Quran, church services tomorrow should include a time where we can confess our own shortcomings, our own tendencies toward bigotry, racism, hatred, and apathy.
See, isn’t it easier to just get mad at Terry?