Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Aiding and Abetting

This Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the horror of 9/11, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL will burn copies of the Qur'an, the Muslim Holy Book. His actions demean Christianity, and aid and abet the cause of Islamic extremism. I have written about this previously, but now that it is almost upon us, I want to suggest how we might respond to it.

As part of your memorial observances of 9/11, whether alone, with friends and family, or more formally with a larger community, I ask that you read, not burn, passages from the world's sacred scriptures. Pick up a copy of the Portable World Bible, World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts, The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions, or God's Breath: Sacred Scriptures of the World, and create a global liturgy that speaks to the best within us.

I urge every synagogue to set aside time during Torah reading this Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat between Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur, devoted to repentance, to read from the Qur'an, Gospels, Bhagavad Gita, and other sacred texts. I urge every mosque to do something similar on Friday, and every church to follow suit on Sunday.

It is a small thing to honor the scriptures of religions not your own, but symbolically it speaks volumes.

The Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, in his play "Almansor" wrote about burning texts of the Qur'an by the Catholic Inquisition in Spain, saying, "Those who begin by burning books will end by burning people." This proved true of the Church. It proved true of the Nazis. Don't let it prove true of us as well.

Please use the comments section of this blog to share what you and your community has done in this regard. For myself, I will spend this Shabbat at an interfaith gathering here in Murfreesboro where I will present readings from the world's scriptures as part of my formal remarks.


Peter Schogol said...

I have several questions.

Where is this Gainesville preacher getting all these Qur'ans to burn? They don't exactly print them as trade paperbacks in this country. Who's buying them for him [and by buying them isn't the procurer underwriting Islam]?

Freedom of speech allows one to burn a flag, a Torah, or a Qur'an, but is the First Amendment in conflict with the Second Amendment when the expressed purpose of burning the Qur'an is to evict Islam from America?

Last, anyone know an effective rain dance?


dtedac said...

I live in northeast Florida and this event is causing a lot of needless worry and anxiety just because this preacher is a nut. I believe that they have bought some of the Qur'ans that they will burn and some people have sent them in as a form of participation. It is so stupid.

Unfortunately, freedom of speech allows stupid and hateful speech. God willing, it will rain and ruin their little exercise in hatred. Any help from nature-based religions in this regard is appreciated.


Eruesso said...

I've read that Jones is also planning on burning the Talmud as well. Although I'm unsure of its validity since I've only seen it mentioned in a handful of articles.

And as for honoring and reading other scripture, Chattanooga isn't big on anything related to interfaith (religious groups here like to keep to themselves). I'll probably set aside whatever I'm reading and participate in the "Read a Qur'an Day", it's been a while since I've read my copy (I've got a copy on my Droid too), but more than likely I might end up reading something more recent like David Dark or Alan Watts. Their writings are just as inspired as Moses and the other Super Friends, at least I think so. I wonder if Tom Cruise might get ill with me if I burn some of Hubbard's sci-fi novels?

Jerseygirl said...

Thank you for posting this, I took the liberty of quoting you on facebook........no one should be giving this guy air time either!

Claire said...

I will be going to an interfaith "read the Koran" event on 9/11.

rbarenblat said...

At my small shul, we'll be studying passages from the Qur'an during our Torah study session after services.

Eid mubarak and shanah tovah! May we inscribe ourselves in the book of compassion and generosity for the year to come.