This is a free country, after all.
I think it says a lot for America's underlying respect for tolerance that the good pastor Jones had to be asked to not dramatize his version of Christianity by burning Qurans.
Other countries' leaders might reasonably have been expected to detain the pastor, determine that he required reeducation, and send him off to some remote care facility. Or simply see to it that he quietly disappeared.
I'm glad I don't live with that sort of leadership.
Particularly since, as a Catholic, I'm persona non grata with both the pastor Jones style of 'good Christians,' and the more up-to-date serious thinkers.
It's Not the Fifties Any MoreThere's something to be said for 'the good old days,' when neighbors lived in perfect harmony, and children were always quiet and respectful, and laws were always simple and just - you get the idea.
I'd be more nostalgic about "the good old days," if my memory wasn't as good as it is. Today's America isn't the same as it was in the 1950s: and it's changed considerably since the 1850s. I don't think this country is perfect now - putting it mildly - but I don't think we've left some sort of 'golden age,' either.
One thing that's definitely changing, I think, is the influence of 'regular Americans' and 'good old-fashioned religion' in America. The era of WASP control is, I think, over: along with the sort of 'Bible Christianity' that confused cultural preferences with universal principles. I've written about that sort of thing before.
Let's Not Pine for the 'Good Old Days'Changing times are, almost by definition, unsettling. Particularly to folks who don't enjoy having to reexamine their beliefs: which is probably most of us. Change isn't necessarily good: but it's not necessarily bad, either, in my view.
Not all "Bible Christians" are quite like pastor Jones. On the other hand, as a Catholic I am not at all sorry that the 'good old days,' when America's spiritual leaders were often of the Bible-thumping sort, are behind us.
As for tolerance in America? Considering what today's dominant culture thinks of religion - particularly Christianity, and especially Catholics who listen to the Holy See - I think people with our counter-cultural views and way of life are tolerated to a remarkable extent.
Not but what there's room for improvement. More about that in the "Related posts," below.
From today's news, about that big book-burning:
"FBI agents visit Florida church over Quran burn"Related posts:
Associated Press (September 9, 2010)
"FBI agents visited Thursday with a minister of a small Florida church that plans to burn the Quran on Sept. 11, as public safety became a paramount concern and President Barack Obama added his voice to the chorus of opposition.
"Elsewhere, hundreds of angry Afghans burned an American flag and chanted 'Death to the Christians' to protest the planned burning of Islam's holiest text.
"Obama urged the Rev. Terry Jones to "listen to those better angels" and call off his plan.
"In an interview with ABC's 'Good Morning America,' Obama said what Jones proposes 'is completely contrary to our values as Americans. This country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance.'..."
- "Why I'm With the Holy See on Quran Burning Position"
(September 8, 2010)
- "Assumptions About Religion, and American Rules of Etiquette"
(April 14, 2010)
- "Religion isn't Bad?"
(April 12, 2010)
- "'Death Cookie' Comic: Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time?"
(March 5, 2010)
- "Religion Doesn't Cause Intolerance?!"
(February 27, 2010)
- "Tolerance: Yes, it's a Good Idea"
(August 3, 2009)
- "The Right to Peaceful Assembly: San Diego Allows Bible Study"
(June 4, 2009)
- "Freedom of Religion, or Freedom From Religion?"
(June 1, 2009)
- "Pro-Life? You May be a Dangerous Domestic Terrorist! MIAC Says So"
(March 23, 2009)