Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why I'm With the Holy See on Quran Burning Position

From today's news:
"Vatican Says Koran Buring Would Be 'Outrageous' "
AFP via myFOX New York (September 8, 2010)

"The planned mass burning of copies of the Koran in Florida on Sept. 11 would be "an outrageous and grave gesture," the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said Wednesday.

"Florida pastor Terry Jones, of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, vowed to burn the Muslim holy book in a protest against extremism.

" 'No one burns the Koran,' read the headline in Tuesday's L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's paper.

"The Vatican's condemnation added to a chorus of voices asking Jones to reconsider his protest...."
I suppose that, in some circles, this will be 'proof' that the Catholic Church is controlled by Muslims. It's already assumed that we're controlled by Jews. (January 22, 2010)

Turns out that Pastor Jones has a book to sell, as well as T-shirts: so there's a pretty good business case for this high-profile Opernplatz reenactment.

Book-Burnings and Enlightened Self-Interest

I might be less apt to sympathize with people whose religious beliefs run counter to both the traditional American WASP standards and the current politically correct silliness - if I wasn't a member of a religious minority that hasn't been liked by either old-school 'real Americans' or the more contemporary earnest sophisticates. Change the names a little, and many screeds against Islam could have been written about Catholicism.

I've written about why it's prudent to defend others before, in another blog:
"...A German pastor, Martin Niemöller, made the point I'm trying to make. Quite a few times, it seems.

"He's credited with writing a poem. Several, actually, all with the same general message. Here are a few:
"When Hitler attacked the Jews
I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned.
And when Hitler attacked the Catholics,
I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned.
And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists,
I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned.
Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church --
and there was nobody left to be concerned."
(Niemoller's address to the U.S. Congress (Congressional Record,
October 14, 1968, page 31636), Martin Niemoller poem and address on Hitler and the Nazis)
"Or maybe it was
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me."
(MARTIN NIEMÖLLER: "FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE SOCIALISTS...", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me."
(Martin Niemöller's famous quotation: "First they came for the Communists"..., a page by Harold Marcuse, UC Santa Barbara)
"The version you ran into probably isn't there. Some are rather politically correct, some were edited from a more conservative point of view. Although I don't quite agree with the UC Santa Barbara professor's assumption that the guy from the Small Business Administration was subverting the pastor's message ('everybody knows' what those capitalists are like?), the professor's page is one of the best resources I've found online, for studying Niemöller's remarks.

"Between Islamic crazies and white supremacists, there's a whole lot of hate - concentrated in, I trust, 'a very few bad apples,' but dangerous nonetheless. 'My end of the boat isn't sinking' is not a prudent attitude...."
(Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 11, 2009))
Sometimes I have to study, think, and change my assumptions before I can agree with what the Holy See says. This time it's not so much of an effort, since my ideas of "tolerance" were part of the reason I became a Catholic. Which is another topic.

Related posts:


Left-Footer said...

You and the Vatican are of course absolutely right. The late, great, Father Martindale SJ, wrote around 1920 "no religion is totaly bad. If it were, it couldn't exist".

Not sure I fully agree with him (satanism?), but Islam is not totally bad, though in my Catholic opinion, mistaken.

I knew many Muslims when I lived and worked in London. When they tried to convert me, as they should, I told tham what great Catholics they would make, and we stayed friends.

The proposed Koran-burning is stupid, horrible, and, as you suggest, good business.

God bless.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


I'm not familiar with the thoughts of Father Martindale SJ - but I've run into versions of the "not religion is totally bad" idea.

I suspect that in Father M's case, he was coming at the question with the assumption that evil is not a thing by itself - it is something good which was corrupted.

I also think that the approach to interacting with others that you outlined is quite appropriate: when dealing with Muslims, Protestants, college professors or whoever our neighbors are.

Thanks for taking time with that comment.

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