Turning religious turds into lemonade

Via Roger Wolsey
on Sep 10, 2010
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Every religion, seems to have its “crazy uncle Larrys.”  My own family of faith, Christianity, certainly has its fair share of them.  For the past few years,  Fred Phelps and his infamous Westboro Baptist Church have held the status of being our nuttiest relatives.  Until… our crazy uncle Terry Jones and his not so aptly named Dove World Outreach Center (big name for a church of only 50 people) usurped that role by their threats to burn copies of the Qur’an on Sept. 11, 2010.

Uncle Terry and his curious throng have found a way to get their 15 minutes of fame – Big Time.  It’s not every backwater Protestant pastor who has the Vatican or 4 star U.S. General’s calling them.

I don’t like Uncle Terry and what he stands for.  Frankly, I’m not all that thrilled about sharing the planet with him and I sorta just wish he would go away – that, or that he’d convert to some other religion so some other group would have to deal with him (or that he’d more deeply convert to Christianity).

But there he is, a fellow member of the Church, the living Body of Christ – who apparently got himself a bit overly snookered on the Communion wine and is making an utter fool of himself.  Even though it is Uncle Terry who is babbling loudly with a lampshade on his head, he’s making the rest of us look bad.  So, I have to deal with him.

Happily, I’m not doing so alone.  In the midst of the media circus that he’s created with his outrageous antics, some notable blessings have come to pass.

The first thing that transpired was the creation of a Facebook page, People of Faith Opposed to Burning the Qur’an,  that thousands of people liked.  Then some similar knock-off ones were created too –  Burning the Qur’an does not Illuminate the Bible;   Americans Against the Qur’an Burning, etc. Then various Christian leaders, starting with those of us on the progressive end of the spectrum, began making statements condemning such an action.  Soon after, leaders from our more mainline, evangelical, and Catholic brothers, sisters, and cousins joined in declaring that burning Qur’ans is most certainly not “what Jesus would do.”  It’s kinda rare for those various parts from within the Church to issue joint decrees and affirmations about much of anything these days – no small miracle.

And, while that ecumenical goodness was happening, several Christian leaders were joining forces with leaders from other world religions issuing statements with similar sentiments in an Inter-Faith way.

In addition, several Christian, and secular patriotic groups, have invited citizens to join them in everything from a) buying a Qur’an on Sept. 11; b) reading the Qur’an on Sept. 11; to c) donating money for them to give away 1-2 copies of the Qur’an in Afghanistan for every Qur’an that Jones burns – among them a major American Bible Society (not typically known for distributing Qur’ans!).  Moreover, d) a Facebook page for Christians and Muslims seeking peace was created; and e) a friend of mine is promoting this terrific invitation for citizens to practice radical hospitality – the Million Meal Month.

What’s really cool is that an edict was released by Grand Ayatollah Sistaani not only condemning Terry Jones’s plans to burn Qur’ans but also asking all Muslims not to retaliate and to respect Christians and the Bible in case the Qur’an burning takes place!

And if that weren’t enough, Uncle Terry’s sideshow has single-handedly increased public sympathy for Islam, increased public scrutiny of religious extremism, and put a halt to the ridiculous allegations that President Obama is a Muslim.

The good Lord works in mysterious ways….

Christians have often said (at least since the invention of lemonade) that “God’s speciality is turning lemons into lemonade.”  Seems She’s also in the practice of transforming turdish-idiocy into blessing.

– brother Roger

(I’m somebody’s uncle too, I’ll do my best to avoid the Kool-Aid)

ps. here’s a terrific blog to ponder http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eugene-cho/what-would-jesus-do-burn-_b_708994.html

pps. To all of my Muslim friends, ‘Eid Mubārak!  (“Blessed Eid”)

pps. There’s some concern that as Eid is celebrated this year on September 10, uninformed persons might imagine that Muslims are “celebrating 9/11.” Please be prepared to share knowledge of this holy time at the end of Ramadan.


About Roger Wolsey

Roger Wolsey is a free-spirited GenX-er who thinks and feels a lot about God and Jesus. He’s a progressive Christian who identifies with people who consider themselves as being “spiritual but not religious.” He came of age during the “Minneapolis sound” era and enjoyed seeing The Replacements, The Jayhawks, Husker Du, The Wallets, Trip Shakespeare, Prince, and Soul Asylum in concert—leading to strong musical influences to his theology. He earned his Masters of Divinity degree at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. Roger is an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and he currently serves as the director of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at C.U. in Boulder, CO. He was married for ten years, divorced in 2005 and now co-parents a delightful 10-year old son. Roger loves live music, hosting house concerts, rock-climbing, yoga, centering prayer, trail-running with his dog Kingdom, dancing, camping, riding his motorcycle, blogging, and playing his trumpet in ska bands and music projects. He's recently written a book Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don't like christianity


15 Responses to “Turning religious turds into lemonade”

  1. Janet says:

    I knew something good must come out of this mess. Thank you Roger for revealing just what the good is.

  2. Well said, Roger. While I would probably not participate in items listed under a, b, or c, I am very glad to see hefty responses from Christians denouncing pastor Terry’s actions.


  3. Roger Wolsey says:

    well speak of the devil.. the plot just thickened. Seems Uncle Fred is feeling jealous of the media attention being lavished upon Uncle Terry. …. you just can’t make this stuff up people. : P

  4. Caleb says:

    A so called "reverand" wishes that a man would convert into another religion? Yikes. Yeah, let's have him become a mormon so he can believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers, and also so he can have multiple wives and live in sin. Or lets have him become catholic, where people believe in a completely fake and middle grounds between heaven and hell, purgatory. True christianity isn't a religion, its a relationship with God. This is very, very, very basic stuff. Let's see, you also cuss, giving an even worse of a name to christianity. Because those words don't glorify God. I also can't believe that Christian groups are telling people to buy the Qu'ran? Sorry devil, you aren't gonna trick me into buying a book that doesn't glorify the one true God. All those people buying it are sowing money right into the devils weak little kingdom that is here on earth. He's weak, but people let him become strong in their lives.

  5. Roger Wolsey says:

    Caleb, 1. I said, that I "sorta just wish"… not the same thing. Besides, aren't Christians allowed to be exasperated and to express their feelings? 2. Islam is also a relationship with God. And despite your sentiment, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, are all religions – as well as being relationships with God. This is "very very very basic stuff." But, even though we disagree, and apparently view things quite differently, we're glad to see you posting on Elephant! Welcome aboard! : )

  6. Chad Holtz says:


    Wonder post full of grace – and hope!

    Thanks for the nod to Million Meal Month – check it out, people!

    Also, where did you cuss? Surely Caleb isn’t referring to “turd,” is he?

    Damn, I hope not.


    Pastor Chad Holtz

  7. Caleb says:

    Lol Chad, he deleted it. And Roger, although yes it may be somewhat of a relationship, or they may THINK its a relationship, but its not a true relationship unless they have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and have Him in their hearts.

  8. Roger Wolsey says:

    I am glad that Uncle Terry repented and came to his senses. See note a few comments above.

  9. Roger Wolsey says:

    That said, I'm not really sure there's much of a difference between an ass, a damn, a turd, and a dipshit. Frankly, giving a crap about that sort of thing is vapid, polite religiosity not Christianity.

  10. Roger Wolsey says:

    re: the OP, on a related note, "Dude, you have no Qur'an!" skateboarding hipster foils attempt to burn Qur'ran http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2-KgBhslBQ can you say pOwned!?

  11. Good post. Thumbs up all the way! 🙂 Thanks!

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