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.