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Thursday, 14 April 2011

People versus Pastor Terry Jones!

I have been copied into a number of emails that have been sent to Pastor Terry Jones in an attempt to dissuade him from further bunglings.

One in particular that I have reproduced for your perusal is the email below written by a Mike Fuller. Mike Fuller is not a Christian and describes himself as a "Counter-Determinist" (one who seeks to manipulate, ideally with consensus, causing widely desirable consequences).

I have included his comment on my blog to show that we have links to people with faith and no faith all equally committed to do good on this earth:

Dear Sir, Pastor Terry Jones, Consider this. Why is yours the only recent, widely publicised example of the wilful destruction of a sacred text?
Well, the burning of books - of many kinds - has a long history. Pol Pot burned books, as have the Taliban. Stalin was very selective as was Adolf. You get the picture, book-burning is associated with the denial of knowledge, the suppression of freewill, the persecution of religious and other minorities.

On the other hand, few would complain about the burning of hardcore pornography, or child pornography, and yet it is possible to acquire copies of Mien Kampf in most countries of the world.

The difference lies in the expression of ideas. Mien Kampf teaches the reader about the making of a killer, it informs the reader of the mistakes and prejudices of the writer and the background thereof. Knowing and understanding this text gives insight into one of the many aspects of the emergence of Nazism - and how to prevent its recurrence. Too few people have understood this. As for pornography, there is little or nothing to be learnt from viewing it. One finds the victims and the offenders and that done, there is no reason to keep it.

I wonder where we place the Quran in all this; or indeed, the Bible? Both Islam and Christianity have portions of their histories that are soaked in blood and still other history that is inspiring and enlightened.

The sad fact is that in any religion or creed, there may be found "practitioners" who are so insecure, so paranoid, that they just have to add aggression to a mix that is fundamentally peaceful. Humility gives way to zealous pride, peace to violence.

There is no doubt that the wider and tragic consequences of the Burning of the Quran where in no small part due to the mirrored extremism of your own actions, so I would not condemn you as the sole cause of the deaths and injuries that followed; but I struggle to believe that you are free of blame. Personally, a world free of religion would delight me no end. I have a belief that requires that I care for the welfare of others and respect the needs and feelings of others for no other reason than that it makes sense. A species that cannot respect or manage itself does not deserve to survive - and we are not making a great showing.

Having said that, there is no denying the huge contribution that Faith - whatever its origin - has made to the improvement of Human life. Whether I like it or not, people need and benefit from religious Faith. It's such a shame that the intentions of the prophets and messiahs of this world are so often forgotten - very few have advocated the widespread violence and intolerance that seems to the norm to which we are increasingly tending.

The actions of extremists, committing acts of offence against one-another in a manner guaranteed to precipitate a seething pool of widening resentment, does the Human species no favours. Your actions, however well intended, offended not only Muslim extremists but also most ordinary, peaceful Muslims. The backlash by Islam's extremists that cost many innocent lives, will have broadened the fear of ordinary Islam among ordinary Christians. Matters will not improve with further acts of intolerance and provocation.

I have been offended by your action of burning the Quran, as I have the behaviour of the religious mob that slaughtered people for no other reason than the colour of their skin - I doubt they checked that they were only murdering Christians. I am offended by the institutionalised ignorance that makes such events possible. I am offended by the self-centred belligerence of so called "enlightened" individuals who have neither the ability nor the inclination to contemplate their own attitudes and actions - the "I'm right - you're wrong" outlook that characterises the persecution of religious and racial minorities the world over. I don't know where you might fit in terms of your world view; are you enlightened, bigoted, misguided, misunderstood? - I don't know you. But I do know that we are all capable of speaking or writing or taking actions in good faith, that have consequences beyond that which we intended - I've been there and done that and have had to make amends where appropriate.

The important thing is to recognise when things have not gone as intended, to examine what has occurred and determine what harm if any, has been done; and if apology is called for, to do so. And then to make the apology meaningful but rigorously avoiding a repetition.

I challenge you to give good reason and justification for your actions and their wider consequences such that you may make a case for the idea that what you have done has improved Humanity - I tell you now that I will listen and I will reply. Failing that, I call upon you to publicly apologise for the burning of the Quran and to pursue your genuine concerns in a manner that will not unnecessarily offend ordinary Muslims, Christians and others of peaceful inclination. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards, Mike Fuller.

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