Tuesday, April 5, 2011

perhaps Pastor Terry Jones can explain to those of us who don’t fully understand what it means to die for the sins of another

It occurs to me Terry Jones might be on the Taliban payroll.
If he isn't, he's one helluva great volunteer. John Perry Barlow

Is there any place where the freedoms we enjoy intersect with personal responsibility? Do the rights we hold dear, send young men and women to die for, do those rights stand alone without any concomitant responsibility even for the obvious consequences of their exercise?  It seems we understand freedom far more than responsibility. Innocent human beings are dying because some don’t get it. I suppose that is nothing new.
The nameless child conceived in King David’s adulterous sexual assault on Bathsheba, then the wife of Uriah, paid with his tiny life for the sins of the King. Christianity has a fundamental belief that Jesus of Nazareth died for all of our sins. Christians call it sacrificial atonement. The Bible itself provides scant explanation of the purpose. Having read countless theological texts on the subject, I still have a hard time explaining to my congregation the concept of sacrificial atonement.
In these days leading to Easter, perhaps Pastor Terry Jones can explain to those of us who don’t fully understand what it means to die for the sins of another. A dozen innocent people died last week because of his. Jones told a reporter his mission is, “Spreading the word that Islam and the Quran are instruments of “violence, death and terrorism.” And he uses our Bible as his weapon of choice.
Not surprisingly, reality TV played a role. A California satellite channel sought out the good pastor with an idea. How about a televised trial?  They would out Islam and its Holy Book on a televised trial just like OJ. There’d be a judge, a jury, witnesses, counsel for the defense and a prosecutor...and, of course, cameras and “a word from our sponsor.
The TV trial resulted in a guilty verdict. The Quran was sentenced to death and burned at the stake. Not many of us heard about the trial or the execution. It was done quietly in mid-March. But the word got out. There are certainly those with enough at stake in the hate game that someone wanted militant Muslims to know.
Protesters left their Mosque Friday looking for Americans to pay for Jones’ irresponsibility. They could find none and so they went to the next best thing, the offices of the United Nations. Friday’s dead included at least seven UN workers — four Nepalese guards and three Europeans from Romania, Sweden and Norway. Reports said two of the dead had been beheaded. Five Afghans were also killed.” Nine more died Saturday.
The Afghans were asking that Pastor Jones be arrested and tried for burning the Quran. But, of course we don’t do that. Apparently Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was wrong. You CAN after all “cry fire in a crowded theater.” Jones had been warned by people who knew his idea of free speech would put lives in danger.  Not his problem he decided.
The United States stands apart from other Western democracies, priding itself on a near absolute commitment to having no expectation that personal responsibility be an adjunct to our rights. So this is apparently one of those times when we must simply hang our heads in shame as we proudly defend a principle.
But not everyone is ashamed. One of Jones’ 30 congregants is Jadwiga Schatz, who expressed her concern that Islam was growing in Europe. "These people, for me, are like monsters," she said. "I hate these people." In other words, “Look Jesus, I know you wanted us to love our neighbors but you are just going to have to look the other way because we have some neighbor hating to do.”

For his part, Pastor Jones said he considered this event a success. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said. For those 21 who have died for his sins, it certainly was.

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