Monday, September 13, 2010


I am not generally inclined to burn books of any sort (although, when I was a lad, my friends and I thought it was great fun to burn our school notebooks after the last day of classes), especially those considered sacred by major world religions. However (you knew a “but” was coming, didn’t you?), nothing makes me want to do it quite as much as all the hyperventilating in response to the threat of an inconsequential fringe pastor in Florida to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Seeing effigies and American flags burned while crowds shout “Death to Christians” makes me want to push back in some way.

If we can’t burn their book in a quid pro quo fashion (don’t pretend that you didn’t know Bibles are routinely confiscated and destroyed in Muslim countries) or draw cartoons mocking their prophet, what does that leave us? Yes, I know about Luke 6: 27-38. I also know that it has to be read in continuity with the rest of scripture, including the Old Testament. It really doesn’t do any good to say, “My, how uncivilized!” or “That’s not really my cup of tea” or “Can’t we all just get along?” when even quoting a historical figure who was suggesting that Islam is prone to violence and opposed to reason, as Pope Benedict XVI did at his Regensburg lecture, is likely to cause violent, unreasoning mobs throughout the Muslim world.

How ‘bout if I draw a cartoon mocking Mohammed for freaking out about some no-name threatening to burn his book and then burn my crude cartoon? I don’t even need to do it, I can just announce that I’m thinking about planning to do it. As a Catholic, though, that approach might be a little too confrontational and in-your-face. We are supposed to be more affirming of what is good and true and just.

So let’s have a full-on celebration on October 7 of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, raising our voices in prayerful thanksgiving for the destruction of the Turkish fleet at Lepanto. Would that be a sufficiently Catholic response, or is our own calendar now too confrontational?

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