Pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn copies of the Koran and then recanted. A deeply insignificant furniture salesman from Gainesville, Florida has, by courtesy of the media establishment, been given his 15 minutes of fame. So what?
Pastor of a congregation of 30-50 souls, one oddball fundamentalist has captured global media attention for a few minutes. The world is enthralled by this irrelevant pastor to the extent that it has overwhelmed and distorted the anniversary of the most vicious external assault on the north American mainland. Terry Jones has served his purpose and may now be relegated to the obscurity he so richly deserves.
Unfortunately the media has persuaded many to buy into their myth of equivalence. Because of Terry Jones they can sell the illusion of their even handedness whilst pushing their own particular point of view.
Where is the equivalence between nutty Terry Jones threatening to burn a few copies of the Koran and building a mosque near where radical Muslims murdered 3,000 people and were only sorry they didn’t get more?
Terry Jones threatens his idiotic bonfire and world leaders, presidents, prime ministers, popes and publicity hungry politicians everywhere grasp an opportunity for posturing. Where were they when Bibles were being burnt in Indonesia during the last year? The big difference being that at the time the Bibles were in churches filled with worshippers being assaulted and destroyed by howling mobs of adherents of the religion of the perpetually offended.
The lesson to be grasped from this stushie is that those who are opposed to the dismantling of our Christian based culture have to navigate between the self-serving outright nuttiness of Terry Jones and the sharia compliance of Rowan Williams.
There is a cultural clash being enacted on many fronts. Soft but insistent liberalism versus somnolent traditionalism, rabid Islamism versus complacent Christianity, the supposedly sensible, right thinking, centred, holistic Guardian reading establishment versus the easily manipulated tabloid reading hoi poloi.
In the midst of this cultural melange Reformed Christians have to plot a course. Individually and collectively we have to know what we know. Not the self-satisfied acceptance of what we were brought to believe, rather a deeper understanding not just of what we believe but why we believe it. There also has to be a willingness to engage. Not a la Terry Jones by adopting the very tactics of those who are trying to overwhelm us, but by attempting to understand where they are coming from and countering their concepts with the truths which are drawn from Scripture.
This of course requires much more than fulminating against the obviously wrong. It requires thought, wrestling with underlying motives, and prayer. Always remember, posturing never beats prayer.
Those who are concerned about the cultural conflict going on around us should thank self-serving, publicity hungry Pastor Jones. He has demonstrated all too graphically what we should not do, how we should not act, how we should not posture.
Many years ago I used to box. Rather enthusiastically and rather badly. I did however, learn via somewhat painful lessons that in any confrontation it is vital not to box furious but much more effective to box clever.
Pastor Jones has had his 15 minutes of fame, his ego has been stroked. In the meantime we have had reinforced the lessons that we should not to trust the media, they have their own capitalist agenda, to create controversy and thus sell advertising; and we should think hard before we act and speak.
Thank you Terry Jones. You threatened to burn a few Korans, so what.