We are not so ethnocentric to think pastoral hate is something exclusive to the North of Ireland. It can hold its own in many rings where the power of hate is used to deliver a hefty punch. Just take a quick glance at the preachers on the god channels, their faces contorted with hate, a selective quote from the bible, a scapegoat to throw it at, made more emphatic with a good thump of the holy book – only out of respect of course – a bit of rabble rousing and before you know it god’s your uncle.
The purpose of Jones’ aborted Koran burning venture was to insist that his good book is morally superior to the good book he sought to burn. It is an attitude that dovetails perfectly with the rise of Christian nationalism in the US, so well described by Micelle Goldberg in her book on the subject. Christianity has a history of burning people who for one reason or another declined to conform to its tenets. The film The Name Of The Rose visually conveys something of the terrors the Christian gentlemen found it so delightful to put human beings through. So by some reckoning it may be a progress of sorts that the burners have switched their purifying mindset to books.
On the Thursday before his holy bonfire was due to ignite Pastor Burn ‘em revealed that he had got the sign from god he had been anticipating giving the go ahead to halt the fires. God, it seems, was happy that a local imam had supposedly acceded to a request from Jones not to proceed with the building of an Islamic cultural centre in the vicinity of New York’s Ground Zero. This allowed Jones to pull in his heavenly horns: ‘we have now put a temporary hold on our planned event.’
Strange that god never told the pastor to stay his hand on the cancellation, that it was a tad premature. Otherwise we are led to conclude that god was so short-sighted that he did not know the imam was a rascal intent on reneging. The imam for his part denied he or his colleagues had ever reached any agreement on the location of the cultural centre with the book burning pastor. Jones then accused Imam Muhammad Musri of having ‘clearly, clearly lied to us.’
But god wasn’t too straight either, withholding vital information from the pastor about the imam’s crooked intent. Maybe there is a theological explanation for that. Perhaps Yahweh did send a message but it was intercepted by Allah in the inter-celestial wars they presumably wage out there in heavenland.
Since then the messages from god have been getting through untrammelled. The pastor moved from a postponement of his burning to something that almost resembled a denunciation: ‘we will definitely not burn the Koran, no. Not today, not ever.’ Nothing less than a miraculous conversion. ‘We feel that God is telling us to stop,’ added Jones. A bit of strategic thinking and tactical nous on the part of god saved the day then.
Pastor Jones is a bible bashing moron. Worse, he is one who showed what a conflagration a fool with a religious book and a tin of petrol can ignite. But folly is contagious and perhaps the best advice aimed at fire stopping its spread came from Sajjad Karim, a Muslim and British member of the European Parliament. He deftly ridiculed the Jones plan, boldly stating that it:
is the act of one man and his followers alone. His actions should not be identified with the West or Christianity. Muslims globally must know that, through this Quran burning, this man will achieve nothing. He has been isolated in his country and his religion. It is only through a reaction that any perverse sense of achievement can be earned.
The pastor and the perverse, a word association we have long come to take as axiomatic.