Monday, September 13, 2010

Sparty writes

from Sparty, concerning the "pastor" in Florida who threatened to burn Korans on 9/11:
(Feel free to comment, to agree or disagree, or add to the discussion.)

Now that I have a few minutes to think and send emails ... this "burning the Koran" thing really interests me because of what it says about where we are as a country, and where we may be heading ...
First, any damn fool can call themselves a reverend and conduct a church service in his garage - it's what the free exercise clause is all about. That also means any damn fool can call himself a Christian. If that means following the philosophy and practice of Jesus then many of those who call themselves Christians don't have a clue. But, then, there are a lot of people who think they are patriots who don't understand our values, either.
Second, we really haven't figured out how to deal with what's happened to the traditional role of the press as the gatekeeper of news. The multiplicity of media sources has led to "who's the nut of the week" style of "journalism" so that there are no editors who have the power (for good or ill) to determine what's legitimate news and what isn't. The flood gates are open. Objectively, this guy didn't deserve any attention outside his little community but the cable folks made him an international celebrity. Of course, the cable people say if they had ignored him and he'd carried through on his Koran burning ceremony somebody would have posted it on YouTube and it would have been seen by millions anyway. In my opinion that would have been far preferable to the way the media handled it. He would have been quickly lost in the postings of people falling off ladders or dogs singing in the shower.
Third, the fabric of this society has always been fragile and this incident shows one of its fault lines - ethnic and religious hatred of the other. There is in this country right now more hatred and anger than at any time in my lifetime. It's always been there, but usually it's confined to small groups of wackos. It's much more widespread now and it is being encouraged by a national cable network. Unfortunately, this is happening when whatever skills people need to sift through half truths and outright lies are no longer being enouraged. At a time when fewer and fewer people read anything they are easily influenced by talking heads with graphics and edited film.
I know the reason behind all this is democracy, but that doesn't make it healthy. This wouldn't be the first democratic society to implode because of its own internal contradictions.

from Bud:
I would like to add a thought to this, also. I don't believe that the media are the only blame-worthy interests engaged in blowing this incident up into an international flap. I think there are lots of Christian groups out there, and individuals as well, to whom this clash between Islam and Christianity is considered a good thing, that a showdown must come, and that perhaps the showdown is the violence that ends the world. That out of this, Christ will come again.

On the other side are many Moslems who want to encourage the conflict.

I have concluded that neither the Christian nor the Islamic religions (as a force on earth) is, or deserves to be called, "a religion of peace."


Sparty said...

I'm always amused when the media asks whether it has acted irresponsibly and almost always concludes that, yes, it has. You've fallen into the same trap. This fiasco became an international issue not because any church, national or international, made a big deal out of it, but because the cable people ran with it and the print press was forced by the market to follow. Of course, there are people who share Terry Jones' beliefs - there are people who think the world is flat, too.

As for Christianity or Islam being religions of peace, don't paint all religious with one brush. There are religious groups and individuals who are doing a great deal every day to promote peace and justice around the world. Nicholas Kristoff recently wrote a column pointing out the activities of Catholic priests and religious women that are doing more for more people than ever occured to those who lump all Catholics into the same hopper as the Catholic hierarchy.

Irene said...

Well put Sparty. Your third point made me very sad though - "There is in this country right now more hatred and anger than at any time in my lifetime." Sad - because I was so proud and hopeful when Obama was elected president - imagine a black president of the US! I thought maybe the country was getting closer to the ideal that all men really were created equal, that people were becoming less racist, more united, more focussed on building a great society - anything was possible. America could re-invent herself after all those years of Bush idiocy. But sadly, the Obama presidency has shown how deeply the hatred and racism runs in American society, and with encouragement from a few greedy wackos on TV, the contradictions are being exaggerated. What should have been a positive turning point in the history of America just has accelerated its downfall.

Sparty said...

Why we need editors - in the first sentence of my response to Bud I meant to say "responsibly", not "irresponsibly."

And, Irene, I think I, too, overestimated the meaning of Obama's election. The original sin of this country is deeply planted and in insecure times it surfaces with a vengeance. I would like to think we will weather this storm but there are no guarantees, especially in this new world of cable and internet screaming.

Bud said...

I wrote a much longer answer to you, Sparty, but decided to go more briefly: At some point, with enough voices, enough religious leaders, enough followers, enough planes hijacked and blown up, enough bombs killing innocents, enough massive crowds throughout the Islamic world shouting religious slogans, we reach a point where we can extrapolate a generalization about the religion.

At least, I can.

Sparty said...

And almost all of these crimes were committed by men, probably right handed men. Perhaps we should be generalizing about the evils of being right-handed males.

Bud said...

Here I believe you're confusing genetics and religion, only one of which is elective. However, yes, I do think you'll find that young men are much more violent and reckless than older men, or women, or children. As for right-handedness, I will have to ask my left hand, which often doesn't know what it's doing, so they say.

I don't contest the claim that a lot of Christians are peaceful, or that a lot of Moslems are peaceful.I hear there were also a lot of peaceful vandals and visigoths.

Sparty said...

Speaking of violence, have you noticed the item on The Daily Beast that ranks the most dangerous campuses in America? U of Michigan is #1 in the Big 10, #4 in the U.S. Now, that's something about which I could generalize!!

Bud said...

OK, Irene, or Trase, or Scot, your turn! Get him.

Alice said...

As a left hander, I have to agree that right handers are much more violent.