Episode VI: A God In Every Pot
I know there are those who find it infinitely more interesting to see the world and all of its aspects as the perfect creation of a single perfect being - Newton had a bit of that in him. But for me, it smooths out the texture of existence. Instead of "That hill only has rocks on one side because, millenia ago, a fierce giant fell asleep there and a wandering nymph, spying him, decided to turn him to stone so that children could play on him" you get "Those stones are there in accord with God's great plan, which is perfect, and you can never know it, now praise him." One is as plausible as the other (which is to say, not very), but one of them tells you something about humanity in all of its effervescent and capricious variety, and the other just demands dour subservience.
This is why, generally, if somebody tells me they are a polytheist my first response is "Cool, tell me some of your stories" because there is always something human to be learned there, truth content aside. That can happen when you don't have a central font of morality and judgement sitting at the origin of your system. Reduce those many minor and squabbling gods down to one, however, and what were complex and conflicting stories to ponder over become Object Lessons supporting basic and unchangeable tenets, and once that happens, growth, as a religion, and as a human within the religion, is fucked past a certain point.
Speaking of things of the fucked nature, it appears that thankfully there won't be any organized Qur'an burnings this weekend. I don't think anybody questioned that Jones COULD do it, and should not be legally prevented from doing it. Neither do I accept the parallels with historical book burnings as a basis for framing the rhetoric of the debate. In the McCarthyist and Nazi cases, the burnings were supplemented by legal pushes to ensure that Nobody Read These Books Ever. Pulled from libraries, both public and private, with their publishers threatened if they should even think to continue their publication, those were cases of preventing all future generations from having access to information deemed too horrible to exist. This is a bigoted dickweed who doesn't like a book and wants to publicly display that dislike in a crass and ham-fisted way. That's it - the media and Professionally Outraged have made him so much more potent than he conceivably is. But I suppose it makes for uninspiring copy to say, "Hey Jones, you're a dick. Do what you want, the Qur'an survived the Crusades, it'll survive your display of temper. Moving on to important shit..."
Is the Qur'an too holy to be allowed to burn? Fuck no, but Jones isn't the guy to do it. I've watched Marilyn Manson burn a Bible on stage on 5 separate occasions, and will do so again the next time he's in town. As part of a culture that has been dominated by this book, Manson is and should be allowed to make the personal statement that People Exist Who Are Not Overawed By The Holy Power of This Thing. It's the thin minority screaming to be heard over the vast majority who feel threatened by the slightest expressed doubt. But Jones is not living in an Islamic state - it is not his part to make that statement. He CAN, he is LEGALLY ENTITLED, but it doesn't mean anything. Should a young woman or man who is actually living in that system decide to strike out and burn the monolithic holy book of her or his culture, I don't see how anybody could with a clean conscience deny their right to.
- Count Dolby von Luckner