Posts Tagged “book burning”

Burned Quran Pages - Flickr - Al Jazeera EnglishLately it seems the stories of primitive Islamofascist barbarism emanate mostly from the hinterlands of Syria and Iraq, with ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-savage-brood. And it’s true they’re responsible for a lot of it. But we can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that primitive Islamofascist barbarism can be found in other parts of the Muslim world, too. A case in point is this NBC News story about a Christian couple in Pakistan who were burned alive (WebCite cached article):

A mob accused of burning alive a Christian couple in an industrial kiln in Pakistan allegedly wrapped a pregnant mother in cotton so she would catch fire more easily, according to family members who witnessed the attack.

Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24, were set upon by at least 1,200 people after rumors circulated that they had burned verses from the Quran, family spokesman Javed Maseeh told NBC News via telephone late Thursday. Their legs were also broken so they couldn’t run away.

“They picked them up by their arms and legs and held them over the brick furnace until their clothes caught fire,” he said. “And then they threw them inside the furnace.”

This is yet another example of the murderous, sanctimonious rage that kicks up within Muslim communities whenever they get the notion that someone has burned a Qur’an (or might do so, but hasn’t yet). I’ve gone on the record as saying book-burning of any kind is stupid, mostly because it doesn’t do anything except display one’s anger over something — and there are almost an infinite number of other ways to express anger, if one is convinced one must do so. But going as far as burning people alive over it is — obviously! — excessive. After all, even though it’s a useless gesture, by the same token, book-burning doesn’t actually harm anyone or anything. If one burns a copy of a book, all one has done is to burn a copy of it; the book itself, and more especially the ideas within it, remain. This is doubly true in the case of the Qur’an, one of the most widely-published books on the planet.

I’m sure Islam’s defenders will claim this heinous double murder was the act of just a “lunatic fringe” (cached), a mere handful of extremists who don’t represent Muslims generally, or even their local community. In this case, however, that’s absolutely untrue; 1,200 people set upon and murdered them, in a spectacularly savage way that none of them possibly could have been ignorant of; e.g.:

Bibi, a mother of four who was four months pregnant, was wearing an outfit that initially didn’t burn, according to Javed Maseeh. The mob removed her from over the kiln and wrapped her up in cotton to make sure the garments would be set alight.

At this point, I can’t see how anyone can rationally avoid admitting that there is quite obviously a problem within the Muslim world, if events as large and as barbaric as this can occur. It’s not really the “religion of peace” it’s frequently said to be. Yeah, I know the prime minister of Pakistan has promised “justice” in this case, but the fact that a huge mob of 1,200 people could have done such a thing in the first place is where the real problem lies; how the government reacts hardly matters, after-the-fact. Making it all worse, Pakistan’s courts have a strong Islamofascist bias, to the point I doubt much will happen to any of the folks who’ve been arrested over this incident. So the prime minister’s promises largely ring hollow.

As my own protest against this kind of religiofascistic savagery in the name of preventing “blasphemy,” I’ve used a picture of a burned Qur’an at the top of this post. If this decision angers you, that’s fine by me. Go right ahead and be angry, if it makes you feel better to do so! Throw a tantrum, if you’d like. I don’t fucking care.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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But on May 10, 1933, one of his [i.e. Erich Kästner's] most important works, the adult novel 'Fabian,' was burned in Berlin, which the Nazi Party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter had called a 'dirty tale,' filled with 'descriptions of subhuman orgies.' / Der SpiegelReaders haven’t tacked many comments onto them, but my many posts on various examples of book-burning have accumulated a little private correspondence, since I launched this blog several years ago.

Mostly, I’m asked what my problem is with book-burning. Since I’m an agnostic with no metaphysical beliefs, why should I care why other people burn books? If the books are meaningless, why would I object to this, or find it foolish or harmful? I’ve decided it’s time I addressed that issue, and did so with a new static page. Have a look at it, if you care to.

Photo credit: Der Spiegel.

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1933-may-10-berlin-book-burningNeocrusading pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville FL is no stranger to this blog. I’ve mentioned his childish antics any number of times in the past, and even pointed out his shady history while he was a “missionary” in Germany. Jones is absolutely beside himself with fury, you see, because there’s this horrific religion out there called “Islam,” and its followers (Muslims), you see, have this holy book, called the “Qur’an.” Jones just can’t handle the fact that these Muslims dare to revere and read their Qur’an, you see. Why, it’s an outrage! It can’t be tolerated! In Jones’s juvenile mind, no one but Christians are allowed to have any holy books, and the only holy book they’re allowed to have, is his own (Protestant, of course!) Bible.

Jones was so enraged that these Muslim types have so insolently dared keep their own holy book, that he threatened to burn some Qur’ans; after catching flak for that, Jones waffled and said he might cancel it; then, he dropped his uncertainty and promised to burn them anyway; then Jones inexplicably let the deadline pass without burning any Qur’ans; and burned one only later on, when no one was looking.

It seems Jones still hasn’t gotten over his sanctimonious outrage that Muslims still exist and still revere their Qur’an. The New York Post reports that he went and burned some more (WebCite cached article):

A controversial Florida pastor held another Koran-burning ceremony outside his church to protest the imprisonment of a Christian clergyman in Iran, The Gainesville Sun reported.

Jones, who made headlines worldwide by videotaping a similar Koran-burning ceremony in March 2011, burned several copies of the Islamic holy book alongside an image depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad on Saturday evening.

Jones uses Iran’s imprisonment of Youcef Nadarkhani as a pretense for his “protest.” But somehow, I’m not sure getting into a pissing contest with the Iranian government over who can be more religiously intolerant, is really all that great of an idea. It amounts to “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and is fallacious. And I can’t see how it can get Iran’s theocratic mullahs to release Nadarkhani.

The sad part of this is, I’m sure Jones’s childish antics will be met with even more childish and violent antics by Muslims elsewhere in the world, as happened previously when he’d first stirred up this controversy. Ground zero for the flare-up is almost certain to be Afghanistan, home to hovels full of enraged Muslims who — just like Jones — cannot seem to handle the idea that there are actually people in the world who dare refuse to believe as they do.

Well, I have news for both Jones and any Muslims who respond to his Qur’an-burning by rioting, looting, pillaging, and/or killing: Here’s one skeptical, godless agnostic heathen who refuses to believe what either of you demands I believe. Don’t like it? Burn away. I’m not changing my mind, and there is nothing in the universe you can do to stop me.

For the record, while I support the right to blaspheme, I consider book-burning — of any kind of book, aside maybe from one which one is actually disposing of because it’s been ruined somehow — to be a crime against the intellect, and an action which is far too Nazi-like for my taste.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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In Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, Afghans chanted anti-American slogans during a demonstration to condemn the burning of a copy of the Muslim holy book by an American pastor. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)In an effort, I suppose, to demonstrate to the world just how irrational and immature they can be, a mob of Afghanis outraged over Pastor Terry Jones burning a Qur’an a few days ago, killed several UN relief workers. The New York Times reports on this example of the raging, violent behavior promoted by the “Religion of Peace” (WebCite cached article):

Thousands of demonstrators angered over the burning of a Koran in Florida mobbed offices of the United Nations in northern Afghanistan on Friday, overrunning the compound and killing at least seven foreign staff workers, according to Afghan officials. …

The incident began when thousands of protesters poured out of the Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif after Friday prayers and attacked the nearby headquarters of the United Nations, according to Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman for Gen. Daoud Daoud, the Afghan National Police commander for northern Afghanistan.

After disarming or shooting the United Nations compound’s guards, the crowd surged inside. Mr. Ahmadzai said that eight of the foreign staff workers, whose nationalities were not known immediately, were killed by gunfire, and that two others were captured by the mob and beheaded.

These sanctimoniously enraged Afghanis killed the relief workers, because — as well all know very well! — it’s crucially important that innocent people die, whenever a Qur’an is burned, anywhere in the world. It must happen even when there’s a mere rumor that a Qur’an might be burned! It just has to be that way. After all, al-Lah wills it!

In the barbaric minds of primitive religionists living in third-world hovels, that is.

I’m sure that, to Pastor Jones and the rest of the Neocrusaders in the US, this is precisely what they wanted to happen, and it certainly appears to prove their point. However, I’m not sure it’s to the credit of the “Religion of Love” that its adherents were able to goad a bunch of Islamofascist lunatics into killing people.

I get Neocrusaders’ point. I really do. Yes, it’s true, there are lots of raging Islamofascists out there, willing to kill for their metaphysical beliefs. But … this phenomenon also is found within Christianity, too. Over the course of its history, Christianity has proven itself to be every bit as violent as Islam appears to be, now.

Is it really a good idea for Christians in the US to engage in a pissing contest with the world’s Muslims, to find out whose religion can be more extreme and violent? Mature adults do not engage in such behavior. Isn’t it time for the more mature Christians in the US to finally take control of their own religion?

My guess is, they can’t be bothered. They prefer to let extremists run around, absconding with their own religion.

Call me crazy, but I think the world would be a far better place, if Christofascists like Pastor Jones would stop caterwauling over the existence of Islam, and Afghani mobs would stop burning, looting and killing because Qur’ans get burned. I guess my overly-simplistic, cynical, skeptical, godless agnostic heathen mind just can’t wrap itself around the importance of such matters.

Photo credit: Omar Sobhani/Reuters via the NY Times.

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Deutsche Studenten verbrennen eingesammelte, 'undeutsche' Schriften und Bücher öffentlich auf der zentralen Prachtstraße 'Unter den Linden' in Berlin.For the second year in a row, this coming Halloween, a church full of crazies in Canton, North Carolina (that I blogged about last year) plans to burn Bibles. You read that right. A Christian church plans to burn Christian Bibles. It’s quite true; they’re damned serious about it; and they’re proud to announce it to the universe (WebCite cached article):

The annual Book Burning for 2010 will be upon us very soon. This year is going to be much bigger and better. We already have collected more perversions of God’s Holy Word than we had last year, as well as many books by heretics and movies.

Many churches and individual Christians last year contacted us in support of what we were doing. Many comments were made about how they could help or participate in 2010. So we believe that God is using us to help encourage other believers to do what God’s Word says in Acts 19 about burning satanic books. We are not starting a movement, association, denomination, brotherhood, or anything else for that matter. We are not in charge of anything or over anything except our local church. We are just a “voice crying in the wilderness” trying to encourage others to “earnestly contend for the faith.”

Their beef is with any Bible which is not based on the same manuscript foundation as the King James Bible:

We are burning Satan’s bibles like the NIV, RSV, NLT, HCSB, CEV, NCV, NIRV, TNIV, NKJV, TLB, NASB, ESV, NEV, NRSV, ASV, NWT (Jehovah Witness Bible), Amplified Bible, God’s Word Translation, 21st Century King James, Young’s Literal Translation, Reina-Valera 1960, Darby, Good News for Modern Man, The Evidence Bible, Book of Mormons, The Message Bible, The Green Bible, Quran (Koran), Bible in Rhyme, Boomer Bible, and ect. As well as Greek New Testaments by Westcott & Hort, Metzger, Scrivener, Berry, Ginsburg, and Green. Also Herbrew-English Dictionaries by Brown, Driver, and Briggs. Also Greek-English Lexicons by Moulton, Thayer, Danker, and Liddell.

These are perversions of God’s Word [cached] the King James Bible [cached].

This church, it seems, is one of the few remaining “King James Only” churches left in the country. This evangelical-fundamentalist movement peaked probably in the 1970s, and it makes a very odd claim: That the Holy Bible is not really “God’s literal Word” in any form other than the King James Bible.

This seems exceedingly odd to those of us who are aware that the original Bible texts had not been written in English; that language didn’t even exist in the time when the Bible texts were conceived. It had been written, rather, in Hebrew and in Greek (with a few passages in the Old Testament, and a few words in the New, in Aramaic).

Yes, it seems that — according to the KJO folks — the Bible was not really God’s intended “Word” until the start of the 17th century when the King James translators started working. Before then, these ancient texts in ancient languages were merely a corrupted and flawed version of “God’s Word.” When the King James translators started working, God intervened miraculously and guided their quills so that they generated the text he’d intended all along.

Of course, prior to that, the Bible had been translated many times … e.g. into the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate of St Jerome, the Gothic Bible of Wulfila, and many more … but apparently God chose not to intervene in any of those projects. No one quite seems to know why he waited c. 16 centuries to correct his many flawed manuscripts, but according to the KJO folks, that’s what he did.

Among their rationales for this is that the textual basis of the King James New Testament, the Greek Textus Receptus of Erasmus, is the only truly sacred edition of the ancient manuscripts that make up the Bible. There are some problems with this position:

  1. The T.R. is not a complete Greek edition of the New Testament. Erasmus could not locate Greek texts for every portion of the New Testament, especially most of Revelation, so what he did was to translate the Latin Vulgate versions of these passages back into Greek, himself. In other words … he filled in the gaps on his own.

  2. The issue of the textual basis of the King James Bible is limited to the New Testament; it basically leaves out the Old. Which is strange, because something like 2/3 or 3/4 of the Christian Bible is the Old Testament.

  3. The King James translators included the Deuterocanonical or “apocryphal” books in their project, and they were included in its first printings. Afterward, the Anglican Church (for which the KJV had originally been commissioned) followed the Protestant dogma established by Martin Luther, and jettisoned those. Since the 18th century or so, all King James Bibles have left those books out. The KJO churches are all Protestant, too, and likewise reject the Deuterocanonicals. But it’s inconsistent of them to claim that the KJV is “God’s literal Word” as he originally had intended, yet leave out a healthy chunk of that project, as it had originally been handled.

At any rate, I find it amusing that Christians are burning their own sacred texts in an effort to promote textual purity. If not for the fact that book-burning is an affront to humanity and the intellect, it would be hilarious to watch. In the end, it’s sad, pathetic, and fascistic.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Blasphemy ... A ticket to hell has never been funnierSo far I’ve not been able to think of a good way to counter-protest the various Qur’an burnings that may — or may not — take place tomorrow on the 9th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. I mean, burning Bibles is obvious … but whole problem with any kind of book-burning is that it’s a fascist thing to do, and an offense to the intellect (in addition, and quite separate from, being an insult to whatever religion reveres the book you burn). Lordrag at the Pulling to the Left blog has a different, but decidedly un-fascist, idea:

I have an idea for a counter protest against the radical Christian cleric Terry Jones, a.k.a. Pastor Burnsalot, with his burning Qurans. I propose we get a crowd of people to gather outside his church for a few hours and blaspheme the Holy Spirit through loudspeakers and bullhorns.

Sounds like the Blasphemy Challenge!

There’s a hitch, too, that should unnerve these pathetic losers:

Also, imagine the fun as Jones’ parishioners become fearful that they might accidentally think to themselves the blasphemies they hear from the protesters, and thereby open themselves up to what they believe is “the unforgiveable sin.”

This is because in the Bible (specifically in Matthew 12:30-32, Mark 3:28-30, and Luke 12:8-10) blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the one sin which God’s mercy and Jesus’ sacrifice can never redeem. Merely thinking about the words “I blaspheme the Holy Spirit” — even if one never actually intended to say them — might be enough to eliminate someone’s chance for salvation. So they may plug their ears in order to avoid hearing it, and may not even be able to warn others in their church, because they may not wish to say, “Those people out there are blaspheming the Holy Spirit!”

It could well be damned hilarious to watch.

Pun intended.

Photo credit: mrgaskell.

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Book burning Mural by Jose Chavez Morado, Museo Alhondiga de Granaditas, Guanajuato, MexicoNo sooner did I finish blogging about the sorry history of the Florida Neocrusading pastor who wanted to burn Qur’ans to celebrate the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, than he held a press conference to announce he was cancelling. Or is he? This report from ABC News shows that the situation is still very uncertain (WebCite cached article):

A fiery Florida pastor called off his bonfire of Korans today after claiming he has a deal that will move a controversial mosque away from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks, but the Muslim cleric planning the so-called Ground Zero Mosque quickly denied to ABC News that he has agreed to move his project.

Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., emerged from his church in Gainesville, Fla., along with Florida Imam Muhammad al-Masri to announce his decision to cancel his Koran burning, saying he viewed the supposed deal as “a sign from God.”

What’s going to happen, I wonder, once the insane Pastor Jones discovers that that so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” (which isn’t actually at “ground zero” in the first place) isn’t being moved? Will he claim his “sign from God” has been taken away from him by the vile forces of Islam, and burn some Qur’ans after all?

Besides, to date, Jones’s complaint about Islam … and his supposed motivation for burning Qur’ans … has not, to my knowledge, been the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” It has, instead, been Jones’s insistence that the United States is about to come under Shari’a law. (See for example this ABC News interview, with cached version.) So it’s not clear to me how this issue became the linchpin that made Jones change his mind.

The bottom line is that we are certainly not out of the woods yet … not with a creature like Pastor Jones at the heart of the controversy.

Photo credit: larry&flo.

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