Friday, September 17, 2010

Jack Kerwick, Koran Burning, & Terry Jones

At last a sensible article on Koran burning and Terry Jones. When I first heard the name Terry Jones it was followed by a long list of Lib-Left insults. Shoot, that's what Lib-Leftist do instead of breath, so a sensible person can't put any stock in that. I found he was a missionary in Germany for 20 years. He was asked to leave because his views on Islam offended the German-Turkish population.

When I watched a few of Jones' "Braveheart" videos I found him to be a hard-nosed Fundamentalist preacher. It took watching a few more to see that he was also Charismatic, but his Fundamentalism seems to predominate. He takes the Bible literally in the same way the modern Muslim takes the Koran literally. Such people are not open to compromise.

There is a strong pietistic element in American Christianity. The monks who withdrew from society and sought holiness and purity in their monasteries were pietistic. And the modern day pastors who emphasize that their flocks are to be in the world but not of the world often intend this as a code-verse for pietism. The world is evil, they teach, but we can strive for holiness here in our little congregation. Where are great Christian voices to confront the world? They are almost as scarce as moderate Muslims. So it was out of the ordinary for a Fundamentalist pastor to challenge the world in the way that Terry Jones has. Maybe it took the Charismatic element in his theology to enable him to break free from pietistic strictures. In Charismatic circles the dove is a symbol for the Holy Spirit. Without doubt Terry Jones believes the Holy Spirit is urging him to confront Islam in America. Maybe he strikes the nonbeliever as foolish, but the Bible speaks of God using the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. (1Cor 1:27)

Jack Kerwick is a young professor of philosophy who seems familiar with Christian history. Whether he is familiar with Fundamentalism and the Charismatic movement, I can't say, but he has not been influenced by the Lib-Left prejudice. Indeed he faults his fellow-Conservatives for succumbing to this prejudice: "Jones was blasted by most on the Right for allegedly placing our troops in "harm's way" by threatening to burn the Koran. He has not infrequently been characterized as a 'nut,' 'hate monger,' 'idiot,' and 'anti-Muslim bigot,' and it was said repeatedly that a Koran burning would be 'unnecessarily provocative.'

"Whether these charges, virtually all of which are vapid, infantile, ad hominem attacks designed to locate Jones on the fringes while endearing the Right to 'the politically correct' Left, can be made to apply to their target is irrelevant; much more significant is the effectiveness with which they reveal the proverbial beam in the collective eye of Jones' right-wing detractors even as they call attention to the speck in his: if Jones is a morally offensive, 'Islamophobic,' provocateur for simply threatening to burn a copy of the Islamic holy book on his own time and property, then how much more can the same be said of his rightist critics who tirelessly champion endless expenditures of blood and treasure — those of America, her allies, and her Islamic enemies — for the sake of the cause of 'Global Democracy' or 'American Exceptionalism.'"

Kerwick is challenging the hypocrisy he sees on the Right as well as on the Left. Yes, it is indeed hypocritical of our leaders to worry about Terry Jones book-burning putting our troops into harm's way, but if I were fielding that charge I would assert that Kerwick is being too literal. What is meant is that Terry Jones is putting troops into harm's way unnecessarily; whereas these troops are over there and in harm's way for "necessary reasons." Is there a hint of Libertarianism is Kerwick's criticism?

Kerwick calls Jones book burning "brilliant." He writes, "With a single threat to burn the Islamic holy book, Jones managed to illuminate simultaneously both the nature of the enemy on which America has set its sights since 2001 — itself an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact that it is a goal to which neoconservative politicians and pundits with far more resources in power, influence, and money have been aspiring and falling short for years — as well as the invincible self-deceit and hypocrisy of which the contemporary Left and Right are ridden. This obscure pastor's "stunt," as President Obama described it, has brought into focus practically all of the dimensions of the current conflict with the Islamic world — what President Bush characterized as "the War on Terror" and his successor has decided to call 'a war with Al Qaeda.'"

Kerwick's understanding of the Koran is for the most part like mine: "Nevertheless, the idea that it is "extremists" or "radicals" who we should fear is nothing less than a bald-faced lie. Anyone who has read the Koran, much less anyone who has read it against the backdrop of Islam's history, knows that, while there are indeed countless numbers of peaceful adherents of Islam, it is they, not their fellow religionists who refuse to rest until the entire planet has been subjugated to the will of Allah, who are the true deviants. The "moderate" Muslim is he who, from willfulness or inadvertence, is either ignorant of the word and spirit of his tradition or simply chooses to ignore those aspects of it that cause him discomfort. In stark contrast, the so-called "Islamo-Fascist" is in reality the true man of his faith, a Koranic literalist or Islamic fundamentalist who, from an intimate familiarity with and uncompromising belief in the authority of both the utterances and conduct of the Prophet, will not hesitate to sacrifice his very life in order to crush the Infidel and, hence, bring glory to Allah."

I wouldn't go quite as far as Kerwick has in declaring moderate Muslims to heterodox. Christian Fundamentalists say something like that about their fellow Christians who don't take the Bible as literally as they do. Knowing as I do that this current Islamic Fundamentalism has its modern roots in Wahhabism, even though Islamists can find Fundamentalist precursors, I am not willing to say that Islamic Fundamentalism is entitled to the claim that they alone are orthodox and every Muslim who doesn't hold their literalistic interpretations is not.

Kerwick concludes his article with "Logos" is the Greek word for "reason." Our verdict, then, is that in addition to being "Islamophobes," Jones' rightist objectors, like their leftist counterparts, are also "Logophobes."

Although I have quibbled with him a bit, I applaud Jack Kerwick for an excellent article.

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