Citizenship Confusion: The Backlash against Obama's Apology for the Koran Burning

Every Monday in Citizenship Confusion, Alan Noble discusses how we confuse our heavenly citizenship with citizenship to the state, culture, and the world.

At the end of last week, Afganistan erupted with protests, demonstrations, and violence over news that U.S. soldiers had burned Korans. In this violence, many were killed, including two U.S. soldiers. In order to quell the fighting and assure Muslims that the United States did not intentionally desecrate the Koran and mock Muslim beliefs and culture, President Obama issued an apology to the president of Afganistan. The GOP presidential candidates and many conservatives and Christians were disgusted with Obama’s apology and some saw it as further sign of the president’s favoring of Islam over Christianity.

According to the New York Times, Newt Gingrich called Obama’s actions an “outrage.”

The Washington Post reported that Rick Santorum called it “unacceptable.”

And National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy implies that our “Islamophilic” president must have lost his mind to apologize to Afganistan.

I have read a number of objections to Obama’s apology, but nearly all of them fail to acknowledge the complexity of fighting a global war against terror.

Some argue that President Karzai of Afganistan should be the one apologizing to us, since it was an Afgani soldier who killed our two soldiers. But this strikes me as a strange sort of ethic, one that we would not likely teach our own kids. If your child insulted another kid and received a black eye for it, your child would still be responsible for apologizing, even if the other kid’s reaction was completely out of proportion. Why? Because we are responsible for our own mistakes, not our neighbor’s.

Another argument is that since Muslims are rioting over something trivial (the burning of a book) that was an accident, we should not validate their ridiculous protests by apologizing. But this, it seems to me, misunderstands the issue. There is a good chance that many of the Muslims who are rioting have no idea that the burning was accidental. It seems reasonable to suspect that some radicals would use the Koran burning as an opportunity to spread anti-US sentiment by sharing the story that US troops burned the books and ignoring the fact that it was an accident.

In fact, The New York Times article reports on an Afgani lawmaker who believes that the accident was used by foreign governments to anger Muslims for “political gain.” In light of this, presenting our side of the story with an apology for our negligence seems more than reasonable. If this Afgani lawmaker’s suspicion is true, then Obama’s apology worked directly against anti-US propaganda, which strikes me as a very good thing.

Others point that Christians didn’t riot when our troops burned Bibles, therefore Muslims shouldn’t either. But this is an odd logic. It suggests that since Muslims don’t share our values concerning holy scriptures, they must be wrong. Christians didn’t riot because we don’t care if you burn the Bible [Edit: 2/28/12: It has come to my attention that some Christians do in fact care if the Bible is burnt. I did not mean to imply that I spoke for all Christians; I really did not realize some Christians thought this way. That said, I still think it is fair to acknowledge that for many Christians, particularly in the US, the Bible is not physically sacred in the same way that the Koran is for many Muslims]. Muslims did because they view the Koran as physically sacred. So, it was not insensitive or wrong for our troops to burn Bibles, but it is wrong of them to burn Korans. This alleged double standard is really just an accurate understanding of the differences in our cultures.

Still others argued that we should be punishing those who killed our troops rather than apologizing for accidentally burning the Korans. I want to sugest that this is an either/or fallacy. Justice in this situation involves apologizing for our negligence and actively seeking punishment for those who killed our troops.

Finally, I have heard it said that an apology like this makes us appear to be weak. This may be the case, but after overthrowing and occupying several Arab countries, stationing military bases in the Middle East, Guantanamo Bay, bin Laden, and intensive surveillance of Muslim communities by the NYPD, I don’t think we have to worry about appearing soft. If anything, we’re viewed as bullies. And, in any case, if we were negligent and committed a cultural offense, then we should apologize.

This debate over whether or not Obama should have apologized brings out an important conception of Islam in American society. In some of these responses and in much of our public discussion on the war on terror and Islam, there seems to be a general desire to completely write-off Muslims as inherently and hopelessly violent, religious, and irrational. I’ve seen both liberal atheists and conservative Christians speak this way about Muslims. They believe that we can’t establish a democracy in their countries, we can’t reason with them, and we can’t ignore them, so what option is left? Violence.

In fact, in his National Review article, McCarthy claims that if the Taliban and such groups are really our enemies, we should annihilate them without regard to “civilians”:

“If our government believes the Taliban and other factions are our enemies, allied with al-Qaeda to kill Americans, then we should unleash our military to destroy them. This should not be an endless counterinsurgency experiment that prioritizes the protection of Afghan civilians and the construction of Afghan civil society; it should be a war that our vast might enables us to win rapidly and decisively.”

Even if they aren’t our enemies, we shouldn’t allow Muslims into our country, argues McCarthy in the same article:

“If, according to the president, we need to apologize to Muslims because we must accept that they have such an innate, extraordinary ardor for their religion that barbaric reactions to trivial slights are inevitable, then they should not be invited to enter a civilized country. At the very least, our immigration laws should exclude entry from Muslim-majority countries unless and until those countries expressly repeal repressive sharia laws (e.g., the death penalty for apostates) and adopt American standards of non-discrimination against, tolerance of, and protection for religious minorities.”

This is what concerns me: an intransigent commitment to viewing Muslims as our eternal enemies and a lost cause, and therefore unworthy of our apology, our citizenship, and our not-destroying-them-ness. National humility, rather than exceptionalism, will go a long way in convincing Muslims that we are not trying to destroy all Muslims.

About Alan Noble

(Co-Founder/Editor/Columnist) is a part-time lecturer at Baylor University. He received his PhD in Contemporary American Literature from Baylor, writing on manifestations of transcendence in 20th Century American Lit. He and his family attend Redeemer Waco, a PCA church. Alan's passion is studying how believers can be a faithful presence in culture to the glory of God and the edification of others. In addition to editing, Alan writes his column, Citizenship Confusion for CaPC.

---Follow Alan on Twitter @TheAlanNoble and on Facebook.

---For questions, comments, or interest in speaking engagements please email me at noble.noneuclidean [at] gmail [dot] com.

  • http://decentfilms.com/ SDG

    “Christians didn’t riot because we don’t care if you burn the Bible. …. This alleged double standard is really just an accurate understanding of the differences in our cultures.”

    Not so. This is a post-Enlightenment, Western, desacrilized, rather Protestant view. Iraqi Christians cared very much about burning Bibles, just as Malay Christians were outraged that their government insisted on desecrating Bibles by stamping the words “For Christian Use Only” on them. Just because American Christians have an atrophied sense of sacredness and sacrilege doesn’t mean that’s indicative of Christians or Christianity as such.

  • Ben Pitseleh

    @SDG
    Actually it pretty much is so. True, some Americans (my wife is one of them)hold the physical scriptures to a high standard and get quite upset when God’s word is disgraced. However, the majority of American Christians do not feel this way regardless of what denomination they are from. What is being compared is cultures (American vs. Afghan) not religion (Christianity vs Islam). The comparison as a general statement holds up.
    If you were to compare religious belief, then yes you are correct in a worldwide Christian view of the scriptures.

    @Alan
    I think this is a good walk through the potentials and a good laid out thought process. Nice job.

    I think the knee jerk reaction is based on Obama’s lack of consistency in response to anything.
    Like the cartoon depicts, Obama does not approach his own religion (by his statement of faith) or the religion of a large portion (arguably the majority) of the people he represents in the same manner. However to bend over backward to appease the religion of a country we have active troops in seems ironic at best and insulting at worst. These types of conundrums are what have plagued Obama’s administration since he took office. There seems to be a higher concern for other items (be it programs, laws, religion, other countries) over his own people that voted him in. As a position that is designed to serve the people, it is an evidence that he is not doing his job.

  • Alan Noble

    SDG,

    The issue is not What Christians Ought to Believe about the Bible, but how Christian culture in general views the Bible. And, like it or not, for the majority of Christians, at least in the US, burning a Bible is not offensive.

    And, more significantly, for nearly all Christians, the act of US soldiers burning Bibles does not suggest that the US is at war with Christians and Christian nations. On the other hand, burning the Koran plays right into Radical Islamic theories that the US is fighting a new Crusade against Islam.

    Should Obama have apologized for the Bible burning? Perhaps. But that he did not apologize does not really reflect a double standard. It reflects the cultural reality that Christians by-in-large don’t care if Bibles are burned (blame the Enlightenment if you wish) and that many Muslims already have suspicions that the US wants to kill or convert all Muslims.

  • http://decentfilms.com SDG

    Ben and Alan: Why are you holding up American Christians as the standard? The incident happened in Afghanistan. The Bibles were in the local languages of Afghanistan. Shouldn’t we ask the Afghani Christians how they felt? Or do their feelings not matter?

    The answer, of course, is that they don’t matter. Violent religionists get respect and deference; nonviolent religionists do not. From which it follows that what is respected is not religion, but violence. The administration and the military are only play-acting when they profess to be concerned about “the proper treatment of religious materials.” Really they are only concerned about placating violent thugs. Professing to be concerned about “the proper treatment of religious materials” is rank hypocrisy. Which makes the profusion of apologies from the president, sec def, NATO commander and other officials a sickening display of kowtowing to thuggery, and a validation of violent means.

  • Outraged sister of a military officer

    I agree with the presidential candidates who said that President Obama’s apology is an outrage/unacceptable,because it is. The president should not be aplogizing to the other country. They should be apologizing to us for what happened or keeping their mouths quiet. I am appauled and outraged that our OWN PRESIDENT would apologize for what happened when 2 very young men lost their lives over the issue.

    I happen to know one of the soldiers that was killed,because he was a school mate of mine and he had a little boy that will never know his dad. I am also the sister of a military officer who is currently serving and I am beyond appauled at the President’s actions for 1)Apologizing for the Koran burnings when he SHOULD NOT be! and 2) Not calling the families and offering his condolensces for the loss of their loved ones who SACRIFICED EVERYTHING to defend the country that we live in. I hope that he does not get reelected and his time comes to an end very quickly,but that’s just my opinion.

  • Alan Noble

    SDG,

    Except that it is not the difference between violent and nonviolent religionists. That assumes that violence and peace are the two, defining characteristics of these groups, when in reality, there is much more involved.

    As I said, no one is going to confuse our burning of Bibles with evidence that the US is out to destroy Christianity and Christians, but many Muslims did perceive the burning of the Koran as just such evidence.

    So, we can insist that their interpretation of that event is wrong without apologizing, or we can acknowledge that we made a mistake (how is that kowtowing?) and directly challenge that narrative.

    In other words, your insistence that the State only cares about violent religionists does not accurately take into account the vastly different histories between the State and those two religions.

  • Alan Noble

    As for the question about whose Christian tradition should count, perhaps you’re right. Maybe Afgani Christians would have been offended. Do you know? If so, how?

    In any case, these Bibles were sent by an American church to an American soldier to pass out. So, it does seem at least somewhat reasonable to consider these views of American Christians here.

  • http://decentfilms.com SDG

    From the perspective of the US administration and military, the relevant difference is solely the violent potential of Muslim thugs.

    While the US may not want to destroy Christianity generally, we are effectively facilitating the destruction of indigenous Christian communities in the Middle East. In Afghanistan, where Christian presence predates Islam, there are now zero Christian churches. The last one was razed in 2010. The Christian population is slowly being massacred or driven out. Christian communities going back to the patristic era are being destroyed—and local Christian leaders very much blame us for it. So telling them that we don’t want to destroy American Christianity isn’t very reassuring to them. Burning Bibles in their languages doesn’t help our case.

    Desecrating the Koran is not offensive to Muslims only insofar as it suggests that the US wants to destroy Islam. It is offensive to Muslims in and of itself. If an imam desecrated the Koran while intoning “Allahu akbar,” his Islamic profession would not make his act less outrageous to pious Muslims.

    Desecrating the Koran for Muslims exists on a continuum somewhere between how Catholics would feel about desecrating the Bible and how they would feel about desecrating the Blessed Sacrament. Do you think Catholics shouldn’t be offended if the Blessed Sacrament is desecrated as long as we aren’t worried that the desecrator wants to destroy Catholicism?

    Bottom line: If the military values “proper handling of religious materials,” then let them value “proper handling of religious materials,” not just religious materials valued by murderous thugs.

  • Daniel

    Very good analysis in the article, Alan.

    I have a few comments:
    (1) As to Chrisitans “not carring” about the desecration of the Bible–I think that actually, most of us would say that we do. However, we obviously don’t care that much, in that it will not spark much outrage except disapproval. That said, I think we tend to judge more on intentions–an accidental burning of Bibles will be forgiven easily, but someone who does it deliberately because they hate the Bible will be viewed in quite a negative light, even if we don’t riot.

    (2) I really do not like this prideful attitude that many people seem to have when it comes to apologizing. If I do something wrong, I should apologize, period. Christ clearly taught that if our brother has something against us, we are to seek him out to make things right. Apologizing for our errors is ALWAYS appropriate.

    Now, we might think that it makes us look “weak”. Frankly, the US is in a position of overwhellming military strength over any nation on earth. Apologizing won’t change that. And refusing to acknowledge our mistakes does not make us strong–it makes us prideful and, when combined with our military superiority (as well as economic domination), it makes us bullies.

    (3) Of course the killing of our troops over this is a tragedy. It is over the top and in no way justified. But I tend to think that the Quran burning was the straw that broke the camel’s back in this case. Whether it’s propaganda or not, doing something so stupid and insensitive as this, after the videos of our troops peeing on bodies, after some troops taking human body parts for trophies, after the inevitable civilian casualties that occur in any war, after the resentment of essentially abandoning Afghanistan after the Soviets pulled out–not to say anything about invading and occupying a nation for more than ten years ourselves–all of these things considered, a few riots are inevitable. Indeed, I’m surprised there aren’t more.

    (I am not saying that a few bad troops mean ALL are troops are bad, that we should have never invaded, or anything like that. But being an occupying power for more than a decade will not tend to make us loved, no matter how “nice” we are. And stupid and/or criminal acts are not nice.)

    (4) A more parallel case in our culture is not Bible-burning, but flag-burning. Many who would have more mild reactions to Bible burning would have more extreme reactions to flag burning. It was not too many years ago when nearly every state had laws criminalizing flag burning, until these were voided by the supreme court. There was serious, extensive talk about amending the Constitution to allow us to re-criminalize it.

    Now, imagine that the US was under military occupation for ten years, and thousands of our civilians were killed, some foreign troops peed on the bodies of our dead, some foreign troops cut off fingers of our dead as “trophies”, the foreign troops propped up a widely unpopular and corrupt regime–and to top this off, they burned some US Flags.

    Do you think Americans would just say “oh well?”

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    I’m afraid that I have to agree with SDG.

  • Ben Pitseleh

    @SDG

    To answer your question, I do not hold American Christianity as THE standard, but the standard in this case. Why? Because the context in Alan’s original statement is comparing the culture of America vs. Afghanistan. The American Army burned books and the American President apologized for it. At least that is how I read it, perhaps that is not how he meant it.

    I see your perspective on the violence being a key factor. I think it is a viable position, but I don’t think it is the only one (keeping within the scope of this article and Obama’s apology) and I think your statements are a bit strong. For instance, I don’t think that violent groups get respect, I think they get action. Like the old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” They make noise, so they get responses. They are harder to ignore, they do not go away, and much like the squeaky wheel can be an annoyance. Violence is effective at initiating action, but that does not mean that it initiates respect. In fact it can have the opposite result regarding respect. There is no care or emotion into the position, only that action HAS to be done out of necessity and forcing the issue. When I get pinned into forcing decisions I do, but it grows no love or relationship and the bare minimum is done because I tend to not care about the other parties. It’s human nature.

  • Alan Noble

    @SDG

    Here’s what White House spokesman Jay Carney said about the apology:

    “It is wholly appropriate given the understandable sensitivities to this issue. His primary concern as commander in chief is the safety of American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there,” Carney said. “It’s absolutely the right thing to do.”

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/02/obama-apologizes-to-karzai-for-koran-burning/1#.T009LfE7U1I

  • http://nailtothedoor.com Dan Martin

    The other Daniel got it right above…American Christians don’t care (mostly) about the possibility of burning Bibles, but let somebody burn an American flag and look what happens…doesn’t this imply a messed-up perspective on what’s sacred?

  • Wallabee

    This article and many of the comments totally miss the point. Much of what passes for “Christianity” in western civilization is nothing more than nominal or cultural religion. People frequently label themselves as “Christians” simply because they are not atheists or do not belong to other religions,and/or because their parents took them to church as children.

    But any Christian who takes his religion seriously will also take the Bible seriously and would be offended by any desecration of holy scripture.

    The difference, however, is that Christians don’t riot and murder over such offenses.

    Islam is the religion of perpetual outrage. Draw a cartoon in any way related to their “prophet”, and death threats are expected. Name a Teddy Bear after same and expect the same.

    Look sideways at a muslim and expect a riot or a legal suit, at the very least.

    And that is the real difference here. It reflects an imporatant theological difference between the two religions.

    Christians don’t riot and kill over offense because of the concept of “turning the other cheek” taught by Jesus. Such a concept is decidedly NOT a part of Islamic theology.

  • http://nailtothedoor.com Dan Martin

    @Wallabee,

    I would hope most Christians would consider the “Holy Scripture” to be the content, not the physical item. You cannot desecrate anything unless it is somehow sacred. Whether that object is a Bible or an American flag, I would submit that reacting to its purported desecration is to ascribe to it a sanctity that borders on idolatry.

    With respect, your comment “Islam is the religion of perpetual outrage” is a gross mischaracterization of Muslims as a group. Are there people (both Christian and Muslim btw) who react violently and all out of proportion to perceived slights? Absolutely. But that is not an accurate characterization of the whole of Islam any more than many Muslims’ image of Christians as American pork-eating, alcohol-guzzling reprobates is an accurate characterization of us. Be careful in your generalizations that you are not bearing false witness against your neighbor.

    You stated “Christians don’t riot and kill over offense because of the concept of “turning the other cheek” taught by Jesus.” I wish that were true. But while most American Christians won’t riot (our violent response is usually military), around the world there are plenty of examples of “Christian” riots too…see Serbia, various countries in Africa, Christian-Hindu violence in India, etc. I’m afraid very few Christians are accurately associated with turning the other cheek, anywhere in the world.

  • http://decentfilms.com/ SDG

    Alan Noble: In other words, Jay Carney doesn’t understand what hypocrisy is: in this case, pretending to care about religious feelings when what you really care about is the safety of troops. If the safety of troops is not an issue, screw religious feelings.

    Dan Martin: What you have set forth is a fair presentation of post-Enlightenment, Western, desacrilized, Protestant Christian thought. If you want to believe that’s the Christianity of the Bible, fine. This is not the occasion to debate that point.

    But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the larger Christian world shares, or has historically shared, this view. If you are right, then Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine were all guilty of borderline (if not full-blown) idolatry.

    Grasp that nettle if you wish, and stand alone on the Word of God — but the Bible is at least as much our book as yours.

  • Daniel

    Wallabies wrote:

    ===============

    “This article and many of the comments totally miss the point. Much of what passes for “Christianity” in western civilization is nothing more than nominal or cultural religion. People frequently label themselves as “Christians” simply because they are not atheists or do not belong to other religions,and/or because their parents took them to church as children.

    But any Christian who takes his religion seriously will also take the Bible seriously and would be offended by any desecration of holy scripture.

    The difference, however, is that Christians don’t riot and murder over such offenses.

    Islam is the religion of perpetual outrage. Draw a cartoon in any way related to their “prophet”, and death threats are expected. Name a Teddy Bear after same and expect the same.

    Look sideways at a muslim and expect a riot or a legal suit, at the very least.

    And that is the real difference here. It reflects an imporatant theological difference between the two religions.

    Christians don’t riot and kill over offense because of the concept of “turning the other cheek” taught by Jesus. Such a concept is decidedly NOT a part of Islamic theology.”

    ============

    I’m struggling to reconcile this critique of Islam with our belief in the God of Abraham, Moses and Jacob.

    The God of the Bible responds to “outrage” in a similar fashion. Touch the Holy Mountain when Moses went to get the law? Worthy of death. Make a copy of the holy insense used in the tabernacle for common use? Worthy of death. Gather sticks on the Sabbath? Death by stoning. Touch the ark of covenant? Death–even if one is attempting to keep it from falling to the earth. Countless other examples from Scripture show that God does consider such acts of profanity to be worthy of death.

    We must be careful that our criticism of Islam on theological grounds throws contempt on the whole idea of “outrage” over “little” or “merely ceremonial” things. For if we judge Islam as evil for those things, are we daring to judge any theology on the same terms? Will we sit in judgment of the Bible on the same grounds?

    Many unbelievers do, in fact, do so. Or liberal “Christians” who don’t really believe it. What we dare doing is exactly what you’re criticizing in the first part of your post, my brother–we become “cultural Christians” and sit in judgment of God’s justice based on modern, post-enlightenment ideas.

    Does that mean Islam is beyond criticism? Of course not! Islam rejects the Trinity, it rejects Christ’s divine Sonship, it rejects His atonening death and rejects His resurrection. On these grounds, it is clearly in direct opposition to Biblical faith and cannot be from the same God.

    But don’t try to criticize Islam on the basis of their theology where it holds common ground as us. It’s much worse than “the pot calling the kettle black”–it leads to using human judgment to call actions evil, and not the absolute authority of the Bible.

    All of this said–yes, we are called to “turn the other cheek.” That’s our “marching orders of the day” under Christ. But aside from the fact that there is a world of difference between seeking vengeance because of a personal insult and outrage over blasphemy, we cannot say that any belief system that supports violence against blasphemy is inherently evil because of this command…unless we stand in judgment of the Bible. I, for one, refuse to do that.

  • http://nailtothedoor.com Dan Martin

    @SDG, when you refer to these early Fathers, are you referring to sacramental notions generally, or to a specific sacredness to the material copies of the Scriptures? I would love some references if you would be so kind. I stand by my interpretation from a Biblical perspective (and I’m actually more Anabaptist than truly Protestant, but we too reject sacramentalism); however I still would be very interested in what these Fathers had to say, that you are referencing.

  • http://nailtothedoor.com Dan Martin

    …and I should add that I believe there is reason not to desecrate that which others hold sacred, even if I myself do not so consider it. It’s called human consideration. So whether or not the Koran, or the Bible, or even the American flag are sacred (and I hold that none of the three are), though I will do reverence to none of the three, I will studiously avoid treating any of the three in a way that offends those who *do* hold them sacred, unless they are simply offended by my lack of reverence which would be a matter of conscience for me. But except for that, there is that whole idea of respecting the proclivities of my brother (I do not say “weaker brother”) that is the crux of Paul’s instructions in 1 Cor. 10:23-33.

  • Daniel

    Hi Dan,

    Understand the anti-sacremental stance, and I am somewhat sympathetic to it. However, I think that symbols–as symbols–can be used to send powerful messages filled with meaning.

    After all, isn’t the fact that we assign meaning to mere movements of air and sribbles on a page quite remarkable?

    We rarely experience things directly…and if we do, we share them through symbols.

    We might think that the Bible itself is not “sacred” in the sense that we must be ceremonial clean before touching it. However, the act of ripping or burning a Bible intentionally is a powerful symbol of the contempt one has for it. People who love the Bible would never contemplate doing such an act, unless it was a misguided attempt to “prove” that the physical paper was meaningless.

    Indeed, if Sacrementalism can lead to idolatry (and yes, it can), then Iconoclasim can lead to a gnostic despising of the physical. But our God has demonstrated in Scripture that He does, in fact, consider the physical to be worthy of sacremental treatment: the tabernacle, the priest, the Nazarite–many things have very strict rules in the holiness codes in the Scripture. Time as well has certain sacred treatment–the Sabbath is not like other days, and what is permissible on other days is not permissible then.

    And ultimately, our God chose a very physical act to ultimately redeem us: the incarnation in human blood and flesh, and the redemption through the very literal sacrifice of that same blood and flesh.

    We can’t minimize the meaning of the physical, and physical acts and symbols–and our treatment of them–can reveal our hearts.

    Now Dan, I don’t think you’re a gnostic or even bordering on it. I just want to remind us that our God is one who thinks things like fire and blood and bread can be sacred, and though our desecration of these things harms God not in the least, it can reveal a heart that is rebellious to our Creator.

    But it is no surprise that so many in this country are flabergasted at how those “primitive” Muslims react to desecration. We’ve long since abandoned ideas of the sacred as a culture that we are shocked when we find some that still believe it (regardless how misguided they might be in what they consider sacred). In that regard, I actually think that these Muslims who still have an idea of the Holy are closer to the truth than a secular American (who might even be a nominal “Christian”) who treats all of creation as profane and mocks those who feel otherwise.

  • http://nailtothedoor.com Dan Martin

    @Daniel, I think we’re circling around the same truth. I absolutely agree with the power of symbol, even as I reject it’s *literal* sacredness. You might find the way I’ve addressed this tension in the symbols of the Lord’s Supper to be interesting. I advocate finding the sacredness in the ordinary, not merely the sacramentalizing of specific items.

    I do find it intriguing, however, that all the instances you gave of sacred objects were pre-incarnational except for the incarnation itself. Remember Jesus got in trouble with the leaders of his day for not treating a lot of those things with sufficient sacredness.

    Again, I think I implied above but I’ll state openly…with the exception of the rare prophetic instance (smashing altars & burning poles), iconoclasm conveys a disrespect not only to the objects but to the people who honor those objects. It is for that reason I oppose such actions unless a very specific and prophetic message is to be conveyed. The soldiers who burned Qurans in Afghanistan were either stupid or callous. The pastor who burned one in Florida was deliberately evil.

    But I would circle back to the point I made earlier…I think it’s telling that most American Christians will get more bothered about the prospect of burning their nation’s flag, than burning a copy of their scriptures. Whatever level of sacredness we acknowledge, this (to me) shows severely distorted priorities.

  • D Inich

    Interested comments and thread.
    I think it’s important to remember what actually happened and what Mr Obama apologized for.
    The Korans were being used to pass sensitive information about troop strength and deployment, and potential weakness in our defenses for attack. (There was writing in the margins)
    After disseminating the information our military leaders do what they always do with information like this and destroyed it. We weren’t burning someones “Holy Book” we were destroying sensitive enemy documents.
    This is why I object to the apology by Mr Obama.

    Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, about how one should feel about their “Holy Book” We should all agree that if that book is being used for anything other than it’s intended purpose then it looses any “Holiness” and you loose any “Right” to be upset about what happens to it.

    As a Nation we never need to apologize for burning or destroying information being used by our enemy’s in attacks against us.

    This is why I’m opposed to Mr Obama’s apology

  • Daniel

    Dan, I think we are saying essentially the same thing.

    One thing I thought about last night was the cleansing of the Temple by Jesus. His outrage over the defiling of the Temple, over those who would use a place of prayer to make money, would seem like unjustified “fanaticism” by most today. Many Americians would say, “look at that crazy fanatic! Rioting over a mere building!”

  • Daniel

    D Inch–

    Yes, I was aware of the reason given to destroy the Qurans. However, it seems like a strange reason, on several levels:

    (1) Why destroy evidence of a crime? Why not preserve the evidence?
    (2) I hope the messages were translated and used in intelligence operations before destroying them. If not, it was plain foolish.
    (4) On a similar note, could we not have used these messages to manipulate those to whom they were being sent to try to uncover other criminals? Was this possibility even discussed?
    (3) Could this not have had some positive propaganda power for us, by saying how criminals were defacing the Holy Quran? My gut feeling is that it was the “other literature” that was defaced, not the Quran itself–but I suspect we just said “burn the lot” without thinking about it. But if the criminals wre defacing the actual Quran, we should have exposed it widely, trying to use the rage against our enemies, instead of having it turn against us. And if we didn’t think the Afghan people would believe us (we don’t exactly have an over abundance of trustworthiness there), then for heaven’s sake if you must destroy these, do it quietly!

    At any rate, the way this was handled was a complete FUBAR. It handed a propaganda victory straight to our enemies, and resulted in several deaths. The President’s apology was, even in a cynical view, making the best of a terrible situation. I seriously doubt if the president had refused to apologize that it would have had any other effect but to (a) make some voters happy and (b) made the Afghans furious. What really would be the value of that?

  • Kevin

    // Thanks, …Culture. Here is an article that I ran into recently while on my computer. //

    OBAMA A BLACK-SLAVERY AVENGER?

    Are you aware that Barack Hussein Obama can be found in the Bible?
    Proverbs 19:10 (NIV): “It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury – how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!”
    Also Proverbs 30:22 (NIV) which says that the earth cannot bear up under “a servant who becomes king.”
    And Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (KJV) advises: “let thy words be few…a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.”
    Although Obama is not descended from slaves, he may feel that he’s destined to become a black-slavery avenger.
    Or maybe an enslaver of all free citizens!
    For some stunning info on Pres. Obama and his fellow subversives, Google “Imam Bloomberg’s Sharia Mosque,” “Michelle Obama’s Allah-day,” “Obama Supports Public Depravity,” “David Letterman’s Hate Etc.,” “Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham” and also “Sandra Bernhard, Larry David, Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman.” Also Google “Islam will purify Jews and Christians” and “Prof. F. N. Lee’s ISLAM IN THE BIBLE [PDF].”
    PS – Since Christians are commanded to ask God to send severe judgment on persons who commit and support the worst forms of evil (see I Cor. 5 and note “taken away”), Christians everywhere should constantly pray that the Lord will soon “take away” or at least overthrow all US leaders who continue to sear their conscience and arrogantly trample the God-given rights of the majority including the rights of the unborn. Do we need a second American Revolution?
    PPS – For a rare look at the 182-year-old endtime belief which has long neutralized millions of American patriots by promising them an “imminent rapture” off earth – which has diverted them away from being prepared to stand against all enemies, domestic as well as foreign – Google “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrets,” and “Pretrib Rapture Politics” – all by the author of the bestselling nonfiction book “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate and highly endorsed documentation on the pretrib rapture’s long-covered-up-but-now-revealed beginnings in Britain in 1830 – see Armageddon Books).

  • http://nailtothedoor.com Dan Martin

    @Kevin, this post is offensive on so many levels it simply must be repudiated. Even if we were to elect a president who was in fact descended from slaves, what you have written here is a damnable abuse of scripture and the name of God.

    It is also bearing false witness when you make an innuendo such as Although Obama is not descended from slaves, he may feel that he’s destined to become a black-slavery avenger. Sure, and you may feel that you’re the God-anointed reincarnation of Adolph Hitler! Ascribing such “may” language is unjustified and slanderous.

    As for “fools living in luxury,” I think that might be an apt description of many “middle class” and above Americans, in many ways the most luxurious lifestyles on the planet or in history.

  • joel

    apparently, you’ve never visited the part of the world of which you speak. “National humility, rather than exceptionalism, will go a long way in convincing Muslims that we are not trying to destroy all Muslims.”

    apologizing in the fashion the pres. did is not national humility, it’s called catering to the base. and unfortunately, many of the president’s base think Jesus is a socialist or, worse yet, “was” one (many have no concept of His being alive. you know that little thing called resurrection). His claim is that He is King of kings and the Lord of lords. today’s so-called church is not nearly in all cases the church for which Jesus is returning. He will be the final judge of all that, but in the mean time, those claiming His name and Lordship have far more knowing Jesus to do than knowing world affairs and political strategy working toward world peace. sounds like self-procalimed followers are up for miss america, not bondservant to the King.


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