Red Letters

File this under, “What are you thinking?”

Terry Jones, a pastor of a church in Gainesville, FL made national headlines by hatching a plan to burn 200 copies of the most holy book in Islam, the Koran. Book burning evokes images of Fahrenheit 451 and the Nazi book burnings in Germany.

Jones planned it in order to commemorate 9/11.

President Obama called it a “recruitment bonanza” for Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.

Angelina Jolie, visiting the flood-impacted regions of Pakistan was at a loss for words as well.

Sarah Palin tweeted and Franklin Graham intervened. Jim Daly from Focus on the Family blogged about it. Pat Robertson even offered a voice of reason (remarkable considering the firestorm his words caused immediately following the 9/11 attacks).

Even Muslim leaders reached out to Jones.

The American Bible Society ran a full page ad filled with signatories of major religious groups under the Burning the Qur’an does not illuminate the Bible.

Perhaps all of this worked, and that’s why Jones and his church reversed course. Now, the media may have made a mountain out of a molehill on this one. But I have to stand back and wonder at how Jones let this unloving, unChristian, and unJesus idea get so far that the condemnation is near universal.

The Chinese have a proverb: Let a bird fly over your head but don’t let it nest in your hair. It is meant as a caution against ideas that are dangerous or ill-conceived.

Jones let this bird nest in his hair long enough to attract international attention to his church in Gainesville, FL and his “idea” to hold “Burn the Qur’an Day.”

Pastor Jones, What were you thinking? How did you think this idea was consistent with the love of Jesus as lived out in his earthly ministry?

Perhaps most are uncomfortable because it violates that most basic of rules–the Golden Rule–“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” I would prefer to not see the Bible–which I regard as the Word of God–burned in protest of my religious beliefs.

What do you think? Can Jones’ idea be defended on any grounds other than “free speech?” Can you think of a better way to commemorate the 9/11 attack that reflects the height, and breadth, and depth of Jesus love for us?