The Fires around which we talk are not lit by burning books.

In the middle of all this madness, where people think that burning copies of a holy book, the Koran, is a good idea it is sometimes useful to remember other book burnings by people no less adamant about the poison in the printed word. 

The fear of words is an acquired fear, acquired from those who manipulate and harangue and pull the strings of patriotism and every other ideology gone amok all for causes that serve their own ends and not the truth.

Ed Rodman used to bless by saying, "let there be peace among us, and may we not be the instruments of our own oppression."  Fearing words and the books that hold them is a sign that we have begun to be the instruments of our own oppression. 

So it is that I was pleased to see today that Frederick Quinn has written a short ob-ed piece for the Salt Lake Tribune on the book burning threatened in Florida. Read  Religious harmony starts at the mosque, the chapel, the ward.
He proposes a way out of oppressing ourselves by fear of the other, and of course a way beyond manipulation by the power hungry, the angry and the confused.

Dr. Quinn opines that perhaps we might remember that interfaith understanding begins at home - or in this case in our religious homes - the mosque, the chapel, the ward. The alternative to burning books and generally insulting one another is to sit down at a very different sort of fire, the hearth fire of home and household, where with perhaps some strong tea or good coffee people begin to find in each other ways to live our ordinary days in peace and common tasks. 


  1. The alternative is sitting down around a table to a good meal.

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  3. The irony is just how close Evangelical Protestantism is to Islam in many respects: its position on the primacy of Scripture, the position of women and gays, the rejection of a centralised ecclesiastical tradition in favour of smaller groups led by teachers. Perhaps it is their very proximity that makes them such bitter enemies.

    The fact that Nazis burnt politically antithetical materials probably won't bother rightist Evangelicals. Perhaps we should remind them that the banning and burning of religious books - especially the Bible - is more the prerogative of extreme socialists: the various Communist regimes around the world. I doubt that the Koran-burners want to be thought of as 'pinko lefties.'

    If they are genuine Republicans, then they must allow that freedom of religion is a fundamental freedom afforded by the Constitution. Without it, their own assortment of sects and tabernacles would be tolerated no more than Islam: America would still be all-Episcopalian. Oh, the horror!

  4. Westcott,

    America was never all Episcopalian. Massachusetts was always Puritan/Congregational, Maryland was founded as a Roman Catholic colony, Pennsylvania was founded to be Quaker friendly and diverse by William Penn who was a Quaker. North Carolina was a refuge for the Huguenots and Mennonites while Georgia (of all places) actually was pretty much Church of England as was Virginia.

    America has always been a matrix, the "take back" crowd has been goofy for 250 years. :-)

    You are spot on about the Nazi and communist views of books. In soviet Russia before the old CCCP fell apart photocopiers were considered intelligence assets!


  5. It seems like everyone, on the right or left, wants to compare their opponents with the Nazis. What better symbol of evil could one pick? Most of these comparisons are overblown and demonize the opponent.

    Here is where your comparison is valid, focusing on the fear of words in Nazi book burnings. Your analogy is very apt. Thank you.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.