At church last Sunday in the Dove World Ministry Center, Gainesville, FL, there were fourteen people, six fewer than those who died because fanatics in Afghanistan reacted viciously and insanely against the Wold Ministry Center's own idiot preacher, the Reverend Terry Miller. Miller, along with his disciples, recently burned the Koran as they'd promised they would last year. It just took them awhile.
The man is a lunatic, as are the Afghan murderers. He is less of one because he didn't, as they did, behead his victims; but he is an accomplice because everyone from the Secretary of Defense on down told him personally that if he and his crazies would burn the Koran, people would die, innocent people. They burned it anyway and twenty people died--more are injured.
It's always seemed axiomatic to me that those folks best capable of taming Islam into a peaceable world religion are the moderate Muslims. We need to do everything in our power, as Christians, to support the moderates, I thought, for they alone--given world history--can incite and develop "reform," as in "reformation."
I still believe that, but what the Reverend Terry Jones teaches me is the horrifying difficulty of that equation. The Rev. Jones my brother in Christ, right? So how, pray tell, can I (or we) gag him? Would he listen to a synodical committee? Could Billy Graham's son tame him? Maybe we ought to get him a subscription to Sojourners, or ask him to guest lecture at Yale Divinity. How do fellow Christians get this gonzo preacher to cease and desist? It ain't going to happen. He's just crazy.
I don't believe the problems between Muslims and Christians in our world are intractable, despite our bloody history. Muhammad Ali has lived here in this country peaceably, as does Kareem Abdul Jabbar, right? Thousands of Muslims do, hundreds of thousands. We can co-exist.
But I've got new sympathy for Muslim moderates. It's difficult for them to control their madmen, but guess what?--we can't control ours either.