Friday, September 10, 2010

Never Argue With a Crazy Man (You ought to know by now)

Faith is a journey - a pathway and sometimes a more serious climb. But it is always moving somewhere, always making some kind of progress, always open to direction. - always listening, always trusting...

My status on facebook this morning read: "Derek Maul got a record high number of 'hits' on his blog yesterday. He thinks he should use words like 'nincompoop' in the title line more often!"

By now most of us have read the contradictory headlines: "Pastor calls off Koran (Quran) burning..." "Florida pastor says imam lied to him." "Koran burning may be on again..."

It was an entirely predictable progression, of course. As soon as Pastor "N" announced he has persuaded the imam to relocated the proposed New York mosque it was obvious there was wishful thinking, distortion, manipulation, megalomania, spin and more on the table.

My brother Jesse (on Rebekah's side of the family) pointed out to me that Pastor N ("N", by the way, stands for "Nincompoop") is like a small child with a loaded gun: he enjoys the attention but is completely ill-equipped to handle the possibility that it might go off.

ESE: The first part of my career life as an adult was spent teaching Exceptional Student Education. I work for two decades with Severely Emotionally Disturbed, Autistic, Emotionally Handicapped and Behavior Disordered children. I discovered early on that it is both inadvisable and impossible to reason with unreasonable children.

Billy Joel put it this way in one of his hit singles: "You should never argue with a crazy man.... you ought to know by now...."

It's a principle that should be very much in play when dealing with someone like Pastor N. Reasoned discourse is irrelevant when a conflict is predicated in emotion, superstition, ego and fear.

On the other hand I have been completely impressed by the restraint, the good faith, the courtesy, the understanding, the reasonableness and the patience shown by those who have spoken directly with Pastor N - all the way from the Administration in Washington to the imam representing Central Florida Muslims. But I fear their well-intentions will be sidestepped by irrationality, blinded by hatred and stymied by an approach to religion that is characterized more by superstition than by faith in a loving God.

There is a difference I believe in understanding that faith and truth are deeper and more real than mere fact and empirical conclusion (a position I take on a regular basis) ... and - alternatively - lashing out at the world around you from a fortress built around a religious bigotry that has no respect for the rights and sensibilities of other people, sees no room for reason, offers no relief from narrow interpretations and owns no ability to see or hear information its rigid paradigm cannot process.

As of this writing, the burning is off. But damage has been accomplished already that will not be resolved, cannot. It's not over yet - not by a long shot.

What are you doing to promote Christ's promise of "Peace, my peace - not as the world understands it..."?

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