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Nov. 2, 2007 by Kean Salzer
You Can Choose Your Friends, But You're Stuck With Your Family
As a Christian I am often appalled by the attention that the immature members of our spiritual family draw to themselves...in what I can only hope is the early part of their journey of faith. I came across another of my "wacky cousins" advocating book burning down in Texas. The irony is he and his high school daughter were insisting their school burn Farhenheit 451, which is about when the government eliminates free thought and burns all the books in the world at the above temperature.
I've included the video news report if you need either a good laugh or a good cry.
What had drawn my attention to this video was the headline on the news aggregator service I was checking out one morning.
"Christo-Fascist demands book on book burning be burned."
How can you pass up that headline? By the way, for the editor involved...the person who wrote that headline deserves a bonus...
It was the first time I had seen this very polemic political term used about one of my tribe...even though he may actually not be in the Christian family based on what Jesus said were the criteria to judge that kind of thing...and it frightens me a bit.
I frequently read about Islamo-Fascists (I like to make the first "a" long to emphasize their lameness) and recognize it as a word created to describe religious terrorists.
And I wondered if this term was a fair representation of this ignorant Texas father. Initially I agreed that since he was advocating book burning for religious reasons he probably qualified for his "I'm a sad little _______-Fascist" t-shirt. But then I began to wonder where we draw the line. Can I be in a line of future persecution and not know it? Granted, I'm a little more tolerant than Mr. Irony here, but will I someday be stigmatized for standing up for something I find destructive based on my faith? Is everything to be allowed for our students' instruction? For instance, I would probably get a little involved if my grandson's 5th grade curriculum advisor provided graphic books on Bestiality Porn or Satanic Dismemberment Rituals. I mean, you can turn off the TV when these kinds of stories pop up on the schedule, but the teacher is handing the kids the books and insisting on their being read and reported on.
I know these two subjects seem very far-fetched as possible reading selections for 5th grade, but maybe it's because their lobbyists are underpaid and unmotivated. It would have been hard to imagine school curriculum carrying Wiccan materials when I was taking my Senior Level courses at Indiana University for my teaching credential, but these subjects are now slipping into classes all across America.
Can we stand on the courthouse steps and disagree about these kinds of issues without stigma, and where do we draw the line? It seems to me this father, while certainly not the guy I want teaching the children's Sunday school class, has been willing to enter a conversation. He patiently went through the book page by page and identified the items he has problems with. That doesn't seem like the kind of behavior I see with most terrorists.
Frankly, this is the time in his journey when his pastor should be inviting him out for coffee and helping him see that in this particular case the story and the academic culture evaluating the story for the last 30 years deem it worthy of a read. And his desire for his daughter to be allowed to read something else had been allowed. He had entered an arena that now produced scorn for Jesus not glory, and it was time to apologize and let your faith guide you. This isn't a holiness issue...except for you and your daughter...no one appointed you the holiness police for the other students. You've had your say and made your point. Now it's time to love these folks, forgive those who stigmatized you, get your daughter the new book, and pray for wisdom for the curriculum advisors of the district. There may be a time when we would make more of a fuss, but this isn't that time...etc.
That's the kind of thing pastors do all the time that people never see...the gentle corrections of a well meaning zealot who has been called to a life of love and light and thinks it happens because of his attention to holiness. It is the result of the greatest misunderstanding in the universe. But more on that in some other blog.