Everyone has been aware of the scheduled burning of the Qur’an set for this Saturday, 11 September, that date being the 9-year anniversary of the well-known 9-11 event. But, it is now being reported that the event has been cancelled following a personal call by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to Terry Jones, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center.
I am thankful to hear such has been decided, as I think we all are. But there are two things that have come to me in the past 24 hours that I want to share, two things I have not regularly read or heard in all the news and blog coverage on this event around the world.
First off, while I did not believe Terry Jones’s decision to burn the Qu’ran was what Christ would desire, and if he and his church would have gone through with it there could have been some serious repercussions, I think I am more perturbed, no, more angry, with the response of the media than anything else.
We have all watched the interviews. I’ve watched three – two on CNN and on one CBS. Did you notice anything interesting about those interviews? I did. What I noticed was the absolutely appalling lack of wisdom, responsibility and level-headedness of the media.
Again, yes, I did not agree with Mr. Jones’s initial decision. It could have brought danger to American soldiers abroad and citizens at home, and brought further barriers between Christians and Muslims. But guess why the Afghanistan people and other Muslims knew about this little event? The media, the news. They didn’t, we didn’t, know about this event because of the decision of one man. We all knew about it because of the media.
I am not trying to completely shift responsibility here. Of course it would have been their decision to go through with the event. But I also believe that some, and actually a major portion, of the blame would also have fallen to the media. Again, please understand me. I am not trying to alleviate responsibility from Mr. Jones and his church. But the reason Afghans and Muslims and Americans and Africans and Russians knew about this event was simply because the media ran with the story. And, boy, did they run with it. Thus, I believe they would have been, no, have been, a larger contributor to any repercussions than Terry Jones and his church.
Who has the money? Who is heard around the world here? The media – CNN, CBS, the NY Times, BBC, etc. They gave this event the coverage that it could have (and should have) never, ever received. But only if we had thought the wiser. But, rather, the media ‘took the bait’ and ran with it in such irresponsible and reactionary ways.
And that’s the problem. When watching the interviews, you could sense the argumentativeness, the debative nature and the reactionary words of the reports and news-anchors. I don’t know if they were told to do this by their producers, and that wouldn’t surprise me in an attempt to receive more viewers. But there was no wisdom, there was not tact, there was no thinking-this-through. None of it, at least from what I can tell. But there was an extreme amount of arrogance. And I loved it when they decided to quote Jesus or talk about what Jesus would want to do at certain points. Ah, now they are interested in what Jesus said. But now that the event is cancelled, we can resume our regularly scheduled non-interest in the words of Jesus.
Again, please hear me. I am not justifying the decision of this event. I am glad it is no longer going forward. If it had, I believe Mr. Jones and the church would bear some responsibility. But not all responsibility, and even not the greater responsibility. I look to the media for their irresponsible behaviour for that.
Secondly, one thing happened to me last evening. I want to say it was strange, but it really wasn’t. I was stirred deep within my gut, my inward parts, for Terry Jones. It was a deep stirring of compassion and empathy. Not just feeling sorry for him, but true compassion that springs from my stomach (at least that’s how you would describe it physically).
I truly realised the Father’s love for this man. I caught a glimpse of how much our God, the one we say we follow yet still jest at this man, loves him. I saw that this is a man that Jesus is truly interested in calling to himself, truly wants as a follower.
Again, I am not condoning the action. But I simply came to see how much our Father loves Terry Jones. I kind of suppose he was like a Simon the Zealot. Simon was a follower of Jesus, but some think he might have been a political zealot. I could imagine Simon being interested in something like a Qu’ran burning event today. Yet Jesus still called Simon to follow him.
And so, here is a man that Jesus is still calling to follow him. A man the Father truly loves, even when he gets a little too zealous (and it is blown out of proportion by the media). Thank goodness Simon the Zealot didn’t have such media coverage in his day.
So I simply began to pray for this man. Yes, prayer that Saturday’s event would not go through. But mainly prayer that Terry Jones would know the love of the Father, prayer for the closeness of the Father. Here was a man who must be dealing with a lot following everything this week. A whole lot. It stirs my compassion even now thinking what he has gone through. But I know our Father loves him very much and that Jesus has not now decided that he doesn’t want Terry Jones to follow him. So beautiful. That is gospel, that is good news there. Good news that brings tears to the eyes.
I’ve read and seen enough on this matter this week. But I wanted to share two things that I haven’t read or seen much this week. I don’t know if we will ever come to a place of better and wiser media responsibility, but we do need it. And more than anything, I am glad the Father helped me understand just how much he loves Terry Jones. And that includes a selfish, arrogant, and sometimes zealous-in-the-wrong-way person like myself.