13 September 2010

Up in smoke... Book burning, smoking the Bible


An Australian lawyer is courting controversy after posting a video of himself on YouTube burning the Bible and the Koran.

The Brisbane Courier-Mail reports that in the video, Alex Stewart from Brisbane tears pages from both books and rolls them up like a marijuana joint, to smoke them.

Mr Stewart says they're just books, and if people are getting so upset over a book then they're taking life way too seriously.

According to ABC News, "The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane has confirmed one of its legal staff has posted on the internet a clip of himself burning pages from the Koran and Bible. Alex Stewart, 29, is seen in the 12-minute clip using the pages of the Koran and the Bible to roll and smoke a cigarette.

Mr Stewart says he conducted the so-called 'scientific experiment' amid the international debate over book-burning in the US and the impact on freedom of speech.

The controversy comes after international outrage over the planned burning of copies of the Koran by a Christian pastor in the US.

QUT registrar Dr Carol Dickenson says the university is tolerant of all religions and does not condone damage to any religious artefacts. She says Mr Stewart does not associate himself with QUT in the clip. Vice Chancellor Coaldrake said Mr Stewart met university management on Monday, and has since decided to go on leave for an unspecified period."

So, is either Mr Stewart or Pastor Terry Jones right in what they considered, and what Mr Stewart did?

I recommend that we read the books, and discard any we don't like. And definitely believe what you find in The Book, about how to treat and regard others. God says a lot of times to love our neighbour, to care for them, and I'm not privy to anytime he says to burn their books. I will reference Acts 19 later.

Remember Heinrich Heine who is quoted as saying, "Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings."
(Dort, wo man B├╝cher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen)
--Heinrich Heine, From his play Almansor (1821)'

My Facebook friend, and a friend from 40 years ago, Paul Chappell wrote me, "In the early 1820s, Heine released a play "Almansor", placed in Spain in the 1500s, as triumphant Christians conquer and forcibly convert the Moors. As one Moorish character tells in horror of a Koran being burned in the marketplace, another Moor makes the immortal quote, "the burning is but a prologue: where books are burned, people in the end are burned too." Heine was referring to the cruelties of the Spanish Inquisition, but he also intended his audience to draw a more modern parallel, with the exhibitionist book-burning and rabid xenophobia of many German 'Romantics.'

Paul continues, "Heine saw the antisemetism of the Romantics at the Univ of Bonn. At one rally, speaker Wolfgang Menzel, called for applying purifying fire to books that offended and purification by excision of the alien element. Heine almost foretold of the Nazi atrocities. I don't know the details but Heine's views were so threatening, the Nazis destroyed all traces of his grave in 1941. burning books/humans says kill the message & ideas see as a threat, kill the author and source."

Book burning...it's been done to Jews too many times. It's not healthy. It's not a way to say "I respect you."

Now, some may say, "What about Acts 19.19?" For those who don't know, this is a reference in the Bible to a book burning in the Bible. Here's what the Bible says happened. "And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver." (Chapter 19, verse 19) This was a book burning in Ephesus, done by the former practitioners of witchcraft and black magic. They burned their occult books and it cost them dearly.

If you want to listen to my sermon series on the book of Acts, here's the iTunes link Book of Acts


I believe if a former Muslim wants to burn his Koran (Quran) as a statement of his seeing his former religion as false, that's his right to do so. No Christian should burn a Torah; it's the basis of his faith.

For someone outside a religion or cult to burn the books of another; that's a whole different matter.

But the mockery of Alex Stewart is radically different than the earlier position of Pastor Terry Jones.

Let's be reasonable people, making reasonable choices, full and radical choices that help others make reasoned choices themselves. That seems to be a reasonable solution in this multi-cultural world.

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