What Separates Pastor Jones and (Insert Your Preferred Extremist)?

My favorite op-ed columnist strikes again. Leonard Pitts Jr. weighs in on the impending bonfire in Florida. Some have “Tweeted” Pastor Terry Jones will be praying about halting the now high profile church event. Let’s just say the horse is out of the gate. Widespread reactions point to the overall effect of the mere announcement and the strident intention to move ahead with plans regardless of any retraction or cancellation. The damage is done literally if figuratively.

Maybe this clip from Pitts’ piece will entice you to click over and read the entire piece,

There is in the act of burning something primitive and tribalistic, something that appeals to the lizard brain which has no ability or desire to reason, no comprehension of ideals and abstract concepts, that knows only that it lives in fear of a world it cannot understand and will do anything to send the fear away.

The process of becoming a truly human being is the process of conquering that lizard brain. Unfortunately, some people never do.

On Saturday, some of those people will gather round a bonfire to watch pages blacken and curl and turn to smoke. You listen to the hatred spewing from respectable leaders in prominent places, you think of how normal that has become, and one thing suddenly seems starkly clear:

We’re burning a whole lot more than books.

I am left asking what separates Pastor Terry Jones and, say, Iran’s often irascible Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Nothing. Ahmadinejad regularly announces “Enough, enough,” when he thinks of cow towing to demands of any Western nation. Discuss curbing nuclear energy and any accompanying weaponization of uranium and it is “Enough, enough.” Recently any potential threat Israel floats like a “trial balloon” is immediately met with threats of the annihilation of the Nation of Israel.

Here we have a Pastor whose Sacred Text conveys the words of Jesus, “turn the other cheek.” Or, how about forgiving indefinitely, or completely – yes that too was Jesus. What should separate Pastor Terry Jones? Not the images of a pastor rocking back and forth while praying, toting a gun, or speaking in tongues. No, what should separate “any” Christian from this kind of rhetoric, intention, or plan – embodying the Way of Jesus. Not pointing to it in some nostalgic glance as if it were merely pietistic dreaming. No, every one of us who lays claim to Jesus as Liberating King understands we now stand free from the need to address our fears with the contention, “Enough is enough.” No, it is never time to say enough to following the Way of Jesus. If we do so then what should separate us no longer does.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

7 comments on “What Separates Pastor Jones and (Insert Your Preferred Extremist)?

  1. Guy Rittger says:

    Todd – Completely agree in every respect. However, I feel I need to challenge one thing you wrote which repeats an oft-cited, yet erroneously translated remark by Iranian President Ahmedinajad regarding Israel. I’m no friend of the Iranian President or of Israel, but what Ahmedinajad literally said was that the Zionist state of Israel should vanish from the pages of history. This is comparable to our expression when we say that something or someone – e.g., Paris Hilton or alchemy – should be consigned to the dustbin of history – i.e., be forgotten. And, frankly, Ahmedinajad is right about this. In its current Zionist orientation, Israel is an apartheid state that discriminates against its non-Jewish citizens and actively oppresses over a million Palestinians using practices and policies that resemble nothing less than ethnic cleansing. So, yes, the current state of Israel should be consigned to the pages of history… as should the present Iranian (and U.S.) political establishment. But this is not at all the same as calling for the annihilation of Israelis or Jews, as almost every U.S. politician, ideologue and MSM outlet have repeated endlessly. And Israel’s bellicose behaviour is so wholly disproportionate to any real threat (c’mon, they’ve got 200+ nuclear weapons and the largest, best-equipped military in the Middle East), that one imagines that the regime has turned “victimhood” into a registered trademark, even as they run roughshod over international law and basic human rights.

    Otherwise, totally agree with you, as I said. All the best!


    1. Guy,

      I admit to keying in on the soundbites regarding Ahmedinajad. That is, rather than understanding the context, I operated sans his frame of reference. With regard to your challenge, I concede and am grateful for your pointing it out. As always, helped by your comments.


      1. Guy Rittger says:

        I only brought it up because of the chorus of voices clamoring for war against Iran and ginning up “reasons” to do so, mostly based on lies and manufactured “evidence” (like today’s report of a “secret” Iranian nuclear facility, conveniently “discovered” by an Iranian “opposition” group – shades of Ahmed Chalabi and his deceitful manipulation of U.S. political and public opinion). Ahmedinajad is a blowhard politician whose power is largely confined to domestic affairs. His rhetoric about Israel is intended for his base, in the same way that the blatherings of American politicians like Graham and Lieberman is aimed at their reactionary base. He has no authority over the Iranian military or foreign policy.

        1. Guy Rittger says:

          As I observed above:


          “US officials have openly refuted the press conference held earlier in the week by the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), an Iranian opposition group that claimed to have uncovered a secret nuclear site near Qazvin.

          According to the officials the site, buried in the mountains outside of Qazvin has existed and been known about for many years, and has absolutely nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program.”

          1. Thanks for the link.

        2. Reminds me of the movie “Wag the Dog.” When in need of some sort of diversion war, and in this case warring words or war-mongering, will do the job quite well.

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