Friday, September 10, 2010

Come Saturday morning ...

... I'm going away with my friend. (That's a line from a song. I'll get back to that later.)

There's a party for the neighborhood tomorrow afternoon. "Sal" and I decided we'd go and meet the neighbors. This will follow the usual round of morning errands and the like. What we will not be doing, is burning the Qur'an. This year, the 11th of September falls on the day after "Eid al-Fitr," which celebrates the end of Ramadan, the penitential season of fasting in the Islamic calendar. (The day before was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I only mention this because I love pointing out ironies.)

Kathy Shaidle observed that the Bible approves of book burning, sort of. "A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas." (Acts 19:19) (A "drachma" was a silver coin which was roughly a day's wages, you know, back in the day.) The commenters at Ace of Spades are having a field day with that passage. Meanwhile, on the Catholic side of the street, Colleen Hammond reminds us of an encyclical from Pope Pius VII entitled Dui Satis, which directs that "[b]ooks which openly oppose the teaching of Christ are to be burned."

Keep in mind, however, that because Mother Church is possessed with a central teaching authority, or "magisterium," She is in a position to interpret the Bible with authority. After all, it was She who determined what books were included in the Bible in the early fourth century (as opposed to falling down from Heaven in one piece with its own users guide and commentary). In addition, the prudential disciplinary decisions of one Pope are not binding on succeeding Popes. Just so we're clear.

That preacher down in Florida -- you know, the one who could fit his entire congregation in his station wagon, created a national uproar when he announced plans to burn copies of the Qur'an tomorrow. The story has changed several times in the last 24 hours. He said he'd do it, then he said he'd stop as a result of a meeting with the builders of the "ground zero mosque," then the aforementioned builders said no dice on the deal, then the people who gave us the "God Hates F@g$" protests said they'd do it, yada yada yada (yawn!).

How about something that really matters?

Come Saturday Morning was written by Dory Previn, with music by Fred Karlin. It was first performed by The Sandpipers on the soundtrack of the 1969 film "The Sterile Cuckoo" which starred Liza Minnelli. The recording reached number 17 on the Billboard charts in 1970, the same year it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Liza also recorded the song (this was in the days when everybody did covers of everybody else's songs and made a living at it). Her version included a break in the middle, when she launched into some psycho-babble ...

You know what the trouble is,
The trouble is that probably
All the good things in life take place
In no more than a minute
I mean all I did, I bet you
At the end of 70 years,
Should you live so long
You can sit and you can figure
The whole thing out.

You spent 19 years sleeping,
You spent 5 years going to the bathroom
You spent 35 years doing some kind of work
You absolutely hated
You spent 7,853 minutes blinking your eyes
And added to that you got
That one minute of good things
Then one day you wonder whether your minute's up.

... which, to hear some people talk, would probably get her stoned under sharia law. But for all I know, that may be less for its theological error, than out of sheer annoyance.

I do happen to have a copy of the Qur'an. Strictly speaking, it is an English translation, as I am to understand that a true copy can only appear in Arabic. (This is likely to ensure purity in translation and teaching, which doesn't explain a few recent developments, but I digress ...) It was a gift from a former communications director for whom I worked years ago, who himself was Muslim. We talked about politics and religion all the time. But he was a unique sort of personality. They don't come around every day.

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." That is what we are taught. She has spread Her message through the suffering of Her children, not that of Her enemies. So, tomorrow will be a day to remember what happened nine years ago that day. I'll remember where I was, what I was doing, and how I managed in the aftermath -- which could have been better, could have been worse, but that's another story.

And then we'll move on
But we will remember, long after Saturday's gone.

Under the circumstances, burning the Qur'an seems like a waste of time.

No comments: