Friday, September 10, 2010

The Burning of Any Book

I’ve been tempted to write this only as a journal entry. I want to organize my thoughts, but not to take any real risks. But few people read my blog anyway.

I pay very little attention to the media. Too much bias, and too many non-issues blown out of proportion. Normally, anything important enough for me to know about will find me. Lately, I’ve heard a bunch of noise about some apparent kook from a small church in (nowhere) planning to burn a bunch of Korans on 9-11.

Sounds like a silly and pointless stunt to me. Barely worthy of my attention. Had the Facebook posts stopped after the first one, I wouldn’t have noticed.

But “the media” took and ran with the story. I picture Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and whoever else is still out there talking almost 24/7 about this “story”. I don’t know because I don’t bother to watch them. I have more important and effective ways to waste my time.

It makes me wonder, why does the media seem to love a story like this? Seriously, this church is located practically nowhere and has about 50 members. Berean is at least twice as big, and we get no media attention. OK, Magnolia, NJ is practically nowhere too, but we’re still bigger.

I think the media likes stories like this for a couple reasons:

  1. They’re lazy. The media is about as lazy as anybody else. A story like this requires little research. Just keep parroting the same lines over and over again and book guests who parrot the same lines over and over again.
  2. There’s little to no risk. A story like this isn’t likely to anger anybody the media considers important. But it also attracts a lot of viewership and sells advertising.

And of course, they don’t have to tell you  anything about what is really going on. Do you realize that if the November elections involve a huge turnover in Congress, we’re heading into one of the largest and most dangerous Lame Duck sessions of Congress in history? Lame Ducks are dangerous. All the Congress people who know they’ll be out of a job in January have no accountability to anybody, except for whoever will cut their next paychecks (hint, not the voters). This November/December session of Congress, we could get some dangerous measures passed, including the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). If you haven’t heard of it, thank the media that spends way too much time on stories like a nobody church from nowhere doing something pointless.

As for the burning of books, I’m not a fan. I believe that the marketplace of ideas is a good enough filter for books. Bad books slowly disappear from circulation. Good books propagate and end up in collections to be preserved. Do you really think Twilight will be around in 100 years? As soon as the next fad pops up, nobody will remember Stephanie Meyer. How many books from 100 years ago simply disappeared because they weren’t really that good? When my grandmother died, I picked up some socio-political books from the 60’s that belonged to my uncle. Someday I might read them, but I doubt anybody has ever heard of them. I’m sure they’re all out of print.

In most cases, I believe book burning is a sign of cowardice or of elitism. Either it’s “you people are too stupid to realize how dangerous I think the ideas in these books are, so we’ll burn them!” or “We can’t counter the ideas in these books, so we’ll burn them!”

In the book of Acts, there is an account of the burning of a bunch of occult or magic books:

[19] And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. (ESV)


I don’t think this is a universal application though. It was something these people felt they needed to do when they came to Christ to part with their past. Paul didn’t tell them to do it. God didn’t tell them to do it. They decided to do it.

I think it really sucks that the Library of Alexandria was destroyed. I think China lost a lot of knowledge and history through various emperors ordering all the books in the empire burned.

I am not a fan of book burning. I believe that bad, stupid, and worthless books will naturally be filtered out of circulation through the marketplace of ideas. There are far better ways to disagree with the ideas in a book than to burn the book.

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