Y’all Come Join Us for Our Book Burning

So, Eyewitness news channel 9 in North Carolina reports that there is a church in Canton planning to burn books this coming Halloween. Pastor Marc Grizzard intends to burn, among other books, several versions of the Bible that are not the King James Version. He believes these other versions are Satanic. And, he plans to burn books by “heretics” like Billy Graham, Rob Bell and Rick Warren of The Purpose Driven Life.

This story has me stirred up in countless ways.

I was born in the sixties so I KNOW that book burning is bad. Really, really bad. Nazi’s burned books and Nazi’s were bad. They burn books in Castro’s Cuba and Castro is bad. In general, burning things in public has never been a particularly progressive idea. Flag burning. Cross burning. Draft card burning. Bra burning. No terribly brilliant insights were ever gained by groups of people gathering around a fire and tossing things in to express their distaste and anger.

But we do it. We write songs about it. Burn, baby, burn. We gather offensive combustibles, douse them with lighter fluid and toss the lit match of our hatred on the mound feeling warmed and enlightened as the darkness closes in until the flames die and all we have are cold ashes and tiny scraps of words that refused to yield to the heat.

Useless. Hate-fueled. Bad, bad idea.

But,

OK, and this is why I’m stirred up,

But, part of me looks at this and thinks – well, they sure aren’t lukewarm about what they believe. I mean, they are heated up, they are passionate, they are on fire.

Again, I am opposed to book burning and think these brothers and sisters are misguided at best but every day I sit by and watch people opposed to God make what I believe is true look like a lie and dress up the things God says are detestable to look as beautiful and appealing as a harem of Victoria Secret models. Then, I watch people I love line up to march blindly into the black tie affair Satan is holding at Studio 54 only to wake up trapped in a death chamber they can’t escape and it does make me want to set something on fire to convince them, to startle them, to wake them up to the danger of cherishing the sins that keep us from realizing who we are in Christ.

I want to act. I want to speak out. Life is not about being comfortable and escaping as much pain as possible. It’s not about accumulating possessions, power, privilege and passionate experiences. It’s not about being on top. There is meaning in life but it is found by learning who we are in Jesus, in knowing His amazing love for us and in responding to that love by giving ourselves over to furthering His kingdom until He comes again and that requires more than we pretend it requires when we know what He’s all about but we continue to only show up for Him on Sunday mornings.

The book burning church is wrong. But they have set a fire in me, a reminder that I want to have the courage of my convictions, the guts to stand up, the confidence that comes from knowing the TRUTH and living it out.

Maybe I do need to set some things on fire:

The fear of what others think.

The spiritual sloth that makes me gloss over the hard questions, avoid the research, settle for glib, clichéd answers.

The self- centeredness that paralyzes me from doing everything I can to get the message to others, knowing that I am safe, I am saved.

The prayerlessness that keeps me in the dark and ineffective.

The cowardice that keeps me cowering.

The lack of love that keeps me seeking my own comfort rather than extending myself to those in need.

These are what I need to burn. These will be the fuel for my fire. I will not set ablaze the works of others, the ideas of others, the differences I have with others. That is for God to sort out. I will burn in my fire those things in me that make me less than He intends me to be and it will be a mighty blaze, a fire that will attract those who shuffle like zombied drones to the mesmerizing pipe played by the deceiver who seeks only their destruction and they will see its light and they will have chance, move by God, to make a different choice.

Our God is a consuming fire. I will let Him consume what is worthless in me. This is a fire worth attending. This is the fire that refines gold.

I have never seen a book burning fuel anything but hatred. But let us not wrap ourselves in the smug comfort that we are not the ones “crazy enough” to burn things. Maybe we need a little crazy. Maybe we need a little passion, some conviction, some heat. There’s nothing worse than lukewarm and baby, we’ve refined lukewarm to an art. In America, lukewarm is almost a religion.

So, don’t set books on fire but do turn up the heat.

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7 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Andrea says:

    OH MY! Burning Bibles! GOD help his soul!

    andrea

  2. Cheri says:

    Lori, I LOVE this post!

    Indeed Americans have turned “lukewarm” into a religion, a work of art. We worship ourselves, our comfort, our goals, our ideas and our ideals. We even worship the label of “Christianity.”

    But has our worship of all things “us” made even Christianity meaningless in our culture?

    Could that be why our nation is blind, deaf, and dumb when it comes to morality? So many “Christians” are right there on the bandwagon, calling good evil and evil good.

    Can we come back from our fatal coma of complacency?

    I believe we can, if more of us will wake up, pray, and set our faith on fire again!

    Thanks for a great kindling to my fire,
    Cheri

  3. Ed Sturgeon says:

    Hi Lori,

    Great posting! It reminds me that from fire comes rebirth. From fire, the Phoenix arises. From scorched earth, new trees grow.

    Sincerely,
    Ed

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi,
    My first time on this blog and I rarely get time to blog…but here’s my 2 cents worth. It is “christians” such as these that give all christians a bad name. For Heaven’s Sake! Billy Graham??? I do believe he was quite radical in his hell and brimstone preaching, yet look at the gazillions his ministry brought to Christ.

    We Christians are NOT supposed to be judgemental (discerning is not the same thing). We are SUPPOSED to uplift, encourage, help guide people to the truth in loving ways without condemnation. I have several members in my family that aren’t saved, and I have a 7 year old grandson who the Holy Spirit got ahold of through my Holy Spirit filled guidance when he was 6. I teach him what I do, myself, which is this: when I know of someone blinded by this world, blinded by their childhood, by whatever, and angry towards God and others I simply tell them that I understand and sympathize and will continue praying that they will some day find the truth. This usually opens up conversation, or brings irritated rejection. Either way, to impart the word of God (in modern day language where they can understand) never brings back void. This is our mission as Christians. We are to set ourselves apart in our beliefs, actions, behaviors as well as in our loving kindness and prayerful vigils for the unsaved and blinded.

    Why are so many people sickened by Christians? One reason is satan, of course. I’m convinced that the other reason is because of righteous judgemental irritants such as the church mentioned in this blog. It does nothing for me except make me sick to my stomache that so many “christians” are even more blinded than the unsaved.
    Sincerely,
    Wanda

  5. Anonymous says:

    Book burning is just flat wrong. To me book burning is like killing. The author is dead right? But he/she left behind something that is him/her. To me you’re not only destroying the author’s ideas but you’re destroying the last bit of the author that is left behind! You’re destroying imagination and art! Art should be preserved and displayed! And all of you that think book burning is right are commiting a crime against the written word ,art,and man. I despise people like you!

  6. If you read the post you’ll see I’m opposed to book burning but I am also opposed to hatred. We are called to love even those who are opposed to what I believe. I will not despise you back.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Lori. I am trying to send a comment. I am at a hotel and enjoy your writing. Hope this will post. Fancy Nancy