Saturday, October 31, 2009


There was a recent local color/news event in which a small (tiny, actually) 14-member church announced that they would be burning books on Halloween. Included on their list of perverse and demonic texts: Bibles - pretty much any version that is not the King James Version. So that has obviously sent the atheist community into giggle fits. But I have also noticed an undercurrent of disapproval, as the burning of books is as close to a sacred cow as atheists seem to have.

Book burning is not what it used to be. That is, it used to be an effective way of ridding the world of a specific piece of information. There is much information that has been lost to bonfires throughout history and it is not something to take lightly. And yet I have a hard time feeling the same way about book burning today. In many ways, burning a book (or a flag) is like burning a figure in effigy. It is a statement and an insult and nothing more. Information is so inexpensive and ideas are so widespread that stamping them out is impossible. Suppose a very determined entity decided to rid the world of On the Origin of Species or even The God Delusion, never mind NIV Bibles or Korans. It would be nothing but a losing battle, obvious to everyone from the start.

It may be an entirely different situation in a place like North Korea, where the citizens do not have ready access to the internet or bookstores or libraries. In that case, burning a valuable book truly becomes an unforgivable crime. Here in America, however, there is no such information hurdle. I can obtain just about any text in a matter of hours or days, depending on how much money I want to spend on shipping. Many books (Origin of Species, every conceivable translation of the Bible) are available to read online, and for free. So burn away, people of Canton, NC. Burn everything you can get your stupid hands on. I hope you go to your local Barnes & Noble to buy books specifically to be burned. Because the only person you are keeping that information from is you.

1 comment:

miriamt said...

I am amazed that, even in the United States of 2009, there are still people who feel that this is a valid statement. The small size of this church is an indication of the lack of interest in their small minded ideas. This gesture is bound to turn away potential church goers.