Posts Tagged ‘Free Speech’

This Is America Isn’t It – Part 2

October 9, 2008

Four days ago, a clandestine operation took place in bookstores across America.  Cloaked in secrecy, operatives salespeople hurriedly rushed the release of the single most dangerous symbol of the Western world onto shelves and received last minute instructions on security awareness and safety protocols.  The target – an historical novel. 

Yes, apparently history is a very dangerous thing to speculate on, at least for Sherry Jones and her new novel “The Jewel of Medina“.  Amazon’s reviews run the gamut about its literary worth, but there aren’t as many outright slams as I thought there would be.    The U.S. publisher, Beaufort Books, not one to necessarily flinch from publishing crappy or controversial books (if you go by their willingness to publish O.J. Simpson’s confessional tome, “If I Did It”), decided to take on the Jewel project for the cause of free speech, but they’ve also received lots of free, pre-publication publicity.   The increased sales should help to defray the costs of added security.

The issue regarding this book is not whether it’s worthwhile reading, historically accurate or just takes huge swats at the religious feelings of Muslims (yeah, yeah, I know, most Muslims are peace-loving practitioners of a peaceful religion – I saw that on Oprah too).  It’s a contrast between two very different ideologies here. 

Ideology A– if something is offensive and distubing to your faith or beliefs, you write letters of protest, you preach a sermon, you boycott the product or distributor, you exercise your constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech.  And likewise, others have the right to exercise their right to free speech by reading it.  (Look what we had to put up with when the Da Vinci Code came out.)

Ideology B – given the same situation, you cause people to fear for their lives,  you act on that fear and torch or blow-up things to prove your point, and you do everything possible to reinforce people’s “misconceptions” about your faith.  

 Sounds very reasonable to me.  So when I have to go through a metal-detector at Barnes & Noble, I will feel reassured that those people who practice Ideology B have only threatened or done violent acts out of a big misunderstanding.

This is America Isn’t It?

October 6, 2008

An excellent and eloquent article, The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow, has been floating around the net for the last three weeks, but was recently removed from the original posting site by something we Americans don’t take too kindly to – infringement of our right to free speech.  Fr. John A. Peck of Prescott Orthodox Mission in Prescott, Arizona, posted the most honest, in-your-face article I’ve ever seen on the subject of the future of Orthodoxy in America and what needs to be done to survive and thrive.   I should rather say Fr. John “was” a pastor of Prescott Orthodox Mission, because since the article came out he has been removed from his post and the article was taken down by him out of obedience to his superiors.  An infringement on his right to free speech by any other name. 

I would never suggest any one, laity or ordained clergy, do anything that is contradictory to church teachings or the authority of the hierarchy.  But after reading this article several times, I can honestly say there isn’t anything that questions either.  Should we stop speaking the truth in love because it might destroy entrenched positions?

I’m not on the inside of anything, but it certainly appears that the same straight talk and practical ideas that spread Fr. Peck’s article like wildfire throughout Orthodox circles is the same reason it’s too hot for the powers that be within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.  The removal of Fr. Peck and the purge of his article cannot change the power of the Internet.   The written word cannot be suppressed.  Pray for our hierarchs that they can overcome their sensitive feelings and entrenched provincialism to see the truth and the great promise in Fr. John’s article.