The symbol of this blog, Desperate Dan, the comic book superhero who never hurt a fly, stands in the centre of Dundee with his dog, Gnasher, surveying the citizens as they go about their business. He tells me that he was moved last week by the Muslim students who offered flowers and peaceful verses from the Qur’an to their fellow Dundonians as a gesture of solidarity with the victims of Jihadist violence everywhere.
” Nice boys and girls,” he says, “I’d be burstin’ wi’ pride if they were my kids.”
“Did they change your picture of Islam?” I ask.
“Aw definitely, definitely,” he tells me, “And they had nice peaceful verses from their holy book, eh? ”
“So you don’t think there’ll be any Jihadists in Dundee?”
” Naw, but see if they tried. this is Scotland after all. They’d get a smart kick in the nuts from me and the arse torn oot their troosers by Gnasher.”
I was silent, comforted by his homely belligerence, but feeling slightly guilty that I didn’t respond to the Muslim initiative with quite as much enthusiasm as he did. For although I admire the sincerity and goodwill of these students, I know, as they do, that the Qur’an contains other verses which appear to promote violence against non- believers, just as there is material in the Bible which does the same.
The truth is that decent Christians and Muslims are nicer than the worst bits of their scriptures. I mean, Desperate Dan might enjoy a punch-up, but he wouldn’t want men women and children massacred, as God commanded Joshua, or sinners fried in hell forever, as it is written, Jesus did. He confirms this when I confide my thought to him.
“I’m no’ saying I wouldnae scald their bums for a long weekend, but no’ forever, an’ don’t forget, it’s a life sentence for the stokers as well, eh no?”
I conceal from him my own less generous hope that certain tyrants and bullies will end up stuck for eternity upside down in the Tay Estuary Large Sewage Outflow.(LSO). But I am still plagued by the thought that decent people may be made worse by religion and that bad people may be turned into monsters. The only way in which Christian people can help their Muslim friends with this issue is to show a a good example. Perhaps a public bonfire of biblical nonsense might be a good start?
Maybe we could have a special ritual for this.
(Here I have to introduce my foreign readers to the Scots word, “mince” which in this usage does not refer to minced meat but to verbal material which is factually or intellectually null, that is, total nonsense.)
A large fire is kindled in a public place. Then shall the celebrant take a piece of cardboard with the offending verse named and printed, and shall read it aloud, thus:
CELEBRANT. Joshua chapter 17 from verse 2: If there is anybody, man or woman, who goes and serves other gods and worships them, ……… you must stone that man or woman to death.
Is this THE WORD OF GOD, brothers and sisters, or is it MINCE? LET THE PEOPLE SPEAK.
PEOPLE: Lo it is MINCE.
CELEB: You say it is MINCE?
PEOPLE: Yea, assuredly it is TOTAL MINCE
CELEB: Therefore it is cast into the FLAMES
PEOPLE: And its SMOKE goes up forever.
The ceremony could easily include Leviticus 18/ 22 ( same sex intercourse an abomination) Joshua 6/17 ( God commands all inhabitants of a captured city put to death) Matthew 25/46 (these will go to eternal punishment) plus many more.
CELEB: Why are these holy verses thrown to the FLAMES?
PEOPLE: For they are all TOTAL MINCE
PEOPLE: YEA AND AMEN.
In whose name would this ceremony take place? Well, of course in the name of Jesus Christ who was executed because, amongst other dodgy behaviour, he told people that bits their scripture were mince. (see MATTHEW 5/ 20-48)
We cannot and would not want to erase these offending scriptures as if they had not been ever been part of our holy books. That would be dishonest, and would prevent people examining them and making up their own minds about them. But the ceremony would be repeated every year to make sure believers and non-believers alike would be liberated from the power of bad teaching.
“That’s finger-lickin’ good,” Dan says, exhibiting his transatlantic idiom, when I outline my proposal to him. “An’ I’d be delighted tae be the celebrity in charge!”
” Celebrant,” I say.
” I said celebrity,” says Desperate Dan, ” an’ maybe if I ask them, some of they nice Muslim people will bring some of their own mince………”
( I wonder if all this rules out putting Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in the LSO for at least part of eternity?)