I was trying to avoid weighing in on this one, but blogorrhea always wins.
I won’t bother rehashing the details of the imbroglio—if you don’t know, well, you’ve been sleeping. Go on…google “pharyngula cracker”…I can wait.
OK, now that you’ve caught up, here’s my two cents.
I’m conflicted about this. It’s not usually a good thing to offend people’s deeply held beliefs unless those beliefs are deeply offensive. A free society requires a great deal of tolerance. This of course cuts both ways–if Catholics can expect reasonable peace, so can those who criticize their beliefs.
As I started writing this, my daughter took the pen out of my tablet pc and broke the clip off of it. I reacted angrily, and she gave me one of those “I’m gonna punish you by crying” looks. I grabbed her, held her tight, and said, “It’s just a thing, honey. Things aren’t important; people are.”
And that helped put things in perspective—sort of. How would I feel if someone grabbed a Torah out of the Ark and tossed it on the floor? I’d be angry at the gesture, and possibly frightened, given the history of my people.
The fact that people are willing to die in the name of an object, rather than a person, saddens me. Objects, no matter how deeply revered, are objects. Fundamentalists often claim a unique insight into the value of human life, based on it’s relationship to the divine. At the same time, they are uniquely able to imbue inanimate objects with that same divine presence. Atheists are often criticized for having no basis for valueing life, but, hey, how many atheists will threaten your life over a scroll or a cracker? Deification of the inanimate, raising the value of the inanimate above that of a human being is unique to religion, and a unique danger.
My daughter is smart enough to know that a thing is a thing, a person a person, and one is more valuable than the other. Perhaps the fundies need a lesson from a four year-old.