So, they killed Osama Bin Laden. Because their kind of killing is better than his kind of killing. Because the book they wave around to justify slaughter is better than the book he waves around to justify slaughter.
Look, I have no problem with books. Love them, in fact. I think there’s a lot of wisdom to be found in books. Books are not the issue. The pen is mightier than the sword in a lot of ways. But when we willfully chose to interpret a book as a mandate to kill, as some kind of linguistic Lady of the Lake handing us Excalibur and saying “slice ‘em up, baby,” we are in serious trouble.
Let me make this very clear: both the Koran and the Bible are filled with some of the most beautiful notions the human mind ever conceived of. But the human mind has a tendency to interpret some of these beautiful notions in the ugliest of ways.
I have a book I’d like to wave around. The Complete Works of Shakespeare. The great thing about Shakespeare is no-one thinks he’s God (there may be a little known cult somewhere that does, perhaps, but I’ve never heard of them. Come to think of it, if anyone knows of the Cult of Shakespeare, point me in their direction: I’d like to join), and everyone knows HE’S A POET. So the figurative nature of his work is not some great ontological contention. No-one’s soul is in mortal danger for mis/reinterpreting Shakespeare.
I refer you to one of my favorites, The Merchant of Venice, 4,i,180-194.
The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blessed.
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
It is mightiest in the mightiest,
It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
An attribute to awe and majesty.
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself.
And earthly power dost the become likest God’s,
Where mercy seasons justice.