The Village Voice's news blog featured God Spam this weekend in a piece about Jacob Isom, of "Dude, you have no Quran" fame. The article, by Leslie Minora, specifically focuses on the merchandise I whipped up in honor of Mr. Isom. You can read the story here.
I wouldn't say he's exactly at the intersection that this blog explores. If David Isom had grabbed the Quran while singing a verse from the lost Gospel of Thomas to the tune of "Bad Romance," then we'd be talking.
However, The Voice is absolutely correct that David Isom's story has a special appeal for me. Ironically, I had deliberately avoided covering the Amarillo Quran-burning story at first, for the same reason that I won't write about the Westboro Baptist Church: both stories center around a small group of bigots whose message distorts the Christian faith, and who are ultimately powerless except in their ability to get media attention. I do not want to feed that particular beast.
But I am not the mainstream media. By the time the book-burning was actually scheduled to take place, the nation's entire freedom of religion apparently hung in the balance of one deluded pastor and a park grill. The Unitarian Universalists, God bless 'em, mobilized en masse to stop this event from taking place. And then one shirtless stoner thwarted the entire event by doing the most practical thing imaginable: taking the holy book away. And since apparently no one had a back-up Quran (which I do, in fact, find hilarious), everybody just went home.
With one spontaneous act, David Isom brought this clash of faiths down from the ideological clouds to a very human level. And that's the element that's so often missing from press coverage of religion stories: the fact that the participants are individuals, and even if they all believe basically the same thing, they no doubt have very different reasons. No one was hurt that day in Amarillo; no individual freedoms were lost. In the end, there was just a man who looked down and realized he had no book to burn.
Footnote: I am 99% certain that God Spam is the point of reference for this article from the Amarillo Globe-News, as no one else to my knowledge is selling "Dude, You Have no Quran" hats. That article's reference to hats and T-shirts was also featured in The Week. And as a result of all this publicity, I have sold... 3 shirts! And no teddy bears. Come on, guys, Thanksgiving is coming. That's the traditional holiday of meme-themed plush toys.