April 22, 2018

When Christians Burned Things They Feared

Lag BaOmer bonfireOne of the many nice things about living in an unincorporated rural area is that some of the laws are a bit more relaxed than they'd be in town. While it is true that I could be incarcerated and/or fined merely for possessing alcohol in my own home, I can burn yard waste without anybody batting an eye. This might not seem like much of a benefit, but it sure beats the alternative of having to transport all the downed tree limbs, pine cones, and other waste from my backyard to the front curb and wait several days to a week for the county to pick it up. Doing this typically results in a bunch of ugly dead grass, so I'd prefer to avoid it.

I spent a few hours yesterday burning this stuff, and I think I disposed of at least 7 large garbage cans worth in the process. I'm careful about how I do it. I used leftover bricks from my house to mark off a large square far enough away from anything that could catch fire. I hose down the surrounding area after I've filled it with yard debris. I use just enough lighter fluid to make sure that it will ignite quickly and burn evenly. And most important of all, I remain in the area with a hose at the ready just in case. The size and intensity of the fire are pretty amazing, especially when the wind picks up. At one point, I'd estimate that the flames were rising over 8 feet. That did make me a bit nervous for a few minutes.

As I was supervising my burn and gathering more tree limbs to add to the fire, I found myself wondering if this was how fundamentalist Christians burned heavy metal records in the 1980s. The only time I saw them do this, it was in a large metal garbage can in a public area. They clearly wanted attention, so doing it in someone's backyard would not have been satisfying. But for the parents who burned their children's albums, I'd bet that they often did that in these backyard fires and that many of them probably started with yard waste. Once such a fire got going, it would have been easy to toss pretty much anything into it. The amount of heat mine was putting out led me to believe that it would have made short work of "Satanic" metal albums. Of course, it wasn't getting any of mine!

I think the main reason that I've returned to the topic of fundamentalist Christians burning heavy metal records so many times is that it had a major impact on me when I was growing up. I never understood the mindset that would lead someone to destroy things others enjoyed just to prevent them from being able to enjoy them. I also couldn't understand how my friend's parents (both fundamentalist Christian pastors) possibly justified burning my records just because he had borrowed them. It was bad enough that they burned his records, but I still think they had little right to burn mine.

I suppose there is a silver lining in all of this, and it is a pretty important one. As bad as it is that some Christians burned things they feared (and almost certainly sill do), at least they no longer burn people they fear. That's progress, and I'll take it.

I briefly considered tossing a book by a Christian apologist I received as a gift into my fire, but I couldn't do it. The idea of burning books or albums just because one dislikes or fears them turns my stomach. Besides, I've been using this book to prop up the dish drainer next to my kitchen sink so it drains better over the annoying lip around the sink. At least until I can find a more functional dish drainer, it stays put.