He took his sweet time turning his attention heavenward, listening to a voice other than his own. In the meantime, the President and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates weighed in on the consequences of Jones' intended pyromania.
Hopefully, his time in the spotlight has passed. Even his fellow Gainesville, Fla., citizens donned t-shirts condemning his lack of respect of Islam and his flabby mentality, leading him to confuse the evil of al-Qaida with the spirituality of Muslims.
It was a scary week, a reminder of how the fringe element in this country, an estimated 5 percent of us, can stir up a mean frenzy of fear.
And there are always the "wannabes," who imitate. In Washington, though families made it clear the anniversary of 9/11 should be only about those who had been killed, a small group tore pages from the Quran and burned them.
In Afghanistan, during a protest of the proposed Koran burning by Jones, five people were wounded.
On what has been a day to remember those who died in horrific attacks on American soil, the tone shifted from mourning and a common bond of grief, (regardless of nationality or religion) to a polarizing issue, pitting supporters of a proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero against those who see it as demeaning the site.
"As Americans, we are not, and never will be, at war with Islam," the President reminded a gathering at the Pentagon, where 200 people were killed on 9/11. "It was not religion that attacked us on that September day," he said. "It was al-Qaida, a sorry band of men, perverting religion. We condemn intolerance and extremism abroad, and we will stay true to our traditions here at home as a diverse and tolerant nation."
His message did not reach a political rally in North Carolina, where a veteran, home from Iraq and running for Congress, spoke. When he made reference to Muslims in his speech, a hyped-up member of the audience shouted: "Kill them all."
Al-Qaida did kill 73 Muslims who worked in the Windows of the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center on 9/11. The widow of one told of returning each year to ground zero with her three children to pray to Allah for her husband, loved and lost.
A few months after the 9/11 attacks, my husband and I spent a day in St. Paul's Chapel, the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City, and the church where George Washington prayed after his inauguration.
St. Paul's is one block from ground zero. A gaping hole, a wound of ash and twisted metal where the World Trade Center Towers had stood, was filled with workers.
The church, a national treasure, had been transformed into a place for rest and reflection, a respite from dawn to dark work in the pit. George Washington's pew had become a place to eat a sandwich and be warmed by a bowl of soup for weary responders.
Cots were lined up in the aisles and quilts and blankets, mailed from all over the country, were ready to cover tired workmen. There were boxes of thick socks for burning feet and heavy gloves for aching hands.
Bottles of water were stacked, shoulder high.
Over the months since the attack, 5,000 volunteers, from sea to shining sea, had come to cook and serve half a million meals.
The Rev. Lyndon Harris, who watched over the work at St. Paul's said sadly, "When the Towers fell, we never doubted the first heart to break was God's."
He didn't say whose God. Back then, we grieved as one nation. The outpouring of love in this country transformed intolerance. The goodness of the American people mattered more than where they worshipped.
Judy Elliott is an award-winning columnist from Marietta.