Depending on your Point of View…

On this Memorial Day, 2013, I had occasion to re-read this post from May, 2009. Though a bit wordy and with a few mistakes, I decided to reblog it today.

May the mighty God continue to bless the United States of America, always imparting His mind and wisdom to our leaders.

Jesus, the Revolution & You

In my reading and studies of our nation’s beginnings, I am frequently struck by an angle or viewpoint that may not be the one usually pursued.

It is said that there are two sides to every story, right? (Personally, I maintain there are at least three…!) Have you ever considered viewing the American rebellion years leading to the events of 1776 from the perspective of the English monarchy? Not, of course, that England was in the right – it just makes for, may I say, an interesting approach. From our viewpoint, perhaps ‘absurd’ would be a better word, in light of where America stands today… I just find it intriguing how a situation, or an individual, can be perceived so very differently by those involved, or by on-lookers, based on…based on what? Needs? Desires? Duty? How we can be so absolutely certain of a thing, but time may soon…

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Serpent in the Arab Spring?

Have the Islamists won after all?

I accuse myself of being a Pollyanna.  Call it faith, hope, or positive thinking, but sometimes I still wonder if I’m just an ostrich with my head buried in the sand.  I hear the suggestions, predictions & innuendos, but I don’t let them penetrate.  Forging (or floundering!) blindly ahead, I walk smack into that proverbial brick wall.  They told me it was there, but I barely considered that it might really be there.  On the other hand, “Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger…as the Lord’s servant?”  (Isaiah 42: 19)

We were warned. Many suggested that the Arab uprisings for freedom may really be the result of seeds carefully sown by Islamic radicals, a power ploy.  ‘Once governments are destabilized, then toppled, we’ll move in for the kill’ – that kind of scheme…well, that made sense.  After all, we are talking about the Middle East.  Yet, though such manipulations may very well have taken place,  they could just as well have been part of the tool God used to bring about such regime-shaking revolution.  He intervenes in the affairs of men.  To everything there is a time and season…

So, for a brief while we were in limbo.  Who started all this?  With what motives?  Exactly who are the players?  Then, there is an accusation that the United States was involved in stirring up the dissension, planning to remain stand-offish, let chaos ensue and then, let radicals rule.  I forget what our purpose for supposedly pulling all this off is.  (I read this accusation in a comment on a site I don’t usually visit, and I haven’t been able to figure out which one it was.)  It is true that the United States did not rush in, boots-on-the-ground with a long-term strategy!  but my understanding was/is that Iraq and AfPak were enough already…

Libyan rebels

A Washington Times editorial advocating more active U.S. involvement in Libya, points to the damaging potential of a ‘U.S. leadership vacuum’, and states that the Obama administration has ‘subtly promoted’ the rise of Islamist parties there by not supporting the more pro-Western ones. This analysis certainly seems to partially mirror the above accusation.  Whatever the reason for a lesser American presence in regards to today’s Libya, that void does allow for another presence to occupy.  “The working assumption should be that every faction will seek opportunities to expand their power and increase their influence over whatever system emerges.” concludes the Times editorial.  In this scenario, the “the Islamists will play to win.”  Though I myself have read previous rebuttals to such intent, downplaying ambitions & plans, specifically Muslim Brotherhood-related, my skepticism has remained. The rebuttals seemed too white-washed. “Islamists are more than willing to dupe credulous westerners by telling them what they are eager to hear”, advises the Times,and Raymond Ibrahim, Islam specialist, writer for Jihad Watch and on his own site ‘pundicity’, adds

Raymond Ibrahim

“…conniving Islamists who spoon-feed the world what it wants to hear.”  

Ibrahim posits that we Westerners are being duped by the use of the “d” word – democracy – paired up with the Arab rebels, and assume it means to them what it means to us.  Well, to some of them, it does.  They, the liberals & secularists, are the ones who are concerned  about an Islamist, shariah law-producing takeover in these Middle Eastern countries that are supposedly being liberated.  And now that the Tunisian elections have produced an Islamist winning party…well…are we seeing the handwriting on the wall?  Tunisia, as it turns out, is the country least likely to have been influenced by Islamist parties, so, if they took the plunge…some predict that is evidence of “…the victory of Islamists in future elections in Egypt and Libya.”

There is an abundance of related material all over the net.  I could read nothing else but that, and end up with eyestrain every day.  Enough…I am sufficiently convinced that the Arab uprisings sparked, then fueled by long-denied personal liberty, dignity & freedom of choice (and whatever other propellants may have been present) is very much in danger of an Islamic hijacking. Eden was not without its serpent.  And though God created the Eden into which that reptile slithered, point is, He allowed it access.  We should not be surprised that it shows up in other potential Edens.

So where do we go from here?

Deep and fervent prayer should be the first step.  Much is at stake.

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“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

James 5:16

 

the Arab Spring, ancient Egypt, & Jesus Christ

 

“And the spirit of Egypt shall fail…”   (Isaiah 18: 3)

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”   (2 Cor.3: 17)

Rising for freedom in Tripoli

As one Arabian country after another began resisting the established rule of tyrants & dictators, and revolution broke out in almost a domino effect, how could we not see the deep & impassioned cry for liberty therein?  Though many have suggested Muslim Brotherhood manipulation – and very possibly there was/is – still, weren’t the consequent eruptions of rebellion, though violent, the result of a desire for the long-withheld  freedom God intended man to have?  Whether these people knew the God in which I believe or not, they knew what they were missing as far as their personal liberty was concerned.  Man was created to grow & function within certain environments, be they emotional, spiritual, environmental or social, and when key elements are missing in any of these environments, one way or another we feel that pain.

Fights erupt, battles are fought, wars are waged for different reasons.  Opposing sides clash in a contest of wills & goals.  It seems to me, though, that all conflicts are fueled to some degree by the universal desire for freedom.  Freedom to live as one chooses, where one chooses – in fact, freedom to choose! – freedom to pursue happiness…now where have we heard that before?  Oh, right, the Declaration of…what?  Independence.

One more time…Independence.

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Enter an adversary.  Or, the Adversary…who will obstruct your plans, your rights.  In whatever way will work for him/her/them, an adversary is out to get you, or what belongs to you, be it possessions, property, relationships, well-being or your life.  Your enemy does not want to let you just live your life, free & unhindered.  Through varied means, your enemy needs to try to control at least part of it.

I submit that the motivation provoking such actions is, essentially, jealousy.  Coveting what one does not have, perhaps thinks they can’t get, and hating the one who can. Needing not to feel that loss or void, they contrive, manipulate & deceive to acquire the elusive prize…from you or someone else.  Or, to put it another way, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain…”  (James 4:2)

I find it interesting that this section of Scripture houses words such as lust, kill, enmity, and envy, but immediately following these verses we see the appearance of the grace of God.  Hmmm…if we are humble enough to receive His grace, perhaps we will find a way out of the whole lust/murder cycle.

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Isaiah records much concerning Egypt of Old Testament times.  I am not a student of Old Testament history, and so, not knowledgeable of exactly what it all means.  For purposes of this article, let’s just say that ancient Egypt was a powerful, wealthy country, no stranger to wars & battles, and essentially Godless. Big on idols. Probably not a champion of human rights.  And I’m pretty sure slavery didn’t cause  Pharaoh and his crowd to lose any sleep at night.  We would not call the Egypt of that day ‘the good guy’.

Chapter 19 of Isaiah begins with these words “The burden of Egypt.”  I always get this onerous sense of dread whenever the word ‘burden’ shows up in prophetic Scriptures….usually not a harbinger of good things to come! (at least for one of the parties involved!)  So it is here – “…the LORD shall…come into Egypt; and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.”  Note that this reaction is just to His presence – He hasn’t even taken any actions yet.  He just arrived on the scene.  Afterwards of course, chaos ensues.  But my point is that there comes a moment when He arrives. And things begin changing.

Which is what I suspect is the real force behind the Arab Spring.

In this world, in a material/technical or motivational sense, nothing exists apart from some form of impurity or pollution.  That is simply the nature of earthly reality.  But possible Islamic maneuverings aside, before or during, previously or at present (and I really have trouble believing that these maneuverings aren’t an element here, one way or another),  I believe at root, the spirit of liberty that is found in the LORD, and which I believe is the same Spirit that powered the American Revolutionary War, is at work again today, in 2011, in these burdened lands of & around once-ancient Egypt.

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“…God uses the sword for surgery, not anarchy.”  (Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible, pg.384)

I like the sound of that!  This statement is made as part of a commentary on Chapter 19 of Isaiah, and points us forward in time and history.  Though it has surely seemed impossible in the past, and hard to believe even now, God has plans for ‘Egypt’ that may surprise you.  I know they’ve floored me…let’s move ahead to the end of this chapter.

“In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.”  (v. 24,25)

With God, nothing shall be impossible.

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Countering Extremism with a Different Kind of Weapon

From my last post:


This past July, I posted “Countering the Narrative in Extremism”,a piece about former Islamic extremist Maajid Nawaz, who today works ceaselessly to, as the title suggests, counter the teachings of radical Islam. For some reason, I pulled up that post a few days ago. As I re-read it, I felt impacted by Maajid’s mission more immediately, more here-and-now than I had when I wrote the post. In it, I quoted Nawaz as saying:


“There are people who are as frustrated as we are with extremism in their own country, in Pakistan. But they’ve never had anyone to articulate that frustration, to organize them and to help them work along those lines…That means work. It means we have to be in it for the long haul. And it means the solution isn’t going to come through bombs or through prison. It has to come through the ideas debate, which is by definition a long strategy.”


“…in it for the long haul”, “…by definition a long strategy.”  These are the phrases that caught my attention, and prompted an Internet search of Nawaz.

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There is no doubt that my growing knowledge of Muslim history, radical Islamic intent, and its actions & very presence in America have had a more than sobering impact. I have become almost immobilized. I’ve been stopped short, assimilating & processing information of a sort that brings with it great threat. During this period, as fate – no, wait, that would be God! – would have it, three months of chronic computer woes have also stalled my normal life efforts. Very little visible progress has been made, in almost anything.


Almost.


The one topic that has claimed and retained my attention is the above-mentioned Maajid Nawaz, so I’m going forward with that –

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We have been hearing alot these days about the ‘moderate’ Muslim. Does he/she even exist? I have watched myself gravitate to a position of doubt on that issue, based on my new-found slight understanding of Quranic doctrine. The awful, eventual implications of ‘no such thing as a moderate Muslim’ can almost not be borne. (Similar to trying to read the ‘curses’ portion of Deuteronomy 28. I am literally unable to read that all the way through. I cannot bear it.)


Intending to get a copy of the Qur’an, so I could see for myself exactly what is taught there, I mentioned that in a comment thread online. A man who had no hesitation in speaking his mind, and didn’t seem the type to back down from anything, warned me against that course of action. He had done so himself, and ended up destroying the volume. His word describing his perception of the evil he sensed emanating from it was ‘palpable’. Assuming his perceptions were accurate, being extremely sensitive in the spirit, I hesitated to follow through with my plan.


Instead, I pulled up some online excerpts. What I read seemed ‘off”. Though it was only a very small segment, there seemed no clarity of focus. I know enough about chapter arrangements in the Qur’an, along with changes/contradictions in instructions along the way, to pretty much table my original goal. In addition to being possibly dangerous for me, I can see it becoming way too confusing & time-consuming…


Now what?


Enter Maajid Nawaz,‘Towards Political Engagement’,  and the Quilliam Foundation

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“My doubts only grew and grew. The more talks I did, trying to ignore them, the more they grew. ” – Maajid Nawaz (link)


Arrested and imprisoned after 9/11, then Islamic extremist leader Maajid Nawaz found himself trying to re-convert cellmates who had fallen away from their former extremist beliefs. In the process of trying to talk others back into radicalism, Nawaz actually talked himself out of it. In the bowels of a Cairo dungeon, a new Maajid Nawaz was born. And leaving that dungeon marked the beginning of his new mission in life as well. Although he still needed to spend some more time sorting it all out, the dye had been cast.


Today, Nawaz holds a BA (Hons) from SOAS in Arabic and Law and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics (LSE), with modules in ‘Religion and Politics’ and ‘Conflict, Violence and Terrorism’. He serves as an ambassador for the global Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM).” He speaks internationally, from universities across Pakistan to addressing the US Senate in Washington DC, and regularly comments on national and international news and newspapers in his counter-extremism mission. He is a co-founder and Executive Director of Quilliam, the world’s first counter-extremism think tank. He has also founded Khudi, an organization and social movement that works to resist radicalism & promote democracy in Pakistan.


Can I get an ‘Amen’?!!

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While a post 9/11 political prisoner, Maajid began to evaluate and study “traditional Islamic sciences.” Over time, he gained a new and unsettling perspective on the beliefs & political stance of the extremist party of which he was a member/leader, Hizbut-Tahrir. He finally realized that “the very scripture and principles used by the Party to make its analysis {resulting in a revolutionary call to a forceful overthrow of all regimes lacking Shari’ah legitimacy} do not actually support its call.” Rather, “the Party’s own principles result in the exact opposite conclusion.”


Oh.


Now, it should be made known that Hizb ut-Tahrir, founded in 1953, is a major player in British-based Islamic extremism. At least it was in 2007, according to a report in Foreign Affairs Journal. Having recently read up on some of their methods and teachings, and having found them to be exactly the same as the other Islamic ideologies I’ve come across, I think it can be concluded that Nawaz’s change of heart, and his reasons for it, would apply to any extremist group, anytime, anywhere. The arguments & explanations he has put forth since his conversion/reversion, countering extremism, should apply across the board.


Nawaz began posting & debating on his blog “Towards Political Engagement” in August 2007. As someone who is not Muslim, nor versed in the Qur’an, my first attempts at reading and understanding those dialogues required some effort! Even so, it was and is clear to me that Nawaz is very well-versed in the same, and amply capable of handling this mission he has taken upon himself. His skill in the details astounds me. As I continue to try to grasp the truths & principles he sets forth, and begin to occasionally succeed, my heart support of his call to re-educate and illuminate Islamic radicals (or any others!) becomes absolute. Gratitude to my God for planting such a man in such a place, at this volatile, crucial time in history, runs deep.

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Martin Bright, of The Jewish Chronicle Online, praises Quilliam for having  “dissected the ideology of Islamism with impressive rigour and taken on its British apologists”, and for providing an intelligent and sober critique.(link)


The appointment of former Libyan jihadi Noman Benotman this past August, as a senior analyst at Quilliam, has “led to six prominent members of the Libyan Islamist Fighting Group renouncing violent jihad and the release {of} 600 former activists from prison.” (link)


Quilliam’s co-founder Ed Husain, another ex-Hizb ut-Tahrir member, considers the staff at this amazing think-tank to be the “most intelligent, brave, visionary and patriotic young people working in Britain — to counter the ideas that produce terrorism. ”   The placement of such an organization in Britain is strategically sound, according to Husain, because  “Britain remains vital to the Hizb, for it gives the group access to the global media and provides a fertile recruiting ground at mosques and universities.”  (Husain, Ed, The Islamist, Penguin, 2007, p.272)

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Earlier in this post, I mentioned the ‘moderate Muslim’. I also mentioned my growing suspicions that there may be no such thing. According to some of the following comments made on Nawaz’s ‘early days’ blog, it appears my suspicions were perhaps wrong.




“… admiration for your courage to research, think, and write so succinctly about classical Islamic sources and the Islamist ideological perversion of it.”


“… now I look forward to you refuting the other myths activist groups advocate to destroy our noble religion.”

“My brother, God bless you. You are with the silent majority of Muslims who are bullied by the literalist extremists who fail to understand context – you speak for Muslim masses.” 


“…{you} understand the manipulative (of text and current affairs) mindset of Islamist organisations.”


“Whilst others have gone down the path of using labels, half-cooked arguments, and distorted ‘facts’ (and all that through the mainstream media), you have at the very least adopted the approach of intellectual engagement. On this I commend you.”

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At the outset of this post, I had not realized the Quilliam’s co-founder Ed Husain has, since September 2010, joined the US Council on Foreign Relations, as a Senior Fellow. I will end this post with Mr. Husain’s own words:


“The battle of ideas surges across the world today, and the United States of America is at the forefront of this struggle. The Council on Foreign Relations is ideally placed to help steer American debates, policy initiatives and find solutions to the complex problems of extremism, the prelude to terrorism.’

Liberty Endangered

“The rights and liberties of free peoples, as expressed in documents such as the United States’ Declaration of Independence, will be completely eradicated if this ideology prevails.” (Brigitte Gabriel, They Must be Stopped)
 

I’ve been trying to wait until I’d read more…but I can’t. I wanted to at least finish reading the Introduction…but I can’t wait even that long.

Most of you who read this post are probably established in a career and/or family, and/or church, community, etc., with goals either set & being pursued, or already accomplished. Your plans, your lives have taken shape.

Mine has not. Until now…
Though, along the way, it has crossed my mind that what seems like the millions of failed or thwarted efforts at success of ANY kind! may have been deliberate Divine obstruction, I was never able to fully accept that. (Would that I could’ve! Much greater would have been my peace…) When I considered that God may have bound up my life, my talents & my abilities for so long…saving me for a purpose yet to be realized…I believed that could be true but…maybe not. I once read that Jesus was kept hidden in the Father until He reached fullness of power. Then His mission began. There was an appointed time, and a fullness of time. But of course, that was Jesus…not me…could any purpose be so important that my entire life up ‘til now, would’ve been kept on hold for it?

While I don’t know exactly what my part will be in the critical venture ahead, the answer is ’yes’.

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“Political correctness has literally paralyzed many in government and created an atmosphere in which fear of being called intolerant or an ‘Islamophobe’ trumps concerns over safeguarding our lives and liberties.” (ibid.)

Brigitte Gabriel is a survivor of Islamic terror, and one of the most sought-after terrorism experts in the world. She witnessed its operations first-hand, growing up in Lebanon and living in a bomb shelter for seven years. Reading only the back cover, inside flaps, and five pages of the Introduction to her book ‘They Must be Stopped – Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It’, my entire being is almost quivering. My focus is heart-pounding, and it is absolute.
How deceived was I, to have almost fully accepted the peace-and-harmony tune being played to Americans by Imam Rauf and his associates – according to Ms. Gabriel, “To gain widespread appeal in America, they cloak themselves in the garb of moderation and take advantage of America’s freedom of religion.” If the shoe fits…and guess what? It does – consider this: “The unbuilt NY mosque has plans for several floors to study how to get Sharia law slowly installed in our country–we have to elect people who are aware of the inflitration…” (comment on ‘Is the State Department Inviting Possible Terrorists into our Schools?’)
 
The above-mentioned quivering is approaching nausea. But I am not backing down from this. The presence and spreading of radical Islam in America, and the world, “with its central tenet of jihad” is very real. It is deadly serious. Truly, it must be stopped.

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As I continue reading ‘They Must be Stopped’, I’ll be posting updates accordingly…

…the Whole of Things…

Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb! Mighty is my God, the King of Israel!

You have heard of the ‘calm before the storm‘. Well, I’ve been wondering, waiting – something was in the wings, I was pretty sure, but – what? And when?

“I still know very little about many, many issues, topics, and people – from our past or in our present. The wholeness of things eludes me.” – I wrote this statement in my last post “Election Day 2010 – Will We Change our Future?” As of today, over the past hour or two, I think I can say that this statement is no longer true. Up ‘til now, recently, I’ve felt that my ‘blogging’ effort was just about exhausted. I wouldn’t say I was giving up, but I wasn’t at all sure that there remained much of a purpose in my continuing to write. The blogosphere is a very socially-oriented environment, and I am socially challenged! Not gonna change any time soon, I don’t think! And so my ‘blogging’ effort reaches very few. Is it really worth the time and work?

Still…

I always, eventually, look into my heart. It can’t stop with my mind. The heart pumps the blood, wherein is the life.

What started out, almost 3 years ago, as a very brief post about a shipwreck on the shores of the Potomac generations before 1776, has brought me to the doorstep of Islamic ideology and the attempts of foreigners to impose their law on the Land of the Free & the Home of the Brave – our land. I have to believe there was a reason for this. So as I continued, this morning, in my glancing over emails, clicking on links & reading articles, I was brought to another doorstep. One that is leading me back into the past. And the information I’m finding there has begun to fill in the blanks for me, to ’flesh out’ and give more form to things I’ve heard, of which I’ve caught glimpses. But the more clear-cut truth has eluded me.

People know things that I don’t.

I’m not exactly overwhelmed at the moment, but as I absorb this knowledge, I fully expect it to coalesce into a manageable form. At that point, per Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back!”

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“In God we live and move and have our being…He is the Greater One…and I know that mortality is swallowed up of Life…so, because of these things, I am not terrified because America is in trouble.” (“Election Day 2010Will We Change our Future?”)

al-Qaeda on the Run? Really??

“If al-Qaeda is on the run, why do they seem on the attack?”

This was a question posed on the Chris Matthews Show this past Sunday. None of the explanations offered were very comforting. I almost wished I hadn’t heard them, but it is a time in the life of America that we need to hear them, we need to know what’s going on. And overall, I think it is better that more rather than less Americans are informed, if only in a general way, as to terrorist activism, especially as it is directed towards this country. We cannot be lulled into a false sense of security.

Unfortunately, the transcript for Sunday’s show isn’t ready yet, so I’ll have to wing it on the notes I scribbled, for now. This discussion grabbed my attention, and kept it. I left with a renewed sense of ‘high alert’. My initial inner response to the near-tragedy in Detroit, on Christmas Day, was more than confirmed; words like ‘harrowing’, ‘appalling’ re-surface in my mind. We need to trust God, but we also need to be aware & take, if we can, necessary actions.

It is possible to view the Northwest Delta Flight 253 incident from a different & even encouraging perspective, however, and that is one of a ‘wake-up call’. It was too close. We now realize how deadly and determined our enemy still is, though it may have appeared otherwise. Additionally, prior to this incident, I’m getting the impression that US intelligence/awareness regarding the growing threat of Yemen, as a terrorist-producing camp/training ground, was rather low-key? Now, it’s ratcheted up…way up. So I have to thank God for giving us the heads-up, in time to do something about it. While on the one hand, laxness in our intel/communications/follow-up etc., etc has been revealed, on the other hand – because of ‘systemic failure’, critical valuable information has also been revealed. Hah. “Praise be to God for His mercy on our great land.” He was tapping America on the shoulder, saying, ‘Pay attention here…’

ooo
It is of considerable concern that the expected face of al-Qaeda is changing. Whereas after 9/11, we were wary of obviously Muslim-type characteristics & garb in/on persons who might be acting suspiciously (or not), and geared-up to be on the lookout for such – now, that suicide bomber may instead wear the face of, say, a Nigerian student named Abdulmutallab, or a military man based in Ft. Hood, Texas…or a trusted CIA informant who, as it turns out, is now being called a triple agent. David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post , tells us “…there are at least 30 German converts to Islam who are believed to have moved to the tribal areas of Pakistan and may be undergoing training now who will come at us looking nothing like what we expect.” Geographically, we can no longer pinpoint, say, a certain area of Afghanistan as being the breeding ground for our enemies, because the ideology has spread so far around the world, and reached so many places, that it is accurately being labeled as ‘de-centralized’. We can’t simply go to the belly of the beast anymore…it’s all over the place…wearing many & evolving disguises. Mr. Ignatius points out as well that “There was a hope among our terrorism analysts…that the second and third generation of al-Qaeda would not be as formidable an adversary as the first generation was.” but it now appears that they “…are really going to cause us more problems than we thought.”

Oddly enough, while listening to this discussion on Chris Matthews’ program, the parallel of the kingdom of heaven spreading like leaven (Matthew 13:33) occurred to me. I think the idea in the heaven example is that the spread of it is invisible, and eventually reaches the outermost edge. While we most earnestly believe that the spreading of the Kingdom of our God is a good thing!, even if we aren’t aware it is happening – the same cannot be said for jihadist activity. Somehow, we need to be continually aware of its invisible progression, its reach, and somehow, we need to meet it and stop it.

At this point in my reasoning, I myself am stopped by the concept of ideology. Ideology trumps everything else. An idea comes from somewhere, and produces, eventually, action. In my research on Thomas Jefferson, I happened across a book entitled “Ideas Are Weapons” (Max Lerner), and at that point also, the concept stopped me, engaging my thoughts…or ideas! Is this the place where engagement must, finally, occur? I don’t know that such genuine ‘engagement’ falls under the heading of diplomacy – my gut doubts that. And I have not a clue how such seemingly impossible events could ever transpire between America & her allies, and what is termed radical Islam. But I remember, in the minutes and hours following 9/11, these Scriptures crossed my mind: “From whence come wars and fightings among you?…ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” (James 4:1,2,KJV)
I am not an idiot, nor simpleton; I obviously realize that such opposing ‘ideologies’ are not about to sit down over a nice hot cup of tea & clear the air…not today. Bombs are still being planted, exploding…potential attacks, probably beyond what most of us can truly comprehend, are surely still being planned, and planned with relentless patience & precision. (Time magazine columnist Joe Klein quoted a former intelligence official as saying that the suicide bombing attack at the CIA base in Afghanistan “… was extremely sophisticated. It took years to set up. We didn’t think al-Qaeda had that capability.”) Hostages are still being taken, casualties & fatalities are not ceasing and some of our troops, a year or more after coming home, still can’t sleep because of post-traumatic stress disorder. (God, help us, help us all…) Until, somehow, the point is reached where an ‘asking’ such as perhaps has never before occurred in the history of Islam, or Christianity, can take place…until then, as a friend once told me, ‘you have to do what you have to do until God does what He’s going to do!’ Until then, we defend our homeland. But while we do that, perhaps some of us can carry within an awareness of what author Michael Novak, in The Universal Hunger for Liberty, calls ‘our common cause’, human liberty, which he believes is ‘the tie that can reconcile the Western democratic tradition with its erstwhile Islamic foes.’

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Author’s note: Michael Novak’s experience & credentials boggle the mind. See ‘Biography’.

Excerpt – ‘His {Novak’s} masterpiece, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, has been reprinted often in Latin America, and was published underground in Poland in 1984, and recently in Czechoslovakia, Germany, China and Hungary. One reviewer called it “one of those rare books that actually changed the world.” ‘