Israel attacks Syria, stirs up Middle East

Israeli missiles hit Syria, which is stirring up talk of a broader war.  The Washington Post reports that the attacks may hasten the Obama administration’s decision about intervening on behalf of Syrian rebels (not with troops, but with weapons and possibly air support).  Should we? [Read more…]

The history of coffee

Here is something we can thank the Islamic world for:  coffee.  BBC gives an interesting account of the history of that beverage and how it came to the West:

Although a beverage made from the wild coffee plant seems to have been first drunk by a legendary shepherd on the Ethiopian plateau, the earliest cultivation of coffee was in Yemen and Yemenis gave it the Arabic name qahwa, from which our words coffee and cafe both derive.

Qahwa originally meant wine, and Sufi mystics in Yemen used coffee as an aid to concentration and even spiritual intoxication when they chanted the name of God. [Read more…]

Second bomber captured

From Fox News:

BREAKING: A day-long dragnet for the second of two brothers believed to be behind Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing ended Friday night, with police capturing the suspect covered in blood and hiding in a boat in the backyard of a man who called 911 after become suspicious of activity on his property. [Read more…]

Whether a criminal converts to Islam or Christianity

James Holmes, who dressed up like the Joker and killed 12 people at the Batman movie (and who faces the death penalty if he is convicted), has converted to Islam.  Robert Spencer explores what that means as opposed to a conversion to Christianity:

The debate over James Holmes’s sanity has raged hotly ever since he murdered twelve people and wounded 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012. But now the controversy can be laid to rest: Holmes is sane. The clearest indication of his sanity came last week, when the Daily Mail reported that he had converted to Islam.

The Mail reported that Holmes is apparently quite devout: he has grown a lavish beard, eats only halal food, prays the obligatory five daily prayers, and studies the Qur’an for hours every day.

Holmes’s conversion reveals that instead of being unaware of what he did, or utterly remorseless, as one might expect of a psychotic or a sociopath, the murders must trouble him a great deal. For it is souls that are troubled — intellectually, morally, spiritually, psychologically — who cast about for some solution to what troubles them, and often find it in religious conversion.

But it is what Holmes converted to that is significant. [Read more…]

Projecting Christianity onto other religions

David Forsmark makes a point made by our own loyal reader, author, and Nordic expert Lars Walker, speaking of the Norse deities.  Forsmark writes:

Americans have a naïve view of religion. The religious freedom that is so ingrained in our tradition — and our Constitution — has morphed beyond tolerance to a sort of anthropomorphic acceptance of pretty much anything.

In other words, in order to prove how tolerant we are, we take our basically Judeo-Christian view of what religion and God should be, and assume all other religions share the same goals, have the same values, and are just differing manifestation of the same loving and just God.

Nothing could be further from the truth. [Read more…]

Al-Qaeda 2.0

Al-Qaeda is back.  And, according to David Ignatius, the new version is going to be even harder to battle, particularly since our former Arab allies in the war on terrorism have now been taken over by Islamists.  He uses the metaphor of a metastasizing cancer:

The Obama administration is working with its allies to frame a strategy to combat what might be called “al-Qaeda 2.0” — an evolving, morphing terrorist threat that lacks a coherent center but is causing growing trouble in chaotic, poorly governed areas such as Libya, Yemen, Syria and Mali.

[Read more…]


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