I thought I would have room and to spare -- to my shock, it filled up! (So now I will have to be looking at a DVD burner drive . . . and will seriously need to see about working with hard drive enclosures. All, in the interests of securing my data vaults as an un-named reader has reminded me on. Y'know: all of that stuff about backed up key files, as there are two types of computer user: those who have lost data and those who will lose data. It's true, and we so often forget to secure data. Thanks again, X!)
But, what does all of this have to do with signs of our times?
Well, there are two heartening additions to the files, speaking to each of the two tidal waves. (And yes, I know that so much of what we have to speak on is not so good news. I am glad to be able to share the excerpts and links below. Then, DV, let's get back tot he Cyber College ideas and developments -- indeed, the 2 GB memory stick frees up a 256 MB one forsome Moodle Experiments. )
Good news item 1: Hassan Butt of the UK, a former Islamist, in The Daily Mail. Observe, carefully, the role of conscience in his turnaround from radical Islamism::
The attempts to cause mass destruction in London and Glasgow are so reminiscent of other recent British Islamic extremist plots that they are likely to have been carried out by my former peers
. . . . I left the British Jihadi Network in February 2006 because I realised that its members had simply become mindless killers . . . . though many British extremists are angered by the deaths of fellow Muslim across the world, what drove me and many others to plot acts of extreme terror within Britain and abroad was a sense that we were fighting for the creation of a revolutionary worldwide Islamic state that would dispense Islamic justice . . . .
How do Islamic radicals justify such terror in the name of their religion? . . . . the foundation of extremist reasoning rests upon a model of the world in which you are either a believer or an infidel . . . . For centuries, the reasoning of Islamic jurists has set down rules of interaction between Dar ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) and Dar ul-Kufr (the Land of Unbelief) to cover almost every matter of trade, peace and war.
But what radicals and extremists do is to take this two steps further. Their first step has been to argue that, since there is no pure Islamic state, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr (The Land of Unbelief).
Step two: since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war upon the whole world.
Along with many of my former peers, I was taught by Pakistani and British radical preachers that this reclassification of the globe as a Land of War (Dar ul-Harb) allows any Muslim to destroy the sanctity of the five rights that every human is granted under Islam: life, wealth, land, mind and belief . . . . But the main reason why radicals have managed to increase their following is because most Muslim institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology.
They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever - and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace and hope that all of this debate will go away.
This has left the territory open for radicals to claim as their own. I should know because, as a former extremist recruiter, I repeatedly came across those who had tried to raise these issues with mosque authorities only to be banned from their grounds . . . .
Outside Britain, there are those who try to reverse this two-step revisionism.
A handful of scholars from the Middle East have tried to put radicalism back in the box by saying that the rules of war devised so long ago by Islamic jurists were always conceived with the existence of an Islamic state in mind, a state which would supposedly regulate jihad in a responsible Islamic fashion.
In other words, individual Muslims don't have the authority to go around declaring global war in the name of Islam . . . . Because so many in the Muslim community refuse to challenge centuries-old theological arguments, the tensions between Islamic theology and the modern world grow larger every day . . . . Crucially, the Muslim community in Britain must slap itself awake from its state of denial and realise there is no shame in admitting the extremism within our families, communities and worldwide co-religionists . . . . Muslim scholars must go back to the books and come forward with a refashioned set of rules and a revised understanding of the rights and responsibilities of Muslims whose homes and souls are firmly planted in what I'd like to term the Land of Co-existence.
And when this new theological territory is opened up, Western Muslims will be able to liberate themselves from defunct models of the world, rewrite the rules of interaction and perhaps we will discover that the concept of killing in the name of Islam is no more than an anachronism.
Similarly, that quiet inner voice played a crucial role in the turnaround of the founder of the Young Gay America magazine, Michael Glatze:
My mom died when I was 19. My father had died when I was 13. At an early age, I was already confused about who I was and how I felt about others.
My confusion about "desire" and the fact that I noticed I was "attracted" to guys made me put myself into the "gay" category at age 14. At age 20, I came out as gay to everybody else around me . . . . It took me almost 16 years to discover that homosexuality itself is not exactly "virtuous." It was difficult for me to clarify my feelings on the issue, given that my life was so caught up in it.
Homosexuality, delivered to young minds, is by its very nature pornographic. It destroys impressionable minds and confuses their developing sexuality; I did not realize this, however, until I was 30 years old . . . . I was asked to speak on the prestigious JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2005.
It was, after viewing my words on a videotape of that "performance," that I began to seriously doubt what I was doing with my life and influence.
Knowing no one who I could approach with my questions and my doubts, I turned to God . . . . Soon, I began to understand things I'd never known could possibly be real, such as the fact that I was leading a movement of sin and corruption . . . . Driven to look for truth, because nothing felt right, I looked within. Jesus Christ repeatedly advises us not to trust anybody other than Him. I did what He said, knowing that the Kingdom of God does reside in the heart and mind of every man.
What I discovered – what I learned – about homosexuality was amazing. How I'd first "discovered" homosexual desires back in high school was by noticing that I looked at other guys. How I healed, when it became decidedly clear that I should – or risk hurting more people – is that I paid attention to myself.
Every time I was tempted to lust, I noticed it, caught it, dealt with it. I called it what it was, and then just let it disappear on its own . . . . Homosexuality, for me, began at age 13 and ended – once I "cut myself off" from outside influences and intensely focused on inner truth – when I discovered the depths of my God-given self at age 30.
God is regarded as an enemy by many in the grip of . . . lustful behavior, because He reminds them of who and what they truly are meant to be. People caught in the act would rather stay "blissfully ignorant" by silencing truth and those who speak it, through antagonism, condemnation and calling them words like "racist," "insensitive," "evil" and "discriminatory."
Healing from the wounds caused by homosexuality is not easy – there's little obvious support. What support remains is shamed, ridiculed, silenced by rhetoric or made illegal by twisting of laws. I had to sift through my own embarrassment and the disapproving "voices" of all I'd ever known to find it. Part of the homosexual agenda is getting people to stop considering that conversion is even a viable question to be asked, let alone whether or not it works.
In my experience, "coming out" from under the influence of the homosexual mindset was the most liberating, beautiful and astonishing thing I've ever experienced in my entire life.
Lust takes us out of our bodies, "attaching" our psyche onto someone else's physical form. That's why homosexual sex – and all other lust-based sex – is never satisfactory: It's a neurotic process rather than a natural, normal one. Normal is normal – and has been called normal for a reason.
Abnormal means "that which hurts us, hurts normal." Homosexuality takes us out of our normal state, of being perfectly united in all things, and divides us, causing us to forever pine for an outside physical object that we can never possess. Homosexual people – like all people – yearn for the mythical true love, which does actually exist. The problem with homosexuality is that true love only comes when we have nothing preventing us from letting it shine forth from within. We cannot fully be ourselves when our minds are trapped in a cycle and group-mentality of sanctioned, protected and celebrated lust . . . .
Conscience tells us right from wrong and is a guide by which we can grow and become stronger and freer human beings. Healing from sin and ignorance is always possible, but the first thing anyone must do is get out of the mentalities that divide and conquer humanity.
Sexual truth can be found, provided we're all willing and driven to accept that our culture sanctions behaviors that harm life. Guilt should be no reason to avoid the difficult questions.
In short, we are right back at Paul's inspired words in Romans 2:
Rom 2: 6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism . . . . 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law . . . 15 . . . they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) . . . .
RO 13:8b . . . he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
In effect, the first edition of God's moral law is written on each human heart, in our consciences. It reads first and foremost: "love thy neighbour as thyself."
It is heartening to see from these two case studies, that that law is alive and well and working in the hearts of those involved in the de-Christianising tidal wave now sweeping the secularised North, and among those caught up in the Islamist tidal wave as well.
Let us therefore take heart and work with the stirrings of the Spirit in many hearts across the world, even across the ideological and theological divides that sunder our emerging Post-modern globalised age, in so many ways.
And that is worth an: AMEN