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14 Responses to “What ISIS Gets Right”

  1. John Seel says:

    This is a very good post, worth saving to my files. Well done. John

  2. Rochelle Raimão says:

    This article has been the talk around the dinner table many times among my family and extended family. Thank you for your thought provoking and insightful contribution to the conversation! Rochelle

  3. Dave says:

    Mike, Thank you again for putting these disparate pieces together to gain a better understanding and perspective of ourselves and our enemy.

  4. Mike Metzger says:

    Dave

    It’s as much the case that we have met the enemy – and he is us.

    Tim Keller says defines today’s church as individualistic and consumerist. That’s what modernity yields. ISIS sees modernity as insane. If every individual is the final arbiter, then there can be no order. We’re returning to what Genesis calls the “formless and void.” ISIS sees the West as so habituated in modernity that few if any can see this. This includes Christians as well Westernized Islamic believers, since Western culture is ubiquitous. ISIS seeks to impose order on Western individualized disorder.

  5. Barnabas says:

    A self proclaimed caliphate seems more rooted in personal deception than self-control in a loving community.Sound bite narratives using technology and media seem to contradict ‘the anti modernity’ portrayal. Lack of genuine contact, connection and communication leave young lives vulnerable to binary visions of humanity.

  6. Dave T says:

    I dunno Mike. You portray ISIS as sympathetic to institutional qualities but all I see is an anti-instutional agenda. If mere thousands of them upset millions (billions?) of us – who are such cooperative drones that we’ll go along with whatever Western institution tells us is good, right & true – then they’re calling the kettle black if they’re supposedly against autonomy. We are hardly the autonomous people that you say that we are – we are about as sheepish as sheep can be: harmless, helpless and hungry all the time. Mike, more typically you are great at “following the money” – “cui bono” – to whom does it benefit? What do you want to bet that ISIS is funded by sources that don’t share this Islamicist agenda or this so-called supposed anti-autonomy agenda? ISIS funders benefit – and more probably in some far-sighted way, far different from the immediate destructiveness of ISIS.

  7. Barnabas says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/opinion/the-education-of-jihadi-john.html

  8. Dave T says:

    Barnabas’s post includes an extraordinary quote from an ex-Islamist: “The recruiters are adept at manipulating world events to present what I call the “Islamist narrative” — that the world is at war with Islam, and only a caliphate will protect Muslims from the crusaders. I was seduced by the ideology and drawn to its alternative subculture.” I think this succinctly suggests that the Islamist agenda is meant to protect a culture (otherwise known as an institution) from a countering culture or institution. One defends one’s people against a singularly identified enemy that is singularly identified as out to destroy your singular identity. So to an Islamist, he enemy is not an identity of many faces, many motives, and disparate autonomous cultures. The last thing an Islamist propagandist would dream of promoting is the thought that Westerners are driven by autonomous agendas. That would describe us as tame self-absorbed narcissists. We may BE that, but that would pose no threat to Islam. Islamist propaganda sees the West as singularly focused on destroying Islamist culture.

  9. Dave T says:

    Barnabas’s post includes an extraordinary quote from an ex-Islamist: “The recruiters are adept at manipulating world events to present what I call the “Islamist narrative” — that the world is at war with Islam, and only a caliphate will protect Muslims from the crusaders. I was seduced by the ideology and drawn to its alternative subculture.” I think this succinctly suggests that the Islamist agenda is meant to protect a culture (otherwise known as an institution) from a countering culture or institution. One defends one’s people against a singularly identified enemy that is singularly identified as out to destroy your singular identity. So to an Islamist, the enemy is not an identity of many faces, many motives, and disparate autonomous cultures. The last thing an Islamist propagandist would dream of promoting is the thought that Westerners are driven by autonomous agendas. That would describe us as tame self-absorbed narcissists. We may BE that, but that would pose no threat to Islam. Islamist propaganda sees the West as singularly focused on destroying Islamist culture.

  10. Barnabas says:

    For further reference. ‘self-righteous’
    http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/03/05/3630340/prominent-islamic-scholar-refutes-claims-isiss-links-islam/

  11. John Seel says:

    Clearly, people have strongly held feelings and beliefs when it comes to ISIS — their motivations and what to do about them. It is also true that monocausal explanations are most certainly wrong. There are numerous reasons why ISIS is attractive to many. But Mike’s general point that resurgent Islamic fundamentalism is in part a reaction to modernity and how that it is symbolically embodied in the United States, is a point worth remembering. Evangelicals are heavily aligned with the spirit of modernity and as such are as much a part of the problem as a part of the solution. This has been a thesis articulated widely by Os Guinness (“Dining with the Devil”) and myself (“No God But God” and “The Evangelical Forfeit”). Mikes view are also reflected in Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilization.” Marx was among the first to acknowledge that consumer capitalism is corrosive of traditional beliefs, “everything solids melts into air.” On this score see Marshall Berman’s book by the same title, “Everything Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity.” American evangelicalism cannot be understood a part from modernity and the Enlightenment. Both are woven into the moral imagination of American evangelicalism in ways that it is hard to them to acknowledge or sense.

    Rev. Thom’s explanation of ISIS in terms of market forces, i.e. “follow the money,” implies a reductionism of motives to economic factors that discounts any measure of serious religious commitment — however misguided. This is an analysis typical of Marxists not believing Christians. We should at minimum give Islamic fundamentalists the courtesy of taking their beliefs as beliefs seriously. We may disagree with them, but not with the validity of religious convictions. And why there are sweeping generalizations involved in any group characterization of motives, the general frame of Mike’s comments are certainly worth taking into consideration. We may learn ways in which American Christians are more complicit in an uncritical acceptance of modernity than we are prone to acknowledge. Like fish in water, we’re probably not in the best position to ascertain our surroundings. The ISIS counterpoint is instructive.

  12. Barnabas says:

    Is there use media ‘anti-modernity’ ?

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/03/why-its-so-hard-to-stop-isis-propaganda/386216/

  13. Barnabas says:

    … use of …

  14. What’s the deal with ISIS? | Carl Creasman What’s the deal with ISIS?| Live Well blog; life insights with values says:

    […] article I have read about it by Graeme Wood.  I first heard about it from my Internet friend Michael Metzger who wrote about an aspect of Wood’s expose.  Metzger focused on the fact that ISIS is, in fact, at war […]

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