A former Salafist - yep, a college educated American who once studied Islam and decided the Wahhabists were the more persuasive interpreters - has been emailing with Rod Dreher. His name is Daveed Gartenstein-Ross. He has since come to the view that the extremists do not necessarily have the stronger arguments in interpreting Islam, but that their message is more persuasive to the average Muslim than the more complex interpretations of more learned scholars. He is as dismayed as I am about the response to the Pope's recent remarks. The role of reason and therefore doubt in religious is one of the critical debates of our time (and it's a central them of my book). The fact that the Pope has to apologize for intellectual engagement of a vital topic, while the West shrugs off the Muslim violence and murder that has ensued is a terrible portent in this civilizational struggle between fundamentalism and reasoned, humble faith.

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