Regensberg Unpacked

Just arrived from Amazon is Robert Reilly's new book that appears to be a thorough intellectual accounting of how Islam got where it is now. He attributes the problem to a disastrous theological turn in Sunni Islam in the 9th century.

Can't wait to read's said this is the best contribution to Western understanding of the roots of Islamic terrorism since Bernard Lewis.

Mr. W. attended a lecture Reilly gave somewhere or other last week and came back with a few anecdotes. Remember the group of Iraqi Muslims who'd had their right hands chopped off Saddam at Abu-Ghraib and were flown to Texas to receive prosthetic arms? Reilly's the guy behind the scenes who arranged that.

He reported reading a translation of the letter one of those men wrote to his wife from prison the evening before his arm was butchered. Reilly said he'd hardly ever encountered such courage, faith and strength. It was a beautiful letter. Brought the translator to tears. In it the man encourages his wife to bear with courage what Allah allows and said the next time you see me I won't have a right arm, so you will be right arm.

Reilly had numerous accounts of how amazed and impressed Iraqis were by American kindness to them. He also reported that the average Iraqi Muslim does not subscribe to the strain of Islam that hates everyone but its own. He cited the example of an American chaplain who was told not to wear his crucifix while in Iraq and blew off that regulation. The local Iraqis called him "the Christian imam" and honored him.

In memory Mr. W. isn't sure if a second anecdote involved the same man or a second Christian chaplain, but in any case, the fellow was wounded and the local Muslim community felt horrible about it and gathered to pray for him.

That certainly comports with the wonderful signs of friendship and tolerance the Iraqis have shown for Christianity since the war, but I would like to know what Reilly would say about the other side of the story -- because in spite of those positive signs, the Christian community in Iraq is being decimated by extremists.

Maybe the book will shed light.