I'm not stupid or uneducated or totally naive and idealistic, but I do not understand radicalism.

We've all seen and heard zealots whose world view is so narrow as to refuse to admit any other belief may be valid. I try not to have tunnel vision about ideals. No human is perfect, and none of us can possibly have complete and perfect knowledge of anything. Interpretations vary widely, as perception is a subjective thing. There are at least as many sides to a story as there are people who witnessed it. Who we are and what we've experienced color everything we perceive, remember, and retrieve from memory. So rigidity in thought and expression make no sense.  I have trouble wrapping my head around the belief and practice of radical Islamic doctrine.

Words can be pretty slippery, too, and again, interpretations vary. There are a whole slew of colloquialisms, figures of speech and adaptations in translation. I am reminded of the story of Russian/English voice recognition software under development. The expression "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" came out "the vodka is acceptable, but the meat has gone bad."

Ruh-roh. Not quite accurate.

 Remember how, in the flood, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights? Or that many of God's prophets wandered in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights? That's an ancient Hebraic idiom meaning, "Well, it was quite a while, surely more than a month, but we aren't certain exactly how long." And in the Book (the Old Testament, basic to Jews, Muslims and Christians), the Creation story told of the period of time during which God created the world.

Translation, seldom if ever perfect, calls these time periods "days." The word can also be correctly translated "eons,"  times with a distinct beginning and end, but we can't know for certain exactly how long one of God's "days" or "eons" was. That's why I see no conflict between evolution and creationism. Many passages in scripture are allegorical and not meant literally.

In others, the writer described what he saw in terms of his times in history. I think The Revelation is both. In it, John says he saw people whose eyes and tongues were consumed from their heads by fire before their dead bodies hit the ground. Sure sounds like an atomic bomb to me, but of course John had no concept of such weaponry.

"Infidel" and "unbeliever" imply lack of faithfulness and belief. I am a Christian; I believe in God and try to live as He would find pleasing. I believe God experienced what it is to be human, in the person of Jesus. I have no problem believing that Mohamed was one of God's prophets, as were Moses, Elijah and Ezekiel. What about my beliefs make me an infidel or unbeliever?

I am neither unfaithful to God nor do I fail to believe in Him. But from what I hear, radical Muslims think our mutual God wants them to kill me for my infidelity and unbelief. And that I just do not understand.