Monday, January 12, 2015

Article I really like ...

God be with and bless,

Friday, November 28, 2014

Heart Cutters

An homage to a few special girls I met this semester ... thank you.

I almost made it out this place, 26 years with some near misses, but mostly unscathed – I almost made it out of this place – until I saw your face.

That smile, those eyes got me from the start, but what is sweeter still, are the treasures hidden in your tender heart.

Understanding, compassion, and a smile that starts from within and works its way out … a smile that will one day save the world … about that there is no doubt.

“If your eyes are full of light your whole body will be full of light” … Well if that’s the case, my light is brighter than the Sun whenever you’re in sight.

This poem may be cheesy, and you know well by now that so am I, but I have a most serious question of which I expect a rhetorical reply.

Who doesn't like cheese? I am inclined to ask - and since the answer is no one - continuing with “my cheese” will continue to be my task :)

But in honesty and from everything I hold true … you’re the greatest of blessings that could ever happen to a dude.

God had to break down a lot of idealized idols in my strife, before He was ready to bring one of His true angels into my life.

Like a beautiful flower that sprouts from burnt ashes, something that quite simply never should happen, the only thing I’ve never had clear, is why God would let you, His greatest creation, out of heaven at all my dear.

"The eyes are the light of the body", "The window to the soul" ... your eyes are green daggers that have pierced my heart and left a gaping hole.

I'll do the only thing I can, and give my wounded heart to Him to heal again ...

 My heart is His anyways and so is yours ... so is the whole world's.

 But I'll carry you in mine sweet angel ... until and upon and after ... His return.

Love always,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Another Way to Look at the Equality of People

Acknowledging that we have biological differences does not mean that people are better or worse, but just that we're different ... we're different in traits, but not different in value ... you can't have a stew with just potatoes -- you have to have meat and other vegetables and even noodles are good to make the stew whole, same with people -- we are different, but it's the differences that give the stew flavor and wholesomeness ... we're different as people, but equal as human beings.

God be with and bless,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

God is like the Ocean

I know this is not original, but here is my spin on the "God is like the Ocean" simile:

God is like the Ocean, and life for each of us is jumping in and trying to swim to shore.
We get to pick what shore we try to swim to (again money, power, etc.), but the shore of loving God and loving others is the most fulfilling shore to go for.
Life is hard, swimming in the Ocean is hard – there are rough waters, we get battered and bruised, and sometimes we even sink – but there are also calmer waters, there’s driftwood, and lighthouses and sandbars, where we can find refuge along the way, depending on where the Ocean (God) carries us.
It’s a partnership of us swimming, and God carrying us … that is one reason I like the Ocean analogy.
Another reason I like the analogy of an Ocean, is because there are highs and lows, low tide and high tide, but all that matters is getting to shore when it's all said and done.
But even if we never swim all the way to shore on our own, we get too tired or sink along the way, God promises to “carry us to shore” if we will trust God no matter what … and trust me, as you probably know yourself … it is not always easy to trust God, but the hope is that it will be worth it.

God be with and bless,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cosmic War: Reza Aslan Book Review

*This is a book review I did for Reza Aslan's How to Win a Cosmic War? All rights and only reference in this paper was that book. I just wanted to have a copy of that paper, because I think Aslan's assignment is hauntingly accurate of the ISIS situation, and it was just a good educational book for me on my own journey, and gave me a little better understanding of some complicated issues in our world -- God be with and bless -- Kozy*

As usual, the formatting got thrown off SEVERELY -- and I don't have the energy or the time to re-format it, but I feel like the content is still worth posting -- so bear with it if you can, and I apologize for the messed formatting (...I don't know why that happens), but like my buddy says this is the "blog that nobody reads", so it'll probably just be for my personal reference and access anyway (...but hopefully someone else reads it too!)

Matthew Kozak
Professor Sharp

Book Review for Beyond Fundamentalism (originally published How to Win a Cosmic War) by Reza Aslan
This book is filled with historical narratives, socio-cultural and political (as well as religious obviously) insights, weaving an intricate web at the heart of which is “Global Jihadism” – what is it? How did it arise? What are the implications? And how should we respond?

    Beyond Fundamentalism is a book that comes at us with so much

content, it can seem daunting to unpack. The book starts by defining

terms and the “landscape” and implications as well as realities of 

the entrenched mindset of “us vs. them” and “cosmic war” in the

introduction, to unpacking the consequences of modernity and nation-

states (Wahhabism, Salafism), on the Arab world specifically, and 

all the world more broadly.

    After Aslan sets the table with this “nation-state”/”us vs. 

them” mindset he has explained to us historically and 

fundamentally, he then illustrates how this has played out in 

Israel, and what fuels both sides in that piece of the “cosmic war” 


   Aslan then broadens out the religious fundamentalist menagerie to

include radical Zionism and radical evangelical Zionism.

Then, we are swept into the history and rise of what would

be considered by most to be modern “Islamic fundamentalist 

terrorism” of the Osama binLaden and Ayman Zawahiri brand.

   The later part of the book highlights the infrastructural and

social reasons and obstacles in the “clash of civilizations” between

the East and West by describing challenges London has faced with

discrimination and integration of their Muslim population, and how

that has bred forms of the Islamic extremism.

    The last chapter is about the importance of true democracy

throughout the Arab world, and how the fight for democracy in these

war torn, deeply diverse, deeply entrenched ideologue battlefields

must be fought; “not with bullets and bombs, but with words and 

I want to focus on specifically, this idea of “Global Jihaddism” (p.24) presented by Aslan, because I think it is the heart and most important part of the book from an educational standpoint.
The theme I found most compelling, integrated, and encompassing by Aslan was the more fundamental psychological root of his exhortations on identity and social integration. Aslan talks about how the rhetoric from both the “East” and “West” in its most EXTREME version pits the friction between the two in “cosmic” terms; Aslan writes:

“A cosmic war partitions the world into black and white,
good and evil, us and them. In such a war, there is no
middle ground; everyone must choose a side. Soldier and
civilian, aggressor and bystander – all the traditional
divisions that serve as markers in a real war break down
in cosmic wars. It is a simple equation: if you are not
us, you must be them. If you are them, you are the enemy and must be destroyed.” [p. 5, Aslan, Beyond Fundamentalism]

Some skillful parallelism is used to further illustrate this

point of this “us vs. them” mentality that has been heightened in

human society with the rise of nation states (p. 19-24) and

globalization (p. 18-19) when Aslan tells the story of Alfred 


According to Aslan, Dreyfus was “blackballed” in an espionage

conspiracy by French authorities because he was Jewish (p. 40-

42). At the end of the Dreyfus narrative Aslan drives his point home

by explaining: “What did it mean to be French or Dutch at a time 

when those identities were only just beginning to 

be nationalistically defined? It meant not being a Jew” (p.42). 

     This story is paralleled later to make the point that with the 

creation of the state of Israel and Zionist movement, this “nation-

state”/”globalization” mentality carried over from being against 

Jews(Dreyfus) to the Jews perpetrating it on others (the injustices 

to Palestinian people by creation of state of Israel) where Aslan 

states: “What did it mean to be a Palestinian? It meant not being a 

Jew” (p.49).

     This theme of “us vs. them”, and the effects of “national

identity”, “globalization”, and “integration” are examined and 

probed by the author throughout, and I believe culminates with 

Aslan’s story of Hasib Hussain, one of the 7/7 bombers (for more 

information about the 7/7 bombings in London I am providing this 

link: in London.

Hussan’s story as a “normal”/”unassuming” terrorist is not only

the “template” (p. 136) of the recruiting targets of Global 

Jihadism,(Defined by Aslan as: “A militant Sunni Muslim social 

movement with its roots in the Arab reform movements [Salafism] of 

the 20th century”) but also is an example by which we can 

extrapolate that the form of radicalism we see (especially in 

European countries) by young-middle class other-wise non-violent 

citizens becoming radicalized into terrorist action is more a 

result of “institutional discrimination” and “Islamaphobia” (p.151) 

by Eurupe, than anything with in the tenetsof Islam. 

      Indeed, it is not as much their Islamic identity that

leads to this “terrorism”, (in fact if they were more Islamic they

wouldn’t lend themselves to terrorism is the implication by Aslan

throughout as only “13% of Jihadists worldwide have had any kind of

religious education [p.147])but it is the fact that they are NOT 

well integrated Europeans (p.150)! I personally found this point 


    Reza Aslan closes out this woven historical, political, cultural

and religious narrative into a single thread in the final chapters 

of his book. That thread being that democracy must be imbued into 

the Middle East, and the push for true democracy must continue to be

fought for – that the United States role in promoting TRUE 

democracy, not lip-service democracy and back-handedly stunting 

democratic growth by military and social support of dictatorships 

to stabilize U.S.interests, is an INTEGRAL piece in battling 


     Aslan explains that Jihadism is a social movement, and to 

stabilize it, it must be absorbed into politics and culture by 

being given a voice and self-destruct by being reamed out by other 

more sound realistic, and Islamic options OR transforming into a 

more moderate, Islamic, and practical ideologue itself (Aslan gives 

the example of the success of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 

political sphere in Egypt).

    I found Aslan’s book informative, educational, and important. I

would recommend it to anyone who wanted to learn just basic “nation-

state” globalization” history, or who more specifically wanted a

thorough understanding of what Global Jihaddism is, what religious

fundamentalism is, how is it different from real Islam, how did it

come about, who are all the “players” (U.S., Israel,

Europe, Middle East at large, etc. etc.) and what is the best way to

deal with Jihadism going forward.
    In my opinion, this coming from Aslan with a Ph.D in religious

studies and himself being a devout and very intelligent Muslim 

scholar I think gives this book all the credibility it needs to 

spread its important message, it’s not about “us or them” –

it’s about “all of us” learning to live together, while 

understanding all the factors and obstacles and history involved, 

and how to achieve that goal.

Friday, November 21, 2014

God Sun poem

This poem is inspired by a friend of mine who made this really good analogy about the "light of truth" and keeping ones eyes shut. He explained that the light of truth shines whether we open our eyes or not, but if we choose to stay in the dark, it is our choice, not reality -- reality is the light of truth whether we like it or not, thanks Jis, for that analogy, here is a poem I wrote along that same thinking.

God is like the Sun -
you can keep your eyes closed
and stay in the dark.

But that doesn't get rid of the Sun
or its warmth.

You can stay in the dark if you choose,
but don't tell everyone it is night,
because whether you like it or not,
you can't get rid of the Sun or its Light.

God be with and bless everyone,

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Card Dealer

This is probably really cliche and I know there are variations out there, so this is NOT original, but I was thinking more today about God the card dealer.

We've all heard the phrase: "Life is like poker, God deals you your hand, and you've got to play your cards."

Seems true and fair enough, but I think there is an idea in that phrase that is often left out.

If you're a good poker player (and I am not, I really suck actually ... but that's beside the point), you CAN play a BAD HAND well ... and if you're a BAD POKER player, you can REALLY mess up a GOOD HAND.

So the hand you get is a piece of the equation, BUT BIGGER, is HOW YOU PLAY what you're dealt.

You can "bluff" (for non poker players, bluffing is pretending you have a good hand when you don't) your way to a fortune, but also you can have a royal flush (the best hand in poker ... I think?) and totally blow it by HOW YOU PLAY IT.

So I guess to sum it up, what your dealt does matter .... but what matters THE MOST is HOW you play WHATEVER you've been dealt .... because even the worst hand can win the biggest fortunes, if played by the right player :)

God be with and bless everyone,