FWIW, alongside Graeme Wood’s Atlantic article, this piece provides the best explanation I’ve encountered of ISIS — or rather, the best articulation of the West’s utter bafflement at how ISIS is possible (cf your reflection #6). It’s a great piece that shows just how inexplicable ISIS is and how bewildered we are in the face of it.
I share that bafflement — until I recall that our’s is not a materialist universe and that, as the Bible makes clear, there are forces that amplify, extend, and deepen the evil inherent in the human heart. Humanity’s worst impulses are thereby encouraged, exhorted, and twisted further, leading to acts that are nearly beyond comprehension. How else to explain, say, a well-to-do naturalized British citizen behead hostages on camera; or the plan by two teenagers in Mississippi to join the Islamic State; or any of the other head-spinning incidents of recent history?