I am still getting back to everything I promised, but I wanted to post this -- and e-mail it to some people -- to bring the discussion more into focus. Again, if you'd rather e-mail me (email@example.com) I'll copy the comments I received and post them.
Three questions -- well, two of them are statements I want your opinions on:
1: I used to believe that a 'reformed Islam' was possible. As time has gone on and I have read more, as I said in "Changing My Mind" I believe that Islam is like my old computer, that by the time you fixed or replaced what was wrong with it, you would have 'nothing left but the case and the speakers.' In other words, rather than reform it, it would have to be replaced.
2: If Islam were reformable, why bother? What specific perceptions, ideas, principles (ethical, moral, practical, or whatever) are both exclusive to Islam and worth the effort of creating a Reform Islam? (I'll admit I have yet to see any, but that is why I am sending this to a number of Muslims, hoping they do. What I have seen is either principles that are common not just to most religions but to simple secular humanistic common sense, or principles exclusive to Islam -- like their treatment of women and unbelievers -- which are the reasons why the reform would be necessary.)
3: I have stated (in my 'Exchange with Deborah Lipstadt' below, which explains WHY I think this) that, while other religious, political, and social movements -- good and bad -- attempt to 'change reality,' Islam attempts to 'define reality.' Because it does, when its 'reality' is opposed by a Western reality, or historical or scientific facts, etc., since it cannot question its own reality or challenge the opposition on its ground, it reacts violently to attempt to destroy the 'competing reality.' Do you agree?
I hope this one will get comments. Again, I will post almost any e-mail I receive in reply.