One last section of In Search of Zarathustra (for now).
Why would such a hopeless, life-denying faith, one that could see no good at all in any aspect of creation, convince so many people, not just here in the Midi, but in so many parts of Europe? What problem could only be solved by believing in a world created by the Power of Evil? The answer must surely be found in the conditions under which most people had to live. Their ultra-pessimistic heresy only makes sense if they were desperate people clinging to a despairing belief. "Continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short," was Hobbes's familiar rendering. Fear of plague and sickness, fear of childbirth, fear of drought, fear of crop failure and famine, fear of arbitrary injustice, of torture and execution, fear of war and the devastation it left in its wake. And the Church must have failed, in its wealth, arrogance, corruption, sinfulness and decadence, to offer any consolation worth the name. A world of which one could expect no good demanded an explanation. A king, merciful and loving God could not possibly have been the author of such a cruel and frightful place, as the Church insisted He was. Only Stan could have created such a miserable existence. [Loc. 1324-1332 of 4637]
To be completely fair to Kriwaczek, he's not writing about Islam at all. He's writing about the 12th-century heresy of Catharism. I'm sure the dude doesn't need a fatwa on his head. But when I read this description of the medieval world and the failure of contemporary Christianity to satisfy the concerns of the people, I see a perfect explanation for the rise of radical Islam in the modern world.
The only defense against Islamic terrorism is an ideological defense, it is changing the minds of its supporters. Before you tell me that this is cultural or religious intolerance on my part, I'm not saying they must be converted away from Islam. If there is a variety of Islam that allows for pluralism, tolerance, and Islam, then let's get the Muslims who believe that branch to begin proselyting. But we have to be done with the idea that annihilistic Islam is just one acceptable choice out of many religious systems, because a faith that teaches there is nothing worth saving in life is one that approves the destruction of all living.