Violence and the World's Religious Traditions: An Introduction

Oxford University Press
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Is religion inherently predisposed to violence? Or has religion been taken hostage by a politics of aggression? The years since the end of the Cold War have shown a noticeable shift in patterns of religious extremism, accentuating the uncomfortable, complex, and oft-misunderstood relationship between religion and violence. The essays in this succinct new volume examine that relationship by offering a well-rounded look at violence as it appears in the world's most prominent religious traditions, exploring Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, Sikh, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, African, and Pacific Island texts and practices. The essays in Violence and the World's Religious Traditions explore the ways in which specific religions have justified acts of destruction, in history, in scripture, and in the contemporary world. But the collection also offers an investigation of religious symbols and practices, shedding new light on the very nature of religion and confronting the question of how deeply intertwined are violence and faith.
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About the author

Mark Juergensmeyer is Professor of Sociology and Global Studies, Kundan Kaur Kapany Chair of Global and Sikh Studies, and Fellow and Founding Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is author or editor of over twenty books, including Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence and God in the Tumult of the Global Square. Margo Kitts is Professor of Humanities and Coordinator of Religious Studies and East-West Classical Studies at Hawai'i Pacific University in Honolulu. She is the author of Sanctified Violence in Homeric Society (2005, 2011) and over thirty articles on Homer, the ancient Near East, ritual, and violence. She is coeditor of State, Power, and Violence (vol. 3 of Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual, 2010) and, with Mark Juergensmeyer, Princeton Readings in Religion and Violence (2011). She also co-edits the Journal of Religion and Violence. Michael Jerryson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Youngstown State University. He is the author of Mongolian Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of the Sangha (2008), Buddhist Fury: Religion and Violence in Southern Thailand (2011), coeditor with Mark Juergensmeyer of Buddhist Warfare (2010), and editor of The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism (2016). He also co-edits the Journal of Religion and Violence.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Nov 16, 2016
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780190649678
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Comparative Religion
Religion / Religion, Politics & State
Social Science / Violence in Society
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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This groundbreaking anthology provides the most comprehensive overview for understanding the fascinating relationship between religion and violence--historically, culturally, and in the contemporary world. Bringing together writings from scholarly and religious traditions, it is the first volume to unite primary sources--justifications for violence from religious texts, theologians, and activists--with invaluable essays by authoritative scholars.

The first half of the collection includes original source materials justifying violence from various religious perspectives: Hindu, Chinese, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist. Showing that religious violence is found in every tradition, these sources include ancient texts and scriptures along with thoughtful essays from theologians wrestling with such issues as military protection and pacifism. The collection also includes the writings of modern-day activists involved in suicide bombings, attacks on abortion clinics, and nerve gas assaults. The book's second half features well-known thinkers reflecting on why religion and violence are so intimately related and includes excerpts from early social theorists such as Durkheim, Marx, and Freud, as well as contemporary thinkers who view the issue of religious violence from literary, anthropological, postcolonial, and feminist perspectives. The editors' brief introductions to each essay provide important historical and conceptual contexts and relate the readings to one another. The diversity of selections and their accessible length make this volume ideal for both students and general readers.

Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs.

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of  moral norms to justify their actions. Very quickly three groups emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever.

While this book discusses a specific Reserve Unit during WWII, the general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition.  

Ordinary Men is a powerful, chilling, and important work with themes and arguments that continue to resonate today.

“A remarkable—and singularly chilling—glimpse of human behavior...This meticulously researched book...represents a major contribution to the literature of the Holocaust."—Newsweek

 


 

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