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Eller, Jack David, 1959-
Cruel creeds, virtuous violence : religious violence across culture and history / Jack David Eller
Alternate Title Religious violence across culture and history
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2010
book jacket
Location Call Number Status
 3rd Floor  GN495.2 .E55 2010    AVAILABLE
Subject(s) Violence
Violence -- Religious aspects
Anthropology of religion
Physical Description 451 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Note Includes bibliographical references (p. 407-426) and index
Contents Understanding Violence. What is violence? ; What makes violence possible, and likely? ; A model of expanding violence ; Hurting without feeling bad, or feeling anything at all -- Understanding Religion. What is religion? ; Populating the religious domain: beings, forces, and "types" of religion ; "Local" versus "world" religions -- The functions of religion: explanation, control, and legitimation ; Society, supernatural agents, and violence -- Sacrifice. What is Sacrifice? ; The diversity of sacrifice ; Theories of sacrifice: Girard and Burkett ; Toward a better understanding of sacrifice -- Self-Injury. Religious self-mortification: a cry of pain to the spirits ; Asceticism: religious athletes ; Pain, but what gain? ; Martyrdom: death on principle ; The selfish selflessness of martyrs and other self-mortifiers -- Persecution. What is persecution? ; Religious persecution in the ancient/non-Christian world ; Early persecution of Christians ; Early persecutions by Christians ; Persecution in Islam ; The persecutions of witches ; Persecution of religion by antireligion ; Persecution by the American religious right ; The virtues of persecuting, and being persecuted -- Ethnoreligious Conflict. Ethnicity, culture, religion, and conflict ; Ethnoreligious conflicts in the modern world ; Why ethnoreligious conflict now? -- War. The Religion and the War in "religious war" ; Religious war among the ancient Hebrews ; "Holy war" in Christianity: the Crusades ; "Holy war" in Christianity: the European religious wars ; The Taiping "rebellion" in China ; Islam and jihad ; War in Hinduism ; "Fighting orders": saintly soldiers ; The mythology of war -- Homicide and Abuse. When is religious crime "religious" and "crime"? ; Religious homicide ; Religious abuse: women and spouses ; Religious abuse of children ; But religion is supposed to make people "good" and "moral" -- Religion and Nonviolence. What is nonviolence? ; Religion is nonviolence ; The religious contribution to nonviolence
Summary Throughout this compelling investigation, the author locates himself and remains firmly planted on that narrow patch of middle ground between blaming all violence on religion and claiming that religion is purely nonviolent and peaceful. Before his analysis begins in earnest, he first fleshes out the meanings of religion and violence, a step that is often skipped and yet is absolutely critical if we are ever to fully understand and resolve the phenomenon of religious violence. Without a doubt, religion, violence, and nonviolence are complicated concepts, but the road to ending or reducing religious violence does not necessarily have to be so fraught with accusations, conflicting views, and dismissive attitudes. After clearing away many misconceptions about religious violence as well as numerous easy and all-to-improbable solutions, he details a realistic approach to creating a more peaceful future. -- From book Jacket
The phrase "religious violence" often brings to mind dramatic events: the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, riots in India between Muslims and Hindus, or, farther back in history, the Crusades and the Thirty Years War. But as the author, an anthropologist shows in this study, violence in connection with religion is a very broad based phenomenon encompassing all cultures and including a wide variety of activities and complex motives. He presents a wealth of case material, demonstrating the many manifestations of religious violence, not just war and terrorism, which are the focus of so many discussions of religiously motivated violence, but also more prevalent forms. He devotes separate chapters to: sacrifice (both animal and human); self-mortification (including self-injury, asceticism, and martyrdom); religious persecution (from anti-Semitic pogroms to witchhunts); ethno-religious conflict (including such hotspots as Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, and the former Yugoslavia); religious wars (from the ancient Hebrews' wars and the Christian Crusades to Islamic jihad and Hindu righteous wars); and religious homicide and abuse (spousal abuse, genital mutilation, and "dowry death," among other manifestations). In the final chapter, he examines nonviolent and low-conflict societies and considers various methods of managing conflict. Taking an objective approach, he neither accuses nor exonerates religion in regard to violence. Rather, he presents the evidence revealing which kinds of religious ideas and practices contribute to certain kinds of violence and why. In so doing, he goes a long way toward helping us understand the nature of violence generally, its complicated connections with religion, and how society in the future might avoid being blindsided by the worst aspects of human nature. -- From publisher

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