Terror in the Mind of God

Terror in the Mind of God

The Global Rise of Religious Violence

Book - 2000
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Beneath the histories of religious traditions--from biblical wars to crusading ventures and great acts of martyrdom--violence has lurked as a shadowy presence. Images of death have never been far from the heart of religion's power to stir the imagination. In this wide-ranging and erudite book, Mark Juergensmeyer asks one of the most important and perplexing questions of our age: Why do religious people commit violent acts in the name of their god, taking the lives of innocent victims and terrorizing entire populations?

This, the first comparative study of religious terrorism, explores incidents such as the World Trade Center explosion, Hamas suicide bombings, the Tokyo subway nerve gas attack, and the killing of abortion clinic doctors in the United States. Incorporating personal interviews with World Trade Center bomber Mahmud Abouhalima, Christian Right activist Mike Bray, Hamas leaders Sheik Yassin and Abdul Azis Rantisi, and Sikh political leader Simranjit Singh Mann, among others, Juergensmeyer takes us into the mindset of those who perpetrate and support violent acts. In the process, he helps us understand why these acts are often associated with religious causes and why they occur with such frequency at this moment in history.

Terror in the Mind of God places these acts of violence in the context of global political and social changes, and posits them as attempts to empower the cultures of violence that support them. Juergensmeyer analyzes the economic, ideological, and gender-related dimensions of cultures that embrace a central sacred concept--cosmic war--and that employ religion to demonize their enemies.

Juergensmeyer's narrative is engaging, incisive, and sweeping in scope. He convincingly shows that while, in many cases, religion supplies not only the ideology but also the motivation and organizational structure for the perpetrators of violent acts, it also carries with it the possibilities for peace.

Los Angeles Times Best Nonfiction Book of 2000
Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, c2000
ISBN: 9780520223011
0520223012
Branch Call Number: 291.178331/JUE 4565 1

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TheIronPaw
Nov 22, 2012

A very worthwhile read for anyone who cannot understand how a religion can promote murder of innocents. I read the 2000 edition and just learned that there is a revised 2011 edition. I'll have to seek that out. Even though it was over a decade old, the analysis of religious based terrorism was detailed, lucid, and fascinating. The first half of the book is a description of religious terrorism in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and Buddhism (though I would argue that Aum Shinriko is not really Buddhist). The second half of the book is an analysis of the ideologies, theologies, psychology, and sociology that these movements have in common and how they differ. He concludes with some thought provoking thoughts on the likely futures of religious terrorism.

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