Author: Jonathan Sacks
Publisher: Schocken Books Incorporated
Release Date: 2017-02-07
In this powerful and timely book, one of the most admired and authoritative religious leaders of our time tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God. If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, Rabbi Sacks argues, then it must also form part of the solution. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit--i.e., my religion is the only right path to God, therefore your religion is by definition wrong--and when individuals are motivated by what Rabbi Sacks calls "altruistic evil," violence between peoples of different beliefs appears to be the inevitable outcome. But through an exploration of the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, and employing groundbreaking biblical analysis and interpretation, Rabbi Sacks shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths. By looking anew at the book of Genesis, with its foundational stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Rabbi Sacks offers a radical rereading of many of the Bible's seminal stories of sibling rivalry: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Rachel and Leah. Here is an eloquent call for people of goodwill from all faiths and none to stand together, confront the religious extremism that threatens to destroy us all, and declare: Not in God's Name.
***2015 National Jewish Book Award Winner*** In this powerful and timely book, one of the most admired and authoritative religious leaders of our time tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God. If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, Rabbi Sacks argues, then it must also form part of the solution. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit—that is, my religion is the only right path to God, therefore your religion is by definition wrong—and individuals are motivated by what Rabbi Sacks calls “altruistic evil,” violence between peoples of different beliefs appears to be the only natural outcome. But through an exploration of the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, and employing groundbreaking biblical analysis and interpretation, Rabbi Sacks shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths. By looking anew at the book of Genesis, with its foundational stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Rabbi Sacks offers a radical rereading of many of the Bible’s seminal stories of sibling rivalry: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Rachel and Leah. “Abraham himself,” writes Rabbi Sacks, “sought to be a blessing to others regardless of their faith. That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of Abrahamic faith. It is not our task to conquer or convert the world or enforce uniformity of belief. It is our task to be a blessing to the world. The use of religion for political ends is not righteousness but idolatry . . . To invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but of sacrilege.” Here is an eloquent call for people of goodwill from all faiths and none to stand together, confront the religious extremism that threatens to destroy us, and declare: Not in God’s Name. From the Hardcover edition.
Author: Jonathan Sacks
Publisher: Hachette UK
Release Date: 2015-06-11
Despite predictions of continuing secularisation, the twenty-first century has witnessed a surge of religious extremism and violence in the name of God. In this powerful and timely book, Jonathan Sacks explores the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, focusing on the historic tensions between the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Drawing on arguments from evolutionary psychology, game theory, history, philosophy, ethics and theology, Sacks shows how a tendency to violence can subvert even the most compassionate of religions. Through a close reading of key biblical texts at the heart of the Abrahamic faiths, Sacks then challenges those who claim that religion is intrinsically a cause of violence, and argues that theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem. This book is a rebuke to all those who kill in the name of the God of life, wage war in the name of the God of peace, hate in the name of the God of love, and practise cruelty in the name of the God of compassion. For the sake of humanity and the free world, the time has come for people of all faiths and none to stand together and declare: Not In God's Name.
A renowned author and rabbi discusses the relationship between science and religion and the importance of the coexistence of both in that religion is the search for meaning and science is the search for explanation. 20,000 first printing.
Author: Sam Harris
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Release Date: 2015-10-06
In this dialogue between a famous atheist and a former radical, Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz invite you to join an urgently needed conversation: Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? Why do so many Muslims seem drawn to extremism? The authors demonstrate how two people with very different views can find common ground.
2001 began as the United Nations Year of Dialogue between Civilizations. By its end, the phrase most widely quoted was 'the clash of civilizations'. The tragedy of 11 September intensified the danger posed by religious differences throughout the world. As the politics of identity replaces the politics of ideology, can religion overcome its conflict-ridden past and become a force for peace? The Dignity of Difference is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' radical proposal for reframing the terms of this important debate. The first major statement by a Jewish leader on the ethics of globalization, it introduces a new paradigm into the search for co-existence. Sacks argues that we must do more than search for common human values. We must also learn to make space for difference, even and especially at the heart of the monotheistic imagination. The global future will call for something stronger than earlier doctrines of toleration or pluralism. It needs a new understanding that the unity of the Creator is expressed in the diversity of creation.
Author: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2004-04-16
For too long, Jews have defined themselves in light of the bad things that have happened to them. And it is true that, many times in the course of history, they have been nearly decimated: when the First and Second Temples were destroyed, when the Jews were expelled from Spain, when Hitler proposed his Final Solution. Astoundingly, the Jewish people have survived catastrophe after catastrophe and remained a thriving and vibrant community. The question Rabbi Jonathan Sacks asks is, quite simply: How? How, in the face of such adversity, has Judaism remained and flourished, making a mark on human history out of all proportion to its numbers? Written originally as a wedding gift to his son and daughter-in-law, A Letter in the Scroll is Rabbi Sacks's personal answer to that question, a testimony to the enduring strength of his religion. Tracing the revolutionary series of philosophical and theological ideas that Judaism created -- from covenant to sabbath to formal education -- and showing us how they remain compellingly relevant in our time, Sacks portrays Jewish identity as an honor as well as a duty. The Ba'al Shem Tov, an eighteenth-century rabbi and founder of the Hasidic movement, famously noted that the Jewish people are like a living Torah scroll, and every individual Jew is a letter within it. If a single letter is damaged or missing or incorrectly drawn, a Torah scroll is considered invalid. So too, in Judaism, each individual is considered a crucial part of the people, without whom the entire religion would suffer. Rabbi Sacks uses this metaphor to make a passionate argument in favor of affiliation and practice in our secular times, and invites us to engage in our dynamic and inclusive tradition. Never has a book more eloquently expressed the joys of being a Jew. This is the story of one man's hope for the future -- a future in which the next generation, his children and ours, will happily embrace the beauty of the world's oldest religion.
Why have the monotheistic religions failed to produce societies that live up to their ethical ideals? A prominent rabbi answers this question by looking at his own faith and offering a way for religion to heal itself. In Putting God Second, Rabbi Donniel Hartman tackles one of modern life's most urgent and vexing questions: Why are the great monotheistic faiths--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--chronically unable to fulfill their own self-professed goal of creating individuals infused with moral sensitivity and societies governed by the highest ethical standards? To answer this question, Hartman takes a sober look at the moral peaks and valleys of his own tradition, Judaism, and diagnoses it with clarity, creativity, and erudition. He rejects both the sweeping denouncements of those who view religion as an inherent impediment to moral progress and the apologetics of fundamentalists who proclaim religion's moral perfection against all evidence to the contrary. Hartman identifies the primary source of religion's moral failure in what he terms its "autoimmune disease," or the way religions so often undermine their own deepest values. While God obligates the good and calls us into its service, Hartman argues, God simultaneously and inadvertently makes us morally blind. The nature of this self-defeating condition is that the human religious desire to live in relationship with God often distracts religious believers from their traditions' core moral truths. The answer Hartman offers is this: put God second. In order to fulfill religion's true vision for humanity--an uncompromising focus on the ethical treatment of others--religious believers must hold their traditions accountable to the highest independent moral standards. Decency toward one's neighbor must always take precedence over acts of religious devotion, and ethical piety must trump ritual piety. For as long as devotion to God comes first, responsibility to other people will trail far, far behind. In this book, Judaism serves as a template for how the challenge might be addressed by those of other faiths, whose sacred scriptures similarly evoke both the sublime heights of human aspiration and the depths of narcissistic moral blindness. In Putting God Second, Rabbi Hartman offers a lucid analysis of religion's flaws, as well as a compelling resource, and vision, for its repair.
Author: Reza Aslan
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2010-04-06
“A very persuasive argument for the best way to counter jihadism” (The Washington Post) from the bestselling author of Zealot and host of CNN’s Believer The wars in the Middle East have become religious wars in which God is believed to be directly engaged on behalf of one side against the other. The hijackers who attacked America on September 11, 2001, thought they were fighting in the name of God. According to award-winning writer and scholar of religions Reza Aslan, the United States, by infusing the War on Terror with its own religiously polarizing rhetoric, is fighting a similar war—a war that can’t be won. Beyond Fundamentalism is both an in-depth study of the ideology fueling militants throughout the Muslim world and an exploration of religious violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At a time when religion and politics increasingly share the same vocabulary and function in the same sphere, Aslan writes that we must strip the conflicts of our world of their religious connotations and address the earthly grievances that always lie at its root. How do you win a religious war? By refusing to fight in one. Featuring new content and updated analysis • Originally published as How to Win a Cosmic War “[A] thoughtful analysis of America’s War on Terror.” —The New Yorker “Offers a very persuasive argument for the best way to counter jihadism.”—The Washington Post “[Reza] Aslan dissects a complex subject (terrorism and globalization) and distills it with a mix of narrative writing, personal anecdotes, reportage and historical analysis.”—San Francisco Chronicle “Aslan is not only a perspicuous, thoughtful interpreter of the Muslim world but also a subtle psychologist of the call to jihad.”—Los Angeles Times “[A] meaty analysis of the rise of Jihadism . . . dispels common misconceptions of the War on Terror age.”—San Jose Mercury News “It is Aslan’s great gift to see things clearly, and to say them clearly, and in this important new work he offers us a way forward. He is prescriptive and passionate, and his book will make you think.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion
One of the most respected religious thinkers of our time makes an impassioned plea for the return of religion to its true purpose—as a partnership with God in the work of ethical and moral living. What are our duties to others, to society, and to humanity? How do we live a meaningful life in an age of global uncertainty and instability? In To Heal a Fractured World, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks offers answers to these questions by looking at the ethics of responsibility. In his signature plainspoken, accessible style, Rabbi Sacks shares with us traditional interpretations of the Bible, Jewish law, and theology, as well as the works of philosophers and ethicists from other cultures, to examine what constitutes morality and moral behavior. “We are here to make a difference,” he writes, “a day at a time, an act at a time, for as long as it takes to make the world a place of justice and compassion.” He argues that in today’s religious and political climate, it is more important than ever to return to the essential understanding that “it is by our deeds that we express our faith and make it real in the lives of others and the world.” To Heal a Fractured World—inspirational and instructive, timely and timeless—will resonate with people of all faiths. From the Hardcover edition.
Author: Mark Juergensmeyer
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2003
Genre: Political Science
This well-regarded look at the connection between religion and terrorism has been updated to include events of September 11, 2001. Its focus is to better understand how and why some people are willing to commit acts of violence in the name of their god(s) and a greater good.
From the renowned and best-selling author of A History of God, a sweeping exploration of religion and the history of human violence. For the first time, religious self-identification is on the decline in American. Some analysts have cited as cause a post-9/11perception: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance, and divisiveness—something bad for society. But how accurate is that view? With deep learning and sympathetic understanding, Karen Armstrong sets out to discover the truth about religion and violence in each of the world’s great traditions, taking us on an astonishing journey from prehistoric times to the present. While many historians have looked at violence in connection with particular religious manifestations (jihad in Islam or Christianity’s Crusades), Armstrong looks at each faith—not only Christianity and Islam, but also Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism—in its totality over time. As she describes, each arose in an agrarian society with plenty powerful landowners brutalizing peasants while also warring among themselves over land, then the only real source of wealth. In this world, religion was not the discrete and personal matter it would become for us but rather something that permeated all aspects of society. And so it was that agrarian aggression, and the warrior ethos it begot, became bound up with observances of the sacred. In each tradition, however, a counterbalance to the warrior code also developed. Around sages, prophets, and mystics there grew up communities protesting the injustice and bloodshed endemic to agrarian society, the violence to which religion had become heir. And so by the time the great confessional faiths came of age, all understood themselves as ultimately devoted to peace, equality, and reconciliation, whatever the acts of violence perpetrated in their name. Industrialization and modernity have ushered in an epoch of spectacular and unexampled violence, although, as Armstrong explains, relatively little of it can be ascribed directly to religion. Nevertheless, she shows us how and in what measure religions, in their relative maturity, came to absorb modern belligerence—and what hope there might be for peace among believers of different creeds in our time. At a moment of rising geopolitical chaos, the imperative of mutual understanding between nations and faith communities has never been more urgent, the dangers of action based on misunderstanding never greater. Informed by Armstrong’s sweeping erudition and personal commitment to the promotion of compassion, Fields of Blood makes vividly clear that religion is not the problem.
One of the most admired religious thinkers of our time issues a call for world Jewry to reject the self-fulfilling image of “a people alone in the world, surrounded by enemies” and to reclaim Judaism’s original sense of purpose: as a partner with God and with those of other faiths in the never-ending struggle for freedom and social justice for all. We are in danger, says Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of forgetting what Judaism’s place is within the global project of humankind. During the last two thousand years, Jews have lived through persecutions that would have spelled the end of most nations, but they did not see anti-Semitism written into the fabric of the universe. They knew they existed for a purpose, and it was not for themselves alone. Rabbi Sacks believes that the Jewish people have lost their way, that they need to recommit themselves to the task of creating a just world in which the divine presence can dwell among us. Without compromising one iota of Jewish faith, Rabbi Sacks declares, Jews must stand alongside their friends—Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and secular humanist—in defense of freedom against the enemies of freedom, in affirmation of life against those who desecrate life. And they should do this not to win friends or the admiration of others but because it is what a people of God is supposed to do. Rabbi Sacks’s powerful message of tikkun olam—using Judaism as a blueprint for repairing an imperfect world—will resonate with people of all faiths. From the Hardcover edition.
Author: Jonathan Sacks
Publisher: Vintage Books
Release Date: 2001-01-23
Genre: Civil society
The argument of this book can be stated simply. Ther are two concepts of a free society, one liberal, the other libertarian. For the past fifty years the libertarian view has prevailed. Shared by politicians of the left and right, it maintains that a free society is ideally one in which individuals are free to pursue their own choices, both political and moral. The view has been tried and failed and has given rise to a social disorder more bleak than any within living memory. In 'The Politics of Hope' Jonathon Sacks proposes a new politics of responsibility in which families, neighborhoods, communities, voluntary organisations and religious groups have all part to play, a politics not of interest, but of involvement. How, he asks, as a society, do we move from the politics of despair to the politics of hope?