Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence by Jack David Eller
Religious Violence Across Culture and History

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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 this anthropologist shows in his illuminating, in-depth 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, "Religion and Nonviolence," the author examines nonviolent and low-conflict societies and considers various methods of managing conflict. Taking a scrupulously objective approach, the author 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.

About Jack David Eller

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Jack David Eller, PhD (Denver, CO), is the author of six other books, including Cultural Anthropology: Global Forces, Local Lives and Introducing Anthropology of Religion: Culture to the Ultimate. He is an assistant professor of anthropology at the Community College of Denver and the film editor for the Anthropology Review Database.
Published November 24, 2010 by Prometheus Books. 451 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Over the centuries, critics of religion have often condemned the world's religions because of the violent acts religions' practitioners have committed against society and against one another.

Aug 09 2010 | Read Full Review of Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violen...

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