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Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2015
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***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.
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Format:
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Street Date:
10/13/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780805243352
ASIN:
B00S3RILKI
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APA Citation (style guide)

Jonathan Sacks. (2015). Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Jonathan Sacks. 2015. Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Jonathan Sacks, Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Jonathan Sacks. Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: RABBI LORD JONATHAN SACKS is a global religious leader and the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books. He is a frequent and respected contributor to radio, television, and the press around the world and teaches at universities in Britain, the United States, and Israel. Rabbi Sacks holds sixteen honorary degrees and has received many awards in recognition of his work, including the Jerusalem Prize and, in 2016, the Templeton Prize. He served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013.
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title
Not in God's Name
fullDescription
***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.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Barbara Mahany, Chicago Tribune
      • content: "An urgent and authoritative exploration of the roots of religious violence, from one of the world's great contemporary theologians. From Sacks's first gut-wrenching sentence, the reader has a solid sense that what follows are the deeply thought, carefully weighed words of an impeccable scholar. His reading of the Hebrew Bible is astute, illuminating layers of meaning too often missed. Sacks is a clear-eyed and compelling illuminator, and his methodical deconstruction, which routs out flawed understandings of the Bible, drives us emphatically toward hope, toward a theology that lets go of hate."
      • premium: False
      • source: David Brooks, The New York Times
      • content: "In Not in God's Name, the brilliant Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues that ISIS is in fact typical of what we will see in the decades ahead. . . . [His] greatest contribution is to point out that the answer to religious violence is probably going to be found within religion itself."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 3, 1988
        The author of Johnny's Song (which earned him the title of National Poet Laureate of the Vietnam Veterans of America) attempts to reconcile his Vietnam experiences with his return to America. These poems are a veteran's raw, heartfelt pleas for lasting peace and for a reevaluation of patriotism, nationalism and a government that wars ``as a solution to economics/or as a perpetuation of social justice.'' Verses shift from jarring, often graphic accounts of the atrocities Mason witnessed to strangely peaceful images of his childhood, family and friends. These juxtapositions would be more effective were they not so explicitly spelled out; Mason explains rather than illustrates, and he frequently lapses into didactic sermonizing. Although his message is certainly worthy, Mason's tendency to rely on political rhetoric rather than craft (in ``A Living Memorial,'' for example, he writes, ``It is the courage of America/ and the strength of our world/ that the essence of our patriotism/ is not nationalism,/ it is humanity'') makes his work more appropriate to forms of expression other than poetry. The introduction by film director Oliver Stone adds nothing of value to this volume.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from September 15, 2015
        A remarkable exploration of the reasons behind religious violence and solutions for stopping it. Sacks (The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning, 2012, etc.), a British rabbi and member of the House of Lords, tackles one of history's intractable questions: why have the world's three monotheistic religions always been in conflict? More importantly, what can be done about it? In the first third of his work, the author uses psychology, sociology, and philosophy to tease out an answer. He explains the problems of altruistic evil and of unrestrained dualism before exploring Rene Girard's theories of sibling rivalry, concluding, "[the three religions'] relationship is sibling rivalry, fraught with mimetic desire: the desire for the same thing, Abraham's promise." What follows is a fascinating and ingenious reinterpretation of the book of Genesis, with an emphasis on the many sibling relationships in the book. Sacks argues that, repeatedly, Scripture sets up classic mythic scenarios only to foil each expected conclusion with an unexpected reconciliation. He concludes that the whole of Genesis points to a "rejection of rejection," an affirmation that all people are recipients of God's love and blessing. This leads to the last and most difficult third of the book, concerning the implementation of this knowledge in solving the problem of religious violence. Sacks notes that seeing the world through the eyes of "the other" is the surest way of creating peace. He also points out the futility of continued hatred and urges others to trust in God's ability to judge, not in our own. However, some readers may be left wondering how Sacks' conclusions could ever be seriously heard by the world's staunchest fundamentalists. Nonetheless, the author has contributed an artful and meaningful work on interfaith dialogue. His treatment of Scripture alone is worth a close read. A humane, literate, and sincere book, one with something truly new to say.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2015

        Sacks (law, ethics, & the Bible, Kings Coll. London) asks a probing question of the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam): How, if we are made in the image of God, can radical religious adherents commit horrific atrocities in God's name? With ardent and straightforward language, the author, who served as chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013, seeks to authoritatively discredit the idea that, by its very nature, organized religion breeds violence. Using historical anti-Semitism as the lens through which to consider acts of religiously motivated brutality, Sacks finds that modern iterations of social dissociation from one's group find resolution in the Internet's virtual social networks. Misreading and misapplying texts further fuels the capacity to inflict suffering upon one's fetishized enemies, even though, concludes Sacks, "No religion won the admiration of the world by its capacity to inflict suffering upon its enemies." VERDICT While Sacks has no recipe to cure religious violence, he successfully illustrates the roots of responsibility in this terrible dynamic. A worthy read that is sure to spur conversation.--Sandra Collins, Byzantine Catholic Seminary Lib., Pittsburgh

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from September 1, 2015
        Inspired by Isaiah's vision of nations beating their swords into plowshares, Sacks embraces religion as the pathway to peace. But this learned rabbi understands why New Atheists regard violence as the essence of a religious mindset that the modern world must outgrow: Jews, Christians, and Muslims have often quoted scripture to justify atrocities. Sacks denounces such atrocities as blasphemies. But he sees no hope for real peace in a secularism that has left entire nations so hungry for transcendent meaning that they have imbibed toxic pseudo-religions such as communism and Nazism, a secularism now priming rootless, morally famished young people for recruitment into global networks of terror. Cut off from the humanizing insights of the wisest exponents of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, these networks perpetuate an us-them dualism legitimizing cruelty against outsiders as service to God. Repudiating this lethally false theology, Sacks unfolds a genuinely inclusive and pacific Abrahamic faith by burrowing into the Hebrew Bible, beneath the surface narratives of tense sibling rivalries (Jacob versus Esau) and tribal genocide (Joshua's extermination of the Canaanites), discerning deep themes conducing both to a universal justice between all peoples and to a profound sense of God's particularizing love for diverse covenant communities. A much-needed antidote to lethal animosities.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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***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...
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