on September 17, 2003
This is a difficult book to digest for faithful Roman Catholics like myself. It is the story of a wonderful priest who loved the poor and wanted the church to improve the quality of life for Catholics. Pope John Paul the First was a man who would not seek to impose christian solutions on non-Christians; he was someone who was sensitive to social problems and open to dialogue; with a commitment to the search for unity; a good pastor, a good shepherd in the way that Jesus was; a man who sincerely believed that the church should not be out of date but be a relevant, nurturing factor in the lives of Catholics worldwide.
The press called him the "Smiling Pope." However, in reality Albino Luciani who wished to be called Pope John Paul the First and became the first double name in the history of the papacy was a man of enormous faith. What a shame his 33 days as pope in 1978 was the shortest stint since Pope Medici Leo XI in 1605 who only served 17 days. In all likelihood, he had the inner strength and intelligence to be the greatest pope in the history of the Vatican.
To this end, "In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I," by highly regarded journalist David A.Yallop is a work of monumental research and importance. The author dares to point a finger at the financial corruption within the Vatican. He names names...Michele Sindona, Roberto Calvi, Lucio Gelli, Cardinal John Patrick Cody of Chicago and Bishop Paul Casimir Marcinkus in Vatican City all coducted illegal activities. And Albino Luciani was determined to put an end to it.
This well-written book is difficult to put down. Quite naturally it is officially condemned by the oligarchy in the Vatican. However, I think it is important for all interested in the pursuit of truth to read this compelling book and drawn one's own conclusion. The evidence is hard to ignore. The conclusion is based on facts. It is truly hard to imagine but I am know convinced that Pope John Paul the First was murdered because he dared to promote positive change and rid the Vatican of corrupt banking practices. Highly recommended.
on October 13, 2015
Jonathan Sacks is a master teacher and provides deep insights into our current state of identity and our search for meaning as humans.
Religious hate and violence are discussed and Sacks says it is the inner violence that if expressed has the power to destroy a society. We need to let go of hate - first in the battlefield of our mind. To be cured of potential violence toward others, we must imagine ourselves as the Other and search for the trace of God in the face of the Other. To violence, God is saying: Not in My Name.
Genesis is the foundational book of Abrahamic monotheism and this book uses many examples from Genesis, from the history of the Jewish people, and from the Hebrew Bible. Sacks helps us to see deeper meanings in the stories and counter-stories. The stories contain themes of sibling rivalry, role reversal, transformation, and reconciliation.
In the last chapter, Sacks has specific answers to address religious hate and violence. Here is one: we must strive to honor God's name by honoring his image - humankind.
Sacks discusses our inner struggle within the soul, our identity, our search for a life with meaning, and the tension between love and justice. This discussion is done under the backdrop of religion, history, sociology, philosophy, and psychological insight into relationships including sibling rivalry, rejection, victimhood, scapegoat, and reconciliation.
Sacks is an excellent communicator of ideas (religious and secular). This book is recommended.
on November 14, 2002
This book gives a terrible tarnished picture of the Vatican, even if the author is wrong and there was no murder or active murder (they could have let Pope John Paul I die, by not administering him his medicine).
A Vatican controlled by a bunch of corrupt, merciless, avid for power, 'holy' cardinals (Villot, Cody, Marcinkus, Baggio), implicated in a web of depraved banking, masonic and Mafia figures like Calvi, Gelli and Sindona. (I recommend for the 'banking' part also the book by Richard Hammer 'The Vatican Connection').
What is also intriguing, or should I say 'demonic', is the fact that the next pope didn't remove anybody entangled in these murky affairs from his office.
The author gives also very plausible hints why, besides personal career interests, there were moral (the issue of birth control, for instance) and financial (money laundering to help friendly unions or parties) motives.
A devastating book. Not to be missed.
on November 8, 2015
This is a brilliant book and absolutely worth reading. Rabbi Sacks is a model of what a religious leader should be- a seeker of truth rather than a purveyor of dogma. The “pluses” of this book are :
1. Very insightful, original, and useful biblical commentary. This alone is worth the price of admission.
2. Ditto for his remarks on politics.
That being said, the book fails to accomplish the purpose for which it was written.
1. The book offers commentary solely on the Hebrew Bible. However, Rabbi Sacks can offer no examples of religiously motivated large scale Jewish violence since the fall of the 2nd Temple or the Bar Kochba revolt. The religiously motivated violence by Christianity and Islam through the centuries dwarfs anything ever attributed to the Jews. Rabbi Sacks makes an oblique reference to Christian figures dealing with the former and makes no reference to anyone dealing with the latter. The sources of this religious violence are most assuredly not the Hebrew Bible (with one exception- see below), but the New Testament and the Koran. However, he “will not go there” and address these texts. Both of these texts imply that Jews will be enemies forever. The Hebrew Bible (e.g. the Book of Joshua) refers only to nations long gone. It is understandable that a man of Rabbi Sack’s stature dare not address the problems with these texts regarding religious violence, but it is near impossible to do anything effective about religious violence without addressing them.
2. He attempts to discuss Islam as if Ishmael was the original Muslim. It is highly unlikely that the Hebrew Bible can serve as the historical justification for such a wild speculation. Furthermore, Rabbi Sacks shows quite convincingly that the Ishmael of Genesis does not meet the job description of a card carrying member if ISIS. The use of Ishmael as a synonym for Muslims is a much later invention that has done more harm than good and will not help to resolve anything.
3. His discussion “mimetics” as a motivator for persecution is way off base. Does he really think that the Nazis, for example, persecuted the Jews because they really wanted to be Jews?
4. His use of sibling rivalry and projection as mechanisms for explaining religious hatred has a big problem. These are mechanisms used to explain hatred between individuals and cannot be extrapolated to explain hatred between groups.
5. The primary source of religious violence in the Hebrew Bible that has been carried over into subsequent history is the episode involving Pinchas. Unless I am missing something, the Pinchas episode is never mentioned. This is almost incomprehensible given the purpose of the book.
6. Rabbi Sacks appears to be aware of the notion that the origin of religious violence is from tyrants using and/or distorting religion to maintain power. However, this is given only a few sentences. The truth is that the tyrants are psychopaths that need an ideology to organize and energize their followers. For secular tyrants, it is a secular ideology. For tyrants coming from a religious milieu, it will be a religious ideology. One of the few expositions of this concept can be found in the book “Political Ponerology” for sale on Amazon. This is absolutely central to addressing religious violence in the past and in the present.
Thus, the key aspects of religious violence in the modern world are not in the Hebrew Bible and are never addressed. In addition, an episode in the Hebrew Bible that had a lasting effect is never addressed. Instead, the focus is on aspects of the Hebrew Bible that are not a major sources of religious violence in the world today. The positive messages in the book will register only on those who have no tendency toward religious violence ("preaching to the choir"). Nor is the role of psychopathy and ideology adequately addressed. Nevertheless, the author has so many brilliant insights into numerous issues that the book is absolutely worth reading.
on November 19, 2015
NOT IN GOD’S NAME is one of the most profound books I have ever read. Jonathan Sacks provides an incisive analysis of the roots of religious violence and hopeful direction on the way that humanity may move forward in dealing with it. As recent events in France have demonstrated, none of us are immune or protected against the possibility of religious violence. This makes this book relevant to every one of us. Sacks asks in which direction we want to go — the will to power or the will to life? While Sacks is clearly passionate about this global problem, he writes with extraordinary depth and objectivity with a simple power that is difficult to ignore. Sacks calls all people — and particularly those of the Abrahamic religions — to let go of hate and the grasping for power. As Sacks so eloquently observes, ‘No soul was ever saved by hate. No truth was ever proved by violence. No redemption was ever brought by holy war. No religion won the admiration of the world by its capacity to inflict suffering on its enemies. Despite the fact that these things have been endorsed in their time by sincere religious believers, they are a travesty of faith, and until we learn this, religion will remain one of the greatest threats to the peace of the world.’ NOT IN GOD’S NAME is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand religious violence (better called “altruistic evil”) — and more importantly, what we can do about it.
on October 22, 2015
Jonathan Sacks' latest book is his most important and best yet. With great depth, and a fantastic understanding of the human condition, psychology, philosophy and religion, he explores the remarkable core principles of the Abrahamic tradition that spawned Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He analyzes how and why these principles have often been twisted to justify violence, and the dangers posed to our 21st century world by the current wave of extremism. Lastly, he recommends ways to counter these extremes and preserve the world's humanity. Regardless of your religion or views, you will learn much that is new and stimulating in this excellent book.
on June 3, 2004
Whether or not you buy the premise of this book--that a conspiracy among Vatican hard-liners, the Mafia, Freemasons, and others killed Pope John Paul I--IN GOD'S NAME by David Yallop presents a world of Church intrigue that is little discussed. The internecine wars among the Cardinals, the influence of huge amounts of dirty money, and the need for control of the Vatican are fascinating, if disturbing. It is a grim portrait to say the least. IN GOD'S NAME is an important book that deserves a new edition. Until then, pick up a used copy available here.
on September 26, 2003
I read this book shortly after it was published and given recent events, I'll be reading it again. It beautifully illustrates the paradox of political institution of religion versus the spiritual faith while investigating possible murder (Pope John Paul 1) and corruption (money laundering, etc) in the Vatican.
Other contradictory activities are uncovered; e.g. contraceptive factories/companies whose existence/ownership is traced back to the Vatican which preaches against contraception. Some critics say the book names no sources and has no footnotes; why should he? The facts are so clearly described that you are able to confirm certain things if you needed to (what with other evidence cited like documents, etc) without necessarily interviewing his sources who obviously helped on condition of anonymity for their own protection.
As much of a furor as this book caused, it's interesting to note that almost 20 years later, not a single allegation contained from within the book has been proven to be false. Rather, much of it has been officially established as true. (see author's site yallop.co.uk). I'd recommend to anyone, especially Catholics.
on January 9, 2005
A mere 33 days after Albino Luciani became Pope John Paul I, he died. To the date, the cause of death remains unknown or at least it remains undisclosed to the public. No autopsy was preformed. No official certificate of death was released.
Author David Yallop follows the footsteps of Albino Luciani and chronicles his life and journey to Rome. Yallop reveals the process and speculates on the politics of the election of John Paul I. His investigation provides a detailed sketch of the final hours of Pope John Paul I, drawn minute by minute.
In the book, Yallop names six individuals who had much to lose under the reign of John Paul I. He asserts that these individuals: a Bishop; two Cardinals; two bankers; and the head of a secret organization, P2; applied the "Italian Solution" either alone or in some combination. Now twenty years after this book was first published the author's website claims that the central questions raised remain unanswered and the frightening accusations are still undisputed.
I found Yallop's development of the cases of motive for the six suspects to be strong. Although motive does not equal guilt, it does help make Yallop's theory of murder plausible. At a minimum this book is an interesting story to read along with Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" and "The Da Vinci Code". The possibility that Yallop has uncovered the truth is unsettling. I have penciled "In God's Name" near the top of my rather extensive list of conspiracy theory books and unreservedly give it five stars.
Wonderfully, author Yallop has included pictures, lots of them. I noticed at least one reviewer commented about the durability of the book. My copy is a first edition, published in 1984. It has also been read by several friends and other than the paper jacket, remains in excellent condition.
on November 17, 2015
This may be one of the most powerful books I have read in the past decade, and I hope and pray that it receives an enormous readership. One reviewer thought that Rabbi Sacks may be "preaching to the choir" and not reaching those who perpetrate religious violence. I see the concern, especially given the events of the past week, but I don't share it. Rabbi Sacks' work in this book is truly prophetic in the tradition of prophets of biblical times, who were not predictors of the future, but rather inspired voices calling people to repentance and justice. They reminded the people of God’s amazing and steadfast faithfulness, as Rabbi Sacks does here. They offered not despair, but hope and a reminder of right relationship with G*d, by whatever name we choose to use for the Divine. If religion is to live into its potential as the source of hope, love and justice, then especially the children of Abraham--teachers, leaders, clergy and lay people--would do well to get re-inspired by this masterwork from a brilliant soul. Pick up this book, read it, and remember or learn how to put love into action for justice, instead of retribution or despair.