- Hardcover: 296 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 3, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195385047
- ISBN-13: 978-0195385045
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.9 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict 1st Edition
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"Cavanaugh not only sets the bar of future scholarship higher but also avoids oversimplifications that can obstruct conflict resolution. Future scholarship on religious violence will inevitably need to interact with the theories laid out in this book."--BYU Studies Quarterly
"[A]n important book." --Commonweal
"Williams T. Cavanaugh's Myth of Religious Violence is a disciplined, detailed and painstakingly thorough book that sets out to debunk the all-too-pervasive liberal myth: that something called 'religion' is necessarily inclined to produce violence, especially left unchecked. " --Leigh Edwards, Durham, North Carolina
"Cavanaugh not only exposes the myth for what it is, he provides details to show precisely how the myth is not grounded in reality." --Christian Century
"...an important and highly interesting work...enough to make one doubt the modern dogma of religious violence and be alert to its ideological function in the West."--James R. A. Merrick, University of Aberdeen
"The book is well-written, thoroughly documented, and clearly argued, and it should be of value both to generalists and to readers with particular interest in the topic."--Debra Erickson
"A detailed and carefully researched rebuttal of the idea that there is some essence or necessary function of religion that makes it a more consistent cause of violence than other worldviews, belief systems or ideologies. He effectively unveils the self-serving nature of secular liberal condescension toward religion."--Modern Theology
"Razor sharp and pertinent... Cavanaugh leaves us hard pressed to imagine how the notion of a privatized, internalized 'God of One's Own' could ever be part of the solution to a problem that it is responsible for inventing in the first place."--Common Knowledge
About the Author
William T Cavanaugh is Senior Research Professor at DePaul University in Chicago.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book doesn't try to convince its readers that religion has no role in the realm of war and violence, but that for most of human history, there was no separation of the two. He also tackles the 'hot button' of violence and Islam and speaks in Islam's defense, rather than condemning Muslims for having an integrated sense of secular and religious life.
The book is somewhat scholarly and may be a slow read for some, but I recommend it for the efforts Cavanaugh has made to balance the scales of public opinion and to show an alternate point of view to the myth that religion is the chief cause of violence and war in the ancient and modern world.
The one flaw in the book, in my view, is the author's having bought too uncritically into the "Talal Asad" account of "religion" being a modern invention. There is truth to that, properly understood. But when the distinction between religion as a concept and religion as an activity/practice gets lost (as social constructionists tend to be vulnerable to), problems arise. Cavanaugh falls into that and related elisions of what ought to be kept distinct in Chapter 2. I recommend as an antedote Martin Riesebrodt's The Promise of Salvation: A Theory of Religion (Chicago, 2010). Even so, that flaw in no way undermines his larger argument, which is right in my view, very important, and powerful.
If many people read this book and understood and worked out the significance of its message, the world would be a better place. As for myself, I plan to assign it in my graduate seminar in sociology of religion this fall, first week of classes, to help expand the vision of what we're even taking about and the assumptions we make about it. Many thanks to Cavanaugh for his good work in producing this book.