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When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470581902
ISBN-10: 0470581905
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Whether it's terrorists in the Middle East who claim inspiration from Islam and express their hatred for the West, or the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, or the violence done by the religious extremists in the United States, it seems religion too often leads to lethal results.

Charles Kimball, the author of When Religion Becomes Evil, builds on his bestselling book to offer further insight on a difficult topic. When Religion Becomes Lethal answers key questions and provides a reliable framework for understanding why religious belief—especially in the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—so often leads to violence and what constructive steps can be taken to chart a more hopeful future.

Kimball, an expert on comparative religion, has a profound understanding of the often-troubled history between the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim descendents of Abraham. He examines a litany of compelling questions that challenge us today including: Why are the turbulent religious forces now seemingly more threatening than ever before? How representative are violent extremists operating in the name of Islam? What do the large majority of Muslims really want? Is or should America be a Christian nation? What is a Christian nation? Is peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and neighboring Arab and Muslim states really possible? These questions perplex many of us as daily headlines remind us all how even small numbers of religious zealots can wreak havoc on a massive scale.

When Religion Becomes Lethal offers a reliable, insightful, and useful way of thinking about and engaging the critical issues of religion and politics.

From the Back Cover

"Building on decades of experience witnessing and affecting change in the Middle East, Charles Kimball gives a rich examination of religious conflict from the vantage point of a peacemaker. In a world torn by religious extremism, this book provides a pragmatic, hopeful, and much-needed tool for those who seek an honest dialogue of change."
Jim Wallis, founder and CEO, Sojourners, and author, Rediscovering Values

"Informed by the best of scholarship and his own extensive experiences and insights, Charles Kimball's When Religion Becomes Lethal is an engaging and riveting must-read on how the interplay of religion and politics in the three great monotheistic traditions can and has led to dangerous and deadly consequences."
John L. Esposito, professor, religion and international affairs, Georgetown University, and author, The Future of Islam

"With the courage and clarity of the great reformers and the vision of the prophets, Charles Kimball sets before us the potential of communities of faith in which each honors all."
Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, director, Department of Religion, Chautauqua Institution

"At a time when the line between the sacred and secular is slowly fading away in all parts of the world, we need Kimball's steady hand, wit, intelligence, and smart analysis to guide us toward a saner future."
Reza Aslan, author, No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism

"In this stunning book, Kimball sheds light on the most dangerous religious movements of our time. His deep understanding of the landscape of religious extremism—Jewish, Christian, and Muslim—is shaped by decades of firsthand experience with religious and political leaders in the United States and the Middle East. This is a critical book for navigating today's perilous and explosive religious landscape."
Diana Eck, professor, comparative religion, and director, The Pluralism Project at Harvard University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470581905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470581902
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Anyone who watches CNN, FOXNews, or MSNBC should read this book. In fewer than 200 pages, Kimball leads his readers from the origins of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the latest disputes over Jewish settlements in the occupied territory of Palestine, Christian opposition to the construction of an Islamic center in Manhattan, and the bizarre rants of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Real people--militant Muslims, cocksure Christians, and hard-core Jewish settlers "prepared to facilitated the final conflagration"--populate these pages.

Kimball goes behind the news-media and talk-show sound bites to reorient popular perspectives on major events and introduce important players in the interaction of religion and politics among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. For example, the widespread talk of a "clash of civilizations" among scholars and the public alike "reinforces a simplistic and dangerously inaccurate perspective." Support for Israel among American politicians is entirely understandable if for no other reason than "Criticizing Israel has been political suicide in the United States." As for September 11, 2001, "the world did not change on that fateful day. On that day, the United States of America simply joined the rest of the world, in a disturbing way. . . . The lethal threat posed by violent extremists claiming inspiration from their religion and prepared to die in suicidal self-sacrifice was [now] just as real in the United States as it had been in Beirut or Jerusalem.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't mean to imply that this book is for idiots, just that if you know absolutely nothing about the Middle East, Religion, or modern Politics, this is the book for you. Kimball does and exemplary job of starting at the beginning with the three faiths in question (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) and quickly educating the reader on their history and the political implications of their growth. He then applies this knowledge of history directly to the modern conflicts in Middle Eastern politics and American society. It's brilliantly done because you can come to the book in complete ignorance of these issues and by the middle, Kimball has laid it all out in such a concise and logical manner that you'll come away feeling like an expert yourself. He gets right at the crux of the issues without the usual hemming and hawing, and spewing of irrelevant trivia that usually bogs down titles like these.

The amazing thing is that Kimball pulls all this off without dry, textbook prose. He genuinely cares about his subject matter, as is evident from his careful yet emphatic treatment of it. There is something at stake with all this political/religious maneuvering, and he pinpoints exactly what that is, and why Americans especially should stand up and take note of current trends in our churches and politics.

It should also be noted that Dr. Kimball is a Baptist minister. I was initially wary of his position, given the subjective nature of the topic, but he proves himself incredibly objective in dealing with all three major world religions, with perhaps his strongest criticisms and warnings aimed at the one to which he belongs. In fact, I believe it is his familiarity with the Evangelical sub-culture that affords him the insight needed to expound on this issue.

This book should be required reading for anyone in the media, college, or political realm. Highly recommended, highly enjoyable, and thoroughly thought provoking.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book tackles two topics that - over the years - we have been advised as follows: "Whatever you do, stay away from religion and politics in conversations."

The author, Charles Kimball, Th.D., is an ordained Baptist minister and professor and director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma. His family background includes Jewish grandparents. He is well traveled, including time spent on the ground in the Middle East - Iran, Israel, and various Arab nations. He is qualified to write about his topic and includes references in his book to parts of the Bible that bear upon today's corruption of some believers in the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - such that the corrupted believer will conspire to take the lives of innocents through acts of terrorism in order to advance a political or theocratic goal. I found the book of value to me in several areas: 1) An abbreviated history of the Jewish State of Israel and the evolution of the Settlements in the midst of occupied territory captured in the 1967 war. 2) A summation of the Koran and the history of Islam and the rise of the Sunni and Shiite factions and the Wahhabism belief that led up to Al Qaeda. 3) The principles and practices of Christian Fundamentalism and how certain believers influence U.S. policy in the Middle East. The book barely touches upon many of the topics covered and is, in this regard, a good synopsis for further study - and the author does provide ample references for the reader who wishes to learn more about the factors in organized religion that can lead to lethal consequences in today's world.
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