Edited by Anna Lännström
Promise and Peril delivers current analysis of the major religious conflicts in the world, including eye-opening assessments by leading academics and journalists of hot-button issues such as fundamentalism, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the hostility between Pakistan and India. This essential volume also turns its attention to religious threats such as the new Japanese religion Aum Shinrikyô, which in 1995 unleashed the nerve gas sarin in a crowded Tokyo subway.
In her essay, Karen Armstrong offers a clear understanding of what fundamentalism is and what it is not. She contends that while fundamentalism is rarely violent, the survivalist mentality of many fundamentalists can push them to become militant. She gives a stunning account of the circumstances that changed Sayyid Qutb, mentor to Osama Bin Laden and most other Sunni fundamentalists, from moderate liberal to violent militant. Marc Gopin demonstrates how promoting respect for Jewish and Muslim religious symbols and rituals can promote peace between Israel and Palestine. He includes fascinating excerpts from his lengthy conversation with Yassir Arafat on this topic. Other essays in the collection address topics such as nuclearization in South Asia, moral paradoxes in Hinduism, and the pros and cons of state-religion partnership.
Contributors to this volume focus on the ambiguity of religion as both promise and peril. They ask tough questions: how do we prevent fundamentalism from turning violent? How do we draw upon what is compassionate and good in religious belief to promote lasting peace in places such as the Middle East and Northern Ireland? While each author has a different answer to these questions, all hold out hope that by combating ignorance with dialogue and understanding, religion may recognize its promise and diminish its peril.“Does religion promote or diminish violence in the world ? A number of prominent scholars of religion here provide thoughtful and informed reflections on a topic that hardly needs emphasizing since 9-11. This is an excellent book, which merits a wide readership.” —Peter L. Berger, Boston University
“ Promise and Peril is a collection of studies we have been in need of for years. Few of us who deal with religion have exerted ourselves enough to make clear that religion is not necessarily a pleasant thing. This simple lesson still comes as a surprise to most people. We must listen to what is said in the pages of this splendid volume.” —Kees W. Bolle, author of The Enticement of Religion
Contributors: Karen Armstrong, Marc Gopin, Gerald James Larson, Bhiku Parekh, Huston Smith, Ian Reader, Wendy Doniger
“An accessible and timely examination of religious fundamentalisms and the violence they often generate.” — Conscience
“This is a thought-provoking and very readable volume that deals with the infrequently discussed issue of whether the social effects of religion are as positive as is sometimes assumed.” — Catholic Library World
“. . . An eclectic mix, each intersting in their own right. . . .” — Contact
“Anyone who deals with issues of conflict between religions will benefit from reading this collection.” — Conrad Grebel Review