The Destructive Power of Religion

The Destructive Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

[ 4 Volumes ]  Martin and J. Harold Ellens 

"Whether they fly airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon; blow up ships, ports, or federal buildings; kill doctors and nurses at abortion clinics; exterminate contemporary Palestinians; or kill Israeli soldiers with suicide bombs, these destructive religionists are all shaped by the same unconscious apocalyptic metaphors, and by the divine example and imperative to violence. The authors of this book warn that until such metaphors are removed from the Western psyche, an end to religious violence in the West will not be possible."

“This work is a significant achievement and deserves to be in every university and large public library, as well an in collections on theology and psychology.”–Library Journal

“How more relevant can this edited four-volume, fifty-essay set entitled The Destructive Power of Religion (with an advertising testimonial by Archbishop Desmond Tutu) be in today's situation of worldwide terrorist attacks and alerts, fundamentalist political and religious jargon from the left and right, conferences on violence and religion (on a global scale), and films such as The Passion? This work presents American and international scholars in critical collaboration and provides textual and psychological coherence to the plethora of studies on religion and violence springing up in bookstores weekly....This is a study not just of the dark, negative side but of the constructive elements of religion through understanding the history, dominating myths, and pervasive ambiguity of religious traditions....[a] valuable resource for any academic library and a must for the public to experience.”–Review of Biblical Literature

“[A] critical and engaging introduction to the problem of identifying the various facets of religion's 'dark side'...”–Church and Theology

“These volumes will be relevant for any discipline that deals with myth, metaphors, narratives, culture, politics, and society in trying to analyze violence. Any future work on destructive violence and Western religions will certainly have to begin here.”–Religious Studies Review

“One could hardly suggest a more compelling area in religious studies these days than the complex relationships between religious beliefs and violence. A new and beautifully produced collection of over four dozen essays proposes to address a large and difficult set of questions in the context of the Abrahamic triad, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Three considerable strengths are noticeable throughout the collection: solid biblical scholarship; thorough and respectably critical coverage of a wide range of topics specific to Christianity; and sensitivity to important psychological dimensions of the religious legitimation of violence.”–Religion and the Arts

“With erudition and foresight, this four-volume work offers an unsettling but thought-provoking examination of the relentless cycle of religiously motivated violence, initiating a valuable dialogue for those seeking to expose religion's destructive tendencies while also providing its more constructive potential to faster peace....[t]his work issues a bold challenge to religious adherents to confront the destructive power often associated with religious conviction in the hope of instead celebrating and embracing the more meaningful, redemptive, and healing power of religion.”–Journal of Church and State

“This is an ambitious project well realized....[o]f interest to both academics and religious professionals alike....[I] would recommend seminary libraries in particular to secure a copy.”–Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations

“This collection will clearly be controversial....[w]orthy of close attention....These books seem unique in their attempt by thirty writers to make sense out of their common religion and from an unusual viewpoint--that of theology, psychology, and politcs together. Recommended to libraries for that reason and because of the currency of the overall topic.”–Reference & User Services Quarterly

"A groundbreaking work with tremendous insight. This will become a classic." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, 1984

"This is an urgently needed work which comes to us just at the right time and in the right place. It is a must read for anyone seriously concerned with the present tensions between the great world religions. . . . This work shows convincingly and with great force how we are often betrayed by religious metaphors: those that say we are up against cosmic evil rather than self-inflicted disaster, metaphors which should instead inspire us to think of and practice the real meaning of religion: unconditional grace, fostered by a loving God." - Federal Judge John Feikens Chief Justice Emeritus, Federal District Court, Southeast Districe of Michigan

"A work that will inform and provide perspective to people anywhere who are trying to make sense of the outburst of religiously based violence around the world. . . . These books are helpful to all who want to effect change." - Martin E. Marty Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago Divinity School.

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