Not In God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence by Jonathan Sacks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
BOOK DESCRIPTION: In this powerful and timely book, one of the most admired and authoritative religious leaders of our time tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God. If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, Rabbi Sacks argues, then it must also form part of the solution. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit—that is, my religion is the only right path to God, therefore your religion is by definition wrong—and individuals are motivated by what Rabbi Sacks calls “altruistic evil,” violence between peoples of different beliefs appears to be the only natural outcome.
MY REVIEW: 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.
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