Posted by: Brian Robinette | February 9, 2009

Religion and Violence

religion-peaceSince much of our reading this week focuses on the relationship between religion and violence, here are a few resources for further thinking.

The first is an article written by William T. Cavanaugh in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. This article does a good job of reframing the way the question is usually packaged, and shines a spotlight on the problems intrinsic to the modern nation-state. A lengthier version of this piece, which includes helpful references, can be found under the “articles” section on the Research page of this blog.

The second is an article by René Girard, who summarizes here his views of the relationship between religion and violence, noting that, indeed, religion and violence are deeply intertwined, but not in the way those associated with the New Atheism would suggest. In fact, Girard sets out to show that “archaic” religions are functionally concerned with the control and minimization of violence through what he calls the “scapegoat mechanism,” and that, furthermore, there are important ways in which the biblical traditions are precisely interested in undermining this mechanism as unjust. Girard further argues that the preoccupation for the rights of victims in our contemporary culture is fundamentally related to the biblical heritage. For more on Girard’s extensive work of religion and violence, see here, or here, or here.

Finally, here are some resources from biblical scholar, Walter Wink. See here for an overview of what he calls the “myth of redemptive violence,” which he believes is the dominant myth of our times, and which bears important parallels to Girard’s view. And here is an overview of Christian nonviolence.


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