Description of the book Terror in the Mind of God

Essay by trinidadassasinCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2003

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Praising God and doing violent acts where innocent people are killed don't seem to go together. Mark Juergensmeyer's book, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, explores this growing phenomenon in the world today. He studies several areas in the world where this is happening, including Americans who bomb abortion clinics, Israelis who attack their Palestinian neighbors, Muslims who attack Israeli neighbors as well as others who they see as oppressing them, Irish and Catholics in Northern Ireland, Sikhs and Muslims in India, and Japanese Buddhists. This paper will identify the author's main arguments and his suggestions for easing these conflicts. It will also explore a case study focusing on both Israeli and Muslim terrorists. Finally, the paper will reflect on how this book helps in understanding racial and ethnic relations in the United States. Reading and reflecting on the points made in this book greatly helps to understand what is currently happening in the world today and perhaps also understanding our own history of racial and ethnic conflict.

Mark Juergensmeyer has several goals in his book about religious terrorism. One of his goals is to understand why acts of violence are associated with religious causes and why they have occurred with such frequency at this time in history (7). Another goal is to understand not only the mindset of religious activists who have committed violence but also the groups that have supported them and the ideologies to which they subscribe (10). The author also states that his goal is to focus on case studies of religious violence within their own cultural context and within the framework of global, social and political changes distinctive to our time (7). Finally, he wants to understand how religion and violence are linked. How violence accomplishes symbolic purposes. How...