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Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (Comparative Studies in Religion & Society) Paperback – 22 Aug 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 3rd Revised edition edition (22 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520240111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520240117
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 276,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Written well and engagingly for a popular audience."--Jonathan Groner, "Washington Post Book World"

About the Author

Mark Juergensmeyer is Professor of Sociology and Director of Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the winner of the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for 2003 in the religion category and the author of The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State (California, 1993), and Gandhi's Way: A Handbook of Conflict Resolution (California, 2002), and editor of Global Religions: An Introduction (2003).

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Amazon.com: 43 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
a compelling exploration of modern religious violence 29 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This compelling and deeply insightful book, obviously misread by the previous reviewer, does not attempt to advance a hypothesis about the causal origins of religious activism. It does, however, place the rise of religious activism within the context of globalization. Since nearly all of the spokespersons of the movements themselves rail against the global forces of secularism, this seems a reasonable context indeed. This is an excellent piece of work.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read in the Post September 11,2001 World 25 Sep 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
When the tragic events of September 11th occured, the onslaught of media coverage made me want to search for a objective discussion of these terrorist acts. This book certainly met my expectations. The author studies not just Islamic groups but Christian, Buddhist and Sikh as well. It is eerie when you read descriptions of the 1993 bombing of the WTC and the authors analysis as to why this structure was picked. In fact, the author clearly describes the terrorist goal of complete destruction of the towers and its impact on the Amercian population. All this two years before the actual event.
Its a rational discussion without the hysteria and flag waving of the media. It allows the reader to read and let the meaning of the last few weeks sink in. I highly recommend this book.
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating and extremely frightening 8 April 2002
By E. A. Lovitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"I will send my terror before you, and will throw into confusion all the people..." (Exodus 23:27).
This book sets out to explore why, in a few extreme instances, religion is used to justify terrorism. "Terror in the Mind of God" was published in 2000, before the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, but it is extremely relevant to today's headlines. The psyche of suicide bombers is explored, and the men who send them to their deaths are interviewed. The author also interviews actual terrorists (and/or their close associates) who perpetrated many acts of murder and destruction within the last two decades
The cultures of violence that the author treats in depth are: "Soldiers for Christ;" "Zion Betrayed (Judaism);" "Islam's `Neglected Duty';" "The Sword of Sikhism;" and "Armageddon in a Tokyo Subway (Buddhism)."
In the last five chapters of this book, the author attempts to explain the logic of religious violence. He maintains a very non-judgmental, even tone even when explaining the reasons behind the grisliest acts of terror. It was spooky to find myself nodding my head at Juergensmeyer's explanations of the terrorists' logic; `okay, so that's why they did it.' Taking a teen-ager who feels he has nothing to live for and everything to die for, and turning him into a human bomb seems like a relatively simple task for a religious zealot, now that I've read this book.
Fascinating and extremely frightening.
In one of the most interesting and hopeful parts of the book, Juergensmeyer turns his thesis on its head, and suggests that, "the entrance of religion into public life would help to leaven these negative influences [the use of terror to promote a religion]. Several thoughtful observers of Western society have suggested that indeed it might---if religion could enter the public arena in an undogmatic and unobtrusive way....what religion provides society is not just high-mindedness, but also a concern with the quality of life---a goal more ennobling than the simple accretion of power and possessions."
This book could change all of our lives, if we let it.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A new standard text for seminary libraries 28 Oct 2001
By William F Harrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Terror in the mind of God is a remarkable work made all the more remarkable by the author's dispassionate portrayal of people who, in every other facet (except that facet, religious belief, which has consumed and overwhelmed all the other elements of their humanity) of their lives seem to be no different from the reasonable and decent "normal" people who espouse Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist,or Jewish beliefs. Perhaps a major difference which sets apart those who kill, and in some cases die, for their religious beliefs is that there is never the slightest element of doubt in the minds of the true believer, and this total belief by religious fundamentalists of any faith in a cosmology which unbelievers find incredible, is always dangerous. (Didn't someone smart once say, "I don't care what you believe about God so long as you don't believe it totally.") Juergensmeyer has managed to elicit and portray their fanaticism in such a way that the reader is never tempted to laugh uproarously at even the most fantastic, unbelievable and outrageous claims of these "true believers". I've no experience with Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, Hindu or Buddhist true believers, but having lived all of my adult life in Northwest Arkansas and provided abortions in my medical practice in area surrounded by "true believers" from the furtherest fringes of the Christian Right and having been the target of Christian antiabortion fundamentalists on numerous occasions in the past, I can testify that Jeurgensmeyer knows his terrorists. The folks who have targeted me and my practice seem on first glance to be concerned and reasonable people, at least until the subject turns to abortion or gays, evolution or prayer in the schools. Then their eyes literally glaze and they begin to spout utter nonsense as though reading from a text. I have been on talk shows, debates and public forums with them, sitting in a chair next to them, and were I a fearful man, easily intimidated, it would have been a most frightening experience. Of course, terror is what they want and intend to inspire in both their victims and in those observing, just as Jeurgensmeyer said. But if their actions cannot terrify those of us at whom they are aimed, what is the point? Unfortunately, the terrorists who confront us today have certainly managed to terrify a significant portion of the American citizanry. We can only hope that fear doesn't rob us of our collective wits, although the performance of the current military and political leadership in this country (with the glaring exception of Colin Powell and the California congresswoman - I wish I could remember her name - who cast the lone vote against our current Asian adventure)does not inspire confidence. This book, coupled with Ahmed Rashid's book, Taliban, should be required reading for anyone who aspires to a position of leadership in this country over the next fifty years or so, and should certainly be on the curriculum of any religious institution which purports to instruct as opposed to indoctrinate religious leaders. Religious belief in the service of peace and justice, of solice and relief, has been one of the great blessings of mankind. I am just not sure that this benign aspect of religion has ever been enough to compensate for its more malignant faces.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Amazing access to sources 22 May 2001
By Nichomachus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
...This book is most fantastic in the access Juergensmeyer had to these people. His work is based on original interviews with the thinkers and actors who produce terrorism; this includes Jewish militants, Irish Protestants, Christian Identity types, Pro-Lifers, Sikh militants, and Hamas. He identifies common sociological themes behind all of these various movements that come to see violence as an acceptable means to achieving their religious ends. His second section, which is just a number of hypotheses on these linkages, may be the most open to criticism, but the whole process is valuable none the less. One comes away with a sense of the intelligence and fortitude of these actors. Understanding the internal logic of their cosmic systems is one of the most important aspects one can derive from this book.
Getting away from common conceptions of these types of people as "irrational" and "crazy" is the first step in stemming their impact on innocent people.
I also recommend taking a skim through Marc Gopin's, "Between Eden and Armageddon," though it is long and redundant.
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