28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
William F Harrison
- Published on Amazon.com
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.