NONFICTION

Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence

Schocken. Oct. 2015. 320p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780805243345. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780805243352. REL
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Sacks (law, ethics, & the Bible, Kings Coll. London) asks a probing question of the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam): How, if we are made in the image of God, can radical religious adherents commit horrific atrocities in God's name? With ardent and straightforward language, the author, who served as chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013, seeks to authoritatively discredit the idea that, by its very nature, organized religion breeds violence. Using historical anti-Semitism as the lens through which to consider acts of religiously motivated brutality, Sacks finds that modern iterations of social dissociation from one's group find resolution in the Internet's virtual social networks. Misreading and misapplying texts further fuels the capacity to inflict suffering upon one's fetishized enemies, even though, concludes Sacks, "No religion won the admiration of the world by its capacity to inflict suffering upon its enemies."
VERDICT While Sacks has no recipe to cure religious violence, he successfully illustrates the roots of responsibility in this terrible dynamic. A worthy read that is sure to spur conversation.

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