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Divided by Faith?

Divided by Faith?

Craig Martin, Religion Bulletin…..I am growing increasingly suspicious of this idea that people come to blows or “clash” over differences in belief or faith. I am of course in full agreement with the many anti-essentialist criticisms of the “clash of civilizations” thesis: there are no monolithic civilizations, and as such there can be no monumental “clash” between them (the last chapter of Chiara Bottici’s A Philosophy of Political Myth contains a particularly good version of this criticism). But this is not what I’m angling at here. What bothers me is the very idea that people fight over “beliefs” at all, monolithic or not.

Commands of the Blood

Commands of the Blood

Often referred to as Hitler’s theoretician or Hitler’s philosopher, Alfred Rosenberg codified much of the anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, and anti-Communist rhetoric which Hitler used to legitimize his political agenda. Rosenberg’s most significant text, The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual Confrontations of our Age, was revered, at least superficially, by the Reich as second only to Mein Kampf as embodying the mythical and ideological frame for Hitler’s Germany. According to Rosenberg, for races around the world, blood was fate. Physical, intellectual, and spiritual characteristics were the products of blood. According to Rosenberg, there was no redemption for the ‘lesser’ races… their blood made them the natural enemies of the Aryan Volk… their blood had sealed their fate.

A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES

A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
President Obama’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, put it this way: “The President believes that everyone who serves the American people by working for this government needs to hold themselves to the highest standards of public service.” Mitt Romney was pithier; he said he’d “clean house.” A thoughtful US citizen might well wonder what they were referring to, sadly enough, because there are so many scandals to choose from.

Duty Down Under

Duty Down Under

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Georgia State University….
I suppose it was inevitable. Since nature and the military both abhor a vacuum, the recent announcement of the military draw-down in Iraq almost inevitably meant that we’d soon be re-deploying our military forces somewhere else. Still, the northern coast of Australia came as something of a surprise. President Obama announced yesterday that 250 US Marines will soon be shipping off for rotating six-month tours at an Australian military base on the north central coast of the island, near a city called Darwin. Their numbers are expected to escalate to 2500 in fairly short order, along with military equipment and long-range aircraft.

The Curious Case of Gerhard Kittel

The Curious Case of Gerhard Kittel

By Kate Daley-Bailey, Religion Bulletin….
On June 1st, 1933, New Testament Professor and Christian theologian, Dr. Gerhard Kittel (picture to the left) delivered a speech entitled Die Judenfrage, “The Jewish Question,” which was later published in a 78 page booklet. In Die Judenfrage, Kittel advocated that German Jews be demoted to “guest status” in Germany, a position which was attacked by more right-leaning Nazi groups insisting upon forced exile or worse. In reaching his conclusion, Kittel considered three other potential answers to the Jewish question commonly debated at the time: extermination (which he dismissed as impractical and, in later editions, “un-Christian”), a separate Jewish state in the Middle East (which he declined for various logistical reasons, such as hostilities from displaced Arabs), and assimilation (which he argued was actually part of the problem, since mixed marriages between Jews and Christians in Germany resulted in the spread of secular liberalism in Germany).

The Sacred and the Strange: An Aryan Jesus?

The Sacred and the Strange: An Aryan Jesus?

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
Alfred Rosenberg, sometimes referred to as ‘the philosopher of the Nazi party,’ was instrumental in the ideological construction of what might be called a Germanic Aryan ethic. Rosenberg, an ardent anti-Semite, anti-Bolshevik, and anti-Catholic, presented the Nazi establishment with a disparate and staccato ‘history of the Aryan’ in his book, The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual, which was used to philosophically support Nazi doctrines on race and religion. While Nazi German elite often held a great disdain for Christianity, condemning it as a flawed ideology not compatible with the regime’s political and social aims, they were not, initially, opposed to using Christian theories about Jesus to promote their own cause. Rosenberg is no exception. In his most prominent book, second only to Mein Kampf in Nazi circles, Rosenberg presents a rather unusual, and ahistorical, view of Jesus of Nazareth.

“Who Was Muhammad, Was He Violent?”: Teaching Islam Ten Years after 9/11

“Who Was Muhammad, Was He Violent?”: Teaching Islam Ten Years after 9/11

By Abbas Barzegar, Religion Dispatches…..
As millions of college students around the country begin the start of another school year most will encounter events, programming, and curriculum built around the tenth year anniversary of 9/11. Content will include paying honored respects to the victims and their families as well as interpreting the impact of the attacks on our nation’s history and identity. The events ten years ago will remain the defining moment of my generation and understanding how those events continue to shape the social and political landscape of our nation will be the responsibility of educators, politicians, and citizens alike. As a professor of Islamic studies I will entertain a related (even if unwarranted) set of issues in the classroom because, whether we like it or not, Islam has become an indelible part of the culture and consciousness of 9/11. Ironically, the questions I regularly encounter have not actually changed much over the last ten years: Who was Muhammad, was he violent? What is Jihad? Why the scarves?

The Lion of Saint Mark and This Most Serene Republic

The Lion of Saint Mark and This Most Serene Republic

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
You don’t have to be a Marxist to notice the often astonishing overlap between big money and big religion. Nor to be somewhat shocked by the bigness of the whole affair. Consider the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, one of the most popular and most-densely populated tourist destinations in Italy, nearly rivaling its much larger cousin in Rome. It is a striking monument in every way, not least for the bizarre mish-mash of architectural elements and artistic styles that define this most funky profile.

Patrick Leigh Fermor, 1915-2011

Patrick Leigh Fermor, 1915-2011

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
At the ripe age of “eighteen and three quarters” (his words), Paddy Fermor decided to take a long walk, in lieu of attending university. He determined to travel by foot from the Hook of Holland all the way to Istanbul (a city he always imagined Greek-ly, and referred to stubbornly as “Constantinople” or “Byzantium,” its first name as a Greek colony). The trip took some years, and it gave both flavor and form to the rest of his extraordinarily long and extraordinarily creative life. But he did not begin to publish his reflections on the journey until fully forty years later, and that generational lapse between a youthful excursion and a mature reminiscence is a central feature in what makes his writing so singular, and the genre he created so difficult to define.

Ding Dong bin Laden's Dead!

Ding Dong bin Laden’s Dead!

By Lady Arsinoe……
America has lost the moral high ground, though. Beginning on September 11, 2001, collectively as a nation, we condemned the celebrations in the streets throughout the Muslim world. We denounced the carnival atmosphere in the Middle East as the World Trade Center collapsed. We cried for the murder of over 3000 innocent people. We said, how barbaric it was to celebrate death and destruction in that manner. Those people aren’t human, we declared.

Religion Does Its Worst

Religion Does Its Worst

By Roger Cohen, New York Times….
So Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who organized a Koran burning on March 20, wanted “to stir the pot.” Mission accomplished. Perhaps he’d care to explain himself to the family of Joakim Dungel, a 33-year-old Swede slaughtered at the U.N. mission in Mazar-i-Sharif by Afghans whipped into frenzy through Jones’s folly. On reflection, no, there’s nothing Jones can explain to Dungel’s family, or the other U.N. staffers murdered. Jones is not in the explanation business. He’s a zealot. How else to describe a Christian who interprets his faith not as grounded in love and compassion but as a mission to incite hatred toward Islam?

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

By Miroslav Volf, Huffington Post….
Muslims and Christians can work together to depose dictators and assert the power of the people. We’ve seen it happen on the Tahrir Square in Cairo during the 2011 revolution in Egypt, with devout Muslims and Coptic Christians protesting side by side. But can Muslims and Christians work together to build a democratic society in which rights of all are respected, the rights of minority Coptic Christians no less than the rights of majority Muslims? They can, if they have a common set of fundamental values. But do they? They do, if they, both monotheists, have a common God.

Just War and Post War Justice

Just War and Post War Justice

The just war tradition is the centuries-old gold standard for morally evaluating war. Most Christian denominations subscribe to this ethical framework, even as they are more and more commending nonviolence as a viable alternative. Just war reasoning also rests behind much of the modern international laws of war. Over time, this tradition has come to consist of several criteria—though the lists vary depending on the source—to be used to evaluate morally when and how war may be justly embarked upon and conducted. A war is considered just if these criteria are adhered to and satisfied.