TheOxford Handbook of Religion and Violence
Religiousfoundations are rooted in the belief of regenerating and sustainingman to ensure his immortality. Almost all religious requiresacrifices that use either violent or nonviolent methods according todivergent ethics that control rituals. TheOxford Handbook of Religion and Violenceis a book by MarkJuergensmeyer, Margo Kitts, and Michael Jerryson, which interrogatesthe use of traditions such as sacrifice and martyrdom that representforms of rituals used to justify violence as a religious culture. Thebook provides an overview of sacrifices in ancient traditions amongthe Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Christian, Chinese, Africantraditions and Islamic religions. Authors highlight the acceptance oftorture in Christianity, Islam, and other religious foundations. Allthe religious traditions discussed in TheOxford Handbook of Religion and Violenceusespecific ethical euphemisms to conceal violence against man oranimals sacrifices.
Sacrificein Hindu religion is meant to ransom man’s being from the gods. Thedifferent parts of the sacrificed victim assume natural order as thebuilding blocks of the Brahmin’s universe. DharmaranyaPuranais a Vedic text that presents the history of Hindu religious debateconcerning the use of violence to maintain life. According to thebook, the Brahmins assert that man must indulge in violence as anecessity to eat. Logically, the Brahmins believe that man mustinflict violence whether on an animal or plant in order to sustainhis life. On the other hand, the Jain monks rebuked both physical andmental violence. Seemingly, violence against an animal beingsacrificed acted as a medium to connect God and the man performingthe ritual. Ethics of sacrificing an animal requires a Brahmin to usespecific ritual words and acts that automatically converts the animalfrom a victim to a willing participant. In effect, the pacificationprocess is a euphemistic expression of violence that provides a moralbacking for religious fierceness. Moreover, the act of killing ananimal is shifted from torture to represent regeneration for both thevictim and the Brahmin. Sometimes, the actual words of a sacrificeare concealed and only euphemistic taboos are used to hide themeaning of murder.
Similarly,the Buddhist traditions allow ritual sacrifice of small animals witha good intention. A conscious sacrifice of one’s body is a form ofsacrifice sanctified by Buddhists as the consummation of incomparablewisdom. In addition, a Buddhist understands the Four Noble Truths,which claim that the world is full of suffering, and man must act toliberate oneself. The concept of Dhamma forced people to commitatrocities against themselves or other beings in a violent manner inthe hope of grasping the unlimited source of wisdom.
Christianityglorifies the ritual killing of oneself or murder of a religiouspersonality as martyrdom. Early Christians accepted the idea ofviolence as a form of religious sacrifice meant to benefit theliving. Torturous narratives form the basis of Christian foundationsthat are twisted with euphemist expressions to create a notion ofredemption through martyrdom. Protestant reforms fit in with thenarrative of violence against the rigid measures of Catholic beliefs.In the same measure, Islamic beliefs accept religious motivatedviolence such as terrorism as a ritual to attain a specific goal.Besides, the expansion of Islam benefitted from extreme violentcampaigns that eradicated traditional religion of the Arab peopleforcing them to accept Allah or face death. Just like Buddhists,Islam accepted the concept of killing non-believers as a process ofcleansing the world from profanity. Equally, religious competitionsand wars have occurred between Muslims and Christians for the controlof regions. For example, violence on religious ground such asJerusalem is acceptable by both Christians. In that context,Christians launched Crusades against Moslems who equally defended thesacred ground as the third most holy place on earth after Mecca andMedina. Contests over religious sacred grounds remains legitimatelyprotected because of profit and security extracted from the violenceby religious leaders.
Thecross symbolizes the persecution of Jesus Christ for the forgivenessof human sins. While shedding the blood of an innocent man who isunwilling to die is violent murder, Christ remains a symbol ofredemptions through his torture and death on the cross. Although thelogic of the death is symbolic, the fact remains that violence isfabricated in the context of seeking for God’s redemption.Correspondingly, the legacy of violence among Jews is highlightedfrom the context of the Torah, Talmud, and other religious texts thatclaim that only when the messiah shall create order and stop chaos.Therefore, the Jewish people used God to justify the use of violentwars and political executions that entails the expansion andoccupation of the land of Israel. The Torah recounts violent warsagainst neighbors in during the expansion of Israel to cover theentire land of Palestine.
Personally,I believe that violence against persons, nations, and people isillegitimate even if the victim is worthless or willing to become asacrifice. Protection of human life is critical to emphasize areality experience with God that far from violence. I accept theJainism belief in using non-violent rituals and religious practicesthat preserve life without turning to either human or animalsacrifice. The primary religious content presented by the authors ofthe book is that people should consciously reevaluate the ethicssurrounding religious rituals and sacrifices in order to eliminateviolence. Acceptance of ritual killing by Islam, Buddhist, andChristian religions is based on the context of martyrdom. I rejectthe fact that religious institutions use hidden language andeuphemistic expressions to legitimize violence as a way of ensuringconformity to specific beliefs.
Juergensmeyer,Mark, Margo Kitts, and Michael Jerryson.TheOxford Handbook of Religion and Violence.New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.