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The Ambivalence of the Sacred

Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation

Scott R. Appleby - Foreword by Theodore M. Hesburgh

Terrorists and peacemakers may grow up in the same community and adhere to the same religious tradition. The killing carried out by one and the reconciliation fostered by the other indicate the range of dramatic and contradictory responses to human suffering by religious actors. Yet religion's ability to inspire violence is intimately related to its equally impressive power as a force for peace, especially in the growing number of conflicts around the world that involve religious claims and religiously inspired combatants. This book explains what religious terrorists and religious peacemakers share in common, what causes them to take different paths in fighting injustice, and how a deeper understanding of religious extremism can and must be integrated more effectively into our thinking about tribal, regional, and international conflict. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 448Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-0-8476-8554-7 • Hardback • November 1999 • $126.00 • (£85.00)
978-0-8476-8555-4 • Paperback • November 1999 • $51.00 • (£34.95)
978-0-7425-6984-3 • eBook • November 1999 • $48.00 • (£32.95)
R. Scott Appleby is professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, where he also directs the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism and serves as a fellow of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.
Chapter 1 Introduction: Powerful Medicine
Chapter 2 The Unfolding Response to the Sacred
Chapter 3 Religion's Violent Accomplices
Chapter 4 Violence as a Sacred Duty
Chapter 5 Militants for Peace
Chapter 6 Reconciliation and the Politics of Forgiveness
Chapter 7 Religion and Conflict Transformation
Chapter 8 Religious Human Rights and Interreligious Peace Building
Chapter 9 Ambivalence as Opportunity
Scott Appleby's book provides a timely, clear, and highly perceptive treatment of why and how religion has, especially since the end of the Cold War, gravitated to the center of the discussion of international affairs. . . . There is no doubt that this volume will be the centerpiece henceforward of an important new discussion on ‘religion, violence, and reconciliation.'
David Little, United States Institute of Peace

In this volume [Appleby] seeks to balance the overall picture by focusing on the success stories and peacebuilding initiatives buried inside the newspapers, embedded in a largely untold past, and emerging piecemeal in the final years of this genocidal century. This is a kind of compensatory history, urgently needed in the contemporary debate, and it carries enormous implications for the way we think about religion's complex role, and undeniable potential, in preventing deadly conflict and in rebuilding communities shattered by violence.
Theodore M. Hesburgh

I have found myself deeply impressed by the persuasiveness of its argument and by the wide-ranging case studies it contains. I can here only hint at the rich and varied resourses he provides in abundance to enable us to be both more faithful interpreters of our own traditions and to be more strategic in our peacemaking.
Paul Deats; Fellowship

Appleby is extremely knowledgeable about movements, conflicts and personalities. Ambivalence of the Sacred contains rich veins of information about the complex relationship of religion, violence and peacemaking. It provides dozens of detailed portraits of personalities and religious movements that put faces on anonymous groups.
America: The Jesuit Review of Faith & Culture

In this current important book—not limited to conservative movements— Appleby uses case studies, careful analysis, and a highly readable narrative style to present religion's role in contemporary peacemaking and warmaking.

Appleby's book should be required reading for all academic specialists in international relations and for practitioners of diplomacy as well. It provides a careful study of the interaction of religion with political life in many parts of the world today. It does this with a strong understanding of the differences and similarities among the major world religions and among the different civilizational contexts within which these religions function. . . . There is nothing quite like it for presenting the plusses and minuses of the role of religion on the world stage today.
David Hollenbach S.J., Boston College

Is a treasure trove of information on religious activists around the world, many little known even to an informed public.
The Christian Century

Scott Appleby has produced a work of considerable scholarship as he seeks to explore the painful and paradoxical relationship between religion, destructive conflict and peace in the contemporary world.
Peace News

Scott Appleby has produced a work of considerable scholarship as he seeks to explore the painful and paradoxical relationship between religion, destructive conflict and peace in the contemporary world. The real ground-breaking value of this work lies in the exploration of the variety of roles performed by religious institutions, communities and individuals in conflict transformation.
Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

Richly researched and wide-ranging book. What Appleby has done in this finely nuanced inquiry is to assemble an impressive array of documentation, both historical and bibliographical, along with a preliminary means of sorting out key variables. Students, teachers, and people seeking to develop religious engagement in programs of conflict transformation are all in his debt.
Theological Studies

This book is that rare thing, a scholarly work which also makes a powerful impact on the interiority of the reader. It should be required reading not only for diplomats and specialists in international relations but also for religious studies students.
The Heythrop Journal

In The Ambivalence of the Sacred, R. Scott Appleby expands the definitions associated with religious organizations and clarifies the roles they play in national politics, conflict and peace. Appleby thoroughly supports his thesis. He establishes clear definitions, argues powerfully for reconciliation and clearly delineates the legitimiacy that religious activists wo pursue it already enjoy.
Military Review

A rich and rewarding volume.
Ethics: An International Journal of Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy

The book is scholarly, with ample references, but the topic is not overly technical, and the writing is clear and accessible.
Research News and Opportunities In Science and Theology

For those weary of the secularist charge that religion has a unique capacity to produce violence, Scott Appleby's new book is a refreshing, moderate voice.
Pro Ecclesia