A Lenten Book: Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence

Lent is here…and this is the title of the Lenten book for 2016.   Not in God’s Name; Confronting Religious Violence by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  From Rabbi Sacks website.

A global religious leader, philosopher, bestselling author and moral voice for our time, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is currently the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University. He is also Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King’s College London. Previously, Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth between September 1991 and September 2013, only the sixth incumbent since the role was formalised in 1845.

If this is not the most crucial issue for our time, it is certainly one of them.   Violence perpetrated in the name of religion.  While we have lived in the fear of the loss of religion from the human existence, it would seem the opposite is occurring, the rise of religion, and a more fundamentalist, and sadly, even violent expression of it.  Many use Scripture to condone the violence, but in this book, Sacks eloquently explores Scripture, interpreting a message that flies in the face of such a reading.   He sets much of the division in sibling rivalry, which we do find in Scripture.  But Sacks makes the case, that God makes it clear that “God rejects rejection” and that this is the ultimate truth and ultimate narrative.

Sacks makes it clear this is an interfaith problem.  All the Abrahamic faith traditions have adherents which espouse violence as a legitimate means in which to practice.  I believe this book is a way into a deeper conversation, one that we either want to avoid, or one we believe does not include us.

Rabbi Sacks writes:

To be a child of Abraham is to learn to respect the other children of Abraham even if their way is not ours, their covenant not ours, their understanding of God different from ours.   We know that we are loved.  That must be enough.   To insist that being loved entails that others be unloved is to fail to understand love itself.  

So, I hope you will dive into this book, for yourself, or in groups.   I hope to guide a discussion through this blog and on our diocesan website.  I hope you will join that discussion, share your insights, your concerns, your hopes.

No matter what you choose to do, have a blessed Lent.

+Greg

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