Thinking About Religion and Violence

Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (136 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In a world where violence in the name of religion can impact so many other people's lives, it's critical to understand the intersection between religion and violence. What's required is not to see religion as inherently violent but to recognize that the violence associated with religious groups and communities is worth exploring and interrogating.

In these 24 lectures, embark on a global, multidisciplinary investigation of religious violence. Delivered with honesty and sensitivity to the diversity of spiritual beliefs, these lectures examine the roots of this phenomenon and guide you toward more informed ways of thinking about it.

You'll consider how faiths like Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism view concepts like human sacrifice, martyrdom, and penitence; the ways religious violence can be directed toward specific races and genders; concepts like heresy, witch hunting, and demonology; and more. You'll probe complex ideas and concepts that will help you fashion your own interpretations, such as "religion", "Other-ing", and "cult." And you'll burrow deep into both current issues relating to religious violence - as well as their historical and conceptual sources.

Professor Bivins doesn't take a clinical or pessimistic approach to the material. Rather, he's an engaging on-screen presence with a fierce open-mindedness to the varieties of religious experience. He's also optimistic about what we can learn from a comprehensive study of religious violence. And at the individual level, it starts with approaching the topic in a way that's immersive, insightful, thorough, and important for our times.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 The Great Courses (P)2018 The Teaching Company, LLC

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Intriguing

I loved this course, learned so much! I plan on listening again soon & sharing with my friends.

5 people found this helpful

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A brave and unflinching set of lectures

Professor Bivins offers a calm, well-informed and thoroughly rational analysis of the nexus between religion and violence. Unlike some other Great Courses lecturers, he engages his audience in a mature and open discussion of this most sensitive, politically freighted topic. This is not your typical 101- level survey. Most important of all, Professor Bivins provides a compelling moral rationale for the course: we cannot address the problem of religiously inspired violence unless we first understand its antecedents and the mindset of the actors involved. Highly recommended.

46 people found this helpful

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Fantastic Course But Possible Bias

I rate this course 5/5 on all counts despite what I'm about to say. Religion, history, and culture are very nearly impossible to discuss in an entirely unbiased way (though the bias may be unintended). Frankly whether one interprets something as biased depends heavily on one's own beliefs and what one holds near and dear.

This is not a course on Islam and Violence. If you are looking for an in depth analysis of contemporary Islamic terror organizations or a deep look into religiously motivated violence in the 21st century Middle East, this course will disappoint you. It does mention violence related to Islam and Islamic terror groups, but it is contained to a lecture or two and a mention here and there. I personally enjoyed the broad scope of these lectures specifically because they did not spend too much time dissecting the current situation in the Middle East. I was looking for a broad overview that included many different religions and time periods and I got it.

A few points in the lectures, such as when Gush Emunim and the Kach Party were lumped together with Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda as some of the more influential terror groups in modern times, did leave me with raised eyebrows. My first thoughts were that, while it is important to point out that there have been terror groups in modern times from non-Islamic traditions, comparing GE and the Kach Party to Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda in scale seemed a bit much. However, I'm guessing this is an area where my opinion as a 20-something American might differ from that of a 60-something Palestinian. Regardless of whether my raised eyebrows were due to my own biases or another reason, the points Prof. Bivins brought up in relation to the Jewish terrorist organizations were interesting and relevant, and I learned from it.

Overall, I felt these lectures were informative, thought-provoking, and fairly unbiased given the sensitive nature of the topics discussed.

3 people found this helpful

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Heaven help us!

Bivins does a good job staying dispassionate and disconnected from this minefield of a topic. He stays fair, evenhanded and non critical. He stresses egalitarianism but Islam was a very hard sell. I disagreed with a couple scripture interpretations but consensus is nearly impossible anyway. Overall a great job.

2 people found this helpful

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an excellent introduction to the topic

the work done in this lecture series to explain religious violence is excellent. I have no complaints it is well-reasoned and well-researched. the author does a terrific job.

2 people found this helpful

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  • 02-02-20

Intro. level wisdom

Dr. Bivins calmly and carefully threads together many types of “violence” and religious bases for them across centuries and spanning the globe. If there is a particular conflict or type of violence you want to delve into this won’t be the course for you, but I appreciated the broad swath of conflicts covered and the overarching message that attempting to better understand ourselves and each other can only help us move forward.

1 person found this helpful

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Leftist, politically correct fact-blindness

This professor maddeningly equates things that can't justly be equated, like the violence and potential for violence in Islam today vs. the other major religions today. Islam has this really big religious violence problem worldwide, and the other religions he discusses (Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists) have a problem that is mostly under control, in most locations. But he describes them all as roughly equivalent; if one didn't read the news, one would come away with the impression that the scale of religious violence in all religions is pretty much the same. He may be right that the _potential for_ religious violence is pretty much the same, but he obfuscates the balance of terror and violence in the real world. His description of Israel is particularly egregious: the only terrorist episode he describes is Baruch Goldstein's 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs atrocity! He spends way too much effort asking us to look critically at ourselves and avoid Islamophobia. It's good to do that, but let's also call out the perpetrators and their enablers, please.
And then there's a myopic description of anti-Semitism that has almost nothing to do with today's anti-Semitism. He'd have us believe that most anti-Semitism still comes from the fascist Right, when it manifestly does not. Left-wing anti-Semitism is not on his radar screen, whereas reading the news or visiting any university campus (the usual haunt of professors) makes it fill one's radar screen. In an un-professorial and perhaps unprofessional set of slips, he condemns the "far Right" several times, but never mentions the sins of today's Left at all.
And then there's the equation of "epistemic violence" with real violence. Only in academia.
I am asking for a refund from Audible, and I would respectfully ask The Great Courses to exercise more editorial vigilance, so as not to tarnish their brand with politically tainted and biased material such as this.

57 people found this helpful

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Very PC

Full of political correctness. Author is an appologist for islam. But some good historical info.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Ms. M. Considine
  • 09-20-18

glaring absence of discussion of sexual violence

I'm still listening so I will return to update this review. I was quite shocked when I downloaded the pdf notes and discovered that an analysis of sexual violence and religion is absent. Also nothing about religious institutions systemic acts of violence do not appear to have been covered. In terms of Catholicism (and other forms of christianity) where are the discussions of Mother and baby homes and forced adoption, Magdalen Laundries and slave labour and torture, industrial schools sexual, emotional and physical violence.

4 people found this helpful