This book sets forth a bold argument sure to provoke wide debate. RobertJewett and John Shelton Lawrence maintain that American crusading - sopowerfully embodied in popular entertainment - has striking parallels withIslamic jihad and IsraeliMoreThis book sets forth a bold argument sure to provoke wide debate. RobertJewett and John Shelton Lawrence maintain that American crusading - sopowerfully embodied in popular entertainment - has striking parallels withIslamic jihad and Israeli militancy.According to Jewett and Lawrence, American civil religion has both a humane,constitutional tradition and a violent strand that is now coming to thefore.
The crusade to rid the world of evil and evildoers derives from thesame biblical tradition of zealous warfare and nationalism that spawnsIslamic and Israeli radicalism. In America the idea of zealous war has beencombined with a distinctive sense of mission that fuses secular andreligious images. These crusading ideals are visible in such events as thesettling of the western frontier, Americas wars, and the present war onterrorism.After analyzing the phenomenon of zeal - the term itself is the biblical andcultural counterpart of the Islamic term jihad - the authors address suchconsequential topics as the conspiracy theory of evil, the problem ofstereotyping enemies, the mystique of violence, the obsession with victory,and the worship of national symbols such as flags.Yet this book is also immensely constructive.
The same biblical traditionthat allows for crusading mentalities also contains a critique of zealouswarfare and a vision of impartial justice under law. The authors point tothe tradition of prophetic realism, which derives from the humane side ofthe biblical heritage, and trace its manifestations within the Americanexperience.
Isaiahs swords into plowshares image is carved on the wallsof the United Nations buiding, thus standing at the center of a globallyfocused civil religion. Grasping this vision honored by Judaism, Islam, andChristianity alike includes recognizing the dangers of zealous violence, theillusions of current crusading, and the promise of peaceful coexistenceunder international law.