This chapter provides a discussion on cosmic war in religious traditions, focusing on the development and evolution of cosmic war in the Hebrew Bible. Cosmic war can allow belief in the direct intervention of a deity on the battlefield on behalf of the deity's tribe, nation, or peopl, and is a concept that is profoundly settled in the religious traditions of the ancient Near East. The major themes found in most cosmic war traditions are elaborated. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq rapidly play the tenor of a cosmic conflict against demonic forces. It must be noted that behind the cosmic impulse, there often lurks very real and earthly grievances that must be considered if the drive toward cosmic war, which remains such a destructive factor in contemporary religious disputes, is to be stemmed.
Looking at the history and present state of atheism in the Islamic world, this article focuses primarily on Iran and the eastern parts of the Arab world, connecting the present motivations and experience of atheism in these regions with a historical perspective on religious dissent and radical modernism.
Jean E. Rosenfeld
This article examines five nativistic millennial movements that are culturally, geographically, and temporally dissimilar to find the similarities that bind them into a single category: the Ghost Dance, the Common Law Freemen, Pai Marire, “cargo” cults, and al-Qaeda–the International Jihad. It discusses features of nativist millennialism that began to be extrapolated in the mid-twentieth century with the appearance of pioneering monographs by anthropologists. Loss of ancestral land and traditional ways of life, under foreign invasion, informs the nativist school. The ultimate goal is the redeeming of these elements, by magical means—the sudden disappearance of the invading forces, the return of mythical heroes or messiahs, and an altered landscape. The distant nature of the ultimate goal motivates the nativist to relinquish present ways of life and material possessions as sacrifices.
Peter B. Clarke
Several of the new religious movements (NRMs) of modern times have become global movements. Among these are the Soka Gakkai of Japan; the Brahma Kumaris, Sathya Sai Baba, and Hare Krishna of India; the Tzu Chi Buddhist Compassion and Relief Society of Taiwan; and Scientology, which began in the United States in the early 1950s. In order to become global movements, NRMs must often depend heavily on one particular ethnic group as they expand beyond their home base. On arrival in new cultural contexts, movements are most likely to appeal to first- or second-generation economic migrants from the same ethnic background as the missionaries who brought the movement to the region in the first place. While being themselves part of the process of ever-increasing globalization, NRMs also throw light on the dynamics and mechanics of this process, on how it plays itself out. This article discusses the globalization and “glocalization” of NRMs, as well as NRMs as vehicles of a new spirituality.
Monica Duffy Toft
This chapter, which describes why religion is resurging in the political sphere and the conditions under which religion is most likely to cause troubling violence, also places the source of the problem at the intersection of local politics and three global trends: modernization, democratization, and globalization. The urbanization that accompanied modernization is largely an artifact of the increasing industrialization of production, including especially agricultural production. A greater voice for religion and religious actors is assisted by the global movement toward greater democratization. When globalization accelerated, religious actors are in a position to harness its associated technologies. In the current era, the transnational dimensions of religion, and in particular Islam, explain why religious civil wars have the character of starting out local and then becoming more global. Solving religiously inspired violence demands the combination of religious authority with a better idea.
Leonard J. Swidler
In the past, every civilization always had at its heart a religion, “an explanation of the ultimate meaning of life, and how to live accordingly, based on some notion of the transcendent.” The religion both shaped and reflected the values of the civilization: Islam for the Islamic civilization, Christianity for Christendom, Hinduism for Indian civilization, Marxism (ideology, as the functional equivalent of religion) for the Soviet civilization, and so on. However, in the now emerging global civilization, the question asks itself: What will be the religion at its heart? The answer can only be that religion (ideology)-in-dialogue will be the religion at the heart of the emerging global civilization. Religion (ideology) has five elements: the four C's of creed, code, cult, and community structure; and some notion of the transcendent. There are four main dimensions to dialogue, four H's corresponding to the structure of our humanness: dialogue of the Head, dialogue of the Hands, dialogue of the Heart, and dialogue of Holiness. This article examines religious diversity and proposes a Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic.
Globalization is about the world becoming increasingly tied together and integrated through such features as capitalist economic structures and communication technologies such as satellites, cell phones, and the Internet. A constant question is whether this process is leading to the different parts of the world becoming increasingly alike or whether, in fact, it is also bringing out a renewed emphasis on how we are all different. This article very much favors the latter view of globalization, not least because it allows one to understand the role of religion and religious diversity in this process—how religion contributes to it, how it transforms within it, and how religious diversity reflects it. Manifestations of religious diversity in a global context include the emergence of new religious movements, religio-political “fundamentalisms,” transnational migration and global religions, and spirituality and lived religion. This article also discusses secularization and the “return of the sacred” in the social sciences, along with religious studies and world religions.
This chapter describes religious terrorism as “performance violence,” illustrating that performance violence is planned in order to obtain tangible goals, and also to theatrically enact and communicate an imagined reality. The scenario that underlies the performance of religious terrorism is often one of cosmic war. Some religious terrorism could also be motivated by scenarios other than cosmic war. The idea of warfare involves more than an attitude; it is ultimately a world view and an assertion of power. An act of violence sends two messages at the same time: a broad message aimed at the general public and a specific communication targeted at a narrower audience. Silent terrors are those in which the audience is not directly evident. It is noted that terrorism has been conducted for a television audience around the world.