A very short piece of mine has just been published over on the Political Theology Today blog, on the question of the relationship between religion and violence.
Here, I believe, we find a helpful place to begin a discussion of the association between religion and violence. Religions directly concern themselves with the sphere of self-transcendence and sacrifice, with all of its elevating and destructive potential. They neither create nor monopolize this realm, but they are peculiarly focused upon it, sensitive to it, and active in the formation and confirmation of people within it.
That is one of the reasons why the task of political theology is such an important one: it unearths the forgotten and dissembled roots of the state in the soil of sacrifice and exposes them to the light of critical examination. As Halbertal remarks, it is in religion that we discover means by which to challenge misguided self-transcendence: ‘idolatry … is the utmost sacrifice to a cause that is not worthy of the corresponding sacrifice.’
Within the very brief scope of the piece, I suggest that we should attend, not only to religion as a cause for which people kill and die and to religion’s explicit support of the state in its wars, but also to the way in which religion shapes human solidarities within which people find self-transcendence and the way they negotiate the differences between their solidarities and those of others. Read it all here.