Juergensmeyer Readings Summary
• Summarize the Juergensmeyer reading (51-63), and answer the following four questions by giving examples from the text: How does he want the reader to feel? What images does he use to make the reader feel this way? How exactly does he match his examples up with his category of ‘religious violence’? Are the connections between his examples and his category clear?
• Both Karen Armstrong and William Cavanaugh critique the category of ‘religious violence.’ By using examples from their writing (Armstrong’s article online, Cavanaugh’s reading 65-76) describe how their arguments are similar and make special note of any differences you may encounter. Conclude by choosing a favorite and explaining your choice.
• Narrate an imaginary conversation between George Bataille and an animal of your choosing in which both try to answer the questions ‘what is religion?’ and ‘what is violence?’ Although you do not need to quote from the Bataille reading, you are required to footnote parts of the dialogue with reference to a page number and line number that connects to what Bataille and the animal are saying to each other (77-93).
• Summarize Girard’s theory of the scapegoat and, by referring to specific parts of his essay (95-127), show how it applies to a specific example from a film (ex. Shrek), a news media source (ex. fear of refugees), a play (ex. Matilda), or a novel (ex. Animal Farm). Be sure to summarize your example in detail, and be sure to note ways that Girard’s theory fails to explain your chosen example (i.e. What does the scapegoating theory miss in your chosen narrative?).
• What is an example of something violent that has become part of our habitus (‘common sense world’)? With substantial reference to either Martin Saar’s division of order-practice-subject or Grace Jantzen’s critique of the western obsession with death, analyze a violent aspect of the current habitus. Be sure to define violence and note any religious influence you observe.
• With reference to at least three news sources that cover the same violent event, describe and critique both the use of the term ‘terrorism’ in your news sources and in our reading (139-152). Answer the following questions about your news sources: How is the word ‘terrorist’ being used? For what purpose is it being used? What definition of the term is being used? How does religion play a role in the use of the term?
• Describe ten different critical thinking ‘tools’ that that you have picked up from this class and give examples of how you have used them. Take roughly one page to describe each item in your ‘toolbox’ and make direct reference to one course text on each page. Some tools to consider: the distinction between descriptive and normative statements, the two lenses of sympathy and suspicion, the concept of the habitus, the definition of violence as a violation of boundaries, the idea that we make our social world, Girard’s concept of the scapegoat, Jaeggi’s concept of alienation, Holmqvist’s definition of modern war, Therborn’s idea of inequality, and the problematic category of ‘religious violence.’ Feel free to use other examples from your course notes and readings.
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