Emory Report
February 11, 2008
Volume 60, Number 19

Emory Report homepage  

February 11, 2008
‘Wrathful God’ forum explores extremism

By kate bennett

Is religious extremism a shared tradition across religious faiths? Is the God of extremism different from the God of mainstream religious traditions? Is it possible to be “critically orthodox” as an antidote to religious extremism without abandoning the central tenets of a tradition? An upcoming conference, “The Wrathful God: Religious Extremism in Comparative Perspective,” will address these and other questions.

On March 3 and 4, Emory’s Institute for Comparative and International Studies and Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding Initiative will bring together 21 scholars from the fields of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other major world religions to examine religious extremism through a new comparative perspective.

The international conference will provide a forum for some of the most important writers and thinkers working in their respective fields. Keynote speakers include Bruce Lawrence of Duke University, David Novak of the University of Toronto, R. Scott Appleby of Notre Dame University, and Akeel Bilgrami of Columbia University.

According to conference co-organizer Vincent Cornell, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Middle East and Islamic Studies, participants were invited for their expertise as well as for “their willingness to think outside of the box in formulating new paradigms of analysis.”

During two days of intensive discussions, participants will examine extremist discourses in world religions and the factors that contribute to the related development of extreme world views. Special attention will be devoted to the monotheistic or “Abrahamic” traditions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Extreme approaches to these religions appear to pose a unique potential for violence against religious “others” — and challenge liberal ideologies of pluralism and self-determination. For comparative purposes, Hindu and Buddhist extremism will also be examined.

As well as focusing on theological issues, participants will examine religious extremism from sociological and social-psychological perspectives — and from the perspective of technology and ideology. While at Emory, participants will also plan an edited volume based on the conference.

This event is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited. To register, visit www.ICIS.emory.edu or contact Art Linton at 404-727-5352.