James Carroll on religion and violence

/ 24 January 2008

For the past two days I’ve been participating in the Trinity Institute seminar on religion and violence. We hosted one of the “remote location” sites here at Luther, hearing the presentations via webcast and then working in smaller theological reflection groups. It was a powerful process, and I’m really glad that I could be there. But I’m probably MOST glad about hearing James Carroll’s lecture on the topic. I have always enjoyed and respected his writing (he’s a columnist for the Boston Globe, and has written books like Constantine’s Sword), but his presentation yesterday was mesmerizing, and swept across a wide expanse of history and literature, while making compelling claims about the ways in which religion is intimately entangled with violence, particularly that of war. I can’t think of more pressing issues to engage, and I’m going to try and get some of my colleagues to watch the speech — which is available in streaming format online — because I think we need to take up where his lecture ended, and begin to work on what to do and where to go from here. I challenge all of you out there in the emerging church movement to take the time (it’s about an hour) to listen to this lecture and think about how we need to reshape church for the coming millenium.