Inquisitive Minds Podcast Critical Thinking on History, Religion, Politics and Culture

In the next two podcasts, we discuss some aspects of a recent conference entitled: Assaulting Cultural Heritage: ISIS's Fight to Destroy Diversity in Iraq and Syria. The event was organized by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) and was held at Concordia University on September 25-26, 2016. These episodes will focus on a paper given during the first panel of the conference on ISIS and the Intellectual Roots of Assaulting Cultural Heritage.

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It has been quite an exciting journey into Hector Avalos' important book, Fighting Words. The Origins of Religious Violence. In this last episode dedicated to this topic, we briefly review Avalos' last few chapters where he provides a synthesis and some solutions to the issue of religion and violence. We end this series with a quote found at the end of the book on the scholar's responsibility toward the topic at hand: "Most academic scholars are not so frank in acknowledging that their scholarship is an apologetic enterprise. Given the violence in the scriptures we have examined, I would suggest that the opposite should be our mission. Our job as biblical scholars is to undermine the value of any scripture that endorses violence. [...] We become complicit in violence when we attempt to maintain the value of a book whose main truth claims can never be verified. [...] Our final mission, as scholars of these scriptures, must be to help humanity close the book on a long chapter of human misery."

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This week on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we discuss two other scarce resources created by religion and mentioned in Hector Avalos' book Fighting Words: (1) Group Privileging and (2) Salvation. The Hebrew Bible promotes the idea that Israel was specifically chosen by God and they were not to mix with other nations. Salvation was also reserved for people who belonged to the group and adhered to its laws and rituals. As with inscripturation and sacred space, group privileging and salvation create violence since religious groups believe they are the chosen ones who have the knowledge to the path of salvation. We will also see how some scholars will try to minimize violence in the Hebrew Bible by referring to what they call the "Greater Good" theory. As of today, we are pleased to welcome Calogero Miceli as co-host on the podcast; his insight and comments will be greatly appreciated.

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In his book Fighting Words. The Origins of Religious Violence, Dr. Avalos explains how inscripturation and sacred space are two scarce resources created by religions, and that such resources often engender violence. This week we discuss inscripturation and sacred space in the context of Judaism and the Hebrew Bible. In this episode we will also revisit two recent events related to our topic. Please note this will be Brice Jones' last episode as co-host of the podcast. Calogero Miceli will be stepping in as regular co-host as of next week. We thank Brice for his great work as co-host and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

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