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Dying for Heaven: Holy Pleasure and Suicide Bombers

Why the Best Qualities of Religion Are Also Its Most Dangerous

Author(s): Ariel Glucklich

ISBN13: 9780061430817

ISBN10: 0061430811

Publisher: HarperOne (3 Nov 2009)

Extent: 352 pages

Binding: Hardcover

Size: 2.9 x 16.3 x 24.4 cm

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  • Why do terrorists do what they do? Not only are religiously motivated terrorists willing to self-destruct to achieve their goals, but neither threats nor incentives consistently prevent their devastating acts. Compounding this is the fact that soon extremist nations and terrorist groups in the Middle East and Asia will have nuclear weapons and may be driven by religion to use them. Is nuclear terror inevitable or can it be prevented?

    Ariel Glucklich, Georgetown professor of religion and advisor to the U.S. defense community, reveals the fallacy of our countrys three major assumptions about the motivations that lie behind terrorism:

    that religious terrorists are acting out of hatred for us,
    that belief in paradise is the chief factor in their willingness to die for their cause, and
    that religious extremism is always irrational.

    The astonishing reality Glucklich reveals is that these radicals

    sincerely believe they are motivated by love,
    actually are attempting to fight internal enemies or heretics within their own societies, and
    desire fame and honor in the here and now, rather than a promised afterlife in heaven.

    Dying for Heaven offers a groundbreaking theory of religion and religious destructiveness; the book examines the motivations fueling those who perpetrate religious violence around the globe, from Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists to violent Hindu nationalists, from Jewish-Zionist fundamentalists in Israel to leaders in Irans race for nuclear weapons, and to Christian messianic defenders of American power. The continuing rise of religion as a global force and the proliferation of nuclear weapons create a unique challenge for policy advisors, who now must understand how far religious extremists will go toward nuclear annihilation. Dying for Heaven provides the key for understanding the religious drive to self-destruct and offers ways to combat the culture of suicide terrorism.

  • Ariel Glucklich



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    In his new book Dying for Heaven, Georgetown University religion professor Ariel Glucklich describes the religious, social and psychological motivations behind this disturbing phenomenon, the frightening ways it could affect the future of nuclear warfare and some surprising tactics to curb its growing influence.

    - Time magazine

    In Dying for Heaven, Ariel Glucklich argues against the misconception that religious terrorists fight their enemies out of hatred. Rather, it is the positive aspects of religion that inspire the most heinous actions.

    - Washington Post.com

    "An important and enlightening book for a dangerous age."

    - Booklist (starred review)

    "Extremely well written, and at times quite funny, this book is an absolute necessity for a public seeking to understand religious nuance and zealotry; it deserves careful attention and a broad readership. Highly recommended."

    - Library Journal

    "This brilliant and gracefully written study sheds new light on religious behavior-including perplexing acts of suicide on behalf of a religious cause. Ariel Glucklich comes to the arresting conclusion that it is pleasure rather than the threat of punishment that compels religious actions, and what binds together communities of faith is the joy of altruistic service. Rich with examples and scholarly detail, this study should be read by policymakers, social scientists, and anyone fascinated with what lies behind the awesome power of religious faith."

    - Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence

    "A new and major treatise on what it takes to become a suicide bomber and what it takes to counter it. Glucklich combines religion, terrorism, hope and despair in a breathtaking and highly readable manner."

    - Ahmed Rashid, author of Taliban and Jihad

    "Ariel Glucklichs Dying for Heaven offers a provocative explanation of religion and terrorism based on a Darwinian approach. Although not all readers will embrace this analysis, it provides absorbing food for thought and a surprisingly attractive solution for the problem it addresses."

    - Carl W. Ernst, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    "[Dying for Heaven] is more than 300 pages of gripping analysis about the inner motivations-the high-octane rocket fuel-within religion."

    - Read the Spirit.com

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Dying for Heaven: Holy Pleasure and Suicide Bombers