Daniel SMITH-CHRISTOPHER, editor, Subverting Hatred. The Challenge of Nonviolence in Religious Traditions. 2nd ed. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007. Paper. 224 pp. ISBN. 13: 9781570757471
Reviewed by Nathan KOLLAR, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, N.Y. 14618

“The whole world wants peace, yet the whole world prepares for war.” (81)…. “This (peace) is old territory in spiritual terms, but an intellectual frontier.” (111)…. “The only way to ensure peace is to share it.” (128) ….“Truth is a dialogical and dialectical process.” (135) …. “The crowds turn ugly and frantically try to crush the heresy of political atheism.” (rejection of warring nationalism). (160).… “Do the communities in which we live foster the values of harmony, compassion, and nonviolence or, rather, do they promote the opposite – machismo competition, strident self-assertion, and violence?” 169.

These are wonderful quotes that offer a peek at this text and its authors. But a book is more than a few quotes and a good author is more than a few well chosen words. This book is a mix of well chosen authors and words. It is however, obviously successful. The book under review is the 10th anniversary edition. Obviously people are hungry for a better understanding of religious traditions and their impact on our world. Over two hundred college courses use this as a text. Whether they are satisfied with what they read will depend upon their appetite, desires, and abilities. It may be heavy going for those not accustomed to academic discourse sometimes boarding on doctoral thesis style for half of the chapters. The others flow well and are easily read. Each chapter treats the necessary texts of the particular religion (if applicable), their interpretations for peace and violence, practices which favor peace, heroes of peace in the tradition as well as what that tradition offers those of other religions in our pluralistic world. All the world religions are part of the conversation as well as one of those indigenous to the United States. For those who have used the previous edition, a new Introduction and Epilogue, by Daniel Smith-Christopher and Donald Swearer respectively, place the original essays in the context of today's social, religious, and political environment. Also included are a new Foreword and Preface, as well as two new chapters: one from Amir Hussain on his experience as a Muslim scholar in post-9/11 America, and one from Donald Tamihere on subverting hatred in the Maori tradition. The original essays, however, are ten years old. And, for those who are interested, so are the references.

Subverting Hatred comes out of The Boston Research Center for the 21st Century and is part of Orbis publication’s Faith Meets Faith Series. Both have given us texts that have expanded our understanding of each other and the religions we live. This one was a significant edition in 1998 when it was first published and the new additions have helped update the original in many ways.


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