Outlook Issue 20 Winter 2015
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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17 connection with violence, he admits, but there are more important factors at work – group rivalry, survival of the fittest and the concept of victimhood. Besides, he maintains, there’s absolutely no evidence that God endorses violence. As a Jew and a former Chief Rabbi, Sacks writes extensively about the persecution of the Jews as a racial, rather than as a religious phenomenon. Jews have been victims, he argues, because they are Jews, not because of their religion or because of the religious priorities of their persecutors. Where possible, Sacks makes positive, non-violent links between the three mainstream Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Before the religions of one God (monotheism), notes the author, ‘Religion was the robe of sanctity worn to mask the naked pursuit of power. It was against this background that Abrahamic monotheism emerged as a sustained protest’. So, the Old Testament God of Cain and Abel, of Ishmael and Isaac, and of Jacob and Esau is showing the biological/family reasons for violence – sibling rivalry, for example, rather than any underlying religious motivation. The God of all three Abrahamic religions is using the biblical examples of violence to show a path towards peace and reason. Inevitably this is a hard topic, even for the converted, and the book is without doubt a challenging read, introducing such concepts as ‘Altruistic Evil’ – committing violence for the greater good – and ‘Dualism’ – separating a good God from an evil world to justify violence, and even war, in the name of religion. Jonathan Sacks is forensic in his arguments to prove the contrary. The book concludes powerfully with both a condemnation of terror and a cri de coeur: ‘Terror is not a justifiable means to an acceptable end’, writes Sacks, ‘because it does not end. Today God is calling us – Jew, Christian and Muslim – to let go of hate and the preaching of hate.’ An optimistic view of the world to which we should all hang on tightly. NC Welcome? Over several centuries, introduced species of flora and fauna have been added to the list of our indigenous creatures and plants. Whim, fashion and profit are among the reasons why aliens have been imported – and multiplied. One of the worst examples is the Grey Squirrel, whose invasive and destructive ways have cost forestry dearly. The Coypu has equally cost agriculture. This vegetarian rodent was admired for its fur (Nutria) in the 1930s. Falling profits