Marian Miner Cook

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War in the Minds of Putin and the Proud Boys

Mon, October 10, 2022
Lunch Program
Mark Juergensmeyer

In endorsing Putin’s war in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch he is not just blessing the troops, he is also supporting a significant aspect of Putin’s imagination: that there is an existential battle for the survival of Russian culture and civilization which they have been called to defend. Similarly, the Proud Boys and other rioters at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, believe themselves as were protectors of a White American Christendom that was under assault not just by liberal politicians but also by a sea change in American society that imperiled an American culture that they imagined was their birthright. In his book, God at War: A Meditation on Religion and Warfare, Mark Juergensmeyer argues that both war and religion are alternative realities: War can use religion, religion can use war, and in unusual apocalyptic moments, the two can be fused in cosmic war. It is this latter, stark and troubling marriage of religion and warfare that is demonstrated in some of the most bellicose politics of today, including the militant Proud Boys and Putin’s battle for Ukraine.

Mark Juergensmeyer is the William F Podlich Distinguished Fellow and Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the founding director of global studies and the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies. He is a pioneer in the global studies field, focusing on global religion, religious violence, conflict resolution and South Asian religion and politics. He has published more than three hundred articles and twenty books, including the revised and expanded fourth edition of the award-winning Terror in the Mind of God (University of California Press, 2017), and the Oxford Handbook of Global Religion (Oxford University Press, 2014). His most recent books are God at War: A Meditation on Religion and Warfare (Oxford University Press 2020) and When God Stops Fighting: How Religious Violence Ends (University of California Press 2022).

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