Second Sabbatical: First Thoughts


For those other than academic colleagues—primarily our students and our non-academic supporters—a sabbatical is a special benefit every seven years, upon application and approval, awarded to those of us who teach, for “time off” to purse sustained research and sustained writing without the additional responsibilities of teaching, grading, committee meetings and the like.   In my case, spring, 2015, is my second opportunity to take full advantage of this award to pursue two special projects, the first on my mind for a long time, and the second which recently came about:

  • I had previously published two articles in the Journal of Hate Studies out of Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, addressing the question of the relationship between the socio-cultural construct we call “religion” and the mega-murder we call “genocide” “The Last Uncomfortable Religious Question”, 3[1]: 2003/04—133-143 ; and “Genocidal Religion”, 9[1]: 2011/11—221-235). (My argument in both pieces is that “religion” is a “participating factor” [my term; positively and negatively] in all genocides, past and present.) Upon re-reading these two pieces, and using them in my class REL 410 “Religion and Genocide”, it has regularly occurred to me that, together, they are, in truth, the nucleus of a book-length manuscript—with the now-important addition of looking at the scientific literature whether to not we human beings, as biological creatures, are thus prone to collective group violence. Hence, Project #1.
  • Quite recently, I agreed to be one of four authors, by invitation, for a new—and different—introductory textbook, already under contract (Cognella Press, CA), for courses in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. What makes this project unique, and why I agreed to participate, is its orientation: To introduce students and beginning instructors in a comparative manner to the other historic literatures, civilizations, cultures, civilizatons, and empires of the ancient Middle/Near East. To the best of our collective knowledge, there is no other such textbook available. This international team are all colleagues who already teach such introductory courses, and have agreed to “field test” the manuscript in our courses once it becomes available. (Publication date is the end of 2016, and has been tentatively entitled The Scriptures of Ancient Judaism.) Hence Project #2

I will also be revising at least one article already accepted for publication.

BTW, I have also accepted two other invitations: (1) To serve as the External Reviewer for the MA Program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Richard Stockton College, Pomona, NJ, in April, 2015; and (2) To present a paper tentatively entitled “The State and Fate of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire and the Early Republic during World War I: A Necessary Part of the Conversation” at a conference in New York City in May, 2015, entitled “World War I and the Non-Turkish Minorities in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks”. (2015 is the 100th Anniversary of the second Armenian Genocide; the first took place under the Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the last Caliph of the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I; and the second under the so-called secular Republic under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk.)

So my advice to myself now that 2015 has begun and my sabbatical has started: Time to get busy! And I promise to keep you updated as I proceed.

3 thoughts on “Second Sabbatical: First Thoughts

  1. “religion” is a “participating factor” – this is the right point to discover many key points of history but here comes another influential thing. It is politics. Many politicians used and continue to use religion as weapon. This factor also should be considered. Don’t you think so?

    1. I am by no means ignoring any factors including the political as Karen Armstrong wants to argue in her new book, Fields of Blood. I want to argue, however, that religion is a participating factor (my terms) in the activity of genocide.

    2. Could you please give examples of historical events you are considering as genocide where religion was a participating factor?

      I live in Ukraine. My grandparents survived after “holodomor” (femine 1932-1933). Now we have war in Ukraine. The war were brothers kill brothers. Who could imagine that even a year ago? I see only political traces here. I consider religion to be the instrument of politics. Every situation should be analyzed separately, of course. This is the question that should be reviewed in details. But when the question raises about what is the starting point: religion or politics, I believe that politics is always the root of all the global conflicts. All religions appeared as spiritual ways of development and were peaceful. But then appeared ones who converted them into weapon. And these guys weren’t religious individuals, they were powerful rulers with great ambitions…I believe.

      Here in Ukraine we have a sophisticated saying: Your “I need” is someones “I want”. In simple words: Your desires are someones needs.

      This is just my point of view.