Expert on Islam, The Middle East, and Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations
Many people believe that religion is a central factor in the escalation of evil and violence on the global scene. Central to this debate, Charles Kimball insists, is the need to distinguish between "corrupt" forms of religious expression and the "authentic" forms that offer real correctives and solutions to this global threat. Currently, Kimball is the Presidential Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma, where he is the Director of the Religious Studies Program. Kimball's talks and writings are grounded in his experience as a Christian working closely with Muslims and Jews.
Kimball's book When Religion Becomes Evil was named one of the "Top 15 Books on Religion for 2002" by Publishers Weekly. His other titles include Striving Together: A Way Forward in Christian-Muslim Relations; Religion, Politics and Oil: The Volatile Mix in the Middle East and Angle of Vision: Christians and the Middle East. An ordained Baptist minister, Kimball received his Th.D. from Harvard in comparative religion with specialization in Islamic studies. He is the former Director of the Middle East Office at the National Council of Churches.
When Religion Becomes Evil
In this timely presentation, Charles Kimball identifies the many ways that religion is an extremely powerful and pervasive force -- for good and for ill. He then sets forth the five warning signs for when a religion has "become evil": Absolute Truth Claims, Blind Obedience, Pursuing the Ideal Time, Allowing Perceived Ends to Justify the Means, and Declaring Holy War. Kimball focuses on two or three warning signs and uses examples from different religions. The challenges posed by violent extremists operating in the name of religion are urgent items on the world's agenda. In this talk Kimball offers antidotes to unhealthy religion as well as constructive ways to move forward into our shared future in an increasingly interdependent world community.
The Middle East Today: Is Peace Possible?
The answer is "Yes...but it won't come easily." After years of media images and sound bites, many in the U.S. approach the Middle East with a kind of "detailed ignorance." Kimball, in this customizable presentation, helps demystify the Middle East by providing a more comprehensible and coherent way to understand the various groups and the violent clashes. As citizens of the United States, we have a responsibility that moves at a different level than many others in the world. We bear more responsibility than citizens of Sweden, Sri Lanka or Switzerland because of the pivotal role our government plays throughout the Middle East. Whatever our government does-for good or for ill -- is done in our name. While there are no magic wands or quick fixes, there are constructive ways to move forward as concerned human beings and as citizens of the world's super power. Kimball concludes with specific steps that we can all take in the areas of education, public policy advocacy and humanitarian assistance. He empowers people to make constructive contributions that can help people caught in the cycles of violence and suffering.