FORA.tv Studios and Whole Earth Films present Reza Aslan, scholar and acclaimed author of No God But God, speaking to Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large for the San Francisco Chronicle, about his new book How to Win a Cosmic War.
How to Win a Cosmic War provides both an in-depth study of the ideology behind al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and like-minded militants throughout the Muslim world, and an exploration of the tradition of religious violence found in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Surveying the global scene from Israel to Iraq and from New York to the Netherlands, Aslan argues that religion is a stronger force today than it has been in a century. At a time when religion and politics are increasingly sharing the same vocabulary and functioning in the same sphere, Aslan writes that we must strip this ideological conflict of its religious connotations and address the actual grievances that fuel the Jihadist movement.
How do you win a cosmic war? By refusing to fight in one.
Born in Iran, Aslan is currently a research associate at the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy. He was a visiting assistant professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Iowa and the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction at the Iowa Writer's Workshop.
A frequent commentator on television, radio, and in print, Aslan is a graduate of Santa Clara University, Harvard University, and the University of Iowa. He is the author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam and How to Win a Cosmic War: Why We're Losing the War on Terror.
Phil Bronstein was named executive chair of the board of The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) in April 2012, when the organization merged with The Bay Citizen. Bronstein joined the CIR board in 2006 and became board chair in 2011. He is now in charge of overall operations. Previously, Bronstein was editor-at-large and director of content development for Hearst Newspapers. Before that, he was executive vice president and editor-at-large of the San Francisco Chronicle, after serving as the newspaper’s editor from 2000 to 2008. Bronstein was editor of the San Francisco Examiner, which merged with the Chronicle in 2000, from 1991 to 2000. He started at the Examiner as a reporter in 1980, where he specialized in investigative projects and was a foreign correspondent for eight years. He was a 1986 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work in the Philippines. Before joining the Examiner, he was a reporter with public television station KQED in San Francisco. He is the former chairman of the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ International Committee and is currently on the advisory board of Litquake, the annual San Francisco literary festival.
Reza Aslan, religious scholar and author of How to Win a Cosmic War, and Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large for the San Francisco Chronicle, discuss the American cultural obsession with the conflict between good versus evil.
The notion that "our wars are god’s wars" is a "deep aspect of our national character," says Aslan. "As a nation of immigrants, we are not a country that can define our nationality according to ethnicity."
Reza Aslan, religious scholar and author of How to Win a Cosmic War, and Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large for the San Francisco Chronicle, discuss the problematic nature of religious nationalism. "It's a force that cannot be control by the state, no matter how hard the state tries," says Aslan. Instead of suppressing religious nationalist groups, he advocates allowing them the opportunity to fail.