How do you win a cosmic war? You don’t. You prevent it. In his book How to Win a Cosmic War (re-titled Beyond Fundamentalism in paperback), Aslan describes how religious fanatics are fighting a heavenly war on earth. That is, religion and political conflict don’t really go well together. Aslan offers possible solutions, such as resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, fighting a smarter “War on Terror” (and not calling it that in the first place) and — yes — exporting such American values as accepting religious plurality and democracy.
Odd fact: Aslan, an Iranian-American, came to the U.S. from Iran at the age of 8. The year was 1979, the year of the Iranian Islamic Revolution.
Fiction or nonfiction? Despite his being known primarily for journalism — his profundity on the Daily Beast, and his two books, No God but God and Beyond Fundamentalism — Aslan considers himself a novelist. In fact, he decided to become a writer after reading Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction.
Quirky quote: “Jon Stewart for president. Wait a minute, I don’t think they let Jews be president.”
Most likely to be heckled by: Fundamentalists (Christian, Muslim, whatever); suicide bombers.
But who is this man? “My citizenship is American, my nationality, Iranian; my ethnicity, Persian; my culture, Middle Eastern; my religion, Muslim.”
One reviewer said: “Writing with a critical sense of urgency, Aslan wants us to bring struggles between religious outlooks down from the skies. … As much as we must oppose those who kill in the name of God, we need to understand the desperation of those who seek the strong sense of identity derived from linking the quest for God with the desire for nationhood.” — Alan Wolfe, Slate.com
Reza Aslan discusses religion and politics on Thursday, April 15, at 7 pm at the Doubletree Hotel, 322 N. Spokane Falls Ct.