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Countering the atheist claim that believers are by default violent fanatics and religion is the cause of all major wars, Karen Armstrong demonstrates that religious faith is not inherently violent. In fact, the world's major religions have throughout their history displayed ambivalent attitudes towards aggression and warfare. At times they have allied themselves with states and empires for protection or to further their influence; at others they have tried to curb state oppression and aggression and worked for peace and justice. Taking us on a journey from prehistoric times to the present, Karen Armstrong contrasts medieval crusaders and modern-day jihadists with the pacifism of the Buddha and Jesus' vision of a just and peaceful society; moreover, she demonstrates that the underlying reasons - social, economic, political - for war and violence in our history often had very little to do with religion. While human beings have a natural propensity for aggression, collective violence and warfare emerged at a certain point in history when the invention of agriculture created a society and a state based on the accumulation of wealth. For most of history our destructive potential could be contained but with the industrialised warfare and all-powerful state of the modern age, humanity is on the brink of destroying itself. Vast in scope, impeccably researched and passionately argued, Fields of Blood is more than a corrective to the prevailing view that religion is to blame for most of the bloodshed throughout human history: it is a celebration of those religious ideas and movements that have opposed war and aggression and promoted peace and reconciliation.
‘In the West the idea that religion is inherently violent is now taken for granted and seems self-evident,’ so writes Karen Armstrong in her introduction to this bold new book. She tells us that people constantly remark that religion has been the cause of all the major wars in history, but, as she goes on to say, ‘Obviously the two world wars were not fought on account of religion’, and yet people continue to blame the violent sins of the 20th century on religion. In fact, human beings have always had a propensity for violence and aggression, yet until the Great War this destructive potential could be contained. But with the advent of industrialized warfare and the all-powerful modern state, humanity has edged closer to the brink of destruction. Taking us from prehistoric to modern times, Karen Armstrong deftly manages her vast subject, and her conclusions will surprise you.
Publication date: 25/09/2014
Publisher: The Bodley Head Ltd an imprint of Vintage
|Publication date:||25th September 2014|
|Publisher:||The Bodley Head Ltd an imprint of Vintage|
Karen Armstrong is one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun in the 1960s, but then left her teaching order in 1969 to read English at Oxford. In 1982 she became a full-time writer and broadcaster. The best-selling author of over sixteen books, she is a passionate campaigner for religious liberty.More About Karen Armstrong