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For the first time, religious self-identification is on the decline in American. Some analysts have cited as cause a post-9/11 perception: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance, and divisiveness - something bad for society. But how accurate is that view? With deep learning and sympathetic understanding, Karen Armstrong sets out to discover the truth about religion and violence in each of the world’s great traditions, taking us on an astonishing journey from prehistoric times to the present.
While many historians have looked at violence in connection with particular religious manifestations (jihad in Islam or Christianity’s Crusades), Armstrong looks at each faith - not only Christianity and Islam, but also Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism - in its totality over time. As she describes, each arose in an agrarian society with plenty powerful landowners brutalizing peasants while also warring among themselves over land, then the only real source of wealth. In this world, religion was not the discrete and personal matter it would become for us but rather something that permeated all aspects of society. And so it was that agrarian aggression, and the warrior ethos it begot, became bound up with observances of the sacred.
At a moment of rising geopolitical chaos, the imperative of mutual understanding between nations and faith communities has never been more urgent, the dangers of action based on misunderstanding never greater. Informed by Armstrong's sweeping erudition and personal commitment to the promotion of compassion, Fields of Blood makes vividly clear that religion is not the problem.
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By Milton Big Elk on 11-05-14
Rethinking Violence and Religion
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Makes you wonder if Karen's voice, and the fact that she turns on its head some conventional wisdom are behind the criticism of this audiobook. It all fits for me and reveals her usual and remarkable scholarship. Prepare to see things differently. That's why we read, isn't it?
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
By William on 04-27-15
Faith, Blood and Iron
Armstrong's well researched and broad overview of the history of religion and violence provides a powerful argument against the New Atheist saw that religion is the greatest source of evil. Instead she shows that violence is a complex response to external causes.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful