Read Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong Free Online
Book Title: Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence|
Date of issue: October 14th 2015
ISBN 13: 9780099564980
The author of the book: Karen Armstrong
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 992 KB
Read full description of the books Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence:Is religion the cause of all violence? Of course not.
What matters more, says Armstrong, is the role of political power and social/economic contexts. The idea of religion being separate from political power is a 'recent' idea in human history, having its origins in the Catholic-Protestant conflicts in Europe starting in the 15th century and the role of the Catholic Church in political power.
'Religion' in this context is different from its historical roots or how other cultures view religion today. Religion was a public phenomenon, used to bind communities together but also used by political elites as a way to underpin their legitimacy. Doctrine itself does not necessarily determine what happens to a religion once it becomes entangled with political authority. To take a very simplified look at it: Power corrupts.
The Christian New Testament has multiple passages which are explicitly anti-authority and anti-imperial, and look where those have gone since the later Roman Empire. Likewise, the passages in the Qu'ran about Jihad are largely about personal improvement and moral conduct, but a tiny band of extremists ruined its perception for everybody else. Even the Buddhists, which have such a sterling reputation in the West today with their doctrinal emphasis on meditation and peaceful living, are capable of theocracy and ethnic violence (see the history of pre-modern Tibet and the Rohingya).
Armstrong takes an extremely wide view, starting with ancient Sumeria then moving through Egypt, India, China, then the Abrahamic religions to the present. I can't speak to the accuracy of all her claims, but of the parts I do know (American Christianity and Chinese history) she is accurate, so I'll generally support her claims elsewhere.
What is most striking is her assertion (repeated from other counter-terror experts I've read papers of elsewhere) is that terrorism is mainly a political act, with political goals. Religion is a framework for it, but it is not alone. Nationalism or political ideology could be a fair substitute, for example.
Blaming religion for violence excuses and denies our own countries' political actions and how they have contributed to that violence. Whenever I hear that rhetoric, I was first compelled to go on about historical context as I once was. Now I'm alarmed. The attacks are already a tragedy, but now what's most worrying is the backlash. It already happened here, and I'm frightened it will happen again and it will only stop when the streets run ankle-deep with blood.
Read information about the authorBritish author of numerous works on comparative religion.
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