Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence

byKaren Armstrong

Kobo ebook | October 28, 2014

Pricing and Purchase Info

$13.99

Prices and offers may vary in store

Available for download

Not available in stores

about

From the renowned and bestselling author of A History of God, a sweeping exploration of religion's connection to violence.
          For the first time in American history, religious self-identification is on the decline. Some have cited a perception that began to grow after September 11: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance and divisiveness--something bad for society. But how accurate is that view? And does it apply equally to all faiths? In these troubled times, we risk basing decisions of real and dangerous consequence on mistaken understandings of the faiths subscribed around us, in our immediate community as well as globally. And so, with her deep learning and sympathetic understanding, Karen Armstrong examines the impulse toward violence in each of the world's great religions.      

          The comparative approach is new: while there have been plenty of books on jihad or the Crusades, this book lays the Christian and the Islamic way of war side by side, along with those of Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism and Judaism. Each of these faiths arose in agrarian societies with plenty of motivation for violence: landowners had to lord it over peasants and warfare was essential to increase one's landholdings, the only real source of wealth before the great age of trade and commerce. In each context, it fell to the priestly class to legitimize the actions of the state. And so the martial ethos became bound up with the sacred. At the same time, however, their ideologies developed that ran counter to the warrior code: around sages, prophets and mystics. Within each tradition there grew up communities that represented a protest against the injustice and violence endemic to agrarian society. This book explores the symbiosis of these 2 impulses and its development as these confessional faiths came of age.

         The aggression of secularism has often damaged religion and pushed it into a violent mode. But modernity has also been spectacularly violent, and so Armstrong goes on to show how and in what measure religions, in their relative maturity, came to absorb modern belligerence--and what hope there might be for peace among believers in our time.

Title:Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of ViolenceFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:October 28, 2014Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307401987

ISBN - 13:9780307401984

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Classic "History-Of-God" Karen Armstrong In good academic style, Armstrong builds an argument step by step. Agrarian societies are structurally violent (re-read your feminist theory for good definitions of structural violence) that throw up religions or religious reforms in protest. These become popular, mainstream, and eventually co-opted by ruling elites at which point they tend to justify the very violence protested in the first place. And so another round of religious reform. At the broader level, this is another anti-Hitchens, atheists-can-be-moderate-too book. Which suggests that that side is winning. The argument that religions aren't inherently violent will annoy some, but the reasonable reader will realize that all ideologies are open to violence. Indeed, there's almost an old "guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument here. People can be violent. Class conflict can become violent and use religion as a mask. But religion isn't originally violent. Indeed, the logical conclusion of Armstrong's thinking suggests that religious ideas tend to have more corrective, self-critical mechanisms than non-religious systems. Like Stalinism.
Date published: 2014-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Classic "History-Of-God" Karen Armstrong. In good academic style, Armstrong builds an argument step by step. Agrarian societies are structurally violent (re-read your feminist theory for good definitions of structural violence) that throw up religions or religious reforms in protest. These become popular, mainstream, and eventually co-opted by ruling elites at which point they tend to justify the very violence protested in the first place. And so another round of religious reform. At the broader level, this is another anti-Hitchens, atheists-can-be-moderate-too book. Which suggests that that side is winning. The argument that religions aren't inherently violent will annoy some, but the reasonable reader will realize that all ideologies are open to violence. Indeed, there's almost an old "guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument here. People can be violent. Class conflict can become violent and use religion as a mask. But religion isn't originally violent. Indeed, the logical conclusion of Armstrong's thinking suggests that religious ideas tend to have more corrective, self-critical mechanisms than non-religious systems. Like Stalinism.
Date published: 2014-07-27