Fundamentalism has emerged as one of the most powerful forces at work in the world. However, it remains incomprehensible to large numbers of people. In The Battle for God, Karen Armstrong brilliantly and sympathetically shows us how and why fundamentalist groups came into existence and what they yearn to accomplish.
Focusing on Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim fundamentalism, she examines the ways in which these movements, while not monolithic, have each sprung from a dread of modernity -- and often in response to assault, sometimes unwitting, sometimes intentional, by the mainstream society.
Armstrong sees the fundamentalist groups as complex, innovative and modern -- rather than throwbacks to the past -- but contends that they have failed in religious terms. Maintaining that fundamentalism often exists in symbiotic relationship with an aggressive modernity, each urging the other on to greater, excess, she suggests compassion as a way to defuse what is now" an intensifying conflict.
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About 40 years ago popular opinion assumed that religion would become a weaker force and people would certainly become less zealous as the world became more modern and morals more relaxed. But the opposite has proven true, according to theologian and author Karen Armstrong (A History of God), who documents how fundamentalism has taken root and grown in many of the world's major religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Even Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism have developed fundamentalist factions. Reacting to a technologically driven world with liberal Western values, fundamentalists have not only increased in numbers, they have become more desperate, claims Armstrong, who points to the Oklahoma City bombing, violent anti-abortion crusades, and the assassination of President Yitzak Rabin as evidence of dangerous extremes.
Yet she also acknowledges the irony of how fundamentalism and Western materialism seem to urge each other on to greater excesses. To "prevent an escalation of the conflict, we must try and understand the pain and perception of the other side," she pleads. With her gift for clear, engaging writing and her integrity as a thorough researcher, Armstrong delivers a powerful discussion of a globally heated issue. Part history lesson, part wake-up call, and mostly a plea for healing, Armstrong's writing continues to offer a religious mirror and a cultural vision. --Gail HudsonFrom the Publisher:
"Former nun Armstrong has done it again. As in her justly acclaimed A History of God (1993), she has written a well-researched, highly informative, accessible, and otherwise superb study of the three great Western monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam)....[It] is so well written that it is must reading for anyone with a serious interest in contemporary religion."
-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Provocative...Combining synoptic and interpretive historical manners, Armstong, author of the widely read and well-received History of God, produces another splendid book."
-- Booklist (starred review)
"Excellent...This is a book that will prove indispensible, not only for the student of comparative religion, but also for anyone who seeks insight into how these powerful movement affect global politics and society todya and into the future...Highly intelligent and highly readable book."
-- Baltimore Sun
"Armstrong is a masterful writer, whose rich knowledge of all three Western traditions informs the entire book, allowing fresh insights and comparisons."
--- Publishers Weekly
"Armstong succeeds--brilliantly--in placing fundamentalist movements in a historical context, showing how each is both a product of its times and typical of recurring trends...With her astonishing depth of knowledge and readily accessible writing style, makes an ideal guide in traversing a subject that is by its very nature complex, sensitive and frequently ambiguous. Her unwavering respect for the great faiths and their followers balances nicely with her apparent disdain for extremism in all its forms."
-- San Francisco Chronicle
"Hers is one of the most penetrating, readable and prescient accounts to date of the rise of the fundamentalist movements in Judaism, Christianity and Islam."
-- New York Times Book Review
"A useful and rewarding book."
-- Boston Globe
"Karen Armstrong takes the bull by the horns in this richly detailed study of Fundamentalism's many faces through the ages. Part One reveals the roots; Part Two explores the process by which Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have each occasionally devolved from creative faith to destructive fanaticism. The book is a timely reminder: that religious ideologies and secular advocates of the nation state, having helped create each other, must moderate their conflicts or pay the price -- in violence at the expense of spirit."
-- Michael Wolfe, author of The Hadj and One Thousand Roads to Mecca
"An impressive achievement. Armstrong has mastered a mountain of material, added some brilliant insights of her own, and made it accessible to the general reader."
-- Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People and How Good Do We Have to Be?
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Book Description HarperAudio, 2000. Audio Cassette. Book Condition: Good. Abridged. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Bookseller Inventory # 0694523046