fields of blood religion and the history of violence

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Fields Of Blood

Author : Karen Armstrong
ISBN : 9780385353106
Genre : History
File Size : 64. 73 MB
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From the renowned and best-selling author of A History of God, a sweeping exploration of religion and the history of human violence. For the first time, religious self-identification is on the decline in American. Some analysts have cited as cause a post-9/11perception: 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. In each tradition, however, a counterbalance to the warrior code also developed. Around sages, prophets, and mystics there grew up communities protesting the injustice and bloodshed endemic to agrarian society, the violence to which religion had become heir. And so by the time the great confessional faiths came of age, all understood themselves as ultimately devoted to peace, equality, and reconciliation, whatever the acts of violence perpetrated in their name. Industrialization and modernity have ushered in an epoch of spectacular and unexampled violence, although, as Armstrong explains, relatively little of it can be ascribed directly to religion. Nevertheless, she shows us 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 of different creeds in our time. 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.

Fields Of Blood

Author : Karen Armstrong
ISBN : 9781446467718
Genre : Religion
File Size : 84. 98 MB
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It is the most persistent myth of our time: religion is the cause of all violence. But history suggests otherwise. Karen Armstrong, former Roman Catholic nun and one of our foremost scholars of religion, speaks out to disprove the link between religion and bloodshed. * Religion is as old as humanity: Fields of Blood goes back to the Stone Age hunter-gatherers and traces religion through the centuries, from medieval crusaders to modern-day jihadists. * The West today has a warped concept of religion: we regard faith as a personal and private matter, but for most of history faith has informed people’s entire outlook on life, and often been inseparable from politics. * Humans undoubtedly have a natural propensity for aggression: the founders of the largest religions – Jesus, Buddha, the rabbis of early Judaism, the prophet Muhammad – aimed to curb violence and build a more peaceful and just society, but with our growing greed for money and wealth came collective violence and warfare. * With the arrival of the modern all-powerful, secular state humanity’s destructive potential has begun to spiral out of control. Is humanity on the brink of destroying itself? Fields of Blood is a celebration of the ancient religious ideas and movements that have promoted peace and reconciliation across millennia of civilization.

Holy War

Author :
ISBN : 9780385721400
Genre : History
File Size : 56. 58 MB
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Covers the history of the Crusades, from Pope Urban II's call to holy war through its violent conflicts, while explaining their direct influence on the modern world's ongoing Middle East turbulence among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Reprint. 12,500 first printing.

Fighting Words

Author : Hector Avalos
ISBN : 9781615921959
Genre : Religion
File Size : 43. 56 MB
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Is religion inherently violent? If not, what provokes violence in the name of religion? Do we mischaracterize religion by focusing too much on its violent side?In this intriguing, original study of religious violence, Prof. Hector Avalos offers a new theory for the role of religion in violent conflicts. Starting with the premise that most violence is the result of real or perceived scare resources, Avalos persuasively argues that religion creates new scarcities on the basis of unverifiable or illusory criteria. Through a careful analysis of the fundamental texts of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, Dr. Avalos explains how four scarce resources have figured repeatedly in creating religious violence: sacred space (e.g., the perception by three world religions that Jerusalem is sacred); the creation of holy scriptures (believed to be privileged revelations of God's will); group privilege (stemming from such beliefs as a chosen people or predestination, which also creates a group of outsiders); and salvation (by which concept some are accepted and others rejected). Thus, Avalos shows, religious violence is often the most unnecessary violence of all since the scarce resources over which religious conflicts ensue are not actually scare or need not be scarce.Comparing violence in religious and nonreligious contexts, Avalos makes the compelling argument that if we condemn violence caused by scarce resources as morally objectionable, then we must consider even more objectionable violence provoked by alleged scarcities that cannot be proven to exist. He also examines the Nazi Holocaust and the Stalinist Terror, which have been attributed to the pernicious effects of atheism or secular humanism. By contrast, Avalos pinpoints underlying religious factors as the cause of these horrific instances of genocidal violence.This serious philosophical examination of the roots of religious violence adds much to our understanding of a perennial source of widespread human suffering.Hector Avalos (Ames, IA) is associate professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, the author of five books on biblical studies and religion, the former editor of the Journal for the Critical Study of Religion, and executive director of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion.

A History Of God

Author : Karen Armstrong
ISBN : 9780307798589
Genre : Religion
File Size : 68. 42 MB
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Why does God exist? How have the three dominant monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—shaped and altered the conception of God? How have these religions influenced each other? In this stunningly intelligent book, Karen Armstrong, one of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. The epic story begins with the Jews' gradual transformation of pagan idol worship in Babylon into true monotheism—a concept previously unknown in the world. Christianity and Islam both rose on the foundation of this revolutionary idea, but these religions refashioned 'the One God' to suit the social and political needs of their followers. From classical philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, Karen Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one superbly readable volume, destined to take its place as a classic. Praise for History of God “An admirable and impressive work of synthesis that will give insight and satisfaction to thousands of lay readers.”—The Washington Post Book World “A brilliantly lucid, spendidly readable book. [Karen] Armstrong has a dazzling ability: she can take a long and complex subject and reduce it to the fundamentals, without oversimplifying.”—The Sunday Times (London) “Absorbing . . . A lode of learning.”—Time “The most fascinating and learned study of the biggest wild goose chase in history—the quest for God. Karen Armstrong is a genius.”—A.N. Wilson, author of Jesus: A Life

The Better Angels Of Our Nature

Author : Steven Pinker
ISBN : 9780143122012
Genre : Psychology
File Size : 40. 9 MB
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Presents a controversial history of violence which argues that today's world is the most peaceful time in human existence, drawing on psychological insights into intrinsic values that are causing people to condemn violence as an acceptable measure.

Twelve Steps To A Compassionate Life

Author : Karen Armstrong
ISBN : 9780307595638
Genre : Religion
File Size : 33. 72 MB
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One of the most original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world—author of such acclaimed books as A History of God, Islam, and Buddha—now gives us an impassioned and practical book that can help us make the world a more compassionate place. Karen Armstrong believes that while compassion is intrinsic in all human beings, each of us needs to work diligently to cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion. Here, in this straightforward, thoughtful, and thought-provoking book, she sets out a program that can lead us toward a more compassionate life. The twelve steps Armstrong suggests begin with “Learn About Compassion” and close with “Love Your Enemies.” In between, she takes up “compassion for yourself,” mindfulness, suffering, sympathetic joy, the limits of our knowledge of others, and “concern for everybody.” She suggests concrete ways of enhancing our compassion and putting it into action in our everyday lives, and provides, as well, a reading list to encourage us to “hear one another’s narratives.” Throughout, Armstrong makes clear that a compassionate life is not a matter of only heart or mind but a deliberate and often life-altering commingling of the two. From the Hardcover edition.

The Great Transformation

Author : Karen Armstrong
ISBN : 9780307371430
Genre : Religion
File Size : 27. 86 MB
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From one of the world’s leading writers on religion and the highly acclaimed author of the bestselling A History of God, The Battle for God and The Spiral Staircase, comes a major new work: a chronicle of one of the most important intellectual revolutions in world history and its relevance to our own time. In one astonishing, short period – the ninth century BCE – the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity into the present day: Confucianism and Daoism in China; Hinduism and Buddhism in India; monotheism in Israel; and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Historians call this the Axial Age because of its central importance to humanity’s spiritual development. Now, Karen Armstrong traces the rise and development of this transformative moment in history, examining the brilliant contributions to these traditions made by such figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Ezekiel. Armstrong makes clear that despite some differences of emphasis, there was remarkable consensus among these religions and philosophies: each insisted on the primacy of compassion over hatred and violence. She illuminates what this “family” resemblance reveals about the religious impulse and quest of humankind. And she goes beyond spiritual archaeology, delving into the ways in which these Axial Age beliefs can present an instructive and thought-provoking challenge to the ways we think about and practice religion today. A revelation of humankind’s early shared imperatives, yearnings and inspired solutions – as salutary as it is fascinating. Excerpt from The Great Transformation: In our global world, we can no longer afford a parochial or exclusive vision. We must learn to live and behave as though people in remote parts of the globe were as important as ourselves. The sages of the Axial Age did not create their compassionate ethic in idyllic circumstances. Each tradition developed in societies like our own that were torn apart by violence and warfare as never before; indeed, the first catalyst of religious change was usually a visceral rejection of the aggression that the sages witnessed all around them. . . . All the great traditions that were created at this time are in agreement about the supreme importance of charity and benevolence, and this tells us something important about our humanity. From the Hardcover edition.

Not In God S Name

Author : Jonathan Sacks
ISBN : 9780805212686
Genre : History
File Size : 90. 55 MB
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In this groundbreaking work of biblical analysis and interpretation, one of the most admired religious leaders of our time shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of the texts of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Koran. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit--i.e., my religion is the only "right" path to God, therefore your religion is by definition "wrong"--Violence between peoples of different beliefs is the only natural outcome, argues Rabbi Sacks. But by looking anew at seminal biblical texts in the Book of Genesis--in which we find the foundational stories of all three Abrahamic faiths--Rabbi Sacks offers an entirely different understanding of God's multiple relationships: with Jacob, patriarch of Judaism; with Ishmael, patriarch of Islam; and with Esau, whose blessing is understood to confirm God's relationship with monotheists from other faiths and overarching relationship with all of humanity. By analyzing the texts that recount how Abraham's immediate descendants resolved their various sibling rivalries, Rabbi Sacks teaches us a powerful lesson in the existence of multiple pathways to God. "We are not all the same," he declares. "There is no one faith that encompasses the plenary truth of human wisdom ... The belief that one faith--ours--holds the key to salvation deserves to be challenged, not just because it has led to so much persecution and bloodshed in the name of God, but because it attempts to confine God to one religion, one way, one image of mankind. God cannot be so confined and remain the God of transcendence, the God-without-an-image who systematically defies our attempts to capture Him in categories of human understanding ... Making space for that which is other than myself is not a doctrine of religious relativism. It is, rather, the humility that says there are things I will not, cannot, understand and that I must leave to God." Rabbi Sacks's bold statement of our need to look with new eyes at specific scriptural passages from within each of the Abrahamic monotheisms--passages that, when interpreted literally, can lead to hatred, violence, and war--is an eloquent, clarion call for people of goodwill from all faiths to join together to end the misunderstandings that threaten to destroy us all.--Publisher description.

War In The Blood

Author : Chris Beyrer
ISBN : 1856495329
Genre : Health & Fitness
File Size : 72. 15 MB
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This engaging and vivid book investigates the course of the HIV epidemic in seven countries of South East Asia: Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam and China’s Yunnan Province. Emphasising the impact of the cultural and political landscapes of these countries on the progress of the disease, the book is the product of both working and travelling in the area. Not merely a commentary on obfuscating government statistics, the author draws upon his encounters with people dealing with the effects of the epidemic and opponents of the regimes of the countries he describes. The epidemic is seen as being vitally linked to the general condition of human rights in the societies. In the first part of the book the author travels to each country in turn chronicling the different approaches adopted to the epidemic. The second part covers issues involving specific groups at risk - among other topics, women and contraception, prostitution and the traffic in women, HIV and the US military, the Heroin trade, gay sex workers, prisoners, and the work of local activists. The third part of the book looks at policy and the general effect of culture on public health care, stressing the need for local empowerment of populations, and in particular women, to effect social changes that would go hand in hand with improvements in the handling of the HIV epidemic. Both passionate and well-informed, this book is a labour of love that discusses the HIV epidemic while giving an intimate, and ultimately celebratory account of South East Asia and asserting the real possiblity for affirmative action.

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