The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism

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Random House Publishing Group, Aug 10, 2011 - Religion - 480 pages
8 Reviews
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Karen Armstrong's Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.

In the late twentieth century, fundamentalism has emerged as one of the most powerful forces at work in the world, contesting the dominance of modern secular values and threatening peace and harmony around the globe. Yet it remains incomprehensible to a large number 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.

We see the West in the sixteenth century beginning to create an entirely new kind of civilization, which brought in its wake change in every aspect of life -- often painful and violent, even if liberating. Armstrong argues that one of the things that changed most was religion. People could no longer think about or experience the divine in the same way; they had to develop new forms of faith to fit their new circumstances.

Armstrong characterizes fundamentalism as one of these new ways of being religious that have emerged in every major faith tradition. Focusing on Protestant fundamentalism in the United States, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, and Muslim fundamentalism in Egypt and Iran, she examines the ways in which these movements, while not monolithic, have each sprung from a dread of modernity -- often in response to assault (sometimes unwitting, sometimes intentional) by the mainstream society.

Armstrong sees fundamentalist groups as complex, innovative, and modern -- rather than as 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 impelling the other on to greater excess, she suggests compassion as a way to defuse what is now an intensifying conflict.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - pbjwelch - LibraryThing

Karen Armstrong is rightly recognized as one of the leading scholars of western religions. In this monumental best seller she traces the people and causes of the rise of fundamentalism in Judaism ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - RajivC - LibraryThing

On the whole, I would say that this is a very good book. She does a very good job of tracing the course of history when seen from a religious aspect, through the ages. I especially liked the way that ... Read full review

Contents

Jews The Precursors 14921700
3
Muslims The Conservative Spirit 14921799
32
Brave New World 14921870
61
Jews and Muslims Modernize 17001870
98
Battle Lines 18701900
135
Fundamentals 190025
167
Counterculture 192560
199
Mobilization 196074
233
The Offensive 197479
278
Defeat 197999
317
Afterword
365
Glossary
373
Notes
381
Bibliography
409
Acknowledgments
425
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Karen Armstrong is one of the foremost commentators on religious affairs in both Britain and the United States. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, took a degree at Oxford University, teaches at Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism, and received the 1999 Muslim Public Affairs Council Media Award. Her previous books include the best-selling A History of God: The  4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths; and In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis.


From the Hardcover edition.

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