Fields of Blood

Fields of Blood

Religion and the History of Violence

Book - 2014
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Countering the atheist claim that believers are by default violent fanatics and religion is the cause of all major wars, Karen Armstrong demonstrates that religious faith is not inherently violent. In fact, the world's major religions have throughout their history displayed ambivalent attitudes towards aggression and warfare. At times they have allied themselves with states and empires for protection or to further their influence; at others they have tried to curb state oppression and aggression and worked for peace and justice. Taking us on a journey from prehistoric times to the present, Karen Armstrong contrasts medieval crusaders and modern-day jihadists with the pacifism of the Buddha and Jesus' vision of a just and peaceful society; moreover, she demonstrates that the underlying reasons - social, economic, political - for war and violence in our history often had very little to do with religion. While human beings have a natural propensity for aggression, collective violence and warfare emerged at a certain point in history when the invention of agriculture created a society and a state based on the accumulation of wealth. For most of history our destructive potential could be contained but with the industrialised warfare and all-powerful state of the modern age, humanity is on the brink of destroying itself. Vast in scope, impeccably researched and passionately argued, Fields of Blood is more than a corrective to the prevailing view that religion is to blame for most of the bloodshed throughout human history: it is a celebration of those religious ideas and movements that have opposed war and aggression and promoted peace and reconciliation.
Publisher: London, The Bodley Head,, 2014.
ISBN: 9781847921871
Characteristics: 499 pages ; 24 cm.


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May 19, 2015

The first and last chapters are by far the best; the intervening chapters that try to summarize 2000+ years of conflict in world history are rather awkward and prejudiced.

Apr 14, 2015

See "The Sword and the Scimitar : the Saga of the Crusades" by Ernle Bradford 1974.

Jan 07, 2015

An excellent book which shows that violence is indeed a very complex issue that cannot be explained by any single factor. Warfare in the "Middle East" probably started, as this author and others point out, by the pastoralist raidings of about 5 to 6000 years ago. Religion has simply been a part of the cultural mix and it really is difficult to single out any one issue as being the decisive cause of out tendency toward violence.

Jan 04, 2015

The author's attempt to play down the importance of religion on physical violence and conflict is sadly lacking. The vast majority of the content strongly shows that religion is the principal cause of conflict between nations. Religion, plus man's genetic make-up to be aggressive can account for most of the violence seen since history has been recorded.

Dec 05, 2014

Dec 5th, 2014,

How much longer before the book will be at Ocean Bark Library?
Veronica Neufeld

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