The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong

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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.

About Karen Armstrong

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Karen Armstronga (TM)s first book, the bestselling Through the Narrow Gate (1981), described her seven years as a nun in a Roman Catholic order. She has published numerous books, including A History of God, which has been translated into thirty languages, A History of Jerusalem and In the Beginning: A New Reading of Genesis. Her more recent works include Islam: A Short History and Buddha, which was an international bestseller. Since 1982 she has been a freelance writer and broadcaster. She lives in London.
Published August 10, 2011 by Ballantine Books. 474 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Religion & Spirituality, Law & Philosophy, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Former nun and A History of God iconoclast Armstrong delves deeply once again into the often violent histories of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, this time exploring the rise of fundamentalist enclaves in all three religions.

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Austin Chronicle

I imagine many people shrugging off this surprisingly accessible and engaging history of fundamentalism in the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religions as so much academic working of the obvious: Religious nuts aren't that hard to figure, they're simply primitive, intolerant, fear-led boobs.

Mar 16 2001 | Read Full Review of The Battle for God

Spirituality & Practice

The desire to define doctrines, erect barriers, establish borders, and segregate the faithful in a sacred enclave where the law is stringently observed springs from that terror of extinction which has made all fundamentalists, at one time or another, believe that the secularists were about to wip...

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