Fields of Blood by Karen Armstrong

The news media in all its formats is saturated with reports of conflict and violence from around the world. A great deal of this violence is in the name of religion. Whole religious traditions as well as factions and sects within those traditions seek to assert their dominance over one another. Former Roman Catholic nun Karen Armstrong ( wishes to rescue the reputation of religion from our revulsion at beheadings, crucifixions, rape, abduction and wholescale butchery.

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. Humans undoubtedly have a natural propensity for aggression. Armstrong argues that the founders of the largest religions – Jesus, Buddha, the rabbis of early Judaism, the prophet Muhammad – by contrast aimed to curb violence and build a more peaceful and just society. However, with our growing greed for money, power 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.

This is compounded by the sophistication of weapons. 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. It is a bold thesis given what’s going on in the world today. See what you think.

To see if this is a subject that would interest you listen to the podcast at this link in which Armstrong comments on the subject and her book.

512 pages in Bodley Head

First published 25 September 2014

ISBN 978-1847921871

Karen Armstrong

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