The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
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ISBN/ASIN : 0006383483
Manufacturer : HarperCollins|
Release data : 02 April, 2001
A selection of product reviews
A Timely Book
THE BATTLE FOR GOD is the story of the rise of religious fundamentalism, especially among Christians, Muslims and Jews. The subject is now even more timely than when the book was first published five years ago.
Karen Armstrong shows that religious fundamentalism is a relatively recent phenomenon.Religious fundamentalists feel threatened by the modern advances which are favored by secularists. The secularists in turn feel threatened by the rigid views of the fundamentalists. It is more important than ever for these opposing groups to find some common meeting ground. After reading Armstrong's book, however, I do not feel optimistic about this possibility occurring anytime in the near future.
THE BATTLE FOR GOD is a well-researched study of a complex topic. One inescapable conclusion to draw from reading the book is that religious fundamentalism is deeply entrenched throughout the world and it is a major cause of much of the planet's present unrest.
Be afraid, be very afraid...
To put this short review into context, I guess I could broadly describe myself as a "secular humanist" - the type of person loathed and despised by fundamentalists of all creeds. I might also add, that till the sickening events of September 2001, I new little about global politics and even less about world religions. Of all the books I've read since then, this is the one that has best helped me to understand just how this tragedy - and other terrorist outrages committed by fundamentalists of differing religious persuasions - could actually have happened. In view of the fact that the book was published in year 2000, this in itself is quite a commendation.
As a non-academic, I must admit that I found the book quite challenging in places, and I would have appreciated the inclusion of a more extensive glossary. However, this is a minor criticism of what is clearly a outstanding piece of work, which really does merit all the plaudits it's received to date from the professional book reviewers. Flipping back through the book, I see that I've hardly left a page unmarked - there are so many passages that merit highlighting.
For all its brilliance though, I did find this book profoundly disturbing. Just discovering, for example, that such a high percentage of North Americans believe that the Bible is literally true was bad enough; but then to realise that extremists from all the major monotheisitic religions revel in the prospect of universal suffering and global destruction, was more than a little worrying.
I would imagine that this book is unlikely to be widely read within the fundamentalist communities which form the foci of the work. This is a great pity, because it just might help some of these people to see the wood for the trees, and to appreciate the fact that "no religious doctrine or practice can be authentic if it does not lead to practical compassion" (P 322).
How to understand fundamentalism
I am reading this book with as much interest and excitement as any I have for some time. It is an absolute must for broad-minded and especially non-religious people who want to understand tha nature and history of modern Fundamentalism. What is quite remarakable is the way the author integrates religious history with both past and contemporary political, social and economic history.
After a remarkable introduction she concentrates on four 'case studies', namely Iran, Egypt, Judaism and the USA. Althouugh she has obviously a special interest in Shii Islam, each of her studies is dramatic in the things one learns from it.
The book is also a remarkable work of research and scholarship.
Each day, I open the newspaper, and there is something there that is more easily understood from this book.
In fact, I believe, one of most important History books of modern times.