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Karen Armstrong The Guardian The myth of religious violence

The Church Times has compiled its list of the 100 best Christian books. Yesterday (Friday) it revealed numbers 100 to 51. Numbers 50 to 11 and then 10 to 1 will be announced on 3 and 10 October.

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robertellisRod Gillispeterpi - Peter GrossIain Baxterrjb Recent comment authors
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peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

Regarding Karen Armstrong’s article on the myth of religious violence, I think she tries too hard to find secular purposes for European religious violence. But then, I admit I stopped reading it rather quickly. Her description of the Spanish Inquisition as a “deeply flawed attempt” to bring about internal order, after years of civil war, stopped me cold. First, it made me wonder who the parties to this civil war were? The Christians and the Muslims? The Christians and the Jews? Upright religious men against “pagan” women — women whose true “sin” may have been wanting to think for themselves?… Read more »

Pluralist
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I hate ‘lists’ and rankings. It leads to false ‘debate’ and also cheap programmes on television that have no documentary or investigative value. So to contradict myself, 80 and 79 are ridiculously low especially in what seems to be further up the list. I’m assuming Don Cupitt is in the first 50, unless he has been excluded by category error.

Pam
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Pam

I must admit,ruefully, that my faith is often self-centred. I have a hierarchy of care and the ‘common good’ perhaps isn’t placed at the top. Re the Top 100 Books (100-51), I have only Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead on my bookshelves, unread. Time to do something about that!

rjb
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rjb

I think I have to disagree with almost all of that, Peter. The Spanish Inquisition was an instrument of the state, and it was more about the Spanish monarchy extending its power over religious life in its new realm than it was about a simple conflict between religions. While everybody expects the Spanish Inquisition inevitably to turn up on the litany of religion’s supposed crimes, I think it’s more correctly seen as one of the first intrusions of the modern nation state into the lives of its citizens: less the legacy of medieval Catholicism than the precursor of the NSA… Read more »

Iain Baxter
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Iain Baxter

“the post-Christian moral consensus collapsing all about our ears” I see no such collapse! Agreement on what is right and wrong is very strong in the UK: it is wrong to steal, it is wrong to cheat, it is wrong to discriminate on grounds of race, religion, or sexuality. Everyone should be treated fairly. It is wrong to behead people!!!! The evils of “Islamic” fundamentalism will not be defeated by “Christian” fundamentalism. The secular vision of justice and human rights is much stronger than people give it credit for. I was in Egypt during the 2011 revolution and that is… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

gb, I see your comment as an attempt to avoid any blame on religion.
God only knows, lots of wars and violence have been done by secular societies, but “convert or die” was religious in practice.
And, whereas you see Nazi Germany (and, by extension, Stalinist Russia?) as the culmination of the secular state, I see the flourishing of multiple religions in the USA and UK.
Nazi Germany intruded into religion. Ideally, the modern nation-state leaves religion alone, leaves religion free to chart its own course. No interference.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Karen Armstrong’s article, The Myth of Religious Violence, is what one would expect. It is erudite, tightly argued, formidable. The problem is the way in which issues are delineated. Violence is a universal social phenomenon related to power, either maintaining it or in reaction to it by those who see themselves as completely without power. This is tacitly implied in her article. As such, religious based violence is hardly mythical. The support of the Vietnam war by evangelicals, the opposition to integration by some Episcopal parishes during the civil rights movement, the support of residential schools by Canadian Anglicanism, the… Read more »

robertellis
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robertellis

Thank you Gillan Scott…that is so helpful. I shall save it and use it as a basis for a future sermon.