Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence – Karen Armstrong

Fields of BloodSince 911, the rhetoric has been dialled up to piercing levels when it comes to the relationship between religion and violence. The constant noise has numbed us to the realities of history as many of us accept the judgments of the endless cacophony of popular voices proclaiming that violence is a natural consequence of religion. Karen Armstrong’s meticulous research challenges the popular doctrine of both atheists, theists, and all those who would lay claim to the notion that religion is responsible for violence, terrorism, and war. Armstrong surveys a wide sweep of history, beginning 3000 years before the Common Era with the kind of vigour that has lead readers of her previous epics to trust her conclusions. Adept as Armstrong is when it comes to revealing her encyclopedic knowledge of world religions, Fields of Blood is a must read for all those who work in the field of religion as well as an enlightening read for all those who find themselves on the receiving end of modern pundits of both the religious and political varieties. 

In the video below, Karen Armstrong provides an overview of her work which will no doubt compel you to add Fields of Blood to your reading list. Filmed at Chautauqua in August of 2014.


Listening to the Drums of War and Contemplating the History of God


They’re at it again, the powers that be, calling for a military strike to punish a dictator for a military strike that went too far. As the drums of war sound, I hear phrases like “We must stand with Israel”, “Christians are being persecuted” and “Muslim Brotherhood”. When will the children of Sarah, Abraham and Hagar stop their squabbling? Surely, it’s time for us to move beyond our tribal ways? Are we doomed to go on repeating the patterns of the past or can we look into our past as a way of moving beyond our history?

“We cannot be religious in the same way as our ancestors. Our perspective has entirely changed. We have looked at the world from outer space for example. Each generation has the task of looking back at its traditions, looking back at its scriptures and looking at its own peculiar and unique circumstances and making a creative jump to apply the past tradition to the problems of the present.” 

Theologian/historian/lecturer Karen Armstrong’s book A HISTORY OF GOD forms the basis for this documentary which explores the way humans have perceived the idea of a supreme being throughout history. During these days, of warmongering we would do well to reflect upon our shared histories. 

At the Heart of Happiness Lies Compassion for Others: Karen Armstrong

Karen ArmstrongKaren Armstrong, a provocative original thinker whose many books on religion have educated a generation of modern seekers. Armstrong has a unique perspective. She’s a former  nun who moved on to academia to study comparative religion and has become an advocate for the Golden Rule. Her books on Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and the History of God are a wealth of information and have become must reads for those who study or practice religion. He autobiographical works are well worth reading: The Spiral Staircase is particularly compelling!

Reordered at Conway Hall by Action For Happiness on April 18, 2013