Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The late 20th century has witnessed the emergence in every major religious tradition of a strain of fundamentalism; today these militant pieties and the people who determinedly espouse them threaten the peace and harmony of societies around the globe. Fundamentalists gun down worshippers in mosques, kill doctors and nurses who work in abortion clinics, shoot presidents and have even toppled a government.
In this book, Karen Armstrong, arguably the most authoritative and perceptive writer on religious matters in the world, explains brilliantly and sympathetically how and why the fundamentalists' understanding and critique of the world differs so starkly from that of their contemporaries.
By examining 500 years of the history of Islamic, Jewish and Christian extremism, from the Sephardic Jews in exile from Spain, to the Christian revolutionaries in pre-Revolutionary America, to Egypt's convulsive tides of hatred levelled against a secular state, Armstrong demonstrates the way in which the myth-making religious imagination has always responded with fear and horror to the march of progressive rationalism. Over time, both sides have come closer to each other, have attempted to borrow from each other, and have recoiled apart again.
Karen Armstrong's fresh and original thesis, together with her exceptional grasp of religious and secular history, goes a long way towards establishing a new kind of history, one shaped by religious yearning, idealism and emotion. As a contribution to our understanding of fundamentalism it is ground-breaking, essential reading; as a new and revealing way of looking at the manner in which groups within societies approach the world and the state it is remarkable.
Contains 16 black and white illustrations.