Understanding the role of religion in violence feels incredibly important considering the current state of the world, and Karen Armstrong's latest book explores that very topic through a religious, cultural and political perspective. In "Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence," Armstrong walks readers through mankind's religious evolution, all of which took place against a backdrop of large scale warfare and smaller scale elite-on-subjects violence.
Armstrong argues that religion is not inherently violent, and points to traditions ranging back to early human history to explain how dogma has been twisted and changed to suit political needs. It's an argument that may feel at odds with public opinion on its face, particularly given the rise of Islamic extremism and inter-religious tension, but in truth it's not all that controversial. Religion has long been an apt way for those in power to disguise their aggression, but no religion is violent at its very core.
Nonetheless, the story woven by Armstrong is a fascinating one. She walks readers through human history, illustrating the evolution of religious practice alongside political theory. Religion comes to life under her hand, a living part of history rather than something held aloft in divinity. It's a perspective lacking in many discussions on religion today.
But Armstrong's writing feels clunky, and at times the entire book feels more like an information dump than an exploration. Paragraphs are long and tedious, with loose ends dangling while Armstrong jumps from conclusion to conclusion. The history of religion and violence is an ambitious topic, and Armstrong tries to weave in too much detail, axing important links and explanation in the process. Although interesting, "Fields of Blood" falls short of its lofty goal.
I received a free copy of this book through the Blogging for Books program.
Bridey is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.
All Activism Amanda Palmer Annie Atkins Awareness Book Review Caitlin Moran Call The Midwife Darling Forbes Freelance Tips Freelance Writing History Literally Living With Cats Michel Gondry Millennials Mood Indigo NO TOFU Pamela Anderson Pet Tips Robin Williams Small Space Living Summer The Boxtrolls The Grand Budapest Hotel Tiny Home Welcome What I've Learned Writing