Karen Armstrong, author, scholar, and journalist, is among the world's foremost commentators on religious history and culture. Her books include the bestselling A History of God and The Battle for God, as well as Buddha and Islam: A Short History.
This biography was last updated on 01/05/2011.
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A Conversation with Karen Armstrong, author of The Battle for God
Q: Please tell us how you would define religious fundamentalism.
A: The militant religiosity that we call fundamentalism has surfaced in all the major faiths in the twentieth century. It constitutes a reaction against and a rejection of modern Western society, but it is not a monolithic movement. Each fundamentalist movement has emerged independently and is a law unto itself, sometimes differing from (or in violent opposition to) other fundamentalist movements within a single faith tradition. The fact that fundamentalism has erupted in almost all cultures indicates a widespread and worrying disenchantment with modern society, which so many of us experience as liberating, exciting and empowering. Countries such as the United States, Egypt and Israel are deeply polarized, split into two camps, one which feels positive about secular modernity; the other passionately hostile to it. As the century draws to a close, these two camps appear to be in an incipient state of war, as witnessed in such incidents as the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma; terrorist attacks on foreign tourists in Egypt, designed to bring down Mubarak's government; and the ...
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