Karen Armstrong, author, scholar, and journalist, is among the world's foremost commentators on religious history and culture.
She is the author of numerous books on religion, including The Case for God, A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam, Buddha, and The Great Transformation, as well as a memoir, The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into forty-five languages. In 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and began working with TED on the Charter for Compassion, created online by the general public, crafted by leading thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. It was launched globally in the fall of 2009. Also in 2008, she was awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal. In 2013, she received the British Academy's inaugural Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding.
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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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