Karen Armstrong on Sam Harris and Bill Maher: “It fills me with despair, because this is the sort of talk that led to the concentration camps.”

KarenArmstrong

On a cold Thanksgiving Day in 1994 I was about to interview Karen Armstrong about her new book, “A History of God’.  All I wanted was for her to be as wonderful in person as she seemed as a writer.  She was as they say, “all that and a bag of chips.”  In this interview with Salon.com she, as usual, lucidly articulates views I find inarguable.  The whole interview is absolutely worth reading but here are a few gems:

“Every fundamentalist movement that I’ve studied, in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is rooted in a profound fear of annihilation.”

“We came to modernity under our own steam. It was our creation. It had two characteristics. One of these was independence — your Declaration of Independence is a typical modernizing document. And you have thinkers and scientists demanding free thought and independent thinking. This was essential to our modernity. But in the Middle East, in the colonized countries, modernity was a colonial subjection, not independence.”

“If you wrong somebody there’s a huge sense of resentment and distress. That is there, and that is part of it, too.”

Do you think the role of religion in modern global conflicts is overhyped?

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