27 Feb
Posted in: Books
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I’m Also Reading….

I’m just about finished reading Karen Armstrong’s excellent (but a bit overwhelming) new book, Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. I recommend it, especially if you’re of the view that RELIGION is the PROBLEM…or even that RELIGION is the SOLUTION….because the book does a very thorough job of showing that, well, basically it’s a whole lot more complicated than that.

Because the subject of violence (which I tend to want to avoid) became quite fascinating while I was reading, and also because I was starting to get a sense of the evolution of structural/institutional violence, I decided to pick up Steven Pinker’s bestseller from 2011, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Which covers much the same territory as Armstrong’s book, but from a broader perspective — and with a more optimistic tone.

Here’s the first paragraph of the preface:

“This book is about what may be the most important thing that has ever happened in human history. Believe it or not–and I know that most people do not–violence has declined over long stretches of time, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence. The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth; it has not brought violence down to zero; and it is not guaranteed to continue. But it is an unmistakable development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from waging of wars to the spanking of children.”


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