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A History Of God
The 4000-year quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Based on Karen Armstrong's book, this film examines the concept of God in the three major monotheistic religions from the
days of Abraham to modern times. Through analysis of historic and holy texts and incorporation of ancient art and artifacts,
the program explores the deity written about in the Bible and the Quran. The evolution and intertwining of various Christian,
Jewish and Islamic interpretations of God are also addressed.
Runtime 1:33:30, click play to start
About 40 years ago popular opinion assumed that religion would become a weaker force and
people would certainly become less zealous as the world became more modern and morals more relaxed. But the opposite has proven
true, according to theologian and author Karen Armstrong (A History of God), who documents how fundamentalism has taken root and grown in many of the world's major religions, such as Christianity,
Islam, and Judaism. Even Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism have developed fundamentalist factions. Reacting to
a technologically driven world with liberal Western values, fundamentalists have not only increased in numbers, they have
become more desperate, claims Armstrong, who points to the Oklahoma City bombing, violent anti-abortion crusades, and the
assassination of President Yitzak Rabin as evidence of dangerous extremes.
Yet she also acknowledges the irony of how fundamentalism and Western materialism seem to urge each other on to greater
excesses. To "prevent an escalation of the conflict, we must try and understand the pain and perception of the other side,"
she pleads. With her gift for clear, engaging writing and her integrity as a thorough researcher, Armstrong delivers a powerful
discussion of a globally heated issue. Part history lesson, part wake-up call, and mostly a plea for healing, Armstrong's
writing continues to offer a religious mirror and a cultural vision. --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly:
Former nun and A History of God iconoclast Armstrong delves deeply
once again into the often violent histories of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, this time exploring the rise of fundamentalist
enclaves in all three religions. Armstrong begins her story in an unexpected, though brilliant, fashion, examining how the
three faiths coped with the tumultuous changes wrought by Spain's late-15th-century reconquista. She then profiles fundamentalism,
which she views as a mostly 20th-century response to the "painful transformation" of modernity. Armstrong traces the birth
of fundamentalism among early 20th-century religious Zionists in Israel, biblically literalist American Protestants and Iranian
Shiites wary of Westernization. Armstrong sensitively recognizes one of fundamentalism's great ironies: though they ostensibly
seek to restore a displaced, mythical spiritual foundation, fundamentalists often re-establish that foundation using profoundly
secular, pseudo-scientific means ("creation science" is a prime example). Armstrong is a masterful writer, whose rich knowledge
of all three Western traditions informs the entire book, allowing fresh insights and comparisons. Her savvy thesis about modernization,
however, could be improved by some attention to gender issues among fundamentalists. The book is also occasionally marred
by a condescending tone; Armstrong attacks easy Protestant targets such as Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart (whose
name she misspells) and claims that fundamentalists of all stripes have "distorted" and "perverted" their faiths. Despite
its underlying polemic, this study of modernity's embattled casualties is a worthy and provocative read. (Mar.)
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