Friday, November 13, 2009

The Case for God by Karen Armstrong - Hardcover - Random House
"We have become used to thinking that religion should provide us with information. Is there a God? How did the world come into being? But this is a modern preoccupation. Religion was never supposed to provide answers to questions that lay within the reach of human reason. That was the role of logos. Religion's task, closely allied to that of art, was to help us to live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there were no easy explanations and problems that we could not solve: mortality, pain, grief, despair, and outrage at the injustice and cruelty of life."

Throughout most of the book, Ms. Armstrong gives a wonderful summation of human history with an emphasis on human religious understanding. Full of insights, connections, perspectives, it is a tour de force and well done. But her point, that to deride religion is to misunderstand it, fails to convince. For sure, the "real" religion Ms. Armstrong describes is indeed a wonderful thing. The only problem is that for 99% of religious practitioners in the world today, their religious understanding bears only a fleeting resemblance to that. And their priests and rabbis and imams like it that way. THAT is the problem.

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