Fundamentalism and beliefs

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Tue Jan 22 2002 - 16:03:27 GMT

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    Theme: The expansion of Western ‘modern’ civilization created in the people
    affected psychological conditions akin to exile.

    From Karen Armstrong, THE BATTLE FOR GOD, NY: Ballantine Books, 2001, paper,
    p. 8.

    Armstrong has just examined the repression of the Jews of Spain by Isabella
    and Ferdinand, Catholic monarchs who defeated the last Muslim rules in
    Spain. In 1492, the monarchs ordered the conversion by baptism or explusion
    of all Jews from Spain. 70,000 Jews stayed and converted, though they
    continued to be held in suspicion and subjected to the Inquisition. 80,000
    fled next door to Catholic Portugal, and 50,000 travelled overseas and found
    welcome in the Muslim Ottoman Empire -- LB

    Armstong continues:

    “[The Spanish Jews] were used to Muslim society, but the loss of Spain—or
    Sefarad, as they called it—had inflicted a deep psychic wound. These
    Sepharad Jews felt that they themselves and everything else were in the
    wrong place. Exile is a spiritual as well as a physical dislocation. The
    world of the exile is wholly unfamiliar and, therefore without meaning. A
    violent uprooting, which takes away all normal props, breaks up our world,
    snatches us forever from places that are saturated in memories crucial to
    our identity, and plunges us permanently in an alien environment, can make
    us feel that our very existence has been jeopardized. When exile is also
    associated with human cruelty, it raises urgent questions about the problem
    of evil in a world supposedly created by a just and benevolent God.

    “ The experience of the Sephardic Jews was an extreme form of the uprooting
    and displacement that other peoples would later experience when they were
    caught up in an aggressive modernizing process. We shall see that when
    modern Western civilization took root in a foreign environment, it
    transformed the culture so drastically that many people felt alienated and
    disoriented. The old world had been swept away, and the new one was so
    strange that people could not recognize their once-familiar surroundings and
    could make no sense of their lives. Many would become convinced, like the
    Sephardics, that their very existence was threatened. They would fear
    annihilation and extinction. In their confusion and pain, many would do what
    some of the Spanish exiles did, and turn to religion. But because their
    lives were so utterly changed, they would have to evolve new forms of faith
    to make the old traditions speak to them in their radically altered forms.”

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