The baby-boomers, liberal types, 60s children, get older - but their successors ? They haven't had any.
Karen Armstrong, academic who left the nunnery (and wrote a profitable book about it), rediscovered orginal sin and guilt when she went to the Middle East.
"The Israelis," she found, "just loved to hate Islam. Nor were European brothers and sisters innocent in this regard."
As a result of her visits to the Holy Land, a serious mood of introspection enveloped the young writer. "It worried me principally because the new awareness struck at the very integrity of Western culture and the value system with which I had grown up," she explains. "Here we were posing as a tolerant and compassionate society and yet passing judgments from a position of extreme ignorance and irrationality."
She's got it ! It's the West that's all wrong !
"Fundamentalism, she maintains, is "a worldwide response to the peculiar strain of late 20th-century life'' and is by no means confined to the Muslim world. In this regard she cites Zionists like the late Meir Kahane, who vowed to push every Muslim out of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. She notes that Christian fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell have come to assume astonishing political power in the United States and Hindu extremists have gained extraordinary political influence in India today."
She's right about the BJP in India, and we know of Iran, Hamas in the Palestinian territory, Northern Nigeria, Taleban Afghanistan. But I don't see Jerry Falwell, or Kahane (who was after all killed 20 years ago) anywhere near political power. The comparison is ridiculous.
She was on Desert Island Discs this week, playing the beautiful music bequeathed us by a thousand or more years of European Christian culture (and a nice Islamic piece). She mentioned her growing closeness to religion after years of distance, and her childlessness.
"I think I've come full circle" she said.
I think she's come full stop.
(another child-free zone - the author James Hamilton Paterson, whose "Seven-Tenths - the sea and its margins" is one of the best books I've ever read - now has an unofficial website.)
A Question I Think We've All Felt Like Asking...
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