Course Outline, References and Links - Holy Manners Study #34 - this page updates frequently.

THE BOOKSTUDY ARCHIVES. A good book is even more interesting when you study it with friends. When our studies complete, we archive them here to share. Enjoy our notes, our discussions, and our research. You are welcome to their use.
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence- by Karen Armstrong
"'To claim that it has a single, unchanging, and inherently violent essence is not accurate. Identical religious beliefs and practices have inspired diametrically opposed courses of action . ... The problem lies not in the multifaceted activity that we call “religion” but in the violence embedded in our human nature and the nature ofThe problem lies not in the multifaceted activity that we call “religion” but in the violence embedded in our human nature and the nature of the state, which from the start required the forcible subjugation of at least 90 percent of the population. p393"
Jan 12
Session 1
- Ken Kittridge - Reflections on the new Armstrong book and an earlier study Battle for God.
MEDIA - The author speaks - CBC interview by Michael Enright of Karen Armstrong on "Fields of Blood"
   1. What do you want to take from this study?
   2. Do you presently think religion is a principle cause of violence and war?
    1. Review.The Guardian. 8 Oct 14. David Shariatmadari. Islamic State is like a bad dream. Its horror flashes up on our screens, so out of place in the waking world of cities and shopping and work. Its adherents wave what looks like a pirate flag. They are crazy, incomprehensible, intoxicated.
    2. Review. Spectator. 20 Sep 14. Ferdinand Mount. Religion does not poison everything - everything poisons religion. Religions are corrupted by success. Every major faith tradition has tracked the political entity in which it arose; none has become a 'world religion' without the patronage of a militarily powerful empire and every tradition would have to develop an imperial ideology.
    3. Review. Barnes and Nobles Armstrong looks at each of 7 major faiths. Violence and Religion began together in agrarian society as landowners suppressed peasants and warred with neighbours. So warrior ethos is bound up with the sacred. Each tradition developed a counterbalance to the warrior ethos about injustice and violence, namely peace, equality, reconciliation. Modernity amplified this violence. Religion is not the problem.
CLOSING - "Study War No More" by Sweet Honey in the Rock
Jan 19
Session 2

BOOK READINGS - to page 103: Introduction, Ch 1 Farmers and Herdsmen, Ch 2 India: The Noble Path, Ch 3 China: Warriors and Gentlemen
OPENING - Joan Gray - World Becoming Less Violent: Violence in Steady Decline - Huffington Post
PRESENTATION - PDF - FoB-Chapter Notes - Session 02
     1. SONG - Christmas 1915 - Celtic Thunder
     2. Karen Armstrong at Chautauqua - "Fields of Blood"
80m Excellent talk with Q & A.
     1. What is the value of studying cultures that pre-dated and paralleled our Judeo-Christian (biblical) tradition?
     2. Politics and Religion - Why has religion served political purposes for so much of human history?
     3. Glorification of War - Rationalization of Class Conflict. How has religion served political purposes to our own time?
    Armstrong in Chautauqua talk referenced the WCC (UN) definition of “Structural Violence”. See Session 9.
CLOSING - Joan Gray - Video from NASA/ESA Hubble - Gigabytes of Andromeda

Jan 26
Session 3
BOOK READINGS - to page 155: Ch 4 The Hebrew Dilemma, Ch 5 Jesus: Not of This World?
- PDF - FoB-Chapter Notes - Session 03
John Spong w Allan Gregg on Religion. Jesus for the non-religious  27m15s
 2. Buried Secrets of the Bible – PBS NOVA Documentary on the origins of the Hebrews. 5m42s Sampler (See refs)
   3. 1m24s Menorah-Hanukah Song. Enthusiastic youth 1m24s


The Hebrew Dilemma
   1. Discuss Exodus as a founding myth rather than as historic fact.
   2. What was the Hebrew dilemma (page 107, first paragraph) How did Israel's theology adapt to changing social and political conditions?
Jesus: Not of This World?
   3. How does Armstrong's approach to Jesus differ from those that accept and hold to the biblical story of Jesus and his purposes?
   4. Discuss Christianity as an "alternative to political power" compared to Christianity as "establishment religion"

   1. JSTOR offer free guest registration. to read up to 3 papers over 14 days. LINK.
   2. "Joshua 24 Re-examined" David S. Sperling's Paper from JSTOR. Recent archeology has a new and non-exodus theory of the originsof the Hebrew people. Sperling is a rabbi at Hebrew Union college - Jewish Institute of Religion, NY. Re-examines how the Hebrew people became monotheists. Clearly people and prophets believed in multiple gods rather than one true god and the others as idols. Worship of one is monolatrous not monotheistic. In Shechem in reign of Jeroboam2 worship of Baal replaced by YHWH. Armstrong takes these scholarly references and sees a human evolution of a society based on new egalitarian principles. This short paper is worth the reading.
   3. Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic By Frank Moore Cross - 3-137. Portion on-line at on "El and the God of the Fathers" interesting. El was Punic/Phonician. Eq uiv to Greek Kronos, Roman Saturn. Early child sacrifice. El was prefixed onto local god names to make them Hebrew.
   4. Jewish DNA – Genetic Research and The Origins of the Jewish People.  14m12s A lecture than spans the current data for DNA migrationoverlaid with some history
   5. Buried Secrets of the Bible - Full 111m 39s Documentary.
- 3m Make Me a Channel of Your Peace – Diana’s Funeral
Feb 2
Session 4
BOOK READINGS - to page 233: Ch 6 Byzantium: The Tragedy of Empire, Ch 7 The Muslim Dilemma, Ch 8 Crusade and Jihad.
OPENING - Marilyn Outtrim - The Great Courses
PRESENTATION - PDF - FoB-Chapter Notes - Session 04
1. SONG - Sabaton - A Lifetime Of War - with lyrics.. Religion and Greed cause millions to bleed….
    2.   76m Politics and Prose @ 6th & i. Session listen only to Q&A. at 54-58m on Wahabism from Saudi Arabia. 58-61 Islamic State. 65m foulups. not a joyful person. 72m endQ palestine/Israel.
    1. Discuss the transformation of Jesus" teachings as they evolved into church doctrine in support of imperial politics.
The Muslim Dilemma
    2. How did Islamic interpretations of the Q'ran take similar approaches (mosque and caliphate) to Christian biblical understandings about the relationship between church and state? How did the two differ?
Crusade and Jihad
    3. Discuss how the Crusades became a major historical stumbling block in Christian-Muslim and Christian-Jewish relations?
  1. The Holy Quran - Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction by Maulana Muhammad Ali. Wikipedia background on this work, LINK.
    2.  MiddleEast Peace Song  4m41s The Jewish-Arab Peace Song (w/ English subtitles)
    3. 5m46s  The Crusades in 5 Minutes. A reasonable and quick historical summary.
 4. 71m48s “Islam, the Untold Story” by Tom Holland - Channell 4, UK. 2012. A documentary that seeks historical data other than religious on the remarkable beginnings of Islam. Surprisingly, there seems none can be found. The possibility suggested is that the Arab Empire may well have preceeded the religion. Holland says he is representing “the academic consensus today”, LINK.
    5. 42m52s Lecture UofChicago Fred Donner, Professor of Near Eastern History, “How Islam Began”. A review of the difficulties historians have in discovering the roots of Islam.
    6. Roberta Spencer has authored  13 books on Islam, holds an MA in Religious Studies, maintains this website, and is a principle right wing spokesman opposing Islam. This link is his extensive  essay covering of the basics of Islam and its violence. His view is that Islam is fundamentally about suppressing any other point of view. He says that “radicals actually do have a stronger theoretical, theological, and legal basis within Islam for what they believe than the moderates do.” LINK
CLOSING - Bob Marley's "One Love" by Playing for Change
Feb 9
Session 5

BOOK READINGS - to page 262: Ch 9 The Arrival of "Religion"
OPENING - Where Have All the Flowers Gone – Peter, Paul & Mary
PRESENTATION - PDF - FoB-Chapter Notes - Session 05

     1. Karen Armstrong in Conversation with Alan Jones at Grace Cathedral. 32m
Modernity and the Rise of the European Nation States - Inquisition, Colonialism and Reformation
    1. Discuss: European religion before 1700 was largely indistinguishable from politics (p. 256)
    2. How did Europeans "rationalize" the plunder of the "heathen" peoples? (p. 234 ff)
    3. Discuss: Luther's Reformation had both positive and negative results. (244-5 ff)
    4. In what ways were the post-Reformation European "wars of religion" much more political than religious? (pp. 249-251)
    1. Natalie Zemon Davis "The Rites of Violence Religious Riot in 16th C France" (links to pdf doc) Past and Present Society, Oxford - The pivotal paper that made the modern connection between war and religion. p251 ref 9-76    
    2. The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict, 2009 Oxford, William T Cavanaugh @ DePaul U. Much of first chapter is readable on link at .
    3.   Secular War Myths of Religion, Politics and Violence  10m29s Dr Stacey Gutkowski from the Centre for Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London discusses her new book, Secular War Myths of Religion, Politics and Violence. A wee bit too scholarly. An American scholar in the UK. The underpinings of political understanding and policy.
    4. 81m02s Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time. – Karen Armstrong
    5.   4m28s An Evangelical's tView - War and Religion. Usual argument that war is secular. Then a section on sin as the cause of our trouble, and a few bible verses.
CLOSING - 5m yusuf Islam – Peace Train at the Nobel peace prize event for Muhammed  Yunus (micro credit banker in Bangledesh)

Feb 16 Family Day - no bookclub meeting
Feb 23
Session 6
BOOK READINGS - to page 338: Ch 10 The Triumph of the Secular.
    1. SONG 87m37s Truthdig Debate “Religion, Politics and The End of the World” Sam Harris vs Chris hedges. .
     2. SONG - Bad Religion - Let Them Eat War with lyrics  3m
     1. 90m  CSpan - LLA Public Library Discussion – Can Religion and Reason be Reconciled - Janathan Kirsch, Reza Aslan and Sam Harris
     2. aaa

Mar 2
Session 7
BOOK READINGS - to page 338: Ch 11 Religion Fights Back
    1.  3m52s   Pete Seeger - Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream top notch video w pics
    2. Oxford Union Society:
Motion: This house believes Islam is a religion of peace .4m Mehdi Hasan, Huffington Post editor, gives his argument for Islam being a peaceful religion. Yes's: 286 No's: 168 28/02/2013. Rapid debate style delivery of points.
References -
    3.  6m. Does Islam Promote Violence? –CNN – Guest Raza Asian firmly corrects the 2 hosts in a perfect example of media bias through simple blindness, habit and “stupidity”. Per Brenda Wallace
Mar 9
Session 8
BOOK READINGS - to page 393: Ch 12 Holy Terror, Ch 13 Global Jihad
     1. SONG - 4m Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire
Questions for Discussion:
    1. DABIQ -
The Magazine of ISIS - All copies to date on line. Quality production. About 50p each. Very clearly religious in perspective. printable pdf.
    2. 27m39s RT’s Abby Martin interviews Chris Hedges on the current situation after the Charlie Hebdo killings. A challenge to the clash of civilizations theory and to the public narrative in the media.
    3. 21m36s Jamie Glazov interviews David Wood “Top 10 Quran Verses to Understand ISIS” The Quran is about peace and war – here is the part about war.
    4.    “In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World “ by Tom Holland. . Amazon LINK.  Telegraph Review LINK. An historians search for the origins of Islam. An excellent and sympathetic review of the histories of time and place. “”
Mar 16
Session 9

"Modern Violence" - Considering Armstrong's thesis about true cause.
    1. Song -
Idle No More - 4m. Ulali at the UN 22 Sep 2014
    2. Chris Hedges -
"The Global Culture of Violence: What Is The Path to Peace and Justice?" 51m. Hedges is a senior journalist recently ordained by the Presbyterian Church for a career covering war and peace and justice after his seminary training. He strongly feels we are running out of time to make the world a fair place. He is speaking here at a Presbyterian Peace Fellowship UnGala!. .
1. "The Geneva Declaration on Terrorism - UN General Assembly Doc. A/42/307, 29 May 1987"  "Terrorism originates from the statist system of Structural Violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples  ...  The real international terrorism is founded in the imposition of the will of the powerful states upon the weak by means of economic, political, cultural and military domination. We declare that the key to ending all forms of terrorism is the development of new relations among nations and peoples based on unfailing respect for the right to self-determination of peoples, and on a greater measure of economic, political and social equality on a world scale." See also list of papers at
    2. The Law of War-
3. Jeremy Townsley - "Rene Girard's Theory of Violence, Religion and the Scapegoat" 2003. Townsley teaches at Butler and is a polymath in Psychology, Chemistry, Theology, Philosophy, Neurobiology, and Ethics. An excellent paper summarizing the theories of Rene Girard, a Stanford Professor of Political Philosophy. Girard's ideas complement Armstrongs. Also see video next.
    4. Rene Girard - "Uncommon Knowledge" 26m. A Political Philosophe at Stanford, Girard has contributed substantially to the topic of violence and religion. This short interview touches on his theory of violence - that violence is not at our root, but imitation is. What one desires, causes another to desire out of a spirit of imitation. That when another desires what we desire it confirms our desire. And if there is not enough, we fight.
    5. Huffington Post Article on growing wage disparity between CEO’s and workers. Case respects Target as leaving Canada, but links to similar information.

Mar 23
Session 10
BOOK READINGS - to end: Afterward.
EVENING TOPIC - "Compassion as the Response" - Considering consequence.
     1. 5m yusuf Islam – Peace Train at the Nobel peace prize event for Muhammed  Yunus (micro credit banker in Bangledesh)  - for 9 or 10
     2. Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Forum for New Ideas -
Tolerance and Compassion in Islam 20m28s Karen Armstrong.
     3. Karen Armstrong with Alan Greg @ TVOntario -
Roots of Religion  12m23s Religion did not arise in metaphysics and belief. Rather it was transforming ways of living. To eliminate greed and envy by the exercise of compassion. Excellent summary. defines enlightenment and religion etc.
     1. 22m45s. One on One – AlJazeera Riz Khan interview of John Galtung. (note: John Galtung, founder of Institute for International Peace Research Insitute, was an associate of Larry Fisk, who brought IPRA to Calgary in 2006.
     2. 26m Islam in the Middle East – Johan Galtun interviewed in Hawaii Poka Laenui. Vimeo hosts a series of 4 interviews on other aspects of world peace.
     The Peaceable Economy.
2014 World Council of Churchs. Ch 1 SAMPLE of "Economies and Economics".
     3. 5m War – Playing for Change
Closing -
Evening Target Times for Bookstudy Agenda (Adapable as always)
Time min Item Comment
7:00 - 7:10 10 Gathering We always mingle for a while.
7:10: - 7:15 5 Opening Thoughts, poems, videos selected by members
7:15 - 7:20 5 Agenda & Questions Adding to the Evening's Discussion Questions
7:20 - 7:45 25 Presentation A Media Collection - video, audio, PPT
7:45 - 8:00 15 Discussion A Sharing Impressions, Ideas, Experiences
8:00 - 8:15 15 Break Refreshment and Mingling
8:15 - 8:40 25 Presentation B Media Collection - video, audio, PPT
8:40 - 8:55 15 Discussion B Sharing Impressions, Ideas, Experiences
8:55 - 9:00 5 Closing Thoughts, poems, videos selected by members

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Holy Manners The background on the phrase and why we have adopted it. The guidelines for our studies.
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Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. ... Proverbs 23:12 (NIV)
Group Facilitator. Wayne Holst              EMAIL WAYNE

I spent most of my life thinking like a church professional, rather than as a regular congregational member. My training as a pastor always had me asking myself 'how can I apply this discovery, insight, new information to a regular church setting?'

Often, clergy have been hesitant to share the discoveries they have made through a 'critical' approach to the Bible with their parishoners because they wonder how laypeople might accept it. I have found that many thinking laity are professionals in their own fields of endeavour and understand a critical approach very readily. What they seek are ways of relating faith to daily living.

I am grateful for the journey I have been taking through ordained ministry to teaching at the university and serving as a fellow layperson at St.David's United Church. Here we find that questioning and honest expression of our faith and doubt is readily accepted and supported.
Group Facilitator. Jock McTavish           EMAIL JOCK

I am a student and a poet, a democrat and a techocrat, an eclectic eccentric. I grew up in a loving Baptist community, so in my heart I'm still a Bible loving evangelical. As I grew in learning I found a new home in the United Church whose tolerance embraces the broadest range of Christian understanding. I most enjoy the illumination of our ancient traditions by modern scholarship. For they show in clear novel ways that the perspectives of the Special Ones were seldom the understandings of those that followed. They show all knowledge to be in relationship .

There seems a lack of understanding in our secular world for religious practices. The reasons why I still gladly - even necessarily - attend church are difficult to voice to those unfamiliar with church, or those injured by church. Elliott got it right. We find our way back to the place we started from. But with new understanding.