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Kevin P. Dincher
1492: The Emergence of Religious Fundamentalism
"In fourteen hundred and ninety-two,Columbus sailed the ocean blue ..."
...and got lost! Nevertheless, his voyage changed the world. However, Columbus' voyage was not the only e vent in
Spain in 1492 to influenced the course of history. On January 2, 1492, the armies of Ferdinand and Isabella captured
the city of Granada, the last remaining Muslim stronghold in Spain after their nearly 800 years of rule. Then on March
31, 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella issued their Edict of Expulsion, which required all Jews living in Spain to either
convert to Catholicism or leave the country.
Religious fundamentalism is often viewed as a throwback and fundamentalists as being stuck in the past and refusing
to engage in the modern world. But in her book The Battle for God, Karen Armstrong offers a different perspective:
that fundamentalism emerges as a direct engagement with an emerging modern culture.
Armstrong proposes that as Europe transitioned from the "Dark Ages" to "modernity" (a transformation dramatized by
the events of 1492 Spain) a different kind of society began to evolve. Each of the three major monotheistic religions
was forced to come to terms with this emerging modern world, each in a different context, which created a crisis of
survival for them. Fundamentalism is one of the ways that some members of each religion responded to this emerging
modern world - and continue to respond to the modern world in our own time.
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