Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hamblin & Peterson: 'Wars of religion,' then and now

From Salt Lake-

When casual observers, or even trained experts, gaze upon the anarchy in the Middle East, they're tempted to despair. The bewildering range of ethnic groups, tribes, political factions, religions and sects — all with widely divergent and irreconcilable interests — seems overwhelming. And, despite what politicians sometimes suggest, there’s no clear — let alone easy — resolution for this complex and chaotic situation. Indeed, it’s doubtful that any policy proposed by outsiders can be ultimately successful.

Paradoxically, among the closest historical parallels to the contemporary religious and political turmoil in the Middle East are western Europe’s Catholic-Protestant wars of religion in the aftermath of the Reformation. Beginning in the 1560s, a series of wars between rival European kings and states engulfed Holland, France, Germany and England. These wars weren’t fully resolved until 1648 on the continent and 1651 in the British Isles. The most horrific was the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) in Germany that killed an estimated one-third of Germany’s population through war, famine and disease. Overall, these internecine Christian wars of religion endured nearly a century. Unfortunately, final resolution of the social, ethnic, political, economic, military and religious conflicts now ongoing in the Middle East will probably require generations as well.

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