Barbarians

At the end of my last post I described a group of “fundamentalist warmongers”, but I wasn’t quite happy with the term I used. But I think I have found the word I want in the latest instalment of Ben Witherington’s novel The Lazarus Effect, which is proving an interesting read.

Describing a Palestinian Arab antiquities dealer, Witherington writes:

Kahlil had no stomach and no sympathy for those he called the ‘barbarians’ by which he meant both radical and violent zealots of whatever religion and no religion. In his view such behavior was a betrayal of the highest and best that all three monotheistic religions had to offer.

Neither “fundamentalist” nor “warmonger” quite captures the idea I had in mind. For although many of these people are religious fundamentalists of one kind or another, others seem to be completely secular. Also not all of those who have fundamentalist religious beliefs are in this category. And although a warmongering spirit is characteristic of these people, not all of them are actually warmongers.

But Kahlil’s word “barbarian” has just the right meaning, and the context in which it is used clarifies that this is an attitude independent of religious affiliation. Like Kahlil, I have no sympathy with such people, even if they claim to be my Christian brothers and sisters.

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