As we continue to feel the effects of World War I-the first global, industrialized conflict-Baylor University historian Phillip Jenkins finds that the WWI was understood by many as a religious crusade. In an interview with Jonathan Merritt of the Religion News Service, Jenkins finds there is much at stake for us today:
RNS: So what is the lesson in this? Is there something inspirational you hope religious readers will take away beyond a history lesson?
PJ: The most important thing for me is understanding the shape of the world’s modern religious history, but the story is also important for any efforts at interreligious dialogue and understanding. Westerners often assume than Islam is some dark militaristic doomsday cult because of its willingness to support armed violence, but just a hundred years ago, Christian nations were doing very much the same thing. We don’t have to go back to the Crusades to find eerie parallels among Christians to the jihadi mindset.
As far as inspirational, I am moved when I read the accounts of the spiritual meaning that ordinary soldiers found at the battlefronts, how they sought refuge from the horrors they saw. They continued to see glimpses of heaven while mired in the depths of Hell.
For the complete interview with Phillip Jenkins, please visit the Religion News Service article here.