Karen Armstrong’s Fields of Blood will have a reader ask the question, “Is violence endemic to human nature?” From mankind’s early beginnings there was a great struggle for survival. When our ancestors were hunter-gathers they had to hunt and kill their prey. These humans lived through violent periods in the Paleolithic and Neolithic age. Later Mediterranean peoples continued to experience struggles during the Constantine’s empire, Crusaders, Spanish Inquisition, Wars of Religion, Thirty Years’ War, and Reformation.
In the 17th and 18th century religion was rejected in the West. During the Age of Enlightenment John Locke propounded the belief of the separation of Church and State, but this period saw the rise of scientific and cultural racism. In Europe and America the suppression of the indigenous populations and African slave trade for economic profit flourished. And Germans, who were world-leading secular thinkers, gave rise to death camps under Hitler that exterminated millions of Jews.
Secularism was marked by Western imperialism, and an imbalance of power. But what became of Asoka’s concept of peace, India’s ahimsa – non-violence, China’s Golden Rule, and Jesus Christ’s teachings to love your neighbor as yourself? In India there were renouncers, European monks took to monasteries, and Confucian and Taoist’s ideals, but still violence was prominent.
In the 20th century violence continued to rage in the Middle East. Historical observers point to many reasons, but one of Islam’s tenets is that of peace. Still there was 9/11, the Israeli-Arab conflicts, jihads, and the horrendous effects of the Jews Six-Day-War. Yet people were witnessing the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, the rise kookism of the Israeli secular right, and fundamentalism in America. It appears that with the rise of more nations with nuclear weapons humankind’s future has become more problematic
How has the Christian faith shaped my life? Why did I pursue an education in America? Why did I marry an American woman? How did I get a break at CBS Network News? Why did I become an American citizen? How did I eventually become a professor, chair, and graduate director at an American university? Why did I become an author? Why am I writing Christian books in retirement? These are some of the questions the author answers in Life’s Passages: From Guyana to America.
Life’s Passages is a spiritual biography that traces my life as a member of the Thomas’ family up to the present time. Its theme captures the role of a loving and caring God in our lives. Readers will journey in the local environment of a small South American country - Guyana, and explore the realities of living in America as a student and professor.
Undoubtedly, Guyanese culture helped determine who I was to become. Social, political, and economic factors were the bedrock of the way I came to view the world. But it’s my belief that the hand of God was at work throughout my life. This was true from the day I was born, to my experiences in public school, colleges, and universities.
From my early days in North Road, Georgetown, I would join my siblings in prayer in our three-room home. I mainly attended Mass at St. George’s Cathedral, Guyana, and Church of the Holy Apostles, Virginia Beach, VA. These experiences were to have profound effects upon me. It was however by the grace of God working in my life that I was able to have the necessary breaks to progress in these communities.
Some unexpected opportunities led to fulfillment and happiness. I benefited from an excellent education, found wonderful jobs, was blessed with a caring family, and friends. There were trials along the way, when my life seemed as though it was falling apart. But, by the grace of God I was able to persevere, and overcome these setbacks. My story therefore is one of hope, love, grace, and above all, the triumph of the human spirit.