Karen Armstrong: Once Rejecting Religion, She Now Sees it as a Guidepost
Seventeen books later, she is recognized as one of the great religious historians, and she has reconsidered her label.
She regards herself to be deeply religious but with no denomination. "Sometimes I call myself a freelance," she says in her melodious English accent. "I can't see any one of the great religions as superior to others. . . . I'm seeking to make sense of life, looking for its meaning and how we can have a better humanity."
Borrowing for the moment from Buddhism, she explains, "Nirvana is something within you. It is not an external reality. No god thunders down from the mountaintop. Just as the great mystics in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths all discovered, God is within the self. God is virtually inseparable from ourselves."
"Religion," she says, "is very complicated. Some do it very well. Some do it badly. It's an art form. Not everyone who plays the piano plays like Vladimir Ashkenazy."
Karen Armstrong is sitting in a restaurant in Manhattan sipping white wine and musing over her beliefs, her life, her work. Her new book, "The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions," is the second in a two-book deal, the first being "The Spiral Staircase," her enthralling account of her Catholic upbringing and her falling away from the church after leaving the convent in England. Knopf, her publisher, is so confident of its success that it has printed 100,000 copies.
comments powered by Disqus
- New museum in Poland -- the grandest space created since 1989 -- tells the story of the Jews
- Lewinsky mistreated by authorities in investigation of Clinton, report says
- Scientists Say Proof Of Jack The Ripper's Identity Is Fatally Flawed
- Memorial for black Revolutionary War soldiers finds spot on Mall after 30 years
- Sherlock Holmes star to feature in a new movie about Alan Turning
- How Laurel Thatcher Ulrich caught up with the past
- Postal Workers Take on Harvard President, historian Drew Faust
- Symposium held in honor of John D’Emilio
- Thousands of Historic Archives from British Asylums to Go Online
- American Studies Association boycott of Israel: Conservatives say it’s weakening