Karen Armstrong - Author

About the Author

Karen Armstrong is one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun in the 1960s, but then left her teaching order in 1969 to read English at Oxford. In 1982 she became a full-time writer and broadcaster. The best-selling author of over sixteen books, she is a passionate campaigner for religious liberty.

Featured books by Karen Armstrong

Fields of Blood Religion and the History of Violence

Fields of Blood Religion and the History of Violence

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/09/2014

Countering the atheist claim that believers are by default violent fanatics and religion is the cause of all major wars, Karen Armstrong demonstrates that religious faith is not inherently violent. In fact, the world's major religions have throughout their history displayed ambivalent attitudes towards aggression and warfare. At times they have allied themselves with states and empires for protection or to further their influence; at others they have tried to curb state oppression and aggression and worked for peace and justice. Taking us on a journey from prehistoric times to the present, Karen Armstrong contrasts medieval crusaders and modern-day jihadists with the pacifism of the Buddha and Jesus' vision of a just and peaceful society; moreover, she demonstrates that the underlying reasons - social, economic, political - for war and violence in our history often had very little to do with religion. While human beings have a natural propensity for aggression, collective violence and warfare emerged at a certain point in history when the invention of agriculture created a society and a state based on the accumulation of wealth. For most of history our destructive potential could be contained but with the industrialised warfare and all-powerful state of the modern age, humanity is on the brink of destroying itself. Vast in scope, impeccably researched and passionately argued, Fields of Blood is more than a corrective to the prevailing view that religion is to blame for most of the bloodshed throughout human history: it is a celebration of those religious ideas and movements that have opposed war and aggression and promoted peace and reconciliation.

Other books by Karen Armstrong

A Short History Of Myth

A Short History Of Myth

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2018

As long as we have been human, we have been mythmakers. In A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong holds up the mirror of mythology to show us the history of ourselves, and embarks on a journey that begins at a Neanderthal graveside and ends buried in the heart of the modern novel. Surprising, powerful and profound, A Short History of Myth examines the world's most ancient art form - the making and telling of stories - and why we still need it.

St Paul The Misunderstood Apostle

St Paul The Misunderstood Apostle

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/09/2016

St Paul is known throughout the world as the first Christian writer, authoring fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament. But as Karen Armstrong demonstrates in St Paul: The Misunderstood Apostle, he also exerted a more significant influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the world than any other figure in history. It was Paul who established the first Christian churches in Europe and Asia in the first century, Paul who transformed a minor sect into the largest religion produced by Western civilization, and Paul who advanced the revolutionary idea that Christ could serve as a model for the possibility of transcendence. While we know little about some aspects of the life of St Paul - his upbringing, the details of his death - his dramatic vision of God on the road to Damascus is one of the most powerful stories in the history of Christianity, and the life that followed forever changed the course of history.

If We Could Fly

If We Could Fly

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/03/2016

Fields of Blood Religion and the History of Violence

Fields of Blood Religion and the History of Violence

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/09/2015

It is the most persistent myth of our time: religion is the cause of all violence. But history suggests otherwise. Karen Armstrong, former Roman Catholic nun and one of our foremost scholars of religion, speaks out to disprove the link between religion and bloodshed. * Religion is as old as humanity: Fields of Blood goes back to the Stone Age hunter-gatherers and traces religion through the centuries, from medieval crusaders to modern-day jihadists. * The West today has a warped concept of religion: we regard faith as a personal and private matter, but for most of history faith has informed people's entire outlook on life, and often been inseparable from politics. * Humans undoubtedly have a natural propensity for aggression: the founders of the largest religions - Jesus, Buddha, the rabbis of early Judaism, the prophet Muhammad - aimed to curb violence and build a more peaceful and just society, but with our growing greed for money and wealth came collective violence and warfare. * With the arrival of the modern all-powerful, secular state humanity's destructive potential has begun to spiral out of control. Is humanity on the brink of destroying itself? Fields of Blood is a celebration of the ancient religious ideas and movements that have promoted peace and reconciliation across millennia of civilization.

St Paul The Misunderstood Apostle

St Paul The Misunderstood Apostle

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Hardback Release Date: 22/09/2015

St Paul is known throughout the world as the first Christian writer, authoring fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament. But as Karen Armstrong demonstrates in St Paul: The Misunderstood Apostle, he also exerted a more significant influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the world than any other figure in history. It was Paul who established the first Christian churches in Europe and Asia in the first century, Paul who transformed a minor sect into the largest religion produced by Western civilization, and Paul who advanced the revolutionary idea that Christ could serve as a model for the possibility of transcendence. While we know little about some aspects of the life of St Paul - his upbringing, the details of his death - his dramatic vision of God on the road to Damascus is one of the most powerful stories in the history of Christianity, and the life that followed forever changed the course of history.

The Bible The Biography

The Bible The Biography

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2015

The Bible is the most widely distributed book in the world. Translated into over two thousand languages, it is estimated that more than six billion copies have been sold in the last two hundred years alone. In this seminal account, Karen Armstrong traces the gestation of the Bible to reveal a complex and contradictory document created by scores of people over hundreds of years. Karen Armstrong begins her analysis with the origins of the very earliest books of the Hebrew Bible, in which God was called both 'Yahweh' and 'Elohim'. She then traces the development of both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament to reveal the disparate influences that helped to form these sacred texts. From the Jewish practice of Midrash and the Christian cult of Jesus; to the influence of Paul's letters on the Reformation and the manipulation of Revelations by Christian fundamentalism, Armstrong explores the contexts in which these sixty-six books were understood and explains the social needs they answered. In the process she reveals an unfamiliar and paradoxical work that will permanently alter our understanding of the Bible.

Fields of Blood

Fields of Blood

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: eBook Release Date: 28/10/2014

From the renowned and best-selling author of A History of God, a sweeping exploration of religion and the history of human violence. For the first time, religious self-identification is on the decline in American. Some analysts have cited as cause a post-9/11perception: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance, and divisivenesssomething bad for society. But how accurate is that view? With deep learning and sympathetic understanding, Karen Armstrong sets out to discover the truth about religion and violence in each of the world's great traditions, taking us on an astonishing journey from prehistoric times to the present. While many historians have looked at violence in connection with particular religious manifestations (jihad in Islam or Christianity's Crusades), Armstrong looks at each faithnot only Christianity and Islam, but also Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaismin its totality over time. As she describes, each arose in an agrarian society with plenty powerful landowners brutalizing peasants while also warring among themselves over land, then the only real source of wealth. In this world, religion was not the discrete and personal matter it would become for us but rather something that permeated all aspects of society. And so it was that agrarian aggression, and the warrior ethos it begot, became bound up with observances of the sacred.In each tradition, however, a counterbalance to the warrior code also developed. Around sages, prophets, and mystics there grew up communities protesting the injustice and bloodshed endemic to agrarian society, the violence to which religion had become heir. And so by the time the great confessional faiths came of age, all understood themselves as ultimately devoted to peace, equality, and reconciliation, whatever the acts of violence perpetrated in their name.Industrialization and modernity have ushered in an epoch of spectacular and unexampled violence, although, as Armstrong explains, relatively little of it can be ascribed directly to religion. Nevertheless, she shows us how and in what measure religions, in their relative maturity, came to absorb modern belligerenceand what hope there might be for peace among believers of different creeds in our time.At a moment of rising geopolitical chaos, the imperative of mutual understanding between nations and faith communities has never been more urgent, the dangers of action based on misunderstanding never greater. Informed by Armstrong's sweeping erudition and personal commitment to the promotion of compassion, Fields of Blood makes vividly clear that religion is not the problem.

Im Namen Gottes

Im Namen Gottes

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: eBook Release Date: 26/09/2014

In ihrem neuen Buch "e;Im Namen Gottes"e; nimmt die Autorin erstmals die Geschichte und Gegenwart von Judentum, Christentum und Islam in Bezug auf religiose Gewalt in den Blick. Karen Armstrong geht den Ursachen dieser Gewalt auf den Grund. Das Ergebnis ihrer Untersuchung: Jahrtausendelang waren Politik und Religion ineinander verwoben. Die Trennung von Politik und Religion in der Neuzeit konnte die Gewalt nicht eindammen. Mit ihrer Analyse schafft Karen Armstrong die Grundlagen fur das Verstandnis der aktuellen internationalen Konflikte, die von politischen, wirtschaftlichen, kulturellen und religiosen Interessen beherrscht sind. "e;Geistreich, informativ und nachdenklich: Karen Armstrong versteht es, komplexe Zusammenhnge einfach darzustellen, aber sie vereinfacht nicht."e; New York Times Book Review

Die Geschichte von Gott

Die Geschichte von Gott

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: eBook Release Date: 01/10/2012

Wer oder wie ist Gott? Die britische Religionswissenschaftlerin zeichnet die faszinierende Entwicklungsgeschichte der Gottes-Suche von den mythologischen Anfangen bis heute nach. Dabei kommt sie zu dem Ergebnis, dass die Menschen zu allen Zeiten das Bild von Gott nach ihren eigenen Bedurfnissen geformt haben. Das gilt fur die drei monotheistischen Religionen - Judentum, Christentum und Islam -, aber auch fur andere religiose Vorstellungswelten.

In the Beginning

In the Beginning

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2011

The foundation stone of Jewish and Christian scriptures, the power of the Book of Genesis lies in its stories - Creation, the Fall, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph. These ancient tales illuminate some of our most enduring and profound problems: cowardice, the struggle with evil, the difficulty of facing past mistakes, achieving a true understanding of our innermost selves. Karen Armstrong traces the themes and meanings of these stories, examining what they can still tell us about the human quest for meaning.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/01/2011

Drawing on a wide range of material - ranging from the spiritual character of the world religions to the findings of contemporary neuroscience - Karen Armstrong argues that compassion is hardwired into our brains, yet is constantly pushed back by our more primitive instincts for selfishness and survival. Since time immemorial religion has enhanced our altruistic tendencies: all faiths insist that the Golden Rule is the test of true spirituality - 'Always treat others as you wish to be treated yourself'. Taking as her starting point the teachings of the great world religions, Karen Armstrong demonstrates in twelve practical steps how we can bring compassion to the forefront of our lives. These steps both reveal the inadequacies of our knowledge of ourselves and others and enable us to unlock our potential for understanding, empathy and altruism that can be translated into acts of kindness and charity.They culminate in the most radical and challenging of all religious maxims - love your enemy. Yet in today's world, compassion in no longer a luxury but, in the words of Martin Luther King, 'an absolute necessity for our survival'. Practising these steps will not change our lives overnight and turn us into saints or sages: the attempt to become a more compassionate human being is a lifelong project. Yet Karen Armstrong argues that compassion is inseparable from humanity, and by transcending the limitations of selfishness on a daily basis we will not only make a difference in the world but also lead happier, more fulfilled, lives.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: eBook Release Date: 28/12/2010

One of the most original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern worldauthor of such acclaimed books as A History of God, Islam, and Buddhanow gives us an impassioned and practical book that can help us make the world a more compassionate place.Karen Armstrong believes that while compassion is intrinsic in all human beings, each of us needs to work diligently to cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion. Here, in this straightforward, thoughtful, and thought-provoking book, she sets out a program that can lead us toward a more compassionate life.The twelve steps Armstrong suggests begin with Learn About Compassion and close with Love Your Enemies. In between, she takes up compassion for yourself, mindfulness, suffering, sympathetic joy, the limits of our knowledge of others, and concern for everybody. She suggests concrete ways of enhancing our compassion and putting it into action in our everyday lives, and provides, as well, a reading list to encourage us to hear one anothers narratives. Throughout, Armstrong makes clear that a compassionate life is not a matter of only heart or mind but a deliberate and often life-altering commingling of the two.From the Hardcover edition.

The Case for God What religion really means

The Case for God What religion really means

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/07/2010

There is widespread confusion about the nature of religious truth. For the first time in history, a significantly large number of people want nothing to do with God. Militant atheists preach a gospel of godlessness with the zeal of missionaries and find an eager audience. Tracing the history of faith from the Palaeolithic Age to the present, Karen Armstrong shows that meaning of words such as 'belief', 'faith', and 'mystery' has been entirely altered, so that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God - and, indeed, reason itself - in a way that our ancestors would have found astonishing. Does God have a future? Karen Armstrong examines how we can build a faith that speaks to the needs of our troubled and dangerously polarised world.

The Battle for God Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

The Battle for God Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/11/2009

Britain's greatest religious historian chronicles the rise and rise of fundamentalism.One of the most potent forces bedevilling the modern world is religious extremism, and the need to understand it has never been greater.Focusing in detail on Protestant fundamentalism in the United States, Jewish fundamentalism from sixteenth century Spain onwards and Muslim fundamentalism over the last four hundred years, Armstrong examines the patterns that underlie fundamentalism. These evolve from the clash between the conservative pre-modern mind that is governed by a love of myth, and the progressive rational society that relishes change. Fundamentalists view the contemporary world with horror, rejecting its claims to truth, and a state of war now exists over the future of our culture. They are not terrorists, rather, they are innovative, existing in a symbiotic relationship with an aggressive modernity, each urging the other on to greater excess.The Battle for God is original in its thesis and in its understanding; as a history of religious ideas it is fascinating, and as an explanation of one of the most destabilizing forces at large in the world today it is extraordinary.

Case for God

Case for God

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: eBook Release Date: 22/09/2009

Moving from the Paleolithic age to the present, Karen Armstrong details the great lengths to which humankind has gone in order to experience a sacred reality that it called by many names, such as God, Brahman, Nirvana, Allah, or Dao. Focusing especially on Christianity but including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese spiritualities, Armstrong examines the diminished impulse toward religion in our own time, when a significant number of people either want nothing to do with God or question the efficacy of faith. Why has God become unbelievable? Why is it that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God in a way that veers so profoundly from the thinking of our ancestors?Answering these questions with the same depth of knowledge and profound insight that have marked all her acclaimed books, Armstrong makes clear how the changing face of the world has necessarily changed the importance of religion at both the societal and the individual level. And she makes a powerful, convincing argument for drawing on the insights of the past in order to build a faith that speaks to the needs of our dangerously polarized age. Yet she cautions us that religion was never supposed to provide answers that lie within the competence of human reason; that, she says, is the role of logos. The task of religion is ';to help us live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there are no easy explanations.' She emphasizes, too, that religion will not work automatically. It is, she says, a practical discipline: its insights are derived not from abstract speculation but from ';dedicated intellectual endeavor' and a ';compassionate lifestyle that enables us to break out of the prism of selfhood.'From the Hardcover edition.

Great Transformation

Great Transformation

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: eBook Release Date: 29/01/2008

In the ninth century BCE, the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity to the present day: Confucianism and Daoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in Israel, and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Later generations further developed these initial insights, but we have never grown beyond them. Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, for example, were all secondary flowerings of the original Israelite vision. Now, in The Great Transformation, Karen Armstrong reveals how the sages of this pivotal Axial Age can speak clearly and helpfully to the violence and desperation that we experience in our own times. Armstrong traces the development of the Axial Age chronologically, examining the contributions of such figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the mystics of the Upanishads, Mencius, and Euripides. All of the Axial Age faiths began in principled and visceral recoil from the unprecedented violence of their time. Despite some differences of emphasis, there was a remarkable consensus in their call for an abandonment of selfishness and a spirituality of compassion. With regard to dealing with fear, despair, hatred, rage, and violence, the Axial sages gave their people and give us, Armstrong says, two important pieces of advice: first there must be personal responsibility and self-criticism, and it must be followed by practical, effective action. In her introduction and concluding chapter, Armstrong urges us to consider how these spiritualities challenge the way we are religious today. In our various institutions, we sometimes seem to be attempting to create exactly the kind of religion that Axial sages and prophets had hoped to eliminate. We often equate faith with doctrinal conformity, but the traditions of the Axial Age were not about dogma. All insisted on the primacy of compassion even in the midst of suffering. In each Axial Age case, a disciplined revulsion from violence and hatred proved to be the major catalyst of spiritual change.From the Hardcover edition.

The Great Transformation The World in the Time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah

The Great Transformation The World in the Time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/03/2007

The centuries between 800 and 300 BC saw an explosion of new religious concepts. Their emergence is second only to man's harnessing of fire in fundamentally transforming our understanding of what it is to be human. But why did Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, Jeremiah, Lao Tzu and others all emerge in this five-hundred-year span? And why do they have such similar ideas about humanity?In The Great Transformation, Karen Armstrong examines this phenomenal period and the connections between this disparate group of philosophers, mystics and theologians.

Muhammad Prophet for Our Time

Muhammad Prophet for Our Time

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/03/2007

From the bestselling writer of `The History of God' and the widely acclaimed `Islam - A Short History' comes Karen Armstrong's `Muhammad'. Karen Armstrong has become one of our most important and relevant commentators on religious world affairs today, consistently providing a scholarly but accessible approach to humanity's relationships with God and religion. To date, there have been very few books written on the Islamic prophet of the religion that is followed by over the 1.2 billion Muslims who make up a fifth of the world's population. Muhammad's staggering achievements as a human being quite simply altered the course of history as we know it and continue to this day to inspire humanity. Muslims claim that in 650 AD, at the age of forty, Muhammad had a visitation from the Angel Gabriel telling him that he had been chosen to learn, recite and spread the words of God to man in verses that would later make up the Qu'ran. He slowly developed into a prophet, preaching monotheism to the masses. He was initially mocked and rejected by many and risked numerous assassination attempts throughout his life. At a critical time, he also made the revolutionary decision to break all ties with his Muslim tribe thereby proclaiming that the bonds of Islam took precedence over anything else. The Islamic empire thus expanded into Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, North Africa and Spain. Karen Armstrong has written a fascinating account of this figure whose life and influence has determined the course of the spiritual life of human kind.

The Spiral Staircase

The Spiral Staircase

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/01/2005

A raw, intensely personal memoir of spiritual exploration from one of the world's great commentators on religion. After seven years in a convent, which she left, dismayed by its restrictions, an experience recounted in `Through the Narrow Gate', Karen Armstrong struggled to establish herself in a new way of life, and became entrapped in a downward spiral, haunted by despair, anorexia and suicidal feelings. Despite her departure from the convent she remained within the Catholic Church until the God she believed in 'died on me', and she entered a `wild and Godless period of crazy parties and numerous lovers'. Her attempts to reach happiness and carve out a career failed repeatedly, in spectacular fashion. She began writing her bestseller `A History of God' in a spirit of scepticism, but through studying other religious traditions she found a very different kind of faith which drew from Christianity, Judaism and Islam and, eventually, spiritual and personal calm. In her own words, her `story is a graphic illustration - almost an allegory - of a widespread dilemma. It is emblematic of a more general flight from institutional religion and a groping towards a form of faith that has not yet been fully articulated but which is nevertheless in the process of declaring itself'. Her lifelong inability to pray and to conform to traditional structures of worship is shared by the many who are leaving the established churches but who desire intensely a spiritual aspect to their lives. `The Spiral Staircase' grapples with the issue of how we can be religious in the contemporary world, and the place and possibility of belief in the 21st-century.

Remembering Karelia A Family's Story of Displacement during and after the Finnish Wars

Remembering Karelia A Family's Story of Displacement during and after the Finnish Wars

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/01/2004

In June 1944, after two wars with the Soviet Union, the Finnish region of Karelia was ceded to the Soviet Union. As a result, the Finnish population of Karelia, nearly 11% of the Finnish population, was moved across the new border. The war years, the loss of territory, the resettlement of the Karelian population, and the reparations that had to be paid to the Allied Forces, were experiences shared by most people living in Finland between 1939 and the late 1950s. Using a family's memoirs, the author shows how these traumatic events affected people in all spheres of their lives and also how they coped physically and emotionally.

Daughters of Abraham Feminist Thought in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Daughters of Abraham Feminist Thought in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2002

Important for a general audience interested in women and religion, this book should be especially valuable to scholars in the fields of feminist theology, comparative religion and interfaith studies. Based on the premise that women's struggles to have their voices heard are shared throughout the monotheisms, these essays offer new insights into the traditions of three religions during the past century. Six scholars engage in dialogue with their own faith communities, reflecting on their scripture and theology in order to understand the process by which women have been constrained within the patriarchal teachings of the religion. Looking at texts long utilized to keep women within boundaries, they open up the scriptures and traditions to a feminist interpretation of the historical teachings of their faiths.

Lives: Buddha

Lives: Buddha

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/03/2002

Buddhism is a faith that commands over 100 million followers throughout the world. Buddha stands with Christ, Confucius and Mohammed as someone who revolutionized the religious ideas of his time to advocate a new way of living. All that is known about Buddha comes from a collection of ancient writings that fuse history, biography and myth. Karen Armstrong distils from these the key events of Buddha's life: his birth as Siddhartha Gotama in the fifth century BC and his abandonment of his wife and son; his attainment of enlightenment under the Banyan tree (the moment he became a buddha, or enlightened one; his political influence; the divisions among his followers; and his serene death. Armstrong also introduces the key tenets of Buddhism: she explains the doctrine of anatta (no-soul) and the concepts of kamma (actions), samsara (keeping going), dhamma (a law or teaching that reflects the fundamental principles of existence) and the idealised state of nibbana (literally the 'cooling of the ego'). Since it promotes no personal god, Buddhism, writes Armstrong, 'is essentially a psychological faith'. In our own age of secular anxiety, she shows that it has profound lessons to teach about selflessness and the simple life. Karen Armstrong's short book is a magnificent introduction to the life and thought of this most influential of spiritual thinkers.

Muhammad Biography of the Prophet

Muhammad Biography of the Prophet

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/12/2001

A life of the prophet Muhammad by bestselling religious writer Karen Armstrong. Most people in the West know very little about the prophet Muhammad. The acclaimed religious writer Karen Armstrong has written a biography which will give us a more accurate and profound understanding of Islam and the people who adhere to it so strongly. Muhammad also offers challenging comparisons with the two religions most closely related to it - Judaism and Christianity.

Islam

Islam

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/12/2001

One of the world's foremost commentators on religious affairs on the history (and destiny) of the world's most misunderstood religion. In the public mind, Islam is a religion of extremes: it is the world's fastest growing faith; more than three-quarters of the world's refugees are Islamic; it has produced government by authoritarian monarchies in Saudi Arabia and ultra-republicans in Iran. Whether we are reading about civil war in Algeria or Afghanistan, the struggle for the soul of Turkey, or political turmoil in Pakistan or Malaysia, the Islamic context permeates all these situations. Karen Armstrong's elegant and concise book traces how Islam grew from the other religions of the book, Judaism and Christianity; introduces us to the character of Muhammed; and demonstrates that for much of its history, the religion has been a force for enlightenment that promoted liberties for women and allowed the arts and sciences to flourish. ISLAM shows how this progressive legacy is today often set aside as the faith struggles to come to terms with the economic and political weakness of most of its believers and with the forces of modernity itself.

The Battle for God Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

The Battle for God Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2001

Britain's greatest religious historian chronicles the rise and rise of fundamentalism. One of the most potent forces bedevilling the modern world is religious extremism, and the need to understand it has never been greater. Focusing in detail on Protestant fundamentalism in the United States, Jewish fundamentalism from sixteenth century Spain onwards and Muslim fundamentalism over the last four hundred years, Armstrong examines the patterns that underlie fundamentalism. These evolve from the clash between the conservative pre-modern mind that is governed by a love of myth, and the progressive rational society that relishes change. Fundamentalists view the contemporary world with horror, rejecting its claims to truth, and a state of war now exists over the future of our culture. They are not terrorists, rather, they are innovative, existing in a symbiotic relationship with an aggressive modernity, each urging the other on to greater excess. The Battle for God is original in its thesis and in its understanding; as a history of religious ideas it is fascinating, and as an explanation of one of the most destabilizing forces at large in the world today it is extraordinary.

The Changing Face of God

The Changing Face of God

Author: Karen Armstrong, Frederick W. Schmidt Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/06/2000

Five leading scholars and writers explore why our understandings about God make a world of difference. Contibutors include Karen Armstrong, Marcus Borg, James Cone, Jack Miles, and Andrew Sung Park. Book and companion videos are excellent for parish study

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to The Hebrews

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to The Hebrews

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/10/1999

Hebrews marks a parting of the ways for Jews and Christians of the first century. It makes a case for the superiority of the new Christian 'faith' over old Hebrew orthodoxy and draws on the Old Testament for precedents for Jesus's ministry and to paint a picture of Jesus.

Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies Postcolonial Gender Relations in Africa and India

Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies Postcolonial Gender Relations in Africa and India

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/06/1999

Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies addresses questions about the interrelationship of cultural practices, social relations, and gender through three studies of rural villages and two urban situations in Africa and India. The contributors point out that by looking at gender, one can see the intersection of the global and the local, the persistent and the passing, and the interplay of past and present. They focus on how gender is constructed in particular places, how gender relations are established through local hierarchies, how gender is expressed, and how this construction is contested and negotiated. The contributors argue that there is a deep cultural logic that allows people to creatively challenge, change, and reconstruct their social relations. They point out zones of tension between men and women, and discuss how people respond to these issues. While there is a long-term cultural logic at work that influences how people think about this subject, the people studied show that they are as modern as any other culture and not locked into an inflexible tradition. These recent studies in postcolonial nations provide new information on the interrelationships of cultural practices, social relations, and gender.

Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies Postcolonial Gender Relations in Africa and India

Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies Postcolonial Gender Relations in Africa and India

Author: Karen Armstrong, Suomen Antropologinen Seura Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/06/1999

Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies addresses questions about the interrelationship of cultural practices, social relations, and gender through three studies of rural villages and two urban situations in Africa and India. The contributors point out that by looking at gender, one can see the intersection of the global and the local, the persistent and the passing, and the interplay of past and present. They focus on how gender is constructed in particular places, how gender relations are established through 'local hierarchies,' how gender is expressed, and how this construction is contested and negotiated. The contributors argue that there is a deep cultural logic that allows people to creatively challenge, change, and reconstruct their social relations. They point out zones of tension between men and women, and discuss how people respond to these issues. While there is a long-term cultural logic at work that influences how people think about this subject, the people studied show that they are as modern as any other culture and not locked into an inflexible tradition. These recent studies in postcolonial nations provide new information on the interrelationships of cultural practices, social relations, and gender.

Vision Of God

Vision Of God

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/1999

A History Of God

A History Of God

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/1999

The idea of a single devine being - God, Yahweh, Allah - has existed for over 4,000 years. But the history of God is also the history of human struggle. While Judaism, Islam and Christianity proclaim the goodness of God, organised religion has too often been the catalyst for violence and ineradicable prejudice. In this fascinating, extensive and original account of the evolution of belief, Karen Armstrong examines Western society's unerring fidelity to this idea of One God and the many conflicting convictions it engenders. A controversial, extraordinary story of worship and war, A History of God confronts the most fundamental fact - or fiction - of our lives.

Through the Narrow Gate A Nun's Story

Through the Narrow Gate A Nun's Story

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/1997

Through the Narrow Gate is Karen Armstrong's memoir of life inside a Catholic convent in the 1960's. With gentleness and honesty, Armstrong takes her readers on a revelatory journey that begins with her decision, at the age of seventeen, to devote her life to God as a nun. yet once she embarked upon her spiritual training, she encountered a frightening and oppressive world, fossilized by tradition, which moulded, isolated and pushed her to the limit of what she could endure.

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