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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

Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies

Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/06/1999

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

Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies

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.

Vision Of God

Vision Of God

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

A History Of God

A History Of God

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback / softback 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

Through the Narrow Gate

Author: Karen Armstrong Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 21/07/1997

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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