Karen Armstrong

An Uncloistered Mind


Karen Armstrong is the highly regarded and highly opinioned religious scholar described by Salon.com as "arguably the most lucid, wide-ranging, and consistently interesting religion writer today." Her theological career began auspiciously enough when she became a Catholic nun at the age of seventeen. But when she left the convent seven years later, disillusioned with the restrictions and limitations of the cloistered life, she embarked on a path of intellectual discovery and true religious inquiry. Armstrong began her writing career with a controversial book about her life in the convent, Through the Narrow Gate, which was followed by the publication of two dozen books and anthologies largely concerned with the great Abrahamic religions of the West: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Continually critiquing and exploring the roots of monotheism and the quest for God in our globalized world, Armstrong is considered an influential and potent bridge builder among the world's great faiths. In her recent works, she has begun venturing into new areas, having written a biography of the Buddha, a personal memoir, and her most recent publication, A Short History of Myth. WIE's Jessica Roemischer spoke with Ms. Armstrong at her London home about her life and work in this erudite and engaging dialogue. Armstrong emphasizes the critical importance of compassion in all religious doctrine and practice, and expresses her disdain (compassion notwithstanding) for the feel-good superficiality that too often characterizes contemporary spiritual life.

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