Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Great Transformation

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The Great Transformation

The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions

by Karen Armstrong

The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 496 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2007, 560 pages

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Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a nun in the Catholic Society of the Holy Child Jesus during the 1960s and later wrote a tell-all book, Through the Narrow Gate (1982) that bemoaned the restrictive life.

She teaches Christianity at London's Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism. It was her first trip to Jerusalem in 1983 that piqued her interest in commonality among faiths. At the time she was an atheist who was "wearied" by religion and "worn out by years of struggle;" but the trip gave her back "a sense of what faith is all about." 

Her books include A History of God (1993), Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths (1996) and The Battle for God (2000).  Continue bio at BookBrowse.....


Also of interest:
A 30 minute NPR radio interview (New York Public Radio, 30 mins).

Select quotes from this interview:

"Too many religious people want to be right not compassionate."
"The practice of compassion is religion."
"Religion is designed not to answer our questions but to help us to ask them and to hold us in an attitude of awe and wonder ... a lot of science does that too."

Did you know? The term Axial Age was coined in 1948 by German philosopher Karl Jaspers to describe the approximate 600 year period from around 800 BC during which the foundations of the world's great religions was laid.

This article was originally published in May 2006, and has been updated for the April 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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