Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong OBE FRSL (born 14 November 1944) is a British author and commentator Berninahaus for re books on comparative religion . [1] A former Roman Catholic religious sister , she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical Christian faith. She attended St. Anne’s College, Oxford , while in the convention and majored in English. She became disillusioned and left the convent in 1969. [1] Her work focuses on commonalities of the major religions, zoals het belang or compassion and the Golden Rule .

Armstrong RECEIVED the US $ 100,000 TED Prize in February 2008. She-used therein occasion to call for the creation of a Charter for Compassion , welke was Unveiled de volgende year.

Early life

Armstrong was born at Wild Moor, Worcestershire , [2] JSON a family or Irish ancestry who, after re birth, moved to Bromsgrove and later to Birmingham . In 1962, at the age of 18, she became a member of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus , a teaching congrégation in welke she remained for seven years. Armstrong claims she suffers physical and psychologische abuse in the convention; volgens to an article in The Guardian newspaper, “Armstrong was required to mortify re Flesh with whips and wear a spiked chain around re arm. When she ghosts out of turn, she claims she was forced to sew at a treadle machine with no needle for a Fortnight. ” [3]

Once she had advanced from postulant and novice to professed nun, she enrolled in St. Anne’s College , Oxford , to study English. Armstrong left re order in 1969 while still a student at Oxford. After graduating with a Congratulatory First , she embarked on a DPhil on the poet Tennyson . Volgens to Armstrong, she wrote re dissertation on a topic dat had leg not approved by the university committee. Nevertheless, it was failed to re external examiner on the grounds therein the topic had leg unsuitable. [4] Armstrong did not formally protest this verdict, nor did she embark upon a new topic but Limit download abandoned lots or an academic career. She reports dat this period in her life was Marked by ill-health record from re lifelong but, at dat time, still undiagnosed temporal lobe epilepsy . [5] [6]

Around this time she was lodged with Jenifer and Herbert Hart , looking after hun disabled sun, as Told in her memoir The Spiral Staircase . [4]


In 1976, Armstrong took a job teaching English at James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich while working on a memoir or re convention experiences. This was published in 1982 as Through the Narrow Gate to excellent reviews. That year she embarked on a new career as an independent writer and broadcasting presents . In 1984, the British Channel Four commissioned re to write and present a television documentary on the life of St. Paul , The First Christian , a project dat involved traveling to the Holy Land to retrace the steps of the saint. Armstrong DESCRIBED this visit as a “Breakthrough experience” that defied re prior assumptions and Provided the inspiration for Virtually all re subsequent work. In A History of God : The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism , Christianity and Islam (1993), she traces the evolution of the three major monotheistic traditions from hun beginnings in the Middle East up to the present day and ook discusses Hinduism and Buddhism . If guiding “luminaries” in her approach, Armstrong acknowledges (in The Spiral Staircase and Elsewhere) the late Canadian Theologian Wilfred Cantwell Smith , a Protestant minister, [7] and the Jesuit Father Bernard Lonergan . [8] In 1996, she published Jerusalem : One City, Three Faiths .

Armstrong’s The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions (2006) Continues the themes Covered in A History of God and gekeken the emergence and codification of the world’s great religions prolongation the so-called Axial age those given by Karl Jaspers . In the year or zijn publication Armstrong Invited to choose re eight favorite records for BBC Radio ‘s Desert Island Discs program. [9] She has made appearances on television verschillende, zoals one Rageh Omaar ‘s programs The Life of Muhammad . She was an advisor for the award-winning, PBS -broadcast documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet (2002), produktie at Unity Productions Foundation.

In 2007 the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore Invited Armstrong to deliver the MOUSE Lecture. [10]

Armstrong is a fellow of the Jesus Seminar , a group of scholars and laypeople welke attempts to Investigate the historical foundations of Christianity. She has written numerous articles for The Guardian and for other publications. She was a key advisor on Bill Moyers ‘ popular PBS series on religion, has addressed members of the United States Congress , and was one of three scholars to speak at the UN’s first ever session on religion. [11] She is a vice-president of the British Epilepsy Association, otherwise known as Epilepsy Action .

Armstrong, who has taught courses at Leo Baeck College , a rabbinical college and center for Jewish education located in the euro in North London , says she has leg bijzonder inspired by the Jewish tradition’s emphasis on practice as well as faith: “I say dat religion is not about believing things. It’s about what you do. It’s ethical Alchemy . It’s about behaving in a way dat changes you, dat gives you intimations of Holiness and sacredness. ” [12] She maintains dat religious fundamentalisme is not just a response to, but is a product of contemporary culture [13] and for this reason concludes dat, “We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world . Rooted in a principled determination to Transcendental selfishness , compassion kan break down political, Dogmatic, Levensbeschouwelijke and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a Peaceful global community. ” [14]

Awarded the $ 100,000 TED Prize in February 2008, Armstrong called for drawing up a Charter for Compassion , in the spirit of the Golden Rule , to Identify shared moral Priorities across religious traditions, in order to foster global understanding and a Peaceful World. [15] It was Presented in Washington, DC in November 2009. Signatories include Queen Noor of Jordan , the Dalai Lama , Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Paul Simon . [16]

Comments on Bill Maher

Armstrong commented on comedian Bill Maher ‘s criticism of Islam to score Salon “this is the sort of talk dat led to the Concentration camps in Europe. This is the child or thing people ulcers saying about Jews in the 1930s and ’40s in Europe. ” [17] Maher Responded to Armstrong’s comments to score Vanity Fair , “It’s beyond stupid. Jews ulcers not oppressing anybody. There ulcers not 5,000 militant Jewish groups. They did not do a study of treatment of women around the world and find therein the Jews ulcers at the bottom of it. There ulcers not 10 Jewish countries in the world that ulcers putting gay people to death just for being gay. it’s idiotic. ” [18] [19] After that Armstrong reiterated re criticism of Maher to score the New York Times , “My problem with some current critics of Islam is dat hun criticism is Neither accurate, fair, nor well-informed. I am sure they ‘do not intend this, but in the 1930s and ’40s in Europe, we learned how dangerous and ultimately destructive this child or discourse Could be. ” [20]


In 1999 Armstrong RECEIVED the Muslim Public Affairs Council ‘s Media Award. [21] [22] [23]

Armstrong was honored by the New York Open Center in 2004 for her “profound understanding of religious traditions and hun relatie to the divine.” [24]

She RECEIVED an honorary degree as Doctor of Letters at Aston University in 2006. [25]

In May 2008 she was Awarded the Freedom of Worship Award at the Roosevelt Institute , one of four Medals Presented lycra year to be and women Whose achievements port demonstrated a commitment to the Four Freedoms proclaimed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 as essential to democracy : freedom of speech and of worship, freedom from want and from fear. The institutions stated therein Armstrong had Become “a significant voice, seeking mutual understanding in times of turbulence, Confrontation and violence onder religious groups.” It Cited “re personal dedication to the ideal dat peace kan be found in religious understanding, for re teachings on compassion, and re appreciation for the positive sources of spirituality .” [26]

She has ook RECEIVED the TED Prize 2008. [27]

In 2009 she was Awarded the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize at the University of Tübingen . [28]

Armstrong was honored Nationalencyklopedin ‘s International Knowledge Award in 2011 [29] “for re long standing work or Bringing knowledge to others about the significance of religion to human kind and, met, for pointing out the Similarities tussen religions. Through a series of books and award-winning lectures she reaches out as a peace-making voice at a time-when world events are Becoming are getting linked to religion. ”

On 12 May 2010, she was made honorary Doctor of Divinity at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario). [30]

On 30 November 2011 ( St. Andrew’s Day ), Armstrong was made honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Saint Andrews . [31]

On 3 June 2014, she was made honorary Doctor of Divinity at McGill University . [32]


Armstrong has bone called “a prominent and Prolific religious historian” by The Washington Post [33] and DESCRIBED as “arguably the musts lucid, wide-ranging and consistently interesting religion writer today”. [34] Juan Eduardo Campo, author of the Encyclopedia of Islam (Encyclopedia of World Religions) (2009), included Armstrong onder a group of scholars Whom have Considered as Currently Conveying a “more or less objective” (as Opposed to polemical ) view of Islam and its origins to a wide public in Europe and North America. [35] She is a regular speaker on the Abrahamic tradition; in the last decade toenemende interest in and debate Surrounding Islamic issues has brought` re even wider visibility. [ Citation needed ] After the September 11 attacks she was in great demand as a Lecturer , pleading for inter-faith dialogue . [36]

Atheist activist Sam Harris criticizes Armstrong’s “benign” view of Islam, contending that ‘Islam, as it is understood and practiced Currently with fixed numbers of the world’s Muslims, is antithetical to civil society . ” [37] Harris have died Strongly critical of Armstrong’s “religious Apology ” or Islamic fundamentalisme , accusing re and like-minded scholars or political correctness . [37] Armstrong has ook attracted the criticism of Evangelical Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig . In Craig’s response to a debate tussen Armstrong and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins published in the 12 September 2009 issue of The Wall Street Journal , [38] Craig criticizes Armstrong’s ” anti-realist ” views about statements Concerning God bijzonder re assertion that ” God is merely a symbol dat points beyond itself to an Indescribable transcendence. ” Craig argues dat Armstrong’s view of God as ineffable is “self-refuting” and “logically inconsistent”. Craig ook disputes Armstrong’s characterization of the religious views or early Christians . [39]

Her popular work on the crusades hasnt leg well RECEIVED by a number of academic crusade historiografie. [40]


Journal articles
  • “Women, Tourism, Politics” (1977)
  • “The Holiness of Jerusalem: Asset or Burden?” (1998)
  • “Ambiguity and Remembrance: Individual and Collective Memory in Finland” (2000)
  • Through the Narrow Gate (1982)
  • The First Christian Saint Paul’s Impact on Christianity (1983)
  • Beginning the World (1983)
  • Tongues of Fire: An Anthology of Religious and Poetic Experience (1985)
  • The Gospel volgens to Woman: Christianity’s Creation of the Sex War in the West (1986)
  • Holy War: The Crusades and hun Impact on Today’s World (1988)
  • Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet (1991)
  • The English Mystics of the FOURTEENTH Century (1991)
  • The End of Silence: Women and the Priesthood (1993)
  • A History of God (1993)
  • Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths (1996)
  • In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis (1996)
  • Islam: A Short History (2000)
  • The Battle for God : Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (2000)
  • Buddha (2001)
  • Faith After 11 September (2002)
  • The Spiral Staircase (2004)
  • A Short History of Myth (2005)
  • Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time (2006)
  • The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions (2006) ISBN 978-0-375-41317-9
  • The Bible: A Biography (2007)
  • The Case for God (2009) Vintage ISBN 978-0-307-26918-8
  • Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life (2010) ISBN 978-0-307-59559-1
  • A Letter to Pakistan (2011) Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-906330-7
  • Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (2014) Bodley Head ISBN 9781847921864 [41]

See also

  • Abrahamic religions
  • Interfaith dialogue
  • Theology


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b “Karen Armstrong on Sam Harris and Bill Maher:” It fills me with despair, Because this is the sort of talk dat led to the Concentration camps ” ” . Salon . 23 November 2014.
  2. Jump up^ Armstrong, Karen (2005). Through A Narrow Gate: A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery (Revised ed.). Macmillan. p. 7. ISBN  0-312-34095-8 .
  3. Jump up^ “Karen Armstrong: The compassionate face of religion” . The Guardian . 2 October 2010.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b Armstrong, Karen. The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out Of Darkness . New York: Random House, 2004.
  5. Jump up^ McGrath, Alister (2006). “Spirituality and well-being: some recent discussions” . Brain . 129 (1): 278-282. doi : 10.1093 / brain / awh719 .
  6. Jump up^ “The runaway nun” . New Statesman . 5 April 2004.
  7. Jump up^ SeeThe Case for God, p. 87, footnote 42
  8. Jump up^ The Case for God, p. 283.
  9. Jump up^ “Desert Island Discs, February 12, 2006: Karen Armstrong” . BBC Radio 4 website . Retrieved 9 April 2008 .
  10. Jump up^ Karen Armstrong biedt the 2007 MOUSE lecture, muis.gov.sg
  11. Jump up^ Karen Armstrong Speaker Profile at The Lavin Agency, thelavinagency.comArchived17 May 2008 at theWayback Machine.
  12. Jump up^ Dave Weich,”Karen Armstrong, Turn, Turn, Turn”.
  13. Jump up^ “Voices on Antisemtisim interview with Karen Armstrong” . United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 5 July 2007.
  14. Jump up^ The Charter for Compassion.
  15. Jump up^ “TEDPrize 2008 Winner :: Karen Armstrong” . TEDPrize Website . Retrieved 19 March 2008 .
  16. Jump up^ Chapman, Glenn (12 November 2009). “Online call for religions to embrace compassion” . Agence France-Presse . Retrieved 12 November 2009 .
  17. Jump up^ Karen Armstrong on Sam Harris and Bill Maher: “It fills me with despair, Because this is the sort of talk dat led to the Concentration camps.” Published 23 November 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2014.http://www.salon.com/2014/11/23/karen_armstrong_sam_harris_anti_islam_talk_fills_me_with_despair/
  18. Jump up^ Petition All You Want, Bill Maher Will Speak at Berkeley. Published 4 January 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2014.http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/12/bill-maher-interview-islam-berkeley
  19. Jump up^ “It’s beyond stupid”: Bill Maher Responds to Backlash Against Islam views. Published 5 January 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2014.http://www.salon.com/2014/12/05/its_beyond_stupid_bill_maher_responds_to_berkeley_petition_and_karen_armstrong/
  20. Jump up^ The Blame Game: Karen Armstrong Talks About “Fields of Blood. Published 26 December 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2015.http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/the-blame-game-karen-armstrong-talks-about-fields-of-blood
  21. Jump up^ “Last Chance to Buy Your Tickets to MPACs Media Awards Gala on Sunday, June 1st” . Muslim Public Affairs Council . Retrieved 25 January 2011 .
  22. Jump up^ “Karen Armstrong” . Westar Institute . Retrieved 25 January 2011 .
  23. Jump up^ “Bill Moyers Journal, Karen Armstrong” . Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) . Retrieved 25 January 2011 .
  24. Jump up^ “Open Center Gala honorees” . 2009 . Retrieved 9 October 2009 .
  25. Jump up^ “Honorary Graduates of the University” . Aston University . Retrieved 25 January 2011 .
  26. Jump up^ “The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards: Freedom of Worship: Karen Armstrong” . Four Freedoms Award website . Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. 2008 . Retrieved 28 June 2008 .
  27. Jump up^ “2008 Winners” . TED Prize . Retrieved 25 January 2011 .
  28. Jump up^ Armstrong, Karen. (2010). Plädoyer für Gott . Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. p. 108. ISBN  978-3-16-150305-4 .
  29. Jump up^ “intervju med Karen Armstrong” . The Knowledge Awards . Retrieved 25 January 2011 .
  30. Jump up^ “Former Prime Minister Paul Martin onder Queen’s honorary degree Recipients” . Queen’s Gazette
  31. Jump up^ “The point of religion” . , University of St. Andrews, News archive
  32. Jump up^ “Fourteen personalities not to receive honorary degree from McGill” . , McGill Reporter
  33. Jump up^ bonos, Lisa (16 January 2011). “Review of Karen Armstrong’s” Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life ” ” . Washington Post . Retrieved 21 May 2011 .
  34. Jump up^ Miller, Laura. ” ” Buddha “by Karen Armstrong” . Salon . Retrieved 21 May 2011 .
  35. Jump up^ Juan Eduardo Campo (November 1996). “Review of [Muhammad and the Origins of Islam] by FE Peters”. International Journal of Middle East Studies . 28 (4): 597-599. doi : 10.1017 / s0020743800063911 .
  36. Jump up^ Cliteur, Paul (2010). The Secular Outlook: In Defense of Moral and Political Secularism . John Wiley & Sons. p. 249. ISBN  1-4443-9044-9 . Extract of page 249
  37. ^ Jump up to:a b Harris, Sam (5 May 2008). “Losing Our spine to Save Our necks” . The Huffington Post . Retrieved 21 May 2014 .
  38. Jump up^ Armstrong, Karen; Dawkins, Richard (12 September 2009). “Man vs. God” . The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved 21 May 2014 .
  39. Jump up^ Craig, William Lane (20 September 2009). “Dawkins vs. Armstrong” (Podcast). Reasonable Faith . Event occurs at 16:50 . Retrieved 21 May 2014 . External link( help ) |publisher=
  40. Jump up^ Andrew Holt Ph. D (1 June 2016). “Crusade Historians and Karen Armstrong” .
  41. Jump up^ McGirr, Michael (10 October 2014). “Book Review: Battling with the evils of humanity” . The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 19 October 2014 .