Karen Armstrong is among the world's foremost commentators on religion. A former nun in the Roman Catholic Society of the Holy Child Jesus, Armstrong now defines herself as a "freelance monotheist," drawing from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The theologian writes about multiple faiths in her bestselling books, including Muhammad, A History of God, Buddha, The Battle for God, and The Great Transformation. In her critical studies and the memoirs Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase, Armstrong's perspective is based on compassion instead of reduction.
"It doesn't really matter what you believe as long as it leads you to practical compassion," Armstrong has said.
Her most recent book is The Bible: A Biography, a brief study of the sacred text and the centuries of biblical interpretation- City Arts & Lectures
Contemporary and historical religion's most prolific author, Karen Armstrong is a highly sought-after lecturer around the world, and is called upon by governments, universities, and church and secular organizations alike to educate about the world's religions and to inform regarding their place in the modern world. A former Roman Catholic nun, she was educated at Oxford and has taught at London University and London's Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism.
Her writings include A History of God: From Abraham to the Present, the 4000 Year Quest for God; Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths; The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Islam: A Short History; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions; and Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time. She has been honored around the world especially as a bridge-builder between the Abrahamic Faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Her most recent works are A History of the Bible, The Case for God, and 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life.
One of the 2008 winners of the TED Prize, chosen for her world-changing work and continuing potential to inspire others to do something great for the world, in November of 2009 the TED community helped Armstrong to launch her Charter for Compassion to help to restore the Golden Rule as the central global religious doctrine.
Rev. Alan Jones
Alan Jones, Ph.D., has been dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco since 1985.
Jones was formerly the director of the Center for Christian Spirituality and Stephen F. Bayne Professor of Ascetical Theology at General Theological Seminary in New York City. Born and educated in England, Jones was also on the staff of Trinity Institute of Wall Street's Trinity Church. He became a citizen of the United States in 1975.
Jones is the author of several books, most notably, Soul Making, The Desert Way of Spirituality, Passion for Pilgrimage and most recently, The Soul's Journey: Exploring the Three Passages of the Spiritual Life with Dante as a Guide. He is widely known as a gifted preacher and travels throughout the world preaching, lecturing, and leading retreats.
I'm sure you must know then that Armstrong is considered a notorious apologist for Islam and the hijacking of that Faith by jihadists. Of course, she never addresses the central problem of the Quran which, taken as it is without any moderating license, is the demonstrable canon for intolerance and violence. It is, in fact, the unmistakable user's guide for radical jihadi operations globally.
"...but it seem that amongst much of the academic world today, eloquence is considered more important tha[n] being right."
I was thinking the very same thing as I listened to the styles of Dean Jones and Karen Armstrong unfurl. I recognized the 'professorial' syntax and high rhetoric from my university days, language that I found so hypnotically persuasive back then. I was amused to find that I'm much less susceptible to the spell cast by these cadences today---now that I've lived some and grabbed hold of the world with all its comfortable vernacular and lovely vulgarity. You are right, of course. Academics often get lost in the sounds of their own logical constructions and mistake them for truth.
Armstrong contradicts herself
At the beginning she said we have to act upon before confirming beliefs. As she says "grow into it"!
Later when talking about the buddha explaining to understand your beliefs is necessary to have enlightenment!
Armstrong has put the cart before the horse. Common sense is thrown out when she talks. To act, without reason is illogical. To act on religion without understanding it and believing it is an absurdity that too many people doing blindly.
The golden rule is a rule that is mediocre at best. It is better to treat people the way they want to be treated, unless it conflicts with your own beliefs.
I noted that, too. I was under the impression that Nazism did not require secularism, but perhaps I was wrong.
However, how would you have felt were he to use the secularism of communism? Mao Zedong, leader of communist China for so long, has been alleged in some accounts to be responsible for 38 million deaths (both through directly ordered/administered killings or through incidental costs related to policy decisions).
I particularly disliked the comment made by Jones when he hijacked (to use Armstrong often used term) and distorted the facts about what an atheist might say after chopping off the head of a poor human being. What Jones fails to say is that a vast majority of Officers and even more soldiers in the Nazi army were devout Christians. How could they not be when even the Vatican supported Hitler and had a mass sang every year on Hitler's birthday. Come on people wake up these moderates cause more harm then they contribute to fixing problems.
ZZZZZZzzzzzzzz.......What have I learned here? Liberal and moderates such as Armstrong continue shielding the fundamentalists and extremist religious fanatics. When people like Armstrong find a way to have a full Bible reform and do away with all the immoral content, and have this newly reformed version planted in every hotel room in America, I will show much respect for the religious moderates. Until then they are just a cover-up for dangerous people which makes them just as dangerous. Amen!
Karen Armstrong is eloquent, but it seem that amongst much of the academic world today, eloquence is considered more important that being right. She is wrong on many things: for example she says the concept of biblical inerrancy was a developed in the 18th century which is just a lot of rot. Martin Luther said the scripture does not err - if that's not biblical inerrancy I don't know what is! Jesus of Nazareth said the scriptures cannot be broken. Again, this is the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. In fact, for Jesus, sometimes when answering questions posed to him or while he was debating with the other rabbi's, his entire argument would turn on the meaning of a single word of the Hebrew scriptures. Religious people, especially those of the abrahamic religions have believe in the inerrancy of their scriptures for thousands of years!