The Spiral Staircase
by Karen Armstrong
Editor: HarperCollins Publishers
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A raw, intensely personal memories of awakening from one of the greatest commentators of religionAfter seven years in a convent, which she left, dismayed by its restrictions, an experience told Through the Narrow Door”, Karen Armstrong struggled to establish herself in a new way of life, and becomes trapped in a downward spiral, haunted by despair, anorexia and suicidal thoughtsDespite her departure from the convent, she remained within the Catholic Church, until the God she believed in “died upon me”, and she entered into a “wild and unspoilt period of crazy parties and many amateursHis attempts to achieve happiness and carve out a failed career several times, dramaticallyShe began writing her bestseller “A History of God” in a spirit of skepticism, but through the study of other religious traditions, she found a genre very different from faith, which drew from Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and ultimately, spiritual and personal calmIn his own words, his story is a graphic illustration – almost an allegory, of a great dilemmaIt is emblematic in a more general way of theft of institutional religion and a trial and error towards a form of faith which has not yet been fully articulated, but which is nevertheless in the process of the declaration itself”.His lifelong inability to pray and conform to traditional structures of worship is shared by many who leave established churches, but who intensely desire a spiritual aspect of their lives.The’Staircase’ is grappling with the question of how we can be religious in the contemporary world, and the place and possibility of belief in the 21st century.
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