November 5, 2009
Karen Armstrong —
Freelance Monotheism

Karen Armstrong speaks about her progression from a disillusioned and damaged young nun into, in her words, a "freelance monotheist." She's a formidable thinker and scholar, but as a theologian she calls herself an amateur — noting that the Latin root of the word "amateur" means a love of one's subject. Seven years in a strict religious order nearly snuffed out her ability to think about faith at all. Here, we hear the story behind Armstrong's developing ideas about God.

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Guests

is a best-selling author, scholar, and former Catholic nun. Her latest book is The Case for God.

Selected Readings

"Ash Wednesday"

"Because I do not hope to turn again, Let these words answer, For what is done, not to be done again..." Hear audio of poet T.S. Eliot reading his poem, a favorite of Krista's guest Karen Armstrong.

On 'Not Three Gods'

A letter defending the concept of the Trinity by one of the formulators of the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

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40Reflections

Reflections

I would urge Karen to speak of the differences between all the paths to experiencing "God" as organized attempts to help others, perhaps fostered by those who have found them useful. Hard statements about what "works" and does not are only very personally true. Though not recommended for everyone, remember murderers sometimes find "God" in prison. I noticed she made the point that some nuns did respond to the practices of the convent, but emphasized that there are paths there that do not work. She seems quite unaware at times of the path she walked to her present considerable cognitive understanding and the considerable ego involved. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the corrupt or just misguided who are trading ideas for funds, but notice that "God" has tolerated this sad path forever. Everyone needs a path, although I cannot judge if it is better to know the path you are on or not. Regardless, I believe you are on one. Some are short and some very long to "reach God". Naturally it takes a long time to travel a distance thought impossible to traverse. On the other hand, wakefulness comes in degrees. Finally, there are those who think, and those who feel, and those who act, all to different degrees and there are a lot of us. Active compassion is just a path, and sadly just as prone to corruption as any. It would be nice if not so. Prophets wills let us know when the balance is off. Karen clearly is one.

I'm glad you're re-running the interview with Armstrong. I think I've written before about (and no doubt I've missed any shows you've done on) the Jesus Seminar, of which Armstrong is a strong supporter. Maybe you should ferret out other supporters: I bet you've talked with Bishop Spong, but you may not have chatted with Marcus Borg, a particularly impressive, still-loyal Protestant. He is often on the road with Dominic Crossan. I heard both of them here in St. Louis (at of all things a UCC conclave, which balanced their scholalrly rationality with surprisingly evangelical moments); I heard Karen, Jack and Marcus at a Jesus Seminar in April of 2009. A truly transformative four days--to the extent that we Episcopalians (God's frozen people) get caught up in raptures. You might want to pursue any of those folks. Keep the faith.

Wonderful to know there are links to major religions ...to hear them voiced ...like compassion instead of what we usually hear ...the riffs. Its Great to have some one confirm with intellectual proofs ideas I have felt and hoped for over many years. I look forward to reading more of Karen Armstrongs works. Thank you Krista Tippet.

A Courageous Redemption

I loved the interview with Karen Armstrong (having been a reader of some of her work). What struck me as both poignant and inspiring was Karen's honestly and her Phoenix-like rise from the ashes of self-abnegation to her reclamation of an "authentic life". I feel that her story highlights the soul's search for self-worth and holistic healing that only a mature "faith" can nurture. I, too, feel like a pilgrim on a journey and I was truly moved by Karen's unabashed honesty and her fascinating discovery of the myriad ways to God. Now that female voices are demanding equal space in the theological public square, I find it refreshing to encounter someone like Armstrong who seems to have rescued a fledgling soul on the point of despair only to re-create and re-new themselves over and over again without "turning back again" (TS Eliot was awesome).

I include a poem of mine that I wrote while at seminary and after having been introduced to some amazing feminist theology. You may include it if you like:

Fiat Mihi
By
Rick Folker

�Thy will be done on earth�.�
And Mary obeys
And becomes
Disciple suprema in coeli.

�Do unto me that which you have promised...�
And Seila submits to the
Aqedah meant for Isaac
Haunting the virgin hills, barren and despised
And is quickly forgotten.

�Let it be as you say�.�
And Rahab the whore
Lowers a red cord that twists and coils
Through history, spiraling to its terminus
In Christos who keeps company with whores & outcasts
Her place in the Bible a mere footnote.

�Surely a bridegroom of blood art thou to me.�
Zipporah cuts the child, restores the covenant, banishes death
While her husband sleeps.
Yet, it is Moses who awakens to his destiny
And Zipporah fades into the realm of Rivka, Sara, Tamar
Fellow companions in oblivion and obscurity�. Deborah who?

Meanwhile:

A nun feeds the poor, teaches a class, comforts the dying.
A mujerista leads a commuidad de base,
A laywoman protests the School of Americas
A suburban Catholic woman wrestles with the burdens of one more child
A Latina navigates the road from La Maquiladora to El Paso terrified of walking through mine fields of rape and torture yet glad to be free from her Factory of Fear.

And meanwhile:

In a place far away;
A celibate man prefers to ignore
These heroines of Scripture, these minor characters
Whose Ruach and Sophia, gracefully and forcefully pervade every scriptural breath breathed by God as She whispers about, �Wisdom�..Holy Spirit�.Grace�.�
The old cleric prefers his Wisdom as manly and straight.
And then; he quietly, turns to his devotions and begins the Rosary�..

Hail Mary, full of grace, Mater Dei, Queen of Heaven, we have no place;
Blessed is your womb, clean and safe,
Alas, we have no use for you at our altar of faith,
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death,
But please understand, we�ll need a priest for our wake.�

Sincerely,
Rick Folker
Kansas City, MO

Wow! Finally someone who can articulate what I have always in my heart of hearts believed! Compassion is indeed the essence of what all the religious teachers and profits have been trying to tell us. Thank you for sharing this story of Karen Armstrong!

Stephen Edwards

I suspect you included Gregory of Nyssa's Trinity letter as a test, a trial of our discernment of "just sitting, uttering a list of doctrines"? There is a natural, God-given realtionship between grape and vine. Our own natural preference is to see ourselves as grapes, while eschewing the almost obscure vines. It's those grapes which clamor for our attention and allegiance. If grapes proclaim various "creeds," it's the vines which modestly do so much of the real "doing." Similarly, we distinguish the light particle from the light wave: "...in the Sufi tradition that it was quite common for a Sufi mystic — the Sufis being the mystics of Islam — to cry in ecstasy that he is no longer a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim, he's at home equally in a synagogue, a mosque, a temple, or a church, because when one has touched the divine, one can leave these manmade distinctions behind." Wait! There's more! Imagine if photons could be organisms, not mechanisms--propagating themselves across space and time. We should not assume all of them are uniform; however, in aggregate they make such a difference.

Karen Armstrong, whom I have read and listened to her recorded book as well, became real on SOF this Sunday - she faced the questionable statements of religious authority with integrity and an inquiring mind. How wonderful.

I'm glad you're re-running the interview with Armstrong. I think I've written before about (and no doubt I've missed any shows you've done on) the Jesus Seminar, of which Armstrong is a strong supporter. Maybe you should ferret out other supporters: I bet you've talked with Bishop Spong, but you may not have chatted with Marcus Borg, a particularly impressive, still-loyal Protestant. He is often on the road with Dominic Crossan. I heard both of them here in St. Louis (at of all things a UCC conclave, which balanced their scholalrly rationality with surprisingly evangelical moments); I heard Karen, Jack and Marcus at a Jesus Seminar in April of 2009. A truly transformative four days--to the extent that we Episcopalians (God's frozen people) get caught up in raptures. You might want to pursue any of those folks. Keep the faith.

I just finished hearing this interview about freelance monotheism and want to say Karen has a kindred spirit in me as I have spent my whole life with doubt and questions. It started as a 13 y.o. after several years in catechism class and memorizing Luther Small Catechism at the service where we expected to take a vow to remain faith to those teaching I found myself thinking , what if I want to become a Catholic or a nun. I did not take the vow but I never told anyone of my decision. It wasn't until I was in my 30's when a visiting Pastor came to our church that I had the courage to openly express my doubts and questioning even if it meant rejection. To my surprised he reassured me that it was OK but just to remember it is a life long journey. I was off and running and haven't stopped yet. Most of my searching has been though reading the about other spiritual paths and finding the source of truths that we all share. In the past five years I have been part of Torah class at a local Reformed Synagogue. I drove by a St Pauls Lutheran church every week and 2 years ago I decided to check it out. To my surprise they have been very excepting of my freelance monotheism. I know there are many churches that would not be so open so I feel blessed to have found a community that is open and especially that the Pastor is a kindred spirit. I had left the church after that conversation with the visiting Pastor in my 30's because the Pastor of that church made it very clear that he was not open to exploring doubts and my questioning because he said it would hurt those who believe. Little did he know

I have to say that I really had no knowledge at all about who Mother Theresa really was other than what I had heard, that she was a nun and a saint. It was sad to learn that she doubted the existance of God for most of her life. And that many saints have doubted God, believing he was just a story that was told. I do like what mother Theresa said about doing good, "You need willing hands, not clean ones."

After listening to the interview with Karen Armstrong and the Commentary on Mother Theresa I have to say its sad to listen about the lives of both of these nuns. KA entered the convent when she was only 17 years old. She took the idea of God for granted and wasn't allowed to express doubt or confusion. KA found herself not being able to pray and God being distant. Eventually she left the convent and couldn't even find herself able to stay in the Catholic Church. She started out trying to prove religion wrong but eventually found herself talking about other religions.

It was interesting to learn about the life of Karen Armstrong. She went through many stuggles, trying to learn about God and about herself. I couldn't believe her stories about being a nun and not being able to ask questions or express her views. I think it is very important to ask questions so that you can learn and understand your religion better. Then she finally figured out that her calling, was not to be a nun. She found the world to be a much more interesting place and the religions in it.

CHRISTIANS IN EXILE
PRESENTED BY RENE MOQUIN

Introduction:
I understand that the topic I will be covering may be old news for some of you, uncomfortable for others, and possibly offensive to others. I do not come here as a religious scholar or to change anyone’s view. I only wish to offer a perspective that suggests that unless our traditional understanding of Christianity changes many of us will continue to feel exiled.
Many of us see ourselves as Christians in exile: Christians in exile in that we choose to remain in the church while refuting most of the biblical and creedal positions that we have been taught.
Bishop Spong, an Episcopal bishop, grew up in North Carolina in the 1930’s in what he described as church-sponsored segregation and a presumption of white superiority. He experienced the great depression as well as the racial and religious politics of his time. Bishop Spong had been taught that racial segregation and slavery were God’s will.
He was a product of both Presbyterian and Calvin backgrounds and, particularly from his mother’s viewpoint, in an environment that represented an intense moralistic code as related to observing the Sabbath, the use of alcohol, swearing and corporal punishment.
Spong and many of us were introduced to God early in our lives as the potentially punishing parent. This God had heaven as a place of reward and hell as the place of punishment. We were taught to fear this God.
Religious education was an integral part of our education; daily in school and cathesism classes on Saturdays. For me, I recall being constantly reminded that we Catholics were better than Protestants. After all I belonged to the one and only true church: the rest of the denominations were late entries. Our religious education made it perfectly clear that our Pope was infallible and represented an unbroken line back to Saint Peter.
Both Rev. Spong and I enjoyed the opportunity to sing in the church choir, to be confirmed, to serve as an altar boy. Both of us experienced seminary life. Both of us recall our 5:00 am treks to church to serve mass.
Theological questions were encouraged and discussed at the Virginia Theological Seminary. He recalls an incident at the university where the Dean’s wife was ill and a prayer vigil was requested. Still she died. The dean did not blame God. This was a new revelation for Spong.
For many of us, we sensed that something was wrong with the values we were learning in our religious education. Ultimately many of us knew these values could not be our values. That transition has not been easy in a world where even the values of the church seems to affirm the values of a racist and sexuality denying society coupled with a God who has total control over us.
The theologian, Paul Tillich, introduced me to the idea that God is not an external being but the Ground of All Being. Was this God a part of our own being or was he the divine father protector or Mr. Fixit living somewhere out in the sky?
I began to question whether I should view Jesus as the divine rescuer who enters human history through a virgin birth and exits through a cosmic ascension or as the revealer of who God really is.
Who is God?
A new reality of God has emerged for many of us. Who are we dealing with? Are we dealing with a God who is capricious and who needs to be revered and placated lest his capricious deity strike again? At least that seems to be the primary focus of the religion even to this day.
Over time, this need to clarify who God is has become of great interest to me. A conversation I had three years ago confirmed my thirst to reexamine my faith. I was doing some management training for executive directors in Montana. One evening after class one of the directors asked if we could go for a walk. I had played basketball with Tom and his friend earlier in the week and he was one of the nicest guys I had ever met. In his small town in Montana he served as an agency Director and had served several terms on the city council. During our walk Tom expressed his anger with God because of the loss of a male friend from a car accident while he was at the seminary. His continuous anger with God became exasperated when his father, also a Catholic, died later and was not offered a catholic funeral because he had not been a “regular practitioner”. Tom’s anger with God for allowing these incidents to happen caused him to leave the seminary. Tom asked why had God allow this to happen especially since he had committed his entire life to the church.
I suspected, but was not able to confirm, that Tom was also dealing with his own sexual identity, knowing very well the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality as being both sinful and abnormal. I find the church’s position ironic given the recent sex scandals within the church. As a result, Tom was not allowed to live out his full humanity. Even to this day the papal authority accuses homosexual priests as sinners rather than examining their arcane policy of celibacy.
In my awkward way, I tried to assure Tom that his view of God as a capricious supernatural deity was not my understanding of God. Unfortunately, Tom and I had been victims of a teaching that presented a God that had the capacity to be mean and capricious if we did not get our act together. Tom had turned his wrath on God and was continuing to blame God for the death of his friend. For Tom, the danger of blasphemy is that the blasphemer runs the risk of incurring, once gain, the divine wrath.
Can Tom and others accept that “bad things happen to good people” without reference to an external God who is pulling the switches?
Although many of us define ourselves as Christian believers, we do not define God as a supernatural being. We do not accept a theist deity who can help a nation win a war or a football game, which can intervene to cure a loved one’s sickness, or affect the weather for anyone’s benefit. We do not accept the position that this external supernatural God has selected America as the country he has chosen to bless. And yet some find it hard to understand why there is so much hate directed toward our country. How presumptuous can we be?
Beliefs Not Accepted:
I do not see God as a being and, therefore, do not assume he possess Godlike power. I do not believe that Jesus could or did in any literal way heal a paraplegic, restore sight to a blind person, or raise Lazarus from the dead. Why would Jesus return someone from heaven, if that is where he thought we should go?
I do not believe that Jesus entered this world by the miracle of a virgin birth or that virgin births occur anywhere except in mythology.
I do not believe any of us is born in sin and that unless baptized will be forever banished from God’s presence.
I do not believe that women are any less human or less holy than men which some churches have argued for years as the basis for not allowing women to be ordained.
I do not believe that homosexual people are abnormal, mentally sick or morally depraved. Those who would believe so are wrong and ill informed.
I do not believe that skin pigmentation, ethnic background or religious orientation constitutes a matter of superiority or inferiority.
I do not believe that the bible is the word of God. I see the book as a human book mixed with the profound wisdom of the sages reflecting their human perceptions of reality at a particular time in human history.
I do not believe that Jesus (or in fact anyone), at the end of their life, returns to God by ascending in any literal sense into a heaven located somewhere in sky. It seems to me that Jesus was attempting to prevent us from destroying ourselves now, not having a preoccupation with after life.
Specifically, as a former Catholic, I do not believe that Jesus founded a church or has claimed the Catholic Church as the one true church founded by St. Peter as its first pope.
Recently A rabbi, a minister and a sheik have come together to address their three faiths. When asked to recite what they regarded as the “untruths” in their own faith, the minister said that the one untruth for him was that “Christianity is the only way to God.” The rabbi said for him it was the notion of Jews as “the chosen people.” And the sheik said for him it was the “sword verses” in the Koran, like “kill the unbeliever.”
For those of us who identify ourselves as Christians in Exile we do not believe in….
 The divinity of either Jesus or God

 The notion of Jesus as God’s only son

 The notion that God can remedy any wrong or prevent any disaster.

 Or the notion that Jesus sitteth at the right hand of God, the father almighty, from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
The question for many of us is whether we can claim with integrity to be Christians and at the same time dismiss so much of what has traditionally been defined as the content of the Christian faith?
I still claim Jesus as my Lord who enables me to experience a God presence. Christ has always been part of my consciousness. I claim my faith is strong but the church and Christianity as I have known is dying.
In short I cannot identify with what Christianity has become. Spong, for example, makes reference to the growth of Christian bookstores; many who sell materials that are intellectually embarrassing, supports positions against women, advocate child rearing techniques that sometimes border on child abuse, and who express ignorance and hate toward homosexuals. Spong is concerned that the church has also entered the political arena: the so-called Christian voters that base their positions on fear, hatred and bigotry.
I saw their true side after Colin Powell, in conversations with teenagers from around the world, advocated the use of condoms for those who choose to be sexually active. The growing worldwide AIDS epidemic was of major concern to Powell. The Christian right was on the airwaves the very next day chastising Powell’s position as immoral.
My main thesis is that the church today appears more motivated by institutional or survival needs and is fearful of new truth. I have witnessed the increasing defensiveness of church leaders and their need to blame the secular humanists, the religious liberals, the feminist movement, the gay lobby and godless communists for the demise of the church.
For Christians like me, the issue is not whether there is a God or whether all of us have not experienced a God presence. God it not the issue. It is the attempt of explaining the nature of God that has become corrupted or outdated, not the experience.
We are reminded that there are a variety of explanations of God even within the Gospels. For example, Paul in his letters to the Romans states that “in Christ God was reconciling”. What was God trying to reconcile? Again we remind ourselves that Paul was expressing a human view of his day as being sinful, fallen, needing to be rescued, not worthy, and helpless. Humans were viewed as unworthy stewards who had broken the perfection that God wanted, For Paul, God wanted to start over by destroying evil. All previous divine efforts had failed. Jesus stories began to emerge against this view of human life. Jesus becomes God’s final desperate act to reclaim the world from evil by making Jesus the ultimate sacrifice.
It is important to note that the notion of a theist God, one who is a supernatural being external to life who periodically invades the world in amazing ways, did not emerge until several decades after Christ’s death.
I am neither critical nor surprised by these explanatory attempts during these first centuries. I understand that these explanations are culturally conditioned and are based on available knowledge of those times.
Jesus never intended to begin a movement called Christianity. Paul is the main author of that faith. The first written work in the bible was written 50-60 years after the death of Jesus and came from oral traditions. Many scholars believe that only a very small percentage of the words attributed to Jesus actually came from Jesus.
My position is that the creeds that we recite in claiming our God did not drop from heaven fully written. These words were not even part of the original Christian understanding of the God revealed in Jesus. The creeds we read today are all man-made, developed by the institutional church. The Apostles Creed later modified by the Nicene Creed and still later by the Athanasian Creed all had human authors who were limited by their prejudices, stereotypes and unchallenged assumptions of their day just as we are limited by our current day prejudices and assumptions. I would suggest that the purpose of every written creed over the centuries was not to clarify the truth of God. It was, rather, to rule out other contending points of view.
The Gospels are not divinely authored works. They were written by communities of faith and they express the biases of those communities. Many of the Gospels have internal contractions. They are not static. Furthermore, most eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus were long dead before the Gospels entered history.
The earliest descriptions of Jesus illustrate his humanity, not his divinity. Only later in Mark’s writings several years after Jesus’s death, do we see an attempt to correlate the divine and human dimensions of Jesus, a theme that Paul had initiated earlier.
Ten years later authors Mathew and Luke expanded on how the external divine power of God had become intertwined with the human Jesus.
The union between Jesus as the Son of God becomes even more dramatic in subsequent gospels. By the ninth decade we see God explained, not by resurrection, according to Paul, or by pouring out spirit through baptism, according to Mark, but by the precise action of God through use of a virgin.
By the 10th decade John’s explanation of a God presence in Jesus was not through a virgin birth, but God and Jesus becoming synonymous with Jesus preexisting with God.
At the time the Gospels were written, it was also common wisdom that the earth was flat and was located directly beneath the sky. Beyond that sky was the realm in which the all-seeing holy God was believed to live. Human life was thought to bask in the ready and constant attention of this personal deity. Hell was the third tier of this universe and was assumed to be located beneath the earth. In this cozy three-tiered world everything that was not understood or that seemed either irrational or inconvenient was assumed to be a manifestation of this heavenly God’s specific divine intervention. Concepts like miracles and magic abounded.
Again the Christian faith came into existence in a world radically different from what we now experience. Spong is suggesting that these creeds be revisited and for us to redefine the Christ experience for our time and in words and concepts appropriate for our world.
I feel like God has been taken away from me. It did not happen over night but over several centuries. I am concerned about how the church has created such a loving Jesus while creating such a mean God.
There is agreement that the citizens who engaged Jesus witnessed a God-related experience but attempts to explain this God presence over the centuries resulted in incompatible concepts being developed.
New Definition of God:
The question for each of us is whether God can be real and yet not be located in an external place as a supernatural being? Can God be real if there is no divine entity that can be invoked to come to us in our moments of need? Can God be real if all images of God as a superparent are dismissed?
I am wrestling with the following questions:
o Is it possible for us to move beyond belief in a theistic supernatural, external God as portrayed in most of our creeds?
o Is it possible to be a Christian and not a theist?
o Can God be real if there is no divine entity that can be invoked to come to us in our moments of need?
o Can God's presence still be real and yet not be located in an external place as a supernatural being?
o Is there something within our own being, that if we could open ourselves to, we could use the word God to describe that state of being? Could that experience be equally profound even if it were not defined as an external presence?
But how do we pray to a God who is not a being? If the word God, defined as a personal deity with supernatural powers, is no longer operative, could the concept of God be experienced in another form? Could not the concept of God manifest itself in us?
Each of us can be part of what God is, suggest Paul Tillich, by daring to be all that one can be. By daring to live life fully. By daring to love wastefully and abundantly. Would not these qualities reveal the image of God that is within each of us?
Of the little that any of us knows of Jesus, it seems clear that his life reflected an acceptance of everyone’s capacity to live out their full humanity regardless whether they were prostitutes, homosexuals, gentiles or lepers. If Jesus were here today where do you think he would stand regarding the conflict between Israel and Palestine, in the acceptance of homosexuals and women in the church, on the legitimacy of non Christians, on the right to life issue, etc.? What standards would he apply to each of these situations?
Instead of loving an external deity that will take care of all our needs, if only we pray hard enough, why not consider a God presence that comes when we commit ourselves to living life fully and daring to love wastefully and abundantly? Would a life that reflects these qualities not be seen to reveal the image of God that is within each of us and reflected the life of Jesus? I recall these god-presence experiences:
 when I lost my job and my friend, Lowell, spent time with me. Lowell did not place judgment or offer advice. His supportive presence was sufficient;
 when I drove pass Wedgwood Middle School 15-20 years ago and saw Gordon playing with his young challenged son in the school sand box. I will never forget his presence;
 when seeing my father, who owned a small town grocery store, periodically slipping away from the store to deliver a bag of groceries for a family he knew had no food. No one new but I did. I also recall him working six days a week and every Sunday afternoon driving 25 miles to spend time with his mother in a nursing home. He never considered himself a religious man, but I remember that experience.
 the presence of a friend of my dad who believed in me and convinced me that I could do anything I wanted.
 a telephone call from a friend with inoperative cancer who was more worried about my cancer than herself. Listen to her advice-“Rene reach out to your friends and the healing will begin.”
 the time that a social worker sat with a 13 year old teenage mother who was crying her heart out. When the 13 year old was asked about her mother’s feeling, she replied that her mother wished she had aborted her. Her presence is unforgettable.
I would suggest that these experiences, although difficult to explain, and not defined as religious, reflect God experiences within me. Maybe even just for moments each of these experiences responded to Tillich description of what constitutes a God presence: that is when we dare to be all that we can be, when we dare to live life fully, and when we dare to love wastefully and abundantly.
So the question for all of us is whether the meaning to life is external to life or can be discovered in our own daily experiences?
So if we are in fact alone and we cannot turn to an external deity, do we now need to decide how we will live now with this reality?
If so do we need prayer? Do we need the church? Do we need worship?
March 3, 2002 started out as a typically normal day for me. I arrived early at my office, interviewed a couple of candidates for a position, and participated in a meeting that took me to lunch time. Knowing I had a doctor’s appointment at 1:00pm I hung around the office visiting with one of my staff. She knew I had a doctor’s appointment and wished me good luck.
I arrived at the doctor’s office and after a few minutes he came into the room and informed me that he did not have good news. I was informed I had prostrate cancer but it appeared it was still in its early stages. We reviewed my prognosis, treatment options and agreed to additional tests. Somewhat in shock I returned to my office, closed my doors and cried. The entire range of emotions hit me from being scared to being confident that I could lick this disease. The staff person who I had visited with during lunch knew by the slam of the door that the news was not good. She came in to reassure me.
That evening I decided to call Ken who is my friend, my tennis partner and a cancer specialist. We visited and he assured me that full recovery is most likely. I like what he said at the end of our conversation: “Rene, call me anytime even if you want just to yell and scream”.
I did not assume that my new spiritual journey or my fight with cancer would be an easy journey. There can be something frightening and lonely about recognizing that I can not longer be child dependent on the theistic parent-God. It is like leaving home for the first time. However, I belief more fervently than ever that God can be approached, experienced and entered in a radically different way.
We can speak of God only in our limited human words. We have no other. Can I experience God without being able to define God? Yes.
One of my previous staff members was raped repeatedly as a young girl, resulting in dysfunctional behavior including her addiction to alcoholism. Her additional fear of a vindictive God had created a life of hell for her. She viewed herself as a bad person. What Juley needed to hear is not the fear of a vindictive God but an understanding of God as love experienced through each of us.
My understanding of this love is something like the footprints of God. The reason I cannot see God but only where God has been is that I believe God is part of who I am, who she is and who you are. And so for me love is God.
The God that I previously saw as a supernatural being I now see as a symbol of Being itself. Moses inquired of God, What is your name? The response was I am who I am is my name. Could it be that God is not a being but Being itself- the reality underlying everything that is?
So if I want to worship this God of today, I now must learn to climb over my protective fences and walk past the barriers of my fears. I no longer have to defend a theistic God who appears to act so capriciously and to violate the standards of justice so consistently. I am free of a God who demands endless praises, a God who indicates that we are born in sin and therefore helpless, and a God who seems to delight in punishing sinners and who wants us to be dependent on his every whim. Finally I am relieved that God is not met outside of life, but at the very heart of life.
If God is not a being, then no human including Jesus can claim to be his chosen representative. For me, Jesus is defined as differing from each of us only in degree-not in kind. If the difference between Jesus and each of us is a matter of degree, then very one of us has the potential of being more God-filled and more like Jesus. I have a new enriching view of who God is not, who God might be, and who Jesus never was, and who Jesus is for me.
As some have expressed to me, many ministers have been exposed to these works in their seminary studies. However, those who want to go to the pulpit with the message find that they can’t. It won’t fly from the pulpit of the institutional church and the professional risk is too great.
Who was Jesus?
At some point we have to ask ourselves if we can speak of Jesus other than some supernatural force that came down as a divine rescuer as the church over the centuries would have us believe. Can we speak of him other than the only Son of God? Again, Can’t we view Jesus as a revealer of what God is rather than a savior?
For me God is love, Jesus is love, God was in Christ. I believe this was the God experience that was experienced during the life of Jesus. I believe we can only experience God by living out that love. Jesus experienced life and he engaged life. Jesus had the courage to be himself and to not worry about being politically correct but to focus, instead, on caring. And no human being in his time was outside his capacity of loving- not prostitutes, homosexuals, lepers, or religious outcasts.
Recently I overheard a conversation from some of my tennis partners regarding blacks, liberals, and gays—all in the context of a narrow Christian perspective. I wanted to respond, but I did the political correct thing and said nothing. How easy it is to say nothing even when you know it is wrong. How would my tennis partners have reacted if Jesus was here and in his typical political incorrectness confronted them on their lack of acceptance and appreciation for those who differ from us?
When I undertook my cancer surgery in 2002, I accepted my cancer as a fact of life. There was no divine plan and there was no one I could appeal to. I would never want to be sick alone nor would I ever want to die alone. I want to feel that collective sense of energy that can be generated when we care for each other. Was it not Jesus who said: Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself? There is none other commandment greater than these.
In conclusion, a recent national study of Hospice programs concluded that dying people consistently ask two questions: Am I love? and Have I loved enough? I know I am loved and I know I want to love more. That love, at least for me, is God and I am happy to have met him finally.

I was recently turned onto Karen by a college course, Western Religion. I have been living as agnostic or sometimes Epicurist just to avoid ridicule of the title atheist and to tell you the truth I probably am not atheist, I have just been, as Karen said "exhausted" with religion and the Church. I find the Christian Church corrupt and people who hide behind religion phonies or if not phonies; if they really are good people and believe what they learn in church I find their minds clouded and hard to talk with, and I knew there was something more real out there, no matter who or what you worshiped that if you had empathy and compassion in your life, maybe there is no after life (or no after life if you didn’t believe) but at least I could leave this world a better place then I found it.

I feel inspired, enlightened and relived to the point of tears to find Armstrong and someone who I think can teach me what I have been waiting to learn, which is not about one religion and why they are “the right religion” but about why all religions are right and how we can combine them to be a better race of humans.

I have shared her views for a long time, without the education and knowlege to back my beliefs.

After listening to the broadcast interview I see Karen as a very strong, honest person. She admits to many things that people wouldn’t’ admit being wrong about. She thought that all the truths of religion she’s believed in the past years she finally admits to realizing that God didn’t exist in her life, even when she was a nun. I guess I’m confused on what she exactly believes in now but from what I took from the interview is that she is an Atheist and just studies the different religions. After being a nun for all those years and following the Catholic religion so closely with detail, I find it really hard to believe that she just suddenly realized she didn’t’ need God, or that he didn’t exist in her life, she suddenly just changes her life style and thoughts about religion. In the interview she suggest that it took her many years to completely relief herself from any kind of religion, the Catholic religion was her life and her every day lifestyle and she didn’t know anything else about the world except religion. I give her a lot of props for coming out of her shell and adapting so well with the surroundings and cultures after being “trapped” in just the beliefs of religion and focusing on being a nun for so many years. It seems that she transformed into many different stages in her life; she started out completely understanding her faith, becoming a nun and focusing all her attention on her religion, realizing God wasn’t there, adapting to her new faith, and focusing her energy on others faiths and understanding religion. As she stated that these changes weren’t easy, but the help of analyzing people, the environment, and surroundings she learned to adapt to her new ways without religion or faith being apart of her life. I feel like after all these changes that have happened in her life, and her as a person that she now completely understands what she wants and what she believes in. Not only that but I also know that all these changes have caused her to become a stronger person who just wants to learn about the world and religion in general because her early childhood she had no option other than focusing on just religion

I was completely fascinated by Karen Armstrong’s upbringing as a nun, and how that experience helped shape her view of God. I agree with her that many people “take advantage of God”, and think of Him as simply someone who “somehow created the earth”. Being in a convent at such a young age, it had to be a tremendous change to go from set meditation times, practices, and mind sets, to complete and total freedom. I cannot imagine how one can function during that big of change, kind of like culture shock. Armstrong also mentions that after she became a secular she had found it “almost impossible to pray”, when she had gone into hours of meditation when in the convent. This astounds me and makes me think about how religious structure is so influential and how many can be influenced by it without really even knowing it. Fascinating.

I also found it interesting when she stated, “I felt exhausted by the whole religious enterprise; I wanted nothing to do with it.” I can relate with her on that one, because at this time in my spiritual journey, I am so fed up and overwhelmed by all the religious practices that I am exhausted as well. It was well put, and I feel as if many people feel or have felt that way in the course of their religious practices or traditions.

Compassion and love were talked about at length by Armstrong. She had made connections about how Gandhi, Jesus, and Mohammad were compassionate people who were more for peace than conflict. I agree with that, but I am not sure if our world could turn towards compassion. I do not believe that everyone has the ability to become compassionate to all. However, this broadcast has definitely got me thinking more about showing compassion and living it out.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed interview. I was enlightened, challenged, and even questioned some of my own beliefs. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, but I have never been exposed to many other religions other than Christianity and Islam. I look forward to learning more and seeing how many of these religions have overlapping beliefs, and also how they are different through these broadcasts.

I was able to relate to Karen Armstrong when she said that her mind wandered or "skittered" off while she was supposed to be praying and meditating and then becoming bored. With religion being things you do, and not things you believe, it can become redundant and lack passion. Religion can be exhausting as she commented, and those of us that have been enrolled in a religion based school have experienced as well.
With passion being something that Armstrong had spoken much about throughout the podcast, it is with a great deal of passion and compassion that we need to grasp the gospel and learn to listen. I agree with that comment. We have three religions that all honor the same God, but fight to not agree on Him. If we stop to listen, we may be able to honor each other in the same way that we try to honor Him.

There was alot of things I found interesting in the interview and I feel like I identify with her a great deal in a number of perspectives and to a smaller extent experiences. I wrote a list of notes though and I want to make sure I talk about all of them but I do want to start off by stating my own journey through religious perspectives. I started out as a christian brought up from a christian family, turned atheist, then realized my total ignorance about other religons and evolved to have a perspective accepting of the capacity for a gods existance. My experience in christianity was nothing close to as harsh as her was and I think it's really unfortunate that she had to rebuild herself with human born thought, instinct, creativity and the other things she was denied in her years as a nun. Obviously I haven't traveled to Israel or anything either and had the pleasure of meeting scholars or anything. Getting back to my list of notes though... I'm really curious about finding out more on how Greek and Russian Christianity differ from the one common to the western world. Christianity didn't really work for as I understood it and if there is entirely another half of what Christianity is then I should explore it and accept or deny it with an understanding of its contents. I found it very good to hear those words spoke that people had extremely similiar questions about god, ethics and other matters around the world despite where they came from. I think it goes to show that we are far more of one people than we are of different peoples and different gods. I also enjoyed discovering that people like Abraham, Moses and Adam had places in more than just Christian beliefs. I knew about Jesus having a strong place in some of the other religions but its nice to know that there is actually more of a crowd of overlapping historical figures. I also enjoyed hearing that the mystics of Islam cry that "he is no longer a Christian, Muslim or Jew" or "of a Mosque, Temple or Church" after he has touched the devine because "one can leave these man made distinctions behind." It does not come to me as much as a surprise though because I know that historically muslims were the most tolerant of ancient religious. I found it very interesting that Muhammad waged a non-violent campaign similiar to that of what Gandhi did. I really hope we cover that when we get more into the study of Islam. My two favorite parts of the interview were near the end though when she talked about how she thinks the future depends on our ability to listen and those who do right (tend to the sick, imprisoned, naked) are those who will make it into the kingdom of heaven, not those who absorb the right idealogies. I am a very ethically driven individual and I believe that compassion is at the heart of a good world but that changes nothing for so many people I know. They hold no patience for creating understanding, choosing to only care for the difference in labels and the bitterness it can generate instead.

I found it interesting that Karen Armstrong growing up had a spritual longing and it got in her way of being a nun forever. She had the privilege to meet some other nuns who had gone through the process of being a nun and her eyes were wise, ccompassionate, funny and mature. I liked some of the personal reflections she had while she was a nun stating " She knew she wasn't going to be like the nuns she had met and she just wanted to take back some personal satisfaction's here and there" and the reason for these views were " I just entered the convent too young, I was only 17". During the pod cast it was nice to hear what happened to her after she left the convent and also some personal hobbies of hers too. I found it interesting the Karen Armstrong couldn't meditate or concentrate long enough on a prayer. In her words "God became distant and the heavens remained closed". It was also unfortunate that Karen's illness went undiagnosed for as long as it did and to have it effect her work. To me I think it was unbelievable to hear her say after she left the convent that she wanted nothing to do with religion. Karen Armstrong wanted to consider herself atheist and later also stated that she she was simply exhausted. Where I think things happen for a reason is right here she later in life got the opportunity to get into religion again, but this time on a television show. Karen Armstrong got discuss religion in her words " just tear the subject apart" which I found very humorous. It was perfect for her because she thought " alot of these theories are just bonkers". I like how Karen Armstrong put her television show to good use also. Karen Armstrong interviewed different people associated with other religions and found out what they were supposed to believe in and at the same time realized what her religion was at its best trying to do. Diving into these religions was very refreshing for her, because it started to give her a blue print of these other religions. This pod cast gave me a better understanding on the life of a nun and how mentally draining it can be. Also found it interesting how someone's love for something can turn to hatred and the pull you back in a different way, like it was all meant to be. Karen Armstrong's background and life story is very fascinating and I can't wait to get into this book more now that I got to know the person behind words.

The thing that struck me most about the interview was how it changed the perception of Armstrong that I had from reading the first part of her book, "A History of God." Her credibility was never in doubt, but after reading the first chunk of her book it seemed pretty mechanical. I got the feeling that although there was a lot of information there it read a lot like a history book. There was a wealth of information and it was obvious a lot of work went into it but it didn't have a very human feel. Listening to the interview greatly changed the way I look at her and reading the remainder of her book. Armstrong included a lot of her background in the introduction of the novel. She shares the path she took up to writing the book. Reading from the book it didn't have the same impact as hearing her explain it. Once again, her explanation from the book was a little mechanical. When she described her religious background during the interview she talked much more about her emotions and the frustration she had with religion. Hearing her lay out the frustration and disappointment of her time as a nun was fascinating. The same is true when she explains the impact that rejecting her faith had on her. I really found it interesting when she explained how she had many misconceptions of Judaism and very little knowledge about Islam. All of this helped expand on the introduction to A History of God set up the remainder of the book. Now the rest of the book has a link to her and her journey from being an unhappy nun to rejecting religion, to becoming an expert on the three major monotheistic religions and I am much more interested in continuing it.

The thing that struck me most about the interview was how it changed the perception of Armstrong that I had from reading the first part of her book, "A History of God." Her credibility was never in doubt, but after reading the first chunk of her book it seemed pretty mechanical. I got the feeling that although there was a lot of information there it read a lot like a history book. There was a wealth of information and it was obvious a lot of work went into it but it didn't have a very human feel. Listening to the interview greatly changed the way I look at her and reading the remainder of her book.

Armstrong included a lot of her background in the introduction of the book. She shares the path she took up to writing the book. Reading from the book it didn't have the same impact as hearing her explain it. Once again, her explanation from the book was a little mechanical. When she described her religious background during the interview she talked much more about her emotions and the frustration she had with religion. Hearing her lay out the frustration and disappointment of her time as a nun was fascinating. The same is true when she explains the impact that rejecting her faith had on her. I really found it interesting when she explained how she had many misconceptions of Judaism and very little knowledge about Islam. All of this helped expand on the introduction to "A History of God" set up the remainder of the book. Now the rest of the book has a link to her and her journey from being an unhappy nun to rejecting religion, to becoming an expert on the three major monotheistic religions and I am much more interested in continuing it.

I loved that pod cast. Not going to lie, usually not of fan of things like that, they can come across as dry and boring a lot. Listening to Karen speak felt like I was listening to an inner dialog recapping my life. I have may not been around as long as Karen or had all the experiences she has had, but I could see the parallels. I went to school at a VERY traditional Catholic school and for part of my life was a very devout Catholic. After a while I felt like I lost the connection to God. I was just going through the motions. I then went in an almost 180 and wanted nothing to with God or religion. I have now gotten to the point were I realized my issues were not with God but the segregated manipulative ways of man made religion. I have been trying to learn as much as I can about other religions, which is why along with this class I am also taking Eastern Religion this semester. As odd as it sounds I felt more of a spiritual movement from listening to this then anything else in a long while. I am going to have to try and find out more info on Karen Armstrong.

I loved that pod cast. Not going to lie, usually not of fan of things like that, they can come across as dry and boring a lot. Listening to Karen speak felt like I was listening to an inner dialog recapping my life. I have may not been around as long as Karen or had all the experiences she has had, but I could see the parallels. I went to school at a VERY traditional Catholic school and for part of my life was a very devout Catholic. After a while I felt like I lost the connection to God. I was just going through the motions. I then went in an almost 180 and wanted nothing to with God or religion. I have now gotten to the point were I realized my issues were not with God but the segregated manipulative ways of man made religion. I have been trying to learn as much as I can about other religions, which is why along with this class I am also taking Eastern Religion this semester. As odd as it sounds I felt more of a spiritual movement from listening to this then anything else in a long while. I am going to have to try and find out more info on Karen Armstrong.

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On Being Archived show on Karen Armstrong:
Joan Watson Jan 12, 2011 5:05 PM

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I found this show about Karen Armstrong to be very interesting. The two parts that stood out the most to me was in the beginning about Karen being in a convent and the part about the similarities in religions.

I was first interested in the fact that she was in a convent and became a nun. This interested me because I am Catholic and I was raised in a strict Catholic environment. I can definently relate to how she felt when she went away from the Catholic church. I know that it can be so hard to stay with it and feel so strongly about it when everyone just pushes you to believe in a certain way. At such a young age (17), I know that most people do go through a phase where they question their surroundings, so that would make it even harder to stay and practice the faith. Also, after she left the church she basically found it hard for a while to even have her own oppinion on things. She no longer enjoyed poetry in the same way that she used to. I feel that this happened because she was in a convent for so long and was probably always told what to do and what to believe. When she left, she was no longer told what to believe, and so she no longer knew how she felt about things.

The part of the show that stood out to me the most was when she was talking about similarities in different religions. I found that to be so interesting. Karen said that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all came up with the same questions. The interesting thing about that is that they also all came up with the same answers. They also all felt strongly about compassion. Karen said that; "Compassion makes us de-throne ourselves from the center of our world." (the Freelance Monotheism of Karen Armstrong). I feel that this is a powerfull quote and very true. Compassion can make a person feel so strongly and do things that they normally wouldn't in their normal lives. Karen Armstrong also quoted Buddha and Jesus in the show. Buddha said; "The practice of compassion can introduce you to nirvana." Jesus said; "On the last day it is those who have visited the sick, naked, hungry, imprisoned, and cared for them who will enter the kingdom of God." (The Freelance Monotheism of Karen Armstrong). I never knew that these religions had such similar views on anything. Even though I am Catholic myself, I never studied or learned about similar religions to Christianity. Karen did mention a good point on why Jewish and Christian views could be similar is because Jesus was Jewish.

When watching the Show on Karen Armstrong I found he views on the different religions from her life experience easier to understand then just some person writing histories in a book. The way she shares her life with what she talks about with religion, I find, makes it easier to acknowledge what she has to say and not right away beat it down but instead it makes you think about it more. Also, you can tell she knows what she's talking about has studied for years and has a little more wisdom on this subject then someone that's probably taking this class. Some of the things she talks about is the many different religions that people are studying, how religion is involved in so many other things, and where religions are failing, like Karen says, "that any ideology that doesn't promote a since of global understanding and global appreciation of each other is failing each other." She also mentions about change, that there are people that hunger for a change, which then that go with what she said in her book on how people eventually want to have a different kind of spiritual being.
I found it interesting when she mentioned about Akilies (?), sorry that's probably spelt wrong, and when he killed Hector and refused to give his body back and Ethos, Hector's father, cloaked himself and when to Akilies tent to ask for Hector's body back. When he uncloaked himself they both started to weep and this created a bond in them. That was a little weird to me that just because they weeped together they created a bond between each other. But in the end Ethos got his son body back.
I didn't like how she tried to get it so that everyone would try to do whatever it takes to get this information to everywhere in the world, cause I really don't find it an essential thing that people need to know. So, it's something you can try to get to different places but shouldn't come before other things.

After reading the first part of A History of God, a book by Karen Armstrong I was left thinking she was a bit biased and that she seemed to have strayed from religion and formed her own thoughts and opinions to justify The Bible and God not being a reality. In my own opinion I thought she wasn't very religious just based off that alone. I felt that your not suppose to analyze who wrote the Bible your just suppose to believe it no questions asked. After listening to this ON BEING Archived Broadcast on Karen Arrmstrong I realized she is actually very religious and she has a lot of the same thoughts and opinions as I do myself about religion. As I have learned through many lessons in life, never judge a book by its cover.

At a young age Armstrong became a nun and was in a structured religion where she wasn't encouraged to think or explore and like I said before, not to question and not to express doubt. Before I was under the impression that when she left the Convent it was because she lost sight of God, which may be true but now I see she wasn't spiritually connected but longed to be. I believe she needed to find God on her own terms and not have it forced upon her in other words. She needed to be able to have her own thoughts and opinions not just be told what to think. When she began to learn about Judaism in Israel she learned religion is not about believing things, but about doing things and living in a compassionate way that changes you. I completely agree with that. I have always believed that you can read the bible every day of your life but never do anything for anyone and live a cold life. The true people that shine in Gods eyes are those that have true compassion for others and always put other people before themselves and help someone every chance they get. Karen was open to learning about other groups of people in different religions where they fast, pray facing Mecca, etc. She wanted to know why they did these things, instead of automatically thinking that it was wrong. I am eager to learn more about different faiths and exploring, I don't feel that that makes a person any less religious if they are just trying to see what other faiths see and wanting to understand why their God is a different God than the one they grew up learning about. I have often wondered how so many different religions could exist with people who have different views on who "God" is and how we came about. Karen learned a little bit from each religion and realized there is no wrong religion. I've always wondered how do we know which religion is the right one if each one believes they are right and what they believe is the right way? She learned God is not just a bigger and better version of us but a reality that is entirely different. My perception of Karen Armstrong has changed, when she was asked if she thought she was religious she said yes. I believe that. She has faith and compassion and that is what's most important. She writes to let others learn what she has about different traditions and how they can nourish you. I no longer think that she is biased but that she is very educated and wants others to think outside the box and not be conformed to ONE way and that it is the only way. She wants people to come up with their own beliefs and opinions not just go off what other people say, but truly learn for themselves. You have to find God within yourself, God doesn't just come to you and say here I am and tell you what to do!

I found the interview with Karen Armstrong to be very interesting. I really liked learning more about whom the author we are reading. I would have never thought that she had the story she did being The History of God is so focused and deep into religion. I would have thought she grew up close to God and that followed her throughout her life. I was wrong though. She had a bad encounter with God… Actually, there was no encounter at all. To grow up Catholic and most likely in a Catholic family church, praying, God etc is a big thing and tends to be a very strict religion. Armstrong felt as though she thought she was close with God and even joined a convent at 17!! That is a huge step to take into your faith. Then to later feel so lost and distant from God to the point you describe yourself as an atheist. She went from one side of the spectrum to another. It is as if after she went deeper into her faith she realized what she felt wasn’t true. Following God and being a Christian became a habit by what you grew up with. Being a teenager you are still very immature to actually feel and believe so deeply. You basically do what you are told and learn what you have too and it was what Armstrong knew but didn’t necessarily believe truthfully in it. I think When she joined the convent and really explored her faith she realized how lost she was and had no connection with God.

I wouldn’t expect someone to go back to religion after having the fallout with God that she experienced. I really think what made the turn around was the approach she took. She didn’t just learn it because she had to she came back to religion with a much more opened heart and mind. With that you are so much more accepting and can find a deeper meaning in your studies and beliefs. She didn’t just go back to the Catholic Church she went much farther into religion. She explored several others too. She learned the other faiths and who they worshiped. She found that religion is art and there is so much beauty within. I think if everyone were to open up and find the beauty within each religion everyone would gain so much more appreciation just like Karen Armstrong did.

After reading and hearing Armstrong’s story I felt like I could relate a little. I grew up in a Catholic household and basically was forced to learn the religion. We had no choice but to go to church on Sundays, to go through confirmation classes and receive the sacraments. It made us much more closed minded and we wanted nothing to do with it. The part that really reminded me of myself was when she talked about herself meditating. “I could not keep my mind on my prayer for more than two minutes. My mind would go skittering off, or else be sunk in a sort of sloth of boredom and torpor and sleep.” This felt like every Sunday of mine growing up and it wasn’t until recently that I actually started turning to God and was more appreciative of my faith. I think once you have the freedom to actually go into faith on your own and really accept it you find the appreciation in it and you find yourself with God.

ON BEING Archive Broadcast on Karen Armstrong (Audio and Transcript)
http://being.publicradio.org/programs/armstrong/transcript.shtml

http://download.publicradio.org/podcast/speakingoffaith/20080508_armstro...

Karen Armstrong addresses quite a few things into what makes her who she is today. One of those that I find significant is questioning religion and God's existence to better understand and make meaning out of spirituality. She was a young nun practicing the teachings but in real sense did not really have faith or know what she believed in as a result of being taught not to question. So many people just follow a certain religion because they were born into it. We need to be encouraged to explore our religion and beliefs. She learned that religion is about actually doing things and a lifestyle. The study of other religions and traditions helped her come to know and understand the richness in her faith. When you do not really know what your practicing you can misconstrue the teachings for example fundamentalists who drag religion into violence because of their opinions. She says to ask and find out the root of these mystics in religions in order to feel and believe like they do. When you understand what you believe your practices become meaningful instead of going through it as a task.

After listening to the interview with Karen Armstrong I am more interested in reading her book and learning about her ideas. She seems like a very interesting and strong woman. I like how she did what she believed in even though it was against the Catholic religion she was raised in. After she spent 7 years as a nun in a convent she explored ideas and asked "why" even though she was told not to, to just believe in what she was told, and to to not express any doubt. She was taught God would listen, made the earth, and could appear through prayer. I thought it was interesting that she was told this so much that she said her brain was programed not to think and explore new ideas, and she couldn't experience joy. It seems that instead of religion doing her good, she lost herself and it made her worse as a person. I really like her idea about compassion. As she studied other religions, she realized it wasn't just learning about the Bible it is about "doing". It's not just studying the Bible, its about what we do. In the interview she said Buddha believed the practice of compassion will get you to nirvana, and Jesus stated that the people who visit the sick and poor and help people will be able to enter heaven. I strongly believe there are ideas about many religions that are helpful to all people, such as karma. I enjoyed listening to the interview because Karen brought up a lot of good points that made me think deeply. If we listen to her ideas I think we can learn a lot about many perspectives on religion.

After listening to the interview with Karen Armstrong I am more interested in reading her book and learning about her ideas. She seems like a very interesting and strong woman. I like how she did what she believed in even though it was against the Catholic religion she was raised in. After she spent 7 years as a nun in a convent she explored ideas and asked "why" even though she was told not to, to just believe in what she was told, and to to not express any doubt. She was taught God would listen, made the earth, and could appear through prayer. I thought it was interesting that she was told this so much that she said her brain was programed not to think and explore new ideas, and she couldn't experience joy. It seems that instead of religion doing her good, she lost herself and it made her worse as a person.

I really like her idea about compassion. As she studied other religions, she realized it wasn't just learning about the Bible it is about "doing". It's not just studying the Bible, its about what we do. In the interview she said Buddha believed the practice of compassion will get you to nirvana, and Jesus stated that the people who visit the sick and poor and help people will be able to enter heaven. I strongly believe there are ideas about many religions that are helpful to all people, such as karma. I enjoyed listening to the interview because Karen brought up a lot of good points that made me think deeply. If we listen to her ideas I think we can learn a lot about many perspectives on religion.

I really enjoyed hearing Karen Armstrong talk about her journey and her take on religion. I think being able to actually hear Karen Armstrong the author the book we are reading helps connect us the readers to the book even better.

I really liked when Karen Armstrong spoke about how she wasn't taught to explore or think about God and couldn't ask questions to her superiors about potential doubts, or just plain questions. I find that relatable because I sometimes had the feeling when I would be thinking about the Bible and God and how all this came together that there were doubts about how can one "individual" put all this together and to ask superiors would make them look down on me as if I was questioning God and the Bible which wasn't the case. But merely just wanted to explore the contents of what was being taught to me.

I thought it was very candid of Karen Armstrong when she said that she thought that Judasim was just a perpetuated out of Christianity and that she never really thought about Islam. Especially in todays world we see on the news how hot of a topic it truly is.

When Karen Armstrong spoke about how compassion is what the key is between all three religions, I strongly agree with that notion. Without compassion how would we feel, help, and encourage others. I think that the commonalities between these religions are far more bigger than what I have ever really dwelled upon or explored.

Listening to her speech so passionate about everything that she went through from being a nun to exploring other religions just intrigued me so much. She felt that she was just going to be a common nun in the convent and just be ordinary, when to me it sounded like she wanted to be extraordinary. Becoming a nun so young and growing up in a catholic home, she felt like she wasn't able to reach out and understand other religions. Karen wanted to know more and wanted more form God but wasn't getting it. She wanted a sign to make her life very holy and that everything would come easy to her but she was getting the opposite. She left the convent, went out into the world to debunk religion. At one point she felt that God has never really existed for her and she wanted more.

I can somewhat relate to her or more of what she felt. I have been a person of faith for most of my life but lately I have felt that I am not getting the things out of my faith that I have expected all of these years. I have prayed for signs or prayed for things in my life and have so many unanswered prayers and I have to wonder why. I have to wonder if I have done something wrong or if I have not been the best Christian I can be. I thought it was interesting that she wanted to know more about other religions and what they entailed. I have wondered myself if I should explore other religions to have an open mind about what others believe and how they have a passion for their faith. This woman is so interesting I really enjoyed listening to her.

Looking back at Karen Armstrong’s interviewed, I found it to be very interesting and yet strange. As a young person growing up, I too had a lot of questions about the existence of God, but I did not confused myself with faith and belief. Where she mentioned that she belief that there is a God but did not have faith in him is somehow strange. Because belief is having the feeling that something is definitely true or definitely exists, while faith is a strong feeling of trust in someone or something. So, my question is; how can one belief that there is a God and do not have faith in him?

I really do not know that much about the Catholic religion and can’t imagine how she felt about her unanswered question. But to be able to understand and know who God is, I believe you’ll have to have both faith and belief in him.

I also believe that the most important aspect of life when it comes to religion is to obey the Golden Rules. If humans could have empathy and compassion for one another, there won’t have to be religious differences. People would see God in everything around them, for example the trees, sun, moon, wind and even the animals. They would even see him in their fellow humans.

Listening to On Being Archived show on Karen Armstrong is amazed me as I listened through her speech and interview. I feel that she was thinking that religion is up people and however how they wanted to believe whether Muslim, Jewish and Christian. She explained that belief is the matter of people live, do wright thing, love one other and be helpful to be honest to one other. She personally believed that God helped her through her life, but she still want to address believe is doing the right things in your life.
I personally not agree with her because if I know God is there for me to help me or heal me my disease, it is important that I should know which God I believe in, instead of connecting all religions on the world. If we don’t know who create us, it is going to be hard to identify what is right and what is wrong. If we don’t agree with God`s it is hard to everything. She just focusing on what you do, how you treat people in your life, matters a lot. In the book of Romans 14:10-12, every believer will give an account of himself, and the Lord will judge the decisions he made—including those concerning issues of conscience. This judgment does not determine salvation, which is by faith alone.

There was so many things that Karen Armstrong had said throughout the show that I found particularly interesting. I was surprised at how it started, and how it ended. The way it started with saying how she was Atheist gave me the impression that the whole show was going to be about how God isn't real and de-bunking all of the religions, but I was wrong. I thought it was awesome that her experience as a Catholic nun had actually brought her to a point of learning about/ keeping an open mind about several religions. The fact that she went from being a nun to being atheist to being able to say that she is a religious person is so inspiring for me to keep an open mind.

Something that really stood out to me was in the middle where she talked about how she realized that the thing that all of us humans have in common was to ask questions about the "God" idea, no matter what religion someone is. It was just the chance of seeing similarities instead of differences because people will often look at another differently because of the religion they chose to be apart of. Another thing that stood out to me is when she was talking about her conversation with her, I believe it was one of her Jewish friends, on the idea of believing and they said to her that it's the action that is put in, not the idea and that kind of blew my mind because it's like I could have the great idea of doing something but it's 100% more meaningful when it's put into action.

I enjoyed listening to this show and it has me feeling peaceful and wanting to know more!

I found this show to be very interesting! I never would've thought I'd hear a former nun say some of the things she said, like God never existed for her, or that she would not go near a church after leaving the convent. I myself am not very religious, so I found myself identifying with the feelings she had while being a nun. The wandering mind; feeling exhausted by the church... that's exactly how I was/am. I found myself agreeing with alot of things she said. Like it or not, religion HAS done harm over the years, with religious wars that took place centuries ago, all the way up to now. 9/11 is a shining example of that. But not to completely discredit religion, the amount of people who take it upon themselves to act in a menacing way in the name of their God is few and far between. It's those extremists- even like the guy she talked about towards the end, at the conference- that warp the true meaning of religion.

I completely agree with her views on religion, such as it's not about believing in things or what you believe in, but doing things. Mother Teresa, for example: she is known for what she did, and all the love and support she gave to whoever needed it. No one ever talks about how great she was at praying, or if she could recite the bible. Everything that religion teaches us about life is true, if you want to have a peaceful, happy life. It really can be as simple as doing onto others as you would want done to you.

There was so many things that Karen Armstrong had said throughout the show that I found particularly interesting. I was suprised at how it started, and how it ended. The way it started with saying how she was Atheist gave me the impression that the whole show was going to be about how God isn't real and de-bunking all of the religions, but I was wrong. I thought it was awesome that her experience as a Catholic nun had actually brought her to a point of learning about/ keeping an open mind about several religions. The fact that she went from being a nun to being atheist to being able to say that she is a religious person is so inspiring for me to keep an open mind.

Something that really stood out to me was in the middle where she talked about how she realized that the thing that all of us humans have in common was to ask questions about the "God" idea, no matter what religion someone is. It was just the chance of seeing similarities instead of differences because people will often look at another differently because of the religion they chose to be apart of. Another thing that stood out to me is when she was talking about her conversation with her, I believe it was one of her Jewish friends, on the idea of believing and they said to her that it's the action that is put in, not the idea and that kind of blew my mind because it's like I could have the great idea of doing something but it's 100% more meaningful when it's put into action.

I enjoyed listening to this show and it has me feeling peaceful and wanting to know more!

I think Karen Armstrong still struggles with what she thinks about religion. With all of her knowledge about these different religions, it probably makes it difficult for her to decide what is right and wrong. She clearly shows a fascination with religious ideas and figures but maybe doesn't know if those ideas apply to her life. As a woman that comes from the life of being a nun for seven years, I totally understand why she would have doubts.

The life of a nun was a strict life where there was no room for thinking outside the box. In order to be a nun you need to be disciplined and obedient. And Karen Armstrong didn't have what the other nuns had. She said that, "She wanted God to invade her life." Yet he remained at a distance. And then after being in the convent for seven years, she went to a Catholic church for a couple of years and following that she tried to debunk religion. She said she wanted people to see the harm that religion does to oneself.

And after all that, now she claims to be a religious person. Like myself and others have been discussing in this post, what can that possibly mean to her. She even claims that religion is more about action than belief. So if this is so and she is religious, what actions is she doing that make her religious then?

I have to say that was a long hour interview. In that time frame I thought Karen Armstrong was very confused. She started off as being a nun to a atheists to believing in God again. I'm not to sure that she knew what she wanted out of religion. She traveled and spoke to many individuals regarding religion. I don't think she knew what to do with her life, since she dedicated her life to God. She became a nun at a early age of 17, and she spent 7 years in a convent. After 7 years in the convent she was drawn away from religion. It seemed as she grew to despite the catholic faith.

I think her interview and her book, shows a lot of confusion in her life. As I read and listen to her more, I think one minute she's turning me away from religion and the next she's not. Through her interview you could see her finding good out of other religions. I still haven't really figured out why was there such a big change in her life? Why after 7 years did she begin to question the faith? Since religion is based on faith, what made her start doubting the catholic faith?

While listening to this pod cast about Karen Armstrong I hear someone that sought out a religious comfort in a convent at the young age of 17. Listening to her talk about it it became quite clear that she was trying to force something to happen that wasn't exactly there. Trying to find comfort by putting yourself in a position to be wrapped up in the religious God and finding nothing to comfort you seems like it took it's toll on her. She talked about always smashing down or 'deflecting' her inner thoughts because there was always someone to think for her and I feel as though that could have truly injured her internally because you won't find the comfort you need by not allowing yourself to feel and think for your own self.

From what I continued to listen to is that she at first seemed to want to put an end to the thought of religion and that there is something wrong with the whole thing but ended up getting pulled into multiple directions with different religions. There are quite a few things that I feel as though I would be able to relate with Karen due to the fact that my family is indeed a very religious one and that sometimes it's a struggle to find where your place is in it all. Her views are very interesting and very different from what I've been told for most of my life. Karen seems like she was granted exactly what she wanted in the convent the entire time, a way to connect with a religious figure. Yes, it may not have been exactly what she was meant to do but she still found herself connecting and seeing the ultimate purpose of all the religions and that's to believe in something, even if it meant yourself.

I think Karen Armstrong's life was very shifty and all over until she finally found her place and what she believed. Religion was sort of forced upon her since she was young, and then when she went on to be a nun. She speaks about how she felt as though she couldn't have any of her own original ideas or thoughts, and thought she could not have any doubts about God. She says she was always critiqued as a nun. I can relate to her inability to meditate for an hour because it is always hard for me to pray for a long time because my mind always wanders off and it is hard to stay focused on God.

I liked the point that came up about how religion isn't about believing things, but about doing things and living in a compassionate way that changes you. Karen says that in her covent they saw every prayer and religious event as a way to encounter God. I know a lot of people who have heard God or have seen God working in their lives and I had never seen that before. I would wait and expect God to show say something or answer my prayers or something, but I eventually learned that it doesn't work like that. I can relate to Karen because you kind of have to find your own beliefs and your own God, and not let other people tell you how to have faith. After she was exhausted from religion, she started studying other religions. She learned that she did not have to believe in one religion over another.