The point of religion

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Karen Armstrong

Former nun Karen Armstrong, whose writing and theories about God and belief have won her fans including the Dalai Lama, will deliver a public lecture at the University of St Andrews, School III on Tuesday November 29, 2011 at 1715 hours.

Religious thinker Karen Armstrong has written more than 20 books on faith and the major religions, studying what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common, and how our faiths shaped world history and drive current events.

She is a powerful voice for ecumenical understanding and her views about religious conflict echo around international political forums, from the Middle East, to Congress in Washington

Speaking ahead of her lecture, Ms Armstrong said:

“Religion is often dismissed as an irrelevance in the modern secular and scientific world. But despite our technological and scientific brilliance, our religious thinking is remarkably undeveloped – even primitive. The way we speak about God or the Ultimate would have filled pre-modern theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas, Maimonides, or Ibn Sina, with dismay. What has happened to religion in the modern world? The lecture will explore some developments that have made religion highly problematic to many people today and will suggest that it does indeed have a point and mission in our dangerously polarized world.”

Karen Armstrong was born at Wildmoor, Worcestershire and became a nun in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus before studying English at Oxford University. She left her order while still a student, and wrote a memoir of her convent experiences once employed teaching English at a girls’ school in Dulwich.

Since then Armstrong has authored numerous books including A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam: A Short History, The Great Transformation, The Bible: the Biography, The Case for God, and, most recently, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Her work has been translated into 45 languages.

Karen Armstrong will be made honorary Doctors of Letters (DLitt) at the 12.30 pm graduation ceremony in the Younger Hall on St Andrews Day, in recognition of her comprehensive scholarship of world religions and her groundbreaking work in interfaith understanding.


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