Saturday, August 28, 2010

From atheist to "freelance monotheist"

In my last post I mentioned the short video Brian posted of Karen Armstrong voicing her views on the controversial Mosque near Ground Zero. I was not familiar with any of her writings other than a few quotes I've come across in the course of checking out other stuff. So I googled her. Interesting lady.

Former nun.  She spent 8 years in her late teens in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus....left the convent at 24. She wrote a book called Through the Narrow Gate describing her experiences as a nun.  She was bitter. She was angry.  She was pissed.  When she became a nun she dedicated her life to the search for God.  Now she describes herself as a person of faith and she writes books explaining and discussing humanity's search for God.  In between the nunnery and her present vocation/ministry she was an atheist.  So she went from atheist to "freelance monotheist." 

I found several quotes in the articles I checked out....

"I get my spirituality in study," she said. "The Jews say it happens, sometimes, studying the Torah."

"My study is my religious discipline. There are little moments of transcendence, of awe, which Rabbi Blue tells me is what the study of the Torah is about. St Benedict [of Nursia] also refers to it as the lectio divina in which during study, there are these miniseconds of oratio or prayer."

Interesting that she finds moments of transcendence while studying. Sometimes I wonder if I should read less and do more of the touchy-feely spiritual stuff.  You know, spend more time meditating or praying...or sitting in silence. Granted, I do most of my "research" on the internet...and it is far to haphazard to call study. 

And in the spirit of inclusivism/plurality she says

"It's inevitable that people turn to more than one religious tradition for inspiration," she said. "It's part of globalization."

"Religion is like a raft," she said, explaining the Buddha's view of it. "Once you get across the river, moor the raft and go on. Don't lug it with you if you don't need it anymore."
I think the point is akin to the finger pointing at the moon analogy. The finger (religion) points you in the right direction...but don't mistake the finger for the moon. 

She's written quite a few books.  Previews and overviews can be found on Google Books.

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