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The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness (2004)

por Karen Armstrong

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1,822457,187 (4.02)65
'The Spiral Staircase' is a raw, intensely personal memoir of spiritual exploration from one of the world's great commentators on religious. It grapples with the issue 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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A path from cloistered nun to best-selling author, this is a spiritual memoir that traces Armstrong's journey through faith, into theology, and finally into her own sort of religious practice. It is in line with many of her other books, and also elucidates much of her other work. ( )
1 vote evenlake | Mar 23, 2021 |
Ceuta - Enero/2006
  MOTORRINO | Dec 6, 2020 |
From postulant to internationally-known interfaith writer Karen Armstrong’s life has been like a seesaw in The Spiral Staircase with trials, disappointments, and acclaim. Armstrong was certain that her early life in a convent damaged her. She felt as though she had suffered, beaten into submission, and couldn’t even think straight. Moreover she was prone to have fainting spells that her mother superior attributed to her emotional state and proclivity for dramatization. But even after leaving the convent, this condition continued while living in the secular world.
Armstrong continued having fainting spells and hallucinations even as she was attending Oxford University. But despite her illness she was still able to do very well as an undergraduate in literature. On graduating she was able to find boarding with the Harts, and took care of their son Jacob who suffered from epilepsy. All the while she was studying in graduate school where she was pursuing the PhD degree. But she failed to matriculate after her thesis on Tennyson was rejected.
Eventually Armstrong found work as department head in a girls’ public school. This position required her to commute quite a distant to work that she didn’t exactly like. But her health remained a problem, and although she was doing well in her teaching career she was missing too many days because of illness. Having these health issues she was let go from the school. But soon afterwards her real health problem was diagnosed as epilepsy. With medication Armstrong’s health improved and she found happiness in the publication of her book Through the Narrow Gate. This meant stints on TV at the BBC, a show about St. Paul where she travelled to Israel, and learned much more about the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
With the St. Paul’s films completed on a limited budget Armstrong was recruited to work on another TV show about the Crusaders. But this opportunity proved disastrous. However she was able to complete a book on that subject entitled, Holy Wars that was a failure. With quite a few professional failures Armstrong was in a bind for she didn’t know how she was going to be able to make ends meet, but she soon thought about writing A History of God, because of her experiences with the three Abrahamic faiths in the Holy Land.
But this project was interrupted with the uproar over Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and with the event of September 11, 2001 Armstrong was in demand as a speaker to talk about the nature of Islam. Eventually she was able to complete A History of God that she described as a turning point in her life, and affirmed T.S. Eliot’s Ash-Wednesday poem about her climb up a spiral staircase while propagating the belief in the Golden Rule and compassionate living for all. ( )
1 vote erwinkennythomas | Oct 16, 2019 |
Karen is acknowledged internationally as one of the world’s great commentators on religion. You may have heard her on Radio 4, seen her on television panel discussions about the Middle East or at BYM or Quaker events.
Written in 2004, ‘The Spiral Staircase’ updates Karen’s personal and spiritual journey since the fascinating insights in her earlier book ‘Through the Narrow Gate’ (1981) which recounted her story of joining a convent in 1962 aged just seventeen. She left seven years later, unable to shape herself to the restrictions and self-abnegation of the cloistered life.
In ‘The Spiral Staircase’, Karen revisits and reassesses her convent days and is painfully honest about her subsequent struggles. In her attempts to establish herself in a new way of life, initially she describes a seeming downward spiral, including worries about her mental health. Astonishingly, her underlying epilepsy was undiagnosed for many years, yet she managed to produce her early works under the influence of psychiatric drugs and years of misguided therapy. The Amazon review of her book says “She began writing her bestseller ‘A History of God’ in a spirit of scepticism, but through studying other religious traditions she found a very different kind of faith which drew from Christianity, Judaism and Islam and, eventually, spiritual and personal calm”. This is no rags to riches or ‘From Hell to Hallelujah’ story though: she’s had plenty of bumpy rides and no clear path and various personal and career failures and rejections along with successes and acclaim.
In her own words, her “story is a graphic illustration – almost an allegory – of a widespread dilemma. It is emblematic of a more general flight from institutional religion and a groping towards a form of faith that has not yet been fully articulated but which is nevertheless in the process of declaring itself”
Review by Margaret (August 2018)
  WandsworthFriends | Aug 6, 2018 |
This is Armstrong's biography. We have comparable backgrounds.
  AlanBudreau | Apr 4, 2018 |
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Karen Armstrongautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Berg, Corrie van denTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Kloos, CarolaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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T.S. ELIOT, Ash-Wednesday, I / Because I do not hope to turn again / Because I do not hope / Because I do not hope to turn / Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope / I no longer strive to strive towards such things / (Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?) / Why should I mourn / The vanished power of the usual reign? / . . . Because I know that time is always time / And place is always and only place / And what is actual is actual only for one time / And only for one place / I rejoice that things are as they are . . . [etc.]
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'The Spiral Staircase' is a raw, intensely personal memoir of spiritual exploration from one of the world's great commentators on religious. It grapples with the issue 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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