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The History Of God By Karen Armstrong


des
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Anybody read this?

 

I am in the process of reading it. It is a LONG book! The subtitle is the 4000 year history of Judaism,

Christianity, and Islam. It is about 4000 pages long. One year per page. ;-) Just kidding but it is long.

And it isn't quite like reading Harry Potter (I am a huge fan, as some of you know).

 

But I am finding this very rewarding. One thing: the really good quotes from the Quran, which

aren't quite like reading the born again sites on the net, where they quote all the nasty things in

the Quran. Another is the history of Islam which is quite interesting. You also find out who

the Shia and the Sunni are. (The Shai are more literalist and believe in a blood line from

Mohammad, also believe Al-Lah- literally The God-- speaks thru the immans directly.)

Also some neat little tidbits on Judaism (those early Isrealites weren't really monotheists-- that's

why there were all the issues with "other gods".) And also Christianity-- where did the trinity idea

come from?

 

So, imo, the book definitely has its rewards. I find it challenging. This is heavy going, even though

Karen Armstrong is a good writer, and writes to a lay audience. She is a really interesting speaker, heard

her on geek tv, woops I mean BookTV, talk on her recent book on Islam. Something like Mohammad,

a Prophet for our Time.

 

Interesting note: She is an ex-nun.

 

Anyway, I'd be curious on anyone else's impression.

 

--des

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Hey Des! I read that several years ago, so I don't have clear points to discuss. I also found it fascinating! It seems that some of her conclusions are more controversial than she presents - or that's how it seemed after reading some Borg and others. Her history as a nun - I think she dropped out before final vows - is very interesting. It was in England just before Vatican II, so the conditions, hazing, etc were pretty awful and clearly a poor match for her. More recently she wrote about it and seems to have made her peace.

 

I should reread it - so many books, y'know!!! :rolleyes: But I would DEFINATELY choose HP #7 first! I'm looking forward to the #5 movie even though it was my least favorite of the books. Too much adolescent angst! :lol:

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I'm sure she is writing with a certain "lens". And she does seem progressive or moderate.

I don't think there is truly such a thing as a "lens"-less history, as we might have been

led to believe when we studied it in school.

 

I have gotten a little farther and it reads a little faster. She has divided the end half of the

book into the philosophers, the mystics, the reformers, the enlightenment, etc. and takes

a look at these from each of the three monotheistic traditions, heavily an Islamic side

(at least for the philosophers). I think it fascinating that there was at one time a strong,

"interpretative", drive in Islam that was strongly pro-science and natural history. (I

don't think that much is in question.)

 

An interesting anecdote that she quoted on tv. Someone asked where the moderate voices

were in Islam. She ticked off several, which of course meant nothing to me. Then she said

she is giving the same talk in Pakistan and someone asks her where the moderate voices

are in Christianity!! (They certainly seem drowned out!!)

 

In her talk she mentioned nuns, but only in relation to the veil. How despised the nuns

were for wearing the habit etc. She said once there was freedom to wear it, the habits

came off. I thought that was an interesting comment. She described Europeans as in

a tither about it. Of course they see it more than we do. (I do see it more than you

might think in a SW city.) She proposed we all just chill. :-)

 

Actually I thought she is a better speaker than writer, really loved her talk.

 

And yes, can't wait to see HP 5 even though it was like reading my nephew. :-)

Definitely my least favorite one far and away.

 

 

--des

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I love to edit my own posts, esp after the edit option is no longer available. :-)

Anyway, I was in the dentist's office today. I'm not sure how old the Time magazine was but

it was this year anyway. :-) There was an article on how quite a no. of young nuns

are putting the veil and habit back on. (I would say it isn't quite as extreme a one as I

remember from way back.) But anyway, not all chose it, but the older nuns were definitely

not interested, it was the younger ones wanting it. So I thought that was an interesting

commentary on our times and doesn't support Karen Armstrong's contention. OTOH,

I think it wasn't a particularly a rigorous one, more her observation.

 

 

--des

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I am reading her book "the battle for God, a History of Fundamentalism" (or something like that; it's not in front of me as I type).

 

I appreciate Armstrong's take on many things. Yup, this one's also a tough read and I've been with this book for a while now. Can't plow though it, but it's worth the time.

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  • 1 month later...
I'm sure she is writing with a certain "lens". And she does seem progressive or moderate.

I don't think there is truly such a thing as a "lens"-less history, as we might have been

led to believe when we studied it in school.

 

I have gotten a little farther and it reads a little faster. She has divided the end half of the

book into the philosophers, the mystics, the reformers, the enlightenment, etc. and takes

a look at these from each of the three monotheistic traditions, heavily an Islamic side

(at least for the philosophers). I think it fascinating that there was at one time a strong,

"interpretative", drive in Islam that was strongly pro-science and natural history. (I

don't think that much is in question.)

 

An interesting anecdote that she quoted on tv. Someone asked where the moderate voices

were in Islam. She ticked off several, which of course meant nothing to me. Then she said

she is giving the same talk in Pakistan and someone asks her where the moderate voices

are in Christianity!! (They certainly seem drowned out!!)

 

In her talk she mentioned nuns, but only in relation to the veil. How despised the nuns

were for wearing the habit etc. She said once there was freedom to wear it, the habits

came off. I thought that was an interesting comment. She described Europeans as in

a tither about it. Of course they see it more than we do. (I do see it more than you

might think in a SW city.) She proposed we all just chill. :-)

 

Actually I thought she is a better speaker than writer, really loved her talk.

 

And yes, can't wait to see HP 5 even though it was like reading my nephew. :-)

Definitely my least favorite one far and away.

--des

 

 

One thing I found interesting in her book is the sympathetic treatment of the Sufis, the mystical Muslim sect. I had come across them before, in Paul Roberts' lively IN SEARCH OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS: The Journey of the Magi (highly recommended). I wish there were more Sufis and less of this constant warfare between Sunnis and Shias (reminiscent of the warfare between Catholics and Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries).

 

In Roberts' book, the author meets a Sufi imam in the Iranian holy city of Qom. The imam asks, perhaps surprisingly, if it isn't true that all religions are fundamentally one. Roberts agrees. The imam says that the problem is that religion, which should be inner, has become outer, and entwined with politics and thus degraded.

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Well you all have tweeked my interest I will put it on my reading list, (its long). If Karen Armstrong can help me understand Islam that would be a plus. I have studied all the world's great religions and the one I am the weakest in understanding is Islam. I read the Koran from cover to cover and still don't know what Islam is about. I can relate to the Sufis though, I can get a grip on their ideas, probably because they are mystics and there is an element of mysticism in my spirituality.

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Well you all have tweeked my interest I will put it on my reading list, (its long). If Karen Armstrong can help me understand Islam that would be a plus. I have studied all the world's great religions and the one I am the weakest in understanding is Islam. I read the Koran from cover to cover and still don't know what Islam is about. I can relate to the Sufis though, I can get a grip on their ideas, probably because they are mystics and there is an element of mysticism in my spirituality.

 

Check out Wahiduddin.net for lots of inspiration and information about the Sufis, particularly the twentieth century Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan. The Sufi Order gives us Khan's remarkable Ten Sufi Thoughts which is one of the best summaries of Mysticism or the Perennial Phiosophy I have found so far.

Edited by mystictrek
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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
Anybody read this?

 

I am in the process of reading it. It is a LONG book! The subtitle is the 4000 year history of Judaism,

Christianity, and Islam. It is about 4000 pages long. One year per page. ;-) Just kidding but it is long.

And it isn't quite like reading Harry Potter (I am a huge fan, as some of you know).

 

But I am finding this very rewarding. One thing: the really good quotes from the Quran, which

aren't quite like reading the born again sites on the net, where they quote all the nasty things in

the Quran. Another is the history of Islam which is quite interesting. You also find out who

the Shia and the Sunni are. (The Shai are more literalist and believe in a blood line from

Mohammad, also believe Al-Lah- literally The God-- speaks thru the immans directly.)

Also some neat little tidbits on Judaism (those early Isrealites weren't really monotheists-- that's

why there were all the issues with "other gods".) And also Christianity-- where did the trinity idea

come from?

 

So, imo, the book definitely has its rewards. I find it challenging. This is heavy going, even though

Karen Armstrong is a good writer, and writes to a lay audience. She is a really interesting speaker, heard

her on geek tv, woops I mean BookTV, talk on her recent book on Islam. Something like Mohammad,

a Prophet for our Time.

 

Interesting note: She is an ex-nun.

 

Anyway, I'd be curious on anyone else's impression.

 

--des

 

Hey des! Did you finish reading it? Did you like it overall?

 

Based on the reviews it's gotten here, I'll definitely have to add it to my list :)

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