Karen ARMSTRONG in Kuala Lumpur
HERS IS THE VOICE OF CLARITY AND REASON in a world embroiled in religious chaos. Religious historian Karen Armstrong was in Kuala Lumpur this week to deliver a public lecture on the role of religion in the 21st century and bridging the gap between Islam and the West.
Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun who made her name with such religious tomes as The Great Transformation: The World in the Time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah (published in the U.S. as The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions) (2006), A Short History of Myth (2005), The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (2000), Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths (1996) and A History of God: The 4,000-year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (1993) as well as her two engaging memoirs of spiritual discovery, The Spiral Staircase (2004) and Through the Narrow Gate (1981), is an acknowledged authority on the religions of the world: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
As a writer of popular books on Islam, Jerusalem and the Buddha, she was here to promote peace and understanding between religions for a better world, a world based on empathy, compassion and a concern for others. She spoke with much eloquence, intelligence and sensibility on a wide-ranging variety of topics: politics, religious fundamentalism, religious violence, enlightenment, transcendence, atheism, civilisations, the unity of faiths, learning to weep with those who were suffering, etc.