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Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
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After the bestselling The Case for God, Karen Armstrong makes the case for compassion - an urgent appeal to establish empathy and altruism at the centre of our private and public lives

About the Author

Karen Armstrong is one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, but left her teaching order in 1969 to read English at St Anne's College, Oxford. In 1982, she became a full time writer and broadcaster. She is a best-selling author of over 16 books. An accomplished writer and passionate campaigner for religious liberty, Armstrong has addressed members of the United States Congress and the Senate and has participated in the World Economic Forum.

Reviews

Armstrong (The Case for God), one of the most celebrated writers on religious subjects in the world, here tries to show readers the steps toward a life of compassion, which she views as both an attainable and a desirable goal, something that lifts us out of our self-involvement or our sense of anger and depression in a hard world. VERDICT Armstrong, a splendid scholar for the popular market, does not often speak so directly in her own voice; many readers, both men and women, both thoughtful believers and nonbelievers, will take an interest in her perspectives. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The prolific, well-informed, and passionate Armstrong (The Case for God) writes a somewhat different book this time out, stemming from her winning a $100,000 prize in 2007 to promote an idea worth spreading. She always has a thesis in her books as she sweeps over the historical development of world religions, but this is a book with an agenda: you ought to be more compassionate, and here's how. So instead of being her usual somewhat academic teacher of religious history, she is more of a personal spiritual teacher, in the vein of the Dalai Lama. That task, and corresponding tone ("Be patient with yourself during this meditation"), is not her long suit. Still, this slightly self-help-y book is deeply grounded in what Armstrong knows, and presents, well: the core teachings of all religions that can make us better, more compassionate humans. The former nun pulls ideas and references from religions Eastern and Western with aplomb and respect for all sources. This counter to the religion-is-homicidal-and-superstitious school of invective passing for thought is well-informed, welcome, and practical. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

A profound and lucid mixture of philosophy, theology and self-help. It's a perfect detox for the soul... Spry, eloquent, pacy.... Armstrong has a knack for grappling with complex ideas in the lightest of ways * The Times *
It sees Armstrong combine in this brief volume both her usual high quality historical scholarship and an explicit self-help programme that echoes her rousing lectures... Challenging, persuasive self-help book that seeks to distil the very best of religion * Independent *
Straightforward without being simplistic...frequently fascinating * Metro *
Flashes of sheer brilliance * Scotland on Sunday *
One of the charming things about Armstrong's book is its deliberate descents into bathos. We move from the high thoughts of the old sages to the demands of everyday life...from an exquisitely intelligent exposition of Sophocles's Oedipus Tyrannus to a meditation upon how we might overcome a personal dislike of a colleague or family member * Financial Times *

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