An Author Who Inspires This Writer the Most


An Author Who Inspires This Writer the Most


Erwin K Thomas

The individual who has inspired this writer the most is Karen Armstrong. Armstrong was born in England on November 14, 1944. She is a historian of World Religions and an Interfaith Advocate. As a young Catholic nun, she suffered physical and psychological abuse, and left the convent in 1969. She attended St. Anne’s College, and later embarked on D.Phil. on the poet Tennyson. Having failed at this educational venture she taught English at James Allen’s Girls’ School. Eventually in life she overcame an undiagnosed temporal lobe epilepsy that was a troublesome health problem. In 1984, she became a broadcast presenter, and was commissioned by British Channel Four to make a TV documentary on religion. Armstrong’s spiritual books included: Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet (1991), A History of God: The 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (1993), Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths (1996), Islam: A Short History (2000), Buddha (2001), The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness (2004), The Case for God: What Religion Really Means (2010), The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions (2006), Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (2014), The Lost Art of Scripture (2020), and Sacred Nature: How We Can Recover Our Bond with the Natural World (2022).

For her accomplishments Armstrong received honors as Doctor of Letters from Aston University (2006), Doctor of Divinity by Queen’s University (2010), Doctor of Letters by the University of Saint Andrews (2011), and Doctor of Divinity by McGill University (2014). Other awards were the Muslim Public Affairs Council Media Award (1999), Freedom of Worship Award by the Roosevelt Institute (2008), Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize by the University of Tubingen (2009), Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding by the British Academy (2013), and Princess Asturias Award (2017).   

Armstrong is a prolific author who makes interfaith presentations around the world. Her talks cover the major religions - Primal, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shintoism, and Humanism. She is inspirational because her focus has caused many of her followers to become religious literate. Moreover, as an interfaith advocate she demonstrates how every structural sector - political, governmental, economic, legal, and cultural are continually being influenced by religion. Religion through the ages has therefore been the basis of the moral fiber to every nation.

The author’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life was also pertinent for the 21st century. She used the Golden Rule as the foundation of her discourse on what it means to live compassionately. She envisioned Twelve Steps, but thought that such an approach could take a believer a lifetime to accomplish. In the introduction to the text readers are introduced to the major faith traditions, and concepts based on compassion. Armstrong weaved these steps carefully by explaining what people should do to benefit from them. At each step they are presented with a discussion about how to use these teachings. These compassionate goals are carefully calibrated and based on the major religions of the world. Although every goal could stand alone, she was able to integrate each one with an affirmation and a brief explanation.

This book related every topic to contemporary issues. Armstrong recognized all of us have had problems with which we are struggling. She explained how important it was to transcend the thinking of ourselves, and that people should reach out to the good aspects of life itself. They should treat others the way they would like to be treated. This dictum must also embrace our enemies that are suffering.

Armstrong’s work was formulated like the Twelve Steps Program for Alcoholics Anonymous. Her vision of compassion grew out of her 2008 TED talk on compassion for which she won a $100,000 prize. This achievement led her to focus on the promulgation of the Golden Rule, and compassionate living in the world.

This author is viewed as one of the most influential advocates for all religions. Her body of works attest to her influence in religions. World religious leaders that are interfaith leaders surely stand out from the rest. They explain to believers that all religions should be respected. No one faith has a hold on the truth. This is so because God’s truth is multifaceted. Karen Armstrong exemplifies this reality. She is a brilliant, profound, and true advocate of the world’s faith traditions.

Guyanese-born & Interfaith Writer Erwin K Thomas was a former Professor of Mass Communications at Norfolk State University, Virginia.





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