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Moving from the Paleolithic age to the present, Karen
Armstrong details the great lengths to which humankind has
gone in order to experience a sacred reality that it called
by many names, such as God, Brahman, Nirvana, Allah, or
Dao. Focusing especially on Christianity but including
Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese
spiritualities, Armstrong examines the diminished impulse
toward religion in our own time, when a significant number
of people either want nothing to do with God or question
the efficacy of faith. Why has God become unbelievable? Why
is it that atheists and theists alike now think and speak
about God in a way that veers so profoundly from the
thinking of our ancestors?
Answering these questions with the same depth of knowledge
and profound insight that have marked all her acclaimed
books, Armstrong makes clear how the changing face of the
world has necessarily changed the importance of religion at
both the societal and the individual level. And she makes a
powerful, convincing argument for drawing on the insights
of the past in order to build a faith that speaks to the
needs of our dangerously polarized age. Yet she cautions us
that religion was never supposed to provide answers that
lie within the competence of human reason; that, she says,
is the role of logos. The task of religion is â€śto help us
live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with
realities for which there are no easy explanations.â€ť She
emphasizes, too, that religion will not work automatically.
It is, she says, a practical discipline: its insights are
derived not from abstract speculation but from â€śdedicated
intellectual endeavorâ€ť and a â€ścompassionate lifestyle that
enables us to break out of the prism of selfhood.â€ť
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