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The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out Of Darkness (Walker Large Print Books) [Paperback]

By Karen Armstrong (Author)
Our Price $ 14.41  
Retail Value $ 16.95  
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Item Number 110457  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   530
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.3" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 11, 2005
Publisher   Walker Large Print
ISBN  1594150672  
EAN  9781594150678  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Combining memoir, theology, philosophy, this is a story about finally recognizing oneself. More than anything it fills the reader with hope.

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More About Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong Karen Armstrong is one of the world's foremost scholars on religious affairs. She is the author of a number of bestselling books, including The Battle for God, Buddha, Jerusalem, A History of God, and Through the Narrow Gate, a memoir of her seven years as a nun. She lives in London.

Karen Armstrong currently resides in London. Karen Armstrong was born in 1944.

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Product Categories
1Books > Large Print > Biographies & Memoirs   [569  similar products]
2Books > Large Print > Religion & Spirituality   [1360  similar products]
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4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( A ) > Armstrong, Karen   [29  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Sadly misunderstood by some - author and book. Try again.  Jun 5, 2008
So Karen is dysfuntional? No, like me, she has temporal lobe epilepsy, a condition from which the world and society prefer to turn away and pretend it doesn't exist. It's exceptionally hard to describe, since it has literally hundreds of forms and does leave one doubting one's sanity at times. Then we doubt the world's mental balance. I was once dismissed from work by someone who feared I'd bite colleagues. And Karen is an apologist for Muslim extremists? Oh, for pity's sake, grow up! Read what she says, not what your prejudice tells you. Does she perhaps wear a Paisley scarf too (originally a Scottish design, by the way)? There's no trusting these people, is there, if they don't think just like you? Open the window and look outside. There's a world out there, bigger than even your prejudices and bigotry.
And a note to Mr Benanchou: the Greeks didn't believe the world was flat. In the centuries BCE, the circumference of the world was calculated to a high degree of accuracy, with two sticks, sunlight and basic trigonometry (subtended angles - look it up.) We rely on very pricy satellites, not garden canes, which cost so much less.
I applaud Karen Armstrong. It can still be problematical - I know well from experience - to assert one has epilepsy. Fears of evil spirits crop up, even now. And it can lead to social and career disaster. I was forced to retire, with two degrees, at only 42.
Empathy  Apr 7, 2008
Written with much sensitivity (and courage), it induced much empathy with the author. A good read.

I was less than impressed with some of her books on history of religion, but this autobiography shows where she was coming from, and helped me better appreciate what she was trying to convey in those other books.

I look forward to the next installment in this autobio series. :-)
An Insightful Journey from the Loss of Hope to Spiritual Heights  Dec 22, 2007
This is a remarkably personal and insightful journey which takes us through the loss of hope and faith and then back to a higher realm of love and understanding. Here are my personal thoughts about this book:

1. By the end of the book, I felt a bond with her that is similar to something I have felt for some of my best professors and teachers who helped me understand complex things. Karen is extremely honest and open and able to describe emotions and reactions which many thoughtful people must have to orthodox religious training and dogma. She works so hard to do the right thing and yet she is unable to feel the connection to God and make the decision to accept things as they are. She is the opposite of the normal rebellious person who bolts. She is the long suffering special person who will follow the rules, sacrifice and do the right things over and over again to come up with the expected result of obedience and conformity. And yet, that brilliant and analytical mind of hers cannot allow herself to be tricked or cajoled into compliance. I feel that this is because she is brutally honest and pure.

2. She lets us into her very private and sometimes sad life. We know her every fear and understand that she is shy, awkward socially, and backward, and as she heals and moves to the next level of understanding in her life, we root for her and admire the things she is trying to do. Her accomplishments are huge and she has done it virtually all alone with extreme patience and many setbacks as well as thousands of days carefully studying the history of religion, various poets and other important writers. The ultra close relationship we have with her every day struggles helps us comprehend her conclusions and remarks about spirituality, religion and life. She has taken the time to do what many of us would like to do but can't do because of other more pressing obligations and, perhaps, addiction to regular shallow life things.

3. She is imprisoned by her unknown health problems, her religious obligations, fear and shyness, and yet we see her determination get her to a level of freedom experienced by very few people. She loses her faith, gains a cause to help others understand how religion at a certain level can be damaging, and as she reads and studies each of the three major religions, she gradually moves back to a spiritual understanding that gives her a new freedom and love of everyone. Along the way, she teaches us some of the basics about each of the religions and why we need to understand them before we assume that all others are incorrect and horrible. This gives us hope and makes us want to reexamine and study others and then move to that higher level that is taught by all of them. Certainly, it makes me want to study more about Judaism and the prophet Mohammed's teaching.

I finished the book with a great and positive feeling that there may be hope in the world if we could take the time to truly understand each other. It's a great book. Thanks, Karen.
A Journey of Self-Discovery  Dec 21, 2007
The Spiral Staircase is an honest and insightful account of Karen Armstrong's spiritual journey of painful self-discovery from the age of seventeen until she was, at long last, led to her true purpose.

At seventeen, Armstrong decided to devote her life to God and entered the Roman Catholic Church. She became a conscientious novitiate but over time began to question the rigid tenets of her faith. In addition, the strictness and seemingly uncaring attitude of the nuns caused her health and mental state to spiral downward. She experienced sudden, frightening panic attacks and seizures which the nuns ascribed to her overly sensitive nature and childish histrionics.

After seven years in the convent, distraught and deeply wounded, she accepted defeat and left a world she had cherished for many years. Not used to the outside world, she entered academia, another cloistered existence, and worked toward her doctorate. But, after years of hard work, her thesis was rejected.

Armstrong is a writer of such skill and emotional depth that in reading her story I suffered with her. It was almost as though I had known and loved her from childhood and needed to know that her health had improved, that she had finally found what she was searching for. I turned page after page with a heavy heart as I read of her continued frustrations with all that she tried... her failed doctorate, a string of televsion documentaries that also led nowhere, her terrifying seizures.

The life the author describes reminds me of my own past struggles to find myself, how I too poured my heart and soul into various jobs and relationships that did not work out, and to which I reacted with feelings of hopelessness, confusion, and a severe loss of self-confidence.

But Armstrong had a problem far greater than any of mine. She was ultimately diagnosed with epilepsy. Though her symptoms were the classic symptoms of this illness, they were not taken seriously by the nuns; nor were they recognized by the psychiatrist she was seeing for many years. During a hospital stay many years later, a doctor diagnosed her illness correctly, and she received the medication that stablized her and enabled her to begin her writing career.

Karen Armstrong has written numerous books on the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Her work has been translated into forty languages. In The Spiral Staircase, she shares how she came to the understanding that living a spiritual life is not merely about the rigors of following the tenets of any religious order but about living with an open, loving heart. Her engaging personality coupled with the wisdom she has gained places this book among the most moving, inspiring and entertaining memoirs I have had the pleasure to read.

by Duffie Bart
for Story Circle Book Reviews
Reviewing books for, by and about women
The Spiral Staircase  Nov 24, 2007
This book is as compelling as a novel as well as being challenging & inspiring. We used it for a study group and everyone enjoyed it & thought it well worthwhile. Everyone found it easy to read but not easy to put down!

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