I first read a book written by Karen Armstrong a year ago, I had good impression of her great literary talent and her scholarly in-depth research on the subject. It actually prompted me to write an article of honoring all faiths. Little did I know at the time that a year later, I would, through my love to read, establish a kind of affinity with her from her akin to autobiographical work revealing her struggle out of cocoon of spiritual darkness.
Hers was a life of uncommon path. She had experienced seven years of excruciating mental and spiritual pain and suffering as a Catholic nun, and another ten more years difficult time of searching for her own identity after leaving the convent and trying to find her place in a secular life. With decades of long and hard soul searching and bitter-sweet score settling with her past, she was finally able to appreciate that all the suffering she had undergone was spiritually necessary for her to break out of the narrow confine of the convent and reach out to all the world religions with equal revere and understanding.
The book that I read a year ago was "Mohammad - A Prophet for Our Time". After the momentous event of 9/11, the western world was still naive of Islamic world. We are fearful of the power of Islam, believing that Islam was fundamentally a violent and hateful religion. The Muslims were just a bloodletting mob always stand in the ready to instigate conflict and terror. This distorted view was further stereotyped by the five decades long of Middle East conflict. The book about Prophet Mohammad was needed to restore the true spirit of Islam, and Karen did a great job bringing the truth of Islam to the western world.
Now that I have finished reading the book, Spiral Staircase - My Climb out of Darkness, I have gained further understanding of her motive and contribution of writing several books in regards to the fundamental principle of world religions. Other than ritualistic difference, most of the world religions have shared common value and morality in its core. The book, Spiral Staircase was a journey of eventful life. Not many of us can live through life of trial and tribulation unscathed, but reading her book make me realize that at time, we can be remarkably resilient against all odds.