Karen Armstrong - Beginning the World. PDF

PDF Armstrong has more than one memoir of her story of leaving the convent and her own search for G-d, so if you are fascinated by the process of creating biography she's an interesting author to look at. In one of them, she even discusses the different approaches she took to sharing the same story, explaining why certain episodes were left out or embellished, for example. Beginning The World is an interesting read, but may be a little boring for someone looking for titillating tales of nuns gone wild in a secular world. Armstrong's story is more about finding G-d in unexpected places, as much as it is about her journey to find competent medical help. To be sure, there is one sex scene, although it's shocking for reasons other than it involved a former nun's loss of her virginity. My favourite parts had to do with her experiences with graduate studies in English literature and her struggles with mental health, both of which have been major features of my life. At one point, her friend tells her that she should embrace her depression because there is great freedom there, and she would be able to harness the bravery that comes from it to do great things. "Because if you're that depressed then nothing matters any more. You've got nothing to lose. Have you? Name me one thing you're afraid of losing when you're really depressed." (161) I was also struck by the way in which she conceptualized G-d and described her encounters with that Being, since they were similar to my own. Her friend asks her if she feels if she's sometimes "on the brink of something else. Something just out of sight which is absolutely mind-blowing. And terrifying." (161) She says, "I always thought it was G-d." The reader may wonder, along with Karen, when she does have some mind-blowing experiences how much of it is G-d, and how much of it is just the human brain. I know that when I have had psychedelic events they could have been described in the same terms that she uses for her own G-d events. Armstrong's book doesn't preach, but leaves you with a sense of wonder about the human longing for G-d.

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