Customer Review

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for everyone regardless of religion, January 11, 2011
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This review is from: Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life (Borzoi Books) (Hardcover)
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I was very hesitant to read this book because I was afraid it would be filled with religious dogma. Specifically, Christian religious dogma since I knew Karen Armstrong was previously a nun. Being a Buddhist, I tend to eschew books that proselytize. But I read more about Karen and decided to take the plunge. How refreshing her book turned out to be!

Let me say first off that I treasure books and try to keep them in pristine condition, barely opening the covers so I don't break the spine or hold it in any way that taxes the binding. I always clean my hands before touching a book. But while reading Armstrong's words, I found so many sentences profound, thoughts that shimmered with clarity that I found myself doing the unthinkable - taking a highlighter and highlighting noteworthy passages! Worse yet, I uncapped a pen and scribbled notes within the margins, thoughts that I want to remember for the next reading of the book for surely I will read this book many times over again.

Armstrong points out that in today's world, peace is paramount. Never has our ability to wreck destruction upon each other been greater and yet religion, the thing that should compel us towards peace is actually a separating agent. Hostilities arise in the name of religion. Take a look at the present conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. History is blood-speckled with crusades and the like but Armstrong argues they really aren't about religion. The people in power merely invoke religion as the palatable face of the war, but the real reason is always something secular such as economics, border disputes or control of resources.

Armstrong asserts that if you are truly a student of religion, you see that while they differ in many ways they have a core that is universal. All religions teach the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. And it should be this one binding principal that should unite the world in compassion. Then she goes to outline 12 steps one should follow to become a more compassionate person.

The more I read of the book, the more I thought that Karen must be a remarkable woman. She pulls many lessons from a variety of religions and judges none of them. Her words are like balm, soothing and gentle, and at no time did I feel preached to. More akin to having a discussion with a wise friend.

I hope that everyone - regardless of religion, gender, nationality, race or social class - will take to time to read her wise words.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 22, 2012 1:37:04 PM PDT
She actually does not use the Christian formulation "Treat others as you would like to be treated," but the older understanding, couched in the negative, ""Do not do to others that which you would not like done to you," which would seem to be an easier prescription to follow-- restrain from doing harm.
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Mindy
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Location: North Carolina, USA

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