The Freelance Monotheist

An Interview With Karen Armstrong

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Karen Armstrong is one of the most renowned religion scholars in the world today. Recognized for the lucidity of her prose and her extraordinary breadth of knowledge, she is the author of more than a dozen books, among them the acclaimed bestsellers A History of God, Islam, and Buddha. Born near Birmingham, England, in 1945, Armstrong was raised Roman Catholic, and entered a convent in her teens. After seven years, she left in personal crisis, feeling that she had failed her faith and that her faith had failed her. She embarked on an academic career, but her hopes were dashed when her dissertation was rejected. She took a position at a girl’s school, from which, after six years, she was “politely” asked to leave. Around this time she found out she had epilepsy. “My early life,” she has written, “was a complete catastrophe.”

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