Top positive review
32 of 34 people found this helpful
on 31 May 2008
I recently gave my copy of this book away, I was reluctant to but seeing the pain and confusion in my recipients life I thought it would help him as he struggles to discover an essential spirituality after losing his faith in Christianity. I am delighted to see that it has, which led me to want to once again have this book as part of my library. Looking on Amazon I was sad and surprised to see that it didn't have straight 5 star reviews. I guess we all have different tastes. I have read the final chapter several times it is engaging and lucid in outlining the nature of the spiritual life. It is really the final chapter that I would like to have not as part of my library but part of my consciousness. Karen doesn't set out to write definitions but her open heartedness and clear intelligence facilitates an understanding of what is essential to the true spiritual life as opposed to a religious life. I will include a short quote which I hope gives you a sense of her writing.
"Hyam Maccoby had given me a clue six years earlier, when we sat together, eating egg and tomato sandwiches in the little café near Finchley Central tube station. He had told me that in most traditions, faith was not about belief but about practice. Religion is not about accepting twenty impossible propositions before breakfast, but about doing things that change you. It is a moral aesthetic, an ethical alchemy. If you behave in a certain way, you will be transformed. The myths and laws of religion are not true because they conform to some metaphysical, scientific or historical reality but because they are life-enhancing. They tell you how human nature functions, but you will not discover their truth unless you apply these myths and doctrines to your own life and put them into practice. The myths of the hero, for example, are not meant to give us historical information about Prometheus or Achilles - or for that matter Jesus or the Buddha. Their purpose is to compel us to act in such a way that we reveal our own heroic potential."
(Karen Armstrong, Spiral Staircase pg 304.)
I hope this review has been helpful.