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The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

by

The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Karen Armstrong begins this spellbinding story of her spiritual journey with her departure in 1969 from the Roman Catholic convent she had entered seven years before — hoping, but ultimately failing, to find God. She knew almost nothing of the changed world to which she was returning, and she was tormented by panic attacks and inexplicable seizures.

Armstrong's struggle against despair was further fueled by a string of discouragements — failed spirituality, doctorate, and jobs; fruitless dealings with psychiatrists. Finally, in 1976, she was diagnosed with epilepsy, given proper treatment, and released from her "private hell." She then began the writing career that would become her true calling, and as she focused on the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, her own inner story began to emerge. Without realizing it, she had embarked on a spiritual quest, and through it she would eventually experience moments of transcendence — the profound fulfillment that she had not found in long hours of prayer as a young nun.

Powerfully engaging, often heartbreaking, but lit with bursts of humor, The Spiral Staircase is an extraordinary history of self.

Review:

"Even among readers who embrace doctrines Armstrong dismisses (such as the reality of a personal God), this candid memoir will clarify thinking about the search for the sacred." Bryce Christensen, Booklist

Review:

"A minor masterpiece of dry, acerbic autobiography." Elle

Review:

"An engaging story of her own spiritual journey by contemporary religion's foremost public intellectual....[C]andid, witty, insightful, and moving. A book that teaches as it entertains." Marcus J. Borg, author of The Heart of Christianity

Review:

"I loved this powerful and moving account, and read it nonstop." Elaine Pagels, author of Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas

Review:

"The Spiral Staircase [is] a story about becoming human, being recognized, finally recognizing oneself....More than anything, it fills the reader with hope — not the sappy, uplifting kind but the sort that comes from the very best fairy tales." Carolyn See, The Washington Post

Review:

"An introspective, decidedly un-cheery work that seeks to set the author's record straight....Well-written and relentlessly self-aware." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"A deeply moving account of a serious and large-hearted life. The book rings like the stroke of a bell — that clear, true tone. And it summons every reader to do the same." James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword

Review:

"A moving, insightful memoir... compulsively readable." Library Journal

Synopsis:

Armstrong begins this spellbinding story of her spiritual journey with her departure in 1969 from the Roman Catholic convent she had entered seven years before — hoping, but failing, to find God. Powerfully engaging, often heartbreaking, but lit with bursts of humor, The Spiral Staircase is an extraordinary history of self.

Synopsis:

In 1962, at age seventeen, Karen Armstrong entered a convent, eager to meet God. After seven brutally unhappy years as a nun, she left her order to pursue English literature at Oxford. But convent life had profoundly altered her, and coping with the outside world and her expiring faith proved to be excruciating. Her deep solitude and a terrifying illness-diagnosed only years later as epilepsy-marked her forever as an outsider. In her own mind she was a complete failure: as a nun, as an academic, and as a normal woman capable of intimacy. Her future seemed very much in question until she stumbled into comparative theology. What she found, in learning, thinking, and writing about other religions, was the ecstasy and transcendence she had never felt as a nun. Gripping, revelatory, and inspirational, The Spiral Staircase is an extraordinary account of an astonishing spiritual journey.

About the Author

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous other books on religious affairs, including A History of God, The Battle for God, Through the Narrow Gate, Holy War, Islam, and Buddha. Her work has been translated into forty languages. She is also the author of three television documentaries and took part in Bill Moyers?s television series Genesis. Since September 11, 2001, she has been a frequent contributor to conferences, panels, newspapers, periodicals, and throughout the media on both sides of the Atlantic on the subject of Islam. She lives in London.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

loraleber, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by loraleber)
This is a very readable autobiography of an ex-nun, which lets the reader into the author's heart and mind as she struggles with her decision to become a nun. In addition to solving her own spiritual problems, the author stimulates the reader into re-assessing his own religious mindset.
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loraleber, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by loraleber)
This is a very readable autobiography of an ex-nun which explains the many problems encountered, both physically and spiritually, while the author was in search of her calling as a nun. Armstrong's story raises many questions about the human condition and challenges the reader to seek his own answers.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385721271
Author:
Armstrong, Karen
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Religious
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
History
Subject:
Spirituality - Women's
Subject:
Ex-nuns
Subject:
Armstrong, Karen
Subject:
Biography-Religious
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20050231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.20x5.40x.73 in. .53 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Biography » Religious
Religion » Christianity » Christian Biographies
Religion » Christianity » Religious Orders
Religion » Christianity » Theology » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Anchor Books - English 9780385721271 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Even among readers who embrace doctrines Armstrong dismisses (such as the reality of a personal God), this candid memoir will clarify thinking about the search for the sacred."
"Review" by , "A minor masterpiece of dry, acerbic autobiography."
"Review" by , "An engaging story of her own spiritual journey by contemporary religion's foremost public intellectual....[C]andid, witty, insightful, and moving. A book that teaches as it entertains."
"Review" by , "I loved this powerful and moving account, and read it nonstop."
"Review" by , "The Spiral Staircase [is] a story about becoming human, being recognized, finally recognizing oneself....More than anything, it fills the reader with hope — not the sappy, uplifting kind but the sort that comes from the very best fairy tales."
"Review" by , "An introspective, decidedly un-cheery work that seeks to set the author's record straight....Well-written and relentlessly self-aware."
"Review" by , "A deeply moving account of a serious and large-hearted life. The book rings like the stroke of a bell — that clear, true tone. And it summons every reader to do the same."
"Review" by , "A moving, insightful memoir... compulsively readable."
"Synopsis" by , Armstrong begins this spellbinding story of her spiritual journey with her departure in 1969 from the Roman Catholic convent she had entered seven years before — hoping, but failing, to find God. Powerfully engaging, often heartbreaking, but lit with bursts of humor, The Spiral Staircase is an extraordinary history of self.
"Synopsis" by , In 1962, at age seventeen, Karen Armstrong entered a convent, eager to meet God. After seven brutally unhappy years as a nun, she left her order to pursue English literature at Oxford. But convent life had profoundly altered her, and coping with the outside world and her expiring faith proved to be excruciating. Her deep solitude and a terrifying illness-diagnosed only years later as epilepsy-marked her forever as an outsider. In her own mind she was a complete failure: as a nun, as an academic, and as a normal woman capable of intimacy. Her future seemed very much in question until she stumbled into comparative theology. What she found, in learning, thinking, and writing about other religions, was the ecstasy and transcendence she had never felt as a nun. Gripping, revelatory, and inspirational, The Spiral Staircase is an extraordinary account of an astonishing spiritual journey.
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