Karen Armstrong - The Charter for Compassion


Karen Armstrong has dedicated her life to the study of religion -both from inside the walls of a convent during her seven years as a Catholic nun -and as a author of books on the world's faiths from Islam to Buddhism and a best-selling HISTORY OF GOD. Her examination of the commonalities of the world's faiths has brought Karen Armstrong to her current project: the Charter for Compassion.

My work has continually brought me back to the notion of compassion. Whichever religious tradition I study, I find at the heart of it is the idea of feeling with the other, experiencing with the other, compassion. And every single one of the major world religions has developed its own version of the Golden Rule. Don't do to others what you would not like them to do to you.

...We've got to do better than this. Compassion doesn't mean feeling sorry for people. It doesn't mean pity. It means putting yourself in the position of the other, learning about the other. Learning what's motivating the other, learning about their grievances. 

Karen Armstrong has dedicated her life to the study of religion - both from inside the walls of a convent during her seven years as a Catholic nun - and as a author of books on the world's faiths from Islam to Buddhism and a best-selling HISTORY OF GOD. Her examination of the commonalities of the world's faiths has brought Karen Armstrong to her current project: 

The Charter for Compassion.

My work has continually brought me back to the notion of compassion. Whichever religious tradition I study, I find at the heart of it is the idea of feeling with the other, experiencing with the other, compassion. And every single one of the major world religions has developed its own version of the Golden Rule. Don't do to others what you would not like them to do to you.

...We've got to do better than this. Compassion doesn't mean feeling sorry for people. It doesn't mean pity. It means putting yourself in the position of the other, learning about the other. Learning what's motivating the other, learning about their grievances. 

The Charter for Compassion

The Charter for Compassion is Karen Armstrong's effort to promote the principles of the Golden Rule across the religious and global spectrum. The group effort to build an interfaith 'charter of compassion' is guided by the Council of Sages, a multi-faith, multi-national group of religious thinkers and leaders. The council will guide the writing of the final charter, but the process is open to submissions from anyone, anywhere who has an interest in the founding guidelines laid out below:

The Charter does NOT assume:

* all religions are the same

* compassion is the only thing that matters in religion

* religious people have a monopoly on compassion

The Charter DOES affirm that:

* compassion is celebrated in all major religious, spiritual and ethical traditions

* the Golden Rule is our prime duty and cannot be limited to our own political, religious or ethnic group

* therefore, in our divided world, compassion can build common ground

Last year Karen Armstrong received the $100,000 TED prize, presented at this international conference of experts in the fields of technology, entertainment and design for her efforts on behalf of the Charter for Compassion. You can find out more about the Council of Sages and offer your own thoughts at the Charter for Compassion web site. You can revisit Bill Moyers' previous conversations with Karen Armstrong, and two of the Council of Sages, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sister Joan Chittister below.

Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong is a prominent scholar of religion and society. Armstrong is a former Roman Catholic nun who left a British convent to pursue a degree in modern literature at Oxford. In 1982 she wrote a book about her seven years in the convent, THROUGH THE NARROW GATE, that angered and challenged Catholics worldwide; her recent book THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE discusses her subsequent spiritual awakening after leaving the convent, when she began to develop her iconoclastic take on the great monotheistic religions.

She has written more than 20 books around the ideas of what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common, and around their effect on world events, including the magisterial A HISTORY OF GOD and HOLY WAR: THE CRUSADES AND THEIR IMPACT ON TODAY'S WORLD. Her latest book is THE BIBLE: A BIOGRAPHY. Her meditations on personal faith and religion (she calls herself a freelance monotheist) spark discussion. 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 and fundamentalism, which she sees in a historical context, as an outgrowth of modern culture.

Armstrong is also the author of three television documentaries and took part in Bill Moyers television series GENESIS: A LIVING CONVERSATION. In 1999 she was awarded the Muslim Public Affairs Council Media Award.

Islam:. A Short History

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