Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fifteen books ~ #3 ~ The Great Transformation

Facebook has a meme going around encouraging people to name the "fifteen books that will always stick with you." This is the third on my alphabetical list.

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2006.

This book is meaningful to me because it shows that the major world religions emerged around the same time, as the result of a felt need for a spirituality of compassion to oppose the selfishness in their world. It happened in the ninth century BCE in four distinct regions of the world, where religious and philosophical traditions began that have continued ever since: Confucianism and Daoism* in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in Israel, and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Armstrong calls that time the Axial Age, saying the sages of that pivotal time can speak to us as we experience the violence and hatred of our time. These are the spiritualities, according to her, that can challenge us and be the catalysts we need today. Rated: 10 of 10.

* Daoism is often spelled Taoism, but it is pronounced as "dow-ism." Karen Armstrong herself spelled it with a "T" in her 2005 book A Short History of Myth.

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