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Melintas Gerbang Sempit (Through The Narrow Gate)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,466 Ratings  ·  151 Reviews
Edisi Indonesia Through the narrow gate. Autobiografi Spiritual tentang pergulatan bathin Karen Armstrong sebagai seorang biarawati
Paperback, 555 pages
Published 2003 by Pustaka Promethea (first published January 1st 1981)
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Jun 01, 2008 Ronda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably 3 1/2 stars just because I found the setting so different from anything in my experience that it is somewhat difficult to connection. This is a tragic story of Karen Armstrong joining a very austere convent in 1962 at age 17. Despite a sincere desire to dedicate her life to God, she ultimately could not continue to endure the suffering and had to leave. It was painful to watch Karen/Martha try to adapt herself full of guilt to a life that did not allow her room to develop. The story inc ...more
Mar 23, 2007 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
I read this around the same time I read her The Gospel According to Woman, which I think allowed me to see how Armstrong's personal experience deeply shapes her reading of all the Christian writers she addresses in that book.
Through the Narrow Gate was a little like entering another world, and I think Armstrong does a good job of having the reader experience the sort of mind-wracking logic of religious life that she was exposed to. From what I can tell, it also seems to provide a good historical
Apr 07, 2012 Clif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a jewel, so rich in personal detail, so thoughtful and full of insight, so full of ideas that connect with other philosophical schools of thought beyond Catholicism.

It has been said that the first thing you must be able to do is love yourself, not in a selfish way but in a forgiving way, understanding that you are a creature of great possibility but also of great desire, need and fear.

Do we do what we do from rational thought or from innate drives and subconscious motives of which w
Mel Richards
Sep 18, 2013 Mel Richards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few summers ago, I went through my own spiritual journey. Although it was nothing like Karen Armstrong's, I too fell out of love with my Christian beliefs.

Every Sunday throughout high school, I had gone to Church and prayed to God on a regular basis. Meanwhile, at my school, there had been a disabled boy who I had befriended. The better I got to know him, the less I could understand how an Omni-benevolent God could possibly allow this to occur. The pain and suffering that he was going through
Jun 01, 2015 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the scholar Karen Armstrong's first book, and it is fascinating. I've always loved to read about people who live vastly different lives from my own, and so a 17-year-old British girl entering a convent seemed like it would be an excellent read. I wasn't disappointed. We know going into the book that Armstrong eventually left the convent, but we don't know why; honestly, in the last third or so of the book, I felt a lot of suspense as the plot was clearly headed in that direction but I ha ...more
Jul 15, 2013 Samar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoirs and autobiographies have never truly interested me. But with Armstrong it is another case entirely. It requires an unearthly amount of courage to write your own story. Kudos to the writer for being honest, objective and real.
Never could the concept and consequences of the utter division of the body and soul have been more beautifully and poignantly explained. Her plight wrenches the heart and completely sucks the reader into her world. The psychological workings of the human mind, the si
Having read quite a few positive accounts of nuns' lives, I decided to balance it out with a rather less positive one. Karen Armstrong entered a very strict convent in the early 60s - pre Vatican II, as many nuns have pointed out when I've told them about this book. It was an unpleasant, oppressive experience for her in many ways - full of rigid, often illogical rules and a negative atmosphere, things like being forced to eat cheese even though it made her sick, being told to sew without a needl ...more
I probably could write a long essay on this book, so I'll just do a few short remarks. This is a fascinating memoir of the author's life journey as a nun in a convent in England in the 60's prior to the modernization ( Vatican II) of the Catholic church. The training is arduous, and I came to feel that often times the wrong person was in a position of power over the postulants & novices. They were cold and often ruthless in their application of the Rules of the Order. Where was the compassio ...more
Pranada Comtois
Mar 18, 2012 Pranada Comtois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Armstrong's books and her memoirs are especially important for several reasons. First because the world needs more woman's spiritual narratives. Second, the honesty of how a serious spiritualist faces the rituals and dogma of faith and wrestles them down within their actual life experience is edifying and can inform our own journey.

As a spiritual activist for women's rights in secular, as well as religious and spiritual, worlds, I'm grateful Armstrong is forthright. More women need to do
I have read most of Karen Armstrong's books on the history of religion and admired her combination of scholarly research and clarity. Although I realized she was once a cloistered nun, I never know her story. While Mods and Rockers were frolicking and the counter culture was ramping up in the England of the 1960's, the author was doing her best to adapt to the rules of her order. She sincerely attempted to become obedient and submissive but endured inexplicable seizures because of the internal c ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"Through the Narrow Gate is Karen Armstrong’s intimate memoir of life inside a Catholic convent. With honesty and clarity, she explains what drove her at age seventeen to devote herself to God. Over the next seven years, she endures the difficulties of convent life — the enforced silence, the lack of friendship and family, her own guilt at not being able to stifle her voracious intelligence — and unveils the secrets of religious life during the post–Vatican II years." (From Amazon)

A grea
Jun 18, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinary book, really. A women's journey through her teen years committed to an institution that tried to erase her humanity and failed. One learns about rules, practices and traditions in the process of becoming a nun that have no grounding in reality, or even in scripture. So many rules and customs invented long ago by misogynistic men with complete disregard for the human need for compassion, friendship, and community with others. The author struggles with these feelings and the churc ...more
Nov 29, 2010 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
This book was interesting to me personally for generational reasons (we both became adults in the 60s, though in many ways opposite circumstances) and religious (we were both raised Catholic). She went on to be the nun I'd considered being and then she left. I never went that route and wondered. She confirmed many of my feelings about what the life would have been like. I don't think I'd ever have made it. I can't shut out doubt well enough. Still can't.

Mostly I read this in order to move on to
Jan 15, 2008 Gail rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, 2007
Karen Armstrong is a former nun and a well-regarded writer on religious topics. This is a memoir of seven years of her life spent in a Jesuit convent. Armstrong mentions that this is a complete re-write of a book she tried earlier...but it was too bitter for publication. Her emotions are still quite raw and she paints a brutal picture of convent life as seen through the eyes of a very young, very naive, very sad candidate for the cloistered life. It's a painful book to read and some parts of it ...more
this book makes you consider making big sacrifices for a whole and total betterment of existence, but then, the reader can feel good about maintaining their ability to shower, while still submitting to something greater than oneself. the book has some lulls, but overall, is inspiring and even amidst Amrstrong's spiritual pursuit, the struggles are very natural, human and applicable to any reader.
Mar 11, 2009 Megankellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holier-than-thou
This is a memoir of a pre-vatican II nun. O my I loved all of the gory details. Unfortunately I was very interested in finding reasons to become a nun and other reasons to turn my mind off etc. So. This book does not those grant. I mean, this is sensible food for your "I will just drop out and become a nun" fantasy. Soooo.

Oct 12, 2016 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing...this book truly is a journey of self discovery, and heartbreak for anyone who reads it not just the author. The event at the end, though you know it's coming, is such a shock. And isn't that life sometimes? We must face "it" no matter how it comes. A "must" read.
Wow this is barely a review, it's just me rambling about myself. Tread carefully. And wow I haven't finish this. I have calculus homework to do haha, I'll finish it later.


I bought this book at the bookstore at my university. There were carts just outside the store and I was wandering around campus because I had a midterm that evening. I stopped, and saw book carts parked outside with "$5 SALE" signs taped to the sides. the store and I absolutely could not resist going through those carts
Colleen O'Neill Conlan
(This is not the revised version, but the original edition from the library)

I have another of Armstrong's memoirs, but wanted to read this one first, which tells of her early search for a deep connection with God. For her, that meant serving as a religious sister, or nun. She began her formal religious training at 17, and this book is about her seven years of convent life, first as a postulant, then as a novice, and then as a professed nun.

Armstrong is a clear and gifted writer, giving intimate
May 30, 2014 Vicki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This moving and intimate memoir unfolds the story of a young woman in Birmingham, England who decides at age 17 to become a nun and begin the training that will prepare her to be the pure bride of Christ that she longs to be. The year is 1962 and Karen Armstrong is sure this is the right choice for her, though she knows it is breaking the hearts of her parents. Nominally good Catholics, they cannot comprehend why Karen would think this is the best choice. She has done well in school and ought to ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Sonya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first staff bookclub read of 2015 was "Through the Narrow Gate" by Karen Armstrong. Armstrong entered a convent as a teenager, straight out of Catholic school, and left 7 years later. She was emotionally mistreated in the convent, medically neglected, and eventually her relationship with God, a relationship that never stopped being important to her throughtout this experience, was tragically impacted by the facts of the religious life offered to her by her convent.

At the staff bookclub we hav
Kaat V
Apr 02, 2013 Kaat V rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Begonnen aan Karen Armstrongs 'Wenteltrap' , het vervolg van 'Door een nauwe poort'. Het zijn autobiografische verslagen van een grote vrouw. Door een nauwe poort ging over haar intrede en verblijf in het klooster in de jaren 60 en eindigt met haar uittrede. Geen zoeterigheid noch bitterheid, maar het verslag van een intelligente vrouw op zoek naar zingeving.

De Wenteltrap gaat over haar 'opnieuw in de wereld zijn', hoe moeilijk ze aansluiting vond bij een wereld die op een 6-tal jaren extreem w
Apr 18, 2016 Relstuart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, memoir
I've read one of the historical books by this author (Fields of Blood, dealing with violence and religion) and would like to read more. So when I ran across a copy of this book and saw the sub-title indicating this was her memoir of her time as a nun I was curious enough to pick it up.

Her story starts with her childhood so you gain some understanding why she decides to become a nun. Her childhood seems to be mostly pleasant in a decent middle class sort of way in England in the late 50s early 6
Jul 15, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 23, 2013 Patty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read this book as it was this month's book club selection but I ended up liking it and watching a TED talk by its author Karen Armstrong who has become a widely sought and widely read commentator/author on the history of religion. Hard to believe the somewhat sheltered, 17-year-old girl who entered a British convent in the early 60s could become this worldly, intellectual woman. Armstrong recounts her trying, early days as a novice nun in a traditional convent in a simple writing style th ...more
Karen Armstrong is a bit of a pariah: she studies hard and knows all the answers. When her peers hit puberty, she is horrified--unable to imagine the possibility of dating, kissing, sex. Instead of running with hormones like so many 16-year-olds, Karen runs from them when she decides to become a nun.

Through the Narrow Gate is mostly the story of her fight to become a nun, and then her continued fight once she reaches the convent. As someone with nearly no background on the transitions from post
Feb 17, 2009 Ginger rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really only read this book to get an idea what this woman went through during her time trying to become a nun. I wanted to know the background for "The Spiral Staircase" which, I believe, is her second book (about life after the convent).

I enjoyed reading about what Karen went through during her journey in this book, trying to become a nun. You never know what really happens inside the convent walls except from individuals like Karen who defect and are willing to tell their story.

The reason
Linda Lander
Jan 29, 2015 Linda Lander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. It was difficult to put the book down. Armstrong is an excellent writer who takes the reader through her experiences in a very strict, conservative convent in the 1960's. She describes the practices of a pre-Vatican II, conservative convent which left her questioning herself and her own competence. Through these traumatic experiences and her responses, she recalls a few Sisters who showed true compassion and understanding. Those acts of compassion shaped her future as she continu ...more
Dec 27, 2016 Molly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot recommend this book enough, especially to anyone interested in or who has grappled with the Catholic faith. I began reading it while apartment hunting this summer in New York. I'd just had the wonderful experience of seeing the author, and upon finding the book in my aunt's home while crashing there during the hunt, I began to read it.
Having read "The Spiral Staircase" years ago and met the author, I knew the plot of the book, but I did not know *how* events took place, or the manner i
Nov 03, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge fan of books about religion. With one exception, I don't particularly like books about my own religion. It's not that I have any plans to change my religion. I just feel like I know quite a bit about it already and I like to learn about others.

Anyways, so I give this book 4 stars based on my fascination with religions. As far as interesting-ness level, it's probably only a 3 star book. I thought it was going to be more dramatic and gut-wrenching, but it wasn't and that's a good thin
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British author of numerous works on comparative religion.


Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
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“Surely it's better to love others, however messy and imperfect the involvement, than to allow one's capacity for love to harden.” 32 likes
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