Melanie's Reviews > The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong
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's review
Mar 25, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: memoir

I'm drawn to books in which people discuss their spiritual and psychological struggles. I'm also drawn to books about people who struggle with religion and belief (because I do too). This book is that and much more.

It is about a woman who spent seven years as a nun, then left the monastery, suffered a nervous breakdown, suffered for years with undiagnosed epilepsy, and got turned down for a doctorate at Oxford.

But the most remarkable aspect of the story is that, after rejecting her faith, she ended up spending the rest of her life studying and writing about theology and religions. She states that she has "discovered that the religious quest is not about discovering 'the truth' or 'the meaning of life' but about living as intensely as possible here and now. The idea is not to latch on to some superhuman personality or to 'get to heaven' but to discover how to be fully human..."

She has written about all three major world religions, but because she had written about Islam and Muhammad, she was sought after as a speaker by Western leaders after the events of September 11, 2001.

Near the end of the book she writes, "We have seen too much religious certainty recently, Maybe this is a time for honest, searching doubt, repentance, and a yearning for holiness in a world that has lost its bearings."


"The study of other people's religious beliefs is now no longer merely desirable, but necessary for our very survival."
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Reading Progress

March 25, 2010 – Started Reading
March 25, 2010 – Shelved
March 28, 2010 –
page 171
March 29, 2010 – Finished Reading
June 12, 2012 – Shelved as: memoir

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

You might like Disappointment with God. My sister loaned it to me long ago and I have read it twice.

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