Karen Armstrong: “Compassion”

Another book I read so long ago I can’t really remember the details. Hey ho.

I read this as part of a discussion group with the Quakers – a chapter a week. Armstrong’s impressive – a muscular thinker and speaker – though as a writer she can spell things out a little too fully for my taste: think PEEL. The book is partly a historical survey, attempting to demonstrate the centrality of compassion (embodied in what she calls the Golden Rule (‘do to others how you would be done by’, or it’s converse ‘don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you’)) to all the world’s religions/faith traditions/spiritualities. And it’s also a devotional, self- (or rather ‘others-‘) help book, with exercises, for the reader to use to help them become more compassionate. It’s also a plug for Armstrong’s Compassion Charter [sub eds please check] – an attempt, backed by representatives of all major religions, to enshrine the Golden Rule in the heart of all religious teaching; a reaction, no doubt, to the apparent dangers of deepening religious divides and conflict.

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