by Karen Armstrong Reviewed by Daniel Brown Profiles in Catholicism
Scripture is an art form designed to achieve the moral and spiritual transformation of the individual and society and if it does not inspire ethical or altruistic behavior, it remains incomplete. We seem to be losing this art form today. This is Armstrong’s thesis. As usual, she brings enormous erudition and incredibly broad perspective in taking religion seriously and on its own terms, unlike modern punditry whose disdain frequently distorts religion. Scriptures have been events, performed, memorized, recited, ritualized, pondered, required, forbidden, resurrected, buried, left unsaid,bowdlerized, canonized, elaborated upon, surrounded by sacred meals or read in solitude. Scriptures have transformed, repeated, looked within, searched outside, demanded justice,balance, action, in-action, silence and proclamation. To remember the scriptures has often meant to belong to your own community while honoring the stranger,even protecting the enemy . Scriptures have been rejected, taken literally, weaponized and evangelized, have been intolerant and ecumenical. The reality of scriptures reaches beyond the intellect. It is the product of the right brain even when studied with the left brain. All of this is here, through millennia of universal history, in a refreshingly readable, persuasive form.