Dr. Karen Armstrong, who has been named Ware Lecturer for 2011 General Assembly, will discuss her new book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life and the companion project, Charter for Compassion during her appearance at GA.
Armstrong recommends that anyone attending this year's Ware Lecture read Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life in advance of her engagement. The book offers thought-provoking information about religious, ethical, spiritual, philosophical, and literary traditions that supports Armstrong’s thesis that compassion is a central component of all.
Armstrong’s book and the project rest on the idea that most religions affirm some version of the Golden Rule. She posits that one important purpose of religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions is to encourage kindness and compassion toward others by guiding us to use moral imagination to put ourselves in others' shoes.
In 1920, Harriet E. Ware of Milton, MA, bequeathed $5,000 to the American Unitarian Association (AUA) for its unrestricted use. Two years later, the first Ware lecture was given by the Rev. Frederick W. Norwood, pastor of the City Temple in London, England. The lecture has been given every year since, except in 1950 when the Unitarians celebrated their 125th anniversary. The Harvard Square Library maintains a history of the Ware Lecture, including illustrated biographical notes.
Previous Ware Lecturers have included the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, and poet Mary Oliver. The Ware Lecture's long, distinguished story continues with Armstrong. With books translated into 45 languages, she is a best-selling author and one of the world’s leading commentators on religious affairs. Her books include Through the Narrow Gate; A History of God; Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths; The Battle for God, A History of Fundamentalism; Islam, A Short History; Buddha; The Spiral Staircase: A Memoir; A Short History of Myth; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions; Muhammad: A Prophet for our Time; The Bible: A Biography, and The Case for God.