Monday, June 11, 2007

Karen Armstrong Lecture

I heard some time ago that author and religious commentator Karen Armstrong was coming to KL to speak, but wasn't at all sure the lecture would go ahead. If her name seems familiar, it's probably because her books have been banned in Malaysia. All the more reason to listen to her!
PUBLIC LECTURE BY KAREN ARMSTRONG ON "THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN THE 21ST CENTURY"

As you may be already aware the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) together with International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) are co-organizing the above lecture on Saturday 16 June 2007, 10.00 am at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Admission is free.

If you and your friends are interested in attending the above lecture please contact Puan Shazatul (IDFR) – Tel: 21491018 / 21491000 Email: shazatul@idfr.gov.my.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: KAREN ARMSTRONG

Karen Armstrong is one of the world’s leading commentators on religious affairs. She is a best-selling author, whose books have been translated into forty languages. Her early work focused on the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but she has since begun to explore the eastern religions. Her work is scholarly but written for the general reader, and has been appreciated not only by western audiences but also by Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. She is a broadcaster, columnist, and is much sought after throughout the world as a public speaker. Her focus is not only on theology and spirituality but on the political implications of faith in the modern world.

Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun in the 1960s, but then left her teaching order in 1969. She studied English Literature at the University of Oxford, earning the degrees of B.A. and M.Litt.. Since then she has taught modern literature at the University of London, and headed the English department in a girls’ public school. In 1982, she became a full time writer and broadcaster.

Her books include: A History of God [1993], which became an international bestseller; Jerusalem, One City, Three Faiths [1996]; The Battle for God, A History of Fundamentalism [2000]; Islam, A Short History [2000]; Buddha (2001); The Spiral Staircase: A Memoir (2004); A Short History of Myth (2005).The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions (2006); and finally Muhammad: A Prophet for our Time (2006).

Since September 11, 2001, however, she has become chiefly known for her work on Islam and Fundamentalism, particularly in the United States. She has addressed members of the United States Congress and the Senate on three occasions, has participated in the World Economic Forum, and spoken at an informal debate in the General Assembly of the United Nations. In 2005, she was appointed by Kofi Anan to take part in the United Nations initiative “The Alliance of Civilizations” which completed its report on the reasons for the rise of extremism and the best means of stemming this in November 2006

In autumn 2001, Karen Armstrong was Scholar in Residence at Lowell House, Harvard University, where she also delivered the Tillich Lecture (2001), the Peabody Lecture (2002) and the Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality (2005). In addition, she has lectured at Yale, MIT, Stanford, McGill and many other universities and colleges throughout Canada and the United States. She has recently received honorary degrees at Aston University in the West Midlands, where her books are required reading on the MBA course, and at Georgetown University, Washington DC. In the autumn of 2007, she will become the William Belden Noble Lecturer at Harvard.
Thanks, Shan, for forwarding the email.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Personally, I feel that no books are really "banned" in ths country, it's just that they're not allowed to be sold. It's still entirely possible to post the entire content online. It's also possible for them to sell the ebook.

Because of this, I personally think that all this "banning" is just makework for an obsolete ministry.

animah said...

Anonymous,
When a book is banned in this country, it is also illegal to possess the book.
But you have posed an interesting point. For as long as the book remains in electronic form and not printed, it may not be illegal to "possess" it. I need to check - I'm a bit out of date with the application of certain laws to electronic media.

Radical Scope said...

imho, mr anonymous was right. besides, it's almost common (at least for my generation) to have a soft copy of illegal/banned stuffs hehe. when a legal and clean source is inexistent, we get down and dirty.

Greenbottle said...

this is great! definitely will attend this one as she's arguably one of the best writing on religions (sanely) at present.

have read and enjoyed her 'history of god' , 'through the narrow gate' her account of the miserable life in the convent and what makes her decide not to become a nun, and 'the spiral stair case'- the follow-up memoir from the narrow gate.

Radical Scope said...

well, hope fully we don't get people who refused to openly discuss about religion to ruin the mood.

bibliobibuli said...

anon - in theory (at least) the penalties for even possessing banned books are extremely steep as animah says. in electronic form? hey, interesting! maybe there are some blurry lines of distinction ...

lil ms d said...

i'll see you!

Mohani said...

her book was banned? this reminds me of my favorite book at the moment, 'reading lolita in tehran: a memoir in books' by the amazing azar nafisi. the islamic republic of iran confiscated the iranians' way of life and imposed on them their ideology. as a result, most books were banned. but nafisi, for 2 years, held a secret class with 7 of her best female students in which they discussed the banned literature (works by nabokov, fitzgerald, etc). discussing great works of literature gave them a sense of comfort and made them to evaluate the world. literature allows you to create a non-partisan sensual space of your own, and i find it saddening that the malaysian government is too happy to easily ban books. its a great insult to readers. seriously, are we dumb and non-discerning? i think not.

Radical Scope said...

secret class? interesting. sharon-san, would you like to be a facilitator? a secret class discussing about banned literatures, to decide whether they should be banned or shouldn't.

sympozium said...

NO NO NO! We cannot have a deviant like Karen Armstrong visit Malaysia! Think of the damage to our youths!How dare she talk and write and become an authority on Islam? She's not even Muslim! This country is really going to the dogs (oops!) ...or rather, cats!

Radical Scope said...

all the more reason for us to accept her visit and hear what she has to say. we need to know what those "deviant" has in mind, so that we could learn to counter them. being a graduate of the IIUM, i believe that the best way to spread Islam is through clearing the misconceptions about Islam. and what better way to know the misconceptions than to have the source coming and talking about it ^_^.

Antares said...

The Roman Church (what an ironic term ;-) views Jesus as the Sacred Groom: in effect, he's "Jack of all Jills and Master of Nuns" (what a great job description eh? No wonder everybody wants to be Jesus! :-) Sorry, this comment was inspired by the fact that Karen Armstrong is a nun who managed to get out of her habit and do a little Roamin'... I'm tempted to catch her talk... but 10AM on a Saturday is a bit daunting for someone who's officially retired!