My wife and I enjoyed hearing renowned religious historian Karen Armstrong last night at Houston’s Wortham Center, as part of a Progressive Forum of Houston lecture series. Some observations:
- Armstrong is delightful. Her lecture style is passable; to me, though, the most enjoyable part was her living-room conversation afterwards, in the style of Inside the Actor's Studio, with Progressive Forum founder Randall Morton, who posed questions previously submitted via the Web.
- Armstrong emphasized the commonality of the Golden Rule in world religions. That resonated with me, of course (see my various postings here on the fundamental importance of the Summary of the Law in human cultural evolution).
- She claimed that it’s only been in the last few hundred years that people took the Bible’s creation accounts literally. She said that those accounts used to be regarded — correctly, in her view — as mythos, a story setting out a program for action, as opposed to logos, a description of the way things really are. (Doubtless this one-sentence summary fails to do her justice.)
- Armstrong pitched the Charter for Compassion movement that it sounds like she’s spearheading.
- She pronounces her first name CAR-rin.
- The event looked to be sold out – I saw only a handful of empty seats here and there in the Cullen Theater, probably from no-shows. We ended up sitting in the mezzanine, which I think was our first time ever in that section. The seating there is pitched incredibly steeply, more so than any stadium I’ve ever been in.
- It was announced that Armstrong would do a book-signing for her latest, The Case for God, being sold on-site by co-sponsor Brazos Bookstore. I wanted a signed book, but the line was at least 30 minutes long, so we headed home. I’ll check with the Brazos to see if they have any signed books there.
- I’ve never seen so many Toyota Priuses in one place as there were in the parking garage afterwards; draw your own conclusions about the audience ....
- Armstrong is not without her critics – see that section of her Wikipedia entry.