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Guest Karen Armstrong

The last thing Karen Armstrong wanted was to be involved with religion. She found religious doctrines abstract and meaningless - and felt religion was a force of oppression. Now, plenty of people think that. Except Karen was once a Catholic nun.

She entered the convent at 17, when other people her age were digging Elvis and Petula Clark. As it turns out, life as a nun wasn't for her. So she left the convent seven years later, in 1969.

Karen was done with religion. She actually wanted to be an English professor, but instead wound up in television and ended up going to Jerusalem to make a film about early Christianity. That was big, because for the first time, she came face to face with Judaism and Islam. And as Karen learned about other religions, it brought her back to a sense of what religion could be. And she was able to look at her own faith in a different light.

Since then, she's written a number of best-selling books, including "A History of God", "The Battle For God" and "Islam: A Short History". And in the post-9/11 world, she's become a voice for understanding. Her latest book is about restoring humanity to the centre of religion. It's called "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life."

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