Karen Armstrong is always the bridesmaid in my trips to bookstores. I often almost buy one of her books while browsing (A History of God, Through the Narrow Gate, The Battle for God), but always leave the store with some other trendier, sexier book in tow instead. Then I wake up feeling cheap and unfulfilled the next day.
There’s a great interview with her in Salon at http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/05/30/armstrong
You may need to sign up for a one day pass at Salon to read the interview.
Here’s an excerpt:
You're saying these ancient sages really didn't care about big metaphysical systems. They didn't care about theology.
No, none of them did. And neither did Jesus. Jesus did not spend a great deal of time discoursing about the trinity or original sin or the incarnation, which have preoccupied later Christians. He went around doing good and being compassionate. In the Quran, metaphysical speculation is regarded as self-indulgent guesswork. And it makes people, the Quran says, quarrelsome and stupidly sectarian. You can't prove these things one way or the other, so why quarrel about it? The Daoists said this kind of speculation where people pompously hold forth about their opinions was egotism. And when you're faced with the ineffable and the indescribable, they would say it's belittling to cut it down to size.