Karen Armstrong is among the world’s foremost commentators on religion. A former nun in the Roman Catholic Society of the Holy Child of Jesus, Armstrong now defines herself as a “freelance monotheist,” drawing from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The theologian writes about multiple faiths in her bestselling books, including Muhammad, A History of God, Buddha, The Battle for God, and The Great Transformation. In her critical studies and the memoirs Through the Narrow Gate and There Spiral Staircase, Armstrong’s perspective is based on compassion instead of reduction. “It doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as it leads you to practical compassion,” Armstrong has said. Her forthcoming book, Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, is a a sweeping exploration of religion’s connection to violence.
Dr. Jane Shaw is the Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University, serving as the Minister of Memorial Church and encouraging a wide spectrum of campus wide religious traditions. During her four years as Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she founded an artist-in-residence program and hosted The Forum, a series of stimulating conversations about faith and ethics in relation to the issues of our day. She has also taught at the University of Oxford is the author of many books on history and theology.