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Analysis of the Spiral Staircase

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Essay title: Analysis of the Spiral Staircase

This assignment will deal with The Spiral Staircase as a spiritual autobiography. It will not be in the form of one composite essay, but will rather address each question separately, as has been laid out in the original question.

1. The first step of the course you came to a deeper understanding of the basic structure of spiritual accompaniment (see page 7-24 of the reader). Read the autobiography carefully. Describe the main forms of spiritual direction present in the chosen autobiography, using the triangle of the reader (pages 21 and 24)

Spiritual accompaniment, according to Ancilli’s edition, “seeks to guide the person being accompanied in her or his relationship with Divine reality” (Reader 2006:14). Barry expands on this, as:

help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship (idem).

In this relationship there is an accompanist, the person being accompanied and the Divine Presence. It is incumbent on the accompanied individual to initiate this relationship, and the accompanist in turn brings in his/her insight, discernment, communication skills and experience. When “[t]he deeper layer in conversation opens up in mutual respect between […them, and] is present, Divine light streams into the person being accompanied” (ibid:23). Thus the person being accompanied is central to this dynamic which relates to his/her search for God. The accompanist is thus an “instrument of mediation” (ibid:24)

Karen Armstrong, the author, is the person to be accompanied in this exercise. She set out on her journey with the Divine, according to her spiritual autobiography The Spiral Staircase, when she entered her convent in 1962 at the age of seventeen years, entirely of her own volition and with “unusual resolution”

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