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Why Religion?
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About the Author

Elaine Pagels is a preeminent academic whose impressive scholarship has earned her international respect. The Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University, Pagels was awarded the Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Fellowships in three consecutive years. She is the author of The Gnostic Gospels, Beyond Belief, and Revelations.

Reviews

"With characteristic intelligence and wisdom, Elaine Pagels lays bare her own life-shattering losses, offering up the possibility that suffering might afford each of us membership in a profoundly connected human--and cosmic--community. Why Religion? is a revelation and an immense consolation."--Tracy K. Smith, Poet Laureate of the United States
"A magnificent, searing, soul-affirming memoir. Pagels shines the bright light of her brilliant mind on the most essential of human dilemmas: how do we go on in the face of immeasurable loss? I came away from this book transformed."--Dani Shapiro
"In this compelling, honest, and learned memoir, Elaine Pagels, takes us inside her own life in a stirring and illuminating effort to explain religion's enduring appeal. This is a powerful book about the most powerful of forces."--Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America
"Pagels has done it again, but more personally. The scholar's tale of loving, grieving, enduring, and searching will grab readers at the outset and never let them go. A memorable story unforgettably told."--Madeleine Albright, author of Fascism: A Warning
"Elaine Pagels' study of new gospels and revelations challenged our understanding of ancient Christianity. In this mesmerizing memoir, we see how she was also grappling with devastating loss and struggling within to find "the light that never fails," even in deepest anger and guilt, grief and desolation. A must read."--Karen L. King, Hollis Professor Divinity, Harvard University
"A raw and often moving autobiography . . . The story of her grief . . . will touch all. A meaningful tale of pain and hope on the edges of faith."--Kirkus
"Beautiful . . . Pagels treats readers to the examined life behind her intellectual feats with extreme grace and depth. This luminous memoir strips religion to its elementary particles: love, suffering, and mystery."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Engaging both head and heart . . . this brilliant book . . . stimulates intellectual curiosity and thought while giving equal weight to Pagel's emotional life."--Booklist (starred review)
"Pagels unpacks the relevance of religion in the twenty-first century--how religious traditions continue to shape the way we understand ourselves and the world and provide a framework for facing our most painful losses."--Lion's Roar
"Looks back on a rich life of learning, writing, loving, seeking truth and, inevitably, suffering. . . achingly beautiful . . . Readers of all faiths and none can learn from her brilliance and courage."--Dallas Morning News
"Both fascinating and heart-wrenching, Pagels's highly personal account presents behind-the-scenes glimpses into the inner workings of a brilliant scholar's mind."--Library Journal
"You don't have to be religious yourself to enjoy her thought-provoking work."--Bustle
"A wide-ranging work of cultural reflection and a brisk tour of the most exciting religion scholarship over the past 40 years. . . . Pagels is as fearless as she is candid."--Washington Post
"Searing and wise. . . . tender and wrenching, sketched with exquisite detail."--Boston Globe
"In clear, unsparing prose, Pagels enmeshes personal mourning, scholarly rigor, and one of the smartest modern testaments to the consolations as well as the inadequacies of spirituality. A small revolution in memoir to match the one she led in theology decades ago."--New York magazine
"An intimate, evocative memoir."--Ron Charles, Washington Post
"A minimalist work of great majesty, akin to a shimmering Agnes Martin Painting, whose stripped-down aesthetic allows light to pour forth from her canvas."--New York Times Book Review
"Lucid, inspiring personal testimony."--National Book Review, "5 Hot Books"

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