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Publisher's Summary

Why is religion still around in the 21st century? Why do so many still believe? And how do various traditions still shape the way people experience everything from sexuality to politics, whether they are religious or not? In Why Religion? Elaine Pagels looks to her own life to help address these questions.

These questions took on a new urgency for Pagels when dealing with unimaginable loss - the death of her young son, followed a year later by the shocking loss of her husband. Here she interweaves a personal story with the work that she loves, illuminating how, for better and worse, religious traditions have shaped how we understand ourselves; how we relate to one another; and, most importantly, how to get through the most difficult challenges we face. 

Drawing upon the perspectives of neurologists, anthropologists, and historians, as well as her own research, Pagels opens unexpected ways of understanding persistent religious aspects of our culture. 

A provocative and deeply moving account from one of the most compelling religious thinkers at work today, Why Religion? explores the spiritual dimension of human experience.

©2018 Elaine Pagels (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Lynde Houck provides a calming voice to an tumultuous memoir full of raw grief and surprising losses.... The narration is deeply intimate, sometimes suggesting the tears of the author.... With its fascinating look at how people are influenced by their religion and a powerful performance from the narrator, this audiobook is both a cathartic and educational experience." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

could really use better narration

The book was good, interesting, and the right length for the content.But the narration...come on, really...she could learn to say the various foreign phrases and names in the book without having to dub them in separately, later. This probably shouldn't bother me that much, but it did.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Lynde Houck ruined this book

This sounded like a computer-generated voice. Totally ruined it. Awful reader. How does she have this job?

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Critical Role of the Narrator

The narrator has an unattractive accent and intonation, and adds little expression to her reading, with few pauses or changes of pace. It is flat and uninterested and does not succeed in making the listener care about the story. The book itself is not what I expected from the title, concerning principally the author's personal story and bringing religion into it only in the last chapter.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Subpar narration is distracting

No offense meant toward sororities, but the narrator has what I might call a 'sorority girl' accent; it's subtle but it's there and it detracts from the material. There is an immaturity to the voice and pronunciations that are grating to hear, especially given the nature of this material. I heard Elaine Pagels interviewed on Fresh Air, which inspired me to download this book for a road trip. Going from the mature, articulate voice of the author in the interview to this narrator was a jolt. I almost couldn't listen. But the material kept me in, even though the narration was distracting throughout. This book and this author deserve much better.

I probably could have summed this up in one sentence: The narrator employs the George W Bush pronunciation of the word 'nuclear.'

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very Insightful And Personal

The author does a good job of telling her personal story and weaving in the religious points. Just wish she hadn’t taken a brief detour into politics.

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  • Zeta
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 11-09-18

Fascinating, heartfelt story.

I loved this book because the author wrestles with life’s tough, sad turns and questions. The background is her study of Gnostic gospels. So personal and deep felt. I’m so glad I read it.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Why religion?

I have only made it through the first three chapters this book is a chick flick in book format. If you want to listen to a girl read her diary to you and this book is perfect. other than that did not hold the interest at all. But I have read all the rest of her box and enjoyed everyone of them this one not so much

0 of 3 people found this review helpful