Elaine Pagels, Why Religion? A fine but flawed book.
A recent (2018) book by Elaine Pagels, Why Religion?, has garnered great reviews. It’s a brave book, telling the story of the death of her six-year-old son from a long illness, and then her husband in a hiking accident, both in the space of about a year. It’s been almost thirty years since these tragedies, and the reader gets the sense that it took her this long to tell the story. Or rather, to weave her story of loss together with the place of religion in her life, and our collective lives.
I admire the book, but I have a problem with it. She seems unaware that people who are not well-off and famous might have a different experience of loss. She aims to be realistic about the politics of religious belief, but perhaps there is also a politics of loss, or better a political economy of loss. About this she says not a word.