I just picked up Why Religion by Elaine Pagels and am finding it very moving. It was on an impulse and I thought I’d read her name somewhere on these forums but I couldn’t remember who had mentioned her. I was returning my last finished book and none of my holds were available yet so I took a glance at the new non-fiction (since I never have any luck picking a good novel by chance).
Her description of attending a Billy Graham revival meeting at the Cow Palace in San Francisco made an impression on me when she wrote
Now all of us who were “born again” shared in a living drama of salvation. That day opened up vast spaces of imagination that I’d previously entered only through the stories and music of others. It changed my life, as the preacher promised it would - although not entirely as he intended, or, at least, not for as long.
I find I can relate to what she says and I am seeing this sort of experience in a new light. It isn’t just peer pressure and conformity. There is something to opening oneself to something more that really does seem to reveal vast new spaces of possibility and meaning.
I looked on youtube to see if there was anything by her which would give me a clearer idea of who she is and found this. She certainly has lived through a lot and anyone can see that her reflection on religion has helped her not just to cope but to grow and learn.