Why is religion still around in the twenty-first 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? Dr. Elaine Pagels looks to her own life to help address these questions.
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. Moderated by Dr. Eric Motley, Executive Vice President and Corporate Secretary of the Aspen Institute.
This reception is part of our Society of Fellows Discussion Reception Series in New York, which is generously underwritten by Merilee and Roy Bostock and Ilona Nemeth and Alan Quasha.
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Elaine Pagels joined the Princeton faculty in 1982, shortly after receiving a MacArthur Fellowship. Perhaps best known as the author of The Gnostic Gospels, The Origin of Satan, and Adam, Eve and the Serpent, she has published widely on Gnosticism and early Christianity, and continues to pursue research interests in late antiquity. Her most recent books include Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (was on the New York Times best-seller list) and Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (2012). Her most recent book is departure from the others, one in which she tells her own story, and why she loves investigating the history of religion. it’s called Why Religion? A Personal Story.
Eric L. Motley, Ph.D., is an executive vice president at the Aspen Institute, responsible for Institutional Advancement and governance. He previously served as Vice President and Executive Director of National Programs and prior to that he served as Vice President and Managing Director of the Henry Crown Fellowship Program. In addition to managing the Henry Crown Fellowship Program, he served as the Executive Director of the Aspen Institute-Rockefeller Foundation’s Commission to Reform the Federal Appointments Process, an independent, nonpartisan effort to evaluate the Federal government’s vetting and clearance procedures. Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, he served as the Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Visitors within the bureau of Public Diplomacy. In 2003, he became Special Assistant to President George W. Bush for Presidential Personnel, where he managed the appointment process in the White House for over 1,200 presidentially-appointed advisory board and commission positions. He joined the White House staff as Deputy Associate Director, Office of Presidential Personnel in 2001.
Eric serves on the Board of Directors of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, The James Madison Council of the Library of Congress, the Library Cabinet for the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mt. Vernon, Chair of the Nominating Committee of the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize, The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s National Council, The John F. Kennedy Centennial Memorial Task Force, National Advisory Board of Honored, Young Concert Artists, Advisory Board of Planet Word Museum, Board of Overseers of Samford University and is a former member of the Chapter Board of the Washington National Cathedral. He is a member of the Cosmos Club of Washington, DC and the Grolier Club of New York City. Eric is a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary International Foundation and Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute.