In 1994, I was living in Florida when I read a stunning review of Lucy Grealy’s memoir, Autobiography of a Face. I finished the review, immediately went to a bookstore, and purchased a copy. It must have been a Sunday because I returned home and read the book that afternoon and into the night.
Once upon a time, I took a whole lot of religion classes in college. I know! The next thing you know, I'll confess to being the Rotary Club Sweetheart in high school (....I guess I'm feeling a bit confessional tonight). Anyway, I was an English and History major, but the religion courses were fascinating and great blends of both literature and history. One of the better classes I took was on gnosticism, and one of the best books from that class was The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels.
|The Nag Hammadi codices found in 1945.|
Here's the thing: if you're going to be a member of an organization, you should know the history of that organization. If you are going to be a Christian, you should know the history of your church. Princeton professor Elaine Pagels should be required reading for members of the world's largest religion. In 1945, some farmers in Egypt found a clay jar filled with books dating back to the 2nd Century, believed to be buried before they were destroyed by church leaders.
The Gnostic Gospels isn't some boring, jargon-laden, academic text. Elaine Pagels is a good writer and her book made the Modern Library's list of 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th Century. I don't understand blind faith. I do understand learning as much as possible about the power structures that govern our culture. I wish more people would read this book.