Author Bio


One of the most prolific writers in America, John Smelcer, Ph.D., is the author of more than fifty books, many translated and published worldwide. His bestselling  mythology book, The Raven and the Totem, now available in a 25th anniversary second edition, includes a foreword by Joseph Campbell  (The Power of Myth, The Hero with a Thousand Faces). With Russian Orthodox Archbishop Benjamin, John contributed to the revised map of global Christianity in the 10th edition of Living Religions (Mary Pat Fisher, Ed.). With the Dalai Lama, John co-authored a poem on compassion. With famed astrophysicist and popular science writer Carl Sagan (Cosmos), John had conversations about science and religion. In 2015, John discovered the worldly possessions of Thomas Merton, arguably the most influential Christian writer, philosopher, mystic, and social rights and peace activist of the 20th century. Merton influenced Martin Luther King Jr’s notion of nonviolent protest. The artifacts are now housed at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, the Vatican, and the Thomas Merton Center in Louisville. John Smelcer’s education includes postdoctoral studies at Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard, where he studied Buddhism, Islam and Sufism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Christianity, including the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Dr. Smelcer writes a blog on the website of the Charter for Compassion, a global nonprofit founded by Karen Armstrong (A History of God) to promote religious tolerance and to diminish violence in the name of religion. Learn more at

john carl sagan

John Smelcer & Carl Sagan, 1995


Click the YouTube icon to watch a brief video of the author talking about the book. Click the Blog icon to go to John’s Blog page.