Join us Thursday evening on July 28 at the University of Utah Student Union in the Saltair Room where a broadcast Q&A will be held with Dr. Aslan and acclaimed author Judith Freeman.



Dr. Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,which has been translated into twenty-eight languages.  

He is the founder of AslanMedia, a social media network for news and entertainment about the Middle East and the world, and co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of BoomGen Studios, the premier entertainment brand for creative content from and about the Greater Middle East.

Aslan’s degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University (Major focus: New Testament; Minor: Greek) , a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University (Major focus: History of Religions), a PhD in the Sociology of Religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. An Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also a member of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He serves on the board of directors of the Ploughshares Fund, which gives grants for peace and security issues; Narrative Four, which connects people through the exchange of stories; PEN USA, which champions the rights of writers under siege around the world; the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Levantine Cultural Center, which builds bridges between Americans and the Arab/Muslim world through the arts.

Aslan’s first book is the International Bestseller, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which has been translated into seventeen languages, and named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade. He is also the author of How to Win a Cosmic War (published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in a Globalized Age), as well as editor of two volumes: Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, and Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalties, Contentions, and Complexities.

Aslan is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside and serves on the board of trustees for the Chicago Theological Seminary and The Yale Humanist Community, which supports atheists, agnostics, and humanists at home and abroad. A member of the American Academy of Religions, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the International Qur’anic Studies Association, Aslan’s previous academic positions include the Wallerstein Distinguished Professor of Religion, Community and Conflict at Drew University in New Jersey (2012-2013), and Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Iowa (2000-2003). 

Born in Iran, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, author and entrepreneur, Jessica Jackley and their three sons. 


Judith Freeman is a novelist, critic, and essayist whose newest book, The Latter Days,will be published by Pantheon in June 2016.   Kirkus has called the book “a poignant, searching memoir of self-discovery.”  

Her first book, a collection of short stories, Family Attractions (1988), was praised in the New York Times for its originality.  Her novels include, The Chinchilla Farm (1989),Set For Life (1991), A Desert of Pure Feeling (1996), and Red Water, named one of the 100 best books of 2002 by the Los Angeles Times.   She is also the author of the non-fiction work The Long Embrace:  Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved, hailed by Jonathan Lethem as an “elegant, stirring book.”

She received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1997, and also won the Western Heritage Award for her novel, Set For Life in 1992.  She has taught writing at the University of Southern California and other writing workshops around the country.   Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and other periodicals. In 2005, she received a Visiting Fellowship from the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford where she did research in the Raymond Chandler archive at the Bodleian Library.  She also was a visiting artist at Johns Hopkins University where she completed the work on The Long Embrace.   In 2011 she was awarded the Erle Stanley Gardner Fellowship to do further research into the Los Angeles of Raymond Chandler, at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas.

She has collaborated with other artists and writers on projects.  During a year spent in Rome in 1999, she collaborated with the prize-winning composer Chris Theofanidis, providing the text for Song of Elos, a piece for soprano and string instruments that was performed at Carnegie Hall, The American Academy of Rome, and the Da Camera Society in Houston.  She also traveled to India in 1992 with her friend, the photographer Tina Barney, where they spent seven weeks photographing and writing about an extended family in Rajasthan.  She lives in Los Angeles and rural Idaho with her husband, artist photographer Anthony Hernandez.

Reza Aslan will do a live skype interview from his home in California, with Sunstone attendees discussing religious fundamentalism, reform, and other questions the audience members have for Dr. Aslan.


Following Aslan’s remarks, we will hear from author Judith Freeman about her new memoir, The Latter Days. Her remarks are titled, Memories of a Mormon Girlhood