The alien abduction. The specter in the basement. The creature under the bed. The numinous feeling in the face of nature or thoughts of eternal, external, and effervescent consciousness.
Real? Not real? What do you think?
In a recent interview with Jeffrey J. Kripal, the Religious Studies Project talked with the man who holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University about his recent works Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal (Chicago, 2011) and Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (Chicago, 2010).
In these works, Kripal shared how participation in what we call “the sacred” is a critical element that undergirds religious understanding and activity. From his perspective, human consciousness qualifies, as well as anything else, as “the sacred” itself, and must therefore be addressed and wrestled with by any self-respecting student of religion.
Particularly, Kripal argued that generally marginalized authors who have attempted to theorize the paranormal be treated as central to the religious project, even though their work deals with marvels deemed outside both mainstream scientific and/or religious parameters.
I had the opportunity to respond to Kripal from an ethnographic point of view and, in the midst of this response, to share my own paranormal experience. Enjoy the rest of the article and join the conversation by clicking below: