Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred by Jeffrey J. Kripal (Author)


Most scholars dismiss research into the paranormal as pseudoscience, a frivolous pursuit for the paranoid or gullible. Even historians of religion, whose work naturally attends to events beyond the realm of empirical science, have shown scant interest in the subject. But the history of psychical phenomena, Jeffrey J. Kripal contends, is an untapped source of insight into the sacred and by tracing that history through the last two centuries of Western thought we can see its potential centrality to the critical study of religion.

Kripal grounds his study in the work of four major figures in the history of paranormal research: psychical researcher Frederic Myers; writer and humorist Charles Fort; astronomer, computer scientist, and ufologist Jacques Vallee; and philosopher and sociologist Bertrand Méheust. Through incisive analyses of these thinkers, Kripal ushers the reader into a beguiling world somewhere between fact, fiction, and fraud. The cultural history of telepathy, teleportation, and UFOs; a ghostly love story; the occult dimensions of science fiction; cold war psychic espionage; galactic colonialism; and the intimate relationship between consciousness and culture all come together in Authors of the Impossible, a dazzling and profound look at how the paranormal bridges the sacred and the scientific.

Jeffrey J. Kripal is the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University. He is the author of several books, including Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion and The Serpent’s Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion.

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Jeffrey Kripal with Dana Sawyer – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Published on Feb 22, 2014

Jeffrey J. Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University, where he chaired the Department of Religious Studies for nine years and helped create the GEM Program, a doctoral concentration in the study of Gnosticism, Esotericism, and Mysticism that is the largest program of its kind in the world. Jeff is the author of seven books, including Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, and Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred. He specializes in the comparative study and analysis of extreme religious states from the ancient world to today. His full body of work can be seen at http://kripal.rice.edu/.

Dana Sawyer is a professor of religion and philosophy at the Maine College of Art, and a lecturer on world religions for the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine. His expertise is in Hindu and Buddhist systems of philosophy, and he has a professional interest in exploring the appeal of Asian religions on the Western mind. In that regard, he has written a critically acclaimed biography of Aldous Huxley and has just finished writing the authorized biography of Huston Smith, the renowned scholar of world religions.

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