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Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2010
If there is one common human responsibility, it is to evolve beyond our parents. Jeff Kripal has moved this responsibility to another level. He is one of the few academics in religious studies who has evolved out of dogma of scientific-materialist and absolute cultural relativisms. This is no mean accomplishment considering that one first has to conform and perform excellently to get into a top graduate institution. Once there, the orthodoxy is more deeply inculcated and conformity is closely supervised. Then, just to make sure no heretics slip through, there is a seven-year probation period with peer review at every corner before one has the possibility of achieving academic tenure. No wonder the world passes academia by. Congratulations to Dr. Jeff and to his editor at the University of Chicago Press. How often is an author allowed judicially to use the f*** word in academic discourse?

Dr. Jeff has written a book about a variety of unexplained phenomena (e.g., paranormal and psi) from a 21st-century perspective. This means that he has moved beyond dualistic either/or thinking and beyond the taboo of subjectivity (see B. Alan Wallace's great book with the same name). Indeed, at his best Dr. Jeff has demonstrated cases of a nondual confluence of subject-object (for Schroedinger fans, it can be expressed metaphorically but not literally as the collapse of the wave function) as he delves into what has heretofore been "forbidden knowledge." It has been forbidden because any inquiry with any degree of openness into these realms reveals the (appalling IMO) explanatory poverty of science or religious studies paradigms. This book, in a very polite, erudite, entertaining, and direct way shows just how "the King has no clothes."

What does this mean? A lot. The monotheistic Abrahamic religions - and their modern shadow counterpart, modern materialist science, operate on the principle of dogma. They must exclude data to survive as stable systems. This is the old paradigm. Just as many Asian cultures have typically embraced the simultaneous plurality of gods and religions, the paradigm for the 21st century, by increasing necessity, works on inclusionism. This is an open-ended framework that preserves itself by including as much of the contradictory data as possible. I could go on and on praising this book.

On page 26 Dr. Jeff says, "The simple truth is that we simply don't know what is going on here. I would go further. With our present rules of engagement, that is, with our present reigning materialistic methodologies, faith commitments, objective scientisms, and absolute cultural relativisms, we cannot know. . . I want a new game with new rules of engagement."
Me too!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2011
"Authors" relays historically that there are a select few who are not timid to face, to embrace reality. Everyone knows that answers provided by conventional culture are lacking, but despite this realization, few have the courage to explore their own intuition. To succumb to traditional answers is the easy way, but as in Plato's cave allegory, they are illusionary and offer only temporary relief.

Jeff Kripal provides an historical summary of phenenomal events. He chronicles the work of four remarkable authors dating from the time of Mark Twain to the present who undertook research on the paranormal and were unafraid to publish their findings.

"Authors" is about a group of courageous pioneers. Kripal is clearly the present day leader.

The book is riveting. It goes beyond the mental filter of orthodoxy into the realm of the impossible.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2011
Jeffrey Kripal has a weird style. I've never seen a Chicago UP book with so many three word sentences. Really just three.

And four word paragraphs.

And f$#%&ing bad language.

For effect.

I had to force myself to get through the first 50 or so pages. His flashy hippy-geek-mystic persona mellows out toward the end, however. (Or maybe I just got used to it.) But then his persona is part of the point, and I generally sympathize with that point. Kripal is selling us an alternative narrative of modern experience, a narrative that has been marginalized by the dogmatic tendency of organized religion and, more importantly, institutional science. Kripal is busting out, and he sounds like it. He has a refreshingly confident way of telling us that the world is weird. Very weird. Paranormally weird. (And that is just how he would say it.) Most useful to me, he gives us a way of talking about the undoubtedly "subjective" character of paranormal events--he focuses on UFOs, but the same applies to NDEs, spirit communication, etc.--while affirming their empirical reality. The key insight of the whole book is what he calls the "dialectic of consciousness and culture," which is basically postmodernism regrounded in a metaphysics of consciousness. Consciousness is a real thing that is really pushing the world somewhere, but the only way we ever know pure consciousness is through a kaleidoscope of stories that write themselves through ourselves, through language, and--impossibly--the natural world.

Kripal does not quite allay my concern with the diffuse character and absence of clear moral direction in the"New Age." I'm not sure what the New Age could offer (to use Christian examples) in place of the communitarian "body of Christ" or the covenantal experience of the sacraments. Kripal acknowledges this point once or twice in passing. Is it really "religion" to camp out with great excitement for the next X-Men flick? (OK, I'm simplifying, but not entirely.) Is it religion to be open to the world-as-other-than-itself without also providing some kind of social/moral/ethical ideal to fill that openness? I am curious to see how things develop. Time will tell. Maybe we all just have to visit Esalen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2011
This book is an absolute must! it's implications are extremely far-reaching: It deals with the very core of our consciousness. This book will literally transform your view of the world. I do not know any academic author who writes like Jeff Kripal - he engages the reader all along, fluidly moving between registers - intellectual history, theory and popular culture. His humor is especially great. If you are teaching anything - recommend it to your students!
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I have had the privilege of meeting Jeff and listening to his perspectives and insights at a 2 day conference on human transformation and potential - I have been thrilled by his approach, authenticity, inspiration, and willingness to explore the evolutionary edge. We need more balanced explorers like him to bring these powerful perspectives forward on who we are as human beings! This book is brilliantly composed and chock full of life changing moments! From my perspective, Jeff is building a wonderful foundation that allows those of us that sense and experience these emerging human capacities to take them further in our own lives and out into the world. This is truly evolutionary work. Thank you Jeff for creating a huge window and opportunity for people who are courageous enough to enter into this new world and begin to co-create it!

Namaste, Roger Kenneth Marsh
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is the face of 21st century psychical research, following up and expanding on the views of Jule Eisenbud and George Hansen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2014
Recommended to me by someone smarter than I am. High level reading.
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VINE VOICEon February 16, 2015
Thoughtful,stimulating,and beautifully written, I have never taken more notes than with this book! There is tremendous density of thought and some really creative ideas in here. Certainly worth a read!
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on October 28, 2014
Very much a book that serves as food for thought in terms of looking at the paranormal through a variety of lenses by comparing one point of view to another in this series of interviews.
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on February 28, 2015
Amazing stories of events that are obscured from the mainstream.
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