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Flights of the Soul: Visions, Heavenly Journeys, and Peak Experiences in the Biblical World Paperback – April 29, 2011
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― Belinda Gore
President, Cuyamungue Institute
“Considers topics that will be appealing and useful to students of the psychology of religion.”
― Mary Anne Siderits
“Nobody has done more than John Pilch to relate anthropological research on alternate states of consciousness to New Testament studies. His Flights of the Soul is a benchmark in this area.”
― Pieter F. Craffert
University of South Africa, Pretoria
About the Author
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Top Customer Reviews
Pilch draws freely from cross cultural documents that illustrate and explain what is meant by "altered states" of consciousness. Western 21st century peoples think we have two or three states of awareness: waking, sleeping and dreaming. Pilch refers to research that shows 20 or more. We don't have those experiences so we assume (not think, assume without thinking) their experience is like ours.
I loved this collection of scholarly essays. Pilch helped me realize my own cultural biases and box and allowed me to read books and passages that were opaque or confusing before in a way that is spiritually nourishing and intellectually bracing. I can cherish contemporary science without being persuaded that it deserves the hegemony its popular understanding exercises. Don't preach or assume you understand the book of revelation, the resurrection narratives or the inter-testamental literature without knowing what Pilch has to say.
Pilch doesn't deny that drugs are relevant, he refrains from making any points about them at all; he doesn't even list the possible hypotheses to answer the Grand Unevadeable Question I pose: To what extent were entheogens used throughout Christian history? Pilch implicitly acts as if any non-drug method is as plausible as drugs for inducing the mystic altered state. He is eager to propose and discuss any technique other than drugs.
I object that yes, there are many ways of accessing altered states, but what matters in the Bible is the intense mystic altered state, and there is only one guaranteed way of inducing the intense mystic altered state on-demand: visionary drug plants and chemicals. For example, per Pilch, blocking your nostril gives you an altered state -- but, I argue it does so less reliably and generally less intensely than entheogens.Read more ›