Ever wish academics would take the UFO subject seriously?
Well, one of them may be. Besides me, I mean. Not that "I'm all that" but, well...anyway.
It's a bit of old news, something I found stashed away in my "to blog" folder. I find it intriguing even if it's from two months ago. Whitley Strieber has partnered to write a book with Jeffrey Kripal, a professor of religion at Rice University. The title of the book is The Super Natural: New Visions of the Unexplained.
Strieber had an obvious influence on me as he did with so many others who have interest in unexplained phenomena. I read Communion shortly after it came out and then slept with the lights on for weeks. His vivid accounts earned him the cognomen, as the article says, "poster boy for alien abduction." I'm not convinced he has been experiencing contact with aliens in the science fiction sense, but I am convinced that something extraordinary has been happening to him. Don't ask me what it is because I don't know. And honestly Strieber hasn't been a proponent of the ETH, either, turning instead to alternative theories, ones dealing with consciousness and natural forces beyond our current level of understanding.
Jeffrey Kripal knows something about such ethereal things. As a scholar of religion, he is considering Strieber's encounters from the same perspective as one would accounts of religious experiences. Really, what is the difference between Strieber's claims and someone saying that a dead guy's tomb is empty and they have seen him walking about? Additional examples include, as the article offers, St. Paul's claimed conversion on the road to Damascus and just about all the communication Moses is said to have had with the almighty. Hell, we've had political leaders claim they've spoken with Jesus. Why isn't the media treating them with the same scathing ridicule as Strieber has experienced?
I really like this idea. For too long I have found the nuts-and-bolts "space people" paradigm simplistic and lacking. That hasn't stopped it from being the conventional explanation in popular media. So much so that the term "UFO" has become sadly synonymous with "ET." Strieber, whatever the truth may be about his purported experiences, has expressed similar discomfort with the ETH. There are other possible explanations. They may be unsettling due to their incomprehensible nature. I'm not sure I'm ready for it myself, but I'd rather know the truth...even if I don't understand it. A deeper exploration, of the sort described in the new book, may lead to even greater scrutiny over spiritual experiences as a whole. Yes, that includes religion and if you want to talk uncomfortable...
Let's hope this is the start of something.
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