Prof. Jeffrey Kripal of Rice University discussed comparative religions and various aspects of the paranormal. In a sense, the study of religion is more difficult than the sciences because religious experience is difficult to quantify, and challenges people's deepest values and world views, he noted. When people compare religions in a rigorous manner, they recognize that their own world view is filled with certain gaps, he revealed. The ancient Greeks used to send out scouts to foreign cities or countries to study religious spectacles, and they were often changed by what they'd seen.
Kripal's study of comparative religions casts a wide net, including such topics as UFOs, the paranormal, the supernatural, monsters, and even comic books and superheroes, which he says broaden the discussion of the "religious imagination." He presented different people's religious or spiritual experiences, such as Mark Twain's visions, and his notion of "mental telegraphy"-- that some of Twain's creative ideas came not from him, but out of the ether. Kripal also compared the unusual encounter experiences of Whitley Strieber to that of Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis, who while staying at a mountain cabin, described seeing a "glowing" raccoon in the woods that said "good evening, Dr. Mullis," and that was that last thing Mullis remembered until six hours later (check out our new poll on what is behind the alien abduction experience).
Kripal related his own strange encounter that happened when he was studying Indian religion in Calcutta in 1989. He had an episode of sleep paralysis in which an energy appeared and engaged him in bizarre and powerful ways. The experience of the sacred or spiritual isn't necessarily a peaceful one, he remarked. "If you look at the Bible, there's this notion that if you actually encounter God, you will die. God isn't some kitten or fuzzy warm creature in a lot of the Bible-- he's an awesome energetic presence that if you get too close will kill you," he said.
UFO Traffic Report
First hour guest Roger Marsh, UFO writer and editor of the monthly MUFON UFO Journal, presented a UFO 'traffic report,' sharing several recent intriguing cases. One of these was a sighting by an Illinois police officer patrolling in Niles, who witnessed two red sphere-shaped UFOs that were silently pulsing. The red lights had an almost liquid or living appearance, with a shimmering white halo encircling them, the officer detailed. Marsh also reacted to an article from New York Magazine on a recent MUFON conference, and noted that mainstream media is often at a loss on how to cover the UFO topic.