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From sacred mountains and places of pilgrimage to visions and outofbody travel, this reference explores unusual and unexplained physical events, apparitions, and other phenomena rooted in religious beliefs. Each entry features a balanced presentation and includes a description of the phenomenon, the religious claims surrounding the occurrence, and a scientific response. Touring the world and history, this comprehensive reference includes entries on angels, comets, Marian apparitions, and religious figures such as Jesus, Mohammad, and Lao Tzu.
"Melton is a longtime researcher in esoteric traditions and new or unconventional religious movements, subjects on which he has written extensively. The book is fascinating to flip through, will interest a wide range of readers, and is written for nonexperts." —Library Journal
"If you can't learn an interesting bunch of facts from this book, you must already have a doctorate on the topic." —The Modesto Bee
"[T]his is an entertaining and fascinating look at an astonishing variety of ways that people experience belief." —The Dallas Morning News
"From the sensational to the conventional, this book covers it." —About.com
"The [book's] result cannot help but be inspiring or alarming, depending on your understanding of true faith." —Reference & Research Book News
This one-volume encyclopedia was written to document some of the people who have reportedly had intense religious experiences (e.g., Padre Pio), the places in which they have occurred (e.g., Fatima), the objects that inspired them (e.g., weeping statues), and the paranormal or spiritual elements of the experiences (e.g., levitation). Readers will find an emphasis on the phenomena "that inspire people to explore their spirituality"-temples, relics, and holy cities, for example. Melton (religious studies, Univ. Coll., Santa Barbara, CA) is a longtime researcher in esoteric traditions and new or unconventional religious movements, subjects on which he has written extensively. His book is not meant to be an exhaustive listing; Melton simply views the study of phenomena helpful in understanding the "diversity of human behavior," noting that these experiences are by and large encountered by a small minority of people. Yet others may attempt to participate in the experience by visiting holy sites, making pilgrimages, or worshipping icons. Organized alphabetically (Al-Aqsa Mosque through Zion, IL), the entries range from a single paragraph to several pages in length and are supplemented with a source list for further reading. Many include black-and-white photographs. Cross-references are highlighted in bold text, and there is an alphabetical index. The usual suspects are all here: "apparitions of the Virgin Mary," "crystals," "the Dalai Lama," "ouija board," "speaking in tongues," "the Wailing Wall." Less well-known subjects include paranormal dentistry (evangelism with an emphasis on dental healing), indigo children (the idea that children born with indigo in their auras were eventuallydiagnosed with attention-deficit disorder), and xenoglossy (the ability to speak a foreign language that one had not previously learned). There is a good mix of both Eastern and Western religious phenomena and a strong representation of contemporary personalities.
—Jennifer L. Jack
Posted November 11, 2008
No text was provided for this review.