The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena

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Overview


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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"J. Gordon Melton is a renowned authority on what academics call "New Religious Movements." His expertise with the arcane shines from the pages. . . . [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 work is not an effort to promote religious phenomena, nor to pass judgment. ... That's part of the appeal of this work. It's amazing how informative it is, without being disrespectful of any religious experience."— Kliatt

"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

"[Melton] gives readers interesting religious expressions and phenomena from Buddhism, Baha'I, Islam, indigenous faiths and Christianity. The result cannot help but be inspiring or alarming, depending on your understanding of true faith."— Reference & Research Book News

"Melton, a renowned authority on "New Religious Movements," takes on a broad range of topics. 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

From the Publisher

"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

Reference & Research Book News
The [book's] result cannot help but be inspiring or alarming, depending on your understanding of true faith.
The Modesto Bee
If you can't learn an interesting bunch of facts from this book, you must already have a doctorate on the topic.
The Dallas Morning News
An entertaining and fascinating look at an astonishing variety of ways that people experience belief.
KLIATT - KLIATT Review
This is not a flashy book. The illustrations are b/w, and the text is descriptive, not polemical. The work is not an effort to promote religious phenomena, nor to pass judgment. Where relevant, Melton reports on scientific investigations that have disproved a phenomenon, but more often he describes what people report they have experienced. Melton is a director of the Institute for the Study of American Religions and affiliated with the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is an ordained Methodist minister who has traveled the world, making a study of religious practices. In this encyclopedia are entries from numerous traditions, from the world's major religions to New Age phenomena. Here is a sample: in the entry on Easter Island, Melton describes (in about 1,000 words) a concise history of the island, Thor Heyerdahl's voyage on the Kon Tiki and how his publicity changed the fate of the island, and archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg's conclusion that the famous Easter Island statues represent stylized images of various chiefs: "they appear to have served as contact points for communication with divine entities. The lack of definitive records, however, will mean that variant opinions on the statues will probably arise as new studies are made." Thereafter, four sources are listed in a bibliography. This sample represents the basic format for each of the entries. We read of monasteries, churches, temples, and holy sites throughout the world. We read of Native American beliefs about Mt. Shasta (California); we read of serpent handling, speaking in tongues; we read of feng shui, milk-drinking statues, statues that move; we read aboutholy people such as the Dalai Lama and St. Bernadette. As is the case of all encyclopedias, especially of the work of one person, readers may search in vain for a topic that interests them, or be surprised at an entry's inclusion. That's part of the appeal of this work. It's amazing how informative it is, without being disrespectful of any religious experience. Age Range: Ages 12 to adult. REVIEWER: Claire Rosser (Vol. 42, No. 1)
Library Journal

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578592098
  • Publisher: Visible Ink Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 500
  • Sales rank: 1,251,140
  • Product dimensions: 7.33 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Gordon Melton is the director of the Institute for the Study of American Religions and a research specialist with the department of religious studies at University College–Santa Barbara. He is the author of The Cult Experience, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, and The Vampire Book. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.

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