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To The Best Of Our Knowledge
November 24, 2018

Struck by the divine (by being struck by lightning)

For the past few weeks, I’ve been listening to some remarkable stories about religious experiences, though some people wouldn’t actually call them “religious.” One is Elizabeth Krohn’s extraordinary story of how her life was forever changed when she was struck by lightning. She had a “near death experience” and later, dreams about plane crashes and earthquakes that she would then read about in the next day’s news.

For years Elizabeth didn’t know what to make of these dreams. She rarely talked about them because she worried that people would laugh at her. Now, she’s telling her story.

These kinds of “anomalous experiences” fascinate me. Not just because they’re so mysterious. They also challenge any scientific or religious interpretation — and pose some profound existential questions. These stories “never make sense,” says Jeff Kripal, a religion professor at Rice University who’s written about Elizabeth’s experience. Kripal wants to strip away the dogma and God-talk of religion and instead focus on primal spiritual experiences — what he calls “religion before it becomes religion.”

A few years ago I wrote a book about the fraught relationship between science and religion. I keep coming back to this subject because it continually surprises me. I certainly had that experience again as we put together this week’s radio show.

—Steve

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Religion Without Doctrine

Acts of a higher power, versus words of doctrine.

What's the essence of religion? God? Scripture? Moral codes? Or is it really about something more unexplainable - primal spiritual experiences?

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Can a Poem Be a Kind of Prayer?

"The Tradition" book cover design by Phil Kovacevich and art by Ralphi Burgess. (Copper Canyon Press)
The poet Jericho Brown grew up in a black church in Louisiana. He left that church years ago, but his poems keep returning to worship and the Bible — and to religion.
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At The Edge Of Belief With Maverick Historian Jeffrey Kripal

The spiral of the edges of belief
Religious historian Jeffrey Kripal believes that anomalous experiences — near-death experiences, telepathic dreams and other primal spiritual encounters -- are the deep roots of religion. You might call it "religion before it becomes religion."
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A Little Lithium for All Of Us?

Resevoir
We've heard plenty about micro-dosing with LSD — in articles, books, even on this show. But psychiatrist Anna Fels has a new micro-dosing proposal. Not with a drug – with lithium.
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