Below is an excerpt from the current special issue of the Journal for the Study of Religious Experience (JSRE) on Religion, Culture, and Extraordinary Experience
Introduction to this issue by guest editor: Gregory Shushan, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Wales Trinity Saint David
“Despite longstanding theoretical and methodological objections, scholarly research into so-called ‘religious experience’ continues to flourish. This issue of the Journal for the Study of Religious Experience is dedicated to exploring the relationships between religion, culture, and unusual experiences which are commonly viewed in religious, spiritual, or mystical terms within their own local contexts. Examples of such experiences include (but are not limited to) unitive, visionary, transcendent, numinous, mediumistic, near-death, and out-of-body, as well as other kinds of deathbed phenomena, supernatural healings, and divine revelations, voices, and precognitions.
“The contributions here are grounded variously in historical research and ethnographic and sociological fieldwork, though are all characterized by sound theory and method. It is especially gratifying that many are of an interdisciplinary nature.
“The kinds of questions underlying this issue include:
“In what ways do people negotiate, interpret, and integrate extraordinary experiences into their beliefs systems?
“Can such experiences account for the origins of religious beliefs?
“Are extraordinary experiences ‘all in the brain’? In what ways does culture influence experience?
“Do extraordinary experiences challenge or support cultural-linguistic constructivist assumptions concerning religious phenomena?
“What are the implications of extraordinary experiences for debates surrounding terminology in the Study of Religions (e.g., ‘religion’, ‘religious experience’)?”
*The Religious Experience Research Centre houses an archive with over 6,000 accounts of first-hand experiences of people from across the world who had a spiritual or religious experience.
Founded by Sir Alister Hardy in 1969 at Manchester College, Oxford, the RERC moved to Lampeter in July 2000. The Centre’s aim is to study contemporary accounts of religious or spiritual experiences. In addition to fits archive of accounts the RERC houses a specialist collection of books and journals.
The Journal for the Study of Religious Experience (JSRE) is promoted by the Centre (RERC). It publishes original papers promoting theoretical, methodological and ethnographical developments in the research on spiritual or religious experience.