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Record Type: Review   ID: 508

The Sacred and the Psychic: Parapsychology and Christian Theology

Heaney, John J.

 The author, a Catholic theologian, seeks to present a balanced view of the implications of parapsychology for theology¯fundamental theology in particular. By the latter he refers first to the study of the experience and doctrine of the foundational Christian category, revelation, and, second, to the study of the presuppositions and assumptions, both conscious and unconscious, that are involved in the commitment to Christian revelation. To varying degrees, in each chapter he presents the evidence for the paranormal ability that serves as its subject, then the criticisms, the response to the criticisms, and the theological implications. The titles of the chapters dealing with phenomena are "Telepathy and Clairvoyance"; "Psychokinesis, Poltergeist Manifestations and Demonic Possession"; "Paranormal Healing"; "Precognition and Prophecy"; "Retrocognition"; "Out-of-the-Body Experiences"; "Recent Studies of Near Death Experiences"; "Apparitions and the Resurrection of Jesus"; "Mediums: The Unconscious or Life Beyond?"; and "Reincarnation." In addition there are three more theoretical and explicitly theological chapters. One deals with Jung's concept of the collective unconscious coupled with the idea of a psychic universe. Another is on theological and parapsychological aspects of eschatology. The last chapter is entitled "Consciousness, Parapsychology and Theology." It presents a holistic, transpersonal view. Throughout, Heaney singles out the moments of transcendence associated with psi phenomena and attempts to explicate their meaning for theology. He sees psychic phenomena as a kind of bridge between the secular and the sacred. Psi phenomena indicate that there are dimensions of reality that we can contact wherein we are not the isolated egos we generally assume we are. Finally, he proposes that the most coherent view of the cosmos reveals that we are enfolded in a psychic universe in which we operate together with a mysterious Otherness, Absolute Mind, and Love. This is a helpful book for EHEers who have had psychical experiences because it tries to potentiate the meaning of such experiences in general, and so it may be helpful to those who are trying to discover the meaning of their individual and unique experiences.
Publisher Information:New York: Paulist Press, 1984. 286p. Bibliographic notes by chapter: 251-286
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