If there is one common human responsibility, it is to evolve beyond our parents. Jeff Kripal has moved this responsibility to another level. He is one of the few academics in religious studies who has evolved out of dogma of scientific-materialist and absolute cultural relativisms. This is no mean accomplishment considering that one first has to conform and perform excellently to get into a top graduate institution. Once there, the orthodoxy is more deeply inculcated and conformity is closely supervised. Then, just to make sure no heretics slip through, there is a seven-year probation period with peer review at every corner before one has the possibility of achieving academic tenure. No wonder the world passes academia by. Congratulations to Dr. Jeff and to his editor at the University of Chicago Press. How often is an author allowed judicially to use the f*** word in academic discourse?
Dr. Jeff has written a book about a variety of unexplained phenomena (e.g., paranormal and psi) from a 21st-century perspective. This means that he has moved beyond dualistic either/or thinking and beyond the taboo of subjectivity (see B. Alan Wallace's great book with the same name). Indeed, at his best Dr. Jeff has demonstrated cases of a nondual confluence of subject-object (for Schroedinger fans, it can be expressed metaphorically but not literally as the collapse of the wave function) as he delves into what has heretofore been "forbidden knowledge." It has been forbidden because any inquiry with any degree of openness into these realms reveals the (appalling IMO) explanatory poverty of science or religious studies paradigms. This book, in a very polite, erudite, entertaining, and direct way shows just how "the King has no clothes."
What does this mean? A lot. The monotheistic Abrahamic religions - and their modern shadow counterpart, modern materialist science, operate on the principle of dogma. They must exclude data to survive as stable systems. This is the old paradigm. Just as many Asian cultures have typically embraced the simultaneous plurality of gods and religions, the paradigm for the 21st century, by increasing necessity, works on inclusionism. This is an open-ended framework that preserves itself by including as much of the contradictory data as possible. I could go on and on praising this book.
On page 26 Dr. Jeff says, "The simple truth is that we simply don't know what is going on here. I would go further. With our present rules of engagement, that is, with our present reigning materialistic methodologies, faith commitments, objective scientisms, and absolute cultural relativisms, we cannot know. . . I want a new game with new rules of engagement."