My sociologist friend had a colleague at a different institution ask her if she would review his paper which he warned her was "a little out there."
She immediately prepared herself. She expected a sociological exploration of some sort of strange sexual practice, maybe several. She thought she might get some sort of immodest proposal. She was not prepared for mysticism.
I use the term mysticism loosely, mainly because that's the term she used--and she used that term because he uses it. Her colleague is really exploring ESP, astral projection, chakras, and he's claiming scientific credibility for them. His use of the word "scientific" might be different from yours.
My stodgy Lutheran self objects to the way he slings the term "mystic" around. My stodgy Lutheran self is comfortable with the Thomas Merton brand of mysticism, less so with the Teresa of Avila type. My stodgy Lutheran self does not want to hear about the night when you astrally projected yourself to Cleveland. My stodgy Lutheran self will not be cleansing her chakras, although she likes color theory as much as the next person.
My observational writer self is having a good laugh over all of this. My sociologist friend is as devout an atheist as anyone I've ever met and devoted to the scientific method the way the Western world has been practicing it for centuries. She would have known how to handle kinky stuff of all sorts--except religious kinks. And then there's me, a lifelong Lutheran who is appalled despite the fact that I have flirted with New Agey and paranormal stuff. I spent many years of early adolescence longing to have ESP. When the phone would ring, I'd try to know who was calling. I was always wrong. I tried to bend spoons with the power of my mind. Happily, the silverware was always safe with my paranormal powers.
Before I was the apocalypse gal, I wanted to be a witch. I wanted to find a book of spells in the attic, but we lived in suburban houses that had no attic.
So why am I so impatient with people who want to claim legitimacy for paranormal experience? Is it because I see it as an adolescent urge?
And yes, I realize that plenty of people would dismiss my belief in a God that cares about creation as an adolescent yearning too.
It fascinates me to consider the human experiences that we consider "out there" and how that changes as we age.
I have a different friend who has known for some time that a younger person was likely to come out at some point as homosexual. When we were younger, that admission might have been considered "out there." But we're older now and enlightened and now we see happy people all along the sexual spectrum on television.
She was prepared to be supportive. She was not prepared for the younger person to come out as being wrongly gendered and working toward sexual reassignment surgery.
I think of myself at the age of 46 as being the last of the pre-plastic surgery generation. When I was young, if you felt your body was wrong, you didn't have many options. You could try diet and exercise if the part of your body that was wrong could be influenced that way. But when I was younger, plastic surgery was prohibitively expensive.
Now some parents give their children plastic surgery as a graduation present. To me, that's "out there."
Yes, my stodgy Lutheran self would like us all to be comfortable in our physical bodies just the way that they are, the way that God made them. When I figure out how to do that, I'll let you know.
My stodgy Lutheran self is amused to remember that for many people of my generation, the idea that God made our bodies as already perfect would be an "out there" concept.
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