Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture

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Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture

Format:  Paperback,

264 pages

Publisher: New York Univ Pr

Publish Date: Oct 2010

ISBN-13: 9780814791356

ISBN-10: 0814791352

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A significant number of Americans spend their weekends at UFO conventions hearing whispers of government cover-ups, at New Age gatherings learning the keys to enlightenment, or ambling around historical downtowns learning about resident ghosts in tourist-targeted "ghost walks." They have been fed a steady diet of fictional shows with paranormal themes such as "The X-Files," "Supernatural," and "Medium," shows that may seek to simply entertain, but also serve to disseminate paranormal beliefs. The public hunger for the paranormal seems insatiable.

Paranormal America provides the definitive portrait of Americans who believe in or have experienced such phenomena as ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs, psychic phenomena, astrology, and the power of mediums. However, unlike many books on the paranormal, this volume does not focus on proving or disproving the paranormal, but rather on understanding the people who believe and how those beliefs shape their lives.

Drawing on the Baylor Religion Survey--a multi-year national random sample of American religious values, practices, and behaviors--as well as extensive fieldwork including joining hunts for Bigfoot and spending the night in a haunted house, authors Christopher Bader, F. Carson Mencken, and Joseph Baker shed light on what the various types of paranormal experiences, beliefs, and activities claimed by Americans are; whether holding an unconventional belief, such as believing in Bigfoot, means that one is unconventional in other attitudes and behaviors; who has such experiences and beliefs and how they differ from other Americans; and if we can expect major religions to emerge from the paranormal.

Brimming with engaging personal stories and provocative findings, Paranormal America is an entertaining yet authoritative look at a growing segment of American religious culture.

Specifications

Publisher: New York Univ Pr
Publish Date: Oct 2010
ISBN-13: 9780814791356
ISBN-10: 0814791352
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 264
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 0.85
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.0 x 9.0 x 0.75
Walmart No.: 9780814791356

Chapter outline

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
The House of 150 Ghostsp. 1
The Truth Is Withinp. 20
The Truth Is Out There: Paranormal Beliefs and Experiencesp. 46
Round Trip to Hell in a Flying Saucer?p. 76
Paranormal Subculturesp. 100
Paranormal Peoplep. 129
Darkness and Lightp. 158
Out on a Limbp. 189
Appendixp. 203
Notesp. 215
Referencesp. 237
Indexp. 255
About the Authorsp. 264

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2010-09-15)

Bader (sociology, Baylor Univ.), F. Carson Mencken (sociology, Baylor Univ.), and Joseph Baker (sociology, East Tennessee State Univ.) joined forces to study what kinds of people believe in and experience the paranormal. Through the long-term national Baylor Religious Survey (BRS), as well as observational fieldwork, they examine America's belief in paranormal phenomena inside and outside of mainstream religion-from UFOs and Bigfoot to speaking in tongues and guardian angels. They look at how belief affects lives, examining common stereotypes faced by believers and considering whether belief in a mainstream religion makes one likely to ascribe to more otherworldly occurrences. Their aim is not to prove or disprove any belief system or sighting but rather to understand those who believe. They conclude by making predictions about the future of belief in the paranormal.

Verdict: While this academic work showcases an astounding amount of research, the quick pacing and engaging language keep it from being a dry report of BRS findings. It is accessible to any reader with an interest in the convergence of paranormal beliefs and religion. The thought-provoking narrative will not disappoint experts on the topic. Highly recommended.

-Crystal Goldman, San Jose State Univ. Lib., CA

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

A significant number of Americans spend their weekends at UFO conventions hearing whispers of government cover-ups, at New Age gatherings learning the keys to enlightenment, or ambling around historical downtowns learning about resident ghosts in tourist-targeted “ghost walks”. They have been fed a steady diet of fictional shows with paranormal themes such as The X-Files, Supernatural, and Medium, shows that may seek to simply entertain, but also serve to disseminate paranormal beliefs. The public hunger for the paranormal seems insatiable.

Paranormal America provides the definitive portrait of Americans who believe in or have experienced such phenomena as ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs, psychic phenomena, astrology, and the power of mediums. However, unlike many books on the paranormal, this volume does not focus on proving or disproving the paranormal, but rather on understanding the people who believe and how those beliefs shape their lives.

Drawing on the Baylor Religion Survey—a multi-year national random sample of American religious values, practices, and behaviors—as well as extensive fieldwork including joining hunts for Bigfoot and spending the night in a haunted house, authors Christopher Bader, F. Carson Mencken, and Joseph Baker shed light on what the various types of paranormal experiences, beliefs, and activities claimed by Americans are; whether holding an unconventional belief, such as believing in Bigfoot, means that one is unconventional in other attitudes and behaviors; who has such experiences and beliefs and how they differ from other Americans; and if we can expect major religions to emerge from the paranormal.

Brimming with engaging personal stories and provocative findings, Paranormal America is an entertaining yet authoritative look at a growing segment of American religious culture.

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