Fascinating, thoughtful essay by Bruce Epperly posted on Patheos.com
Angelic Visitations: Physiology or Divinity? Reflections on "The Angel Effect"
Angels are at the heart of the Christmas Season. Gabriel appears to Mary, announcing that she will be the mother of God's Holy Child. Joseph has two angelic visitations: the first, to tell him that his marriage to Mary is blessed by God; the second, to alert him to flee to Egypt to save the Holy Child's life. The magi have a collective dream and although no angel visitant is mentioned, their dream is a testimony to God's guidance emerging from what today we describe as the unconscious mind. There is wonder and magic in these Biblical stories and in the vision that a baby is God's revelation to the world that defies one-dimensional explanations and pushes us beyond unimaginative analysis and scientific rationality.
The stories of revelatory dreams and angelic visitations open us to consider a deeper form of knowing that goes beyond the five senses and narrow empiricism. These stories invite us to consider a larger universe in which there are non-rational and mystical forms of awareness and dimensions beyond ordinary sense experience. This is the world of the mystic, the healer, the shaman, and spiritual guide.
John Geiger's new book The Angel Effect (now featured at the Patheos Book Club) invites us to ponder the possibility of extrasensory and enhanced spiritual visitations and divine guidance. Though some may describe these as supernatural, perhaps we live in an environment that is much more complex than we think. Perhaps, divine visitations come to us all the time, along with moments of divine guidance, most of which are unnoticed or so subtle that we assume they emerge solely from our own intuitions, chance encounters, or hunches. Perhaps, such moments, though heightened in intensity and energy, are in fact part of the natural world of cause and effect. They reveal a deeper naturalism and the action of a God who works within our world, not from the outside as an intruder.
Geiger notes that the possibility of angelic visitations is often explained physiologically and psychologically as well as spiritually. Crisis moments can lead to dramatic physiological-psychological states that appear to come from the outside, in terms of angelic visitors, but may be altered states of consciousness, providing the information we need to survive stressful and life-threatening situations. While such accounts can be used to challenge the existence of angelic visitations, in an interdependent-holistic universe in which body, mind, and spirit interact seamlessly, spiritual states and encounters with higher beings may very well have physiological correlates. The fact that spirituality and physiology are connected does not challenge mystical and near death experiences or encounters with angels; it only challenges dualistic understandings of human life (mind-body dualism) and supernatural explanations of God's presence (the view that God acts from the outside rather than within the causal process).
At the very least, Geiger's The Angel Effect is an invitation to consider the possibility that we receive guidance from spiritual beings at a higher level of evolution than ourselves....
To read the complete essay at patheos.com CLICK HERE.