Religious Studies and the Paranormal: Approaches to Understanding Mystery

Paranormal topics grip the imagination of many Americans. One can find paranormal stories everywhere. Certain cable channels devote hours of television programming to paranormal subjects every day. Paranormal conferences take place across the country, attracting people far and near. Paranormal investigation teams are easily found, locally or regionally. From UFOs and extraterrestrials to monsters and spirits, the paranormal is a big tent of legends, folklore, pseudoscience, and belief. For those to whom the paranormal has happened—or is of interest—studying the paranormal is not some fringe concern, but important inquiry into what is really real. Drawing on the methods and theories of Religious Studies, Dr. Richard W. McCarty of Mercyhurst University, will explore a number of paranormal narratives, a history of paranormal studies, and some methods and theories of Religious Studies for analyzing the paranormal narratives that prompt both fascination and fear.

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