Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God
On Sale: March 27, 2012
Hardcover / e-Book
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How does God become and remain real for modern evangelicals?
How are rational, sensible people of faith able to
experience the presence of a powerful yet invisible being
and sustain that belief in an environment of overwhelming
skepticism? T. M. Luhrmann, an anthropologist trained in
psychology and the acclaimed author of Of Two Minds,
explores the extraordinary process that leads some believers
to a place where God is profoundly real and his voice can be
heard amid the clutter of everyday thoughts.
While attending services and various small group meetings at
her local branch of the Vineyard, an evangelical church with
hundreds of congregations across the country, Luhrmann
sought to understand how some members were able to
communicate with God, not just through one-sided prayers but
with discernable feedback. Some saw visions, while others
claimed to hear the voice of God himself.
For these congregants and many other Christians, God was
intensely alive. After holding a series of honest, personal
interviews with Vineyard members who claimed to have had
isolated or ongoing supernatural experiences with God,
Luhrmann hypothesized that the practice of prayer could
train a person to hear God’s voice—to use one’s mind
differently and focus on God’s voice until it became clear.
A subsequent experiment conducted between people who were
and weren’t practiced in prayer further illuminated her
conclusion. For those who have trained themselves to
concentrate on their inner experiences, God is experienced
in the brain as an actual social relationship: his voice was
identified, and that identification was trusted and regarded
as real and interactive.
Astute, deeply intelligent, and sensitive, When God Talks
Back is a remarkable approach to the intersection of
religion, psychology, and science, and the effect it has on
the daily practices of the faithful.
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