Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 4:58 pm | Contact: Stacey Schmeidel


Grinnell, Iowa -- Jeffrey Kripal—a prominent religious scholar who also has written about mutants, mystics, comic book superheroes and the paranormal—will deliver the Scholars’ Convocation at Grinnell College at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 4. Titled “Authors of the Impossible: How to Think About the Paranormal,” the talk will take place in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center. The event is open to the public at no charge.

Kripal also will deliver the annual Religious Studies Gates Lecture, titled “Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics and the Paranormal,” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center. This event is open to the public at no charge.

One of the few in his field who advocate including the paranormal in religious studies, Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought in the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is chiefly interested in the comparative erotics of mystical literature, the history of American metaphysical religion, the history of western esotericism, and the interface between the paranormal and American pop culture.

Kripal is the author of six books, the first of which, Kali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna, won the American Academy of Religion’s History of Religions Prize for Best First Book in 1995. It also garnered controversy in the western world and India, where activists have attempted to have the book banned.

Two of Kripal’s books—Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion and Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred—are being made into documentary films.

Kripal’s Grinnell lecture is part of the college’s ongoing Scholars’ Convocation series. Grinnell welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar[at]grinnell[dot]edu.