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By its fruits? Mystical and visionary states of consciousness occasioned by entheogens

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Abstract

A new era has emerged in research on entheogens largely due to clinical trials conducted at Johns Hopkins University and similar studies sponsored by the Council for Spiritual Practices. In these notes and queries, I reflect on implications of these developments for psychological studies of religion and on what this research may mean for Christian churches in the United States. I conclude that the aims and methods of this research fit well within Jamesian efforts of contemporary psychology of religion to assess religious practices by their fruits for life. Furthermore, some communitarian religious concerns that religious experiences occasioned by entheogens pose risks to the integrity of religious community are shown to be largely unfounded. However, it is suggested that certain risks for religious life posed by all investigations/interventions by knowledge experts—in particular, the colonization of the religious life world and the commodification of its practices—also attend these developments for Christian churches. Additionally, risks of individual harm in the use of entheogens appear to be significant and, therefore, warrant earnest ethical study.

Hummel, L. (2014). By its fruits? Mystical and visionary states of consciousness occasioned by entheogens. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, 49(3), 685-695. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/zygo.12112
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