Jeff Kripal's Secret Body
Updated: Mar 28
By Christine Skolnik
Originally published as "So Much to Take In," Los Angles Review of Books, January 12, 2018.
SECRET BODY: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions, conceived of as an academic memoir, is the latest, bravest, and most accessible book by Jeffrey J. Kripal. Both ambitious and substantial, Secret Body addresses topics as diverse as Hindu Tantra, Christian mysticism, American counterculture, and the history of the paranormal.
Above all, Secret Body is about the perennially controversial, yet inescapable topic of belief. As a critical theorist, Kripal prompts us to reflect on our personal assumptions, as well as the shared assumptions that create and maintain our institutions: materialism is called out as dogma, at odds with the spirit of empirical inquiry, as is unreflective religious faith. And though he often defaults to a mystic monotheism, Kripal also recognizes the monotheism-atheism binary as a limited and limiting construct.
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Image Credit: Apocalypse of Glycon by Golden Elixir Productions, producers Barclay Powers and Nancy Hutchison, artist supervisor Eugene Perez of Octgraphics, p. 2, in Kripal, Jeffrey Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions. University of Chicago Press, 2017.