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Talking About Spiritual Experience

After seeing the ghost of his father, Hamlet tells Horatio, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’[1]

 

Indeed.  People have all sorts of experiences that don’t make sense and cannot be explained by science or reason.  Very often, these events are experienced as spiritual, touching on matters beyond the everyday in ways that open up to other worlds, other dimensions, other possibilities, to the presence of God, angels or spirits, or to the presence of those who have died. This could be in terms of guidance, healing or supernatural promptings.

 

These things happen.  They just do.  Even when there is no room for them in Science, Reason, or Philosophy.

 

Let's Talk About It

 

People who have had these experiences often find it difficult to talk about them.  They doubt whether they will be believed or worry that they will be thought to be mad.  An impulse remains to talk about what has happened with someone they trust to make sense of what has happened and reflect on what this means.  People need to be heard, they need to be believed, and they need to find meaning.

 

Sometimes, people will approach a priest, minister, or a trusted leader in a church, to talk about their experience.  However, these approaches are not always welcomed.  The listener does not want to listen, is not willing to believe, and is unable to provide advice that satisfies and makes sense.  The person is left feeling belittled and unbelieved.  Their profound experience is dismissed as fantasy, or as an attempt to promote themselves spiritually.  

 

To addresses this dilemma, we have launched the Talking About Spiritual Experience project – for those who want to know how to listen to people who want to talk about their unearthly experiences, and for those who have a story to tell.

Opening Doors

Our conference marks the start of the campaign - and at the conference we will launch our book of the same name, which is primarily intended for clergy, ministers, Christian counsellors and spiritual advisors who might be entrusted with accounts of unusual spiritual experiences and who want to respond in a helpful manner - though we hope it will be of equal benefit to anyone who has an interest in these matters.

At the conference, we will hear from, Rev Dr Meg Gilley, who is the primary author and editor of the book. Also speaking is Dr Robert Gilbert, who will explore negative spiritual experiences, and Rev George Heinz, a Methodist minister, with his experiences and thoughts from the grassroots.

And in late October, we will launch our podcast - stories from those for whom their spiritual experiences have had a profound impact on their lives.

[1]  Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5, Line 168

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