Contemporary Epiphanies

  • James KellenbergerEmail author


The contemporary period has not been without epiphanic experiences and visions. In this chapter we will consider the contemporary period to be a period of the contemporaneously predominant society of the West and the world characterized by respect for science, technological innovations (ranging from gas lights and electricity to automobiles and computers), and increasing urbanization. The contemporary period of concern is that of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries within that social milieu, in which contemporary epiphanies in various forms, including visions and locutions, have occurred. In this chapter we consider epiphanic experiences that date from the nineteenth century and the twentieth century, drawing upon reports in two psychological studies, one of which is William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience. We also consider a twenty-first century near-death experience that is epiphanic in nature. And, finally in this chapter, we turn from first-hand reports of epiphanic experiences to Flannery O’Connor’s literary evocation of a kind of epiphanic encounter that is hardly traditional but seems to be possible within contemporary society.

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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCalifornia State University, NorthridgeNorthridgeUSA

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