Tis the silly season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the spirit of the time I offer a short diversion.
Here’s my puzzle. In my work as an anthropologist, I have found that people who experience the holy spirit and magic, people who are able to experience God as a person among persons (while still remaining God), people who are able to do what magical and spiritual practice demands of them, usually score highly on something called the Tellegen absorption scale. The way you score on the scale even predicts whether you report that you’ve ever heard a voice when you have been alone (it’s pretty common, but still) or seen or felt something that was not materially present. In fact, this scale pretty much correlates with most spiritual and (I think) magical experience. Why should that be? What is this scale picking up? (It is not picking up pathology, for the paranoid among you.)
I’d love to see how writers respond to the scale. For fun, take a look—it should take you about five minutes to do—and then count up the number of “trues” you marked (the scale is on someone else’s website, and I don’t know that person, and it does not send scores to me) and let’s talk about what you think the scale picks up. I’d love to know whether you think that what it taps is important to the fiction writer’s craft or not. And if you think it is, what’s the difference between what a fiction writer does, and spirituality/religion?