30 June 2010


You may have noticed that I've added Mike Dash's CFI Blog to the list of recommended reading down the side of this page. This is essential reading for all Magonians and Forteans. I would particularly like to draw your attention to his most recent postings about the Marpingen Apparitions. In his introduction he comments:

I've already mentioned, in these pages, the alarming lack of awareness Forteans show of all the progress being made in the fields of academia. Only rarely does one see purely scholarly works cited in the literature, and this considerably impoverishes us – most obviously because it limits our capacity to understand the subtle underpinnings of a wide range of phenomena.

Today I want to give a solid example of precisely what I mean by taking the first of what I expect will be several looks at a book that Forteans have remained blissfully unaware exists ever since it was published nearly 20 years ago. Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Nineteenth Century Germany [by David Blackbourn] is an extensive, richly-researched account devoted to an undeniably obscure event: the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) that supposedly took place in a small German village named Marpingen, in the Saarland, back in 1876 ...

Now I don't want to blow Magonia's trumpet too much (as I've already done that a few posts ago) but I must point out that Peter Rogerson reviewed the book in Magonia 57, September 1996. You can read his review HERE, as I have now placed it on the Magonia Review Archive. Peter pre-echoes Mike Dash when he says:

Marian Visions are now beginning to follow witchcraft into the nimbus of academic respectability - how long before today's visions and beliefs follow? Only when the subjects covered by this magazine are made the subject of studies of this quality will we begin to make some progress
In a posting elsewhere (Serious Stuff) which looks at the difficulties of accessing academic publications, Mike comments:

Academia has long been a little suspicious of the Fortean world, and with some reason. There has always been so much woolly thinking, so many unprovable hypotheses, and so little truck with the scientific method on our side of the academic iron curtain that — setting aside the rationalists at CSICOP — aspiring scholars have chosen to stay well clear of our subject when it comes to selecting areas of study, and most especially when choosing a topic for that most important of academic hurdles, the PhD thesis - a critical decision that can heavily affect one's chances of securing employment thereafter.
At Magonia we like to think that, particularly with the help of Peter Rogerson's erudition, we have played some small part in drawing relevant material from the academic world to the attention of our readers, and assessing its relevance and value to the widest range of Fortean studies. I think a glance through some recent postings on this Blog will confirm this.

We want to make sure that serious researchers are made aware of as much as possible that may be related to their studies, and would ask our readers to let us know of any suitable material which may be of interest. You can e-mail your information to pelicanist@rocketmail.com. Even if we are not able to review everything that is published, we can at least draw it to readers' attention via our Book News blog.

And please read all of Mike Dash's fascinating account of the Marpingen visions, and what Blackbourn's meticulous research has to teach anyone seriously interested in the sorts of phenomena we study, rather than just enjoying them for their entertainment value.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for the kind words, John. Much appreciated. I have now posted the final part of my analysis of the Marpingen case and, taking your comments on board, have added a bibliography of other recent scholarly works on religious phenomena which are well worth a look. I especially commend Christian's extensive work on Spanish miracles and apparitions, much of which is available nowadays on Google Books.