Carlos M. N. Eire, "They Flew: A History of the Impossible" (Yale UP, 2023)


In the early modern era, seemingly impossible stories of levitation, bilocation, and witchcraft were common and believable. The important question of the time was not if these things happened, but why. This was particularly true as the rise of Protestantism began to challenge Catholic beliefs in miracles and continued to be the case even after scientific research began to supplant religious belief in these phenomena. 

In They Flew: A History of the Impossible (Yale UP, 2023), Carlos Eire shows how these events were an accepted component of early modern life. Based on firsthand accounts, Eire explores the stories of St. Teresa of Avila, St. Joseph of Cupertino, the Venerable María de Ágreda, and others, to describe a world animated by a different understanding of the natural and supernatural. Eire examines why and how cultural, historical, religious, and scientific contexts plays a role in defining both the possible and the impossible.

Recommended reading: 

Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred & 

How to Think Impossibly: About Souls, UFOs, Time, Belief, and Everything Else 

both by Jeffrey J. Kripal.

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Meghan Cochran

Meghan Cochran studies human systems of belief as a technologist and student of religion, business, and literature.
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