A couple of NPR stories explore the neuroscience of religious belief; I'll link to them here for those interested: "To the Brain, God is Just Another Guy," from a few months ago, and a really interesting compilation of stories, including text, visuals, and some videos presenting contrasting views: "Is This Your Brain on God?"
It would have been interesting to test the temporal
lobe (the locus, evidently, of chemical reactions and sensations during mystical experience) of Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter, aka Rev. Ike, who was (to quote our friend Jon Walton) part evangelist, part revivalist, and part Johnny Mathis. Jonathan Walton's more extended take on the legacy of the Rev. Ike may be found here. A brief excerpt:
Though Rev. Ike was a self-proclaimed “Green Preacher” (he professed to have ceased being a black preacher after earning his first few millions of dollars), it was evident that he remained consumed by the indignities suffered under the weight of white supremacy and segregation. This often made for a complicated and contradictory personal narrative, as he used money to situate himself above the veil of race and perceived African American cultural dysfunction. In short, Rev. Ike was post-racial and ascribed to pathology discourse way before it became en vogue. Unfortunately, Rev. Ike’s professed post-blackness belied his own aesthetic brilliance and stylistic genius. Rev. Ike was the quintessential American preacher who pieced together his message of divine health and wealth from multiple sources and varying religious traditions .. . . . his sermons represented a spoonful of Norman Vincent Peale marinated in the healing revivalism of the postwar era.