In All Its Strange and Ubiquitous Glory – Scattered Thoughts on Biblical UFOs and Making Contact With New Realities

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on April 4, 2021

I had the pleasure of joining Alan Steinfeld and Henrietta Weekes on a special episode of the New Realities webcast focusing on some of the topics featured in Steinfeld’s upcoming anthology, Making Contact – Preparing for the New Realities of Extraterrestrial Contact (St. Martin’s Press, 2021). (1) During our discussion one of the most important issues highlighted was the question of what the continued normalization of the UFO phenomenon means for society at large.

Personally, considering this question has been slowly altering my own reality since I began to weigh out the implications of Dr. Diana Walsh Pasulka’s research back in 2016. This process of integrating my own mind with the possibility of a very incarnate UFO presence was furthered by the mainstream media’s increasing saturation with the topic and the publication of her book, American Cosmic – UFO’s, Religion, Technology (Oxford University Press, 2019).

In 2018, reflecting on a joint presentation she did with Dr. Jeffrey Kripal (Rice University) on the religious implications of the UFO at Ohio State University Center for the Study of Religion’s 4th Symposium on Religion, Narrative, and Media , I wrote:

“…there it is, the UFO just sitting there, hanging out in all its strange and ubiquitous glory at the center of concerns over globalization, cultural integration, and the long term stability of our shared cultural systems —and the long term stability of our shared concept of self identity — as the old religious infrastructure transitions further into the decentralized and destabilized environment of the future.

In the end we come back to the important question — how can these traditions that provide a center point in our culture compete or integrate with the very visible, tangible and operative miracles of applied science — and what happens when the day comes that contact with a non-human intelligence, whether it’s from the stars or from some sub-net AI, supersedes what we know of science itself…”(1)

Two years having passed since writing the reflections above have done nothing to dull the strange sensation when the weight of this question is brought clearly to mind. Especially as the subject continues to find its way into the mainstream media, reshaping so many assumed narratives that have been established for decades since the first attempt to integrate the UFO into mainstream culture began in the 1950’s.

The Bible and Flying Saucers

I’ve been spending some time with Rev. Barry Downing’s book The Bible and Flying Saucers this Easter season, reflecting on the conversation from the recent New Realities video cast, and going deeper into the potential implications (at least in the United States) as the U.S. government prepares to release their most recent assessment on the topic of UFOs.

Downing’s book is a rare example of careful exegesis of the Biblical narrative utilizing a worldview developed through experiential reports of the UFO phenomenon. It’s not often you find a contemporary book on Biblical exegesis written for a popular audience that mentions 20th century theological heavy weights like Rudolf Bultmann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Paul Tillich in the first 30 pages, let alone a book on UFO’s. As such it offers a unique opportunity to see just how radical some of the reframing becomes when the Bible is reassessed in light of the UFO:

“All four Gospels suggest that there were unusual persons – beings from another world – present at the empty tomb on Easter morning to explain to the individuals who came to the tomb what had happened. We have seen that at the Transfiguration Jesus was making plans concerning the Crucifixion – Resurrection event with persons from another world (Moses and Elijah) who seemed to have arrived by means of a ‘bright cloud’ type UFO.

There was an ‘earthquake’ associated with the arrival of the angels at the tomb, which could indicate the presence of a UFO which might by its anti-G beam cause a disturbance similar to the one reported at Mount Sinai and the one reported by Elijah outside the cave in which he was hiding.

It is important to notice that the angel at the tomb is not recorded to have had wing (…) What distinguished the angel at the empty tomb was his ‘brightness,’ a property exhibited by the body of Jesus at the Transfiguration. The angel was different from ordinary men not because he had wings, but because ‘his raiment’ was ‘white as snow.’ He wore unusual clothing, perhaps much as our astronauts seem always to wear white clothing to reflect certain types of radiation.”(3)

The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) – Monday, November 4, 1957

With Christian fundamentalism playing such a huge roll in the recent political scene, Downing’s work provides an important place to begin to see the kind of radical changes that can happen when the UFO subject is taken seriously, and how this might affect traditional understandings of religious narratives.

Men from the Moon in America

Opposing the positive assessment provided by Downing, we can look at a brief passage from Evangelist W.V. Grant’s work, Men from the Moon in America. Grant’s short treatise was published in 1957, inspired in part by the famous UFO sightings in Levelland, Texas.(4)

“Are They of the Devil, or Are They From God?

First, I’ll tell you why they are not of the supernatural Spirit of God. Almost everything they teach is contrary to the Word of God, which is the acid test. They are against the blood atonement. They do not believe in hell. They make fun of the preachers who preach about the devil and sin. They say that this world will never be destroyed by fire. They practice spiritism which the Bible condemns. They say themselves that they have blown up many of our planes. They are trying to bring peace to this world without the coming of the Lord.” (5)

We can’t fault Grant for doing what an evangelist does and pronouncing what they see as true doctrine, however we can note that all of his misgivings listed here are based on a sectarian reading of the Bible that a large portion of Christianity as a whole would have difficulty with, let alone scholars and theologians involved in more careful exegesis and analysis of the biblical text. While certain segments of the religious landscape continue to label the UFO phenomenon as the ‘Ultimate End Times Deception‘ – the concept of any long term interaction with non-human intelligence challenges doctrinal, dogmantic and underlying mythological structures in the world’s faith traditions.  Apocalyptic frenzy can only last so long before the less reactionary elements of tradition reformulate around the new environmental realities. 

Models for Integration

The past four years have seen a dramatic erosion in the U.S. Evangelical movement’s cultural authority as it adopts a hard swing towards indefensibly overt political maneuvering. Downing’s book, originally published in 1968, shows an alternative direction that could emerge as the paranoid demonization present in many Neo-Charismatic, non-denominational, and Evangelical circles loses power along with the dogmatic organizations and individuals who push these views out into the population.

Here we have considered Christian interactions with the phenomenon, in part because Christianity remains a major power player on the world stage and provides a nice framework for how traditional religious institutions interact with the UFO. However, with the well documented rise of the so-called ‘religious nones,’ there is also a wide space in which new spiritual traditions are developing within a decentralized environment, no longer beholden to the traditional institutions that have dominated the field.

Prior models exist to show us what this decentralized development may look like going forward, yet these models remain somewhat obscured as they exist in what religious scholar David Halperin has called the, “malodorous genre of early UFO writing known as the “contactee” literature.“(7) While such denigration continues to haunt scholarship in this area, the actual cultural importance and influence of the mid-century UFO contacts remains in the shadows – all the while their influence continues to strongly affect much of the culture which surrounds both the UFO topic and other areas, such as parapsychology and consciousness culture.

Cosmic Consciousness Awareness

Daniel Fry, The Work of the Saucer Groups, The Flying Saucer Review, V. 5, N. 5, p. 12 1959 (6)

As Dr. Diana Walk Pasulka’s work has shown – even within the upper echelons of our culture, the concepts inherent in the contactee literature, such as direct interaction and influence of non-human intelligences, technology transfer, and hybridization are alive and well and in some instances play a leading roll in the development of cutting edge technology. While American Cosmic provides a contemporary view of a handful of individuals, these associations are surprisingly prevalent if one takes the time to go back into the biographies of innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs over the past century and beyond. As society begins integrating these facts, items like this from a 1967 issue of Understanding, a journal put out by contactee Daniel Fry, seem quite contemporary:

“As New Agers our concern for the future is directed principally to possible relationships with extra-terrestrial life, with the expansion of our cosmic consciousness awareness, and with directed spiritual evolution. However, as children of the earth, subject to the constant, and now swiftly changing conditions of our environment we also should understand the impact of new patterns of living which are demanding major adjustments in our lives – psychological as well as social, economic, philosophic, etc.” (8)

If examples such as these do provide a model, however, the dominant organizations within the religious sphere (as well as all organizations anchored in the status quo) which have held control over the conversation up to this point do indeed have reason to worry – at their best, the past examples of cultural movements that have integrated the UFO present a radically open, egalitarian and integral philosophy. The kind of philosophy that would collapse current paradigms and recenter the global society through a new vision of humanity within an awake, aware and alive cosmic environment. It would be a ‘new reality,’ to use Alan Steinfeld’s term, which many stakeholders in the power structures of our world and those that support them are certainly not prepared to engage with.

(1) https://youtu.be/qbjU6ljAITo
(2) Taking the UFO Phenomenon Seriously — Religion, Narrative, Media and the Flying Saucer https://davidmetcalfe.wordpress.com/2018/05/05/taking-the-ufo-phenomenon-seriously%E2%80%8A-%E2%80%8Areligion-narrative-media-and-the-flying-saucer/
(3) Barry H. Downing, The Bible and Flying Saucers, p. 128 (Avon Books, 1968) www.thebibleandflyingsaucers.com
(4) https://creationexotheology.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/the-devil-lives-in-the-moon/
(5) W.V. Grant, Men From the Moon in America, p. 13 (Grant’s Faith Clinic, 1957)
(6) http://www.noufors.com/Documents/Books,%20Manuals%20and%20Published%20Papers/Specialty%20UFO%20Publications/Flying%20Saucer%20Review/FSR,1959,Sep-Oct,V%205,N%205.pdf
(7) https://www.davidhalperin.net/the-ufo-gnostic-orfeo-angelucci-meets-carl-jung/
(8) Examine All Things – The Futurist, Understanding, p. 14-15, V.12, N.4, April, 1967 https://danielfry.com/daniels-writings/understanding-newsletter-1967/vol-12-no-4/

Easter Eve Orb from a video taken by Christopher Bledsoe Sr. – North Carolina, 3/4/2021

2 Responses

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  1. Tony Breeden said, on April 22, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks for citing my article. I just wanted to add that it was WV Grant’s reaction to Truman Betherum and the very 1st Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention which gave birth to the Demonic Hypothesis of UFO which has remained predominant in Christian fundamentalist and Charismatic circles.

  2. David said, on April 22, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    Yes! Thank you for pointing that out here, Tony. Incredibly important point.

    I really enjoy your Creation Exotheology blog – it’s been a great resource over the years as I’ve delved in to the topic of contemporary spiritual warfare. Your work on W.V. Grant is what lead me to seek out a copy of his pamphlet Men From the Moon in America.

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