What If There Was A New Earth?

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a promo for the 2011 sci-fi movie, Another Earth.  It immediately intrigued me because it promised to be a deeply moving, emotional sci-fi film about two earths, employing none of the usual sci-fi garb such as aliens and UFOs… interesting!  I searched and found it on VUDU, placed it in my wish-list, and finally found time to watch it late last night with my wife, whom I had successfully convinced to join me for the sake of “research.”  Convincing her wasn’t a chore; she was intrigued too.

Another Me?

Even though the movie has been out for four years, I want to be careful not to give away an spoilers, so I’ll be brief with the synopsis.  The storyline centers on a young lady whose life is filled with promise and possibility untea_anotherearthil something tragic happens, drastically altering the course of her life.  At the moment of this tragedy a second earth (Earth Two) appears in the sky and she, along with all the residents of Earth One, are captivated by this new reality.  Furthermore, they are challenged with the suspicion that there might be “another me” out there living a similar life but differently due to opposite actions, choices, and events.

This movie was made on an extremely low-budget.  The actors even did their own makeup, and the director created the Earth Two scenes on his personal computer.  However, you’d never know it.  The cinematography is great, and the depth of characters and storyline are superb.  Brit Marling did an excellent job playing the leading role of Rhoda.  She also was the co-writer of the movie script.  I’m sure you’ll recognize her from her many screen roles, namely in I Origins, and her role as Liz Garvey in the TV series Babylon.

Meeting Yourself

I was immediately drawn into Rhoda’s internal struggles and the new choices she labored to make in the light of Earth Two just over head.  The director Mike Cahill explains that Earth Two is “kind of this externalization of the interior world of Rhoda.  She could have dealt with those ideas of the confrontation of the self just by looking in the mirror, but I felt like there was something [more] powerful about really externalizing it,” by creating a situation where there really is another version of us all.  Co-writer Marling elaborated further by saying the image of another Earth provokes a primal reaction, “we all feel something [deeply] about looking back at the Earth.”  Definitely, this movie is a “feeling” movie, very personal, introspective, and surprising… especially the ending!

Ultimately, the movie is successful with taking a very high, external concept and internalizing it in order to explore the inner world of who we are, and what it means to be a human.  Rhoda has a strong desire to become an astronaut and explore this other Earth, but ultimately her greatest desire is realized—the exploration and discovery of herself.  For me, what makes this movie so deeply emotional is the use of the doppelgänger.

A doppelgänger is a look-alike or double of a living person, sometimes portrayed as a paranormal phenomenon, and in some traditions as a harbinger of bad luck.

In pop culture, when you meet your doppelgänger, “you see each other, and then one of them has to die, and so it turns into an action adventure movie in which one of them has to kill the other,” says Marling.  Another Earth “was never going to be a movie about an Invasion of the Body Snatchers style” confrontation, she adds.another_earth-1

Another Earth deliberately turns the usual idea of doppelgänger on its head.  Says Cahill:  “For me, I pushed completely the opposite [idea].  I think we, as humans, have this desperate yearning to connect, and we are so alone, no matter how many people we know, our close friends or whatever, we are ultimately alone.  And I think there’s a yearning to not be alone.  So, to confront someone who has your shared history and all your secrets… I think there would be the greatest amount of empathy.”

Don’t Watch It Alone

In short, this movie highlights forgiveness, hope, and our common need for redemption.  I love high concepts, and I especially love when they are employed in a pop culture medium that captures our imaginations while invoking a deep sense of wonderment and awareness.  This movie certainly did all of this and more for me.  If you’re in the mood to be entertained and challenged, watch Another Earth.  And I would advise not watching it alone.  Watch it with someone you love, someone you’ve dreamed with, and been forgiven by.  The impact will be greater.


If you appreciate sci-fi movies that make you think like this one does, check out my latest e-book priced at $2.99!

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Why I Write About The Paranormal

I read because I enjoy reading.  At any moment, I usually have seven or eight books in various states of completion on my night stand, the kitchen table, and in my shoulder bag.  My wife is always picking them up and asking me if they can be put back on one of my three bookshelves.  She’s become accustomed to my predictable answer:  “Not yet, I’m almost done with that one… and that one… and that one…”

The Thread

My interests are varied, covering the gamut, from history, religion, and physics to poetry, philosophy, and comics.  My taste in movies are just as varied from documentaries to mystery intrigue, and sci-fi.  Oh, and I happen to like Bollywood movies too!  When it comes to books, I just don’t read any book on these numerous subjects.  There’s a common thread that leads me to each one.  Or, as I often feel, this common thread prompts the books (and movies) to find me.

The Alternative Narrative

So, what is this thread, and what happens when you start pulling on it?  I call it “The Alternative Narrative.”  You see, the storyline we commonly know is only a fraction of the whole story.  For instance, threadtake the story of electricity.  Everyone knows of Edison and the light bulb.  However, the story takes on a whole new light when you consider the alternative narrative involving his assistant Nikola Tesla.  If Tesla’s brilliance had not have been subverted and he had gotten the financial backing Edison enjoyed, electricity would look a lot different than it does today.  And, if his visions and life’s dream would have been honored, it would be free too!

The same “Alternative Narrative” can be found with religion’s Desert Fathers and mystic poets, science’s maligned explorers and innovators, history’s conquered native peoples, philosophy’s marginalized thinkers, and with the numerous comic book heroes often based on real-life, counter-cultural people.

Reality & Truth

What I’ve found is there’s a difference between what is real, and what the truth is.  In other words, the reality we know is ever evolving based upon the level of truth we observe and understand.  The greater amount of the truth that is seen impacts and changes the reality we are experiencing.  Do you follow?

Think About It

You think you know who you are, and what your highest potential is.  But as you age and mature, you learn more about who you are, what your primary influences have been, how you’ve limited yourself in the past, and what fears are really irrational and unfounded.  Armed with these truths you evolve and become more than you kn2012-09-24-EyesSidewFearew you could be.  Sadly, most people live trapped in the past, a past constructed by partial storylines and haunting fears.

Reading books and watching movies that highlight the “alternative narrative” help to shake us, and jolt us out of the groove created by general misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and more.  This is why I like writing about pop culture, the paranormal, and the supernatural.  Characters and storylines that have an alternative “other-worldly” dimension allow us to rehearse deeper dimensions of what it means to be alive, as opposed to actually “being alive.”  We are also prompted to explore what our lives could be like… now, and in the approaching future.

For instance, consider the following:

Why Angels?

Angels help us explore the reality that something benevolent is out there beyond our five senses.  It is largely believed that this “secret society” of winged beings is battling unseen opposing forces, all for the sake of aiding humanity.  As far as movies go, we especially like the angel characters who fall for humans, and in a way become more human-like, yet still remain capable of helping us push back the dark forces that threaten us.

Why Zombies?

Zombies are the all-purpose metaphor for something that has gone terrifically wrong.  They help us play out consequences, and explore remedies both present and future.  What’s more, they are perfectly suited as a general satire for those who go through life always feeding, always consuming, but never finding fulfillment and never really living.  Know any zombies?

Why Ghosts?

Ghosts are the oldest paranormal characters in history.  Dating back centuries, stories abound of people working hard to appease the departed spirits so that they don’t return and torment the living.  However, ghost stories are mostly about us than they are the ghosts.  They are about the general fears humanity is haunted by.  Like Dickens’ Scrooge, hopefully we are motivated to not remain haunted, but to become the person we are supposed to be.

Why Vampires?

Vampires allow us to explore the limits of life and death, and the age-old question of what we would be willing to do in order to find peace and fulfillment.  They make us think about our appetites, desires, needs, and wants.  And often, in the case of the vampire’s lust for blood, what we think we want does not measure up to what we would have to do in order to obtain it.  Vampires suck the life out of the living in order to keep living.  Know any vampires?

Why the Paranormal?

Paranormal and supernatural stories help us understand more about ourselves in a way that we cannot do alone with limited human characters and storylines.  Yes, we need the normal, but… WE YEARN FOR THE EXTRA-NORMAL!  From this perspective, its obvious that the paranormal/supernatural will always be with us, as it always has been.  I think the ancients understood this better than we do today.  Certainly, the poet/prophet/creative types would agree with me on this point.  unnamed

The reality is, the alternative narrative is as close to us as our very own subconscious is, and it helps connect us to an ever-present reality that speaks directly to our hearts, and not just to our minds.  It’s this “other-worldly” narrative, which in general, has inspired all the great thinkers, inventors, mystics, prophets, and explorers to pull back the heavy curtains of accepted understanding TO REVEAL THE BEAUTY OF WHAT’S TRULY REAL.  And in turn, it has helped us face our fears, push the limits, and become more… SO MUCH MORE!

This is why I love writing about the paranormal and supernatural.

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UFOs are…

Recently, I invited my followers to join me on an adventure as I read Keith Thompson’s book Angels and Aliens.  I promised to share my “take aways,” and the time has come for me to make good on that promise.


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1942, The Battle for Los Angeles

Overall, I found the book to be intelligent and well-balanced.  Thompson objectively covered famous and well-documented UFO encounters, including eye-witness accounts from ordinary people, to high level officials in the military and government.  For me, some of the most compelling accounts were the UFO sightings by mass groups of people, as well as, respected pilots who were willing to put their careers on the line.  In the book, Thompson does not try to prove or debunk UFOs.  Instead, he offers insight on the mythical power the phenomena has had on our society.

As modern people we like to think that we’ve outgrown the need for mythology, trading it in for sensible science.  But Thompson convincingly shows that the modern UFO phenomena is helping to resurrect ancient myths.  As a result, the desire to explore what lies beyond our five senses is being invigorated once again.  He concludes that the public’s fascination with these pixellated objects (UFOs) is really “a religious search to recover lost intimacy.”

For true UFO believers, Thompson’s philosophical views would probably be pure boredom despite the fact that he provides plenty of hard evidence from the first modern sightings in 1947 to Whitley Strieber’s bestselling confessions of the late 1980s.  Could UFOs turn out to be “alien” technological hardware?  Maybe… time will tell.  However, at this point in my life I’m more intrigued with the discussion by those who entertain the unexplainable phenomena as “an idea at work in the world’s soul.”


So, what do I think UFOs are?

Well, it’s complicated.  What I wish they are, hope they are, want them to be, imagine and philosophize them to be, and what they really are, are all separate items.  Here’s what I’ve concluded thus far:

  • UFO sightings are real enough to be physically witnessed.
  • Almost 20% of all sightings and encounters are labeled by the government as “unexplainable.”  However, those who believe in government conspiracies would argue that this percentage is higher, and I would agree with them.
  • Supernatural and paranormal phenomena have long been a documented experience in human history.  Just ask George Washington who had his own UFO/angel experience!
  • Such experiences are “real” enough to the point that governments have felt it necessary to investigate, and then disseminate misinformation to conceal their findings.  How unfortunate!
  • Religious leaders from the Pope to the famous evangelical Billy Graham, along with world-class scientists, philosophers, and high level government officials have postulated and worked together to investigate, and understand what’s going on.  So, in my opinion, interested individuals will find some good company to talk with.
  • As for the wild theories that surface from time to time, these shouldn’t detour us from getting to the bottom of what’s really going on.  Nor, should they cause us to angrily argue and push some away from the collective search.  Theories are all part of the discovery process.  There’s plenty of room at the table.
  • Whether explainable or not, there is a higher consciousness calling humanity to imagine, explore, discover, and create.  It appears to be no respecter of persons, manifesting to all social classes and ethnic groups.
  • Any talk of the “unexplainable” is going to be strange and unsettling for the mind, heart, and soul.  If we understood it fully, there would be no need to feel uneasy and argumentative.  Thus, there’s a need for not only scientists to engage the subject, but for religious leaders as well.

In the end, is it a bird?  Sometimes.  A plane or weather balloon?  Sometimes.  An unidentified flying object?  Sometimes.  A hoax?  Som20100826_ironsky_560x375etimes.  An angel?  Possibly.  Superman?  That would be cool!  But that would open a whole new can of worms.  After all, he was an alien you know.  Whatever the phenomena is, it remains deeply embedded in our collective consciousness.  And, because it’s manifesting itself with a greater rate of frequency and impact, perhaps the answers are just within reach.  Many suggest we will understand what’s going on within the next 20 years!

The invasion is imminent…

I want to confess that I personally feel this subject is a serious one.  My fundamentalist friends will no doubt be irritated that I even entertain this topic.  It seems they only have one explanation… demons!  Sorry, I love you, but experimental planes, crashing meteors, and strange magnetic fields are not demons.  And if there is “something” (intelligent or other) engaging humanity on a mass level, I feel it’s important for us to investigate with objectivity rather than rash, opinionated judgment.

Bottom line, our universe is multi-dimensional.  From what we can see to what we have yet to see, there is still so much to learn and understand.  I don’t know the answers, nor do I know anyone who does.  I do have a friend who’s ex-CIA, and another acquaintance who swears she’s been visited by aliens.  Both have a lot to say on the subject (privately, of course).  When they speak, I listAlien-invasionen… and I think long and hard.

In the end, I’d like to believe that the modern UFO phenomenon is a massive-collective-manifestation of humanity’s deepest desires and longings.  This theory has landed me squarely within what is known as the “Excluded Middle.”  Could these experiences be the physical manifestation of humanity’s growing desire for deeper intimacy, thirst for greater knowledge, and longing for security?  If this is the case, get ready for a massive invasion soon to come!

As for the movies, perhaps all those terrifying scenes of people running in fear from alien invaders is a depiction of our shared, subconscious, human fear—the fear of vulnerability when encountering unexplainable love.  Obviously, we’d be entertaining A LOVE SO MASSIVE that it would encompasses the entire universe.  Now there’s a thought!  Who knows; maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic.


To learn more about my views on pop culture, the paranormal, and the supernatural, check out my recent book:

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UFOs & The Excluded Middle

1992 was a watershed year for the UFO community–not due to any revelation from the ranks of the saucer-smitten, but for the publication of Angels And Aliens: UFOs And The Mythic Imagination.  For the first time in recent memory, an author with a fresh perspective wrestled with a modern history of the subject, and more importantly, the people who study, or, at the very least are affected by the phenomenon.  Keith Thompson chose to look at the 20th century evolution of the UFO phenomenon as a developing system of mythology, complete with heroes, villains, power struggles, battles and innocent bystanders.

Before I share my “take-aways” with you from this book, I thought you might enjoy a little insight from the author himself.  Here’s an interview he did in 1995:


QUESTION: Angels and Aliens is, to me, one of the most important books dealing with the subject of UFOs.  I’m curious about the process that inspired the book.  Was there a specific series of events or circumstances that led you to feel a book of this type was necessary?

AUTHOR’S ANSWER: I came to the UFO phenomenon, or it came to me, by a circuitous route.  One evening Walter Cronkite opened The CBS Evening News with a dramatic rendition of a UFO sighting in Michigan.  Dozens of witnesses reported a football-shaped object the size of a car performing gyrations in the sky, before maneuvering out to a nearby swamp.  J. Allen Hynek, the tragic hero of the Air Force’s ill-fated Project Blue Book, arrived on the scene only to be quoted — misquoted, actually — as saying the witnesses had seen “swamp galogo_350s.”  This in turn was taken as proof that the military had no intention of dealing sensibly or honestly with the UFO phenomenon and its ramifications.

My twelve-year-old psyche was captivated by this case, with its cast of confounded witnesses, befuddled military experts, know-it-all debunkers, and of course the media circus surrounding it all.  I grew up in rural northern Ohio, not far from where the sightings took place.  The debate immediately polarized between those who were sure UFOs “had” to be real and those who were equally certain UFOs “couldn’t” be real.  It was my first exposure to the “mythic electricity” that surrounds the UFO domain.  Soon the “Swamp Gas Case” was infamous, and the media forgot about it, and I did too.  I didn’t pay much attention to the UFO phenomenon until quite a few years later.


 QUESTION: What prompted you to return to the subject?

AUTHOR’S ANSWER: In the early 1980s I was associated with Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  I coordinated a series of annual think tank-style conferences on subjects such as altered states of consciousness, shamanism, mysticism, quantum physics, and parapsychology.  One day I came across an Omni magazine interview with J. Allen Hynek, the dean of UFO studies, and was impressed by his perspective.  Michael Murphy, Esalen’s founder and my longtime comrade in various adventures of the spirit, suggested that we invite leading UFO researchers to Esalen for a free-wheeling discussion.

There I was, about to receive a symposium of experts on a phenomenon I knew very little about.  I spent two months reading everything I could get my hands on, including the works of Whitley Strieber, Budd Hopkins, Jacques Vallee, and the classic books of John Keel.  It seemed clear that at least some of the “whatevers” called UFOs didn’t fit Big Science’s view of reality.  I ended up spending five days with leading researchers, getting steeped in UFO evidence, a world brimming with surrealism.  This was a phenomenon I could get along with just fine — I felt sure of that much.


 QUESTION: Before the book, you were involved in a public symposium called “Angels, Aliens and Archetypes.”  What struck me about that event was that even though each of you had your own ideas about UFOs, you all seemed, for the most part, to represent a “post-modern” or “new paradigm” or “excluded middle” school of thought — something rare in prior UFO conferences.  Do you view that gathering as significant in terms of increasing dialogue about new ways of looking at this phenomenon?

AUTHOR’S ANSWER: A theme that emerged throughout the two days of that conference, among practically every speaker, was best phrased by Jacques Vallee, who emphasized three points:

  1. the UFO phenomenon is real;
  2. it has been with us throughout history;
  3. it is physical in nature yet it represents a form of consciousness that is able to manipulate dimensions beyond time and space as we know them.

Vallee’s friend and mentor Allen Hynek had arrived at a similar conclusion as early as 1976, when he began expressing his doubts that UFOs are nuts-and-bolts spacecraft from other worlds.  He found it ridiculous to suppose that super intelligence would travel enormous distances to do relatively stupid things like stop cars, collect soil cropcircle2samples, perform repetitive “medical exams” on abducted clients, and generally go around frightening people.

Hynek decided it was time to “begin looking closer to home.”  A key idea at the conference was that UFOs may operate in a multi-dimensional reality of which space-time is a subset — an idea that doesn’t require the reality of UFOs to stand or fall with the extraterrestrial hypothesis.  I like to think the San Francisco conference may have helped encourage new ways to think about the phenomenon.  For instance, Vallee’s idea that the intelligence the phenomenon represents could coexist with us on earth just as easily as it could originate on another planet, or in a parallel universe.


QUESTION: One of the themes we found most intriguing in Angels and Aliens was the idea of ufology viewed as an evolving mythology.  What inspired you to take this approach?

AUTHOR’S ANSWER:  There were a couple of departure points.  First, as I began to immerse myself in the literature and attend various UFO conferences, I was struck that many of the personalities in the field of ufology spent much of their time doing to each other what the personalities of Greek mythology are famous for:  quarreling, settling scores, jockeying for position, seeking revenge, and so forth.  I wanted to find out which of the gods and goddesses, which actors from the timeless annals of mythology might have slipped into the UFO cosmos, like thieves in the night.

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1973 Missouri UFO SIghting

But the idea that ufology involves “mythology” doesn’t mean I dismiss the reality of UFOs, although some readers thought that was what I was saying.  All of life has a mythological dimension, and the UFO phenomenon is no exception.  Myth offers a background of images that allow life to show up with greater richness and depth.  The assumption that UFO events must be either real or symbolic — but not both — is fundamentalist thinking at its worst.  Try as we might, life refuses to be reduced to any flat singular interpretation.  Interesting, that the word “symbolism” is derived from the Greek symballein, which means “to throw together.”  The word denotes the drawing together of two worlds.  Hermes is a spanner of boundaries, a mediator between realms, an ambassador between domains which seem separate but are connected by subtle thresholds.

In Angels and Aliens I was trying to show that UFO reality is complex, multidimensional, remarkably nuanced and textured — and above all, not cooperative with the mental categories to which the Western mind has become so attached.

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Angels & Aliens

In my research, I recently ran across an intriguing book by Keith Thompson, Angels and Aliens: UFOs and the Mythic Imagination.  It was published in 1993 and received some pretty impressive reviews.  Here are just a few:

“Magnificent…no matter what your beliefs, [it] is the most fascinating book written on the subject.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“As original and provocative a book as you’re likely to run into this year…Keith Thompson has issued a bold new challenge to our imagination, and our perception.” – Esquire

“An important work.” – John E. Mack, M.D., Pulitzer Prize winner

“An intelligent, engrossing and often wryly funny analysis.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

I ordered a used copy from Amazon for $3.99.  It arrived two days later.  I was impressed with the condition (Good), and upon inspe710P8PQ78RL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.gifction found a few dogeared pages with some penciled stars, exclamation marks, and underlining.  It’s interesting to see what a total stranger found important over two decades ago.

From a quick scan, I learned that the author approached the subject matter with an intellectual energy, smart wit, and an open-ended perspective, while avoiding the dogmatism of true believers and debunkers alike.  According to the back cover, “Angels and Aliens invites the reader to enter a fascinating world with profound implications for our understanding of the human spirit.”

Carl Jung first spoke of the UFO phenomenon as “a modern myth in the making.”  Later, Joseph Campbell insisted that the first function of myths is to open the “mind and heart to the utter wonders of all being.”  Though I have trusted-friends who have seen UFOs, I personally don’t have a definitive opinion.  However, I welcome the opening of mind and heart “to the wonders of all being” no matter how it comes.

As I read this book, I’ll keep you posted of what I learn…


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Alien Church (TWO)

Public opinion polling indicates that over 36% of Americans believe that extraterrestrials exist.  That’s almost as many who voted in the 2012 Presidential election!  In order to appeal to a laspockrger voting block, maybe presidential hopefuls should start making campaign promises to reveal the classified information on aliens and UFO research.  Can you imagine the TV ratings?  Live debates would be wildly anticipated, especially if Spock was behind one of the podiums!

Governments and aliens are old news.  However, “church and aliens” is making recent news these days.  You probably never thought of putting the two words together, have you?  Though atheists make up the largest group of E.T. believers (55%), people of faith are not far behind.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • 44% of Muslims
  • 37% of Jews
  • 36% of Hindus
  • 32% of Christians

Of the Christians, more than one third of the Eastern Orthodox faithful (41%), Roman Catholics (37%), Methodists (37%), and Lutherans (35%) profess belief in extraterrestrial life.  Only the Baptists (29%) fall below the one-third threshold, however, just barely.  Are you surprised by the numbers?  That’s an average of almost 36%; the same percentage of E.T. believers in the general American population!

Belief in aliens is not so “fringe” after all, is it?  And… it’s on the rise.


 Pope Francis + Billy Graham + E.T. = ???

In the summer of ’08, the Vatican issued a statement saying that belief in aliens doesn’t negate faith in God.  Father Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory was quoted as saying the vastness of the universe means it is possible that there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.

“How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?”  Funes said. “Just as we consider earthly creatures as ‘a brother,’ and ‘sister,’ why should we not talk about an ‘extraterrestrial brother’?  It would still be part of creation.”

Adding to the growing controversy, Pope Francis (whom I like and respect greatly) recently said that he would welcome martians being baptized (May 2014).

“If—for example—tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here… Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them… And one says, ‘But I want to be baptized!’ What would happen?  When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let’s do it this way…’” (source)

If you think Pope Francis is off his rocker, you might just have to think the same about the famed Protestant evangelist Billy Graham:

“I firmly believe there are intelligent beings like us far away in space who worship God… we would have nothing to fear from these people.  Like us, they are God’s creation.”  (source)


Want to learn more about the debate religion is having with the possibility of aliens?  Check these articles out:
Did Jesus Save the Klingons?
How Would Christianity Deal With Extraterrestrial Life?
What Different Religions Say About Aliens

It’s a big day for E.T.!

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Alien Church (ONE)

Aliens have long been of great interest for the general public, not to mention a cash cow for the entertainment industry.  Ever siDay_the_Earth_Stood_Still_1951nce 1951 when the sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still flickered in black-n-white on the big screen, our modern pop culture hasn’t been able to get enough of humanoid alien visitors and their accompanying robots.  But is the topic of aliens only suitable for entertainment value?  Leading scientists and theologians don’t think so!

In 2009, the Vatican hosted a conference to discuss the implications on religion and human consciousness if extraterrestrial life is found.  Chief scientists, astronomers, and religious leaders enthusiastically participated.  And, at the close of their meetings they concluded that if aliens were discovered they would be part of God’s creation and therefore regarded as our “extraterrestrial brothers.”


NASA, the Library of Congress, and the Vatican discuss aliens!

Last year (2014), NASA and the Library of Congress teamed up, bringing together over 200 top scientists, theologians, philosophers and historians from around the globe, to host a two day symposium.  Their stated goal was  to discuss how to prepare the world for extraterrestrial contact, whether it be microbial organisms or intelligent beings.

“We’re looking at all scenarios about finding life. If you find microbes, that’s one thing. If you find intelligence, it’s another. And if they communicate, it’s something else, and depending on what they say, it’s something else! The idea is not to wait until we make a discovery, but to try and prepare the public for what the implications might be when such a discovery is made. I think the reason that NASA is backing this is because of all the recent activity in the discovery of exoplanets and the advances in astrobiology in general. People just consider it much more likely now that we’re going to find something — probably microbes first and maybe intelligence later. The driving force behind this is from a scientific point of view that it seems much more likely now that we are going to find life at some point in the future.” – Astronomer, symposium organizer and former chief NASA historian, Steven J. Dick. (source)

One of the theologians present was Brother Guy Consolmagno, who is the president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.  Here is what he had to say:

“I Believe [alien life exists], but I have no evidence. I would be really excited and it would make my understanding of my religion deeper and richer in ways that I can’t even predict yet, which is why it would be so exciting.” (source)

One of the leading question asked at the conference was does an intelligent alien life form have a soul?  A Jesuit astronomer present answered he believed they do and would be excited with the discovery of alien life.  And we may not have to wait long for that discovery announcement!  According to NASA scientists, finding life out there is statistically inevitable, most likely within the next two decades.


If you believe in UFOs, you may be in better company than you think!

A 2012 National Geographic poll showed that 36% of Americans, about 80 million people, believe UFOs exist, and a tenth believealien-face they have spotted one.  The study also showed that 77% of Americans believe there are signs that aliens have visited Earth, and the TV show The X-Files best represents what would happen if aliens invaded Earth.

The study, in which a random sample of 1,114 Americans 18 and over was surveyed, also asked what respondents would do if aliens visited Earth.  Nearly a quarter said they would try to befriend the extraterrestrials, 13 percent said they would lock themselves indoors, and just one in 20 said they would “try to inflict bodily harm.”

Those numbers did not surprise longtime UFO investigator David MacDonald, director of the non-profit Mutual UFO Network, who said the idea of contact with extraterrestrials has become commonplace in the last few decades.

“We have grown up with ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica,'” MacDonald said. “We’re at the point where we’d say ‘What planet are you from? Oh well, let’s have a beer.'”


ABC News report aired in 2012


If you’re curious as to what people of faith think about aliens, be watching for my upcoming post – Alien Church (TWO)!
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Angels, Mutants or Aliens?

Archangel

Archangel, one of the founding members of the X-men

The angelic figure has always been popular, from their ancient roots in religion and mythology to today’s pop culture media.  They first started out as incredible other-worldly beings, massive in size and rich in knowledge, and later became human-like beings hard to distinguish from ordinary people as the Bible’s patriarchs and apostles discovered.  As centuries passed, artist added wings and halos, along with a chubby baby likeness.

Recently, modern artists have added features to angels that have given rise to a greater curiosity into the true nature of angels and the roles they play.  The popularity of superheroes and comic culture, as well as the horror and supernatural genres have transformed angels from plump little cherubs into muscled-mutant-supernatural warriors, suiting a more violent and action-orientated audience.

What were they like before?

Apse Mosaic, San Vitale, Ravenna

Apse Mosaic, San Vitale, Ravenna

For many in the Western world, the word ‘angel’ conjures up the image of a winged humanoid, dressed in white and bestowing blessing and news to the human world.  Indeed, this is how many of us recall angels, because our first encounter with them is usually Bible stories, and particularly their role within the nativity story.  Their primary function is as the messengers of God to Man.  As H. C. Moolenburgh explains: “…we have inherited the word ‘angel’.  It comes from a Greek word (angelos) meaning a messenger.  The Hebrew word for angel (malach) means exactly the same: a messenger or an envoy.” (1996, p.56).

He goes on to discuss the way that angels are viewed in public consciousness: “Often they are described as ‘noticeably beautiful’ even though their appearance is not especially effeminate.” (1996, p.48). Indeed, the beautiful appearance of angels is among the few things that rarely do change – whether they are good, evil, or indifferent, they often possess striking features.  This is particularly interesting because in their original incarnation in the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, angels are described – if at all – according to their power and awe.  Unearthly beauty is a quality rarely mentioned; they are more often fear-inducing creatures than beautiful winged people.

Where did their wings come from?

References to angels are found within the mainstream religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Yet, angels, or divine helpers, were also found within Sumerian, Babylonian, Persian, Egyptian and Greek writings as well, and played a major influence upon the ideas regarding angels within the key religions themselves.  For example, it is well known that ancient Sumerian texts pre-dated the Hebrew book of Genesis, including the idea of the existence of angels.

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Hermes

But where did the original idea come from that angels have wings? Hermes, in the Greek pantheon of gods, served the function of messenger, and was pictured with wings on his heels.  In ancient Egypt, the goddess Nepthys was also winged; reliefs depicting her appear in hieroglyphics in tombs.  Griffins, winged animals with human heads, appear in a very ancient Etruscan tomb, and many other cultures featured winged lions and bulls with human heads; winged creatures were known to the Vikings as valkyries, to the Greeks as horae; in Persia they were fereshta, to the Hindu, apsaras.

However, in Abrahamic traditions, wings were rarely depicted on angels until the time of Emperor Constantine, and did not become popular in angel art until the Renaissance.  Historically, angels who interacted with humans, were seen in a “flesh and blood” form.

Shrouded in mystery…

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Alien Angel #5

Angels truly are a mystery that summon many questions – firstly, do they even exist at all?  And if so, what exactly are they?  Some believe they are beings of light, others say they are ‘God’s messengers’ or the souls of the deceased that guide us on our life journey.  More controversially, there are those who maintain that there is nothing “godly” about angels, and that they were simply flesh and blood beings from outside earth who perhaps arrived in flying crafts, hence the depiction of wings.

Whatever one thinks, the idea of angels has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions around the world.


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Tuning in a clearer picture of the supernatural with a pop culture twist!

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The Watchers (SPECIAL EDITION)

Watchers are a specific type of angel referred to in the Bible, apocryphal literature, Christian lore, pagan mysticism, and in various ancient records.  The following article provides a look into the some of the ideas surrounding them, beginning with how they have recently been portrayed by Hollywood.  BTW – I’ve embedded lots of links.  Feel free to explore!


Noah, the epic!

Recently, interest in the Watchers was renewed with Darren Aronofsky’s 2014 biblical epic Noah.  In the movie, they are depicted as gigantic fallen angels encased in stone (picture below).  After defending Noah and his family from the violent mob led by Tubal-cain, all of the Watchers were killed.  As they died, their angelic forms were released from their stone bodies and returned to heaven, having been forgiven by the Creator.

The director definitely took creative license with the well-known Bible story; nonetheless, he received general approval from the Christian and Jewish communities.  Several organizations expressed support for the Noah film, i.e. American Bible Society, Focus on the Family, and more.  Even Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, found it “interesting and thought provoking,” while Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an orthodox Jewish rabbi leader, hailed Noah as “a valuable film, especially for our times.”

Though Noah is revered as a prophet in Islam, Muslim support was virtually non-existent.  In many Islamic juristic schools, the portrayal of prophets is forbidden.  Therefore, the film was banned in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Indonesia prior to its release.


Who were the Watchers?

Besides being mentioned briefly in the Bible, the idea of the Watchers has been found in the ancient religious records of Sumeria, Peru, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece.  Most people are familiar with the Sumerian Anunnaki due to the History Channel’s popular hit series Ancient Aliens.  These beings were believed to have come to earth from the sky, and the Sumerians revered them as four enormous gods, known as:

  • An – (“Sky”), the source of rain and most powerful of the gods
  • Enlil – (“Lord Wind”), the power in “Growing Weather”
  • Ninhursaga – (“Lady of the Stony Ground”), mother of wildlife
  • Enki – rival of Ninhursaga

The term Anunnaki literally means “of the sky.”  Many scholars believe this term is also used in the Bible as Anakim, Anak, or Nefilim (nephilum).  In Hebrew nephilim has been interpreted to mean “giants” or “those who have fallen.”  Incidentally, the first major enemies that the liberated Israelis faced were the Canaanites, sometimes referred to as children of Anak – meaning tall, strong, and long neck.  The Israelites described them as being a fierce race of giants dwelling in massive fortified cities.  Later, during the days of King David, the most famous son of Anak was killed, his name being Goliath.

The Egyptian Execration texts of the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC) mention a list of political enemies in Canaan, and among this list are a group called the ly Anaq or people of Anaq.  The three rulers of ly Anaq were Erum, Abiyamimu, and Akirum.  It was believed that these rulers were related to the Sumerian gods, namely Enki.  Robert Graves, considered the relationship between the Anakites and Philistines (Joshua 11:21, Jeremiah 47:5), identifing the Anakim with Anax, the giant ruler of the Anactorians in Greek mythology.

For the Egyptians, the children of Anak were related to the original Watchers, who they revered as Ptah, Anubis, Osiris, and Horus.  It was believed they came to Egypt from Ta-Ur, the “Far/Foreign Land.”  The Egyptian term used for the Watchers was Neteru (“guardians”).

“Wakeful Ones”

Ancient beliefs vary from one culture to another, but all seem to agree that Watchers were a specific race of heavenly beings.  In Hebrew they were referred to as nun resh ayin, or irinim – meaning “those who watch” or “Wakeful Ones.”  When translated into Greek, the same terms appear as grigori – simply meaning “watchers.”

The early books of the Bible speak of some vague heavenly beings called malochim (singular, malach).  Although malach is usually translated “angel,” its literal meaning is “messenger.”  Therefore, it was used to describe both angelic beings and human beings.  As far as the Hebrew term irinim goes, it was only used to describe a high class of angels, sometimes characterized as “archangels,” first mentioned in the book of Daniel (4:10-14).

In apocryphal literature…

Watchers are the fallen angels who took mortal women as wives (1 Enoch 6, 19, 64, 69; Jubilees 4, 7).  Their union produced a ravenous race of hybrid offspring (nephilum/giants) who devoured copious amounts of flesh and drank “rivers of blood.”  And to make matters even worse, it is written that they corrupted humans with the forbidden arts of weaponry, herb craft, astrology, divination, and sorcery.

In the books of Enoch, God sends the archangel Uriel to warn Noah of a coming deluge… the archangel Raphael captures the rebel leader of the Watchers and thrusts him into eternal darkness… the archangel Gabriel deals with the bloodthirsty hybrids… and the archangel Michael deals with the remaining Watchers and their surviving offspring prior to Noah’s Great Deluge.  For all of this, there appears to be only one New Testament reference found in Jude 1:6.

There are many other references to Watchers found in the Jewish/Christian non-canonical writings identifying their numbers to be 200, and residing in the sixth heaven where they perform celestial music (Gedulat Moshe).  Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, they are central figures in the mythic-gnostic theology of the Qumran priests.  Within the modern Wiccan tradition, some of these gnostic views are combined with Jewish mysticism and British mythology, assigning the four leading archangels to the four directions of the heavens, and marking them with the Winter/Summer Solstices, and Spring/Autumn Equinoxes.

Any survivors?

So, there you have it in a nutshell.  Darren Aronofsky’s movie portrayal of the Watchers as “rock-monster/Transformer-types” seems a bit tame in comparison, doesn’t it?  Definitely, more could be said on the subject.  Though our understanding of the Watchers may still remain partial, it’s not for a lack of descriptive material!

I guess one thing is for certain:  to learn who or what the Watchers were or are, really depends on who you ask.  Could they have once been a large group of archangels that split and fought with one another?  Is it possible that only four survived – Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel & Michael?  Or, maybe only two survived – Gabriel & Michael?  Or, have all the leading civilizations, from antiquity to modern days, conspired to keep the truth hidden in ecclesiastical musings, imaginative writings, and Hollywood special effects?  What do you think?


Noah 2014 (1)

Watchers in the movie Noah (2014)

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God’s Name Is Charlie?

As I wrote in my previous post, when I mention “Hollywood Angels” you most likely think of Charlie’s Angels immediately. The original series debuted on ABC, September 22nd, 1976, and ran for five years producing 110 episodes.  Despite receiving mixed reviews in the beginning, the public loved the show!  And in 2000 and 2003, Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore lit up the big screen as Charlie’s spirited angels… for a new generation of angel watchers!

CHARLIE'S ANGELS 2


The original Charlie’s Angels series put on display the common cultural views concerning God and angels.  How so?  Well, first of all, the angels were attractive females.  There’s no religious or historical proof that definitively identifies angels as being feminine.  Actually, the Bible always portrays angels as male.  However, centuries of classic art have often depicted angels as womanly, leading to the popular viewpoint that angels are very feminine and attractive.  Some scholars argue that angels are viewed as feminine because they are often portrayed in nurturing, caregiver roles, commonly associated with women.  However, others take offense at this, claiming it’s a sexist viewpoint.

charlies angels -jaclyn, farah, and kate


Secondly, the three young women worked for a mysterious man named Charlie, who was rarely seen, but always heard.  He contacted them via a fancy speaker phone, providing detective and rescue assignments.  Although the women were human, they functioned as guardian angels, aiding, watching over, and protecting people in need.  Their boss, Charlie, seemed like God because he had special knowledge for his angels, he only did what was best for everyone involved, and though invisible, he was always vocally engaged.

CharliesAnglsThrottl_061Pyxurz


And lastly, to emphasize the “angel” connection, the women were frequently posed in a praying position with hands clasped together.  At other times, this pose was modified, with clasped hands forming the shape of guns to symbolize “angelic” power to fight evil with good.  Though subtle, the imagery was effective, and became an iconic pose in pop culture.  All in all, Charlie’s Angels successfully profited by combining religion with pop culture and sex appeal.

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What do you think?  Would you prefer a muscular male guardian angel with a sword and shield in hand?  Or, a beautiful female angel who knows karate and carries a 45?  America has voted… Charlie’s Angels wins a top spot!


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Beyond The Rabbit Ears

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