Tag Archives: Reviews

Review: UFOs – Reframing the Debate

UFOs Reframing Debate CoverReview by Eric Hoffman

UFOs: Reframing the Debate

Edited by Robbie Graham

Paperback: 300 pages

Price: $17.99

Publisher: White Crow Books (May 23, 2017)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1786770237

ISBN-13: 978-178677023

 

Robbie Graham’s collection of essays, UFOs: Reframing the Debate, is a mixed affair, with some entries being of greater interest than others.

The collection begins with a kind of back-and-forth approach between experiencers/true believers and skeptics, prefacing entries by more nuanced theorists, who look at the UFO phenomena from perspectives that are refreshingly different from the mainstream Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH)/abduction/”nuts and bolts” approaches.

Among the essays that merit close attention are Curt Collins’s thoroughly readable and engaging minute-by-minute recounting of the “Roswell slides” debacle, and the always elegant theoretical approaches of Greg Bishop, who here argues that human consciousness and perception inevitably influences both the experience and any subsequent attempts at making sense of UFO encounters, provocatively describing them as a sort of psychotropic “art project.” Red Pill Junkie’s engaging celebration of the ongoing impenetrability of the phenomenon is both thought-provoking and entertaining. Lorin Cutts proposes a “mythological zone” that exists between unexplained phenomena and its experience, while Micah Hanks helpfully unpacks the ideological underpinnings of modern-day UFO skepticism. Joshua Cutchin suggests that we move beyond materialism in our attempts to come to grips with what remains an altogether inscrutable phenomenon, and Robert Brandstetter’s decidedly philosophical essay theorizes that the UFO essentially acts as a mirror for human experience.

Regrettably, editor Graham’s inclusivity makes this collection a bit unfocused and perhaps unintentionally waters down its impact. Given that there is no shortage of writings by either devotees or cynics, of which at least one third of the essays here are curious examples, this volume would have perhaps benefited from less inclusiveness and a tighter editorial focus. Yet, even with these faults, Graham’s volume remains a useful compendium for the more novice reader, providing them with both interesting repetitions of, and welcome alternatives to, the dominant – and unquestionably stale – ETH-based mythology that continues to paralyze and impede progress in the field of ufology.

 

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Reviews of The Unseen Realm

Now that we’re ten days into the launch of The Unseen Realm, reviews are starting to pop up on the web. Here are the ones I’ve found or have had sent to me. Please read them and, even more importantly, share them on Facebook and other social media. It’s important that people you all want to read this material see reviews like these by “normal” Christians. It will encourage them to take the plunge.

This is, and will always be, a grass roots effort. Don’t fooled by the hoopla — this will only reach people if enough people like you care about the content.

 

My 52 Books review

Seeing the Unseen Realm – Redeeming God

Midwest Apologetics review

Kingdom Living review

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UFO Book Review: Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist

ET-Zeitgeist-coverTitle Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist

Subtitle Alien Contact Tales Since the 1950s
Author/s or editors/s Aaron John Gulyas
Publisher / imprint McFarland Press
http://www.mcfarlandpub.com
Year of publication 2013
Binding & Price pb $40.00
Page count 260 pp
Apparatus illus, bib., index

Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-7116-4
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-0168-7

Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist: Alien Contact Tales Since the 1950s by Aaron John Gulyas (McFarland, 2013) 260 pp., $40.00 softcover,

As author Ken Hollings has recently shown in his book Welcome to Mars (2014), the US in the 1950s, as opposed to our present day view of a decade defined by Eisenhower, the Cold War and Leave It to Beaver, was one of rampant experimentation: politically (the broadening of the Truman Doctrine and the nuclear arms race), sociologically (the development of the suburbs, automobile culture, and rampant consumerism) and culturally (Lenny Bruce, the Beats, free jazz, existential philosophy, the folk revival and French New Wave film, among others). These seeds would later ferment into the Cultural Revolution and Civil Rights eras of the 1960s.

By far one of the most fascinating and – according to author Aaron John Gulyas, a history professor at Flint, Michigan – subversive critiques of the schizoid nature of postwar America – one where technology alternately promises a utopian future or destroys everything – was that of the alien contactee movement, which aside from a few odd cases of physical, psychic or telepathic encounters (helpfully recounted here), began in 1952 with George Adamski’s first contact with Orthon, a benevolent “space brother” from the planet Venus.

Adamski's first book regarding his alien encounters.

Adamski’s first book regarding his alien encounters.

Though Gulyas remains undecided concerning the authenticity of Adamski’s claims, it seems fairly obvious, at least since Jim Moseley’s debunking efforts of nearly 50 years ago, that Adamski, with his science fiction (his novel Pioneers of Space,from which much of his later contactee claims were derived, was published in 1949) and Theosophically-influenced occult roots (he started a movement in the 1930s named “The Royal Brotherhood of Tibet” and, as with the Theosophists’ otherworldly “masters” that have throughout history made contact with and guided humanity, Adamski’s aliens originate from planets within our solar system) seemed primed to utilize the newly-minted – and then wildly popular – flying saucer mythology as a means of disseminating his decades-old message of peace, love and interstellar brotherhood.

Gulyas also discusses the religious aspects of the contactees, in particular George Van Tassel’s contact with Ashtar, George King’s Aetherius Society, Truman Betherum’s anti-establishment Aura Rhanes, George Hunt Williamson’s proto-von Däniken claims of alien influence on ancient civilizations (which, apart from the disclosure movement is currently perhaps the most culturally significant UFO subject; witness the success of the History Channel’s recent Ancient Aliens television series [2010-present]), and George Adamski visitation by the menacing, ghostly Men in Black, an encounter that occurred roughly contemporaneously with Adamski’s meeting with Orthon.

Contrasting Adamski’s benevolent, blonde-haired Orthon with Bender’s sinister Men in Black, Gulyas makes a compelling case for how contactee literature roughly approximates the dichotomous nature of that highly anomalous decade of the 1950s: an era of either utopian promise – including meetings with our advanced space brothers who will lead us into a new golden age – or dystopian nightmare. In the case of the latter, Cold War era concerns of Communist infiltration and subversiveness led to FBI investigations of US citizens, and flying saucer groups in particular. It has been speculated that the Men in Black may have been nothing more than government agents; Bender, perhaps fantasy prone or suffering from some form of paranoid delusion, imagined a routine governmental investigation into his group, the International Flying Saucer Bureau, to be a visitation from demonic, otherworldly beings.

Gulyas writes that “while the contactee phenomenon persisted through the 1970s and 1980s, the major shift in thinking was that theories of extraterrestrial visitation shifted to a much darker vision,” a vision Bender’s visitors in some ways anticipated. This vision, explains Gulyas, manifested through two main ideas: the alien abduction narrative – via the contact claims of Elizabeth Klarer (1954-1963), the abductions of Antonio Villas Boas (1957) and Betty and Barney Hill (1961), the Paul Bennewitz affair (1979-1988), Whitley Streiber’s Communion (1987), and the modern day abduction/hybrid alien claim, with its (often disturbing) sexual overtones – and the political conspiracy theory concerning governmental knowledge of crashed flying saucers and subsequent alien colonization of Earth; this was, after all, post-Kennedy assassination, post-Watergate America and governmental conspiracies became increasingly voguish. These cover-up theories, kept alive by the subsequent disclosure movement, have their roots in Frank Scully’s investigation of the crashed saucer at Aztec, New Mexico (now a largely debunked hoax) (1950), Donald Keyhoe’s speculations (1950, 1953) that the US government is engaged in a vast cover-up of alien visitation spurred by the use of nuclear warheads (in much the same way that nuclear blasts brought Earth to the attention of various Venusian and Martian beings who made contact with the likes of Adamski), Bender’s Men in Black, Adamski’s “Silence Group” (first mentioned in 1957), Frank Edwards’ best-selling books  (1966, 1967), the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico flying saucer crash as initially recounted by Charles Berlitz and William Moore (1980) and the surrounding Wright Patterson, Hangar 18 and Area 51 memes.

Albert Bender with a drawing of one of the Men in Black he encountered.

Albert Bender with a drawing of one of the Men in Black he claims to have encountered.

Much of this speculation concerning government cover-up can be traced to early saucerologist dissatisfaction with the Air Force’s explanations for the UFO phenomenon, most famously J. Allen Hynek’s “swamp gas,” and the belief that rapid advances in technology are the result of back-engineered alien machinery retrieved from various crashed saucer and/or secretive government contact made with space beings. The most sordid (and irresponsible) of theories – such as those propagated by William Cooper and John Lear in the 80s and 90s – combines government cover-up and abduction memes into one vast, overarching conspiracy theory involving aliens acting in collusion with the US government in an effort to abduct and experiment upon unsuspecting civilians, and of an ongoing interstellar warfare in which Earth has become a battlefield.

By far the most interesting – and revelatory – portions of Gulyas’ book are those chapters that trace the modern abduction and exopolitical themes of the UFO phenomenon to the contactees of the 1950s, in part because Gulyas is among the first historians to attempt to connect these contactees of the classic flying saucer era to our modern age, regarding them as similar identical cultural expressions. Previous studies, Gulyas argues, regard contactees as a product of Cold War hysteria or as new religious movements and have tended to ignore them as a useful means of examining subjects as diverse as “military policy, the changing organizational structure of the US government, popular culture [and] the use of media,” all of which are explored in Gulyas’ book. Indeed, Gulyas carefully traces the various sociocultural factors (such as Theosophy and science fiction, consumerism and Cold War politics) that contributed to the contactee phenomenon; certainly Richard Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (1950) and Ray Palmer’s “Shaver Mystery” (1945-1949) inspired the contactees as much as any silvery objects in the sky.

Gulyas contends that the contactee movement, believed to have ended in the early 1960s around the same time that the Civil Rights and Vietnam era took hold of the public’s attention, has in fact continued to the present, though like any cultural phenomenon, its features have changed with the times. Observes Gulyas, these “storytellers exist on a parallel track to the Beats, the counterculture of the sixties, the New Age movement of the 1970s, and the ennui and paranoia of the 1980s and 1990s.” With this in mind, it seems appropriate that Bender’s sinister Men in Black, and not Adamski’s Orthon, seems to have captured the conspiratorially-minded imagination of the present, from Hollywood films (Men in Black [1997] and its two sequels) to television (The X-Files [1990-1998];the time travelers on Fringe [2008-2013] are basically a modified variation).

Actors Tommy Lee Jones (left) and Will Smith as Men in Black. (Credit: Columbia Pictures)

Actors Tommy Lee Jones (left) and Will Smith as Men in Black. (Credit: Columbia Pictures)

Refreshingly, Gulyas’ Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist makes no claims to the truth of the contactee experience, yet instead offers a readable, jargon-free, well-researched and insightful analysis of the contactee’s cultural impact and continued relevance, charting its various manifestations intelligibly and authoritatively. It is a welcome addition to a handful of books offering a penetrative and balanced exploration of the psychological and sociological importance of the UFO phenomenon.

Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist can be found on Amazon.com.

The post UFO Book Review: Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist appeared first on Openminds.tv.

UFO Book Review: Haunted Skies – Volume Eight – 1980

Haunted-SkiesTitle: HAUNTED SKIES – Volume Eight
Authors: John Hanson and Dawn Holloway
Publisher: Haunted Skies Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9574944-1-1
541 pages fully illustrated.

It is difficult to know where to start reviewing this mammoth tome by John Hanson and Dawn Holloway. This is volume eight of this massive project and you simply have to applaud the authors for their endeavour if nothing else. This volume covers the year 1980. If you are one of those like me who likes ufological history then this book, and indeed the entire series is right up your alley.

The authors publish many original accounts of UFO reports from either newspapers or UFO publications and where ever possible they have done their utmost to track down those original witnesses to bring things right up to date. This book is literally stuffed with original source material of all kinds of things as well as many new full colour illustrations and photographs. The authors have tried as hard as they can to leave no stone unturned to try and bring this data to your attention.

Of course 1980 was a pivotal year in UK ufology as it was the year of the Rendlesham Forest Incident (RFI). Around half of the book alone is dedicated to this one event. The authors chronologically go through the RFI with a no nonsense, warts and all approach. Original documents are produced and the time- line of who said what, where and when is laid out for all to see. There is also the authors own research into the RFI and their contacts with some of the primary witnesses. Again all of this is supported with a large array of documents, drawing, photographs and illustrations. The book is worth reading just for this information alone. The authors also give great credit to Brenda Butler one of the original UFO investigators of the RFI.

John Hanson and Dawn Holloway.

John Hanson and Dawn Holloway.

But Haunted Skies – Volume Eight is much more than just the RFI. It is a chronological calendar of UFO events in the UK for the whole of 1980. I personally had literally only just begun my involvement in ufology in 1979 so I remember some of the events in question but by no means all of them. The book, like the seven previous volumes before it, is a treasure trove of UFO information. Irrespective of your own viewpoint of UFO’s there is something for everyone in HAUNTED SKIES.

The authors are to be compliments for their diligent and never ending work in trying to preserve this information and at the same time offer it for dissemination for anyone that is interested. The amount of time and effort that has gone into producing this work must be astronomical.

Some people may think I am biased when reviewing the book as I had the honour of writing the foreword for it, but nothing could be further from the truth. If it wasn’t up to scratch the authors know that I would say so.

I would highly recommend HAUNTED SKIES to anyone and I can’t wait to read the volumes that are to follow. I can’t say any more than that.

HAUNTED SKIES is available of course via Amazon.

The post UFO Book Review: Haunted Skies – Volume Eight – 1980 appeared first on Openminds.tv.