Greetings, Earthlings: Strong Delusion in the Skies

by Jeff Plude (July 2021)


Shores of Light (detail), Buffie Johnson, 1954


The small library in my elementary school couldn’t have heldThe case really stayed with me more than a few thousand books. I was ten, in fifth grade, and I was interested in science. The Apollo launches were still going up regularly, we were still riding the crest of the moon landing a couple of years earlier. Along with the space program there was much in the air, literally and figuratively, about UFOs and so-called aliens. And one day I pulled off the shelf an unlikely book: The Interrupted Journey: A Story of UFO Abduction.

        Fifty years down the road I can hardly believe it. What was a book like that doing in an elementary school library? But now I know why. Young curious minds are a tabula rasa, and what’s written on them at that time is difficult to edit, much less erase.

        I devoured the book and never forgot it. It was the first detailed alien abduction case after World War II, which is when extraterrestrials began to captivate the culture. It was about a middle-aged couple in New Hampshire, Barney and Betty Hill, who in 1961 had supposedly been stopped as they traveled in their car through the dark forests and White Mountains of New Hampshire and taken aboard a flying saucer. (When my wife and I were driving the same route, it was so remote and dark at night that my wife and I almost hit a moose standing near the shoulder of the road.) The book was published in 1966 and was made into a TV movie in 1975, which was well done and very creepy.

        The case really stayed with me for a few reasons besides the obvious one of aliens, which fascinated my boyhood imagination. The site of the incident, near the Old Man of the Mountain, was only a couple of hundred miles from where I grew up. And my wife was born in a small town in New Hampshire just before this incident took place (which I used to kid her about, wondering if she was part of an advance contingent). I myself was born just the month before.

        So the Hill case seemed to have a synchronicity, as Carl Jung might say, with my life. Jung in fact even wrote a book in 1959 called Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies.

        But what also struck me about the case was that the Hills had no conscious memory of the event until they were hypnotized by a psychiatrist, and both recounted almost identical details at length of what seemed like an encounter with beings from the star system Zeta Reticuli, according to a map Betty Hill was supposedly shown, some thirty-nine light years away from Earth. I’m not sure if I had an inkling of what hypnosis was back then, unless I’d seen it on Get Smart or some other TV show, but it added mystery to the terror. And the Hills were an interracial couple, which was unusual back in those days.

        Well my interest in UFOs and aliens, and by extension the occult, only grew. When the movie Chariots of the Gods came out in 1973, I talked my father and our neighbor across the street and one or two of his sons around my age into going to see it. My father never went to the movies—it was the only time I’d ever been in a theater with him. So I was a convert, a total believer. I even took a philosophy course in college that was partly about UFOs called “Borders of Science.”

        Somewhere in the 1990s, after a half century of saturating the public consciousness, UFOs and aliens seemed to tail off. The Phoenix Lights appeared in 1997, when thousands of people saw UFOs for hours in the night sky above the city, but after that they seemed to fade on the popular screen. Maybe UFOs and aliens had become old news. Or maybe some goal had been met and it was time to move to the next phase. I didn’t think much about them anymore either.

        But one day a few years ago I was surfing online and I stumbled on a screenshot of a story from my hometown newspaper, maybe eight to ten column inches, dated July 27, 1965, and headlined “Flying Saucers Here??: Mysterious Objects Seen in Area Skies.” It said “one group of callers” reported seeing a silver saucer-shaped object “hovering” between 9:30 and 10 the night before for about twenty minutes near my elementary school! In other words, only about a mile from the house I grew up in! It was all too weird. Here I was, a kid reading a book about a supposed alien abduction in New Hampshire when a UFO had flown right past or over the school where I had discovered the book.

        And now UFOs, surprisingly but not too surprisingly (as John Lennon sang in “Nobody Told Me”), are back in the limelight again.

        The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was due to receive a report at the end of last month from the director of intelligence on the many sightings of UFOs involving the military since 2004. This is the first time the U.S. government has taken an official high-level interest in UFOs since Project Blue Book, the investigation by the Air Force on the phenomenon that lasted from 1952 to 1969. The New York Times has already reported that there’s nothing earth-shattering in the results. Which in turn only arouses believers in UFOs and aliens to conclude that the government is just trying to cover it all up while seeming to not cover it up. It’s reverse-reverse psychology at its finest.

        This has all come about because Senator Marco Rubio led the way to add an “Advanced Aerial Threats” provision to the Intelligence Authorization Act signed into law by President Trump last year. It officially includes what are now called “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or UAP, which has got to be one of the lamest attempts at rebranding of all time. I guess UFOs is just too sci-fi and woo-woo sounding in these days.

        Rubio, the former chairman of the committee and now vice chairman, was the only one to publicly agree to be interviewed about the matter. He said this is not about “little green space aliens” but about trying to find out who or what is threatening our military and country. (It would have been more accurate for him to say little gray or dark blue aliens, the most common colors of the creatures in the typical alien abduction report, if such a thing can be said to be typical.) So the stigma is alive and well.

        It’s interesting to me that this permanent select or special committee of congress was originally created to try to get a grip on the CIA and other intelligence-related agencies. It was called the Church Committee, after the name of the congressman who was the head of it, and formed in 1975, or “The Year of Intelligence,” as it came to be known. It investigated and reported on all the excesses and abuses committed since World War II by the people who were supposed to be spying on and subverting our enemies, not their country’s own citizens.

        The original committee uncovered the horrific activities of the CIA. Worst of all was Project MK-Ultra, which experimented with LSD and other mind-control methods that killed more than a few innocent Americans and no doubt ruined countless more lives. Even scanning a book published in 2019 called The Poisoner In Chief is enough to send the mind and conscience of any person other than a psychopath reeling. The title refers to Sidney Gottlieb, who was the mastermind behind the campaign of brainwashing and psychological torture. And if all this weren’t enough there was Operation Mockingbird, which recruited many journalists and media outlets to promulgate and perpetuate whatever lies the CIA wanted, always under the guise, of course, of national security and the ultimate good of the country.

        This CIA connection leads me to what became a revelation for me about UFOs. It wasn’t until I became a Christian (I was previously Catholic, which is not the same thing) that I discovered at last at least this much about the UFO-extraterrestrial matrix: these sightings and experiences did not stem from another planet.

        I believe it all comes from ultimately one of two sources: another plane of existence, or more plainly the angelic realm, which includes demons, who are nothing but fallen angels. Or more likely from another government-intelligence mind-control operation that was being created to ultimately fool American citizens, and citizens around the world, into thinking that there are indeed extraterrestrial beings, or humanoid life, on planets other than earth. It is ultimately satanic, whether directly or indirectly.

        That intelligent life exists on other planets, of course, would not only have huge technological implications but devastating spiritual and religious ones. This would undermine the claims in the Bible about how it says the world was created, and that God had made man in his own image. God is not corporeal but a spirit, the Bible tells us, which means that he has the moral and intellectual sense that we do, only infinitely higher and holier.

        So why would God create these other beings? The answer is that he wouldn’t.

        But the whole program, whether it comes from the demonic or political realm (which are not mutually exclusive), seems to have succeeded. A survey a few years ago found that half of Americans believe that UFOs are from another planet. And about a fifth believe in the reality of alien abduction, which seems to me to be a bit of a contradiction for almost a third of the people in the survey, since one seemingly could not be true without the other. But seeing an anomaly in the skies and seeing a willowy creature that resembles a praying mantis in your bedroom or in a flying saucer eye to bug eye is much more intimate, to say the least, let alone being kidnapped against your will and physically examined by a humanoid that can apparently do as it pleases.

        The skeptics of UFOs and aliens form a strange alliance. On one hand there are the hard-core scientists and their worshippers, or more properly materialists. And on the other hand there are true Christians who believe in the supernatural reality of God and Satan and that this is all just another delusion by the “father” of lies, as Jesus calls him, against God the Father.

        In Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, he says that in the end times just before Christ’s return to earth that God will send the unbelievers “strong delusion” to confirm them further in their unbelief, since they reveled in it, “had pleasure in unrighteousness.” I believe that UFOs and aliens may be part of that delusion.

        Billy Graham says in his book Angels: God’s Secret Agents, which was published in 1975, that some Christian writers even consider UFOs angelic. All I can say to that is that those commentators themselves are indeed secret agents, but not for God. Jung, in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections, published just before his death in 1961, has also tried to link UFOs to Christ, specifically his second coming:

A visionary rumor has even arisen which expresses expectations of redemption. The form it has taken, however, is comparable to nothing in the past, but is a typical child of the “age of technology.” This is the worldwide distribution of the UFO phenomenon.

        The cult of UFOs took off with the Roswell incident in 1947, in which it was initially reported that a flying saucer had crashed in the barren countryside of New Mexico (my wife and I visited the UFO museum there during a cross-country trek in the mid-nineties). After that, movie after movie followed about aliens, from The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951 through Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. in the late seventies and early eighties.

        But those films pale next to the one that I think has had the greatest impact of all as far as popularizing and catapulting the UFO-alien abduction motif into the stratosphere. Communion came out in 1989, and one night around that time an old friend from elementary school brought the DVD over to my wife’s and my apartment to watch it with us. It was based on the book of the same name, which came out a couple of years earlier. It starred Christopher Walken, who is not exactly known for playing an everyman, and it was quite unsettling.

        Supposedly based on a true story, the book and film were written by Whitley Strieber, who has become the sort of patron saint of the whole extraterrestrial movement. The cover on the book alone, based on a description of one of the beings Strieber says he encountered, has become a well-known image—the gray teardrop-shaped head and eyes like big black shiny almonds are now a mask, a decal, and even an emoji.

        The title says it all about the ultimate objective of all this. Satan’s original sin was his lust to supplant God as the Most High, and Communion is an unapologetic testament to that. In this regard the film goes even further than the book. At the end of the film Strieber and his wife give monologues in front of some appropriately abstract art (or anti-art, as I see it). His wife went first:

I don’t know what you saw. What does it matter? It doesn’t matter. It’s just God (smiles smugly). You saw something extraordinary. There are many faces of God. (pause) Masks of God.

        Masks, indeed, but not of God. Sounds like a page out of Joseph Campbell, another pop-culture occult guru who was all the rage around the same time. Cut to Strieber himself, who then spouted cosmic babble:

Our history is a response to their presence. They might be what the face of evolution looks like when it responds to a conscious mind.

        There’s that magic word of modernism: evolution. As far as the conscious mind goes, Communion has much more to do with the subconscious and its unreliability and manipulation. Strieber let his wife have the last word:

I think they gave us something. I do. I think they gave us a gift. You better use it.

        A gift and then some, but of a more worldly kind. And use it he surely did. Strieber has turned his experience with the “visitors,” as he calls them, into a cottage industry. Before Communion he was a relatively unknown Manhattan writer of horror novels and dystopian thrillers. Since then he has churned out dozens of books on aliens, both nonfiction (if you can call it that in this case) and fiction.

        His latest, however, seems to deviate from that, unless you consider what the ultimate objective of the whole UFO-alien agenda is. Jesus: A New Vision, according to Strieber’s website, asks: “What if Jesus really did perform miracles, including the resurrection, but that this says not that he was a deity, but that he was exercising human powers which are buried within us all …?” The occult Jesus, in other words. The fake Jesus. It’s the same old gnostic games.

        Like the Hill case that first attracted me all those years ago, the Striebers were hypnotized by psychiatrists to recover their memories of what happened to them. And again the case fascinated me partly because it was right in my backyard—this time just a few miles down the road. In the book Strieber mentions that there is an air national guard base only thirty miles away (which thirty years ago I covered as a reporter). The original so-called abductions occurred at the Striebers’ country house in the Catskills, where Rip Van Winkle took his twenty-year snooze. The American fairy tale is perhaps not unrelated; occultists have a very keen sense of symbolism. Strieber, who says he grew up Catholic, mentions several times that he was a follower of mystic George Gurdjieff and did volunteer work for his foundation.

        As I read through Communion recently, with new eyes as it were, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the descriptions of what supposedly happened to Strieber sound remarkably similar to those suffered by the victims of MK-Ultra.

        For instance: “The fear was so powerful that it seemed to make my personality completely evaporate. … ‘Whitley’ ceased to exist.” That, of course, is the classic technique that the CIA reportedly used to create “alters,” or a split in a subject’s personality by traumatizing him or her, and handlers could access that alter for information when the victim is given a trigger, or post-hypnotic cue. The novel and film The Manchurian Candidate covers some of the same ground.

        Again from Strieber: “This might be terror amnesia, or drugs, or hypnosis, or all three.”

        And: “I had a feeling of being separated from myself, as if either I was unreal or the world around me was unreal.”

        Under hypnosis, Strieber was even more explicit:

(Psychiatrist:) You said, originally, about the December twenty-sixth episode, that … if they had asked you what is your deepest secret, you would have told them right away.

(Strieber:) Right away. Yes.

(Psychiatrist:) So you had an inkling about something. That your deepest secrets were coming out.

        If this weren’t enough, Strieber in recent years has revealed that he may have been part of a mind-control program when he was growing up in San Antonio, Texas, in the late forties and early fifties. In a video on YouTube, Strieber recalls being taken to a house after day camp and being given a “Russian” teddy bear and made to repeat, with a group of other children, that “Stalin is good.” He says at one point he was taken as part of a special program for gifted children to Monterrey, Mexico, and saw kids in cages who were made to think they had killed a person. In Communion, he recalls under hypnosis being abducted by the same gray aliens and the squat dwarf gnomes in dark blue coveralls when he was traveling by train with his father and sister to visit an aunt in Madison, Wisconsin.

        The film Communion climaxes when Strieber decides to go to the aliens voluntarily and is welcomed aboard. This was not in the book, but had great dramatic effect. On the ship, Strieber asks a likeness of himself dressed in a tuxedo and posing as a magician who the supposed aliens are. When his likeness refuses to tell him, Strieber says dealing with them is like “a Chinese box.”

        I suspect it’s more like a Skinner box. Much more down to earth, yet nevertheless diabolical. The ultimate truth lies not in the stars or even in ourselves, but in the Creator of heavens and the earth and in his Son.

Table of Contents



Jeff Plude, a former daily newspaper reporter and editor, is a freelance writer and editor. He lives near Albany, New York.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New English Review Press is a priceless cultural institution.
                              — Bruce Bawer

Order here or wherever books are sold.

The perfect gift for the history lover in your life. Order on Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon, Amazon UK, or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon or Amazon UK or wherever books are sold

Order at Amazon, Amazon UK, or wherever books are sold. 

Order at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Available at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Send this to a friend