What do you do if you’re a man of the cloth and have a UFO-related experience? I’m not talking about a run-of-the-mill flying saucer sighting, but a middle-of-the-night visitation by a gray alien—an incident that’s repeated over and over again, with a changing cast of extraterrestrial visitors.
If you’re the Reverend Michael J.S. Carter of Baltimore, who currently serves as the minister of a Unitarian Universalist congregation in North Carolina, you try to make sense of the experience. And since you’re religiously-inclined, you don’t go to Google for answers, you turn to various spiritual texts, especially the Bible.
That’s the story behind a slim but oddly fascinating book that Carter wrote titled Alien Scriptures, Extraterrestrials in the Holy Bible, where the author first touches on his strange encounters, and then goes looking for a Biblically-based explanation.
The Alien Encounters: Unwelcome Visitors in the Night.
Carter makes it clear in the book and radio interviews that at one point he didn’t believe in UFOS or extraterrestrials. All that changed one night while he was home sleeping in bed, not in some rural setting but the middle of New York City. He writes of his initial experience:
My room was lit-up with a bluish white light—lit up as if it was daytime. Standing at the end of the bed staring at me was a being with an egg-shaped head and wrap-around eyes. It truly freaked me out. I don’t believe I have ever been that frightened in my life!
Carter’s response to seeing an alien? Like the 5-year old in all of us, he pulls the covers over his head. He then hears a whooshing sound and feels like the temperature has dropped drastically in the room. He pulls down the covers and looks again, but the being is gone.
The visitations continue for several months. The beings who drop in on him have different appearances and while most are the classic “grays”, they include a “green and scale-y, Spiderman-looking” entity. He watches as this ET “simply walks through my window and outside the building. I lived on the 15th floor at the time!”
Searching for Meaning: in the Bible.
It’s unclear what messages the visitors had to pass onto him, though for the most part they leave him with a positive, loving vibe—and he finds himself voraciously reading all the spiritual texts he can get his hands on. He gets special meaning from several passages of the Bible, which seems to reinforce his newfound belief that UFOs and aliens have been around since the beginning of man and may even be messengers sent by God. (Kind of like angels from another dimension.)
For example, Carter calls out the visions of the prophet Ezekiel as illustrated in the Old Testament (Ezekiel 1-28). In this biblical passage, Ezekiel claims to have seen “the likeness of the glory of the Lord”. But a quick read reveals that what Ezekiel actually saw was something odd indeed. Check out Ezekiel 4-6:
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, but each of them had four faces and four wings.
Carter also cites 2 Kings 2:1 where Elijas and his companion Elisha are walking together and “behold a chariot of fire and horses of fires”. To Carter’s way of thinking this is how someone unfamiliar with a UFO, and living in biblical times, might describe one. He also sees the strangely mobile star of Bethlehem as a potential UFO, as described in Matthew 2:9-11:
The star which they saw in the east went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was.
So is the Reverend a kook?
I admit his personal accounts are tip-toeing on the edge of credibility. Yet I came away convinced that something happened to the Reverend. I have written here before how our myths can sometimes come to life in weird and unexplainable ways. The Reverend may simply be one of many who has come up against something he can’t quite explain and attached his own personal meaning to it. Some see angels, he sees ETs.
It’s also interesting to note that Carter believes his encounters with the visitors have been “very positive” and have accelerated his spiritual growth. (They have also brought him some national attention, as he has become a frequent guest on the History Channel program Ancient Aliens.) It has also sharpened his religious and spiritual beliefs.
There is an afterword in the book titled “Lessons from my Contact Experiences on Life and Spirituality”, where Carter offers several compelling insights. I have pulled out my favorite bits and put them in the list you see below.
10 Life Lessons from Reverend Michael J.S. Carter.
- I have come to know that what we call “god” is really an Energy…a Spirit…a Source of all Consciousness…and that we are a part of this consciousness.
- We can tap into this consciousness, if we are willing to, by just sitting still, through meditation and prayer.
- This Energy/Consciousness/Intelligence moves through us, in us, and as us. It is all there is. There is no where we can go where this Source is not present.
- Recognizing the connectedness of our planet and the universe is the first step in becoming mature spiritually, or in cultivating an inner life.
- We all have a mission that we come to this planet to fulfill. Our younger years may be used in just trying to figure out what that mission is.
- Of course, we can choose not to fulfill that mission. But if we choose to accept it, a good part of that mission is to learn to love and to forgive, oneself as well as others.
- Thoughts are things. If you think that life is #$@&%*! and then you die, that is just what life will mirror back to you. We attract to ourselves what we are.
- All the answers you need are inside of you. Because all that is Consciousness is inside of us.
- There are as many paths to God as there are people who walk those paths.
- We might see God not as a person, distinct and separate from the material world, but rather as a spiritual reality in which all life participates.
This post previously appeared on my Wake Up Call column at Patheos, October 31, 2014.