One more Halloween-week post!
Our youngest son, Aidan, loves aliens. So for his birthday this year Jana and I decided that we'd take Aidan to Roswell, NM.
Aidan was thrilled with this idea. A friend of his at school had gone to Roswell during Spring Break and brought back pictures to show the class. Ever since, Aidan has been wanting to go to Roswell and see the aliens for himself.
For the uninitiated, Roswell is the UFO center of the world. Area 51 being the other hot spot. Roswell's reputation comes from the fact that on July 8, 1947 the Roswell Daily Record ran the following headline: RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region. Here's a picture of that headline:
Facsimile copies of the July 8, 1947 Roswell Register can be purchased all over Roswell. The Register story eventually made its way onto the news wires and got reported around the country, in big city papers and on the radio. You can read more about the Roswell UFO Incident here.
Today, downtown Roswell is a sleepy place with alien-themed streetlamps and couple of alien-themed stores to pull in the tourists and the visitors of the International UFO Museum and Research Library. We went to Roswell with the intent to do every cheesy tourist thing you could do that involved UFOs and aliens.
The funnest and goofiest stop was Area 51. The front of Area 51 is an alien gift shop:
The back area of Area 51 is a bunch of sets with aliens placed in them: A backyard barbecue, a bar, an alien autopsy room, a living room. You pose yourself in these scenes and take as many pictures as you want, being as goofy as you want. Here's Brenden in one scene:
Here's the birthday boy chilling with an alien:
Finally, here's yours truly in an outhouse, taking care of business, with an alien:
The serious UFO visitor also makes a stop at the International UFO Museum and Research Library:
The Museum is mainly, although its trying to be more, a record of the media and newspaper coverage of the Roswell incident with most of the "exhibits" being newspaper clippings hung on the wall. But there was also lots of neat vintage UFO material documenting the UFO craze in America in the 1950s and 60s. Here's Aidan looking at a circa-1950s UFO identification guide:
We also watched an interesting documentary about crop circles while at the museum. Very illuminating.
All in all, a very fun visit and our birthday boy had a blast.
But this isn't a blog about my family and personal life. This is a blog about psychology and religion. So what's the connection?
Well, in planning for our Roswell trip on the internet I came across a Christian group in Roswell called Alien Resistance that takes the position that "aliens" are actually demons. On one of their websites I found the following Q and A under the FAQ section:
Question:I think this highly important for my non-Christian readers to note. Please, if you are a non-Christian reader, don't think that invoking the name of Jesus will help you escape from an alien abduction. This only works for us Christians. Non-Christians will have to try something else. Best of luck with that.
Does invoking the name of JESUS CHRIST to stop an Abduction experience work for everyone that uses it?
No it does not. It is not a magic word. For those who have accepted JESUS CHRIST as their LORD and Master and have made a personal relationship with him it does work.
Obviously, as a psychologist, I'm just riveted by all this. The whole UFO phenomenon and the culture surrounding it. Anthropologically speaking, it's just interesting to dip into these "cultures of belief" noting how they develop, evolve and deal with skepticism. The main feature is a kind of ideological insularity, gorging yourself on the information and voices that support the worldview. And it's not just with paranormal cults. Religious groups show similar tendencies, as do secular groups. Think about how FOX News or MSNBC thrive by feeding the true-believers exactly what they want to hear. It's a universal phenomenon.
Which is why I think it so important to develop the trait of intellectual hospitality and curiosity. These are the epistemic virtues lacking in today's world, especially among many religious groups.