In modern times, the UFO age began in 1947 when businessman Kenneth Arnold was flying his private plane and saw several "flying discs" (which were later called "unidentified flying objects.") One of the first people to allegedly travel aboard a UFO was George Van Tassel. He recorded his experiences in a book entitled I Rode a Flying Saucer! Van Tassel was allegedly one of the first earthlings to be contacted by the Ashtar Command, an intergalactic fleet, which has offered to help the earth save itself from destruction. According to a letter from Thelma Terrell, or Tuella, the current earthly director of the Ashtar Command, one of the first messages communicated to Van Tassel was "don't explode the hydrogen bomb."
Unarius is another group which has claimed contact with extraterrestrials. At the time of the Heaven's Gate tragedy, its leader Charles Speigel asserted that if there was a UFO in our solar system, they would have known about it first. Unarius believes that earth will become part of an interplanetary confederation that will be instituted when the UFOs land in 2001. They have already purchased land in southern California for a UFO base. The former head of Unarius was Ruth Norman, who was known to devotees as the "Archangel Ariel." She dressed in a starry cape and crown along with a "magic" wand. She claimed to have rehabilitated Lucifer when he was incarnated as the wicked tyrant Tyrone on a distant planet. She and her organization have published books on the history of Mars and the Orion Constellation.
Many UFO messengers claim that extraterrestrial craft will rescue people from the earth and take them to a distant planet while the earth is being refurbished. One of the wildest of these messengers is Elijah III. His ideology is a splinter of the Urantia Movement which consists of readers of The Urantia Book, a popular New Age gospel ("Urantia" is the word for "earth" used by extraterrestrials) and he says that righteous mortals will be transformed into energy, taken aboard a UFO, and taken to a planet called "Graceland" (I didn't make this up!) Here lost limbs will be restored and bodily infirmities eradicated (and you thought we'd run out of Medicare!)
After the "space brothers" restore earth, they'll beam us home again to an earthly paradise.
UFO lore sounds bizarre. It is more reminiscent of science fiction than spiritual wisdom. I discovered how "far" is "far out" when I was researching UFO messengers for a book I was writing on trance channeling. It boggled my mind when they talked of things as "telethought beams" and "intergalactic fleets" (and that they were actually serious about it!) The Aetherius Society, whose teachings are based on the teachings of the interplanetary prophet Master Aetherius and one called Goo-Ling, built towers toward which members channeled their psychic energy. This energy was collected and was released to avert international disasters caused by "black magicians." Lucky for us, the Society has rescued us on countless occasions.
In spite of the apparently lunatic fringe of UFOlogy, I don't think we should reject it altogether. I do believe that the existence of extraterrestrial life is plausible. Scientists have suggested that life, at one time, may have existed on Mars. If life exists on the distant fringes of the universe, what is it like? In the mid-19th century, editor Horace Greeley admonished, "Go west, young man." Back then, pioneers sought riches in the western U.S. and pressed on toward the Pacific. Our new frontier is the cosmos. William Shatner, in the persona of the "Star Trek" Captain James Kirk, stated that the "final frontier" is to "explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life, where no man has gone before."
Who knows what lurks in the heart of the cosmos? Nowadays, we look to the stars as our ancestors looked for gold in California. We must not, however, become so star-dazed that we neglect the needs of earth. It, rather than Mars or Alpha Centauri, is still our home.