An oft heard  theory about Unidentified Flying Objects (“UFOs”)  is they are nothing but the  manifestation of the times.  For instance,  visions received by people prior to the modern industrial era were often religious in nature.  Famous historical examples include Joan of Arc and the children of Fatima.[1]   The visionaries lived in a world where  religion was a major factor in everyday life so their visions were expressed through that medium.

After World War II technology also became an important part of the landscape,[2] and people began to see UFOs in the sky.[3]  Over time, observers  noticed the more extreme UFO contactee episodes took on common themes. Aliens[4]  messages claimed the inhabitants of other worlds being concerned about  atomic weapons and the threat mankind posed to the rest of the galaxy and itself. These alien encounters mirrored the general concerns of people in the United States nuclear weapons could end civilization.  Americans felt vulnerable, and the aliens often delivered messages of peace and hope.

 Encounters also referenced the culture of the time, as illustrated by the following story. In the late 1950’s, the story of Valiant Thor [5], the commander of a spaceship with a three “person”   crew from the planet Venus, came to light.  His spaceship allegedly landed in Alexandria, Virginia (right outside Washington D.C.) where he used mind control techniques to force two policemen to let him go. Other stories of mind control followed, as Valiant Thor seemed to have unfettered access to the Pentagon.  He  lived there for three years, advising top officials and even meeting with President Dwight D.  Eisenhower.  Reportedly, President Eisenhower turned down the help of the Venusians in solving the world’s problems since it is the nature of mankind to struggle and progress. Valiant Thor forged a friendship with Dr. Frank Stranges,  an ordained minister and alleged biblical scholar[6] who later recounted Valiant Thor’s story.  It is at this point religious and technological themes converge. When asked where he was from, Thor claimed he was from Venus, a planet where the inhabitants were still in intimate contact with God.  After several years on Earth, and his mission seemingly completed, Valiant Thor and his crew  left.

The Valiant Thor story is a perfect example of  the use of cultural literary tropes in alien contact stories.  Isaac Asimov’s Foundation was an iconic and early science fiction trilogy. The three books[7] told the story of a vast Galactic Empire encountering its own Dark Age.  At one point, a human mutant named the Mule was able to take over the remnants of the Empire because of his ability to control minds. He could force people to do things against their will, just as Valiant Thor could.   The Asimov trilogy was first published  in short stories and then in book form  in 1951, less than a decade before Valiant Thor made his first appearance.  

The great religious writer C. S. Lewis published another trilogy that included the book  Perelandra, or Venus as we know it.  Perelandra was first published in 1943 and was  titled Voyage to Venus in a later edition. The inhabitants of Perelandra do not succumb to demonic temptation and do not fall. Accordingly, there is no original sin and all of its consequences on Venus. Perelandra is a paradise, with the inhabitants in a perfect relationship with God.  The Venusians described by Dr. Stranges come from a pristine, unfallen world. Who better to bring salvation to the inhabitants of their sister planet, Earth?

Although aliens came in many shapes and sizes, “Nordic” looking aliens[8] were in vogue during the 1950’s.  George Adamski, a famous UFO contactee[9] claimed he was visited by aliens from Venus beginning in late 1952 or early 1953.  They were attractive, Nordic-looking humanoids, just as Thor and his crew were supposed to be.  Pictures of Thor and his crew attending a party at High Bridge, New Jersey[10]  “show” they were indeed strikingly handsome and quite “Nordic” in appearance.  Even the name Valiant Thor  evokes an image of the mighty Nordic God of Thunder, Thor.Many believe in the Valiant Thor story, and it is making a comeback.  However,  I find it just too coincidental the leitmotifs of this story track  the concerns, events  and the literature of the time so well. Perhaps we will find life on Venus one day, and the inhabitants of that planet will help us deal with all of our vexing problems.  I wouldn’t quit my job, stop paying the mortgage, and wait for them though.

Addendum: This article was written well over a year ago, but in this time there has been a tremendous interest in unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP). The United States is poised to issue a report on this in June 2021. Perhaps we will all receive some clarity on this issue in the near future. Again, I wouldn’t quit my job waiting for the announcement intelligent life exists outside of the Earth.

[1] I am not making any judgement about the validity of these and other visions. For the purposes of  this article, these phenomena are offered only as examples of the theory being discussed.

[2] Some would say to the exclusion of religion.  There is not doubt the religiosity of the general population in the United States is declining.

[3] The first widely reported UFO sighting after World War II was that of Kenneth Arnold in 1947.

[4] Again, I make no comment about the reality or validity of these contact.  I do not wish to keep repeating the word alleged.  I make reference to Mark 13:14 when I say, “let the reader understand.”

[5] The name of the supposed alien is not consistent from story to story.  He is variously referred to Val Valiant Thor, Val Valiant, of Valiant Thor.  For the sake of consistency, he will be referred to as Valiant Thor for the rest of this article.

[6] One can see some of commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls on YouTube. Dr. Stranges claims the Dead Sea Scrolls were being suppressed because they had proof of extraterrestrial life.

[7] There were several later additions to the original trilogy that need not concern us here.

[8] As opposed to “grey” aliens more prevalent in later years.   An example of these can be found in Whitley Strieber’s book Communion.

[9] Adamski was eventually considered a fraud, especially as the scientific evidence mounted there could be no life on the inhospitable planet Venus.  Thor claimed the Venusians lived underground. Again, I make no judgment about these claims.

[10] This is a favorite story of mine, since I live about twenty miles from High Bridge.