Beyond the Dogma: My Quest for Understanding Myself Through the Paranormal and UFOs.
There was something utterly fascinating with the bloody corpse hanging on the wall above me, a tired-looking (yet very fit, with a six pack and all) Jesus looking up in the sky, internally begging for mercy from his heavenly father. It was a scene of both the macabre and the (to be fair) erotic, a religious symbol made to both put fear, self-pity and excitement in the poor bastard who happened to study it for more than a few seconds. Those often so white eyes, bulging and crawling upwards were the most horrifying things, like the glowing eyes of an unknown entity looking at you from the seemingly endless darkness of the boy room closet.
Maybe I saw myself, but in a different way than those self-pitying and submissive born again christians I spent so much time with. I saw a creature, a cryptid. An alien! Something from the darkest depths of the universe, a mythological entity that somehow had come alive through the collective fanaticism. Being queer is in many ways like being an alien, at least at the time: no one believed in them as the different creatures to the normality they were, and also the feeling of being a UFO in a world full of boredom. It was like the subject of LGTBQ+ people by itself created conspiratorial thoughts, just like those pesky aliens always kept hidden by the government in some old underground desert facility. “Who’s gay? Is he gay? She’s a dyke? I’ve heard like guys!” and so on.
So it was a revelation to see beyond the dogma of prejudice and rigid traditions. The big difference is that I never saw that Jesus guy, with all of his symbolism attached, as a reality. Aliens, ghosts and so on; that’s a completely different thing. I might have changed my view on that, which I will explain later on in this text. First let me tell you about the most horrifying art I have ever seen.
On the wall of one of LP-Stiftelsen’s premises in Västerås, hung a painting — not an original, it was a reprint, of the rapture. A large, green landscape, empty on the ground except one or two crashed cars. However, up in the sky people dressed in white gowns were floating up towards heaven. An eerie sight indeed, and the cheap mass produced feeling just made it more creepy. To me this was science fiction, a horror tale — both apocalyptic and paranormal at the same time. While I’ve already been allowed to watch movies like Frankenstein, The Werewolf and The Mummy, I finally, through that painting, met true horror.
Horror movies have always meant a lot to me. I think I saw in them individuality, because most of them are about characters on a mission to either break free from terror, be accepted by society or just find themselves in a chaotic world. Yeah, I probably felt at home there as a non-believing “christian” kid who rather read Whitley Strieber than the bible. Once, at a so-called teenage bible camp, I brought a copy of Strieber’s Wolfen and read up in the dorm room. The youth pastor knocked on the door wondering what I was reading, and after learning the shocking fact it was about werewolves in New York, he asked me if it was good to read such literature? I answered that it’s just werewolves, and he seemed to accept that answer. Later in the evening there was a prayer meeting and the same pastor got a message from god himself that someone (that’s me) in the room was reading dangerous books and should stop doing that. I was LOLing inside, way before anyone invented LOL.
There’s a deep connection between interest in horror and the paranormal. A lot of people I know share these two interests, on a deeper or more superficial level. It’s there for sure. Along the way there during my stumbling baby steps in the horror genre I began to explore the paranormal. Immediately my fascination was drawn towards the really mysterious things, and that was flying saucers, monsters and — to a certain degree — conspiracies. Ghosts? Yeah, they’re fun, but at the time they felt too close to something christian, and I strayed away from that subject as much as possible.
These things, UFOs and critters and so on, had the uniqueness with them of separating themself from our accepted consensus reality. No matter how one would look at them, they didn’t belong among normal human beings and behavior. They were too far off into the void of strangeness to be fully accepted. That’s how I felt about myself, both as a kid growing up in conservative religious environment and queer.
To be straight to the point: the bizarre paranormal helped me find myself as a unique person, someone that refused to conform like the other kids and adults did in the shadow of their god’s very flesh and blood holy messengers: the pastor, the church board, the elders, those with a self-proclaimed authority to tell everyone else how to behave and be. Reading a UFO book, no matter the quality (I read Adamski and Von Däniken at a very young age, and still didn’t get indoctrinated in their beliefs), sent me out on a mission in my own imagination to see and understand how there’s SO much more to life than worshiping one of those authoritarian psychic vampires up in the sky.
Life was just too much fun to obey a single being (outside my mom of course). The paranormal set me free, even if the years up to now have been of very uneven quality, with ups and downs — but the interest in this subject, the high strangeness of the world, has just grown stronger for each day. “Belief is the enemy” as John A. Keel wrote, and nothing can be truer. I’ve never been a believer, more someone who accepts without falling into the trap of belief. Whatever happens, happens for a reason — no matter if it’s in your head or a tangible, physical experience. I mentioned earlier how I might have changed my mind regarding the existence of Jesus and god and such things? Well, it demands a little bit of explanation. Don’t worry. I’m still not a believer, but one thing I do believe in is the power of imagination and the human consciousness. What we imagine is real, in some way. A movie is its own reality, flimmering past us at 24 fps, stuck in a loop. A strong belief in mothman will create mothman, epsecially if many share the same belief. So with Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster etc. A highly religious person who believes in heaven and hell and all of that, might just go there after their death, or even meet, feel or see paranormal spokesentities of his or her particular choice of religion. These things might not be what they seem to be, more a projection of the person’s own belief system. Good or bad? I don’t know, it’s not up to judge that.
In the end, what matters most is the power to break free from the traps that can inhibit us from being our true selves. These traps can take many forms, such as gurus, religious figures, politicians, religions, and ideologies. They’re easy to identify, just listen after words like “trust me”, “do as I tell you”, “god first”, “jesus loves you” and many other things pointing in the illusion that there’s someone else in charge and not you.
And you are what matters in your life, with or without aliens, ufos, ghosts and monsters.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of five books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm. Join him on Twitter and Instagram.