Journal of a UFO Investigator
About the Painting
John 1:51, referencing Genesis 28:12: And he saith to him, 'Verily, verily, I say to you, henceforth ye shall see the heaven opened, and the messengers of God going up and coming down upon the Son of Man.' || Genesis 28:12: And he dreameth, and lo, a ladder set up on the earth, and its head is touching the heavens; and lo, messengers of God are going up and coming down by it; [all from Young's Literal Translation]
Some suggest that DNA is the actual Jacob's Ladder. In John 1:51 above, Jesus Christ is the ladder. Some groups maintain that He is the author of DNA.
Review: A Coming of Age Novel In the Space Age.
Journal of a UFO Investigor
David Halperin, February 2011. Hardback and Kindle.
Publisher:Viking Adult, 304 ppg.
This book is so gripping that I read it in one evening, despite its length. The story is dead-on pertinent to the problem of teen suicide and adolescent transitional adjustments today. A book written for adults, it is a coming of age - and coming of sanity - story needed by middle- and high school youth in 2011 and the future.
Author David Halperin grasps his own experiences in teenaged UFO investigation and makes them the core of a highly imaginative tale. He bases it in Cold War UFO sightings and popular period literature. These publications include the early science fiction pulps like Amazing Stories and paperback novels of the 1930s - 1960s. To this he adds his own story twists and the result is a story never before seen. Forrest J. Ackerman, BJo Trimble, and her husband ("Save Star Trek Campaign") would appreciate this book as a collector's item.
The star of the novel, protagonist Danny/Dan Shapiro, is a teen determined to clasw his way up into young adulthood, despite a family and associates that would stop his progress. This is almost accepted as a given of life in the 21st C. - who doesn't have the proverbial dysfunctional family and a cadre of bullies in tow these days? We see Danny survive ages 13 - 17, with some flashbacks to early childhood disappointments, and wonder what is next after high school; but for the author, we know.
David J. Halperin investigated UFOs and the Bible, as did Dan in the teen years. In the steps up higher education in diverse places as Berkeley, NYC, and Jerusalem, Halperin became a professor of religious studies and taught Jewish history. In a fascinating specialization, he chose the study of Heavenly Ascent* (see Blake's painting above). He also produced several other books, including The Faces of the Chariot: Early Jewish Responses to Ezekiel’s Vision in 1988 -- faith-based groups have alternately labeled the wheel within a wheel as a heavenly chariot and a flying saucer.
Ezekiel 1:16, Young's Literal Translation: The appearance of the wheels and their works is as the colour of beryl, and one likeness is to them four, and their appearances and their works are as it were the wheel in the midst of the wheel.
The Old and New Testaments speak of speak of the dream, whereby angels ascend and descent between Heaven and Earth as companions and helpers for Jacob. Interestignly,. in the 1960s and perhaps previously, certain Christian groups proclaimed UFOs and extraterrestrials to be either angels or demons. In Halperin's book, the Christian pal Jeff discard's his belief in UFOs altogether.
*This concept appears also in Islam, but additionally in modern arts as well, from Cabin in the Sky to Stargate:SG1's Goa'uld.
Teen suicide is increased by the predominance of prejudices and bullying levied against genders, Blacks, Jews, aboriginals of all nations, non-athletes – dancers, non-dancers; virgins, non-virgins - even the most intelligent kids.
They are all targeted for being “different.”
Prejudices , bullying, and peer pressure hammer kids relentlessly – especially those that do not want to experience alcohol, drugs, smoking, and sex. Living in an inescapable family of intolerance and “secrets” ratchets up the pain. Many kids check out in suicide or become mentally ill, but Dan Shapiro writes for comfort, grounding, and exploration. He discovered writing therapy that would not become popular until the 1980s.
In his UFO investigations, Dan Shapiro meets several oddly advanced high school students and discovers three Men in Black that hound him in different disguises. In the 1960s, these MIB were a terrific nightmare that people did not want to encounter. Seeing them meant imminent alien abduction, “probing”, and disappearance. It meant forced sexual perversions, sometimes a fantasy of the young and old male alike, and some females. Interestingly, these three MIB in the novel recall the three Watchmen carved into the tops of many Pacific Northwest totem poles – the watchers kept a vigil and alerted the owner of the pole and attached house of attacks from the sky and land.
In life, Dan feels that he is being sucked downward into the Well of Souls of the dead (likely damed in his view) and looks for any means of ascent into a real world.
From ages 13 through 17, Dan is a non-practicing Jew among gentiles in Pennsylvania. His father had rejected his wife’s Judaism and then rejected the marriage, because of her poor health. She whines and sighs as Dad yells at Dan all evening and every weekend. Kids at school make fun of his interest in the Bible, good grades, eyeglasses, and Jewish heritage. After a school writing project concerning UFO sightings at age 13, Dan immerses himself in the subject for four years, even though his sole friend abandons it. Dan journals about the sightings from 1947 – 1967, weaving them together with his new friends, three Men In Black that chase him, and new understandings of human relationships.
In the 1960s, the MIB were a terrific nightmare that people did not want to encounter.
Space Age Coming of Age Novel
Reality and fantasy are so closely parallel in this book, they are hard to differentiate until the reader suddenly asks How is a 13-year old able to ... Why did his dad allow... How are they driving cross country...
The margin of fantasy wafts in and out unseen several times. Throughout the book, a reader thinks: Now this chapter must be real life.
As the story progresses, Dan Shapiro spends a summer in Israel, witnessing a new friend re-adopt his Jewish identity and fight in the Three Day War of 1967. The Hebrew nation struck hard and fast to win, as Dan likely wishes to do in his own life. He reconciles with estranged high school buddy Jeff, a gentile with ever differing views and more luck with girls. Dan also nearly commits suicide, but withdraws from death at the last moment. Shapiro goes on to tackle some more emotional work in that he imagines his deceased mother as a cosmic child in Heaven, ala Arthur C. Clarke's 2001, a Space Odyssey. So young again, she will always be with him. As a result of his journalling, Dan can leave home to attend college outside Pennsylvania, with his head on straighter than many college freshmen. He even offers a debriefing for readers!
This is an adult book with adult language and adult issues, but youth ages 12 or 13 and older need to experience the story and resolution. They offer possibilities to provide comfort in recognition of a shared "difference" among teens and to prevent suicide. The story is strong enough for language in spots to be ignored, but parents would be prudent to read the book first and be on hand to discuss adult issues and language.
Journal of a UFO Investigator is the best coming-of-age book to date. It reaches into the lives of Baby Boomers and explains a lot, while offering hope to 21st C. kids. The Cold War UFO Phenomenon background has not been used previously and is set in a masterpiece of writing. The Crowd Sounds Happy used a backdrop of Professional Baseball that worked in that coming-of-age memoir, but Journal targets the issues in a way that embraces the reader in high adventure. The cover of the book itself accurately imitates a high school journal and asks for the book to be opened. If you like science fiction and gritty 1960s history, reading Journal is time well spent.
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