As many of you will know, the mystery of the Men in Black is one which has fascinated me for years. It’s a subject that quietly began in the late 1940s – but which really took off in the early 1950s. It was all as a result of the creepy encounters of Albert Bender, a resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who established the International Flying Saucer Bureau. Not long after, Bender closed it down: he was threatened by a trio of strange characters dressed in black, and who literally materialized in his attic-based abode. While I have given my views on Bender in my various books on the MIB, it’s always good to get the views of others too. Which brings me to Ray Boeche – UFO researcher and priest – who I interviewed to get his views on the matter of Bender and the Men in Black. Ray told me the following, which I present without interruption:
“I was actually in touch with Albert Bender in the early to mid-70s, which was years after his Men in Black experience. This was in California, when he was involved in helping preserve the work of film composer Max Steiner, and he just would not discuss it: the experience, the Men in Black, none of it. It had obviously affected him.
“I was a kid when I was first in contact with [Gray] Barker [controversial writer/publisher on the paranormal, and a friend to Bender] , and stayed in contact right up until a few months before he passed away. He was always helpful on the phone and in correspondence; he was a very amenable guy. From the contact and conversations I had with Barker, I do think something happened with Bender. Just how much of the actual written account we have is confabulation and how much is exaggeration, I don’t know. But something did happen to Bender, and it may very well have involved FBI agents. And, I tend to think that Bender’s experience was precipitated by a visit from someone in the government.
“Bender may well have been visited by FBI agents. And that whole image of black suits and threats that were possibly playing on Bender’s mind may have dictated how these forces, Bender’s MIB, appeared for him as his involvement with the occult proceeded and he had the experience in his bedroom. He did have a longstanding fascination with the occult, and I think that the FBI visit could have had a definite impact on how he might have experienced these other things, and how ‘they’ might have appeared to him in a context that would serve their ends: the dark suits and hats. There’s a distinct possibility that the phenomenon was pulling this imagery – the FBI agents, black suits, and their visits and warnings – out of Bender’s subconscious and masquerading as something connected to the saucer people to lure him further into the occult.
“There’s a lot we can take from some of the early research into psychedelics, where the major thrust of what type of experience the person would have would be dictated by mindset and setting. And I think that ties into the Bender story, in a sense. I think there’s this idea that if we open ourselves to outside influences – I’m speaking in spiritual terms here – or we seek contact or an experience with an alien, then you assume it to be that – an alien – if and when it appears. It may not be what it purports to be. I think these forces can play on our own mental predispositions of what we expect we see.
“I have always thought that one of the most important things that John Keel ever said was that if you have kids or teenagers, this is not something to encourage them to get involved with. Keel was a pretty dyed-in-the-wool atheist. But he understand that, at some level, there’s something, in some sense transcendent over us, that can, if nothing else, ‘mess’ with us. And it can cause a lot of damage.
“Sometimes, I think I’m singing a one-note song with this, from a Christian perspective. I would not consider myself theologically liberal or a theological fundamentalist. My beliefs are solidly orthodox, and rooted in my view of the Bible as God’s inerrant Word. But there are things that we just aren’t equipped to deal with from a mechanistic, naturalistic worldview. There are malevolent forces out there that will be happy to take advantage of just about any opening we give them. And, so, we need to be very cautious. I tend to think that may be what happened to Albert Bender, but he might not have been so cautious.”