ON THE IMPORTANCE & MEANING OF IN-DEPTH STUDY
By Charles Laurence Olivea © 2013
“The Urantia Book Fellowship Education Committee creates and fosters opportunity to cultivate high quality of thinking and to nurture the pursuit of wisdom through in-depth study of the teachings of The Urantia Book.” (Emphasis added)
This Mission Statement of the Education Committee is part of an effort to place new emphasis or value on the idea of broader and deeper study of the Fifth Epochal Revelation. It reflects the Fellowship’s Constitutional requirement that we “foster the in-depth study of The Urantia Book…centered on universe educational ideals of encouraging the development of student-teachers.”
I would take the Mission Statement and the Constitutional mandate further by suggesting they anticipate norms that emerge on the Fifth Mansion World: “At about this point the average mortal ascender begins to manifest bona fide experiential enthusiasm for the Havona ascent. Study is becoming voluntary, unselfish service natural, and worship spontaneous.” (The Urantia Book, 47: 7. 5) (Emphasis added)
Why should we wait until the Fifth Mansion World?
It seems to me that, since this revelation was given in book form, the practice of in-depth study ought to become a permanent and widespread norm of the culture of readers and students of The Urantia Book. It should be manifested in the behavior of individuals, study groups, summer study conferences, seminars or workshops and so on.
Should it not become part of the living fabric of how we learn and teach others?
The pedagogy in The Urantia Book itself invites a reader or student to think, hypothesize or question, or, when in the company of fellow students, to listen profoundly and to weigh carefully what is revealed in a follow-up reading. The revelation has been thoughtfully constructed around the need to study.
The word, “study,” from the 14th Century, was meant to denote “A state of contemplation…application of the mental faculties to the acquisition of knowledge…in a particular field…or to a specific object…careful extended consideration…or analysis of a phenomenon…or question.” The term, “In-depth,” coined in 1965, referred to a “comprehensive…thorough…study,” as in an “in-depth study.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)
In-depth study implies a shift toward programs requiring specific preparation of participants in workshops or seminars at conferences or in study groups. This ideal of studying seeks to maximize the intellectual participation of all individuals involved in small group discussion. People should be expected (as a norm) to bring their copies of The Urantia Book to discussions and to reference them to highlight or support a point or question in the flow of a conversation. All participants in workshops or study groups could benefit from reading and engaging in some reflection prior to a meeting.
As a process, it places a premium on critical thinking, listening carefully and speaking intelligently and respectfully. In-depth study does not assure a fixed or certain outcome to any particular discussion. A group may reach an hypothesis or inference, leave off with a question, or result in a desire for continued conversation at a later date.
Time ought to be viewed as our “servant,” not our “master.” We should not be in a hurry. Jesus exemplified this. The notion of “voluntary study” suggests a willingness to broaden one’s knowledge and deepen one’s insights. This must not be viewed merely as a task, but a joy to be achieved in the art of living.
Again, for us, it means an intelligent desire to listen and share with kindred minds and souls. Personal growth sooner or later requires social interaction. An individual person can study on his or her own, but to really grow, your mental and spiritual powers need to interact (eventuate) with others in a brotherly or sisterly manner. Remember that relationships between personalities – human or divine – are ends in themselves; all else is secondary. (The Urantia Book, 112:2.4) Let us be forever inspired by the great declaration, “The entire universe is one vast school.” (The Urantia Book, 37: 6. 2)