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Dave Holt

  • 2015-09-08 9:55 AM | Dave

    The school year is back in full swing. I am tutoring several students a week in History, English, Grammar, even Religion (with my Catholic school student). Many times I reflect on how much “the kids” have taught me over the past year. “The true teacher maintains his intellectual integrity by ever remaining a learner." (The Urantia Book, The UB, 130:3.7)

    Their natural interest in human rights, the “narrative of human tolerance,” and the ideals of fairness upon which our Western civilization was founded inspires me. I wonder if they too feel the threats to it, if they question whether our institutions are working well, protecting the human rights that have been achieved. For example, this current hot topic, “If men would maintain their freedom, they must, after having chosen their charter of liberty, provide for its wise, intelligent, and fearless interpretation to the end that there may be prevented … Failure of social and economic fairness.” (The UB, 70:12.6-16)

    This teaching experience has been so fascinating and rewarding that quite naturally I wanted to reread The Urantia Book, Papers 130 to 133, about “the mission of Joshua the teacher,” where we enjoy the privilege of observing up close his service as a tutor from a box seat courtesy of the midwayers. In his 28th year (A.D. 22), on a visit to Jerusalem, Jesus was hired on as both tutor and interpreter for Ganid, the son of Gonod, an Indian merchant. It was a journey that would last almost two years.

    Here are just some of the lessons about ideas, ideals, and higher ways of thinking and behaving that Jesus set out to reinforce in his 17 year old protege as they sojourned at Rome and other cities of the Mediterranean. In this personal ministry, Jesus tried out many ideas he would later use in the public ministry that he would begin upon his return to Israel.

    Show sympathetic understanding, initiate conversations, “To become acquainted with one’s brothers and sisters, to know their problems and to learn to love them, is the supreme experience of living." (130:2.6)

    Lead a life of friendly and loving service: He taught Ganid his technique of making friends. “Become interested in your fellows; learn how to love them and watch for the opportunity to do something for them which you are sure they want done," (130:7.2) so refreshing in our time when dog-eat-dog competitiveness is becoming the norm in the business world.

    Guide seekers into doing the will of God, into making “wholehearted” decisions, spiritual choices. In answering Ganid’s question about whether a dog had a soul, Jesus said, “Human wills which are fully occupied with passing only upon temporal decisions having to do with the material problems of animal existence are doomed to perish in time. Those who make wholehearted moral decisions and unqualified spiritual choices are thus progressively identified with the indwelling and divine spirit, and thereby are they increasingly transformed into the values of eternal survival—unending progression of divine service." (130:2.9)

    Live the truth and thus lead others to living a spiritual life. “You, my son, will be like this lighthouse [in Alexandria] when you return to India, … you will become like the light of life to those who sit about you in darkness, showing all who so desire the way to reach the harbor of salvation in safety.” (130:3.2) Ganid squeezed his hand in acknowledgement, saying, “I will.”

    All those who know the way of truth and enjoy the assurance of knowing God should esteem it a privilege, not a duty, to offer guidance to their fellows in their efforts to find the satisfactions of living.” (132:6.1)

    I’m often not consciously aware of such opportunities in my own work except that I’m always ready to give my students an education in religious history they haven’t received anywhere else.

    Later in Rome, Jesus reinforced this message when Ganid was surprised that they passed a “thoughtless pagan” without making conversation as he frequently did. Jesus explained that the man was “not hungry for truth.” “If we know God, our real business on earth is so to live as to permit the Father to reveal himself in our lives, and thus will all God-seeking persons see the Father and ask for our help in finding out more about the God who in this manner finds expression in our lives.” (132:7.2)

    Guide others to the safety and security of a life with God: “Did we not supremely enjoy this ministry of restoring the child to his mother? So do those who lead men to God experience the supreme satisfaction of human service.” And from that day forward, for the remainder of his natural life, Ganid was continually on the lookout for lost children whom he might restore to their homes.” (132:6.1)

    Discern the universal truth in the many paths taken in all religious teachings and revelations: As “they discussed again and again all the religions of the world,” Jesus tried “to point out to this young mind the truth in each” (130:3.4). Ganid was inspired to make “a collection of the teachings of the world’s religions about God and his relations with mortal man.” At his father’s expense, Ganid employed several translators to make an “abstract of the religious doctrines of the world.” (131:0.1)

    I can’t help wondering if “Ganid’s manuscript … prepared at Alexandria and Rome, and … preserved in India for hundreds of years after his death,” (131:0.2) will one day be discovered. [Note: Matthew Block’s source research identifies Robert Ernest Hume’s Treasure-House of the Living Religions as the parallel to “Ganid’s manuscript.”]

    My students sometimes experience conflict about what direction to take in their “earth careers.” They are about to choose between a materialistic profession or making the idealistic choice to serve humanity. We see how old this primal conflict is, once again, a father urging his son to get a good-paying job. Ganid’s father comments one evening, "I propose to make a scholar or a businessman of my son, and now you start out to make a philosopher or philanthropist of him." And Jesus smilingly replied: "Perhaps we will make him all four; then can he enjoy a fourfold satisfaction in life as his ear for the recognition of human melody will be able to recognize four tones instead of one." (132:6.3)

    Above all, be of good cheer! “You are born into the world, but no amount of anxiety and no manifestation of impatience will help you to grow up. You must, in all such matters, wait upon time. Time alone will ripen the green fruit upon the tree. Season follows season and sundown follows sunrise only with the passing of time. I am now on the way to Rome with you and your father, and that is sufficient for today. My tomorrow is wholly in the hands of my Father in heaven.” (130:5.3)

  • 2015-08-20 9:53 AM | Dave

    Our household was troubled recently by the news of two suicides among the youth of our city. One was a co-worker and close friend. Another sad outcome at the same time was the shooting death resulting from a married couple’s quarrel in the very same city neighborhood. These waters were further roiled by a Facebook posting I saw that same week from a young person asserting the old claim, “God is dead.” Again and again, we push away the very source of the peace we might find for troubled minds and souls, a healing love that could start as a ripple in our small pond before its orbit grew into a wave that traveled out to the world.

    “The world is filled with hungry souls who famish in the very presence of the bread of life; men die searching for the very God who lives within them.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 159:3.8) 

    Krishnamurti taught us to seek to end violence in our own hearts before condemning violence in the world, “Let us come back to the central issue - is it possible to eradicate violence in ourselves?” (Freedom From the Known, Ch. 6)

    If we did have an ideal of non-violence and a belief in non-violent solutions to our problems, it is fading away under the greater noise of gunfire.

    “Is there a difference between individual anger, with violent action on the part of the individual, and the organized hatred of a society which breeds and builds up an army to destroy another society? … We know what violence is without expressing in words, in phrases, in action. As a human being in whom the animal is still very strong, in spite of centuries of so-called civilization, where shall I begin? Shall I begin at the periphery, which is society, or at the center, which is myself?”

    (J. Krishnamurti,

    “Happiness and joy take origin in the inner life.” (The UB, 111:4.7)

    Too often, the world does not love and that is what wears us down. Is that why there are so many shootings? Those with little or no active spiritual life, and who have few moral persons as acceptable role models, are vulnerable to violence. People hunger for spiritual realities, are “famished” partly because our civilization may be losing its vision of what is real and authentic. The socially approved goal of material acquisition does not inspire one. It provides only transient happiness. So people become desperate. Often they want to strike back. Some turn to suicide as a solution, sometimes taking others with them in a kind of retaliatory act.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I see that my students, not yet mature young adults, respond to ideals preserved in our democratic history and freedoms. They express them freely, hopefully, seemingly fearlessly, yet they too are torn this way and that by differing, conflicting messages the society broadcasts far and wide. What to do? Do they succumb to the pressure of families and peer groups pushing them into materialist goals, good jobs with high salaries? Or do they follow a flickering instinct, a “still small voice” advocating service to a good cause that would fulfill their desire for a meaningful life?

    Ideals are born in the inner life, The UB tells us (111:4.10). “Meanings are nonexistent in a wholly sensory or material world. Meanings and values are only perceived in the inner or supermaterial spheres of human experience.” (111:4.2)

    More than ever, people need to establish a routine of visiting a quiet space for contemplation, where one can hear the voice of the spirit, and seek an understanding of what is communicated between a striving soul and its higher power. We need a method of discovering what is meaningful and important, of selecting wisely from the information pouring into our minds in an ever-increasing torrent. We need a truth and meanings and values filter. The lack of being in touch with spiritual reality is undoubtedly a reason why governments, businesses, and financial systems seem to veer out of control, close to a cliff.

    “Mental prayer is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” Teresa of Avila (The Interior Castle, 1577)

    The Urantia Book offers responses to the many questions Krishnamurti raised about what to do with violence in his times on Earth, 1929-1986. They are similar to answers he himself shared. “Since this inner life of man is truly creative, there rests upon each person the responsibility of choosing as to whether this creativity shall be spontaneous and wholly haphazard or controlled, directed, and constructive. How can a creative imagination produce worthy children when the stage whereon it functions is already preoccupied by prejudice, hate, fears, resentments, revenge, and bigotries? (111:4.9)

    “Personal, spiritual religious experience is an efficient solvent for most mortal difficulties; it is an effective sorter, evaluator, and adjuster of all human problems. Religion does not remove or destroy human troubles, but it does dissolve, absorb, illuminate, and transcend them. True religion unifies the personality for effective adjustment to all mortal requirements.” (196:3.1)

    In our information overloaded society, let us look for ways to connect young people to a feeling of reverence for spirit reality, a renewed one with nature, even a practice of communion with the spirit guide within, their own personal experience of a shared “inner life” with God (111:4). We can do it together by taking nature walks, hiking a trail, visiting a beach, singing an uplifting song when sitting down to a shared meal. We can delight in the accomplishments of the past with a visit to a museum. Take one of these many paths to healing. Or blaze a new trail.

    “Future generations shall know also the radiance of our joy, the buoyance of our good will, and the inspiration of our good humor. We proclaim a message of good news which is infectious in its transforming power. Our religion is throbbing with new life and new meanings. Those who accept this teaching are filled with joy and in their hearts are constrained to rejoice evermore. Increasing happiness is always the experience of all who are certain about God.” (159:3.10) 

  • 2015-08-13 9:51 AM | Dave

    “He who sees the many, the diverse and not the one, the unified, wanders on from death to death.” (Katha Upanishad, Part 4.)

    Maybe God is like a jigsaw puzzle and someone knocked over the puzzle table during a quarrel, scattering the pieces into far corners of the room, bits of insight, revelation, and philosophic understanding cast far and wide. Some were dropped in Iran or India, others strayed into China or Persia, or became lodged in the mud of the Mississippi Bible Belt. I’d like to see it put back into a whole coherent picture again.

    So many gurus, new age visionaries, revelations, and spiritual groups have proliferated in California, like the famed salad bars that were once everywhere. Someone even invented the term “salad bar spirituality,” to describe those who take what they want and leave the rest. I was being introduced to a lot of new thinking -- Gurdjieff, A Course in Miracles, Seth Speaks (Jane Roberts), the Perfect Master AKA Guru Maharaji, The Urantia Book, (The UB), The Essene Gospel of Peace, and other lesser knowns. There were odd churches all over the place, unlike any I’d grown up with, all promulgating their message, some adding themselves to the list of older revelations made by Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and Joseph Smith, just to name a few.

    I’ve found it advisable to add a testing system with operating instructions to the Truth Seeker Guidebook, one to verify claims made by all these competing truths and revelations. If facts, logic and spiritual intuition aren’t used to check our experiences, we may fall into a swoon of enchantment over an idea that turns out to be someone’s mistaken fantasy.

    “Never … can either science or religion, in and of themselves, standing alone, hope to gain an adequate understanding of universal truths and relationships without the guidance of human philosophy and the illumination of divine revelation.” (103:6.5)

    “Science is man’s attempted study of his physical environment … religion is man’s experience with the cosmos of spirit values; philosophy has been developed by man's mind effort to organize and correlate the findings of these widely separated concepts into something like a reasonable and unified attitude toward the cosmos.” (103:6.9)

    Of course, one can play it safe and avoid all unconventional religious movements. Certainly many did, but that was not to be my modus operandi. I was seriously looking for truth, willing to check out everything. Thus I became seriously entangled in a cult once, yet managed to get out of it with my sanity and life intact, and most of my money.

    I didn’t decide I needed to write the story of my spiritual journey until there was an unusual meeting in the 1990s. Truth seekers who’d traveled to California from Lithuania and Estonia were staying with friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. They came by to meet us because one of the women was a singer and we were musicians. I was skeptical about how they were proceeding with their spiritual search. Too much mysticism, crystals, star charts, and magic rocks for my liking. That’s what I told my wife but she pointed out how wrong it was for a comfortable Protestant American like me to judge their experience harshly from a place of supposed superiority. The Truth Seeker Guidebook would instruct us to never do that.

    Regarding the mystery-cult leaders of Rome, “this was his [Jesus] method of instruction: Never once did he attack their errors or even mention the flaws in their teachings.” (130:0.4)

    Shortly after the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, dormant nationalisms were rekindled. Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia (1991). The Eastern European region was in the midst of the death and chaos of the Bosnian Civil War, a time when every tombstone in the Bosnian graveyard had the year 1993 etched on it, as someone said once.

    There were religious repercussions to the restructuring of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). People living in the Soviets under Communist rule had received no religious training or spiritual instruction for several generations. After the collapse of the USSR, the number of those identifying as Orthodox Christian more than doubled. However, Eastern Europeans were still hungry for knowledge and truth from any source whatever. They investigated everything just as I had done. Part of my wife’s wise advice was to recall that the same profligate sampling characterized our spiritual searches just a couple of decades before.

    The Russian and Eastern European situation inspired me to put my own spiritual journey into words, thus I created a chronicle of my wanderings. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a physical event, easier to see, but we had a wall that came down too, the invisible wall of protection built by Western cultural traditions. The effects were not so recognizable to everyone at first. After I disassociated myself from the traditional church of my youth, I began exploring spiritual reality without the benefit of experienced religious authorities.

    Most of the time finding my own spiritual center was a slow process, a gradual gleaning of insights with a few personal revelations thrown in, whatever might jump-start a stalled car. Eventually, I did experience a “suddenly” as described in the UB’s evolutionary history, an all-at-once kind of revelatory experience. It was followed by my introduction to The Urantia Book two years later by the woman I later married.

    If someone were to sew a patchwork quilt of my journey, there would be patches representing the Christian, the yogi, the philosopher, the Buddhist and mystic. Rejecting nothing that might have value, I pause even to examine what has been discarded, for something may still be found there in the windblown, forlorn, heretical, unwanted scraps...

  • 2015-08-01 9:48 AM | Dave

    A couple of weeks ago, while in Los Angeles, Chappell and I went to the Huntington Museum’s current exhibit, Magna Carta, Law and Legend, 1215-2015. The Huntington (1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino) is displaying the 13th century draft in its possession, along with several other foundational books and ancient charters. Inspired by my students, and their interest in the human rights and freedoms advocated in Enlightenment philosophy, we went to see what inspired “the founding fathers” of the American nation to write the Declaration of Independence. The kids are sensitive to the forces that conspire to undermine civilization, the oligarchs, the jihadists, and other thieves. The question we must answer again, as we are called to protect our heritage: Who is civilization for?

    Around 1250 B.C.E., Mycenae, Tiryns and other sites in Greece were simply abandoned after an invasion of “northern strangers,” as a tablet from Pylos called them, perhaps also because of attacks from the Sea Peoples, a coalition of groups that included the Philistines. The population of Greece declined by about 75 percent and the refugees resettled as far away as Cyprus.

    Mycenaean kingdoms were highly centralized, with elaborate bureaucracies of scribes and groups of arts and craftsmen, but the cities and the workshops disappeared. Small, poor, agricultural villages took their place. Crete suffered a similar major decline in population as people abandoned coastal areas because of attacks from the sea. Easily defensible positions were found in the hills and new settlements built. Without palace bureaucracies to maintain it, the knowledge of writing was lost. A “Dark Age” descended over the entire Aegean region for about the next 1,000 years.

    Centuries later, a new civilization was founded upon the accomplishments of the Greeks. “All the art and genius of these [Greeks] is a direct legacy of the posterity of Adamson, the first son of Adam and Eve, and his extraordinary second wife,” [Ratta] (The Urantia Book, The UB, 80:7.5).

    “The Romans bodily took over Greek culture, putting representative government in the place of government by lot. And presently this change favored Christianity in that Rome brought into the whole Western world a new tolerance for strange languages, peoples, and even religions.” (The UB, 195:2.1)

    Magna Carta and Constitutionalism

    Brittania was a province of the Roman Empire until the year 410, “And these Romans were a great people. They could govern the Occident because they did govern themselves. Such unparalleled honesty, devotion, and stalwart self-control was ideal soil for the reception and growth of Christianity.” (The UB, 195:2.4) After Rome’s departure, and further invasions of Germanic and Viking tribes, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England was born, a polyglot nation, the birthplace of our democratic principles and government.

    The movement to establish human rights and freedoms, to enshrine them in law, fascinates the young people I am tutoring. They have a natural curiosity about Rousseau (The Social Contract), John Locke (Two Treatises of Government … a copy of which was in the exhibit), and the Magna Carta. This English “Great Charter” was the first step in establishing constitutionalism, a set of norms whereby the principles of government, the limits of authority and the rule of law are defined in a document. In the eight centuries since its first appearance, the Magna Carta’s example has been followed around the world.

    “As a peace treaty intended to ward off civil war, the original Magna Carta was a short-term failure, revoked later that summer,” said Mary Robertson, co-curator of the Huntington Library exhibit. “But it was remembered, revised, and reissued the following year and given permanent authoritative form in 1225 by King John’s son, King Henry III … three of its key principles—that no one is above the law, that justice may not be sold, denied, or delayed, and that no man may be imprisoned or his property confiscated without due process of law—have continued to resonate down the centuries.”

    Spiritual Idealism, The Driving Power of Civilization

    “The driving power of even the most material aspects of a cultural civilization is resident in the least material of society’s achievements. Intelligence may control the mechanism of civilization, wisdom may direct it, but spiritual idealism is the energy which really uplifts and advances human culture from one level of attainment to another.” (The UB, 81:6.27)

    The current warnings and fears about civilization’s ability to endure are similar to alarms we raised as young hippies in the 70’s.  Back then, much as now, we saw the same environmental destruction, inequalities between the races, inequities afflicting men and women (hence the community), and excessive materialism. Our answer to these problems was a quest for a spiritual quality of life. But the hippies gave up, silenced their protests at the end of that decade and went back to work with the system as it was being run.

    In our time, we stand on the shoulders of many thinkers from previous decades. In his book, The Source of Human Good, philosopher Henry Nelson Wieman, also a well-known source author of several of “The Urantia Book” papers, along with his spouse Regina Westcott-Wieman, made a summary statement in his conclusion. Its validity will one day be recognized:

    "There is a creative power in history which is able to conquer and to save, but it is not any power of man, even though it works through man. In all times, both good and ill, man must live under its control if history is to be fruitful."

    This “creative power” is found within, “The advances of true civilization are all born in this inner world of mankind. It is only the inner life that is truly creative.” (111:4.3) Per the UB creativity comes from consciousness of partnership with God, becoming “a willing partner with the Adjuster.” (110:2.2) “When man goes in partnership with God, great things may, and do, happen.” (132:7.9)

    “Without the presence of moral insight the advance of science becomes the menace of humanity. Morally untempered, it promises only universal destruction to that fragile plant which we call human life and civilization. It is needless to point out that, though facts might remain after such devastation, science itself would be destroyed, if not forever, at least until the birth of a new race whose moral achievement should walk hand in hand with their scientific progress.” (Ralph Flewelling, Creative Personality, 221)

    Here is how Albert Schweitzer, German physician and theologian, expressed it. “One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history. The question is, shall we make world history or only suffer it passively? Will our thinking again become ethical-religious? Shall we again win ideals that will have power over reality? This is the question before us today.”  (Religion in Modern Civilization, Christian Century, 21 November, 1934)

    “The ‘real movement’ of history, it turns out, is fueled not by matter but by spirit, by the will to freedom.” (Gertrude Himmelfarb, U.S. historian, in On Looking Into the Abyss)

       Our society since the day of these philosophers has become more secular and materialistic, so much so that many despair our civilization has discarded the idea of, the importance of, a spiritual foundation. History shows that this is a mistake if we want to preserve it and endure. It would be inspiring to see a real in-depth study made of spiritual idealism as a foundation of character, our best leadership, and thus our civilization’s future.

    “The New and Mighty Charter for Human Freedom”

    Civilization has often had institutional religion as its driving force. In our era when institutional religions are failing to command the loyalty of citizens, even contributing to war, we need a true system of ethics, a personal philosophy of religion based on the idealism of its citizens, and a credo asserting the value of the individual.

    “This Roman citizen [the Apostle Paul] proclaimed to these Greeks his version of the new religion which had taken origin in the Jewish land of Galilee. They had a common goal—both aimed at the emergence of the individual. … The Greek, at social and political emergence; Jesus, at moral and spiritual emergence. The Greek taught intellectual liberalism leading to political freedom; Jesus taught spiritual liberalism leading to religious liberty. These two ideas put together constituted a new and mighty charter for human freedom; they presaged man's social, political, and spiritual liberty. (195:1.1)

    The Magna Carta exhibit runs until October 12th at the Huntington Library’s West Hall.

  • 2015-07-13 9:45 AM | Dave

    “Ordinary dreams are not the methods employed by the personalities of the spiritual world when they seek to communicate with material beings.” (86:5.11)

    John Zebedee’s “presentation” must have been more than a dream. The Urantia Book (The UB) refers to John’s experiences as “presentations,” an interesting term for what happened, one that suggests he was transported by some means to view what they wanted “to present” to him. Not surprisingly, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (KJV), the final book of the Bible, is the most otherworldly and mysterious book in the Christian canon. It gets a good review in The Urantia Book (The UB). The statements it makes awakened my curiosity to learn more about Revelation, take it more seriously, study the text more closely, and rediscover the marvel it is. The Revelation of St. John was one of the major remaining sources of the history of the Lucifer rebellion before the publication of The UB. See Paper 53:7 for “History of the Rebellion.”

    “The problems associated with human existence on Urantia are impossible of understanding without a knowledge of certain great epochs of the past, notably the occurrence and consequences of the planetary rebellion.” (67:0.1)

    Christians debate authorship of the book. Some believe Paul was the author. Scholar Elaine Pagels describes him in her book as an “exiled Jewish mystic.”  The UB confirms the fact, disputed here on Urantia, that the exiled mystic on the Isle of Patmos was Jesus’ disciple John Zebedee, John the Revelator as he’s known in the traditional American gospel song.

    “When in temporary exile on Patmos, John wrote the Book of Revelation, which you now have in greatly abridged and distorted form. This Book of Revelation contains the surviving fragments of a great revelation, large portions of which were lost, other portions of which were removed, subsequent to John's writing. It is preserved in only fragmentary and adulterated form.” (The UB, 139:4.14) Doesn’t this make you wish we could somehow find and restore the whole text?

    Here are just a few of the revelations that The UB adds concerning John’s great work. “The Book of Life” which appears in five verses of Revelation: 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 20:15 is revealed in The UB, not as a book, but as a previously unknown angelic group, “The Custodians of Knowledge.” “The superaphic custodians of knowledge are the higher "living epistles" known and read by all who dwell on Paradise. They are the divine records of truth, the living books of real knowledge. You have heard about records in the "book of life." The custodians of knowledge are just such living books.” (The UB, 27:5)

    The Seven Spirits Before the Throne of Revelation 4:5 are described in The UB as, “The seven adjutant mind-spirits … the creation of the Divine Minister of a local universe. These mind-spirits are similar in character but diverse in power, and all partake alike of the nature of the Universe Spirit … These are the ‘seven spirits of God,’ ‘like lamps burning before the throne,’ which the prophet saw in the symbols of vision. But he did not see the seats of the four and twenty sentinels about these seven adjutant mind-spirits. This record represents the confusion of two presentations, one pertaining to the universe headquarters and the other to the system capital. The seats of the four and twenty elders are on Jerusem, the headquarters of your local system of inhabited worlds.” (34:4.9 – 13) Note here the last two sentences which make the reference to what John experienced as “presentations.”  

    The Four and Twenty Elders of Revelation 4:1-6 have fascinated us through the ages. Perhaps one reason is that they took up their present positions “surrounding the throne,” subsequent to first having lived prestigious lives on Earth. Read a fuller discussion in The UB, all of Paper 45, section 4, (also in two of my previous blogs on this site about "The Four and Twenty Counselors").

    Resurrection is discussed in Revelation 7:13, “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.” (Revelation 7:13)

    The UB expands on the meaning of the white robes traditionally associated with spiritual luminosity. They replace the “coarse vestiges” of our material bodies. “The shadow of the mortal nature grows less and less as these [morontia] worlds are ascended one by one. You are becoming more and more adorable as you leave behind the coarse vestiges of planetary animal origin. "Coming up through great tribulation" serves to make glorified mortals very kind and understanding, very sympathetic and tolerant.” (47:8.7)

    We learn more about the Four Beasts of Revelation 4:7-8 (The UB, 34:4.12-13, same as above). “But it was of Salvington that John wrote: "And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices"—the universe broadcasts to the local systems. He also envisaged the directional control creatures of the local universe, the living compasses of the headquarters world. This directional control in Nebadon is maintained by the four control creatures of Salvington, who operate over the universe currents and are ably assisted by the first functioning mind-spirit, the adjutant of intuition, the spirit of ‘quick understanding.’ But the description of these four creatures—called beasts—has been sadly marred; they are of unparalleled beauty and exquisite form.” (The UB, 34:4.12-13)

    Then there’s the Sea of Glass, the Mark of the Beast: “John the Revelator saw a vision of the arrival of a class of advancing mortals from the seventh mansion world to their first heaven, the glories of Jerusem. He recorded: "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and those who had gained the victory over the beast that was originally in them and over the image that persisted through the mansion worlds and finally over the last mark and trace, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God, and singing the song of deliverance from mortal fear and death." (Perfected space communication is to be had on all these worlds; and your anywhere reception of such communications is made possible by carrying the "harp of God," a morontia contrivance compensating for the inability to directly adjust the immature morontia sensory mechanism to the reception of space communications.)” (The UB, 47:10.2)

    The best known source for the history of the War in Heaven is Revelation 12:1-17 (and reiterated in The UB 53:5, and 53:7), a famous poem that some have forgotten:
    “3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

    The UB confirms the history behind the marvelous poetic image of the dragon’s tail. “Of the supreme order of seraphim, not an angel was lost … But the terrible breakdown came in the fourth group, the administrator angels, those seraphim who are normally assigned to the duties of the system capitals. Manotia [presently associate chief of seraphim on Urantia] saved almost two thirds of them, but slightly over one third followed their chief into the rebel ranks. One third of all the Jerusem cherubim attached to the administrator angels were lost with their disloyal seraphim.” (UB 53:7.6)

    “In symbol John saw this when he wrote of the great red dragon, saying: "And his tail drew a third part of the stars of heaven and cast them down in darkness." (UB 53:7.7)

    Many see Revelation as a prophecy of “the end times” of the world but many will, upon deeper reading, see quite different meanings. One of the stirring climactic moments in John’s prophecy is the coming of “the holy city, New Jerusalem” in Revelation 21:1-8. 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

    As The UB describes it, this real event takes place upon the departure of the Teacher Sons when they complete their mission.  “It was of the conclusion of the terminal mission of the Teacher Sons (at least that would be the chronology on a normal world) that John wrote: ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth and the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a princess adorned for the prince.’” (The UB, 52:7.11-16)

    More details about “the tabernacle of God,” in John’s vision (Revelation 21:1-3) are given in The UB paper 55:1, The Morontia Temple. “The presence of a morontia temple at the capital of an inhabited world is the certificate of the admission of such a sphere to the settled ages of light and life. Before the Teacher Sons leave a world at the conclusion of their terminal mission, they inaugurate this final epoch of evolutionary attainment; they preside on that day when the "holy temple comes down upon earth." This event, signalizing the dawn of the era of light and life, is always honored by the personal presence of the Paradise bestowal Son of that planet, who comes to witness this great day.” (55:1.1) Let us try not to forget these events are a long way off.

    The final great climax of the poem-prophecy is the promise made in Revelation 22:1-2 (UB 73:6) and 22:14, the restoration of the Tree of Life to Urantia. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life … Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,  in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” 

  • 2015-06-29 9:41 AM | Dave

       One cold winter night my car wouldn’t start. I was only about an hour from the warmth and security of my own bed. While the temperature plunged, I waited for a tow-truck after being told it was a busy night on the roadways and it would be “at least” a couple of hours. I propped the hood up to signal my location to the truck driver, and climbed back into the unheated car.

       I used several strategies to stay warm, played guitar until my fingers got too cold, sang most of the songs I knew, recited passages I’d memorized, until I ran out of ideas with which to entertain myself. A full moon rose over the dark hills. Under its bleak light, all my day to day reality constructs seemed to fall away, and I ended up having a heart to heart talk with myself, reviewing my spiritual life and future. Circumstances had apparently forced me to cast a cold eye on reality. What did I really think of having my next life on a morontia planet? Was it too far-fetched? Was I in truth actually haunted by doubt about the ideas of the afterlife I’d learned in The Urantia Book (The UB)?

       “Your Adjuster memory remains fully intact as you ascend the morontia life. Those mental associations that were purely animalistic and wholly material naturally perished with the physical brain, but everything in your mental life which was worth while, and which had survival value, was counterparted by the Adjuster and is retained as a part of personal memory all the way through the ascendant career. You will be conscious of all your worth-while experiences as you advance from one mansion world to another and from one section of the universe to another—even to Paradise.” (The UB, 47:4.5)

       In the humble beginnings of my Urantia life, shaped by secular ideas held by my family, I became a scientific thinker who depended on rational explanations of life experiences. After several of those, experiences of loss, disappointment, heartache, then revelations and transformations where I watched my tower of reason collapse, something new emerged. I experienced the reality of the spirit and set out on the path of the truth seeker, looking for more information about the new goals I envisioned. Of course I found The Urantia Book during this period.

       Maybe I’ve reached the age where one begins to wonder about one’s death. Will my faith still be strong at that point? Will I be full of fear, or go joyfully into my morontia transit?

       “There is but one struggle for those who enter the kingdom, and that is to fight the good fight of faith. The believer has only one battle, and that is against doubt—unbelief.” (The UB, 159:3.8)

       In the cold darkness of my broken down automobile, stuck in the boredom of waiting for rescue by tow truck, I was not about to be rescued from this close self-examination, this heart to heart confrontation. I discovered I’d actually accepted the information about the morontia worlds long ago, at least intellectually. It made sense to me, even fit my old criteria of a rational explanation (that’s a separate blog!) But the real situation, as I now saw it, was the half-heartedness of my belief. I was “altogether too vacillating and indefinite … guilty of too much chronic yearning,” about seizing the kingdom, (as Jesus said in 155:1.3). I was begrudging in my acceptance of the challenge to grow and progress, even reluctant and resentful, perhaps even crabby about all the spiritual work that lay ahead.

       I know what you might be thinking so I’ll hasten to confess that my reaction to the information about our ascendant career was a result of my spiritual immaturity. It also had to do with cowardice. It was no wonder that lately I often found myself repeating the passage (one I’d memorized) about “courage [as] … the very heart of [Jesus’] teachings.” (140:8.2) I think my spirit guide was nudging me out of a self-satisfied rut.

       “The theme of Jesus' instructions during the sojourn at Sidon was spiritual progression. He told them they could not stand still; they must go forward in righteousness or retrogress into evil and sin. He admonished them to "forget those things which are in the past while you push forward to embrace the greater realities of the kingdom." He besought them not to be content with their childhood in the gospel but to strive for the attainment of the full stature of divine sonship in the communion of the spirit and in the fellowship of believers.” (156:2.6)

       “But honest doubts and sincere questionings are not sin; such attitudes merely spell delay in the progressive journey toward perfection attainment. Childlike trust secures man's entrance into the kingdom of heavenly ascent, but progress is wholly dependent on the vigorous exercise of the robust and confident faith of the full-grown man.” (102:1.1)

       “There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds.” (The Interpretation of Religion, by John Baillie)

       Not long after my “dark night of the soul,” stranded in the car for those long cold hours, I found I’d had a change of heart. I heard myself saying to study group one night, “It’s fun to do God’s will. You are becoming more real, more truly yourself and that’s more rewarding,” certainly more so than the life I’d chosen to live in the past.

  • 2015-06-17 9:38 AM | Dave

    It has come up a few times lately, a notion that Jesus may have made a morontia appearance to a group of Native Peoples in the Americas. This idea is reminiscent of the The Book of Mormon’s description of Jesus’ visit, healing the sick, teaching the gospel, and even calling twelve disciples to organize His Church in the Americas (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11:183 Nephi 12:1-2).

    I was, at first, very skeptical when I encountered such a seemingly romantic fancy among The Urantia Book (The UB) readers. I felt that if such a significant appearance had been made, it would certainly have been included with the list of “nineteen separate morontia appearances” described in Papers 190 to 193. But serious students were proposing the possibility, so I had some second thoughts. I recalled and reconsidered the peculiar myth of Quetzalcoatl, the white, blue-eyed, bearded god who brought corn (maize) to the peoples of Central and South America, among other gifts. The explanation I had previously developed, based on a Urantia Book perspective, was that he was descended from the group of “one hundred and thirty two” sea-faring Andites who landed in South America eons ago (78:5.7). Could Quetzalcoatl (Kukulcan) be a racial memory of Jesus’ visit in his morontia form?

    Determined to figure this out, I read The UB Papers 190-193 again to make certain. I found the appearances were so specifically numbered and sequentially described, with a detailed account of where each one occurred, often including many names of the believers, and with an approximate number of who was present, right up to the final ascension on Mt. Olivet (193:5.1). 

    Incidentally, the experience of re-reading these sections of The Urantia Book is very rewarding, at times highly emotional, always uplifting. These passages include some of the most memorable teachings of Jesus, among which his psychological counseling and wise guidance of the bewildered, occasionally overwrought, and depressed apostles demonstrated the tremendous insight into human character, and the love that the Master (Michael) possesses for his followers.

    I found that in most of the 19 appearances Jesus appeared at locations where he’d taught before, or to groups where he was already well-known and loved as a teacher, people likely to continue on ministering the gospel after he was gone. For example, he met with “Rodan and some eighty other believers, in Alexandria” (191:6.1); Nalda and “about seventy-five Samaritan believers” accustomed to meeting by the well at Sychar where Jesus had first taught her of his mission (193:1.1); and in the tenth appearance at Philadelphia “he showed himself to Abner and Lazarus and some one hundred and fifty of their associates.” (191:4.1) The famous meeting with the two brothers, also recorded in the Bible, is the oddest of the lot because it seems so random, walking the road, talking with men with whom he was not previously associated, although one was “a partial believer.” (190:5.1)

    After I made this study, I could see no “wiggle room,” no ambiguity in the text, that might allow for morontia appearances not already catalogued. I concluded that the idea of Jesus presenting himself to Native Americans, despite its tremendous appeal, a myth we would like to believe in, was not credible in terms of The UB’s account. In addition, there’s the question of who he would have selected to visit? The visit with the two brothers shows his choice wasn’t always so methodical, however one of the brothers had found saving truth, listening to Jesus preach.

    I have an unfinished research project into a religious revival I believe may have taken place in the Americas at the time of Pentecost. Native populations were swept up in a tremendous spiritual movement that reached from Hopewell, Ohio, “Mound Cultures” to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, where whole cities were constructed for a religious purpose and pilgrimage of a yet to be determined kind. Not so far-fetched when we remember that the Spirit of Truth was a “gift of the spirit [that] did not come only to the apostles. The one hundred and twenty men and women assembled in the upper chamber all received the new teacher, as did all the honest of heart throughout the whole world. This new teacher was bestowed upon mankind, and every soul received him in accordance with the love for truth and the capacity to grasp and comprehend spiritual realities.” (194:3.6) 

  • 2015-05-19 9:36 AM | Dave

       Deepak Chopra pointed out in his recent book, The Future of God, that the scientific belief system affirms, “our lives are deterministic. Free will plays no part,” an idea promoted by the new militant atheists. It will be difficult for modern science to accept The Urantia Book (The UB) premise that free will was bestowed by God as part of the gift of personality, “The attribute of choice-liberty is also bestowed by the Universal Father, and such persons are likewise embraced in the great circuit of divine love, the personality circuit of the Universal Father.” (5:6.12) The philosopher, Richard Tarnas, summarizes the materialistic and scientific mindset this way: “consciousness became … a secretion of the brain, a function of electrochemical circuitry serving biological imperatives (Passion of the Western Mind p. 332).”

       In Native American culture, the innate gift of free will bestowed by the Creator is remembered in the oral histories. For me, this disproved the European/Western conceit that the Greeks began the discussion on ideas of free will. Certainly they discovered Free Will as an escape route from the determinism that characterized their mythology, a freedom from the authoritarian rule of The Fates, just as American Indian philosophers had done in long ago times. 

       “It was our intention to produce an early manifestation of will in the evolutionary life of Urantia, and we succeeded. Ordinarily, will does not emerge until the colored races have long been in existence, usually first appearing among the superior types of the red man. Your world is the only planet in Satania where the human type of will has appeared in a precolored race,” (65:4.11) meaning it had appeared in Andon and Fonta. What is that “human type of will” in The UB’s terms? “the ability to know God and the power of choosing to worship him.” (65:0.6)

       Why did God bestow the gift of free will on mortals? By navigating the realities of good and evil in our world, we have opportunities to learn to choose the good for ourselves. God does not coerce us to be good, and he obviously didn’t create us already good. When we have made the wise choice in favor of truth; learned to maintain hopeful optimism to meet crushing disappointments; chosen humility instead of egoistical pride; learned to love God rather than fear him/her, these are our accomplishments, evidence of our progress in mastering our selves.

       “The moral will creatures of the evolutionary worlds are always bothered with the unthinking question as to why the all-wise Creators permit evil and sin. They fail to comprehend that both are inevitable if the creature is to be truly free.” (54:3.1)

       Here is how the Eastern Woodlands Indian tribes tell the story. Beyond the dome we call the sky is another world where Skywoman (Gizhiigokwe) originated. Skywoman’s daughter was born not long after her descent to earth (that’s another story), and following upon the creation of Turtle Island. Skywoman and her young daughter settled comfortably on the new land. Her baby grew up strong. Years went by until Skywoman’s daughter was also observed to be carrying a child. Different stories have been told about who the father was. Whether it was North Wind, or Coyote as they say here in California, we knew that Skywoman’s daughter’s children would be part Spirit from the Sky-world above the earth. If North Wind really was the father, we might not see the child knowing that wind is spirit, therefore the people believed that she was part earth origin.

       Skywoman’s daughter didn’t have just one baby as expected. She gave birth to twins, Evil Minded twin and Good Minded twin, children who were also composed of both spirit and earth natures. We remember them by the names Good Mind and Evil Mind. Inevitably as they grew up, there were battles between them. Although the forces of creation and destruction are ever in opposition, eventually through battle Good Mind won control over this world. By the force of his good will he was able to keep Evil Mind imprisoned in a cave. There were no chains or bars on the cave. Good Mind’s will was stronger than any steel. It was Good Mind who created the new race of mankind, the second race of two-leggeds.

       Good Mind spoke to his people and cautioned them that although he wished them only the best in their lives, there would always be an eternal struggle, and that people would always be of two minds—good and evil. His grandmother Skywoman stepped forward and reminded them she was Creator’s daughter, and she taught the people that it was the Creator’s desire and intention that Good Mind triumph over Evil Mind.

       The people were constantly aware of Evil Mind. As they went about their daily activities, they could hear his wailings of pain and frustration that issued from the cave. Remember there were no chains or bars on the cave. He was kept there only by the force of Good Mind’s will and goodness.

       Good Mind was such a good person that he would not agree to kill Evil Mind even though many people of his creation entreated him to do so. They walked away shaking their heads in disbelief at his stubbornness, allowing such a situation to continue. The presence of Evil Mind continued to haunt the people. He stirred up feelings of hate, jealousy and revenge among them. Good Mind had told them of the struggle they must endure. Sadly not all people were able to win the struggle against Evil Mind.

       Some especially worried about their vulnerable children. Long ago, an old Grandfather was very concerned about his grandson, who came to him boiling over with anger. A friend had done him a great injustice. Grandfather sat down with his grandson, “Let me tell you a story,” he said. His story is well remembered as “The Wolves Within.” His way of telling it is the way most learn about the Good Mind/Bad Mind origin story.

       “I too at times have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. You will find there is an endless supply of injustice in our world, but not so great an amount of love. But hate only wears you down, and does not harm or hurt your enemy. Hatred harms only yourself, like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.”

       He went on. “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense where no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.”

       “But the other wolf? Ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing can set him off into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.”

       “Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

       The boy looked into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

                The Grandfather smiled and quietly replied, “The one I feed.”

  • 2015-05-06 9:33 AM | Dave

    “My children, do you not perceive the law of the spirit which decrees that to him who has shall be given so that he shall have an abundance.” (The Urantia Book, 151:1.4)

    “Today, while [the Son of Man’s] absence prevents such material manifestations [like the loaves and fishes], you should refrain from placing any sort of limitation on the possible exhibition of his spiritual power. Though the Master is absent as a material being, he is present as a spiritual influence in the hearts of men.” (The UB, 152:1.5)

    Quite a few years back, prosperity theology preachers began teaching that financial blessings were the will of God for faithful Christians. Though not a new idea, with origins in the New Thought movement of the 1800’s, it took hold and helped create a religious revival. There is much confusion between material wealth and spiritual abundance, many believing that good spiritual behavior, faith, will be rewarded materially. Some of the teachings of Jesus have been stirred into the confusing mix, most famously his “Consider the lilies of the field,” speech: “Your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:32-33, The UB, 165:5.3)

    Jesus was not teaching a quest for prestige, wealth, and power that would set a person apart, elevated to a position higher and more powerful than others. He ministered and taught, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee (John 17:21).” The abundance comes from achieving this unity of will and purpose with God.

    In January, when our Unity Church of Walnut Creek pastor, Rev. David McArthur, urged us to create a prosperous year, he said, “The Infinite Presence we are connected with wants to pour abundance into our lives. It is the only power; it’s not God and materiality, it’s how we connect with Spirit.”

    In The Urantia Book, Jesus says, “Let your supreme delight be in the character of God, and he shall surely give you the sincere desires of your heart.’ "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act." "For the Lord hears the cry of the needy, and he will regard the prayer of the destitute.” (146:2.9)

    Reverend David retold the story of the loaves and fishes (given in all four gospels) not as a miracle, but as a rational parable, a scientific step by step approach, on how to focus attitudes and emotions to achieve something greater than prosperity—abundance.

    The UB makes the revealing statement, “And this is the first and only nature miracle which Jesus performed as a result of his conscious preplanning (152:2.10).”

    By performing this miracle so publicly, did Jesus intend to teach us an important lesson about spiritual power, its potential for multiplying opportunities and blessings?

    For a moment Jesus stood in silence. There was a faraway look in his eyes. The apostles said nothing. Jesus turned suddenly to Andrew and said, "Bring me the loaves and fishes." And when Andrew had brought the basket to Jesus, the Master said: "Direct the people to sit down on the grass in companies of one hundred and appoint a leader over each group while you bring all of the evangelists here with us.” (152:2.8)

    “Jesus took up the loaves in his hands, and after he had given thanks, he broke the bread and gave to his apostles, who passed it on to their associates, who in turn carried it to the multitude. Jesus in like manner broke and distributed the fishes. And this multitude did eat and were filled. And when they had finished eating, Jesus said to the disciples: "Gather up the broken pieces that remain over so that nothing will be lost." And when they had finished gathering up the fragments, they had twelve basketfuls. They who ate of this extraordinary feast numbered about five thousand men, women, and children.” (152:2.9)

    “It is true that his disciples were disposed to call many things miracles which were not, but this was a genuine supernatural ministration. In this case, so we were taught, Michael multiplied food elements as he always does except for the elimination of the time factor and the visible life channel.” (152:2.10)

    Our pastor offered insights into this miracle of Jesus, viewing it as a psychology, a visualization, a set of instructions on how to manifest in the physical realm the true (consecrated) desires of our heart. These archetypal patterns in “The Feeding of the Five Thousand” were described in his sermon like a procedure manual for partnering with the consciousness behind the cosmos. I’ll quote here from more of Reverend David’s sermon, the steps we can take to “create” abundance:

    1. Awareness: Jesus said, “Bring them (the 5 loaves and 2 fishes) to me.” Be aware of what is provided not what is not there. What is wanted is already present in the spiritual realm. 

    2. Serenity: “He directed the people to sit down on the grass.” Make the people in your head, your critics, sit down. You can’t get rid of them, but it brings you into balance within.

    The UB adds an interesting detail about this moment, “And when Andrew had brought the basket to Jesus, the Master said: "Direct the people to sit down on the grass in companies of one hundred and appoint a leader over each group while you bring all of the evangelists here with us," (152:2.8) similar to Luke 9:14, “groups of about 50 each.”

    3. Acceptance: Reverend David pointed out, that by “Taking the five loaves, two fishes…” Jesus was accepting what is there. “It is the way it is. Acceptance is a beautiful thing. You know you’re not in a mode of acceptance if you’re complaining.”

    4. Love: “…and looking up to heaven (Mark 6:41) …” Raise your awareness to a greater level. Thoughts don’t do it. It takes feeling, a different consciousness. God works through feeling. There is amazing power here … everything is love.

    This is depicted slightly differently in The UB than in the gospel account. In Paper 152, Jesus’s experience of spiritual power and grace is an internal one of communion with God. Rather than looking up to heaven, “he had a faraway look in his eyes.”

    5. Gratitude: “he gave thanks…” I am grateful! The new creation is happening in our spiritual world and flowing into this [material world] by way of our hearts.

    6. Release all limits: “…broke the loaves” Break the old patterns. Pure spiritual love flows through our hearts and heals us. The hurt we carry is healed by that love. It removes those limiting ideas.

    7. Active giving: “then he gave them to the disciples…” Send it on. In the physical world if you want more of something you take more. The spiritual world looks opposite to the physical world; if you want more you give more.

    8. Openness: “and the disciples gave them to the people.” It is given to that part of us that is busy with the outer. We become open to both giving and receiving. It invites us into open receptivity. It fills us and satisfies the “yeah, but” people in our head. We experience the love, the divine power.

    Recall how in step 4 (love), “we enter into this with and through … feelings of love and gratitude, [we] move to the places within us where we carry pain and we heal. I am grateful! … And there was more than enough!”

    “And when they had finished gathering up the fragments, they had twelve basketfuls.” (The UB, 152:2.9)

    The Unity sermon didn’t include the episode that happened next, demonstrating how the people were moved by the miracle to place him on Israel’s throne. “[The five thousand] were determined to give up their pilgrimage to the Passover, and then and there proclaim the Galilean Teacher Israel’s King. If He were the Messiah, such was His rightful title. Why then did He so strenuously and effectually resist it?” (Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah)

    The disappointed crowd deserted Jesus when he refused the crown (John 6:15), stating once again that his kingdom was not of this world. “In less than one month's time the enthusiastic and open followers of Jesus, who numbered more than fifty thousand in Galilee alone, shrank to less than five hundred. Jesus desired to give his apostles such an experience with the fickleness of popular acclaim that they would not be tempted to rely on such manifestations of transient religious hysteria after he should leave them alone in the work of the kingdom, but he was only partially successful in this effort.” (152:6.2, John 6:66)

    “Only yesterday did I feed you with bread for your bodies; today I offer you the bread of life for your hungry souls. Will you now take the bread of the spirit as you then so willingly ate the bread of this world?" (153:2.9)

    Jesus had long before taught his apostles this truth “about man’s communion with God.” "I have come forth from the Father; if, therefore, you are ever in doubt as to what you would ask of the Father, ask in my name, and I will present your petition in accordance with your real needs and desires and in accordance with my Father's will. … Avoid praying much for yourself; pray more for the spiritual progress of your brethren. Avoid materialistic praying; pray in the spirit and for the abundance of the gifts of the spirit.” (146:2.10)

  • 2015-04-30 9:32 AM | Dave

       As a tutor in English, I currently help teach one of my high school students the William Golding novel, Lord of the Flies, (first published in 1954)  I hadn’t read the book since it was a required text when I was in high school a few decades ago. On this re-reading, I gained much more insight and benefit from Golding’s story and its archetypal theme. Golding went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983 for his novels.

       At first I thought, what a great yarn, but could it actually happen? Could British boys raised in the public schools revert to a state of bloodthirsty savagery? Could young men raised like me, in homes where both parents stayed together in a solid marriage, and who received a grounding in Christian Sunday school education, lose their civilized mores so readily, ending up ruled by their fears?

       Goldman actually reveals very little about the backgrounds of these British schoolboys. Jack, who briefly succeeds in taking over the role of chief by exploiting a rule of fear and the primeval solidarity of the pig hunt, may have come from a violent, perhaps even a criminal background, or a broken home. Setting my own biases aside, I looked more closely at their situation, one fraught with frightened but repressed emotions. They were totally isolated from any civilizing influence. My empathy grew. I began to understand how it could happen to any “civilized” young person.

       Think about our own times, I reminded myself. As I considered the savagery exhibited by terrorist groups at large in Africa and the Middle East, the novel took on new significance and prescience. British boys and some women ( now travel to Syria, Iraq and Yemen to join these terrorist groups. These young people become culturally isolated, often live in wild harsh desert landscapes, and find a group identity by focusing each other’s aroused passions on dogmatic ideologies which many Muslims say do not represent Islam. They chant slogans not so different from what the boys in Lord of the Flies used in their primitive dance, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” (Chapter 9)

       What I find disturbing in all the terrorist activity, and the promotion of angry fundamentalist ideologies, is how the events kindle a rage against religion among people in general. Are we so sure we want to vilify, even discard, the civilizing influences of religion because of the abuses some ignorant people have made in its name? Each of us who believe in the potential goodness of our Western civilization should work to change the focus. Here’s an article from the Huffington Post that encourages us to take our attention away from the new savagery that seeks to dominate the conversation. “Yes, religion can still be a force for good in the world.”

       If not religion, we can promote a reinvigorated dedication to spiritual living that will restore hope and true progress to our civilization. Many Urantia Book readers have heard about philosopher Henry Nelson Wieman, and his wife, Regina Westcott-Wieman, authors of the book The Normative Psychology of Religion. It is now recognized that the book is a “source work,” a source of material used in Papers 99, 100, and 101, In another book of his, The Source of Human Good,, Wieman explores a theme that I hope many will see the significance of:

        "There is a creative power in history which is able to conquer and to save, but it is not any power of man, even though it works through man. In all times, both good and ill, man must live under its control if history is to be fruitful."

       Albert Schweitzer, German physician and theologian, described it this way, “One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history. The question is, shall we make world history or only suffer it passively? Will our thinking again become ethical-religious? Shall we again win ideals that will have power over reality? This is the question before us today.”  from "Religion in Modern Civilization," (Christian Century, 21 November 1934)

       These progressive thinkers foresaw a more important role for gathering inner spiritual resources rather than depending on institutionalized religions. Perhaps they were even dimly aware that, “Jesus founded the religion of personal experience in doing the will of God and serving the human brotherhood.” (The UB, 196:2.6) Those inspired by a personal experience of their own spiritual insights will become the new leaders of a revived civilization.

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