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Dave Holt

  • 2015-04-13 9:30 AM | Dave

    “Today, there is a great need for further linguistic development to facilitate the expression of evolving thought.” (81:6.16; p. 908)

    Many readers of The Urantia Book (The UB) are familiar with the low opinion its authors frequently express about our language, its lack of capacity to express cosmic concepts. This judgment begins in the Foreword, “It is exceedingly difficult to present enlarged concepts and advanced truth, in our endeavor to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception, when we are restricted to the use of a circumscribed language of the realm. But our mandate admonishes us to make every effort to convey our meanings by using the word symbols of the English tongue.” (0:0.2)

    In speaking about the Celestial Artisans, they write But I almost despair of being able to convey to the material mind the nature of the work of the celestial artisans. I am under the necessity of constantly perverting thought and distorting language in an effort to unfold to the mortal mind the reality of these morontia transactions and near-spirit phenomena. Your comprehension is incapable of grasping, and your language is inadequate for conveying, the meaning, value, and relationship of these semispirit activities.” (44:0.13; p. 499)

    Over the years, I have discerned a secondary purpose of The UB: how it seeks to gently steer us into a more carefully nuanced and discriminated definition of words, such as Supreme, faith-trust, and concepts of time, life after death. The Heaven we learned about in Christianity becomes the morontia life, a word the authors had to invent to designate, “a vast level intervening between the material and the spiritual” (0:5.12), a realm our established ideas could not adequately describe.

    In essence, the book itself sets out to further our linguistic development. After memorizing quotes to help me pass the hours at the gym, I’ve come to believe that The UB sentences are deliberately structured to make them easier to recall and commit to memory.

    Notice how this sentence is written: “The great achievement of mortal life is the attainment of a true and understanding consecration to the eternal aims of the divine spirit who waits and works within your mind.” (110:3.4)

    There are internal rhymes “achievement,” with “attainment”; partial or half rhymes which we poets call slant rhymes such as, “consecration” with “eternal aims,” “divine” and “mind.” Alliteration is a very common device in The UB, “waits and works within.” Also try to feel the cadence, the rhythmic movement and sound of the sentence. It’s powerful, the dominant movement being Shakespearian. Iambic pentameters, but other types of meter are also used.

    The same features, alliteration and internal rhymes, occur again in this next example, “great value … cardinal virtue … courage … very heart.” The Master’s emphasis on courage is backed up with a direct quote from Jesus:

    He placed great value upon sincerity—a pure heart. Fidelity was a cardinal virtue in his estimate of character, while courage was the very heart of his teachings. "Fear not" was his watchword, and patient endurance his ideal of strength of character.” (140:8.20) 

    How about this one: “Why do you not encourage the heavenly helper to cheer you with the clear vision of the eternal outlook of universal life as you gaze in perplexity at the problems of the passing hour?” (111:7.3)

    Look at how “cheer” rhymes with “clear,” then slant rhymes with “eternal,” the alliteration again with “heavenly helper” and “perplexity … problems … passing hour.”

    And then, of course, the poetry itself, a literary form that The UB shows no hesitation in admiring. “Poetry is an effort to escape from material realities to spiritual values.” (195:7.15, pg. 2079)

    These spirit beings constitute the living ladder whereby mortal man climbs from chaos to glory.” (9:8.25)

    “Gravity is the omnipotent strand on which are strung the gleaming stars, blazing suns, and whirling spheres which constitute the universal physical adornment of the eternal God, who is all things, fills all things, and in whom all things consist.” (11:8.1)

    “Men do not find the Supreme suddenly and spectacularly as an earthquake tears chasms into the rocks, but they find him slowly and patiently as a river quietly wears away the soil beneath.” (117.6; p. 1291)

    “If each mortal could only become a focus of dynamic affection, this benign virus of love would soon pervade the sentimental emotion-stream of humanity to such an extent that all civilization would be encompassed by love, and that would be the realization of the brotherhood of man.” (100:4.6)

    Interestingly, a human source for this last quote has not been found. Truly one of cosmic origin.

  • 2015-04-04 9:27 AM | Dave

       The Melchizedek Sons assisted with planetary preparation for Michael's bestowal and Jesus did everything to fit his work within the parameters of the Melchizedek plan. I asked our study group in Walnut Creek to follow this episode in the Master’s career from the issuing of a warrant for his arrest to the transfiguration event on Mt. Hermon. My inspiration for the study were insights David Kantor shared with me and I have used to create this blog.

       “Melchizedek taught that at some future time another Son of God would come in the flesh as he had come, but that he would be born of a woman; and that is why numerous later teachers held that Jesus was a priest, or minister, “forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 93:3.7)

       “And thus did Melchizedek prepare the way and set the monotheistic stage of world tendency for the bestowal of an actual Paradise Son of the one God, whom he so vividly portrayed as the Father of all, and whom he represented to Abraham as a God who would accept man on the simple terms of personal faith. And Michael, when he appeared on earth, confirmed all that Melchizedek had taught concerning the Paradise Father.” (93:3.8, p.1017)

       The plan to represent “a God who would accept man on the simple terms of personal faith,” began to come apart with the Sanhedrin’s closure of the synagogues to Jesus and his followers, and the issuing of a warrant for Jesus' arrest. “May 22 was an eventful day in the life of Jesus. On this Sunday morning, before daybreak, one of David's messengers arrived in great haste from Tiberias, bringing the word that Herod had authorized, or was about to authorize, the arrest of Jesus by the officers of the Sanhedrin.” (154:5.1)

       It became very clear that the Jews were going to reject the teachings of the Son. “… in losing sight of Melchizedek, they also lost sight of the teaching of this emergency Son regarding the spiritual mission of the promised bestowal Son; lost sight of the nature of this mission so fully and completely that very few of their progeny were able or willing to recognize and receive Michael when he appeared on earth and in the flesh as Machiventa had foretold.” (93:9. p.1024)

       The times demanded a crisis decision. What did Jesus do? First, he sought to survive and continue the gospel teaching. He fled Galilee, telling the apostles he was not interested in risking death and martyrdom by directly taking on the religious and political authority of Jerusalem. “Jesus made it clear to the twenty-four that he had not fled from Galilee because he lacked courage to confront his enemies. They comprehended that he was not yet ready for an open clash with established religion, and that he did not seek to become a martyr.” (156:2.5)

       He decided to take his message to the Gentiles beginning in Phoenicia and this expedition was very successful, “many were baptized.” (156:4.1) But on the way back Jesus is summoned to Mt. Hermon, a sudden change apparently, and yet just one among many precipitous developments, only six days after the confession of Peter that Jesus was “the Son of God.” He traveled with the apostles up to Caesarea Philippi and stayed a couple of days, “Jesus and the apostles remained another day at the home of Celsus, waiting for messengers to arrive from David Zebedee with funds.” (157:6.1)

       “Jesus had been summoned to go up on the mountain, apart by himself, for the transaction of important matters having to do with the progress of his bestowal in the flesh as this experience was related to the universe of his own creation. It is significant that this extraordinary event was timed to occur while Jesus and the apostles were in the lands of the gentiles, and that it actually transpired on a mountain of the gentiles.” (158:1.2)

       Jesus selected Peter, James, and John to go with him to Mt. Hermon to the meeting to which he had been summoned, “and where he had appointed to inaugurate his fourth phase of earth ministry as the Son of God.” (157:7.5)

       “Lay in provisions and prepare yourselves for a journey to yonder mountain, where the spirit bids me go to be endowed for the finish of my work on earth. And I would take my brethren along that they may also be strengthened for the trying times of going with me through this experience." (157:7.5)

       What went on at this meeting with Jesus, Father Melchizedek and Gabriel that took several hours?  “A fleeting glimpse of a celestial pageant… the acceptance of the fullness of the bestowal of the incarnated life of Michael on Urantia by the Eternal Mother-Son of Paradise … The testimony of the satisfaction of the Infinite Spirit as to the fullness of the Urantia bestowal in the likeness of mortal flesh.” (158:3.2-3)

       By going to the Gentiles with the bestowal program, Jesus undertook his own innovation to the original Melchizedek plan. Yet he was not doing anything very different from what the Salem missionaries decided when they took their message to the whole known world. “Melchizedek continued for some years to instruct his students and to train the Salem missionaries, who penetrated to all the surrounding tribes, especially to Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor. And as the decades passed, these teachers journeyed farther and farther from Salem, carrying with them Machiventa’s gospel of belief and faith in God.” (93:7.1)

       “But the task was so great and the tribes were so backward that the results were vague and indefinite. From one generation to another the Salem gospel found lodgment here and there, but except in Palestine, never was the idea of one God able to claim the continued allegiance of a whole tribe or race. (93:7.3)

       Note Jesus' conversation with Peter, James and John on the way down the mountain. Like Peter, the apostles must have “shuddered at the thought of the Master’s dying,” (158:2.2) "but don't worry,” he told them, “I'll rise from the dead after three days." Just a few weeks earlier he’d told them he had no interest in being a martyr. As David Kantor commented: “This is the first time I can find that he's telling them he's going to be killed. So what happened at that meeting?  It seems that it was agreed that Jesus should play out the bestowal as planned in the context of Hebrew religion and let things run their natural course.”

       The Jews had accepted the monotheistic concept. Indeed they were the only people who were not polytheists.  By going to the Gentiles Jesus was placing his message more fully into Gentile/pagan culture.  The Urantia Book notes that the repercussions were that his teaching, in the form it took as Christianity, “conquered—absorbed and exalted—the whole stream of Hebrew theology and Greek philosophy. And then, when this Christian religion became comatose for more than a thousand years as a result of an overdose of mysteries and paganism, it resurrected itself and virtually reconquered the whole Western world. Christianity contains enough of Jesus' teachings to immortalize it.”(195:10.18)

       The “resurrection” of Jesus’ teachings was undoubtedly helped by the presence of the Spirit of Truth on our world after Pentecost.

       Jesus could easily have gone to Damascus or Alexandria, even India, and begun a new career. He could have returned to his position as Creator Sovereign of Nebadon after Mt. Hermon. But he stayed in Palestine and forced the issue with the Jewish religious authorities. This is what he understood to be the Father's will, fulfilling the bestowal as planned. “Jesus sought to know his Father's will and decided to pursue the mortal bestowal to its natural end.” (158:3.5) It was not the Father's will that he be crucified, but rather that the situation be allowed to run its natural course. Was it also the way it was originally planned by the Melchizedeks?

       “He did not emerge from the tomb as a spirit nor as Michael of Nebadon; he did not appear in the form of the Creator Sovereign … He now lives as Jesus of morontia, and as he begins this morontia life, the material body of his flesh lies there undisturbed in the tomb. The soldiers are still on guard, and the seal of the governor about the rocks has not yet been broken.” (189:1.8 to 13) Have a Joyous Easter!

  • 2015-02-16 9:25 AM | Dave

    I’d like to provide just a glimpse into my ongoing research as I seek to understand civilization in the Americas. Many of you may know that some American Indians disagree with, even take offense at, the Bering Strait migration theory. You may also know it is supported by The Urantia Book, (The UB), “About eighty-five thousand years ago the comparatively pure remnants of the red race went en masse across to North America, and shortly thereafter the Bering land isthmus sank, thus isolating them (64:6.5).”

    What we must address, if we dismiss the Bering land bridge story as these native descendants do, is the question, “Do we believe a modern human type arose and evolved separately in North America?” Because if so, we have no evidence of primate fossils in the Americas from which a modern human type could have evolved. Thus we are forced to resort to “special creation” as an explanation. Some traditional Native American tribal lore does suggest they were specially created, “We have always been here.” (Celsa Apapas, Cupeño, among others)

    Standing Rock Sioux historian, Vine Deloria, Jr., 1933 – 2005, (Red Earth, White Lies, 1995) recognized the problem of their origins, “American Indians having had to wait until Neanderthal evolved into Cro Magnon;” but he thought science “should drop the pretense of having absolute authority with regard to human origins.” Ironically, Cro-Magnon, known now as Anatomically Modern Humans, AMH, are classified as blue race Sangiks in The UB (80:3). The Cro-Magnons are brother and sister to the red Sangiks.

    Though I don’t share Deloria’s objection to human origins theory, there are other reasons that migration across the Bering Strait doesn’t tell the whole story of indigenous Americans. Persistent evidence of a separate colonization by sea keeps showing up. Kumara, the sweet potato native to Peru, was growing in Mangaia in the Pacific islands (Cook) about 1,000 AD, long before Europeans sailed into those waters. The tuberous sweet potato could not survive a sea voyage and still be able to grow and reproduce. It had to have been imported from South America.

    In 2007, chicken bones were found in an archaeological dig in Chile, dated 1,300 BP (before present). Chickens, not native to the Americas, are flightless birds incapable of crossing an ocean. Dr Lisa Matisso-Smith, of the University of Auckland NZ, an expert in Pacific migration patterns, examined the bones and matched them to an identical DNA sequence found in bones near a village in the Ha’apai chain of Tonga, and Fatumafutu, at the entrance to Pago Pago Harbour in American Samoa — 10,000 km from Chile.

    The Bering Strait land bridge migration is the most well-known and talked about theory, yet we often overlook what a mixed racial group it was, not only red Sangik tribes.

     “These [relatively pure-line remnants of the red race] tribes were accompanied by three small groups of mixed ancestry, the largest of these being a combination of the orange and blue races. These three groups never fully fraternized with the red man and early journeyed southward to Mexico and Central America, where they were later joined by a small group of mixed yellows and reds. These peoples all intermarried and founded a new and amalgamated race, one which was much less warlike than the pure-line red men. Within five thousand years this amalgamated race broke up into three groups, establishing the civilizations respectively of Mexico, Central America, and South America.” (The UB, 64:7.5)

    This information is unknown outside of The UB. However we are encountering confusion when trying to interpret scientific discoveries in the DNA evidence, the haplogroup X genetic marker for example, a story beyond the scope of this short article.

    There are large differences between the “three civilizations” of the Mesoamericans, South Americans, and the perhaps “purer red race” civilization of the North led by Onamonalonton. The southern cultures practiced much more horticulture using irrigation methods focused on large crop production, “the three sisters” squash, beans, and maize (corn); whereas the northern groups maintained a more classic hunter-gatherer culture. In the south, a powerful priesthood often ruled the people, whereas the northern tribes claimed to have no priests, among other cultural differences I could enumerate.

    “In Mexico, Central America, and in the mountains of South America the later and more enduring civilizations were founded by a race predominantly red but containing a considerable admixture of the yellow, orange, and blue.” (The UB, 79:5.8)

    The mound-building cultures, the pyramids of Teotehuican, and the Mayan temples of these southern groups all show characteristic traces of an orange race heritage.

    The orange man. The outstanding characteristic of this race was their peculiar urge to build, to build anything and everything, even to the piling up of vast mounds of stone just to see which tribe could build the largest mound.” (64:6.10)

    The UB presents an even more complicated scenario, revealing a third racial infusion into the Americas, a small group of Andites who came by sea across the Pacific. “One hundred and thirty-two of this [Andite] race, embarking in a fleet of small boats from Japan, eventually reached South America and by intermarriage with the natives of the Andes established the ancestry of the later rulers of the Incas.” (78:5.7)

    “The South American offshoot did receive a faint touch of the blood of Adam.” (64:7.5)

    The seagoing Polynesians made the voyage using sewn plank canoes equipped with sails. They were experts at navigating by the stars and signs of nearby landmarks, rather than by compass or astrolabe. Although Thor Heyerdahl’s famous expedition (1947) sought to prove that Peruvians crossed by sea to the Pacific Islands, it is more likely to be the reverse, based on the evidence we have of each group’s oceanic skills.

    Balboa the Spanish conquistador entered Panama seeking land and treasure when he met the cacique (chief) Camaco in battle, and also married his daughter to seal an alliance against other tribes. Camaco told him about the sea-going native peoples, “When you are passing over these mountains (pointing with his finger towarde the south mountains) … you shall see another sea, where they sayle with shippes as bigge as yours, using both sayles and ores as you doe, although the men be naked as we are.” (Peter Martyr, writing about Vasco Nunez de Balboa’s encounter with Camaco)

    This information inspired the Spanish explorer to lead his men on a 24 day trek in 1513 crossing hostile native territories, high mountains, and jungle to find the “South Sea” we call the Pacific Ocean. Upon reaching the Pacific, he claimed the title of its discoverer. To the astonishment of the Indians who accompanied the expedition, he took possession of the Mar del Sur for the King and Queen of Spain.

  • 2015-01-15 9:23 AM | Dave

    The picture of Jesus’ life that most of us from Christian Sunday schools inherited was one of Jesus growing up in a gentle pastoral society of shepherds, “the meek” inheritors of the earth. Twentieth century archaeology proved it to be a culturally biased and incorrect portrait. A Greco-Roman city, Sepphoris, discovered just a few miles north of Nazareth, was only partially excavated in 1931 by Leroy Waterman of the University of Michigan. This first dig closed after one season, after uncovering the Greco-Roman theater, known from the literature, just a decade before final reception of The Urantia Book in 1942(?).

    Sepphoris, from Tzippori, the Hebrew word for bird, was called “The Forgotten City,” in Archaeologist/Professor Richard Batey’s book (1992). Neither the Old nor the New Testaments refer to it. However, it is mentioned 22 times in The Urantia Book (The UB). Many of us know The UB authors’ comments on their disclosures of lost history, “… new developments we even now foresee, but we are forbidden to include such humanly undiscovered facts in the revelatory records.” (101:4.2)

    The facts of the archaeological site of Sepphoris were already known even though the general public had heard nothing about them in 1955 when The UB was published. Although not actually disclosing new information, The Urantia Book certainly revealed the city’s importance in the history of Jesus’ life long before our scientists made their discoveries publicly known.

    We knew of the city from the rabbinic literature, and from the history, Wars of the Jews by Josephus, who described it as “the ornament of all Galilee.” Herod Antipas rebuilt it in 4 B.C. after its destruction in a rebellion crushed by the Romans. Reza Aslan describes it in his recent book, Zealot, (2013) “Rich, cosmopolitan, deeply influenced by Greek culture, and surrounded by a panoply of races and religions, the Jews of Sepphoris were the product of the Herodian social revolution - the nouveaux riches who rose to prominence after Herod's massacre of the old priestly aristocracy.”

    Batey of Rhodes College, and James Strange of The University of South Florida led a second, more thorough expedition in1983. Eventually other institutions joined the dig. New building foundations and many beautiful mosaics were brought to light. The UB published its information long before Strange and Batey gathered their data for publication in 1992.

    “The ruins of the palace, colonnades, forum, theater, and villas at Sepphoris show that the Galilean culture affecting Jesus was far more sophisticated and urban than was previously thought possible." (Jesus & the Forgotten City, Richard A. Batey, 1992)

    Just four or five miles from Nazareth, we were now presented with physical evidence of a flowering of Jewish culture influenced by Greco-Roman culture (the Mediterranean world was ruled by the Greeks and then the Romans.) The city was under construction during Jesus lifetime, “but its connection to Jesus and Joseph of Nazareth was never known.” Batey goes on to tell us, “Both Jesus and his father were “builders” (the Greek word tekton in Mark 6:3 is more accurately translated as craftsman).” 

    Scholars who are non-readers of the UB speculate on Jesus’ involvement with the city and have produced good research from close readings of biblical texts, supplemented by midrash records. They now believe that Joseph, his father, and Jesus were both probably employed at Herod’s Sepphoris restoration project.

    “The latter part of this year, when carpenter work was slack about Nazareth, Jesus left James in charge of the repair shop and Joseph [his brother] at the home bench while he went over to Sepphoris to work with a smith. He worked six months with metals and acquired considerable skill at the anvil.” (The UB, 128:2.3)

    As a young man in his twenty-second year, before he began his ministry, Jesus found the moral standards of the city “far below those of even the caravan city of Nazareth,” which was also corrupted by the Greco-Roman influence. ”But most of all was his sense of propriety outraged by the sight of the frivolous courtesans parading about within this precinct of the temple, just such painted women as he had so recently seen when on a visit to Sepphoris.” (125:1.2)

    “After six months sojourn at Sepphoris, Jesus was not averse to find an excuse for returning to Nazareth,” (128:2.6). Biblical scholars speculate that Jesus did not seek out this sort of environment during his ministry, and The UB confirms it. “Jesus talked over many things of importance to the coming kingdom with his newly chosen associates … He also advised them to avoid the cities of Sepphoris and Tiberias in their future work.” (137:5.1)

    Some believe Jesus only spoke Aramaic and Hebrew but the discovery of Sepphoris makes it far less credible. “Though the New Testament Gospels do not tell us whether Jesus spoke Greek or not, they do describe situations in which it’s likely that Greek was used. In Matthew 8:5-13, for example, Jesus entered into dialogue with a Roman centurion. The centurion almost certainly spoke in Greek.” (Mark D. Roberts)

    As we learn from The UB, Jesus' family was presented with, "a complete copy of the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures," (The UB, 123:0.3) when he was a baby, and it became one of their treasured possessions. Jesus spoke to the Greeks in Jerusalem, (174:5). He had the apostles minister to “well-nigh exclusive gatherings of gentiles—Greeks, Romans, and Syrians,” (143:1.1.) at the Greek city of Archelais. So at home was he with these cultured and cosmopolitan groups that he was able to train his associates to be effective ministers who would eventually win over the unbelieving gentiles.

  • 2015-01-07 9:21 AM | Dave

    China began gradually coming out of a period of atheistic communism with the death of Mao Zedong and the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976.  A Tibetan monk described how it used to be, “Mama and papa told me in secret that this is a sacred lake. But they said, "Don't ever talk about it openly,” because we couldn’t talk about gods. They do not exist in the Communist Party’s eyes; they are superstitions. If anyone talked about a god they would be beaten, so we wouldn’t dare to say it.” (Tashi Sange, Tibetan Buddhist monk, PBS interview)

    The country began a slow return to its religious traditions. The first World Buddhist Forum in 2006 was launched by Xi Jinping, then party secretary of a province (Zhejiang) and a rising star in the Communist Party of China. The Buddhist Forum was convened again in 2009 and 2012 at Beijing.

    Now President of the People’s Republic, Xi Jinping has called for building both a "material and spiritual civilization," (September 29, 2013). He believes, “China is losing its moral compass,” and he wants the ruling Communist Party “to be more tolerant of traditional faiths in the hope they will fill a vacuum created by the country’s runaway economic growth and rush to get rich, sources said.”

    “[Buddhist] philosophy also held that the Buddha (divine) nature resided in all men; that man, through his own endeavors, could attain to the realization of this inner divinity. And this teaching is one of the clearest presentations of the truth of the indwelling Adjusters ever to be made by a Urantian religion.” (The UB, 94:11.5)

    The sense of impending crisis, whether the country can sustain healthy growth and avert destruction, is drawing people back to religion as good medicine. Governmental officials are looking to all three traditional faiths, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, to help build “an ecological civilization,” a goal that was written into the Chinese constitution in 2012.

    “Buddhism is a living, growing religion today because it succeeds in conserving many of the highest moral values of its adherents. It promotes calmness and self-control, augments serenity and happiness, and does much to prevent sorrow and mourning. Those who believe this philosophy live better lives than many who do not.” (94:9.6)

    According to legend, Buddhism was first established in China by Han Emperor Ming (58-75 AD). The Han Dynasty was deeply Confucian so the new teachings didn’t flourish until the dynasty’s fall in 220. Buddhism continued to thrive when Northern and Southern China reunited in 589. It was one of the traditions held in common. With the rise of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), Buddhism spread even more quickly and reached its peak as an important part of Chinese culture, arts and philosophy.

    “Buddhism stretches from Ceylon and Burma through Tibet and China to Japan. It has shown an adaptability to the mores of many peoples that has been equaled only by Christianity.” (The UB, 92:6.16)

    The Communist Party does not seem as keen to encourage Christianity as it does Buddhism. Only a small percentage of the Chinese population has embraced the Christian faith. “Many non-European peoples very naturally look upon Christianity as a strange revelation of a strange God and for strangers.” (92:6.18) Christians in China face government persecutions, especially in the coastal city of Wenzou with its hundreds of churches. Besides crackdowns on the “house churches,” government officials who profess faith in the “strange God” are sent to take remedial courses to relearn the Communist “party line.’

    Yet some believe Christianity too is growing. Accurate poll figures are difficult to verify, but those provided by Indiana’s Purdue University say that the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. More people may believe in the existence of Shangdi/Yesu, the “Christian God” of Jesus’ teachings than before.

    Gerda Wielander of the University of Westminster, in her book “Christian Values in Communist China”, observes that many Chinese are attracted to Christianity because it offers a complete moral system with a transcendental source, now that belief in Marxism is declining. The same hunger for a more spiritual morality seeks to be satisfied by the return to Buddhism or Daoism. 

    “At the time of this writing, much of Asia rests its hope in Buddhism. Will this noble faith, that has so valiantly carried on through the dark ages of the past, once again receive the truth of expanded cosmic realities even as the disciples of the great teacher in India once listened to his proclamation of new truth? Will this ancient faith respond once more to the invigorating stimulus of the presentation of new concepts of God and the Absolute for which it has so long searched?” (The UB, 94:12.6)

    (This article originally appeared on but has been modified)

  • 2014-12-20 9:19 AM | Dave

       The love of Jesus was simple for us. Children like me, raised with Bible teachings, had no trouble accepting songs that told us “Jesus loves me, this I know,” (we did know!) or singing together enthusiastically, “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam to shine for him each day, in every way try to please him at home, at school or play.” Besides the fact that my generation was often raised with church and Sunday school, our undistorted receptivity to this love of the Son of God was undoubtedly a result of the presence of the bestowed Spirit of Truth.

       Jesus often commented on the natural spiritual awareness of children. “See that you despise not one of these little ones,” Jesus said, “for their angels do always behold the faces of the heavenly hosts." (The UB, 158:8.1, Matthew 18:10)

        This week when I was driving to my lessons, tutoring young people in Piano, English and History, I began to sing the great Christmas hymn, Adeste Fidelis, O Come All Ye Faithful, “Glory to God, glory in the highest. O Come let us adore him.”

       While the constant rains of December continued to drum along on the windshield, I was thinking about Jesus, our Creator Son, and the Universal Father. Storm clouds driving in on a strong wind; reservoirs replenished; no one complaining; those ancient words marching into my consciousness like a Roman legion. All revealed deeper meanings to me this season.

       It was an old memory returning. The Canadian community where I grew up was old world enough that we still sang a couple of the Latin verses of Adeste Fideles along with those translated into English whenever we gathered for a carol sing.

    Adeste fideles læti triumphantes,     O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
    Venite, venite in Bethlehem.              O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
    Natum videte
                                          Come and behold him
    Regem angelorum:
                                  Born the King of Angels:
    Venite adoremus (3×)
                             O come, let us adore Him, (3×)
    ”                                         Christ the Lord.

       The original four verses of Latin are in the version we know published around 1751, sometimes attributed to sources from the previous century. They were “written” by an English Catholic, John Wade, who was exiled and living in France to escape religious persecution.

       A more mature kind of love is expressed in this hymn than the simpler love we knew as children, “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,” one I would have barely comprehended then, if at all. We sing, “Oh, Come let us adore him,” but I wonder as an adult immersed in secular modernism and skepticism, how is it we can adore that which is not even visible? Perhaps as we grow older, our angels do not always behold the heavenly hosts as when we were little.

       “The indwelling Adjusters are one of God's separate but unified modes of contact with the creatures of his all but infinite creation. Thus does he who is invisible to mortal man manifest his presence.” (The UB, 32:4.7)

       O Come All Ye Faithful reminds believers that we adore Jesus and his associated divine parents because they represent the perfect ideals we strive for: Truth, Beauty and Goodness, that which we love and attain by faith, no longer questioning the source, the center point of stability and true reality that we yearn for to anchor us on this troubled world.

       “We do not worship the Father because of anything we may derive from such veneration;” (what we can get out of it), “we render such devotion and engage in such worship as a natural and spontaneous reaction to the recognition of the Father's matchless personality and because of his lovable nature and adorable attributes.” (The UB, 5:3.3)

       “The Eternal Son is the personal source of the adorable attributes of mercy and service which so abundantly characterize all orders of the descending Sons of God as they function throughout creation. All the divine nature, if not all the infinity of attributes, the Eternal Son unfailingly transmits to the Paradise Sons who go out from the eternal Isle to reveal his divine character to the universe of universes.” (The UB, 7:6.2)

       “On both friends and foes [Jesus] exercised a strong and peculiarly fascinating influence. Multitudes would follow him for weeks, just to hear his gracious words and behold his simple life. Devoted men and women loved Jesus with a well-nigh superhuman affection. And the better they knew him the more they loved him. And all this is still true; even today and in all future ages, the more man comes to know this God-man, the more he will love and follow after him.” (The UB, 149:2.14)

       “And there can be no peace in the heart or progress in the mind unless you fall wholeheartedly in love with truth, the ideals of eternal realities.” (157:2.2) And he was the incarnation of this very truth, the light of the world brought to our humble planet.

    “Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
    Jesus, to thee be glory given!
    Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!

    Oh Come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

    Venite Adoremus, Dominum.”

  • 2014-12-02 9:17 AM | Dave

       Social justice has become an issue that further divides the country between extreme poles of right and left. It is characterized by some like The Heritage Foundation as a “quest of the left.” The Catholic Church and other religious leaders, even conservatives, defend it as a movement rooted in scripture.

       American youth dealing with city life in the streets feel an urgency to be agents for change, and a drive to join causes that advocate for social justice. They are the same group whose religious affiliations are on the decline according to recent PEW Research Center surveys. Are their motivations spiritually related? Or is the social justice movement only a secular crusade?

       Some of the scriptural references are well known:

       "Speak out for those who have no voice, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9)

       "Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." (Isaiah 1:17), a quote that Jesus included in the first sermon in the Synagogue (The UB, 126:4.4).

       "Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another." (Zechariah 7:9-10)

       In The UB we are advised, “Being sensitive and responsive to human need creates genuine and lasting happiness, while such kindly attitudes safeguard the soul from the destructive influences of anger, hate, and suspicion,” (The UB, 140:5.16) in its commentary on the significance of the beatitude, “Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

       “The Master … did say that his followers should make feasts for the poor and the unfortunate. Jesus had a firm sense of justice, but it was always tempered with mercy.” (The UB, 140:8.12)

       Can the fight for social justice find its legs without a strong spiritual foundation? Is religion, personal and institutional, necessary to ensure the success of the quest? Our young agents for social change should also be guided to be agents for enlightenment. “Some callings are not holy and others secular. All things are sacred in the lives of those who are spirit led.” (155:6.11)

       In my idealistic dreams, I visualize a new movement partnering with the cause for social justice, one that would establish “the Master’s program,” friendship with God, a campaign to reinvigorate the importance of cultivating an inner life as well as a life of activism for just causes. Such a campaign would begin with:

    Step 1: Recognition of the significance of inner life experiences; a willingness to explore them at least during moments of retreat and quiet time, to turn away from the materialistic enticements of the outside world.

    Step 2: A consecration of loyalty to decisions, making mind your ally and God your friend.

    Step 3: And especially when engaged in non-violent civil disobedience, learning to manage one’s emotional life, especially the mastering of the emotions anger and hate, progressing in self-mastery rather than remaining a victim of one’s emotions. 

      The conflict between spiritual purposes and the goals of social justice is not new. It has beginnings in ancient Judaism. “The doctrine of immortality also took form at Babylon. The Jews had thought that the idea of the future life detracted from the emphasis of their gospel of social justice.” (The UB, 97:9.28)

       The UB text used concepts from Henry and Regina Weiman’s Normative Psychology of Religion, (per Matthew Block’s research,, in presenting The UB’s Paper 99, section 1 (Religion and Social Reconstruction). Much of this passage by the Weimans can be found there:

       “The complexity of society is now so great that the pressure of social need can no longer reach the agencies of control and change as readily as in the past. Great masses of people can be cramped, oppressed, impoverished, without being able to bring their case to such a social hearing as will result in that modification of institutions which will relieve the suffering.... In the past these pressures could be relieved by specific reforms, without thought of reconstructing the social order, because the people who were pinched by a misfitting institution had avenues for making their wants known and the required changes were not so radical as those required today. Consequently relief could be found by reform. Now it must be found, more often, in reconstruction (214-15).”

       The group Sojourners has a motto “faith in action for social justice.” Their president, Jim Wallis, wrote recently to promote his friend and former staff member, Adam Taylor and his book, Mobilizing Hope. First a student of Wallis’s at Harvard’s Kennedy School; he then joined Sojourners (, and also served a year working in the White House.  Of the book, Wallis wrote, “a manifesto for his generation … This important book is a theology for social justice, full of biblical references, reflections, and metaphors that point to God’s intentions and future for the world. This is not an argument rooted in political ideology, but a vision for social justice rooted firmly in the scriptures … it offers a spirituality for young activists, with the mature understanding that if you want to be a person of justice and action, and last for very long, you must also become a person of prayer and contemplation.”

       “Jesus worked, lived, and traded in the world as he found it. He was not an economic reformer, although he did frequently call attention to the injustice of the unequal distribution of wealth. But he did not offer any suggestions by way of remedy. He made it plain to the three that, while his apostles were not to hold property, he was not preaching against wealth and property, merely its unequal and unfair distribution. He recognized the need for social justice and industrial fairness, but he offered no rules for their attainment.” (The UB, 140:8.15)

       In the end, it is up to us to find the wise solutions to these problems in association with our spirit guidance.

  • 2014-10-19 9:15 AM | Dave

    Down through the walnut orchards to the creek bank

    to walk by new meanders and muddy channels

    from two days of rain, breathing in

    the algae-like smell, wet muck, soaked grass,

    spicy nutmeg scents from weeds and eucalyptus.

    In a flash of reborn faith, immediately hooked

    into the amazing embrace, gravity pull of the cosmos,

    touching on all vast and hopeful earth-bound flickers,

    I find my orbit closing in on the reality of truth,

    seeking acts of service needed to create beauty,

    lessons in honesty, loving, growing goodness,

    helping the world take a step out of darkness

    into the light.

    Before this realization of life energy, of Absolute being

    underneath all manifestation, I saw only

    random motion, fruitfulness and decay,

    sweet stench of decaying grass,

    earth biology creating variety, no underlying unity.


    Without this world of greed and cruelty,

    this deception, dishonesty, exploitation

    surrounding us every day I would not have seen

    God’s plan standing out so clear in the blue

    autumn sky tinged with faint clouds,

    kestrels in the poplar trees, shorn of leaves,

    red autumn colors, weeds in the creek,

    yellow leaves against the dull straw husk

    of oat grass, dead gray of wintering plants.

    On this old railroad bed, human aspiration

    rising anew.

    Jesus said: "Nevertheless, I declare to you, except a man be born of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. But you should not marvel that I said you must be born from above. When the wind blows, you hear the rustle of the leaves, but you do not see the wind—whence it comes or whither it goes—and so it is with everyone born of the spirit. With the eyes of the flesh you can behold the manifestations of the spirit, but you cannot actually discern the spirit." (142:6.5)

  • 2014-09-19 9:12 AM | Dave

    I did not feel I had the gift of evangelizing The Urantia Book, or the inclination, but it was a skill I gradually learned. An image I carried in my head, the fire-breathing religionist in his pulpit converting people to the gospel by emotional force and an appeal to fear, made me uncomfortable. When we worked with The Family of God Foundation (FOG) in the 1970’s and 80’s we followed the dictum, “spread the teachings, not the book,” also commended approvingly in the Foundation Trustees Report of 1990 as The Principle of Slow Growth: “Slow growth means the slow, deliberate, person-to-person spread of the teachings of The Urantia Book, without undue fanfare or public attention to The Urantia Book as a book.” As our friend Paula Thompson pointed out, “Slow growth takes full effort!”

    As FOG members, we had followed the slow growth principle for years. We usually didn’t try to enlist new readers of The UB, not publicly, though we promoted the Vern Grimsley radio broadcasts paraphrasing ideas from the book For a long time since the FOG days, I’ve made it my goal to help others discover their own authentic religious experience. We all tried other methods of ministering without making direct reference to The UB. At times it appeared as wise advice to recommend praying to Jesus for help, but we encountered resistance to such an appeal because it evoked the “old” Christianity, which it certainly resembled. I was more drawn to the description of the Master’s ministry in “As Jesus Passed By (171:7, pg. 1874).”  

    “Most of the really important things which Jesus said or did seemed to happen casually, "as he passed by." There was so little of the professional, the well-planned, or the premeditated in the Master's earthly ministry. He dispensed health and scattered happiness naturally and gracefully as he journeyed through life. It was literally true, ‘He went about doing good.’” (171:7.9, pg. 1875)

    The UB passage ends with this call, “And it behooves the Master's followers in all ages to learn to minister as "they pass by"—to do unselfish good as they go about their daily duties.” Naturally the learning curve is steep. We may not always succeed, but it is a righteous and noble method of ministry to aspire to!

    There is opportunity in every profession to do the work of the kingdom. If a person feels they are incapable of being an on-fire evangelist and preacher for the Urantia Book (The UB), Jesus said "Never forget that, when you are a faith son of God, all upright work of the realm is sacred. Nothing which a son of God does can be common. Do your work, therefore, from this time on, as for God. And when you are through on this world, I have other and better worlds where you shall likewise work for me. And in all of this work, on this world and on other worlds, I will work with you, and my spirit shall dwell within you."  (192:2.13, pg. 2049)

    Professor Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) discovered her unique lifework with the National Council of Women of Kenya. "We are called to assist the earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own -- indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty, and wonder." For her work with the Green Belt Movement, planting over 51 million trees in Kenya,, she won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

    “But cultural society is no great and beneficent club of inherited privilege into which all men are born with free membership and entire equality. Rather is it an exalted and ever-advancing guild of earth workers, admitting to its ranks only the nobility of those toilers who strive to make the world a better place in which their children and their children's children may live and advance in subsequent ages.” (81:5.3, pg. 906)

    Jesus taught a group of his apostles and disciples to “Never forget there is only one adventure which is more satisfying and thrilling than the attempt to discover the will of the living God, and that is the supreme experience of honestly trying to do that divine will. And fail not to remember that the will of God can be done in any earthly occupation. Some callings are not holy and others secular. All things are sacred in the lives of those who are spirit led; that is, subordinated to truth, ennobled by love, dominated by mercy, and restrained by fairness—justice.” (155:6.11, pg. 1732)

    “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Martin Luther King Jr.

    Using our gifts of story-telling, poetry, and music came naturally to us, my music partner Chappell and I. We saw the use of these gifts as a way of “doing God’s will,” and we embraced this “consecration of our will.” (111:5.5, pg. 1221) Attempts to use story-telling seemed to work best the less the stories referred to an obvious, established spiritual direction, instead giving permission to the listener to follow their own personal religious path. We saw this approach confirmed in the apostles’ discussion about the Parable of the Sower (151:1, pg. 1688). It’s not easy work and we are still on the path, “honestly trying” to achieve excellence, but it is fulfilling and purposeful. And because we seek the spirit’s leadings above and before anything else, it is a sacred path.

  • 2014-09-05 9:11 AM | Dave

    The Indian poet Kabir once said, “Admire the diamond that can bear the hits of a hammer. Many deceptive preachers, when critically examined, turn out to be false.”

    Carl Sagan articulated a scientific principle that I followed as I studied works claiming to be prophecy or revelation, such as The Urantia Book (The UB). To Sagan, the virtue of the scientific approach was that it was, “a self-correcting enterprise. To be accepted, all new ideas must survive rigorous standards of evidence,” including being, “consistent with the facts.” (Cosmos, p. 91) Albert Einstein added a more expansive view. He too respected the facts but looked to religion to establish “the goals and values.” Einstein felt, “the most important function of … science was to awaken the cosmic religious feeling (fr. Religion and Science).” Concerning this partnership between science and religion (and philosophy), the philosopher John Locke suggested, “Revelation must be judged of by reason.” Even the Apostle Paul urged us to “Test everything; hold on to what is good (Thessalonians, 5:21).”

    Jesus applied a practical test that went further; he sought to discover values in action, embracing a concept of fruitfulness that he would return to in later teachings—“by their fruits you shall know them [the false prophets],” (Matthew 7:16). “As the years passed, this young carpenter [Jesus] of Nazareth increasingly measured every institution of society and every usage of religion by the unvarying test: What does it do for the human soul? does it bring God to man? does it bring man to God?” (126:2.5)

    Be glad our book is challenged by thoughtful people. It is not The UB’s authority as a revelation that is so important as our own conviction of truth based on personal experience. My hope in the revelation revives when I hear truths gleaned from The UB revealed in our spontaneous conversations, when the authority of the believer springs from the heart to triumph over the authority of a quote from the book.

    Because of my well-honed faith in the scientific approach to truth, I tried to test The UB in the Sagan way. When brave enough to question the mythology handed down by our UB forebears, I constantly correlated the information in the book with what was known in human traditions sometimes with surprising results. In the 1990’s when allegations about borrowings made to the text began, I painstakingly faced them head on, to examine where they might have occurred, to seek an explanation of what looked like plagiarisms. I liked Meredith Sprunger’s response to Martin Gardner: Some readers hold on to the belief we received a sacrosanct, perfect text, though statements in The UB contradict the idea. “A new revelation is always contaminated by the older evolutionary beliefs, “(93:7.4, Pg. 1022), or as Jesus confided to Nathaniel in a private conversation, “Nothing which human nature has touched can be regarded as infallible.” (159.4.8, Pg. 1768) In “the religion papers” we find, “Revelation is validated only by human experience.” (101.2.8; p. 1106)

    I hear readers freely use the term “revelation,” but shouldn’t we pause to wonder if we detect the ghost of a fundamentalist desire to proclaim an inerrant scripture lurking? Inerrancy, infallibility, was the first one of the Five Fundamentals agreed on at the Presbyterian General Assembly in 1910 which became the foundation of the fundamentalist churches. “To become fetishes, words had to be considered inspired, and the invocation of supposed divinely inspired writings led directly to the establishment of the authority of the church.” (88:2.10)

    The church I used to attend, The Episcopal Church, arrived at what might be called an enlightened view of the Bible; they generally do not conform to the fundamentalist position on inerrancy of their text. However, the viewpoint regarding sacred texts often depends on the leadership of the individual parish.

    Here is how Father Carl Hansen of Carmel, California (rector 1987-2005), spoke to his Episcopalian congregation about this issue, “The Bible is the truth, not because it contains no human errors, but because the one who is truth speaks to us through the imperfections of our humanity. …When the Bible is treated as God’s inerrant word, it becomes an excuse for Christians to say that we have the truth and no one else does…it becomes a weapon to use against others, to deny their dignity as children of God and to suggest that God will torture them eternally unless they become one of us…it becomes our god, an idol, and we substitute it for a relationship with the living Lord.” (from his column, Friends in Faith)

    To insist on the inerrancy of The UB would repeat the error made by the religion “about Jesus” (195:10.15) that preceded us.

    Do you find errors, contradictions, discrepancies in the Fifth Epochal revelation, The UB, alongside the eternal truths? We must use our rational minds and apply the hammer to the diamond. See if it bears the hits and truth comes up shining. For those with faith in the indwelling divine spirit, usually described as the Thought Adjuster in The UB, we look to our spiritual helper to be our radar, to resonate with support when we read a passage that holds meaning. “Does the UB speak to my heart?” And if it speaks from one of the human sources included in the book, the truth in the insight is still undiminished.

    The fact that The UB is imperfect doesn’t mean it isn’t what it says it is, the Fifth Epochal Revelation (92:4.9). That the community survived challenges to the book’s authenticity gave me hope that we were following Jesus’ guidance to true religion, a religion of the spirit. “The old religion was motivated by fear-consciousness; the new gospel of the kingdom is dominated by truth-conviction, the spirit of eternal and universal truth. And no amount of piety or creedal loyalty can compensate for the absence in the life experience of kingdom believers of that spontaneous, generous, and sincere friendliness which characterizes the spirit-born sons of the living God.” (180:5.12)

    The revelation must live in us, or we cannot make a revelation to others. The UB’s most relevant message to the world today is the call to support the faith of a true believer versus the authority of an institution and/or the infallibility of a text. The individual who builds on personal religious experience, follows the authority of the heart, allows others the freedom to undertake the same adventure. Jesus referred to the heart when he gave his apostles “the teaching that true religion was man’s heartfelt loyalty to his highest and truest convictions.” (155.3.5)

    Seeking God is the greatest human endeavor. Jesus advised the apostles of “the perils of intellectual discovery…struggle, conflict,” fraught with, “mental uncertainties” and foretold an “uncertain and troublous future.” (155:5.10) Mistakes are made along the way, yet it is important to be on the journey.

    Jesus used the heart metaphor again when he said to his apostles, (157:2.2, p. 1745) “There can be no peace in the heart or progress in the mind unless you fall wholeheartedly in love with truth.” As another author added later, (195, 5, 14, p. 2076) “Love is the true guide to real insight.” 

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