JACQUES WEISS: Among the persons who were studying the typed manuscript of the Urantia Papers between 1935 and 1955 was a Miss Caroline Brown, a well-informed spiritualist with whom I had long conversations in New York during the winter of 1947-1948. At that time Miss Brown never alluded to the existence of the Papers.
In the early fifties this group received a celestial message stating that because of advances in planetary communications, the number of potential readers had become sufficient to justify the publication of the Papers in English with an initial printing of 10,000 copies, and that a translator in another language would be found to make it a truly worldwide work.
During Christmas time in 1955, as soon as the Papers appeared in English under the title of "The Urantia Book," Miss Brown sent me a copy and hinted that the publication message might be meant for me.
It took me the first months of 1956 to read the book.
Like many French people, I had been searching for a philosophy that could unite science and religion. After a thirty-year quest, I found it in the Urantia Book. Well aware of the difficulty of translating the book into French and publishing it, I nevertheless decided to consider myself, from that time on, as being on a mission. I translated the whole text by hand in twenty-nine large notebooks, constantly receiving immense aid from the invisible world - collaboration, health, inspiration, and money.
When the manuscript was well on the way, I asked my secretary to undertake the typing. Then I wrote to the Urantia Foundation, telling them that I had translated the book into French and requesting permission to publish it. There followed an endless period of negotiations and controls which finally resulted in an agreement for which it was necessary for me to go to Chicago in 1960.
When I arrived there on August 21, Dr. Sadler introduced me to an assembly of around seventy Urantians with the following words: "We received the order to publish the Urantia Book in 1955 because the time had come and because there would be a translator. I introduce to you today this translator, whose potential the spiritual world knew of before the translator, himself, knew of the existence of the work."
Naturally these exceptional circumstances led me to form a great friendship with Dr. Sadler in 1960. He was then 85 years old. In leaving him, I asked for his promise to stay alive until I could come again to see him and deliver to him in person the international fruit of the work. He kept his word.
MEREDITH J. SPRUNGER: My spiritual pilgrimage began at the age of four when I recall saying to myself, "There is something about life that I do not understand, but I'm going to find out." During the years that followed, my life was shaped by a series of peak experiences that led me through academic majors in philosophy and theology preparatory to ordination as a minister in the United Church of Christ.
After years of developing sermons and papers formulating my own spiritual experience that was centered in the religion of Jesus rather than the religion about Jesus, I realized that a new spiritual approach was needed in mainline Christian theology. I tentatively outlined a couple of books which needed to be written, and after some procrastination, I finally committed myself to the discipline of writing these books. Shortly after making this decision, the Urantia Book was placed in my hands.
In December of 1955 my wife Irene and I had stopped in to visit our friends, Dr. and Mrs. Edward Brueseke, in South Bend, Indiana. In addition to his pastoral activities, Ed served as chairman of a theological commission in the Evangelical and Reformed Church (later united with the Congregational Christian denomination to become the United Church of Christ). During the course of the visit Ed picked up a big blue book and handed it to me, saying, "Judge Louis Hammerschmidt (a member of his congregation) gave me this book. Some businessmen think this is a new Bible." I looked at the table of contents and read chapter headings like "The Messenger Hosts of Space," written by One High in Authority, and "The Corps of the Finality," authored by a Divine Counselor and One Without Name and Number! As I handed the book back to Ed, we had a hearty laugh about businessmen thinking they had a new Bible. I assumed that that would be the last I would see of the book.
At the time I was vice-president of the Indiana-Michigan Conference and Judge Hammerschmidt was the layperson on our conference board. In January I picked up the judge to attend a board meeting in Jackson, Michigan. During the trip Hammerschmidt brought up the topic of spiritualism, which he did not accept, and was a bit surprised that I had made a study of it. After a pause he turned to me and said, "Say, I've got a book that I would like to have you read and tell me what you think of it." I knew he was referring to the Urantia Book, but to avoid hurting his feelings I replied, "Okay, Judge. Send it to me."
When the book arrived I set it aside, not wanting to waste my time reading what appeared to be either esoteric nonsense or some elaborate system of theosophy. Periodically, I would read a bit in it here and there but I was not impressed. That summer I took it along on vacation but things didn't get boring enough for me to look at the book. In September I realized that I would be in a meeting with Hammerschmidt in October and I had to read something and tell him what I thought about it.
Looking over the table of contents, I saw it had a section on the life and teachings of Jesus. I thought that with my theological training I could make short work of this section. As I started reading I did not find what I'd expected to find - something like The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, by Levi. The story of the early life of Jesus was more believable than the accounts one finds in the apocryphal stories of the boyhood of Jesus. It was something that might reasonably have happened. As I proceeded to that aspect of the life of Jesus covered by the New Testament I was even more impressed. Some of the traditional theological problems were handled by the events of the story in a way that made more sense than anything I had ever read. I found the Urantia Book's narrative to be solidly rooted in the New Testament realities. There were times when I read with tears streaming down my face. When I finished reading "The Life and Teachings of Jesus" I was theologically and spiritually inspired. Whoever had produced a life of Jesus of this quality, I thought, must have something significant to say in the rest of the book.
Thus motivated, I started with the Foreword and read the entire book. I discovered that the first three quarters of the book was even more amazing and profound than "The Life and Teachings of Jesus"! The teachings of the Urantia Book resonated and harmonized with my experience and highest thinking. The substance of the two books I had planned to write was expressed far better here than I could have possibly done. If this is not an authentic picture of spiritual reality, I said to myself, it is the way it ought to be! Science, philosophy, and religion were integrated more effectively in the Urantia Book than in any other philosophical or theological system known to me. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the most inspiring and authentic picture of spiritual reality available to humankind.
I gave copies of the Urantia Book to around a dozen of my colleagues and all of them except one - who admitted that he hadn't read it - confirmed my evaluation of its high quality. Our clergy group spent several years interviewing the people connected with the publication of the book and researching events associated with its origin. Since then I have devoted myself to sharing the Urantia Book with college students and the clergy of mainline Christianity.
GENE JOYCE: In the spring of 1956 my husband and I stopped by to pick up our friends Agnes and Bob so we could all attend a performance of the Theater in the Round at Fair Park in Dallas. I don't remember the play we saw, but I can still recall Agnes's exact words as we entered their house: "Gene, come and see this crazy book a friend of Bobs sent him from Australia!" It was accompanied by a note that read, "This book has meant so much to me and my family that I wanted you to have a copy "and it was signed, "Clyde Bedell.
Even without time to peruse the book, I was impressed by its size, the excellent bindings, and the quality of the paper. A quick glance through the table of contents whetted my interest. What was this Urantia Book? Considering what it must have cost to produce a book of such quality, this was no fly-by-night scam. The following day I ordered two copies from the publisher in Chicago - first printings, no less - for $10 each!
Only that morning Mr. Dealey had asked her to find out from Bill some charity or foundation to which The News could give money in memory of Bill's son, Billy, who had recently died. After some persistence on her part, Bill Sadler finally said, "Well, if you insist, they could make a donation to the Urantia Foundation."
"Why, Helen, that's the name of that crazy book!" I said, and told her the story about Clyde Bedell sending the Urantia Book from Australia to Bob's family in Dallas.
From the time I was nine years old when my mother died, questions about survival after death and matters relating to religion had been plaguing my mind. I wanted to know why we are here, where we are going, and what is the purpose of it all. Although I believed that Jesus was the Son of God I didn't much like the version of his personality as given in the Bible. Through the Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Congregationalists and Lutherans, I searched for acceptable answers to my questions. They either didn't have answers or the answers they gave didn't make sense to me.
After reading the Urantia Book for ten years as superb science fiction I decided it was exactly what it said it was and it began to change my life. Jesus as presented in the book was such a revelation to me that it allowed me to come closer to him and to appreciate him as the perfect model of the Father's love. He became my hero and the example of all the attributes I admired and could try to emulate.
The Urantia Book enabled me to abandon anxiety and eliminate my fears. It also helped preserve my sanity when my son Christopher died at 19. I thank our Father for this revelation every day of my life.
GUS WALSTROM: Some boys used to come to the canyon where we lived in Colorado to listen to some occult lectures on Sundays. As we were thirteen miles from Castle Rock and there was nowhere for them to get a meal, we would invite the boys to our house for dinner after the morning lecture. They were students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. They had visited the Urantia Book study group in Denver and were talking about it, and one Sunday in July 1956 Roger Darnell brought with him the Urantia Book all wrapped up like a box of candy.
I started reading it, and by the end of the year I had finished it. My wife Marie read it after I did, and then we asked Roger to bring three more books, which we soon sold. After that we started ordering the books in ten-book lots. A few of us later got together for a Urantia Book reading once a week. From then on we always kept some books.
Through the years we have distributed over seventy Urantia Books. Marie made heavy plastic covers for all the books to preserve the fly covers. Dear Marie, she is now on the mansion worlds.
WALLY ZIGLAR: Back in 1957 my twin brother Richard was attending a flying saucer convention with his friend Max Miller, who had just published the acclaimed Flying Saucers - Fact or Fiction. Bored with the lecture, they went next door to browse inside an occult bookstore. It was there that Richard spotted the Urantia Book nestled between several other monumental works, including A Treatise on Cosmic Fire by Alice Bailey and The Secret Doctrine by Madame Blavatsky. Max said he could get any book for Richard at fifty per cent off list price through his publisher, DeVorss, so Richard bought several, including the Urantia Book.
Only a handful of people were aware of the UBook in those days. I gave the book little notice until my dad, after reading a few chapters, suggested I take a look at it to see what I thought, and left it on the living room coffee table for my comments. At the time, Richard was working on his Master's Degree in psychology at Pepperdine University and I was doing graduate work in finance and real estate at USC. I'd already had the misfortune of reading about fifty pages of the very lengthy Cosmic Fire and thought Richard had gone off the deep end; critiquing his spacy books was not exactly what I had in mind for my weekends. None of the other titles caught my interest either, so the Urantia Book sat there for a while.
In the '50s my parents owned a duplex in Hancock Park, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. My grandparents occupied the upstairs unit. It was customary for my grandmother, whenever she was going to a luncheon, to come down to my parents' unit and wait in our living room for a friend to pick her up. One summer day, Maria Culbertson, who had waited years for the Urantia Book to be published and who possessed one of the first copies in Los Angeles, came over to take my grandmother to lunch. Maria tells me that when her eyes fell upon this big blue book resting on the coffee table, she almost had a coronary. She thought she had the only copy in Los Angeles, and so seeing another book only a block away gave her a real adrenalin boost. The idea crossed her mind that it had somehow made The New York Times bestseller list without her knowing it, thanks to the advertising genius of Clyde Bedell.
After gathering her senses, she learned from Grandmother that the twins and their dad had recently found the book, not from a bestseller list but from the shelf of an occult bookstore in Fontana, California. Afterwards, Maria called back to encourage me to follow Richard and read the Urantia Book, and that I did in the summer of 1958.
Since then I have read it eight times in its entirety. Over the years I have given the book to many people, some notables being Werner Von Braun, Manly P. Hall, Richard Nixon and my neighbors Will and Ariel Durant. I have had many exhilarating moments and one memorable disappointment: I gave the book to a seminary professor who swore it was demon-inspired. To him the doctrine of Christianity centered on "the blood of Christ shed for our sins," and he judged me to be in strong need of repentance for having read such a powerful work of the devil. I pray for him occasionally.
Together with my brother and dad I have placed numerous books in public libraries and some half a hundred in naval ship libraries where many a sailor has become a captive reader. I have often wondered where those big blue books go when the ships are decommissioned and put in mothballs. It would be nice to have a few of those first printings back.
ILA AND LOREN HALL: In 1957 my husband Loren and I were given a pamphlet by a naturopathic doctor who was treating our little boy who had contracted polio in 1949. The pamphlet advertised a UFO meeting near Mountain View, Missouri. UFOs were something we didn't know much about so we decided to attend the three-day meeting scheduled for that June.
The next year we went again. At that meeting we listened to a talk given by a man from Minnesota who mentioned the Urantia Book, which he'd brought along. As we were loading up the car to start home, I said to Loren, "Wait for me. I just want to look through the books." I went back and on a shelf I saw this big blue book - the Urantia Book.
I opened it to Paper 18, "The Universe of Universes." How great it was reading about all the universes and the inhabited planets! I ran back to the car and told Loren that there was a book in there I wanted.
"How much is it?" he asked.
"Twelve dollars," I told him.
"I don't have that much money with me now," he replied.
"Let me see if I can find the man who brought it," I insisted, "because I have to have that book!" I went back and found him, and the man said he'd mail me the book when he again heard from me. It took me another month to persuade Loren that I really had to have that book!
Finally one day the book came in the mail. It was the greatest book I had ever possessed and the truths contained in it thrilled me. From the moment I first opened the Urantia Book at that meeting I knew it was true and I have never doubted it. Both of us have been so thankful ever since for that UFO meeting where I found the book. I believe we were meant to be there.
BILL BRYAN: On hot Kansas summer nights, back in the 1930s, my family sometimes slept outside on the hay rack to escape the heat. We would count meteors, study the stars and speculate on whether there were other worlds and, if so, whether they worshipped the same God we did. My parents tried hard to answer our questions but sometimes I dropped off to sleep hearing Mother or Dad saying, "Willie, that's a great mystery. If God wanted us to know, he would tell us."
Time passed and we survived the Depression, dust storms and cyclones. I watched the sky as I worked in the fields, now and then seeing an airplane, and my imagination took wings. Eventually I had my first ride in an airplane and subsequently joined the Army Air Corps
About this time, something happened that changed my life. I was riding the bus home from work one evening reading Popular Science magazine and saw some photographs of alien spaceships taken by one George Adamski near Mt. Palomar, California. The idea took root in my mind: We are not alone in the universe!
I don't remember how I learned about the annual UFO conventions at Giant Rock airstrip on the high desert of Southern California near Yucca Valley, but in 1953 I drove out there from Kansas to investigate. In 1956 we moved to Utah and were able to attend the annual conventions more easily. It was difficult to know what, if anything, to believe. The people who spoke about their contacts were obviously sincere and I was inclined to accept much of what they said at face value; I stored away the remainder for future reference.
It was during our last visit in 1958 that I found the Urantia Book. There, on a table on the runway of that small airstrip, were a number of metaphysical and other books tended by a little old lady from Allen's Book Shelf of Fontana, California. While browsing, I saw a big blue book containing a paper entitled "Government on a Neighboring Planet." I knew I had to have that book! We spent our last $ 12 for it. It was a first edition, published in 1955.
For almost fifteen years I read it alone, unlearning many things and gaining new insights and appreciation for other aspects of reality. My first-edition UB gave no street address for the Urantia Foundation in Chicago, which made it difficult for me to find other readers. In the late 1960s I moved back to Kansas from the West. I had given up Mormonism and was exploring other organized religions. Naturally, I thought that Christians who loved the Lord would be receptive to the beautiful Urantia revelation, and I like to feel that I have been instrumental to some extent in spreading the good word.
Things happened fast for me in the early 1970s. Imagine my surprise when I finally learned that there were "conventions" nearby where many people came to share the delights of the revelation. The 1971 Concordex by Clyde Bedell was a wonderful adjunct to my learning. I began to meet other truth seekers who enriched my life, among them Loren and Ila Hall. The Halls found their first Urantia Book at a UFO meeting in Missouri so we had something in common. I first attended an international conference of Urantia Book readers in Vancouver, B.C. in 1978, where I met Christy, Vern Grimsley and many other early leaders of the revelation. The first regional meeting I attended was at Fountainhead Lodge on Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma. In 1987, I was a founding member of the Heart of America Urantia Society. In 1988,1 had the privilege of introducing the book to my present wife, Eugenia.
The Urantia Book has been such a blessing in my life. It answered my childhood yearnings. Through TUB, God is telling me what I had always wanted to know. And I have learned that I am a cosmic citizen on an eternal adventure. Thank you, Lord!
ELDRED COCKING: In the fall of 1959, I picked up a copy of the Urantia Book while browsing in a Chicago bookstore. Over the next five or ten minutes I perused the table of contents and read a few random passages of the text. I concluded that the book was probably just another occult-metaphysical production. I set the book down on the display table and briefly wondered if it would be worthwhile to start reading this weighty volume. The next day I returned to the bookstore with no doubt in my mind. I had definitely decided to buy and read the Urantia Book. It was a decision which was to deeply influence my thinking and actions in the years ahead. What were the determining factors behind this decision? Why was I willing to pay any attention to this strange book? From whence came the urge to become acquainted with the contents of this lengthy treatise by completely unknown authors?
After several decades of reading and thinking about the Urantia Book, I have little doubt that spiritual guidance was the decisive factor in my finding and studying the book, just as it was the same spirit leading which influenced my human mind to persist in a quest for truth over several decades before encountering and receiving the books revelatory message.
During my long quest for mental and spiritual enlightenment I had learned much about the lives and thinking of spiritual teachers and leaders, philosophers, theologians, and scientists. Most of these personalities and their writings were interesting, a few were inspiring, but - with one exception - none were both inspiring and convincing. That exception was Jesus of Nazareth as revealed in the New Testament.
The problem I had with Jesus was the fragmentary, incomplete biblical record of his life and teachings, together with the multiplicity of sectarian interpretations of his message. I believed that Jesus was the greatest figure in human history, even though I realized that I understood all too little of his message and its implications. I longed to know more about this mysterious son of God.
The Urantia Book was a marvelous answer to my felt need for more enlightenment about Jesus and his heavenly Father. Here was a new revelation of Jesus and a vastly improved presentation of his saving message. And the wealth of additional background information about the cosmos and its creator was tremendously impressive and illuminating.
In summary, a persistent hunger for truth led me to find the Urantia Book and stay with it. Spiritual guidance prepared me for the new revelation and ensured my acceptance of this gift from God.
POLLY PARKE FRIEDMAN: My mom, Grace Walker, was a member of the Forum in the '40s, but I wasn't at all interested in her activities at the time. I was an intensely independent teenager who thought her mother was nice but a little wacky for her age.
After college, and two years into a teaching career, I was on the brink of marriage and went into a panic about my decision. Because my mother paid for his services, I went to see Dr. Sadler for advice. He was very formal, just like the psychiatrists in the movies. A large dog, like a Great Dane, stood at his side as a sentinel of affirmation. The doctor told me that my and my fiance's statistics indicated that the marriage would not work out. Again I thought I knew best, and went through with the marriage to show this doctor he was wrong. Alas, years later, the marriage ended as predicted.
In the meantime I moved from Illinois to California and became a Valley Girl. My mom, again on her toes, sent me a copy of the first printing of the Urantia Book in 1955. I put it on the shelf where I stored odds and ends and it sat there for about five years.
Sometime in 1960, while I was experiencing low physical health and mental uncertainties, I took the book down from the shelf, drew the drapes in the bedroom, shut the door, and began to read in secret. I was going to prove this was all a hoax and expose the real writers - whoever they were!
Well, the real truth started slowly to get to me in a big way. It was months before I told my mom, and then only after I had visited the one and only Los Angeles study group, then held in Hancock Park. There I met some beautiful people who, I discovered, were quite normal - at least for L.A.! That was the beginning.
Trying to be cautious, I held off joining the Los Angeles Urantia Society until 1965. It's been surprises and crises ever since, but the teachings have become an inseparable part of me. I'd like to be able to tell Doc Sadler that he was right on all counts, and that I liked his dog. My mom already knows.
HAL KETTELL: Sometime in the early '60s I was working on a fine elderly gentleman in my dental chair. His name was Fred Squires. We talked about philosophy and religion. I was searching even then. In my youth my mother had exposed me to Christian Science; I had been a Sunday school teacher, superintendent, Christian Education chair, elder and trustee of a large Presbyterian church; I had looked into reincarnation, Edgar Cayce, pyramids, and UFOs, but something was always missing and I was ready for something new. At one point I made the "mistake" of taking my hands out of Freds mouth long enough for him to say, "I have a book that I think you might be interested in." He then told me a little about it. It sounded quite interesting, so I asked if I could borrow it. "No way!" he replied, "But you can buy one at the bookstore." I was not in the habit of buying everything recommended to me in the office, but I guess my guardian angel - or midwayers or my Thought Adjuster - must have been needling me, because I made a trip to Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena to buy one. At the time, of course, I had no idea that I had a guardian angel or Thought Adjuster, but something motivated me to pursue the issue.
In about two weeks I received a phone call saying my book had arrived. "What book?" I asked.
"The Urantia Book you ordered," came the reply. Well, that was the start of a new adventure into the universe for me. After thumbing through the table of contents and scanning the list of authors with all of their weird names, I decided I had an enormous, expensive, paper-pack of science fiction. I enjoyed science fiction, so I started with the geological development of our planet. It was fascinating, and within a couple of weeks I was hooked on the Urantia Book as fact and not fiction.
After I had read enough to know what it was about, I bought several more first-printing copies and gave them to my relatives. The results were predictable: one fundamentalist sister burned the book, calling it the work of the devil; one brother put it on the shelf of his library, and it was years before he blew the dust off it. So I learned. Now I just occasionally sow a few seeds in the hope that they will take root and grow. Since then, a couple of my siblings have graduated to the mansion worlds, and I'm sure they were surprised on arrival.
Now the blanks in my faith are filled in - the i's are dotted and the t's crossed. I have complete faith and trust in God as my Father and friend as I search to reach him. He is personal and real to me now, rather than a man in the sky with a long beard, waiting for me to make a mistake so that St. Peter can write it down in my book of life. Best of all, the book has given me a real concept of Jesus as Michael of Nebadon, my elder brother and creator. My life is now becoming fulfilled, and I am more at peace with the real world of the spirit. What more can I ask for than to enjoy the journey?
BEVERLY WOLD: The Urantia Book and I came together late in 1962. A copy was loaned to my husband by a Riverside County planning associate as a result of their discussing philosophy and religion on their lunch breaks. The friend had used the Urantia Book as a reference book in a course he took while getting his engineering degree at USC in Los Angeles. I found out later that it had been placed in the university library by Julia Fenderson soon after it was published. So the ripples of this epochal revelation pushed out to be discovered by a truth seeker who was designing parks in Riverside, California. So it was, that my husband brought this big, blue, two-inch-thick, five-pound book home and put it on our bedside nightstand for some shared reading before we went to sleep.
My husband had a busy job, and I was in charge of a large therapy department at what was then Riverside County's largest general acute hospital, with four main treatment areas in various buildings, with quite a large staff of therapists and trained volunteers. I wanted something not heavy but gripping and educational before calling it a day, like an Irving Stone novel - not a 2,097-page gargantuan collection of papers seemingly authored by outer-space entities - but I thought, well, let's give it a try.
It was my turn to read and I let the book open where it would. It spread open at the place where it describes the earth being peopled by red, yellow, blue, orange, green, and indigo races. Well, we surmised that this might be better than Irving Stone, Orson Welles, and a few others collectively. So we started at the beginning. We were greatly inspired and thrilled by the enlarged concept of God - his nature and attributes as set forth in the first three papers. It was like putting flesh and skin on the bare skeleton-picture outline in the Bible.
Often I have read the first and last parts of a book to see if I want to read the in-between. So we turned to Part IV to read about the seventh incarnation of our universe creator, Michael, coming to this earth as a mortal, to demonstrate by his life and teachings the true will of God and Gods many attributes, as nearly as mortals are able to grasp. It was about Christmas-time, and reading about the love and compassion of Michael for his creatures was very touching.
It didn't seem to matter who wrote the Urantia Book, for as we read, it filled in all the gaps and unanswered spaces in the Bible about the life of Jesus, his earthly family, and what he did in those missing years before he started his direct ministry to his chosen disciples and the multitudes of his time. And so many other questions were answered in simple, gripping, and eloquent prose. The Urantia Book made the message of Jesus, so sketchy and abbreviated in the Bible, come alive in a vibrant, meaningful way. It gave direction for everyday, present living, and it made the teachings of the Bible understandable, too.
Our spirit guides were lovingly and gently leading us on, for we discovered that some friends in Riverside had also found the Urantia Book through a New Age study group. They had received a notice from Georgia Gecht, then secretary of the First Urantia Society of Los Angeles (FUSLA), of a meeting the first Sunday of the month to be held at a bank in Culver City. We all went to find out more about the Urantia Book from them. Julia Fenderson was at the door, along with others, warmly greeting and introducing people. The meeting was very inspiring, the hospitality so warm and sincere - and no collection plate was passed. We returned many times and soon started a study group in Riverside. It was the beginning of a long association with FUSLA, multiple associations with Urantia Brotherhood all over the United States and other countries, and deep spiritual experiences, with an expanding knowledge of the journey to eternity as road-mapped in the Urantia Book.
JAMES IRWIN: In 1963 I was working for a supermarket as a part-time stocking clerk in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. One evening, as I was gathering baskets from the parking lot, a woman approached me and asked, "Is your name James? James Irwin?"
"Yes," I answered, "and how might I help you?"
"Emma wants you to have this," she said, and handed me a large blue book.
"Emma who?" I asked her.
"Emma Christensen," she replied, then turned around and walked away. To this day I have no idea who the person was who delivered the book to me.
When I returned to the store, I opened the book to the first page and wrote Emma Christensen's name inside. I was only 17 at the time, but any book of a theological nature always caught my attention.
Immediately after receiving the book, I began to read it non-stop, day and night, until I finished it. I even took days off from work to complete it.
The Urantia Book has been my companion through all of my life's events. It went with me during my tour in Vietnam, on railroad trips to Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, Thailand, and on side trips to Korea, Cambodia, Laos, and China. (One time it took a side trip without me, but that's another story.) The Urantia Book has served me well these 35 years. Many kind folks have offered to replace it for me, as the cover has long since come off, and pages that came out are tucked inside, but I consider I'm only just beginning to break it in.
Eighteen years after the book had been given to me, I decided it was time to thank "Emma," so I called the Urantia Foundation in Chicago. I knew nothing of the Foundation, Emma, or anything else surrounding the book's origin. The purpose of my call was to thank this kind lady for giving me the book. Although people have since told me that Emma didn't answer the phone at the Foundation anymore by then, on that day she did. I asked if I might speak to Ms. Christensen.
"I am she," she replied.
The next few moments were extraordinary. "My name is James Irwin ..." I began, but before I could add, "But you probably don't know me," she exclaimed, "Then you got the book?"
"Ahh, umm ... yes," I replied.
"I'm happy that you called," she said, "even if it has taken you a while."
We talked of many things - the midwayers and their presentiments, the celestial hosts, various spirit beings, Michael-Jesus. She expressed her belief that her time was almost at an end here, and we spoke of the morontia life yet to be experienced.
It has been my privilege, honor, and humble opportunity to have had this book for these many years. I may be deluded, but I am convinced that my Thought Adjuster, guardian angels, and other hosts unknown to me placed these theological concepts in my life's path. Although I never met Emma face-to-face in this life, I look forward to our morontia life meeting. I do not know how Emma knew of me, but I shall always treasure our unforgettable phone conversation. Shortly thereafter, Emma left us to continue on in her life's journey.
Emma was the last living member of the six contact commissioners, and was the individual who typed the entire Urantia Book from the original manuscript.
BILL HAZZARD: In 1966, about a year after I retired as a captain in the U.S. Navy, my late wife Dorothy and I bought a house in Mission Hills, San Diego, next door to a man named Harry Lavoie. Harry lived alone and was a vociferous reader. He would comment to me on things he had read, and I in turn I would comment on things I'd read to him, and we would exchange books. One day he passed the Urantia Book over to me for loan, but without a single comment.
I soon realized the book was something that could not be digested in a short time, and I found it so interesting that I decided I must have a copy of my own. Since a new Urantia Book cost $15 in those days and I was afraid Dorothy would consider that too much, I phoned around to used book stores and located a copy in Hollywood for $9. (Later on I found out that this particular book had been stolen from a man in San Francisco. Among a lot of scribbling in the book, I recognized a name from the Los Angeles readership, and when I showed that person the book, he indeed turned out to be the rightful owner. It had been given to him by his girlfriend in Hawaii. I returned it to him and only then did I buy a new copy for myself.)
I was deeply interested in this book from the word go because it was about theology and many other interesting topics. And while it was in some sense hardly believable because it was so "far out," I took the whole book on faith.
One experience I had had confirmed for me that at least some of it was true. This event occurred in 1918, when I was not quite six years old and living in the small town of Placentia, California, thirty miles east of Los Angeles. Another boy and I were what would nowadays be called "hanging out." When we saw a shiny new car coming into town from the direction of Los Angeles, we both had a primal urge to throw something at it. My friend threw a rock, but I couldn't find a rock so I threw a corn cob. Both missiles landed on target. The infuriated driver stopped the car in the middle of an intersection and started chasing us. The other boy got away and I tried to flee by climbing a small tree in front of my house, a tree that had been planted on my first birthday. The driver was shaking the tree and demanding to know where I lived. Although later I didn't mind disappointing my mother by getting a sailor's tattoo on my arm, at this moment in the tree, not wanting to break her heart, I pointed to a house a couple of doors away. The man departed in disgust, probably knowing I was lying but needing to get back to his car. Immediately I was surrounded by what felt like a golden aura and a comforting feeling, which for years I couldn't understand. But I never forgot the experience, and I puzzled over it for some fifty years until I read on p. 1187 about the arrival of the Thought Adjuster and the birth of the soul.
VIRGINIA LEE HALLOCK: My religious background was eclectic. My father, an intellectual, had been a Christian agnostic but an inveterate searcher for truth. My mother was a Southern Baptist, and it was the Baptist Church and its Sunday school that I had attended in Washington until we moved to Oregon when I was 13. Finding the Baptist Church too conservative, I drifted over to the Episcopal Church most of my friends were attending.
Subsequently, I was confirmed by the Bishop of Eastern Oregon and became a pillar of the Episcopal Church, remaining so for several years. I was president of the Altar Guild, and was the only woman in the state on the Bishops Committee.
My studies, I must add, had not been confined to Episcopalianism. I had read Emmett Fox, Ernest Holmes, Judge Troward, and had even studied with the Rosicrucians. When I moved to Salem, I visited both Episcopal churches, where I felt the emphasis was more social than spiritual. So, for a time, I church-hopped. I even attended some Baha'i meetings which I thoroughly enjoyed. A friend introduced me to Woodland Chapel, which was a Religious Science church. The minister was a thinker, a real searcher for truth, so I lingered there long enough to take three years of metaphysical philosophy.
On waking one morning I'd meditated as usual and carried a special thought for truth, asking for a more poignant answer than I had heretofore found. Before I even glanced at the morning paper, I picked up the Urantia Book that my friend Marion had left for me the night before. I had known Marion only a few months, but she was a responsive and generous friend. Knowing my interest in religion and philosophy, she had left a stack of books from her own library on my table while visiting me the previous evening.
Scanning the table of contents and perusing it further, I was hooked. I started to read from the beginning, and unlike all the other literature I had assimilated, this book really made sense. I could read, at first, only a few pages at a time. I called Marion and told her that it would take me at least two years to read the book, and that I hoped she wasn't in any hurry for it.
As my interest in the book developed, so did hers, and we decided that I should get my own copy. None of the bookstores in Salem had it in stock, and only one had even heard of it.
The Ruff Times investment group, of which Marion was the leader, met at her house monthly, and at the September meeting one of us mentioned the Urantia Book. Surprisingly, Bob, one of the members, overheard the comment and told us of his long acquaintance with the book. It was through him that we visited a study group in Corvallis and met Julia Fenderson. It has been clear sailing since then.
I am not sorry for my searching and my studying. All the years of various church experiences and omnivorous studying paved the way for my acceptance of the Urantia Book.
The book that Marion lent me, by the way, had belonged to Helen Steen whom Julia Fenderson knew well from their days together in Chicago as members of the Forum. Helen's son had given it to Marion along with other books from Helen's library.
DICK BAIN: I found the Urantia Book in 1966 when I was in my twenties, but I was not looking for it. Nevertheless, it was not an accident; my philosophy professor had assigned a reading from this book. The assignment was to read a section regarding the nature of God, which I did. I was impressed by the quality of what I had read. When I noticed that the book also had some sections dealing with science and astronomy, I immediately had a strong attraction to it. I checked the book out from the college library over the summer and read as much of it as I could while keeping up with my three engineering classes.
I was an avid science-fiction reader, but as I recall the book didn't seem like science fiction or fantasy to me. It had enough of the ring of truth that I decided I had finally found something spiritual that was worth reading. In fact, I felt compelled to read it. During the fall semester I contacted the professor who had given me the Urantia Book reading assignment and learned that he and his wife hosted a study group for this book at their home. When I attended my first meeting, he sold me a copy and I was on my way to becoming a lifelong Urantia Book student.
My relationship with God before the Urantia Book was pretty casual. Yeah, God existed out there somewhere but it didn't much affect me unless I hit a crisis and needed some help. After I read the book, I realized that he's not only out there, he's in here. One of the book's most profound teachings, for me, is that God, through our Thought Adjuster, is a constant companion and friend. And when I think that everyone I pass on the street has this God presence in them, I am in awe. It makes me think I ought to respect that inner light in each person, no matter what I may think of the person otherwise.
Though it was the science that pulled me into the book, it was the spiritual content that kept me there. I have since found some flaws in the science content, but the spiritual teachings transcend that of any book or philosophy I have ever encountered. I was led to conclude that this book is, at least in part, a revelation, and as such it is the most important book I'll ever read. I remain profoundly grateful to the professor who gave me that reading assignment - Dr. Meredith Sprunger - who has retired from college life but not from promoting the Urantia Book.
JOEL REHNSTROM: For several years I was a member of an international Rosicrucian order. Then, in 1961, I became enormously interested in UFOs as a result of reading George Adamski's Inside the Spaceships. I started a small publishing company and had the first four UFO books by Adamski and Daniel W. Fry published in Finnish. Together with other enthusiasts here we then formed the Interplanetist Society and began to collect more UFO information from Finland and all over the world. We were mostly interested in the cosmic messages by contact personalities like Adamski, Fry and others.
In 1965 a Finnish-American lady, who believed she was also a contact person and had written a book about her experiences, brought the Urantia Book to Finland. A few members of the Interplanetist Society may have ordered the book as early as 1965. I opened it in the summer of 1966, became enormously fascinated, skimmed it thoroughly in a few days, and immediately saw that this book really contained the supermessage. By this time the Interplanetist Society had many hundreds of members all over Finland. For many of us the UFO interest faded as we began to concentrate on the Urantia Book.
I visited the Urantia headquarters at 533 Diversey Parkway in Chicago early in 1972 and took part in the Lake Forest gatherings in 1980 and 1988. Over the years I became good friends with many readers in Chicago, including Christy [Emma L. Christensen]. I stayed with Christy at 533 and had some good conversations with her during all my trips to Chicago.
In 1968 we started to translate the UB into Finnish, on a voluntary basis and as a group effort. The first translation contract with the Foundation was signed in early 1971, and by 1975 the translation was completed and in mimeographed form. The mimeographed papers had been distributed all along in the translation process to a support group of some one hundred people from all over Finland. We also started to import English-language Urantia Books ten or twenty at a time and soon persuaded the biggest bookstore in Helsinki to stock the book and import it directly. In this way more than a thousand English-language books had already been sold here before the Finnish translation was good enough to be published in book form in 1993.
The translation support group later formed the basis for the Finnish Urantia Society. Most recently I have been occupied as a member of a small team which is translating the UB into Swedish.
STEFAN TALLQVIST: Finland received its first copy of the Urantia Book in the early 1960s. It was sent by Margit Mustapha, a woman from Santa Barbara, California, to a Finnish group calling themselves the Interplanetists. Some of the members of this group who became interested in the Urantia Book were Joel Rehnstrom and Kerstin Dyhr. Rehnstrom very soon started a project to translate the book into Finnish. Others made translations of varying quality at an early stage. Dyhr was the treasurer of a long-established Finnish association for psychic research, Sallskapet for Psyksisk Forskning i Finland r.f, which was founded in about 1908 at the University of Helsinki and is one of the oldest of its kind in the world.
Interested in physics, astronomy and parapsychology, in 1961 I started my studies at the University of Technology in Helsinki and soon joined Sallskapet for Psyksisk Forskning, later serving as chairman for about ten years. In 1965 I found the Urantia Book through that society and saw it in other places as well. Joel Rehnstrom gave me my first book in 1967 as soon as the second printing appeared. At first I found the book highly interesting, but after discovering what I thought were errors in some astronomical matters, my interest for several years was only mild.
In the early 1970s I worked on my Licentiate thesis in radio technology (antennas) and astronomy, and in 1974 took an active part in the construction of the first Finnish microwave radio telescope. I worked as an engineer and astronomer for a long time. As the years passed I grew to know more about astronomy, and several of the "errors" I'd found in the Urantia Book were vindicated by developing astronomical knowledge. As a result, I became seriously interested in the book, and have been so ever since. Several Finnish newspapers wrote about my involvement with it in the early 1980s, focusing particularly on my model of the electron which I derived from the book.
I have participated in UBook discussion on the Internet since 1993; lately I have been dialoguing with the Skeptics in Finland.
The large amount of scientific material, and the scientific convergence of facts, that I have investigated over the years from a variety of branches of human knowledge, undoubtedly point to the fact that the Urantia Book is a genuine cosmic message to humankind.
MARY J. MICHAEL: In the ninth grade, sometime in the 1960s, I was doing research for a paper on dreams and dream theory. Between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the Cleveland Public Library had planted the Urantia Book. At that time I assumed that the Urantia Foundation was just another research foundation in psychology. Since this book was on the cannot-take-out-of-the-library list, I made little headway in reading it once a month.
In college, I purchased my own copy for the monumental sum of $35. This was a great deal of money for a struggling college student who had tuition, books, rent, food and transportation to pay out of the earnings of her meager part-time job.
It took another few years before I found anyone else who had heard of, much less read, this giant blue book. Since that time I have found a sprinkling of people who read the book, a few who study the book, and a very, very, very few who actually try to live the book - a most exhilarating challenge.
TONIA BANEY: It was 1967 and we were living in Vancouver. One day my husband Steve walked into our kitchen with the Urantia Book opened to the table of contents and his exact words were, "This is what we have been looking for!" He had found the book in a box of books left in our basement by a young man for safekeeping.
When the young man returned we purchased the book for $15 and the shirt off Steve's back - literally! The young man insisted that he have this particular shirt as part of the arrangement. We were thrilled, and have been reading our book ever since.
JEFF KEYS: My childhood ideas about God were characterized by a sense of wonder - wonder about life, wonder about the stars in the skies. And I wondered about that old guy who lived with Bob and Rita across the street, two doors up, when my parents and a couple of the neighbors would say, "God lives there." It didn't take long for me to figure out they were kidding, but you couldn't help wondering what they were kidding about and where God really did live.
When I was about eight or nine, I received a Bible in church for reciting a few of the Psalms. Over the next couple of years I read most of it, and after Sunday school I would try to corner the pastor and ask him questions. It seemed to me that there was something real about God in the stories of the Bible, yet something was lacking: God seemed closer in my sense of wonder than in the Bible.
Every summer I spent a few weeks with a friend and his parents in a house near the beach. On Sunday mornings, the four of us would sit on the floor and read passages aloud from the Bible and discuss what they meant. That experience made God seem more real to me.
Throughout childhood, I had an avid interest in science and science fiction. At 12 or 13, I read about the theory that life could have originated in a "chemical soup." This seemed plausible enough and I had to consider that life might have arisen quite on its own. I then became an agnostic.
My family enjoyed spending a few weekends each year at a desert cabin in Yucca Valley, California; it was a beautiful place, especially in spring. Just a few miles away in Landers was a small airport known as Giant Rock, owned by George van Tassel. Van Tassel claimed to have had considerable contact with extraterrestrials who taught him amazing things, such as the principles of time travel and cell rejuvenation. As you might guess, the chance to go over and eat lunch in his diner and check him out was irresistible to a young boy in the '50s.
Giant Rock covered 5,800 square feet of ground and was seven stories high. Beneath it were cave-like rooms, only one of which was open to the public - an extensive library. It contained primarily books about UFOs; these seemed so at odds with my view of the scientific world that they held no interest. On one occasion, just as my parents were calling for me to leave, I took down a large blue book that seemed different from the others. What I glimpsed in only a few minutes really excited me. It seemed to speak clearly and with authority about the nature of God.
I never went back in that library but I never forgot the experience of feeling assured that it was possible to know something about our Father. Several years after seeing that book, although I didn't remember its name, I began reading many accounts of religious experience by such authors as Jakob Boehme, George Fox, William Blake, and William James. I also read religious classics such as Lao Tzu's Tao Те Ching and the Upanishads.
Then, when I was 19, a friend came back from Hawaii excited about a book called the Urantia Book. We looked for it in a few local bookstores, but didn't find it, so he ordered it from the publisher, the Urantia Foundation. When it arrived, we eagerly began to read it. I knew I had found something I had been looking for all my life. We showed it to friends in Laguna Beach who owned a bookstore and they ordered it. When it came in, I hitchhiked forty miles to buy the first copy in the store. It was several years before I realized that this was, in fact, the same book I had seen so briefly in that library long ago.
Two years later, I wrote to the Foundation, asking if there were other readers in Southern California. The reply came from a wonderful woman named Julia Fenderson in Culver City, the town where I had lived until I was 16. The letter went to my parents address, and my mother’s reaction was, "Why is Julia Fenderson writing to you?" It turned out that I had known her fairly well when I was in elementary school. She had been in charge of administering IQ and achievement tests for the Culver City school district. Meeting her again, and sharing this book with many other readers, has changed so much in my life since that time. It continues to speak clearly to me about the fundamental questions of human life.
JOANN EICHMANN: I always enjoy telling the story of the most important day of my life - the day I found the Urantia Book. That day stands as an island, everything prior seeming to lead up to it and everything after leading increasingly back into it.
In 1968 I was living in Newport Beach and attending the University of California at Irvine where I was majoring in philosophy. One day, upon arriving home from classes, my next-door neighbor, Ed, met me at my door. Knowing of my intense spiritual quest, he greeted me by saying, "I ran across a book you might find interesting." He handed me the Urantia Book, and the minute I held it in my hands and leafed through its pages something deep within me exploded. I knew of a certainty that this was it - the culmination of my search.
Ed told me someone at the hospital where he worked had bought a first-edition Urantia Book in a secondhand bookstore some years earlier. Although vaguely aware that the book was in some way special, he hadn't read much of it. He loaned it to Ed, telling him that it seemed a difficult book to find and that he wanted it back the next day. I persuaded Ed to lend me the book until it had to be returned. Ed realized how much more all this meant to me than it did to him.
I went into my apartment and proceeded to read for eighteen hours straight, until it was time to go to work and school the next day. Ed arranged that I could borrow the Urantia Book until I was able to acquire my own copy.
For nearly three years I had the book entirely to myself, not knowing another human being on the planet who had also read it. Finally, I wrote to Chicago, was put in contact with Julia Fenderson, and my active involvement in the movement progressed at a steady pace.
SARA BLACKSTOCK: In the late '60s, I was in my mid-twenties and living an alternative lifestyle - to put it mildly. My life was a chaotic mixture of the Urantia Book, LSD, the Beatles' music, and suicidal depression. The book had been given to me by a good friend, Jim Roland, a former nuclear physicist who had "dropped out" because of negative feelings about how that energy was being used. (Jim has long since graduated to the mansion worlds.)
My finding of the Urantia Book wasn't so exciting or unusual, but after I found it my life turned upside down. I knew the revelation was what it said it was as soon as I'd read the first few pages, yet I proceeded to go downhill for the next three years. Through my drug-using days (only marijuana and LSD!) and through several suicide attempts, I continued to carry the book with me as I roamed the countryside telling people about it. I was a mess, but somehow, by the grace of God, I survived those three years in which I was spinning out of control, with that revelation under my arm.
I was studying, at the same time, astrology, magic, the Tarot, palm reading, the I Ching, Egyptian mythology, and all the rest of it, and was becoming increasingly confused. One day, while reading the UB, I came across the section in Part IV where Jesus denounces magic and superstition. As soon as I finished reading these pages, I threw away all of the other books.
And yet, it wasn't until about three years later that I really began to get the message of the book - that God loves you! It was not until then that I began to deeply desire to get in touch with God. After that my life slowly began to turn upwards from its downward spiral. Over thirty years later, the truths, the stories, and the cosmology remain almost a daily nourishment for me.
So much of the Urantia Book is now embedded in my mind, my soul, and my life that I feel the revelation has gone beyond being a book; it has become a living reality that constantly struggles to express itself moment by moment in my life. I doubt that I would be here today if it weren't for the amazing grace of love that flowed, and still flows, from the truths expressed in this living revelation. Thanks to our Father, and to all my brothers and sisters whom I have met through this wonderful gift.
PATRICIA BEDELL MARTIN: I grew up on a dairy farm in a very small community. My parents were not religious and never attended mass at the tiny Catholic church about five miles away, but Grandma did, and occasionally I went with her. As well, non-denominational services were held in the nearby town of Snelling, in the basement of the county courthouse, and often my mother would drop my brother and me off there to attend Sunday school. I loved the hymn singing!
My first serious thoughts and curiosity about God occurred around the age of 13, in the mid 1950s. Up to that time I had taken the necessary catechism classes, but even at that young age I found them to be utterly lacking in meaning. For my 8th grade graduation I requested a Bible - we did not own one. I now know that my Thought Adjuster had been busy leading me In my first tentative steps to learn more about God. By the time I was 15 years old I knew in my heart that I was not a Catholic. My own sense of what God must be was so much more than the sterile, rigid doctrines that had been preached to me up to that time.
During my first year in college in 1959 I attended the church services of a variety of denominations as I continued to look for my spiritual "home." The next year my roommate introduced me to Jeffrey Bedell, son of Clyde and Florence Bedell. We fell in love and married the following year. Jeff introduced me to the Urantia Book. Clyde and Florence spoke highly of it, and I was very impressed with Clyde's devotion to it. During that time, I would occasionally pick up the Urantia Book, more out of curiosity than anything else, and read at random an interesting paragraph or a few pages. At Christmas and Easter I would read the accounts of the birth and death of Jesus. Nevertheless, it didn't "take" until I was ready.
In 1968 we purchased a home in Chatsworth, California, near a small Congregational church. We began attending the Sunday services. Over a period of a few months, the spiritual truths of the ministers sermons and conversations, combined with the way I saw him living and caring for others, was the catalyst needed to seriously begin my study of the Urantia Book, to learn about Jesus and our Father.
For so many years my patient Teacher was waiting for me to take this superlative book in hand, not to dust it, but to learn from it, to delight in its teachings and satisfy my lifelong quest. What a Godsend! I'm truly blessed and eternally thankful for this great gift.
PAT FEAREY: To one who has been many, the gathering of every multicolored thread of experience to make a tapestry seemed only natural. To one who had peeled layers of insight from many a spiritual onion, a bouillabaisse of many flavors was the obvious next course. To one who had wondered about a music not-quite-heard in the silence of a starry night, a universe-as-symphony seemed not only glorious but logical. I was ready for the Urantia Book to find me. It was 1968. A metaphysical bookshop in Berkeley had a copy on its top shelf, way up high. I promptly bought it, knowing nothing about it. And, despite good intentions, I read the Jesus papers and little else.
If the Urantia Book found me, did I then find it? Decidedly not. I was not ready to see the love of my life in that guise. I thought I knew how the universe worked after walking down numerous religious paths. I lumped all avatars together, including Jesus. I hated anything that seemed gender-exclusive, after a childhood oppressed by heavy patriarchal assumptions and a young adulthood rich in the finest women's educational opportunities available. Names like "Salvington" made me wince; they seemed so specifically (even suspiciously) Anglo-Saxon, when my ear delighted in the poetry of Sanskrit and in liquid Polynesian syllables.
And though I did not know it then, I had preliminary work to do before I could fully embrace the Urantia Book. I was a student of Hindu psychology at the time, learning from a beloved teacher - a non-guru guru whose message was always balance. His proclamation, in the face of an influx of orange robes, beads and sandals in the California of the '60s and '70s, was always: The only real teacher is inside oneself.
I did not, therefore, have the Eureka! experience when I first discovered the Urantia Book. I see now that I needed to continue learning from my Hindu mentor and to go to the spiritual community of Findhorn in northern Scotland in 1971 to experience a flowering within myself. I became the first person in the San Francisco area to publicize Findhorn, telling its story straightforwardly in lectures-cum-slides, illustrated with photographs I had taken there. As time went by and I was further away from it, I could no longer present a documentary narrative. Expressing essence became a necessity, and my presentations became more and more an experience of poetry, photography, and music.
To mature, my budding art form needed collaboration with other like-minded souls. It turned out that these early inspirational slide shows were the impetus which led around the spiral again into deeper experiences with the Urantia Book. I made a creative connection with some Urantia Book readers in 1976, working with them on such shows. They then brought me into their San Francisco study group.
Looking back, I can see clearly how one philosophical phase of my life had to end, and another creative phase had to come to a certain level of fruition before the Urantia Book could truly find a wholehearted welcome within my mind and my heart.
Although I began to read the book seriously in 1976, immersing myself in it over and over, ever deeper, I am not at all sure that I have begun even yet to read in earnest, with the sincerity the revelation deserves. One can thrill to its grand sweep, its overarching views, and its satisfying answers to life questions. The more I experience and the deeper I go, the less transformed and the more imperfect I see that I am and have been. I need this beautiful blue star-book as my guide. And, coming from love for the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads, perhaps it has taken me all this time clearly to see Michael of Nebadon as Jesus of Nazareth, as real, as available, and as the companion of my soul.
The world needs the Urantia Book and it needs us to become dedicated "ambassadors of God," ever open to the personal transformation of living the revelations truth.
DOC LIVINGSTON: Funny that I should remember that night over thirty years ago in 1968 so clearly. I was at a gathering of friends at the Topanga Canyon, California, home of my business associate. He was my partner in an herbal sales and distribution group. (Remember, this was the '60s, folks!) All who were there had been sampling our firm's product for several hours. At that stage in the evening, we were unanimously agreed that our new product would do well in the marketplace. We were singing its praises. It was a jolly, festive moment.
My friend then took me aside and asked me if I would like to check out a book written by Venusians. This person had known me for years and was well aware of my interest in science fiction. He also knew that no other approach would have caught my attention at the time. He took me to his study at the back of the house, sat me down at his desk, and put The Doors' first album on the phonograph. He laid before me a rather large blue book and said, "This will blow your mind!" That was new slang at the time. I asked him what the heck "Urantia" was, and he replied with a knowing smile, "It's the name of the planet we live on."
Well, that surely activated my somewhat befuddled brain synapses and fueled my curiosity. I opened the book to the front and began to scan its contents. Thus was launched a ten-hour reading marathon which became one of the prime moments of my life. With Jim Morrison playing in the background, and surrounded with musk incense and the sweet odors of our herbal product, I began reading one of the few books that has remained a favorite for over thirty years.
My initial impression looking through the table of contents was, "This can't be for real! This sucker was published when I was six years old!" I found it hard to believe that I had not heard of the book prior to that evening. The first section I read was "The Lucifer Rebellion," and it truly did "blow my mind"! I then read "Problems of the Lucifer Rebellion," the Adam and Eve papers, the Melchizedek and religion papers, and finally, "Government on a Neighboring Planet."
When I "came to" around 10 o'clock the following morning and closed the book, I experienced a unique, paradoxical sensation. I knew I should be drained and exhausted, yet I felt so energized. I felt suffused with a sense of other-worldliness, but it was not disassociative, as with chemicals. My overriding realization that day (and to this day, in varying degrees) was that we are all stuck on this "third rock from the sun" together. The brotherhood of man became very real to me that day, and has remained so ever since.
That night I started reading the Jesus papers and finished them, pausing only for sleep and food, in about four days. My view of Jesus was forever changed. What a cool dude! He was nothing like the pious portrayal that had turned me away from the Bible so long ago. My comprehension of his masterful personality is still expanding, and I doubt it will ever stop.
LARRY MULLINS: Clyde Bedell, a man who I consider to be "great in the invisible kingdom," handed me a copy of the Urantia Book in California back in 1968. He was 72 years old at the time and had been acquainted with the Urantia Papers since 1924. I knew Clyde as a pragmatic, tough, brilliant advertising expert, author and businessman, so he shocked me when he said he believed the text had been produced and materialized by celestial beings. This put me off. However, he added a mitigating comment which I recalled later: "But forget all of that. Judge the Urantia Papers by their content. If I told you that I knew for sure they were written by angels, it would be the worst reason of all for you to believe them. There is a part of God in you that will tell you whether they are true or not." I was impressed to some degree by the material, but I was sure I did not need it. I had already settled all of these questions in my mind, or so I believed.
A couple of years later, I watched Clyde give a talk on books for a women's club in Santa Barbara. Clyde had an astounding library, and showed slides of first editions and unusual books, some of which were worth a fortune. He even had handwritten tomes from the Middle Ages. I was a bit surprised when Clyde's final slide showed a copy of the Urantia Book. I was concerned he would empty out the place when he started talking about it. He said, "If I had to relinquish all of these books but one, this is the one I would keep." He said very little else about it but none of the audience left. Nor did anyone seem to care very much.
I thought at the time that Clyde had made a rather radical pronouncement. On that sunny Santa Barbara afternoon I had no idea what lay in store for me. I was about 35, full of energy and confidence. I had no conception that in a few years I would lose Vicki, one of my beloved daughters, and that my wife would die of cancer. I had no idea my life would come apart at the seams and that I would descend into a hopeless, indescribable darkness. It was in this despair that I truly "found" the riches of the Urantia Book.
The Urantia Papers proclaim that personality realities transcend all the other realities. In those days in Santa Barbara I could not have grasped such a philosophical construct. Yet, it is this notion that has assured me I shall see Vicki again; it has taught me to deeply appreciate my new wife Joan and my two other daughters, Kathleen and Michelle. It promises me that one day, in another plane of existence, I will embrace in peace all of those I have loved - and those I have contended with - in my life upon this difficult planet.
The book Clyde handed me many years ago is rather sad-looking today. The pages are marked up and crumbling on the edges, and the cover has come off. I don't use it anymore, because every time I open it more pages fall out of the binding. Yet, I believe its condition is evidence of a noble veneration for the gift Clyde gave me. If I had to give up every book I own save one, I would choose to keep that 1955 copy of the Urantia Book that Clyde Bedell handed me so many years ago.
DOROTHY ELDER: The year was 1968 and I was 37 years old. My life was the picture of tranquillity. I was married with two children ages 12 and 10, lived in a nice home surrounded by camellias, and had lots of family and good friends nearby. But the serene nature of my life was about to change. All of a sudden I was faced with material instability, concern for my children, anxiety, sadness, and an overpowering sense of uncertainty. I had big problems to solve and I was filled with fear.
At about this same time, my mother started telling me about a wonderful book that she had received from a friend. She said that it was written by the angels and told the whole story about Jesus. (I should mention that I was raised in a Protestant home with a mother who had her own liberal interpretation of the Bible.) She said that this book answered all her questions about God and the universe, and urged me to get a copy. But that was the last thing I wanted to do. I feared that if I saw this "revelatory" book, I would know for sure that my mother had lost her grip, and that would mean that the last stable reality in my life was gone. For months she persisted, and for months I politely resisted. I made it very clear that I did not wish to see that book!
Then one day Mother appeared at my door holding the Urantia Book. She thrust it in my hands and told me to sit down and open it. Trapped, I plopped down on the couch, stuck my thumb in the book and opened to "The Young Man Who Was Afraid." I didn't know it then, but that was the defining moment of my life.
I read that section over and over. The phrase, "Arise, young тап!" (р. l438), was like a wake-up call to my soul. Then I turned to another page and my eyes fell on these words: "... graciousness is the aroma of friendliness which emanates from a love-saturated soul"(p. 1874). I closed my eyes and just let the beauty of those words wash over me. A sense of peace entered my mind, and once again I turned to another page. For the first time I read the words that would inspire me for the rest of my life: "Uncertainly with security is the essence of the Paradise adventure... (p. 1223).
I read for an hour without saying a word. Finally, I quietly asked if I could borrow the book. Mother said yes, and left. After three days and nights of reading, I called Mother and said, "Yes! Yes! This book is written by angels!"
And that is the story of how the Urantia Book found me. From that point on my life was changed. I was invigorated and uplifted for the challenges of those earlier days, and its inspiration has continued to light up my life on each new day.
My son and daughter began reading the book when I did, and they continue to do so today. We hosted a study group and joined a local Urantia Society. I went to my first Urantia conference in 1969 in Chicago and remember what a thrill it was to be in a room full of people from around the country who were all long-time readers.
I have now retired after many years as a teacher and love having the time to devote to study of the book. My mother's own love, joy and study of the Urantia Book never diminished. I smile up to her now, on the mansion worlds, and utter a prayer of thanksgiving for that day she knocked on my door.
MO SIEGEL: The time was the late '60s and the Vietnam war was tearing America apart. Like many young people, I was in a philosophic crisis, searching for life's meaning. After six years of journeying through various religions, philosophies, and scientific theories, I was strongly encouraged by three friends to read the Urantia Book. They promised that this book blended religion and science into a transforming yet realistic vision of life.
My 1968 Christmas treasure was a Urantia Book under the tree. As the winter snows piled high on the Rocky Mountains outside my window, I sat by the warm fire learning about the mysteries of the universe from the Urantia Book. Life was quickly changing as hope flooded my mind after reading the book's vivid descriptions of life after death and the purpose of our lives here.
And then it happened. I read Part IV, "The Life and Teachings of Jesus." For the first time I found true happiness. From within these pages Jesus came alive and made all things new.
KERMIT ANDERSON: Much of our world view with respect to the great questions of life are "inherited" from our early moral, religious, and philosophical environment. My early environment conveyed to me the moral view that we are all members of the great family of man. Spiritually, however, I had no teaching or direction to follow. My father had suffered at the hands of Roman Catholic nuns in an orphanage for a short time. His experience and the stories he told shaped my early view of religion in a most negative way. My father always asserted his agnostic position regarding the existence of God and felt passionately that one's religion was too important to be left to the choice of another.
In my teenage rebellion I did him one better by going all the way to atheism. As a philosophical materialist I enjoyed poking holes in the religious reasoning of my peers. However, after some poor decisions and traumatic experiences I found myself, 23 years old, anxious and depressed, seeking answers and meaning in astrology, the occult, and drugs.
In a moment of despair one day I asked - or should I say, the question was asked of me - "Who was Jesus?" In light of my past experiences it seemed an odd question to ask or be asked. I picked up a King James version of the Bible and read the synoptic gospels. Perhaps because of its archaic language and terminology, which was associated with a religion I had already rejected, I put the Bible back on the shelf, somewhat disappointed.
About two weeks afterward a friend of mine, Roger Minor, greeted me most enthusiastically with the Urantia Book, saying things like, "This is it! This is the book! It's all here!" Curious, I began to examine it. I bought my first copy a few days later. Little did I understand the significance of the date of my purchase - January 6, 1969, the Day of Epiphany in the Christian Church.
Six months of reading the book led me to my own epiphany. I read that God was real, not just man's invention or the repository of his highest values and hopes. All at once I felt the presence of God. That experience lasted a few hours. During this experience I "saw" the solution of all my personal problems as well as the solution to the problems of the world. Everything was wrapped up in the loving presence that enveloped me. In that marvelous moment I was given the certainty of my own personality survival.
More than thirty years later this survival-certainty is just as vivid and real as it was on that miraculous day. In the matter of a few hours my world view was turned 180 degrees. It took me a number of years to regain my equilibrium and integrate my new orientation to life into all of my affairs. To this day the Urantia Book continues to be my most powerful calling card to sonship with our heavenly Father.
CHICK MONTGOMERY: I was born Charles Monten Montgomery in 1938, to attorney parents. At 13 I was confirmed Episcopalian; I never believed much, but liked the singing. I went to Harvard where atheism was fashionable: man is an accident, evolved from the mud, and consciousness an illusionary adjunct. That philosophy suited me fine. I had no morals, no faith, and a rip-roaring good time.
I dropped out of graduate school in 1963 and hitchhiked around Europe, smoking dope and playing guitar. In a state of open freedom, strolling by St. Peter's in Rome, the thought occurred to me: "Something loves me and, when I find out what it is, I will call it God." I began reading the New Testament, and Jesus became important to me for the first time.
Returning to California in 1964, I sampled various denominations. In the Pentecostal church in Echo Park I answered a call to raise my hand if I was willing to receive Jesus. I felt a great something, and rushed out energized and wept by the lake. On this day, if any, I was "born again." Jesus had broken through my shell and touched my soul.
But faith was elusive. Could it really be true? Is there really a God? A trustworthy God? Five years followed, during which I wrote incessantly about my inner thoughts, took various hallucinogens, delved into astrology and the I Ching, and experienced wrenching swings between faith and doubt. Finally, in a silent decision that sounds simple but actually involved great spiritual courage, I declared, "I believe in you, God, but I don't know about this Jesus stuff." It is as though I had cleared the decks for a new spiritual paradigm, for almost immediately, it seems, I was introduced to the Urantia Book.
It was the spring of 1969, and some close friends were celebrating the grand opening of their record shop in Pasadena Old Town. The Beatles' white album was on the racks. I soon found myself in deep philosophical conversation with Kermit Anderson, a tall and gentle total stranger who seemed oddly familiar, and who finally said, "I have a book you might like." I dismissed the idea; people are always recommending books.
I struggled with this book, so full of blessing and light, yet of such preposterous claimed origin. I concluded it was too broad and deep, too lengthy and flawless, to be the work of a single human, and doubted that a group of humans could maintain secrecy about such an elaborate hoax. It was too gracious and truth-filled to have been written by anyone who would stoop to pretend to be divine - unless that someone were superhuman and malevolent! Could it be a work of the devil? A printed wolf in sheep's clothing, saying "Lord, Lord," and even quoting scripture, to lure us away from the blood of salvation, into everlasting damnation?
It took me seven years to complete my first (and only) cover-to-cover reading. During that time, all residue of suspicion that the book was of human or demonic origin vanished and was replaced by a great tidal wave of gratitude, blessing, certainty and absolute confidence that the Urantia Book is exactly what it says it is: a revelation of epochal significance. All questions were answered, knowledge integrated, vision expanded and hope confirmed, and I was so relieved to be able to keep Jesus in my faith. Believing these teachings unites me in utmost joy to those within the tiny, embryonic, dynamic, love-filled and growing community of believers who share the special brand of faith uniquely engendered by the Urantia Book.
IRVING TOWNSEND: In 1969 I owned a fabric store on Wilshire Boulevard in Brentwood, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. My bookkeeper was a young woman with two small children. She was going to school part time and working on my books part time to support her family.
We became friends. One evening while she was taking care of her children and preparing to go to dinner with me, she placed the Urantia Book in my hands and said, "Here, Irving. Read this." After reading three pages I realized that this was something I had been searching for a long time.
I have been reading it all these years. My friend, Diane, eventually got an MA degree in financial planning and has since become very successful.
MARILYN HAUCK GREEN: As an adult I became interested in the study of music. I vowed that when my children were in school and sufficiently independent, I would go back to college and take music courses. In 1968 we moved to Virginia Beach, an occasion which caused me to look again to my goals. Since there was a small college nearby and the time seemed right, I enrolled in freshman courses in the music department.
During Christmas vacation my husband Russ had talked me into going with him to visit the A.R.E. Foundation at Virginia Beach, the old Edgar Cayce sanitarium which looks out upon the Atlantic Ocean. I had avoided this place, not because I'd ruled out the possibility that Edgar Cayce was genuine but because I'd figured that there must be a hundred frauds for every one truth among all the psychic and healing claims. However, Russ persisted, saying that we owed it to ourselves to see something unique right in our home area.
While at the Foundation, I learned of its large library of books dealing with psychic phenomena, fortune telling, prediction, astrology, religious philosophy, and so on. I also visited the bookstore and bought a couple of books for Christmas presents. Russ wrote a check for them and we left. That, it seemed, was that.
By the end of the school year I knew that an occupation in music was not for me. I had been holding off acknowledging that fact, but on the day I returned from my last final, I had to examine what I had been pushing aside. I was quite discouraged that this long-held dream was not valid, and in the course of my mental circles I exclaimed, "Well, God, what am I supposed to do?"
The phone rang. The woman on the other end informed me that she was calling from the A.R.E. bookshop and that the check my husband had written back in December (some five months before) had been dated 1965 instead of 1969. I was embarrassed and promised that I would get right in the car and come out to write her a good check. In five months she had not been able to find me at home because I was attending classes. On the way to the Foundation I thought over what I'd asked God. I decided that since I had asked, I ought to see whether I had received an answer. The only thing I could think of doing in connection with the A.R.E. was to join the library as an associate and start reading.
Whenever I went back to the library, I deliberately kept an open mind as I searched the shelves. I chose books because they had pretty covers, or were on a subject that intrigued me or covered topics that I knew nothing about. I began to wonder why all the "inspired" authors could not write in simple, understandable English. Apparently their inspiration didn't extend that far. I read great predictions and Buddhist philosophy. A lot of it was obvious pretentious fakery, and some of it was fascinating. By fall, I was a veteran of the card catalogue.
About this time I read a book by a psychic who lived during World War I and the post-war period. In the appendix was an account of a major vision. The main character in the vision was "Urania," a goddess described as a daughter of heaven and earth, of the sun and the moon. The author's description so interested me that I wished to look up more on the subject of Urania. I returned to the ARE. library. The card catalogue contained only one book under the letter "U" - "Urantia Book The."
The library carried only one copy of the Urantia Book, and a non-circulating copy at that. I climbed up the step stool to reach it (it was on the top shelf) and almost fell off when the weight of Big Blue made itself known. That afternoon I sat at one of the oak tables, on one of the hard oak chairs, and started in on the Foreword. I'm not afraid to read long books, but it struck me that it would take me several lifetimes to read through a book of that size and density if I could only spend a few hours a week on it. I put it back and continued my chance encounter with literature.
About two weeks later I approached the checkout desk with my weekly selection. There on the cart of volumes to go on the shelves, was a wide, blue book. The librarian informed me that they had gotten a second copy so that one could go on the circulation shelves. I had seen it twice and decided I ought to check it out. And this time I got beyond the Foreword.
Because the book was on loan from a library, I paced myself at a paper a day to get through it. The librarian allowed me to renew it as long as no one was on the waiting list for it. By November I had ordered my own copy from Chicago, and finished the fourth section reading from my own book. As I read it I knew it was what it said it was. It was as though I had been deliberately primed on the other reading so I would have some similar material for comparison.
We lived in Virginia Beach for another seven and a half years, and I never found another reader except my family members to whom I had introduced the book. In 1976 I finally got to Chicago, visited 533, and met other readers for the first time. I have been reading and discussing the book ever since, and I am happy to report I have many readers to talk to and share with now.
HENRY BEGEMANN: My wife and I found the Urantia Book in a bookstore in Amsterdam. We never go to Amsterdam, if we can avoid it, as we don't like that city - it is the New York of the Netherlands. We went to that shop because we had read about it half a year before when it opened, and it looked attractive. There was one copy of the Urantia Book in the store. Though we knew nothing about the book and even less about the Foundation or the Brotherhood, we were attracted by its size and some things we'd read in it. We decided to buy it, though the price was about US$40. I think it was the only copy for sale then in Holland, and I always felt that we were guided to it.
[Henry devoted the rest of his life on Urantia to working on the Dutch translation. Sadly he passed on to the mansion worlds before the task was completed, but happily his daughter Nienke took over and finished the job. The Dutch translation was officially unveiled in November, 1997.]
GARY HALL: In 1969, at the age of 20, I had come to a point where I needed to make some major decisions about the direction my life was taking. I left Pocatello, Idaho, and went on the road hitchhiking. I traveled up north and then south to San Francisco, where I attended concerts at the Fillmore and explored the ferment that was Berkeley at the time.
After a week or so I headed back north. One evening at around nine o'clock I stood on a corner trying to get a ride out of Woodlawn, California. I went into a service station to get some chewing gum and when I came back out there was a big, tall, long-haired hippie like myself standing on the same corner also hitching north. We introduced ourselves. His name was Michael Bishop and he was from Seattle. We continued on north together through the rainy night and became friends. In Portland we parted company, Michael heading home to Seattle and I to Moscow, Idaho. A few weeks later I traveled to Seattle to visit him. He was living in a large communal house with about six other people, mostly musicians - a great scene at the time. One night, as I was going to bed on the floor in the basement of this house, Michael handed me a big blue book without saying a word. I started reading the table of contents and knew immediately it was true and right.
As soon as I returned to Pocatello I ordered a copy from a bookstore and have been reading ever since. I lost track of Michael in the early '70s. I sure wish I could locate him now.
PAT McNELLY: I was brought up Roman Catholic in a large family of seven. My mother was deeply religious and a daughter of Polish immigrants, my father a convert from mainstream Protestantism. I went to Catholic grammar schools and was an altar boy. I knew all the rubrics and was proficient in the Latin Mass. I was also a seminarian during my first two years of high school in the early '60s. I sensed that I had some sort of calling or vocation from God, but learned quickly that I was not meant for celibacy or the Catholic priesthood.
After that I attended an all-boys, college-prep Catholic high school and soon lost interest in religion. During the mid-'60s in college, I became an agnostic. I could no longer believe in the dogmas of the Church, and was disillusioned by the world and its absurdities.
Feeling lost, and in an attempt to get control of my life, I left school and joined the U.S. Army in early 1968. After six months of training, I was sent to South Korea. But my spirit had begun to stir. I started reading Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Ouspensky, and the I Ching. I wanted to find my own way. I wrote volumes and volumes of poetry. And then my world changed.
It was October, 1969, and I was home on leave from Korea after spending thirteen months overseas as a Remote Sensing Imagery Interpreter for the U.S. Army. I was having a conversation with my mother about God and religion, and she said she had something she wanted to show me. She took me into the den to look at a book that she was giving to my father for his birthday in December. She had heard about it from a bookseller in town while attending a faculty party. My father was an avid reader of science fiction and taught the first university course on the subject in the late '60s, at California State University, Fullerton. The subject of science fiction had come up at the party, and this bookseller said he had a book that he wasn't sure was science fiction, called the Urantia Book, that my father might enjoy. My mother bought his last copy, a second printing.
She explained to me that this was a book allegedly written by angels who had all the answers to all the questions mankind had ever asked about God, history, religion, cosmology, life on other world and the universe. I paged through it for about twenty minutes and it made a deep impression.
I returned to finish my tour in the Army at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, and went to a local bookstore to order my own copy, but was told it was out of print. Imagine having just a hint of this revelation, but not being able to get a copy for thirteen months!
When I was finally discharged in January, 1971, the third printing had just come out and I immediately bought my own book. I devoured it in about three months and joined the First Urantia Society of Los Angeles in December that year, after studying under the tutelage of Julia Fenderson, then West Coast Field Representative for the Urantia Brotherhood. The book has answered so many of my questions and has renewed my faith and belief in God, but I have since learned that the real revelation is not in a book, but in the lives we lead.
WILL SHERWOOD: Albuquerque, October, 1962. It was my sixteenth year, and the Month of the Rosary - ugh! My mother had gotten the idea that my sister and I should say the rosary every day, when I wanted to be with my friends. After mumbling through I-don't-know-how-many Hail Marys, anger building all the time, I stomped out of the house and slammed the front door on my way out of my family's home, saying, "If that's what God is about, I don't want anything to do with him!" I'll always remember that late afternoon, the clear, crisp New Mexico sunset. It is forever burned in my memory as the first day of my eight-year-long personal search for truth.
Over the next seven years my journey took me through in-depth studies in astrology, numerology, Tarot, The Tibetan Book of the Dead. A little of it made sense, but mostly, reading that stuff was like wading through mud. Hardly any of it was consistent. It just wasn't right, but that's all I could find to study.
One afternoon, late in the summer of 1969, my studies find me together with a group of friends at a reception for some visitors from California. Sitting in a small living room with about a dozen other people, talking about dreams for the future and metaphysics, I overhear someone loudly say, "So you're into reincarnation, are you?"
I look over to see this big blue book being handed to Eddie Chavez, my best friend. I remember thinking, "Great - another big book..." A couple of minutes later, Eddie comes over and says, "Will, you've got to read this!" He points me to the first page of the Foreword and the small paragraph on the following page. I am cynical, but I say, "Okay," expecting to find more of the same intellectual mud.
The first sentence grabs me, rivets my attention and focus unlike anything I've ever read: "In the minds of the mortals of Urantia, that being the name of your world... "I think, "My God! These people are not from here! They know what they're talking about!"
I am sold. This is the book I have been searching for, period. But there's a catch: When I try to read "Deity and Divinity," I get bogged down and I think, "Guess I'm not ready for this." But I know that this is the highest truth on the planet and know I must have the book.
I find it in a metaphysical bookstore, and for another six to eight months, everywhere I go, I tell people about it. I tell them to read the first page of the Foreword. I tell them this is the greatest truth on the planet. I am sometimes even obnoxious about it. It never occurs to me that there might be something easier to grasp further on in the book, so I never even bother to look there.
Fast-forward to the spring of 1970. I am now living in Long Beach, California. I give my little this-is-the-ultimate-truth speech to a lady friend, Ruth Flanders, a.k.a. Ruth Holmes. She reads the first page of the Foreword and declares me full of it. (Remember that I am 23 and she is to a great extent correct.) She decides to prove me wrong and starts reading somewhere in the middle of the book.
A couple of days go by, then I suddenly hear her say, "Will, do you know what this says?" She is obviously excited, impassioned, impressed. I say, "What? What?" and come around to look over her shoulder. She's reading "Religion in Human Experience." My head spins. "You mean there's other stuff in there that I can understand?" So I read the whole book, meet Julia Fenderson, join FUSLA, start a study group, and accept personal responsibility - my journey with the Urantia Book had begun.
To this day, I wonder who those two travelers were who turned me on to to this life-changing book. If you were passing through Albuquerque with the Urantia Book in the late summer or early fall of 1969, please get in touch so I can thank you personally.
FRANCYL GAWRYN: My religious upbringing was a rather sketchy business at best. Our family went to the local community church in Carlsbad, in Southern California, and I vaguely remember hearing my brothers memorizing their Bible verses. My only direct memories of the experience are of the nursery school Bible class, coloring pictures of Jesus holding a lamb in his arms. The feeling of comfort which accompanies these memories has never gone away.
Before it became my turn to begin reading Bible verses, my parents decided to join a Unitarian-Universalist fellowship. My first experiences of God in community with others were largely formed by this Unitarian fellowship, but unfortunately, though they were all delightful and good people, most of them were atheists. Consequently I found God while I was alone, in nature, behind my mother's house in the hills and sagebrush of Southern California - not at all a bad place to find God. Later in life I was surprised to learn that people could really connect with God by going to church!
My turbulent teen years brought me to a very pointed and intense thirst for spiritual truth. I left: the Unitarian Church, proclaiming, in my wisdom of sixteen years, that there was nothing spiritual to be found there, and went to find - something.
In December of 1969 I had recently dropped out of high school. I was at the home of a friend when Larry Neff, a musician friend of mine, came in the front door and enthusiastically began to evangelize me about this big blue book. He was so insistent about my reading it that I was sure I never ever wanted to look at it. I did my best to discourage Larry, and had managed to keep him at something of a distance for about a week, when finally, in exasperation, I yelled at him, "Larry, leave me alone and just let me go to hell, okay?" "There is no hell!" was Larry's retort.
That got me interested. I went to the local mall and found a copy of the book for $12. I opened it and read the first sentence of the first paper: "The Universal Father is the God of all creation, the First Source and Center of all things and beings." This single sentence was deep and sustaining nourishment for my starved and lonely soul. I knew that regardless of whatever else this book might say, it put first things first, and I knew that I wanted it. I bought it then and there.
Since that day, I have found many reasons to appreciate and criticize the Urantia Book, and my understanding of its authority has gone through many permutations. But during and since that time of my life, Jesus remains and increases as a real and living presence for me. The book played a great role in helping me realize his presence in my life, and for this I will always be grateful. It also helped to bring me a comforting sense of the nearness of God's Spirit. It has been a wonderful companion along my journey, and I continue to thank God for its presence in my life. Even more, I am thankful for the people it has led me to - a wonderful community filled with souls who, just like me, are trying to make sense out of this life, and are doing it with a thirst for God's will as guide.
SUSAN SARFATY: From earliest childhood memory, I loved and admired Jesus. I hadn't a clue about who God was, but Jesus was made very real to me by stories I heard that showed the beauty and symmetry of his character. These stories helped set my standards for idealistic living and inspired me to want to be just like him.
Since Jesus traveled and mingled among all sorts of people, learning, teaching, sharing, and loving, this became my dream also. As I grew, I questioned more, and a fuzzy notion of God as primal force, the uncaused cause, began to form in my mind. How this related to Jesus was still a mystery, but I knew Jesus' way was the right way, the way I must live if I wanted to be real.
Increasingly, I placed a premium on connecting with people, places, things and ideas that demonstrated the quality of realness - the quality of flowing naturally and harmoniously from observable universal law; that which is flexible, fluid and open to change; that which is motivated by truth and activated by love, the driving force and powerful bond that holds creation in place.
In search of the reality I felt missing in everyday life, I left home at 16, married and had two children, divorced within a few years, underwent Freudian analysis, explored the inner sanctum of Scientology, and wandered across Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, the United States and Mexico. Along the way I examined everything I could find that might light the way to a greater awareness of how the universe really works - Eastern and Western mysticism, metaphysics and occult studies. I lived among the natives, learning the local traditions through their eyes, and sharing my own experiences with them, each of us contributing to a greater understanding between our respective cultures.
My first encounter with the Urantia Papers occurred in 1969 in a little bookshop in Sausalito, California. A friend and I had recently left Scientology, and we were ripe for a different approach, one that might inform and inspire in a more loving way than the one from which we had just escaped. Her brother had told us about the Urantia Book, that it shed new light on mystical truth. So when we saw it on the shelf, we couldn't resist its pull and between us we scraped together the money to buy one we could share.
During my early years with the book, I used to let it fall open where it might and consult the exposed text somewhat as if it were an oracle. I always gained new insight through this process, but it wasn't until I attended my first Urantia conference in 1974, meeting all sorts of wonderful people I liked and respected, who were devout readers (including my soon-to-be-husband, Peter Sarfaty), that I finally undertook to read the entire book from front to back. The story of creation thus presented opened my senses to an exciting new perception of reality, one in which I knew myself to be a beloved citizen of an orderly universe, with a real destiny and purpose, where my contributions could be meaningful and valuable.
My quest to understand ultimate reality has led me through many a puzzling maze, each a unique and thrilling learning adventure. Eventually it brought me face to face with the Urantia teachings, which finally clarified my understanding of the relationship between Jesus and God. At the same time, this amazing synthesis of scientific, religious and philosophical thought has challenged me to consider a whole new universe of questions and discoveries, while also leading me to revel in the refreshing simplicity of Jesus' words to us: "Love one another, even as I have loved you."
THOMAS ORJALA: I was born in 1949 and raised in a poor, rural county in northern Minnesota. My spiritual training was Methodist and I was joyed to know there was a God, but confused by my inability to see him in spite of years of church and Sunday school. My burning question was: If God is omnipresent, where the heck is he? Why is he hiding from me? I found myself depressed and disappointed by life as I graduated from high school.
In hopes of finding some relief, I fled home. I eventually made it to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco and "dropped out" in hopes of finding an identity I could claim as mine. I studied with the gurus of the day: Stephen Gaskin, Yogi Bhajan, Swami Satchidananda, and others. I danced with the Hari Krishnas and Sufi Sam, and sat in meditation at the Zen Center. I joined in Holy Man Jams, shared jugs of wine and joints at Hippie Hill, went to rock concerts with the Dead and the Airplane, and took trips to the mountains to run naked in the woods.
Then, one day in 1969, I met a man with wire-rimmed glasses named Arthur. He had the ability to move through life with a magical ease totally unfamiliar to an introverted farm boy like me. It seemed that whenever a discussion would arise about matters of spiritual importance, Arthur would open his blue book and read from it. I don't recall ever "getting" anything that he said, but I was curious about why he had so much faith in this book. One day I asked to see it.
As I turned the pages and read various paragraphs, I felt the words speak directly to me - to my soul - as if they were alive. In less than ten minutes I knew I had found the answer to the question of my youth. I immediately went to the bookstore and bought a copy.
Now I am the guy with the wire-rimmed glasses, daily finding opportunities to share the revelation. Thank you, Arthur, wherever you are!