DUANE FAW: In August of 1965 I was flying from Portland to Dallas by way of Denver. As we neared Denver the woman sitting next to me asked me about the book I was reading. I told her it was about Edgar Cayce and reincarnation. She asked why I was reading it. I told her the study of religion was my hobby. We briefly discussed reincarnation and life after death.
She asked if I had ever heard of a planet called Urantia. I had not. She said she belonged to a group who believe we live on a planet called Urantia, and that when we die we simply go to another planet for a while, then another, and another, etc. She said she knew exactly where she was going when she died. She'd gotten her information from a book called the Urantia Book, and said I would never know all there was to know about religion until I'd found - and read - the Urantia Book.
In the Denver airport I was waiting in the boarding area for my connecting flight when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the lady from the airplane. She had with her a man and two women whom she wanted me to meet. She said to them, "This is the man I told you about meeting on the airplane. He wants to read the Urantia Book." The man said, in effect, that if I were seriously interested in discovering man's role in the universe and his relationship to God I must read the Urantia Book.
I met up with my wife Lucile in Dallas and we stayed a few days with her sister before flying home to Arlington, Virginia. One day, left alone while they went shopping, I decided to find a copy of the Urantia Book. I looked in the Yellow Pages and telephoned every new and used book store in the Dallas directory. Each conversation went something like this:
"Do you have a copy of the Urantia Book?"
"The Urantia Book."
"How do you spell it?"
"I don't know - E-U-R? U-R? - phonetically it is Urantia."
"Who wrote it?"
"I don't know."
"Who published it?"
"I don't know."
"Sorry, but we don't have it and need more information to order it."
Back home in Virginia I called all the bookstores in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area with the same results. I went to the Library of Congress and looked for it under Religion. (I missed it because, as I found out later, it was catalogued under Occult.) Finding the Urantia Book became an obsession with me. I asked for it every place I saw a bookstore.
In the fall of 1971 I retired from the military and we moved to California where I taught law. I kept up my quest for the book. One day in early 1972 I was looking for a particular part for an unusual lamp base. I had a list of six shops. I did not find it in the first five I visited, but as I left the fifth shop I saw a used book store. As was my custom, I asked if the store had a copy of the Urantia Book. A man on a ladder said "Do I have a what?" "Forget it," I replied.
"Hey, wait a minute," he said, "I did not say I didn't have one. I've worked in this bookstore for many years and no one has ever asked for a Urantia Book. I'd never heard of the book until yesterday. I got in an estate of books, and last night I was sorting them. The only book of any interest to me was the Urantia Book. I put it on my desk to read, but if you want to buy it you may." I gave him $10 for the book.
When I got home and looked at the titles and authors of the papers I became very angry. I had been searching all that time for what turned out to be an occult book, and I was not into the occult! I threw the book, open and face down, into a trash can.
My background was Bible-centered Christianity. My grandfather was a circuit-riding Cumberland Presbyterian preacher, ultimately elected to the church's highest office, moderator of the General Assembly. My father, ordained in the same denomination, organized churches. Everyone wanted me to become a preacher, but I did not feel the call. I did, however, love the Bible and everywhere we went with the service I organized Bible classes. I was not ready for an occult book. The next few days I forgot completely about the Urantia Book. My mind had been cleared of any thought of reading it - not even out of curiosity.
A week or so later, reaching for the Reader's Digest on my nightstand to read myself to sleep, I discovered it was not there. Lucile said she had left it at the bowling alley. At that moment I received a very strong impression in my mind. I heard no voices, and saw no writing, but the intensity of the impression startled me. It was this: "If that book you found had been written by John Jones or Joe Smith you would have read it. Never judge a book by its authors." On the off chance that the trash had not yet been emptied, I got out of bed, wandered down the hall to my office and felt in the basket. In the bottom - face down and dog eared - I found the Urantia Book.
Returning to bed I opened the book at the front. It still looked bad with all those weird authors. I saw, however, that the last part of the book was about the life of Jesus. Now, I had read some crazy stuff about Jesus without it corrupting my thinking, so I decided to start reading there. What I found completely fascinated me. Instead of putting me to sleep, it kept me awake. About 2:30 a.m. Lucile said, "Turn out the light! I need my sleep."
I found in the Jesus papers the most beautiful, loving, lovable Jesus I had ever met. Yet I needed to read the first three parts of the book to understand the words in Part IV. In so doing I learned who God is, who I am, what God wishes of me, my ultimate destination, and much, much more. In the process the Urantia Book did not displace the Bible in my view. I still love the Bible, now more than ever, since I know what it is - and is not.
MARK FREEMAN: As a non-denominational Christian minister I was searching for a more complete definition of spirit that would be helpful to myself and others. The doctrine I had been taught was that spirit is simply an activating force; but I was aware that the original Greek and Hebrew words had meanings that also included qualities of mind.
In the La Jolla, California, public library I picked up a copy of the Urantia Book and, flipping haphazardly through the pages, noticed a number of papers defining the Fathers spirit as a fragment of himself that indwells our mind and "adjusts" our thoughts.
After taking the book home and scanning the 65-page table of contents, my doctrinal prejudice against the words "trinity" and "evolution" almost caused me to put the book down without reading further. But my brief glimpse of the Thought Adjuster section roused my curiosity enough to consider what the book's author - a Catholic, I supposed - had to say about it. I felt that I should at least be familiar with his viewpoint.
My second impression, after noticing the names of some of the purported authors - Divine Counselor, Universal Censor, Mighty Messenger - was that perhaps the book was a Rosicrucian publication since Rosicrucian authors had similarly high-sounding titles.
I decided to read further regardless of the source of the information. As I began studying the Thought Adjuster papers I became more and more impressed by the friendly yet unquestionably authoritative tone of the writing. I found the material so believable that I decided to read what the book had to say about the Trinity, to see whether it defined "trinity" in the standard Trinitarian way.
The book confirmed my belief that Jesus was not the second person of the Trinity. But I learned that the Father, Son, and Spirit can truly function as a trinity just as many religionists believe.
Similarly the new revelation corroborated my belief in the direct creation of Adam and Eve while enlightening me on man's evolutionary beginnings on this planet. Opposing views of science and religion were both shown to be partially correct. The book's explanation that man was the final result of a series of sudden mutations which "Life Carriers," in cooperation with divine spirit, had designed as part of the unfolding of the original life implantations, thoroughly satisfied my theological logic. The enlightenment I had received so far from the Urantia Book was sufficient to overcome my initial resistance to reading the entire book, with its unfamiliar terminology and extensive discussions of science. I decided to start at the beginning and read it at least as far as it would continue to hold my interest.
I began reading on March 16, 1972, and took copious notes as I went along. By the time I'd reached page 651, my notes had become so lengthy that I considered buying my own copy at a used book store. I was surprised to learn that used Urantia Books sold quickly and that many used-book dealers were acquainted with the book, whereas most clerks in religious bookstores had never heard of it. About this time I also discovered the Concordex, which not only contained exhaustive reference material but had it indexed for fast retrieval. After all the writing 1 had been doing this would have been a real bargain for me at double the cost. I bought the Concordex as an aid to revive my memory of the passages I had read whether or not I ever finally did get a personal copy of the Urantia Book. I just didn't believe that the book would continue to sustain my interest over an additional 1400 pages.
As I continued reading, I noticed personal differences in writing style from paper to paper but no inconsistencies; minor differences of speculative opinion but no contradictions. I was also impressed by the lack of typographical errors in such a large volume. The book seemed almost too perfect. I felt sure I'd find some parts of it disappointing before I reached the last page. At the same time I found my interest intensifying. I even began praying at the end of each day that nothing unforeseen would happen to me to prevent me from reading the book through at least once.
Often I would read a statement that sounded so complex that I was sure it was beyond my understanding. Yet, invariably, the succeeding paragraph would clarify the concept at least somewhat for me.
After 407 hours I completed the first reading on June 18, averaging slightly more than eleven and a half minutes per page, although I remember spending more than an hour per page in some sections.
With the exception of a few book dealers and librarians, no one I spoke to knew about the Urantia Book and no one I met had read the book beyond a few pages. I searched in vain for book reviews and magazine articles about it. As a minister who had discussed many of the subjects contained in the book with thousands of individuals and hundreds of congregations over a period of more than twenty years, I'd never heard anyone mention the Urantia Book. The thought suggested itself to me that I might be the only person on earth who had read it. Yet I couldn't believe that there wasn't a group of Urantia Book readers somewhere who got together to talk about what they had read and how they could best put the information to use.
Alvin Kulieke, then president of the Urantia Brotherhood, was the first to reply to my inquiries. The next letter was from Clyde Bedell who told me about the Los Angeles Society; through them my name was given to Captain Bill Hazzard in San Diego who invited me to the meetings at his home, where in turn I met Betty Tackett - one of the group who had had the privilege of reading the Urantia Papers before they were published, and the individual who had donated the book that I had discovered in the La Jolla Public Library. In discussing how I found the book, none of us felt that my experience had been just a chance occurrence.
JAMES WOODWARD: It was 1972 and I had quit college to travel, play music and search for a larger glimpse of the big picture. I was visiting a high school friend named David who was attending a university in the Northwest. David had this big blue book sitting on a hall stand and I asked him, "What's this? What's in here?" His answer caught me off guard: "Everything, man." We had never discussed the book before; he told me his mother was into it more than he was.
From the moment I began reading there were inner clues that told me I had found something very different from the metaphysical, occult and spiritual books that had held my interest for several years. After finishing the book in 1974 I made a pilgrimage to 533 in Chicago and more inner clues assured me of the books authenticity.
There have been times since then when I was not reading regularly and was living a largely material existence. I made some poor decisions along the way which offered good lessons but served to delay my spiritual growth.
The greatest step forward in my life came indirectly from the Urantia Book, as a personal awakening to the necessity of living in the truth. This in turn led to an ethical imperative to serve. The book can teach us many wonderful things, but it cannot make our choices. It does, however, contain an inspired recipe for the transformation of a human being. Its right in there between pages 1 and 2097.
FORREST ADKINS: I was born far back in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, so far back that even the hillbillies made fun of our county by nicknaming it "Booger County." There were no doctors in Madison County, and when I was born my mother, wishing to be modern, refused the midwife services of my great-grandmother and sent for the veterinarian. So much for my humble beginnings story.
The real beginning occurred with what I believe to be the gift of my Thought Adjuster. I had wandered to the top of a hill where I encountered another little girl. She told me her name and I told her mine. She said she was four and I said, "I'm four and a half." I have oft times wondered if befriending a stranger was in this situation a moral act, because at that moment the horizon expanded and life seemed adventurous and very, very valuable.
My first conscious reaction to this experience occurred some days later as I was trying to dance a dance that I thought had eternal meaning as a movement language. Years later I recognized how similar the dance was to the dance of Lord Shiva practiced in Hindu ritual. My grandmother used to tell me stories about how, in the early 1900s, we hill folk had hung folks for being hermits, Catholic, or anything besides a bush-shaking Protestant. Luckily I wasn't born in my grandmothers day - a little hillbilly girl attempting to dance a Shiva-like dance would surely have raised a hangman's eyebrow. As it was, I just grew up like so many of us with an "alien complex."
My second reaction was the awareness of an unseen art teacher outside my body but inside my mind currents. There were no pictures on our walls, just an old calendar with a photograph of a white chicken. I used to stare at it and marvel as I studied it. With this as my cultural inheritance, at age five I was being taught chiaroscuro by my unseen art teacher.
My third reaction was to become a church-hopper. The Pentecostals were sincere and trusted everything to the Father, but I couldn't stand the hellfire they mixed in. Soon we moved to the nearest city where I could church-hop longer and in many more directions. But compared to my personal religious life, the church experience made me feel "unclean." At 12 I was dreaming of becoming involved with a "new religion." In high school I was one of the first members of the Ethical Culture Society in St. Louis, Missouri. I was more determined than ever to "leave no stone unturned" in my search.
In college I found I could church-hop across oceans of time and space by studying world religions. But after a quick scan of the beliefs and sacred writings of non-Christian religions, I ran into a problem. My hopper legs were broken by the Bhagavad Gita. Here I had a belief system I could neither reject nor accept; I was stuck for eight long years reading and rereading the first chapter of this book.
One day, in my sixth year of rereading this first chapter, my husband and I were traveling in our car when he suddenly slammed on the brakes. By the side of the road was a hitchhiker. I happened to be carrying a copy of Geoffrey Hodson's Kingdom of the Gods, a book that for many years I had considered a treasure. I was thinking of a way to give it to the hitchhiker when I noticed that he was carrying a blue book. I thought it would be a good trick to offer to exchange books. As it turned out, he was just as anxious as I was; if any words were spoken, I don't think either of us heard them. It seemed we instantly switched books. I opened it up to where it talks about the six Sangik races of Urantia. I could feel truth vibrating from the pages with a strength I had never felt before. My immediate exultation wrought extreme jealousy in my husband and he refused to let me read the book.
Two years later I was in my eighth year of rereading the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. As I read once again the words, "Arjuna, I will tell you again," a soft, angelic voice accompanied my silent reading. I looked around to see who was speaking but there was nobody there. I few seconds later, my husband popped though the door and called to me, "Lets go buy a Urantia Book!"
We found a copy in a used bookstore for only $4. After my honeymoon with the book, during which my husband and I read about Andon and Fonta, I began to become critical over tiny details. But after another twelve years of discovering over and over again that I was wrong and the book was right, I grew weary of wasting my time and re-embraced the book. As a friend of mine once said, "After a while it becomes illogical to desire anything but the Fathers will."
PEGGY M. JOHNSON: The time was June 1972. My world was closing in on me. I was grasping to hang on to life, but I didn't know why. I was emotionally, mentally and spiritually bankrupt. I contemplated murder, but ruled that out as I would probably get caught. I then contemplated suicide, and after some thinking ruled that out as I might be missing something really beautiful that life had to offer.
You see, I had become an alcoholic - me, the perfect mother, wife, and hostess. At least, I had tried to be all these things, but I couldn't, so I drank. My husband Dick had sought help for me through Alanon in February of 1971. At their instruction he had ceased to talk to me or take me anywhere. He was constantly gone. I felt as though I had been abandoned. We had five children who were left to grow up on their own as I certainly was in no condition to be of any help to them.
From the time Dick went into Alanon, I became very resentful of AA and Alanon and blamed them for what had happened to my family. I wanted to get sober, but I didn't want to go to the program. I thought there must be some other way, so I started seeking answers to my problems by reading any book I could get my hands on, from self-help to the occult to the Bible to some of the well-known philosophers. I liked what I read, but that was all it was - interesting reading. I took no action on any knowledge that I acquired from these writings.
Finally, on June 26, 1972, I reluctantly went to an AA meeting with an uncle. I thought just going would get everyone off my back, but it didn't and I didn't stay sober.
A short time after I had begun attending AA, Dick called to read some stories from a book he had found at a local bookstore. It was the Urantia Book. Everything he read to me rang true. He finally brought the book home. When I saw the size of it, I thought I could never wade through such a monstrous thing and urged him to audiotape it so I could listen to it while doing my wifely and motherly chores.
He started taping and I listened to the tapes just as fast as he could tape them. When he had finished I felt confident that I could tackle reading it, so I went out and bought myself a book. For the next few years, it was difficult to get my head out of it. I never left the house without it and many times I sat in a coffee shop after an AA meeting until the wee hours of the morning, reading until Dick picked me up. The Urantia Book became my text, and the Twelve Steps became my tools. I took my last and final drink on October 5, 1972.
I have been studying the contents of the book ever since. I owe my life to my God, the Urantia Book, and the AA way of life. I shall be eternally grateful for all that has happened to me, for without those experiences I would not be where I am today, and the chances are very good that I would never have found what I had been unconsciously seeking all my life.
JIM HARRIS: In 1972 I was traveling in Western Australia when I visited, on invitation, a community called Shalam, near Perth. It sat on only a few acres, but operated in a back-to-the-land mode, supplying most of its own needs and attracting truth seekers like myself.
After making myself useful there for a couple of weeks, and reading books by Edgar Cayce and part of OAHSPE, I offered to go as part of a foursome of travelers about 250 miles north, well into the outback, to an associate community named Carranya. Having split up to hitchhike rides with the frequent truck traffic, we all arrived at our destination about the same time, after dark, and were warmly received with a hot meal in the kitchen.
Next day, at the evening meal one of the members sat and read aloud from a book which the group had recently become interested in, called the Urantia Book. They were at a point in the reading which told about the war in heaven.
I reacted with excitement at that, saying that I had always wanted to learn more about the war in heaven, as what I had read in the Bible left me with several questions. Immediately, I volunteered to read while everyone else enjoyed the meal. My progress was punctuated by exclamations, or impromptu comments such as "hmmm," and "Isn't that interesting!"
I borrowed their copy of the book whenever I could and read more, and noted the address of the publisher in Chicago. After a week I decided to continue my journey, as there were several other places I wanted to visit before returning to North America.
In 1974, when I'd finally made it home after many adventures in Asia, I went immediately to a bookshop I knew in Toronto and purchased a copy of the Urantia Book. While there, I read a note posted on a message board which connected me with the first study group to form in Toronto, and possibly the first in Canada.
I recall reading somewhere, perhaps in the Urantia Book, that we are challenged to greater knowledge according to our ability. I often reflect on that, and think of how our unseen brothers must have had a great time leading me to the polar opposite side of the planet to find the Urantia Book on a remote outback station in Western Australia!
MICHAEL PITZEL: When I was about 21 I was attending Michigan State University and working various jobs to pay for my studies. One of my jobs was head chef and manager of a vegetarian restaurant called A Small Planet. The job was so time-consuming that I advertised for help in the local paper.
I'd already interviewed and dismissed several undistinguished applicants when a fellow came into the kitchen who looked as if he had just climbed a mountain to get to me. He was dressed like a traveling yogi in colorful, loose-fitting clothes that spoke of other lands. He sported a full beard, and his long, reddish-brown hair was tied in a ponytail which hung down well over the rucksack that he wore high upon his back. His name was Michael.
His cooking background came, literally, from all over the world. He'd had formal training, as had I, at some fine multi-starred restaurants, and he'd attended cooking schools. He was perfect for the job, so I hired him. We quickly became friends. (He was a great chef and continued to run A Small Planet successfully after I left.)
One day, while telling me of his fascinating travel experiences, Michael mentioned the Urantia Book. He soon exhausted all superlatives in describing it. Then he told me that he had a copy of it at home. My curiosity was immediately aroused, for although I had read many spiritual books, done many spiritual things, and often felt spiritually elevated, I had not heard of this book before.
We rode our bicycles to his home which, being located in the flood plains of Lansing, had recently been damaged by water and was without electricity during the remodeling. Since it was dark when we arrived, I thought there would be no chance of much reading. But Michael showed me the Urantia Book by candlelight. In reading just a few small selections I became convinced this book held immense merit. It actually seemed to glow - those remarkably thin pages seemed to light up from within!
I pleaded with Michael to lend me the book for a while, and finally he agreed. One reason for his hesitation was that he himself had borrowed the book, and he knew he'd eventually have to return it to its owners. Thus I found myself with a copy of the Urantia Book, lent to me by a person named Michael, while we both ran A Small Planet. Interesting coincidence, eh? Three Michaels, so to speak. I carried the book wherever I went so I could read it every free moment.
A few weeks later, at a party given by some vegetarians I'd met through the restaurant, I dragged the book out. To my surprise, I found that the hosts not only had heard of the book, but they actually owned not one copy, but two! They'd recently loaned one to a friend. Upon further inquiries, we discovered that the book I was carrying was actually the one they had loaned to Michael, who had loaned it to me!
The very next day I ordered my own Urantia Book from a local bookstore. Thereafter, the book became a major part of my spiritual and intellectual property, and it continues to assist me in my pursuit of educational and intellectual accomplishments.
One of the more amazing things about the book, for me, is its description of the ultimaton. This description helped me develop an appropriate topological model of this ultimate particle. I made this patentable discovery about the time I was first reading the book's passages on the ultimaton, while taking an advanced mathematics class on topology. Needless to say, besides the Urantia Books insights into spiritual values, its science intrigues me greatly.
Since I'm a Michael from Nebraska, and since I found the book about Michael of Nebadon through yet another Michael, for a while I was fairly convinced that few, if any, other persons had actually read the Urantia Book cover to cover as I had. I was amazed to find out that people all over the world get together routinely to read it. Live and learn.
AL LOCKETT: For as long as I can remember I have been spiritually curious. I used to listen to Bible stories, wondering what was behind them and what they meant. Growing up I questioned things that did not make sense to me. I would pray for hours at a time, asking God for answers.
As I got older I began to study other beliefs, although I never officially joined any organization. I was always interested in different religious practices, and I began creating my own religious viewpoint. I did not think my spiritual longings strange, however, until I recalled a story told to me by my great aunt Lula and my mother.
The story goes like this: Aunt Lula's husband, Rev. Calhoun, was the pastor of Lizzy Chapel Church in Macon, Georgia. He died a couple of months before I was born. My mother and her sister, both of whom lived with Aunt Lula, were pregnant at the same time and both delivered boys in February of that year. One night Aunt Lula had a vision: Her husband came into the room where the two infants were sleeping and placed a crown at the foot of the bed of one of the boys. He then turned to Lula and said, "This one will be special."
Later, they told me I was that special child. When something like this happens, it is expected that the child will grow up to become a great preacher. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that this was my destiny, until my cousin and I both left college the same year - he to become a preacher, and I to join a band. On the surface this would seem to contradict the dream, except that my spiritual experience is still evolving and maturing. I've always felt that my life was being lived in preparation for something special.
The band I joined was called Psalms. We were devoted to playing music with a positive, and sometimes spiritual, message. Then in 1971 a guitar player joined our band and everything changed. His name was Eugene Patricella, and he had just returned from Hawaii where he'd found the Urantia Book on a table at the house of some friends.
One evening we were sitting around playing some music, engaged in a conversation about spiritual matters, when he handed me a big blue book, simply saying, "Check this out." My first impression was sheer amazement. I said, "Wow! This is what I've been waiting for!" Some time prior to this I'd had a vision wherein I was told, essentially, that I would receive a special book. It was unbelievable to me that the truth was now right here in my hands.
For days I read constantly. The material was so intellectually pure, so absolute. I would read, fall asleep, awaken, and read some more. It was as if I had to sleep so that my Thought Adjuster could present images and meanings to me of the sometimes dense material. For weeks I glowed with excitement. Everything was new, as if I had been reborn. Every aspect of my life seemed perfectly relevant, leading me to the precise moment. I had always believed in God, but now I knew with assurance. I attempted to tell everyone the good news but I quickly found that that wasn't the prudent thing to do. Friends, associates, and family members (except my brother and father) all backed away from me. Some even thought I had totally lost it. I realized that not everyone was ready for truth on that level.
I thank God for this gift - an answer to prayer. I continue to actively disseminate the teachings of the Urantia Book, but I now find that people are drawn to me who are ready for the good news.
GARD JAMESON: I found the Urantia Book in the spring of 1972 at a remarkable bookstore in Palo Alto called The Plowshare. I would often spend time there perusing the Religion and Philosophy section.
That day I was reading a book on Ouspensky in a wonderfully comfortable chair, and overhearing a conversation about the life of Jesus. What I was hearing sounded novel and very interesting - stories about Jesus' childhood that I knew were not in the Gospels. When these people left I located the book they were discussing, the Urantia Book. I looked it over and knew that this was a book deserving of some attention. I bought it and returned to campus.
A few weeks later, a close friend, Brian Cox, came to my room, hearing that I was interested in spiritual things. He described a deep spiritual experience that he had had; I recommended the Urantia Book as something that might provide an explanation of his experience. He returned after a few days, exclaiming, "Do you know what you have here? - a revelation!"
I have been attending study groups and enjoying fellowship with other students of the Urantia Book ever since those life-transforming days.
K. BRENDI POPPEL: I began reading the Urantia Book in March of 1972, on the island of Jamaica. I had gone there after my husbands suicide. I was 23 at the time.
My husband and I had first seen the book in September of 1971. We had traveled to Colorado with a group of friends, all recent graduates of Cornell University. Our lifestyle was typical of the times - we were hippies and political activists. We found ourselves living in the Colorado mountains in a large trailer with nine people and five dogs. One individual, Ron, who had been living in the trailer before we arrived, had the Urantia Book and would often read passages aloud. We all congregated around a large cable-spool kitchen table, and were generally stoned. At the time, I didn't understand what Ron was reading, but I had this strange and unusual notion that the Urantia Book was a holy book, and that Ron and his girlfriend, Sheri, could help me. This is, in fact, what happened.
Our Colorado commune was short-lived. After six weeks or so, many of us decided to go back to Ithaca, New York. Instead of driving back in a caravan as we had done when we originally drove out, we went in separate directions. Ron and Sheri arranged to come with us. By December of 1971, six of us (three couples) found ourselves living in a comfortable house in upstate New York. This too was short-lived. On January 3, 1972, Allen, my husband of less than five months, killed himself by jumping off the suspension bridge at Cornell University. (Sadly, this is not an uncommon phenomenon). As you may imagine, I was in total shock. I felt utterly lost. My whole life was disintegrating.
Two months later, I went to Jamaica with Ron and Sheri. We planned to stay there forever. We went to a non-tourist part of the island where Peace Corps workers lived. Ron resumed reading from the Urantia Book. This time he was reading about Thought Adjusters, and what he read went straight to the core of my consciousness, resonating truth to my soul. I immediately usurped Ron's book and was soon reading it voraciously.
Not long - maybe a few weeks - after starting to read the book, I had an experience with Jesus. My background is Jewish. I knew absolutely nothing about Jesus. I was with my two friends on the beach and felt I had to kill myself - drown myself - in retribution for Aliens death, yet I wanted to live. Tears streamed down my face and I felt the presence of Jesus come to me. I felt him say that he didn't want me to die. I was cradled in his comforting presence. I believe I was truly reborn there.
Shortly after this, I received a telegram that my father had suffered a severe heart attack. My mother had been stricken with a debilitating stroke not long before, so I left Jamaica after being there about six weeks and stayed with my parents until October of 1972. I had no siblings. Everyone close to me was dead or dying. However, I felt very strong. I was empowered by God. I had never known God before. My reality was completely transformed.
I finished reading the Urantia Book that October. Ron and Sheri stayed with me and my parents for a while, then went to live on a commune in upstate New York. I never heard from them again. The Urantia Book completely changed my life. But that's another story.
SONNY SCHNEIDER: My friend and I knew we would be snowed in for months as we prepared to do the winter on Salt Springs Island, British Columbia in 1972. So I gave him all the money I had for supplies and he headed for Vancouver to buy the season's goods. He came back with some food, a guitar and a Urantia Book. He decided to play the guitar, so I ended up with the Urantia Book.
The first night I started reading the book, I knew I had received a gift from a friendly universe, a gift I had been asking for for several years. And what good timing, as I was to spend the next five months snowed in! It sure did help to pass those long Canadian nights.
TAMMY HORTON: In 1972, looking for a back-to-the-land place to live, my then-husband and I were traveling to Arkansas, where friends suggested we go. We stopped on the Missouri border at a small town called Seligman. This quaint town must have had a population of about 150, but it had a bookstore and a small general store. My husband went into the bookstore. While I stood outside taking in the local scenery, a young man walked up to me and we started talking. He said he lived in a cabin in the woods and had just come to town for supplies. He told me about the area and how he loved living in Arkansas. Our conversation led to the cosmos and spirituality, and he asked if I had ever read the Urantia Book. I said no. He proceeded to tell me about the book and how it had affected his life. When my husband came out of the bookstore he joined in the conversation. My husbands fundamentalist background - his parents were "holiness ministers"— had turned him off from religion of any sort, but the conversation piqued even his curiosity.
We went back into the bookstore. They did not carry the Urantia Book but said they would be happy to order it. We lived 250 miles from there and decided that that would give us a good excuse to return to the area. We paid for the book and two weeks later we came back. We tried to find the young man who had turned us on to the book, but nobody knew anything about him.
We eventually moved to Arkansas. During that time we met many folks who read the book in the area and a study group was formed of five couples. We had some really great times when the Urantia group from Oklahoma City, headed by Berkeley Elliott, came and stayed at our friend's trout fishing resort on several occasions to hold meetings there. We had wonderful gatherings out on a point with a bonfire at night on the White River. I realize now what a special time that was.
I have been reading the book ever since. I wish I could thank that young man for giving us something that changed our lives. The lesson learned is that you never know what enlightenment a stranger may have to offer.
DAVID GLASS: I graduated from Florida Presbyterian College in St. Petersburg in 1971 with a B.A. in world literature - a preparation, I think, for appreciating the exalted prose of the revelation. I loved school and was sad to leave it. Of course, now I know that the whole universe is a school, and I'm already enrolled! In college and afterwards, I had read a lot of existentialist philosophy and was consequently depressed and without faith that anyone would survive death, myself included.
But somehow there seemed something poignant about just being alive. Who had set up this universe? I started reading history and science and, later, religious and spiritual books in an attempt to answer this question, but the answer eluded me.
Then I met a college friend who introduced me to The Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda. I was hooked. I began meditating and practicing Hatha Yoga, and felt I was getting in touch with something real. I joined The Self-Realization Fellowship.
Later, in June of 1972, some friends and I went to Colorado to attend the summer meeting of the "Rainbow Tribe," a group which prophesied that great American Indian chiefs were reincarnating to lift the world to a spiritual level. In Granby we hiked to a high plateau and camped there for four days. There was no program, just fellowship and free discussions of our interests, which ranged from astrology to the Divine Light Mission. Afterward we all descended into the town of Granby where we filled up all the motels. In my room there were eighteen of us, many sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags. As I was nodding off, I heard Stephen Zendt say, "Well, the best book I've found so far is the Urantia Book." I made a mental note of the title. I didn't know Stephen at that point.
We all went on to San Francisco. The first day there I found the Urantia Book in a huge metaphysical bookstore. The cashier said, "This book is the handbook for the New Age." That sounded good to me at the time and I had the requisite $20, so I bought it and decided to read two papers a day. I went back home to Florida and read the book for six months straight, doing little else but eat and sleep. I am so thankful that my parents allowed me to do this rather than hurry me off into job-hunting without my values and principles intact.
When I finished the book, I went to Chicago and met Emma (Christy) Christensen and James Mills, then president of Urantia Brotherhood. I was so eager to volunteer my services that I offered to work for the Brotherhood for free and get a paying job somewhere else in Chicago.
I am now on my ninth reading. I have written articles for more than ten Urantia Book-related newsletters, and I published my own newsletter for about four years. I've attended just about every summer conference since 1973 and have prepared talks or workshops for most of them.
ARDELL FAUL: Born in 1947, I grew up in a Mennonite Brethren Church environment in North Dakota. When I was around seven years old, my older brother Edward and I were playing with our toy trucks one day when Edward asked me if I was "saved." I didn't know what he was talking about. He told me that when it was time to go to bed that night, I should tell Mom and Dad that I wanted to be saved.
That night, as I was crawling into my bunk bed, I remembered what he had said. So I went into my parents' bedroom and stated: "I want to be saved." We all got on our knees by the bedside and prayed. I don't remember who said what, but I saw the most beautiful, bright-white apparition imaginable. He didn't say anything to me, but his presence was overwhelming and the encounter changed me forever. At that point I knew beyond a doubt that other unseen realities existed.
The power of that experience was enough to carry me through my youth until I was 15, when scientific curiosity and a belief that the world was understandable soon put me at odds with the creation story of the Bible. I took many wrong turns on my way back home - the major one was turning to alcohol for relief.
I discovered the Urantia Book in 1972 and read it alone for many years. But I never felt my childhood connection with God again, and couldn't understand why. I used to tell people, "They put me here on the planet and didn't give me any instructions!"
It wasn't until 1995, when I ran out of self-will and went to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, that I finally reconnected with my God. The Urantia Book immediately became my Big Book, and now I know I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I have finally gotten over my desire to die and enter eternity, and understand that I'm already living in eternity - right now!
BUCK AND ARLENE WEIMER: Arlene and I got married twice. The first time was in June of 1970, in a hippie wedding in California with most of our friends; the second time in September of 1970, in a Jewish wedding in New York for most of our family. My wife is a Brooklyn Jew and I'm from a Protestant background, but at the time we were both avowed agnostics.
Shortly thereafter, we jumped on a freighter headed for Greece. After two months there, we took another boat to Israel. We were without a travel itinerary, but soon we found ourselves in Bethlehem witnessing the traditional celebration of Jesus' birthday, which we thought was "cute." From there we moved on to Turkey for the long journey overland to India. India was, at first, very exciting, especially because of the many Hindu temples and ashrams. But before long we fled northward to Nepal and Katmandu, the capital. And again, as fate would have it, we observed a huge celebration of Buddha's birthday. These events made us begin to question our spirituality.
After visiting Burma and Southeast Asia, we arrived on the Indonesian island of Bali where we were confronted with a big decision: Do we continue eastward across the South Pacific, or accept the invitation to crew on a 40-foot, yawl-rigged yacht going west for 3600 miles, across the Indian Ocean to the Seychelles Islands? While in deep meditation, a clear voice said to me: "A man must do everything." And, though not hearing it quite as clearly, my wife had a similar experience. We chose the westward journey, which turned out to be fraught with danger. We even had a near-death experience. As a result of this episode we gained an acceptance of death and a sense that "everything is going to be okay."
After nine months in the Seychelles, we went to Pakistan and traveled westward to Europe and Amsterdam, eventually getting a flight from England to the States, where we arrived too poor for subway fare.
Arlene, who had received a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California at the time we got married, landed a job teaching at a small college in Orlando, Florida. One of the courses she taught was on personality. One of her students, a "wigged-out" Vietnam vet, showed her the Urantia Book one day after class and said that if she was really interested in learning about personality, she should read it. (He later acknowledged not having read much of the book himself.)
Arlene felt that she had read enough books for a lifetime while getting her education, so she asked me, since I was not working at that time, to look into this very large book. I started reading and recognized immediately that this book was "different," but I remained skeptical and felt the need to read it from cover to cover.
In the meantime we decided on more travels. Together with five others, we converted a school bus into a camper, wrote GOD IS LOVE in bold letters across the side, and proceeded to drive to Costa Rica, where we lived in tents on a mountain. I finished reading the Urantia Book there, and by then had made such character transformations that Arlene was inspired to delve into the book herself. And her experience was similar to mine.
After ten or eleven months, with the tents beginning to rot, we sat on a log on the mountaintop and made the decision to return to America and raise a family. We settled in Pueblo, Colorado, had three sons, careers in psychotherapy, and became active members of a study group.
Although it is only ink on paper, the Urantia Book has been our guide, a guide for loving God better while striving to become like him, and for serving our brothers and sisters while learning cosmic citizenship.
DON TYLER: I have my older brother Larry to thank for getting me interested in the Urantia Book. In the early '70s I was visiting him during a break from college when he shoved this large tome at me. I've never forgotten his intense look and the tone of voice in which he commanded, "You've got to read this book! It has the one and only true story of Jesus Christ!"
"Sure, sure," I thought. "If it makes you act like that, I want no part of it." Larry has always been intense. He and I laugh, today, that I came to the book despite him.
I started thumbing through it as I would approach any volume so large, skipping about and looking at the table of contents. "No! no! no!" he said, and turned to page one of the Foreword. "You have to start reading here" I began. I woke up to find that I had been nose-down asleep on the book at page three.
I was in college sometime later when I first got a taste of the revelation's cosmology. Several of us had been indulging in a long (and chemically-assisted) intellectual inquiry into the Big Bang, the Big Collapse, and other current theories of cosmology, when I found some written passages about the structure of the universe which Larry had copied from the Urantia Book. At this point several items clicked into place for me to fill some of those "missing links" in known theory.
Despite sibling-induced resistance, one day I started reading the book on my own in my own way. I finally found a toehold in the evolution papers in Part III. The description of the later evolution of humans especially intrigued me. I ended up reading from that point to the end of the book. I got my own copy and read it through again, from the beginning. The answers it gave on theological issues which I had previously considered unanswerable, and the correlation it drew between supreme and absolute concepts which I had thought irreconcilable, put this book forever on a level above anything else I had ever read. But by far the most convincing facet of the revelation, for me, was Part IV, the Jesus papers.
A few years earlier I had experienced a spiritual rebirth, sparked primarily by reading the four Gospels and rediscovering the Jesus I had known and loved since childhood. But the Gospel of John had left me hungry for more, leaving so many questions unanswered. I had read other "revelations" and "lost gospels," but none had the truth-feel of the Gospels until I read the Urantia Papers. There I found that same superb and sterling Son of God who had intrigued and inspired me in the Gospels. The gospel material which the UB expanded upon, that which they ignored, together with new and revealed information, all coordinated perfectly with my highest understanding of Jesus.
The next year, a friend from college, Mary Jo Clark, came to visit me in Oklahoma. I had written to her about this unusual book I'd been reading, and the first thing we did was to sit down and read the revelation through together. Her college anthropology background caused her to take an interest in it at about the same point in the narrative that I did, at the hominid evolution descriptions. Her visit led to a lasting marriage and produced three children, all "raised in the Father."
DANIEL RAPHAEL: In 1972 I was a counselor at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. My office was on the third tier of E-Block, which housed four hundred prisoners. One day, outside my office, I was talking with an inmate who was in my caseload. We were discussing science fiction, talking about the great sci-fi authors and the classics of the genre. Another inmate, a friend of my fellow sci-fi enthusiast, stopped to overhear what we were talking about.
As do many who live behind those walls, this inmate decided to play the one-upmanship game. When a break came in our conversation he mentioned that he'd been reading the most incredible science fiction book he had ever run across. The book he described was prodigious: over two thousand pages long, not written by humans, and describing universes upon universes like so many grains of sand on the beach.
I was pretty flabbergasted by his claims, so I asked him for the title and publisher of the book. After the yard line had been called and the work line had been called and all the prisoners were celled in, I went to the library, found the publisher's address in the card catalogue, and wrote to the Foundation in Chicago to find out the price and shipping costs. In a couple of weeks the answer arrived and I sent in my $27 for my own copy. Now that I think of it, it was rather amazing that I ordered it: I hadn't seen the book, hadn't read a review of it, hadn't ever heard of the publisher, and hadn't ever paid $27 for a science fiction book!
When my big book arrived, I began with the Foreword. After going through it rather slowly, not understanding much of what it was saying, I read Paper 1.
Almost thirty later, I am here to tell you sweet people that although I was disappointed that it wasn't really a science fiction book, Paper 1 provided me with the most enjoyable, heartwarming description of God that I had ever read. I went on to finish the book in eighteen months, having to get up an hour earlier every morning to do so. The Urantia Book has given me a more interesting description of the universe and its inhabitants than I could have ever imagined. And that's how the Urantia Book found me.
CLAUDIA AYERS: Religion was not a big part of my life when I was a child because my parents were not churchgoers and did not seem to have religious beliefs. As a sixth-grader, I was captivated by the lunch-time arguments that took place between the religionists and the atheists. I soon found myself siding with the atheists. In 1961, the atheists were vastly outnumbered by the Protestants in my community.
During many a starry night when my friends and I gathered for camp-outs or sleepovers, discussions of cosmology were inevitable. I rather enjoyed poking holes in biblical versions of reality. I'm sad to say that I may actually have contributed to the eventual "undoing" of faith for a small number of people. I had learned enough about other religions on this planet to conclude that they were remarkably similar. They all seemed to have the same take on the goodness and oneness of God. But I felt they were all a crutch for people who couldn't face the fact that evolution accounts for life. I admire those few friends and acquaintances who could hold up their faith even in the face of contradictions and confusion.
By the time I was a sophomore in college, however, it seemed as if every thinking person I knew was a non-religious humanist. A close friend and classmate, whom I respected tremendously for the wholeness of his personality, ventured that there may actually be something to the theory of God. He wasn't like other engineers I knew; he had read widely in non-conventional religious books. But I was shocked at his suggestion. I figured a few evenings of my pointing out the inconsistent arguments of the various theologies would help to educate this otherwise brilliant and sensitive person. Unfortunately, he was electrocuted before such discussions could occur. It was hard for me to face his demise, even as the stoic I felt myself to be.
When I was 23, in the first months of 1973, I was reading Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian at my parents' place in Sonoma, California, while recovering from having my wisdom teeth extracted. I was well into Russell's anti-Christian arguments when my brother happened by for a visit. I hadn't seen him for almost a year because he'd been spending time in a variety of hippie communes in California, Hawaii, and British Columbia.
My high school drop-out brother joined me on the sun deck with a big blue book and was soon quite immersed in it. I had never known him to read books by choice, so this was an unusual thing to behold. My brother's name is also Russell. In no time I was hearing another Russell's arguments, this time for religion. Instead of "God," he referred to "our Father" and "the First Source and Center." It all sounded so hippie to me. I figured he'd smoked one "doobie" too many and had "wigged out" in some fundamentalist commune. I thumbed through his book and found it completely "bogus."
It was as much a surprise to my mother as it was to me to see Russell so devoted to reading. She figured she had nothing more important to do than try to understand him, so she took a more serious look at his book. A few months later she suggested that I also take another look, for she had never seen anything like the philosophic writing it contained. Of course, I felt challenged to prove it wrong. Over several months, I tried to find a lie or some lack of continuity in this remarkable book. Suddenly, one day, a dramatic realization literally shook me: The book was true!
I once was blind, but now I see. It has been an eventful quarter century!
ROB CRICKETT: In Melbourne, Australia, during the early 70s, a young lady I knew took me to meet a fellow who had a copy of the Urantia Papers, a chap by the name of Keith Bacon. I chanced to notice a phrase in the text which read: "The mission of the Thought Adjusters to the human races is to represent, to be, the Universal Father to the mortal creatures of time and space" (p. 1185). Some months later I was preparing for a period of religious retreat and that phrase was sufficient to inspire me to buy a copy of the Papers to take along as my companion.
Throughout the years, the Papers have challenged all things very dear to me, and have brought me to the precious presence of God. In the pursuit of the realness of that phrase concerning our Father, I have been amply blessed. The Papers helped to bring me into living contact with Michael, Mother Spirit, Father indwelling, and previously undreamed-of optimism and opportunity. The Papers also ushered me securely through many dry and barren times in search of the factual truth of Jesus' gospel; but, true as that gospel is, the Father-child relationship has proved to be the foundation of eternal life and righteousness. I have been tremendously privileged to share that truth with hurting people all over the world, through the Church of Christ Michael, prison and drug treatment ministry, and spiritual outreach. Jesus and his gospel have never failed me and have only given me increase from which to share his riches.
To the best of my knowledge, the Papers were carried to Australia in 1955 by two individuals, Keith Luckett and Tom Reynolds. At the time these men would have both been in their late twenties or early thirties. They had been in the United States on separate business with no knowledge of each other. They still live in Melbourne and are active readers of the Papers.
Over the years, numerous people spearheaded an assortment of group, social and apostolic activities in Australia. In the '60s and '70s a Urantia community existed south of Perth, Western Australia. One extraordinary couple bicycled around the continent, evangelizing the Papers. Several national and international newsletters were sources of fellowship and news. Libraries were given hundreds of copies of the Papers and, whilst some were returned, most remain in place. Church services, spiritual retreats and spiritual growth workshops began in the mid-'80s and continue to this day. Study groups, fellowship feasts, home church, interfaith contact, facilitation and representation at national and international Urantia conferences - all this and more has been the fruitful impact of the Urantia Papers in Australia, to the glory of God and the praise of this most precious revelation and its production team.
STELLA RELIGA: Coming from an atheistic/agnostic background, with no religious instruction from my parents, I nevertheless was a lifetime searcher for spiritual truths. Even as a child it would turn me off when I'd hear preachers on the radio saying I was a sinner. I hadn't had a chance to sin or even to know what sinning was. Jesus died for me? That was a foolish thing to do, according to my childish mind. Who and what was he anyway? Had he even existed? But with all these questions I somehow knew that something greater must have created this awesome world and cosmos.
My search took many paths and byways until one incredible day - I didn't know it was incredible then - my son Robert gave me a magnificent gift, the Urantia Book. He had picked it up from a study group led by Pat McNelly at the University of California at Fullerton.
The Urantia Book provided answers to every question I'd ever had, whether it was about God, Jesus, the universe, archeology, anthropology or philosophy. This was a four-year college course crammed into one 2,097-page blue treasure.
The book has inspired me to find the strength and even the wisdom to do things I didn't know I could. One example was founding a shelter for victims of domestic violence. And now I've published a book, The Secret Revelation, that dares to decode the Book of Revelation.
Who knows what the eternal journey will bring? Isn't it exciting to live in this eventful age when new but old spiritual truths are being beamed to Urantia? How privileged we are to have a blueprint for living in the greatest book on this planet, the Urantia Book.
EMY HOY: It was an autumn weekend in 1973 when I dropped by to visit my friend Stella Religa for a few minutes. I liked to hear her political viewpoints and see how she was coming along with her latest home decorating projects, as these were some of the same hobbies I was involved with at the time. I found Stella and her son Robert at home. Robert showed us some books he had just come by. He made a few enthusiastic comments about a thick, blue book entitled the Urantia Book, saying it was a religious book and that I could buy a copy from him if I wished.
After examining the impressive chapter titles of Part I, "The Central and Superuniverses," and getting a small glimpse of where I might be in this great universe, I was awed with what these papers offered.
I immediately admired how well organized the material in the book seemed to be. The cover, a beautiful blue, was well designed, with the name "The Urantia Book" across its face. The pages were thin and strong as in a costlier Bible, and the print was easy to read. I loved the book before I'd even read a paragraph. After browsing through it for ten or fifteen minutes, I was absolutely amazed by its contents. This was a religious book I must own and I wanted it immediately.
Then and there I purchased my first copy and took it home, excitedly wondering what I would learn from its many pages. I vowed to myself that I would read every word. I immediately began with the Foreword, and then read continuously through. In the midst of a busy work and school schedule, I completed the book in almost a year. I can remember reading the last page and thinking how fortunate I was to have had this book pass into my hands. I thanked our heavenly Father and promised to keep the Urantia Book in my home and refer to it often.
GLENN BELL: I was a devout follower of the Bible, convinced that it was the inspired Word of God, when a friend, Early Spires, began telling me things about Adam and Eve that were not in the Bible. After he had said enough to show me he didn't know what he was talking about, I asked him where he was getting his information. He said it came from the Urantia Book, which was written by angelic hosts to reveal God to man.
I knew from this that Early was as cuckoo as a March hare. I loved Early and thought I could read the book to point out its inconsistencies and maybe save his mind as well as his soul. Well, I read the book from cover to cover and found it to contain nothing but the truth. This was 1973. I became convinced it was a true revelation of God to man and have been devoted to it ever since.
ANGUS BOWEN: I was led to the Urantia Book in 1973 by a comment from my cousin. I was living in Wichita, he in Los Angeles. My cousin and I had shared many religious experiences since our days in grade school. He and I would get together, draw pictures and talk about God from the time we were about seven until we graduated from high school. In 1958, in my sophomore year in high school, I became a born-again Christian. My born-again experience happened in this way: I was scheduled to see the minister in order to "get saved." That date was days away and I was concerned that something might happen to me - I might get run over by a truck, for instance - before I actually got saved. I was lying in bed discussing this problem with myself - and with God, if he was listening - and I remember saying, "If I can be saved, right here, by myself, instead of waiting for my appointment with the minister, I want to be saved right now."
I was immediately flooded with a vibrant rush that swept through my entire body. I was startled. I did not know what it meant, since I had no reason to believe, at that time, that I could make such a momentous decision by myself. When I went through the ritual of getting saved with my minister a few days later, it was anti-climactic. I knew that I had been saved that night, by myself, alone with God.
After graduating from high school, I went on to a Bible school with plans to enter the ministry. But after two years at the Bible institute, I had to drop out and enlist in the U.S. Air Force because my parents divorced and I had no financial backing to continue school. In the Air Force I became a chaplain's assistant. I worked with chaplains of all faiths and learned that, although they didn't seem to know it, their beliefs were all basically alike. It was a great lesson to learn.
Following military service, I spent the next ten years searching - for what, I wasn't certain. There was a vacuum in my soul, caused by the unanswered questions left by the Church. My search included just about any spiritually oriented belief or mind-expanding practice I came upon. I found no single answer. Then my cousin, who had gone through a lot of the searching with me, happened to mention the Urantia Book.
I was immediately impressed with the thoroughness and exacting detail of the UB. It was the opposite of the Bible in that respect. But the section that really hooked me was the Jesus papers. Jesus had been the focal point of my prior "pure" religious experience, and I knew he was the avenue to real spiritual growth and understanding. The UB told me of the Jesus I knew in my heart. It was a more complete Jesus than the Church had presented. The UB didn't refute the Bible; it augmented it. It brought the Bible to life. It brought Jesus to life.
Although I immediately accepted the UB as authoritative, I didn't accept everything. Some of what it had to say made me angry. At times it seemed cold and almost too objective, almost merciless in its descriptions and judgments of the human condition. But each of those "anger" sessions - after which I would close the book with a sense of "no way can that be the way it is"- led me to further understanding. Those contentious points worked within me and eventually I would come to realize the truth in them.
For the next twenty-four years it was just the UB and me. I had no other readers to relate to. It was the best thing that could have happened because I developed my own sense of what the book was saying and was able to see how it worked in the real world. I held every new idea or philosophy or scientific discovery against what the UB had to say. I began to recognize things in books and movies that had a "UB-like" quality to them.
Today I have no doubt as to my eternal destiny or the existence of God. These are no longer pie-in-the-sky beliefs. The aspect of blind faith has moved its parameters much deeper into the universe. I would be more shocked if I didn't survive death than if I did. I am looking forward to the experience, but not as anxiously as I used to. At one time I wanted to be there - on the other side, free of human bondage. Now I know that I am there, and that there is here.
I'm so thankful for the UB. It has replaced the incredible with the incredibly logical. It has helped me substitute a true sense of responsibility for a sense of guilt. It has given me a certainty of the future without an escapist attitude, a sense of my place in the eternal process, and the instructions on how to navigate the eternal journey successfully. And to think that the journey has only just begun!
MARTHA GROH: My father was an avid reader, a self-taught man, and a seeker of truth. I don't think he believed in a personal God, but my mother was Catholic and raised us as such. The Catholic Church meant little to me other than rituals and dangerous nuns, and after twelve years I decided that I never really believed in God at all. My father had always been interested in science, ancient pyramids, and UFOs, and in my later years these interests became a common bond between us. I read many books on those subjects and was convinced of the existence of extra-terrestrial life.
In 1970 I was still in school and working during vacations. My best friend had moved to Oregon after high school to live in a commune. She was a poet, a young mother, and a follower of the Guru Mahara Ji. She told me she had come across a book that I might like, though she herself could not understand it. She claimed it was written by extra-terrestrials and had been dropped off on earth. Something inside me knew that was true and I wrote down the name of the book. I told my dad about it, and since it was close to my birthday, he said he would give it to me as a present. Together we went to a bookstore in the Coventry area of Cleveland, a hip community from the '60s, and ordered the Urantia Book.
When I finally got it, I was shocked by its size and complexity, and intrigued by the table of contents. I started at the beginning, but the enlarged concept of God had no meaning for me since I was still an unbeliever. I stopped after three pages, but I must have at least glanced at the Jesus section, because I recall telling friends that "when certain planets are in trouble, a Jesus is sent to straighten things out." I wrote to the Foundation asking for more information, but I stopped reading the book.
Years later, Walter Dychko, a Urantian from the west side of Cleveland, called one day to try to organize a study group. I thought it would help me to understand the book if I could study it with other readers. We corresponded for over a year without getting a group together. Something always got in the way.
I had been working as a medical secretary in a hospital for three years, and a nurse friend of mine phoned me from Atlanta where she had moved the year before. She had been quite wild, and I was shocked to find out that she and her new husband had become Jehovah's Witnesses. She spent a long time telling me about her new beliefs and the prophecies of the Bible (which I had never even looked at in my twelve years of Catholic schooling). The prophecies were interesting, but my main thought was that she had been duped by those Jehovah's Witnesses. I felt sorry for her.
The phone call had come early in the morning so I went back to bed but couldn't sleep. I found myself thinking about God and what little time I had given to learning about him. Suddenly, the room was filled with a warm and glowing light. I felt so strange, as if I had received the gift of faith right at that moment, as if I had been "born again." I couldn't get back to sleep and had an irresistible urge to be out in the summer morning. Taking my dog with me, I went outside and was amazed at how clear and bright everything looked, like I was wearing a new pair of glasses!
I came home and had such tremendous urges - to read the Bible, to join a church, to learn everything I could. I called different churches at random, went to the library, and got some books on Edgar Cayce, the Dead Sea Scrolls, world religions, the Koran, even the Talmud.
That same day I called Mr. Dychko and told him how I felt. He suggested I read the Urantia Book but to start with the Jesus section this time. I read for about five hours without stopping and my Thought Adjuster must have responded because I knew that every word I was reading was the truth. It was exciting to finally believe in something, to have faith in God! I kept reading and studying the UB together with the Bible and my other library books, and was amazed at how they interconnected.
My family knew of this experience I was having and encouraged me to go to the Midwest Urantia conference in Michigan. There I met some great people, including my future husband, Richard. Richard had found the book on a friends coffee table in Hawaii while stationed there in the Navy. We discovered that we lived in the same area, and decided to try to get a study group together. We met with Mr. Dychko a few times, but his wife, being Catholic, refused to let us meet there anymore. So Richard and I studied together, fell in love, got married, and had a beautiful baby daughter.
LEE ARMSTRONG: My father being a military man, I was raised in military chapel. My idea of religion was "God bless Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War." But personally I decided that I believed in God because I needed to, although I was certain that much of what I was hearing in church was not really related to the God I felt inside. So one afternoon, as a junior in high school, while considering all of this, I prayed, "Father, I don't really know what is true. But I don't care how far I have to go or what I have to do, I want to find what is true. Please help me.
Four years later, a guy named Terry Kruger and I became good friends when we both took a theater class at Illinois State University in the early '70s. He and I shared a deep personal interest in things spiritual, discussing many philosophies. Terry would say things like, "Reincarnation, Lee, I think that's really real" He would be so certain, but I knew that if I waited several weeks he would come back equally as adamant: "Reincarnation? That's for the birds. How could anyone possibly believe that?"
So when Terry returned from a trip to New Mexico and I heard about his latest "ism," the Urantia Book, I took it with a grain of salt. Strangely enough, however, this one didn't pass with the weeks. In fact, Terry's attachment to it grew stronger. Finally, after two or three months - a long time in my experience at that point in life - Terry put his foot down: "Lee," he stated, "You have got to buy this book!"
Well, if he felt that strongly about it, okay. There were no Urantia Books to be found in Normal, Illinois, so when I took the trip up to my parents' home in Chicago I was delighted to find the book in a bookstore. I put down my $20, and in February of 1973 (I wrote the date in my book) I began reading the Urantia Book.
Terry told me that the best way to read the book was from the front to the back. He told me that I might not understand much of the Foreword, but not to get discouraged and to keep pushing on. At the time I was playing Marcellus in Hamlet, and while waiting to go onstage I sat in tights and armor reading the Foreword to the Urantia Book. Terry was right. I didn't understand much of it, but I had a feel for it.
As the weeks passed, I would rush through my studies so I could get to those precious hours before bed and read the book. I'd put on Tim Weisberg's flute album, Hurtwood Edge, and read. (Those early emotions associated with my first reading come back to me when I listen to this music again.) I remember reading a sentence with my eyes wandering off into space as I thought about it for fifteen minutes. Questions would flood my mind; the answers would be in the next paragraph. I felt my mind opening, my soul exploding. I had never read anything like this.
Terry would ask me, "But when did you know, Lee?" I'd look at him blankly and say, "Know what, Terry?" Quite frankly, I had no idea what he was talking about, but I tried to be polite. I continued reading on through the book. Finally, I finished Part III, "The History of Urantia." Blam! Bells rang, lights went on - I knew! What Terry had been trying to get me to tell him was, when did I know that this was an epochal revelation of God to our planet? I knew in my experience that this book was true and that it was what it claimed to be.
I had found the truth. I had asked for it. I got it. The truth had set me free. So one night when Terry dropped me off at my apartment I looked over at him and said, "Do you remember those times when you asked me if I knew? I know now." He looked at me in agreement, and that bond of solidarity is one we will carry into eternity.
Having absorbed the first three parts of the book, I then began Part IV. All of the concepts and descriptions of the nature of God given in the previous sections were now personally demonstrated by this man, Jesus, who humanized these values by living them. "The Life and Teachings of Jesus" is a handbook that demonstrates how to incorporate the teachings into your life and actually do them. And at the center of it is Jesus. Now I know him as Michael of Nebadon. He is superb. He is real.
As the years have passed, my focus has changed from encountering and trying to understand the teachings to trying to live them. It has become less important to me how many times I can claim to have read the book, and more important how well I can live as a son of God. While I have had my successes and my failures, I can honestly say that the Urantia Book has changed and enlightened my entire adult life experience on this planet.
JESS HANSEN: Back in 1973, I was allowed to examine the contents of a flight bag and a suitcase that had belonged to the late guitar maestro, Jimi Hendrix. That was where I first laid eyes upon the Urantia Book. Jimi possessed a well-worn copy that featured notes in the margins made in his own distinctive handwriting. At that time, I made note of the title and publisher of the book. Shortly thereafter, I met a personal friend of Jimi's, and during the course of our initial conversation I mentioned the Urantia Book. Jimi's friend confirmed for me that yes, Jimi had been very familiar with the book and its teachings. I then tracked down a copy for myself, and the book and I have been together ever since.
JANET QUINN NILSEN: In the early 70s I was a young mother with two small sons. My husband and I were building our own home in a tiny, rural neighborhood, with very little experience or money. Times were often challenging, and I found myself in dire need of some sort of spiritual transfusion plus straight information on how best to deal with the difficulties of life.
Around this time a nice young man who was interested in UFOs was staying with a neighbor. This fellow mentioned to me that his sister had told him about a book written by aliens - that it was very thick and had little, teeny printing. I am a reading addict who loves thick books, and I remember thinking, "Hmmm. . . . Maybe that would be something I could really sink my teeth into - a fat book by aliens! How interesting!" and I put the thought in the back of my mind.
During the next few months I investigated some of the current spiritual trends: TM, yoga, mysticism. I dusted off my old Sunday school Bible, read it, and once again came to the conclusion that the Old Testament was profound but barbarous. I felt deeply that I loved Jesus but that he had been grossly misrepresented by the men who wrote the Gospels. I needed to know about the real Jesus.
Shortly thereafter a new couple moved into the neighborhood. I was slightly acquainted with the woman, and so I helped them move boxes from the van to the house. I picked up a box of books - the fellows small but varied library of spiritual books - and on top of the stack was a beautiful, big blue book. I knew in a flash that this was the book by the aliens! My hunch was confirmed when I flipped it open and saw the list of tides and authors - Lanonandeks, Vorondadeks - yep, this was indeed the book! I borrowed it and started reading it that day. I gobbled it up the next month or so, starting with the life of Jesus, and anything in the front sections that caught my fancy. After I finished the Jesus papers, I started at the Foreword for a proper front-to-back reading, the first of many.
As I was reading the Urantia Book, I also had a chance to peruse the rest of my neighbors collection of spiritual books. All were interesting, some perhaps inspired, but none were revelations, and all suffered in comparison with the big blue marvel - in scope, language, and in direct spiritual helpfulness. I was thrilled by this book and thought everyone should read it. I scraped together $20 and bought my own copy at an esoteric bookstore. It seemed to me that any literate and somewhat spiritual person should want to read this book - should be thrilled to know more about Jesus, God, and the universe.
I was disturbed that so few people who I thought would want to read the book, actually did. The fellow who had first told me of the book didn't want to read so thick a book. The neighbor whose book I first read was convinced that Guru Mahara Ji was the latest incarnation of Michael of Nebadon. The esoteric bookseller stopped carrying the Urantia Book in his store when he realized it denounced astrology as a superstition.
"What is it with these people?" I wondered in frustration. But I soon came to realize my own arrogance in introducing the book to those folks I thought needed to read it. My irritating zealousness subsided as I began to absorb the gospel of Jesus and incorporate it into my life. When I am tempted to say, "The Urantia Book says . . .," I try to share my version of the gospel instead, that we are loving children of a loving God and cherished members of a universe family. I have not met one person who is offended by those words.
My hope for all future readers and disseminators of the Urantia Book is that they have as wonderful an introduction to it as I did, and that they take the teachings deeply to heart. Most important, in response to Jesus' request, I hope that they become ardent proclaimers of his gospel: the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
DONNA OLIVER: I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with my mother and two sisters. I was the sister in the middle. My mom was a wonderfully humorous and upright woman whom I greatly admired, but she did little to nurture her spirituality or that of her children. I had never gone to church, nor had I read the Bible or had a religion. Even so, as a young child I felt God's presence hovering nearby, and wherever I went I knew he followed. I came to depend on his watchcare, his guidance and training, his patience and sense of humor. We developed an unceasing, informal dialogue.
In my early teen years I began searching to know more about this God of mine. I visited churches of various denominations, not knowing what I was looking for but confident that I would know it if I found it. I read parts of the Bible before turning to Indian and Eastern philosophy. I visited the world of Carlos Castaneda. I meditated, prayed, became a minimalist and a vegetarian; I did whatever I thought it took to enhance myself spiritually.
At 16 I found a job in a vintage clothing store. The owner and I would launch into lengthy discussions about people, the world, the universe, and the purpose of life. Sometimes I would find him sitting at his desk reading a big blue book. I looked over his shoulder at words that seemed complicated and foreign. In response to my inquiries, my boss/ friend told me the book had been written by various celestial beings. I knew I had to know more about this book that dared to make such a claim. He soon found me sitting at his desk reading his big blue book. I would scold him whenever he'd take it home and forget to bring it back the next day.
Soon after, I found myself in possession of my own Urantia Book, gold-stamped with the initials DLB. I took it with me wherever I went. I was inspired to read "The Life and Teachings of Jesus" first, which gave me the foundation for appreciating the other sections of the book. I learned much, which only added to a stirring within.
By the time I was 20 I was living in California where I married and became a mother - or was it the other way around? Oh, well... I had now read and reread the entire book multiple times, understanding more and more as God spoke to me through every page.
There was one day in particular, as my new baby lay in his crib nearby, that I refused to go on feeling that God was near me but not a part of me. I fell to the floor and cried out from the depths of my heart, "God, where are you?" It was then that I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of love as I awakened to Michael's beautiful gift, the Spirit of Truth.
I have since made an irrevocable choice to be life partners with God as I move ever closer towards fusion with my Thought Adjuster and towards my destiny as a finaliter in the universes yet to come.
SUSAN HEMMINGSEN: I was living in Sydney, Australia, during the time of the Vietnam War when U.S. troops would come there for r & r. One day I ran into a poor, shell-shocked young American soldier whose money had been stolen, and I offered him a place to stay. While I was at work, he went into a bookshop to purchase paper and a pen with the only money he had left so that he could copy the poem "Desiderata" for me. The shop assistant, seeing how much he obviously wanted that poem, gave it to him, and later on the soldier gave it to me as a gift for my hospitality. He went back to Vietnam a couple of days later and I never heard from him again.
But "Desiderata" rang a bell within me, making me once again consider the possibility that there could be a personal God. Up to that time I had been agnostic. I had explored other religions, particularly the Eastern ones that were trendy back then, but I didn't like the idea of merging into the One after death; I wanted to stay me. I had discarded the personal-God concept when I was about 18, perhaps after objecting to the injustice implicit in the idea of Jesus' having to die on the cross to "save us from our sins."
During those years I had many unanswered questions. For example, if Adam and Eve were the first humans on earth, how could Cain go out into the land of Nod and take himself a wife? Where did she come from? I also believed in evolution and was unable to reconcile this belief with the creation story in the Book of Genesis.
A year later, my partner Dick and I were writing a science fiction novel about a world on the brink of disaster. In our book, special people in some countries could stop time to communicate telepathically with each other when disaster was imminent and act to divert the impending catastrophe, after which time would move forward again and the population would be none the wiser. Imagining such a scenario opened my mind to the possibility that, unknown to us, other universe personalities could be living in our midst. I actually began to sense their real existence, although I had no idea who they could be. (The major characters we conceived for our science fiction story, I later realized, had characteristics similar to those of the members of the reserve corps of destiny, as described in the Urantia Book!)
About this same time, I happened to read an Australian-authored book which suggested that we were allowing the inferior to breed at a faster rate than the superior, and that the intelligence quota in the world was declining accordingly. I later found these ideas amplified in the Urantia Book.
I was just finishing the outline and beginning the first chapter of the novel when a friend showed us the Urantia Papers. I read the cover flap, "There is in the mind of God a plan . . ." (p. 365), then went to the Foreword, "Your world, Urantia, is one of many similar inhabited planets. .. "and continued with, "You humans have begun an endless unfolding of an almost infinite panorama, a limitless expanding of never-ending, ever-widening spheres of opportunity for exhilarating service, matchless adventure, sublime uncertainty and boundless attainment..."(p. 1194).
That was it for me! Bells went off and I knew I had found what I had been searching for. I immediately embraced God as a personal being and went on to read the entire book in three months.
KRIS REINECKE: A serious seeker of truth since childhood, I early on rejected the atonement doctrine of Christianity because I found it inconsistent with the Christians own concept of God. As a 13-year-old, at the request of a middle-aged lady who had no children of her own and had taken an interest in me, I took a correspondence course on the Catholic religion. Upon finishing the course, I politely turned down the offer to become a Catholic because I was unable to accept all the dogma required of a believing Catholic.
In 1962 at age 21 I joined the Masonic order, partly because I believed that there I would, eventually, learn all of the secrets of the universe. Although I went all the way through the Masons, ending up as a Shriner, I kept on waiting for the light bulb to go on above my head. It didn't. I then joined the Rosicrucians in 1969 while in Vietnam; I found their beliefs satisfying and was comfortable with their doctrine of reincarnation. What was not apparent to me at the time, but what I believe now, is that I was being set up by my Thought Adjuster for my introduction to the Urantia Book.
In the autumn of 1973, when I was 31, my wife and I were visiting her friend Carol, who was attending the University of Oklahoma at Norman. While the two were chatting in the kitchen, I wandered into Carol's living room/study and began to browse the titles of the books she had accumulated during her education. About halfway up the shelves I saw the Urantia Book in its white dust cover. After I finished scanning the rest of her library, my eyes immediately snapped back to the big white book. I had to move a hassock close to the bookcase and stand on it to reach the book.
When I opened to the table of contents I was instantly intimidated by the book's complexity and put it back. But something told me to give it another chance. So, using a technique I had learned earlier in life - just stick your finger somewhere into a book and start reading - I opened it randomly to the first page of Part III, "The History of Urantia." Halfway down the page I read, " Urantia is of origin in your sun..." Wait a minute, I thought, the author of this book is not from the planet Earth, because he/she said your sun.
I slammed the book shut and put it down on the hassock, baffled by the statement. I then thought, either this book is the truth or it is a great science fiction novel. I walked out into the kitchen and asked Carol if she had read it. She said no, and told me one of her friends at the university had given it to her. I asked her if I could borrow it, and the rest is history.
LARRY PAWLITSKY: In 1953, when I was seven, my parents where swayed from their Catholic religion by some new friends of my dad. All of a sudden, I was a Jehovah's Witness and I soon found that I was very interested in learning more about God and his plans for me and this world. I became a devout Bible student and indicated my dedication to serving God by being baptized when I was 14. I attended Bible and book studies, went out on service, and as my knowledge grew, many questions came to my mind.
By the time I was in the eleventh grade, I was asking questions that neither my parents nor any of the elders could answer to my satisfaction. I was also beginning to rebel against the strict rules of the organization. Slowly but surely I drifted away from the religion of my youth. Soon after graduating from high school in 1964, I moved away from my family's home and started working full time. I also stopped attending any Witness meetings. I hadn't given up on the idea of God; I was just looking for a different approach. I was raised in a religion of fear and I just couldn't believe in the concept of God that the Witnesses preached, a God so cruel as to heap all these punishments on us.
I married a non-Witness woman in 1966 and we had a few good years together. All that time, I was searching for something that would relieve my fears and give purpose and meaning to my life. Then the Summer of Love and Woodstock came along and I wholeheartedly embraced the hippie lifestyle. For the first time in my life I felt freedom, and I started exploring other religions and other paths to God. Still, a part of me was keeping a fearful eye on the approaching 1975. As a Jehovah's Witness, I had been led to believe that the great battle of Armageddon was going to take place that year, and that all non-believers would be destroyed.
In the spring of 1973, my wife and I parted ways and the pain and sorrow of the breakup intensified my search for enlightenment. My path led me to explore many Eastern religions and New Age philosophies. Here I was, a small-town mountain boy getting into some heady stuff, and although I was finding some truth, something was missing. And then I came across a book which had a huge impact on me, Be Here Now, by Baba Ram Dass, which filled my mind with visions of oneness with the universe. One day in October of 1973 I stopped by a friend's house for a minute to pick up something. He had out-of-town guests who were just leaving. On their way out, one of the guys, Art, said to me, "What do you think of this?" and handed me a brand-new Urantia Book. I only had time to read the dust jacket and skim through the table of contents but what I read in that short time sent a tingle throughout my body and made my hair stand on end. This happened on a Sunday, and I could hardly wait until Monday morning to phone the bookstore in a city 300 miles away, where Art had bought his copy. I received my book the next day C.O.D. I've been reading and believing the Urantia Book and trying to live the teachings ever since.
Within a month of getting the book, I met Nancy, the love of my life, and she readily accepted the fifth epochal revelation. We were married in the spring of 1974. Ever since finding the Urantia Book I no longer worry that our loving Father could get so angry with us that he would hurt or punish us. I'm free - and I've found truth and love!
I still keep in touch with Art although we live in different towns. He tells me that one of these days he is going to dust off his Urantia Book and read it.
LYNN GOODWIN: Ever since I was a little child I realized that truth was slippery, that it meant different things to different people. An event in kindergarten Catechism stands out to this day as a turning point in my life. The good sister was teaching us about Jesus and she said that people living in deepest, darkest Africa wouldn't go to heaven if they didn't know about Jesus. This was very alarming to my child mind because I already knew that our heavenly Father would not punish us for our ignorance. I sensed that the nuns were trying to tell me something really important, but that they had somehow gotten it wrong.
As I grew up I suspected that the Bible contained more than the truth. The idea that the heavenly Father would require his Son to die on the cross for our sins was an insult to the Father himself, and evidence to me that the Bible had been rewritten too many times. While I did not throw the baby out with the bathwater I began to take my Catholic education with a grain of salt.
Throughout my angst-ridden teenage years, I sought answers from many sources. I read voraciously, sampling from the world's religions, psychology, philosophy, and parapsychology I was aflame with questions. I wrote poetry, did LSD, received a mantra, and was rolfed and rebirthed. I checked out the Buddhists, the Rosicrucians and Esalen Institute. I looked for goodness and nobility and graciousness in the world and found little. I looked inside and found a lower and a higher self and recognized that I needed Jesus in order to master myself.
In the winter of 1973 I was living in a log cabin on the beach in Lincoln City, Oregon, experiencing the mystic, hippie dream. I still had many questions and some sorrows but I also had the solace of the sea and the beauty of nature. Into my life came four musicians from Chicago: Billy, Al, Jim and Brian. They were members of a jazz band on a road trip out West. They turned me on to jazz, and after those boys expanded my musical palette they changed my life by introducing me to the Urantia Book. They said they had been studying the book with a Dr. Brown and his wife at their summer place somewhere in Illinois.
The Urantia Book had come to me after an extensive search, and I devoured it. In page after page, it provided answers, insights, and affirmations that I had been seeking for years. It gave me the perspective of cosmic citizenship. As others have reported, I knew immediately what it was and I was overwhelmed by the importance of such a document. I felt honored and humbled and deeply grateful for receiving such a gift.
Most dear to me is Part IV, "The Life and Teachings of Jesus"; I never tire of studying the Master's life. It so beautifully fleshes out the biblical account, filling in the holes and correcting mistakes by relating the rest of the story.
My entire life has been tremendously blessed and uplifted by the Urantia Book. I am able to look at the world and see meaning in the struggle, see my fellows as beloved children of the divine Father, and visualize the outworking of the divine plan. I look forward to the ongoing ascension adventure in service and in love.
DARLENE SHEATZ CRINER: My early twenties were spent looking for answers, not about God necessarily, but about the world and beyond. I studied various philosophies and religions, only to hit the wall fairly quickly.
In 1973 I moved to California from Colorado, having spent two years studying yoga and Tai Chi, which I now feel prepared me in many ways for the discovery of truth.
The very month I arrived in California I met a great lady. She wasn't a Urantia Book reader but she led me straight to the book. While visiting her home I noticed her husband was always reading a blue book. His reluctance to talk about it intrigued me even more. It so happened that on the same block lived a number of wonderful folks who were also Urantia Book readers. My first loaner book was given to me by a reader named Jim McNelly.
As I began to browse the book, my reaction was, What is this stuff? Nebadon? Andon and Fonta? Now, really! It took some doing for me to get over the table of contents.
I must admit that the cosmic information was most interesting to me in the beginning. What really took me in was the information on the Solitary Messengers. I found myself also going to the Thought Adjuster papers over and over, fascinated by the connection between all that was out there and all that was within me. It was a long time before I ventured into the Jesus papers, but when I did, the meanings and values became real to me. I no longer thought it was corny to believe in Jesus, as I had felt when growing up.
Now, over thirty years later, I feel my life has been tremendously enriched by the discovery of the Urantia Book. But it took me a long time to integrate what I was reading with what I was doing in my life. I'm still trying.
MICHAEL MANN: When I was 13 I got through my Bar Mitzvah by faking it. I had been thrown out of Sunday school when I was 11 for asking questions like, "Wasn't John the Baptist Jewish? Wasn't Jesus Jewish?" Even my Reform temple couldn't handle that. So, in order to make my parents happy, I took a crash course in Hebrew phonetics, to learn my Haftorah and the song I had to sing. When the big day finally came, I didn't understand a word of the Hebrew I was reciting. I felt nothing inside. I was hungry, maybe, but otherwise, zippo.
From that day until several years later, I considered myself an agnostic, leaning heavily towards atheism. I was part of the great hippie generation, graduating high school as a clean-cut kid in 1968, only to become a draft-card-burning demonstrator in the streets less than a year later. My road took me to California where I met some hippie friends who were true believers in Dr. Tim and who had a line on pure doses of LSD-25, then known as "Orange Sunshine." My acid experiments were many, and from the start I felt that I was being led back to the true God, the One God. An acid experience in the Nevada desert in 1972 caused me to understand fully that We are One, and that God was the One. I was already headlong into this adventure of personal religious experience a full year before I ever saw a Urantia Book.
In September 1973 I was back in New York, married to a girl I had met in California. A very good friend of mine, an electric guitar player, showed me the Urantia Book in his apartment in Westchester. It floored me. I couldn't believe it existed and the more I looked at it and read the author's names and the names of the papers, I knew I had to get this book. It seemed to provide a complete explanation of the very simple concept, We are One. It gave names to things and beings that I had already suspected existed.
My new wife and I immediately bought two copies of the book from the Foundation's offices in Chicago. I remember sitting in the front room of the building at 533 W Diversey, filling out forms while we waited for them to bring us our books.
I began reading. I tried to start from the beginning but couldn't help jumping around. I loved a lot of what I was finding in Part III, but I was still having trouble with the whole Jesus thing in Part IV. I admired much of what Jesus says in the Bible, but could not accept what the organized religions had to say about him. Finally, I read the last paper of Part III, so I would understand about bestowal missions, and then I began Part IV. I was immediately drawn into the story but a creeping thought lay at the back of my mind, that I was a trained, professional journalist falling for what had to be one of two things: either the most elaborate literary fraud in history (which would make it a good story!) or the truth. It took me about thirty pages before I surrendered my doubts. I continued to read Part IV and began to accept this new Jesus into my heart.
Shortly afterwards my wife and I returned to California where we met a whole group of people who were reading the book and trying to live the teachings. A lot of socializing and music took place at these meetings. I studied the book with a man who was like a Zen master of the Papers, just because he was so good at reducing it all to a simple way of life.
The book has remained with me all these years, though at times it got dusty sitting on the shelf. When my marriage came apart, I became addicted to dangerous drugs to relieve the pain. In rehab, ready for some answers, I opened the book again and began reading the Jesus papers once more. I became a leader in the 12-step programs, and for years I was a speaker and musical performer at their meetings and conventions. I kept working the real Urantia messages in, even though I never mentioned the source. Just recently, the book has helped me enter a new phase of my life, spreading the good news about Jesus through my music. My songs are not directly about Jesus, but his message is always there.
As the book says, "It is literally true: if a man has Christ Jesus within him, he is a brand new creature, old things are passing away, all things become new." And it has happened like that for me, exactly as Jesus promised.
DELORES DINSMORE: The sun! When I was very small I wondered why something so important could be dangerous to look at. Angels! My father read the Bible out loud to us. I was amazed by the story of the angels in the fire, preventing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from burning up. Death! Gramma died of a heart attack when I was ten. My mom reported that at the end Gramma opened her eyes and smiled, saying, "I'm coming, Jesus!"
Such thoughts comprised my childhood spirituality questions. It may seem funny, but I never questioned the reality of Jesus. He was always a very real, living presence to me.
At 18 my spiritual quest began in earnest when I left home to go to college. It was 1968. Campuses in were turmoil, the revolution was in full force - the Vietnam War, riots, draft-card burning, tear gas, civil rights, environmentalism, Women's Lib, hippies, drugs, and free love. Where did I fit in?
My life was changed by a near-death experience. My heart had stopped. I floated away from my body and out of the room until I found myself hanging onto a huge golden grid somewhere in space. Beings appeared and led me back to my body. "But I don't want to go back!" I begged. "Please, can't I stay with you?" "No, Delores," they answered, "you don't know enough about the world yet." A dog barked loudly and it seemed to start my heart. I believed I had almost died, but after that I also believed there were helpers out there.
The Great Tao, where we melt into an energy field and lose all our friendships and relationships? I couldn't buy it. Jesus didn't lose his identity when he rose from the dead.
The great wheel of reincarnation? In that case, shouldn't Jesus have been reborn as a gnat or a dog or a sacred blue cow? No, he came back as himself.
Or you die and there is a big black emptiness of nothing? Why would God bother with all this amazing detail if that were the case? Sorry, that was not for me.
Transcendental Meditation - what? I need to pay money for a secret mantra for enlightenment? But I loved Yogananda's poetry and the way he kept saying to keep going, beyond all the psychic phenomena, beyond the out-of-body experiences, beyond the tricks of energy manipulation, until we find the true connection to God.
And why did the churches mostly leave Jesus hanging on the cross, glorifying the sacrifice rather than the promise of a loving, abundant life-everlasting? I could never reconcile the idea of a Father God doing that to the beloved Son. Something was wrong there. Drink the blood? Eat the body? Did the churches know how barbaric that sounded? What could these things really mean?
I liked the idea that I could take pieces and leave the rest, so I began to build my own cosmology.
In early 1973 I was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, working at a movie theater selling tickets. Some Jesus freaks working the streets handed me the Bible and told me it was a "good book," so I decided it was time to read it to see what all the fuss was about. I loved Isaiah and the Psalms, but the Bible did not have good enough answers to many of my questions.
That summer, just when I'd gotten into the New Testament chapters, my older brother, Doug, sent me the Urantia Book. Doug had received Big Blue in 1972 from Norm Du Val, his mailman in Missoula, Montana, who had struck up a friendship with him. Having just injured his back, Doug had spent the next few weeks reading the book intensely cover to cover. He then passed it on to me, saying, "This book answers all your spiritual questions, but remember, you can't read your way into heaven."
How wonderful to receive this Urantia Book while I was studying the Bible! I began to see that the Bible was the barest outline of a much more elaborate and elegant story presented in the Urantia Book. For a while I tried to share this great revelation with my Christian friends. I brandished the big blue book like a mighty enlightener, trying to enlarge their beliefs. However, I soon realized that I was alienating myself from the churchgoers. Most were appalled that I did not accept every word in the Holy Bible as sacred and true. How could I say there was no hell? How could I add anything to the Scriptures? They believed the devil most certainly was alive and well, and his best ruse of all was to convince fools like me that he did not exist! One day I stopped in weariness from fighting against these limiting beliefs. I asked Michael, "What should I do now?" I heard him quietly reply, "Please, quit scaring my sheep."
I realized that I needed to embrace the concept of "wise as serpents, harmless as doves," so I gave up my Urantia Book evangelism. When I returned home to Helena, Montana, I joined my mom and some others who had been receptive to the revelation and started a Urantia Book study group for those who needed deeper answers to their spiritual questions.