10 Dec 2016 Sat 09:51 - Москва Торонто - 10 Dec 2016 Sat 02:51   

How I Found Urantia Book And How It Changed My Life.
Part VII 1980-1986

Дата добавления: 2008-02-20

Автор: 32 автора

BARBARA JO HOWELL: God killed his own son? Even as a young child I couldn't believe that. When I was about 16, my best friend Shelly and I would walk aimlessly around Julia Davis Park in Boise, Idaho, where Jesus freaks with their happy faces would approach us.

"Have you been saved?" they'd ask us.

"Huh? Does it look like we need to be saved?" we'd reply. "Do you see us hanging off the side of a cliff by our fingernails? No? Then I guess we don't need to be saved."

"Jesus loves you!" they'd call after us.

"Yeah, right."

But at home I'd secretly open my Bible, searching in vain for something to make me feel better. Those awful years from the seventh to the twelfth grade were the worst time of my life.

At 18 I moved up to the Idaho mountains, got married, and soon after had two children. But not having had a lick of guidance or discipline as a child left me totally unprepared and inept. The marriage didn't last long.

In the summer of 1980 I was a 26-year-old, long-haired, country-hippie girl, divorced a year and living in the midst of wheat and hay fields with my children. The nearest town, with a population of only five hundred, was about thirty miles from our little old house. I was moody and spiritually restless. I also had a habit of smoking homegrown pot first thing in the morning and drinking beer as the day wore on. We were surrounded by the incredible beauty of the mountains, and I remember many times thinking, "The world is such a beautiful place - but what's the point?"

I'd been fighting insecurity and depression ever since I was a young teen and had finally reached the end of my rope. I realized that because I was a mother I could no longer afford to be depressed. My children were two and four, and I could not stand the thought of their being raised by a miserable wretch. For their sake, something had to change.

And so, one sunny afternoon when the kids were taking a nap, I went out in the yard with my Bible and tried again to find something within its pages that would help the world make sense. I opened it randomly and read what basically said, "God loves us, but he doesn't love them. He told me to go kill them. So I did. In fact, I wiped out the whole village, including the children. Now God is pleased and I am blessed."

"This is it?!" I wailed. With hope dashed to pieces I closed the Bible and started crying. "Now what?" It was then that I had my first real talk with Jesus. I remember it well. Sitting there in the grass with tears streaming down my face, I looked up to the sky and pleaded:

"Jesus, are you real? Please be real, because I don't know what I'll do if you're not! I kind of think you might be real because people still talk about you after all these years. Please - if you are real - I need help. I need answers. Can you give me something that makes sense? This Bible just doesn't cut it for me."

The next day, out of the blue, my ex-husband Craig came by and said he would take the kids for the weekend. This was unusual because for the past year he had been a very busy boy - busy partying and dating, that is, trying to fill the emptiness in his own life. Not often had he given up a weekend to relieve me of child duty.

So, whoopee! It was my turn to kick up my heels! I could hardly wait to get to town and dance my frustrations away. I prettied myself up, threw a six pack of beer in the car, and headed for The Ace Saloon. On the way there I guzzled at least three of them beers to give me the confidence I needed to walk through the door.

Back then The Ace Saloon was a happening place - noisy, stinky, smoky, and with a whole lot of slurring, stumbling drunks whooping it up. I made my way past gangs of cowboys and loggers and found a place at the bar. There I downed another beer or two and soon found myself engaged in conversation with a woman who seemed ill at ease and out of place.

Did I say "engaged in conversation"? Actually, we were yelling into each other's ears trying to be heard over the barroom din. She turned out to be a proper Nazarene who, on the street in broad daylight, probably wouldn't have bothered speaking to a heathen wench like me. I doubt I would have spoken to her either, had I not had a belly full of beer. I surmised that her only reason for being there was to keep the hussies from pawing her handsome husband, the singer in the band.

She didn't know it, but she was instrumental in changing my whole life. With the band playing loudly and the crowd babbling uproariously in the background, this woman for some reason blurted out an invitation to a "Urantia study meeting" at her home the next evening. She quickly added that she had nothing to do with it - it was her husbands deal.

I couldn't have cared less whose deal it was because I didn't know what the heck she was talking about. I remember making a smart-aleck remark about the name Urantia. "U-a-rancha? I thought y'all were farmers! Ha!" Then I was off to the dance floor to stomp and wiggle with the rest of the inebriated natives.

I probably slept most of the next day, but with the kids still at their dad's house I had one more evening of freedom, and no way was I going to waste it. So I showed up at the Nazarene's home for the "ranchers" meeting, not having a clue as to what it was about, just wanting to fill what would otherwise be a boring and lonely evening.

I think there were about five people plus me. The woman who had invited me stayed in another room the whole time. She meant what she'd said the night before about it being her husbands deal. She obviously wanted no part of it. Her husband began to read from either "Religion in Human Experience" or "The Real Nature of Religion."

All it took was one paragraph and I felt tears come into my eyes and my heart beat faster. I probably had a stunned and stupid look on my face, too. As he continued to read I became completely overwhelmed. It was all I could do to keep from dropping to the floor in front of these people and crying out loud to God. I sat with my hands in my lap, not uttering a word - but inside I was a blubbering mess. "This is the truth! You've answered me! You're real!"

The next day when Craig brought the children back to me I piled them into my orange Toyota Corolla and drove the hundred and fifty miles to Boise so I could find a Urantia Book. I didn't care how much it cost. I would have sold the car to pay for it. I found it in the second bookstore I checked, then drove right back home and began devouring it as if I'd been starved.

God became a reality and life finally made sense. I could begin to understand what it was all about and where I fit in. I had answers and no longer needed pot and beer. The world became enchantingly new again just like it was when first discovering it as a child. Yes, I finally understood what those crazy Jesus freaks meant when they said "born again." I was one of them.

And that's how my new life began. I'm grateful to the angels who've guided my footsteps. Over the years I continue to say "thank you" for this gift of revelation.

ROB ESTRADA: My mother was a devout Catholic and I was an altar boy and even worked as a receptionist in the rectory. I began to question my conventional Catholic beliefs when I was about 13. I remember becoming skeptical about what I had been taught about God, the devil, heaven and hell. Quite frankly I just didn't buy it, and thus searched for more. At about this time my father gave me a book by Erich Von Daniken, Chariots of The Gods. His theory about aliens visiting this planet really made sense to me.

I couldn't get these new concepts out of my mind. I just wished that I could find some source that would answer all of my questions and put my doubts about Deity to rest. Then one summer afternoon, at the age of 15, I fell into a deep sleep. In my dream I was confronted by a being of light. This being was feminine and I could communicate with her through instant thoughts. I asked her why I was here and what this was all about. She asked me if I was ready to know these things, and in my naivete I said yes. In an instant I was transported at tremendous speed, passing countless celestial spheres and bombarded with more knowledge than I could comprehend. At that point I woke up drenched in sweat.

Soon after having this dream I went to a party with my older sister, who was in college at the time. There I met a graduate student, Dave Vaccaro. Dave and I got into a deep discussion about spirituality, religion and the universe. This guy couldn't believe he was having this conversation with a 15-year-old. Before leaving the party, Dave recommended I read the Urantia Book. The next week I went straight to B. Dalton and ordered a copy, even though it was quite a financial sacrifice.

When I got the book I first had to read the section on the Lucifer rebellion. These papers answered so many questions for me, I knew I had found the truth. Throughout my late teens and early twenties the Urantia Book acted as a moral and spiritual reference guide in my life, though for about ten years afterward it mainly sat on shelves or in boxes and collected dust.

Then in 1998 I went through some rather dramatic life changes and once again sought out the solace of Urantia truths. Since then the Urantia Book has reaffirmed my belief in Jesus and has helped bring a general peace into my life.

CHRISTILYN BIEK: I grew up in Ghana, West Africa, the daughter of medical missionaries. While my mother had wanted to be a nurse and a missionary since she was a child, my father was motivated - following an epiphany he'd had during college - to become a doctor and serve in developing countries. Though he was a passionate truth seeker, he was not particularly sold on Christianity. He had problems with Christian theology, including the concepts of the Trinity and the atonement doctrine. He was a troublesome missionary and was frequently at odds with the rest of the mission community.

I was around six years old when, on furlough in the United States, my dad gave a talk at Rev. Meredith Sprunger's church in Indiana. That night, Dad and Meredith stayed up into the wee hours of the morning discussing religious issues. My father was surprised to find Meredith so supportive of his questioning; rather than debating him on many points, Meredith was agreeing with him. At some point after midnight, he gave my dad a copy of the Urantia Book to take with him. Dad devoured it in about a month, barely taking time out to eat or sleep.

My mother began reading it after my dad started; she was impressed but a bit skeptical, being a Christian missionary who did not have problems with the theology. Then, after returning to the States, she attended her first Urantia conference. There she encountered hundreds of intelligent, well-educated people who all believed this strange stuff. Perhaps this book really was what it claimed to be. She has continued reading and studying it to this day.

I was first exposed to the teachings after the death of my baby brother. When we asked our parents about death and what happened after, my brother and I were given answers from the Urantia Book. They were very satisfying answers. The mansion worlds sounded like paradise to me. I wanted to go right away, but Dad explained that there was nothing more important than growing where we were right now. Everything had its time. As long as we really wanted to live on and know God, we would - it was assured. The decision was ours. Nothing bad could ever befall us, in the eternal sense, as long as we had faith in God.

I will forever be grateful to my biological father and my Father in heaven for the dual blessings of growing up without fear of God and without fear of dying. What a gift! If that were all I got from the Urantia Book, it would have been a great gift, but there has been so much more. I've had the good fortune of being part of a family that can discuss and share the book's teachings. Even when things are tense, we know there is a higher way and can call upon our spiritual resources to help us resolve our conflicts.

When my family left Africa, my father left some Urantia Books behind. Imagine our surprise twenty-five years later on our return to Ghana to find such a large readership there and such enthusiasm! My dad was disappointed that the other Western missionaries we encountered in Ghana were not interested in the book; he he never expected that the Ghanaians would be the ones to become so enamored of it.

A little side note: One day my folks ran into some former missionary friends, Betty and Ralph Zehr, at a Urantia conference. "Oh, my!" my parents exclaimed, "What are you guys doing here? Where in the world did you hear about the Urantia Book?" "From you guys," the Zehrs responded. "We were warned about you and that big blue book when we first arrived in Ghana. It wasn't until years later, after we had been reading the book for quite a while, that we realized they must have been referring to the Urantia Book."

After I finished college, where I studied comparative religion and art, I decided to read the book for myself. Because I had been raised on the teachings, I never had that aha! experience that others talk about. I guess I took the book for granted because it had always been part of my life. I moved to Boulder to attend the Urantia school and to become involved with a community of Urantia Book readers. One by one my family members joined me here and we now enjoy a wonderful extended family and community.

In 1999 I attended the Parliament of the World Religions in South Africa and that is where I met the man who would become my husband. He was one of two listeners critiquing my "Introduction to the Urantia Book" before I presented it to a group in Cape Town. In a challenging question-and-answer session, he forced me to dig deep for personal answers. That same night he asked me to marry him. It was partly our Urantia discussion that made me decide to give the relationship a chance. To my surprise, he then read the book in about six weeks. I now look forward to having a family of my own and hopefully adding to the roster of third-generation readers.

LUC LACHANCE: Three times in my early life I was confronted with the terrible reality of death. From the ages of 15 to 50, I searched everywhere for an explanation for life, suffering, and death. I read a huge number of books and essays by the great writers of the world. I came to believe that of all the literature I'd read regarding life, love and society, the most important were the four Gospels.

Then, in 1980, on a friends recommendation, I read the Urantia Book. I was amazed. No book up to that time had been able to answer so many of my questions. No book was as universally complete and logical, as instructive, as well-written, as precise, as exciting, as exalting, as motivating, as stimulating, as galvanizing, as inflaming, and, most of all, as full of love and hope and fundamental truths as the Urantia Book. I found to my astonishment that the book was revealing the sublime plan of the Father - my Father - concerning all of mankind and the whole universe. And the Urantia Book did not contradict the four Gospels in any way; on the contrary, it clarified, simplified and reinforced their sublime teachings. From now on, life made sense, suffering could be explained, and death itself was no longer senseless.

I read the Urantia Book a second time, a third time, and a fourth, always with an ever-growing passion. Save the four Gospels, I had never been able to read the same book so many times with the same electrified zeal. For me there was only one explanation for this incomprehensible phenomenon: I had in hand the greatest revelation that had been given to mankind since Jesus! I will never cease reading and learning from this great book.

PIERRE GIRARD: It was February, 1980. My father had died a few weeks earlier and I was recovering from a traumatic separation from a sect I'd been involved with. The guru believed himself to be the most powerful spiritual ruler on the planet, an incarnation of Satan, and claimed to head a corps of forty other physical beings.

Searching for some spiritual help and support, I decided to buy a Bible. In a bookstore on St. Denis Street in downtown Montreal, I found the Bible I wanted. At this same bookstore, I also saw a photocopy of La, Cosmogonie d'Urantia, the name given to the first French translation of the Urantia Book. Due to litigation over that version, the Urantia Foundation had retired it from the market, and to satisfy the demands of French-speaking truth seekers, a Urantia Book lover had made photocopies of the French version and was selling them. When I remembered that this guru had told his followers not to read the Urantia Book, I decided to buy the photocopy of the book as well as the Bible. I paid $75 for it, but didn't consider that expensive because I'd heard that some copies were going for $200 or more.

At home, I started to read the Adam and Eve papers. This was the beginning of my love affair with the book during this difficult and painful period in my life. I was 31 years old and had already come to realize on my own some of the books important teachings. For me the Urantia Book was a response. It supported my own personal faith, belief, and experiences.

I believe the Urantia Book will become the most important book of spirituality on earth once we finally understand the lesson it has given us regarding personal free will - a gift from God to all of his children. May we live and grow under the reign of love and truth.

MICHAEL MARK: The Urantia Book found me in April of 1980, in Southwest Oregon. Unlike many other readers, I had not been a spiritual seeker. In fact, I had never even looked at a book about spirituality. If anything, I was a seeker of pleasure and ease, self-centered and self-willed, and moving in a downward spiral in many ways. It seemed to me at age 27 that I was a cosmic orphan, just trying to muddle through life with no particular connection to God and no thought that there might be any spiritual source of help or guidance.

For about ten years, whenever I visited the home of my friend Chris, I saw a copy of the Urantia Book on the coffee table. The book was bound in deerskin with a homemade, Indian-style beadwork design on the cover. For some reason, it never occurred to me to look through the book, and Chris never mentioned a word about it - or God or Jesus- in all that time. But I had always admired Chris. He often taught me things by his observations or by asking me questions. Looking back, I believe it was his worshipful approach to problem-solving that most attracted my attention, but at the time I only vaguely sensed that he might possess some wisdom that I didn't.

Finally, one day and apparently out of the blue, I asked Chris if I could borrow the spare copy of the Urantia Book on his bookshelf. I was at a low point in my life emotionally, but I don't really know why I asked to see it then. He still had never said a word about it! Several weeks later, while the two of us were hiking in the woods, he asked me, "Michael, have you been reading the Urantia Book?" I jokingly replied that I believed my Thought Adjuster had been very busy lately.

On May 18, 1980, it suddenly dawned on me what I'd been reading. It was the exquisite beauty of the language as much as the content that appealed to me at the time. Later that day, the nearby Mt. St. Helens volcano erupted. The birth of religion in my soul had been a turbulent one, and I quickly assigned my spiritual rebirth as the probable cause of the volcano! Later I came to my senses. Anyway it was a good metaphor for the cataclysmic upheaval taking place in my life. It took me about seven months to read the book cover to cover.

Finding the Urantia Book has put me at the end of many of my old problems, but at the beginning of many new and challenging ones. It has caused me to spend the past twenty years striving to reorder my thinking, reassess my values, and re-establish my priorities, in the hope that I can be a benefit to others the way my friend Chris was to me.

HELEN MARKELLOS: The Urantia Book came to me in answer to a prayer I had made twenty years before. It hadn't come earlier as I probably wasn't ready for it.

I had grown up in an orphanage in England. By I960, when I was 20, I was living alone in London in a bed-sitter flat. It was Christmas day and people all around me were celebrating. As I lay alone in my cheap room, feeling very sorry for myself, I began to pray. "Why am I alone? Why don't I have a family like other people? Give me someone to love me, please, because I am so lonely!"

After my crying stopped, I sat there listening to the people downstairs laughing and happy. I called out to God, "Do you exist? Why are you so cruel? What did I do? You don't love me! I don't even believe you are hearing me! It's all a pack of lies!" When I calmed down, I said in a small voice, "If you exist, then move something in this room. Show me you hear me." Suddenly I felt a hand on my head, stroking it slowly. I jumped up and looked around but there was only the wall behind me. The stroking continued for a few seconds, then I felt a warmth inside of me I knew somebody or something was near me in that room. I fell asleep Many years later, in 1980, I was married with four children and living in Greece, in the town of Corinth. It was summer. One day my English friend Pat, who also lived in Corinth, brought an American friend of hers around. Her name was Saskia. They had recently met on a three-day bus trip from London to Athens, and Saskia was now staying with Pat for a while. We all became friends. One evening Saskia began telling my Greek husband George the history of the Greeks, where they came from and who they were.

"Where did you get that information?" he asked, as he had never heard it before.

"From a book that I read," she replied. I'll let you borrow it." And so she gave us the Urantia Book. That first night I sat up all night reading about Jesus. I was shocked, as it was just what I wanted and needed. From the minute I started reading I couldn't put the book down. It took me three months the first time. I couldn't wait for the children to leave for school in the morning so I could read it during the day when I should have been doing my housework. I'd go to bed at nine o'clock just so I could read it, and I'd still be reading at three in the morning. I could hardly grasp my good fortune. It was too good to be true. There it was, all my questions about life answered in one book!

Every day I would put the baby in her stroller and walk down to visit Saskia so we could discuss what I'd read the night before. We'd take long walks around the town, talking about midwayers, Solitary Messengers, angels and Jesus. I will always be thankful to Saskia for being my messenger and bringing such joy to me, for delivering the good news all the way from America right into my own home in Greece.

It is now twenty years since I got the book, and even on my fourteenth reading of it, it is just like reading it for the first time. It has given me hope and comfort through this life. Now I know that I do have a family -the whole heavenly host! I belong at last!

I have tried to tell my friends about it, but they are either too busy or not ready for the great news. I have given one to each of my children, as it is worth more than all the treasures on earth. The Urantia Book tells us why we are here and where we are going. What more can we ask.

ED HEALY: I was living in Venice Beach, California, in 1981, when I received a call from a female friend in Northern California. She told me I needed to read the Urantia Book.

I had recently helped my neighbor Isaiah Compton move. In his late nineties, Compton was a psychologist who had worked with the famous Viennese psychiatrist, Alfred Adler. I knew Compton had a lot of books, since I had recently packed and unpacked them for him. He was a wise man, wiser than the dopers I usually talked to. I asked Compton, "Do you have the Urantia Book?"

He pointed to the walls that were full of shelving and replied, "It's up there somewhere."

I looked and noticed the OAHSPE book. I took it down and we started to read it. It seemed quite remarkable. After some time I found the Urantia Book. I opened it and turned to Compton, saying, "It's got Jesus in it!"

He said, "Yeah, that's why I've never read it."

Compton had been born of Jewish parents on a ship from Amsterdam; and while he did not consider himself religious, he was a spiritual man. I was born Irish Catholic. The last thing I wanted to hear about was virgin births, atonement doctrines, and so forth.

Nevertheless, I read Compton one paper a night until we finished the book. I could hardly believe my ears, so fantastic did I think the whole book was. Compton died within five years, but before he died he said to me, "You don't know how painful it is to me about my people, but I completely believe that book."

We never finished reading OAHSPE. The Urantia Book was the entire focus of our meetings after that momentous initial reading.

ENNO BENJAMINS: Early in 1982, during a phone call with a guy named Frank who had placed an ad for musicians which I was answering, 1 first heard those memorable words: "Have you ever heard of the Urantia Book?"

"The what?"

From that moment on, my life has been ignited by something so powerful to me, yet so frustratingly unrecognized by others. It would be many years before I would have the experience of passing this "gift of gifts" to someone else. And then, to my surprise, it would be to the people nearest and dearest to me, but that's another story.

Before this blessed event occurred in my life, I had been searching for several years for an explanation for my misery. You see, from my youth I had been imbued with the idea that I was to be great. I was going to ROCK this world. I was good at school, earned top grades, and performed well in athletic endeavors. I also found that I could play the hell out of most musical instruments. And when I entered high school, I couldn't help but notice that girls paid an unusual amount of attention to me. Oh, what a life it was going to be!

Well, here's what happened: Three months after graduation, my girlfriend became pregnant. One month later we were married. Although this was far from disappointing - even at the time I considered it a blessing - I couldn't let go of the feeling that I hadn't made the decision to marry - Beelzebub had! I still needed to find a way to flex my world-rocking muscles, so off I went on my search for rock 'n' roll superstardom, which led to that fateful telephone call.

Frank (I don't know what became of him) started telling me that this book explained that our planet was known in the universe as Urantia, that it was part of a system of worlds, that this system was part of a bla-bla and this bla-bla was part of a bla-bla-bla and all of these bla-blas were part of an even greater bla-bla-bla.

"Hold it! Hold it!" I interrupted him. "Who wrote this book?" He skirted the question, then continued with the bla-blas. Now my heart was pounding. "So, do you mean this book is from aliens who are going to land on earth and solve all our problems?" "Well...," he responded vaguely.

Now I had to see this book. We agreed to an audition, and I was sure I had finally found the rock band of my dreams. It wouldn't be long before the world knew how great a musician I was.

I had already come to accept "salvation through the blood of Christ," but it took no great intellect to see that a lot was left wanting in that concept. I often wondered, where is the rest of the story? In a moment of true meekness I might have thought to myself, "If God is truly all-knowing and all-powerful, he ought to be able to find a way to get the red information to us!"

After my audition, I asked Frank if I could see "that book." He acted surprised and handed me his extremely weathered copy, with the front cover and several of the title pages missing. I started thumbing through it: "The Central and Superuniverses," "The Local Universe," "The History of Urantia," "The Life and Teachings of Jesus." "The Life and Teachings of Jesus"! My eyes nearly fell out of my face. I began to scan the Jesus papers and to my delight and astonishment there it was: his childhood. And it was presented authoritatively, in plain English - no mumbo jumbo - with dates, times, and places. The pit of my stomach started to burn. I was as "high" as I could be.

Strangely, six months passed before I went in search of my own copy. But those six months were spent with my feet gliding along as though suspended above the ground. I wanted to savor the moment - a real miracle in my life. An all-knowing and all-powerful God had found a way to get this information to me; I'd prayed for it and he'd answered me.

When I could hold out no longer, I began calling used bookstores to see if they had a copy. I assumed it could only be found in a used bookstore because Frank had bought his at a local swap meet. A few days later I located a copy, a first edition in fair shape. Whoever had it before me had marked it up with red ink. It cost $15. I've since bought many other new Urantia Books, but that first book is special to me. I feel genuinely honored to have it in my life.

See you all sooner or later on the way to the super stars!

ROBERT O'GUIN: During my youth I was wild, daring God (if there was one) to show himself to me. And if there were a God, I could not understand how he could allow the oppressive conditions existing on this planet. In my mid-twenties life brought me to Catalina Island, twenty-six miles off the coast of Southern California. There I met a woman, got married and had children. But I decided I needed more answers to life.

I studied various religions, became a vegetarian, chanted, meditated, practiced yoga, and became a Christian. I studied the Bible voraciously; it answered many of the questions I had at the time. I knew Jesus was the answer, but I sensed there was more. I wanted to know as much as there was to know. I wanted the truth. About that time a thought came repeatedly to me: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." I did not know then that this expression was from the Bible, but it stuck in my mind. Eventually I became a deacon, an elder, and then a minister in the church. Ah! Things were good then - a happy marriage, children, a good job, and the church. We were the ideal American dream family - or so I thought.

Then my wife tired of marriage, said sayonara, and left me with the kids. Arrrrgh! At that point I needed the truth, all the truth, more than what was in the Bible. But where was this truth?

Around 1981 I found myself in an old, rundown bookstore in Santa Monica. I was browsing the shelves when an older, bearded gentleman jumped down from the loft and said, "I have what you want." I just looked at him. He led me to the rear of the store, pulled a book from the shelf, and handed it to me. I opened it, read four or five sentences, and said to myself, "Yes!" The book cost about $20, which seemed expensive but I bought it. I was on autopilot.

When I first began reading the Urantia Book I could handle only one or two pages at a time before needing to sit and contemplate what I had just read. I thought, "Wow! This is either the greatest book ever written or the biggest fraud perpetrated on man." The first months of reading were exhilarating. I was several feet off the ground most of the time. All the answers I had sought were there. I loved this book.

In 1982 there were no study groups on Catalina Island. I often telephoned Julia Fenderson in Culver City on the mainland. She was my link to other readers. A few years later, I returned to Santa Monica searching for the old bookstore. Alas, it was no longer there, nor could anyone in the area remember it or the bearded man who introduced the book to me.

AL ALDO: In 1982 I was interviewing for a job. The interviewer remarked that I was "a very spiritual person" and began telling me about strange beings such as secondary Lanonandek Sons and this unusual book called the Urantia Book. He further claimed to be able to dematerialize and re-materialize in crowds for the purpose of finding people. I wasn't sure what to make of this man, but I needed this job - for which I was uniquely qualified - and went back to his office with him after the interview.

Left alone in his office for a while, I couldn't help noticing a large blue book sitting on the table in front of me and, sure enough, it was the Urantia Book. I picked it up and flipped it open to page 891. At the top of this page it read: "Presently the Sicilian land bridge submerged, creating one sea of the Mediterranean and connecting it with the Atlantic Ocean

This cataclysm of nature flooded scores of human settlements and occasioned the greatest loss of life by flood in all the world's history. "I was astounded by this casual statement about major events of which I had never heard before.

Seeking to learn the date of this amazing geographic event, I read page 890 as well, but found no information. So, I began backtracking, finding the first date reference on page 887. I skipped around in the book and read a variety of different papers. By then, I was hooked on the Urantia Book, considering it a work of history.

In October 1982 I attended a mini-conference of Urantia readers in Fishkill, New York. At that time I still thought of the Ubook as a history book. Soon after the conference I bought two copies and gave one to a close friend. For the next six months, we each searched - unsuccessfully - for errors and contradictions, sharing our epiphanies along the way. Eventually I came to the realization that I had found a higher source of truth than the standard of my upbringing, the Christian Bible.

In my late teens I had been a truth seeker, but was turned off by the claims of each of the worlds major religions to be the only way. That attitude clashed with my concept of God. I even told God one time that if he could show me a spiritual path that did not force me to deny my sense of logic, I would probably be one of his greatest supporters. I believe the Urantia Book was an answer to that prayer.

STEPHEN THORBURN: One day at work, after a discussion of UFOs and the possibilities of extraterrestrial life, my co-worker suggested that I read the Urantia Book, saying I would find it "interesting." I bought a copy, opened it and read just a little. My eyes grew big and my brain caught fire, and I couldn't put it down until I had read the whole thing.

About a year later, I was listening to my favorite radio talk show about UFOs and the like, and a caller mentioned the Urantia Book. The host inquired, "Have you read the whole thing?" When the caller said, No, I haven't," the host put out the question, "If there is anybody out there who has read the whole thing, please give me a call."

I called, thinking myself to be probably the only other person in the world who knew anything about it. I was invited to be a guest on his show and fielded questions from callers for about three hours, only to discover that there were other readers and study groups. That was in 1983 I still read the book daily and go to the study groups. The Urantia Book has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. Thank you, Father!

HENRY ZERINGUE: I first saw the Urantia Book back in 1978 at the home of an acquaintance in Santa Barbara, California. I was impressed by the words "Melchizedek" and "archangel" in the contents section, and I read a page from "Energy - Mind and Matter." I wanted to borrow it but was told that would be impossible because it belonged to someone else. I looked for it (thinking it was called the Avanti Book) but couldn't find it nor did I meet anyone who had heard of it until five years later.

In 1983 I survived a near-fatal motorcycle accident and was laid up with both legs in casts. One day I received a conference announcement in the mail, addressed to someone who no longer lived at the address where I was then living. I was ready to throw it away when the picture on the back took me by surprise. It was an aerial shot of the University of California at Santa Barbara, with the Santa Ynez mountains in the background - a stunning photo of my alma mater. I went through the mailer again and saw the faces of Sek Seklemian, Barrie Bedell, and Asana Oliver Duex. Then I noticed the name "Urantia," which began to sound familiar. It hit me that that was the name of that book I'd been interested in. I immediately wrote to the organization that was sponsoring the conference, CUBS (Center for Urantia Book Synergy), and was given a Urantia Book within a couple of weeks.

I had already become aware of a spiritual rebirth taking place in me, brought on by the accident and the recovery process. I was lucky to have the opportunity to peruse the Urantia Book during those months of disability.

I was to learn later, when I started attending the CUBS meetings, that Asana had had to use Joel Andrews' computer to do the labels for the mailing announcing their Summer 1983 Urantia Conference. Joel had insisted that Asana also use the Course in Miracles mailing list, but Asana adamantly refused, and tried to segregate the database. But all his efforts to do so failed. In the end there was no way around it: he had to use the ACIM list. Since I was the only person who had responded from that list, he realized that the angels had seen to it that he use it, even against his better judgment. He learned an important lesson from this experience. I got to see the angels at work many more times during my involvement with the CUBS organization. I am thankful to have been part of that wonderful and vital group while it existed.

So the Urantia Book had found me. I was inducted into the corps of the many diverse and stimulating readers whose lives have been forever changed through the reading and sharing of this book. I feel that I am in good company.

STEVEN MCWHORTER: Let me take you back to the days of the early '70s and through my three marriages into the '80s. I was raised a Southern Baptist. My first marriage, in 1970, was to a Methodist woman from Alabama with whom I lived in the San Francisco Bay area and had two great kids. My wife wanted us both to become Presbyterians, and divorced me in 1974 after I espoused the Mormon faith. Next I married a Mormon woman whose family lived in Orem, Utah, and we had two wonderful children, a boy and a girl. This Mormon marriage, performed in a Mormon temple for all time and eternity, lasted just five earth years.

And now we come to my third ex-wife. We were living in an apartment in Macon, Georgia. Right before our son was born in June, 1983, I noticed a big blue book sitting on the end table next to the sofa. For weeks I had been using the book as a coaster, then one day I opened it and was blown away by the first few pages listing the authors of the papers contained therein. I began to read.

As I became more excited about the contents of this big blue book, I asked around to find the book's owner. Where had it come from? No one knew. I have come to the only conclusion that makes any sense: a midwayer dropped that book off, knowing I was ready for it.

My wife got so upset with my reading it all the time, that one rainy night in Georgia she took it for a ride and threw it out the window of her car into some bushes beside the road. The next day she decided to retrieve it, now a little weatherbeaten. I read that book several times through, highlighting many sentences and making dozens of notes in the margins.

In November of '94 I spent a night in a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. In the hotel bar I met a man of Chinese ancestry, and our conversation turned to religion. I ended up offering him my book, worn as it was, and he seemed overjoyed with the gift. I look forward to meeting him again in the morontia life to see what impact that book had on his mortal life.

Not long after I returned from Indonesia, I met a lovely lady in Destin, Florida, and soon our conversations included the Urantia Book. I ordered a copy for her and at the same time ordered one for my 18-year-old daughter in Utah. That daughter, Martha Kelen, was killed in February 1997 in an auto accident on I - 15 south of Salt Lake City. I couldn't have come through that mortal experience as well as I did had I not been grounded in the teachings of the fifth epochal revelation, thus knowing full well where she was headed. The support from unseen Urantia Book readers was unbelievable - from Hawaii to New York to Florida to Colorado - as word of this tragic event went out over the readership email lists.

Marthas brother, Gordon, wrote me after he got hold of the book to say that it was "of the devil." I often wonder where that one copy will wind up. Some midwayer will probably place it on an end table somewhere in Utah. It will not go unused.

MICHAEL HAYES: In a mid-sized town in Indiana I was raised Roman Catholic, the youngest of four children. My brothers and sisters were teenagers by the time I was born, so I grew up sort of an only child. I went to Catholic grade school and Catholic high school, was an altar boy and orthodox in my beliefs, but deep down I sensed there was more. My father was an alcoholic, but had begun to go to AA meetings by the time I came around. Although there were hard times that I remember well, my parents were always there to show me love and support. This unconditional love and perhaps the timing of my birth are what I credit for any successes in my life.

Back in the early '80s, fresh out of undergraduate school at the University of Wisconsin, I got a summer internship with a small architectural firm in South Bend, my home town. One of my colleagues, Bob, whom I had worked with before and who was seven or eight years my senior, began suddenly one day to read a large blue book at lunch time. The book had been given to him by a friend in Mishawaka.

Because I trusted Bob, I felt no apprehension in asking probing and sometimes skeptical questions about some of the verbiage he began spouting when he described the contents of the book. I was immediately intrigued by the breadth and scope of the book. It answered questions 1 had long wondered about. More than that, it made connections between otherwise unrelated areas of study which had always interested me philosophy and science, evolution and religion, astronomy and particle physics. In all these disciplines, I was not an expert and only knew enough to whet my appetite.

In high school I had taken a course in comparative religion, which opened my eyes to the idea that people could love God, do good, and not necessarily be Catholic. The lunchtime dialogues with my friend Bob were enough for me to really feel the pull of the fifth epochal revelation, but because of my analytical and somewhat skeptical nature, my reaction was more a recognition of truth than a wholehearted acceptance. The latter came after a long, slow, incremental progression punctuated by incredible glimmers of insight which gave me great hope.

I would often ask Bob, "What is the origin of the book? Who wrote it?" He would only answer, "Don't worry; it doesn't matter. That can come later." He was right. I was learning to judge things on the merits of their content without bringing to the table too many preconceptions based on questions of origin.

I soon left that job and my friend Bob to move with my new wife and soul mate Cynthia to Chicago, where I began a new job as a project manager for a construction company. Tucked into my briefcase were still some well-worn photocopies of several of the Urantia papers I'd taken from Bob's book, as well as a pamphlet of quotations from the Urantia Foundation. The book's $55 price tag seemed like a lot of money at the time, but part of my hesitancy was my skeptical nature: "Who's going to make the money on this? I'm no sucker!" In my mind, true salvation was supposed to be free.

One sunny day, riding my bike near Lincoln Park, I stopped abruptly on Diversey Parkway to admire an unusual and extraordinary edifice with fancily carved limestone ornamentation. But there was something else. My eyes widened as I examined the facade and saw the sign near the door with the now-familiar concentric-circles symbol. I recognized the circles from the back of the quotes brochure in my briefcase as being those of the Urantia Foundation. Given all the places I could have moved to in the world, here I was only blocks from the Urantia Book headquarters. This, I felt, was significant. I thought, "Well, I'd better buy the book now."

Over the next ten years I mostly read alone. I also read other books on science, religion and philosophy that discussed state-of-the-art ideas and concepts. To my continuing delight, a book that had a copyright of 1955 said exactly the same things that the experts in the fields of astronomy, evolutionary biology, archeology and particle physics were just proving in the late '80s.

I bought more books and gave them to my friends. To my dismay few believed the big blue book as I did. But I figure the books will continue to sit on their bookshelves, just waiting for a particular person to come into their house and say, "Hey, what's this big blue book about?"

VIRGINIA BROWN: The universe has a way of providing what we really need, and I needed the Urantia Book. I was stuck in a morass of trying to be good, especially good enough for God, but not feeling good inside. One of my daughters had gone to live with her dad in a distant state, so to prove I was still a good parent I decided to take care of foster children in my home. At work I was busy trying to prove that I was a good employee. In our church I was trying to prove I was a good Christian. To prove I was a good wife, I was taking care of my husbands needs. To prove I was a good daughter and daughter-in-law - well, you get the picture.

Then one day everything came crashing down around my ears. After a misunderstanding with another employee at work, I started crying and couldn't stop. My employer had a free Employee Assistance Program, and I was referred to a counselor. She saw me for a few weeks and then gave me the names of two psychologists. I was to choose one and start therapy.

So I did. I'll never know what would have happened if I had chosen the other therapist, but the one I chose led me to the Urantia Book. After he found out how much I liked to read, he started recommending books for me. One book just happened to be the Urantia Book. I checked it out from the library and started reading the section on the birth of Jesus; it was close to Christmas and I wondered what the book had to say about it.

Even though I could only understand about every third word, I was fascinated with the book. Its the only book I've ever been tempted to steal - I just didn't want to let go of it! But Doug, my therapist, offered to order me one for $23, so I was a good girl and took the copy back to the library.

Then Doug broke all the rules of therapists and invited me to join his Urantia Book study group which met in his home, and in Bob Bruyn's home on alternate weeks. In my mind's eye I can still go around the room and see the people sitting there at that very first meeting. We took turns reading and discussing the book and I was hooked. The only problem was my fear that they would throw me out if they found out who I really was, so I didn't volunteer any opinions or comments for at least six months.

The first teaching in the book to grab hold of me was the concept of God as a loving Father rather than as a difficult and demanding parent waiting to punish me for doing something wrong. When I read of the Father's love, it resonated within me. Even though I hadn't experienced much love from my parents, I knew how much I loved my children. I reasoned that if God was infinitely good, he must love me more than I am capable of loving my children. I knew that nothing my children could do would make me stop loving them, therefore God must love me, no matter what my transgressions.

The second thing that drew me was pure snob appeal. The readers were almost a secret society. The people who attended the study group were professionals and they accepted me, a housewife and clerk who hadn't even graduated from college. And the difficulty of the book's language challenged and inspired me. Eventually I got to know these people as friends, but I will always be in awe of their intelligence, kindness, and generosity. And now that I am on the Internet I'm meeting another group of readers to add to my family. I am richly blessed.

PETER HAYMAN: In the San Francisco of the late 70s my friends Lowry and Linda McFerrin and I used to listen to John Lawrence preach at his church. John was a devotee of Yogananda, and like Yogananda he was an apostle of love - always encouraging, engaging, looking to help others, uninterested in the barriers of creed. John was elderly then, but he may still be living today amidst his beautiful collection of Eastern art treasures. Part of my attraction to John was his ability to read auras. John once described Lowry and myself as the "blue boys" because he saw that our auras were shot through with blue. He said it indicated a spiritual bent.

I liked Yogananda's autobiography for its many accounts of purported supernatural experiences. Carlos Castaneda's books were particularly fascinating to me because they had an internal consistency which was even more alluring than their stories of the unknown and unknowable.

In the early '80s I was living on Nob Hill, kitty-corner from Grace Cathedral. The McFerrins and I often had dinner together. One evening, with the cable cars loudly making the final spurt before Jones Street with candles glimmering, with the fog swirling madly under the arching streetlamps, with the homey smells of basil and oregano wafting up from my steaming zucchini casserole, with the wine poured and my grandmother's emerald green water goblets gracing my humble table Lowry said, "Did you know that Rick has this big book with the life of Jesus in it?"

"Really?" said I, a veteran of Castaneda, Leadbeater, T. Lobsang Rampa, Edgar Cayce and Jane Roberts. "What's it like?"

Lowry shrugged. "Oh, it has all these orders of angels and stuff like that. It goes on and on."

"What do you think of it?" I asked Linda. She was as unimpressed as her husband.

But the seed was sown. Thereafter I kept reminding Lowry to bring the book when he came over, and finally one day he showed up with it. I read it non-stop. It is peerless. I am deeply thankful for its message that God is our heavenly Father.

GINNY MCCARTY: Raised in a small town by loving parents, I spent the first thirty years of my life as a member of a Baptist church. After becoming disillusioned by the authoritarian approach to theology, I began searching for a broader, more open approach to religion. A friend gave me a book by Leslie Weatherhead (a liberals liberal), who had written a number of books - mostly after retiring from the Methodist ministry in England - which questioned traditional Christian beliefs. Many of his questions were ones that had plagued me. I read everything of his I could find. His most affirming book for me was The Christian Agnostic. I am convinced his thinking opened my mind to the Urantia Book.

I was introduced to the book by a new-found friend in mid-Missouri. She mentioned a study group that she attended; when I asked her more about it she was vague, so I did not bring it up again. But around a year later she started telling me about the Urantia Book, adding that she did not want me to think she was weird.

She must have decided I was weird because she gave me a copy of the book! I began reading the Jesus papers and could not put it down. It spoke to so many of the questions that I had been struggling with, on such issues as the virgin birth, the atonement, the inspiration of Jesus versus the example of Jesus, and the smallness of God in traditional theology I was intrigued by the vastness of God and his domain as depicted in the big blue book. Immediately I knew it held what I needed. We moved away from the area shortly after I found the book and I have been devouring it ever since. My husband and one daughter have also become readers. I am now in my seventies and thoroughly enjoy the empowerment I feel from the study group I attend in Kansas City. My life has been expanded, enriched and enhanced by the teachings, and by the lives that have touched me in association with other readers.

FRED BECKNER: I was brought up a Southern Baptist, and my education was in physics and mathematics. I have worked all my adult life in research and development, in both university and private enterprise environments. From my early teens till my mid-fifties I would characterize myself an atheist. My deity was rational thought, science, and the human mind. Certain experiences in my late thirties and early forties convinced me that there was more to reality than the physical world. I began to seek, I knew not what.

One day my wife brought a thick blue book home from work. A co-worker had loaned the book to her, saying, "Here is a book I think Fred should read." I read the book for a couple of weeks, skipping here and there, sampling its flavor. My initial reaction was one of skepticism and disbelief. I rejected the book for its unconventional science (an ultimaton?) and its unfamiliar nomenclature. After returning the book to its owner, I mentioned it to my business partner and gave it no more thought.

On my next birthday, my 47th, I received a copy of the book as a gift from my partner and his wife, both of whom are interested in spiritual matters. With the book now readily at hand, I undertook to read it again, mostly out of curiosity. As I read, I began to perceive the spiritual fragrance of truth. I began to understand that the book contained a conceptual framework of reality which united the material world and science with a spiritual world and religion. Even more, I realized that I was a beloved son of a loving Universal Father. I began to see the way home.

LEE COLBERT: One day in 1983, my only brother, David, and I prepared for an outing. We perched his canoe atop his 1965 Ford Pickup truck and set out into the blazing sun for the six-hour drive from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Bluff, Utah. The temperature was at least

110 degrees, and we soon were broiling in his unairconditioned, shock-absorberless bucket of bolts. My brother, a geologist and diehard adventurer, said he knew a perfect spot to camp that night, but I was beginning to doubt that we would ever get there. The last forty-five minutes of the journey were spent on a rugged dirt path that at times seemed to trail off into nothingness. By this time I felt as though every molecule of water had drained from my body. Delusional, battered and bruised, I began to imagine us lost in the desert, two more living organisms charred to a crisp by the relentless, baking sun.

Just about then the view suddenly changed. The dirt road gave way to a vista so beautiful I had to pinch myself to confirm that I was not dreaming. We had climbed a rocky plateau, three thousand feet above a valley that the spectacular San Juan River, a jumble of meandering goosenecks, called home. In the distant background the sandstone formations of Monument Valley and the Valley of the Gods loomed like fine sculptures. Mesmerizing sun rays danced upon the formations. Surely, God was directing a play that day!

The adventure I have just described parallels my search for truth and meaning in life, my search for God. On the road that day I had despaired of ever reaching my destination. But God woke me up out of my malaise and showed me that faith will always triumph over fear. All my life I had looked upon God as an external force only, the fearful creator and upholder of the world. From that day on I was consumed to know more about God.

To clarify my own beliefs about religion, philosophy and God, I set out to examine the sacred books of the world's major faiths - the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Koran, the Upanishads, the I Ching. I invested seven years of my life studying these texts. I became confused and discouraged. I saw gems of truth in each work but had a tough time subscribing to any one in particular. All my fundamental questions about life remained. Why did God create the universe? Is there life after death? Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? Is reincarnation true. Do angels really exist? Is there really a heaven and hell? Does one need to empty ones mind to unify with God?

Frustrated at not really finding satisfactory answers to these questions, one day in 1989 I threw a Bible out of my bedroom window into a thundering rainstorm. That day I decided to ask God personally to lead me to the truth. On my knees I told God that I was sorry my search had failed, and that I would be depending solely on his guidance for further enlightenment.

Two weeks later, at work, I passed by the paper-strewn desk of my colleague Bill to ask him a technical question. Somehow I tripped and, trying to grasp his desk for balance, my hand swept aside a pile of technical reports, revealing a big blue book underneath. Curious, I asked Bill what this doorstop of a book was. He said it was an advanced book that integrated our highest concepts in science, philosophy, and religion, among other things. Intrigued, I began to thumb through the contents: "The Nature of God," "Energy - Mind and Matter," "The Early Evolution of Religion." I scanned the list of authors. What in the world is a Mighty Messenger or a Perfector of Wisdom? Although I was skeptical, I saw that the book was of a religious and spiritual nature so I asked Bill if I could borrow it for a couple of days.

After reading the Foreword I was blown away. This was either the manuscript of a mad genius or - could it be? - a revelation from celestial beings. I was on fire to either discount this book as a fraud or validate it as a revelation.

Consumed with the desire to read the whole thing, I spent many a night earnestly poring over this tome. I was amazed at the scope and consistency of its scientific and religious teachings. Fundamental questions were being answered satisfactorily: Yes, there is life after death! No, we are not alone in the universe! I came to understand that a fragment of the Universal Father lives and works within me, in addition to the outward ministrations of the angels and other spiritual beings. God is not just some aloof, impersonal being who created the universe; he personally shares my experiences! I learned that when the road seems bumpy and the path unsure I can always depend on the God fragment within me to lead the way - "not my will but yours be done on earth as it is in heaven." I now live with the assurance that the journey will be worthwhile.

SUSAN MOHR: In the early 1980s, newly divorced and having a great time living alone, I met an unusual character named Martin. He and his wife lived in my apartment complex. We all became buddies and parried a lot.

Sometimes our discussions would turn to religion and other serious topics. Martin was always making the most profound statements. He was a habitual liar, so hearing these spiritual concepts and phrases coming from his mouth was confusing. Finally I asked him, "Where are you getting all this religious stuff from?" He told me it came from the Urantia Book.

At the time I shrugged his answer off, but in late 1984 I asked him where I could find this book. Could it be bought at a store? From his description of the contents I had a vision that it was some huge reference book located in the National Archives. That afternoon Martin and I went to a Waldenbooks and bought the only copy they had, for $32. I was thrilled - for a day or so.

I was intimidated by its size. I didn't have much experience making commitments and I could sense this book required one. It was too much for me, especially since I was an alcoholic. I thought I would drink for a few more years before getting that serious. For the next eight years, I would occasionally glance at that monstrous book on my shelf and think, "One day I will read it."

In November 1992, at the age of 37, I surrendered my will to God and decided to get sober. Between my husbands ultimatum and just being sick and tired of drinking, I got some counseling and took the Urantia Book down from the shelf. Soon after that, a Concordex jumped at me from a shelf in a bookstore. I studied the Urantia Book alone for two years before coming in contact with other readers.

My life has continued to be transformed. I am grateful, happy, and I love Jesus! I lost track of Martin not long after I bought the Urantia Book. Several times I tried to locate him, but with no luck. It would be great to run into him again. If not here, then on the mansion worlds....

Martin Madland, where are you?

TIMOTHY NICELY: Back in 1984 I owned an entertainment company called R. A. Chicken & Associates, which focused on corporate events, private parties, commercials and television specials. We would hire entertainers to perform at these functions. One woman who worked for us as a singer mentioned that she had a friend who had a book that was "very strange" and that used a lot of words that she thought were made up. She referred to it as a "space" book. Being a bit of a space cadet at that time, I was immediately interested. She borrowed it from her friend to lend to me for a few weeks. I randomly opened it to a page and read. At that moment I thought, "This is the book I have waited for all my life." That thought produced a chill in my body, which in some spiritual circles indicates confirmation of a truth coming from a divine source.

When the woman left the company she took the book with her. Shortly after that, a born-again friend of mine mentioned to me that her sister had that same book and was willing to sell it. Both women thought the book was the work of the devil. They were willing to sell it to me at a discount - I suppose they considered it a devils discount. They never realized how important that book was to me. I thank them.

BARRY NORBY: The lacks in my early upbringing had left me with a tremendous need for a solid foundation of truth upon which to build my life. My search for truth did not begin as a search for God, but upon reading the Bible something registered as true in my mind. However, I saw that the Bible had been written by men. I could never accept it as the infallible, inspired "word of God." I was also aware of gaps in the Gospels.

As my search progressed, I joined one church after another. I often embarrassed church leaders with my questions. I also studied church histories and the writings of the early church fathers, gleaning what I could.

My mother had first learned of the Urantia revelation before it was published, through a man she was dating at the time. In 1948 he had taken her to a seminar in Washington, D.C., where the revelation was discussed. Several weeks later she went with others to Chicago to get more details about the Urantia Papers and came home all abuzz over this new revelation. The story she gave me then, about how the revelation was delivered, is not at all consistent with any other version I have heard since. The revelation, she was told, was to be put in book form, and she reserved several copies of the first printing.

In 1955, when I was 18, my mother sent me a copy of the Urantia Book. I opened it somewhere and read a paragraph. I thought, "This is weird!" I read another paragraph from a different part of the book. "Its talking about beings that don't breathe, and who live in atmospheres of 450° F. Wait a minute. I'm not ready for anything like this." I had a million reasons why I should not read this book. Deep inside what I really had was fear. I put the Urantia Book on the shelf, unread.

Life went on. One day, in a park, I met an old evangelist named Mike Peters, who spoke with a Ukrainian accent. He had a bed at the YMCA, an old tattered Bible, and one change of clothes. He was open and warm, always smiling with genuine happiness, and I attached myself to him He preached on street corners, in the park, and in various churches when invited. From him I learned about the loving nature of God. He taught me that whenever there is strife, error, confusion, discord, violence or suffering, it is never from God.

Later I went to Iceland and studied the Talmud and the Koran; to Thailand to study Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism and Buddhism; and to Germany to study under a Baptist pastor who also taught me New Testament Greek so that I could compare different Bible translations. He also told me that I would not find the answers I wanted through such studies.

By this time, I had no problem trusting God, but I became more and more confused with man's presentations of how to find him. I could not accept the narrow-mindedness and, all too often, the meanspiritedness of the leaders of the various religious institutions, with their holier-than-thou attitudes. I was acutely aware of the tremendous contradictions between the knowledge of science and the teachings of the church. I was distressed by man's insistence on making God as imperfect as himself. And I was frustrated by my own inability to put it all together.

By 1985 I was without spiritual focus. I had given in to confusion and had become totally involved with the material world. I'd hopped on "the Greed Steed," and spent my days trying to keep up with the Joneses. Then something happened - I don't remember what - that made me stop for a while and get focused. I knew I had to find God again to re-secure for myself the peace I'd once had.

So I prayed. I read my Bible. Then I came across that blue book on the shelf. I remembered how difficult a read it was, and that it had some pretty far-out concepts. I looked over the table of contents and discovered it was broken down into four sections. The last section was "The life andTeachings of Jesus." Since I knew quite a bit about this subject, I reasoned that if there was any truth there, I should be able to tell by reading it.

Wow! It said he didn't die as a sacrifice. This confirmed my own beliefs. So I finished the fourth section, then read the third section, then the second, and then the first. Then I read the book again from front to back.

The truth I'd been looking for was all there. The writers had put it all together, and everything made sense. Sure, the book introduced a lot or difficult concepts, but I could see that they were necessary to unify everything else. The Urantia Book took away most of my confusion and a whole lot of my fear. It gave me the ability to plot a course without being fearful that someone would tamper with the compass. The greatest thing it did for me was to teach me the value of communion with spirit.

So, I had the book for thirty years and didn't read it. I never said I was the smartest dude on the block.

JOILIN JOHNSON: When I was 14 years old I had my first "spiritual opening." From then on I became an active seeker, moving through many doors, gleaning the teachings that resonated as true and leaving the rest.

One evening in the late '70s I was about to be initiated as a Transcendental Meditator. I went to the house where the ceremony was to take place, and when I arrived the hostess was sitting at a table reading a huge book Walking towards her, I asked what she was reading. She looked up at me with a glance that clearly said she did not want to tell me. I've always been an avid reader with a more-than-eclectic range of taste, so I continued to press her. Finally, she said, "Oh, all right, if you insist. Its a book about the history of our planet, the hierarchy of heaven, the beginnings of the worlds religions, and has probably the best - no, the best - rendition of Jesus' life you'll ever find anywhere on this planet!"

I thought to myself, "Great! That sounds like my kind of book!" I looked at it, and since it was rather large I quickly figured that it would probably take me a few weeks to read it. "May I borrow it?" I asked her. She looked at me as if I had asked to borrow her husband, for goodness' sake! I assured her I was trustworthy and would bring it back in a timely fashion. She finally relented, saying, "Well, I guess I can do without it for one day." One day! "This must be some book!" I thought.

So I took it home and began to look at it, from the beginning. Let me tell you, the Foreword is the most complex piece of writing I'd ever attempted to read. I comprehended so little of it that reading further was out of the question. Then I skimmed through other parts of the book and read about the early human races. Hmmm, so there was a blue race, and a green one too, eh? Then I read about a Thought Adjuster, or Mystery Monitor.... Too much for me. I brought the book back the next day.

When I returned it I told her I thought it was the most way-out book I'd ever read. She looked me straight in the eye and told me that if I ever read the book straight through, my life would be changed; it would have to be; she'd never known anyone who'd read the book whose life hadn't been changed dramatically. Then she said I needed to know that it wasn't necessary that I understand the book; as a matter of fact, it was expected that we would not understand much of it. The important part was that we put the words into our minds; the Father would do the rest.

Those words stayed with me for the next three months. One day \ found myself walking into a New Age bookstore, one I'd never frequented before, just to see if it had a copy of that big blue book. It did - one copy. So I bought it. It cost $30, and back then that was a lot of money to spend on just one book. I took the book home and put it on the bookshelf; it stayed there for almost six years.

One day I was reading a book about angels that claimed to be channeled just like the Urantia Book was. The Urantia Book} I have that book, I said to myself. So I scanned the bookshelves and sure enough, there it was. I took it down and began to read. Wow! I could read it now - it sort of made sense to me.

And I haven't been the same since that day.

GEOFF TAYLOR: Born and raised in an Anglican home, I was the stereotypical altar boy/choirboy - with a guardian angel working overtime to keep me from accidentally killing myself. Homemade model rockets (three-stage with a mouse payload), pipe cannons and fireworks tested the angel's ability to move shrapnel or place me where the exploding bits would least likely hit.

I matured to young manhood with a career in engineering, a family, wealth, and an ego that left little room for God. Science and logic left no need for a God, either. As executive VP of research and development for the largest turbine-engine overhaul company in the world, I pooh-poohed "metaphysical mumbo jumbo" and dismissed the people who were led astray by that stuff. I had taken religion back to its very base - the Big Bang - and decided that God was needed only to supply the initial energy. The natural processes of energy association and evolution would take over from there.

Then in 1985, when I was 37, I hired a creative genius, Dr. Irwin Ginsburgh. Irwin had a Ph.D. in physics, 45 patents, a brilliant understanding of everything, and a big blue book of answers, a book which he said combined science and religion into a logical whole.

A logical blend of science and religion? Impossible! Okay, maybe not impossible, but certainly improbable. I began reading as a skeptic but ended as a believer. Finally, the New Testament miracles and the death on the cross made sense; afterlife was logical, and there was a reason for my existence. I didn't need God; God needed me! He needed me to experience what he could not experience alone - relationships with others, learning, sympathy, empathy, love.

It was a sad day when I finished the book, and yet it is the last book I will ever need.

I find the Urantia Book to be internally consistent and scientifically credible. The probability of getting all those day/date combinations in Part IV correct staggers my mind. The big blue book that questions all answers and answers all questions has changed the ego me into the Supreme we. It's amazing how your attitude changes when your perspective is eternal.

RICK WARREN: I had been searching for meaning and purpose when, in 1985, after quitting an excellent job as a technician at Hewlett-Packard in Santa Rosa, California, I moved to Harbin Hot Springs. Just fifty miles north of Santa Rosa, Harbin is a New Age community nestled in an old volcano crater on the coastal mountain range. There I joined the Heart Consciousness Church, signed a vow of poverty and gave up my earthly belongings - all $300.

Living in that old crater with a hundred other seekers - mostly good-natured, globe-wandering souls - taught me that people could exist peacefully and with a minimal impact on the earth. There was a garden and many community-owned amenities. Love and peace were the rule, but what was the purpose? The same questions plagued me even in that paradise.

The next spring, a beautiful terrestrial angel named Barbara drifted into the community and we fell in love. Under Harbin's moon we spent long nights luxuriating in each others (albeit celibate) embrace. After three weeks of sweet romance and lolling in the warm pools, Barbara said, "Lets go to Boulder Creek and live with the Spirulina community. Besides, I want to go to UC, Santa Cruz." Without giving it much thought, I agreed.

After a couple of weeks in Boulder Creek, an apartment-sitter was needed by one of the community members Barbara had befriended. We moved our few things in and there we finally consummated our love. It was anticlimactic, and I began to have doubts about leaving Harbin and coming to this place.

On the bookshelf over the bed I noticed Big Blue staring down at me. All my adult life I had been looking for truth in books of many kinds. It had started with the New Testament while I was a rifleman in Vietnam, where I never knew if the next day would be my last. I had searched the East for divine knowledge. I had delved into the new age psychology and all that was swirling around during the '70s and early '80s. All I had found in my search was a scrap of truth here and a pinch there. I took the book down and began reading it. Now here was a book that spoke with authority and audacity! The Urantia Book was all truth, all the time! Finally, my hunting was justified, my thirst quenched, my soul engaged and attentive, and my Adjuster gratified.

Sadly, Barbara did not recognize the significance of this amazing book. Shortly thereafter, we split, she returning to L.A., I to Harbin, never to hear from her again.

An old friend, after hearing me rave about the book, gave me a copy for my birthday. I slowly read it over the next year, even taking three months off from work to permit my mind time to adjust. The teachings forced me to let go of erroneous philosophies that had accrued over the years. I felt like I had come home.

In 1990, I moved to Texas. There I read the book two more times and began a study group which now has from twelve to fifteen regulars. Through the Foundation's library placement program, I have put more than 800 English and Spanish Urantia Books in Texas libraries. My life, my mind, and my goals have all been reorganized. I thank God and the revelators every day and my fondest wish is to have everyone know of this incredible written revelation.

LEE RAUH: I was born in Kansas into a strict religious faith. Part of the strictness came from my grandmother, a Swedish Baptist whose beliefs were something of a hellfire-and-damnation/Quaker/Puritan mix; the rest came from my grandfather on the other side of the family who had been an Episcopalian minister in Russia before arriving in the Midwest in the late 1800s.

At an early age I began displaying psychic abilities that could not be explained; I was able to perceive things from afar. As this phenomenon was seldom discussed openly in the '50s, my mother thought I was possessed. After high school I began seeking answers. I would read late into the night. I attended spiritual churches, study groups, and anything else that would open up the channels that had been closed down by the pressure and harassment I'd experienced as a child.

Later, when I was in my twenties, I found that I could diagnose medical problems in people. In my search for explanations I came across internationally known teachers who had great understanding of the "other" realms. Their knowledge helped me to develop my abilities, but it was not until I met a certain teacher and her long-time student that I began to get some answers. This teacher credited the Urantia Book for providing her with the basis of her insights.

I looked for the book and found one in a metaphysical bookstore. It was the store owner's personal copy. She had read some of it but decided it was too much for her. I purchased her book, which was in perfect shape, for the same price she had paid, a whopping $24.

This was in 1985. I began to read and soon found study groups to help me. Study groups are wonderful tools; as others share their understanding, one begins to see things from completely different angles, thus broadening one's understanding. I make notes in my book of others' interpretations, and today its pages are covered with sentences, scribbles, outlines, stars, highlights, and exclamation marks. At one meeting, when someone asked which printing of the book each of us was using, we discovered that I owned a first edition. Everyone was shocked to see how I treated it, but I wouldn't change a thing. This book has been the answer to my life.

GISELA FILION: My wide reading of Edgar Cayce books and assorted New Age materials reawakened me to the fact that God is real and Jesus was and is who he said he was. And yet I knew that there was more, much more. I knew that I was missing the really big picture.

I used to spend much time poking around in a certain New Age bookstore, where I had discovered Alan Watts, the Seth books and many others that piqued my curiosity. I well remember first seeing the Urantia Book lying face-up on a shelf in the same corner where I had found so many books that fed my interests. I recall looking at it and thinking, I'll pass on that." I didn't even bother opening it; the front cover alone was enough to turn me away.

What followed was an amazing ritual that repeated itself over several months. I would be drawn to that same bookstore many times, and each time I left empty-handed. I knew that I was being guided there, that I was supposed to find something so spectacular that it would change my life and my view of the world. And yet I left disappointed every time. No matter what book I picked up, I knew it was not the one.

After several months of this strange searching, when I found myself once more bewildered in this store, I heard a voice loud and clear inside my head telling me to go to a particular library branch, adding, "You will find what you are looking for. This bookstore is just too big and overwhelming." Immediately I headed for this library branch. Walking over to its Occult section, the UB fell into my hands almost within seconds. I didn't even realize that I had discounted it before in the bookstore. I sat down, and looking through it I could only say yes, yes, yes, yes, this is it! This is it! I was in heaven. I read the book right from the beginning. The descriptions of the spiritual hierarchy in particular made so much sense to me. I was enthralled!

I talked to everybody I knew, asking if they were aware of this book, until finally somebody suggested writing to the publisher's address in Chicago. That resulted in my getting the phone number of a local study group. Meanwhile, I talked so much about the UB that several people got infected by my enthusiasm and rushed out to buy their own copies. I did not urge anybody to buy the book; it was my passion for it that aroused their appetites.

Did the Urantia Book change my life? You bet! I joined a Christian church to mix with fellow believers - just as the UB advises - and in my enthusiasm for the book I talked to another member about the great spiritual truth it contains. Ironically, that got me turned out in no time. The senior pastor told me, "Satan has got you!"

One of the great revelations that came to me through reading the UB is that love is not slavery. By temperament a people-pleaser, I used to bend over backwards to please others. I don't do that anymore. Being subservient to the spiritually lazy and morally indifferent is not what love and service are about.

When I first began reading the UB I was a member of a Rosicrucian Order, where several members were also UB readers. One woman said that she had picked up the book at a garage sale. When I asked another Rosicrucian if he thought the book was genuine, he said that he had meditated over that same question and had found that his feet were getting noticeably warm, which to him meant that the UB was on solid ground.

I keep remembering Jesus' saying, "I have other and better worlds," and I look forward to going there one day. I am forever grateful for this tremendous gift. I rely on it completely as I go through the day, through life.

JENNI DI BACCO: Being in the pizza business in Arizona in the mid-'80s, I used to trade pizzas for metaphysical books from Jan Ross Gifts and Books. One day I saw the Urantia Book sitting on one of the new-book shelves and asked the owner if she would trade pizza for it. My first Urantia Book cost me two large deluxe pizzas.

Even though I had to look up the definition of many words (and still do!), the Urantia Book was one of the few books - out of the hundreds of spiritual and metaphysical books I'd read - that really made sense to me. But before I'd had a chance to finish reading it, circumstances arose in my life that left me quite suddenly without the book. I had just gotten to the Jesus papers.

About ten years later, in June of 1997, I accepted a job promotion and relocated to Arcadia, California. When my family came to visit me over the 4th of July weekend, I took them to Venice Beach. We were strolling together down the boardwalk, passing the various booths and stands that lined the walkway, when I noticed a painting of something that looked like a galaxy. I excused myself, telling my family that I needed to take a closer look at this artwork. As I approached I saw that it was a large poster of the universe. It was leaning against a table at which two men stood conversing with others. One of the men had a Urantia Book in his hand.

"Oh, my God! It's the Urantia Book!" I exclaimed. I had neither seen nor discussed this book with anyone for the past ten years.

The man smiled at me. "Are you familiar with the Urantia Book?" he asked. I replied that I had read part of it many years ago in Arizona. He asked if I was visiting, and I told him that I had recently moved to Arcadia, whereupon he informed me of a weekly study group in Arcadia at the home of Hal and Lucille Kettell. I hugged both men goodbye and thanked them.

A few weeks later I contacted the group and have since been gifted with many new family members. I have also gotten to know the two men who were running the booth that day - Don Roark and Norman Ingram.

BILL KELLY: Converted to Christianity at age 19, I held strong evangelical beliefs for many years. I trained at Fuller Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary, and served as a Presbyterian minister for eleven years before returning to psychology. My leaving the ministry had nothing to do with God, the Bible, or the Urantia Book; it was just a matter of preferring a different sort of ministry.

My introduction to the Urantia Book was through a fellow science teacher who was a Methodist. He and I had many discussions about faith. One day he told me he had a book that he thought might interest me, and lent me a copy.

I began at the beginning, reading the Foreword, despite his caution not to. I figured that with degrees in philosophy, psychology and theology I should be able to handle it. I found it more or less incomprehensible and put the book down for about six months. When my friend asked how I was doing, I told him I thought it resembled Gnosticism because of all the orders of angels and other celestial administrators it presented. He asked if I wanted to return the book; I told him I would give it one more try.

I looked through the table of contents until I found Paper 189, "The Resurrection of Jesus." On a warm summer morning I read that paper with a cup of coffee in my hand. I was astounded. Never had I heard such a convincing story of the events of the Easter weekend, down to the final details. What impressed me most was the UB's explanation of the disappearance of the mortal body of Jesus - instantaneous decay by the speeding up of time, at the request of the "angels of the resurrection." I had never heard this explanation before, and it made sense.

I spilled my cup of coffee on the book and decided I had better buy my own copy and read on. This I did for about six months, every night for about thirty minutes. I read it with an attitude of open skepticism. I found as I read that I didn't understand some of the words or concepts, and that some of the information was completely new to me. Many of the teachings struck an immediate Aha! response, and the book - so mysterious and exciting - steadily grew on me. I began to wonder, could the book be true?

About halfway through the book I called up the friend who had loaned it to me and asked him if he believed the book was what it claimed to be, a revelation of truth. He said yes, and told me the story of how he had found it.

I am now in my tenth reading in about ten years. My habit is to maintain an almost daily reading schedule. My wife, Virginia Enfield Kelly, has joined me in the study and application of the book and has become just as convinced and enthusiastic about it as I am. We are active members in two Urantia Book-related study groups.

The book has transformed my life, my thinking, my perspective on God, the universe, humanity, the afterlife and the purpose of life. The Jesus of the Urantia Book is, in my opinion, greater than, but not different from, the Jesus of the Gospels. He is more complete, believable, loving, human and - if you can believe this - more divine.

GARY MCSWEENEY: In 1986 my wife and I were blessed with the second of our two children, my career was on a fast track, childcare ruled our lives, and the future seemed bright in a materialistic sort of way. Everything but a clear sense of spiritual purpose was evident in our daily activities. Then, from my sister and brother-in-law, both long-time advocates, came the Urantia Book.

What started out as an attempt by me to humorously critique the book became instead a personal encounter with pure truth and wisdom. I was stunned by the clarity of the revelation despite its complex matrix of facts and figures. It was impossible to deny my transformation from UB skeptic to UB believer. Reading is believing, especially when the truth contained is indisputable and without equal.

I have truly been blessed in finding myself among those who have read and believe the fifth epochal revelation. When I hear someone ask, "Why are we here?" I can now smile and say: "There is in the mind of God a plan which embraces every creature of all his vast domains, and this flan is an eternal purpose of boundless opportunity, unlimited progress and endless life. And the infinite treasures of such a matchless career are yours for the striving"(p. 365).

Every day is now truly a bonus.

JERRY DALTON: My family has been faithful members of the Mormon Church for three generations. I am the first of three boys who all served missions for the Church, and my two younger sisters married former Mormon missionaries. (A Mormon missionary, in addition to proselytizing, is a full-fledged minister who conducts meetings, baptisms, marriages and funerals; he ministers to his assigned membership and is authorized to act in the name of the Church.) During my first twenty-nve years I was very active in the Church. I was a missionary in Argentina, was ordained to the higher order of the priesthood, made sacred vows in one of the temples, and held various positions of authority and responsibility.

A few years after returning from my mission, before I was married, I was involved in a relationship that resulted in a pregnancy. I urged and supported abortion. Later, in order to rectify my standing in the Church I confessed these matters to the proper authorities, and was promptly excommunicated. I had known what the consequences of my confession would be, and had every intention of proceeding in the prescribed manner to gain rebaptism and return to the Church.

I decided to investigate alternative spiritual paths, anticipating that by doing so my belief in Mormon doctrine would be strengthened and reconfirmed. My spiritual quest lasted many years, and as I gained a different insight and understanding I gave up my original intention of gaining re-admittance to the Church. One of my nagging questions had to do with the atonement doctrine, that of God requiring the sacrifice of Jesus to atone for the sins of mankind, a cornerstone belief of most of Christianity. Through my study of A Course in Miracles, I learned a different and more satisfying way of understanding Jesus and his mission.

One evening in 1986 I was having dinner with a fraternity brother from college, Wally Ziglar, a long-time reader of the Urantia Book. My enthusiasm for the Course came up and Wally said, "If you think the Course is great, then you must read the Urantia Book." The following day I purchased the book and the rest, as they say, is history.

I found in the Urantia Book a convincing revelation of the life and teachings of Jesus on our world, as well as so much more. As my acceptance of the teachings of the Urantia Papers deepened, I summoned the courage to announce to my family that I would never return to the Mormon Church.

Many Mormon teachings coincide with those contained in the Urantia Papers. But since I can't accept certain beliefs of Mormon doctrine, I don't meet the requirements for rejoining the Church. Otherwise, I would satisfy my family's anxiety about my eternal life by becoming a member again.

The Urantia Book is a wonderful blessing to mankind and I strive to incorporate its teachings into my life so as to be an effective emissary of the revelation to my much larger family.

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