Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wandering Urantian #53

I am now settled into my winter parking space in Dade City, Florida and expect to be here until mid-February or so.  Things have been relatively quiet and there are no new adventures to report on, yet.  The theme of this posting is spiritual growth, both for the individual and for society as a whole, while the photographs look back on places I have visited in the past year.  Hopefully we can keep this dual nature straight.  There will also be an exciting announcement at the end (hint: I need to have my passport ready). Finally Merry Christmas and the most joyous of New Years—but we know when He was truly born.

Spiritual growth is first an awakening to needs, next a discernment of meanings, and then a discovery of values. The evidence of true spiritual development consists in the exhibition of a human personality motivated by love, activated by unselfish ministry, and dominated by the wholehearted worship of the perfection ideals of divinity. And this entire experience constitutes the reality of religion as contrasted with mere theological beliefs.  The Urantia Book (1095.6) (100:2.2)
March – Civil Rights Memorial Center – Montgomery Alabama

(In March I stayed in Montgomery, Alabama for a few days and visited the various civil rights places there.  It was a moving experience to stand behind the pulpit in the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached and also to stand in the kitchen of the parsonage where he lived and agonized over the way his people were being treated and over the many hate telephone calls he received during the bus boycott.  This house is furnished as it was when he lived there.) 

Recently I read “Black Elk Speaks” by John C. Neihart; it is the story of Nicholas Black Elk, an Oglala Lakota who had a dramatic spiritual vision when he was nine years old.  Eight years after this vision he learned that he could only benefit from it if he acted out what he saw for others in his tribe.  Once this was done he was able to heal the sick and he also had more visions later in life.  Reading about this prompted the realization that the Red man in America had some vague awareness of spiritual reality; they saw visions, shared them with their neighbors and received benefits.  When the white people came to the land where Black Elk lived all they wanted was gold.  The original inhabitants lost their land and their way of life; they lost touch with their spiritual identity.  And all these years later we are still seeking after material riches, seeking after the things of this world instead of seeking spiritual growth.

Unless the moral insight and the spiritual attainment of mankind are proportionately augmented, the unlimited advancement of a purely materialistic culture may eventually become a menace to civilization. A purely materialistic science harbors within itself the potential seed of the destruction of all scientific striving, for this very attitude presages the ultimate collapse of a civilization which has abandoned its sense of moral values and has repudiated its spiritual goal of attainment.  The Urantia Book (1457.2) (132:1.3)

It would certainly appear that our civilization has indeed “abandoned its sense of moral values and has repudiated its spiritual goal of attainment.”  What are we, students of The Urantia Book, going to do about this?
May – Nantahala Region – Smoky Mountains

(In May I parked in the Smoky Mountains and enjoyed this magnificent part of our land; this photograph was taken in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.  I was also able to hike some great trails; this was much better than my next visit in the fall when the politicians closed down the mountains, among other things.)

The first thing we as true Urantians can do is to see to our own individual spiritual growth before we address that of civilization.  The opening quotation states we must first realize what we need, that is we need to be aware of our spiritual shortcomings; we must next understand meanings, think about the world around us and our place in it; we then discover true values, spiritual reality.  We will not be ready to assist in the spiritual growth of civilization until we as individuals are properly prepared.  The other side of that statement is that when the time comes we must be willing to step forward and do whatever may be necessary to bring forth a wider spiritual awareness.  We must not hide these truths under a bushel.
June – Mount St. Helens

(In June I went on an ETV endowment trip to Washington State where we saw Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainer, as well as a rain forest and the San Juan Islands.  These trips are in support of South Carolina Educational TV, the naturalist Rudy Mancke narrates the natural history of the region we are passing through; these trips are always interesting and informative.)

When our spiritual growth has reached a certain point we are gradually guided into possible areas of service.  This may take many forms, too many to mention all the possibilities.  I have met Urantia Book students who share the teachings in Sunday school classes they teach, some start web pages sharing the teachings, and others use song or other forms of communication.  They may even put out a blog, fancy that!  We may never know how many we reach with these efforts but that is not the point.  The most important thing is to follow the guidance of our spark of God within and share the message; our unseen friends know what is needed and who is ready to step forward and serve.  And I firmly believe that if a student of these teachings is not moved to share them in some way that means that individual is not ready, does not have a strong enough spiritual awareness.
September – Longwood Gardens - Pennsylvania

(In September I visited Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, a bit west of Philadelphia.  These beautiful gardens are beyond description; they must be seen and enjoyed in person.)

It is only after the individual has been suitably prepared that it is advisable to reach out into the wider community with this message.  Even Jesus did not go forth with power to declare these truths until “his time had come.”  The time will come when we can stand boldly and proclaim this saving message to all our brothers and sisters; that time may not have arrived yet, but each one of us needs to prepare his soul for the exciting times when we will be asked about the source of the love and joy we radiate in our daily activities.

But the great problem of religious living consists in the task of unifying the soul powers of the personality by the dominance of LOVE. Health, mental efficiency, and happiness arise from the unification of physical systems, mind systems, and spirit systems. Of health and sanity man understands much, but of happiness he has truly realized very little. The highest happiness is indissolubly linked with spiritual progress. Spiritual growth yields lasting joy, peace which passes all understanding.  The Urantia Book (1097.7) (100:4.3)

As announced in the previous blog I have produced a short introductory booklet to The Urantia Book titled “The Pronouncement.”  One reader said this booklet “…is surely the shortest and sweetest description of the book I have encountered….a refreshingly different approach and gave me some new insights into addressing potential new readers.”  There are still more copies available, let me know if you want some.  I have also produced a booklet about the growth of the faith of Jesus titled “Spiritual Growth, the Faith of Jesus Part 1.”  Again, please let me know if you want a copy.  I am currently working on Part 2 describing his teachings during the Mediterranean tour.

Next month I will take a trip to Costa Rica, which is another ETV Endowment trip, this time with the naturalist Patrick McMillan.  The next blog or two will be a description of this journey, stay tuned!

Monday, December 2, 2013

#52: I am currently parked in Lake Worth, Florida and will soon move to Dade City, northwest of Tampa.  While parked near Charleston, South Carolina I visited a couple of small parks nearby and attended Sunday morning service in a fine old church in downtown Charleston.  However instead of detailing these explorations I have some news.  I have published an introductory booklet for The Urantia Book and the major part of this blog will describe the booklet, which I have available for distribution.

The theme of the quotations for this posting contrasts the true gospel of Jesus with the current religions about Jesus.

There must come a revival of the actual teachings of Jesus, such a restatement as will undo the work of his early followers who went about to create a sociophilosophical system of belief regarding the fact of Michael’s sojourn on earth. In a short time the teaching of this story about Jesus nearly supplanted the preaching of Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom. In this way a historical religion displaced that teaching in which Jesus had blended man’s highest moral ideas and spiritual ideals with man’s most sublime hope for the future — eternal life. And that was the gospel of the kingdom.  The Urantia Book (1866.2) (170:5.19)
“The Pronouncement” Cover

As stated above, this blog concentrates on excerpts from the booklet “The Pronouncement; the first paragraph is:

For two thousand years our planet has heard the message of a religion about Jesus.  And truly it is an inspiring message that has greatly improved the spiritual life of our native sphere.   However, if we really think about it does it make sense?  Does it seem logical that Jesus would be incarnated in a life in the flesh on this troubled planet only to proclaim a religion about himself?  Could it be possible that he would preach about love and forgiveness and at the same time exclaim, “Look at me, look at what I am doing?” Could this be?  On the other hand is there a way to determine the authentic teachings of Jesus?  After all these years is there any possible way to discover what Jesus truly taught?  An investigation seeking the actual message He brought to us would take nothing away from the Bible, which was composed by honest men of faith in the years after the life and death of Jesus.  They were caught up in the emotions of the times and developed a religion that certainly did change the world.  But after all these years the time has come when we must look for a fresh statement of the truths He proclaimed, a statement for our times.  We take nothing away from the noble work of the past when we search for teachings of the Master that might bring comfort and joy to those who reside in spiritual darkness today, those who are seeking for Truth.

The actual gospel of Jesus is presented in this quotation; after an introduction each phrase in the quote is discussed later in the booklet.

[T]he simple teachings of the Jesusonian gospel: sonship with God, brotherhood with man, and ever-ascending citizenship in the eternal universe.  The Urantia Book (1038.7) (94:10.3)
“Follow the Leader” by W. Stanley Proctor

This delightful statue is one of many in Summerville’s Azalea Park.  Now back to the booklet.  The epochal revelation is next introduced.

I have studied this revelation, which is over two thousand pages long, for over thirty-five years and find it to be internally totally consistent.  These teachings have changed me and as a result of bringing them into my life I have received a brief spiritual experience.  The Urantia Book is Truth.

Urantia is the name given our planet in the universe records and this book was written by various supermaterial beings, and then given to us.  These beings know what they are talking about and in the extremely rare cases when they do not know something it is clearly stated.  We lowly earthlings seem to have the notion that this planet is blithely spinning along in the vast cosmos without anybody “up there” watching over us and helping us.  If we knew just how much effort is being expended to guide us onto our eternal path then we would cringe at some of the willful things we have done.  
The Bell Tower of St. George’s, church completed in 1720

By the way, the above bell tower of St. George’s is located at Fort Dorchester, which was established nearby in 1757 during the French and Indian War.  Now, back to selections from the booklet.

This brings us to the question: How did we get this Urantia Book?  But is this relevant?  If you are lost in the hot desert and are thirsty nearly onto death would you ask someone who offers you a drink of refreshing water what well it came from?  By the same token, if you are floundering in spiritual darkness and someone offers you the light of soul-saving Truth should you question where it came from?

The section discussing the brotherhood of man contains the following.

This concept should be obvious, that if God is our Heavenly Father, then since each of us has the same father we are all brothers and sisters.  Why is that so difficult?  What happens is that over time each of us looks at those around us from a certain earthly viewpoint, a certain frame of reference.  We color everything with our own prejudices and bias.  That is natural and is only human.  However since we each have the Spark of God Within and we recognize that each person we meet also has such an internal divine helper then we need to seek the divine viewpoint; each of us is equally a child of God and each of us is worthy of respect because of this Truth.

The booklet ends with this affirmation.

This is the gospel that Jesus taught the hungry souls of his day and this is the Truth that needs to be given to those who live in spiritual darkness this day, those who are seeking for a broader meaning of life, a more complete and satisfying view of our eternal future possibilities.  This gospel of love, brotherhood, service and eternal growth could be the catalyst that ushers in a new age of spiritual growth for our world of Urantia: a rebirth of the Master’s teachings for each one of us.

Anybody who wishes copies of The Pronouncement please contact me by email giving your mailing address and how many copies you wish.  This booklet is a brief and useful introduction the The Urantia Book for nonreaders.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, built 1836

Betty Lou joined me not long before I left South Carolina and we attended Tommy’s church in downtown Charleston, St. Stephen’s.  This is a wonderfully inclusive church that was a pleasure to attend.  We arrived early so we could get a parking place and were rewarded by being able to listen to the choir practicing for the next Sunday’s service; I hope to go back to this church when I am next in the area in the spring. 

I will leave Betty Lou here in Lake Worth and head back to Dade City tomorrow.

Christianity, today, has become a religion well adapted to the social, economic, and political mores of the white races. It has long since ceased to be the religion of Jesus, although it still valiantly portrays a beautiful religion about Jesus to such individuals as sincerely seek to follow in the way of its teaching. It has glorified Jesus as the Christ, the Messianic anointed one from God, but has largely forgotten the Master’s personal gospel: the Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of all men.  The Urantia Book (1084.9) (98:7.11)