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.
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!