INTERVIEW WITH MARY LOU AND BILL HALES
by Polly Friedman
Excerpt from The Conjoint Reader, Summer 1993
Copyright © 1993, The School of Meanings and Values. Used with permission.
Polly: My first question is about your beliefs when you first started reading the papers. What was your religious background?Mary Lou: I was brought up as an Episcopalian and then switched over to the Congregational Church. After I was engaged I joined the Forum. Then my religion became the Forum papers, the Urantia papers. That has been my religion ever since. We are still members of the Congregational Church in Winnetka, and support it financially; but we seldom go to it. I think itís very nice because you can belong to a church and still enjoy the Urantia teachings and live up to them, if you try. They can become very important to your way of life.
Polly: Bill, what about you?
Bill: I was a Congregational Church member. I was introduced to the papers when I was sixteen years old, and I have benefited from them ever since. I did find that they added to my general religious background.
Polly: Mary Lou, how did you come to hear of the Forum and get into it?
Mary Lou: Well, I learned about the Urantia papers from Bill. When I was engaged to him, he told me about the papers and wondered if I would be interested in coming into the Forum.
Polly: What year was that?
Mary Lou: That was 1932. I was very interested and very curious to find out what they were all about, although I was not particularly a religious person. I was introduced to Dr. Sadler and he invited me to come over and read the papers that had already been read to the other members of the Forum. I had to read 32 papers to catch up with the rest of the group.
Polly: That was in 1932 that you read 32 papers?
Mary Lou: Yes. So, after I had caught up with the group and finished reading the 32 papers, I was invited to come into the Forum and become a member. Iíve been a member ever since.
Polly: What was your initial reaction to the papers?
Mary Lou: I was a little skeptical because it sounded like a very unusual happening. But, because I had a great deal of faith in Bill, and in his good judgment, and his explanation to me sounded like it could be possible, so I decided Iíd like to find out about it. I was a little skeptical for a few weeks, but the more I read and the more I heard read, the more faith I had in it, and I became a believer.
Polly: Did it go along with some of your own ideas?
Mary Lou: Well, in a way. But, so much of it was completely new. We were in the first part of the book and that first section of the book was quite new and unusual to me.
Polly: It was like adding on new truth?
Mary Lou: Yes, it was, and it was so completely far afield from anything Iíd ever heard. It wasnít until we got further into the book that we began to recognize a few things, you know, about the universe, or about our planet and anthropology, and that type of thing. You began to feel a little more familiar with those subjects.
Polly: Bill, what was your response when you first started doing it? Tell about how you came into it.
Bill: The first members of the Forum introduced me to the papers and had me read some of the papers. I was 16 years old.
Polly: How old are you now? Do you mind my asking?
Polly: So you have gone through a century almost with the Urantia beliefs?
Bill: Yes. And I accepted it hook, line and sinker.Polly: So John Hales is a third generation reader?
Bill: Yes. And we were very glad he became such an active member.
Polly: Now, were your parents in from the beginning?
Bill: I remember every Sunday afternoon the discussion group, where the papers were read, and their loyal attendance.
Polly: What were the names of your parents?
Bill: My Fatherís name was G. Willard Hales and my Motherís name was Carrie M. Hales. They had three children.
Polly: Why did they go to the Sunday afternoon group? Were they interested in philosophy or what was their particular interest that they would belong to that group?
Mary Lou: Oh, just because Dr. Sadler invited them, I think. They had been in his discussion group you see. He invited people from that group, as I understand it, to form the Forum group. He chose the people from that discussion group.
Polly: But wasnít that group especially interested in science, psychology, and philosophy?
Mary Lou: No. They discussed different things and I guess the Doctor just talked about whatever he happened to want to talk about, as far as I know. It wasnít a particularly scientific group. They were not all one type of person. It was a varied group. They were friends, and had intellectual interest in many subjects.
Polly: Thatís interesting. Were you aware there was a purpose?
Mary Lou: I really donít know that I thought they had a purpose. Dr. Sadler simply told us that he was receiving these papers and they were papers about the universe and about our planet and various subjects, and it was a new revelation. I believe he did tell us that it was a new revelation.All this time, you see, we didnít know that it was going to become a book. I wasnít so very conscious that it was going to be published. It was just giving us more new information. But, then, maybe that was just my idea.
Polly: So, what directions and instructions were you given when you were reading the papers?
Mary Lou: We were not to talk about them to anyone else outside of the Forum.
Bill: And you had to read them on the premises.
Mary Lou: Yes, you couldnít take the papers out of the building. So, if you wanted to read, you had to go over to 533 and read them over at the building there.
Polly: Did your children know anything?
Mary Lou: Bill said John knew when he was in High School, or prep school. We gave them the book after it was published. The children didnít know beforehand. We just told them we were going down to a meeting on Sundays and, of course, they were fairly young so they just accepted that.
Polly: What were your outstanding memories about experiences you have had, like certain papers that impressed you, or certain people, or landmark things that happened that were very exciting or special?
Mary Lou: Oh my, thatís a big question, because almost every paper was exciting, except the Foreword.
Polly: Oh, by the way did you read the Foreword in the beginning?
Mary Lou: Oh yes, but they told me when I first read, to catch up, not to try to understand it, just read it. So that is what I did and I didnít try to understand it and they said the same of some other papers too. You just read them and later on youíll get more understanding. So, thatís the way we did it. Well, I think, as they say, your mind gradually begins to open up a bit and so that you can begin to understand more. Itís nothing ďout of this worldĒ type of thing. If you have a brain at all, itís going to become more exercised and it will be able to understand more. So the more you read the more you understood.We had one member of the Forum, Carl Barry, who, after every paper would say, ďThatís my favorite paper.Ē We all had fun together and enjoyed everyone Ė there were many smart people in the group.
Polly: Were you a part of the Seventy? And why did they name it the Seventy?
Bill: Yes. They named the Seventy by that name because of the Bible ďSeventyĒ and because there was just seventy that signed up.
Polly: What do you recall about Dr. Sadler?
Mary Lou: He had a wonderful sense of humor. That is one of the things I remember and he always had a story to tell. He and Bill both were very good at being able to make a point more clearly by telling a story of some sort. You know, he was very good at bringing in other extraneous information that would enlighten you as to what he was saying. And Bill Sadler had a marvelous memory. He really had a photographic memory.
Bill: Dr. Sadler was a wonderful man. He had a great sense of humor and was a motivational speaker, and an interesting gentleman to visit with.
Mary Lou: A motivational speaker, yes, thatís right. He was really a very fine person. Dr. Lena, his wife, was a wonderful person, and they both, of course, were completely wound up in the Urantia work and Urantia Book. I think he had a remarkable history, a remarkable life, and it is too long to tell here, but he was definitely a person, I think, chosen to do this sort of work. And he was very human, so he had a few faults, like the rest of us.He had a wonderful mind and he was a very persevering person, a very organized person, I think, and he could get things done, you know. Of course, he had people who helped him do these things, good secretaries. And, of course, Christy came along and she was a great help, too.
Polly: What effect have the teachings had on your life?
Mary Lou: I think that to me, since Billís illnesses, I would have had a much harder time coping with several of the misfortunes of my good husband if I had not had the papers, The Urantia Book.I think the teachings always meant a great deal to us. I mean you are sort of unconsciously conscious of them, in a way. When you have them for so many years they just become part of you. You have your faith and your beliefs in them, and you just know thatís the truth, and it helps you, but unconsciously, I think. It is just part of you, and I know it helps you through hard times. It is very, very helpful to have that faith.
Bill: I donít know life without the Urantia papers. All through my life, since reading them, Iím quite sure that it has made problems easier than it would have been otherwise, and I enjoyed many other experiences.
Polly: One comment that Carolyn Kendall made I thought was interesting. She said that when the papers first came through, everyone was so captivated with the scientific knowledge, the knowledge of the cosmos, that with the first study the emphasis was more on an intellectual study, and there wasnít as much emphasis on the spiritual message as there has been in recent years. D you feel that way, too?
Mary Lou: Well, yes. But I donít think that was ever instigated by the leaders of the group. I think that simply was the way we accepted them. We were told, in effect, that Ė ďyou are accepting this revelation intellectually, but you are not accepting it emotionally. We are very anxious that you should let it do more individually in your lives.Ē
And, so, it was our fault, you see, that we were not accepting it the right way, or enough emotionally, letting it influence our lives the way it should.It was wonderful. We were thrilled and excited about it, and what should you do about this and that, but apparently we were not letting it really change our lives or help us to become more spiritual.
Polly: Well, it was harder with the papers too, because you could just do one at a time. You didnít get the whole book.
Mary Lou: Yes, we didnít have a book to take home and read. So, of course, after the book was published, it was a great help to have the book and to be able to read in different areas, and do it the way you wanted to do it.
Polly: Well, do you find that with the change of events in the world people are more hungry for the spiritual message?
Mary Lou: I think so, I think so.
Polly: What advice were you given that you think is important to carry out now?
Mary Lou: Well, I think the prime purpose is to form study groups and the study of The Urantia Book. I donít think it is necessary particularly to bring in outside books, unless just once in a while to compare. You have the truth in The Urantia Book, and why not stay with The Urantia Book, and increase your understanding and thereby your spirituality and get it right from the horseís mouth, so to speak? I mean, The Urantia Book has the whole truth. Outside books, other books that are written by people are simply that personís observation or opinion, or whatever. So, why bother with them, really? If you really want the truth about the world, the universe, and so forth, you have it in The Urantia Book. To me, it would be much more beneficial to continue study of the book and to get more out of it, to add to your understanding of the past, present and future.
Polly: Do you believe that it is wise to continue the one-to-one dissemination or do you feel weíre ready for something else such as advertising?
Bill: I think readers should be very careful how they advertise it. I have no answer to the question as to how it should be advertised. It would be wonderful if there were a way of getting it to more people more rapidly than one-to-one.
Mary Lou: Yes, I donít know. With this particular book, I donít think advertising does much good, really. There have been advertisements, and I donít see that it has helped particularly. I donít think that you can sell a book to anyone who isnít really searching for this particular kind of book. The person is searching for something spiritual that will aid them. Then, that person would be very amenable to receiving the book. It seems to me that our prime motive is not really to sell books. Thatís not what the book is for. Itís to save souls; to develop souls; to develop people spiritually; and to give people a chance to develop themselves spiritually.I think the answer might not be quite so materialistic. Of course, we love to sell books, when there are really people who want a book. We wish that everyone could buy a book that wanted one, and that it wouldnít be so difficult to get books.
Polly: Yes, in fact, I was thinking the same thing. Maybe weíd better have a closing statement, and summarize anything else you might have on your mind. What feelings that you experienced should be carried down? There probably was a certain integrity and dignity that grew a respect for this book. You just learned this by being with the people. What do the new readers need to remember?
Mary Lou: Well, first of all, the times of the world and of our country were very different. We didnít have nearly the problems that you have now in this world. We didnít have drugs. I suppose we had some alcoholism, but it didnít seem very evident.
There was more honesty and more sincerity about people, and about doing things, which are somehow lacking in our society today. There werenít as many people in poverty. And, of course the population has exploded much too much, in my opinion. It is another problem, I think; we are going to have to meet if we are ever going to correct all the other problems.
We do feel that we are very fortunate in having had many young people come into the group who have been really wonderful about taking responsibility, and carrying out and handling different difficult problems. We feel that there will always be a fine group of young people who will carry on. We trust there will be.
We hope that they will realize the responsibility that is on their shoulders, because this revelation is not just for now, not just for you and I. This is a revelation that was given to us to promote and to reveal, and to continue to nurture for many, many years to come.
We must remember that, though God is with each one of us always, it is the decisions we make, and our willingness to try and do the fatherís Will that will make this Revelation a reality. Vaya con Dios!
A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship