News and Opinions for Readers of The Urantia Book
Articles in this issue:
- English First -- Don't neglect distribution of the English version of the text!
- Deborah Foster (1951-1997)
- World Outreach for Urantia Nations -- The adventures of Norman Ingram
- Urantia Church? -- Not Yet!
- February 1998 General Council Meeting Highlights
- International Study Group Directory -- Update your listing!
- Character -- An Essay
- Two Fellowship Executive Committee Members Become Foundation Trustees
- Happenings Here and There
by Josephe DeCosmo, Boynton Beach, FL
In the opening paragraphs of the Urantia papers, we are told that English was chosen by the Orvonton Revelatory Commission as the language-vehicle for the fifth epochal revelation: "Our mandate admonishes us to make every effort to convey our meanings by using the word symbols of the English tongue" (F:0.1).
In the paper "Spheres of Light and Life," it is said: "No evolutionary world can hope to progress beyond the first stage of settledness in light until it has achieved one language, one religion, and one philosophy" (55:3.15).
Taken together, these two statements strongly suggest that English may well be the "one language" which will unify the world and allow Urantia to progress to and through the ages of light and life. Already English is the international language of commerce and air and sea travel.
Although English is not the most spoken language on the planet (Mandarin has 1.2 billion speakers, versus 485 million for English and 430 for Spanish), it is one of the few languages spoken widely by most of the world's races and cultures and is the world's leading second language. Young children in Eastern Europe who learned Russian as their second language under the Soviet regime are now taught English.
With these facts in mind, I am convinced that the Urantia movement should give priority to circulating the English version of The Urantia Book among the millions of people around the world who are proficient enough in English to read the revelation in its original form. In the coming years, enormous efforts should be made to distribute the original Urantia papers to the English-speaking segments of the planet.
Should The Urantia Book become more widely recognized and accepted as the fifth epochal revelation to the world, more people will be stimulated to learn English. As more areas of the world become proficient in English, the need for further translations will be greatly reduced.
The question facing dedicated Urantia Book believers today is: should we work towards reinforcing language barriers, or should we assist the people of the planet to gravitate towards one language by holding up the original Urantia papers as the most accurate communication of truth by our spiritual superiors? Let's choose carefully!
DEBORAH FOSTER (1951-1997)
Deborah Foster, a leading figure in the Alaska Urantia Book reader community, passed on to the mansion worlds last May 16, 1997 after a lengthy illness. Debbie was the founder and key supporter of the Anchorage study group. Her associates extol her as an inspirational leader: "She organized us, encouraged us, and taught us...[and] she cheerfully gave of herself to countless people, both in and outside the Urantia movement." According to her friends, Deborah coordinated all statewide gatherings in Alaska, and knew virtually everyone in the state who expressed an interest in the book.
Debbie attended nearly all Brotherhood General Conferences and Fellowship International Conferences from 1974 forward, in addition to northwest regional conferences. Those who twice traveled to Israel in the Berkeley Elliott party will remember her fondly.
She was the author of a stimulating article that appeared in the Winter 1996 issue of The Fellowship's Study Group Herald, entitled "In Close Proximity—The World of the Nonbreathers." Ms. Foster's well-researched article examined the satellites of the planet Jupiter as potential sites of nonbreather life activities.
A native of Lenexa, Kansas, she attended Antioch College in Columbia, Maryland. After moving to Alaska in the early 1970s, her vocations ranged from camp counselor and electronics technician to playing the viola with the Anchorage symphony. She variously worked for the U.S. Forestry Service and the Federal Aviation Agency. Debbie left a personal library of over 4,000 books covering science, religion, archeology and many other subjects.
Debbie was stricken Thanksgiving weekend, 1996, and spent the next six months in intensive care units of two hospitals. The precise cause of illness was undetermined, but kidney failure and pancreatitus contributed to her death. Her mother, Betsy, remained at Debbie's bedside throughout her daughter's illness.
HAPPENINGS HERE AND THERE
Summer Study Session July 9-12, 1998
"The Art of Spiritual Living" will be explored at the retreat-like setting of Mount Vernon College in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. Please join with other Urantians for a refreshing and stimulating long weekend of Fellowship, study, worship, and recreation. Check your mailbox for more information on this in the coming weeks.
Heart of America Society, chartered as a Fellowship (Brotherhood) society on March 12, 1988, is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a program and dinner on Saturday, March 14, 1998. Steve Dreier is the featured speaker. For more information, leave a message at (816) 468-4255 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (the McCarthys).
Readers Day, a gathering of New York area readers, some affiliated with the Fellowship, some with IUA and some unaffiliated, will be held on Sunday, May 3, in the Soldiers and Sailors Club at 283 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, NY. For more information call John Lambo at (203) 426-9176.
SPIRIT QUEST 2000 Hold the Dates, August 5-12, 1999
Mark your calendar for a wonderful week in Vancouver, British Columbia with students of The Urantia Book.
- Day One: Deepening the Spiritual Life of the Individual
- Day Two: Strengthening Our Families and Reader Communities
- Day Three: The Revelation and Evolving Human Institutions
- Day Four: Global Outreach with the Book and Its Teachings
Upcoming Urantia Book Exhibits (Expos)
- March 13-15 Baltimore
- April 17-19 New York
- April 24-26 San Francisco
- May 8-10 Los Angeles
- May 22-24 Las Vegas
- June 6-7 Denver
WORLD OUTREACH for Urantia NATIONS
Indefatigable Normal Ingram traveled with companions Pradhana (Alejandro) Fuchs of Santiago, Chile and Ernesto Maciel Ruiz of Leone, Mexico through Mexico and Latin America in an RV, presenting The Urantia Book to over 38 municipal and national libraries, 20 plus universities and 14 prisons. In all, 184 books were delivered over several months beginning in August of 1996. In Santiago, Chile, they met Eduardo Gulfenbein, an artist whose paintings, sculpture and video animations, says Norman, "reflect the epochal revelations portrayed in The Urantia Book."
In November 1997 Norman embarked with Dan Roark on a four-week tour of Asia, where they say "thanks to the Fellowship we delivered 120 books to 11 libraries and to at least as many universities." They also thank the Foundation for mailing over 20 hard-cover books to similar Asian institutions. Recently, Norman received a letter from author Arthur C. Clarke thanking him and his friends for The Urantia Book they gave him while visiting him in Sri Lanka. Clarke, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, resides in that country.
Next project: Africa, in September 1998, says Norman, who is looking for books as well as for financial help. For more information, contact Norman Ingram at (562) 698-2122, fax (562) 698-2122*51 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Urantia CHURCH ...NOT YET!
by Saskia Raevouri
Having lived in several different countries, I know firsthand that what is considered normal in one culture is regarded as absurd in another. Born in Holland, I moved to Australia as a child; my Aussie peers regarded me as foreign and strange. Nine years later we emigrated to Los Angeles. I soon discovered that my odd speech, dress and mannerisms once again branded me as an alien. No sooner had I transformed myself into Sandra Dee than I was sent to high school in Holland, where I found myself looked upon as an American curiosity by my Dutch counterparts. Each culture found the other peculiar—and I was dealing with three "white" cultures!
Whenever people get together around a religious teaching, they tend to develop rituals which will attract some and repel others. We who have been given this revelation early must realize the responsibility that has been placed in our hands. If we start a Urantia Church before the book has spread to all the world, and develop ceremonies and rites that are considered American, potential readers in other countries may be turned off. Urantia Book readers hug each other a lot; yet I once lived in a country where people did not openly touch each other. If they saw a group with a big blue book publicly hugging, they might say, "That book is not for me." And this is only one example—I can think of many more.
"No revealed religion can spread to all the world when it makes the serious mistake of becoming permeated with some national culture or associated with established racial, social, or economic practices" (2064).
"The gospel of the kingdom was to be identified with no particular race, culture, or language" (2064).
Rather than form a church just yet, let's remain a low-key brotherhood, forget about ourselves, and do whatever we can to get the teachings into the hands of educated people in all countries of the world. Let's exercise patience and self-restraint, and consider the needs of those who still need books and translations. When later we follow the growth of the Urantia movement from our various mansion world vantage points, do we want to look back and see that it failed because it had become a Westernized religion?
GC MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
By Fellowship President, Janet Farrington-Graham
During the first weekend of February the General Council of the Fellowship met in Oklahoma City to review the work of the past six months and to plan for the future. The progress reported by various members of the Council is the result of thousands of hours of service to the revelation by dedicated readers. Fellowship committees are engaged in international and interfaith work in addition to the following projects.
A local group is actively working to present the 1998 Summer Study Session scheduled for July 9-12 in Washington, DC. The theme is "The Art of Spiritual Living." An international group of several dozen readers is currently planning the next international conference titled "Spirit Quest 2000" to be held in Vancouver BC in July of 1999.
The Fellowship web site is fielding many heartwarming letters from new and long-time readers who are grateful for the diverse information and unique study aids accessible through this new medium. The potential to disseminate the revelation through electronic communication continues to astound and sometimes overwhelm the dedicated members who manage this new and growing service of the Fellowship.
The Family Life Committee chair, Sara Blackstock, reviewed the exciting programs and materials being considered and developed by the ad-hoc committee. In addition to expanding the programs offered to children and families at Fellowship conferences, materials are being designed to aid the integration of the revelation into all aspects of family life.
The Council discussed the varied steps being taken by readers who seek to develop loving and productive relationships with one another regardless of organizational affiliation. The Council expressed enthusiastic support for all cooperative efforts on the part of individual readers and groups to meet, study and disseminate the revelation together. We were greatly encouraged by the sincere efforts of both IUA and Fellowship members to provide opportunities for the building of relationships between believers.
After an informal afternoon discussion, the Council distilled a great list of service goals to a common and long-held ideal: The goal of Fellowship work for the revelation is the global dissemination of The Urantia Book and its teachings, and the socialization of the emerging community. This restatement of our primary purpose provided a touchstone for the Council, a simple and meaningful remembrance of the unifying ideals that bring every Council member to the satisfying work of service to the revelation.
In addition to the project and policy discussions, the Council added two new members to the board—Lorrie Krasny from Las Vegas and Richard Omura from Los Angeles. The Council expressed gratitude for their willingness to serve, and for the service of the two retiring councilors, Geri Johnson and Steve McIntosh.
The weekend concluded with a beautiful worship experience conducted by the local community. Members of the Council and the local readers were renewed by the supreme value of personality contact and by the loving embrace between diverse brothers and sisters.
The next meeting of the General Council will be held July 13 following the summer conference in Washington, DC. We encourage all members of the Fellowship to attend.
INTERNATIONAL STUDY GROUP DIRECTORY
The time has come! A brand new International Study Group Directory will be forthcoming this summer, and we need your help. For this monumental task to be accomplished, we are asking you to do something for the readership of The Urantia Book.
Provide current study group information, including:
Name of group and host or hostess name Address: PO box or street, city, state, zip, country Area code, phone number and e-mail if applicable Day and time of meeting.
If you know of a group, are involved in a group or want to start a group, please provide us with the above requested information or ask the group host/hostess to provide us with the information.
Mail all information to (or phone 1-800-767-5683):
JESUSONIAN FOUNDATION c/o Study Group Directory PO Box 18764 Boulder, CO 80308
What is the character of my testimony? What kind of ambassador am I?
I recognize that these are questions that can lead to excessive introspection and self-doubt, but they are necessary questions, so that if I find that I am spiritually ill, I can take steps to seek healing.
I am ill. I resemble the surly and isolated Thomas before his enlistment by Jesus. Even more do I resemble Nathaniel in his intelligence and humor, but also in his naivety (he is the one who chose Judas as an apostle).
It is this naivety that I wish to focus on, because I think there is something other than naivety operating here. It is a flaw common to myself, to many members of the Fellowship, and to liberal religionists in general. It is, indeed, something more serious than naivety. A certain weakness of character leads to a desire to be liked, to avoid conflict, to seek peace. We are the ones whom Jesus had to warn regarding inevitable conflict ("I bring a sword"). We are the ones whom Jesus had to challenge ("count the cost"). Our love has not grown cold, like Judas's, but it lacks the warmth it ought to have. We have watered it down with lukewarm motivations.
I see this dynamic being played out everywhere; weak liberals cannot hold a candle to strong conservatives. In Protestant circles, liberals spend their time whining about conservatives, while conservatives are going out and saving souls. It is the Promise Keepers who have made changes in thousands of men's lives. It is they who are proclaiming: "be a man of the Kingdom; claim your sonship" (heard on "The Father File" radio program). Where is there any liberal who utters a stirring message like that today? Where is today's Harry Emerson Fosdick?
"Religion reaches out for...superhuman values... infinite values" (160:5.5). Evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox who are serious about their beliefs do have a focus of superhuman values, although they tend to rely on the "theology of authority" (155:5.11). We liberals too easily lose our focus; we have plenty of values, but do we dare to call them superhuman? Oh, we're much too nice to make assertions about transcendent reality! We wouldn't want to make a scene!
The degree to which we are unable to affirm eternal and transcendent values reflects the degree to which these values are not operative in our lives (or to which their operation is blocked by that desire to be pleasing to others). Believers who have operative transcendent values can fulfill "the purpose of group religious activities to...foster the attractions of supreme values" (99:6.2).
Here is what we need to realize: Since we do not rely on external authority to give us focus, we liberals must have a value-focus alive in our characters, in our experience, every day. The more we exalt freedom, the greater the demand this places on our moral character and our spiritual sensitivity. Often we fail the test. We despair of the unenlightened world. We become ineffective ambassadors, forlorn and vulnerable.
A handful of unified conservatives can hold off a hundred wishy-washy liberals whose lack of character gives the lie to their claim that they can be trusted with freedom. But religionists who are rooted in eternal values are not like reeds blown in the wind.
A final question: is my confrontational tone itself a symptom of some defect of character? Possibly. Still, this call for attention to our inward loyalty-stance is one that ought to be heeded. Are we surely rooted in the values to which we give lip service?
Two Fellowship Executive Committee Members
Become Foundation Trustees
Mo Siegel, Fellowship Vice President, and Gard Jameson, Chairman of the Fellowship's Fraternal Relations Committee, were named Urantia Foundation Trustees on February 16, 1998. They resigned from the Fellowship's Executive Committee and General Council on February 21. Both plan to apply for IUA membership while remaining active members of the Fellowship. Siegel and Jameson occupy seats on the Foundation's Board vacated recently by the simultaneous resignation of Patricia Mundelius, then UF President, and Thomas Burns. It is hoped that this new development will usher in an era of improved communication and understanding between the Foundation and the Fellowship. The Fellowship's Executive Committee is scheduled to meet with the newly constituted Foundation Board in mid-April.
A Service of
The Fellowship for Readers of The Urantia Book