REMINISCENCES OF AN EARLY FORUM MEMBERAN INTERVIEW WITH CLYDE BEDELLThe following article almost wholly consists of transcribed excerpts from a taped interview with Clyde Bedell conducted by Barbara Kulieke in 1983, a little over one year before Clyde’s death.
From The Study Group Herald, December 1992
Clyde Bedell joined the Forum in 1924 before the Urantia Papers had begun arriving. Clyde remained a member of the group for over 30 years until it was replaced by the Urantia Brotherhood and First urantia Society in Chicago. Clyde was a member of the brotherhood until his death in 1985. He thus had over 60 years of involvement with the Fifth Epochal Revelation of truth to our planet.
Clyde first related how he came to be involved in the Forum:
“I was living in Texas, in Dallas, in 1921-22. My mother who had been down there with me for the entire summer preceding, had gone back north…and she wrote that her doctor wanted her to have an exploratory operation. Well, that frightened me. We were very close. I quit my job and went north. I wanted to be on hand if that were done. It was and she was found to have cancer, and died quite soon after that.
“Meanwhile, as soon as I got up there, I went to look for a job in Chicago…I responded to an ad for an advertising agency wanting a copywriter…Well, I immediately made a good friend in this agency by the name of Lister Alwood, a man much my senior but a gifted writer. And, we became very close friends…We would write things about emotional response and that sort of stuff. He was a religious man, as I was.
“Before I left [the agency]…a girl came there to work by the name of Florence Evans…I asked her for a date and was given a rain check which I never cashed in because I left pretty suddenly…Lou Hennig offered me a job in San Francisco…I joined him in San Francisco. I was there for two years…It was a great place, and a great job.
“Then I received from my friend Lister Alwood a long telegram…He had applied for a job, had not got it and decided from the interview that…perhaps I was better suited to it than he…I applied and I got the job…I arrived in Chicago and of course the first person I saw was Lister Alwood…I had Sunday dinner at his home. I would imagine a day or two after I got there…He asked me if I would like to go Sunday afternoon with him to a Forum meeting at the home of an eminent Chicago psychiatrist.
“I asked a few questions and he said, ‘Well, Sadler is a fantastic speaker; he talks about all sorts of things. Discussion may go in any direction. But he’s a fascinating, interesting, brilliant man.’…I said it sounded great, I’d like to go. So that first Sunday I had dinner at Lister’s home and we then went to Dr. Sadler’s Forum at 533 Diversey.
“It was extremely interesting – I have no idea what it was all about or what he talked about now. Can’t remember. But, I do know that the second person I saw in Chicago was Florence Evans whose address I had…I called her…made a date, and had a date at once…It must have gone fairly well because at the end of the [my] first Forum meeting, which was, I think, the 24th of September, 1924, I went to Dr. Sadler and said, ‘I wonder if I can bring a young woman into this Forum meeting nest Sunday.’…So the next Sunday which was on …The first Sunday in October…Florence went to the Forum with me and from late September, early October, 1924, we have been identified with either the forerunner of the movement, or the Urantia movement itself. They’re interesting circumstances that I would meet Alwood and Florence in this one advertising agency, leave it for two years, Alwood be instrumental in my coming back, he being in the Sadler Forum, and then the girl I married two years later…
“Incidentally, I should mention the fact that shortly after I joined the Forum, Lister Alwood was through with the Forum…There was quite a little turnover. There were no limits on what could be discussed. I think a good many people in the very early Forum felt years later they had been circumstanced into it. If that is the case, what occurred before papers started coming…was of no moment. It’s a strange thing but…many things which you think today we should have remembered, we do not remember, probably because we were not supposed to remember them. What year did the papers begin to come through? I don’t know. If we had known that such a thing as an epochal revelation was coming through, we would have kept diaries…I have concluded…that we weren’t supposed to.”
Clyde talks about the Forum process:
“When a paper was read to us for the first time, we were then asked to ask questions in writing and bring them in the next week which we would do. Mr. Kellogg would sort them out, eliminate duplicates, and so on. And then maybe six months later, the paper would come back again modified and amplified by the answers to the questions we would ask.
“I believe, Florence did too, and I’m sure some other old timers did, that there were communications coming through, which may have been a testing on the part of the revelators or unseen friends…testing whether or not this group would react rationally or fantastically, or what not, to some psychic phenomena, to something occult. We had reason to believe in those old days, that there were several groups in the United States that were being checked and tested. We were quite certain that there was a group in Omaha that was being tested, checked, probably to see whether or not the leader of the group was the kind of person who could be trusted with such a revelation, and whether or not the members were also the type that would react rationally and reasonably. And of course in my opinion, no one better than Dr. Sadler could have been found. He was a fantastic man.
“The Contact Commission were all Forum members, that is the few who went with Sadler, sometimes, when the papers were coming through…They were all Forum members…Dr. William, Dr. Lena, Bill Sadler, his Son, the three Kelloggs, one of whom, the daughter, I think, was there very rarely. And then a doctor whose name I can’t recall who was in the Forum. I have it in my papers somewhere.
“The papers were revised until Paper 196 had been presented, questions asked, and then answers brought into the text which would amplify and so forth.”
“Anything in the form of an important document or paper that supposedly has a mysterious source, but that is to be ultimately a completely integrated presentation of anything important, I think, would suffer if the people who were hearing it over a long period of time talked about it and spread word about it and so on. So it was a very natural thing. I think we all felt, even not knowing this to be an important thing, if we were to be members of the Sadler Forum, and Sadler was to treat us with some confidence and relate to us confidential things, the most natural thing in the world would be to say, ‘Now this is to be between us.’ We’re speaking and talking and reading in confidence. We all, I’m sure, respected that. And, of course, this included our families.”
Concerning the human subject:
“…[H]is name was not known to anyone of the Forum members except the Contact Commission.”
Clyde and his family were on a world trip when The Urantia Book was finally pubblished and the family received their first printing of the Book in Rome on October 21, 1955, airmailed there by Bill Sadler Jr.:
“1924 to 1955 is 31 years…and that is a long time in the life of anyone. You can imagine after all those years, knowing this book is to come out, it’s an epochal revelation, you can imagine with what joy we opened the package.
“We believed through the years when we knew that there was a book to come out and when we believed that we had been circumstanced into the movement and so on, my natural thought was ‘well, this is because as an advertising man, I am to be used to promote the book. And I imagine that I’ll be responsible for spreading and disseminating the word about the book’ But before the book was published…I was chairman of a committee, and we talked and pondered and considered, I think, every possible means at that time we could, of promoting the book…But before the book was published, we had I think unanimously agreed that this was not something to be advertised widespread and publicized like a common, ordinary book…I have never wanted to mass advertise the book. But I do believe that we should use every possible means locally and local groups and one-on-one to spread this book. And there are many many things that can be done that have nothing to do with mass advertising. Well in 19545 when the book came out, we did a good deal of pondering what might be done and there seemed to be nothing that could be done on a widespread basis that any of us wanted to do…
“I came to the west coast in ’58…feeling that our ministries would vary a great deal. I felt that I could serve the book as well there as I could in Chicago.
“I felt consistently…that the first years, 50, 25, whatever they may be, are extremely crucial. They are the years in which we are supposed to be doing all the formative foundation stuff that is required for the day when the book can come into its own -- when the two great ideologies between the east and west are resolved. And when that happens, we’re supposed to have thousands of study groups and many different translations. Well, when you start that, you start that as soon as you are commissioned to do so…That was the impression, I’m sure, of practically all of the early Forumites and of the Seventy. We thought we had a job to do beginning at once. The early trustees believed that…and they were dedicated to it.
“I am moved again and again by this passage on page 1051:
‘Had the followers of Jesus taken more seriously his injunction to “go into all the world and preach the gospel’, and had they been more gracious in that preaching, less stringent in collateral social requirements of their own devising, then many lands would gladly have received the simply gospel of the carpernter’s son, Arabia among them.
“Islam resulted from this failure of Abner’s missionaries. Two thousand years later…many are paying the penalty of the failures of Abner’s missionaries. And, I wonder how many years from now, people will be paying the penalties and suffering for the failures that we have to follow Jesus’ instruction…to spread and disseminate this gospel to the world now and forever.”