Response to David Elders Position
Essay by Claudia Ayers

October 10, 1999

Dear Fellow Reader-Believers,

On October 4th, I posted David Elders privately responding to his personal position paper: Separate Publishing Part IV of The Urantia Book; Some Philosophic Considerations and Implications, dated October 2, 1999. My comments to him are summarized here, adding somewhat to the continued discussion.

I value the concerns David Elders brings to the table, especially given that he has a complete understanding of the Foundation's history and position papers on this and on other related topics. David's position did promote a deep searching and questioning of my own position. I got very little sleep for two nights before concluding my position would not change.

Unlike David, I personally see tremendous value in a stand-alone Part 4, and I have been supporting the publication philosophically since its introduction. I would be greatly concerned if the publication did not have obvious, direct connection from its source. But, as Mark Turrin has already so bluntly phrased it, "you'd have to be dumb as a post" to fail to understand that the source for JANR is The Urantia Book. The first page in JANR, after the Title Page, is the Publisher's Preface, clearly stating the source of the entire balance of the book (not including the Appendix). How could someone start on Paper 122 and not wonder about the first 121 papers?

Human teachers so often fail to evaluate where their students are before they begin instruction. The thing that thrills me most about JANR is that it is so perfectly adapted to where people ARE in their spiritual development. Give a high school algebra student a completely comprehensive calculus book, including reviews of algebra, geometry, and math analysis,
and few will actually undertake the study of mathematics. Give the same student an engaging easy-to-carry, 3-hole punched paper-back with hands-on, team-oriented, realistic problems that introduce algebraic and geometric concepts, and you may have half a chance to initiate a hunger for knowledge in the logical domain. Similarly, as one useful introductory tool, I believe the JANR has a potentially great niche to fill in the spiritual domain.

I keep hearing the FER is for the next 1000 years. Our society today, generally speaking, can vastly improve in its understanding of the 4th ER before being expected to master the 5th. In fact, many will fail in the 5th if they can't have a quick remedial course in the 4th prior to a serious undertaking of advanced topics and study. After some remedial work, if you will, then might we expect someone to start the book at the beginning and read through it with a sense of origin, history and destiny. (We all know how continuous re-readings of the Jesus papers contribute greatly to our spiritual understanding.)

We are told that actions, service, and creativity are valued. We are told to forbid not the strange teacher. The outreach made possible by JANR is supported by these teachings.

I, too, am concerned that the potential for "pitiful division" in the Urantia movement, and feel that David may be contributing more to intransigence than to tolerance. What bears no fruit is pruned by the Father; it is not the role of humans to judge alternative ministries. I don't think David has had his ear too close to the ground if he believes
that the two main arguments favoring publication of JANR are that "it really contains all of the revelation anyway," or because  "...of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it." The main reasons for publication, in my opinion, is to make the revelation more accessible.

The revelators made so great an attempt to make the information in the revelation accessible, that they borrowed tremendously from human publications to convey their message. The revelators want accessibility; why wouldn't we want to make reasonable efforts towards the same end? I do not agree with any means to an end; for me the means are the end. Humans need many things, but so often under-looked in the educational arena are: choice and context. (Choice is not even confusing to youth, they cut right through it to all look, act and sound like their chosen cohort.) Humans need choice in revelatory packaging, organizational structure, and even leadership styles... all of which can work in harmony when judgements are minimized.

The teachings contained in The Urantia Book need context, to be sure! (I am, to some extent, making David's point.) But, again, in starting the educational lessons where the students actually are, Harry's "packaging" is much more meaningful, contextually, than the traditional text of the FER for a high percentage of the English reading population (those for whom it
is intended).

I will conclude with but one more comment. It appears David believes an Orvonton Divine Counselor would object to fragmenting the FER. First, my concept of fragmentation is quite different from David's. Second, I do not believe the celestials involved with our revelation would object to a quality and clearly referenced publication, like JANR, any more than they would object to a well done pamphlet of selected excerpts (which is, in fact, fragmentation).


Claudia Ayers