A response to Paul Snider's recent comments
by David Kantor
Under the subject "A Call to Unity Proposal" you recently wrote:
>There is evidence of sincere spiritual searching in the Wolf-Tennant
>proposals, but I cannot support them.
> 1. The proposals blur the differences between spiritual
>relationships among individuals and functional responsibilities of and
>between organizations. When such boundaries are disregarded there is bound
>to be some confusion of wisdom.
It is not clear to me that organizations have relationships with each other separate from the relationships maintained by the individuals who participate in those organizations -- only personalities have relationships (in terms of the functional matters under consideration) and these relationships are always governed by values. Hence, any conflicts which we might term "organizational" result from conflicting sets of values determining the actions of individual participants. Proposals being put forth from a variety of sources in the community, from the Millennium Initiative to the Wolf-Tennant proposals, represent honest attempts by readers to seek conflict resolution by bringing the involved individuals together for purposes of examining the related values and attempting to establish a course of action most beneficial to the interests of the revelation.
Can you clarify the nature of the "boundaries" to which you refer? Who is maintaining them and what is their purpose? Are they based on spiritual values? Do they serve a spiritual purpose?
> 2. The proposals seem to ignore completely all of the sincere and
>earnest attempts, first as individuals, then as groups, to dissuade Harry
>before he proceeded. We are now in step 3 ("the congregation"), having
>exhausted the possibilities for reconciliation during steps 1 and 2. I can
>see no benefit in repeating step 2.
It would seem to me that honest dialog would involve trying to find the optimal resolution to any given conflict. I don't believe that honest dialog involves trying to "dissuade" someone from a chosen course of action through the application of forceful rhetoric or the manipulation of public opinion, but rather an openness which seeks understanding and resolution on a higher level of meaning and value than that on which the conflict occurs. Note the comment from The Urantia Book on page 1097 that "conflict persists only in the face of refusal to espouse the higher values connoted in superior meanings."
Neither do I see any integrity in Foundation supporters pleading that they are following the Jesus grievance procedure in this matter. Where is the intellectual integrity and honesty in insisting that the Jesus grievance procedure be applied to someone opposing your position while simultaneously insisting that your position itself is not open to mediation or compromise, as you do in item 3 below after invoking the Jesus grievance procedure in item 2 above?
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the Jesus grievance procedure is that it opens up our conflicts and disputes to participation by the Master himself if we are truly willing to gather together in his name. This process also opens up our interactions to participation by the Seraphim of Planetary Supervision. But these celestial helpers participate through the mediation of values. For us to honestly engage in such a process would mean that we would each have to be willing to engage in a careful examination of our present values, consider the variety of values grasped by participating personalities, attempt to relate them in a meaningful hierarchy, and then fearlessly take action based on the highest values we could collectively discover, in full faith that in doing so we would be honestly attempting to implement the Father's will in that particular situation.
> 3. The proposals seem to assume that truth will be found somewhere
>in the middle of a dispute. This is only sometimes true. Quite often, the
>truth is mostly or wholly on one side. We are not in a political process,
>which results in compromise. We are rather in a truth-seeking process, in
>which compromise is not even a consideration.
What are you saying here? What is the "truth-seeking process" to which you refer? I've seen nothing in the statements from Urantia Foundation which would indicate that something which might pass for a "truth-seeking process" is taking place.
> 4. The proposals do not take into account the timing issues involved
>in the exercise of law. To follow the Wolf-Tennant suggestions would be
>tantamount to giving Harry his way without possibility of effective legal
>redress. Law would no longer be an effective recourse.
Here we may be coming closer to the truth -- a position which advocates taking action before access to coercive power is curtailed or reason has a chance to prevail over dogma.
> 5. The proposals seem to be unaware of the years upon years in which
>the Brotherhood, then the Fellowship, tried to formulate a mission statement
>that would be broadly acceptable. In view of this experience in failure
>repeated experiences in failure the proposals are much too optimistic and
As Kathleen Swadling pointed out, the mission statement appearing in the constitutions of our respective organizations is comprehensive and, I believe, is widely accepted by the readership as reflective of the highest commonly held values. If this is the case, than this mission statement might be a broadly acceptable reference point from which to evaluate our situation. In what way might Urantia Foundation's projected legal action enhance or degrade the achievement of this mission? In what way might the publication of JANR enhance or degrade the achievement of this mission?
>There are still other reasons I cannot support the Wolf-Tennant proposals,
>but the above will give you a flavor of my views. I believe the Trustees
>should proceed on the course they have marked out.
Paul, let me share with you a comment about the nature of the Father's will which I recently discovered. This is from a book co-authored by Henry Nelson Wieman, "The Growth of Religion". He comments:
"Religion is a self-surrender and devotion in which one gives up specific self-direction as at present established and commits himself to the direction of the best that is unpredictably brought forth in the ceaseless innovations and creative syntheses of actual living. . . . This means to be seeking always God's will and not one's own."
It seems to me that the central message of The Urantia Book -- particularly that which rings out from Part IV -- is the importance of seeking the Father's will as the central guiding principle of spiritual living -- cosmically meaningful progression within supremacy. As a logical extension of this principle, it seems that the only way in which we can effectively uplift the human institutions of our planet is to introduce this concept into the decision making and conflict resolution processes of those same institutions -- facilitating the working of the Most Highs in the kingdoms of men. How can we believe we can help uplift planetary institutions when we are failing to implement these basic principles of the revelation in our own internal processes?
In spite of my failure to understand the values from which you defend your position, I remain grateful for your passionate participation in this difficult adventure.