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Dave Holt

  • 2016-06-30 12:29 PM | Dave

    The term Axial Age, well-known in philosophy and history, is an era given the more prosaic description, “the sixth century before Christ” in The Urantia Book, The UB, (98:2.2). Its “pivotal” significance was first described by German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher, Karl Jaspers, in 1951. He recognized that many philosophers and religious leaders flourished at the same time, one of revelations and new ideas about God, which he postulated was 800 to 200 B.C. Some recognize it as a first awakening of global consciousness in recorded history—an emphasis on the spiritual experience of the individual over that of the tribe, when questions about God “were of universal interest and the answers meant for people everywhere,” (Katharina Becker, Education Committee of The Urantia Book Fellowship).

    Some historians find the idea unacceptable “because it implies a knowing directive force behind the unfolding of history.” http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Axial_Age Readers who come to The Urantia Book are drawn to such a concept. They yearn to learn about a universe managed and administered towards a divine purpose, not one evolving randomly in a chaos of cosmic darkness. Much greater detail about this vast universe organization is included in The UB’s revelatory information; the “knowing directive force” includes teacher sons of “the Creator Son and the Creative Spirit,” (35:1.1) most notably, “the onetime incarnated Machiventa Melchizedek … more recent[ly] designated as vicegerent Planetary Prince,” of our planet. (140:0.11)

    If you received a good Bible education, you were introduced to Melchizedek, without his first name, as the “priest of the Most High God,” who went out to bless Abraham following his military victories in the land of Canaan (Genesis 14:14-18), “the only Son of this order to bestow himself upon the Urantia races … assuming the assignment of service as a mortal ascender, having sojourned on Urantia in the likeness of mortal flesh at Salem in the days of Abraham.” (45:4.16) In The UB he is the teacher of the new Salem gospel, one of “trust in God and salvation through faith … one God and one simple faith.” (94:1.6)

    But not just one Melchizedek! Who are the rest of them, the Melchizedek Sons described in the Urantia Book? “The Melchizedeks are the first order of divine Sons to approach sufficiently near the lower creature life to be able to function directly in the ministry of mortal uplift, to serve the evolutionary races without the necessity of incarnation... not once throughout all the superuniverse of Orvonton have these Melchizedek Sons ever betrayed their trust.”(35:2.1-2) In other words, none participated in the Lucifer Rebellion. They are “the eldest son[s] in a large family” (35:2.3) that includes Vorondadeks, the Most Highs; and Lanonandeks, who serve as Planetary Princes. They “are the first to act in all emergencies of whatever nature on all worlds where will creatures dwell.” (35:4.4) Machiventa chose to incarnate as the teacher we first came to know as the mysterious “King of Salem.”

    Long after the Salem incarnation, “through an unusual coordination of spiritual agencies,” (94:6.1) the origin of Asian religious movements (primarily) was brought about by Melchizedek, an “emergency Son of Nebadon (98:7.12)” who saw that “his mission as a forerunner of Michael might be in danger of failing (94:6.1).”

    “The original Melchizedek gospel had been almost wholly absorbed in the beliefs in the Great Mother, the Sun, and other ancient cults.” (93:7.3)

    “About six hundred years before the arrival of Michael, it seemed to Melchizedek, long since departed from the flesh, that the purity of his teaching on earth was being unduly jeopardized by general absorption into the older Urantia beliefs … And in the sixth century before Christ, through an unusual co-ordination of spiritual agencies, not all of which are understood even by the planetary supervisors, Urantia witnessed a most unusual presentation of manifold religious truth. Through the agency of several human teachers the Salem gospel was restated and revitalized.” (94:6.1)

    This Melchizedek Post-Salem project was initiated to prepare our planet for the bestowal mission of the Creator Son, Michael, destined to give Urantia the gospel of Joshua Ben Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth.

    The UB dates the Axial Age somewhat differently than Jaspers did (as have other students of the era): “The sixth century before Christ.Many men arose to proclaim truth in this, one of the greatest centuries of religious awakening ever witnessed on Urantia. Among these should be recorded Gautama, Confucius, Lao-tse, Zoroaster, and the Jainist teachers. The teachings of Gautama have become widespread in Asia, and he is revered as the Buddha by millions. Confucius was to Chinese morality what Plato was to Greek philosophy, and while there were religious repercussions to the teachings of both, strictly speaking, neither was a religious teacher; Lao-tse envisioned more of God in Tao than did Confucius in humanity or Plato in idealism. Zoroaster, while much affected by the prevalent concept of dual spiritism, the good and the bad, at the same time definitely exalted the idea of one eternal Deity and of the ultimate victory of light over darkness. (92:5.12)

    British author, Karen Armstrong, (A Short History of Myth) commented that by the Eighth Century B.C., human beings were suffering from increased violence and felt they could no longer rely on the gods to come down to the world and aid them in their struggles. The early Epic of Gilgamesh is an example of a growing cynicism and despair (c. 2000 BC in Sumerian cuneiform). The various spiritual movements of the Axial Age arose to restore humanity’s faith in a divine influence.

    It required a rejection of the old mythology, and an acceptance of the one God (a restoration of monotheism). As Armstrong also pointed out, “Love or compassion, the ability to feel with the other, to empathize with the other, is the common thread. People felt that by dethroning yourself from the center of your world and putting another there, you achieved transcendence [God].” This ethic, known to many asThe Golden Rule, emerged almost universally. Armstrong later devoted a whole book to the Axial Age, The Great Transformation: The World in the Time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah (2006).

    This Melchizedek initiative was not primarily a Western one except for its influence on Greek philosophy.

    “This was the situation when, during the sixth century before Christ, the Orient and the Levant experienced a revival of spiritual consciousness and a new awakening to the recognition of monotheism. But the West did not share in this new development; neither Europe nor northern Africa extensively participated in this religious renaissance. The Greeks, however, did engage in a magnificent intellectual advancement. They had begun to master fear and no longer sought religion as an antidote therefor, but they did not perceive that true religion is the cure for soul hunger, spiritual disquiet, and moral despair. They sought for the solace of the soul in deep thinking—philosophy and metaphysics. They turned from the contemplation of self-preservation—salvation—to self-realization and self-understanding.” (98:2.2)

    Both Karen Armstrong and the authors of The UB include the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah, 650 - 570 B.C., in the pantheon, this coordinated campaign of religious “pressure from above.” (52:6.7) “Jeremiah's teaching was the crescendo of the rising wave of the internationalization of the God of Israel; finally and forever did this intrepid preacher proclaim that Yahweh was God of all nations, … And thus did the religion of the Hebrews share in that renaissance of monotheism throughout the world at about and following this time; at last the concept of Yahweh had ascended to a Deity level of planetary and even cosmic dignity.” (97:6.2)

    Many of us recognize the similarity to our own age, called by some the Second Axial Age because of its global character (theologian, Ewert Cousins 1927-2009). Once again, revelations in modern times are being nurtured as a check to the loss of hope in Spirit reality and God’s rule over material reality. One of these, of course, is The Urantia Book, an epochal revelation. “There have been many events of religious revelation but only five of epochal significance.”(92:4.4)We learn in The UB that both the religious revival of the Axial Age and the Urantia Book in our time are Melchizedek projects.

    For myself, the significance of the Axial Age is well expressed in this passage, “While your religion is a matter of personal experience, it is most important that you should be exposed to the knowledge of a vast number of other religious experiences (the diverse interpretations of other and diverse mortals) to the end that you may prevent your religious life from becoming egocentric -- circumscribed, selfish, and unsocial.” (The UB, 103:1.3, pg. 1130) And thus we can blaze a trail for a budding international community of truth lovers and seekers after God.

     

  • 2016-06-11 12:27 PM | Dave

    I remember Mose Allison, one of my favorite jazz pianists, singing, “Everybody’s cryin’ mercy when they don’t know the meaning of the word.” I’ve pondered this often since I chose the path of a spiritual truth-seeker. His song seemed to say we know it’s important but we don’t act on it, rarely tendering loving-kindness to each other. Nothing could be more true about our current political and social climate. I remember back in the nineties, a popular faddish bumper sticker urging us to “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” (Anne Herbert)

    I first learned about God’s mercy in high school when taking a catechism class preliminary to joining the church; “his mercy endures forever,” (Psalm 136) but I didn’t really know what it meant until God’s son reached out to me personally with his proffered gift of grace. I had my first inkling while hitchhiking from Philadelphia to Toronto one spring. The meaning of the 23rd Psalm was revealed to me as I wandered down the solitary highway; “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;” I repeated the words to myself and this sustained me on the journey. (Psalm 23, The Urantia Book, The UB, 131:2.7)

    On a day of anxious prayer, on a hilltop when I felt lonely, unloved, full of despair, I experienced both the meaning and the value of mercy for my future, my life on earth to come. I was conscious of the gift, another chance to make some sense of my life, to realize some kind of purpose, and redeem myself in all eyes including my own. So comforted and strengthened was I that I recovered the will and energy within myself to make progress in my goals—goals that included improving and deepening my relationship with this great being who had reached out with mercy and love, Jesus, our Creator Son.

    At the Harvard Divinity School Commencement this year, our friend, Angie Thurston, graduated with her Master of Divinity degree. The address by Kimberley C. Patton,professor of the comparative and historical study of religion, featured the major theme, “Kindness is so often dismissed as the anemic, saccharine twin of its more robust siblings in the terminology of world religions: compassion in Buddhism, mercy in Judaism and Islam, love in Christianity. Worse, kindness is often seen as a cowardly way to duck agonizing dilemmas that involve a surrender of power, privilege, or capital; of systematic violence against female, brown, child, or gay and transgender bodies; as a way to hack the gnarly challenge of injustice while racking up gold stars for being nice. But kindness is not niceness. It is, instead, a powerful and subversive thing. It is something that anyone can practice, even if she cannot bring herself to feel compassion, or mercy, or love.”

    http://harvardmagazine.com/2016/05/commencement-divinity-school-multireligious-service

    Her words echoed author George Saunders (New Yorker) commencement speech of 2014, which also struck a nerve, “went viral” as they say. “Certain virtues, like kindness … compassion, somehow got a downgrade to … optional virtues. Yeah, you can be kind after you’ve won.”

    The Dalai Lama’s famous motto is, “Kindness is my religion.”

    So what of kindness? Does it differ in some way from mercy?

    Many times in sacred texts it is written that God shows both mercy and loving-kindness to his children. In fact, Bible scholars say the same Hebrew word was translated into both words in English; therefore there must be no real difference between mercy and kindness, at least in the original language (Dr. Reuben Torrey). In The UB, the inclusion of the evolving Supreme Being has greatly expanded our language about God in many ways. From the perspective of the Supreme, I’ve had the insight that mercy must proceed from the forever-ness of the Absolute. Although absolute and transcendent, the Eternal God is personal and loving at the same time. As the Sikhs have it, “The Supreme Lord God extended his mercy and confirmed his innate nature,” (Sikh Holy scriptures). From the God of the Trinity, mercy comes down to us as a fact. But kindness becomes actualized as a “living truth” in the loving acts of the present moment that we do for each other. Our actions contribute to the growth of the Supreme on this world. “Mortal man, being a creature, is not exactly like the Supreme Being, who is deity, but man’s evolution does in some ways resemble the growth of the Supreme. Man consciously grows from the material toward the spiritual by the strength, power, and persistency of his own decisions.” (117:3.6)

    During his personal ministry in Rome, Jesus taught this message, picturing one (loving-kindness) as a fact, the other (mercy) as a truth, a living “continually moving” (130:4.15) truth. He spoke of, “the fact of the heavenly Father’s love and the truth of his mercy, coupled with the good news that man is a faith-son of this same God of love.” (132:4.2)

    Jesus predicted we would be empowered to put mercy into loving action by the bestowal at Pentecost of “the Spirit of Truth … the personal gift from the Master to every mortal,” (194:3.5) “When power from on high, the Spirit of Truth, has come upon you, you will not hide your light here behind closed doors; you will make known the love and the mercy of God to all mankind.” (191:5.3)

    No matter how the political strains of the day may trouble us, kindness is destined to renew its power, to come back into our midst again and again. Through the anger and dissension, loving-kindness will prevail.

     

  • 2016-05-28 12:25 PM | Dave

       Many of us first read Black Elk Speaks in a college course like I did in 1971 at Sonoma State University. “You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles … In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation, and so long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished." (Black Elk Speaks) http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Wisdom/BlackElk.html

       It is nearly impossible to explore the canon of American Indian literature without coming across this famous Lakota leader’s bawaajigan--vision. Native American elders continue to use a sacred hoop concept, the medicine wheel, as a representation of Earth’s energy, incorporating the four directions. Many psychological counselors make it part of a therapy to support the development of a balanced life. Ojibwe teacher, Sun Bear, recommended its use for “self-understanding,” and wrote, “during our lifetimes we are constantly moving around the Wheel ... It’s important for a person to keep moving around the Wheel, to learn life’s lessons ... so they can constantly grow.”

       The Urantia Book alludes to the historically spiritual significance of the wheel for Native Americans, “All ancient clans and tribes had their sacred stones … among the red men it was usually a circle of stones.” (The UB, 85:1.3) These sacred circles were once used for Vision Fasts (or quests), a ritual that fosters personal religious discovery wherein usually a young person seeks contact with spiritual realities. Using the stone circles as a place to commune with the Spirit has declined, the more they’ve become tourist destinations.

       The symbol of the wheel in spirituality crosses cultural boundaries into many groups. Although, in general, Western culture likes a linear model of reality, where cause leads to effect and progress continues in a kind of arrow of time, the poet Rilke, born in Prague (Czech Republic), had a distinctly non-linear vision, described beautifully in one of his Love Poems to God.

       “I live my life in growing orbits which move out over the things of the world. Perhaps I can never achieve the last, but that will be my attempt. I am circling around God, around the ancient tower and have been circling for a thousand years and I still do not know if I am a falcon, a storm or a great song. (Rilke, The Book of Hours, translated by Robert Bly)

       Some Native American philosophers adopt Carl Jung’s wheel of intelligences (also wheel of personality) for use in conjunction with the Native American medicine wheel. Jung’s idea was there are four intelligences in each of us, ways of understanding the world: thinking, feeling, intuition, and the ability to grasp physical fact (fr. Robert Bly). He visualized these modes as a circle. Usually one “intelligence” was dominant in the north position, the south position being occupied by what he called the “inferior function,” one which the individual and our society as a whole often reject while the dominant mode is encouraged. Jung’s circle, startlingly similar to the American Indian medicine wheel, as the road to a healthy psyche, gives value to all the functions in balance. Jung believed we would develop more empathy and compassionate understanding of others if we cared more for our inferior function, incorporating it more fully into our self-development.

       The UB also teaches that progress takes place more in terms of “circle-making” than in a linear mode, a straight line. “It is from these arrangements in the central universe [attaining the circuits of Havona] that the circles of progress in the human mind have been designated.” (14:5.4)

       We learn some details about the Seven Psychic Circles in Paper 110:6. “Every decision you make either impedes or facilitates the function of the Adjuster; likewise do these very decisions determine your advancement in the circles of human achievement. It is true that the supremacy of a decision, its crisis relationship, has a great deal to do with its circle-making influence; nevertheless, numbers of decisions, frequent repetitions, persistent repetitions, are also essential to the habit-forming certainty of such reactions.” (110:6.6)

       I would suggest that much wisdom could be gained by modifying our concept of linear progress toward a well-defined goal, or at least its dominance in our thinking. It tends to lead to a desire for materialistic accomplishments, to rushing ahead for the new without savoring the value of old achievements and the progress we’ve earned, and to a disregard for the development of a balanced personality. In The UB, we even learn about a group that helps us revisit the circles of accomplishment, the Reversion Directors. They help us to slow down and experience “agreeable pleasure in living over again the enactments of other days and ages. The early experiences of the race or the order are restful to reminisce.” (48:4.10)

       I put my shoulder to the Medicine Wheel to get through those hard emotional patches, old griefs, memories of pain and failure, where I get stuck now and again. I circle “the ancient tower.” As the Indians have taught me, most eloquently in Black Elk’s vision, I seek to mend the sacred hoop, restore the flowering tree which stands at “the living center of the hoop.”

       I hope the young people in my care, whom I am tutoring, find it in themselves to achieve what I hold as a goal for myself, “The supreme purpose of life, the development of a majestic and well-balanced personality,” (195:10.17) different words for the same healthy psychology envisioned by American Indian counselors, spiritual advisors, and Jungian therapists.

       Rodan the philosopher put it this way, “by actually subjecting the total personality to the consciousness of contacting with divinity; to grasp for possession of new and better methods of adjusting oneself to the ever-changing situations of living existence; to effect those vital reconstructions and readjustments of one’s personal attitudes which are so essential to enhanced insight into everything worthwhile and real; and to do all of this with an eye single to the glory of God.” (Rodan in The UB, 160:1.11)

  • 2016-05-15 12:23 PM | Dave

       You often see a checklist on how to maintain good health at your medical providers. Lately the more progressive health prescriptions even suggest relaxation through meditation.

       Lists have always been popular ways to visualize and organize our future. Maybe it is the doctor in Deepak Chopra that makes him one of the great list makers, in physical, emotional, and spiritual areas alike. In his book, Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, (itself a list!) he recommends making a list of your desires as a step towards achieving your goals (page 79).

       I know many of us have favorite quotes displayed where we’ll notice them while going through the day. Of course, another book or beautiful quote may not help us to maintain health and then grow spiritually if we don’t act on the inspiration. That’s why we like to post reminders to act.

       Here is a top ten of my quotes out of a collection that I reread or repeat to myself to cultivate spiritual health (and build a well-developed character). I keep them in a recipe box, a little Punjabi one (Kashmir, it says on the bottom) that I found in a thrift store. Others I keep pinned up on our kitchen cupboard, or on the refrigerator, held by a magnet. So here’s a spiritual checklist you may enjoy:

    1. Experience Joy: Do what gives you joy as a service!

       “No matter what causes it, whenever a little bubble of joy appears in your invisible sea of consciousness, take hold of it and keep expanding it. Meditate on it and it will grow larger … keep puffing at the bubble of joy until it breaks its confining walls and becomes the sea of joy.” (Metaphysical Meditations by Paramahansa Yogananda)

        2. See Possibilities:  

       “Remain open to an infinite number of unexpected possibilities which transcend your own imagination and capacity to plan.” (Thomas Merton)

       ("Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." ~ Thomas A. Edison)

       3. Learn Trust:

       “When Jesus turned to James, asking, ‘James, do you trust me?’ Of course James replied, "Yes, Master, I trust you with all my heart." Then said Jesus: "James, if you trust me more, you will be less impatient with your brethren. If you will trust me, it will help you to be kind to the brotherhood of believers. Learn to weigh the consequences of your sayings and your doings. Remember that the reaping is in accordance with the sowing. Pray for tranquility of spirit and cultivate patience. These graces, with living faith, shall sustain you when the hour comes to drink the cup of sacrifice.” (The Urantia Book, [The UB] 192:2.8.)

       “Open yourself to the Tao, then trust your natural responses; and everything will fall into place.” —Tao Te Ching, Verse 23

       4. Give Love:

       “In this world hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This is the law, ancient and eternal.” (Dhammapada, Ch. 1) I once saw my daughter use this quotation in a speech she gave to her high school classmates. That was truly inspirational!

       5. Claim Spiritual Power:

       “With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.”

    (Some Protestant confidence from A. W. Tozer) http://www.awtozerclassics.com/page/page/4891818.htm

       6. Have Courage:

       Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! (Luke 12:22-24; expanded and repeated in The UB, 165:5.2)

       7. Practice Compassion/Empathy/Mercy:

    “If your compassion does not include yourself it is incomplete.” Jack Kornfield, page 28 of Buddha’s Little Instruction Book.

       8. Seize the Service Opportunities That Come Your Way:

       “Service -- purposeful service, not slavery -- is productive of the highest satisfaction and is expressive of the divinest dignity. (The UB 28:6.17, P. 316)

       “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Howard Thurman)

       9. Focus Concentration: “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”

       “Revelation teaches mortal man that, to start such a magnificent and intriguing adventure through space by means of the progression of time, he should begin by the organization of knowledge into idea-decisions; next, mandate wisdom to labor unremittingly at its noble task of transforming self-possessed ideas into increasingly practical but nonetheless supernal ideals, even those concepts which are so reasonable as ideas and so logical as ideals that the Adjuster dares so to combine and spiritize them … The co-ordination of idea-decisions, logical ideals, and divine truth constitutes the possession of a righteous character …” (The UB, 101:6.7)

       “A small amount of focused concentration can expand into the subconscious mind to implant joyfulness, love and forgiveness. Expansion is the only way out of depression. Unless you remain consciously aware of yourself, you will mechanically create your childhood circumstances over and over again in your workplace and in your home.”

    (Guidance from Within, by Ernest F. Pecci, http://drpecci.com/)

    10.     10. Grow Faith: “… become self-conscious of the assurance of the divine presence, such a faith will expand the mind, ennoble the soul, reinforce the personality, augment the happiness, deepen the spirit perception, and enhance the power to love and be loved.” (159:3.12)

  • 2016-04-28 12:21 PM | Dave

    “And if you are the sons of God, then have you been born of the spirit of God; and whosoever has been born of the spirit has in himself the power to overcome all doubt.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 142:5.3)

       The essential story of my life experience has been a voyage of faith through rough water, sometimes sheltered in its cove, or cast out on its treacherous deep. When I was a teenager, I voyaged without faith. Then I found it in my twenties, went through another phase of shipwreck, losing it, and then yet another episode of denying its validity. Plagued by faith’s evil twin, doubt, until later I rediscovered its truth for me. I have had significant others minimize the importance of faith; this affected me when I was young. But I went through that insecurity and disappointment and found faith again.

       “Is the love of truth and the willingness to go wherever it leads, desirable? Then must man grow up in a world where error is present and falsehood always possible.” (The UB, 3:5.10)

       My faith survived to finally have more of a life of its own, that “gift of God” Jesus spoke about, unrelated to the ups and downs that beset my existence. “Even this saving faith you have not of yourselves; it also is the gift of God.” (143:2.7)

       It is unreasonable--when the philosophical test of reason withers it, it blooms through the frost; the culture of cynicism kills it, yet it lives to rise again, to provide life and hope because, ultimately, we discover there is no more reasonable model for living on this earth. From the ashes, the phoenix of faith spreads out its great feathered wings and beckons to me, and once again I climb up on its back and fly towards heaven.

       I have learned from Jesus to, “enable [my] spiritual nature to begin [my] deliverance from the evils of inaction by the power-presence of living faith.” (130:6.3)

       As I’ve grown towards a “whole-souled belief, an implicit faith” (156:5.12) and fallen “whole heartedly in love with truth,” (157:2.2) I’ve passed through theories whose validity I always tested. I went beyond the models for reality that I experimented with, and I left the realm of ideas to discover something more.

       Faith is where ideas and theories cease for me, and I touch something that I have put my whole heart and mind into, and yet it is something beyond thinking, a living faith, not merely thoughts about faith. I was far away from this point in my earlier years. I’m much closer to it now. I found faith in my meditations, moments of personal communion with the Father. I see it emerge in activities that are not so religious, such as some of my poetry that upholds the faith of simple people, country folk, farm workers, the “simple faith of a child,” defending it from the seemingly more sophisticated urban atheists who try to deride their faith. Let us help the children of God learn, keep, and grow their faith.

  • 2016-04-08 12:19 PM | Dave

    One of my students wrote his science report on the gravitational-wave signal received from two merging black holes discovered in September 2015 (not reported until February 2016). To better help him, I set out to research and update my knowledge. New information about “black holes” continues to pour in every year. What are these ominous, invisible, quicksand-like things in our universe? We can’t turn to The Urantia Book (The UB) for an answer. It never uses the term. But is there an equivalent in The UB? The “dark islands of space,” (The UB, 15:6.11) perhaps?

    NASA’s definition, “A black hole is a region in space where the pulling force of gravity is so strong that light is not able to escape. The strong gravity occurs because matter has been pressed into a tiny space. This compression can take place at the end of a star’s life. Some black holes are a result of dying stars.” http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/nasa-knows/what-is-a-black-hole-58.html

    Dark gravity bodies, mentioned in The UB, appear to be separate entities outside of spacetime though perhaps a related force or energy. These “dark energy-charged spheres” (12:1.10), surround Havona, the central universe, “not a time creation; it is an eternal existence.” Black holes seem to be a local, in time phenomena.

    The collapsing star, or supernova, model used to be the standard definition of the black hole when physicist John Wheeler first invented the term in 1967 (replacing “dark star”). I learned that the definition now includes 3 types, this most common one known as a “Stellar black hole,” the medium sized type.

    My logical mind used to be bothered that the black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy was a collapsed star. Not all supernovas end up as black holes by the way. Some become neutron stars, also a term not mentioned in The UB. Why would the center of the galaxy be the result of a supernova, an explosion? In the “friendly universe” model, it didn’t make sense to me, so I was relieved to learn our knowledge had progressed to include those not formed from dying stars. The other two types are: primordial, small ones from the time of the “big bang” origin of the universe, supposed to explain dark matter but no longer believed to do so; and the largest type, supermassive stellar black holes like the one at the center of our galaxy known as Sagittarius A.

    Our Milky Way is described in The UB: “The vast Milky Way starry system represents the central nucleus of Orvonton, being largely beyond the borders of your local universe. This great aggregation of suns, dark islands of space [there they are again!], double stars, globular clusters, star clouds, spiral and other nebulae, together with myriads of individual planets, forms a watchlike, elongated-circular grouping of about one seventh of the inhabited evolutionary universes.” (15:3.1)

    A supermassive black hole is now believed to exist at the center of most galaxies according to the current consensus in our science. Images of the one central to the Milky Way galaxy, Sagittarius A, were captured by the Chandra X-Ray observatory in 2013. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/chandra-finds-evidence-for-serial-black-hole-eruptions.html

    Are they round or spherical? Scientists believe if we could see the “event horizon” it would be spherical. In The Urantia Book they are “balance wheels.” Dark islands of space are not the devouring black hole monsters we’ve grown up with; “this great concentration of mass enables these dark islands to function as powerful balance wheels, holding large neighboring systems in effective leash.” (15:6.11)

    In February 2015, an answer to the question of whether black holes were related to dark matter was offered.  "There seems to be a mysterious link between the amount of dark matter a galaxy holds and the size of its central black hole, even though the two operate on vastly different scales," says lead author Akos Bogdan of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2015-07#sthash.NLleFry9.dpuf  

    A Truthbook, http://truthbook.com/, staff member published an attempted answer to the recurring question, “Are these “dark islands of space,” described as part of our Milky Way the same phenomenon as the black holes in our astrophysics?” Their response (in 2014) was, “I am not sure if all Urantia Book students accept that black holes and the dark islands of space are one and the same, but it seems to me that they likely are.”

    We find one described in our system Satania, “not a uniform physical system” (32:2.10) such as our Milky Way galaxy is (which you may recall is the central nucleus of Orvonton). Here is a direct correlation of our black hole concept with the dark island of space, both described as central; “The astronomic center of Satania is an enormous dark island of space which, with its attendant spheres, is situated not far from the headquarters of the system government.” (41:2.2)

    ”One Supreme Power Center of the sixth order is stationed at the exact gravity focus of each local system. In the system of Satania the assigned power center occupies a dark island of space located at the astronomic center of the system. Many of these dark islands are vast dynamos which mobilize and directionize certain space-energies, and these natural circumstances are effectively utilized by the Satania Power Center, whose living mass functions as a liaison with the higher centers, directing the streams of more materialized power to the Master Physical Controllers on the evolutionary planets of space.” (41:1.5)

    After centuries of observing material phenomena, the universe that scientists have studied is now understood to consist mostly of invisible force!

    Gravity is pulling inward on space-time — the "fabric" of the cosmos — it keeps expanding outward faster and faster. To account for this, astrophysicists have proposed an invisible agent that counteracts gravity by pushing space-time apart. Based on the observed rate of expansion, scientists know that the sum of all the dark energy must make up more than 70 percent of the total contents of the universe.” That is the present assumption (2011); no one knows how to confirm its existence. (www.livescience.com)

    How exceedingly ironic that scientists who’ve always pooh-poohed the spiritual presences in the universe must now try to understand how 70 percent of the energy holding the universe together is invisible!

  • 2016-03-27 12:16 PM | Dave

    “Intellectually, socially, and spiritually two moral creatures do not merely double their personal potentials of universe achievement by partnership technique; they more nearly quadruple their attainment and accomplishment possibilities.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 43:8.11).

    Celebrating renewal and resurrection on this day, we remember Jesus’ constant admonition, “love one another, even as I have loved you.” I also recalled a quiet Easter Sunday last year when my wife Chappell and I decided to drop out of the world, leave our exhausting business dealings behind, and head up to Sonoma County. It's a place we often return to. We drive an hour and a half north to our beloved home of the heart where we met and were married over three decades ago. This time, we celebrated with a picnic at Benziger Winery in Glen Ellen, one of author Jack London’s old haunts. Though conspicuously absent from Easter Sunday worship in a church, our hearts were present to honor the day with talk about our spiritual experiences, the obstacles, difficulties, questions and hopes. She wanted to know the recent insights about having Jesus in my life that I’d been talking about. I’d recently shared how my understanding of personally accepting the experience of forgiveness had grown, along with my sense of its importance to my practice of the highest ethic, the Golden Rule [170:3.3-7] (pg. 1861).

    Because of doubts that sometimes plagued me, she shared her certainty about the eternal life. Both of us grew up with the concept of heaven taught in Christianity which we found both inadequate and incredible (beyond the pearly gates is a life of ease playing harps). Forsaking its childlike immaturity, she’d gravitated to the philosophical logic and reason behind The UB depiction: further opportunities to work on your goals and ideas. It is the only afterlife vision that makes sense with all the gifts received in this first life, and yet so little time to develop them. This excerpt from Paper 103 expresses it well.

    “The pursuit of the ideal—the striving to be Godlike—is a continuous effort before death and after. The life after death is no different in the essentials than the mortal existence. Everything we do in this life which is good contributes directly to the enhancement of the future life. Real religion does not foster moral indolence and spiritual laziness by encouraging the vain hope of having all the virtues of a noble character bestowed upon one as a result of passing through the portals of natural death,” (103:5.7) … but so hard to do all of it on one’s own.

    We raised a glass and and toasted our life and partnership with a delightful Benziger Merlot.

    “Adam and Eve exerted a lasting influence on all mankind; for the first time in the history of the world men and women were observed working side by side in the Garden. The Edenic ideal, the whole family as gardeners, was a new idea on Urantia.” (84:7.8)

    “The union of husband and wife in the marriage-home relationship is a material function of the mortals of the evolutionary worlds. True, indeed, much spiritual progress may accrue consequent upon the sincere human efforts of husband and wife to progress, but this does not mean that marriage is necessarily sacred.” (83:8.2)

    We learn in The UB that co-operation is a byword of the universe. On the cosmic level, “no Son could hope for final success without the incessant co-operation of the Divine Minister and her vast assemblage of spirit helpers, the daughters of God.” (33:3.4) But, we are reminded, “co-operation is not a natural trait of man.” (68:1.4)

    To form more effective working groups and partnerships, and to achieve the challenging goals that lie ahead, perhaps our most difficult duty as “golden rulers” (71:4.16) is to learn to trust each other more. Jesus once said to Andrew, “If you trust me, trust your brethren more,” and later to James: "James, if you trust me more, you will be less impatient with your brethren. If you will trust me, it will help you to be kind to the brotherhood of believers. Learn to weigh the consequences of your sayings and your doings.” (The UB, 192:2.8.)

    Among the vineyards, the Sonoma farms and ranches, and surrounded by the Mayacamas Mountains, we made another toast in honor of our Creator Son Michael, our brother Jesus. We felt a renewal of life’s purpose, a revival of faith in our mutual desire to continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge.  Each of us able to fill in the gaps in each other’s experiences, we shared our doubts and fortified our faith on a beautiful day in the countryside.

  • 2016-03-11 12:17 PM | Dave

    “I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.” 

    ― Arthur C. Clarke

    Many have heard The Urantia Book (The UB) described as “the alien Bible.” Maybe you’ve encountered similarities in its content that resonate with science fiction literature, television and film. Our sci-fi media falls roughly into a couple of main categories (there are actually many more): (1) dystopian: about societies in cataclysmic decline (“Dying Earth” sci-fi), (2) utopian (advanced, progressive) describing ideal societies, and sometimes there is a kind of New Age wisdom literature (Perelandra by C. S. Lewis).

    The UB is realistically optimistic about the future, but it also has its version of the dark side, the Lucifer Rebellion, and Caligastia’s interference with Adam and Eve. The Urantia Book account of Earth history provides much more detail about the “war in heaven,” that you may have first read about in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, 12:7-13. Yet The UB emphasizes a friendly universe, convincing to me because it answered a longing in my soul. As it says, “When such spirit-led mortals realize the true meaning of [the] golden rule, they are filled to overflowing with the assurance of citizenship in a friendly universe.” (180:5.8) And as Jesus taught the Athenian philosopher, “The real universe is friendly to every child of the eternal God.” (133:5.8) 

    Occasionally science fiction writers have imagined their aliens as citizens of a “friendly universe.” In Ray Bradbury’s, The Fire Balloons, he tells the story of church missionaries who visit a colony on Mars. One of them, Father Stone, discovers universal truth when he decides to contact the older Martian race and subsequently has a realization of a shared universal religion. “The way I see it is there’s a truth on every planet. All parts of the big truth. On a certain day they’ll all fit together like pieces of a jigsaw. This has been a shaking experience. I’ll never doubt again, Father Peregrine. For this Truth here is as true as Earth’s Truth, and they lie side by side. And we’ll go on to other worlds, adding the sum of the parts of the Truth until one day the whole Total will stand before us like the light of a new day.” (pg 134, Bradbury, found on http://www.epubsbook.com/2015/4010_56.html)

    The UB’s reassertion and expansion of the gospel of Jesus was practically an afterthought per some of the apocryphal lore. We love the expanded story of Jesus. But there are other things going on in the book. The revelation of previously unknown, organizational information virtually constitutes what seems to be a prep course, intended to help our isolated planet take the initial steps towards re-integration with the universe.

    Carl Sagan was the scientist who first popularized the idea (emphasizing its logic), that other earth-like, inhabited planets exist in the vast reaches of space. His Cosmos television series depicted just such a universe. In 1974, he worked with NASA on the first attempts to communicate with other civilizations using the Pioneer and Voyager space flights. Since then, astronomers using NASA’s Kepler satellite have found about 21 potentially habitable planets around stars beyond our solar system (http://www.space.com/18790-habitable-exoplanets-catalog-photos.html ). The science community still searches, to no avail so far, for a sign of life on the newly discovered spheres.

    During the early decades of our discovering of The Urantia Book, many were watching Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek series of the 1960’s, in reruns well into the late 70’s. Our friend, Andrea Barnes, once said, “We could do outreach 24/7 for years and still not achieve the type of cultural shift that Rodenberry achieved with Star Trek.”

    In 1980, we also watched Sagan’s Cosmos; then came back to a revived Star Trek: the Next Generation (1987-1994) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999). There are many other shows I could mention. I’ve seen a blogger claim The UB was Gene Rodenberry’s main inspiration in his creation of Star Trek, a claim often repeated, but I have never seen it verified, www.wikiwand.com/en/Talk:The_Urantia_Book/Archive_6.

    In Star Trek, a preeminent guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets known as the Prime Directive, Starfleet’s General Order #1, states there can be no interference with the internal affairs of other civilizations. The show was based on the plausible possibility of a universe organized into a federation more advanced than we’ve imagined before. However, not every extraterrestrial alien race belonged to this alliance of over 150 planetary governments which included Vulcans and Andorians. There were outsiders, “sinister others,” like the Klingons and Romulans. Thus the scripts often featured stereotypical television scenarios of our “cowboy and Indian” unreality here on Earth, war in space, highly technological wars, spaceship battles with less evolved (un-federated) peoples in the universe. This pop culture depiction of “good guys versus bad guys” also became the basis of George Lucas’s Star Wars saga, now eight episodes and counting.

    As Star Trek scholars have noted, every season had a few episodes that glossed over, overlooked, forgot, or simply ignored the Prime Directive (from Rubicun III scifi blog). The laws of TV popularity prevented the show from maintaining an ideal of a governed and managed universe, and society was too secularized to imagine a spiritual universe “paralleling the physical universe.” (8:4.1)

    In The Urantia Book (The UB) we learn about the policy of noninfringement, somewhat equivalent to the Prime Directive of Star Trek based on the concept of free will. “The basic laws of Nebadon, [are] laws designed to afford the greatest possible co-ordination of a whole constellation consistent with the fixed policy of noninfringement of the moral free will of personal creatures.” (39:3.3) and “Man’s ability to choose good or evil is a universe reality. This liberty to choose for oneself is an endowment of the Supreme Rulers, and they will not permit any being or group of beings to deprive a single personality in the wide universe of this divinely bestowed liberty—not even to satisfy such misguided and ignorant beings in the enjoyment of this misnamed personal liberty.” (54:3.1)

    Generations brought up on Star Trek found the more advanced cooperative organization of the universe presented in The UB, to be a more credible model, a truer vision. Taking Trekian logic to its max, The UB gives us a “revelation” of the real universe government, planets linked by interplanetary communication. This along with the sad fact of Urantia’s isolation from such a government; “when some planets (or even systems) have plunged far into spiritual darkness, they are in a certain sense quarantined, or partially isolated from intercourse with the larger units of creation. And all this, as it operates on Urantia, is a spiritually defensive reaction of the majority of the worlds to save themselves, as far as possible, from suffering the isolating consequences of the alienating acts of a headstrong, wicked, and rebellious minority.” (3:1.10)

    In The UB, intercommunication is the norm for planets which have achieved “social brotherhood,” and are in “the spiritual circuits of their realm” (52:6.8, p. 598). “From Salvington, broadcasts are simultaneously directed to the constellation headquarters, the system headquarters, and to individual planets. All higher orders of celestial beings are able to utilize this service for communication with their fellows scattered throughout the universe. The universe broadcast is extended to all inhabited worlds regardless of their spiritual status. Planetary intercommunication is denied only those worlds under spiritual quarantine.” (33:6.5)

    Not just Urantia, of course, but the thirty-seven other worlds that seceded (53:7.1). In this article, I assume the broadcasts have not been re-established, as some have claimed.

    The movie that perhaps comes closest to The UB’s conception of a unified and orderly, friendly universe, “an organization for the mutual protection of all planets,” as alien visitor Klaatu described it, is The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951). Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, Childhood’s End (1953) also explored similar ideas. The spaceman, Klaatu, comes as an emissary from this peaceful federation of planets. It’s obviously a first visit; and it’s immediately apparent that Earth has been “quarantined” from this universe government, just as The UB describes. Klaatu arrives with Gort, the robot policeman, to warn Earth it will face destruction because of the “new threat” it poses, the use of nuclear energy to power spaceships, unless Earth renounces its violent ways. Klaatu describes his federation in a public speech to the people. “We live in peace without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war, free to pursue more profitable enterprises.” The movie portrayed a resolution to the Fermi Paradox known as the Cosmic Quarantine hypothesis proposed by cosmologist, Edward Harrison in 1981. The physicist Fermi formulated his well-known paradox, the apparent contradiction between the probability of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of contact or visible evidence, in 1950, just a year before the release of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

    In the famous Star Trek episode, Errand of Mercy (1967), the Organians, a civilization of spiritually advanced beings, concede to make themselves visible to the visitors from Earth by taking on the appearance of a pastoral culture much like the Israel of Jesus’ time. “None of the physical beings of the central universe would be visible to Urantians.” (14:2.4)

    Like Klaatu in The Day The Earth Stood Still, they use their power to disarm the warring factions. The Organians seemed to exist in a kind of alternate reality (a parallel universe?) that could not endure the disruption and compromise of their world by lower, less evolved planets. Starship Enterprise had transgressed the borders of the Cosmic Quarantine in some way. 

    http://markwatches.net/reviews/2014/08/mark-watches-star-trek-s01e26-errand-of-mercy/

    The Fermi Paradox has had many hypothetical answers proposed besides Harrison’s Cosmic Quarantine. That the most evolved civilizations would prevent an upstart world from disrupting their stability, by treating Earth as a deadly virus for which they must establish immunity, follows the logic established by Carl Sagan, and our sci-fi dreamers. Now it’s being confirmed by our scientific discoveries. It’s beginning to make sense (for more on this topic, see the Zoo hypothesis and http://www.urantiabook.org/dave-holt/the-cosmic-quarantine). Such a planetary status is confirmed by revelations in The Urantia Book given to us in the faith that we are ready to know the more complete story. 

  • 2016-02-29 12:14 PM | Dave

       Have you ever paused to remark upon the work of the angels of the races in The Urantia Book? This corps of the master seraphim arrived with the first resident governor general when the Spirit of Truth was bestowed in A.D. 30. Bible readers may have heard of the “angels of the churches,” mentioned in the Book of Revelation, but the eleven other seraphim corps sent to participate in our “rather loosely organized and somewhat personally administered planetary government (The Urantia Book, The UB, 114:5.4)” are previously unrevealed in our history.

       “The direct administrative cabinet of the governor general consists of twelve seraphim, the acting chiefs of the twelve groups of special angels functioning as the immediate superhuman directors of planetary progress and stability.” (114:5.6) The acting chief of the angels of the races is therefore a member of this cabinet.

       With no previous record of these celestial beings, I was naturally surprised to learn of “The angels of the races, those who work for the conservation of the evolutionary races of time, regardless of their political entanglements and religious groupings. On Urantia there are remnants of nine human races which have commingled and combined into the people of modern times. These seraphim are closely associated with the ministry of the race commissioners, and the group now on Urantia is the original corps assigned to the planet soon after the day of Pentecost.” (114:6.9)

       How do we imagine this ministry is continued when a race such as the orange appears to have been eliminated (64:6.13)? Or, in the case of the red race, described as “vanishing” (90:2.9)? If there are no visible cultural remnants of, for example, the green race, what are they able to conserve?

       Jesus confirmed this seraphic group’s work in his talk with Nathaniel even before the planetary government was installed on Urantia after his ascension. “And many of the angels, while functioning in the government of the Father and the universes of the Sons, are assigned to the service of the human races.” (167:7.4; see also John 1:47-51))

       We know that in our time, many scientists perceive race as a social construct rather than having a scientific basis, yet use of the term race persists with ordinary people who continue to manage differences in social relations, explore their ancestry in DNA tests, and express ethnic pride. In this blog however, I will not explore the controversial issues raised by The UB’s concepts of race.

       In my community work with Native American communities, I related to poet Linda Hogan, a Chickasaw descendant of those who walked the Trail of Tears, and her view of the need to articulate our histories. It inspired her early poems, “the need to say what hadn’t been spoken, to tell an untold story of our lives. They are home speaking through me. Home is in blood, and I am still on the journey of calling myself home.” (Linda Hogan, from Red Clay) Her words certainly speak to the meaning of my journey. Perhaps the angels of the races are conserving the history of the red Sangiks through living representatives of the races.

       Then there are the race commissioners who also work on “the worlds of time.” “The High Commissioners begin their service on the planets as race commissioners. In this capacity they interpret the viewpoints and portray the needs of the various human races. They are supremely devoted to the welfare of the mortal races whose spokesmen they are, ever seeking to obtain for them mercy, justice, and fair treatment in all relationships with other peoples;” (37:5.5)

       Difficult work with sometimes heated arguments and legal conflicts occurs when one race seeks justice from another.

       My mom and I had an ongoing dialogue about reconnecting with our Ojibwe heritage that went on for years before she passed away in 2015, and it became part of my poem Identity Disorder. Efforts to reintegrate my mother with her Canadian Indian past achieved little progress at first. Finally, a couple of years ago she told me, “It was just terrible how they tried to take away their heritage by putting them in those ‘boarding’ [residential] schools.” She’d finally understood something about the fate of Indian culture and its suppression. Later she surprised me again and sent a letter describing her heritage and history to my daughter. You could have knocked me over with an Eagle feather. I felt as if I had won a long campaign.

       On the first morontia world, this ministry to the races is taken up by a group of seraphim, called the transition ministers. One part of this seraphic group are the racial interpreters.

        “Racial Interpreters. All races of mortal beings are not alike. True, there is a planetary pattern running through the physical, mental, and spiritual natures and tendencies of the various races of a given world; but there are also distinct racial types, and very definite social tendencies characterize the offspring of these different basic types of human beings. On the worlds of time the seraphic racial interpreters further the efforts of the race commissioners to harmonize the varied viewpoints of the races.” (48:6.22)

    “The race commissioners are very active on Urantia.” (114:4.2)

       The desire to experience Native American spirituality motivated me just as it often has for idealistic youth seeking deeper truths about the cosmos. They turn to Native Americans for direction and seek out their spirituality, perhaps because, in the pure form of American Indian “religion,” there is no church and no priest as we knew growing up in Christianity. In places where the original culture is still alive and the traditions still practiced, prayers to the Creator are made to a wide open sky, in the church of Nature, often with the guidance of elders who know the ceremonies.

       Perhaps the angels of the races conserve the spiritual contributions of the races. The American Indian institution of the Vision Quest that guided the people to find their spirit helper, or guardian spirit, is an ideal of what UB readers would call a personal religion vs. an authoritarian, priest-dominated one. “The fire within,” as one Ojibwe elder called it, or sometimes referred to as keeping “your fire lit” was typical of northern tribes’ spirituality.

       My experience of Native culture is indirect and distant and sometimes I am filled with doubts, as I continue to dialogue with myself about motives, my sincerity. It might be said that I am called as a witness. I feel reinforced to continue my ministry by this knowledge of master seraphim who’ve undertaken similar tasks. We are actually even able to work with their guidance, “While unable to inject new and higher conceptions into human minds, they [the master seraphim] often act to intensify some higher ideal which has already appeared within a human intellect.” (114:6.19) I am comfortable in the role of witness to the atrocities of the past. I work to assist the present movements for cultural revival. That is why, like Linda Hogan, I believe it is important to not take the easy path of choosing to remain silent.

  • 2016-02-17 12:13 PM | Dave

    During my beginning yogic practice, years before I was reading The Urantia Book, I had my earliest personal revelations. By this use of the term revelation, I am not talking about an appearance of angels, or the discovery of golden tablets in a cave (haven’t found any lately), but those naturally occurring revelations that come to the mind in a flash of recognition, often called philosophical insights. They are not made up of conscious thought alone; a “divine invasion” has taken place in there somewhere (196:3.20).

    "Truth is always a revelation: autorevelation when it emerges as a result of the work of the indwelling Adjuster; epochal revelation when it is presented by the function of some other celestial agency, group, or personality." (The Urantia Book, The UB, 101:4.3, p. 1109).

    Of the two types of revelation, personal or autorevelation and planetary or epochal revelation, personal revelations that result from our work with the Father Fragment, are “continuous” (101:2.12) and transformative. “The highest religious experience is not dependent on prior acts of belief, tradition, and authority; neither is religion the offspring of sublime feelings and purely mystical emotions. It is, rather, a profoundly deep and actual experience of spiritual communion with the spirit influences resident within the human mind,” (101:1.4, p. 1105)

    I view The Urantia Book as a teaching text that becomes sacred/revelatory when we personally experience our own revelations in reading it, experiences that quicken, animate, vitalize the words. These “visions” can, to give some examples, reveal the loving character of the Father, the nature of reality, your life purpose in accordance with God’s will. They differ from rote recitations read from a gold-encrusted Bible in church, in that they bear the stamp of our own living understanding.

    Here is a philosophical look at the idea. “Revelation means an intelligible event which makes all other events intelligible. It is the discovery of rational pattern in the events of our lives.” (Theologian, H. R. Niebuhr, from The Meaning of Revelation.)

    “The reason of the heart...does not really know what is in the revelation, in the illuminating moment, except as it proceeds from revelation to experience and back again from experience to revelation. In this process the meaning of the revelation, its richness and power, grow progressively clearer.” (Niebuhr, Ibid)

    But although philosophic logic and “experience” helps us testify to the validity, our grasp of the reality of the divine, revelation also compensates for the failures of philosophy. “Revelation is the only technique for atoning for this deficiency in the conceptual data which man so urgently needs in order to construct a logical philosophy of the universe and to arrive at a satisfying understanding of his sure and settled place in this universe.”  (103:6.8; p. 1136) 

    “Religion is only an exalted humanism until it is made divine by the discovery of the reality of the presence of God in personal experience.” (195:10.1; p. 2084)

    Using mind as “the gateway” to both, we combine revelation and rational thinking: “Revelation proves itself to be revelation of reality by its ability to guide us to many other truths.” (H.R. Niebuhr, Ibid)

    As the philosopher Locke pointed out, rational thought checks the validity of the auto-revelations. “Enthusiasm, laying by reason, would set up revelation without it; whereby in effect it takes away both reason and revelation … revelation must be judged of by reason.” (John Locke, 1632-1704)

    “Sometimes we regard revelation as though it had equipped us with truth in such measure that no further labor in historical and psychological searching is necessary. Fundamentalism in its thousand historic forms escapes in one way. Modernism escapes by applying to life the short and narrow ideas of some present moment...But true revelation is not the source of such irrationality and absurdity. We become fools because we refuse to use revelation as the foundation of a rational moral life.” (Niebuhr, Ibid)

    We can experience the power of the personally-received revelations of others (1467; 132.7.6), as Jesus said to Ganid, “the revelations of God flash upon earth in the lives of the men who reveal God to their fellows.” Indeed, that is how many of the Earth’s evolutionary religions began.

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