THE QUALITY OF OUR INTERFACE
Urantian Journal of Urantia Brotherhood
In introducing The Urantia Book to other people, other cultures, and other faiths, the quality of our interface will be largely determined by how we see ourselves, and that in turn will determine how we will appear to others and therefore how they will respond to us. All else - our motives, our techniques, and our goals fall secondary to this one factor, because how we see ourselves in association with this new revelation determines those motives, techniques, and goals.
I anticipate that many of the various problems that we will encounter as we approach other peoples with the book will stem from our religion-like appearance. Although we lack many of the features that commonly characterize religions and churches there are a few primary similarities that need to be reckoned with and maybe in the process rectified.
People don't have to deliberately set out to form a religion or a church in order for it to be such. It can form as an inevitable consequence to a closure of a type, like turning these natural boundaries (that designate their particular group) into a barrier - a separating factor that isolates them from the rest of the world. Those barriers divide people up into the common "we" and "they" categories or "we have it, they don't" slot. Many differing beliefs separate people from one another, but the one belief that states "we have the truth, you don't" is the solidifying force turning boundaries into barriers.
One of the common elements that characterizes the followers of many religious persuasions is this belief in their exclusive possession of truth. And because of the very nature of The Urantia Book claiming to be a new revelation we can too easily fall into such a common pitfall. Truth is in fact everywhere - it's contained in many sources but confined to none. Just possessing a Urantia Book can dupe us psychologically into thinking we have truth in our hands. I'm sure the authors of The Urantia Book were well aware of this risk when they handed revelation over to us in the form of a book. Truth is a dynamic and active thing that occurs freely as we interact with it. It is not locked up in words and concepts. It has been said: "Any group proclaiming they have the truth only gains recognition for its arrogance." If we assume that truth is confined to The Urantia Book and that everyone needs to read it, then we can't help but look and act very much like just another religion.
There's nothing magical about The Urantia Book; it cannot help being limited and static by its very nature -it's our interaction with it that gives it life. This is proved by how unimpressed some people are when they read it. This is where I want to touch on this readiness issue. I don't believe that the sole reason some people are turned off is simply because they lack something - that they aren't ready. I believe some people just are not interested. Truth from The Urantia Book comes to us cloaked in a certain language and cultural garment. I can't believe that all those turned off by The Urantia Book are also turned off by truth, or aren't ready.
It's just not their garment, that's all. And look what that says about us when we think that way. We're saying we're the ready ones! We can't help but feel superior and act condescending with a notion like that. Maybe we're not the ready ones for that matter. Maybe The Urantia Book was given expressly to us because we need it most!
We may have the new revelation in our hands but in no way are we that new revelation; there's nothing new about us! It's been suggested that: "The mountain top becomes a foothill once one is up against the universe." In other words our having The Urantia Book may elevate us in terms of our assessment of our growth on this planet, but in the context of the entire universe we look rather small yet.
If we have this clear in ourselves then we can't help but communicate this in our actions and in the type of regard we have for others and hopefully as a result - as more and more people become aware of our existence, we'll gain our distinction as a brotherhood of kindred spirits - an inclusive one rather than an exclusive one. And we'll see the nature of our social organism in proper perspective - a too] for executing and fostering personal religion - everywhere, not another example of organized religion.
We can avoid many of the common pitfalls of various religions if we have the right relationship with the book. We need to expand our vision to include what The Urantia Book points to (it doesn't point to itself) and what it does point to is universal truth - truth, therefore, encompasses everything and exists in all places. The truth of The Urantia Book is greater and bigger than The Urantia Book itself - it points to God. God can't be put in a box - not even a Urantia box.
We need to be humbled by our limited grasp of the truth contained in the book - we can know the book but that doesn't mean we necessarily know truth. A friend once said: "We're going to be thinking thoughts tomorrow that today we don't even think we don't know." With this in mind let us be humbled by what we haven't yet seen and what we haven't yet become.
And if The Urantia Book is to remain an active catalyst in our lives, then it has to be a new book each time we encounter it. We should welcome that - we should welcome its constantly changing our perceptions, making us doubt our fixed appraisals of reality. For that matter we should welcome what the Russian, Sufi, and the Bushman have to give to our understanding of the book. As we become more acquainted with God's reality we will grow and The Urantia Book will take on deeper meaning. This is the intent of the book - offering itself as a tool for growth.
It's presumptuous for us to assume that our mental comprehension equals the fullest truth resident in The Urantia Book. No matter how clearly a revelation is presented we can never suspend the laws of human limitation and perception. If others see in us the type of maturity that isn't closed to new learning then we'll truly leave an impression - an impression commensurate with the quality and universality of The Urantia Book as opposed to being just another closed system.
Someone once said, "Unless I see in our relationship you helping me, I can never help you. Too much evangelism is me helping you." We need to see ourselves as students always as we approach others anywhere and anytime in life. We're never finished. Even those people we aim to teach something to have something to teach us in return. We can succeed in this posturing only when we're fully convinced of the universality of God. God doesn't have us here to finalize anything. Therefore The Urantia Book cannot be a final statement - if anything, we're to come up with more questions. Therefore let us ask everyone we meet, "Tell me not only about your religion but tell me also more about my own."
Just as individuals can become egocentric so can we as a group become Urantia-centric - that is, so fixated on The Urantia Book that we refuse to acknowledge or look at any other source of truth. There's nothing final or absolute about The Urantia Book - it can never encompass everything - it can only lead us to that reality that does - and that's the way it should be. The validity of The Urantia Book should never be reliant on its particular concepts but rather on its capacity to evolve with the world, changing and expressing an all-inclusive God.
And finally, our aim in introducing others to The Urantia Book should be in getting them to interact with it in their own unique fashion, as they creatively translate its meaning into living as expressed through their own individual personalities. If we understand evolution as it is made clear in The Urantia Book, then we can't believe evolution means an outcome of sameness. An adherence to sameness is a common feature among religions and churches. A friend of mine said: "Because The Urantia Book frees people up you're bound to have many diverse approaches to it." One thing we learn by reading The Urantia Book is that God is a God of variety. The measure of the book's success will lie in the variety of individual understandings and consequent expressions - and the measure of its success on us lies in our tolerance of that fact - actually in our capacity to welcome diversity.
The determining factor of a truly truth oriented social unit of any kind is in the manner in which it deals with differing points of view, whether it views change as a threat or differences as foreign. If we don't want to be called a religion or church then we have to recognize and acknowledge the presence of truth everywhere while being continually humbled by the fact that we truly need what others have to offer, that we are in fact one of many expressions of God - that is as true of individuals as it is of groups. Therefore, our aim should never be to convert others into "Urantians." We should acknowledge our place without undermining or ignoring the value of others in the total networking of evolution.
If we're to do The Urantia Book justice then what we do as we interface with others must reflect its essence. The Urantia Book can be seen in two distinct ways - as a book of hard cosmological facts and as a spiritual nourishment that transcends its more verbal construct. The quality of our interface will be reflected by which of the two views we give priority. It will determine whether our encounters with others will be harmonious or laced with conflict due to mutually shared shallow assumptions about the nature of truth. It will determine whether we consider ourselves an exclusive social group or the forerunner of a spiritual brotherhood that includes all humankind.
I'll reiterate what I had to say in the beginning -boundaries need to exist but not barriers, boundaries designating uniqueness and defining our social group. But there can be no barriers to a barrierless reality - to a barrierless God.
A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship