Hillary, Mo, and the UB
Politics may not be the best promotion for the revelation.
From time to time, I've set out to write about The Urantia Book (UB) for the book thread. This seems the perfect venue to talk about the book's reported origins, how the publisher lost its copyright, about supposed "revelations" and their adherents. You know, not preaching the teachings but talking about it as a book. On the book thread.
Those attempted comments of mine keep ending up as Ace movie review-length treatises, so I file them away without posting, thinking I'll try to whittle them down some time.
This is not any of those.
Instead, my "hook" is a Breitbart article that ticks me off for several reasons. Alas, I keep running into the same problem of not being comment-concise. So, in my next two comments, I'll hit my topic, with apologies in advance for the wall of text. At least I waited 'til after 100 comments to blast you with this.
Why is it false assertions can be so brief, but refutations involve so many words? Or is it just me?
Mainly, keep in mind Gell-Mann, the "amnesia effect" with which regulars here should be familiar. If not, look it up here.
My own authority, so to speak, is having read the UB several times, and studied parts of it in depth repeatedly, having hung around with folks in the Urantia "movement" in the past, and having read a lot about the book and its adherents and opponents. I even have a whole section of my website about the UB, which includes my "UB Comix," many of which, I'd like to think, can be appreciated even without familiarity with the book.
Breitbart misrepresents the book and the Urantia movement.
The "religious group" is a diverse menagerie of folks ranging from casual readers of, to raving fanatics about, The Urantia Book.
The Urantia Foundation is the original publisher of the book, and it has an associated official "Brotherhood." There's an unofficial "Fellowship." And there are all manner of private study groups.
There are many other different groups of adherents, some of whom claim all manner of things, including their own channeled "extensions" to the book and bizarre re-interpretations. Meh. Humans, right?
And there's a "silent majority" of individuals who just read the book and aren't joiners or cultists or give a fig about the moovement.
The Foreword and 126 "papers" which comprise the UB purport to be written by higher types of beings. These orders are all described in the books. but from our perspective, for non-students of the book, you might as well call them all "angels."
Anyway, certainly not by "aliens," which suggests little green ET's. It's a religious revelation. Not "how to serve humans." (Twilight Zone reference, in case you don't recognize it.)
[Actual episode title: "To Serve Man"]
The article asserts, "In all likelihood, the book was written at least in part by Chicago doctor William Sadler in the 1920s and might have been based to some degree on the ravings of a lunatic patient."
Siiigh. No and no.
Although "contact" was supposedly first initiated in the late 1920s, the papers were "indicted" and "transcribed into the English language" gradually, from the mid-1930s up through just before WW2.
I'm personally assured it was not "written by" eminent psychologist Dr. Sadler. He was an interesting fellow, respected in his day, but supposedly his interest in the "revelation" was academic, initially. He was a debunker of mystic phenomena, intrigued by one inexplicable case that obliquely led to the appearance of the papers. He is said not to have "believed" the book until very late in the papers' appearance. If Sadler was a genius huckster faking all that, he fooled his closest friends.
That one strange case, described in the Breitbart article as a "lunatic patient" - that's the worst kind of prejudicial propaganda. The individual was reportedly a quite normal fellow by day, but he spouted strange things in his sleep, a condition with which he was unconcerned, but which caused his wife to take him to Dr Sadler. Long story about the "sleeping subject" associated with the book's conception, but the UB's mysterious and complicated origins are beyond the scope of this rant. "Lunatic" is just trash talk.
If you have to categorize this unique work, it would be more part of the spiritual revivalism of first quarter of the last century, not the "New Age" stuff of later decades. Many "New Agers" have certainly taken it up, often with what I consider less than desirable consequences. I'll just leave it at that.
A third of the book is the "Life and Teachings of Jesus,." Non-Christians would call it "Christian," therefore, but many Christians would object to that because the UB does differ with some fundamental Christian doctrines.
Naturally, these doctrinal differences are the closest the Breitbart article comes to accuracy, and which it harps on the most! Hardly a new thing. Some Fundamentalists insist it's the "work of the Devil." (Folks said the same about Jesus; you might recall his response.) It's just especially sad to see such a slanted screed in an article from Andrew's legacy site.
In general, the thrust of the UB's teaching can be simply put: living a life according to what Jesus called the first and greatest commandment and the second like unto it. But the larger content of it is beyond my rant's purposes here.
6. The so-called "leader" is just Celestial Seasonings mogul Mo Siegle.
The first time I met any group of Urantia readers was at a gathering near Chicago in 1974. At the time, the only other folks I knew who had ever even heard of the book were my older brother who introduced the book to me and, separately, to my childhood chum Tom. Tom was excited to find out about the Urantia "Brotherhood," and proposed we travel to their meeting. I was more wary - I didn't want to find out there was some Divine Light Mission or Scientology-like cult ruining this intriguing book. (I mostly saw a chance to visit a gal I'd met in college, she who is today my beloved companion of over four decades and mother of our three offspring.)
The folks at that early gathering mostly looked like anyone I'd meet at the local Episcopal Church (in the old days). Businessmen and homemakers. Siegle's flowered van-full of Colorado hippies were about the only other long-hair and blue-jeans types at that gathering - besides myself.
The general idea back then was of promoting the book by slow growth: basically individual-to-individual ("have you heard of this?") and small living-room study groups. Later generations of UB fans were not so sedate about popularizing the book, with results that I don't consider entirely welcome. As the Breitbart article exemplifies.
Mo was a funny guy. He told this joke… well, another time for that.
In short, in subsequent decades, after some internal clashes among fans of the book, and problems among the official "Brotherhood" and other clots of readers, Mo bought his way onto the board of directors of the publisher, the Urantia Foundation. Not knocking that. Foundations need money.
As he has always been a Colorado hipster, I'm not all that surprised Mo's a Hillary supporter, although I am disappointed, as I am in most of the moovement's latter generations' politics and social attitudes. You know that saying about any organization not specifically geared toward conservatism becomes liberal? Yeah.
You can see, perhaps, why I resent Mo's associating his progressive politics with this great work. However, Mo is hardly the worst of those who pretend to "leadership" while wielding a UB. An apocalyptic sub-cult many years ago, fortunately, ended with disappointment and bitterness, not newsmaking suicides. There's a guy in the Southwest who has headed up one of the better-known cults waving the UB. As I said, humans. Meh.
On the whole, I just find this kind of publicity for the UB distorting, misleading, and unpleasant. It seems to me that it encourages the liberal-ish flakey blare-about-it factions and discourages many more thoughtful and quiet folks who might genuinely appreciate the book, one way or another.
In conclusion (at last): as with with the Bible… or anything… remember Gell-Mann. Don't believe the articles, pro or con, don't listen to the cultists, and certainly don't buy Breitbart writer Patrick Howley about it.
If you really want to know what it's about, you can read the book, free online and downloadable, at Urantia.org.
Apologies again for the wall-o-text. Someday, I'll write that book thread article about it I really wanted to. Not today.