2007 Autumn – Presidents Report
As the national study day comes round in June, it is a good time to reflect on how study groups are developing in Australia. Those of us who participate in study groups can testify to their effectiveness in extending our understanding of the Urantia Book. I couldn’t count the number of times I have been perplexed by a concept I encountered in the book and been given understanding of it during a study group discussion.
I particularly remember an episode in Sydney many years ago when I was puzzled by the phrase “power personality synthesis”. I kept reading it and reading it, with any notion of its meaning just going over my head. It just meant nothing to me. Then one day at study group Peter Toy explained it so simply that I was amazed that I hadn’t been able to work it out for myself.
I imagine many of us have had comparable experiences, and this is a testament to the importance of sharing our puzzles, and our understanding, with other readers. A study group makes this sharing a regular event, and when a few truth seekers gather together sometimes surprising enlightenment results. As such truth seekers become familiar with the minds of others in the group over an extended period of time, the opportunities for growth in understanding are multiplied enormously. And, of course, lifelong friendships are formed.
I look forward to the day when there is a functioning study group in every major city in Australia, where readers gather regularly for study of the book and further spiritual growth, where readers visiting that city can be made welcome, where new readers can be introduced, and from which friendly communication can be established with other study groups in Australia and around the world.
It is one of the purposes of Urantia Association International, with which ANZURA is affiliated, to work towards this goal.
The goal is a worthy one.
2007 Winter – From the President
On page 2081 of the Urantia Book the revelators point out that “Materialism denies God, secularism simply ignores him; at least that was the earlier attitude.” Certainly, my own experience is that indifference to God is widespread, and more common than aggressive denial.
I have been thinking about this since reading two recently published attacks on religion: “The God Delusion”, by Richard Dawkins, and “God is not Great”, by Christopher Hitchens. Both books are trenchant attacks on institutional religion, particularly Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and both authors carry the attack all the way to a complete denial of the very existence of God himself, and claim that science will some day solve all mysteries.
I surprised myself by agreeing with much of their criticism of the institutional religions. Both authors make some good points, serving as a reminder that religion must evolve if it is to retain the allegiance of thoughtful people. While they are both inclined to compare the worst of religious excesses with the best of secular triumphs, they nevertheless bring into focus the revelators’ point on p2077 that: ”religious leaders are making a great mistake when they try to call modern man to spiritual battle with the trumpet blasts of the Middle Ages.”In this metaphor, I think of the Urantia Book as the trumpet blast of modernity. Dawkins and Hitchens both appear to be spiritually blind, and their conclusions reflect that blindness. But maybe their books might generate some thought about God in the western world’s ocean of indifference.
On a lighter note, the ANZURA Study Day seems to have gone well, and I hope group leaders will send reports of their gatherings for future publication in Arena.We are all looking forward to the Melbourne conference at the end of September.
See you there
2007 Summer – Presidents Report
With the passing of another annual conference, this time hosted by the Melbourne Study Group, I found myself reflecting on the importance of the annual conference to me, and I suspect to most of us who had the pleasure of attending.
To spend a few days in the company of other Urantia Book readers is so refreshing that it seems to invigorate me for months afterwards. Whatever help we can provide to furthering interest in the revelation, in bringing a spiritual message to our area of influence, to making whatever small improvements in things we can—all of these things are done mostly in isolation from our fellow readers. As we attempt to live our understanding of the revelation in our daily lives, we do so in a social environment where we must explain and justify our acts and utterances to friends and neighbours who do not understand, and have no interest in the source of our inspiration. We are thus faced daily with the need to guard our tongues, to think and assess before we speak our minds, to calculate whether it is wise to mention this or that controversial point. And although we do this with joy in the spirit of service, it does result in a certain strain deriving from the frustration of being unable really to share our vision with the world at large.
What fun it is, then, to converse and interact wit other readers who know what we are trying to do, for whom many tedious explanations are not necessary, and who accept our speculations as sensible and normal. How constructive it is to discuss differences of interpretation, to seek clarification of obscure concepts, to offer and receive help in understanding the revelation with others as focused as ourselves. And to do it while renew-ing old acquaintances and making new ones in an atmosphere of such goodwill, makes the conference such an important part of life. It sends us back to the daily grind invigorated with a renewed determination to struggle with ourselves, to serve our fellows, and try ever harder to live the Father’s will.