From 2010 Autumn and Winter – New Zealand Corner
Editors note: Apologies to Neville that we were unable to fit all of his fine article into the previous issue of Arena, it now appears in full below:
The Electronic Age and The Urantia Book
by Neville Twist
When I was young, telecommunications pretty well consisted only of the ‘party line’. About 8 families sharing one telephone line with a Morse code ring to identify which house-hold the call was for. Our number was 1062D—one long ring followed by two short rings, put through to us manually by the operator in the local telephone exchange. We always knew when a toll call was coming through, because the opera-tor would stretch the rings out. What excitement there was receiving a toll call, or any call for that matter—often with the other party line members listening in!
In 1989 I was working for Telecom (NZ) Ltd, when we were given the privilege of making one of the first cell phone calls in New Zealand. The cell phone itself was the size of a large brief case with a corded hand piece on top and weighing in at about 10 kgs. Its range was just a few kilometers from downtown Auckland, and the costs for operating it were horrendous. A few years latter the ‘brick’ arrived, which at the time seemed so advanced, and the coverage area had increased greatly. My, how things have changed!
Today the electronic/digital age has taken us to 2G, 3G & XT networks, I-Phones (with built-in GPS, cameras, sound recorders, radio tuners etc), satellite phones, and of course the internet with emails, skype, shopping, banking, music & movie downloads, and search engines for just about anything imaginable. We can even zoom into almost any square meter on this planet from space! News spreads around the world in milliseconds. GPS tells us where we are and how to get to the next place. It can even tell us who is looking for love and where they are. The all in one ‘Tablet’ is about to be launched.
Extraordinary stuff when we think about it, and to think most this has evolved over the last couple of decades. All over the world, today’s young people are so interconnected and dependent on these electronic devises that to be without them, gives them a feeling of total isolation, almost hopelessness. Just try removing one from a teenager as a disciplinary measure! I wonder what the future has in-store over the next couple of decades. It is both exciting and scary at the same time.
So what’s this got to do with The Urantia Book? It’s a question I have often posed to myself. Our celestial friends and administrators would have undoubtedly known the electronic age would come to Urantia. They’d have known this long before making contact to present the Urantia papers. Maybe that is why for the first time in all Nebadon, they decided to present the fifth epochal revelation to our planet in written text form. But is there a more underlying reason for them doing so?
I sometimes speculate that this inter-connectivity of this new age might bring about some kind of spiritual renaissance. If mere mortal man can invent such amazingly sophisticated telecommunication devises, is it possible that people may begin to think about their inter-connectivity with the universe? Is it possible that a hand held man made devise that can interconnect us with virtually anything on earth, record and track our every movement, might some-how get people thinking about the Creator of everything?
We know from reading The Urantia Book, that our Thought Adjusters record every single thought, action, motivation and aspiration of our entire lives. And that the Ancients of Days use this recording to help assess whether we are granted survivor status or not. I know this is a bit left-field thinking in this present day, but who knows what the future holds for our planet Urantia.
Imagine if a gospel message could be presented to young people formulated around the idea of our Thought Adjusters being the most awe inspiring communicating device in the whole universe. One that interconnects us with Michael of Nebadon, and the Universal Father himself! Jesus promised one day to return to our planet, but when and how he will do this, is unrevealed. Will electronics and digital age be part of this? I suspect so.
by Mark McEwan, Auckland
The first time I put pen to paper for other readers of The Urantia Book was in 1979 and a couple of times since then. My journey has taken me down many paths in life, including my currently attending a Christian church. The people are fantastic and many of the more ’intellectual’ ones tell me that they embrace their own interpretation of the Scriptures.
Personally, my hugest stumbling block when embracing Christian theology is the Atonement doctrine. I simply cannot get past that one so I usually boycott Easter. Many of my fellow churchgoers say that I don’t need to worry about that. What does that imply? That they don’t believe it either?
Whatever the verdict, they are not fundamentalist Christians, just as I am not a fundamentalist Urantian. I feel the same way about racial discrimination doctrines found in The Urantia Book. It seems to imply an inherent superiority in the ‘so-called’ white races or the necessity for segregation. This teaching, like the atonement doctrine in the Bible, is a stumbling block for me as a student of The Urantia Book. It led me to become secretive about my philosophy / faith and so that even though, or perhaps because, I accept what I understand of nearly all of the rest of the book’s teachings, it made me feel guilty to harbour this concept (safeguarded by wisdom?) — so much so that I vowed naively to marry a black woman! How is that for misguided and arrogant altruism! Now that I have resumed my study of the ‘blue book’, I would be grateful for some feedback on the issue of legalism / fundamentalism versus a more liberal approach to Scripture.
From 2010 Summer Arena – New Zealand Corner
Marion Steward, Auckland
This time of the year, the turning of the calendar year, is when we often look back, thinking about what gifts and challenges the year just gone has presented to us, what we have learned and how we have grown. My family has a tradition of meeting around the summer solstice time, when we gather to share a mid-summer feast, catch up on the activities of family members, make the acquaintance of new additions to the family, and sometimes, but thankfully not too often as yet, remember those who have passed on—and celebrate their gifts to our family and to the community.
This year, we asked what each person was celebrating for 2010, and there were some very interesting responses—my husband was celebrating being alive, after experiencing a heart attack earlier this year. My mother deeply appreciated the community bonds that are created when a disaster strikes—she was thinking of the Christchurch earthquakes, and the mining explosion in the South Island in particular, but also of many other smaller events that bring people together in times of need. My uncle was very appreciative of a young mother whose son was killed by a teenage driver, but who managed to forgive the young man and has been hailed as the New Zealander of the Year by public acclaim—a truly inspiring event! My nephews and nieces who brought babies into the world this year celebrated their children and the opportunities and new joy they had created in their lives.
I was deeply heartened by these reflections.
My family is fairly typical of many New Zealand families, and it was clear that the things they felt were important were very much those of the spirit, although they might not say so in so many words.
The year has not been kind to many of us around the country, but the sense of community and looking after each other has been greatly strengthened by the various disasters that have occurred. In the Autumn issue of The Arena, I see the lines: “When we seek to do the Will of the Father in Heaven we find that the needs in our own community supply enough opportunities for us to extend that divine outreach and embrace we have come to experience in our hearts and minds.” I wonder whether this could also work in reverse. It is not a big step from treating strangers in need as your sisters and brothers, to starting to think about the possibility of a Divine Parent.
Meanwhile, our small but steady study group continues to meet. I can still remember the first time we gathered together, back in 1986. In those early years, sometimes our study group numbered about 12, but has waxed and waned over the years, and we are left now with 5 core members. We continue to share our feelings and ideas about what we read in The Urantia Book, even though we have read almost everything in the Book many times over, but our under-standing deepens and our life experiences alter our interpretations, so there are always new insights to gain from our shared exploration of these great truths. Over the years, we have shared many aspects of our lives, work challenges, child raising, and now grandchildren for some of us, and it has been a wonderful experience to meet regularly with like-minded people and interpret life experiences from a Urantia Book perspective.
So 2010 draws to an end, and there are countless things to celebrate, not least the knowledge that our Father is with us all, presenting us with challenges, and giving us the great gifts of family, community, forgiveness, love and the endless exploration of greater truth and understanding.