2013 Autumn – New Zealand Corner
Tuesday 5th March is Census Day here in New Zealand. Usually we have one every 5 years, but 2 years ago, just before the scheduled date, the major earth-quake in Christchurch threw the whole country into disarray, and it was clearly impossible to count people who were missing or who had fled the city to other parts of the country as internal refugees, and equally impossible to count the number of rooms in houses that had completely collapsed. It has taken 2 years for the situation to quieten down enough to try again.
Thinking about our census reminded me of that other census, the Roman one of 4BC that caused Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem to be counted, and thus to give birth to our Local Universe Creator in that town. In a far more positive way than the Christchurch earthquake, this birth also caused a major upheaval in the world, and is continuing to do so.
A quick glance through The Urantia Book revealed that there are also Census Directors throughout the superuniverses—our Local Universe Census Director is stationed on Salvington and is personally aware of the existence of all of us, as will creatures. Unlike Urantia censuses, which count many aspects of people’s lives, the Census Directors in the universes only count the existence of will creatures. They
…register the existence of a new will creature when the first act of will is performed; they indicate the death of a will creature when the last act of will takes place.[Paper 24:2.8, page 267:6]
…and he will afford the records confirmation of your death the moment you cease to function as a will creature.[Paper 24:2.7, page 267:5]
There are, of course, many other spiritual beings that count and record every other aspect of life worth counting in the whole universe, the Recording Angels being the ones I can’t wait to meet once I start my next life! So many questions!
However, back here on Urantia, one of the more interesting questions in the New Zealand Census is the religion one. The choices are No religion, Christian (with major denominations as a secondary choice), Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish or Other. Every 5 (or 7) years the readers in our study group ponder on how to answer this question. Some of us tick “Other” and proudly write “Urantian”—and I have done this too, in the past, but this time I am thinking that Urantian, actually, isn’t a religion, so perhaps Christian is the best one to pick, and not specify any denomination. But it would be good to register with the Statistics Department the existence of a group of people who form their spiritual views from a particular worldview postulated by a specific book. But this line of thought leads to “Biblian”, which seems a bit absurd. “Jesusonian” also springs to mind, but thus far this term is not familiar to anyone who doesn’t read the Urantia Book and is not active in discussion forums, so I think I am left with Christian, in the original sense of the word, a follower of Christ and a believer in his life and teachings.
Once the results are published, hopefully before the end of the year, we will be able to see if recent trends continue. Christianity has been in a decline for a while now, while Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu religions have been increasing, mainly due to immigration. The most concern-ing trend is the rise in people professing No religion—up to 32% in 2006, and predicted to rise to nearly 50% this time. Apparently this is one of the highest rates in the western world, so our little country is in desperate need of rediscovering Jesus and his inspiring life and beliefs.
Winter 2013 – New Zealand Corner
One of the aims of having a New Zealand Corner is to share happenings in our part of the world, and to make sure the NZ of ANZURA has a presence in our Australasian community. So, often, news from New Zealand from a Urantia Book perspective is the focus.
A brief survey of recent news headlines, however, is disheartening to say the least. Sundry murders, assaults, and political scandals, mixed up with the everyday actions of ‘celebrities’, and the latest sporting events/results. A less than inspiring mixture of the negative and the trivial. The Urantia Book refers to this approach to the news in this way:
As you view the world, remember that the black patches of evil which you see are shown against a white background of ultimate good. You do not view merely white patches of good which show up miserably against a black background of evil. When there is so much good truth to publish and proclaim, why should men dwell so much upon the evil in the world just because it appears to be a fact? The beauties of the spiritual values of truth are more pleasurable and uplifting than is the phenomenon of evil. [Paper 195:5.12, page 2076:3]
Why indeed? So where to find the good truth to publish and proclaim? There are many places online now that are devoted to only good news. Here in New Zealand we have Happyzine (happyzine.co.nz), an ezine devoted to positive and inspiring stories about everyday events and challenges for the whole planet. YouTube offers positive and uplifting news with judicious searching. Any of the ‘My country’s got talent’ shows can offer incredible glimpses of what ordinary people are doing (although there is a lot of chaff among the wheat). I was particularly impressed that a Hungarian dance group was able to win Britain’s Got Talent this year, even though they are not British—an indication of a global society getting closer. One of my personal favourites is the TED talks website (www.ted.com).
This is filled with short and long presentations about what people are thinking and discovering and promoting in many areas of life, but they are always positive, uplifting, and thought-provoking. For example, typing ‘God’ in the search box brings up a collection of 9 different talks, ranging from atheism to all types of spirituality. It is possible to join the TED community and comment on the content of the talks.
So I recommend the above in an effort to promote good news from the New Zealand Corner— today the sun is shining, there haven’t been any major earthquakes for ages now, and the All Blacks won against France in the rugby!
2013 Summer – New Zealand Corner
This week one of the oldest and most prominent national newspapers in New Zealand, the New Zealand Herald, celebrated its 150th anniversary. To commemorate this event, they published a large magazine celebrating 150 years of great New Zealanders. Sir Edmund Hillary and Richie McCaw (“All Black” captain), among others, grace its covers, and in it they have undertaken a very interesting exercise—they describe who was being lauded in the Herald editorial in the year in question, then examine this in a separate box entitled “In Hindsight”. As such, how the views of a generally conservative newspaper have changed over this time span makes fascinating reading, and I was reminded of comments in The Urantia Book on the value of time delays for enhancing wisdom.
As you ascend Paradise-ward, you will increasingly learn that many problematic features of universe administration can only be comprehended subsequent to the acquirement of increased experiential capacity and to the achievement of enhanced spiritual insight. Cosmic wisdom is essential to the understanding of cosmic situations.
[A Mighty Messenger, Paper 54:6.10, page 620:2] emphasis added
I am not suggesting that the current editorial team of the Herald consistently demonstrate wisdom, certainly not cosmic wisdom, but views are expanded and changed even with more information, and even more so when events are interpreted through the different value lens of the modern age. Quite frequently the current Herald editorial team disagrees with their predecessors and names women, Maori chiefs, and ordinary, little-known individuals who performed extraordinary acts of bravery and self-sacrifice as the New Zealander of that year.
Our gains in understanding through reflection and hindsight are of course limited in their scope to time and space. In Paper 196, The Faith of Jesus, the book has this to say about gaining spiritual insight:
The human mind does not create real values; human experience does not yield universe insight. Concerning insight, the recognition of moral values and the discernment of spiritual meanings, all that the human mind can do is to discover, recognize, interpret, and choose.
[Paper 196:3.10, page 2094:9]
I am looking forward to reading carefully about 150 great New Zealanders and hopefully discovering the stories of previously unknown but worthy people, recognizing the value of their acts and achievements, appreciating the Herald’s re-interpretation of this value, and choosing to believe anew in the boundless capacity of every human being to change and grow.