New Zealand Corner – Autumn 2016
Since the last issue of NZ Corner the Urantia-NZ Facebook page has been kept ticking along nicely by Matthew Hall and others, and the Auckland study group has had two monthly meetings after our traditional December break. In January the group adopted the following format for our 2016 meetings.
- At any time anyone can suggest a paper to be read or topic that they would like to be developed by adding a card to the suggestions list in Trello. (Trello, pictured below, is a web-based collaboration product discussed in the last NZ Corner).
- At any time anyone can volunteer to develop a topic on the suggestions list by dragging the topic’s card to the “Topics being developed” list and placing his/her icon on the card. Others can add their icon to the card if they wish to assist.
- Once a topic has been developed it is dragged back to the suggestions list.
- When a facilitator wishes to include a paper or topic in the next meeting it is dragged from the suggestions list to the “Next meeting” list.
- After the meeting topics are dragged to the “Completed” list or back to the suggestions list for further
- We take turns at hosting. (Opting out occasionally or permanently is OK).
- We take turns at facilitating. The host is automatically the facilitator unless he/she declines.
- The facilitator should choose a paper or developed topic(s)to study and communicate this to the group at least a week before the meeting so that those who wish to can prepare in advance.
- While we all love to socialise we should try to study The Urantia Book for 2 hours. (Generally, arrive at 9:30am for coffee and studying from10:00 to 12:00).
- Each member reads to the end of the next section or page (whichever is shorter).
- Interrupt the reading (for comments and questions) at the end of a paragraph only.
- Devices can be used only for researching the topic currently being discussed.
- Increase the frequency of meetings from monthly to fortnightly.
Our study group has four core members who have been in the group since it was formed more than 30 years ago. We also have two current members who have participated in other study groups for the same length of time or longer. As such, our group doesn’t fit a leader/student model very well. Most of our members prefer to share the hosting and are keen to practice and improve their individual leadership skills. The above format helps us do this and also allows us to cater for new members as they arrive.
Urantia Association International – Study Group Committee
Three ANZURA members: Phillip Marriott (Sydney), Neville Twist(Auckland) and I(Auckland) recently attended our first meeting of Urantia Association International – Study Group Committee, chaired by Gaetan Charland (Montreal). The other members of the committee, also at the meeting, were: Andres Rodriguez (Bogota) and Bill Beasley(Florida). This meeting was conducted as an online video conference, across three timezones, using a web-based product called Zoom. The quality of the communications was excellent with facilities for scheduling meetings, screen sharing, white boarding, session recording and more.
Last year we trialed a similar online video conference for a few NZ readers using Skype but the communications were a little disappointing. Neville and I are proposing to trial Zoom for a couple of Auckland study group meetings with a view to extending this to other NZ readers if successful.The remoteness of many of our readers is often a barrier to attending meetings in person but virtual meetings could help to overcome the tyranny of distance; bandwidth and data caps permitting.
The New Zealand Corner – Winter 2015
Since the last issue NZ readers have been active in:
- Local study groups.
- National online study groups.
- A national weekend conference.
- Voting to keep our current national flag.
The Auckland Study Group has adopted the changes mentioned in the last issue and all members have now taken a turn at hosting and facilitating a meeting. Increasing the meeting frequency from once a month to every fortnight has made us feel more committed, and happier with our progress through the list of topics that we have set ourselves.
Our first national online study group coincided with the International Study Day. There were seven attendees from the North Island areas of Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington. The Zoom web-based software that we trialed worked very well and we agreed to conduct every second Auckland meeting as a national online study group (ie once a month). The group felt that while face to face meetings still offer the best user experience, the outreach achieved to people in remote areas by online meetings definitely must be part of our future.
We have held two further online study groups since then. Progress through the material has been slow as we experiment with different techniques of “reading” the paper. We have found that all sharing the same screen that is displaying a web page of the Urantia Book text is quite good. Also, having the shared web page play an audio version of the section that we are reading can be helpful (but not all are convinced about this). When we record these sessions the UB text, UB audio, and our discussions are all included.
Our second annual NZ conference was held on the weekend of 1-3 July in Wellington (many thanks to Susan Hemmingsen for organising this). It was a great opportunity to see, in person, those whom we had been meeting on line. There were six who traveled to Wellington and three locals who dropped in through the day. There was no formal agenda apart from spending quality time together. We resolved to each contribute $5 per week towards the next conference.
New Zealanders had a referendum in March to decide on a possible replacement for our national flag. Some say that the process was initiated by our Prime Minister because he was tired of being mistakenly represented by an Aussie flag at international events. As it turned out the result of the referendum was to retain the original flag. What interested me, more than the result, was the process of deciding which of the new alternate flags would be chosen to run against the original in the referendum.
They did it by choosing a committee that chose four out of the hundreds of new designs that were submitted. That’s certainly all a bit arbitrary; however, the process of deciding the winning design out of those four was done using a preferential vote. Unfamiliar to Kiwis but Aussies would be more acquainted with this. I think this system is very democratic because it ensures that more than 50% of voters are behind the winning candidate (even if it wasn’t their first choice).
Why does it matter? The biggest problem we are having with our online meetings is to schedule a day and time that suits everyone. We all have several that would work and preferences amongst those. I see a preferential vote coming along real soon!
New Zealand Corner – Summer 2016/17
The winter months have been business as usual for the NZ readers. Our online and face-to-face meetings have been well attended and we have started planning our national conference with a view to holding the next one in a somewhat warmer time of the year and, we’ve survived a 7.8 earthquake.
It’s nice to have confirmation of some of our Urantia Book ideas from independent, pseudo-scientific sources. I’ve been studying the work of Tom Campbell (no known relation), a Physics PhD, NASA scientist and software engineer who has developed a Theory of Everything (TOE) that he expounds in his book trilogy called, naturally enough, “My Big TOE”. While this is a memorable title it isn’t as egotistical as it sounds. The term “TOE” is already out there. A “Little TOE” confines itself to the physical universe and a “Big TOE” considers the physical universe and what gave rise to it and maintains it. The “My…” in the title isn’t boastful but is a reminder that, because all experience is subjective, this is a Big TOE from Tom’s own personal perspective. He invites readers to use his work to create their own Big TOE. His motto is: “Be open minded but skeptical”.
Tom draws on the work in Steven Kaufman’s “Unified Reality Theory”, and makes two basic fundamental assumptions about reality:
- Consciousness [Urantia Book: mind] exists.
- An evolutionary process exists that seeks to increase structure, order and quality.
He takes these two fundamental assumptions and uses logic to develop the rest.
In Tom’s model of reality the original consciousness [The I Am], which was absolute unbounded oneness, evolved into an interrelated set of individual consciousnesses [The Trinity and other Deities]. Why? Because multiple minds have increased structure and also increased potential for further evolution.
He goes on to say, the best way to evolve the ultimate quality of consciousness [The Supreme Being] is to create countless individual consciousnesses [personalities] and give them a training ground [The Superuniverses] where they can interact experimentally with each other using their intent [free will] to improve the quality of their own consciousness.
Quality of consciousness represents our fearless capacity to love.