My Dear Friends and Fellow Students of The Urantia Book,
I hope you are all doing well! It has been a tumultuous year. Many of you may be feeling psychologically bruised or wounded with the circumstances of the lockdown as you live with the ever-present possibility of catching COVID-19. It has been a particularly stressful time for our friends living in Melbourne and regional Victoria. Figuratively speaking, we’ve had to fasten our seatbelts and put on our crash helmets; it’s been quite a rough ride for many of us.
In the face of this worldwide pandemic, humans have been remarkably resilient. We seem to be astonishingly adaptable to profound changes in our environment. Last century, we had to endure two world wars, a great depression, and a host of other lesser catastrophes. And we have survived, perhaps even thrived, in spite of or perhaps because of these great adversities.
The Urantia Book describes in vivid detail how we have evolved to become the dominant species on our world. This was no accident and it seems that hardship and suffering have been the major stimuli for this extraordinary process.
Urantia civilization was literally forged out between the anvil of necessity and the hammers of fear. [Paper 66:5.13, page 747.3]
The greatest affliction of the cosmos is never to have been afflicted. Mortals only learn wisdom by experiencing tribulation. [Paper 48:7.14, page 556.14]
You cannot perceive spiritual truth until you feelingly experience it, and many truths are not really felt except in adversity. [Paper 48:7.18, page 557.2]
History suggests that humans usually have to learn lessons the hard way. It’s as if each new generation has to go through the painful and laborious process of experiencing hardship and calamity afresh rather than learning from the successes and mistakes of the past. But this doesn’t always have to be the case! If one looks with a discerning eye, it is possible to see the stirrings of a nascent movement whose primary ethic is based on the original teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, aka Michael of Nebadon. Once again, this is no accident! The Urantia Book foretells such a pivotal moment in mortal history:
So long as the rulers of earthly governments seek to exercise the authority of religious dictators, you who believe this gospel can expect only trouble, persecution, and even death. But the very light which you bear to the world, and even the very manner in which you will suffer and die for this gospel of the kingdom, will, in themselves, eventually enlighten the whole world and result in the gradual divorcement of politics and religion. The persistent preaching of this gospel of the kingdom will some day bring to all nations a new and unbelievable liberation, intellectual freedom, and religious liberty. [Paper 178:1.9, page 1930.6] emphasis added
What an inspiring promise this is! In the midst of all the doom and gloom, we have something truly remarkable to buoy our spirits and guide our actions. Let us become beacons of hope as we preach this gospel message by “walk(ing) in the clear light of living truth.” (140:3.18, 571.5)
Some more good news to lift our spirits is the rapidly approaching ANZURA National Conference which is to be held on Saturday the 10th October from 10.00am to 4.00pm Australian Eastern time. Our dear Kiwi brothers and sisters have lived up to the old adage that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Due to the travel restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus, this will be the first time that we won’t be meeting in person but instead will be congregating via a Zoom link. I would like to extend a big thank you to the organizing committee for making this possible. The silver lining behind the dark cloud of these travel restrictions is that many who would not be able to afford to travel to New Zealand for the conference will hopefully be able to join us for this virtual conference. What a joyful occasion this promises to be!
As a footnote, I would like to draw attention to the wonderful phenomenon of the 24-hour Urantiathon. This year there have been three worldwide Zoom gatherings and they are proving to be a brilliant way of bringing us all together as one big planetary family. This is a great example of adversity inspiring the very best of human endeavour. I would personally like to congratulate our Urantia Association International President Chris Wood and his International Service Board team for these marvelous initiatives. They have also been a useful vehicle for joint programs involving Urantia Association, the Urantia Book Fellowship and Urantia Foundation. This is a significant forward step for greater unity and collaboration.
In closing, I want to mention the fabulous work done by Rita Schaad and Kathleen Swadling in compiling and editing the articles for the Arena. Thank you both so much!!
Now sit back and enjoy!