Expo Ser Speech
By Richard Keeler
[Note: This speech is based upon the booklet Golden Years: One Hundred Years of Revelation, prepared as a commemorative history for Urantia Foundation's fiftieth anniversary based upon writings and recollections of members of the Contact Commission and Forum. It quotes extensively from the History of the Urantia Movement by William S. Sadler, M.D., available at http://www.urantia.org/urantia-foundation/history. Urantia Foundation plans to release a book-length publication of the history with supporting documentation.]
My friend, Gard Jameson, has told you something about The Urantia Book, which claims to be, and which we believe is, the latest revelation of truth to the peoples of our planet. Gard told you that The Urantia Papers are a composite presentation by numerous celestial beings.
Some of you may be wondering just how did such a work come into existence. Therefore, I have been asked to make a brief presentation about the circumstances surrounding the creation of The Urantia Book and to tell you about Urantia Foundation, the organization founded in 1950 to oversee its publication, translation, and dissemination of its teachings.
The story of the Urantia Papers begins in the first decade of the twentieth century. Two medical doctors, a husband and wife, who were practicing medicine in the Chicago area, began seeing a man who was having unusual experiences in his sleep. In the beginning, the doctors investigated the phenomena exhibited by this sleeping subject from a medical and scientific point of view.
During this same period, the doctors were also engaged in exposing false mediums and spiritualists who were popular at the time. They had, in the words of one of the doctors, "considerable experience in the investigation of psychic phenomena." They "early arrived at the conclusion that the phenomena connected with the personality" were "in no way similar to any other well-known type of psychic performance-such as hypnotism, automatic writing, clairvoyance, trances, spirit mediumship, telepathy, or double personality." They indicated "that the antecedents of the Urantia Papers were in no way associated with so-called spiritualism-with its seances and supposed communication with the spirits of departed human beings."
This individual through whom the Urantia Papers were later communicated became known as the "contact personality" or "sleeping subject" but his identity was never revealed by the doctors who, with four other persons, became known as the Contact Commission. The Urantia Book identifies the sleeping subject as a male (1208:61209:0). Although the doctors were able to rule out the subject's own mind as the source of the material, they were never able to explain fully the phenomena. They did determine that the subject was unconscious throughout each episode and relatively unconcerned. The subject's health was not adversely affected by his experiences. In fact, he felt better after a "session."
One of the doctors, the husband, described these preliminary contacts as a time in which they "were introduced to many new and . . . somewhat strange concepts of the universe of universes and as concerned man and his life on earth." These "new ideas of cosmology and philosophy" included "a new concept of a far-flung cosmos," "millions of other inhabited worlds," and "introduction to scores of different and varied echelons of celestial personalities." Numerous theologic concepts were presented, including terms such as "First Source and Center," "Havona," "superuniverses," the "Supreme Being," and "Thought Adjusters." Voluminous notes were made during these sessions by a stenographer who was a member of the Contact Commission.
It was the work of this secondary group [of midwayers] ably seconded by certain of the primary corps that brought about the co-ordination of personalities and circumstances on Urantia which finally induced the planetary celestial supervisors to initiate those petitions that resulted in the granting of the mandates making possible the series of revelations of which this presentation is a part. (865:6)
"The midwayers," an order of personalities midway between humans and angels (864865), "were very real to us," he wrote. "We frequently talked with them during our varied 'contacts.' We quite fully understood that the secondary midwayers supervised the contacts." He continued, "We gained the impression that there were special reasons for Jesus' bestowal on Urantia . . . [and] listened to occasional references to Jesus' life and teachings. . . . While we did not hear the term 'Corps of The Finality,' we did pick up a hazy idea that Paradise might be the destination of surviving mortals." He concluded, "Our superhuman friends thus spent upward of two decades in extending our cosmic horizons, enlarging our theologic concepts, and expanding our overall philosophy."
"We never realized," he explained, "how much our religious thinking had been expanded until the Papers began to arrive. As the Revelation progressed we came to more fully appreciate how we had been prepared for the vast alteration of our religious beliefs by these preliminary contacts extending over a period of twenty years of pre-education."
The doctor referred to this time as "our apprenticeship training for subsequent service in association with the presentation of the Urantia Papers." He concluded that "during these early years, our unseen friends were engaged in a thoroughgoing testing of the contact personality, rehearsing the technique of communication, and selecting the Contact Commissioners." The "Contact Commission" served as custodians of the Urantia Papers during their creation and were later responsible for such matters as raising funds, taking care of the details surrounding publication of the book, and securing international copyrights.
In December of 1924, a group that came be to be known as the Forum began to participate in the process. This group had been meeting at the home of the physicians for almost two years. Both physicians were well-versed on the subjects of health and religion, and the Forum started when the doctors invited family, friends, and former patients to meet informally at their home on Sunday afternoons to discuss arious topics. As time passed, this group became a diverse and cosmopolitan group consisting of professional men and women-doctors, lawyers, dentists, ministers, teachers-together with individuals from all walks of life: farmers, housewives, secretaries, office workers, and common laborers.
In the course of delivering a series of talks to the Forum, one of the doctors, the husband, mentioned that nearly every case of psychic phenomena he had studied involved either self-delusion or fraud. He mentioned that the case involving the contact personality was an exception. The Forum manifested a great interest in the case.
It was about this time that a challenge came from a celestial being communicating through the contact personality. The being suggested that if the Contact Commission would ask more serious questions, they might get information of value to all mankind. The Contact Commissioners told the Forum about this challenge and invited them "to join us in the preparation of questions." The husband said, "We decided to start out with questions pertaining to the origin of the cosmos, Deity, creation, and such other subjects as were far beyond the present-day knowledge of all humankind." On the following Sunday "several hundred questions were brought in. We sorted out these questions, discarding duplicates, and in a general way, clarifying them," he explained.
[H]is passive reaction to and inactive concern toward the phenomena associated with the presence in his mind of this versatile Adjuster is . a rare and fortuitous reaction . favorable both to the Adjuster in the higher sphere of action and to the human partner from the standpoints of health efficiency and tranquillity. (1209:0)
"Shortly thereafter, the first Urantia Paper appeared in answer to these questions," he continued. "From first to last, when Papers appeared, the questions disappeared. This was the procedure followed for the many years of the reception of the Urantia Papers. No questions, no Papers." During this period, the revelators-that is, the celestial beings-instructed that the Forum should become a "'closed group'- requiring each member to sign a pledge of secrecy and to discuss the Papers and all matters pertaining thereto with only those persons who were members of the Forum." The Contact Commission also had been sworn to secrecy concerning the identity of the contact personality.
Forum meetings were held every Sunday afternoon. Papers were read aloud by a leader and then discussed by the group. The following Sunday, new questions would be presented. This adventure of questioning and discovery during which the Urantia Papers were developed continued over the next two decades. Forum participants "could hardly wait" for the next meeting, the next installment. They questioned everything. Over the years, approximately 400 people participated in this questioning process.
The Contact Commissioners were charged with the responsibility of gathering up the questions. They also had the responsibility of comparing the typewritten text with the original manuscripts. From the beginning, the Contact Commissioners were the custodians of the manuscripts, keeping a "carbon copy of the typewritten Papers in a fireproof vault." The Forum read typewritten copies; they never saw any handwritten manuscripts. None of the handwritten or typewritten material remains in existence. "Only the Contact Commissioners attended 'contacts' and received written communications through the contact personality."
Regarding the technique by which the communication of information transferred from the revelators through various links, the doctor explained that "all of our observations and investigations utterly failed to reveal the technique of reducing messages to writing." The final Papers were handwritten, although even the Contact Commissioners never understood the process by which they came to be handwritten. Thus there were many unanswered questions about the details of transmissions, even among the contact group. The fact that there were so many "unknown features" of the process was one of the reasons the humans involved were sworn to silence regarding the origin. The doctor explained:
There is much connected with the appearance of the Urantia Papers which no human being fully understands.... There are numerous missing links in our understanding of how this revelation came to appear in written English.
If any one of us should tell any one all he really knows about the technique and methods employed throughout the years of our getting this revelation, such a narration would satisfy no one-there are too many missing links.
He further stated:
The main reason for not revealing the identity of the Ccontact Personality" is that the Celestial revelators do not want any human being-any human name-ever to be associated with The Urantia Book.
They want this revelation to stand on its own declarations and teachings.They are determined that future generations shall have the book wholly free from all mortal connections-they do not want a Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Luther, Calvin, or Wesley. The Contact Commissioners and Forum members noted that few of the celestial authors of the Papers were identified by name, only by order of being.
One of the doctors, the husband, who had originally been a surgeon, eventually became a psychiatrist. He once said that although he accepted the value of the Papers, he was not definitively convinced of their validity until the Paper on the twelve apostles was presented. The doctor said, "I'm a psychiatrist, and I think I know my business, but this Paper is a real blow to my pride. If I had a half dozen psychiatrists to help me and years to prepare it, I was convinced that I couldn't fabricate a Paper with this ring of genuineness and insight. So I said to myself, 'I don't really know what it is, but I do know that it's the highest quality of philosophical-religious material that I have ever read.'"
Then, as now, every reader of The Urantia Book must decide for himself or herself, based on his or her own inner experience of truth, whether or not The Urantia Book is what it claims to be, namely, a revelation by celestial beings. "[R]evelation is validated only by human experience" (1106:7). Said the doctor, "You could appreciate a good poem-even if you did not know the author. Likewise, you could enjoy a symphony even if you were ignorant of the composer."
Most of the men and women who participated in this process served a lifetime without human recognition. We do not even know many of their names. All of them, including their leaders, thought and hoped that their names would never be associated with The Urantia Book. They wanted the focus to be on the revelation itself, and the revelators carefully instructed them to do nothing that would detract from the revelation.
In 1950, responsibility for publishing The Urantia Book was entrusted to Urantia Foundation, a non-profit, charitable trust headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, in the building that earlier had served as the residence and offices of the doctors who were involved in bringing the book into existence. The Urantia Book was published in 1955, and the Trustees of Urantia Foundation are charged with the duty to perpetually preserve inviolate the text of The Urantia Book to maintain control over the printing and reproduction of The Urantia Book and all translations thereof, and to disseminate its teachings throughout the world. Through the years Urantia Foundation has steadily reached out to the world community and has witnessed an increasing interest in these teachings, with the book now available in seven languages and numerous additional translations in progress.
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