What The Urantia Book Means to Me - Brad Garner

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Brad Garner

By Brad Garner, Arizona, United States

I am a second-generation, lifelong student of The Urantia Book, by way of my parents. Looking back over my life, I can see how the book's meanings have evolved for me. Below is a view into some of what I've figured out. I’ve divided my life into chapters. Each chapter presents a short quote from The Urantia Book that exemplifies that time in my life, and I describe a bit more about what was going on back then.

Primary School

“Your world, Urantia, is one of many similar inhabited planets which comprise the local universe of Nebadon.” 0:0.5 (1.5) I can’t remember a time when I ever believed we’re alone in the universe. As a young boy I couldn’t read very far into The Urantia Book, but I am sure I at least read through page 1 by my eighth year. And I’ll bet my parents tried to explain Nebadon to me “with a sweep of [their] arm” 93:2.3 (1015.3) across the night sky. Becoming a Star Trek fan was a sure next step.

Secondary School

“Plants and animals survive in time by the technique of passing on from one generation to another identical particles of themselves. The human soul (personality) of man survives mortal death by identity association with this indwelling spark of divinity, which is immortal.” 132:3.6 (1459.6) Although I couldn’t yet apply philosophical principles to daily living, I was able to read The Urantia Book and apparently extract doctrinesque rules for salvation, immortal life, praying, etc. This particular quote is poignant because our family cat and my grandmother both died when I was 16. It was clear I would not see our cat again, but that I would see my grandmother again. For years I wept bitterly for my lost cat; I did not yet grasp any logical, holistic sense of why animals do not share the same destiny as humans.


“What a travesty upon the infinite character of God! this teaching that his fatherly heart in all its austere coldness and hardness was so untouched by the misfortunes and sorrows of his creatures that his tender mercies were not forthcoming until he saw his blameless Son bleeding and dying upon the cross of Calvary!” 4:5.6 (60.5) My religious zeal kicked in at age 20. I spent hours arguing with Christian proselytizers on campus about the atonement doctrine. I ignored the possibility that the atonement doctrine was one of the compromises of “keen theologic traders,” 195:1.4 (2071.4) made as a nod to the ghost cults of evolutionary religion, to gain adherents and establish a solid concept of redemption. Oh! how many copies of The Urantia Book did I shove into uninterested people’s hands? How certain am I that not a single one ever was read? I did not yet fully understand how unity among religionists may exist even in the absence of shared doctrines or texts.

Graduate School

I drifted from The Urantia Book for years, wandering in a wilderness of vague new-age mystico-secularism of my own imagination’s fancy. By my mid-30s this wilderness had sapped the vitality from life. I felt the “frank pessimism” 97:8.2 (1070.5) of King Solomon when in Ecclesiastes he wrote, of life, “Mere smoke! Vanity of vanities! Utterly meaningless!”

Salaried Career Apex

“Even the work of this world, paramount though it is, is not nearly so important as the way in which you do this work.” 39:4.13 (435.6) A renaissance of The Urantia Book in my life coincided with climbing high up the professional career ladder. I subtly incorporated the book into my writings and leadership style at work, to apparent positive effect and remuneration. It seemed a decent way to live. But something was gnawing at me even as I burned the candle at both ends: in retrospect I can see that some selfish part of me was trying to prove myself better than my peers and superiors. Ambition should have been a cautionary word, not an impulse word. “And how dangerous ambition can become when it is once wholly wedded to self-seeking and supremely motivated by sullen and long-suppressed vengeance!” 177:4.10 (1926.3)


“Do not become discouraged by the discovery that you are human. . . . Lighten your burdens of soul by speedily acquiring a long-distance view of your destiny, a universe expansion of your career.” 156:5.8 (1739.3) Soon after age 40 and the “age of discretion” 107:0.7 (1177.1), something changed. It was almost tangible in my mind. One day I awoke and found my career ambitions had evaporated. And then late that year my father died, leading to a better understanding of my own mortality. I built his eulogy around “in every dark hour, at every crossroad in the forward struggle, the Spirit of Truth will always speak, saying, ‘This is the way.’” 34:7.8 (383.2) Less for the funeral audience, perhaps, these words certainly had meaning for me. My life was at a crossroad.

By my 41st birthday I had looked into a mirror darkly: the indolence and selfishness I once thought I saw in coworkers I now saw in myself. By my 42nd birthday I had quit that all-too-comfortable job. Now at age 43 I’m among the self-employed, looking for adventure and community. Perhaps someday I’ll better know why a Solitary Messenger uses not one, but two exclamation marks to summarize our ascending careers: “What an adventure! What a romance!” 112:7.18 (1239.7)

Growing up with and (at times) wrestling with The Urantia Book has defined my life. I highly recommend such “effort, struggle, conflict, faith, determination, love, loyalty, and progress” 155:5.11 (1729.6) for any sincere student.

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