Sharing The Urantia Book

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Gary Deinstadt

By Gary Deinstadt, Connecticut, United States

I think I’ve had more success in sharing The Urantia Book when I was not trying to share The Urantia Book. For many years I stood in front of book booths, speaking to the few that passed by. Perhaps because I lacked an effective way to measure success, my confidence waned. Though I can say that marriage allowed me to successfully introduce the book to my wife Andréa (a one-time-only sales strategy). Eventually, I decided to put my sales pitch aside, and put more of my energy into serving the readership community.

Rabbi Gelberman
Rabbi Gelberman

Back in the late 1980s I met fellow Urantia Book reader Dr. Peter Laurence, who at the time was executive director of the United Nations–affiliated interfaith organization, The Temple of Understanding. Peter was instrumental in my growing interest in interfaith. In the early to mid-1990s, I met Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, an interfaith icon who founded the All Faiths Seminary International (for training interfaith ministers). Years later, I had the opportunity to attend the seminary from 2010 to 2012.

Rabbi Gelberman used to say, “Never ‘instead of,’ always ‘in addition to,’” which essentially meant that a greater understanding of the religions of the world could only add to your own faith. At the end of the first year, my fellow classmates and I attended a weekend retreat at an ashram. At some point, in the presence of others, someone asked me, “Gary, what is your ‘never instead of’?” It caught me off guard. I was so intent on learning more about the faith of others that it never dawned on me that someone would be interested in knowing mine. I told them that I was an on-and-off-again Christian until I discovered The Urantia Book. To my surprise, quite a few people in the group had heard of it, and many expressed a sincere interest in hearing more about it.

I’ve enjoyed working on various Urantia Book outreach efforts, including book expos. However, dissemination was predominantly from the outside-in approach. I would give materials such as topical pamphlets, links to websites, or bumper stickers that read “You've got to read this book.” What I was beginning to experience were the multiple benefits of sharing revelation from the inside out. As a Solitary Messenger explains in the section on “The Inner Life,” “Ideas may take origin in the stimuli of the outer world, but ideals are born only in the creative realms of the inner world.” 111:4.10 (1220.9)

A few years later I was invited to speak on The Urantia Book at a monthly interfaith service at a local Christian church. I knew these people well because I’d worked with them in other interfaith endeavors. In addition to the invited speaker, there was an interfaith team of five people, who each contributed a five-minute talk related to the speaker’s subject matter.

In the planning stages of my talk, I collected quotes from The Urantia Book and asked if they’d be interested in choosing one to speak on. I suggested that in their presentations they read the quote as is, and then feel free to add anything they’d like. So, on the day of the service, I really had no idea what to expect.

I was surprised at what they came up with. It was interesting to see what they gleaned from an out-of-context quote from a book they didn’t know. Much of it was insightful. It demonstrated to me that it wasn’t important whether they got it right or not. It was more about creating the space, the freedom for them to find it for themselves, to share their own perspectives, reach their own conclusions—which, interestingly enough, led to a common desire of digging deeper into The Urantia Book. Three pastors, an interfaith minister, and some congregation members have come to our home for our Urantia Book study group. The inside-out approach has been slow, but effective. I’ve actually given more books away in the past 5 years than I have in the last 35.

Ever since I first picked up The Urantia Book I’ve been trying to figure out ways of sharing it. Early on I realized that the amount of God one experiences is the amount of God one allows. If I didn’t learn more about the religious experience of others, I could easily make the mistake of over- or under-revealing. I discovered that when we meet people where they really are, we can better give them what they really need, instead of what we think they need.

On one Sunday, a Presbyterian pastor began his sermon by saying, “When I get up in the morning, I like to start my day reading from a religious text. Could be the Bible, could be The Urantia Book.” Could have knocked me over with a feather! I was amazed how all this came about from my sincere desire to learn more about the faiths of others. How cool is that?

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