Make not the mistake of estimating the soul’s worth by the imperfections of the mind or by the appetites of the body. Judge not the soul nor evaluate its destiny by the standard of a single unfortunate human episode. Your spiritual destiny is conditioned only by your spiritual longings and purposes. [Paper 156:5.9, page 1739:4]
This article has taken me a few years to write. During that time a lot has changed. My thinking about this topic has evolved and the reason for writing it took on greater significance. I finished this article several times but I was never convinced of the very thing I was trying to prove or disprove—until now.
Does a person who does not have a normal mind survive mortal death? As the father of a mentally handicapped son, I struggled with this question for many years. I suspect that all parents of a mentally handicapped child do, too.
My son, Bradford E. Lyon, was born November 6, 1978 and passed away September 19, 2010. 1978 was the same year that I discovered The Urantia Book. Even though life with Brad presented its challenges, we loved him with all our heart. We kept him at home as long as we could and took him everywhere and did all the typical family things trying to make his life as “normal” as we could. When Brad became physically bigger and stronger than his mother, we were forced to do something we did not want to do.
Brad had problems even before he was born and when the happy day came it was soon apparent that his problems were just beginning. His first month of life was filled with episodes of projectile vomiting and no dirty diapers. The doctors said that it was just the formula so try something different – we did, several times. Breastfeeding was totally out of vogue at that time so it wasn’t even considered. The young inexperienced mother finally threw a screaming temper tantrum in the doctor’s office. The result was the discovery of an intestinal blockage called Pyloric Stenosis. This required surgery to correct. Brad had not taken in any nourishment and little liquid during the first 30 days of his life.
All seemed well after that. Of course, he was late on his childhood milestones because he had a rough start —at least that is what everyone told us. We heard all the comforting excuses and made up some of our own. At age 2, he was diagnosed as autistic and moderately to severely mentally retarded. With the diagnosis came some relief to finally know what was wrong with our son but the guilt and anger came next. His mom continues to blame herself even today. We kept Brad at home until he got so big that his mom was a wreck from the “aggressive behavior” he exhibited every day. Even when we gave him whatever we thought he wanted he still had his “behaviors”. At age 14 when he was physically bigger than his mom, her attempts to control his behaviors and take care of him were rewarded with bruises and scratches and the fear of something worse. Brad went through a period of self-injury that included biting himself. During a really bad seizure, his mom took him to the emergency room. After seeing the bite marks on Brad the police were called and she was questioned and accused of abusing her son. She nearly went to jail because of the ignorance of the emergency room staff about autism at that time.
The purpose of this article is to share with you our own personal growh in understanding these questions. Perhaps we will see how applying The Urantia Book teachings to our daily life situations can help us to understand them and react to them in a more positive manner. We can put the teachings into action and grow and benefit from them. Ihope this article will bring the peace we have found in The Urantia Book concerning our son to you who have similar circumstances. Let me thank my wife Shelia for her help in researching the eulogy for Brad. Shelia supposedly doesn’t read the book but somehow she sure knows a lot about what it says. Because of her, what I said at Brad’s funeral was greatly improved and what I believed changed too —something good that resulted from something bad. Just the process of searching the teachings for the right words to say helped me to come to terms with things that I have struggled with for years concerning my son. Of course, there are not enough words to describe the love, loyalty, and courage of Brad’s mom, Deborah.
Three questions that concerned us as Brad’s parents were:
Why is Brad the way he is?
What will happen to Brad if we die?
What will happen to Brad when he dies?
The first question, “Why is Brad the way he is?” is one that all parents of a handicapped child will and the next one is usually “Why did God let his happen?” A few years after Brad was born I once told a friend of mine who had a severely handicapped newborn child that first you blame yourself; then you blame your spouse; then you blame God; and then you finally realize that nobody is to blame but you are left with the confusion and frustration of “Why?” The conclusion that I came to was that this is a material life with material bodies and like any material thing on an imperfect world, they sometimes break or go bad, or eventually wear out. Jesus said
In the matter of sickness and health, you should know that these bodily states are the result of material causes; health is not the smile of heaven, neither is affliction the frown of God. [Paper 166:4.10, page 1831:1]
The difficulties of Brad’s life were not in any way a sign of God’s disfavor with him or us. Brad was simply an innocent victim of one of the material accidents of time. Such occurrences are not pre-arranged or otherwise produced by the spiritual forces of the realm. Our f ather does not cause or send pain and suffering upon us.
The Father causes his rain to fall on the just and the unjust; the sun likewise shines on the righteous and the unrighteous… [Paper 166:4.4, page 1830:4]
I think this means that bad things happen to good people just as good things happen to bad people. The situations in life are different for each person but our lives are made up of both good and bad events regardless of who we are or what kind of person we are. If I have learned anything from my 58 years on this planet, it is that good things often come from bad experiences. Often there is a benefit to suffering or the difficulties and disappointments of life.
So, why do bad things, or what we perceive as bad things, happen? From The Urantia Book we are told:
The uncertainties of life and the vicissitudes of existence do not in any manner contradict the concept of the universal sovereignty of God. All evolutionary creature life is beset by certain inevitabilities. Consider the following: Is courage—strength of character—desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments. [Paper 3:5.6, page 51:5]
Is altruism—service of one’s fellows—desirable? Then must life experience provide for encountering situations of social inequality. [Paper 3:5.7, page 51:6]
Is hope — the grandeur of trust — desirable? Then human existence must constantly be confronted with insecurities and recurrent uncertainties. [Paper 3:5.8.3, page 51:7]
Is faith—the supreme assertion of human thought— desirable? Then must the mind of man find itself in that troublesome predicament where it ever knows less than it can believe. [Paper 3:5.9, page 51:8]
Is pleasure—the satisfaction of happiness—desirable? Then must man live in a world where the alternative of pain and the likelihood of suffering are ever-present experiential possibilities. [Paper 3:5.14, page 51:8]
We are also told that the greatest affliction is to have never been afflicted. It is often the bad things in life that make us appreciate the good. It is the ugliness in this world that makes us appreciate the beauty of God’s creation. It is the potential of evil that gives us the opportunity to choose the good.
In the mind of God there is a plan, but as mortals on this tiny isolated material world it is nearly impossible for us to comprehend that plan. While at times we may question God’s ways and wonder why things happen the way they do, all we can do is believe and put our faith in God and in the wisdom of his plan for we know that our Father loves us unconditionally and He would never do anything to hurt us. The ways of God are true, beautiful, and good. It is the truth, beauty, and goodness instilled in us by the indwelling spirit that leads us to love our children, our grandchildren, and each other.
Why was Brad the way he was? The simple answer is because something went wrong during the material development of his physical body. Brad’s hardships and disappointments gave us courage to fight for his happiness and well-being. The unfairness of Brad’s situation inspired many to serve as caregivers and their service no doubt brought them spiritual satisfaction. The uncertainty of his survival and the reasons for his problems caused us to have faith because we believed more than we knew about Brad’s life and his future. Brad ’s pain and suffering caused us to appreciate our own health and happiness and that of his sibling and our grandchildren. Caring for Brad made us unselfish as we chose to put his needs above our own.
The second question, “What will happen to Brad if we die?” is a question concerning the care of Brad while here on Urantia. Since Brad has gone before us this is no longer of concern. However, let me share this quote with you that I think does relate to Brad’s life here.
The teaching about guardian angels is not a myth; certain groups of human beings do actually have personal angels. It was in recognition of this that Jesus, in speaking of the children of the heavenly kingdom, said: ‘’Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones, for I say to you, their angels do always behold the presence of the spirit of my Father.’’ [Paper 113:1.1, page 1241:3]
Originally, the seraphim were definitely assigned to the separate Urantia races. But since the bestowal of Michael, they are assigned in accordance with human intelligence, spirituality, and destiny. Intellectually, mankind is divided into three classes: [Paper 113:1.2, page 1241: 4]
… The subnormal minded—those who do not exercise normal will power; those who do not make average decisions. This class embraces those who cannot comprehend God; they lack capacity for the intelligent worship of Deity. The subnormal beings of Urantia have a corps of seraphim, one company, with one battalion of cherubim, assigned to minister to them and to witness that justice and mercy are extended to them in the life struggles of the sphere. [Paper 113:1.3, page 1241:5]
Had Brad outlived his parents, the guardian angels would have continued to watch over him.
As for the third question—which is the focus of this article, “What will happen to Brad when he dies?” If we study things like the planetary nursery and the subnormal minded, perhaps we can find an answer to this. This question always seems to come up in study group at some point because of my son Brad. The more we discuss it the more an answer seems to elude me. I came to believe that I finally knew the answer to this question but now I believe that I was wrong about it.
Because Brad did not have a normal mind, does that mean that he was merely an animal and not human? Since he could not make a moral choice (or at least a moral choice that we could perceive) was he unable to receive an adjuster? Since he could not receive an adjuster was he less than human?
The survival of mortal creatures is wholly predicated on the evolvement of an immortal soul within the mortal mind. [Paper 36:6.5, page 404:3]
Since I believed that Brad had not received an adjuster, I felt that Brad would not survive. However, how could I know that Brad never made a moral decision? Brad was kind to others, loved babies, loved us, and would share with others. Maybe Brad’s “problem” was more of a problem of my thinking than with Brad himself.
Mortal mind, prior to death, is self-consciously independent of the Adjuster presence; adjutant mind needs only the associated material-energy pattern to enable it to operate. [Paper 112:6.7, page 1236:5]
So, Brad was mortal even without the adjuster presence and the adjutant Mind Spirits functioned in him.
…The subnormal man should be kept under society’s control; no more should be produced than are required to administer the lower levels of industry, those tasks requiring intelligence above the animal level …. [Paper 68:6.11, page 770:8]
A subnormal man functions at an intelligence level above that of an animal. So, now I believe that Brad was not merely an animal in a human body. I always treated Brad as a person, as my son, and never as anything less than a human. It is strange sometimes, the struggles that we inflict upon ourselves through the lack of understanding.
I was confused about when does our time run out to make our “final choice”? If a person is incapable of making an average decision can they make such an important decision as choosing to do God’s will rather than their own? Must it be made before mortal death? Does a person who is not of normal mind have survival potential? My opinion was that they did not because they did not receive a Thought adjuster. I based this belief on this quote:
If the finite mind of man is unable to comprehend how so great and so majestic a God as the Universal Father can descend from his eternal abode in infinite perfection to fraternize with the individual human creature, then must such a finite intellect rest assurance of divine fellowship upon the truth of the fact that an actual fragment of the living God resides within the intellect of every normal-minded and morally conscious Urantia mortal… [Paper 5:0.1 , page 62:1] and:
Thereafter all normal-minded will creatures of that world will receive Adjusters as soon as they attain the age of moral responsibility, of spiritual choice. [Paper 52:5.6 page 596.4]
Because I read things like this, I came to believe that Brad did not have survival potential because he was unable to make a choice of anything beyond his immediate material needs. My confusion grew as Brad passed his sixteenth birthday because:
… Any time after sixteen, if final choice has been made, they translate to the first mansion world and begin their Paradise ascent. Some make a choice before this age and go on to the ascension spheres, but very few children under sixteen years of age, as reckoned by Urantia standards, will be found on the mansion worlds. [Paper 47:2.5 page 532:3]
At the time of Brad’s passing, he was 31 years old with the mental age of 2-3 years old. He was an adult body with a child mind. Does the above quote refer to material age or mental age? Part of me thought it referred to material age because it says ‘’as reckoned by Urantia standards’’. Part of me thought it did not because why would the age of the material body have any value to a spiritual decision? Since Brad was 31 years old, it seemed that the issue was no longer valid as he was past the age of 16 and had not been able to make his choice—but how many normal minded people over the age of 16 have not made that choice either?
Was Brad a child that qualified for the nursery or was he an adult who missed his chance? Is not making a choice the same as rejection of God? Maybe this question could help us to understand the situation that faces our loved ones who also don’t make their choice during this mortal life. Do they get the chance to make their choice after mortal death? When does the time to make our choice run out?
Children who have not yet received an adjuster do survive. An infant who is not yet capable of making an average decision does survive. Apparently making the final decision ab out God is not required prior to mortal death. It must be made at some point, before we can leave the mansion worlds, but we are given every opportunity to make that choice until the final choice—either way—is made.
Eternal survival of personality is wholly dependent on the choosing of the mortal mind, whose decisions determine the survival potential of the immortal soul. When the mind believes God and the soul knows God, and when, with the fostering Adjuster, they all desire God, then is survival assured. Limitations of intellect, curtailment of education, deprivation of culture, impoverishment of social status, even inferiority of the human standards of morality resulting from the unfortunate lack of educational, cultural, and social advantages, cannot invalidate the presence of the divine spirit in such unfortunate and humanly handicapped but believing individuals. The indwelling of the Mystery Monitor constitutes the inception and insures the possibility of the potential of growth and survival of the immortal soul. [Paper 5:5.13, page 69:8]
This paragraph confused me because on the one hand survival is dependent upon making a decision but on the other hand the limitations of intellect do not “invalidate” the presence of the indwelling Adjuster.
Though the cosmic circles of personality growth must eventually be attained, if, through no fault of your own, the accidents of time and the handicaps of material existence prevent your mastering these levels on your native planet, if your intentions and desires are of survival value, there are issued the decrees of probation extension. You will be afforded additional time in which to prove yourself. [Paper 112:5.6, page 1233:2]
If ever there is doubt as to the advisability of advancing a human identity to the mansion worlds, the universe governments invariably rule in the personal interests of that individual; they unhesitatingly advance such a soul to the status of a transitional being, while they continue their observations of the emerging morontia intent and spiritual purpose. Thus divine justice is certain of achievement, and divine mercy is accorded further opportunity for extending its ministry. [Paper 112:5.7, page 12 33: 3]
The governments of Orvonton and Nebadon do not claim absolute perfection for the detail working of the universal plan of mortal repersonalization, but they do claim to, and actually do, manifest patience, tolerance, understanding, and merciful sympathy. We had rather assume the risk of a system rebellion than to court the hazard of depriving one struggling mortal from any evolutionary world of the eternal joy of pursuing the ascending career. [Paper 112:5.8, page 1233:4]
This does not mean that human beings are to enjoy a second opportunity in the face of the rejection of a first, not at all. But it does signify that all will creatures are to experience one true opportunity to make one undoubted, self-conscious, and final choice. The sovereign Judges of the universes will not deprive any being of personality status who has not finally and fully made the eternal choice; the soul of man must and will be given full and ample opportunity to reveal its true intent and real purpose. [Paper 112:5.9, page 1233:5]
I now believe that because of the patience, tolerance, understanding, and merciful sympathy of the governing bodies of Orvonton and Nebadon, Brad will be afforded additional time and accorded further opportunity in which to make his choice and shall not be deprived of the eternal joy of pursuing the ascending career. The failure to make a final choice concerning God before mortal death will not prevent Brad’s survival and advancement to the mansion worlds. I now believe that the mental handicaps that my son had will not prevent him from being given full and ample opportunity to make one undoubted, self-conscious, and final choice.
So, how about the inability to acquire a Thought Adjuster prior to mortal death? We read in paper 47 about the probationary nursery on mansion world number one:
This probation nursery of Satania is maintained by certain morontia personalities on the finaliters’ world, one half of the planet being devoted to this work of child rearing. Here are received and reassembled certain children of surviving mortals, such as those offspring who perished on the evolutionary worlds before acquiring spiritual status as individuals. The ascension of either of its natural parents insures that such a mortal child of the realms will be accorded repersonalization on the system finaliter planet and there be permitted to demonstrate by subsequent freewill choice whether or not it elects to follow the parental path of mortal ascension… [Paper 45:6.7 page 516.5]
The infant-receiving schools of Satania are situated on the finaliter world, the first of the Jerusem transition- culture spheres. These infant-receiving schools are enterprises devoted to the nurture and training of the children of time, including those who have died on the evolutionary worlds of space before the acquirement of individual status on the universe records. In the event of the survival of either or both of such a child’s parents, the guardian of destiny deputizes her associated cherubim as the custodian of the child’s potential identity, charging the cherubim with the responsibility of delivering this undeveloped soul into the hands of the Mansion World Teachers in the probationary nurseries of the morontia worlds. [Paper 47:2.1, page 53]
It seems that a lot of effort goes into the education and training of undeveloped souls in order to promote their spiritual survival.
It is these same deserted cherubim who, as Mansion World Teachers, under the supervision of the Melchizedeks, maintain such extensive educational facilities for the training of the probationary wards of the finaliters. These wards of the finaliters, these infants of ascending mortals, are always personalized as of their exact physical status at the time of death except for reproductive potential. This awakening occurs at the exact time of the parental arrival on the first mansion world. And then are these children given every opportunity, as they are, to choose the heavenly way just as they would have made such a choice on the worlds where death so untimely terminated their careers. [Paper 47:2.2, page 531:6]
On the nursery world, probationary creatures are grouped according to whether or not they have Adjusters, for the Adjusters come to indwell these material children just as on the worlds of time. Children of pre-Adjuster ages are cared for in families of five, ranging in ages from one year and under up to approximately five years, or that age when the Adjuster arrives. [Paper 47:2.3, page 532:1]
All children on the evolving worlds who have Thought Adjusters, but who before death had not made a choice concerning the Paradise career, are also repersonalized on the finaliter world of the system, where they likewise grow up in the families of the Material Sons and their associates as do those little ones who arrived without Adjusters, but who will subsequently receive the Mystery Monitors after attaining the requisite age of moral choice. [Paper 47:2.4, page 532:2]
The guardian seraphim attend these youths in the probationary nursery on the finaliter world just as they spiritually minister to mortals on the evolutionary planets, while the faithful spornagia minister to their physical necessities. And so do these children grow up on the transition world until such time as they make their final choice. [Paper 47:2.6, page 532:4]
When material life has run its course, if no choice has been made for the ascendant life, or if these children of time definitely decide against the Havona adventure, death automatically terminates their probationary careers. There is no adjudication of such cases; there is no resurrection from such a second death. They simply become as though they had not been. [Paper 47:2.7, page 532:5]
But if they choose the Paradise path of perfection, they are immediately made ready for translation to the first mansion world, where many of them arrive in time to join their parents in the Havona ascent. After passing through Havona and attaining the Deities, these salvaged souls of mortal origin constitute the permanent ascendant citizenship of Paradise. These children who have been deprived of the valuable and essential evolutionary experience on the worlds of mortal nativity are not mustered into the Corps of the Finality. [Paper 47:2.8, page 532:6]
Does a person of subnormal mind survive mortal death? Let me point out that:
- Subnormal minded people are not animals but are mortals with less intelligent minds that function on levels higher than animals.
- The first mansion world has a nursery dedicated to the pre-choice children of surviving mortals.
- Infants who have not yet received a Thought adjuster have survival potential and are kept safe in the planetary nursery until a parent arrives to make decisions concerning their future.
- Thought Adjusters come to indwell the children of the planetary nursery just as they would on this material world.
- A corps of seraphim, one company, with one battalion of cherubim, minister to the subnormal children of Urantia to assure that justice and mercy are extended to the subnormal minded in this material life.
- Mansion World Teachers, under the supervision of the Melchizedeks, maintain extensive educational facilities for the training of the probationary wards of the finaliters.
Finaliters, Melchizedeks, Seraphim, cherubim, and surviving parents all are involved in the mortal and post-mortal life of these undeveloped souls. Education and traning in infant receiving schools are provided to prepare these children of time for the ultimate adventure. A corps of Seraphim and a battalion of cherubim watch over the mortal life of the subnormal minded. It seems that a lot of effort is put forth to care for these imperfect children of this imperfect material world. So apparently they must have potential survival value. We see in The Urantia Book that potential is very important for it is not what we are but what we are becoming that is important. In this spiritual universe, I suspect that only real or potential spiritual value is worthy of the efforts of angels and spiritual beings.
I now believe that we are assured that the material difficulties and physical imperfections of Brad’s mortal life do not follow him or hinder his potential for an eternal spiritual life or in any way prevent his survival and attainment of the presence of God. Iam now convinced that Brad is now sleeping, awaiting for his mom or I to arrive and awaken him on the mansion world where perhaps for the first time he will make a clear and conscious choice about his future.
I believe that one of the greatest lessons from The Urantia Book is that “in the mind of God there is a plan” and that the universe is friendly and everything works for the good. While Brad’s passing was painful for us, some good has come from it. I did the eulogy for my son because it was the last thing I could do for him. Those who know me personally know what a difficult thing it is for me to speak in front of people. That eulogy allowed me to share teachings from The Urantia Book with family and friends that I have not been able to reach otherwise. I boldly quoted the book and mentioned it by name in the eulogy. The funeral home director told me that, “in 15 years of doing these, that was the best eulogy I ever heard”—all of it straight from the book. A couple of weeks later, my two sisters showed up at my study group. They came because of what I had said at Brad’s funeral. Brad’s mom (Deborah) has suffered years of guilt over Brad but the words of The Urantia Book washed away this guilt and fear in a way that I was not able to help her with before. My wife Shelia helped me research the words of the eulogy and revealed that she knows a lot more about the book than I realized. The guys at work sent flowers for Brad. So I thanked them for their sympathy; I sent an email to about 750 people at work that said, “While we are sad at the loss of Brad and miss him dearly, we are excited for him because we know that “death is only the beginning of an endless career of adventure, an everlasting life of anticipation, an eternal voyage of discovery.” I got about a half dozen nice emails back commenting on this statement.
The headstone for Brad includes a quote from The Urantia Book to further communicate our beliefs and faith to our family and friends who visit Brad’s gravesite.
This is where my effort to write this article stalled. Even though the article was complete in my mind it did not feel complete in my heart. There seemed to be something missing—either in my article or in my mind. I would revisit this article from time to time — editing and tweaking trying to find the conclusion that so far escaped me. I could not figure out why I wa s reluctant to share it even though it seemed complete.
Then one day Shelia showed me a Youtube video about a girl named Carly. Carly was almost exactly like Brad in her appearance, mannerisms, and behavior. Carly’s parents were saying words that could have been direct quotes from me and Brad’s mom when speaking about Brad. Let me back up for a moment to add some more similarity between our situation and that of Carly.
Several years ago, I had the idea of programming a computer so that if Brad touched a key on the keyboard it would say a word. I thought this would be something Brad could learn to use to communicate. However, I just could not figure out how to do it. Sounds simple enough for someone to do though—if you know how to do computer programming. You would think there would be an app for that. I then tried to convince the company that provided for Brad’s 24/7 care to purchase a talking computer. However, they were $30-40,000, which i found hard to believe. Of course, I could not afford that. The provider couldn’t either and the state would not approve it because the behavior specialist could not confirm that Brad would be able to use it let alone benefit from it. I suspect now that our evaluation of Brad’s capabilities were much too low. I wish now that I had been one of those parents who fights and demands everything they can get for their child until they get it. But, Brad was happy and safe and that is all I ever wanted for him considering the situation. Perhaps I was terribly mistaken. What if I had pushed the issue of buying a computer or tried harder to do it myself…..
I have never doubted anything I have found in The Urantia Book. Sometimes they make me scratch my head and wonder but then something happens to convince me of the truth of whatever it was. While I believed all The Urantia Book said about this subject and that I included for this article, I was just never really convinced of what was behind those happy eyes of Brad—was there really a personality with survival potential inside there? I resigned myself to discovering the answer to that on Mansion World #1.
The Youtube video that convinced me of the truth contained in The Urantia Book and that I share with you here CLICK HERE TO VIEW
You will see that Carly, like Brad, was obviously severely handicapped. But one day something wonderful happened. Once again a bad situation caused something good to occur. I will let you discover this for yourself if interested. After watching this video, I became totally convinced that my son is now sleeping in the arms of the angels, safe and happy and waiting for me or his mom to come wake him from his slumber. The survival and continuing journey of Brad depends on our survival and we shall not fail him or our Father. I am now convinced that Brad’s physical difficulties do not prevent Brad’s eternal survival. I wonder if he is dreaming of that day. I know I am.
So, this is the story of my progressive journey concerning my son and his eternal future. I struggled for years wavering between believing that my son would not survive but hoping that i was wrong, to being convinced that he has survived and to be looking forward to monitoring his future growth and progress in service to our Father. I came from believing that Brad had no potential survival value to being convinced of that fact and looking forward to the day when i see him again. I came from feeling somehow responsible for his handicaps and disappointment that he would miss the opportunity to experience the ultimate adventure to knowing that sometime soon he will be able to communicate with a clear functioning mind, a new and improved morontia body, and once again enjoy the loving embrace of a father for his son.