Greetings Fellow Urantia Book Readers,
The second production of the Urantia Association’s Journal for 2019 highlights articles and presentations about study groups and how they are viewed by readers around the world. We have an overview of “The Study Group,” by Agnes Lazar, Belgium, “Study Groups Revisited” by Gaétan Charland, Canada, and both “Dynamic and Living Peace” and “Study Groups” by Moustapha N’diaye, Senegal. Each one is a vibrant understanding of what is needed to motivate and guide students of The Urantia Book to a greater comprehension of the teachings within this galactic reservoir of cosmic knowledge.
Our first contributor with “The Study Group,” Agnes Lazar from Belgium, is a teacher who has been studying The Urantia Book since 2001. She has studied in both French and English in Dakar with a mentor and has formed a group of her own in Belgium from her desire to understand and share the truths that spoke to her. In her short but profound description, she describes study groups as: …the matrix of experiential growth. Tackling the desire for immediate peace and our own verification and transformation, Agnes compares successful individual study to an orchestra by saying: When all the musicians gather, they harmonize with each other, and the accuracy of the symphony will depend on the personal work of each and on their skill in working together. This supplementary effort is essential.
Our second presentation, “Study Groups Revisited” by Gaétan Charland of Canada is a review of the name, nature, function, mission and goals of study groups. After reviewing the directive in The Urantia Book, he said: …as stated in the Foreword: “to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception” [Paper 0:0.2]—and to answer the other great challenge: “to achieve better communication with the divine Monitor that dwells within the human mind.” [196:3.34] and suggests that our current study group protocol needs to be re-examined.
First, he looks at the actual definition of the title “study group” as: a small group of people who regularly meet to discuss shared fields of study, and then compares it to the modern day silhouette of the study group. The Study Group Directory has a register of more than 80 virtual study groups in many different languages occurring at different times and days of the week. There are also groups that enjoy both meeting in person and in virtual at the same time. There are also more than 400 regular groups listed in different directories managed by different organizations.
To summarize his erudite evaluation of study groups of yesterday and today, he suggests that: In order for study group hosts to accomplish these goals, they need help to train themselves in the art of leadership, facilitating, and teaching. The network of study groups needs to be strengthened and improved; it needs to grow and have roots in every country of the world and in all the cities and villages of those countries. And …Let us all remember that we need to be the change that we want to see in the world. Until we become the living expression of this change, the world will keep spinning as it is now.
Our third and fourth essays are both by Moustapha N’diaye of Senegal. The first of these, “What Does the Future Hold for Study Groups?” is a chronological assessment of the development of study groups in which he has participated and hosted, beginning with the missionary work of a man who brought the book to Africa in the 1970’s. He says: Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country with Christians, including members of the newly emerging evangelical orders, comprising about 10% of the population. The peaceful coexistence of religious communities and the practice of confrère Islam, which espouses the social tradition of acceptance of the other, characterizes Senegalese society.
Throughout his very informative review of the development and progress of study groups over the last 20 years, Moustapha clearly delivers the message and the mission of the “Divine Plan” outlined within The Urantia Book. This intro is only a diminutive snapshot of the significant content of his composition and his success with enlightening the people of Africa and around the world.
Moustapha’s other essay, “Dynamic and Living Peace,” is a study on the directive “Peace be unto you, and unto you, peace.” It is a collaboration of his understanding of this phrase along with the testimonials from others, and an assessment of the religious literature of the Far East …this reflection explicitly relies on the teachings of The Urantia Book and the example provided by the life of Jesus as recounted in Part IV. Looking at both the human and superhuman understanding of peace through the world view of today—What Peace?—he looks to compare some religious traditions with a modern understanding of their application. The Spirit of Truth is the guide that directs his expansive understanding of the directive “Be you perfect even as I am perfect.”
Happy and enlightened reading!