Journal Editorial – November 2023

Mark Blackham

Welcome to the November 2023 edition of the Urantia Association’s Journal, a publication dedicated to the thoughts, observations, and experiences of Urantia Book students from around the world. Our contributors explore a wide range of topics related to the teachings of the book, all of which demonstrate an extraordinary diversity of thought and a spirited unity of purpose. 

Our first article, “Urantia – Is It a New Religion?” by Peep Sõber brings up a question often asked by Urantia Book students and others. Peep recognizes there is an air of subjectivity to this question, depending on the individual and their experiences. Nonetheless, he drives home the point that both The Publication Mandate and The Urantia Book itself, promote a new religion, in particular, the religion of Jesus. But changing religion is not about forming a new church with a rigid set of beliefs, various clergy, or a claim to ecclesiastical authority.

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Urantia – Is It a New Religion?

Photo by Ri Ya

A few years ago, in a census held in Estonia, about 30 people indicated Urantia as their religion. I have never called the Urantia teachings a religion, even though they are religious in content. Some consider it an organized religion. But do we have such a religion?

Religion can be viewed both from the inside with some preconceptions about everything that follows, and it can also be viewed from the outside without special preconceptions. I don’t try to find supporters for any point of view. These are just my personal views from the outside today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll think a little differently, that’s natural because we all evolve and therefore change. No doubt, I have internal views as well, but they are not very important in this case. Therefore, I deliberately leave them aside.

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Spiritual Practices – An Invitation to Intimacy With God 

An Experiential Exploration of Relaxation, Meditation, Prayer, and Worship and Its Benefits to Soul, Heart, Mind, and Body 

(Transcript of a presentation given at the 2022 Tasmanian Conference) 

All formal religions and individual spiritual pilgrims have at their heart a basic desire to connect or become one with a greater good. It lies somewhere at the core of their belief system, perhaps smothered by a greater or lesser number of ritualistic practices. 

Western religions appeal to the intellect and promote desirable moral practices through examples given in the scriptures. Outsiders, and members of the church, often complain that, try as they may, it really doesn’t seem there is anyone listening “up there” as the realities and stresses of day-to-day living become increasingly complex and difficult to manage. 

Eastern traditions teach practical techniques for clearing the mind, to be present and aware, and simply to listen. These highly effective techniques have made their way to the West and developed into various forms of meditation that have been scientifically demonstrated to achieve results. 

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Unity – Harmony Within Diversity of Experience and Belief 

(Transcript of a presentation at the 2022 Tasmanian conference)

What is “Spirit Unity” and where does it exist? 

It’s very easy to have diversity, difference of opinion, and divergent viewpoints because we are human; our personalities are unique, and our experiences are personal. I may go through a shared event or tribulation, but my experience is mine and mine alone. Jesus discussed this in Paper 141, section 5.1-4. 

One of the most eventful of all the evening conferences at Amathus was the session having to do with the discussion of spiritual unity. James Zebedee asked, “Master, how shall we learn to see alike and thereby enjoy more harmony among ourselves?” 

What I require of you, my apostles, is spirit unity — and that you can experience in the joy of your united dedication to the wholehearted doing of the will of my Father in heaven. 

You do not have to see alike or feel alike or even think alike in order spiritually to be alike. 141:5.1-4 (1591.6) emphasis added

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Urantia’s Unrevealed Destiny

CHRIST MICHAEL OF NEBADON — our sovereign Master Son and also, not by coincidence, the Planetary Prince of Urantia — undoubtedly receives frequent reports from Machiventa Melchizedek,[i]the Vicegerent Planetary Prince who acts on Michael’s behalf. Although it would be ludicrous to ask them to include us as Cc addressees when they exchange messages, any such missive would be unintelligible to us anyway, because Michael and Machiventa would certainly be communicating in the language of Nebadon, not in English or in any other language of human beings who currently reside on our troubled planet.

Even so, we have every right to believe that at some suitable moment during the last few centuries, Michael received an urgent appeal from Machiventa warning him that society and civilization on Urantia were approaching an era of tumult and crisis when the spiritual government of Nebadon would be compelled to intervene decisively. In part, this appeal of Machiventa’s reflected and honored Michael’s personal commitment to Urantia because of his extraordinary bestowal approximately 2,000 years ago in the human form of Jesus of Nazareth. After all, Michael most assuredly would not want a worldwide catastrophe to befall the planet on which he lived and died!

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Our World Is Made of Force Fields

The physical world around us seems very concrete because it is tangible, and we can perceive it with our own senses. That’s why it’s easy to think that all the reality we live in is made up of matter – and the facts of our lives are based on this matter. However, this visible illusion breaks when we begin to examine the real world around us through the eyes of science.

According to scientific measurements, there is about 99.9999999999996 percent empty space in the visible matter around us because the nuclei and electrons of atoms are extremely small particles compared to the size of atoms and molecules.

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About the Journal


The Journal is produced twice yearly and contains essays, articles and study aids by readers and for readers of The Urantia Book. Any interpretations, opinions, conclusions, or artistic representations, whether stated or implied, are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Urantia Association International, the National or Affiliate Urantia Associations, or the editorial team of the Association’s Journal.

You can view the entire collection of issues in the archives. All issues before 2017 are downloadable PDF format.

The Journal is currently published in English  , French  and Spanish  . (There are some older issues that were published in Finnish .) You can view the French and Spanish Journals by clicking on the language choices in the pull down menu at the top of the page.

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About Tidings Newsletter

The Tidings newsletter is a quarterly on-line publication that serves as Urantia Association International’s primary communication tool for reaching out to the Association’s membership, supporters, donors, volunteers, and general readership friends. It provides news and information on the many activities and events of the National or Affiliate Urantia Associations around the globe as well as information and announcements from Central Office, the International Service Board (ISB), and the Representative Council (RC). It serves to keep members in touch with one another and gives readers a sense of belonging—of being an integral part of a truly international movement that is designed to promote the Urantia revelation to all corners of the world.

Note: Tidings also occasionally provides news of other Urantia-related activities and events that may be of interest to our supporters and friends. Please note that any interpretations, opinions, conclusions, or artistic representations, whether stated or implied, are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Urantia Association International, the National or Affiliate Urantia Associations, or the editorial team of the Association’s Tidings.

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Ways to Donate to Urantia Association International

Artist: Carlos Rubinsky

The world is changing fast and Urantia Association International is in a unique position to foster the Urantia revelation in so many ways. With localized teams in the form of associations springing up across the globe, we are ready to help anyone, anywhere, to study and spread the teachings that we all hold so dear.  

The Association has only one paid staff member to manage and coordinate our worldwide activities. All other services are rendered by devoted students who donate their time (and often their treasure) to the projects that help bring us closer to our heavenly Father. Thank you to our faithful volunteers and donors!  

Here is a selection of ways to donate to Urantia Association: 

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Jesus lived a religion of service. (5:4:7)

We searched The Urantia Book for the word ‘service’. As we know, The Urantia Book consists of 2097 pages, and in these pages the word service appears 644 times, an average of once every 3.25 pages. And in almost every context, it is a loving service.

Teamwork, the joy of working with our God-conscious friends, in tandem with our spirit friends, is the reason we serve. The motive for serving is uniform but calls us in diverse ways and to different tasks.

Does your soul crave service? Opportunities to serve the revelation are abundant. They are all around us; in that chance encounter, by being bold in individualistic social settings (like posting up a table at the farmers market), by signing up on the Study Group search site to make yourself available to host a study group, by volunteering to help the hosts of a conference or special event, by committing your talents or position to a local, regional or international association, by participating in online discussions like the Forum or Facebook, and by offering insights on how to connect with young readers.

The Association benefits from active participation by “older” and “younger” readers. Our web presences are intended to connect students from across the Urantia movement. And while many of us are getting older, those who currently serve in leadership roles are very interested in mentoring those who are being nudged by their angels, called to share the most inspiring Good News ever shared: “God is our loving Father, we are all one family.” We have faith that this mission, serving a unique epochal revelation to a unique world, will always attract true religionists, young and old. We have made much progress in expanding our Association worldwide; as a global team of leaders, we are laying the foundation to continue spreading the Good News to future generations. Don’t bury your talents!

What we’ve learned about service is that we are led by the spirit, but it is up to us to act, and in this act we experience love, truth, beauty and goodness, as well as a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus. We experience that divine privilege, the gift of serving God.

In what ways are you led to serve? Please, reach out, act, and receive abundant blessings.

President’s Message – September 2023

The First Source and Center. First Person of Deity and primal nondeity pattern, God, the Universal Father, creator, controller, and upholder; universal love, eternal spirit, and infinite energy; potential of all potentials and source of all actuals; stability of all statics and dynamism of all change; source of pattern and Father of persons. 105:3.2 (1155.6)

When we delve into The Urantia Book, it is not difficult to perceive the colossal and magnificent creation of our Heavenly Father. The numbers are impressive, from the countless quantity of planets, galaxies, and inhabited worlds to the vastness of descendant children created. The most impactful aspect is realizing that all of this was created for us, with the purpose of elevating our cosmic consciousness and spiritual progression, an evolutionary career from imperfection to perfection. Everything and everyone is at our service, including our celestial Father, the creator, controller, and sustainer of all things and beings. He serves us in countless ways, some by sharing in all of our experiences, such as with the Thought Adjusters, always seeking to guide us towards perfection. At other times, for example, he simply provides all forms of energy that sustain the Universe of Universes, endlessly and inexhaustibly. Sometimes, we fail to realize simple things like seeing and having the sun, rain, air, and all the natural resources that serve us. Everything comes from the same source.

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Focus on the Mother

Two thousand years ago on a mountain in the Middle East an event happened that never occurred before and will never again happen in this universe. It was a momentous occasion known to us as the Mount of Transfiguration, but this term is only semi-accurate. The activities did take place on Mount Hermon, and three humans witnessed their Master, Jesus of Nazareth, in a form never seen; they awoke to see their human friend “transfigured” into a shining being of heavenly light. But Jesus did not really transfigure. In the cosmic sense he allowed his Apostles to see him in superhuman form—though not in his full glory as a Creator Son, as that divine energy would likely consume his friends and probably the rocks of the mountain as well. “No man can see God and live.”

The most unique aspect of the gathering, one that cannot be repeated, was the participation of three humans, along with one divine human, one divine Creative Daughter, and two of their highest-ranking spiritual children. The conference was necessary for several reasons: for Jesus / Michael to receive a briefing on universe affairs from Gabriel and Father Melchizedek, including his bestowal success, and to plan the final human chapter of Jesus’ mission; to dramatically reveal his divinity (via the physical controllers at “Jesus’ request”) to his closest human associates; and also to allow Michael and his mate to exchange words of love and support (not revealed but that’s what I’m saying).   

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Reflections on the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago 2023

The Parliament of the World’s Religions (PoWR) convened in Chicago (August 14-18, 2023) at McCormick Place, a massive conference center situated on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. The general theme for this gathering was, “A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom & Human Rights.” Over 7,000 people from 95 countries attended this event.  

The first Parliament was held in Chicago on September 11th 1893, in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition, which introduced the first Ferris Wheel as America’s answer to the Eiffel Tower. The next PoWR did not occur until 100 years later, in 1993, but since then, it has been a triennial event held in different cities around the globe.    

The Parliament is an interfaith movement that seeks to unite over 200 diverse traditions and beliefs by highlighting the common ground between them. And indeed, whether religious or secular, we were delighted to see how many enlightened beliefs and lofty goals we all mutually share.

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Urantia Book Study Group at Oregon State Penitentiary

In 2002, the Urantia Foundation received a letter from Konrad G., an Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP) inmate requesting assistance from a Urantia Book reader to facilitate a study group within the prison.  Oregon Department of Corrections requires that a volunteer come in from outside the prison to facilitate classes such as a religious study group. The Foundation passed the request on to the Oregon Urantia Association president, Pat Murnin.  He and Joy Brandt, the initial volunteers, underwent accreditation, including security clearance and training, to serve as religious volunteers at OSP, and thus the Urantia Book Study Group was born in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

The OSP Urantia Book study group has run for 18 years, excluding a three-year pause during COVID. Over the years, a dozen Urantia Book enthusiasts have served as religious volunteers from the Oregon Urantia reader community. Those who served the longest are Joy Brandt, Pat Murnin, Andrew Rux, Roger Newton, Liz Engstrom-Cratty, Doug Parker, Nancy Votrain, and Dennis Sword.

 The meetings eventually increased from monthly to weekly, but since COVID they are now twice a month.  Numerous inmates have passed through the group, some for only a short season due to being transferred to other facilities, released from prison, or for personal reasons.  However there have been longstanding students as well, including Mike S. who has been with us since the group’s inception, and others who studied with us for many years until finally being released. Currently two others have been studying with us for almost a decade.

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Latin American Continental Conference — Mexico

The Fifth Revelation in the 21st Century

October 26—29, 2023

Come on and join us in Mexico!

Register now for the next Latin American Urantia Continental Conference! This will be the 3rd Latin American Conference and it is being organized by Asociación Urantia de Mexico (AUM).

We are inviting Urantia Book students from all over Latin America. The program will focus on the major themes of revelation, to inspire us to grow in our knowledge and understanding of the teachings. More information on the program of activities and presentations on the overall theme “The Fifth Revelation in the 21st Century” will be available soon.

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Global Study Group Survey

Urantia book image

Dear Urantia Book Students, 

To better serve study groups all over the world we are launching the latest global study group survey. It will enable us to feel the pulse of students’ needs and expectations. The results will also help us gauge the current status of study groups. 

Another benefit is that your responses can help us to find you a study group that suits your needs or help you in starting your own. We will share our report with you in the next issue of Tidings.  

If you have not already done so, please use this link to access and fill out the survey: 

Study Group Survey

Once we finish our survey, we will publish the results in Tidings.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance! 

Urantia Association International 
Study Group Committee 

2024 Urantia Association International Conference

The Nature and Nurture of the Soul

28 to 31 March 2024
Maritime Conference Center, Baltimore, Maryland USA

Faith is to religion what sails are to a ship; it is an addition of power, not an added burden of life. (159:3.8)

The Urantia Association of the United States would like to invite you to attend the 12th Urantia Association International 2024 Conference, to be held from the afternoon of March 28th, until noon on March 31 in Baltimore, MD, USA. Full details can be found at: 2024 International Conference. Don’t delay – early discount ends soon!

The program includes eight topics—four related to the nature of the soul and four related to nurturing our soul. Topics will be introduced by plenary speakers; group discussion and study will be facilitated by breakout leaders. In addition, there will be evening music, entertainment, and worship.

Attendees can stay afterwards at the conference center to enjoy the culture and attractions of Baltimore or visit nearby Washington DC during the Cherry Blossom festival.

Come set sail with us on March 28, 2024!

Focus on the Father

Living and Dying

“I declare that you must be reborn.” (140.6.2, 1576.2)

This command is very important. To be reborn means that you first must die. Of course, this teaching invokes the spiritual meaning, not the cessation of physical life. Since the body and mind do not die with this rebirth in the spirit, what exactly does? What must die before something new can be reborn?

If it’s not the physical self that must die to be reborn, perhaps then it’s our preoccupation with the material self, endless thoughts about ourselves. When a spiritual aspirant is told that to see nirvana, discover their soul, or achieve union with God, that he must be reborn—the fear of death is inevitably triggered. It’s a natural fear, though God has told us that we live again, even proved it one Sunday morning. Yet even a unique and holy resurrection may fail to stifle our preoccupation with self since deep instinct repels us from death and dying. We may believe our spirit self transcends time and space, but death remains a powerful mystery for the living. The rebirth teaching is one more spiritual paradox for us tadpoles; for us to progress, something of us must die, anathema to a fearful self.

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The God Experience

Written by a Urantia Book Student

The God Experience is founded on the concepts, values, and ideals portrayed in The Urantia Book. With those matchless teachings woven throughout its pages, it is a welcoming and approachable guide to embracing God and spirituality. And while it only mentions The Urantia Book briefly in the first chapter, it does include many short quotations, an appetite-whetting feature that will lead the curious reader to the original source.

A Booklife Review  – “Putting aside all religious affiliations, 80 percent of Americans say they still believe in some notion of God or a greater spirit being,” writes Bonair in this thoughtful guide to using mindfulness, meditation, and prayer to seek a true connection to the Spirit of God. While Bonair acknowledges that using the term “God” can be limiting, he aims to help those who are “spiritual but not religious” understand the divine nature of a “universal Creator” by exploring religious misconceptions and developing a fresh understanding of God’s character. That character, according to Bonair, is compassionate and gracious, the opposite of the angry and unforgiving deity often depicted in organized religion. 

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Savor Friendship: A Tribute to Delae Sowu (1962 – 2023)

Delae Sowu (center)

For many of us, the search for truth has been a life-long affair; a journey which has taken us to many places and sometimes through many trials and unforgettable moments. “All of life’s toughest questions were answered when I discovered The Urantia Book.” This is the testimonial of quite a number of readers who have discovered the Fifth Epochal Revelation, and for me, it pretty much did so but it also left me searching for more to know in this vast creation. 

Although the search for truth is a never-ending quest, the journey becomes exhilarating when one discovers friends and fellow truth seekers who share the same light and energy and seem to be connected by a universal purpose. Delae Sowu is one such truth seeker who I describe as “a friend to everyone.” 

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