History of The Urantia Book

The History of The Urantia Book page offers entries to help visitors get a fairly efficient but thorough understanding of the original plans and intentions that the Revelatory Commission had for the progress of the Urantia revelation. It was created to help address what, in my opinion, are three obvious and serious problems concerning Urantia Book community culture.

1) We started out with one publisher and one social group, which were designed to have a unique and complementary relationship with each other. Among other things, this special relationship demonstrated and represented cultural unity and cooperativeness to the world. For decades now, we have suffered without the intended relationship between the founding institutions. Because the failure to remain unified created two main social groups, Urantia Foundation must either pick sides, start a special relationship with a whole new group, or forgo altogether the original design of a special relationship with one social group. It seems to be an impossible situation at this point, despite the best efforts of many for years.

2) At the outset, the Urantia Brotherhood School was created to certify leaders and ordain teachers. (I am more inclined to think in terms of certifying teachers and ordaining leaders, but whatever.) The failure to maintain and develop this obviously important function for the progress of the revelation reflects poorly on the existing institutions. At this point, official teachers and leaders cannot exist within a context of a single publisher having a special relationship with a single social group.

3) Some people hold the perspective that Urantia Book teachings are to and for the individual—to guide us in our personal relationships with God and man—and that, in complementary contrast, the purposes expressed in the charters of the founding institutions (which are the same with respect to “fostering of a religion, a philosophy, and a cosmology”) are directing the founding institutions to foster institutional (group) relationships that respect and reflect the distinctions between spirit, mind, and matter. Urantia Association International has gone so far as to insert the word “personal” before “religion,” thus institutionalizing an interpretation, which denies that these are institutionally oriented instructions. The entire history of the Urantia community right up to the present is marked by disregard for the value of developing institutions of Urantia Book-based religion, philosophy, and cosmology.

A good and right game plan does not become bad and wrong because the players fail to get along harmoniously with each other or never take up the challenge of engaging the plan fully. Understandably, some people will want to continue to try to work with the existing institutions as a way to move forward. With all due respect to the good intentions of those working within the three main Urantia organizations, I do not see them at this point as even acknowledging the importance of and a commitment to the three essentials for progress listed above—a special relationship between the publisher and one social group, official teachers and leaders, and the fostering of institutions of Urantia Book-based religion, philosophy, and cosmology.

This is not meant to imply that other things are not essential, only that the three main organizations do not demonstrate a commitment to the value of the original plan regarding these three issues. As I see it, the original plan could be summarized as follows:

  1. Maintain the unique symbiotic relationship between Urantia Foundation and Urantia Brotherhood.
  2. Train and certify teachers and leaders.
  3. Foster the development of study groups.
  4. Foster institutions of religion, philosophy, and cosmology.
  5. Translate The Urantia Book into other languages.
  6. Get copyright protection.
  7. Get trademark protection.

Given the current circumstances and the history that has led up to them, I consider it both reasonable and important to the institutional structure of the Urantia revelation with people who are committed to following the essence of the original plan. What that means in today’s world, when the copyright no longer exists, is a question for which I do not have an answer. But I would like to talk to other people about it and see whether an effective enough consensus could be reached, so that something new and truer to the original plan can develop.

Based on my experiences with the Urantia community, even a failed effort to reboot the institutional structure will have a positive impact on the existing institutions in ways that cannot be as effectively accomplished by trying to work from the inside, at least not for me. Working to create new institutions puts social pressure on the existing ones to adopt the attractive differences exhibited in the new ones. And if they do not respond in this way, then an effort to reboot the institutional structure is all the more reasonable and important.

If you would like to join me in this effort, please do get in touch. I have started to host ZOOM meetings so that we can discuss the issues. There are two groups, one for those who are sure they want to try to start something new and one for those who are not sure but are opened to the idea and want to discuss it.

Research

Sections:

Insights Into Organizational Development

Declarations of Trust and Charters

Official/semi official Urantia Book histories

Independent Urantia Book histories

Cooperation, Concerns, and Complaints

Topical Study: What does The Urantia Book say about its creation?

Insights Into Organizational Development

1932 Copyright inquiry by Wilfred Kellogg, concerning the extent of changes necessary to secure second copyright after the first one runs out.

1932 Copyright inquiry by Wilfred Kellogg, concerning copyright protection in foreign countries.

Dr. Sadler’s Evolution of the Soul (1941) demonstrates a respect for boundaries and a need for permission when writing on subjects learned about through he process of receiving the Urantia revelation. See footnote on page 27, which reads:

“In the case of some of my “borrowed” concepts which are unpublished, I desired to give credit to the original sources. While permission to make use of this material was granted, the request to accord acknowledgement was denied.” (Downloading the pdf of the whole book may take a little time.)

Fundraising letter to Forum (1941)

(Highly recommended.) Trustee Thomas Kendall’s statement on copyright and trademark instructions from the Revelatory Commission. Excerpt:

“In 50, 75 or 100 years the name will be fairly safe. You safeguard it for a generation and it will largely take care of itself.”

1952 Instructions to the Contact Commissioners from the personal regent (Norson) of the acting Planetary Prince of Urantia (historical, 3 pages)

1952 Instructions to the Contact Commissioners (retyped) Excerpts:

“For the time being, mediation between the overall and superhuman supervision of this Commission and the directly human functioning of the Trustees of the Urantia Foundation shall be vested in the Midwayer Commission, the successor of the original Urantia Revelatory Commission. This Commission shall continue to function as advisor to both the Seraphic Overseers and the Trustees of the Urantia Foundation, but their veto powers shall extend only to the decisions of the acts of the human Trustees.”

“I commend your loyalty, but I am somewhat amazed at your relative indifference to the importance of the mission which has been entrusted to your hands. Your group of Seventy may seem to show more interest because you are selected and because you are under more or less discipline. But the majority of your Forum shock me by their lack of enthusiasm. It must be that many otherwise well-meaning human beings just cannot stand the test of time. I admonish you ever to be alert to the importance of the extraordinary trust which has been placed in your hands.”

Similar to the 1952 posts above, but much more limited in scope and uninformative regarding context. (historical, 1 page)

(Highly recommended.) 1958 memo to Urantia Foundation Trustees by Bill Sadler, Jr., concerning the wisdom best applied to relations with Urantia Brotherhood. Excerpts:

“The sister organizations — Foundation and Brotherhood — started out conceptually as one organization. The original draft of the constitution of the Brotherhood (circa 1937) did not differentiate between the two organizations. This combined organization proved to be unwieldy because it attempted to unite two then existing functions which did not mix well as a single unit. These two functions were the following:1. The custodial and other responsibilities of the contact commissioners. 2. The religio-social functions of the Forum.”

“Ideally, the Foundation should remain in the background. It should be passive. It should little appear in the eyes of the public. To the public the Brotherhood is the important organization. To the extent that we can cause the Brotherhood to do the work of the Urantia movement, we have succeeded in holding ourselves in reserve and in so doing we minimize potential friction./The following general statement of policy is proposed to the Trustees:/”The Foundation will overtly do nothing for the Urantia movement which it can overtly or covertly induce the Brotherhood to do.””

Urantia Brotherhood School Brochure

Urantia Brotherhood School president on need to revive and it keep alive.

1962 Sadler letter to Meredith Sprunger regarding whether Ordained Urantia Book Teachers could perform marriage ceremonies.

1959 Urantia Foundation Statement on Trademarking the Concentric Circles. Note: Trademarking apparently was not done at the direction of the Revelatory Commission. It is human “wisdom.”

1990 William Hales statement on the origins and interrelation of Urantia Foundation and Urantia Brotherhood.

1993 Carolyn Kendall’s short description of the early history and development of the institutions. Excerpts:

“Thus it may be seen that the Foundation Trustees did not create the Brotherhood. The actual launching of the Brotherhood was, according to the regent’s instructions, “to be left to the decisions of the Trustees of the Urantia Foundation. They shall act personally –unofficially–and no records of such action shall appear on the transactions of the Urantia Foundation. They shall assume all and full responsibility for the organization and inauguration of the Urantia Brotherhood.” Urantia Brotherhood was inaugurated January 2, 1955, at 533 Diversey Parkway, Chicago, Illinois.

“There is no record that the revelators participated in the preparation of the Foundation’s Declaration of Trust. We assume that since they approved the Brotherhood Constitution, they also maintained a vigil over the trust document. Involvement could range from actually dictating the content, to approval of the final draft of the Declaration of Trust.”

1975 Sales Agreement between Urantia Foundation and Urantia Brotherhood Corporation.

Christy’s 1966 letter to Field Representatives about the importance of maintaining secrecy regarding the origins of The Urantia Book. She quotes from 1945 Contact Commission instructions. Excerpt:

“You must begin the rehearsal of your attitude as it is to be manifested at the time of the publication of The Urantia Book. You, as individuals and as a group, are only concerned with the teachings of the Book. The origin of the Book is the concern of the contact commissioners.”

“At the time of the appearance of The Urantia Book, a solemn oath will be required of you to the end that you shall remain silent concerning aught you may chance to know about the origin of The Urantia Book throughout the remainder of your life.”

“Only may the contact commissioners give out information concerning the origin of the book…and they will be duly instructed as to how they shall conduct themselves regarding these matters.”

“…Your troubles will be greatly lessened if you avoid all discussion of the origin of the book. Be determined to know but one thing – the soul-surviving message of the Book.”

1967 Christy/Sprunger exchanges. Timing of The Urantia Book vs. “More Open Phase Of Our Work”

1972 Foundation Report, in part, complaining about how much time they have to spend dealing with people who want to go too fast.

1975 Vern Grimsley letter to Paul Snyder on the value of slow growth.

1990 Special Report by Urantia Foundation on the discord between Urantia Foundation and Urantia Brotherhood. Excerpt:

“Disregarding the Foundationís authority, responsibilities, and support, the leaders of the Brotherhood increasingly objected to the Foundationís review of Brotherhood activities, even though the Foundation was fully within its rights under the Confirmatory Licensing Agreement. . . . several individuals who served on the General Council sought to implement their own personal agendas . . . Some individuals created separate organizations for the purpose of pursuing these potentially conflicting agendas. . .

“In addition, the Trustees were especially concerned about what (they) saw as a drift toward a cult-like mentality including the increasing dominance of a few individuals within the Brotherhood and their efforts to control and limit the flow of information to the General Council and the Brotherhoodís overall membership.”

1990 Glenview Society president, Paul Snyder sends letter to Foundation cancelling the licensing agreement and stating why. Excerpts:

“9. We have witnessed the Foundation’s exercise of the legal power we willingly gave it. We have read the Foundation’s statements that attempt to portray what is the real meaning of the licensing agreement. We have become aware that the licensing agreement was never fully explained to us either in 1978 or at any other time. We have become aware with a new and stunning clarity that the Foundation regards the licensing agreement to be entirely a commercial agreement having no spiritual significance.

“10. Had we known in 1978, as a Society and as individuals, that our signature on the licensing agreement would have the effect of secularizing the concentric-circles symbol, and turning the word “Urantia” into a mere commercial trademark, the Society would not for a single moment have considered signing the agreement. At the very most, not more than one or two of our members would have supported such a decision.”

History of The Urantia Book presented into evidence by Urantia Foundation in the Maaherra case.

Declarations of Trust and Charters

Urantia Foundation Declaration of Trust photocopy of original

Urantia Foundation Declaration of Trust from the Foundation’s website

Urantia Brotherhood Constitution with notes re: later changes

Urantia Association International charter: Note that the word “personal” was inserted before word “religion” in the Statement of Purpose 1.1.

Official/semi official Urantia Book histories

History of The Urantia Book by Dr. Sadler

Marian Rowley’s 1960 Urantia Brotherhood history of The Urantia Book.

Christy’s 1964 history (historical)

Christy’s 1964 history (retyped)

Urantia Fellowship: a brief history from Urantia Fellowship’s website

Independent Urantia Book histories

How The Urantia Papers Came by Webster Stafford, written around 1943. Bill Sadler, Jr. characterized this as fictional, but it obvious has a lot of information that is accurate. The question remains, how much?

How The Urantia Papers Came by Webster Stafford, retyped in 1952 (easier to read), and it includes a note to Harold Sherman regarding their cooperative efforts.

The Historicity Of The Urantia Book” (1986, revised 1998) by Meredith J. Sprunger.

A History of the Urantia Papers by Larry Mullins (2000). (Recommended)

Dr. Sadler and The Urantia Book by Sioux Oliva (2014). (Though the presentation of the historical research done for this book has its value, the motivations and thesis are highly suspect. See Topical Study: Eugenics and Race for further commentary on this issue.)

Cooperation, Concerns and Complaints

Clyde Bedell’s 1933, 5-page statement of concerns, addressed to Wilfred Kellogg. Of particular note, aside from Clyde’s smug and self-righteous attitude, is his inability to appreciate the special role of the Contact Commissioners and Urantia Foundation in the future development of the revelation and its institutions. For instance:

“The incorporators are placed in a the position of saying “We are the only persons on earth qualified to do this job, and the only seven in our lifetimes who COULD do it—but, let the unwashed and misguided public provide the money to do our bidding”.

Note the lack of respect for the authority of the Revelatory Commission to choose with whom to entrust the revelation.

Clyde Bedell’s 1942 “Revolution”: 4-page letter to Dr. Sadler, outlining the concerns that he and others have about creating institutions.

Clyde Bedell’s 1942 letter to Harold Sherman, indicating that they are in cahoots.

Adapted version of Chapter 5: Pipeline to God from How To Know What To Believe by Harold Sherman (1978). In this book, fictitious names were used, possibly to avoid a potential lawsuit. Sherman was an American author, lecturer and psychical researcher. Harold Sherman, a member of the Forum, caused a lot of problems for Dr. Sadler, in part because he could not accept certain Urantia Book teachings and also because he had developed an inflated sense of his own role and relationship to Urantia revelation. Excerpts:

“One of our basic observations that really disturbed us, after finishing a first reading of the Papers, was the fact that The Urantia Book purported to give a specific description of the appearance and nature of the physical universe but presented no program for individual spiritual development.”

“It is a great error and will arouse great controversy, confusion, and dissension for The Urantia Book to indicate positively that no one can communicate with the dead and that the dead, under no circumstances, can or do return to this earth. This is a deliberate wrong statement — an untruth — and cannot have been made by higher intelligences, for they KNOW better. With The Urantia Book containing such false inferences, many humans who have had genuine experiences are not going to know what sections of the book to believe or disbelieve, and they are apt to end up by doubting it all.”

1976 Clyde Bedell’s lengthy response to the Pipeline to God chapter in Harold Sherman’s book How To Know What To Believe.

1969 Robert Burton writes to Trustees complaining that the creation of translations is not being managed effectively and cooperatively.

1970 Triennial Delegate Assembly passes resolutions in favor of breaking up The Urantia Book into three volumes and requesting financial disclosures from the Foundation.

“No 4. BE IT RESOLVED: That it is the wish of the General Council that before more money is spent for Delux Editions of the Urantia Book that good, off-set printed, three-volume, paper-back editions be obtained and made available for readers who can not afford Delux hard-back books.”

1970 Foundation memo to Triennial Delegate Assembly on roles and relationships between the organizations.

“The Urantia Brotherhood was organized by the Trustees of the Urantia Foundation under the direction and guidance of the governing planetary authorities. The organization officially came into existence on January 2, 1955. The purpose of the Urantia Brotherhood is the study and dissemination of the teachings of the Urantia Book, and it was for these purposes that Urantia Foundation appointed the Urantia Brotherhood to act as the distributor of the Urantia Book with the assistance of the Urantia Brotherhood Corporation, the legal and fiscal arm of Urantia Brother hood.

“It should be apparent then, that Urantia Foundation is not beholden to Urantia Brotherhood or any other organization connected with the Urantia Book.”

Expulsion of Robert Burton.

(Highly recommended.) 1989 Synergist report on how the Foundation inappropriately secured trademark and service mark protection for Urantia and Urantian. Excerpts:

“Upon denial of the original application the Foundation submitted an amended application substituting the word “instructing” for “promotion, improvement, and expansion among” at the beginning of the statement of purpose, thus identifying the “religious educational service” necessary to qualify for the registration of a service mark.”

“Upon denial of the original application the Foundation submitted an amended application substituting the word “instructing” for “promotion, improvement, and expansion among” at the beginning of the statement of purpose, thus identifying the “religious educational service” necessary to qualify for the registration of a service mark.”

“Specifically, the examiner advised the Foundation that …/… names of religions, as such, are not subject to exclusive appropriation. The name itself is not considered to be a service, and anyone practicing a particular religion has the right to use that name./To circumvent this problem Urantia Foundation’s amended application included a statement claiming that …/Urantia is not the name of a religion.”

Foundation to Barrie Bedell and Mo Siegel regarding publication of the Concordex

 

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