The Universal Citizen Blog

Through thoughtful and insightful blog posts, The Universal Citizen seeks to advance faithful living and the idea-values that religion is experiential, our relationship with God is personal, evolution is progressive, and revelation is dynamic.  Here we discuss truth, beauty, and goodness in human experience and spirit reality and encourage curiosity of the mind. The Universal Citizen furthers UUI’s mission to foster personal spiritual growth and build a universal family of God as we explore, discern, and actualize the teachings of The Urantia Book. 

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Insight arises through respectful and fair discussion inspired by open mindedness and striving to understand the perspective of others.  The ideas and analyses expressed by our authors will demonstrate that religious interpretation is informed by personal experience in partnership with the indwelling spirit. In these interactions, we do not seek agreement, rather, we encourage civility and respectful communication fostering trust, love, and spiritual growth. The Editorial Team will refuse publication of content which violates these values.

About the authors: Currently, UUI’s blog contributors include board members, instructors, and students.

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  • Saturday, October 02, 2021 3:20 PM | Ariana Horn (Administrator)

    Download a pdf copy of the essay here.

    Unlike the Christian Bible’s depiction of Jesus as unchanging, The Urantia Book portrays Jesus as evolving intellectually and growing spiritually over time. Lived experience, coupled with ripening communion with his Thought Adjuster, informed how Jesus thought about religious concepts, his relationship to God, his role in both the Jewish and Gentile communities, and how to reveal the universal family of God and the spiritual kingdom. His evolving approach to the Jewish concept of Messiah is among the most consequential of his ideological maturations, not only to the reception and subsequent distortion of his message, but to the ultimate success of his bestowal mission.  

    In his fifteenth year, Jesus considered, but rejected, identifying his mission with the Hebrew prophets’ promise of the long-heralded Jewish Messiah―a reclaimer of the stolen throne of David from the succession of foreign usurpers and deliverer of the nation of Israel to the Jewish people. Jesus’ contemporaries expected that this Messiah would be a political, worldly figure dedicated to the deliverance of the Jewish people only (122:4 (1347.3)). The Hebrew Bible, the collection of sacred texts that records these prophecies, also functions as a history documenting God’s favor of the Jews as his Chosen People (Gen 15 & 17). 

    The first book of the Hebrew Bible, Genesis, recounts the origin story of all creation and tells of the first divine covenant made between God and humankind. God commanded Abraham to demonstrate his faith by offering his only son Isaac, in sacrifice. Seeing that Abraham was fearful and devoted, and was willing to make the greatest of sacrifices to His glory, God stayed his hand and promised Abraham that his descendants would possess the land of Israel, the physical occupation of an earthly kingdom. 

    The covenant is described in The Urantia Book as a covenant between Machiventa Melchizedek and Abraham. Melchizedek brought the third great revelation of God to Urantia around 5,000 years ago in preparation for Michael's incarnation as Jesus of Nazarath. Around 2,000 years before the birth of Jesus, Melchizedek convinced Abraham to abandon his campaign of territorial conquest and "temporal rule in favor of the spiritual concept of the kingdom of heaven (93:6.1 (1020.4))." Their covenant represented the "agreement between divinity and humanity whereby God agrees to do everything; man only agrees to believe God's promises and follow his instructions (93:6.4 (1020.7))." Salvation and God's favor is not had by sacrifice or appeasement, but by faith. Memory of the covenant was passed down through oral tradition and eventually, although incompletely and inaccurately, written down and preserved in the Hebrew Scriptures.

    Successive episodes of the Hebrew scriptures tell how God’s covenant was renewed again and again with the descendants of Abraham from Isaac to Jacob, Moses to Ezra, and then Nehemiah. In the books of Samuel and Psalms, God elaborated on his promise to the faithful descendants of Abraham by bestowing authority to the House of David as heirs of the Godly nation with its governing seat in Jerusalem. This Davidic Messiah, the “anointed one,” the prophets foretold, would rule and reclaim sovereign power of the kingdom of Israel and bring material prosperity to the Jewish people (2 Sam. 7:12-17; Psalms 2: 110). This new facet of God’s commitment to the Jewish people further confirmed in the minds of many that inheritance of the promised kingdom would be a material reality, not a metaphor for spiritual heights attained in heaven.

    For The Urantia Book's account of early human association of sacrifice as a means to appease the gods and the later development of covenants as a bargaining tool. See 89:8.

    Jesus Adopts the Title Son of Man

    Jesus did not know of Gabriel’s visit to Mary―nor of the messianic lens with which his mother interpreted the prophecy of his birth―until the day of his baptism many years later (122:8.4 (1351.8)) and 126:2.4 (1388.4)). He was well aware of the growing desire in the Jewish community for a deliverer, yet he was unmoved by such a fantastic remedy to worldly problems. Jesus “measured every institution of society and every usage of religion by the unvarying test: What does it do for the human soul? does it bring God to man? does it bring man to God” (126:2.5 (1388.5))? The mantle of Messiah held no personal attraction nor inspiration for him. Instead, Jesus decided to embrace the title Son of Man, perceiving that his Father in Heaven intended that he reveal a kingdom of the spirit, open to all regardless of lineage or nationality. To Jesus, the concept of the Son of Man as a teacher and revealer of spiritual truths better captured the intent of his mission and the role he wanted to take among his brothers and sisters on Urantia (2 Enoch; 126:3.6 (1390.1)). The God that the Son of Man extols is a Lord of the Spirit, not a Lord of territory. Jesus believed that the Son of Man concept as presented in the book of Enoch could be used as a starting point to reveal the God he knew as his Heavenly Father. 

    The concept of the Messiah―as his mother Mary would all too soon remind him―lauded a sectarian, man-made political project advancing a nationalist cause (127:2 (1396.6) and 136:6.8 (1519.1)). 

    136:1.3 (1509.5) They [the Jewish people] were looking for a restoration of Jewish national glory — Israel’s temporal exaltation — rather than for the salvation of the world.

    Jesus’ decision to avoid association with the Zealot political campaign in his seventeenth year, however, did negatively impact how he and his message were received by his fellows in Nazareth (127:2 (1396.6)). And as his reputation grew throughout his adult life, he continued to come face-to-face with the challenge of how to handle the idea of the Messiah in relation to his mission. Could he tailor the mantle of the Davidic Messiah to fit him as a messenger of the spiritual kingdom? 

    John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus’ revelation, compounded the confusion about the nature of the coming kingdom and its messenger (135:7.1 (1503.1)). John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zacharias, interpreted Gabriel’s message through the lens of the Davidic Messiah. Even though Gabriel spoke of Jesus as a “divine teacher,” “soul-healer, ” “and spirit-liberator of all mankind,” John’s parents steeped the meaning of their son’s mission in the foundational narrative of God’s covenant with Abraham and deliverance by an heir to the throne of David (122:2.3 (1345.5)). John repeated his parents’ assessment of his mission by proclaiming that he was the herald of the Messiah (135:4.6 (1499.6) and 135:7.1 (1503.1)).

    John’s thundering proclamation “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand” was influenced by the apocalyptists―a school of religious teachers popular in the century before the days of John and Jesus―who held that the age of gentile domination was coming to an end and that the realization of a new kingdom of God was imminent. 

    135:5.2 (1500.2) To the Jews of Palestine the phrase “kingdom of heaven” had but one meaning: an absolutely righteous state in which God (the Messiah) would rule the nations of earth in perfection of power just as he ruled in heaven — “Your will be done on earth as in heaven…

    135:5.4 (1500.4) Many who read the Old Testament literally looked expectantly for a new king in Palestine, for a regenerated Jewish nation delivered from its enemies and presided over by the successor of King David, the Messiah who would quickly be acknowledged as the rightful and righteous ruler of all the world.

    To continue reading download a copy here.

  • Tuesday, April 07, 2020 2:47 PM | Ariana Horn (Administrator)

    By Ari Horn, UUI Board Member

    Accounts of disruption to everyday living, devastation to the economy, and human casualties caused by the coronavirus have become as ubiquitous as the virus itself, yet directions on how we can meaningfully support each other in this time of cataclysm are few. Made all the more peculiar by necessary social distancing, the present moment challenges us to translate the lessons of The Urantia Book into action.

    Rising to the occasion, schools, companies, and families have creatively adapted to these challenges by moving in-person education, business, and meetings online using Zoom—or other online video conferencing tools like Skype, GoToMeeting, or Gchat. Likewise, institutionalized churches and informal groups of believers have suspended gathering in physical houses of worship. The social and pastoral needs of congregants are met by holding worship services, study groups, celebration of life events, and remembrances online. While UUI already offers online courses and Thought Leader Forums, we concluded that we could do more to meet the social needs of Urantians.

    The call for community inspired the UUI Café, a place where Urantians can get together in supportive and Spirit-affirming discussions based on the spiritual truths of The Urantia Book. The Café is open at different times each day (Monday through Saturday) to accommodate our friends living in different time zones. By providing this daily opportunity to grow in spiritual awareness, friendship, and loving ministry to others, we are helping Urantians establish everyday spiritual living habits.

    Each conversation is guided by a passage in The Urantia Book and/or searching prompts. In the past week, UUI Instructors have facilitated conversations ranging from spirit formation, divine sonship, handling cataclysm and illness, to the conditions of effective prayer.  These conversations are meant to inspire dynamic faith, rather than intellectual analysis of the text. In a recent session, a longtime UB reader revealed the fruits born from his ongoing pursuit to align his will with the will of God. He realized that he had been talking about The Urantia Book for fifty years, but in the past few weeks, he had been living the revelation. Jesus told us “[t]o become acquainted with one’s brothers and sisters, to know their problems and to learn to love them, is the supreme experience of living (130:2.6).” Through the simple and loving act of calling to check-in on older members of his church, he has attained a greater understanding of the divine nature of coming to know and love others.

    I have been struck by the honesty, sincerity, and hope expressed by the Café’s global participants, who herald from six of the seven continents. The desire to do, and not just think about, the will of God is palpable. “Thought gems” fall effortlessly from the lips of participants, nourishing and edifying all others in attendance (121:8.13). One participant from Florida said “Faith is an inducer, changing our entire being on a molecular level…faith turns fear into fearlessness and hate into love. From the heart center, faith induces spiritual transformation.”

    I find that participation in the Café uplifts my soul. The act of listening, the purposeful worship, and the gratitude expressed give me the fortitude to face the challenges of each day. For me, these conversations are Orisons in Zoom. The word and idea of orison—a spoken prayer, or meditation in the mystical tradition—captures the poetic sentiment I think is needed to vivify the online environment, which tends to evoke sterility and remoteness. UUI Café and all of the worship services taking place each day online amplify our orisons. Connecting each bejeweled soul to a global community of the Spirit exponentially increases their power. The online network encircuting Urantia is helping us pool our respective spiritual possessions (160.2.2). We are actualizing a family of God, connecting spiritual brother to brother and sister to sister.

    Beyond fostering goodwill among man, mainstreaming the idea of daily “worship breaks” and making a habit of renewing the spirit through communal worship can transform society. In orison, we ennoble human relationships, build a community of the Spirit, and may well inspire a cultural shift.

    For those of us who know the kingdom of God is within us, remaking civilization to align more closely to sublime spirit reality is not a utopian ideal, but an attainable goal. Together, we can uplift religion with active faith, philosophy with spirit insight, knowledge with experience, science with idealism, leadership with conscience, community with public service, politics with principles, industry with morality, work with dignity, and recreation with purpose.

    Let us come together and spread another kind of contagion—love.

    Let us motivate each other to turn yearning for the kingdom into actions to establish the kingdom.

    Let us live faithfully each day as contributing members of the community of the Spirit.

    Let us reveal the true nature of God the Father through loving service to others.

    See you in Zoom!

  • Friday, January 31, 2020 12:26 PM | Ariana Horn (Administrator)

    Commentary on The Urantia Book, 

    Paper 140:5.15-20

    By Claire Thurston, UUI Board Member

    January 23, 2020

    I had always interpreted the statement “Be you perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” to mean that we should try our best to align our human wills with God’s will.  Even though we recognize our human imperfection, if we would listen carefully enough in meditation, prayer or worship, we might discern the best path for a choice or solution to an issue and attain momentary glimpses of God’s perfection.

    I was surprised to discover in re-reading Paper 140 in The Urantia Book, that there are further instructions—that the definition of perfection is to love others with a fatherly affection as well as a brotherly affection.  To live the golden rule is the acme of brotherly love, “a worthy achievement,” but only one component of the “perfect” love that we are to attempt that borders on divine attainment.

    Jesus goes on to describe the four supreme reactions of fatherly love in four of the beatitudes.  Psychologists have only recently, since the mid-twentieth century, begun to study the impact fathers have on child development, instead favoring to study the primary role of mothers in childrearing.  This new research (see Select Bibliography below) gives new context to fatherly love and sheds light on the meaning of these beatitudes.  In this interpretation, it is crucial to understand that “fatherly love” is a way of loving that any gender can express.

    First Beatitude of Supreme Reactions of Fatherly Love

    Happy are those that mourn for they shall be comforted

    Mourning is an emotional attitude of tenderheartedness—being sensitive and responsive to human need, a quality our current culture would associate with mothers, however research now shows that father’s influence includes developing empathy.  If one considers that father and child were never merged in pregnancy, that their very separateness would force them to work harder to ‘get inside each other’s shoes,’ then the impact on empathy development may become clearer.

    Second Beatitude of Supreme Reactions of Fatherly Love

    Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy

    Mercy is active and dynamic—one of the aspects of empathy development includes truly experiencing feeling as if you were the other person, which leads to trying to help and/or expressing forgiveness quickly and deeply in order to relieve suffering.

    Third Beatitude of Supreme Reactions of Fatherly Love

    Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God

    Peace is not pacific or negative—in the father/child dynamic, the child is more likely to experience their own center of self in relation to the father’s center, which creates a healthy sense of autonomy. The father’s influence also helps his child have more internal control, lessening impulsive behavior. New fatherhood research also shows that fathers wait longer to intervene when a child is attempting a new skill and feeling frustrated, which helps with delaying gratification.  All of these factors foster self-control, decision-making and moral development.  An active and positive peacemaker is someone who is leading through values.

    Fourth Beatitude of Supreme Reactions of Fatherly Love

    Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Happy are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

    On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Adam’s hand stretches across the expanse towards God’s hand.  Father’s separate presence challenges his child to reach for ideals.  These ideals, such as righteousness, help his child believe in a world of possibility and significance.  A sense of the world’s significance inspires the desire to contribute—and combined with moral motivation, it inspires the desire to stand and fight for values.  A strong inner connection to one’s individual potential enjoined with true empathy, leads to the strength of character needed to defy injustice despite persecution.

    This new data on the father’s role has not yet become mainstream.  But when it does, the implications will affect every aspect of society, from the father-child relationship itself, to marriage, family, the workplace, social ills, culture, and the law. Untold discoveries become possible while a wide range of social problems will gain improved treatment and prevention.  But most importantly, a clearer understanding of human fatherliness will lead to a deeper connection to the fatherly love of God and Jesus that we may share with one another.

    Select Bibliography

    Bernadett-Shapiro, S., Ehrensaft, D., and Shapiro, J.L. “Father participation in childcare

    and the development of empathy in sons: An empirical study.” Family Therapy. 23 (1996): 77-93.

    Hoffman, M.L. Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for caring and justice.

    Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    Koestner, R., Franz, C., & Weinberger, J. “The family origins of empathic concern: A 26-

    year longitudinal study.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 58 (1990): 709-717.

    Lamb, M.E., Frodi, A.M., Hwang, C.P., Frodi, M., & Steinberg, J. “Mother-and-father-

    infant interaction involving play and holding in traditional and non-traditional Swedish families.” Developmental Psychology. 18 (1982): 215-221.

    Mischel, W. “Father-absence and delay of gratification.” Journal of Abnormal and Social

    Psychology. 62 (1961a): 1-7.

    Mischel, W. “Preference for delayed reward and social responsibility.” Journal of

    Abnormal and Social Psychology. 62 (1961b) 116-124.

    Youngblade, L. & Belsky, J. “Parent-child antecedent of 5 year olds’ close friendships: A

    Longitudinal analysis.” Developmental Psychology. 28 (1992): 700-713.


Spiritual Practices of the World's Great Faith Traditions: Yogananda and the Self-Realization Fellowship

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