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Compare 12/30/2016

The wisest man is he who does not fancy that he is so at all.
  --Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, (1636-1711)

(100:7.17) Jesus was great because he was good, and yet he fraternized with the little children. He was gentle and unassuming in his personal life, and yet he was the perfected man of a universe. His associates called him Master unbidden.

(131:8.4) The wise man universalizes his heart. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Those who aspire to greatness must learn to humble themselves.

    Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux 1 November 1636 – 13 March 1711), often known simply as Boileau, was a French poet and critic. He did much to reform the prevailing form of French poetry, in the same way that Blaise Pascal did to reform the prose. He was greatly influenced by Horace.

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Compare 12/26/2016

By words the mind is winged.
  --Aristophanes, dramatist (448-385 BCE)

(0:12.13)  We are fully cognizant of the difficulties of our assignment; we recognize the impossibility of fully translating the language of the concepts of divinity and eternity into the symbols of the language of the finite concepts of the mortal mind. But we know that there dwells within the human mind a fragment of God, and that there sojourns with the human soul the Spirit of Truth; and we further know that these spirit forces conspire to enable material man to grasp the reality of spiritual values and to comprehend the philosophy of universe meanings. But even more certainly we know that these spirits of the Divine Presence are able to assist man in the spiritual appropriation of all truth contributory to the enhancement of the ever-progressing reality of personal religious experience—God-consciousness.

    Aristophanes, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete. These, together with fragments of some of his other plays, provide the only real examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy, and are used to define it.
    Also known as the Father of Comedy and the Prince of Ancient Comedy, Aristophanes has been said to recreate the life of ancient Athens more convincingly than any other author. His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries; Plato singled out Aristophanes' play The Clouds as slander that contributed to the trial and subsequent condemning to death of Socrates although other satirical playwrights had also caricatured the philosopher.
    His second play, The Babylonians (now lost), was denounced by the demagogue Cleon as a slander against the Athenian polis. It is possible that the case was argued in court but details of the trial are not recorded and Aristophanes caricatured Cleon mercilessly in his subsequent plays, especially The Knights, the first of many plays that he directed himself. "In my opinion," he says through the Chorus in that play, "the author-director of comedies has the hardest job of all." 

Tom's picture

Compare 12/22/2016

You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity.
  --Thomas Wolfe, novelist (1900-1938)

(127:2.8) Something had to be done. He must state his position, and this he did bravely and diplomatically to the satisfaction of many, but not all. He adhered to the terms of his original plea, maintaining that his first duty was to his family, that a widowed mother and eight brothers and sisters needed something more than mere money could buy—the physical necessities of life—that they were entitled to a father's watchcare and guidance, and that he could not in clear conscience release himself from the obligation which a cruel accident had thrust upon him. He paid compliment to his mother and eldest brother for being willing to release him but reiterated that loyalty to a dead father forbade his leaving the family no matter how much money was forthcoming for their material support, making his never-to-be-forgotten statement that "money cannot love."

(141:7.12) He paid no attention to public opinion, and he was uninfluenced by praise.

(152:3.3) These words of Jesus sent the multitude away stunned and disheartened. Many who had believed in him turned back and followed him no more from that day. The apostles were speechless; they stood in silence gathered about the twelve baskets of the fragments of food; only the chore boy, the Mark lad, spoke, "And he refused to be our king."

(161:2.8.) He seems to be so sufficient within himself. He craves not the support of the multitude; he is indifferent to the opinions of men. He is brave and yet so free from pride.

    Thomas Clayton Wolfe (October 3, 1900 – September 15, 1938) was an American novelist of the early twentieth century.
    Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels, plus many short stories, dramatic works, and novellas. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodic, and impressionistic prose with autobiographical writing. His books, written and published from the 1920s to the 1940s, vividly reflect on American culture and the mores of that period, albeit filtered through Wolfe's sensitive, sophisticated, and hyper-analytical perspective. He became widely known during his own lifetime.
    After Wolfe's death, his contemporary William Faulkner said that Wolfe may have had the best talent of their generation. Wolfe's influence extends to the writings of beat generation writer Jack Kerouac, and of authors Ray Bradbury and Philip Roth, among others. He remains an important writer in modern American literature, as one of the first masters of autobiographical fiction, and is considered North Carolina's most famous writer.

Rick's picture

The writing on the wall

The Handwriting on the Wall

“The handwriting is on the wall" has become a metaphor for the general sense of disorientation, unease, and fear for the future that seems epidemic throughout the Western world, and has been a subject that I had wanted to write about for some time. But how many of those who invoke "the handwriting on the wall" have looked closely at its source — the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible? The story told there is a striking one. Recalling it in full might help us come to grips with whatever is being written on the wall at this moment in our national history, and in the history of the civilization of the West. Reflecting on that story might also help us identify a prophet who, like Daniel, could help us translate "the handwriting on the wall," understand its meaning, and thus know our duty.

The book of Daniel is one of my favorite books of the old testament and probably one of the most misunderstood. His name appears in the Urantia Book 11 times with this one being the most telling.

43:3,3 One teacher understood that the Most Highs were not the Supreme Rulers, for he said, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”(Psalm 91:1) In the Urantia records it is very difficult at times to know exactly who is referred to by the term “Most High.” But Daniel fully understood these matters. He said, “The Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever he will.” (Dan.4:17)

The scene is readily set. The place: Babylon. The time: some two and a half millennia ago, in the 6th century before our era. The Kingdom of Judah has been conquered by the Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzar, who, the Book of Daniel tells us, ordered his chief vizier "to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, handsome and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding, competent to serve in the king's palace, and to teach them the letters and language of the Chaldeans." The most impressive of this group of talented young Jews was named Daniel. In addition to the personal qualities specified for royal service by Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel had the power to interpret the great king's dreams — a skill that led Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge, for a moment at least, that Daniel's God, the God of the people of Israel, was "God of gods and lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries."

Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar, was a different matter, however:
King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in front of the thousand. Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and silver which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem be brought, so that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought in the gold and silver vessels which had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Immediately the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, opposite the lampstead: and the king saw the hand as it wrote...

It was, as we might imagine, an unwelcome interruption of the royal revels. Belshazzar was terrified and promised to make the man who could decipher the writing and its meaning the third ruler in the kingdom. The tenured academics and op-ed writers were stumped. Then the queen had an idea: Call in Daniel. So the king summoned the young Jewish exile and promised him the third position in the kingdom if he could read the handwriting on the wall and explain its meaning. The eponymous book tells the rest of the story:

Then Daniel answered before the king: "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; nevertheless I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation....You have lifted yourself up above the Lord of heaven; and the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this was the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

Then Belshazzar commanded, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put about his neck, and proclamation was made concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

Belshazzar's feast and its ending in the king's abrupt death is thus do to his drunken arrogance, Belshazzar turned sacred vessels intended for true worship into playthings for debauchery, and because of that negation of worship, his claim to sovereignty was annulled. The handwriting on the wall spoke of this.

Is there similar handwriting on the wall in our own time? I think there is. The words are different, and they tend to be written, not telegraphically on walls by mysterious hands, but voluminously, in newspapers and magazines and books and scholarly journals and online. It is written "he that hath an ear, let him hear" in the bible and in Urantia Book. But these words, too, tell of the results of the negation of worship. Or, to put the matter in less dramatically Biblical terms, the words on the wall at this moment in history speak of the results of a negation — a deconstruction — of the deep truths on which the civilization of the West has been built. And one of the main things that the "handwriting on the wall" in the early 21st century is telling us is that the secular project is over.

By "secular project," I mean the effort, extending over the past two centuries or more, to erect an empty shrine at the heart of political modernity. that the God of the Bible was the enemy of human maturity and must therefore be rejected in the name of human liberation. After atheistic humanism had produced, among other things, two world wars and the Urantia Book tells us of the greatest slaughters in recorded history. With future pronouncments as,

"134:5.17 With scientific progress, wars are going to become more and more devastating until they become almost racially suicidal. How many world wars must be fought and how many leagues of nations must fail before men will be willing to establish the government of mankind and begin to enjoy the blessings of permanent peace and thrive on the tranquillity of good will—world-wide good will—among men?"

A glimpse of what the empty shrine does produce was on offer late last summer in Great Britain, when packs of feral young people rampaged through city after city in an orgy of self- indulgence, theft, and destruction. The truth of what all that was about was most powerfully articulated by Lord Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

“This was the bursting of a dam of potential trouble that had been building for years. The collapse of families and communities leaves in its wake unsocialized young people...[who are the products of] a tsunami of wishful thinking that washed across the West, saying that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage, children without the responsibility of parenthood, social order without the responsibility of citizenship, liberty without the responsibility of morality, and self- esteem without the responsibility of work and earned achievement.”

The inability of democratic countries to make rational decisions in the face of impending fiscal disaster gives us another glimpse into the effects of the empty shrine and its inability to nurture and form men and women of democratic virtue — citizens capable of moral and economic responsibility in both their personal and public lives.

And once again, it was Lord Sacks who connected the dots here when he wrote that the moral meltdown of the West

“What has happened morally in the West is what has happened financially as well....[as] people were persuaded that you could spend more than you earn, incur debt at unprecedented levels, and consume the world's resources without thinking about who will pay the bill and when." These linked phenomena — "spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital" — are, Sacks concluded, the inevitable result of a "culture of the free lunch in a world where there are no free lunches.”

In the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel, "the handwriting on the wall" bespoke, however cryptically, the imminent demise of King Belshazzar's regime. I am not suggesting that "the handwriting on the wall" in the early 21st century bespeaks the demise of the West or of the United States. Like Rabbi Lord Sacks, I can look back in history on moments of social dissolution followed by rapid periods of cultural transformation and profound societal change.

99:2.6 Modern religion finds it difficult to adjust its attitude toward the rapidly shifting social changes only because it has permitted itself to become so thoroughly traditionalized, dogmatized, and institutionalized. The religion of living experience finds no difficulty in keeping ahead of all these social developments and economic upheavals, amid which it ever functions as a moral stabilizer, social guide, and spiritual pilot. True religion carries over from one age to another the worth-while culture and that wisdom which is born of the experience of knowing God and striving to be like him.

Rickey H. Crosby (Petitor Veritatis) 

Tom's picture

Sunday Night Class 12/18/2016

Friends,

Sunday night class thrives, but wishes your presense as well. Veldon lead us through a couple of sections of paper 72 on a government on a neighboring planet. What a life they lead. We still have a few more sections to go before we head into Planetary Mortal Epochs.

No class on Christmas night or New Years night, but we will start up again on January 8th.

See you then, if not before. Does anyone wish to host a New Year's Eve party on Saturday December 31st? We traditionally read poetry and eat lots of good food. Any volunteers?

Tom

Tom's picture

Tuesday Night Class

Hi All
There will be class on Tuesday at the Morrows.
We will finish Paper 182, In Gethsemane.
Love and blessings
Veldon and Charlene 

Tom's picture

Compare 12/19/2016

The characteristic of a well-bred man is, to converse with his inferiors without insolence, and with his superiors with respect and with ease.
  --Lord Chesterfield, statesman and writer (1694-1773)

107:3.3-6 Although we know something of all the seven secret spheres of Paradise, we know less of Divinington than of the others. Beings of high spiritual orders receive only three divine injunctions, and they are:
    1. Always to show adequate respect for the experience and endowments of their seniors and superiors.
    2. Always to be considerate of the limitations and inexperience of their juniors and subordinates.
    3. Never to attempt a landing on the shores of Divinington.

    Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield was a British statesman, man of letters, and wit. He was born in London to Philip Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Chesterfield, and Lady Elizabeth Savile, and known as Lord Stanhope until the death of his father, in 1726. Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he subsequently embarked on the Grand Tour of the Continent, to complete his education as a nobleman, by exposure to the cultural legacies of Classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to become acquainted with his aristocratic counterparts and the polite society of Continental Europe.
    In the course of his post-graduate tour of Europe, the death of Queen Anne (r. 1702–14) and the accession of King George I (r. 1714–27) opened a political career for Stanhope, and he returned to England. In the British political spectrum he was a Whig and entered government service, as a courtier to the King, through the mentorship of his relative, James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope, the King's favourite minister, who procured his appointment as Lord of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales.

Tom's picture

Sunday Night Class 12/11/2016

Friends,

We are continuing our study of paper 72 on the government of a neighboring planet. There were 7 of us tonight, and we would love for there to be more. Discussion was lively and enlightening.

More of 72 next week, I hope you can join us.

Tom

Tom's picture

Compare 12/12/2016

What power has love but forgiveness?
  --William Carlos Williams, (1883-1963)

(138:8.2) Jesus taught them to preach the forgiveness of sin through faith in God without penance or sacrifice, and that the Father in heaven loves all his children with the same eternal love.

(188:5.2-3) The cross forever shows that the attitude of Jesus toward sinners was neither condemnation nor condonation, but rather eternal and loving salvation. Jesus is truly a savior in the sense that his life and death do win men over to goodness and righteous survival. Jesus loves men so much that his love awakens the response of love in the human heart. Love is truly contagious and eternally creative. Jesus' death on the cross exemplifies a love which is sufficiently strong and divine to forgive sin and swallow up all evil-doing. Jesus disclosed to this world a higher quality of righteousness than justice—mere technical right and wrong. Divine love does not merely forgive wrongs; it absorbs and actually destroys them. The forgiveness of love utterly transcends the forgiveness of mercy. Mercy sets the guilt of evil-doing to one side; but love destroys forever the sin and all weakness resulting therefrom. Jesus brought a new method of living to Urantia. He taught us not to resist evil but to find through him a goodness which effectually destroys evil. The forgiveness of Jesus is not condonation; it is salvation from condemnation. Salvation does not slight wrongs; it makes them right. True love does not compromise nor condone hate; it destroys it. The love of Jesus is never satisfied with mere forgiveness. The Master's love implies rehabilitation, eternal survival. It is altogether proper to speak of salvation as redemption if you mean this eternal rehabilitation.
    Jesus, by the power of his personal love for men, could break the hold of sin and evil. He thereby set men free to choose better ways of living. Jesus portrayed a deliverance from the past which in itself promised a triumph for the future. Forgiveness thus provided salvation. The beauty of divine love, once fully admitted to the human heart, forever destroys the charm of sin and the power of evil.

    William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) was a poet closely associated with modernism and imagism; he figures among the group of four major American poets born in the twelve-year period following 1874, including also Robert Frost, born in 1874; Wallace Stevens, born in 1879; and H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), born in 1886. His work has a great affinity with painting, in which he had a lifelong interest.
    In addition to his writing, Williams had a long career as a physician practicing both pediatrics and general medicine. He was affiliated with what was then known as Passaic General Hospital in Passaic, New Jersey, where he served as the hospital's chief of pediatrics from 1924 until his death. The hospital, which is now known as St. Mary's General Hospital, paid tribute to Williams with a memorial plaque that states "we walk the wards that Williams walked".

Tom's picture

Compare 12/08/2016

I’d prefer to die on my feet than to live on my knees.
  --Charb (pen name of Stéphane Charbonnier), caricaturist and journalist (1967-2015)

(128:3.6) And this was the same Stephen who subsequently became a believer in the teachings of Jesus, and whose boldness in preaching this early gospel resulted in his being stoned to death by irate Jews. Some of Stephen's extraordinary boldness in proclaiming his view of the new gospel was the direct result of this earlier interview with Jesus. But Stephen never even faintly surmised that the Galilean he had talked with some fifteen years previously was the very same person whom he later proclaimed the world's Savior, and for whom he was so soon to die, thus becoming the first martyr of the newly evolving Christian faith. When Stephen yielded up his life as the price of his attack upon the Jewish temple and its traditional practices, there stood by one named Saul, a citizen of Tarsus. And when Saul saw how this Greek could die for his faith, there were aroused in his heart those emotions which eventually led him to espouse the cause for which Stephen died; later on he became the aggressive and indomitable Paul, the philosopher, if not the sole founder, of the Christian religion.

(185:1.3) Pilate's disfavor with the Jews came about as a result of a number of unfortunate encounters. First, he failed to take seriously their deep-seated prejudice against all images as symbols of idol worship. Therefore he permitted his soldiers to enter Jerusalem without removing the images of Caesar from their banners, as had been the practice of the Roman soldiers under his predecessor. A large deputation of Jews waited upon Pilate for five days, imploring him to have these images removed from the military standards. He flatly refused to grant their petition and threatened them with instant death. Pilate, himself being a skeptic, did not understand that men of strong religious feelings will not hesitate to die for their religious convictions; and therefore was he dismayed when these Jews drew themselves up defiantly before his palace, bowed their faces to the ground, and sent word that they were ready to die. Pilate then realized that he had made a threat which he was unwilling to carry out. He surrendered, ordered the images removed from the standards of his soldiers in Jerusalem, and found himself from that day on to a large extent subject to the whims of the Jewish leaders, who had in this way discovered his weakness in making threats which he feared to execute.

    Stéphane Charbonnier known as Charb, was a French satirical caricaturist and journalist. He was murdered by Islamist terrorists during the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015.
    He worked for several newspapers and magazines, joining Charlie Hebdo in 1992 and becoming the director of publication in 2009. Due to direct support to freedom of speech via Charlie Hebdo, Charb became subject to death threats from Islamists. From the time the magazine was firebombed in 2011, he lived under police protection until his assassination.

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