Dave Tibbets, Senior Customer Engineer; Winter Springs, Florida
Raised in a fundamentalist Lutheran environment, I took catechism classes. The minister's questions and written answers were supposed to lead to "inescapable conclusions" that we Lutherans were the truly anointed and enlightened ones, but it had exactly the opposite effect on me. It generated questions such as, "How come God played favorites and picked me over the less fortunate?" This line of thinking inevitably caused me to reject literally everything I'd been told. I later became agnostic with atheistic leanings.
I joined the Air Force, and flexed my newfound philosophical and religious freedoms in a search for bottom line truth. This lasted several years, and on exiting the service, I was still looking. I then joined the Unitarian Universalists. I liked their hands-off approach to the imponderables and their focus, instead, on being good to one another, here and now. But still, I felt driven to find something, somewhere, that had an absolutely, undeniably factual basis. This need was starting to loosen my mental glue because if you have nothing to anchor your belief system, reality gets a little shaky.
1974 was the low point and the starting point for me. Having come to the conclusion that I literally knew nothing, I was open to truly learning. That's when it happened. One day while sitting at my bench at work, concentrating on wire-wrapping an electronic circuit board, I got a billboard-sized announcement inside my head. It said, "Truth is not facts, but a state of realization." It nearly knocked me off my stool. My recovery was assured; I now realized that my truth would continuously change and my understanding would grow. I was, however, still severely rejecting my earlier fundamentalist Christian teachings, and I had a negative, knee- jerk reaction to anything that had Jesus' name associated with it. Thankfully, God and other spiritual friends stuck in there with me.
One day, a fellow who was a friend of a friend invited me to a party after work. As the party progressed, I voiced some of my searching questions during a philosophical "bull session." Shortly thereafter, the fellow said, "I've got something I think you'd be interested in." It was, of course, Big Blue, The Urantia Book! I thumbed through the index and knew I had to have the book. I copied down the publisher's address and phone number and ordered my book the next day. When it arrived, I tried to read the Foreword. No way! I saw the Jesus Papers in the back of the book, but just set them aside mentally as I was not ready to deal with them. It took fourteen years of occasionally pulling the book off the shelf and putting it away again before being able to begin reading the story of Adam and Eve. I fell in love. Here, finally, was something that felt true. I've made all my friends and relatives a little crazy ever since.
God is now trying to train me in the process of sharing my faith. You'd think I'd know better than to become a fundamentalist myself, but when you discover the keys to the universe and beyond, it's a little difficult to be self-restrained!