My father being a military man, I was raised in military chapel. My idea of religion was "God bless Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War." But personally I decided that I believed in God because I needed to, although I was certain that much of what I was hearing in church was not really related to the God I felt inside. So one afternoon, as a junior in high school, while considering all of this, I prayed, "Father, I don't really know what is true. But I don't care how far I have to go or what I have to do, I want to find what is true. Please help me.
Four years later, a guy named Terry Kruger and I became good friends when we both took a theater class at Illinois State University in the early '70s. He and I shared a deep personal interest in things spiritual, discussing many philosophies. Terry would say things like, "Reincarnation, Lee, I think that's really real" He would be so certain, but I knew that if I waited several weeks he would come back equally as adamant: "Reincarnation? That's for the birds. How could anyone possibly believe that?"
So when Terry returned from a trip to New Mexico and I heard about his latest "ism," The Urantia Book, I took it with a grain of salt. Strangely enough, however, this one didn't pass with the weeks. In fact, Terry's attachment to it grew stronger. Finally, after two or three months - a long time in my experience at that point in life - Terry put his foot down: "Lee," he stated, "You have got to buy this book!"
Well, if he felt that strongly about it, okay. There were no Urantia Books to be found in Normal, Illinois, so when I took the trip up to my parents' home in Chicago I was delighted to find the book in a bookstore. I put down my $20, and in February of 1973 (I wrote the date in my book) I began reading The Urantia Book.
Terry told me that the best way to read the book was from the front to the back. He told me that I might not understand much of the Foreword, but not to get discouraged and to keep pushing on. At the time I was playing Marcellus in Hamlet, and while waiting to go onstage I sat in tights and armor reading the Foreword to The Urantia Book. Terry was right. I didn't understand much of it, but I had a feel for it.
As the weeks passed, I would rush through my studies so I could get to those precious hours before bed and read the book. I'd put on Tim Weisberg's flute album, Hurtwood Edge, and read. (Those early emotions associated with my first reading come back to me when I listen to this music again.) I remember reading a sentence with my eyes wandering off into space as I thought about it for fifteen minutes. Questions would flood my mind; the answers would be in the next paragraph. I felt my mind opening, my soul exploding. I had never read anything like this.
Terry would ask me, "But when did you know, Lee?" I'd look at him blankly and say, "Know what, Terry?" Quite frankly, I had no idea what he was talking about, but I tried to be polite. I continued reading on through the book. Finally, I finished Part III, "The History of Urantia." Blam! Bells rang, lights went on - I knew! What Terry had been trying to get me to tell him was, when did I know that this was an epochal revelation of God to our planet? I knew in my experience that this book was true and that it was what it claimed to be.
I had found the truth. I had asked for it. I got it. The truth had set me free. So one night when Terry dropped me off at my apartment I looked over at him and said, "Do you remember those times when you asked me if I knew? I know now." He looked at me in agreement, and that bond of solidarity is one we will carry into eternity.
Having absorbed the first three parts of the book, I then began Part IV. All of the concepts and descriptions of the nature of God given in the previous sections were now personally demonstrated by this man, Jesus, who humanized these values by living them. "The Life and Teachings of Jesus" is a handbook that demonstrates how to incorporate the teachings into your life and actually do them. And at the center of it is Jesus. Now I know him as Michael of Nebadon. He is superb. He is real.
As the years have passed, my focus has changed from encountering and trying to understand the teachings to trying to live them. It has become less important to me how many times I can claim to have read the book, and more important how well I can live as a son of God. While I have had my successes and my failures, I can honestly say that The Urantia Book has changed and enlightened my entire adult life experience on this planet.