When I was 13 I got through my Bar Mitzvah by faking it. I had been thrown out of Sunday school when I was 11 for asking questions like, "Wasn't John the Baptist Jewish? Wasn't Jesus Jewish?" Even my Reform temple couldn't handle that. So, in order to make my parents happy, I took a crash course in Hebrew phonetics, to learn my Haftorah and the song I had to sing. When the big day finally came, I didn't understand a word of the Hebrew I was reciting. I felt nothing inside. I was hungry, maybe, but otherwise, zippo.
From that day until several years later, I considered myself an agnostic, leaning heavily towards atheism. I was part of the great hippie generation, graduating high school as a clean-cut kid in 1968, only to become a draft- card-burning demonstrator in the streets less than a year later. My road took me to California where I met some hippie friends who were true believers in Dr. Tim and who had a line on pure doses of LSD-25, then known as "Orange Sunshine." My acid experiments were many, and from the start I felt that I was being led back to the true God, the One God. An acid experience in the Nevada desert in 1972 caused me to understand fully that We are One, and that God was the One. I was already headlong into this adventure of personal religious experience a full year before I ever saw a Urantia Book.
In September 1973 I was back in New York, married to a girl I had met in California. A very good friend of mine, an electric guitar player, showed me the Urantia Book in his apartment in Westchester. It floored me. I couldn't believe it existed and the more I looked at it and read the author's names and the names of the papers, I knew I had to get this book. It seemed to provide a complete explanation of the very simple concept, We are One. It gave names to things and beings that I had already suspected existed.
My new wife and I immediately bought two copies of the book from the Foundation's offices in Chicago. I remember sitting in the front room of the building at 533 W Diversey, filling out forms while we waited for them to bring us our books.
I began reading. I tried to start from the beginning but couldn't help jumping around. I loved a lot of what I was finding in Part III, but I was still having trouble with the whole Jesus thing in Part IV. I admired much of what Jesus says in The Bible, but could not accept what the organized religions had to say about him. Finally, I read the last paper of Part III, so I would understand about bestowal missions, and then I began Part IV. I was immediately drawn into the story but a creeping thought lay at the back of my mind, that I was a trained, professional journalist falling for what had to be one of two things: either the most elaborate literary fraud in history (which would make it a good story!) or the truth. It took me about thirty pages before I surrendered my doubts. I continued to read Part IV and began to accept this new Jesus into my heart.
Shortly afterwards my wife and I returned to California where we met a whole group of people who were reading the book and trying to live the teachings. A lot of socializing and music took place at these meetings. I studied the book with a man who was like a Zen master of the Papers, just because he was so good at reducing it all to a simple way of life.
The book has remained with me all these years, though at times it got dusty sitting on the shelf. When my marriage came apart, I became addicted to dangerous drugs to relieve the pain. In rehab, ready for some answers, I opened the book again and began reading the Jesus papers once more. I became a leader in the 12-step programs, and for years I was a speaker and musical performer at their meetings and conventions. I kept working the real Urantia messages in, even though I never mentioned the source. Just recently, the book has helped me enter a new phase of my life, spreading the good news about Jesus through my music. My songs are not directly about Jesus, but his message is always there.
As the book says, "It is literally true: if a man has Christ Jesus within him, he is a brand new creature, old things are passing away, all things become new." And it has happened like that for me, exactly as Jesus promised.