Although steeped in an ultra- conservative protestant religion from childhood at home, parochial school and church, in later life, thanks to The Urantia Book, I have become a "recovering fundamentalist." Reared the son of a minister of music and education, I was saturated with church doctrines, creeds and rigid beliefs, such as six-day creation, original sin, judgment, punishment, hell, etc. Sadly, I learned debilitating fear, guilt and shame at an early age. The dominant emphasis was to believe, not think. Questioning was equated with doubt. However military service and earning university degrees through a doctorate exposed me to a variety of alternate views and concepts. Trained to think critically as a scientist, my reservations about those fundamentalist teachings increased. The clergy reacted by suggesting that "demonic" influence could be causing me to doubt and question their "truths" and that my faith was weak. The anti-intellectual stance of the church was stifling, and my disaffection escalated.
Despite my uneasiness with church teachings, service in congregations continued to provide a good role model for my children. Later elected to the board of directors of the church at the state level, I also served as a consultant for the church's national college board. After serving for a time in these roles, the realization came that basic church teachings were no longer believable. Continuing the charade of being one of the "loyal opposition" became intolerable. So, I resigned from the state-level board and left the church. Angry, feeling misled and betrayed by the church, I rejected religion.
My plunge into a "dark night of the soul" began as I overreacted and dismissed everything spiritual. The result was agnostic doubt that bordered on atheism. My shame is that my mental state dipped so low as to question the authenticity of Jesus. Mental stress and chaos were aggravated by the end of a 20-year marriage against my will, and I became the single parent of teenagers. Losing the stability afforded by my spiritual and emotional anchors produced mental disorientation and dysfunctional behavior. Miraculously, despite my confusion, a desperate desire to find truth lingered.
The Urantia Book teaches that God knows, loves and supports each of us individually. For instance, my mind was opening as the shackles of dogmatic religious beliefs were thrown off. Searching for truth, I drifted through so-called "metaphysics" and New Age concepts. Fortunately I discovered meditation that revealed unknown facets of mind. In retrospect, I believe a sincere prayer for guidance was implicit in my yearning for truth. That prayer was answered unexpectedly, profoundly and in a life-changing manner.
One day divine love visited me. While meditating, asking for and visualizing healing for others, I felt a strange "force" seize my body. There was a sensation of floating up and away, presumably having an "out-of-body" experience. My uneasiness was calmed by a soft quiet voice that said, "Be still." I waited. Soon a commanding voice announced, "I am the Lord your God, listen to my voice and I will show you a way to help many people." My mind state was total awe and reverence. After a pause the voice said, "Go." Waiting for more direction I listened. When none came, I asked within, "Go where?" But no answer came. Years later the answer did become clear.
After that experience I felt somewhat like the prodigal son who asked to his misdeeds forgiven and was welcomed back joyously by a forgiving Father. Indeed I too learned forgiveness, but there were more lessons in store for me to learn. The Urantia Book teaches: the "greatest affliction is never to have been afflicted; mortals only learn wisdom by experiencing tribulation." The invaluable lessons for me to learn came through health challenges. The first event tested my trust in God while having heart triple coronary artery bypass surgery in my mid-40s.
About that time I mentioned to a friend my interest in healing prayer. She referred me to Meri Dawes, who told me about The Urantia Book, which extensively describes the life of the greatest healer, Jesus. Finding and examining a copy, it was immediately clear that the truth I had sought had been found. I read the Book voraciously, cover to cover, as one starved for spiritual food. For the next five years I studied The Book in a group guided by Meri's skillful mentoring. I am and will be forever grateful to her. The light of truth in the Book began progressive illumination, dispelling the spiritual blight of my "dark night."
The joyful truths of The Urantia Book are a striking contrast to the oppressive and fearful fundamentalist teachings about a wrathful and punishing God. Learning its truth is progressively changing me, a "recovering fundamentalist." Later, "by chance" a group interested in the study of The Book started meeting in my home in the early in the 1980s, oddly because of my res