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How I Found the Urantia Book—WALLY ZIGLAR (1957)

BACK IN 1957 my twin brother Richard was attending a flying saucer convention with his friend Max Miller, who had just published the acclaimed Flying Saucers—Fact or Fiction. Bored with the lecture, they went next door to browse inside an occult bookstore. It was there that Richard spotted the Urantia Book nestled between several other monumental works, including A Treatise on Cosmic Fire by Alice Bailey and The Secret Doctrine by Madame Blavatsky. Max said he could get any book for Richard at fifty per cent off list price through his publisher, DeVorss, so Richard bought several, including the Urantia Book.

Only a handful of people were aware of the UBook in those days. I gave the book little notice until my dad, after reading a few chapters, suggested I take a look at it to see what I thought, and left it on the living room coffee table for my comments. At the time, Richard was working on his Master’s Degree in psychology at Pepperdine University and I was doing graduate work in finance and real estate at USC. I’d already had the misfortune of reading about fifty pages of the very lengthy Cosmic Fire and thought Richard had gone off the deep end; critiquing his spacy books was not exactly what I had in mind for my weekends. None of the other titles caught my interest either, so the Urantia Book sat there for a while.

In the ’50s my parents owned a duplex in Hancock Park, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. My grandparents occupied the upstairs unit. It was customary for my grandmother, whenever she was going to a luncheon, to come down to my parents’ unit and wait in our living room for a friend to pick her up.

One summer day, Maria Culbertson, who had waited years for the Urantia Book to be published and who possessed one of the first copies in Los Angeles, came over to take my grandmother to lunch. Maria tells me that when her eyes fell upon this big blue book resting on the coffee table, she almost had a coronary. She thought she had the only copy in Los Angeles, and so seeing another book only a block away gave her a real adrenalin boost. The idea crossed her mind that it had somehow made The New York Times bestseller list without her knowing it, thanks to the advertising genius of Clyde Bedell.

After gathering her senses, she learned from Grandmother that the twins and their dad had recently found the book, not from a bestseller list but from the shelf of an occult bookstore in Fontana, California. Afterwards, Maria called back to encourage me to follow Richard and read the Urantia Book, and that I did in the summer of 1958.

Since then I have read it eight times in its entirety. Over the years I have given the book to many people, some notables being Werner Von Braun, Manly P. Hall, Richard Nixon and my neighbors Will and Ariel Durant. I have had many exhilarating moments and one memorable disappointment: I gave the book to a seminary professor who swore it was demon-inspired. To him the doctrine of Christianity centered on “the blood of Christ shed for our sins,” and he judged me to be in strong need of repentance for having read such a powerful work of the devil. I pray for him occasionally.

Together with my brother and dad I have placed numerous books in public libraries and some half a hundred in naval ship libraries where many a sailor has become a captive reader. I have often wondered where those big blue books go when the ships are decommissioned and put in mothballs. It would be nice to have a few of those first printings back

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