Bedell, a man whom I
consider to be “great in the invisible
kingdom,” handed me a copy of the
Urantia Book in California back in 1968.
He was 72 years old at the time and had
been acquainted with the Urantia Papers
I knew Clyde
as a pragmatic, tough, brilliant
advertising expert, author and
businessman, so he shocked me when he
said he believed the text had been
produced and materialized by celestial
beings. This put me off. However, he
added a mitigating comment which I
recalled later: “But forget all of that.
Judge the Urantia Papers by their
content. If I told you that I knew for
sure they were written by angels, it
would be the worst reason of all for you
to believe them. There is a part of God
in you that will tell you whether they
are true or not.” I was impressed to
some degree by the material, but I was
sure I did not need it. I had already
settled all of these questions in my
mind, or so I believed.
A couple of
years later, I watched Clyde give a talk
on books for a women’s club in Santa
Barbara. Clyde had an astounding
library, and showed slides of first
editions and unusual books, some of
which were worth a fortune. He even had
handwritten tomes from the Middle Ages.
I was a bit surprised when Clyde’s final
slide showed a copy of the Urantia Book.
I was concerned he would empty out the
place when he started talking about it.
He said, “If I had to relinquish all of
these books but one, this is the one I
would keep.” He said very little else
about it but none of the audience left.
Nor did anyone seem to care very much.
I thought at
the time that Clyde had made a rather
radical pronouncement. On that sunny
Santa Barbara afternoon I had no idea
what lay in store for me. I was about
35, full of energy and confidence. I had
no conception that in a few years I
would lose Vicki, one of my beloved
daughters, and that my wife would die of
cancer. I had no idea my life would come
apart at the seams and that I would
descend into a hopeless, indescribable
darkness. It was in this despair that I
truly “found” the riches of the Urantia
Papers proclaim that personality
realities transcend all the other
realities. In those days in Santa
Barbara I could not have grasped such a
philosophical construct. Yet, it is this
notion that has assured me I shall see
Vicki again; it has taught me to deeply
appreciate my new wife Joan and my two
other daughters, Kathleen and Michelle.
It promises me that one day, in another
plane of existence, I will embrace in
peace all of those I have loved—and
those I have contended with—in my life
upon this difficult planet.
The book Clyde
handed me many years ago is rather
sad-looking today. The pages are marked
up and crumbling on the edges, and the
cover has come off. I don’t use it
anymore, because every time I open it
more pages fall out of the binding. Yet,
I believe its condition is evidence of a
noble veneration for the gift Clyde gave
me. If I had to give up every book I own
save one, I would choose to keep that
1955 copy of the Urantia Book that Clyde
Bedell handed me so many years ago.
Larry is co-author of
A History of
the Urantia Papers
[click on image for details]