HomeUB CentralSource StudiesMovement HistoryBooksArticlesAscent to ParadiseStudy AidsLinks
URANTIA MOVEMENT HISTORY
VARIOUS HISTORIES
MOVEMENT NEWSLETTERS
harold & martha sherman
Articles and controversies
pdfForum Data and Apocrypha
Appendix of The Sherman Diaries, Vol. 2
 
The Forumites
compiled by Saskia Praamsma
pdfHow the Papers Came Through
Chapter 8 of Sherman Diaries, Vol. 2
 
The 1942 Petition
Presented to Dr. Sadler by 48 Forumites
pdfForum Days
from How I Found the Urantia Book
 
533 Diversey Parkway
compiled by Saskia Praamsma
pdfChildhood at the Forum
by Mark Kulieke (SGH, August 1993)
 
pdf"I Remember the Forum"
Early HIFTUB stories with pictures
 
pdf"Until We Meet Again"
Compiled by Saskia Praamsma
 
pdfPlan for the Urantia Book Revelation
by Carolyn B. Kendall 
 
Major Growth Steps in the Urantia Movement by Meredith Sprunger
How I Found the Urantia Book
Compiled by Saskia Praamsma
My Own HIFTUB Story
by Saskia Praamsma
The Split - A Blessing in Disguise
by Saskia Praamsma
What is the IUA?
Descriptions from two official sources
No Urantia Church - Not Yet!
by Saskia Praamsma
onlineA History of the Urantia Papers
by Larry Mullins
 
Open Letter to Larry Mullins
from Niann Emerson Chase (2003)
Three Histories
by Matthew Rapaport
pdfSeparate Publishing of Part IV
Is Harry McMullan breaking copyright laws?
 
pdfThe Jesus-A New Revelation Debate
Readers' pro and con viewpoints
 
A Box of Chocolates
by Phil Geiger
The Value of an Accurate History
by Saskia Praamsma
go
HAROLD SHERMAN
Harry J. Loose
Mysterious Forumite and Sherman mentor
 
Harold and Martha Sherman
and their relation to the Urantia work
 
Part One: Book Publishing
Sherman's 1942 suggestions for Dr. Sadler
 
Part Two: Organizations
Sherman's 1942 suggestions for Dr. Sadler
The ARA Messages (1941-42)
Sherman's TA communications
"Pipeline to God"—Chapter V of How To Know What to Believe by Harold Sherman
onlineRebuttal to "Pipeline to God"
Clyde Bedell's lengthy response
 
onlineResponse, "Pipeline"/HTKWTB
Meredith Sprunger's comments 
 
Editor's Note for Sherman Diaries
Saskia Praamsma
The Sherman Diaries
Editors, Saskia Praamsma, Matthew Block
pdf Letter from Ingo Swann
Friend of the Shermans shows appreciation
 
pdf Editorial, The Sherman Diaries
Review by Larry Mullins
 
Postscript to Urantia, The Great Cult Mystery Martin Gardner, 2008
Translation histories  
[English] The Italian Translation Project
[Italian] La Storia de Il Libro di Urantia
pdfJ.J. Benitez: J.J. The Baptist?
by Rosey Lieske and Olga Lopez
 
pdf Translations 2010
Urantia Foundation News
 
Coming soon  
SIR HUBERT WILKINS
HISTORICAL IMAGES
 

The Value of an Accurate History


Those of us who have found truth in the Urantia revelation will not be satisfied with anything less
than the truest history we can produce during our lifetimes.
  © 2008 by Saskia Praamsma

 Original Urantia Notebooks of Harold and Martha Sherman
Download or read online at Archive.org


click on books below for ordering

 

Photo compilation above [L-R]: Harry Loose; Harold and Martha Sherman; Sir Hubert Wilkins; 533 Diversey Parkway, Chicago; contact commissioners Emma (Christy) Christensen, Dr. Lena K. Sadler, Dr. William S. Sadler; Bill Sadler; Anna and Wilfred Kellogg; Clyde Bedell.


I LOVE history. That’s what first attracted me to the Urantia Book. I initially saw it as a big, fat history book that was giving me the straight scoop. Just getting this authoritative account of what really happened on our planet, with no particular spin or interpretation, was a breath of fresh air in a world that seemed built on misinformation and ignorance. I loved learning that our planetary history began a billion years ago, that life was purposely planted here by superhuman chemists, and that human history started one million years ago with the first human beings, Andon and Fonta. Reading about the Lucifer rebellion and the default of Adam and Eve not only explained why our world is on a backward course but gave us clues on where to start making corrections.

The Urantia Book revealed a big plan in the universe, that we were not just material beings but spiritual beings who had the potential to live forever. There were rules, and if we wanted to be an eternal part of God’s plan, we had to discover what those rules were and follow them. It made sense that if we wanted to stay alive on the physical plane we had to learn not to get sick, not to get hit by a car or fall off a cliff or drown, or, on the positive side, to keep eating the right foods and breathe healthy air. By the same token, to live forever in God’s spiritual universe we had to abide by the spiritual laws. Jesus came to teach us those laws: Love God, love our neighbor, do good to others, serve our fellows, and go about doing good.

History is the story of people either breaking those laws or abiding by them, their actions and decisions, and the repercussions. By studying our planetary history we can see what went wrong and prevent the same things from happening over and over, as illustrated by the old saying, “He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it.” This is why the Urantia Book gives us so much history, why the Prince’s staff began to conserve knowledge and why the history and culture of the various earth races were taught in the schools of the Garden of Eden.

The study of history should not interfere with our lives as spiritual beings. In fact, it could help us to make wiser choices. On page 215 it says:

The true perspective of any reality problem—human or divine, terrestrial or cosmic—can be had only by the full and unprejudiced study and correlation of three phases of universe reality: origin, history, and destiny.

And:

The present can be truly interpreted only in the light of the correlated past and future.

If the spiritual aspects of life were all we were expected to know and share with others, the revelators would have given us a much shorter book. They would not have made it approximately 75% history and given us so many details concerning our origin and destiny. They could have simply grouped together some inspirational quotes from the Bible, as Dr. Sadler did in 1909 in his first published book, Soul Winning Texts, or encouraged the early contact commissioners and Forumites to simply live the teachings rather than bother with a big book that took thirty or forty years to produce, as was deemed wise two thousand years ago when Jesus said:

Today we make no record of the teachings of this gospel of the kingdom lest, when I have gone, you speedily become divided up into sundry groups of truth contenders as a result of the diversity of your interpretation of my teachings. For this generation it is best that we live these truths while we shun the making of records. [1768]

That was then. In the twentieth century, it was decided that we humans had evolved to where we could safely handle a big, fat book that contained details of our history, origin and destiny, and live the truths at the same time. And why would there be a conflict between these two separate but related pursuits? A class can study history together, yet each individual student can practice spirituality in his dealings with his teachers and classmates.

On page 1123 it states

Revealed religion is the unifying element of human existence. Revelation unifies history, co-ordinates geology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, sociology, and psychology.

And on page 1109:

While statements with reference to cosmology are never inspired, such revelations are of immense value in that they at least transiently clarify knowledge by . . . [t]he restoration of important bits of lost knowledge concerning epochal transactions in the distant past.

It’s a fact that the first thing people want to know about the Urantia Book is who wrote it. I was present when TheoQuest.com was launched at the Whole Life Expo several years ago, with a great display describing their website with its many Urantia Book concepts. However, when it came time for Q&A, the first question was, “Who wrote the book?” The designated TQ representative brushed the question off by saying it was not important, that the book should speak for itself, but the next person asked the same question. Finally, with the non-Urantia-indoctrinated audience getting noticeably suspicious and a third questioner demanding to know, TQ board member and old-time reader David Elders was recruited from the back of the room to come forth and produce an answer. The version he reluctantly delivered was so whitewashed and uninformative, that the audience looked at each other with raised eyebrows. It was obvious to everyone that this Urantia revelation had lots of skeletons in the closet!

All religious movements have histories. Just go to any library or metaphysical book store and you will see how many thousands of books have been written about early Christian history, as well as all the ancient religions. You will find shelf after shelf of histories of more recent belief systems such as Mormonism, Theosophy, and Seventh-day Adventism. Even A Course in Miracles and new age communities such as Findhorn in Scotland are developing extensive histories about their origins.

There are also histories emerging about the Urantia revelation. But two factors make ours so difficult to sort out: the wall of secrecy surrounding its origins and the “we’re special” attitude of the inner circles that arose among its first ambassadors. Had the Urantia Papers not been singled out as the greatest truth to hit the planet since Jesus, people wouldn’t have lost their heads. But with such a build-up, it’s no wonder that the desire to “own and control” it led to conflict and a sense of superiority and exclusivity. The “chosen people” attitude is nothing new:

[The Jews] looked upon all gentile ways with utter contempt. They worshiped the letter of the law and indulged a form of self-righteousness based upon the false pride of descent. [1339]

The average Urantia Book reader claims to have no interest in Urantia movement politics, but today’s politics are tomorrow’s history. The sixth epochal revelation will undoubtedly include a history of the fifth.

Everything that happens with this revelation—today’s politics and lawsuits included—will be part of the history of the dissemination of this revelation and studied by religionists of the future. Those students will be interested in knowing how the receivers of a revelation of such truth and beauty could have gotten themselves entangled in such an ugly mess.

A number of years ago, after the copyright issues was settled in the courts, I attended one of Foundation’s fundraisers in Los Angeles. I had heard from several sources that they were in dire financial straits, and I published an open letter to Urantia Foundation with suggestions that might bring them more donations. In my letter I recounted some of their past doings. While most responses agreed with my ideas, I received a few imploring me to quit “bickering,” forget the past, and strive for unity instead: “Why do we need to rehash all this old stuff? It’s just tearing us down and we need to move on.”

I wish it were so easy. If you have a disease, you can’t just say, “Let’s forget the disease and be healthy!” The universe is based on laws of cause and effect. To be healthy you need to first diagnose the disease, take the proper steps to remove it, and figure out what caused it in the first place so it doesn’t keep coming back.

The Urantia Book says:

The study of causation is the perusal of history. [215]

Prior to publication of the five-volume Sherman Diaries, Urantia movement histories consisted primarily of Larry Mullins’ History of the Urantia Papers, Ernest Moyer’s Birth of a Divine Revelation, Mark Kulieke’s Birth of a Revelation, and outsider/skeptic Martin Gardner’s Urantia, the Great Cult Mystery. In this category I would also place John Bunker and Karen Pressler's Edgar Cayce and the Urantia Book, for the amount of research that went into it.

While all are to be commended for their detective work, all adding to our store of information about the early days, their work has also led to the creation of more myths and legends. Adding to the mystery and confusion, Urantia Foundation, for its 50th Anniversary commemoration, produced a 53-page history wherein the participants were all anonymous. Since God works with personalities, not phantoms, this whitewashed account reads like the pages of an unlisted phone numbers directory. The unnamed Dr. Sadler, whom we all know as the custodian of the revelation, was described as “a noted Chicago psychologist”—a particularly clumsy attempt to obscure the facts, since Dr. Sadler was a psychiatrist who wrote thick textbooks on psychiatry, whose patients by and large comprised the Forum that first studied the papers. This is an uncomfortable fact that Urantia historians simply have to deal with.

By far the most helpful and comprehensive history of movement politics is on the Urantia Book Fellowship’s website, maintained by David Kantor, with a timeline consisting of historic documents presented in chronological order, allowing the participants on all sides to speak for themselves and the readers to make judgments in the light of their own truth.

What has mainly steered Urantia Book history has been the carrying out and slavish following of supposed superhuman “mandates” and “instructions,” which could have been hearsay or human wisdom elevated to divine guidance, since nobody—alive or dead—has ever produced documentation. The diaries and letters of Harold and Martha Sherman, who were members of the Forum for five years from 1942 to 1947, cast doubt that these mandates came from midwayers and other higher beings. The Shermans supply evidence that even the wording of the Declaration of Trust had human import, as they themselves sat in on meetings with Clyde Bedell and other Forumites where the inclusion of certain phrases was debated and changes made. Harold Sherman himself gave input, as is told in Volume Two of the Diaries. And yet, one group of Urantia Book readers, who have created an organization called Urantia Association International, seems to be forming a religion around the Declaration of Trust, believing it to be a divinely authored set of instructions to be followed to the letter. The true facts of the origin of document need to be brought to light before the falsehoods become crystallized as official Urantia history, giving license for fundamentalism to rule supreme.

All modern religions have seriously blundered in the attempt to put a miraculous interpretation on certain epochs of human history. [1071]

Another problem we encounter when trying to produce an official history of the movement has to do with repercussions of the 1989 Split between the Foundation and the Brotherhood. So many embarrassing decisions were made leading up to it, that today’s leaders on both sides have a natural desire to sanitize the actions of their predecessors, producing conflicting accounts about the same event, or whole episodes omitted entirely. Added to this is the bizarre circumstance that for a number of years the two groups did not recognize each other’s existence. Unless all cards are being played, how can either side expect to produce a complete and unprejudiced history of the movement? It will take unaffiliated readers to present the unbiased history that people of the future can rely upon.

Another difficulty with Urantia’s past has been the appearance of both sacred and profane histories. Here’s a related quote:

The custom of looking upon the record of the experiences of the Hebrews as sacred history and upon the transactions of the rest of the world as profane history is responsible for much of the confusion existing in the human mind as to the interpretation of history. And this difficulty arises because there is no secular history of the Jews. [1070]

Were it not for the Internet, where all information can immediately be posted and scrutinized, and the emergence of such documents as the diaries and letters of Harold and Martha Sherman (which were not publicly revealed until the year 2000), we would once again be left with little more than a largely fictitious and “sacred” history of the movement and nobody left behind to dispute it. The official Urantia movement history would be, as the old saying goes, “the lie we all agree upon.” Dr. Sadler and Christy would be revered as saints and the “Sherman rebellion” forever fixed as the disruptive act of a lone, disgruntled individual who had sinister motives to steal the revelation away from the good Doctor. Fundamentalism would reign supreme.

With Harold and Martha Sherman speaking to us from beyond the grave, we now have the only eyewitness account that dispels these secondhand tales and show us that Dr. Sadler and Christy were above all, human beings capable of making mistakes and misjudgments. And yet, many who would spend years studying the history of the Jews and early Christians in a Bible study class, or the life of Adam and Eve in a Urantia Book study group, would not be interested in reading The Sherman Diaries, regarding it as “profane” history.

While some have tried to create a “sacred” history around the Urantia Book, for a former agnostic like me, there can only be one history—the plain facts that tell the story of the course these revelations took before and after they were released to the world. Because the Urantia revelation contains information that has the potential awaken humanity to its purpose and destiny, the rocky history of the book's suppression and dissemination should be taken very seriously and studied in great depth.

Clyde Bedell, one of the original Forumites, was widely revered in the Urantia movement as a devoted student of the Urantia revelation. He was also a contemporary of the Shermans, and helped produce the petition that led to the Sherman rebellion in 1942. When Harold Sherman wrote How to Know What to Believe in 1976 he was 78 years old and looking back at events through the distorted lens of retrospection. Clyde Bedell, also 78, remembered events differently. To compare, if I told the story of my decades-ago first marriage today, and compared it to diaries I might have kept at the time, minute by minute and day by day, two entirely different accounts would emerge. Experience has made me philosophical, and I now look back on those faraway days from a detached vantage point. Hindsight may be 20-20 but it can not be relied upon to furnish us with an accurate history.

Offended by Sherman’s account of the 1942 episode, Bedell wrote a lengthy rebuttal. Larry Mullins, who idolized Bedell as his mentor who had introduced him to the Urantia Book, took Bedell’s version as gospel, and presented the Shermans in his History as the evil stirrer-uppers of what he called “The Sherman Tempest.” (In print, Mullins incorrectly accused the Shermans of advocating numerology and astrology, when Sherman’s true mission was to investigate ESP. The Shermans recount in their diaries how surprised they were to find many Forumites still taking astrology seriously even after being exposed to the higher Urantia truths.) The diaries reveal the true facts. Held alongside what both Sherman and Bedell wrote thirty-five years later, show that both had faulty memories, that neither was all right or all wrong. Larry Mullins has since published an article in The Spiritual Fellowship Journal setting the record straight about the Shermans, and has plans to revise the next edition of his History accordingly. I applaud and admire Mullins for having the courage to change his mind when presented with irrefutable facts.

We now have almost one hundred years of Urantia revelation history. Decisions were made that sowed the seeds for future disharmony, but what the Sherman Diaries reveal, apart from the underlying causes that produced a turbulent history, is that there are no villains. Dr. Sadler’s desire to control the course of the dissemination of the revelation was with the best of intentions, and why not? He was the custodian, he had devoted his life to it, and for all intents and purposes, until the papers were published in book form, he owned the revelation. Even the Sleeping Subject, who, we could argue, was the true possessor of the material, saw fit to hand over the reins to Dr. Sadler and his immediate family. The motives of all concerned were pure, just as Eve did not purposely mean to default on their mission.

It was farthest from Eve’s intention ever to do anything which would militate against Adam’s plans or jeopardize their planetary trust. [840]

The Sherman Diaries make it clear that even those who opposed Sadler were in full agreement that the all-important factor was “the proper presentation of the revelation to the world.”

Everything that happens with this revelation is being recorded by angels and other beings for future study, and that includes all the work that each of us are doing. The universe is a place where meticulous records are kept, and I could produce quote after quote about higher universe beings whose sole function is to keep records.

The [seraphic recorders] are the keepers of the threefold records of the local systems – [material, morontial and spiritual]. . . .  [436]

If we are not to have another major revelation for a thousand years, why do all this work of information-gathering now and not leave it for the people of the future? First, certain individuals still alive today were either directly or indirectly involved, such as the daughters of the Shermans, Marcia Lynch and Mary Kobiella. They still have valuable documents in their possession that can shed more light. Mary, who joined the Forum in 1943, and Marcia, though only fourteen at the time but living with her parents across the street at 530 Diversey Parkway the entire five years, have been most cooperative in sharing with us what remains of their parents’ papers, some of which are of immense value to a Urantia historian but which the sisters, not being familiar with the Urantia work, were unsure what to do with.

We are told that throughout eternity we will be consulting historical records, so I consider it my duty, since this is my particular interest, to find and preserve as many Urantia-related documents as possible here on the material plane, not only for Urantia historians but also for the midwayers of the future, so they will have something to work with when they compile the history for the sixth epochal revelation and are mandated only to use human sources:

As far as possible, consistent with our mandate, we have endeavored to utilize and to some extent co-ordinate the existing records having to do with the life of Jesus on Urantia. . . .[We] have enjoyed access to the lost record of the Apostle Andrew. . . [It] has been our purpose also to make use of the so-called Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. [1341]

All these writers presented honest pictures of Jesus as they saw, remembered, or had learned of him. [1342]

The revelators also mention that these records are imperfect, but they use them anyway. Any eyewitness account, no matter how flawed, will always have more value than second-hand rumors or a long chain of gossip.

Because a mystery was purposely created around the origin of the Urantia Book, those of us who are dedicated to bringing the facts out into the open have our work cut our for us. The teachings themselves encourage us to become detectives and researchers in our pursuit of truth and facts, and that

Except on Paradise, knowledge is not inherent; understanding of the physical universe is largely dependent on observation and research. [339]

I have come to believe that the mystery surrounding the revelation’s origin was deliberately fabricated by Dr. Sadler. This is documented in Volume Three of The Sherman Diaries, in which the Doctor announced to the Forum on page 114 that “in order to succeed, every cult needs a masterful mystery.” It was no secret that he was forming a cult with the planned organization of a Urantia Brotherhood. That the mystery angle was a human decision becomes clear when we read what Jesus told the apostles:

“I declare to you that there is nothing covered up that is not going to be revealed; there is nothing hidden that shall not be known.”  [1681]

On the one hand we have the revelation, and on the other we have the evolution of the revelation, in which I include all the happenings that have surrounded it from its beginning circa 1911. According to my interpretation, it all falls under the category of evolutionary religion, which is the story of what humans do with the revelatory information given them.

But when tempted to criticize evolutionary religion, be careful. Remember, that is what happened; it is a historical fact. [1005]

The value of a “warts and all” history cannot be underestimated. If we truly believe that the Urantia Book is the fifth epochal history to mankind, then at least a few of us need to dig deep to find out all there is to know about it. How will future students ever be able to understand such episodes as The Split if the actual records revealing what led up to it are kept hidden or destroyed and replaced with self-serving lies and cover-ups? Those who have found truth in the Urantia revelation will not be satisfied with anything less than the truest history we can produce during our lifetimes.

up