I read with interest Teuvo’s latest article on fundraising. The bottom line is the Fellowship doesn’t have enough money for its many programs. The membership is not growing and the conferences attendance have dropped 50% over a span of over a decade.
It made me think. We know that the money is out there. It’s just not being offered to the Fellowship. Why? Well, people will pony up for what they think is worth the money. Logic says that since we’re not getting the money, we’re not doing anything that warrants the money. But, we were once. What changed?
My personal observation is that the conferences are not as free and fun as it was before. There is more of a “churchy” feel about the movement. Is it morphing from a social group to a social/religious group to a religious group? I hope not, after all we are a group of societies, not churches. Before, I used to think of a Urantia conference as like a festival, a more spiritual Burning Man or Rainbow Gathering, a place where free thought was encouraged, no doctrine was pushed, self-government was the rule, and fun was had by all, or at least the majority. It was new and suited for young bodies and minds. As we got older, we got more structured in our personal lives and that reflected in the way we have conferences and gatherings. As time passes, it’s becoming an organization of senior citizens having conferences made for senior citizens. How can the number of members not decrease? And with less members, we get less funding. So, it would appear that the fix is to generate more interest and more readers, especially the younger ones.
So I think it was a good idea to have the younger UB readers form groups and I think we’re seeing the gradual shift into a Fellowship that is composed more and more of the new and younger generation. The younger readers must step up but it’s difficult because there aren’t that many in numbers. So the older readers can’t quite retire from the movement yet. We must keep young. By using the ideas in the UB as well as the various new medical advances and spiritual techniques we have available, we can re-invigorate our bodies, minds and souls so that we don’t become the dull, stodgy, passive couch potato that is no fun to be around. Our bodies will slowly go but lets try to keep our minds sharp and our spirit alive! Or at the least, we have to keep out of the ways of youth. Let them discover their own values, their own path to God and their own music, and heed what they are saying:
No more destination, No more pain,
Well, he said, “One thing before I graduate
Never let fear decide your fate.”
I say ya kill your heroes
And fly, fly, baby don’t cry
No need to worry cuz everyone will die
Every day we just go, go baby don’t go
Don’t you worry
We just love you more than you know.
– AWOL Nation
Yes, kill your heroes. Forget the scripture. Burn all your books. Kill the Buddha if you see him on your path. (Not literally of course. The meaning is: your relationship with the Source is the prime directive.)
The important thing is to keep the Urantia community youthful, energetic and exciting to be a part of. The youth must bring back that energy that once made the Urantia culture a vibrant and exciting venue for spiritual expression. Have gatherings that you truly enjoy!
Do you enjoy sitting around listening to lectures? Do you like churchy gatherings where people are singing religious hymns? (Ugh! Not for me!) Do you find Urantia gatherings truly interesting and can’t wait for the next one? If not, how can you make it more attractive and fulfilling? Because if you don’t enjoy the program and find it truly exciting, why would other people your own age want to join you?
I know it may be an uphill battle because many of the older readers are entrenched in their ways; as they get older they want staid, boring gatherings where they don’t have to exert much physical or mental energy. They want to teach younger people their values and get them away from the frivolous partying and having fun. They may even get overly sanctimonious and intolerant. Just what we need to turn creative people off. It is understandable that some of the older readers want to shepherd the younger readers into learning what they have learned. It helps those younger readers who need to learn by rote. But the truly creative and imaginative youths who will become the new leaders should experience the truths for themselves. They may need to make mistakes, the price of experiential learning, and for this they need a wide open environment, where they can explore life at will. Older readers, let them be!
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
But no worries. Like I said, reach within. Relax. Since money is short and membership is down, it may be time to shift the focus from outreach to inreach. Lets get our act together first, individually and collectively. Apply the teachings of the UB to our daily lives. Experience spiritual connection, don’t just read about it. Do the inner work. Learn to identify your soul and allow it to make decisions in your life. Remember, all action derives from the existential center –the First Source. Once you learn to connect regularly with the center, you will intuitively know what actions to take. When you have embodied your highest self, good things will come about naturally without being forced. Jesus said be whole and righteous and live a truth-coordinated life. That does not necessarily mean living like a saint or adhering strictly to the text in the scripture of your choice. It means to find truth, beauty and goodness in your own hearts and express that love to others – through music, the arts, writing, drama, sports, business, politics, healthful living and personal relationships. And the best way to find truth, beauty and goodness in yourself is by going within and connecting to the divine spirit regularly. Get inspired! Be of good cheer! Make life interesting!
(1726.2) 155:1.5 “…The extent to which you have to go with your message to the people is, in a way, the measure of your failure to live the whole or righteous life, the truth-co-ordinated life.”
Youthful Urantia Book readers, your numbers may be small but you have the benefit of the many good works from older readers. It is getting time for you to take over. It is important to note and remember the history of our social/spiritual culture so as not to repeat the same mistakes, but each generation must have its own energy, its own values, its own art and vision and it’s own way of brightening the light within so that it can shine out.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson