Now Is The Time
By Richard Omura.
I used to think that the Urantia Book community will just grow and grow until it gets so big that it draws national and even international attention.
However, upon looking at the reality, I realized that the number of attendees at International Conferences has been steadily getting smaller. Same with the study groups in my area. I don’t have solid figures on this, and it may be that the total number of people who own UBs have increased, but just from looking around at our gatherings, it seems that the number of dedicated interacting UB readers is shrinking. At the conferences middle age and older readers far outnumber the young readers. We have been taking steps such as creating the YaYa group to nurture our younger readers with this in mind, but it is rather apparent that after the boomer generation has passed on, the number of dedicated UB believers will be drastically reduced. Social media has helped in stemming this trend but will it reverse the momentum? We have to face the fact that the next generation of dedicated believers will probably be less in number than presently. How about the generation after that? And after that? Unless we do something, it is quite possible that after a few more generations, the UB will become a very obscure item in the footnote of history.
Before it is too late, I strongly suggest that we take a major step in alleviating this potential problem. The solution is outreach, but it is how we do outreach that makes a difference. I’ve been thinking about this for a few decades and I now see that we have been at a standstill because we have been mixing the business model (distributing the book) with the social model (spiritual outreach). We need to differentiate the two and let them go their own separate ways. The UB community needs more ministers and spiritual guides, not more book pushers. Let the professional booksellers do the selling.
Publishing and selling the book is a material endeavor. It is a business and should be run like a business; to make a profit. In terms of profit, the way UB publishers have been doing business has been a failure. We have the greatest revelation of the times, why is it not making any money? Because they are confusing business with religion. They should be divorced, it is an unholy and unprofitable marriage. Let the business be run like a business, to sell books and make a profit, like most other books. And let the religion remain personal, a personal relationship with God but with a social agenda that nurtures our UB religionists to disseminate the message by using their own words based on their spiritual experiences, rather than by quoting text and telling people to read the book. Teaching by rote is the old model that is followed by many traditional religions. Please, lets leave that baggage behind.[/wpcol_3quarter_end]
The social agenda would be on studying, understanding, living and exemplifying the concepts in the book without getting into an over-zealous proselytizing mode. We need to have a spiritual community based on TUB wherein we develop our souls by practicing the teachings of the book. We need a spiritual community OF the book, not ABOUT the book. Christianity made the mistake of creating religion about Jesus, not of Jesus. We don’t want to make the same mistake. We need a community that can help us master our selves, to enable us to use the concepts in the book to further our everyday lives; to be healthy, to be wise and happy; a community that supports our struggles with the practical demands of life using spiritual ideas from the book. The community should be geared not toward understanding the complicated minutiae in the book that has little relevance to daily life, but toward creating processes wherein we can return good for evil consistently, toward mastering the wants of our body that makes for obesity, substance abuse, conflict, disease and emotional instability: self-mastery. In other words, a UB community with a self-help approach using the concepts and ideas of the book.
As for marketing the book, the little efforts many of us have been doing, although appreciated, are really “Mickey Mouse”. I have written a few self-published books and I market them in small scale, similar to what UB readers do with the UB. I talk to people, I try to get on radio shows, have talks, hand out flyers, etc. Then I realized there’s something wrong here. Why are we doing this same small scale marketing with TUB, the world’s greatest revelation? I may not have enough money to do large scale marketing for my books but there are many UB readers with deep pockets who can financially support such a large scale endeavor for The Urantia Book. The current marketing strategy (if there is one) of the Urantia Book publishers really is “Mickey Mouse.” (This is not to disparage any of you who have diligently worked on marketing the book. No offense meant.)
The spiritual outreach should be done personally, one to one, by manifesting high values and teaching by example. And by creating a community of readers who can effectively model the high concepts in the book.
The marketing of the book should be strictly business. Done with a profit motive as we are still not in the era of light and life when the service motive will be the norm. It sounds counter intuitive but the practice of giving away books for free can be counter productive.When the public sees free books, they see a religious movement and the pushing of a new “bible”. In fact, all this hoopla about outreach and how many books were sold and given out sounds just like a zealous religious movement. This is fine if The Urantia Book is your religion, is it?
I take it that it is not. I take it that your true religion is your personal relationship with God. And that The Urantia Book is not your bible, but a source of great spiritual insight among other great books. This needs to be clearly laid out for the world to see. We need to differentiate ourselves from the religions of authority by declaring that The Urantia Book is not our religion nor our authority. We need to declare this truth in any ad or commercial that we use in pursuing the business of marketing the book
And I think it’s time we get down to business. Initially, we should experiment with marketing The Urantia Book professionally on a national basis, beginning with ads in both science and spiritual publications such as Discover Magazine and Spirituality and Health to name two. I feel that high profile ads and commercials in the nation’s biggest media outlets if done correctly might be super, but it might be tricky as I don’t think we want to come across as another Dianetics. The ads and commercials should be varied, with different approaches for different demographics, produced by a reputable company and include an 1-800 phone number. This is important because the public should be informed by readers who have a track record of service and can display the “fruits of the spirit.” Individuals who do outreach on their own may have good motives, but are often not as well versed in the concepts of the book as they should be. And there are individuals who get media attention that I feel are not portraying The Urantia Book accurately or truthfully. If those that are truly qualified to represent the book do not step forward, those who are less qualified will.
We have been avoiding this task, and rightfully so, as many of us felt that we weren’t ready, or the world wasn’t ready. And we assumed that the number of dedicated UB believers would increase naturally without overt commercial outreach. That has not been the case. And as much as I want to believe that the angels will provide books to whomever is deserving, someone human still needs to get the word out and the books on the shelves with whatever resources we can command.
And now is the time. We have a community of UB believers who have been studying the book for decades, who lived in the same century as when the papers were indited, and are in touch with the current meanings of the words (this is important because as time passes, the words will take on different meanings) and is sufficiently knowledgeable, enthused and passionate about the teachings. We have a slew of UB scholars that can answer any questions that the media may pose including the controversial ones on race and eugenics. Will the next generation be able to field such qualified readers?
There is nobody more capable than us of doing this. The chance will be lost if we wait too long. Already we have lost UB readers that would have contributed immensely to this task such as Meredith Sprunger and Duane Faw. We cannot afford to lose more such minds before this work is done. We must act. The time is now.