An Educational Retreat & Conference
A project of Evolving-Souls.org
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Day One: Orientation
The Urantia Book:
An Evolutionary Revelation of Divine Love
Speaker: Byron Belitsos
This opening presentation by conference convener Byron Belitsos offers a beginner’s overview of the key tenets of the Urantia text, and in particular will present the “good news” of the divine love and mercy depicted in this purported epochal revelation. Byron will explain how the Urantia text weaves cosmic evolution and divine revelation by unifying cosmology, theology, philosophy, history, and spirituality. Byron also shares a few stories from his own life story of inspiration from the Urantia Revelation. Byron’s essay outlines a large part of the message of this opening presentation.
Byron is an award-winning author, editor, and book publisher and also the publisher of Evolving-Souls.org. He is author of the forthcoming book, Romancing the Universe, and has published numerous books and articles about the Urantia Revelation during his four decades of study of the text. His full bio is HERE. Byron lives in San Rafael, CA.
Dialogue with Veteran Readers of the Urantia Book:
Living a Life with Epochal Revelation
Presenters: Jeffrey Wattles and Elizabeth Engstrom Cratty
Several long-time readers will briefly share their experiences, including renowned
novelist Elizabeth Engstrom Cratty (see her picture and bio in Sunday’s program). We will also receive a Skype presentation by Jeffrey Wattles, PhD, who is a veteran reader of The Urantia Book as well as a professional philosopher. Jeff teaches philosophy and religion at Kent State University, and his life mission is to help people develop a philosophy of living as they make discoveries in truth, beauty, and goodness. He is the author of The Golden Rule (Oxford University Press,1996) and of the forthcoming book Values and Virtues: A New Philosophy of Living. (See his blog also:
Romancing the Universe:
Soulful Living—Now and in the Afterlife
Speaker: Robert Kraft, PhD
In this presentation, Professor Bob Kraft introduces the rich concept of the soul and soul evolution that is unique to the Urantia Revelation. The human soul evolves to become the repository of all our experiences that are worth preserving as eternal possessions. The evolving human soul can be distinguished from the indwelling spirit of God (another key teaching of the UB), the literal presence of a fragment of God within us. This “higher self” prompts us to make moral choices whose consequences become a living part of our eternal soul.
Bob Kraft is an emeritus professor, now retired, in the Department of English at Eastern Michigan University, where he taught for 35 years. A master teacher, he won the Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and a second award for Extraordinary Contributions to Michigan Higher Education. Kraft holds a PhD from the University of Washington in American literature. He is a long-time reader of The Urantia Book.
Integral Practice and Soul Evolution
Presenter: Terry Patten
Terry Patten, a renowned authority on evolutionary spirituality and “integral practice,” will present his cutting edge work to the conference. Among his many distinctions, Terry has worked with famed philosopher Ken Wilber to develop “Integral Life Practice,” an unprecedented and masterful distillation of ancient and modern spiritual practices. In dialogue with Byron, Terry will compare his integral vision of daily spirituality with similar teachings in the Urantia Revelation, and will also introduce us to Bay Area Integral, his local organization which is dedicated to spreading integral theory and practice.
12:15 – 1:30: Lunch
Evolutionary Progress in a Centered Universe of Universes
Speaker: Phil Calabrese, PhD
First published in 1955, The Urantia Book presents a cosmology that is commensurate with much of today’s science, but in addition describes a unique Center to the cosmos—an eternal and perfect “central universe” that is the source of the evolving universes. Its teachings help explain the phenomenon of “entanglement” in quantum theory and the existence of charge-less particles (neutrinos) that only recently were observed; plus, it is the first known source of the concept of “free energy” in the quantum vacuum. However, the UB denies that the universe is “isotropic” (the same in all directions) and provides an alternative to today’s Big Bang theory. This talk and our panel of respondents will discuss these and other aspects of Urantia cosmology and science. [An archive of articles on science and the Urantia Book can be found HERE.]
Dr. Phil Calabrese is an awarding-winning mathematician with a wide variety of experience as university professor, mathematical inventor, aerospace analyst & computer programmer, prime contractor for DoD, and senior scientist for US Navy. He has also given numerous invited presentations and published many scientific and cosmological papers dedicated to readers of The Urantia Book. See in particular his article, “The Coming Scientific Validation of the Urantia Book.”
Moderated Panel of Cosmology and Science Experts:
Dr. Calabrese will be joined by Dr. Ted Peters and Matthew Rapaport, M.A. for an in-depth discussion.
This panel will include Ted Peters, PhD. a professor emeritus of systematic theology and ethics. Ted will be with us for the entire day on Saturday. Peters is an ordained Lutheran minister, has taught for over 30 years at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California and elsewhwere, and is the author or editor of over two-dozen scholarly and popular books. He is also the co-editor of Theology and Ethics Journal, and is a four-time winner of the Templeton Book Prize. Ted has a special interest in the intersection of theology, science, and culture; as a long-time student of new religious movements, Ted has become conversant with the Urantia Revelation through his graduate students.
Also on the cosmology panel is Matthew Rapaport. After earning an undergraduate degree in biology, Matthew began reading The Urantia Book in 1975, which in turn inspired him to earn an masters degree in philosophy at San Francisco State University (1980). Recently, after several years of intensive research in physics, cosmology, philosophy, and theology, Rapaport is now preparing a forthcoming book that will explore the relationship of the theology revealed by The Urantia Book to contemporary science, particularly cosmology and biology.
“Religion 2.0 and Evolution 2.0”
Presenter: Lawrence Wollersheim
Lawrence Wollersheim is the executive director UniverseSpirit.org and UniverseCollege.org, two innovative educational organizations that include the Urantia Book in its recommended reading. Lawrence is committed to creating a healthy relationship between science and spirituality—particularly “evolution science” and the promotion of personal direct spiritual experience of Ultimate Reality based on scientific discoveries as well as the world’s great wisdom traditions.
Break for stretching.
The Urantia Book’s Planetary History:
A Credibility Check
Speaker: Hal Katzen
Hal Katzen has graduate degrees in law and business. About ten years ago, he brought his advanced education to bear on a specific subject—documenting how new discoveries and scientific advances increasingly support The Urantia Book’s statements about planetary history. As a public service, his “UBtheNews” project now offers over thirty different reports and research topics on this subject. For example, the excavation of the Gobekli Tepe archeological site in Turkey and advances in DNA research led to Hal’s research reports related to what The Urantia Book says about our genetic history. This topic encompasses issues related to the introduction of extra-human genes into our gene pool, which, in turn, raises the fundamental question of our relationship to the cosmos. The UBtheNEWS report on Adam and Eve, in particular, brings to light an intriguing intersection between recent DNA research and what The Urantia Book reveals about the celestial master plan for the progressive evolution of both human genetics and human souls. Leading us into this talking will be a short film concerning a corroborating geological discovery. This discovery off the coast of Cyprus is consistent with the location for the Garden of Eden given in The Urantia Book and it also relates to Atlantis mythology. Byron Belitsos will share how the History Channel’s coverage of this 2004 expedition is outgrowth of one of his Origin Press publications, The Discovery of Atlantis (2004).
Hal Katzen, a trained attorney who also holds an MBA degree, is the publisher of UBtheNews.com and a 30+ year reader-believer of the Urantia Book. Hal lives in Mill Valley, CA.
Tea break and special reception with all presenters
6:00 – 8:00pm
Sunset Picnic at Rodeo Beach!
After dinner, join us for bonfire, music, and fellowship at a spectacular nearby beach on the shores of the Pacific—weather permitting.
8:00 – 10:00 pm
“Holy Spirit Harmonic Healing Session”—with Edmund Kuell and friends
This circle will gather in our healing space and will be led by spiritual teacher Edmund Kuell, a long-time Urantia student who is visiting us from Florida. Edmund’s healing circles activate awareness of the Holy Spirit—catalyzing a direct feeling of her healing and inspiring presence. The omnipresent Holy Spirit—known as “Mother Spirit” in Urantia Book lexicon—is the personified presence of the Divine Feminine. This session will heighten our perception of the healing presence of her graciousness and divine being. Often arising in the midst of these gatherings is also an awareness of the healing and revelatory presence of God the Father, Jesus, and other celestial beings. Our primary focus during this session remains activation of awareness and accelerating ascension through contact with the Holy Spirit, who fills all things.
Edmund F. Kuell III is a lifestyle educator and spiritual teacher with over 42 years of experience assessing and reversing nutritional deficiencies and a broad range of serious illnesses. He is the creator of Spiritual Nutrition, a unique way of integration and expansion of the main ancient systems of healing with the new leading-edge health medicine, all supported by personal spiritual guidance. He has successfully healed three of his own life-threatening illnesses and today enjoys completely restored health, superior vitality and unbounded consciousness. Edmund has taught thousands this way to perfect health. As the founder of Spiritual Nutrition, he teaches professionals and lay persons alike to find and follow their Inner Voice in health matters and spiritual concerns.
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Day Two: Esoteric Depths
8:30 – 9:15am
Group Worship, Prayer, and Stillness led by the Meredith Tenney
Rediscovering Christ as God and Goddess:
A New Cosmic Morality for the 21st Century
Speaker: Jerry Lane and Christiane Michaels
For many, the most profound portion of the Urantia text is Part IV, “The Life and Teachings of Jesus.” In this lengthy narration that is purportedly based on the angelic record, we learn far more about Jesus than in any previous biography. In it, the “revelators” unveil Jesus’ hidden years during which he raised his many siblings after his father’s death, and yet depict him as God incarnate in the body of a normal man of the realm. They also reveal his original teachings about courage, love, forgiveness, and self-respect, and debunk the myth of Jesus’ blood atonement. This section will also cover the deity characteristics of Jesus (known as “Christ Michael” in the Urantia Book), and his female deity consort, known as Mother Spirit, as well as the newly revealed role of women in Jesus’s ministry on earth.
Jerry Lane was a former U.S. Marine captain and is a retired master carpenter and project foreman. He holds a masters degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University. Jerry is the principal author of The Adventure of Being Human (Origin Press, 2011)
Christiane Michaels has a Master’s degree from Goddard College in clinical psychology and has been a long-time student of the Urantia Book and A Course In Miracles. Christy’s ministry focuses especially on the truths of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (a Nag Hammadi text), and her teaching work is based on exhaustive research into the mystery of Mary’s story and the nature of the divine feminine. She studied with Elizabeth Kelley who is ordained in the Holy Order of Mary Magdalene. She is an ordained priestess of the Lyceum of Sophia. Learn more about her at: http://www.gospelofmarymagdalene.info/
Panel on “Rediscovering Christ” with Christy Michaels, Jerry Lane, and Errol Strider
Our keynote speakers will be joined by Errol Strider for this special panel. Inspired especially by the teachings of Jesus in the Urantia Book, Errol has for decades pursued a unique spiritual education ministry that combines philosophical inquiry and spiritual discovery with key elements of theater, including humor. He has also spent much of his adult life in a variety of roles in professional theater including directing, acting, writing, and dancing.
The Unique Path of a Rebellion Planet:
Lucifer and His Aftermath Today
Speaker: Byron Belitsos
The Urantia Revelation makes the claim that our planet experienced a profound rebellion of the “angelic host” in far-distant times—an event that is possible, but extremely rare in the universe. According to this story, the rebellion was led by higher angels named Lucifer, Satan, and Caligastia, and 36 nearby worlds joined us in becoming “rebellion planets.” This one event explains the extreme travail, warfare, and suffering that has characterized human history ever since. Because our world was quarantined, unique methods of divine intervention were employed over the millennia to keep the idea of God’s love alive. This presentation by conference convener Byron Belitsos narrates this story and traces its profound consequences up to the present day, and beyond, including the recent and controversial experience of celestial contact to be examined in the panel that follows.
Moderated Panel on Celestial Contact in the Urantia Movement
This panel will consider the controversial claim by some that the Lucifer Rebellion was adjudicated in heavenly courts, removing the quarantine of our planet in 1987. This idea is a cardinal belief of the Teaching Mission, an important minority movement within the Urantia community over the last 20 years. Beginning especially in 1991, scores of groups and individuals around the country state that they were contacted by celestials beings who are affiliated with the Urantia Revelation. These beings, hundreds in number, provided “transmissions” to persons in numerous locations, offering a beginning curriculum of two years of lessons in spirituality. This was just one part of the newly inaugurated “Correcting Time,” a co-creative mission of planetary reclamation. Its first phase, known as the Teaching Mission, began with the purported termination of the Lucifer Rebellion and the ending of the planetary quarantine; the second phase, called the Magisterial Mission, began about 15 years later and will last for a millennium. The result will be the reclamation and rehabilitation of our planet, Urantia, thereby undoing the legacy of the Lucifer Rebellion.
Byron will moderate a panel on this subject that will include two distinguished speakers who are veteran Urantia students:
• Chuck Thurston, an outspoken skeptic about the claims of celestial contact.
• Meredith Tenney, a long-time participant in the Teaching Mission and the Magisterial Mission
12:15 to 1:15: Lunch and fellowship
Cosmic Spirituality for the 21st Century
Various speakers will discuss lessons based the spiritual teachings of Jesus in a language suitable for religionists in the coming decades. Attendees will be introduced to key techniques such as “stillness,” prayer, forgiveness, and methods of loving service—a new cosmic spirituality for our time. During this time, we will also discuss the Urantia Book’s advocacy that each us create a personal philosophy of living based on the values of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Break-out sessions to be led by these teachers:
“Divine Attunement Through Deep Meditation”
Presenter: Doug Childers
Doug Childers will present an advanced yet simple technique of “attuning to the indwelling spirit” through deep meditation, and will lead students in bringing in an awareness of the Holy Spirit and Spirit of Truth as part of that practice.
Doug, a multi-published author, ghostwriter and editor, has studied and practiced diverse spiritual disciplines. He has been significantly influenced by the teachings of the Urantia Book. He spent four years serving the community as a co-pastor in the first known Urantia Book based church. For the past six years he has run a weekly meditation group in San Rafael, CA, and also has mentored at-risk teens on a weekly basis.
“A Sacred Balance: How the Pineal Gland Mediates the Divine”
Presenter: Peri Best
The Urantia Revelation challenges us to live without fear—in harmony with the indwelling spirit. Peri will guide us in clearing our subconscious fear patterns and also in gaining access to a superconscious perspective through activation of the pineal gland, and will explain her work in terms of many key Urantia Book principles.
Peri Best is a professional artist, healer, and spiritual explorer, and is a veteran student of The Urantia Book who lives off the grid in the mountains of British Columbia. Having trained very widely for decades, Peri integrates many alternative healing modalities, both East and West. In addition she has developed new pineal gland-related techniques along with other energy kinesiology protocols to create a breakthrough new healing system.
“Entering the Whole Brain Path”
Presenter: James Olson
The Urantia Book clearly identifies the importance of our brain hemispheres and states that the “indwelling spirit” operates primarily through our right brain, which is also the seat of creative thinking. James Olson will present key practices for achieving a holistic perception of the world by integrating diverse perspectives, chiefly through the practice of consciously activating both brain hemispheres in our daily activities.
Olson is a practicing philosopher and integral thinker who is the author of the acclaimed book The Whole Brain Path to Peace, which has won numerous national awards. He is a long-time student of The Urantia Book and many other spiritual teachings.
A Takeaway for Your Soul: (Re-)Discover What You Value
Presenter: John Creger
John Creger, a career public high school English teacher, has been inspired by the Urantia Book to design classes that deepen his students’ learning. In an experiential introductory session, we will explore his values-based approach to learning. In his workshop we will journey with John into the nationally-recognized Personal Creed Project. Sharing what we discovered in this conference in brief reflective writings, we gain a new sense of what we value and how we wish to live—a “soul sense” of who we are.
The New Era of Social Sustainability:
Evolutionary Social Practices
Liz Cratty and Jeff Cutler
This presentation will cover the quest to create a socially sustainable world as described in the new book Healing a Broken World and other sources related to the Urantia Revelation. This work begins with grassroots design teams that interact directly with celestial helpers. This program envisions a complete reorientation of all human institutions worldwide around the three core values of social sustainability: equality, personal growth, and quality of life. All three must be present to constitute a sustainable institution, be it a family, a school, a health center, or a nation.
Elizabeth Engstrom Cratty—Liz is the author of thirteen books (11 novels and 2 nonfiction books) and over 250 short stories, articles and essays. She is a sought-after teacher and keynote speaker at writing conferences and conventions around the world. She holds a BA in English Literature/Creative Writing and an MA in Applied Theology, both from Marylhurst University. She has been a student of The Urantia Book since 1978. She lives in Eugene with her fisherman-husband and puts her pen to use for social justice. Liz is also on faculty at the University of Phoenix. www.elizabethengstrom.com
Jeff Cutler has been reading the Urantia Book since the early 1970s, and has long been active with Urantia organizations. Jeff has spent over 50 years in the investment business, the last 40 managing assets for several not-for-profit organizations. After receiving an MBA from the University of California, he worked for such institutions as the Pacific Stock Exchange, Crocker Bank, and Dean Witter. He currently serves on the investment committee of the Oregon Food Bank, the ASANTE HealthSystem in Southern Oregon, and is the treasurer of the Southern Oregon University Foundation. He is currently collaborating with Liz Cratty on bringing the three-core values model of social sustainability to Southern Oregon University.
Liz, Jeff, and Byron will lead break-out sessions which will work with the process of creating a social sustainability design team.
Closing reception with all presenters