SADLER'S GRAVE ERROR
As human mortals we shall never know all the
reasons Sadler was chosen for the task of the Revelation. There may be
many qualities that shall remain buried to our limited eyes. But other
qualities are obvious.
He was devoted to God. He began as a youth,
he held fast through disillusionment, and, out of that devotion, gave himself
to the welfare of others throughout his life. He never denied a personal
God, and he never denied a living relationship with that God. That quality
was essential to his personal integrity and to the integrity of the Revelation.
Nothing would deter him from the responsibility that had been placed upon
his shoulders. Nothing would jeopardize that trust.
He had high moral integrity. His praise was
universal among those who knew him. The crisis Harold Sherman created did
not deter Sadler from the responsibility he felt to a mighty Revelation.
Nor did it deter him from the responsibilities he felt to his fellow human
mortals for the benefit he saw in the superior quality of the Revelation,
regardless of his estimate of its miraculous nature.
He was a highly intelligent man. He had ability
to estimate situations, and to deal with the complexities of human relationships.
He had phenomenal memory, and retention of episodes in his life which resulted
in the later entertainment of many persons through his anecdotal captivations.
He was a straight, middle-of-the-road, conservative,
mid-western American, who believed in country and in God. Psychic phenomena
were interpreted in terms of mental aberrations; they were either from
the sub-conscious, or fraudulent. He long withheld judgment on the Revelation
because it went beyond his conservative world view.
Even though Sadler was a forward looking human
mortal he made mistakes and he made monumental errors in judgment that
rippled long after he died.
As an indication of his forward-looking perspectives
consider his work on Race Decadence, 1922. The sub-title was An
Examination of the Causes of Racial Degeneracy in the United States.
He concentrated on two areas: Physical Decadence and Mental Degeneracy.
As a physician he felt he witnessed an alarming increase in cancer, venereal
disease, and so-called "old-age" disorders. As a psychiatrist he saw an
apparent increase in mental and nervous diseases -- feeble mindedness,
epilepsy, insanity, and so on, "as they threaten the integrity and stability
of the American people." He then went on to a meticulous delineation of
case histories, discussion, and proposed solutions.
He believed in applied Eugenics, and expected
to write a book about it, toward
Sadler was certainly no Hitler, proposing to
"cleanse" the human race toward some superior elite. However we have cause
to question the wisdom of his views. He had a theory that the western world
was divided between "round-heads" and "long-heads." In 1918 his book by
that title was published. In the intense zeal of patriotism of World War
I many were looking for the causes behind Germany's creation of that conflict.
The idea of racial decadence was not uncommon. It was Sadler's theory that
the Prussian "Round-Heads" had come to dominate the German race and thus
national policies, while the "Long-Heads" had been suppressed racially
over the centuries. The latter were supposedly more intelligent, had more
noble aspirations for the betterment of mankind, and were more peaceful
minded. A gradual selection toward the more aggressive "Round-Heads" then
led to increasing national conflicts. Sadler presented those ideas in lectures
designed to increase patriotic fervor in the United States. The United
Stated government asked him to prepare these ideas in book form for more
Today we would not believe that these contrasting
human traits are identifiable through such simplistic anatomical differences,
although virtually all of us have had experience with individuals who are
more mild mannered and others who are more belligerent. But we are far
from the wisdom necessary to distinguish the true causes. Unless we could
discover the genetic components we could not suggest a program of breeding
to enhance the better qualities, nor would we have the wisdom to recognize
the long-term ramifications of select breeding. We are not competent to
such "genetic engineering."
The Urantia Papers speak to just such problems in the weaknesses now being propagated through the human races.
Page 585: These six evolutionary races are destined to be blended and exalted by amalgamation with the progeny of the Adamic uplifters. But before these peoples are blended, the inferior and unfit are largely eliminated. The Planetary Prince and the Material Son, with other suitable planetary authorities, pass upon the fitness of the reproducing strains. The difficulty of
executing such a radical program on Urantia consists in the absence of competent judges to pass upon the biologic fitness or unfitness of the individuals of your world races. Notwithstanding this obstacle, it seems that you ought to be able to agree upon the biologic disfellowshiping of your more markedly unfit, defective, degenerate, and antisocial stocks.
In the racial insanity and ultra-liberal notions
of today's world such talk is enough to set a vast majority off into paroxysms
of rage. As a people we little realize that unless something is done to
control the witless breeding of the human races we will ultimately degenerate
into chaos. Our ancestors worried about such problems but the world of
today it oblivious to the long-term ramifications.
We are not competent to pass upon the biologic
fitness or unfitness of the individuals of our world races. But why do
we not agree upon the biologic disfellowshiping of our more markedly unfit,
defective, degenerate, and antisocial stocks? The answer is simple. We
are an undisciplined society which has promulgated unbridled liberty as
the personal right of each of us.
Sadler recognized these elements as necessary
for a continued robust, vigorous, and healthy social order, even though
his ideas of possible solutions were awry.
We cannot be certain how much Sadler may have
been influenced by the Revelation. The notion of race improvement was not
new, nor was it confined to religious sects. His books on Race were written
during an early phase of the unfolding phenomena of the Sleeping Subject,
before there was a Forum, and many years before the actual Revelation.
Regardless of these elements, Sadler's ideas
were contained within the context of improvement of the current social
order. It did not occur to him that a total revamping of the social
order, a new world age, might be necessary to achieve such lofty goals.
Sadler's conservative mind-set not only led
to his personal notions of race improvement; it also planted the seeds
for serious trouble and future turmoil in the dissemination and care of
the Revelation. First, he desired some social mechanism for care of the
Revelation when he would release his hand. He conceived of an absolute
oligarchy of select individuals who would perform that task. They would
transfer their power from one individual to another when one would cease
serving. Second, he resorted to commercial law to fulfill his obligation
of preservation of an inviolate text. These were the instructions he had
received; these were the instructions he would satisfy. He did his best
according to his understanding and his trust in human institutions.
How did he execute this trust? He gathered
around him an inner circle of counselors. His purpose was stable direction
of the Revelation. He did not want it to slip into unsteady, immature,
or hasty hands. He looked to members of the Forum who could offer mature
Foremost of his counselors was G. Willard Hales. Hales had two attributes which were important to Sadler. Hales knew SS personally, and he was a highly successful business man who was also a member of the Chicago Board of Trade.
According to the Who's Who In Chicago
for 1931, G(eorge) Willard Hales was a grain merchant who was born on a
farm in Henrietta Township, Lorain County, Ohio on December 18, 1874. This
made him a mere six months older than Sadler, and thus the two men felt
a bond on that fact alone. His father and mother were George E. and Linda
B. (Ross). He was educated at the Oberlin Academy. He married Carrie Parker
Merchant of St. Joseph, Michigan on July 30, 1902. They had three children:
Burton W., William M., and Caroline. Hales taught country schools and later
engaged in flour milling in Ohio. He moved to Chicago in 1900. Through
the help of his uncle, Burton F. Hales, who lived just up the street in
Oak Park, he established a business to sell grain products. Thus he became
president of Hales and Hunter Co., president of Northwestern Malt and Grain
Co. from 1910, a director of the Avenue State Bank of Oak Park, and served
in other prominent community and social positions, including president
of the Oak Park and River Forest High School Board. He was a Republican
and attended the Congregationalist Church.
He became a member of the Chicago Board of
Trade in 1907, and continued as a member until 1952.
This last fact led me to believe that he knew
SS through paths other than Sadler's remote report. If Sadler's account
to Sherman was true, as attested by my ability to date their first contact,
both SS and Hales were members of the Board of Trade when Sadler first
met SS. Was it possible that SS felt a strong need to confide in some of
his business associates concerning the unique night episodes? Did he confide
in Hales? Did SS ask Sadler to make Hales a member of Contact Commission?
Was this the route through which Hales became a member of the Forum, and
his later important influence in the policies affecting the care and dissemination
of the Revelation?
I wrote a letter to John Hales, past president of the Urantia Brotherhood, faithful administrator of Chicago Urantia functions for many years, and grandson to G. Willard Hales. Perhaps he could cast light on this question. Following is the text of that letter.
|December 12, 1996
As you may know, after a three-year lapse I have returned to research and writing on the history of William Sadler and the circumstances surrounding the origin, publication, and dissemination of the Book. Among other elements I shall emphasize the nature and character of the people who surrounded Sadler, and who may have been influential in helping to bring the Book to the world. The Hales family, from grandfather, to father, to son, certainly were important contributors to that process.
It was many years before I came to realize that Sadler had no control over when the episodes with the sleeping subject would occur. But this realization led to acute understanding. Since the episodes occurred only when the man was asleep, they would occur only at night. Description of two episodes, both early in the phenomenon, show one at 11:00 in the evening, and another very early in the morning. Sadler used the phrase "night vigils." Since the onset of these episodes could not be predicted, Sadler was dependent upon the man's wife to alert him. Furthermore, we know from Sadler's remarks that when he moved to a residence in La Grange the man moved to an apartment in close geographical proximity to Sadler. Also, since the process continued as late as 1930, and since Sadler had moved to north Chicago, it was impractical that he travel from there back to La Grange when another episode would occur. Therefore, it became apparent that the sleeping subject had to move with Sadler, at least to an adjacent neighborhood. Sadler first moved into a posh neighborhood at Lincoln Park West, where he lived for several years. Sadler also stated to numerous people that the man was a "broker," although there is debate over the type of brokerage activity. This suggested also that he had an income which would permit him to live in a similar posh neighborhood.
All of these factors further suggested that it might be possible to trace the identity of the sleeping subject. We know addresses and dates for Sadler. Therefore, the man might be moving at the same time and to similar locations as Sadler. Given his occupation, city directories, and US census, the path seemed open to identify someone with moves similar to Sadler. Although I spent some hours pouring over records, I concluded that perhaps it would be better to leave the matter alone.
These elements led me to recognize that your grandfather could not have been the sleeping subject. He was in the wrong places. However, the research led to other possibilities. I surmise that your grandfather knew the sleeping subject before there was a Forum, prior to 1923. At that point there was no Christy, nor a Bill Sadler, Jr. who would have been old enough. That limited persons to Sadler, Lena, Anna, and Wilfred, or anyone else Sadler may have brought in as a consultant. I know from remarks in his books that Sadler, for example, was consulting with Howard Thurston prior to 1923. If Thurston were going to advise Sadler he quite probably was invited, without prior warning, to a "night vigil."
I believe the contact with your grandfather took place in the following manner. I believe SS and your grandfather knew each other professionally. I believe SS spoke with your grandfather in confidence about this problem he was having while he was asleep. Not only was Sadler looking around for answers, so also was SS. But he had to keep matters discreet. Otherwise, he would have brought social and professional problems upon himself. Therefore, the number of people he personally consulted probably was severely limited. SS may have invited your grandfather to witness one of the night episodes. This led to your grandfather's contact with Sadler. Your grandfather thus became one of the "group" who were witness to the "night vigils."
I would like to gather more concrete facts concerning your grandfather, your father, and yourself in contribution to the revelation process. We have Who's Who, but that is scanty information. We have city and telephone directories to locate addresses. We could go over the records of professional organizations and societies, and newspaper accounts, but that would be a long and tedious process, perhaps with the labor not worth the final results.
Would you be willing to help? Would you consent to an interview? Would you be willing to share personal information? Would you be willing to help elucidate the process with SS, and the path which led to contributions on publication of the Book? The source of your information would be held strictly confidential, or used according to your desires.
I would greatly appreciate any contributions you could make.
John did not respond to the letter. In a later
luncheon meeting with John in Chicago on Thursday April 3, 1997 he also
did not mention it, nor did I pursue the letter any further. John has consistently
maintained silence concerning family history, and the Hales association
with the unfolding and publication of the Revelation. I felt that if he
wanted to discuss my query he would do so; if not I would not place pressure
upon him. It is also John's personality to remain quiet and unassuming
in the background while serving the Urantia community. He is not an evangelist
nor an aggressive promoter of revelations.
Therefore, I could not, on the grounds of silence
alone, conclude that John was hiding facts. But he certainly did not volunteer
to keep me straight on possible errors in my suggestions. This last point
led me to believe that perhaps I was not too far from the truth.
Furthermore, when I stated at our luncheon
meeting that his grandfather had been a member of the Board of Trade he
denied it. I responded that I had three different sources which confirmed
his membership. Two mornings previously I had visited the Records Department
of the Board of Trade and obtained a membership list for 1908. G. Willard
Hales was on that list. The United States Census for 1910 showed him as
a grain buyer, and Who's Who also listed him a member of the Board
I puzzled over why John would deny such an
obvious fact, something he had to know. Perhaps he did not realize the
depth of my research and was attempting to sidetrack my investigations.
I could hardly come to any other conclusion. This behavior suggested even
more strongly that my deductions were not too far from the mark.
If such background of relationships actually existed we can better understand why Sadler made Hales his most important confidant. They both were men with great confidence in the current social system, and both had mature social experience. If they had formed a bond through the early investigations into the behavior of SS their relationship would have been that much stronger.
We also can better understand why Harry Loose had such fear of the Hales family. A loose Chicago detective, with personality and emotional problems, would have cause to fear the social judgment of persons with the maturity of Hales.
It was in such social relationships that other
members of the Forum had to interplay. As with all of us, Sadler had a
preference for his counselors; not all persons were regarded equally. If
Sadler had a proclivity to more conventional minds his direction would
be influenced by that outlook. More excitable, less balanced, or less astute
individuals would not be part of the "inner circle."
Thus we have a better handle on the response
Clyde Bedell may have received from Sadler and the "inner circle" when
he expressed his concerns over future direction of management of the Revelation.
Bedell may have been an astute individual, with excellent experience in
the advertising world, but he was not someone who had an implicit faith
"in the way things are done." He had enough sense to know that human personalities,
no matter what their social prestige, are often weak and shortsighted.
Barrie Bedell kindly shared with me a copy
of a letter his father wrote to Wilfred Kellogg in the early 1930's. That
letter expressed Clyde Bedell's concern over publication of the Revelation,
and the structure that would be entrusted with its care after Sadler would
release his hand. The letter was highly revealing for it showed Sadler's
thinking at that early stage.
From the letter we see that Wilfred Kellogg
was a buffer between Forum members and Sadler. He served in an administrative
role, taking care of many tasks, such as making copies of the text for
Forum members, handling details of the week-to-week activities, and gathering
opinions and ideas.
Following is the text:
Mr. Wilfred Kellog(g)
October 30, 1933
Dear Mr. Kellog(g)
Will you kindly throw this letter into the hopper with whatever other suggestions you may be receiving -- for consideration by Dr. Sadler and the rest of you?
I am doing this typing on a borrowed typewriter, I am not a stenographer, and my time is short. I ask pardon in advance for miscues.
Please don't impute to me a desire to see a loose-knit or nondescript board for the U Society. I perceive that precautions must be taken. I too wish to see stable direction of this revelation's distribution. But I feel there must be a middle course which will appear to be fair and defensible. Fair to the book itself, fair to the directors whoever they may be, and fair to the people for whom after all we incorporate -- the part of the public we can interest.
The following points are self-explanatory. First though, I wish to say that unless it would handicap him professionally I believe there are almost inescapable reasons why Dr. William should be on the board -- if indeed he is not its chairman.
WHY SHOULD A SELF-APPOINTED BOARD HOLD OFFICE FOR LIFE?
I am afraid I weary you. Let me more briefly come to the other point.
WHY DENY A VOICE -- TO SOME EXTENT AT LEAST -- TO THE PEOPLE WHO PAY? TO THE PEOPLE WHO MUST CARRY THE WORD ON? TO THE PEOPLE FROM WHOM WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE -- THE REVELATION IS MADE -- THE PUBLIC WE CAN INTEREST?
I am sorry I am so verbose.
Let me start to stop.
Without jeopardizing the interests of the society, or lessening the protection you wish it afforded, terms could be made for stated periods, with power of re-election in the hands of the board. Thus you would cause each director to face squarely at the termination of a term the question as to his fitness, and the possibility of some new adherent who might serve better. You would secure the security you wish. You would eliminate a good share of the possibilities for regret.
Next, why have the entire board from any one source? Or elected in any one way? Dr. Sadler's thought that the council might name a few directors would solve most of the objections which occur to me in connection with denying the membership a voice.
Is the following worth thinking about?
Three incorporating directors to serve until the book is about to be published, or is published?
Then, upon publication, let them start terms of six years. Then, at the start of those terms, let them name three more directors to serve for two years each.
And let the council concurrently, and upon its election, name three directors to begin terms of fours years each, one of whom would be chairman of the council.
Then as terms expired, the directors would name a new directors' director, and the council, the council's directors, always for 6-year terms.
Perhaps a few things might be said in favor of having each group of three named above, including a 2-year, a 4-year, and a 6-year director. And as each term expired, the new term would be for 6 years. Thus, instead of a group of three from the council expiring together, one would expire each two years, et cetera.
Had I not made so sudden a departure from New York, I would have sent this to you sooner. All best wishes, and be sure I have confidence that your final decisions -- be they one way or another -- will work out. Somehow they always do.
Yours, (Signed) Clyde Bedell
Bedell's hopes were misplaced. His worst fears
were realized. The letter is an amazing forecast of the troubles which
were to beset the Urantia Foundation.
This letter adds to our perception of Bedell's
personality. The Petition, the Response to Sherman, and this document all
reveal a peppery, verbose individual who was not afraid to express his
thoughts, or to let everyone know where he stood. He cared more for right
than what others thought of him.
He had an acute sense of right and wrong. He
knew human nature. He recognized the inherent limitations of the proposed
He believed in the Revelation. He was fully
converted to the potential of its changing the world. He wanted to see
it get into action in his lifetime. Because of this view he was highly
concerned about the human organization which would be entrusted with its
care. He wanted it to be active and aggressive, traits he felt would be
in younger blood. He trembled at the thought of old men "in their dotage"
who might become an impediment to that aggressive promulgation into the
This bright hope led Bedell to spend a major
portion of his life on his Concordex, a reference work he hoped
would assist others in becoming familiar with the Revelation, and also
as a help in its promulgation.
But Bedell's letter does more than serve as
a measure of his personality, his hopes, his dreams, and his concerns.
It is highly informative, and revealing, in many ways.
The time is 1933. Sadler and the Forum do not
yet have the actual revelation. They have those materials which are the
precursor to the first three Parts of the Revelation. They also do not
have the Jesus Papers!
Two items are under heavy discussion:
The structure of an organization to be entrusted with care and publication of the Revelation.
From Elsie Baumgartner's letter we know Sadler
was keeping members of the Forum informed about his thinking and plans
for an organization to care for the Revelation in 1943. Bedell's letter
shows that similar thinking was in effect in 1933. Sadler probably proposed
these actions to the body of the Forum, seeking their advice and approval.
Bedell, who was then 35 years old, and in keeping with his personality,
was reacting. He desired to, and believed he could, have an influence on
the final outcome, although it is evident that he did so from an inferior
position. Even at that time he recognized that the organization wheels
were in motion, and hoped that he could affect the final outcome according
to his expectations.
We have other confirmation of Sadler's strong
plans at that early date. In a newsletter dated May, 1996, the Urantia
We should not accuse Sadler of being presumptuous.
He had no instructions at that point to inhibit his planning about the
method or timing of the publication.
Sadler's belief in the source of the Revelation
did not in any way affect his decision; he certainly must have felt the
material sufficiently superior to deserve publication, regardless of his
views about its divine authenticity.
If he was not convinced that it was of divine
authenticity he may have felt he could treat it as any other written work.
In fact, we know he held that view regardless of his belief in its origins.
Thus he early placed reliance on secular institutions, a habit of mind
from which he never departed. Only when he became convinced of divine authority
in care of the Revelation might we expect him to feel obligation from purely
religious concerns. Unfortunately, he never came to distinguish that difference.
In 1933 Sadler and the Forum would have in
their possession revised versions of the text of the first three Parts.
Having been through the process of several revisions of the text they may
have felt they had the final version. They would not have known they were
in an incipient stage of actual revelation. Were there statements in those
precursor Papers which might have served as warning flags? Could Sadler
have ignored those remarks? For example, on page 1007 the statement is
made that there are many events of revelation but only five of epochal
significance. The Papers then go on to list those five, including the
present one. Did Sadler merely pass over this remark? Did he not recognize
the momentous nature of the statement? Or was it not part of the precursor
materials; did that passage first come in 1934? If those statements were
present in the materials prior to 1934 they certainly should have influenced
Sadler's thinking. And why did they not influence Sadler to more devout
religious thinking after 1934, rather than to secular solutions?
But the situation raises a conflict in Bedell's
mind. How can one go in a slow deliberate manner and not curtail the enthusiasm
the Papers would certainly generate? How can one hold strongly to a religious
belief, with consequent evangelistic fervor, and be held at bay by secular
structures? Bedell's concern was how a zealous and spirited body of believers
could be placed under the control of an autocratic body? Was this not a
revelation to the world? Did it not have the potential to turn the world
upside down? This was Bedell's dilemma; although he may not have worked
out all the possible ramifications, his instincts were sure.
But to Sadler it seemed best to create a small
group of trustworthy people who could insure the safety of this magnificent
There was another side to their concerns. Sadler
and G. Willard Hales were then 58 years old. Hales was a member of the
Chicago Board of Trade dealing in commercial commodities. He had considerable
experience in the dangers and pitfalls of a cutthroat business world. Something
must be done to protect the Revelation from perversion. Between them, or
with other senior counselors, they found recourse in the mechanisms of
secular commercial law. It was natural to believe in copyright as a means
of preventing unauthorized reproduction of the text.
These men were superior to Bedell by 25 years.
He saw them in their conservative state of life. But he could not perceive
how a body of men "in their dotage" could be the wellspring of a dynamic
and aggressive religion, out to save the world. Bedell wanted to see people
who were "warm, alive, vigorous, aggressive." He believed, and rightly
so, that only youthful persons could bring that bright fervor to the world.
Bedell believed this body of conservative persons
might look like a "papacy," with dictatorial control on views and conduct
coming down from on top. He felt it was specious to extend a "Jesus" book
to the world, and then be concerned about pollution from association. How
can any body of religious believers predetermine how that body shall grow
or develop, and what ultimate spiritual flavor will issue forth. Therefore,
how could anyone create a corporate structure that reflected Sadler's concerns
of the day, but which could not respond healthily to the developments of
Sadler's policy views definitely were not religious.
They were commercial from all aspects. And Sadler may have had cause for
his policies, derived from the Revelation. It had cautioned against building
a body of religious believers.
Sadler, and the persons who surrounded him, were strongly influenced by these admonitions. The people of the world should be given an opportunity to incorporate the Revelation into their lives without the formulations of a caretaking group, or the doctrines of an organized "church." How could the organization entrusted with its care not be secular if it were to be neutral religiously?
This view continues to influence the Urantia Foundation to this day. In a newsletter dated May, 1994 the Trustees made these remarks:
Bedell had another concern. The Forum members
were being asked to contribute financially to the publication of the Papers.
If they made such contributions why should they not have a voice in the
policies that would determine promulgation and dissemination?
Thus, in 1933, Bedell captured in essence the
heart of a dilemma whose repercussions were to unfold as the years rolled
by. The formal and legal creation of the control body did not take place
until 1950. World War II interfered with everyone's plans and brought delay.
Wartime mandates prohibited printing. Then Sadler, beset with other problems,
held back even further.
Harry Loose may have been correct in the steady
hand Lena Sadler brought to the activities at 533 and with the Forum. Sadler
may have relied on her advice and views. When she died he was left bereft
of more than a wife. He was also left without that correcting influence.
More importantly, the fact of the actual revelation
coming after the formulation of these plans may have placed Sadler in an
even more cautious position. If he had anticipated publication, only to
find that his plans were premature, that the actual revelation was not
in those plans, he may have become concerned, at that point, that he should
not presume against the unseen Revelators. This double blow, the premature
thinking, and the loss of Lena, may have caused him to hesitate.
Meanwhile, the conservative views of the elderly
members of the group, those with the strongest voice in shaping policy,
were becoming ever more conservative, ever more cautious, ever more reliant
on commercial mechanisms.
Consider the ramifications of the use of commercial
copyright law to protect the Revelation.
Copyright was devised to protect the financial
interests of an author of a creative work. He could sell his work, or copies,
without others borrowing or imitating it for their own gain.
Therefore, copyright protection is commercial.
It was intended to ensure the financial rewards of a person's labor. It
there were no selling or buying of an authored work copyright law would
World courts recognize that conceptual protection
was impossible; such legal protection would stifle all creative labors.
Copyright protects the form of expression, the manner in which an author
expresses his inspiration or the form of his labors. If two different authors
express the same concepts, or discuss the same subjects, but differently,
they both can obtain commercial copyright protection.
From this one infers that copyright serves
to protect a given text. Other persons may not reproduce that identical
text, although they may create another related expression. This was Sadler's
inference, probably through legal advice. Late 1970's letters from Clyde
Bedell, in contest with Urantia Foundation policies, show that he continued
to support this understanding of copyright law even though he disagreed
with the operation of the organization.
But protection of text was not the heart of
the purpose behind copyright. The purpose was secular -- a commercial financial
Thus, when Sadler obtained copyright on The
Urantia Papers he subjected them to secular commercial law.
Since copyright was intended to protect the
commercial financial interests of an author, the application from the Library
of Congress asks the name of the author. The Urantia Foundation answered
that they were the authors of The Urantia Papers.
That was a blatant falsehood, and a lethal
Sadler, and the Trustees of the Foundation,
knew that it would be impossible to claim divine beings as the authors.
Such claim would have been denied by the United States Copyright Office
as beyond its jurisdiction. At that point Sadler had committed himself
to the potent and deadly ramifications of a falsehood associated with a
Thereupon, the Urantia Foundation became the
owners of a divine revelation. But the Urantia Foundation is not some anonymous
and mysterious legal entity. The Urantia Foundation is a Board of Trustees.
The Trustees, individually and collectively, become the owners of a divine
revelation. United States laws conferred upon them the legal right to stop
printing, if they so wished. The same laws conferred upon them the legal
right to alter the text according to their private desires. They then could
obtain a new copyright to the altered text. All that was needed was a consensus
among the Trustees that such changes were useful, according to their private
This was the deadly fault of Sadler's conception.
He assumed that all following caretakers would have the same feelings of
honored trust as he. They would want to preserve the text inviolate. But
this circumstance was not controlled by human secular law. Copyright law
could not protect against changes in text, if the owners of the text, the
Urantia Foundation Trustees, wished to alter it.
In fact, changes were made in the text of The
Urantia Papers from printing to printing, for all printings. Some of
those changes were due to spelling errors, some were grammatical, some
were due to logical inconsistencies, and some were done for purposes which
the Trustees of the Urantia Foundation never explained, although in a Newsletter
dated November, 1995, they made the following remarks:
This admission would not have come had Kristen
Maaherra, in her court documents, not shown the mendacity of the Foundation
in its pretense of an inviolate and uncorrected text.
Therefore, Sadler's reliance on copyright law
to preserve the text inviolate was voided after the second printing.
But equally important, Martin Myers at one
point stopped printing of the Papers. He did so to obtain absolute control
on dissemination. He aborted the use of commercial distributors, and thus
cut off supplies from all book stores. At that point the world could not
obtain copies of the Papers. Therefore, Sadler's reliance on copyright
law resulted in absolute human control of a divine revelation that was
intended for the blessing of all mankind.
From this brief review we can see that the
original thinking and planning by Sadler, described by Bedell in his 1933
letter, set the stage for serious troubles in the dissemination and promulgation
of the Revelation. Sadler, Hales, and the other senior counselors failed
to perceive the truly great fault of their scheme. They relied on the pure
assumption that conservative control would remain in the hands of reliable
and mature individuals. They did not perceive the possible ramifications
if an autocratic body should degenerate into the hands of unstable or psychic
personalities. Had control remained in the hands of mature persons, the
dissemination may have been according to Sadler's vision. But the autocratic
structure was ripe for plucking by personalities who did not have the same
conservative background as Sadler and his senior cohorts. Psychic elements
entered, by devious means, to create fragmentation of the body of Urantia
I shall show how this unfolded. Emma Christensen,
Sadler's adopted daughter, became the instrument by which control unraveled.
I shall also show why this has been according to the plans of our planetary supervisors -- toward a much more crucial purpose.
1. This remark implies that the details of the
organizational structure were already well formalized. At that time the
planning was for seven members, rather than the five in the later actual
Board of Trustees.
2. Since there was no outside accountability the Board could wander off into a private interpretation of the best course for the dissemination of the Revelation. Here Bedell put his thumb on the deadly fault of the organization that later was created. Such closed structure could, and later did, put a tight lid on the religious fervor of individuals by limiting their ability to disseminate copies of the Revelation. The policies of the Urantia Foundation created a psychological environment which suppressed dynamic evangelism.
4. Again Bedell puts his finger on the deadly fault of a closed group. They forever foreclosed many eminent minds and highly religious souls by perpetrating an oligarchic group which, by inherent human nature, inevitably came to believe they had the sole advantage of correct wisdom and insight. Furthermore, the election of successors would be determined by their private limitations of understanding. A closed group inevitably promulgates a limited class of personalities. Members always seek those who have the same world view as theirs. An elite "wisdom" will not suffer possible balancing influences.
5. Jesus well knew the vagaries of human nature, and that his teachings would be perverted and interpreted by the limited understanding of his apostles and disciples. He did not attempt to control such natural outworking. Here Bedell is indicating the major fault of any human organization attempting to control how mankind will use a new Revelation. He points out the deadly contradiction in reality.
6. Bedell here misplaces the importance of "old men in their dotage." From his youthful position this seemed a threat but natural sense tends to correct errant paths, although perhaps after the damage is done. This certainly was the history of the Urantia Foundation.
7. In these last statements Bedell is suggesting that the Board have a systematic method of rotation of members that would avoid "old men in the dotage" or the removal of individuals who may become detrimental to the Revelation.
8. Bedell clearly recognizes the dangers of closed
ideas, and expresses the real need to have counterbalance on decisions
through "fresh blood."
9. Bedell is concerned that time will bring an evolution that will dramatically alter the purpose of the organization entrusted with the care of the Revelation. As a vivid example, consider that copyright was used not only as a mechanism to protect the text, but also to control dissemination. Copyright owners can elect what they wish in terms of publication quantities or paths of dissemination. Sooner or later that legal right would be lost. How would an organization expect to control publication and dissemination after that point, when others could reproduce the text with impunity? How strange that none of the personalities involved at this stage of the Revelation, including Bedell, recognized this transient limitation of human law.
10. It would have been helpful for Bedell, and all the other members of the Forum, to have educated themselves on the vagaries of religious institutions. Sadler had personal experience with the Seventh Day Adventists, but his emotional proximity prevented him from using that experience as a base for evaluating the evolution of all religious groups. Furthermore, there seems to have been no acute discernment of the difference between a secular legal organization, and the dynamic processes of a fervent religious group. There is no record that Sadler or anyone else really worked out the thinking along these lines.
12. Bedell had first-hand experience. If he contributed financially to the printing of the Revelation why should he be closed out from his voice and vote. This exclusion has been maintained rigorously to the present day. Care of the Revelation never had a democratic voice, nor were believers given an opportunity to enter their vote for dissemination or promulgation of the Revelation.
14. This is a thorn in the flesh to those who would attempt to understand the miracle of a new Revelation, controlled by a secular institution. It smacks of just another sordid "channeling" production."