The hand of destiny guided the path of The
Urantia Papers, from their earliest inception, until their publication,
and distribution to the world. Destiny continues to guide that path.
Emma Louise Christensen, (Christy), the adopted
daughter of William and Lena Sadler, was a major instrument in that destiny
unfolding, but not in the manner she, or anyone else, expected.
Christy was born January 29, 1890 in Gem Township,
Brown County, South Dakota. She was the sixth of eight children born to
Nels Christensen and Rosalia Thora Nana Bald. She attended a country elementary
school through the eighth grade, and went to high school in Aberdeen, South
Dakota. She attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and took
a two-year extension course at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul,
where she majored in English. She held two secretarial jobs while attending
the University. Christy spent two years as Office Manager for the Bureau
of the Comptroller of the Currency in its Minneapolis office. She then
transferred to the Chicago office where she held the position of Office
Manager of the National Bank Examiners office of the Seventh Federal Reserve
District for a period of 28 years until her retirement around 1950. She
Christy came to Chicago in November, 1922.
While walking in Lincoln Park on Chicago's north side she was struck by
a taxicab in July, 1923. She was knocked unconscious and taken by the taxi
driver to Columbus Hospital a short distance away. When she awoke she was
looking into the faces of William and Lena Sadler who were attending physicians
at the Hospital.
Little did anyone realize how that accidental
meeting would determine the direction of destiny.
According to an anecdote which is told concerning
this event, Lena Sadler was struck by the strange coincidence of Christy
appearing in the hospital as one of their patients, and a vivid dream she
had shortly before.
The Sadlers had no daughters. Their first son,
Willis, died as an infant. Their second son, born in 1907, was Bill Sadler,
Jr. Lena had always desired a daughter. In her dream Lena saw a daughter
come into their home. The episode with Christy convinced her this was the
daughter. Christy was soon adopted, as a 33-year old adult!
The adoption at that age strongly suggests
that Lena was driven by more than a passing desire to have a daughter.
The act was not to provide succor to a helpless child. It was not done
from motherly instincts for a mother-child relationship in which the mother
could nurture the child and watch it grow. In 1923 Lena was 48 years old,
merely 15 years older than Christy. At their ages the difference in possible
mother-child relationship would have been reduced even more. In fact, all
normal motherly criteria for adoption fails to explain this act.
Christy had a comfortable job, was on her own,
and had learned to live away from home. Raised in a large family, with
both parents living, she would not have felt a need for a mother, unless
she did not have a good relationship in her family. Her lively personality
denied the possibility that she came from a background with deep family
psychological trauma. As a South Dakota native, with all the rigors of
weather and farm life, she would have learned to adjust to physical hardships.
Therefore, dependency criteria of a child-mother relationship also fails
to explain this act.
What, then, led to the adoption? The motivating
factors on the part of Lena must have been her long desire to have a daughter,
and the vividness of her dream. Perhaps Christy felt a natural bond with
the Sadler's, with their warm and unaffected personalities. They struck
it off, and thus were amenable to one another. Even so, she could have
lived with the Sadler's without the legal act of adoption. The driving
need for adoption must have derived from Lena.
The act of adoption had repercussion on two
levels. One was legal and one was social. Christy acquired right to material
inheritance.; she assumed the same legal status as Bill Sadler, Jr. She
also had claim to equivalent status in family relationships; she became
one with the Sadlers. Through this act Lena sealed a bond of psychological
obligation which would create within Christy a desire to remain with the
Several passages in The Urantia Papers describe
the lives of men modified as the result of dreams. Both Zacharias and Joseph,
pages 1345 and 1347, had impressive dreams which altered their lives. Peter
had a vivid dream, page 1713, which also modified his attitudes and subsequent
decisions. I personally cannot believe Lena's dream was a mere floating
chemical accident. Somehow, by whatever process, she was presented with
a dream which caused her to view the appearance of Christy as the hand
of God, and to convince her husband that they should adopt her. When Christy
joined the household in December, 1923, she became more than an intimate
member, with contribution to the mechanical processes of the Revelation;
she also became an instrument for destiny which still ripples through many
Christy had a keen sense of humor, a flashing
smile, and rollicking laughter. She probably brought balance into the staid
Sadler household. She also brought talents and training which were of great
use to William Sadler in his execution of a divine mandate. She possessed
robust health and great vitality, right up to her last days. In March,
1982 she was admitted to St. Joseph's hospital, a few blocks from 533 Diversey
Parkway, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She died on May 2, after
two months of illness. A memorial service was held at the Union League
Club in downtown Chicago where 150 people from all over the country attended.
She had requested that two men speak at her funeral. The first was Meredith
Sprunger; the second was Vern Grimsley.
Meredith Sprunger, in his eulogy stated:
When Christy became a member of the Sadler
household she also became a member of the Contact Commission. She helped
serve as a liaison between the Revelators who presented The Urantia
Papers and the Forum. She undertook a major share of the administrative
chores, and performed a monumental job in typing, proof reading, and otherwise
preparing the Papers for publication. These arduous tasks, while attending
to a full-time managerial job, spanned more than thirty years. After publication
she also served as a major individual in formulating and executing policy
for the establishment and maintenance of the Urantia Foundation and the
She was one of the founding Trustees of the
Urantia Foundation which began in 1950 where she assumed the position of
Secretary. She remained a Trustee until 1971, when she was elected Trustee
emeritus. She was also a founding member of the General Council of the
Urantia Brotherhood in 1955 and remained a member until her death. She
held positions on the Executive Committee of the Brotherhood continuously
from 1955 to 1982. She also served in executive positions of several other
committees during this period. She was a charter member of the First Urantia
Society in Chicago in 1956, and remained active in that organization until
shortly before her death.
In a talk given on January 27, 1963 she relayed
a message which had been given the Contact Commission and the Forum by
the Revelators. We do not know the date nor the divine personality making
This statement by the Revelators illustrates
the type of communication given Sadler, the Contact Commission, and the
Forum. How truly unfortunate all individuals involved failed to grasp the
true portent of this exhortation.
Little, indeed, did Christy or the Sadlers
or members of the Forum realize how the revelation would unfold, and the
human crises necessary to open it to the world.
Some estimate of the attitude which prevailed
throughout the Urantia community, something of the relative indifference,
and how the revelation was subverted to human desires, is expressed in
other remarks Meredith Sprunger. In his eulogy he quoted from an address
given by Christy on July 30, 1971. She said:
The great difficulty in perception was this:
Everyone, everywhere, without exception, understood The Urantia Papers
as a mechanism for improving the current world order. In spite of our historical
revelations, and in spite of clear statements within the Papers, no one
could comprehend the truly epochal nature of the revelation of which they
were so intimate a part, and with which they were entrusted. They expected
to salvage the present social order; they did not expect they would be
subject to the devastating revolutions attendant upon the birth pangs of
a new world age. They could not conceive The Urantia Papers as the
precursor to a dramatic new world order.
This attitude may be seen in the remarks by
We are the torchbearers for a new age of religion on this world.
It is plain that Christy borrowed phrases from the previous exhortation, and perhaps from others unknown to us. They served as a guide in her life and her decisions. But they were subject to her views of reality. When she said "new age of religion" she thought in terms of slow evolutionary growth out of the present world order.
We each have our part to play in the effort to spiritually uplift the planet.
When Christy said "the planet" she meant this present planetary social
order. "Spiritually uplift" was understood as an improvement in our current
religious thinking, not a dramatic shift to a new and revitalized faith
It is our task to help bring about a spiritual renaissance and assist in the eventual triumph of the religion of Jesus.
When Christy said "spiritual renaissance" she meant a renaissance of
the present religious system. She did not conceive of a total revamping
of all religious attitudes on this world, and dedicated devotion to the
larger kingdom of heaven.
This view of reality is reinforced by a remark
from Bill Sadler, Jr. about the "spectacular episodes of epochal revolution"
from another instruction. He commented that we should not interpret this
as a major world upheaval, but should regard it in the same sense that
we do the "industrial revolution."
The stage has been set and now we must act our part to step out into the vanguard of progress.
When Christy said "the vanguard of progress" she meant progress of the
present civilization. The word "progress" contained within it a large range
of conceptual ideations of how the current world order would be improved
materially and religiously.
We are in association with a revelation of truth which is also part of the natural evolution of religion on Urantia.
When Christy said "the natural evolution of religion on Urantia" she
meant evolution of the present religious system. She did not conceive that
this evolution would bring a total collapse of the present religious systems
and theologies. She did not perceive of the dramatic revolutions in the
physical world, the social world, and the spiritual world necessary to
achieve such goals.
This list of remarks are those offered by Christy,
some of which are paraphrases of revelatory material.
But Christy should have known better. The instruction
offered by the Revelators should have alerted everyone to the prospect
of unfolding world events.
Did none of Sadler's family, or member of the
Forum, recognize the significance of this statement? "Emergency selectmen"
means individuals who are working under emergency conditions. If the social
order will progress in an orderly, casual, relaxed and easy-going manner
why would they be considered to be emergency selectmen? Secondly, did they
not realize what was meant by "selectmen?" They had been selected for their
role. They were chosen ones. In the old biblical phraseology, they were
elect ones. They were members of a corps of individuals who served in an
emergency environment. They were called to a trust in the care of a divine
revelation. They were instrumental in the unfolding of planetary destiny.
They had been set aside for this task. They were a reserve corps. "Emergency
selectmen" means membership in a "reserve corps of destiny."
But their actions demonstrated that they did
not fully understand what this meant. Most member of the Forum were casual
in their feelings of responsibility to the revelation.
If they little realized the import of their
doing they could not have a good estimate of the results of their actions.
They were acting blindly, as children in the darkness of night. They did
not understand how the Revelation fit with unfolding world events.
But even more, this means that their personal
plans for their lives could not be aligned with our planetary administrators,
except through sheer accident. But blind direction rarely, if ever, serves
ultimate good, except as it is used by superior celestial personalities.
They were directly told they would live and
die without fully realizing their participation in the birth of a new age
What can one say? The entire group, from Sadler,
to Christy, to the members of the Forum, did not fully realize what they
were doing. They were participants in the birth of a new age, an epochal
age -- not perpetration of the old age. The new age would see the birth
of a new religion on our world. It would not be Christianity, nor Judaism,
nor any other current religious order. Yet Christianity would serve as
the womb out of which the new world order would bloom.
Again, a great spiritual struggle is coming, a battle for truth against error. There will be spiritual warfare as this planet has never seen, simply because there are no divine or celestial beings present to overtly direct it. It is left in the hands of human mortals, alone, unassisted, except through their devotion to God, and the silent support of the angels of progress and our invisible celestial companions. It will be a battle of gigantic proportions, testing the spiritual loyalties of all planetary residents. No one will be immune. None will escape.
How could Sadler, or Christy, or members of
the Forum, recognize the true cosmic portent of such remarks, with their
conservative, mid-western mind-sets?
This reduced view of "epochal revolutions"
conditioned everyone's attitude about the social significance and cultural
meaning of the new revelation. Many individuals desired to contribute to
the outworking of the revelation, based on improvements in the current
world order. They were judged on their potential contributions to the current
social system, on their traditional social appeal, and on their personalities,
as so well demonstrated by Vern Grimsley. They were not judged on their
spiritual worth in the accomplishment of a grand new world order. If individuals
came along who dared to claim that the present order was destined to destruction
those individuals were judged as fringe personalities. No heed was given
to the fact of clear and bald statements within the Revelation.
A new world order is coming; it is at our doorstep.
The world changes will be so dramatic that it will take a thousand years
for the new social order to settle down.
This was a deadly fault. Everyone took the
attitude that divine planetary judgments could be avoided. These attitudes
then led to concentration on activities of an academic nature, and on philosophical
discussions within the Urantia community. The community never reached true
theological or eschatological explorations of the revelatory material.
Corporate organizations became substitutes for true religious trust. Spiritual
leadership became lost in organization, and in secular formulations; Urantians
could not grasp true spiritual dedication.
Only dramatic spiritual and social crises will
lead men to understanding of this birth of a new age. Only the birth pangs
of that new age will truly bring their hearts to God.
Given that men will not act in accordance with
the magnitude of the trust placed in their hands, our planetary supervisors,
in long anticipation of this striking default, prepared the way for the
revelation to be salvaged, and to be ready for the time of deep and deadly
planetary crises. How easy it is to view the personalities of the Sadler
household, and the episodes surrounding them, as part of the circumstances
created by our planetary overseers. Those supermortal beings know each
of us intimately. They can reliably calculate our contributions to unfolding
planetary destiny. Their activities did not cease with publication of the
Revelation; they created further conditions and brought other persons who
would carry us to this present state.
Christy's key position in crucial decisions,
and her mental orientations, helped destroy the very Urantia community
which had been so carefully nurtured and prepared by Sadler. She had no
inkling how her choices would accomplish the breakdown of the Urantia legal
and social organizations, to better prepare the revelation for the world.
The revelation was a gift from God; it did not belong under the legal control
of men, nor in the hands of secular social organizations.
Divine revelations are not subject to human
commercial laws, copyrights, or trademarks. Only the transient scaffolding
of human institutions delude men to believe they can control something
so mighty as The Urantia Papers.
The two crucial decisions made by Christy were
her choices of Vern Grimsley and Martin Myers for positions of influence
and control within the Urantia community and Urantia Foundation affairs.
She believed they were members of the Reserve Corps of Destiny, and told
them so. This mightily elevated their egos, influenced their subsequent
decisions, and eventually led to breakdown of the Urantia community.
Vernon Bennom Grimsley first heard of The Urantia
Papers from Meredith Sprunger. Grimsley enrolled in Culver Military Academy
in Culver, Indiana in 1955, where he was a student, until 1958 when he
moved to the University of Kansas. While in Culver he came into contact
with Sprunger where the latter was pastor of the Grace United Church of
Christ. Sprunger was not hesitant to introduce The Urantia Papers to anyone
who might exhibit a slight interest, and had introduced some of his parishioners
to the Papers. One of those parishioners told Grimsley of the Papers, who
then sought out Sprunger to learn more.
When Grimsley moved to the University of Kansas
he joined a fraternity. He introduced his fraternity brothers to the Papers,
and four of them came to espouse an interest in the revelation. They were
Martin Myers, Richard Keeler, Hoite Caston, and David Gray. Groups of two
or three would travel to Chicago to visit at 533 in the mid-1960's to learn
more about the revelation. They became familiar faces to Christy, who envisioned
their bright youth as the next generation of caretakers of the revelation.
Three of those five fraternity brothers became
highly instrumental in the eventual destruction of a cohesive Urantia community,
and in attempts to suppress the revelation.
Vern Grimsley settled in San Francisco where
he established a Urantia community he called the Family of God. He also
developed a weekly radio address on religious subjects and personal exhortations
which reached international listeners. David Gray was his vice president,
chief accountant, and office manager.
Hoite Caston went into television productions,
an occupation he still pursues at the time of this writing. At the request
of Martin Myers he became a Trustee of the Urantia Foundation, but has
Richard Keeler was heir to a rich oil corporation
and occupied himself with buying and selling on the futures market at the
Chicago Board of Trade. He also became a Trustee of the Urantia Foundation
at the election of Martin Myers, and is now their primary financial support.
Martin Myers went to Chicago to a position
he had been offered in the banking business. But he needed a place to live.
As Sadler grew older and more infirm he needed someone to care for him.
He and Christy often prayed that some young man would come into their household.
She and Sadler would refer to this individual as "that boy." On Saturday,
July 20, 1968, Martin visited 533, and stayed with the Sadler's while looking
for an apartment. Sadler and Christy quickly recognized that Martin might
be "that boy." They felt he was the answer to their prayers. They proposed
that he live in a third floor apartment and help with the chores of Sadler's
care, who was then ninety-three years old. Myers would read The Urantia
Papers to Sadler, lift him in and out of bed, attend to his physical needs,
and otherwise help with the failing old man.
Myers was present when Sadler died on April
26, 1969. He stayed on in the apartment, and was with Christy when she
died on May 2, 1982. He continued to live in the apartment until he was
kicked out by Richard Keeler, his fraternity brother, in 1993.
Shortly after Christy's death the structure
of the Urantia community began to unravel. Events leading to dissension
and distrust were triggered by Vern Grimsley in San Francisco and independently
by Martin Myers in Chicago.
In a brochure entitled The Family of God
Foundation and the Urantia Book, Vern Grimsley advertised his operation
From such noble aspirations Grimsley went on
to bring disaster to his operation, and profound disillusionment throughout
the Urantia community.
Christy died in May, 1982. She was the last
member of the Contact Commission, and the "old-timers" associated with
the miracle of the Revelation.
Six months later, in December, Vern Grimsley
announced that he had received "messages" by hearing "voices," either from
midwayers or from angels, he was unsure. With those simple declarations
he initiated fragmentation of the Urantia community, and uncertainty among
many of its members to this day.
In a lengthy report on Vern's default, dated
June 17, 1984, Hoite Caston, his fraternity brother, said:
Caston then went into full investigation of
Vern's "messages" and "voices," concluding that they were the machinations
of Vern's mind, and that his private "revelations" were a hoax, perpetrated
to bring personal allegiance, and to acquire control within the Urantia
It was well known throughout the Urantia community
that Christy believed Vern was a member of the Reserve Corps of Destiny.
Caston had called a meeting of interested persons on November 1, 1983.
Against his expectations Vern attended the meeting and was accorded the
opportunity to give the first presentation. In the course of discussion
of his remarks, and his proposals, Julie Fenderson, one-time intimate in
the Sadler household, made the following remark:
Duane Faw, attendee at the meeting, a retired
Marine Corps General who had once been in charge of all Marine Corps legal
activities, and prominent in Urantia Brotherhood affairs, then remarked
that he had heard it directly from John Hales.
Although Vern shied away from a direct admission
he never denied such ascription from Christy.
No human mortal would know whether another
human mortal was or was not a member of the Reserve Corps of Destiny. Such
knowledge is not within our capacity. But Christy was held in such high
regard, with her history, and then in a leading position as the primary
source of information on the origin of the Revelation, that her spoken
thoughts and speculations became gospel.
She felt likewise about Martin Myers. But in
speaking such thoughts, from her position, she led both men to believe
they truly were members of the Reserve Corps, and thus set them up for
immature ego expressions and claims of divine mandate.
These events set the stage for an invitation
from Martin Myers for Hoite Caston to visit him in Chicago where they held
a meeting with the conclusion that something must be done to bring Vern
back to reality, and to blunt his influence upon the Urantia community.
His behavior was obviously delusional; the last thing anyone wanted was
to have him acquire control of Urantia operations. This decision led to
The Family of God had about forty devoted members
at the time, together with an outreach that permeated much of the Urantia
community in the United States. The many talented individuals who were
members included Marvin Gawryn, a licensed psychologist who wrote Reaching
High: The Psychology of Spiritual Living, his wife Francyl, an outstanding
musician, David Kantor, a long-time intellectual contributor to the Urantia
community, Bob and Sara Blackstock, Lee and Chrissy Smith, and others.
Some were caught up in Vern's mania. For example,
Sara Blackstock believed she was seeing "visions" associated with the coming
Vern was teaching that among his "messages"
were warnings of an imminent World War III, and that much of the United
States would be destroyed in nuclear holocaust. He advised individuals
to build fall-out shelters that should be stocked with food and survival
necessities. Many did so, at considerable personal expense. John Hay, cofounder
of Celestial Seasonings Tea, wealthy man, and well-known leader within
the Urantia community, bought a cave in Arkansas wherein he built a lavish
residence, little recognizing the miseries attendant upon an actual holocaust.
(The irony of the lack of common sense exhibited by such actions is attested
by a law suit brought against Hay when he later sold the cave and its fancy
furnishings. The cave leaked water!) Vern also taught that Chicago was
a prime target and that if the Urantia organizations were to be salvaged
they should move to his new location just outside San Francisco. He had
recently purchased the buildings and grounds of an old religious institute,
and was in the process of moving his operations there. As Caston pointed
out in his analysis, Vern seemed unaware that the San Francisco Bay area
was also a prime nuclear target, and that Vern's center would be equally
exposed to devastating destruction.
Eventually sense righted itself. Caston's lengthy
analysis and report brought a break-up of Vern's operation. Many of the
members scattered to other locations. Vern was ostracized from the Urantia
community. After a period of divorce his wife returned to live with him,
and they now reside in a small town in northern California close to Yosemite
This episode brought a hardening of attitudes
and loyalties within the community. The result was a maturing of many individuals
to the dangers of charismatic "leaders."
There was a strong possibility that I had personally
contributed to Vern's delusion. In 1980 and 1981 I had circulated a series
of papers among prominent individuals in the Creationist, Charismatic,
Christian Evangelical and Urantia communities. Those papers discussed theological
contradictions and eschatological episodes from the Bible. Among other
matters I described the coming nuclear judgment. Vern Grimsley was on my
mailing list. I had good reason to suspect that perhaps he picked up ideas
from my discussions for his personal ends.
Vern Grimsley was a catalyst to destroy easy
acceptance of human authority within the community. No longer would any
knowledgeable Urantian follow another human mortal without serious reflection
and rational cause. That episode not only brought disillusionment about
Vern; it also created serious doubt about all authority within the community.
Many persons in leadership roles had followed him. No Trustee, nor any
theologian, could now speak without skepticism about their authority. Even
more, organizations built around human personality, or for simple comradery,
were no longer adequate to the religious expression of Urantians. They
were lifted to a state of greater spiritual maturity.
The stifling policies of Martin Myers, with
his wild megalomania, generated further rebellion against organizational
authority. The Brotherhood, focused by Dave Elders, could not tolerate
his dictatorial policies. Martin then used the vehicles of commercial law
to disenfranchise the Brotherhood. The result was fragmentation and lack
of consistent vision of purpose. This brought an effective end to a cohesive
social body of Urantians.
In order for the reader to more fully understand the role of Urantians, and the illusions under which many worked to spread the Revelation, refer to my letter to Bobbie Dreier located on this web page.