May 15, 2014

THE FORUM BEGINS

About 1923, on his way to the University of Kansas for a lecture on Gestalt psychology, Dr. William Sadler wrote a note to Bill Sadler, his son, who was fifteen and in high school at the time. Dr. Sadler suggested that it would be good to begin getting together with some of both Dr. Lena’s and Dr. Sadler’s friends and colleagues for tea and philosophic discussions on Sunday afternoons. (The Sadlers had moved to their spacious new residence at 533 Diversey Parkway the year before). He proposed that Bill talk over the idea with his mother. When Dr. Sadler returned to Chicago he discovered his wife had invited a group of about thirty friends for a three o’clock Sunday afternoon tea.

              The group was destined to become the “Forum,” and soon began to include interested individuals from all walks of life. ClydeBedell told me there was a brief screening process consisting of an interview with Dr. Sadler, and the early sessions were somewhat informal. Later, as the Urantia Papers were read, the meetings may have been rather tedious. The turnover of Forum members was great, and during its period of existence, a total of 486 members had come and gone. The final meeting of the Forum as such took place on May 31, 1942. In a 1983 interview, Clyde Bedell spoke of those early days. The year was 1924; Clyde was 26 years old. He had just returned to Chicago:

“I saw Lister Alwood . . . I had Sunday dinner at his home    . . . He asked me if I would like to go to a Forum meeting at the home of an eminent Chicago psychiatrist. I asked a few questions, and he said: ‘Well, Sadler is a fantastic speaker; he talks about all sorts of things. Discussion may go in any direction. But he’s a fascinating, interesting, brilliant man.’   . . . So that first Sunday I had dinner at Lister’s home and we went to Dr. Sadler’s Forum at 533 Diversey. It was extremely interesting. I have no idea what it was all about or what he talked about now . . .”

Clyde goes on to tell us that he asked Dr. Sadler’s permission to invite a woman to attend a session. He brought his future wife, Florence Evans, to the next meeting.

“Incidentally, I should mention the fact that shortly after I joined the Forum, Lister Alwood was through with the Forum . . . There was quite a little turnover. There were no limits on what could be discussed. I think a good many people in the very early Forum felt, years later, they had been circumstanced into it. If that is the case, what occurred before papers started coming . . . was of no moment. It’s a strange thing but             . . . many things which you think today we should have remembered we do not remember  . . . What year did the papers begin coming through? I don’t know.   If we had known that such a thing as an epochal revelation was coming through, we would have kept diaries . . .”

              As the Forum began to discuss various issues, Dr. Sadler was continuing his efforts to discover the source of the puzzling night manifestations of the sleeping subject. He and his wife had begun to work out various questions about the universe in advance, asking them verbally as opportunities arose.

Sadler decided to privately develop a series of especially difficult questions as a test. He memorized fifty-two specific questions (Dr. Sadler was noted for having a remarkable photographic memory) to see if these so-called “student visitors” could ascertain what was in his mind. It should be noted that according to Dr. Sprunger, Sadler did not believe that mental telepathy was possible.

Shortly after, in one of the nocturnal sessions with the subject, Dr. Sadler and Dr. Lena encountered a particularly “electrifying personality” who claimed to be from a distant planet. He greatly excited the doctors by his comments. As this personality seemed about to take leave, Dr. Sadler challenged him saying: “How can you prove you are who you say you are?” The entity replied: “I cannot prove — but you cannot prove that I am not.” He then stunned the doctor with this remark: “However, I have just received permission to answer forty-six of the fifty-two questions you have been holding in your mind.”

Lena spoke up in surprise, “Why Will, you have no such list of questions, do you?” Dr. Sadler was forced to admit, “Yes I do Lena, and fifty-two is the exact number.”

The astonishing personality then proceeded to answer the forty-six acceptable questions as promised.13 He then added a pointed admonition:

“If you only knew what you are in contact with you would not ask me such trivial questions. You would rather ask questions as might elicit answers of supreme value to the human race.”

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