Gabriel of Urantia and Spiritualution
Update June 21, 2012: Watch Dateline’s Exposé on Gabriel of Sedona
Update October 28, 2013: The staff of Global Community Communications Alliance has published an email they sent to me in response to my weblog posts: “An Open Letter To Those Who Have Been Influenced By NBC Dateline”. Gabriel has also created a video which addresses some of the misrepresentation of the Dateline episode as well as some further information about Spiritualution: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
Last month during the protests of the NATO summit in Chicago, one of the many livestreams I found to watch was run by a couple of guys who were affiliated with an organization called “Spiritualution” — a spiritual revolution. I enjoyed their stream and was intrigued by a few of the things they said, especially their mention of the founder of their organization, Gabriel of Urantia. As something of a junkie when it comes to purportedly divine revelations, I was compelled to do a little bit of googling.
It turns out he’s exactly the sort of character you’d expect with a name like that. He was born as Anthony Delevin in Pittsburgh in 1947. After stints as a charismatic catholic, a protestant pastor (operating the Son Light Ministries in Tuscon), and a musician, he spent time at Reevis Mountain School of Self-Reliance in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, AZ. It was there that he first claimed to have been contacted by celestial beings.
In 1989 he co-founded a church-like organization in southern Arizona, the Global Community Communications Alliance, with Niánn Emerson Chase. By that time he was calling himself Gabriel of Sedona, and he was active in environmental conservation projects in the Sedona, AZ, area.
His cosmology is based on a mix of religious teachings including a bit of Christianity, Mormonism, Hopi tradition, and the Urantia Book. Like many guru types he claims to have been many famous characters in past lives (including Alexander the Great, Francis of Assisi, and George Washington). And because the Urantia Book, at only 2,000 pages, contains insufficient knowledge for the human race, he was selected as the medium for the channeling of the continuation of that revelation which has taken form as two volumes (so far) of The Cosmic Family (“The Continuing Fifth Epochal Revelation”).
By 1997 his cosmic family who lived with him on a commune he called the Aquarian Concept Community consisted of about 70-100 adults and was organized as a typical religious cult
[see A 1997 snapshot of "Gabriel of Sedona" and A critical analysis of the Aquarian Concept Community prepared by former members. I was contacted by representatives of the group who clarified the organization of the community: "GCCA (then ACC) has a board of 7 elders, men and women, who are vital to the administration and decision-making processes for the entire community. In addition to the eldership is a team of ordained minister assistants and function leaders who (along with the elders) have a large degree of autonomy in their day-to-day decision-making."]
. He traveled around to gigs performing “transmissions,” acting as the mouthpiece for various celestial beings. I found an interesting account of one Urantia Book believer and would-be Gabriel-follower (“An Evening with Gabriel of Sedona” by Keith Graham) who excitedly attended one of Gabriel’s transmissions (where he was to channel “The Bright and Morning Star of Salvington, Head Administrator of our Local Universe, the Finaliter Paladin, and The Present Planetary Prince Machiventa Melchizedek”) only to conclude that Gabriel was a false prophet when one of his personas declared, “Gabriel of Sedona is the most highly evolved human being on the planet.” (I’ve been informed that Gabriel has not performed a transmission since 1993.)
In 1998 Dateline NBC aired an exposé on Gabriel and the cultish aspects of his Aquarian Concept Community. Not only did they interview Gabriel and several ex-members of the community, but they had two undercover reporters join the commune with hidden cameras over a period of three months. Despite dubious legal efforts by Gabriel’s organization to suppress the circulation of that video on the web, I found a copy
[For the effort to preserve this video online, including an audio version and text transcript, see: Preserving Dateline’s Exposé on Gabriel of Sedona]
and have embedded it below in a fancy Flash player for your viewing convenience.
The Global Community Communications Alliance purchased some land in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, and Gabriel began moving his community and various operations away from Sedona to this new headquarters in 2007.
[Group seems peaceful, but some neighbors are nervous: Sedona sect moving to S. Arizona]
Today the community runs the Avalon Organic Gardens & Ecovillage there, which, despite the whole thing where they follow a guy who thinks pretending to talk to aliens grants him some sort of authority, looks like a neat place. In 2009 the Arizona Republic published an article (with a rather sensationalist title: “Order in Tubac prepares for apocalypse”) on the group, its beliefs, and the media attention it has received. The article drew [forced] parallels between Gabriel and James Arthur Ray whose Sedona-area group became infamous after one of its members died in a sweat lodge ritual.
The comments section of the Arizona Republic article includes some responses from members of Gabriel’s group, including one from a poster named TSE123:
Whatever else you may say about him, he is a man of many domain names:
The most redeeming aspect of his whole prophet shtick is his “spiritualution” concept which, according to the livestreamers I was watching, he began talking about in the late 1990s. As a movement it is against corporatism and in favour of self-sufficiency, environmentalism, and civil disobedience, and so it dovetails nicely with the Occupy Wall Street movement. However, this quote from his article “The Occupy Movement Needs To Fuse With The Spiritualution Movement To Win Against The 1%” sadly (or hilariously) speaks for itself to those curious about the intellectual foundation of his various spiritual concepts:
I would urge those involved with the Spiritualution movement to abandon Gabriel’s less credible teachings to instead focus on a more earthly (Urantia-ly?) motivation for their positive social projects. In any case, I hope they keep up the great livestreaming!
Dateline NBC on Gabriel of Sedona (1998)
If you seek ahead beyond the buffered video, you may have to wait several seconds for it to load and begin playing again.
Please also see this video created by Gabriel which responds to the Dateline piece: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?