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?
“I’m either insane or egotistically mad, or I am who I say I am.”
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 . 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  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.  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:
“I have been and continue to be a member of Global Community Communications Alliance for over 14 years. I have grown and continue to grow up here. I have met a gorgeous and smart partner; I have 3 kids born here who are beautiful; their school is incredible; we eat organic fresh food every day, we have fresh air, amazing water (fluoride and chlorine-free), I can see the stars in clear skies at night and know most of the constellations and how the earth is moving among them, I count my blessings for good health, and I have learned here in this community that I am not the center of the universe. … When I came to this community I was really spoiled and a brat. I now actually realize there are human beings in the US and in other countries that I consider my brother and sister who are seriously struggling and are exploited. I have grown enough to know that changing this matters. We run rehabilitation programs and provide year-round internships in organic gardening, farming, sustainable building, and life skills training. Sometimes the basic truth of what our reality represents is difficult for others to deal with.”
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:
“Every physics student knows that the mind seems to move particles when looking through a microscope. This is called the Heisenberg Principle. Therefore we get the equation ‘thoughts equal energy’.”
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!