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Last week my mother-in-law asked if I had gotten a free book in the mail. She indicated it was a religious text. I had not … not until later in the week. By that point, my co-worker had gotten one as well and brought it in to work.

Here’s the front cover:

The Great Controversy: The Storm is Coming

The Great Controversy: The Storm Is Coming

The book is 384 pages long, quite a thick thing for a free book. It’s printed on cheap paper and the cover design is chintzy. Even so, it can’t have been cheap to do a blanket mailing of this book to households in our community. You have to know instinctively that receiving an unsolicited free book in the mail is all about selling you something, whether you want that something or not.

My co-worker said that one of her friends immediately threw it in the trash. My co-worker, mother-in-law, and I didn’t throw it away because we wanted to know who was trying to sell us what. I flipped to the copyright page:

The Great Controversy: The Storm Is Coming - copyright page

The Great Controversy: The Storm Is Coming - copyright page

You can see the publisher’s name next to the copyright date, but I was more interested in the author, who is listed as E.G. White. I assumed E.G. White was a man. I was wrong. A Google search revealed that E.G. White was Ellen G. White and that the book was published by the Seventh-day Adventists.

While the cover graphics of the Statue of Liberty and White House might make you think this is a modern book, a form of it was first published in 1858 (the year Minnesota became a state). There have been successive additions to and publications of the book according to Wikipedia, which indicates it has an apocalyptic bent. The back cover text of the current edition says, ” … this earth has become the final battleground where the powers of evil and the powers of good have met to demonstrate before humanity whose right it is to rule the expanse of creation. These two contending powers are poised, and the great and final battle, the battle to end all battles, is about to take place before our very eyes.”

Really? Why didn’t this apocalypse happen back in 1858? People have been forewarning others of impending doom probably for as long as human beings have walked upright. Don’t we have enough fear-baiting in our politics; do we have to get it from religion as well?

One thing that disturbs me about The Great Controversy is that, upon opening it and reading at random, I discovered that the author bitterly criticizes three major religions, Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism, within the course of two pages (p. 306-307). My eyes fell upon this passage first:

“While the Jews secretly trampled upon every principle of the law of God, they were outwardly rigorous in the observance of its precepts, loading it down with exactions and traditions that made obedience painful and burdensome. As the Jews professed to revere the law, so do Romanists claim to reverence the cross. They exalt the symbol of Christ’s sufferings, while in their lives they deny Him whom it represents.”

Continued reading of these pages uncovered criticism of the Protestants for making concessions to the “papists.”

The tone turned me off and I couldn’t read any more. Trying to sell me a religion by scaring me and attacking other religions doesn’t work. In fact, it makes me think less of the religion.

How wide is the distribution of this book? Have you received a copy of The Great Controversy in the mail?