Who could possibly be gullible enough to believe that the Explanation for Everything could be contained in 250 pages? Who would even think that human language could adequately explain much of anything, even in the best 250 pages ever written?
This is what I thought to myself when I opened my mailbox today, and found a piece of trash sitting on top of the rest of my mail (you know, the stuff legally placed there by the United States Postal Service) called The Great Controversy: Past Present Future (How Will It End?) Yes, friends, this time it’s the Seventh-Day Adventists’ turn to ring my proverbial doorbell—or, as it were, to commit a federal crime by placing something in my mailbox that was not US Mail.
But I wasn’t really annoyed at getting a book in my mailbox. Something by Henry James or Jane Austen would be a nice change, for instance. But you know, it seems a bit cowardly for a visitor not to give me The Great Controversy in person so I have a chance to smirk in his or her face just a bit.
Then I sneered because the scintillating summary on the back of the book begins with this stupid statement: “Unparalleled changes taking place around us forecast rapid and distressing events of the greatest magnitude.” Well, yes, climate change and the stupidity of the human species are ubiquitous, but why do I sense I’m about to get preached at?
Then—I know, I’m a moron—I opened the book and read the introduction as I walked back to my house. Here’s part of it:
This book takes you on a fascinating journey that began some twenty centuries ago. Starting with the destruction of the ancient city of Jerusalem, The Great Controversy walks you through the persecutions of God’s faithful children in the first centuries, the great apostasy which followed in His church, the global-awakening [there’s an unnecessary hyphen if I ever saw one] of the reformation, insights from the French revolution, the prophetic rise and future of the United States and its implications [although I am not sure what the pronoun “its” refers to—the rise, the future, or the United States] for events in our day.
This sort of arrogance just makes me laugh. Let me guess . . . the Adventists know something I don’t? And they can overhaul my entire life in the next 250 pages?
Give me a break.
They may believe something I don’t believe, but I am deeply and bitterly suspicious of a people who claim to have all the answers. They can’t possibly KNOW anything more than the rest of us know.
I have several religious friends who I deeply respect because they’ve taken the time to explain their beliefs to me, listen to my objections and questions, respond intelligently, and even quietly indulge me in my complete inability to have faith in things we can’t see and can’t really KNOW, such as gods, saviors, prophesies, historical “facts,” conversations, and miracles. I get it, OK? They are believers. And they’ve explained why.
As for the Seventh Dayers leaving cheap paperbacks in mailboxes . . . Save some trees, guys. I’ll help out. I just tossed your book into the recycling bin.
(Note to self: file under “ranting.”)