1972 I was a counselor at the
Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. My
office was on the third tier of E-Block,
which housed four hundred prisoners. One
day, outside my office, I was talking
with an inmate who was in my caseload.
We were discussing science fiction,
talking about the great sci-fi authors
and the classics of the genre. Another
inmate, a friend of my fellow sci-fi
enthusiast, stopped to overhear what we
were talking about.
As do many who
live behind those walls, this inmate
decided to play the one-upmanship game.
When a break came in our conversation he
mentioned that he’d been reading the
most incredible science fiction book he
had ever run across. The book he
described was prodigious: over two
thousand pages long, not written by
humans, and describing universes upon
universes like so many grains of sand on
I was pretty flabbergasted by his
claims, so I asked him for the title and
publisher of the book.
After the yard
line had been called and the work line
had been called and all the prisoners
were celled in, I went to the library,
found the publisher’s address in the
card catalogue, and wrote to the
Foundation in Chicago to find out the
price and shipping costs. In a couple of
weeks the answer arrived and I sent in
my $27 for my own copy. Now that I think
of it, it was rather amazing that I
ordered it: I hadn’t seen the book,
hadn’t read a review of it, hadn’t ever
heard of the publisher, and hadn’t ever
paid $27 for a science fiction book!
When my big
book arrived, I began with the Foreword.
After going through it rather slowly,
not understanding much of what it was
saying, I read Paper 1.
later, I am here to tell you sweet
people that although I was disappointed
that it wasn’t really a science fiction
book, Paper 1 provided me with the most
enjoyable, heartwarming description of
God that I had ever read. I went on to
finish the book in eighteen months,
having to get up an hour earlier every
morning to do so.
Book has given me a more interesting
description of the universe and its
inhabitants than I could have ever
imagined. And that’s how the Urantia
Book found me.