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My White Heaven

Wonderfully retro and absurdly ethnocentric art depicting an idealized American empire on Earth and in Heaven from Bible Readings for the Home (Pacific Press Publishing Associates, 1963). The art of these books was incredibly sanitized and differed greatly from the Basil Wolverton style, who for his work with the Worldwide Church of God insisted on a “warts and all” approach to scripture.

The PPPA Bible series of books were ubiquitous and were to be found in just about every home, doctor’s office and transmission repair shop customer lounge in America back in the 1960s. Anywhere there was a waiting room or lobby odds were good one of the PPPA volumes and a copy of Highlights for Children was on a table nearby. As a child I recall getting one of these volumes at the supermarket for the low, low price of 68 cents every time the family bought laundry detergent. One of the more morbidly humorous and shocking (to anyone not looking at life through the Unreality Filter) themes that run through the books is the death of a child. Typically, a young child would be portrayed about to experience horrible death while an all-powerful Angel looks on, presumably choosing not to intercede and only being present to escort the dead soul of the child to Heaven.

While today some people look back on the imagery of the PPPA series with amusement it should not be dismissed that the series represented, however intentional or through obliviousness, a very real difference about modern life in what was reality versus what was perceived as real. The series has been accused of being exclusionary to the point of being racist. If you were white, middle class and lived in the upper Midwest from 1954-1956 then these books probably closely reflected your actual life experience. Outside of that narrow demographic the real world was noticeably different and far, far harder to manage.

This volume also addresses the Cold War, Nuclear Armageddon and has lots of other images worth posting.

Originally posted at LTMS, May 26, 2009