Ellen G. White (1827-1915), co-founder of the Seventh-Day Adventist church, is the subject of a four-day conference concluding Sunday, October 25, 2009, in Portland, Maine. The conference is part of a larger Ellen White Project that will culminate in a book manuscript submitted to Oxford University Press. Sixty-five prominent scholars of American religion—authors of book chapters and respondents—have been in attendance at the conference.
The conference and larger book project both attest to the significant impact White has had on American religion—an impact that has been, until now, largely overlooked. Other than Ronald L. Numbers’s biography Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White, White has received very little scholarly attention. Yet, as the project’s website explains, “White has been identified with Anne Hutchinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Baker Eddy, and Aimee Semple McPherson as one of the most prominent women in American religious history.”
In a recent interview, conducted at the conference, Numbers explained some of the significant impacts Seventh-Day Adventism has had on American culture, ranging from breakfast habits (Kellogg, the inventor of the corn flakes and possibly peanut butter, was an Adventist) to the development of hospitals to a modern literalist interpretation of a seven-day creation period in the book of Genesis (predating the rise of biblical Fundamentalism). He also discusses Adventist political leanings and compares the growth of Seventh-Day Adventism to that of Mormonism (it is actually larger) and suggests why they have not received as much attention. For more see here and here.
Touch and American Religions
By Candy Gunther Brown , Indiana University
(Vol. 4, May 2009)
By Arthur McCalla , Mount Saint Vincent University
(Vol. 2, August 2007)
By Henry Munson , University of Maine
(Vol. 3, June 2008)