32 A famous Christian novelMy husband and I each got rebate checks in the mail last week (a first I think) for purchasing a product. We're like the TV ad where the customer is mad because the delivery company arrived on time and he'd expected a long wait. I was figuring 6 to 10 weeks for the rebate, enough time for Dell to know we'd sent back my Christmas laptop and didn't deserve a check. 1) We have no idea why we each got a rebate, and 2) of course, we won't cash them.
But for some reason, the phrase WWJD crawled across my eye lids as I lovingly fingered those checks. That would be 3 hair appointments (at my age, this is expensive), or 10 Friday night dates (at my age, I'm a cheap). Then I went to the shelf and pulled off "In his steps" by Charles M. Sheldon. That's where the phrase "What would Jesus do" came from--from a novel written by a rural Kansas preacher for a sermon series over 100 years ago. It is probably one of the most widely published Christian books, outside of the Bible, but don't quote me because I haven't done the research. 45 million or something like that. It was in my grandparents’ library 80 years ago as part of a tent Chautauqua offering. I saw it in serialized form in farm magazines of the 1930s.
The reason it is so widely published in so many languages, distributed world wide, on web pages all over the internet, serialized in hundreds of magazines, and even walking around on the t-shirts and jewelry of teen-agers is that the original publisher, a small religious publication that serialized it, never bothered with copyright. And of course, it tells a story people want to believe. Sheldon probably received very little for this famous book which began as a sermon series. My guess is, he probably didn't care much--he had definitely gotten his message out, even if by default.