Editorial 14: God doesn’t have to seem this stupid. I collect religious artifacts, on an amateur college-student subsistence level. I have a Buddha statue, a Koran, an edited version of the Mahabharata, a leather-bound translation of the Bhagavad-Gita, as well as a nice illustrated copy of the Vedas. I have numerous Bibles, in different translations. I have Chuang-Tzu, Mencius, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” next to a bundled copy of “The Tao of Pooh” and “The Te of Piglet.” I have Dante’s “Inferno,” Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, and St. Augustine sitting right next to “Atheism: The Case Against God.” I have a pamphlet from a Singapore lecture entitled “The Sin that Makes God Vomit.” I have proof that I took a free psychology test from the Scientologists, as well as their (unheeded) recommendation that I come in for further counseling.
The search for ultimate transcendent meaning is something of a hobby of mine. Indulge me.
Although I have a decent collection for my tender age, the high point of my religion collection is most definitely my collection of more than a hundred unique and enriching Jack Chick tracts, which have contributed to my moral and ethical edification. My Buddha statues and numerous copies of the holiest of holy texts are nothing; I know that the very possession of such Chick tracts already gives me a much better chance of making it into heaven that the proverbial camel through the proverbial needle eye.
For those of you who have not yet discovered the joy that is a Chick tract, I must say that you are missing out on one of the greatest works of this past century. Chick tracts do something previously thought nigh impossible: they cheapen the Gospel, Jesus Christ and Christianity into something so unintentionally laughable that it can make even the most cynical atheist feel sorry for true believers. The Chick tracts make even the simplistic reactionary halfwits of the Taliban seem like serious enlightened folk.
Of course, being under the regime of the Taliban isn’t nearly as fun as reading what Jack Chick and his band of well-meaning miscreants get up to every month (I should know; I’m on their permanent mailing list).
When they’re not clearing up the confusing question, “Are Roman Catholics Christians?” (Of course not!), reminding us that “Allah Had No Son,” telling us to avoid the “Death Cookie” communion wafer (invented by the Devil,) or warning us about the more than 40,000 undocumented cases of Satanic sacrifice every year, the Chick comics are gleefully demonstrating the obvious fact that each and every one of us is damned.
It’s fairly easy to be damned in the Jack Chick world. Dressing up for Halloween is one method. Treating drug users and homosexuals as human beings is another. Believing in evolution will get you your own personal angel with an arm like Roger Clemens to toss you into the Abyss. Trying to get by on your good works alone will get you a pair of adamantine-cement shoes for the lake of fire, courtesy of the Holy Cosa Nostra.
I’m all for the complete freedom of speech and religion, as long as your individual rights don’t trample on my individual rights. My objection to Chick tracts is that they make faith look stupid, such as in “The Curse of Baphomet,” in which the parents’ association with the Shriners leads to the demonic possession of their son, who attempts suicide. After they renounce the Shriners, little Timmy is miraculously healed. Suicide is cheapened, family ties are cheapened and most important, the transcendent comes out looking like something for idiots. Christianity has been around for nearly 2,000 years now, and despite a couple missteps (the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, Jerry Falwell) it has remained a force to be respected and admired throughout its history, showing millions of people the path to divine transcendence. Until now.
I’m not saying Chick tracts have completely turned Christianity in the laughing stock of the world religions. That title still belongs to Scientology. But next time you see a Chick tract about “The Curse of Baphomet” or the “The Beast,” pick it up, read it and ask yourself, “Are these the people I want representing my God?”
[To check out Chick tracts for yourself, go to Chick.com...and ask yourself how they managed to get what must be a rather sought after URL.]
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