Tell Me About It! or, The Tale of the Very Worst Plot

I have a treat for you today! This is the newest Chick Tract! Which means we have a Chick Tract that is 100 percent not written by Jack Chick. So who are we lampooning then? Meet David W. Daniels:
DaveDaniels

Wikipedia lists 10 different David Daniels, none of which are our new comic book author, so we turn to what he says about himself (on Chick.com):

David Daniels, B.A., M.Div., is trained in Bible and linguistics. After twenty years of searching the Hebrew and Greek scriptures and studying the history of the Bible, he concluded that the King James Bible is God’s preserved words in English.

Once he understood that the King James Bible is the words of God in English, David Daniels became a careful literalist who believes his Bible without reservation.

He came to realize that just because he may not have the answer to a particular Bible question, does not mean that there is no answer. That’s why he never stops searching and checking his sources. He is finding that the answers to the “problems” people like to bring up about the Bible are usually found right in the context of the scripture. That’s why we have to have a translation that is as literal as possible, to make sure we haven’t missed anything that God actually said. That’s why we trust the King James Bible.

I definitely started laughing at “trained in Bible and linguistics”. According to his Amazon page, Daniels has a “B.A. in Bible and Linguistics” from Pacific Christian College, and a Master’s of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.  PCC has a program for Biblical Studies, but nothing called “Bible and Linguistics”. To be fair, he got his B.A. in 1984, and his M. Div. in 1987, so they may have renamed courses. Regardless, “Bible and linguistics” sounds like a children’s made-up course of study. And I submit that no one who actually studies Greek, Hebrew, and the history of the Bible can come away with any idea associated with “biblical literalism”, or that the King James Version is anything like definitive. Elsewhere on the Chick.com site, they claim Daniels spent “many years being trained by Jack Chick.” So we’re definitely dealing with the same BS we’ve dealt with before. And the Amazon profile I mentioned? Oh, we’re definitely going to take a dive into some of those gems here, too. *rubs hands with glee*

Now that we’ve met our new author, let’s see what fresh hell he’s written for us!

TMAICover

This tract is listed in their “Basic Gospel” section, but it’s about “gossip” – really just rumors and misinformation. Which is a great topic! Plenty of people break trust and spread rumors about people, intentionally or not, and those can cause quite a bit of harm. Daniels’ take on it is…. less than nuanced, however. And if that face on the cover looks a bit off, don’t worry. It gets much, much worse.

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I can’t really tell what the author is going for here with these faces, but there’s some Uncanny Valley thing going on. I was almost wondering if we should be checking on Carter (the artist), but then I realized the issue. All of the weird-looking faces here are women. Carter draws men with normal features, but women get this.

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Geez, Daniels is as bad as writing dialogue as Chick was!

Judy: I hate people telling stories about me!
Laura: I agree! Here’s a story about you!

Also, people don’t call it rumors when they’re involved in spreading it! And I’ll tell you, Laura absolutely would not have told Judy to her face, especially considering the content of the rumor.
It’s also pretty problematic that the “gossip” tract features primarily women – except for the character who gets to give the religious lesson. As always, the layers of crap in a Chick tract go a long ways down!

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It is preposterous that if people in these girls social groups were tweeting about this, that Judy hadn’t seen it already. Someone would have forgotten to block her from the retweet, at least.
And I can’t make heads or tails of this dialogue.

Laura: Carrie told me a rumor about you.
Judy: What did she say?
Laura: She saw you with an older man, in a diner, and hotels exist.
Judy: You’ve got it all wrong!
Laura: Admit it! Carrie’s tweets are everywhere! I thought we were friends but you haven’t told me everything!
Judy: What.
Laura: Who is the other guy?

It’s nonsense! Like half the conversation is missing. Also, Laura hasn’t really accused Judy of anything for her to admit to. Now, that final question is the crux of the matter, and the reason this might be nothing. And “who is the older guy someone saw you with” is a perfectly legitimate question, even if the answer turns out to be “None of your damn business, Laura.”

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We find out later that the older guy is Judy’s dad. But there is zero explanation of why Judy can’t say. This whole thing would literally go away with “I was having dinner with my dad, you absolute dumbasses.”

Also, your “big chance to go viral”? No one’s going to go viral over a random person meeting with another random person, especially not with something as lame as “#twotimingjudy. And not for nothing, but hashtags don’t have hyphens. It’s like they don’t even care about accuracy! (pro-tip: no one at Chick Productions cares about accuracy)

 

I can’t stress enough how much of a non-issue this should be. She was meeting her dad – why the hell would her boyfriend be upset? And again, why can’t you tell people it’s your dad? And why do you need Laura’s help to straighten them out? We’ve already established she knows less than nothing.

 

 

I legitimately laughed at “I don’t interfere in other people’s lives”. In the hands of a more competent writer, this would be explicitly due to a lack of self-awareness. Daniels either thinks this is the way teenage girls actually act, or he thinks Laura actually wasn’t interfering. Neither option makes him look good. And Judy. Girl. You were meeting your dad! Why are you being secretive about it?

Now, let me be clear – online bullying is a serious thing, and I’m not going to say “Well, if you have nothing to hide, you don’t have to worry about it!” because that is victim-blaming BS. But Laura asked what was going on, and Judy refused to answer, with no reason. So this “Why didn’t they talk to me?” sob comes off a little weird.

 

This story appears to be set in the 50s, given this diner, but we already know it’s set in the modern day because of the tweets. The sign on the door identifies this as “Song’s Soda Shop”, and the proprietor is a young Asian man. To be perfectly honest, I expected some truly abysmal racism here, but the only issue I can really see is the drawing itself – Song is a bit caricatured, and that could be due to the style. I know, I know, I’m probably giving more credit to the artist than is deserved, but hope spot, maybe? (There is no hope, everything is terrible).

I’d also like to point out the table in the lower corner, where we have what appears to be a Jedi and a mohawk-wearing punk having a meal.  They aren’t referenced in any way, but it’s the most reasonable “background color” I’ve seen in a Chick Tract.

 

 

And here we go, diving into the crap.

Holy crap, this artist needs to learn to draw girls! What the hell is wrong with that second panel?

Oh my gosh, the third panel. “Everyone is gender-fluid” is hilarious – I’m sure my gender-fluid friends would find this fabulous. The addition of a true statement (That gender is a social construct) is standard-fare straw-manning from Daniels, in grand Chick tradition.

Ooh, a verse! let’s see what that actually says!

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a]

 

Huh, that’s weird. There’s ellipsis in the middle of that quote without anything being removed! Usually it goes the other way. Also, that’s Jesus talking – I wonder what he was actually saying in this pull quote?

Mark 10: 2-12:

Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses command you?” he replied.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Oooh, so Jesus was answering a specific trick question by religious leaders! Who were taking pull quotes from Moses to try and trick him! I wonder where I’ve seen that little trick before?
Yeah, Jesus wasn’t really saying anything about gender here – he was answering a specific trick question designed by the religious leaders of the day who were trying to get him to answer a question that had really no right answer. And he’s quoting from Genesis, and trying to use mythological “The way things are” stories is no way to build social policy.

Mostly these panels seem to be Daniels taking some time out to address a pet peeve of his – another grand Chick tradition.

 

 

Hey, someone mentioned the Sermon on the Mount!…..Only to try and explain why it’s wrong. Okay, let’s see what John has to say.

John 7:22-24

22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.

23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?

24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

And Matthew 7:1-5:

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

 

So in Matthew, Jesus says, “Don’t judge, because fair’s fair, and you’ll get what you dish.” In John, Jesus says, “Don’t be a dumbass, if it’s ok to circumcise on the Sabbath because of the law, why the hell would it not be ok to heal someone on Sabbath?”
As an English teacher, this is one of the most frustrating things about the English language. “Judgement” can mean several different things, and the difference between “passing judgement” and “judging a situation” is vital! Just because they both use “judge” as a root does not mean that those phrases mean the same thing. So stop pretending they do, asshole Christians! (Note: this does not indicate that all Christians are assholes, but rather that if you do this, and you are a Christian, you are also an asshole)

And again, the ellipsis with nothing removed. I think Daniels is using it to break up his quotes into different speech bubbles, but that’s not working, man. Don’t do that. It’s weird, and it makes me think you’re removing things when you’re not.

 

 

Ah! Carter, you gotta take some drawing lessons, man! Learn to draw a girl! Holy fuck, man! Like, I know you know how to draw a face, just look at Jesus.

Ok, you all know the drill. I know all these quotes can get a bit tedious, but legitimately, Daniels, Chick, and their ilk misrepresent Christianity – I know plenty of Christians, and was one myself for quite a while. And as much as I hate the damage bigoted Christians do, I can’t paint all Christians with the same brush, because I know too many who are wonderful people who aren’t bigoted. And Chick’s legacy tarnishes them, too.

Anyway, Matthew 10:32-38:

32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

It’s hard to see in the KJV, but other translations make this explicit. Starting in verse 35, Jesus is quoting from Micah. And that’s what’s important. Matthew, of all the Gospel authors, is writing to an explicitly Jewish audience. He takes every opportunity to quote from the Old Testament to establish Jesus’  bona fides (ironically misinterpreting and quote mining as badly as some modern Christians). I mean, even just looking back at the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”.

Ultimately, Daniels et al are engaged in a heroic fantasy of their own creation. They want “families to be divided” because it plays into their fantasy. So they make sure they drive everyone away, then claim they’re being persecuted. No, Daniels, you’re just a dick.

 

Oh, Daniels, you condescending prick. “Oh, two places at once, you’d have to be GOD!!!” You’re the only one who thinks that’s what that verse means. Again, we’ve got the ellipsis to change speech boxes, but legit, even in what he quoted “No one has ascended to heaven except he that came down from heaven”. That sentence construction is archaic, man. King James English is 400 years old. We have entire studies devoted to interpreting Shakespeare, who wrote natively in King James English. The KJV is a version which has been translated from multiple sources, sometimes from the original language into Latin, and then into a version of English which is archaic to us. JESUS IS CALLING HIMSELF THE SON OF MAN AND SAYING HE CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN!

I’m also laughing at the fact that Song seems to have aged about 30 years between panels 2 and 4. Carter, you are terrible at this. Between Song rapidly aging and de-aging, and Judy having a stroke in panel 1, I’m beginning to think you’re starting to phone this in. I mean, why not? It’s not like most people who read them either toss them as soon as they realize what they’re holding, or they’re people like me wringing every bit of humor out of your disgusting take on Christianity.

Ugh, the “Gospel message”. I’ve heard an enormous number of versions of this, and Chick tracts’ are always the worst. There’s so many things wrong with this section – the assumption that everyone accepts Bible quotes uncritically as absolute truth, in the exact interpretation of the speaker, that everyone can parse King James English just naturally, the unspoken premise that everyone is born as just the worst human possible, that any given person just can understand the Christianese jargon. I’ve written about some of those before, but this one just rapid-fire overwhelmed me.
So let’s  just talk about how Song’s shop has a time bubble in it that randomly ages people! Song got hit with it before, now it’s Judy’s turn! And that is not a “happy to be saved” face,  Carter. That face says shock and dismay.
Oh yeah, the plot! Got to resolve that. And this resolution is nonsense piled on a plate of crazy. Why the fuck would Judy need Song to bring her father to the diner? Why did Judy try and keep it a secret when it’s  clearly not? Why didn’t this occur to Judy? Why is the…mother? I guess? seemingly surprised? There’s a random child now! Is this Judy’s sibling? WHY DOES SONG HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS REUNION?

AND FOR THE LOVE ALL THAT IS GOOD AND RIGHT IN THE WORLD, WHY DID JUDY CONSIDER THIS A SECRET?!?!?!?!

 

Ok, so wrapping up. Daniels writes plots like a toddler throwing spaghetti at the wall, and Carter has given up on life. Ellipsis being used to hide the fact that nothing was being taken out of the verse was new, but the quote-mining and out of context bullshit remains. Daniels is the absolute worst, so I’ll be going after new tracts as they come out! Because I am apparently a glutton for punishment. If you have any requests for specific tracts, I’ll accept them, but be aware, I try to have something relatively new to say. And, there are certain topics I won’t touch, and any request for those will get you a message about why I won’t do it.

Christmas Season is here!

It’s Christmas season! Historically, this has been my favorite time of year. This year is harder – changes in my life have made it difficult to look forward to the holidays this year. However, Chick wrote some tracts about Christmas, which I am going to look at this month. Let’s jump right in!

 

 

As covers go, this is fairly inoffensive – it’s a present! And it’s called……The Present!

 

 

So, this is one of Chick’s attempts at a parable. Now, in the strictest sense, all of his tracts that aren’t specifically based on a Bible story or a real-life event are parables, but you can really feel that Chick said, “I’m going to write A PARABLE” with this one.

 

 

And this is where the story starts to fall apart, in my opinion. I buy a king loving his only son. I don’t buy the indirect love – “I love everyone who loves the one I love!” Not just because of the indirectness; if you’re a parent, or have a parent, you know how unlikely this scenario is.

I also love the low-key time skip for no reason. There’s no point to this – you could have started the story at “I’m building apartments”. What it really means is “years later after the first panel” But from a storytelling perspective, you can assume an older son was once a younger son, and nothing happens in the first panel except exposition that has nothing to do with the son’s age. This may sound like I’m nitpicking, but the lack of artistry in these tracts really bothers me.

 

 

Here is the first hint of some problems with Chick’s philosophy. He frames this story as “The King (God) sends his son(Jesus) who he loves more than anything, to invite people purely for blessings, and will bless those who respond! All you have to do is accept the gift!” At best, this is disingenuous – there are hidden requirements. At worst…well, we’ll see what that looks like in a couple panels.

 

 

First of all, I think it’s hilarious in the context of the story that no one recognizes the prince – this is supposedly the heir to the throne, and everyone is completely baffled by him.  This is also another place where the parable is falling apart – in the parable, the prince is at least obviously rich, and looks like a prince. In Chick’s metaphor, this doesn’t quite match up – Jesus very specifically was disguised. He specifically didn’t come in the form that religious leaders expected the Messiah to be in.

 

I mention this in every single tract, but the attention to detail on the bad people compared with the detail on the good people is stark. Look at the line work on those sneers! Compare that with the flat aspect of the prince in the previous panel. It’s almost uncomfortable how much work goes into the villains compared with the heroes. The most charitable interpretation I can come up with is that the heroes are supposed to be blank slates for the reader, so they are intentionally left softer to allow the reader to imprint a bit. The villains, on the other hand, are supposed to be distinct from the reader, so they’re a bit exaggerated so the reader sees them as “Other”. I think that’s giving the artist and Chick a ton of credit they don’t deserve, though.
The second panel is truly toxic. Chick is showing what he thinks people are thinking when they “reject God’s gift”. They’re mutually exclusive – the prince could be lying and trying to trick them, but then they accept the fact there’s a gift at all? But more importantly, there is no empathy here. Chick and his ilk have this idea that if someone doesn’t believe the same as they do, they’re completely evil, with no in-between. In Chick’s philosophy, there is no room for honest disagreement.
Holy shit, that’s some escalation! This is where Chick’s nihilistic philosophy leads, every time. If you can’t empathize with someone who disagrees with you, then you have yourself, and then everyone else who has no difference between thinking someone is lying, and then murdering the shit out of them. Chick’s idea that his ideas are true by virtue of prima facie evidence means that either everyone except him and his own are evil to their core, or that he might be wrong about his philosophy. Since the second option is off the table, Chick has to believe the absolute worst about his opponents.
Fred Clark, who I have mentioned before, has spent the last 15 years deconstructing the Left Behind series, and I highly recommend his series. He coined the term “TurboJesus” for the evangelical idea that Jesus is coming back to murder everyone who didn’t listen to the Real True Christians when they had the chance. In Chick’s religion, the Judgement day is the ultimate vindication – Just wait and see, non-believers. Just wait till Jesus comes back and murders the shit out of you, then you’ll be sorry. In the Bad Bob story, we saw that Chick explicitly rejects what he calls the “Love Gospel”. God is not love in Chick’s Bible – God is fire and fury. And as the panel says, no one survives.
I legitimately laughed at the aside of the trinity – it’s completely apropos of nothing, but Chick can’t help but throw some shade at what he considers apostate Christians.
This idea that God is restricted in who he can allow in his presence, as if he’s allergic to “sin” or whatever, is genuinely one of the weirder elements of evangelical doctrine. It makes God look like the boy in the plastic bubble.
Now the story gets a bit confused. If the plan was for him to die all along, God didn’t really send his son to “tell us about the gift he wants to give us”, he sent his son to die. Big fucking difference. Also, if a romantic partner tried to test me like that, we would be done. That’s manipulative as hell.
Here we go. Jesus is in disguise here. He doesn’t look like God, he just looks like a dude. Not only that, you can’t hear capital letters! Anyone hearing Jesus say those things is rightly going to say, “What, Joseph sent you? “
This is essentially “THE GOSPEL” as told by evangelicals like Chick. The funniest thing about this is the parenthetical additions Chick feels the need to add. Definitely people can’t figure out that God is in heaven, have to make sure they understand.
Again, we have the immediate jump from “We don’t want the thing that is offered!” (tacitly admitting to the existence of the thing offered) straight to “Kill him!” The Myth of Jesus includes explanations for this, but this definitely looks like Chick looked at the world and went, “Yep, everyone except me has a murder boner. Just so murdery.”
And here is the endgame of Chick’s absolutely toxic philosophy. Chick’s “gift” is no gift at all – it’s extortion. God says, “Accept this thing I give you (for free!) and then you have to do all of these other things, whatever I command you. If you don’t accept it, I’m going to torture you forever.” Under no circumstances can that be considered a “free gift”.
The last couple of panels are the “here’s how to accept the free gift! We take Mastercard and Visa” portion. Overall, this tract, more than most that I look at, showcased the horror of Chick’s fire and fury God.
That’s the first Christmas tract! I may or may not do more – and if I do I’ll probably skip the retelling “Gospel” story again and focus on the parable portion. Hope you enjoyed it!

Life and Depression

I struggle with depression. I have for a very long time – at least since high school. Don’t get me wrong – I can be happy. But there’s always a background voice saying “This won’t last.” And happy can disappear in flash, for no reason at all.

I am in a good place right now, objectively – or better than I everhave been, at least. I have my own place – an RV, so I can’t actually be kicked out of my home. I have two jobs which cover all my bills and then some – I have enough extra money that I’m actually going to able to afford therapy for the first time in my life. I was able to buy groceries yesterday without planning down to every penny how much I could afford. I can get the things I need without obsessing over how much they cost. Of course, I obsess about them, and money, anyway, but I don’t necessarily need to.

I have some great friends. They accept me for who I am (a trans woman). When I got kicked out of the last place I was living, I had multiple people offering me places to stay within an hour. And within three hours, they were making me put up a fundraiser for them to help me. And when I am going through a depressive episode, I have friends who will make emotional space for me.

 

Given all that, it’s easy to understand why some people get frustrated with me being negative, sad, and angry.

“Why are you lonely?! You have tons of people who care about you!” “Why are you sad? Everything is going so well for you!” “Why are you obsessing about this money thing? You have plenty of income to cover your bills!”

And all I can answer is a helpless shrug. I don’t know why I can’t be consistently happy when good things are happening. I don’t know why I obsess over things that I can’t affect, or latch on to meaningless minor problems. I don’t know why one little frustration can balloon to ruining an entire day.

The day I’m writing this is a decent day. I had a really good day yesterday, and I’m still a bit up from that. I feel the darkness lurking at the edges, however, so I know this is temporary, and on my next bad day I won’t even be able to remember that I had an OK day today.

Fortunately, I’m starting therapy soon. I am clinging to the hope that my therapist will be able to help fix me.

All of this is to say I have depression and while I don’t necessarily handle it well now, I hope to in the future. Please be patient and kind with me.

Two Can Keep a Secret….

We’re in for a treat today. This is the one and only Chick Tract in the category of Demons on the Chick.com website (no link because I don’t want to give them traffic, or honestly, a reason to look at this blog). Welcome to Keep the Secret!

As covers go, this is not the worst one I’ve seen. It’s mysterious – if I didn’t know better, I might actually want to look inside! (Don’t look inside! Save yourself!)

Ok, we’re looking inside.

 

Last month, we learned that loving parents turn out evil delinquents. Keep the Secret will continue the theme of crapping all over loving parents. And really, the concept of love in general. Chick, and by extension fundamentalist Christians, have this trick where they redefine words. “Love”, for these people, means “obedience”. What if the authority says to do something bad, I hear you cry? Well, it’s not bad if the authority says it’s not, see. And since they see themselves as the authority over what constitutes “Christian”, they can “love” people by forcing them to obey whatever arbitrary rules they’ve made up. So that’s why these tracts keep pounding out that their interpretation of love is bad.

Also, again, the artist spends all the time making the demons look awesome, and the happy people look like they might fall apart into clay! I mean, look at those finely detailed lashes on that demon’s face! And the delicate shading on the horns! You can tell when an artist loves his work.

There’s some sort of continuity issue here – Satan monologues, and then the shadow demon responds to the imp as if the imp was talking. Weird.

This panel cracks me up, because it implies that demons treat God like Voldemort – He who must not be named. Also, you’d think another demon would know who Satan wants revenge against – Shadow demon seems a bit dense.

But…why? Why do you have to use exclusively big lies? That seems like you’re hamstringing your minions there, Satan. Perhaps you should take a look at the Evil Overlord List?

While I appreciate the humor of the Judas Iscariot picture, why would he be beloved? All he did was let Jesus’ plan succeed, right?

It needs to be said at this point that there’s a reason there haven’t been any Bible references so far in this tract. This idea of demons being assigned to shepherd humans to hell doesn’t come from the Bible – it comes from C.S. Lewis and his book “The Screwtape Letters”. The book is explicitly fiction – it is purportedly correspondence between an older demon and his protege, who is on his first assignment. Chick, for some reason, has taken this idea and just sprinted with it.

I am aghast – my first line here was going to be about how “snuck” is the correct conjugation, and wouldn’t you know it, sneaked is the older correct version, and snuck is a newer, also correct version. Dang.

And now we get to the first of the boogeymen of the tract – the anti-Christian teacher. I barely know where to start with this panel. It’s a history teacher, who is going ballistic over a Bible being in the classroom. Except of all the classes, history is where a Bible is the most appropriate! It’s a set of translations of primary sources from across 2000 plus years of the Middle East, Levant, and Mediterranean basins! History class is where you should learn the context of religious texts, because that’s where the context lives.

Then the kid’s response makes it worse: “It’s God’s words!” No, no no. Some of it purports to be God’s words. A lot of it isn’t. There’s dialogue from Satan in that Bible, kid. And you can’t tell me that’s the argument a kid makes when the teacher goes ballistic over a Bible. No, you know that kid says, “It’s mine and you can’t make me.”

The teacher ends with “Liar! Get out of my classroom!” Holy crap, I almost feel sorry for Chick if this is the way he thinks teachers act. In 4 1/2 years of teaching, I’ve only kicked kids out of my class for incredibly egregious disruptions – screaming, yelling, throwing chairs, things like that. Not for having a book out – I’ll take your book, and it’s mine for the period if it’s distracting from your learning, but kick a kid out because they’re not paying attention? Counter-productive much?

And in the second panel! The teacher just kicked a student out for reading a specific book – copies of that book are going to be in every single backpack by lunchtime. There is no faster way to get a book read than to ban it. So no. Not a single bit of this double panel makes sense.

Finally (geez, the wrongness in the panel is positively fractal), this is Proverbs 13:13:

Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it,
but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

Hey, look who is scorning the instruction of the teacher! I swear, Chick can’t read Proverbs without spinning the thing backwards, forwards, and sideways. And this from a group that claims to believe a “straightforward, literal reading of the Bible”.

KTL-7

Even with my layperson’s understanding of abiogenesis and cosmic evolution, life started millions of years ago on Earth, and the universe was the size of a baseball for a handful of microseconds billions of years ago. And, tons of Christians have no issue harmonizing God being the Creator and the universe being billions of years old.

Jobless. Party. Animal. I can tell you if you don’t have a job, you will very quickly go from jobless party animal to jobless not party animal. Partying costs money!

I don’t understand Satan’s game plan here – he wants Joey to believe he’s a myth, and so he specifically ruins his life? Come on, man, the Prince of Darkness should be better than this!

And this comes up in almost every tract. Chick is garbage at writing dialogue! Joe should call his mother, who didn’t hire him a lawyer, because she’s broke, but Joe doesn’t care about that, plus he hates her, and the chaplain. That’s not word salad, that’s word vomit. If there weren’t photos of Jack Chick, I’d think he was an early attempt at AI.

It’s official: prison gives you brain cancer. Also, the tract said earlier that Joey trusted evolution! Get your story straight, tract.

And this is just another example of Chick’s inability to write dialogue, but his laughing characters are unintentionally hilarious. Haw! Haw!

Joe’s been in prison the last three years, Charlene, and we already established you couldn’t afford a lawyer. I’m not saying you don’t have problems, but surely they’re not all Joe’s fault?

I do not understand this line of reasoning that is so common in tracts:

Unbeliever: I don’t believe in the thing.

Believer: You’re wrong, this other thing you don’t believe in supports me.

Unbeliever: OMG, the two things I don’t believe in must be true!

At it’s core, this perpetuates the cruel scam of these tracts. I make fun of them because they are patently ridiculous, but tracts are used by the church to perpetuate guilt on the laypeople who are supposed to ‘witness to the unsaved’. Part of that guilt is this idea that people should just fall over themselves to convert as soon as you say “Jesus loves you”, but it doesn’t happen. And all they’ve ever known are these horribly scripted conversations that just don’t happen in real life.

 

Actually, those verses don’t say anything about Jesus making Satan leave. It just says Satan got done tempting him and left. Not only that, they’re trying to give this as evidence Satan is a liar, but they sabotage themselves by admitting, that the world was his to give?

Wait, wait, wait. Chick skipped quite a few steps here! Here’s the dialogue:

Charlene: Satan doesn’t exist, Doris.

Doris: *Tells a story about Jesus and Satan*

Charlene: Satan has hurt my son!

You skipped all the steps! She literally changed her mind off-screen during a flashback! That’s not how people work!

Ugh. The conversion scene. This is a shortened version of the so-called “Romans Road” that uses verses from John instead.  Evangelicals like the Gospel of John, because it’s very abstract – no Sermon on the Mount with actionable directions here, no, in John we get “I am the Light of the World”, and really, that could mean anything! This section is chock full of Christianese, and someone who just seconds ago didn’t believe in Satan would absolutely not be using phrases like “Come into my heart”, “be my Savior”, or using “Lord” like a comma. These conversion scenes always strike false.

Yes, the perfect thing to quote to someone who is brand new to your faith is esoteric Jewish mysticism. These verses are quoted accurately, and wonder of wonders, in (sort of) the right context! The problem is that they’re part of a couple places where Paul is talking to other Jewish people, and is quoting the prophets (mostly Isaiah). It’s not that these are bad verses, they’re just not newbie-friendly. This is really a symptom of the bubble evangelicals put around themselves. They simultaneously can’t imagine anyone not knowing all their Bible stuff, and also expect no one other than them has ever heard of Jesus.

Oh, the famous mansions. Let’s look at that verse, shall we? And in this case, I’m actually going to look at the King James, because when we talk about translation issues, this is often what we mean.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

In my father’s house….are many mansions. Mansions in houses! Houseception!

Ok, I’m better now. This whole bit is like an Abbott and Costello sketch –

There’s a house, see, and there’s mansions inside…

Mansions inside? Inside the house?

Yeah, and I’m preparing a place…

No, wait, I’m still on the mansions – is it one house? Is it lots of houses?

Don’t worry about it. I’ll come for you, and where I am, you are.

So you’re not going?

No, I’m going.

But you just said where you’ll be, I’ll be. So I’m coming with you?

No, I’m coming back.

But I’m with you.

No. Lets go back to the mansions…

Here’s the same verse in the NIV:

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

So, this makes way more sense – and highlights the fact that language has changed in the last 400 years.

Again, a parent’s love is portrayed as a weakness. I don’t understand this idea that loving your children is bad. I see it in a ton of tracts, and it’s kind of an underpinning in the Quiverfull movement, that children are not for loving, they are for building an army. It’s sad and destructive.

Not going to lie, I legit laughed at Joey’s reaction to this announcement. Big Nos are for people dying, or your plans for world domination failing, not for your mother changing religions.

 

God, as presented in Chick tracts, hits a lot of abusive red flags, and this is one of them. God says, “I love you, I don’t want to torture you forever, but look what you’re making me do.” If God was all-powerful, he wouldn’t “need” to do this. The system as supposedly set up was set up by God – he could change it if he wanted.

Ok, so Joey is saying Owww in pain – why’s he in pain? The demon smacked him in the head. So, Joey’s Mom is just talking to him and he randomly goes “Owww!” That’s problematic.

Ok, seriously, he dies because he doesn’t drink water with a pill? If the pill is stuck in your throat (it’s happened to me), it hurts until you get some water. If it goes into your breathing tube, no amount of water will help you. You need the Heimlich Maneuver. Also, you can choke on water, too!

Oh, I wonder if Mama is right?! Edge of my seat here – will the author of the tract be right or wrong? /suspense

Oh no! Mama was right after all! /snark

So Joey chokes on a pill and goes to hell. Keep the Secret purported to be about demons, but there were hardly any in here at all! I am disappoint. There are other tracts with way more demons and angel fights than this one. Keep the Secret doesn’t really break into “So bad it’s hilarious” – there were some amusing parts, but this is mostly just an exercise in Chick not knowing how to write dialogue and the artist loving him some demon art.

Stay tuned for the next one!

How to be an Ally 101


Time for a life update! As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts, I’ve recently come out as a trans woman. My chosen name is Suzana, though I haven’t decided how that will affect my blog name. One of my friends told me it makes me my own ghost writer, which I thought was amusing, so I may keep my boy name in the blog title.

I am also freelancing and driving for Lyft, so in theory, I should have more time to post things on here. No promises, though.

Within my journey, I have identified as an ally, before I was out as part of the LGBT community. With that experience in mind, I would like to extend a hand to those who are allies, or want to be allies to the LGBT community. Recently I ran into a person who insisted they were an ally despite doing and saying things that are quite harmful to the community. This is my attempt to educate people about ally-ship from my perspective.

Privilege

The first thing about being an ally is that you have to acknowledge your own privilege. And being privileged is not an insult – it just means that you don’t experience some things that make your life more difficult. Being black, for instance, means your life is in danger whenever you have an interaction with law enforcement. If you’re white, you have the privilege of not having that problem. You can also have varying degrees of privilege in different situations; I always have white privilege, but I only have male privilege if I’m talking on the phone or I’ve gone stealth.

So privilege is descriptive; it’s not an insult. With that being said, people can be assholes because of their privilege – in the aforementioned example, if someone insisted that the black man should just “do what the cop says and you’ll be fine!”, you’re ignoring that they are speaking from a place of privilege and are being a dick.

So what kinds of things give you privilege? Being white, for one. Being male, or even presenting male. Being or presenting straight. You’ll notice that sometimes, it doesn’t even take being in a privileged group to benefit from the privilege. If I go stealth, I gain straight white male privilege while I am in that mode. I don’t cease to be a trans woman – my presentation changes. And it’s not all or nothing – I continue to have white privilege regardless of my gender presentation.

In short, to be an effective ally, start by checking your privilege. Listen to marginalized people when they tell you your experience is not universal.

Intent is not magic

When someone is told they are harming someone else, their first reaction might be to say, “Well, I didn’t mean it that way!” And that statement is almost always true. However, it doesn’t change the harm that was done. It’s like this: If you throw a dart blindfolded at a dartboard, and you miss and hit a priceless painting, it does not matter that you had all the intention of hitting the dartboard – the damage to the painting has still been done. And so using “I didn’t mean it that way!” as a defense doesn’t work – your intent doesn’t change the fact that someone was harmed.

In general, the people who determine whether harm happened are the people who were harmed. In essence, allies don’t get to decide whether or not they harmed someone. So if a member of a marginalized group tells you that you have done or said something harmful, you don’t have the perspective to say you didn’t.

But how to respond? Mostly, just by listening and apologizing. If you are trying to be an ally in good faith, and listening to marginalized people, we can see that. So an apology for the harm you did, and possibly a request to see how you can make it right. Sometimes, making it right is not possible. And in those cases you just have to do better the next time.

There is a caveat to this, however. Intent is not magic, but that does not mean it doesn’t matter at all. Intent is important in the response to a problem. Someone intentionally trolling me is going to get a different response than someone genuinely trying to understand and making a mistake.

Types of Harm

Harm can come in many different forms. The type of harm greatly changes how one should react to it, and how one should go about stopping ongoing harm, and how one makes reparations.

Gross Physical Harm

This is the most basic type of harm, and it’s the one people think of the most. This is where I hit you. It is basic, physical, meatspace harm. Often, people will try and claim that since talking on the internet hasn’t physically hurt someone, they’re not causing harm. (Pro-tip: Don’t be that guy)

Incitement to Gross Physical Harm

This one is also pretty basic. In fact, it’s so basic it’s not even a form of protected speech! This is “You. Go hit him”. This covers things like mob incitement, and swatting, and, “Hey, it’d be really nice if someone punched that guy” This form of harm can be on the internet.

Harassment

This can be targeted or it can be just scattershot, but this includes things like, stalking, making new accounts to get around bans and blocks, and refusing to halt communication when someone asks. It should be noted that Harassment often quickly leads to Gross Physical Harm, most often towards Women. Basically, if you’ve been asked/told/whatever to stop communicating with or at someone, and you continue, you are harassing them.

Indirect harm

This is the hardest kind of harm to parse, and is the most prevalent. This includes things like repeating lies about Black Lives Matter, repeating lies about SJWs, supporting MRAs, disbelieving women who have been victimized, dismissing concerns of marginalized people, and to be perfectly honest, I’d categorize just voting Republican in this category right now. Refusing to listen to marginalized people is harmful to them, because the fewer privileged people are paying attention, the more physical harm can come to us.

Micro-Aggressions

This is kind of a sub-category. Micro-aggressions are things that are tiny, day to day oppressive things that marginalized people have to deal with. None of them ever rise to the level of being able to deal directly with them, but the aggregate of them is exhausting. This is things like, a mother moving her kids away from the black man on the bus, or the “up and down” look at a trans woman, or a cop just having his hand on his weapon when he sees someone with brown skin.

 

This is by no means an exhaustive look at what it means to be an ally. But if you are curious about how to be a good ally, it’s a decent place to start.

Bad to (Bobby) Bone!

Chick tracts are almost devoid of nuance – the particular strain of evangelicalism that brought forth these comics doesn’t stand up to the reflection nuance demands in any way. But they’re also hampered by their self-righteousness – they can’t show really bad things because they believe the images themselves are wrong. In other words, they see no difference between the nudity in classical paintings versus the nudity in porn. So when Chick needs to show the worst of humanity, it comes out…..different. Welcome to Bad Bob!

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You thought the exclamation point was my own addition, didn’t you? Nope, definitely BAD BOB! Also, I’d like to give credit for the use of a confederate-coded image in the background, but this was published way before the rise of the current American Nazis, so confederate symbols still had to be coded as negative.

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Oh my god, first panel, and there’s so much to say! Let’s start with the Biblical references, shall we? First, Chick is KingJamesVersionOnly (all one word because it’s a whole other thing), so we’ll often get weirdness like this, “the heaviness of his mother.” So….being foolish makes your mom fat? It’s a translation thing – KJVOnlyists treat English like it peaked in the 1600s. Here’s Proverbs 10:1 in the NIV:

The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

In other words, no shit, Sherlock. And if you’re looking for more context, there is none – Proverbs 10 is a collection of sayings that are attributed to Solomon. It’s just….sayings. The Job reference is super problematic, though. If you’ve never read Job, I recommend reading…some of it.

Essentially, God and Satan gamble that Satan can’t make Job curse God. So Satan kills everyone in Job’s family except his wife, and makes all his wealth go away, then gives him boils. A crappy week, all in all. Job has three friends that come sit beside him and just kind of commiserate. Then the friends start talking, and here’s where crap starts rolling in. The friends all try to explain what has happened to Job, and all their explanations are terrible. How do we know they’re terrible? Well, Job responds to each one, and then God enters the scene and tells his friends they’re all stupid.

Out of all the human characters in the Bible, Chick is quoting one of the people that God himself entered the story and said not to listen to. Makes me think he didn’t read the whole story, hm?

Moving on! Bobby looks supremely uncomfortable being held like that – maybe put your six-year-old down? And get him some clothes, please? And he is clearly pooping in that second panel – Mommy needs to worry less about the food dumped on the floor and more about the food dumped in the diaper.

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Ok, this is where things get a little bit dicey. No one is going to deny that children do things that are wrong. But, the fundigelicals’ doctrine of “original sin” gives them an idea that children are by nature, evil creatures. That is a concept I will not accept. I do want to draw a line between the evangelical community and some other denominations. Many of them do reject this idea, and the associated “beat the devil out of them” mindset it produces. There’s no punchline here – this idea that children are naturally evil has damaged countless lives.

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Don’t mistreat service workers! Bad form, Bad Bob! As I said at the beginning, I do like the art design in this comic, especially Bad Bob’s design. As usual, the “bad” people get all the attention from the artist. But I have to mention the verse, here. The ellipsis at the beginning are a dead giveaway that this is out of context. So let’s check Proverbs 12 out, shall we? First, it’s still a collection of Solomon’s sayings. Verse 10 is:

 

The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

So, it’s about caring for your animals! I have to tell you, I laughed long and hard over this one. “God says take care of your animals, and don’t be wicked and cruel!” “All right, that verse must be making a point about wicked people! Animals? Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

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Oh, man, this is my favorite part. This is where Chick’s imagination fails him. He just can’t imagine what real people talk about, so he assumes all their conversations revolve around just drugs, drugs, drugs. Real people do not talk like this! “Rude, crude, and socially unacceptable”? No, it would be, “That Bob is real dick.”

And yes, “connections”. Everyone always lists exactly what drugs they get from any given connection to just anyone standing around. Also, I’m pretty sure some of those are the same things. Also, your drug dealer is always a sleaze! And no one ever complained about it!

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Bwahahaha! The fact that Chick thought ‘narc’ needed explanation, then gets it wrong! That just epitomizes Chick tracts in general. Also, Bobby’s cousin, you said you knew this guy, so that would be how you were to know.
Oooh, a cliffhanger! What does the first-timer have with him? You’ll never guess! (It’s a Bible. It’s always a Bible.)

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Ya know, for someone who claims to love people, Chick has a pretty low opinion of *some* people.  Also, if this technique seems stilted and unusual, it’s because this is not Chick talking yet – we’ll get to that in a minute.

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Chick actually is almost right here – he’s so close to consent, but he’s putting the words in the villains mouth. This is also a dig at Catholics, who are one of Chick’s favorite targets.

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And here we get to a weirdness in Chick’s theology. Chick has no use for the hippy dippy, loving Jesus of the Bible. No, for Chick, Jesus is the Executioner, who loves throwing people into Hell for the slightest of offenses. This particular example has Chick imagining the worst person he could, but as we saw in the beginning, he thinks that babies crying is still worthy of hell. It’s telling that Chick refers to the “off-base” theology as the “love gospel” – because Jesus never said, “They’ll know you by your love”, right?

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This is Chick’s gospel – not good news, but bad news. “Guess what, motherfuckers, you’re gonna burn!” I’ve said it before, but it takes some balls to say something is a “gift” when it comes with demands and consequences.

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Yep! Accept this “gift” or God will burn you alive. Also, how many people did God just murder to blackmail this one dude into converting?

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Revelation is not the strangest book in the Bible, but it’s easily in the top 5. It’s basically John the Revelator, exiled to the Island of Patmos, writing in a specific genre of apocalyptic literature. It’s hard to really describe this, because the genre doesn’t really exist today – suffice it to say that it’s all a metaphor for the Roman Empire, which John was not a huge fan of (them being the ones who exiled him). Don’t take your theology from ancient metaphorical wish fulfillment!

 

I thought I couldn’t be surprised by the depth of Chick’s obliviousness anymore, but here we are. This is one of the most rage-inducing sequences Chick has put to print – we’ve got some abuse of power, we’ve got religious abuse, along with the truly insufferable dialogue Chick has printed. It’s across two panels, so let’s put it in order, shall we?

Cop: God gave you a chance, but your cousin is burning forever!

Bob: I never thought of it like that. What do I do now?

Cop: Blabber about repenting.

So, at the very least, God is a bloodthirsty monster. And when you’re worshiping a bloodthirsty monster, you might as well just put on the black robes and bathe in the blood of virgins, at that point, right?

Oh, Chick. Sometimes you make it too easy. There’s those ellipses again, so let’s see the butcher job that’s been done on Proverbs 16:6.

Proverbs 16:6

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
    through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

What. Literally the opposite of the message of the tract. Chick is claiming that the fear of the Lord is the goal, but the text says that if you’ve already sinned, you need love and faithfulness – fear is for avoiding evil altogether. And this just after Chick crapped all over the “Love Gospel”. And as far as being children of God, the Bible is pretty clear that all people are children of God. I don’t claim to be a Christian of any stripe anymore, but give credit where it’s due – the Bible is pretty clear that humanity is made in God’s image (all of us) and as such he loves all humanity.

 

Yes, 70s porn ‘stache. People who see their cousin burn to death will be scarred by that experience, not to mention the actual physical scars the burn leave. And drugs are not all people talk about!

That’s it. That’s the end, and it could not come soon enough. This one had Chick’s psychopathy fully on display, gleefully condemning people to death and cheering for fiery, painful ends. The dude had some problems.

Jesus for Sale, 75 percent off!

 

Note: January 13, 2020. On this date, I discovered that the D.W.D. on the front of the tract signifies that this tract was not, in fact, written by Jack Chick, but was actually written by David W. Daniels. I talk about him here. Please be aware that everything I say about Jack Chick here is actually about David Daniels. No, none of it should be taken back, and to be perfectly honest, everything I said about Daniels was also true of Chick.

 

A lot has been said about the sleazy sales-like tactics of so-called evangelists, especially the prosperity gospel con-men like Joel Osteen, Andrew Wommack, and the Copelands. Well, Jack Chick has got them all beat, because he’s not only using sleazy salesman tactics, he’s literally got a sale!

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I have not doctored this image in any way. Apparently Jesus is 75 percent off!

 

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This is Melanie. You may grow to hate Melanie, but you will never match Chick’s hatred for her. Yes, apparently women drop everything at the mere sight of a sale sign.

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Ha ha ha, she’s like a child and doesn’t understand how money works! Ha. Ha. Ha. I think this is supposed to be cute banter between a husband and wife, but I sort of feel like these are jokes Chick heard the pastor tell, then didn’t realize the “polite laughter” of the congregation meant the jokes weren’t actually funny.

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Ugh, the “good old boy” conversation about the wife. Blarg. Also, note that Melanie is buying for the grandkids! I think that’s sweet. Ironically, our hero here (who actually never gets a name) almost has a point. What he’s talking about is (mostly) illegal. However,  here is a study about Sears, Kohls, and Macy’s engaging in this type of misleading sales signs. That being said, I’m positive I have now spent more time researching the legality of shady sales practices than Chick did, because this scene is just about establishing GoodOldBoy here as a cynic.

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Roll Credits! We have a title drop.

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Oh, there is so much wrong here. You have to be a tiny bit impressed by the spectacular amount of mult-layer wrongness Chick can dig himself into. Ok, let’s get into this.
First of all, Psalm 9 is a song. The chapter literally starts with instructions to the music director for what tune to play it to (pro-tip: whenever a religious song is set to a non-religious tune, assume it’s a drinking song. You’ll mostly be right, and it makes the song way more fun). So its use as “prophecy” should be taken with a giant grain of salt. Secondly, most of the time when the Bible talks about “righteousness”, it’s not talking about purity, it’s talking about justice. Here’s Fred Clark on the matter, and he has more links for further research on that. But Psalm 9? Is all about begging God to judge fairly, and give the evil people their comeuppance. It’s definitely not about an end-times judgement.

Now, let’s talk about Joe. At first glance, he might be a positive character! He’s bringing some diversity into the thing. Not so fast, hypothetical speedster. Joe is an example of the character trope known as the “Magical Black Man”. I’ll come back to this later at the end – Joe is not a positive example of a person of color here.

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Listen, GoodOldBoy. You were not having a nice conversation; you were having an old-fashioned rant, thank you very much. You ever think Joe brought up religion just to get you to shut the hell up?

Also, thank you, GoodOldBoy, for asking that question. I’m sure Joe won’t have some bullshit evasion…

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Damn it (pun intentional). This answer completely misses the point of the question – and in these cases, the benefit of the doubt has truly been exhausted, so I assume missing the point is intentional. The question was about how a God of love can burn someone for eternity. Whether or not it was the original intention, you are, in fact, arguing that it happens? Also, I seem to remember a quote about the road to Hell, and good intentions.

Hilariously, Joe here just launches into Adam and Eve apropos of nothing. Let’s try that with other myths!

“Why would a God of Love burn someone for eternity?”

“Think of Krishna playing his flute.”

“Why would a God of Love burn someone for eternity?”

“Think of Loki and Fenrir.”

 

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Pretty much everyone has heard the story of Adam and Eve. This one has a twist, however, that makes the whole thing much darker. In most versions (including the one in the actual Bible), death is presented as a consequence of the knowledge of good and evil – that innocence is a necessary precursor for eternal life. But in Chick’s version, God is just a bloodthirsty executioner – “Someone is going to fucking die today, and I don’t much care who it is!” That probably explains Adam and Eve’s expressions in panel 5 there – God is probably flaying the animals alive just to have a little fun before he exiles them from the Garden.

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The big problem with this whole “sin entered the world, but God had a plan to fix it” is that the whole thing is God’s system from the get-go. Chick presents this idea of a sacrifice having to be sinless, and sin separating us from God as if they are immutable laws of the universe, but in his theology, those laws were created by God!

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Oh, he does have a name! I’m still calling him GoodOldBoy, though. Fits him better than “Phil”. And the triumphant return of child-brained Melanie! And you have grandkids, man. What the hell are you doing with wild oats? Having them for breakfast so you’re regular?

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Oooh, smug pisses me off more than anything. Tell someone they’re wrong, fine. Tell someone they’re wrong, and they were lying to you in the first place? Get the hell outta here with that. It’s the same “Atheists actually believe in God, they’re just denying it.” No.

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No one in the history of being evangelized to has actually said, “But it’s too easy!” in response to this line. And nothing says “free gift” like hearing the list of debasements you have to perform to get it. “Come get your free gift! Just debase and subjugate yourself, and it’s yours! And just remember, if you don’t, you’ll be tortured for eternity!”

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This is more of God as a sadistic bully. “Don’t delay, God might smack you with a bus!”

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Nope, not a bus, God wanted to use a semi-truck this time. Also, the mechanics of this scene absolutely look like the truck got Melanie instead.

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Objection! Subject acquiesced under duress, and I move that his acceptance of the free gift be voided until such a time as he believes the proper way – at an altar call while weeping on his knees.

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mock surprise image

WHAT! HE DIDN’T EXIST THE ENTIRE TIME! THIS IS A HUGE SURPRISE, LET ME TELL YOU! Ok, so I said I would spiral back around to this. Joe is the “Magical Black Man”  trope or sometimes called the “Magical Negro” trope. He’s a character that exists only to enlighten our hero (GoodOldBoy, in this case), and have otherworldly wisdom to impart specifically to our (white, straight, cis, male) hero. In the worst cases (like this one) he turns out not to have existed at all, leaving our hero essentially spontaneously growing an arc. The “Magical Black Man” trope is not a positive archetype – it’s a person of color who only exists to move the white narrative along. So to quote Happy Gilmore, “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”