Tuesday, October 25, 2016

RIP Jack Chick

Hey, is that Jack's head there?

Over the weekend, the occult world lost one of its most fascinating adversaries, Christian comic artist Jack Chick. Chick wrote and drew all those weird little tracts about how playing Dungeons and Dragons, listening to rock music, trick-or-treating, and learning about science were all one-way tickets to Hell. Seeing as the Bible says nothing about any of those things, Chick really did have quite the imagination.

In 2014, Chick joined the ranks of comic artists whose work has been made into movies. Okay, it wasn't a good movie in the film school sense, but rather a tongue-in-cheek and thoroughly hilarious rendering of his Dark Dungeons tract describing the spiritual dangers of Dungeons and Dragons - which, of course, don't really exist because it's a game, not a real system of magick, Satanic or otherwise.

Among comic artists, Chick rose to a level of fascination as one of the bestselling underground publishers in the world. Early news of his death on the site Boing Boing launched Chick’s name as a national trending topic on Twitter on Monday afternoon.

In the late 1990s, a media watchdog site described the secular fascination with Chick: “To some, Chick tracts are American folk art, or even a form of religious pornography, titillating and somewhat dangerous. Chick is the ultimate underground artist: single-minded and self-published, passionately committed to his message without regard for external social forces.”

Chick’s 150-plus tracts center around distinguishing the “saved” from the “lost,” the latter represented by various culture war targets over the years.

“Despite claims to eternal truths, tract subjects are frequently chosen in response to contemporary trends and ideas,” said scholar Martin Lund in the book Comics and Power, “references to communism have vanished from Chick’s post-Cold War output, and eight of the twelve ‘Islam’ tracts were published after 2001.”

Unfortunately, Chick's biggest influence on the culture was probably fueling the Satanic Panic of the 1980's, in which hundreds of innocent people were accused of things that basically don't happen, even in the occult world. The FBI debunked "Satanic Ritual Abuse" by the early 1990's, but for those accused during this modern-day literal witch hunt, the damage was already done by then.

Chick got so many things wrong that his tracts are funny all on their own. There may be some theological objections in some sects of Christianity to Dungeons and Dragons, but nothing in the game teaches you "real magic" as Chick claimed. Similarly, Christianity has had various issues with Masonry over the years, but not because Masons "worship Baphomet" or perform actual Satanic rituals - which are from another of his tracts.

From a spiritual standpoint, the biggest problem with Chick's work is that he promulgated the "accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior and you're done" form of Christianity that basically discourages anything looking remotely like spiritual practice on the grounds that it could be Satanic. But if spiritual practice really does play a role in salvation, as I believe it must, that advice is hopelessly misguided and has led many people astray.

So in the end, was Jack Chick wrong about spirituality and the afterlife? I suppose he must know by now.

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