funny stories, religion

Partial repost: Unsuccessfully making fun of Jack T. Chick with Pensacola Christian College alums…

A few days ago, I reposted a couple of book reviews about author Frank Schaeffer. As I was looking up those reviews on the old version of my blog, I noticed that I included Schaeffer in a post I wrote about cartoon religious tract artist Jack T. Chick. It so happens that Fundie Fridays also recently did a video about Jack Chick.

I enjoyed this video. I went through a Jack Chick phase myself about twenty years ago.

There is something fresh I’d like to write about this morning, but I’m not quite ready to put it into words yet. I think I need to talk to Bill a bit more before I’m ready to compose. But Jack Chick is always a fun topic and it IS Sunday, so here’s a partial repost of an article I wrote in February 2016.

When I was a graduate student, I had a surprising amount of free time on my hands.  Though I did not have as much free time in those days as I do now, as The Overeducated Housewife, I did have plenty of time for messing around.  I bought my very first personal computer in 1999.  I felt I needed to have it, even though the University of South Carolina had computer labs.  It was a good investment, especially since it ultimately led me to Bill.  Of course, I’ve already written that shocking story (which I will probably repost on 9/11).

Today, I want to write about the Christian evangelical comic book artist Jack T. Chick and how I came to learn of his existence.  I had never heard of him until 1999 or so, when I bought that first Gateway machine for $999.  I spent hours on the Internet, looking at everything that was available in cyberspace.  At one point, I landed on The Student Voice, a site for former students at Pensacola Christian College.  The site used to be http://www.pensacolachristiancollege.com, but it’s now defunct.  The school sued to get the URL released to them, but they lost. It looks like the guy who had the domain finally released it and now if you go to http://www.pensacolachristiancollege.com, you end up on the school’s official Web site.  I see a lot of the stuff that used to be on The Student Voice has been taken down.  That’s a real pity, though it’s still worth looking around if you’re interested in how weird PCC really is.  Here’s an article written by someone who experienced PCC and didn’t like it.

Apparently, the people who run PCC are extremely uptight folks.  They are very quick to give students the boot for not measuring up to standards.  If you choose to attend this college, you will be paying to be treated like you’re on house arrest.  Pensacola is near beaches.  PCC students are allowed to go to the beach, but they have to go to gender segregated ones… or, at least they did back in the early 00s.  Students were not allowed to be in mixed company and had to travel in groups.  They had to scan off campus and were only allowed to go to certain places.  They were only allowed to see G rated films.  And ladies, you can forget about wearing pants.  Indeed, women have to wear dresses and skirts of an appropriate length along with pantyhose.  Imagine how pleasant that is in Florida heat!  And guys are to wear ties, which are not allowed to be removed until the afternoon.

Man almighty, if I ever thought the rules were strict at Bob Jones University, BYU, or Liberty University, they were nothing compared to PCC.  Men and women had to use different stairwells and sidewalks and avoid touching or staring at each other for too long (making “eye babies”).  At night, everyone had to draw their blinds in a particular way to prevent peeping.  Books, magazines, and the Internet were strictly regulated and filtered.  Anything remotely suggestive was censored.  If you got sick, you had to check yourself into the infirmary.  And almost every student was required to live on campus, where, if they broke the rules, they could be grounded (campused).

I’m not sure if the rules are as strict today as they were twenty years ago, but back then, they were almost unbelievably strict.  What was really crazy in my view is that the students were all legal adults paying for this experience.  And the degrees they were paying for weren’t even accredited.  It’s my understanding that PCC now has some sort of accreditation designated for Christian schools, but I don’t think it’s the kind that is universally respected.  I, of course, found the whole thing fascinating and used to hang out on the Student Voice’s messageboard to get the dirt.  The stories were crazy and positively addictive.

Anyway, not being a particularly devout Christian, I had never heard of Christian tract artist Jack T. Chick.  Chick makes Bible tracts that many Christians pass out to others, leave in lieu of tips at restaurants, or litter with in parks and public restrooms.  They can be entertaining to read, even if some of the messages within them are hateful.  Basically, according to Chick, everyone who doesn’t live their lives in accordance with Biblical principles is going to go straight to Hell.

The PCC crowd had heard plenty about Jack T. Chick.  Some of them had handed out his tracts to innocent people.  Once I found out about Chick, I felt the insatiable need to find out more about him, so I continued my sleuthing and eventually came across a Web site called Weird Crap.  A guy named Psycho Dave had created several  parodies of Jack Chick’s tracts.  Most of the parodies are hilarious, even if they are also quite sacrilegious.  If you have an irreverent sense of humor and are not offended by blasphemy or extremely off color humor or language, I recommend having a look, especially after comparing them with Chick’s originals.  If you are at all sensitive about such humor, I recommend simply taking my word for it.  Also, be aware that the site is a bit wonky because it hasn’t been updated in ages.  Your patience will likely be required.

Psycho Dave wrote that he got a ration of shit from Jack Chick after he created his parodies.  He got phone calls and emails demanding that he take down his parodies because they were copyrighted.  I can’t help but get a huge kick out of the fact that the people at Weird Crap had loads of fun poking fun at Chick.  Their Web site kept me entertained for hours when I was in grad school and not able to chat with Bill.  And, as you can see, despite Chick’s saber shaking and harassment, Psycho Dave’s parodies are still online.  He says he’s ready to pass the Web site on to someone else, though.

A Chick tract in Dutch I found in Amsterdam.

I made the mistake of sharing the parodies with the folks on the PCC board.  I got quite the dressing down for that because even though a lot of them seemed to think Jack Chick is an asshole and they were a bit on the rebellious side, they didn’t like how Psycho Dave made fun of their holy book. I got chastised for being blasphemous.  Aside from that, they were pretty accepting of me, even though one person said I reminded them of Janine Garofalo (really?!).  I guess to them, I really was super liberal.  I’m definitely even more liberal now than I was back then.  

I can credit PCC folks for introducing me to the writer Frank Schaeffer, who was himself raised by famous Christian evangelists in Switzerland.  Schaeffer has written several very entertaining novels as well as a few non fiction books that I’ve enjoyed.  His son, John, joined the Marines against his parents’ wishes.  Schaeffer had never been exposed to the military and was against John’s enlistment, but later educated himself and wrote a few excellent books about different aspects of the military experience, including his experience as the father of a Marine.  When Bill came home from Iraq, I passed on Schaeffer’s novel Baby Jack to him.  That book really resonated with Bill on many levels and I probably never would have known about it if the PCC folks hadn’t turned me on to Frank Schaeffer’s writing.  So I offer them thanks for that.  And, I also see from Amazon.com, that I’ve missed a couple of Schaeffer’s latest books.  He’s very prolific and, if you write to him, he will write back.

Mood music for this post. It’s profane, so don’t listen to it if cursing offends you. I can play this on the guitar.

I don’t really hang out with PCC folks anymore, though I am still a member of their relocated forum.  Every year on my birthday, I get an automated birthday greeting from them and I remember how much fun I had learning about the wacky world of PCC and fundie Christians.   I only wish I could find a similarly entertaining community so I could pry myself off of Facebook. 

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book reviews, religion

Repost: A review of You Don’t Know Jack: The Authorized Biography of Christian Cartoonist Jack T. Chick

This review originally appeared on my old blog on April 3, 2018. I am reposting it here as is.

Sometime in the early 2000s, I heard of famed Christian cartoonist Jack T. Chick for the very first time.  In those days, I was hanging out on a messageboard for former students of Pensacola Christian College.  I think someone on that site mentioned him.  I did some Googling and found Chick’s official Web site, which sold all of his tracts. 

Somehow, in the course of learning about Jack Chick, I also found a Web site called Weird Crap.  That site, which is pretty primitive, still exists.  Within it are hilarious, but blasphemous, parodies of Chick’s tracts.  The owner of the site got into a pissing match with Chick over copyright violations.  The end result was that a bunch of people created some very funny, and very sick, parodies of Chick’s tracts.

I never encountered a Chick tract myself until I visited Amsterdam back in the summer of 2015.  I found a Dutch version of the one entitled “Heart Problem”.  Someone had dropped it on the ground.  I have a feeling a lot of Chick’s tracts have eventually littered the planet.  However, Chick clearly had his champions, which was why he was able to make a living as a cartoonist for so long.

Jack Chick died on October 23, 2016 at the ripe old age of 92.  He was preceded in death by his first wife, Lola, who died in 1998, and his daughter, Carol, who died in 2001.  Last year, a man named David W. Daniels wrote an authorized biography of Chick.  His book was cleverly titled You Don’t Know Jack: The Authorized Biography of Christian Cartoonist Jack T. Chick.  Having just finished the book, I can honestly say that the title is probably the most clever thing about it.  Daniels clearly admired the late Chick and his book kind of reads like a eulogy.

Nevertheless, since Chick never gave interviews, Daniels’ book did provide some interesting information about the late cartoonist, whose tracts are very controversial and sometimes regarded as “hateful”.  Basically, each one is about how if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, you will go to Hell.  The tracts are anti everything but evangelical Christianity– basically anyone who doesn’t subscribe to Chick’s interpretation of the Bible is doomed to Hell… according to the tracts, anyway.

Daniels writes that he was a friend of Chick’s.  Chick hired him in 2000 to help write tracts.  Daniels describes Chick as a kind person who was nice to “the help” in restaurants and loved animals, especially dogs.  The book includes several formerly unpublished photos of Chick as well as a lot of tributes written by people who were apparently “led to the Lord” after reading one of Chick’s nickel priced tracts.  Evidently, one guy, a lawyer, actually came to Chick’s office and personally paid him five cents for the tract, which he claims led him away from a lifetime of sin.

You Don’t Know Jack isn’t poorly written, but I didn’t find it all that interesting a read.  The author has sort of a fawning appreciation for Chick and presents him as a great guy who got his start in acting and then decided that Hollywood was too “dirty” for him.  Daniels writes that the women in Hollywood, back when Chick was a young, handsome guy, were encouraged to “sleep” their way to fame.  Maybe there’s truth in that statement, although my guess is that there may be some hyperbole at play.  According to Chick, a Hollywood executive said something along the lines of, “when you’ve ‘slept’ with so and so, get back with me and we’ll see if we can find her a part in a movie.”  I have no doubt at all that a lot of people sleep their way to the top, but that scenario seems a little ridiculous.

Also, while the author presents facts about Chick, he doesn’t really delve much into Chick’s life.  His stories about Chick aren’t deep enough and lack engagement.  Daniels’ tone about his late mentor is enthusiastic, but his words are rather shallow.  Moreover, although Chick was evidently raised Catholic, he was extremely anti-Catholic beyond his childhood.  The author doesn’t really explain why that is, although he does include some anti-Catholic commentary.  Of course, this IS an authorized biography, so of course Chick is going to be presented in a positive light.  And I see on Amazon.com that the reviews are mostly very positive.  They were probably written by his friends or employees.  In fact, those people are probably the only ones reading this book.

In any case, if you are curious about Chick and want to see some previously unpublished photos of him, I suppose You Don’t Know Jack might be worth the six bucks I paid.  However, some of the very positive Amazon reviews are, in my opinion, vastly overstated.  This book is mostly pretty dull, written by a guy who clearly admired a man who was hated by a lot of people.  Daniels has nothing to say about that.  I think this article about Chick is probably more informative than Daniels’ book is.

I found this Chick tract in Amsterdam, of all places…

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