Tract Dissections by Boolean Union Studios

...with special Guest Commentator: Senator Jason of "Crimes Against Divinity"


Today's Candidate:


Fatal Decision
© 2008 Jack Chick

Uploaded September 4th, 2014


John was dying. His doctor offered him a serum that would save his life, but John didn't trust him, and turned it down. We do the same to Jesus.

Page Index

Introduction
Cover | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21
Conclusion



"Fatal Decision" tells the story of John who is bitten by some unnamed animal while traveling through some unnamed jungle. Through this bite he is infected with a deadly disease and comes under the care of a one Dr. Bowers back in America. After promising John's mother that he would do all that he can to save John, Dr. Bowers travels to Switzerland and purchases a treatment at his own expense in order to save John's life. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollar on this treatment and losing his own son to a car accident while delivering it to his patient, John, who is experiencing "euphoria" believes himself to be cured and destroys the treatment. A few days later, in what is no doubt one of the most memorable panels to be found in a Chick tract, all of his skin melts off and he dies. Ultimately, this tract served as a heavy handed parable of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


Introduction
Sean:

This is the story of a total idiot whose very mind set violates both intelligent thought and common sense. Now at first glance you may think this is a cleverly disguised metaphor for personal salvation and how one must accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior... but you'd be dead wrong, there is nothing clever about this tract.

 

Jessica:

It seems to be an unavoidable compulsion for evangelicals to try to take the story of salvation through Jesus and shoehorn it into ridiculous metaphorical stories, I suppose in an effort to get the "common man" to understand them (see Ron Wheeler.) Chick is also a particularly egregious offender. I think it shows exactly how little credit these people actually give their audiences.

 

   
   

Cover Jason:

Given a cover like this and Jack's ham-fisted writing style, I can rest assured that our protagonist is going to end up in Hell. If you're a Christian and have the good fortune to look like the Brawny Paper Towel Guy, then you're pretty much assured a seat right next to the Almighty. The bald, bucktoothed, and dark skinned on the other hand, well … they have very little chance for salvation in Chick's Universe ... much in the same way people in Harry Potter end up living up to their given names:

Remus Lupin? Fenrir Greyback? Werewolves.
Severus Snape? Total hardass.
Voldemort? Evil. Dead at least once. No nose.
Dolores Umbridge? Miserable and evil (and possibly the alter ego of my old 6th grade school teacher).

I swear to God if I ever found myself in the JK Rowling wizarding world the first thing I would do is run to the courthouse and change my name to something like Girth Trustfund. That way, even if I happen to find myself on the business end of an Avada Kedavra spell, there's a good chance I'd have had some fun beforehand.

Alright, now I'm just putting things off ...

 

Sean:

Just going by the title page, you'd think this was some kind of anti-drug tract, with the fatal decision in question having something to do with heroin or some other drug that needs to be injected. Kudos there for surprising me Jackie.

 

Jessica:

Why do I envision this particular illustration being co-opted by that ridiculous anti-vax movement?

 

   

Page 1 Jason:

This is what we call "cause and effect". You're neck deep in the Amazon, wearing what looks like a pair of Old Navy capri pants, and you're acting surprised that something bit you. Of course, I would be worried too. Not too many bug bites generate enough voltage to begin arcing out of the wound.

 

Sean:

Not to mention a serious rending of human skin and muscle. I think the disease should take secondary priority to "Holy shit, he's going to bleed out in seconds if we don't close the wound!"

 

Jessica:

Who exclaims "Something's biting me!" while getting bitten? Seems to be an unnecessary bit of narration to me.

 

   
   

Page 2
Sean:

What worries me, is that he's being flown to the US in a civilian jet liner. If this disease is as serious as they claim, then he probably shouldn't be surrounded by a bunch of civilians that can easily become infected, and as a result, carriers to said sickness. And if he's not in a civilian jet, then why the fuck are they transporting him in a 747?

 

Jason:

"Only a miracle can save us now!" **cue horse whinnying**

Sorry.

 

Jason:

Hey, how about instead of looking at the leg, you look where you're going? I hope those are clouds, because otherwise, you're about 500 feet from what the NTSB calls a "controlled flight into terrain". Oh, by the way, I hope you have insurance ... because otherwise all this talk of "never seen this before" and "nothing to fight this with" gets translated into American English as, "pre-existing condition", and "this is gonna cost you".

"Hey! Is this dissection about health care or religion??"

Right ... sorry.

 

Jessica:

Are they seeking medical assistance from some random hobo? Or does Chick think this is what everyone who lives in the Congo (or wherever they're supposed to be) looks like?

 

   

Page 3 Sean:

That whole first panel makes me laugh when I read it out loud, just think about the tone you'd use with the punctuations. "I WANT THE BLOOD WORK DONE, STAT!!!!!" "He's critical."

 

Jason:

“This can't be!”

"I'm afraid it is. It's the last symbol we need to activate the stargate and go home!!"

 

 

 

   
   

Page 4 Jason:

"Dr. Bowers?"

"Yes?"

"You look like a total dork."

"Thank you, Nurse. Here, hold this open vial for me and breathe deeply."

 

Sean:

Actually Doc, given the rapid nature of this Virus' infection, I think it's safe to say that it's not airborne. Who wants to bet that they'll drop the standard procedure and keep him in a normal hospital bed where he is prone to infection, and is likely to infect other patients?

 

   
   

Page 5 Jason:

“Are you interested, Dr. Bowers?”

"Naah, forget it. I've got a date with my receptionist tonight. It's time for our weekly physicals."

 

Jessica:

The doctor he's Skyping with is leading him on.

"He'll die within the week, unless" <dot><dot><dot>

 

Jason:

It's interesting that a guy like Chick would reference things like different strains of a virus, the CDC, vaccines, and so forth ... almost as if he were admitting that this bullshit "theory" of evolution actually has merit. It would also appear that Dr. Bowers is evolving into William H. Macy.

 

Sean:

I kinda see it, but to me he looks like Dr. Mark Sloan from "Diagnosis Murder".

 

   

Page 6 Jason:

Okay, how about this, lady. Take the $3,000, head straight to a plastic surgeon, and tell them to take off about seven inches off of your nose. While you're there, ask if they can get you up to date on all of your immunizations seeing how you apparently have a case of the mumps. Jesus, you'd think with the decades of doing the same thing, Chick would not only be better at drawing proportional human faces, but at doing it a little more consistently too.

"Dr. Bowers, you have no idea what you've gotten yourself into. From this point on, every feature of your face will migrate towards your nose until you start to resemble Woll Smoth. There is no cure."

 

Sean:

My bad, now he looks like a hybrid of Dr. Sloan and Mr. Potato Head.

 

 

 

   

Page 7 Jason:

Meanwhile, in Switzerland ...

Wait, why are you using your own money? Use the hospital's until you bill John and his mother. That's the American Way!! What are you, some sort of Communist? Actually, a communist wouldn't spend his own money either. OK, you're just an idiot ... for that, and for buying a vial of anything from a homeless Marty Feldman with no eye pigment.

 

Sean:

Eh... to me he kinda looks like Dr. House. (Who is a self professed Atheist both on and off camera). Which seems to imply that Jack Chick has turned on that Satanic television box sometime in the last 20 years.

 

Jessica:

Why Switzerland? Are they on the forefront of devloping treatments for hemmoragic fever and I just didn't hear about it?

 

   

Page 8 Jason

"The last time he and I went out drinking, I woke up the next morning with this pierced ear and a 'Rick Astley Fangirl' tramp stamp. He just snickers when I ask him why I was surrounded by flamingos, and to this day my pants are still missing. I will never forgive him."

 

Sean:

Why all the hate towards the one Doctor? Did he wedge a penny in the doorframe or something?

 

Jessica:

This guy has a Fang tattoo as well! It must be a new fad or something.

 

   

Page 9 Jason:

"Before giving him the vaccine, you must say these three words exactly ... 'Klaatu, barada, nikto' ... say them with me ..."

Wait, didn't you say that this guy only had a week? What the hell are you still doing Switzerland? Get your ass back home!

 

Sean:

So he has a week to live, but at his stage he'll experience Euphoria a week before death...

Uh oh.

 

Jessica:

That doctor looks an awful lot like standard depictions of the judeo-christian god. Chick, your metaphor is showing...

 

   
   

Page 10 Jason:

There's nothing wrong with the doctor, John. Brutus just crapped his pants, that's all. He must have cleaned your room wearing gloves made from the same rubber they use to make LOW GRADE CONDOMS and contracted your ulcerative stargate-glyphitis.

Glyphillis?

I also want to pause to comment on the "secondary plot" concept that Chick's introduced. Not only does this act as a filler to give these soul-winning missives some substance and sense of literary appeal, but they also force me to think about how to make fun of seemingly innocuous random conversations to keep the readers' interest until the punchline.

 

Sean:

This janitor is so ugly that his fleas are jumping ship.

 

Jessica:

"Something wrong with him?" Have you seen his face?!?!

 

   
   

Page 11 Jason:

Wait, that's all it took to sow the seeds of doubt here? The word of a scummy looking janitor? Oh, I get it. He's supposed to be the “skeptic”. Stay classy, Jack. I've got an idea, John: why don't you ask some of the nurses - or the other doctors - about Dr. Bowers instead of simply settling for the role of "I'm ugly and stupid so I'm going to Hell because Chick doesn't like me." Jeez, stand up for yourself. Though, in fairness, if it's anything like your standard American hospital, the janitor's probably the only person this guy's been seeing for the last few days.

I also think Brutus is bitter that laser tattoo removal is so expensive on a janitor's wage.

 

Jessica:

Ugly is an understatement. He kind of looks like Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

 

Sean:

And it seems I was right on the money. The guy is kept out of Quarantine and allowed to mingle with a scummy janitor who is now probably spreading this virus everywhere. Consistency is for heathens.

 

   
   

Page 12 Jason:

You know, I'd ask how two cars could collide in mid-air like that, especially over a divider, but the years I've been behind the wheel have pretty much opened my mind up to any possibility by this point. I've seen overturned cars positioned such that I think they had been airlifted to that spot and left there just to mess with our heads. I've also seen several car fires, a black bear trying to cross the interstate, and the occasional moose, so this just might be the most plausible panel Chick has written to date.

 

Jessica:

Jeez... you live in Canada or something?

 

Sean:

Given the nature of the Divine in Jack's work, I'd say this is a clear indication that God wants this guy dead.

 

   

Page 13 Jason:

Hey, it's Dr. Ehrlich from St. Elsewhere! Why is your head all slanted back and pointy at the top? Is this what happens when you're "born again"?? HAW HAW.

Plus, if it weren't for the fact that John's mother said she had no other family, I'd have thought we found his sister. They have to have Manga in their family tree somewhere.

 

Sean:

Jesus, this is a regular rogue's gallery of TV Doctors. Who's next? Dr. Cox? Dr. Nick? Dr. Dagless from Darkplace?

 

Jessica:

This plot is getting seriously contrived. I mean, even by Chick's standards.

 

   
   

Page 14 Jason:

Wow, Doc, you're looking pretty upbeat in light of your son's recent death. In fact, everyone's downright chipper. Your son must have been a real asshole to get this kind of dismissal. At least your face is back to normal. Maybe the airbag pushed it back into place.

 

Sean:

Doctor Sloan's kinda taking this case a little to personally if you ask me. I'm going to assume that John has really good Health Insurance and he's just trying to milk him for all he's worth.

 

Jessica:

So much for Obamacare.

 

   

Page 15 Jason:

I dunno, I'd be a little suspicious of anything that glows like that, especially since Igor didn't really give specific handling instructions.

 

Sean:

Apparently the plane trip to Switzerland was so fast that it launched him backwards in time, since as we established the guy will go into remission one week before death.

 

Jason:

“This, will save your life.”

This, is an inappropriate use of a comma.

 

Jessica:

If he's ok, why does he even care to hear about it? Is he bored or something? Also, if he's better, wouldn't he ask why he hasn't been discharged from the hospital yet?

 

Jason:

At this point we should all clearly see Chick's angle here ... "you're sick but you don't know it", "I sacrificed my son" ... let's see how it plays out.

 

   
   

Page 16 Jason:

The promise you made to his mother? How about the Hippocratic Oath?

Closer ... closer ... now kiss me, you fool!

 

Sean:

Regardless of whether or not you realize this guy is going to destroy the vial, you probably shouldn't get it so close to the guy carrying something so fatal. This is seriously the least sanitary Hospital I've ever laid eyes upon.

 

Jason:

Seriously, you might have wanted to take the price tag off of that little vial before showing it to him. I think in the time it took for you to ask him what was wrong, he made the decision to take his chances with the disease instead of spending the rest of his life paying for a treatment he'll never afford.

 

Jessica:

He seems awfully angry at that vial. If he thinks he's better why get this worked up over it?

...oh that's right! He's the strawman athiest and this is how Chick's persecution complex makes him see anyone who doesn't buy into his schlock. My bad.

 

   

Page 17 Jason:

"Ha! I've outwitted you! Now I don't have to pay for treatment since it was destroyed before you could inject me!"

Little does John know that Dr. Bowers is going to sneak into his room in the middle of the night and hook up an air compressor to his IV. That "one week" prognosis was a generous estimate.

 

 

Sean:

Y'know if the Doctor was trying to poison you, I'm pretty sure he'd do it in a much more efficient way. Traveling thousands of miles and spending all of his life savings on a bogus vaccine is a bit extreme when he could have just had your IV filled with bleach. Just saying.

 

Jason:

I would actually pay money to have Chick take classes in drawing manga. Seriously. His characters would still be oddly proportioned, but there'd be a little consistency in it. Maybe he could ghost write the Truth for Youth web site every so often. I don't recall that site updating in a long time.

 

   
   

Page 18 Jason: Anyone else reminded of this?

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

 

Sean:

I know we're supposed to feel sorry for this guy, but all his actions point to him being a total asshole. So yeah, no sympathy here.

 

Jason:

So finally, the message of the story is revealed, huh? I didn't realize that sin was something totally outside God's control ... or that forgiveness was so rare and conditional ... or that Jesus was God's road buddy who had about as much to do with the story as a Star Trek Redshirt ... or - most importantly - that it was so objectively clear that we're all destined to Hell to start with.

Really, the only way for it to work is if it was Dr. Bowers who bit John's leg in the jungle in the first panel. That would explain a great deal … and besides, if we're really going to make a parallel here, who else would be responsible for John's condition but the one who has the "cure"?

 

Jessica:

I just love this frame. I made it into a forum avatar years ago.

 

   

Page 19 Jason:

Heh heh ... Sandra Oh and Mr. Spock are going to Hell. Well, at least they're not alone.

If you're really going to make this about Christianity and sin and all that, let's restart the tract with John walking down the street, perfectly healthy, and Dr. Bowers, already wheelchair-bound, sidling up to him unnoticed:

Dr. B: "I'm so glad I found you, my friend ..."

John: "... uhh ... are you talking to me?"

Dr. B: "Yes! Yes, of course. I've been looking for you. You're very sick, you know."

John: "... what are you talking about? I just had a physical, and got a clean bill of health."

Dr. B: "But they don't know what I know! I know of a disease that lays dormant and invisible, until one day, it STRIKES!!"

John: (steps back) "... right ... what are the symptoms?"

Dr. B: "Well ... there's no way to actually detect the disease ... but I know you have it ... you have to trust me!"

John: "... right ..."

Dr. B: "... and when it strikes, it can take on any form! A stroke, a heart attack, diabetes ..."

John: "That's convenient ..."

Dr. B: "... an errant bus ..."

John: "I'm leaving."

Dr. B: "But if you drink the contents of this bottle, you will be healed!"

John: "Is that a bottle of Maker's Mark with the label scratched off?"

Dr. B: "You are going to die!"

John: (walks away)

Dr. B: "You're also on fire!! I have something for that too!"

 

Sean:

Holy Crap is this whitewashed! These sinners are obviously meant to be a colorful bunch made up of different ethnicities, but for whatever reason, Jack opted to make their skin snow white! I would have thought after working with Fred Carter, a Black Man (No, Seriously.) he would at least known that human pigmentation is quite varied! 10 bucks says even Jesus is white.

 

Jessica:

All sinners STINK!!! LITERALLY!!!

 

   

Page 20 Jason:

Now comes the big question: When Jesus died for your sins, did he have to cross the International Date Line for there to be three days between Friday and Sunday?

 

Sean:

Yep, still as white as the entire Osmond clan.

 

Jessica:

Standard daily helping of John 3:16. Now certified to contain at least 75% recycled Jesus.

 

   
   

Page 21 Jason:

Thomas was given the courtesy of meeting Jesus and touching his wounds before believing what had happened. Give me the same firsthand opportunity, and I'll convert.

 

Sean:

Oh no wait, there's a black guy... being thrown into Hell. What a coinkidink.

 

Jessica:

I don't even know if that guy really is black. It might just be the lighting.

 

   

Conclusion
Jason:

So there you have the "parable" of the sick man having doubt placed in his heart by the janitor refusing the gift of life from the doctor who lost his only son in the process. Calling him an ungrateful wretch in this particular context might be understandable. Calling non-Christians ungrateful for not believing your steaming pile of Truth without any supporting evidence is another ... but at least he provides us with entertainment on a bimonthly basis.

Anyway, swing and a miss, Jack. Feeble, yet still dissection worthy.

So there's that.

 

Sean:

Not really much to say about this one. The metaphor fails entirely, the internal logic is terrible, and the salvation message is the same old copy-paste we've heard about a million times.

 

   
   

 
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Last Modified: September 4, 2014