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» March 17, 2024
Not Another Religious Tract Dissection by Boolean Union Studios

 
Flight 144
Flight 144. Tract #135. Art by Jack Chick - © 1998 Chick Publications

Flight 144 - Tract #135 (FLIT)
Art by Jack Chick - © 1998 Chick Publications


First Published: March 17th, 2024


A couple spends 50 years on the mission field, trusting in their good works. But when they die and stand before God, they learn that good works can't save... only Jesus can.


CommentatorsCommentators

  Anna   Boudreaux   Dot   Erin  

Anna

 

Boudreaux

 

Dot

 

Erin

 
 
Page Index
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

o Introduction

BoudreauxBoudreaux This tract is (in)famous within Chick-dom. It was drawn a couple of years after his stroke, so the artwork is interesting…. and it exhibits the most extreme take on sola fide (by faith alone) of any of his tracts. As a result, it is one of the most frequently dissected tracts around. Now it is Boolean Union’s turn!
 
DotDot Oh boy, here we go. To my understanding this one's one of Chick's more popular tracts. I don't think it's ever been out of print in its 25 years of existing, and I've personally come across more than one copy in the wild. So yeah, this is something that's meant to be conveying that Christianity is good and great and that the God of Chick's world is righteous and just and definitely not a deranged monster, and people distribute it as such.
   
ErinErin Hey. Long-time lurker, first-time contributor here. I hadn’t read this tract before a few months ago, and I suspect some of its impact on me was dulled by having read Reverend Wonderful (which has a similar message.) Still, I wanted to take an axe to this one, from an angle that maybe most dissectors don’t.
   
AnnaAnna Greetings, dear readers, and a warm welcome to you, Erin.

It feels like several lifetimes since we last spent time dissecting a tract together, though I admit the cause of my absence was less trouble-free than I would have liked. Nevertheless, they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I have been missing that feeling that comes from dissecting a tract, if only because I have quite the eye of the mind. What that means exactly, I will leave for you to ponder. As for the tract itself…

We have upon my table today Flight 144, in which we get to pick apart the Independent Baptist theology that ‘faith alone’ is all you need for salvation. I must admit that I have been looking forward to the justifications of this mindset, if only that I might satiate my curiosity as to why they choose to ignore view of their own source material that you need both faith and works. I guess it is easier to sell people on the idea if you remove the ‘hard work’ element from the equation, but that would be disrespectful to the entire salvation message and give false hope, at least to me.

Hopefully you brought enough paper and ink to take notes - I am getting a feeling this one will be lengthy. And please accept my apologies in advance if I appear to not be my usual self, as I suspect I am still ‘absent’ so to speak.

 

o Cover / Page 1

Cover / Page 1
 
AnnaAnna Either my eyes are not what they used to be, or there is something off about the image. It is as though the aeroplane was added on top of the clouds, almost like an afterthought.
   
ErinErin Those look more like ice floes than clouds, honestly.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux For some reason I am imagining Snakes On A Plane crossed with a Chick Tract.
   
DotDot I am racking my brain trying to figure out how to make that crossover even work and all I can think of is if the snakes are going around trying to persuade all the passengers to buy the in-flight forbidden fruit. As for Samuel L Jackson’s character? Well he's been the voice of God before, he can play Him again.

 

o Page 2

Page 2
 
AnnaAnna The last time I noticed something in my life that warranted an exclamation of “Oh, no!” was never, whereas I can think of a few incidents in life that might have made me exclaim “Oh no!”. I do not know why you felt a comma was needed there, but with it, her exclamation makes less sense, since it reads as “Oh (slight pause), no!”. The first page in and I already have to give a grammar lesson. How joyous.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux Oddly, none of the other passengers seem to have noticed the immolation of the engine, clearly visible to most of the passengers on that side. Those folks sure are absorbed in whatever they are doing.
   
DotDot Lady, please. We've barely managed to get Shatner to calm down about the gremlin on the wing. Please don't set him off again.
   
ErinErin Paying attention to this and the next few panels … how did she flip her seat around 180 degrees? I would have killed for a perk like that on American Airways, is all I’m saying.

 

o Page 3

Page 3
 
AnnaAnna You might have to forgive my lack of knowledge on the mechanisms of aeroplanes and engines, but having them on fire does not mean “everything is under control”. Well, unless the plane originated from Hell or some other plane/realm of fire. Then the lack of fire coming out from the engines would mean that something is wrong.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux I tend to doubt that the flight attendant could look out that window, and lie convincingly that the inferno on the wing is nothing to be concerned about. The other passengers remain blissfully oblivious.
   
ErinErin Forget the engine, what happened to that wing? It’s not even remotely swept back.
   
DotDot Yikes. Between this and Left Behind, remind me, if I ever find myself in a work of Christian media, to stay the hell away from airplanes. Or public transport in general for that matter.

 

o Page 4

Page 4
 
DotDot I went and googled Zambolo in an effort to figure out if there was anything to gleam from Chick's choice of location, and it would appear that he just made it up. The only Zambolo of any description that I can find is an Italian mechanics, and I don't think that's where they are.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux I am going to go with that he started out with Zambia, and tacked on the ‘olo’ to make it fictional. You can tell from the crowd that these missionaries are extremely popular. I really want to know why this guy happens to be in Zambolo, considering what we learn about his recent history.
   
ErinErin I bet a few dollars he just did what I tend to do when writing completely fictional names: toss together some syllables that have vaguely the right sound. Chick didn’t usually concern himself with even minimal effort toward things like “research” or, considering the art, “references”.
   
AnnaAnna I must admit I am also curious as to what our proselytising friend is doing there. Knowing Chick, he was probably there to try and convert the population via a twisted, mutilated salvation message that espouses none of the required virtues and everything of the vices in an effort to scare those who are not knowledgeable into compliance.

 

o Page 5

Page 5
 
BoudreauxBoudreaux The fact that the crowd is praying for them will become important later. We see that the couple aren’t misusing funds by flying first class (Pg 3A for example). If this were Mother Teresa we were talking about, the airline would have bumped her up to first class, post haste.
   
AnnaAnna To be fair, even if it was not a misuse of funds and they were flying first class, unless the airline ‘bumped them up’, they are doing a terrible job of displaying humility (an important virtue, especially for Christians). Humility would likely mean you fly economy and probably reject notions to be bumped up a seat class. And no, I have not even began to cut into our stand-in proselytiser over there. He is failing to display humility also, and I have questions as to how he can afford first class (if it was), let alone a flight given his recent release from prison.
   
ErinErin How does the attendant know they’re the missionary couple? (sorry.) Small world, and smaller airline, I suppose.

 

o Page 6

Page 6
 
ErinErin “... and with God’s help,” They seem quite Christian to me, yet… (Also, the plane’s wings are swept back again. This some kind of variable geometry craft?)
   
AnnaAnna Your pick, Erin. Either it is a variable-sweep wing craft (like a F-14 Tomcat for example), and which my suspicions are that on a passenger aircraft, having variable sweep-wings may have contributed to the engine fire. Or Chick is slowly beginning to lose some of that drawing ability that he seems to have so much pride in. And granted, it is post-stroke, though I do wish the decline in his capabilities had been faster while he was alive.

As for the panels themselves - merely saying ‘With God’s help’ does not hide your pride in your accomplishments very well. Were I willing to gamble, I would say the pair of you are already guilty of the sin of pride, and arguably, you are doing works not because it is the right thing to do, but because you are seeking the exaltation that being famous brings you.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux Even at the time this was written, leper hospitals were mostly gone, due to the available treatment with antibiotics, and the recognition that the disease has low transmissibility. Yet another example of Chick not doing his research. Also they properly attest their success to God, further weakening Chick’s hardline message. And isn’t ‘dear natives’ just a tad patronizing?
   
DotDot Given their ultimate fate, perhaps Chick is trying to establish their flaws by making them come off as a bit condescending, but given the way he talks about people with terms like “those precious Catholics” and such, it would be just plain hypocritical if that WAS what he was going for.

 

o Page 7

Page 7
 
ErinErin “That's nothing compared to what YOU’VE done.” Out of jail last week? Actually, that makes sense. Maybe he got arrested at the docks in whatever this country is. A few years in the local jails must’ve been a … memorable experience.
   
AnnaAnna I do profess curiosity as to how he survived. Forgive my assumption, but he does not strike me as a person that commands respect, especially in a prison environment. And this makes me harken back to a point I made earlier. If he just got out of prison last week, how was he able to afford a plane seat? I do not think he is the type of man to make money in prison, and given it is meant to be a fictional country (albeit third-world), the chances any money he had before entering prison on his person still being there is highly unlikely - corruption does exist in the world, irrespective of whether it is a first or third-world country.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux The wife looks like she has broken the fourth wall, and is aghast that she is in a Chick tract. And Chick has gone out of his way to ensure that Ed is a completely unsympathetic character. He is intent on hammering home that salvation has absolutely nothing to do with your character.

And I wonder if Ed ever got to use one of these on that trawler.

 

o Page 8

Page 8
 
ErinErin “...living the Golden Rule and doing good works” There it is. The key phrase. Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases and slogans. Chick will repeat it time and again. Really speaks to the intellectual ‘depth’ of this piece.
   
AnnaAnna To show a sliver of kindness to the Reverend and his wife, if the schools they built were Christian schools, they would more than likely teach a curriculum that aims to weave Christian teaching into what is taught. So arguably, yes, they may have saved people through their ministry. Though while I am here, I will levy a slight accusation against you. I had never realised that the intention of ministry work was to compete over who can ‘save the most sinners’, like it is a quota or key performance indicator. Does it not mean that your reasons for doing what you are trying to do are therefore considered to be not attempting to do the will of God, but to try and take pride in how many you have saved, which would arguably damn you to Hell?
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux As a non-Christian, the concept of crowns in Heaven has never made a lot of sense to me, and conflicts with Ephesians 2:8-9. That said, the couple should at a minimum qualify for the Crown of Glory.

 

o Page 9

Page 9
 
ErinErin This is where things go from weird to inexplicable. How can anyone call them ‘missionaries’ if they don’t even encourage people to convert to Christianity? Did that just slip everyone’s mind for 50 years? This is stretching even the abysmally low standards for storytelling these tracts set.
   
AnnaAnna I admit this will make me sound like a broken record, though arguably it can be enjoyable to listen to depending on how broken, and that goes for a lot of things, not just records, but I digress…

There is more to Christianity than simply telling people how to get saved. After all, judging others is the remit of the Lord alone. And since it seems you love to keep a tally of the number of people they have saved as a measuring stick, let us keep one such stick for you, dear Ed, and the good works you have done in your life. So far, you saved one sinner, and have yet to truly repent for your sins, including, but not limited to, murder and intoxication. And I will also levy the standard set that you and your ilk seem to love to try and scare people into believing in God. Which would be lying, stealing, taking the Lord’s name in vain and lust at minimum.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux I am going to go with this couple being Catholic, who support various kinds of missions, many of which have nothing to do with evangelizing. Chick would have loved this take, as all Catholics are, in his view, damned and also tend to be part of a massive conspiracy.

 

o Page 10

Page 10
 
ErinErin It’s surreal how he just says this. As if career missionaries – career missionaries, who’ve dedicated their lives to their religion, wouldn’t have read the Bible.
   
DotDot It tracks with Chick's bizarre mindset though. Literally his very first tract was about how everyone's a Fake Christian Who Isn't Worshipping Jesus Properly except him, and he's only ever doubled down on that kind of mindset since.
   
AnnaAnna And just as the Bible says good works cannot save anyone (and for which you cannot seem to provide references for), it also says that faith alone does not save a person, and to which I can provide references for. Aside from the obvious one (that being James 2:14-26), you can also consider something like 1 John 3:18, which talks about how you show your Christian love to others not simply by words, but also in deed (which would be good works). Or perhaps we ought to consider the events of the Bible when Jesus passed through Jericho (Luke 19:1-10), and in which a chief tax collector accepted that Jesus was God and received him joyfully. But take note of what this man did as shown in verse 8 - he proceeded to show genuine repentance for his sins and undertook what would be considered good works by giving half of his goods to the poor and restoring fourfold to those he took from falsely.

But I am sure that you would probably try to vilify me as a witch and possibly hunt me down when you are proven wrong. Pity that you must resort to such behaviour that is counter to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I also doubt you would heed my recommendation that it is a poor course of action to take…
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux I would say the couple are acting pretty typically here. You rarely hear about Christians being in a celebratory mood, faced with imminent violent death. And Ed definitely looks like a murderer in this panel. The oddly asymmetric eyes don’t help the look.
   
DotDot The disturbing bit is that this seems like it's meant to be Chick's usual formula of Heathen Angrily Rejects God, Is Instantly Struck Dead By The Plot. Normally Chick writes these kinds of characters to be horrid unlikable people or at least give some sense of finality to their rejection of Chick-endorsed Proper Christianity so that the audience is a little bit “Welp guess they had it coming” on SOME level.

That's not what's going on here. The two missionaries haven't even been given so much as a minute to process just how their approach to faith and works is being challenged here before they're just sent straight into a full on death dive.

This is made even worse by the fact that Jack usually writes this sort of event as Divine Intervention, and we know that he believed in it in real life too from the way he wrote about large and small events in his own life. So it's fair then to say that the takeaway here is that God just decided that the conversion attempt was taking too long and was like “Ugh I'm blasting that plane NOW.” We haven't even MET god in this tract yet and already it's fair to say that He is fully on His bullshit.

 

o Page 11

Page 11
 
BoudreauxBoudreaux In the first panel, when a plane ditches at speed, it generally disintegrates. Second panel, nice drawing of an aquarium. The plane ornament is a bit undersized though.
   
DotDot We have a pretty good idea of what happens to structurally compromised metal tubes full of people that find themselves at the bottom of the ocean nowadays thanks to the misadventures of the Titan, so yeah, I also find it difficult to believe that the plane went down in this good condition.
   
ErinErin Okay, so (looking at panel B) no-one even tried to open the emergency exit doors? People these days.
   
AnnaAnna If were to take this scene at face value (that they did not open the emergency exits and the plane immediately sunk to the bottom of the ocean), then I would like to take a moment of solace (and indeed joy) that our proselytising friend may have suffered slowly (if he was not killed on impact) and provide a bit of detail as to what may have happened to him.

His survival instinct awakens as he plummets to the watery depths, panic beginning to set in as he sees the waters rising to surround him. As he becomes surrounded by the water, he takes one last breath of air before being submerged. Squirming and struggling to hold his breath as the carbon dioxide builds in his lungs, he cannot hold any more and exhales. He quickly inhales as his body forgets where it is for a brief moment. Yet all too late, he feels the water filling his lungs, suffocating him as he claws in vain at the surface of the water that he cannot see from the depths. His vision darkens as he slowly drowns, struggling against the inevitability of death, slow and impending, seconds stretched out into what feels like an eternity. And all that will be of him is an unknown body, lost at sea and serving as little more than carrion for the assorted ocean life…

 

o Page 12

Page 12
 
ErinErin Usually the angels in these afterlife sequences hold off on telling anyone where they’re going. Minor detail, but I felt it worth noting.
   
AnnaAnna It is a good detail to note - they often just take you to the Throne to be judged. As for Reverend Davidson and his wife… you do realise that you have to do good works, but not use them as a superiority measure right?
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux Why does the murderer guy get to skip judgment? This is where Chick shows his inconsistency. In other tracts, he says people have to sit around for a thousand years before judgment.
   
AnnaAnna Fits the corrupted message that Chick loves to push if you show they go straight to Hell if they do not say the words rather than waiting a thousand years. Makes it easier to use in trying to bend those you wish to convert.

 

o Page 13

Page 13
 
ErinErin In context: the Davidsons are screwed. They’ve gotten the thumbs down from the G-man himself, but they think they can argue their way out of this. And G actually stops to argue, unlike most examples of afterlife sequences in tracts.
   
AnnaAnna Why would you think arguing against God would work? Aside from the fact that Chick generally depicts angels video-recording everyone (or directly interfering), God is generally considered to be omniscient at a minimum. I think he knows who you are, and if by sheer coincidence, He does not, then the Watchers would be able to pull up an excellent quality record of your entire life for God.
   
DotDot These guys don't even get The Movie. I guess Chick really just wanted these guys to seem perfectly lovely, which just just makes it look all the more unhinged that God is casting them off practically sight unseen.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux As usual, Chick cherry-picks his quotes. There are a lot of verses in Matthew 7 that should give people like him pause. Verse 1, which covers pretty much all Chick tracts: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Verse 12, which the Reverend references: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Ed’s position directly contradicts these. And would the reverend really question whether God knew who they were?

 

o Page 14

Page 14
 
ErinErin “ye that work iniquity.” Yeah, lot of iniquity being worked in my pants--sorry.
   
AnnaAnna Well, well. The first ‘proof’ you have provided showing that faith alone is all you need and you have already resorted to twisting the narrative. For reference, you left out verses 21, 24 and a part of verse 22. So I will helpfully pin this into a non-vital area of your body so that we are on the same page. 

Verse 21 talks about those who do the will of the Father in Heaven. What happens if it is God’s will for someone to do good works? Does it mean based on your interpretation that they should not enter Heaven? And who are you to understand the will of God and what His plans are for others, let alone yourself? Speaking of this verse, the first couple of words are also “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Could we not interpret this as an argument against faith alone, since that is the crux of what you teach. Someone merely has to say the words, works and genuine repentance for their sins be damned and they are immediately guaranteed to go to Heaven. As I pointed out earlier, there are quite a few verses of the Bible that show it is more than simply faith that is required.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux Chick loves to quote Matthew 25:41 “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”. But this is incredibly misleading. The entire section states the criticality of good works. And suffering in the name of God is a tradition going back to the founding of the faith, I would say they are in good company here.

 

o Page 15

Page 15
 
ErinErin Good works!” … “They must evoke responses which the audience previously possesses.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux Mrs. Davidson is rightly distraught here, as she is being condemned for following what it actually says in the Bible. I thought it was Satan that was supposed to do harm by quoting Scripture, but God leaves him in the dust here.
   
AnnaAnna Those two verses have little to do about how good works are meaningless. All they say is that people are inherently considered sinners before God. Which I suppose is true (in Christian belief), but the notion that a person just has to say words and make no effort to atone or repent for their sins, as well as prevent themselves from repeating said sins by their actions is arguably not in line with Christian teaching as per the Bible. While Jesus did speak of those who believe in Him shall be saved, people were also expected to emulate Christ, such as not judging others, giving alms to the poor, helping those in need and so on. I am particularly inclined to say that you are like the servant who was given a pound by his master and buried it in the ground instead of increasing the wealth of his master. After all, all you have done is convert one person, and have yet to truly atone and repent for murdering your fellow man in a drunken brawl. The Davidsons have done plenty, but considering you are acting as their judge (which is not your remit, Chick), they are screwed. But of course, I must profess curiosity as to whether you would fare so well on the day of your own judgement.

 

o Page 16

Page 16
 
ErinErin If they are American Christians, (as I’m almost certain they are) this entire sequence is just nonsense. The Davidsons should’ve learned all this and taken it to heart by the time they were old enough to graduate elementary, let alone leave their homes to go do missionary work in foreign lands.

Again: “good works!” “They must be capable of being easily learned.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux Here the Davidsons have the temerity to follow the many paths philosophy: “There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.” A number of religions have this tenet, and the Chick anti-ecumenical crowd is driven into a frenzy by it. And what about all the people who lived before Jesus, and had never heard of the Torah? All damned? (as an aside, even the Jews didn’t and don’t believe in damnation, that was a Christian invention).
   
AnnaAnna Far be it from people like Chick and his ilk to display a fraction of the mercy, compassion and love shown by Jesus and instead wish to consider themselves equal to God by making assumptions about the will of God and judging others. Or to put it in terms that might resonate better:

When Jesus said “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”, rather than leaving as depicted in the Bible, they would cast stones in defiance and failure to recognise their own inherent sin, as they believe themselves sinless. Yes, I am expecting to have stones thrown at me, but I have endured far worse tribulations, which resulted in the loss of many people dear to me who were quite possibly innocent, because of rationales such as this. It is part of why I am as wary, tired, jaded and cynical as I am, and also constantly lamenting the future of humanity.

 

o Page 17

Page 17
 
DotDot Poor guy hasn't even made it to hell yet and already his face has started melting off.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux It also means billions who were raised in non–Christian traditions, and who are therefore extremely unlikely to convert, are damned. I have presented this inequity to a number of Christians, they never come up with even a remotely logical response. And they cut the Ephesians quote off short, which rather changes the message; Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
   
AnnaAnna Depends on how you would interpret Romans 2:5-16 (which talks about how God will judge those according to what is in their hearts, even if they do not know the law of God, such as the Gentiles). Or what of those that do not know Jesus and died, such as King David, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. They were not able to make a ‘personal decision of choosing Christ’ in their lifetime. This also extends to those who are either unable to make said decision and were never exposed to the teachings of Christ, either due to disability, mental impairment or unexpected death (such as those who died in childbirth). Are they bound for Hell as well? And you had better pick a consistent stance with this, if your stance change in The Contract is anything to go from. You cannot cherry pick which aspects of your belief you follow when it suits your argument.

 

o Page 18

Page 18
 
BoudreauxBoudreaux We need to cover Adam and Eve in more depth at some point, but it is worth pointing out that even Origen, one of the most influential early church leaders, thought that the story must be allegorical. And the Jewish tradition of sacrifice is wildly misrepresented.
   
AnnaAnna That it is and that we do. I am feeling somewhat unkind, so I would point out that the depiction of Eve in this panel seems to be that the artist thinks women are evil. If he would have said this was Lilith (believed by some to be Adam’s first wife), then the seemingly evil smirk might make more sense, seeing as Lilith would want to punish Adam for rejecting her due to her not being subservient to him.
   
DotDot The fact that Chick keeps drawing the forbidden fruit as an eggplant is something that has only become funnier with the advent of emojis and the way 🍆 tends to be used.

 

o Page 19

Page 19
 
BoudreauxBoudreaux Personally, I like the quote from Mark (the earliest Gospel) better: “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And we can barely make out the usual Passion of the Christ Jesus.
   
AnnaAnna Which sin problem? As far as I am aware, sin still exists, and you spent this entire tract condemning the Davidsons due to the sin of not saying certain words (supposedly). What about the sin of murdering someone, like Ed, our proselytising fellow? The wages of sin is death, unless you do nothing more than simply say words, apparently. Damned are those who strive for repentance, atonement, actively striving to not repeat their sins while being tempted and do good works.

 

o Page 20

Page 20
 
ErinErin It’s like Sesame Street. The words of the day… ‘good works’. “They must be utilized again and again, but only in appropriate situations.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux Mr. Davidson is justified in being pissed off at God, whose position lacks any decency whatsoever. He is rightfully comforting his wife, while God is basically being a giant uncaring jerk.
   
DotDot Right? So often it seems that Chick considers sin to be when you react to stuff the way a decent person with feelings and empathy would. Honestly, 20B might be my favourite panel in the whole tract and there is basically zero chance that we and Chick have the same read on it.
   
AnnaAnna As I have said earlier, it is a combination of faith plus works. And how would you interpret this particular verse? To me, it reads as though all appear before Christ and are judged according to the things he has done, both good and bad. What about Matthew 25:31-46, which as Boudreaux pointed out previously, points out the criticality of good works. Last I checked, it does not say “Your good deeds are meaningless. Depart from me, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire.

 

o Page 21

Page 21
 
DotDot I'm not going to get at Chick for recycling his old art here (The panel of the Roman with the nail dates way back to the sixties and Creator Or Liar?) but the insufferable nerd in me feels compelled to point out how Chick has done a sneaky edit since the original print so that the nail is aimed at Jesus’s wrist instead of his palm.
   
ErinErin It’s just like Reverend Wonderful. This couple presumably must have believed in God and Jesus to build all those hospitals and schools, and they were missionaries – but come death? “Ah-ah-ah! You didn’t say the magic words!” and it’s off to Hell with them! I cannot imagine the sheer level of arrogant parochialism Chick was operating at in his life; as far as I can tell he never changed much.
   
AnnaAnna When did they reject God’s word? Was it a case of rejection because they did actual good deeds to help their fellow man, as opposed to our intrepid proselytiser who seems to indicate that you can convert one person, then rest on your laurels and never do another good thing in your life ever because you said some words? Pray tell, when assessing how faithful someone is, would you think that the believer who does the bare minimum (if even that) is as faithful as someone who shows their faith via their actions and their emulation of Christ and His teachings in their daily lives?
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux There are of course those who believe that Jesus died for all people, not just those who say the magic words. And yes, it is completely unfair. No amount of ‘God works in mysterious ways’ can erase that.

 

o Page 22

Page 22
 
DotDot Don't let THIS happen to you. Get in on God's good side so you can watch it happen to other people instead.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux I can only imagine the glee that Chick felt when drawing this panel.
   
AnnaAnna He gets to use two distinct tropes at the same time and in the same panel. Of course he would be happy about that. As for the quoted Bible verse, I think I might have gained a useful line for ‘uninvited guests’ if I find them in my residence. For example:

My, my, how quaint. I do often enjoy having invited guests over, and to which you are neither. Pity that your sojourn is reaching its end; the end thereof are of the ways of death.”.

*sighs happily* The older writing styles and methods always have that charm for me.

 

o Conclusion

BoudreauxBoudreaux Many people have a tract which they feel is the worst, due to the awfulness of its message. Lisa is probably the most ‘popular’. Doom Town is another one often mentioned. But for me, Flight 144 takes first place. It takes sola fide, by faith alone, to its extreme. Basically nothing you do in life makes any difference, only whether or not you say the Sinner’s Prayer. This attitude results in what we see around the world, but especially in the United States, with Christians acting in a truly awful manner towards others, yet still loudly proclaiming themselves good Christians.
   
DotDot Honestly I think Doom Town (and for that matter, most of Chick's homophobic tracts) saves itself from the Most Loathsome Tract Ever consideration by sheer camp value. As for the other two, Lisa and Flight 144 are much more similar than Chick would probably have cared to admit. Both are flip sides of the same coin, with one saying that it doesn't matter how awful a person you are as long as you say the right prayer at the right time, and the other saying that it doesn't matter how good a person you are if you never do.

In both cases, it becomes extremely difficult to read the god of Chick's work as having the sense of infinite justice and compassion that Chick thinks he's conveying.
   
BoudreauxBoudreaux I suspect Chick was prompted to create this tract in response to widespread criticism that Christian efforts would be better focused on actually helping people, rather than buying his crappy little tracts.
   
ErinErin … you guys know what’s also in the KJV? “Faith without works is dead.” To hear Chick say it in this tract, you don’t need to do anything except Accept Jesus(™) and that’s it, nothing else matters. As insane as it is, it is a belief that a lot of conservative religious folks seem to hold. To a degree. That makes a lot of Christian attitudes in America clearer. Yet–he didn’t really believe he could just sit on his ass either, otherwise why the 50-year publishing empire?

This sort of talk is not rare coming from evangelical Protestants, and it creates a bizarre juxtaposition of morality in my head. Why the relentless political activism, the morality laws, the bible camps and megachurches? It’s almost as if they DO believe works are important… while saying they aren’t when they’re called out for their crimes. Doublethink was not merely a clever literary invention of Orwell’s – it is a reality of the human condition that you can see at work almost everywhere in the world today.
   
AnnaAnna It is certainly quite common in the world, even among non-religious entities and groups. Yet another item to add to my constant lamentations and mourning.

While I can take the easy route of pointing to earlier observations regarding faith and works, there is also the matter of the fact that ‘faith alone’ is arguably in the minority when it comes to Christian denominations and overlapping beliefs. And ‘faith alone’ arguably teaches that all it takes is some words with no genuine intention of repentance and atonement for one’s actions. I am reasonably sure that if I were to commit sinful activities and made no efforts to atone or repent, that I would be guilty. The idea that it can all be ‘handwaved’ with simple words without true atonement is worrisome at best and insulting at worst. Especially since I foresee that if it was reversed (or even applied in a criminal context), the amount of cries about how there is no justice would be deafening.

For what seems to be the magnum opus of Chick’s theology into works being meaningless and faith being all you need, the ‘story’ (and I am being charitable), is what amounts to contrivance built upon a twisted interpretation of Christian teaching, for the sole purpose of fearmongering and trying to force a conversion to their flavour of belief. A pity that beyond the implications, there is little substance in the tract itself, though I will profess that the silver lining is that I got a new potential quote and inspiration to craft a beautiful image of a rather distasteful proselytising individual drowning for the eye of my mind. Though I will admit that there will be work for me, particularly those who sadly perished as the result of being caught up in the story’s desire to have non-believers immediately die as a result of collateral damage in order to push said narrative. *sighs sadly*

With that said, I will take my cue and leave - there is much to catch up with as a result of my absence in addition to new work, so I cannot tarry. Until next time, whenever that may be, I bid you all a fare well and may the travels in life be straight and free of hardships. *curtseys before turning to leave*

 

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