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The Living Satan: Chick Publications
There exists evil in the world and it is personified. I do not write of some mystical Satan, living within a subterranean prison of fire and brimstone, sending forth demons and devils to tempt and corrupt the hearts of man. I do not write of nebulous spirits inhabiting the bodies of men in order to use their corporeal form to perpetrate vile deeds. I write, dear reader, of ordinary men and women.
There exists evil in the world and it is personified. Most Americans can name a few of the living satans of recent history. We can speak of Radical Islam and the deeds of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban; we can discuss their leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, or Mawlawi Ahmad Jan. We can talk endlessly of the evils of the Nazis; we can list the names of the major players from Josef Mengele, Rudolf Hess, and Adolf Hitler. But the fact remains: evil is not a concept unique to the ambiguous them. It is not something that only exists over there.
Evil is here. Evil exists in the hearts of Americans. Evil exists in the hearts of Christians.
Not all Americans to be sure. Not all Christians, certainly. But being an American Christian is not some sort of shield; it is not a litmus test proving that evil is not there. Names like Timothy McVey, Reverend Jim Jones, and Pastor Fred Phelps all serve as warning: evil can — and does — exist everywhere. And one of the places where evil exists in America, hiding behind the guise of Christendom, is in the company Chick Publications.
Jack Thomas Chick
According to their web site, Chick Publications is the company of Jack Thomas Chick.
Searching for information regarding this individual results in little to be found. Officially, Jack Chick was born in California in 1924. Like most false biographies of fundamentalist religious figures, it begins with the idea that he was not a religious man at all. I have read and watched as preachers speak of the days when they worshiped Satan. Yea, sure you did. Unless your pseudonym is Anton Zandor LeVey (or something equally ridiculous), I view that claim with extreme skepticism. The story of Jack Chick, however, takes a more moderate road and simply states that he was non-religious. It does go on to say that, in High School, the Christian kids avoided him thinking he was "the last guy on earth who would ever accept Jesus Christ."
Jack Chick was a student of drama. He served in the Army during World War II in the Pacific Theater. After the war, he returned to his drama education where he met his wife, a Canadian immigrant with a highly religious background. Jack Chick describes her as being instrumental in his salvation. He converted to Christianity while listening to the Charles E. Fuller radio show. His wife died in 1998; their one daughter died in 2001.
This is about all you can find. There exists one professional interview from 1975. He has done some preaching, and so his voice has been recorded and spread on audio-cassette. There exists no official photograph (although a few photos exist where people claim it is Jack Chick in the picture).
All of this secrecy has lead some to believe that "Jack Thomas Chick" is a pen-name used by a host of authors all operating as ghost-writers at Chick Publications. This is the most likely scenario, in my opinion.
This is not to say that there is no one "Jack Thomas Chick." I am sure he exists somewhere, and elements of his official biography are lifted from his life. He may have even been instrumental in starting Chick Publications. But he and the myth are far from the same. This is sad, because it had often been my hope that Jack Thomas Chick was a man who could die and take his evil out of the world with him.
Tracts of Hate
Evil comes in many forms. As alluded to above, there are men and women in the world who commit overt evils. Many of these people have names that reverberate through history. They become the topics of classes in school, or the subject of sermons in church. These people serve as a warning to us all: be on the look-out.
But not all evil is so obvious (not even in hind-sight). Some men take a route of subversion. They do not sow evil while shouting from the rooftops, they accomplish their goals while whispering in the ears of the weak and vulnerable. The evil that goes by the name of Jack Thomas Chick whispers in the form of tracts. They have other publications, sure: comics, books, videos. Nothing has been as invasive as tracts, however.
Tracts are short pamphlet-length religious writings. Chick Tracts are essentially short comic books. According to his company, Chick Publications, they have sold over 750 million of these collections of festering filth, each a demonstrable lie. They are filled with hate speech, paranoia, conspiracy theories, and profess a belief that there is one and only true path to heaven that none of the prevailing religions of the world has gotten right. The tracts make wild accusations against nearly every organized religion.
Chick Tracts do not care if you are Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, or an Atheist; you can be a Freemason, or just a free thinker: in the eyes of a Chick Tract, you are likely engaged in murder and conspiracy — unless you fall within a very narrow band of 'correct' that, evidently, only a chosen few can judge. Thanks to being translated into over 100 languages, the Chick Tracts have spread his particular brand of crazy to every corner of the world.
And what brand of crazy is this? Chick Tracts profess a rather narrow band of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist belief. They suggest that the Rapture is an event that will look remarkably like the events described in the fictional book series Left Behind. They hold to the idea that the Book of Revelation speaks of future events and not the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, as most learned Biblical Scholars agree. They ardently preach Biblical Literalism, and the supremacy of the King James Bible of 1611.
The list continues. But these are all beliefs that, to some degree, can be considered relatively mainstream. Let's look at a couple of things Chick Publications teaches that any rational person would look to and say, "these people need serious help."
Witchcraft and Sorcery
Imagine this: Mrs. Frost and Debby are having a conversation about Debby's father. Debby had been having trouble with several issues, but states that her issues with her dad are over. Mrs. Frost asks how Debby managed to defuse the situation. Debby states, "last night I cast a mind bondage spell on him." It takes a few moments, but Mrs. Frost determines that Debby is completely serious. She believes she has managed channel magical energy and place some sort of hex on her father rendering him her slave.
Is she crazy? You are damn right she is. There is no such thing as witchcraft, sorcery, voodoo, or what ever else you may want to call it. Gather up whatever herbs or crystals you want... this stuff is pure make-believe. But, the Bible speaks of sorcery as though it were a real thing. As Biblical literalists, the authors of the various Chick Tracts cannot call these things fantasy, lest they admit that some portions of the Bible cannot be taken as strictly true. Check out, for example, the Chick Tract Dark Dungeons. This 1984 comic was written and published in the years following the Michigan steam tunnels incident. Borne of this hysteria, the tract tells the tale of Debby, a young girl who plays Dungeons and Dragons.
During a game session, Debby is playing her Cleric Elfstar and a friend (Marcie) is playing a Thief names Black Leaf. Marcie's character dies in the adventure after failing to detect a poison trap. As a result, Marcie is removed from the group.
Mrs. Frost, the Dungeon Master for the group, tells Debby that since her character has advanced to 8th level, she (Debby) is now ready to join a real Witch's Coven. Debby joins the coven, becomes a priestess of Diana, and within a week or two is casting real spells — such as the mind bondage spell she cast on her father to get him to buy her more Dungeons and Dragons books.
Marcie, on the other hand is distraught. She kills herself because a life without Black Leaf is just not worth living. When Debby confides in Mrs. Frost that Marcie's death is bothering her, Mrs. Frost tells her to stop thinking about some looser's life and get her head on straight -- going so far as to tell her that she needs to let Elfstar take care of things.
Debby seeks help and meets Mike, a fundamentalist Christian. He takes her to his church, where the Pastor explains that Satan gives witches and sorcerers magical powers to lure them from Jesus. He warns of the evils of rock music, role playing books, and occult charms. An exorcism is performed to remove the demonic spirits who possess Debbie, in an effort to free her from her bondage to the occult. The story ends with Debby standing over the fire where her Dungeons and Dragons books are being burned.
There is so much wrong with this story, it is difficult to itemize it all. But let's give this a try...
- Magic is not real. I cannot stress this enough. If you believe that witchcraft, sorcery, voodoo, or what-ever-else you may want to call it is real, then you need as much help as the people who wrote this tripe.
- I do not care what role-playing book you read, it will not prepare you for anything other than playing the game it was written for. Reading Dungeons and Dragons to learn how to be an occultist is like reading The Hunt for Red October learn how to be a u-boat commander.
- No gaming group is going to kick a player out of the game because their character died. When Dark Leaf died, Marcie would have been creating a new character within minutes. I have played role playing games where your character can be killed during character creation (i.e., Traveller).
- Role playing games are about community. Game groups are supportive of one another. People have branded gamers loners and isolationists, but this particular geek hobby requires you to have a group of friends in order to play.
- The dangers of role playing were born of the Michigan steam tunnels story. This story was debunked within weeks of its inception. This did not stop a young reporter from writing a book (which became a movie) called Mazes and Monsters to sensationalize the whole thing. One you realize that the kid in Michigan was not lost in a psychotic breakdown caused by an inability to distinguish fantasy from reality, but was instead trying to escape his abusive father... it all seems rather sad to point fingers at a children's game.
I want to go on, I really do. But the fact remains that once you deal with the first point above, the rest is just window dressing.
Vampires (no, really)
In addition to tracts warning against the dangers of Halloween (e.g., Boo!, Happy Halloween, The Little Princess, etc.), or false religions (e.g., Are Roman Catholics Christians?, Allah Had No Son, etc.), Chick Publications has books on these — and other — topics. One of the most disturbing things that comes up in their publications is Vampires.
William Schnoebelen has written and published several books for Chick Publications. These include: Lucifer Dethroned, Blood on the Doorposts, Wicca: Satan's Little White Lie, and Masonry: Beyond the Light. That first one is the one I want to discuss.
Lucifer Dethroned is a book about Mr. Schnoebelen's life as a vampire.
Let me say that again: in the book Lucifer Dethroned, William Schnoebelen claims to have been a vampire until saved by the power of Christ. It takes a special kind of crazy to be able to make such a claim and keep a straight face.
According to an open letter on the Chick Publications website, Mr. Schnoebelen states that vampires are not undead corpses, but are men and women who are possessed by demons and compelled to drink their own blood, the blood of animals, or the blood of others. He points out that God specifically forbade the drinking of blood in a command to Noah, then uses this as a way of slapping the vast majority of Christians by pointing out the lie that is the sacrament of the Last Supper. In his book, Lucifer Dethroned, he described how Orthodox Catholic Clergy brought him into an group believing they were the custodians of the secret to true resurrection: drinking the blood of the living. A quote from the book:
You have no idea what it is like to awaken to the need for the taste of blood in your mouth.
You cannot imagine what it’s like to drive through the moist and midnight streets of a city praying that you would find a lone woman upon whom you might feed… and yet another part of you praying that you would NOT find such a woman, for fear of what you might really do.
Given that he described his lust for necks and femoral arteries, I have to wonder why he has not been arrested after this testimonial. If the tale were remotely true, he would doubtlessly be a murderer. He claims to have been worshiping the Great Old Ones including Lucifer (please see my thoughts above on biographies of fundamentalist Christians). He idolized Nero, Hitler, and Dracula. I can only assume he means Vlad the Impaler and not the romanticized version of the undead vampire he claims is a false notion.
So what does all of this mean? It means this man is a charlatan.
So, what is the nature of Chick Publications?
Crazy, sure. But evil?
If you take the time to look over the vast array of work produced by Chick Publications, the fact that the people behind this are insane is an obvious conclusion. I remain convinced that these people are not crazy, they are evil. Anyone that would teach — attempt to brainwash — people to think such things is evil. Anyone that would purposefully attempt to shatter one's grip on reality is evil.
I do not believe that the majority of people at Chick Publications honestly believes the tripe they publish. Anyone who does has my pity and sincere desire that they seek psychiatric help. I believe instead that these people are predators, preying on the weak minded and people seeking an answer they cannot find. I believe that our living vampire (above) knows his story is a lie, but that it sells books.
When you sell Truth (capital 'T') knowing it to be a lie: you are evil. It really is as simple as that. That's my thought on this. What's yours?