1. Travis Perry says:

    I think it is fair to say that some Chick tracts like “This Was Your Life” and a few others were good, even if not wholly accurate (“A Love Story” was another goodie). Others were harmful. If you look at the history of Jack Chick’s life a bit, he produced his good ones early in his career and got increasingly obsessed with witchcraft and Catholicism and “fighting them” over time.

    Part of his problem seems to be he began quoting books by supposedly repentant ex-witches (one was named Rebecca Brown if I remember correctly) who actually seem to have simply made up out of thin air a whole lot of off the wall details about witchcraft, Catholicism, and the spiritual world with no basis in reality. Chic believed it wholeheartedly, but he shouldn’t have.

    So I think your post missed an opportunity to talk about Chic’s vision not being sinister or dangerous at one time and having gone through that transformation. And it went through that transformation because Chic accepted a lot of information as true without any confirmation or any sense of skepticism on his part.

    I think that contains a real lesson for Christians–we need to be wise enough to consider our sources carefully. Lest we be wholly distracted from doing good into doing harm.

    • That’s a great thought and I’m glad you included it there.

      Indeed, my intent wasn’t to track Chick’s life progression as much as share a personal perspective and note general observations from a Christian fantasy-fan perspective. I had noticed a progression from Gospel evangelism to fringe notions — which kind of matches a lot of cultural fundamentalism I have seen.

      And yet I find myself impressed, despite myself, by the better side of Chick’s original thinking. For example, he was perfectly fine with writing a tract called “Happy Halloween” that directly appropriated the Halloween holiday and imagery but segued into a call for repentance, without ever actually condemning the holiday. Clearly there was a genuine horror imagination inside this chap.

  2. Thanks to reading “This Was Your Life” as an impressionable child, I spent years terrified that even though I was a believer in Christ, when I died God would put all my sins up on a giant movie screen in heaven and show them to everyone. Thanks for that, Jack Chick.

    Around that same time I also remember visiting another Christian family who owned the Jack Chick “Crusaders” comics, reading a lurid full-length colour story about missionaries casting demons out of a boy in India, and subsequently spending the entire night awake and trembling in bed, scarcely able to breathe for terror that I would somehow accidentally pray to Satan and become possessed.

    Yes, some of the things Chick taught in his tracts were true and Biblical, but they were massively outweighed by the gruesome fantasies of his imagination. Not to mention the smug self-righteousness, the lecturing tone, and the contempt for non-believers that radiated from nearly everything he wrote. I hope and pray that he knows better now, but it’s too late to undo the damage he caused on earth.

  3. Lisa Smith says:

    Although there are many things that make me sad about not growing up in a Christian home, there are also things that I am very happy about. One being that I was spared some of the ludicrous excesses of Christian evangelical fundamentalism, including this fellow’s tracts, from what you say here. And perhaps he wasn’t as popular in Canada? At any rate I had never heard of Jack Chick until yesterday, when I heard that he had died. The only tract I saw once I got involved in a church around the age of twelve was The Four Spiritual Laws. Phew.

  4. Paul Lee says:

    I encountered two or three different Chick tracks in my childhood. One of them, I didn’t even get from church. I don’t remember where I found it, but it depicted hell vividly. It showed a guy who died and went to hell, going down the tunnel and ending up in a square torture chamber full of demons of all shapes and varieties, before the chamber was opened to reveal the Lake of Fire. I left that tract in a rented bowling shoe at the bowling alley, following one group outing. I saw the bowling alley guy find it.

    Then I think there was a relatively benign one about two kids talking about hell, and a different one with an airplane in it. Both from church. Both of those contained defeater arguments against relativism, in some form or another. I may have picked them up and dropped them places, in the supermarket, etc. I certainly did so with other tracks. Because that’s the only way I knew how to God’s war.

  5. Julie D says:

    I read one or two once when I saw them on the floor in a train, but …shakes head…

  6. Kirsty says:

    The only Jack Chick tract I have come across in real life (as opposed to reading critiques of them on the internet) was ‘This was your life’. It was the kind of thing I would have supercilliously looked down on, as trashy and old-fashioned…

    …BUT. It lead to a really good conversation with my driving instructor, who had been given it and wondered what I thought. It had made her think, and lead into a good conversation about the gospel – something I am not good at doing usually. Which kind of taught me not to look down on things for superficial reasons like style and datedness. God can use anything!

    Which is not to disagree with anything in this article.

  7. Kirsty says:

    One interesting thing I noticed in ‘This was your life’ – the non-christian version of the guy was drawn in cartoon style, but the christian version more realistically. Which suggests to me that it’s more boring to be a Christian… 🙂

  8. Tim W Brown says:

    My primary memory of Chick tracts is ‘Dark Dungeons’ the anti-D&D pamphlet. I started playing D&D in high school, and became a Christian just a few years later (my family never went to church while I was growing up). When I read the tract, it was/is so ludicrous, such a collection of wacky distortions and fanciful caricatures that it is still only useful in my eyes as a joke, a sad and harmful joke. It gets pretty much nothing right about the game Dungeons and Dragons, and the universal reaction among players (Christian or not) who have read it (in my experience) is not just a derisive laugh at the stupid portrayal of the hobby, but for most of the non-Christian gamers I’ve known, it reinforces the stereotype of Christians as idiots living in a delusion that doesn’t even deserve the dignified name ‘fantasy.’ Every Chick tract I’ve seen (which admittedly is only three or four) has only reinforced my distaste for the mindset that would produce such blatantly distorted propaganda, and do so in the name of Christ.

  9. Lady Arin says:

    I can only remember finding Chick tracts in two places – one was a mission for the homeless, the other was a church we attended when i was in grade school (oddly enough, one of the less-conservative churches we’ve ever attended). I found them kind of interesting, partially because at that age the more over-the-top the drama the more interesting it was.

    Mostly, though, they were confusing. The stuff that sticks out at me — D&D, Catholicism as false teachings — was contrary to my parents’ experiences and what they had taught me, and i was young enough when i read them that a good bit of it went over my head.

    Really, the worst thing about my memories of Chick tracts is that he wasn’t the only one to write this kind of stuff. I remember reading some pamphlet or other, no idea by whom, that claimed the rapid technological progress of the past century was the result of outside interference (i.e. demons).

  10. People can’t stand Jack Chick because he told the truth. I have spent the past two years researching all the topics that he speaks on. Have you ever actually researched the Catholic Inquisition or the blasphemies that the Pope says? The pope literally calls himself the Vicar of Christ, he calls himself the embodiment of Christ on Earth! Everything that Jack chick has said has been true, and if you verify the sources you would know that! All it takes is some Curiosity on your part and willingness to know the truth. Why do you think so many people hated Jesus? Because he told them that if they didn’t repent and believe on Christ, (stop being evil) then they were going to go to hell! “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand!” how many times do you remember hearing that in the gospel? Yes many times, that’s what I thought. People sure don’t like to hear that message! ” you will be hated because of me but remember people hated me first” I recall Jesus saying something like that…

    • I don’t agree with the pope either. #NotMyVicar

      I certainly agree with Jesus’s call to repent, and know that people despised Him for it.

      But your conclusion doesn’t follow. To say only, “People can’t stand Jack Chick because he told the truth,” disregarding everything actually said in this article, is like saying, “People only disagree with President Obama because he’s black.”

What do you think?