Interesting Ideas

Ten Theses on Jack Chick

1. Contrary to Lenin's thesis that "Only the urban and industrial proletariat, led by the Communist Party, can liberate the working masses of the countryside from the yoke of capital and landed proprietorship," (Preliminary Draft Theses on the Agrarian Question) Jack Chick shows that Communism in its very genesis was just another Vatican scheme to enslave the masses.

The Jesuits worked with Marx and Engels to develop the communist manifesto, he says. The goal was to convince the Russian people to overthrow the Czar, who protected the Orthodox Church from the Vatican. (Note: Rasputin, too, was a Jesuit agent working to undermine the Czar.)

The patriarch of the Russian church made a deal with the triumphant Bolsheviks, however, giving them the Czar's gold in exchange for sparing the Orthodox church. The pope "had been betrayed by his own communists," according to Chick's Ivan the Terrible. "To get even, they built a new machine called the Nazi party."

2. The flexibility of Rome can be amazing, for it again has altered its political strategy to suit the times. "The Vatican is convinced that communism will win in the future," Chick says in Fat Cats, "so they have decided to join the party."

The result is liberation theology, which grew from a Vatican program under which selected Central American children were sent to Moscow for special training before being made nuns and priests.

3. The communists are basically pikers, though, mere agents of the Jesuits. Compared with the Vatican's intrigues, their crosses and double crosses would barely add up to a British spy thriller suitable for PBS.

A far more dynamic source of evil is rock music which, according to Chick, is a pet project of Satan himself. Rock and roll is derived from ancient (and anciently evil) Druid rhythms and is controlled by a druidic priesthood that in turn is directly run by Satan. Backward masking is the least of it: These Satanic priests bless each new-release master, and 10 demons are sent out with every disk to destroy the lives of listeners.

"My music pushes murder, drugs, free sex, suicide, to destroy country, home and education," Satan says in Angels?. "I have hooked the adults, young people and children. Everyone loves it because it all sounds the same... (Chick astutely recognizes here that most rock music is dreck.) I've got the souls of the whole world dancing to my beat."

4. The occult and rock music are inextricably linked, and both are to be taken seriously. Chick knows that occultism is not the entertaining trifle it is usually treated as. Bewitched was Satan's favorite show. "Haw haw, delightful--so disarming--so innocent--yet so effective," Satan says after screening an episode in Chick's early tract, Bewitched?.

Similarly, the usually Catholic-derived mumbo-jumbo that movie characters naively use to fight demons would really just get them deeper into trouble. ("Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" asked a demon in Acts 19:13 when a group of itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of Jesus in their ritual. The demon ignored their spells and knocked the stuffing out of them.)

There is only one way to cope with demons, and it isn't invocations and rituals. Jesus is Satan's master, and only the simple authority of a faithful Christian calling on Christ's name will subdue the devil and his minions, as Chick shows repeatedly.

5. The Jews are not exactly among those minions, in Chick's view. His anti-Semitism is rarely overt, though he does claim falsely that Lenin and Stalin were both "of Jewish extraction" and that the House of Rothschild controls the Illuminati.

Chick shares fully, however, in the anti-Semitism that underlies much fundamentalist theology. This anti-Semitism is the flip side of many fundamentalists' passionate belief in the Jews' status as God's chosen people and their fervent commitment to Israel. Born-agains generally believe that during the tribulation preceding the Second Coming, the people of Israel will accept Jesus as the Messiah and will be restored to their favored position in God's plan.

6. Just as God chose the Jews for a privileged status, he punishes them when they depart from the proper path. Thus the persecution of the Jews over the centuries is God's ordained punishment of this stiff-necked people for their rejection of Jesus in his first incarnation (not to mention their culpability in his death). The instruments of that punishment may be evil (Nazis, inquisitors, etc.), but the penalty itself is richly deserved and unavoidable, as long as the Jews refuse belief in Christ.

(This shows how devastating it can be for a people's self-critique to fall into the hands of unsympathetic outsiders. The Bible, both Old and Testament and new, really is nothing more than the Jewish people being brutally honest with themselves about their own failings and woes. But gentiles have treated it with a glee usually associated with celebrity tell-all memoirs or secret speeches by Communist Party general secretaries.)

7. Chick's theology, including his anti-Semitism, is far from marginal. It reflects long-standing Protestant beliefs regarding the Jews and the Vatican. Only with the coming of religious liberalism in the last century or so have these hard-line views receded among most Protestants. Yet though they are rarely so forthrightly expressed, they are still common among fundamentalists.

Nor does it take that great a leap to arrive at his world view. If you assume that Satan leads all the forces of evil in the world and that the Vatican is the seat of his worldly power, the rest follows. And that the Vatican is under Satan's dominion is itself not such a great leap. By a strict reading of the Bible, Roman Catholic theology--intercessory priests, confession, saint worship, papal infallibility, the cult of the virgin, purgatory, indulgences, etc.--is the opposite of what Jesus preached. That Rome was able to seduce and subvert Jesus' own followers and for centuries hold title to the religion bearing his name could be seen as the epitome of Satanic obscenity.

8. Modern-day ecumenicalism precludes such a hard-headed view of the Vatican, which is one symptom of why Chick-style fundamentalism is so much hipper. Do-gooding Unitarians, women-ordaining Episcopalians, positive-thinking Presbyterians--they're all too sensitively liberal-minded to really appreciate the luridness of the occult, the corruption of the Vatican, the violence of rock music, the way Chick does. To more enlightened Christians, his fascination with the demimonde must seem morbid, distasteful and unfairly judgmental.

Yet that fascination is what makes his comic books the entertainment equal of the most au courant horror movie, conspiracy thriller or rock and roll extravaganza. It was Chick, for example, who came up with the notion of a new-age secret police enforcing hipness on a stubbornly square populace. Years later the Dead Kennedies immortalized California Gov. Jerry Brown's "suede-denim secret police" in "California Uber Alles."

9. Because Chick really believes in the conspiracies and demons he writes about, his comics have more conviction and a stronger internal logic than any Hollywood production. This is real stuff for him, not fantasy or metaphor. It's important that he get it right and that it leads to the conclusion dictated by the story rather than whatever climax market research shows will get good word of mouth.

In Chick's own words: "We use humor to get the reader into the tract. Then the drama of the story holds them while we show that it is hopeless to follow men. You have to change men's hearts, and only the Lord Jesus Christ can do that."

10. Chick, like all fundamentalists, understands the passion of conversion, something religious progressives have abandoned in their embrace of enlightenment. For those who have lived it, salvation is the pinnacle of human experience, and the only thing that keeps Christianity from being just a branch of philosophy (and a constricted one at that). What could provide a more powerful climax to any drama than the life-transforming, infinity-embracing experience of finding Jesus? This is a transcendence of which secular art, philosophy and drugs, like ecumenicalism, can provide only a shadow.

The Unofficial WWW Jack Chick Archive is sadly no more. Meanwhile:
Suck.com's Chick appreciation from last year.
And now, the official Chick Publications Web page!!!

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Copyright William Swislow 1989