Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Making fun of Jack T. Chick...

When I was a graduate student, I had a surprising amount of free time on my hands.  Though I did not have as much free time in those days as I do now, as The Overeducated Housewife, I did have plenty of time for messing around.  I bought my very first personal computer in 1999.  I felt I needed to have it, even though the University of South Carolina had computer labs.  It was a good investment, especially since it ultimately led me to Bill.  Of course, I've already written that shocking story.

Today, I want to write about the Christian comic book artist Jack T. Chick and how I came to learn of his existence.  I had never heard of him until 1999 or so, when I bought that first Gateway machine for $999.  I spent hours on the Internet, looking at everything that was available in cyberspace.  At one point, I landed on The Student Voice, a site for former students at Pensacola Christian College.  The site I linked to is not the original URL.  It used to be www.pensacolachristiancollege.com.  The school sued to get the URL released to them, but they lost. It looks like the guy who had the domain finally released it and now if you go to www.pensacolachristiancollege.com, you end up on the school's official Web site.  I see a lot of the stuff that used to be on The Student Voice has been taken down.  That's a real pity, though it's still worth looking around if you're interested in how weird PCC really is.  Here's an article written by someone who experienced PCC and didn't like it.

Apparently, the people who run PCC are extremely uptight folks.  They are very quick to give students the boot for not measuring up to standards.  If you choose to attend this college, you will be paying to be treated like you're on house arrest.  Pensacola is near beaches.  PCC students were allowed to go to the beach, but they have to go to gender segregated ones... or, at least they did back in the early 00s.  Students were not allowed to be in mixed company and had to travel in groups.  They had to scan off campus and were only allowed to go to certain places.  They were only allowed to see G rated films.  And ladies, you can forget about wearing pants.  Indeed, women have to wear dresses and skirts of an appropriate length along with pantyhose.  Imagine how pleasant that is in Florida heat!  And guys are to wear ties, which are not allowed to be removed until the afternoon.

Man almighty, if I ever thought the rules were strict at Bob Jones University, BYU, or Liberty University, they were nothing compared to PCC.  Men and women had to use different stairwells and sidewalks and avoid touching or staring at each other for too long (making "eye babies").  At night, everyone had to draw their blinds in a particular way to prevent peeping.  Books, magazines, and the Internet were strictly regulated and filtered.  Anything remotely suggestive was censored.  If you got sick, you had to check yourself into the infirmary.  And almost every student was required to live on campus, where, if they broke the rules, they could be grounded (campused).

I'm not sure if the rules are as strict today as they were sixteen years ago, but back then, they were almost unbelievably strict.  What was really crazy in my view is that the students were all legal adults paying for this experience.  And the degrees they were paying for weren't even accredited.  It's my understanding that PCC now has some sort of accreditation designated for Christian schools, but I don't think it's the kind that is universally respected.  I, of course, found the whole thing fascinating and used to hang out on the Student Voice's messageboard to get the dirt.  The stories were crazy and positively addictive.

Anyway, not being a particularly devout Christian, I had never heard of Christian tract artist Jack T. Chick.  Chick makes Bible tracts that many Christians pass out to others, leave in lieu of tips at restaurants, or litter with in parks and public restrooms.  They can be entertaining to read, even if some of the messages within them are hateful.  Basically, according to Chick, everyone who doesn't live their lives in accordance with Biblical principles is going to go straight to Hell.

The PCC crowd had heard plenty about Jack T. Chick.  Some of them had handed out his tracts to innocent people.  Once I found out about Chick, I felt the insatiable need to find out more about him, so I continued my sleuthing and eventually came across a Web site called Weird Crap.  A guy named Psycho Dave had created several  parodies of Jack Chick's tracts.  Most of the parodies are hilarious, even if they are also quite sacrilegious.  If you have an irreverent sense of humor and are not offended by blasphemy or extremely off color humor or language, I recommend having a look, especially after comparing them with Chick's originals.  If you are at all sensitive about such humor, I recommend simply taking my word for it.  Also, be aware that the site is a bit wonky because it hasn't been updated in ages.  Your patience will likely be required.

Psycho Dave wrote that he got a ration of shit from Jack Chick after he created his parodies.  He got phone calls and emails demanding that he take down his parodies because they were copyrighted.  I can't help but get a huge kick out of the fact that the people at Weird Crap had loads of fun poking fun at Chick.  Their Web site kept me entertained for hours when I was in grad school and not able to chat with Bill.  And, as you can see, despite Chick's saber shaking and harassment, Psycho Dave's parodies are still online.  He says he's ready to pass the Web site on to someone else, though.


A Chick tract in Dutch I found on the ground near the train station in Amsterdam.

I made the mistake of sharing the parodies with the folks on the PCC board.  I got quite the dressing down for that because even though a lot of them seemed to think Jack Chick is an asshole and they were a bit on the rebellious side, they didn't like how Psycho Dave made fun of their holy book.  Aside from that, they were pretty accepting of me, even though one person said I reminded them of Janine Garofalo (really?!).  I guess to them, I really was super liberal.  I'm probably even more liberal now than I was back then.  

I can credit PCC folks for introducing me to the writer Frank Schaeffer, who was himself raised by famous Christian evangelists in Switzerland.  Schaeffer has written several very entertaining novels as well as a few non fiction books that I've enjoyed.  His son, John, joined the Marines against his parents' wishes.  Schaeffer had never been exposed to the military and was against John's enlistment, but later educated himself and wrote a few excellent books about different aspects of the military experience, including his experience as the father of a Marine.  When Bill came home from Iraq, I passed on Schaeffer's novel Baby Jack to him.  That book really resonated with Bill on many levels and I probably never would have known about it if the PCC folks hadn't turned me on to Frank Schaeffer's writing.  So I offer them thanks for that.  And, I also see from Amazon.com, that I've missed a couple of Schaeffer's latest books.  He's very prolific and, if you write to him, he will write back.

I don't really hang out with PCC folks anymore, though I am still a member of their relocated forum.  Every year on my birthday, I get an automated birthday greeting from them and I remember how much fun I had learning about the wacky world of PCC and fundie Christians.   I only wish I could find a similarly entertaining community so I could pry myself off of Facebook. 


2 comments:

  1. Love it! Jack Chick's stuff is ridiculous. The parodies are funny but you can tell something isn't quite right with Psycho Dave.

    ReplyDelete

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