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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

My weirdly intense-yet-atheistic interest in religion can pretty much be traced to growing up in a very Christian place while not having a religious family at all. I’m sort of like that kid you know who’s never left Wisconsin but is really inexplicably into Japanese culture, except there are no swords hanging on my wall. Yet.

This puts me in a position of having several religious friends who I’m close with, but an absolute deluge of Facebook friends (otherwise known as “people I vaguely remember from high school”) who are very religious. Then they post things. Fantastic, terrible, religious things for everyone to “think about.”

These posts are about those things.

Our first is actually from a friend of a friend, who got so excited that she emailed the whole thing to me.

Cell phone vs. Bible
Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?
What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
What if we flipped through it several time a day?
What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?
What if we gave it to kids as gifts?
What if we used it when we traveled?
What if we used it in case of emergency?
This is something to make you go….hmm…where is my Bible?
Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.
Makes you stop and think – “where are my priorities?” And no dropped calls!

This particular nonsense comes from a long, proud line of nonsense which gets all upset that something secular (e.g. cell phones, iPods, cars, television, laser discs, the Beatles) are now more popular than the Bible; these things also all assume that the reader is already Christian. That makes sense, given that 77% of Americans self-identify as Christian (even though something like 15% of them attend church more than twice a year*). Presumably, the answer to all these questions is supposed to be, “My life would be better in every way!” not, “I would have the extra encumbrance that comes with carrying around a big book.”

This little missive mostly makes sense. Mostly, because I have never “received messages from the text” from my cellphone. Nope. I just receive texts like everyone else, except apparently the author of this note. I’d use my Bible when I traveled, but does it still work in Europe? Do I have to get a different BibleCard for it so I can use it over there? Can I somehow use it to contact AAA in case of an emergency? Maybe I should upgrade to a Bible with 100-mile tow. I bet that would be extra useful if you were stuck in the Devil’s Punchbowl or Hell’s Gate, and it would all be free because our buddy Jesus has apparently pre-paid the bill.

My favorite, though, is the “And no dropped calls!” tacked on at the end there. Well, no, the Bible does not drop calls. It also doesn’t carry calls in the first place, unless “calling” here is a metaphor for “praying,” in which case maybe the call is never dropped but we’re more like that guy in the old Verizon commercials wandering the globe, shouting, “Can you hear me now?” into a book. And then we give up and just call God back from our landline, because our Bible doesn’t work in our office building, and this metaphor is really overextended by now.

The point of this is, I think, Jesus should be #1 on your speed dial. That’s right, even before your mom.

Two stars because while entertaining, I am not enlightened and it did not really bring the crazy.

★★☆☆☆

*Totally made the second number up.

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This Was Your Life is a pretty standard Chick tract, but also the most popular worldwide. It’s been translated into over 100 languages, and not just the text–other translations are actually illustrated differently as well, so presumably you can relate no matter your skin color (as long as you’re a dude). A really fun game is to look at the translation page, click a language you don’t know anything about, and then figure out where it’s spoken according to the vaguely racist drawings. Enjoy!

In the comic, there is a guy. This guy dies, goes to the Pearly Gates, and gets to review his entire life. In a shocking twist, he has not lived according to the principles that Jack Chick thinks are laid out in the Bible—complete with out-of-context Bible quotes!—and he gets sent to Hell in the end.

This one might be more poorly written than most; the best panel is when he sees a “hot” woman on the street, and the best he can do is, “ummm hey.” He’s like the awkward gentleman in Wondermark. He goes to church and mocks the pastor to his face, which makes no sense. Why go if you’re only going to mock it? Nobody answer that.

The other best part is the montage of sin, especially this one:

Is a whoremonger the same as a pimp? A fishmonger sells fish. A cheesemonger sells cheese. It only follows that a whoremonger sells whores. This guy, however, seems to just be looking… somewhat lecherous. Probably just barely lecherous enough for a glare; I don’t think that look would warrant even flipping him off.

“But where,” you are asking, “is the redemption part? It’s a Chick Tract. We know there is a redemption part.”

I’m glad you asked. Because in This Was Your Life, the redemption part is fucking revolutionary: they break the fourth wall. Yeah, they went there. There’s a cartoon of you, the reader—by the way, you’re a middle aged man, surprise!—and you repent. You accept Jesus Christ and all that noise, and there’s a “good works” montage to complement the earlier “sin” montage. There’s nothing to do with whores, though Chick would like to remind you that giving to your local church is a VIRTUE, and they’re not even Catholic. On the last page you have a heart attack, I think, mentally yelling, “Take my hand, Jesus, I’m coming home!” in a clear homage to 30 Rock. Apparently the Grim Reaper is also a biblical truth, since he’s in that panel with you.

And then you get into heaven. Good job!

The main thing about this Chick tract is that the main character—the dude at the beginning—is not the one who receives the redemption. Usually that’s the case, because the sinner/Mormon/Catholic/Jew/atheist/woman realizes the error of his or her ways, repents, and is saved. We at least assume that they get into heaven, as the tracts make abundantly clear that heaven is the main point of Christianity. Of course the only way to get into Heaven is to accept Jesus and repent for that time you looked extra evil as a baby:

This Was Your Life is a pretty standard Chick tract: do vague, normal bad stuff and go to hell; do vague, bad stuff and then love Jesus, go to heaven. It’ll be a good measuring stick to measure other insanity against.

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I hate to do a nothing post which is really only a link to someone else’s blog post, but Sam’s guest post at Feministe on mistranslation and the virgin birth (of Jesus) is a good read on something I’d been meaning to mention here.

For more mistranslation fun, check out Zechariah 9:9. That last couplet is a really common rhetorical device in the Hebrew Bible called parallelism, which basically underscores the point. Here, it means that the messiah’s gonna come into town on a donkey, emphasized because that’s probably not how people are expecting him.

Now check out Matthew 21:4-7. Most academics tend to agree that Matthew was probably the Jewish gospel writer, and pretty interested in convincing Jews that Jesus was the awaited messiah who fulfilled prophecies such as Zechariah 9:9. Unfortunately, he wasn’t too in tune with the nuances of Hebrew poetry, so Jesus is somehow straddling two donkeys while riding into Jerusalem. Maybe one was a footrest.

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