Time for another exciting Christian comic from the “Truth for Youth” series, which presents all sorts of terrible occasions for sin that teens may be drawn into, like “safe sex” (it’s not!) or porn (you’ll get addicted and abuse women!) or that ever-present source of danger, Ouija boards and other witchcraft. These comix have been around since the early 2000s; today’s example, “Detestable Practices,” doesn’t have a date on it, but since it closes by urging kids to check out a “Deliverance from Witchcraft” blog post from 2009, we’re guessing it was from around then. You can read the whole detestable thing here.
GermaineIs Jack Chick In Hell?
This being the lamest comics convention ever, the kids win the costume contest, hooray! One girl jokes that she had “cast a spell on the judges, Bwahahahaha!” but again, this is no Chick tract — she doesn’t have the Obvious Demon Face of the truly posessed:
This is an important distinction: In Chick tracts, kids who play Dungeons and Dragons are messing around with real witchcraft stuff and literally possessed by demons; in this comic, they’re “only playing” — or at least, so they think! No ghoulish devils sitting on any of these kids’ shoulders, and nobody goes insane and hangs herself because her D & D character died. Ah, but here’s the dramatic tension, such as it is: if you think you’re only playing at evil, you’re still playing with evil and going against the Bible.
Instead of setting up a good fun Dungeony game like “Detestable Practices,” boring old Jesse has set up a game called “Moon Base Alpha,” and we appreciate the Space: 1999 reference to relieve the tedium. His skeptical unsaved pal Santo (it’s ironic, ’cause he’s dressed as the DEVIL!) is having none of it; he wants him some grimdark world of grimdark:
Yes, Jesse is haunted by boobies and worried he might accidentally summon a demon, and as he speaks of the Bible, his anime eyes get bigger and more lustrous. Also, let’s hear it once more for the writer’s unfailing ear for teen dialogue: “Wow! That’s some tight stuff!” made us feel like we were actually hanging around with some real teenagers from a Christian comic. Also ALSO: From a game design perspective, we’re having a hard time figuring out how you’d wedge an Ouija board (a trademarked product of Hasbro) into the mechanics of a fantasy roleplaying game. It’s a 20-sided die or die, man. We never find out exactly what this game looks like, since Jesse leaves before the game gets going — but not without a wall-of-text discussion of the spiritual risks of messing around with occult stuff.
As is de rigueur in a comic like this, we get the ritualistic shaming of the devout character for his beliefs: Devil-boy Santo (the only character who hasn’t taken off his mask — ooh, symbolism!) scoffs, “The Bible? You believe that stuff? Jesse, don’t be all actin’ actin’ like a fool!” Another kid sneers that Jesse probably doesn’t even like the adventures of “Harry Polarity, Boy Wizard” (another comic from the “Truth for Youth” series), and Jesse replies, “If God’s against it, does it really make sense that we read books and watch movies about it?” Ooh, good point, Jesse! And check out Jesse’s Witnessing face! It’s mandatory that Jesse be the only one who sees Bible sense here, because the Christian who speaks truth to the unbelievers will always be mocked. It’s just what happens when you attend GethsemaneCon.
One of the strawkids from Jesse and Marcy’s youth group, Tyler, tries to explain that Jesus Himself probably wouldn’t care about some stupid game that isn’t even real. Heck, says Tyler, “If Jesus were here, He’d probably join us. We’re not really calling on demons!” Jesse will have none of it, and poor zombie Marcy haz a sad:
Marcy tries to convince Jesse to stop being so embarrassing and just sit down and play, but Jesse’s sorry, he just can’t because it’s Not Right! Jesse leaves, but not before suffering more mockery from the wicked:
The kids’ laughter lacks the demonic donkey-braying of a Chick comic’s “Haw-Haw-Haw,” but it still stings. As he’s leaving, though, Jesse is intercepted in the hallway by his friend Austin, who was dressed as a werewolf and was completely silent during Jesse’s trials — not because he was a rank hypocrite who wouldn’t stand up for Jesse (though he totally was, the hypocrite) but because Jesse’s words have moved him. Does Jesse really think all this stuff is real? Jesse says demons and spirits are in the Bible, and the Bible is real — “All of it!” — so of course demons and spirits are nothing to joke around with. But he won’t claim to have all the answers:
When it comes to the really big questions, aren’t we all just dudes in banana suits who don’t have all the answers? No Chick comix hero would admit to such doubts, but Jesse has to, so Finn, his youth minister, can deliver another Wall O’ Biblical Facts. He congratulates the boys for coming to see him right away (Jesse has removed his banana outfit, however), and confirms Jesse did the right thing, even though he had to face martyrdom for it, because “Anyone who speaks to evil spirits or practices witchcraft is detestable to the Lord! (Deut. 18:9-12)” And yet there he is, speaking with footnotes like some kind of necromancer himself.
Ah, but what about monsters and vampires and werewolves? They’re not in the Bible, are they? Can you dress as a werewolf? Would that then be a sin then, Fadduh? (2 Carlin 2:4). Hey, everything’s in the Bible if you read it right:
Thankfully, there’s nothing in the Bible forbidding a soul patch, so that’s merely a fashion abomination, not a sin. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether that prohibition on drinking blood is meant as a slam on Catholics with their transubstantiation, or just a warning not to ever read Twilight (How’s that for ecumenical? Even atheists can agree on that).
Finn the Youth Minister explains, in another Wall o’ Text, that you have to tread carefully in these matters, because even though you can’t see actual demons, just like you can’t see God Himself in the physical plane, you know they’re there, because the Bible says they are. Don’t you go doubting the Word simply because there are no creepy demons in the physical world, OK?
Also, note that there are no questions about zombies, because beings that die and come back to life again may be uncanny eldritch evils, or the focus of your entire faith.
Again, this is probably a more sensible way of approaching the “dangers” of fiction about witchcraft ‘n’ stuff, since it manages to sidestep the demonstrable lack of actual death curses in our world. As fodder for comix, though, it’s a lot less satisfying than the Chick tracts “Bewitched” or “The Nervous Witch,” where we’re treated to an actual casting out of a big ol’ hook-nosed Jew-demon:
All in all, we like our fundagelical comics when they’re more on the crude full loony side. “Reprehensible Practices” does give a good ol’ Bible-college try to persuading kids to stay away from the occult. “Just don’t mess with that stuff, it might be real” is less dramatically satisfying than Demon begone, “YAAAAAAAA!” but at least it sticks, a bit blandly, to doctrine. You couldn’t just go and say demons and witchcraft are fictional, after all, since then kids might start wondering whether there’s anyone actually there on Team God.
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