I am very fond of the story of Exodus.
When I was a kid, I looked forward to Easter every year because it was around then that one of the major TV networks would air Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. For anyone not familiar with the film, it’s a four hour epic retelling of the life of Moses up through his reception of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai following the Hebrews’ liberation from Egypt. This was my original exposure to the Exodus story, though when I was around 11 I actually read the book myself (I can’t remember exactly what translation I read at the time, but I recall struggling with antiquated English phrases, so it was likely a KJV or something in a similar bent).
To be sure, there are some weird discrepancies between the film and the book (Rachael and I once had an argument about the fact that Moses and Rameses weren’t actually brothers, not because either of us thought they were, but because she didn’t know that the popular misconception started with The Ten Commandments instead of Prince of Egypt). A lot of it has to do with DeMille pulling from extrabiblical sources to fill in the gaps in Moses’ biography, which I think is perfectly fine for trying to put together a biopic of a figure from ancient history.
This long tangent is all to say that I’m familiar with Exodus, and it holds a special place in my heart as part of the Old Testament.
This week’s tract is called It’s The Law, and it deals in depth with the story of Moses and the Hebrew Exodus. The setup for this tract is that a kid writes a research paper for his history class on the Ten Commandments, and his teacher is so indignant over this intrusion of religion on the hallowed halls of secular school grounds that she fails him outright, claiming that the story of Exodus is not historical. Also, apparently, she has grounds for suspending the kid (this is not a power I would exercise, of course, but I wish I could hand out suspensions for sub par work on writing assignments).
I’m one page into this 21 page tract, and it’s already time to call misinformation on Chick.
There is absolutely nothing untoward about students openly expressing their faith at school, even in classwork. There is a problem with presenting something that’s not supported by academic rigor as factual. The straw teacher’s beef with the kid writing on an ahistorical topic likely has to do with the fact that there’s a lot of scholarly debate surrounding the core historicity of the Exodus account. Either that, or she’s just mad that she can’t express her very complex and nuanced opinion about Exodus in the form of a comic book which can be used as a scholarly citation.
At any rate, Ms. Crawford (Chick insists on using the diminutive “Miss,” probably because an uppity secular schoolteacher with a chip on her shoulder must be unmarried) calls Timmy’s parents to inform them she’s coming to pay a visit that evening (contrary to popular belief, teachers do, in fact, have lives outside of work, and would rather not make house calls to troublesome students) so she can explain how awful and intolerant Timmy’s been.
“I will not tolerate intolerant people!”
I’ve read about the snarky retort, “Well, you’re not tolerating my intolerance!” but I never figured it was something that people would use in a serious context. Taking the words and putting them in the mouth of the straw character doesn’t divert the absurdity of the statement away from the person who wrote the story, no matter how much they might hope to the contrary.
Anyway, Ms. Crawford comes by Timmy’s house that night, and gets ambushed with a come-to-Jesus meeting courtesy of his uncle Bob. Timmy’s mom is ill and in the hospital, and his dad’s there with her, so Uncle Bob’s what Ms. Crawford gets (in the unlikely event a teacher would make a house call, we’d definitely phone ahead just to be sure the kid’s legal guardian will be present). Instead of offering to come back another time (ethically, I’d be very reluctant to discuss details of a student’s school work with anyone but the kid’s guardian), Ms. Crawford sticks around and bemoans the fact that she’s stuck listening to the Bible story from the guy with the shining eyes and pencil moustache.
Following an explanation of the story of Exodus and how it must be historic fact because the Bible says so, Ms. Crawford is instantly persuaded, regardless of any previous education she might have suggesting a discrepancy in this kind of claim to historicity (I am not saying that a conversation about the foundation of Timmy and Bob’s faith might not be a worthy pastime, but Ms. Crawford just takes it all in without any sort of objection or counter argument). She gets saved, and everyone lives happily ever after.
On the one hand, this tract is not so ridiculously over the top in its scaremongering about hell (there’s only a little bit of that). On the other, Chick spends the majority of the tract explaining details of the Exodus story (which might be some interesting exegesis as far as the spiritual significance of the account goes) and then saying these are all historically accurate because the Bible says they are.
Let’s see… less hell talk, more ignoring basic facts…
I’d call it a wash.