So, Chick just published a new tract, which is cause for great rejoicing because it’s trippy as all get out. Seriously, this one starts with a story of high adventure and naval warfare where the Pope is at the helm of a ship that’s under constant attack from enemies of the Catholic Church who lob bombs and books and tracts at it, and how the ship gets magically repaired by the power of the Twin Towers.
No, not the ones that were destroyed in New York twelve years ago by terrorists. If that’s what you were thinking I wouldn’t blame you, but no, these Twin Towers have absolutely nothing to do with that significant historical event that utterly changed the face of American political discourse. Obviously, Chick has no interest in that event for this tract, because it’s not specifically anti-Muslim, although after reading stuff like Mama’s Girls, I was really expecting there to be some weird conspiracy connection.
But no, there is none of that kookery in this tract. It’s just anti-Catholic kookery instead.
So this tract, called Twin Towers, is a generic “the Catholic Church is an evil deceptive institution founded by the devil” screed. The two towers referenced in the title refer to the Catholic Church’s veneration of Mary and its doctrine of transubstantiation (the belief that the bread and wine consumed during the administration of the Eucharist really becomes the body and blood of Christ). These are common elements of Chick’s anti-Catholic literature, and he tends to gloss over the finer points of both doctrines so they are more easily represented as institutionalized idolatry. As a Protestant, I honestly can’t comment very much on the theology of Mary’s veneration or transubstantiation (I believe that Mary was equally fallen with the rest of humanity and that the Eucharist, while a significant spiritual exercise, is symbolic in nature), but I seriously doubt that Chick has a credible understanding of the doctrines either, especially when these tracts are so openly hostile to a different faith tradition that still claims the divinity of Jesus.
One final note I want to touch on with this new tract is that Chick’s quick to explain that Jesus hates the Catholic Church because of the Book of Revelation. Revelation is a fantastic book, not only because of its surreal imagery, but also because it’s an apocalypse. This book was written as a polemic against the Roman Empire, and the device for conveying the author’s criticism of Rome came through as an end-of-the-world narrative where Babylon, an ancient former oppressor, stood in for the contemporary oppressor. I’ll give Chick credit for recognizing that a lot of Revelation is a direct attack on Rome, but he’s just so far off base interpreting Rome to mean the Roman Catholic Church that was established as a state institution with Constantine’s legalization of Christianity in the early fourth century. The writer of Revelation was railing against the excesses of a decadent society that didn’t care for the poor and sick, that indulged in material excess for the privileged few at the expense of all others, that really persecuted Christians (read: killed them). These are societal ills, not ecclesiastic ones, and if the current institution of the Catholic Church indulges in some of these things (any large scale institution is vulnerable to corruption) then that is relevant only so far as it’s an organization made up of people, with all the fallibility of anything that people create and maintain.
As always, if you have comments or thoughts to contribute (even if you disagree with me, so long as it’s civil) I want to hear about it below.