Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Paid In Full

This one, from the Fellowship Tract League, uses more or less the same format and formula as First The Bad News.... It's a bunch of Bible quotes and/or passages that fit the theme of our sin debt having been paid.

Each group of quotes begins with a bold, all-caps title question, like: DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOUR SIN DEBT WILL COST YOU FOR ALL ETERNITY?

It occurs to me that if it's a sin debt, then we need to come up with a lot of sins to pay it off. But why quibble about the choice of words when the format of the tract gets the reader to the end just as fast as First The Bad News...?

Paid In Full ends with two choices, and two tick-boxes for readers to indicate their choice. You can "trust Jesus Christ and his finished payment" or "reject the payment of Jesus Christ." Considering the theme, why use tick boxes? A bill format with payment options would have been more appropriate, and visually more appealing.

As with so many tracts, Paid In Full offers nothing new. Its format and brevity make it a quick read, with minimal time wasted. Not much of a compliment, I know. But then, Paid In Full isn't much of a tract.

Likely to Convert - 1
Artwork - 3
Ability to Hold Interest - 2
Unintentional Hilarity - 0
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 0

First The Bad News...

Lately I've been enjoying tracts that either aren't repetitive (not many) or are at least short. This new offering from Evangelical Tract Distributors fits the latter bill.

First The Bad News... is a collection of quotes compiled by Mrs. Don Brill, each with a rating of either Bad News or Good News. Each quote also has an all-caps title that serves to translate the lines of scripture from Biblical into English. For example - BAD NEWS: WE DESERVE ETERNAL PUNISHMENT. "And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire." Revelation 20:15.

Some of the all-caps title-translations are redundant, like this one - GOOD NEWS: CHRIST CAME TO SAVE SINNERS. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

The last page provides the standard Salvation prayer, cementing my impression that this tract offers nothing new. Like I said, however, it is a short tract, and doesn't bore the reader with some contrived story. I like brevity in tracts - it wastes so much less of a reader's time.

Likely to Convert - 2
Artwork - 1
Ability to Hold Interest - 1
Unintentional Hilarity - 2
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 0

The Christian's Manner of Dress

Here's a rare one that isn't trying to convert readers. It isn't even targeted at non-believers. This tract, credited to the Rev. Ejj and published by Gospel Tract and Bible Society, is aimed squarely at Christians.

And I do mean square. This tract aims to convince the Christian reader that "there is a discreet way of dress that befits the Christian and his high calling." After all, a person's dress sense "is like a window providing a look into his heart," and "the true disciples of Christ have always been known for their humble dress."

Naturally, Satan won't have any of this, and so he "uses various methods to undermine God's standard of modest dress." What are those 'various methods'? The tract doesn't say. It talks about clothing "worn mainly as an ornament or display" and "suggestive attire" that "draws attention to the human form and promotes lustful thoughts and desires," but it doesn't directly tie these fashion choices back to Satan. I guess it's meant to be implied.

Another no-no? "Clothing that is tightly fitted" because it arouses "the passions of the opposite sex," which leads "to immorality.

Rev. Ejj draws mainly from the writings of Paul for these clothing directives, and makes clear Paul's statement in Corinthians 6:19-20 that a Christian "is to glorify God in his body and in his spirit."

In 1 Timothy 2:8-10, he goes after women, telling them to "adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety." Paul is far from the only sexist bastard in the Bible; Peter also has a few things to say. In 1 Peter 3:3-4 he says "that women should shun 'that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing gold,'" etc.

And guess what? Cross-dressing is right out. "All that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God."

Seems pretty strict, but then "even a proud look is an abomination to God." Fashion appeals "to man's vain pride," and when a person's fashion desires "are gratified, man becomes a slave of fashion rather than a servant of God."

So what are the words that best describe what a Christian's clothing should be? Modesty, simplicity, comely, humble. Someone should tell the Pope. And the cardinals, bishops and priests. And not a few televangelists.

This tract appears dull and lifeless to the eye, being simple text upon green paper. If one invests the time to read it, however, it does prove entertaining (and offensive to both women and transgendered people). Since there is no mention of Hell or Salvation or even Jesus himself, it has the distinction of being somewhat unique among tracts. If it had been done in cartoon form, it could have been brilliant. Something to think about, Rev. Ejj.

Then again, maybe the lack of "outward adorning" and "costly array" is the author's way of driving his point home. Subtle, Ejj, but one can take that too far. Christians get bored like everybody else, you know.

"God's will is that the human form should be covered, not displayed," and "a holy beauty will radiate from those who are surrendered to God's will." Such a lovely use of words, considering his message is that fashion is bad, but human skin is badder. I wish Rev. Ejj all the success in the world in converting his fellow Christians to the true path of uninteresting clothes. After all, we all know the Devil wears Prada.

Likely to Convert - N/A
Likely to Change Christian Fashion - 2
Artwork - 0
Ability to Hold Interest - 3
Unintentional Hilarity - 6
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 4

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Are You 100% Sure?

Half the size of regular tracts, this offering from Faithway Baptist Church offers the soul absolute certainty of its afterlife destination with only half the paper. Like 7 Things That Will Not Get You Into Heaven, it gets points for producing less waste while having nothing new to say.

"All men, including you," are sinners who must "be born again through Jesus Christ" in order to avoid "an eternal Hell." If you do, "you can be 100% sure that you are going to Heaven." Seems that "nothing else will do... not church membership, not baptism, not confirmation, not communion." That last bit is a lot like 7 Things, except there's only four of them. And two of those items don't appear in 7 Things's list. Which means it could have been 9 Things.

Whatever. They both use less paper, and in the end that's what really counts.

Likely to Convert - 1
Artwork - 4
Ability to Hold Interest - 2
Unintentional Hilarity - 2
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 0

7 Things That Will Not Get You Into Heaven

This tract is nothing special, but it is short. Published by Grace & Truth, it is only two pages, back-to-back. The title alone takes up a quarter of the allotted space.

The second quarter is devoted to those titular seven things: going to church, being baptized, keeping the commandments, performing religious duties, doing good works, going to confession and having good morals. The rest of the tract tells us the usual Jesus-is-the-only-way message.

While boring and trite, this tract saves on paper while simultaneously saving readers precious time. We have nothing new to say, the tract tells us, but at least we say it quickly. And less paper means it is better for the environment, too. I only have to crumple up half as much before tossing it in a blue bin.

Likely to Convert - 1
Artwork - 2
Ability to Hold Interest - 3
Unintentional Hilarity - 3
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 0

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why Run The Risk?

I've been out of the biz for a few months now because the pickings have been, well... predictable. Heh, most tracts are predictable to some extent, but some are worse than others.

This offering, however, takes it over the top via a trip down looney lane to paranoid park. "Did you ever stop to think that you are running a risk every time you get into a car and go shopping?" Not lately, I haven't. This tract, written by C. Darling and published by Grace & Truth, seeks to scare readers by suggesting that death is everywhere, and anything and everything can kill you. "People have met early deaths by riding bicycles, crossing busy streets, eating the wrong kinds of foods, receiving bee stings, using harmful chemicals, etc."

Scared yet? How about this previously unknown fact: "The death toll from all causes remains at 100%." Yikes! Do you know what this means? It means "there is no escaping death."

So what's the point of scaring the pants off us with all this death talk? Easy. C. Darling wants us to "turn to Christ to be truly and totally saved." Like we didn't know that was coming. You could die from a bee sting while riding your bike through busy streets into harmful chemicals while eating the wrong kinds of food, so you'd better get Saved now while you are still alive.

"Why risk spending eternity in that place reserved for the devil and his angels, when you can spend eternity with God in the joys of heaven?" Maybe because I'm laughing too hard to take you seriously, C. Darling.

Likely to Convert - 3
Artwork - 4
Ability to Hold Interest - 5
Unintentional Hilarity - 8
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 0