Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So What's In It For Me?

There's that old expression about not judging a book by its cover. It applies equally well to tracts, especially this one. Published by Canadian Bible Society, this one has a great, eye-catching cover, but the inside is something of a letdown.

The cover features a tough-looking dude in a toque, presumably asking the titular question. It's like he's saying: "Hey, I'm just an average schlub like you, and I'm askin' the same question you're prob'ly askin', right?" The tract writers seem to assume we'll relate to this dude, and therefore find the inside material more appealing.

Well, I don't relate to him. And I wouldn't be caught dead in that shirt. Just look at it, for God's sake.

Other people might relate to him and his shirt and his toque, however, and they might open this tract expecting to find something that would appeal to toque-wearing schlubs like them.

The tract assumes you know it is a tract, and begins at once trying to convert you. It poses seven questions, then supplies answers to those questions that are supposed to convince you that Jesus is the way to go. The questions are written in schlub language, and include: 1. "What has God done for me?"; 2. "Nothing comes free in this world so why would God give me something for free?"; and 6. "What have I got to lose?"

The answers provide no facts or proof, as is common with nearly all tracts. They don't even supply the Bible verses the answers are based on! Rather, familiar lines of scripture are rewritten into modern English, presumably so schlubs can understand them.

It's as if the tract authors have figured out you can't convert someone who isn't already a believer just by throwing scripture in his/her face. Kudos to that, I say! Sadly, they don't take the next logical step. Telling someone that Jesus can forgive their sins means nothing if you have no concept of sin in the first place. For a tract like this to have any relevance, the reader must first accept the Christian notion of sin, and understand why that's a bad thing.

The tract does take a step in the right direction when addressing the question: 5. "What else do I get out of it?" "God's Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled." It's not often that a tract does more than offer a get-out-of-Hell pass. It's the fifth question, however, well after the sin stuff. Too little, too late.

This is one of the better tracts I've reviewed, with an above-average idea of who they are writing for. It still won't save any souls, but it shows that tracts can, ahem, evolve. Let's hope the Canadian Bible Society keeps moving in this promising direction. If they do, we just might see some decent stuff from them in the future.

Likely to Convert - 1
Artwork - 7
Ability to Hold Interest - 6
Unintentional Hilarity - 2
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 2

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