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Most of us have seen them: those insipid little Christian comic books. They usually end with a scene of some faceless angel (assuming that's what angels look like: I wouldn't know) casting a naked soul into a lake of fire, as the helpless victim screams, "Yaaaaahhh!"
There is something in these little publications to offend everybody, including Christians. In them, the unseen forces of light work tirelessly to thwart the invisible representatives of darkness. The sinister forces, of course, are high-tech -- at times using walkie-talkies to contact HQ.
Characters attempt to convince various people of the truthfulness of the Bible and the diabolical depravity of atheists, gays and lesbians, and Marxists, as well as Jesuits, Masons, Muslims, and any Christian who distrusts the King James Bible.
These booklets, written for kids, show a frightening disdain for education. The teacher is always frothingly intolerant of Christians (and is shown abusing science in a way that is easily "refuted" by the Christian character, in a classic demonstration of the "Straw-Man" ruse).
Oh, and they hate Mormons, too.
I remember one booklet titled, "They Come On Bicycles." I hate to disappoint the comic artist, but my missionaries had their own car.
I was planning, at one time, to move to Orem, Utah, to work. I invited the missionaries over so I could learn a little bit about Utah culture. Mind you, I was frank about my intention only to prepare for the culture shock I had in store for me.
Two young lads, one experienced and zealous and the other not, gave me a Book of Mormon and some pamphlets. They told me to read the pamphlet about how young Joseph Smith prayed for a sign. He saw much contradiction in religion, mainly the predestination issue and the proper mode baptism (dipping vs. sprinkling).
But Smith assumed that there is such a thing as The One True Faith out there.
I also read the part in the book where Jesus appears and preaches to American inhabitants shortly after he allegedly lived, explaining such matters as predestination and the proper mode of baptism.
When they came back the next week, they had already scheduled my baptism! I told them that I still didn't believe in the existence of God. This crucial factor must be reconciled before I become a Mormon.
They decided to pray. The moment they started, my large mouser cat proceeded to mangle the younger fellow's hand. She tore right into him, showing no mercy. As if afraid to move, he kept praying like nothing was wrong. It was all I could do to keep from laughing. That would be rude.
They asked me to comment on what I'd read. (I did not consult one of those anti-Mormon booklets for this. It was pure me -- long before I became an atheist of the organized variety.) I told them I thought it queer that in the year 34, Jesus answered the very questions 14-year-old Joseph Smith struggled with in 1820.
These poor guys were stumped, having never before encountered this angle.
Neither had I. It was spontaneous -- inspired entirely while watching my cat go to town on that poor guy's hand.
Copyright ©1999 Cliff Walker; Portland, Oregon
(Altered slightly from the published version.)