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Kurt Kuersteiner

I have gotten to know Kurt Kuersteiner a bit over the past few years.  I first met him when I was interviewing him for my first published book Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness: The Truth about the Vatican and the Birth of Islam. Kurt is a very interesting character if you ask me and he is well known in the “Jack Chick” circles.  Kurt is the author of an exceptionally well done anthology of Chick Publication works The Unofficial Guide to the Art of Jack T. Chick: Chick Tracts, Crusader Comics, And Battle Cry Newspapers and he directed the documentary God’s Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick, which I found engrossing.  I have copies of both the book and the film.  Kurt is an adjunct Communications professor in Tallahassee Florida, where he also publishes entertainment trading cards for Monsterwax.

gods-cartoonist6Kurt and I approach Jack Chick in very different ways. Personally I don’t care what he puts in his tracts about sin in and of itself – it is when Chick tries to glaze over historical fact to promote his own point of view that I get bent out of shape with him. Kurt, on this other hand, sees Jack Chick as a cultural phenomenon that deserves respect for his work and his accomplishments. Or at least this is my understanding of Kurt’s point of view. You can see for yourself what he has to say.

What is it that you like most about the Chick Publication tracts and what got you to research your book?


the-art-of-jack-chick3 It is inspiring to me to see a writer try to get his message to the masses, and without the help of any corporations or political party or even organized church, he is able out-publish everyone else! What is especially interesting is that his message is so politically incorrect, and if anything, the corporations, political parties, and (the majority of) organized churches have tried to marginalize him. Yet there is his, an underground cartoonist with his vision, who engineered a crusade that catapulted his work around the world and made him the most published author alive today. Chick has printed over 800 million tracts and is still going strong. That is a testament to creativity, determination, faith in the product, and the American dream. It proves that unconnected individuals can still succeed in this country if they work long enough and hard enough.

Personally, which do you like better, the Jack Chick style or the Fred Carter style?


carter-the-letter1 I especially love Fred Carter’s art. It’s beautiful. He’s one of the best comic artists around and he’s very versatile. Too bad he’s ignored by both ends of the comic book business because the corporate side can’t hire or exploit his talents, and most of the customer side thinks he’s a square since he’s a fundamentalist. Even if most people disagree with his beliefs, they should still recognize his artistic talent and respect his willingness to give up so much in order to promote his faith. Interestingly enough, most my artist friends prefer Chick’s art, because his style is so distinctive and retro. Together, the two artists make quite a team!

Do you think that it is possible to be a fan of Jack Chick and disagree with what he is trying to get across? Is it possible, for instance, to be a secular art collector who appreciates the work but remains untouched or unchanged by the message?

To the first part of your question, the answer is definitely “yes”. I know all sorts of gays, Catholics, Jews, Rock and Roll fans, Witches and even self proclaimed Satanists who love collecting Chick’s tracts. Some feel it’s a guilty pleasure and others rationalize that his conspiracy theories are so extreme, that they only encourage the opposite view. Several of these Chick critics/ collectors wrote reviews for my book, so I know he has fans who love his product but hate his message.

When you ask if it is possible to remain untouched by his message, of that I am less sure. I suspect the more people collect his work and appreciate his talent, the harder it becomes for them to hate everything he represents. In other words, it tends to soften them to Chick and his message over time. They may still remain a gay Satanist Rock and Roller, but when their pals come around with a truck and baseball bats and want to go crack some Christian heads (to use a Chick analogy), they become less inclined to join the fun. It’s much easier to hate a group when you don’t actually know anyone in that group, yet everyone who reads Chick can’t help but get to know him after a while.

I look at the tracts and the comics as totally different kettles of fish because I think more often the tracts are aimed at a specific “sins” or “lifestyles” whereas the comics tend to tell “untold” histories or present conspiracies to the reader. Most of these subjects are quite controversial. How much research into these subjects do you feel that Jack Chick would have done before producing the tracts and comics?

The tracts are different from the comics, as you point out, but the comics tend to split up into two different groups as well.

The comic books remind me a lot of the TV show The X-files, but instead of agent Mulder and Scully, you get Tim Clark and James Carter, aka “The Crusaders”. Remember how there were two different types of X-files episodes? The first type was the conventional monster-of-the-week (M.O.T.W) tale, where Scully and Mulder track down the vampire or Mutant on the loose. With the Crusaders, that monster is Satan in the guise of some evil villain or cultural vice.

The earlier X-files M.O.T.W. stories were the episodes that got the public hooked, because they had the most action and eye candy. The same goes for The Crusaders. The first eleven comics have Tim and James dodging bullets, racing cars, and escaping other violent entrapments (thanks to the power of prayer) and always saving the day (or non-believer) by the end.

Later on, the X-files created a different formula, the conspiracy episode, which featured less action but put more emphasis on mystery and intrigue. So did The Crusaders. The basic difference was that while Agent Mulder and Scully got information from Deep Throat (a former insider) who tattled about the ongoing UFO conspiracy, The Crusaders listened to Alberto (who was said to be an former Jesuit) explain the vast Vatican conspiracy. The general public was less impressed when both series got deeper and deeper into the conspiracy plots, but the hardcore fans loved it.

Ironically, Deep Throat was shot in Mulder’s presence for revealing the truth in the X-files. And someone actually shot at Alberto Rivera in Chick’s presence (in a drive by situation) in real life. Year’s later, Alberto died of colon cancer, but he blamed it on a special poison given to him by an undercover Catholic. (I think I hear the X-files synthesizer playing now!)

Regarding Chick’s research: Chick’s background was in acting. He graduated the Pasadena Playhouse just after fighting in WW2. He likes drama so sensational plots are a natural attraction to him. That being said, he also feels constrained to tell the truth as he sees it. He believes in a living God who intervenes in our daily lives, which many Christians also believe. Where he differs is that he also believes in a real Satan, and that the devil ALSO intervenes in our daily lives. (Many Christians say they believe in the Bible but don’t actually think the devil is real.) This is why Chick is so suspicious of conspiracies, because it only stands to reason that the Prince of Lies would use conspiracies to promote evil, corrupt popular culture, and turn people away from the true Word of God (The Bible).

halparody

Chick reads his King James Bible, and sees how modern translations keep watering it down with newer and looser language, until they get to the point where certain churches want marry gays, and another wants to make Mary a “co-redeemer”. Chick sees these beliefs as blasphemies and proof of a Satanic plot to undermine Christianity from within. Now some may believe its just a coincidence that our culture, our government, our schools, and even many churches are working together to lead society further and further away from traditional Biblical values, but Chick and his supporters find that too hard to swallow. They recognize these changes as being orchestrated by activists, factions, unions, and special interest groups who have a progressive agenda. Chick and fellow fundamentalists believe that agenda is evil and inspired by Satan to turn the world against God. (You can choose not to believe it, but you can’t say that it doesn’t make sense.)

Like any good lawyer, Chick sets out to research and gather information that supports his position. He’s not interested in proving the other side’s case, so he only includes info that supports the fundamentalist view. He’s used different sources in the past, and some of them are quite controversial and shaky. However, David Daniels, the man who currently helps Chick write tracts (and numerous books), is a good researcher who knows how to document his sources. Daniels has a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological University and is well trained in the Bible and linguistics. So basically, it appears that Chick is responding to criticism that his claims have poor sources by bringing people like Daniels on board. Whether that helps him win more of his cases in the court of public opinion remains to be seen.

Do you have a favorite tract or comic (or both)? If so, which ones and why?

My favorite tracts are Wounded Children (about homosexuality), Angels? (about Rock and Roll), Satan’s Master (about witchcraft), Lisa (about child molestation), and Dark Dungeons (about role playing gamers). The main reason those are my faves tend is a combination of the sensational plots, the cool art, and, I confess, the fact that they are all out of print and rare.

spellbound

My favorite Chick comic is Spellbound. It’s an action packed tale revolving around John Todd’s testimony about the Rock and Roll industry being run by the Illuminati. (Alberto later co-opted this claim by saying the Vatican controlled the Illuminati.) Spellbound has a pretty down beat ending too, with only a Pyrrhic victory, since one of two main characters is murdered before he can convert, and the news media compare the Christians to Nazis when they burn the Satanic Rock and Roll records.

john-todd1On a happier note, John Todd’s character (Lance Collins) is saved from being shot in a drive by attempt, something that John Todd claimed happened to him in real life (but Chick did NOT witness that situation). These sure aren’t your average comic books!

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I was recently interviewed by myUsearch.com regarding the value of online degrees (I am quoted under the section “Opinion Four”) and the author, Elizabeth Kudner, got a thing or two wrong on the final write up of the blog.  First of all, my name is down as “Gary Dale” and not “Gary Dale Cearley”, which makes it look like Dale is my family name.  I have to deal with this mistake all the time.  And secondly she mentioned that I graduated with an online degree, which is also a misunderstanding.

Just to clear the air on it, my associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree both come from what used to be known as the University of the State of New York but is now known as Excelsior College.  I received my Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma in their Department of Political Science.  A good overview of my professional résumé can be seen on my LinkedIn profile.

These degrees which I earned did pretty well come in non-traditional ways.  For my undergraduate degrees I transferred credit from the Defense Language Institute where I studied their 47 week course in the Vietnamese Language, other credit came from challenge exams and also I received credit from courses taken directly from UCLA and West Coast University.  With the Oklahoma degree I studied the entire degree program in Seoul, Republic of Korea, at the Yongsan Garrison where the university sent professors to give classes abroad to military and government personnel and their dependents.  Although I was not in the military at the time I was allowed to study in the OU program to help make up the numbers for the school.

So with this kind of background I do feel like a bit of an expert on non-traditional education but none of my degrees came from online programs.  Anyway, I won’t make much of a stink about it because it won’t change the price of tea in China.  I can live with it and sleep well tonight on top of it all.

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Tony Alamo is at it again.  Talk about a guy who just can’t stay out of the news, and for all of the wrong reasons…

Recently one of Tony Alamo’s shills, Thomas Richards, declared me to be a Jesuit coadjutor.  I wonder what he has to say about the fact that ole Tony has his bum in a bind again?  Over the weekend I visited the Tony Alamo’s ministerial website and listened to the recording of him asking children and young adults whether or not he ever molested them.  Then Tony’s wife gives her blast about how this is all the work of the evil Vatican.  (Don’t get Thomas Richards wound up…)  Then Tony rambled on about how God tells him what he should eat and what shoes to wear.  And how well connected he was in Hollywood and how he was a professional bodybuilder and how all the movie studios wanted to make films of his kid…

Oh, I almost forgot, he also called his accusers homosexuals and paedophiles.  Not to say that these accusers are or aren’t homosexuals and paedophiles but I guess it would make Tony feel better that his accusers weren’t straight like him.

So I kinda thought to myself, “Wow!  The young ones that Tony picked out to record their testimonies all said ‘no, we weren’t molested!  Tony Alamo is the best man in the world.’  That’s it.  The Tony has spoken, I believe it and that settles it!”

Not.

Tony, if you are guilty then may you rot in hell.  If you are innocent, well, here’s some advice:  It is probably time you started to watch out who your running buddies are.  If these folks accusing you are so God awful then how did they get close to you?  Isn’t it kind of like Jerry Falwell knowing that there was a cartoon of him committing incest with his mother in Hustler magazine?  Surely it wasn’t a Christian who alerted him to this?!?

Maybe since I am from the same part of Arkansas as where the Tony Alamo Ministry has its campus and since I am such an obvious Jesuit coadjutor (according to Thomas Richards) and since the Vatican is behind all of this (according to Mrs. Alamo), then maybe I was the one who was working behind the scenes to bring Tony’s downfall?  Nah!

But wouldn’t it be nice?

Footnote:
Last Friday, my high school football team, the Prescott Curly Wolves made a visit to Foulk, Arkansas.  This wasn’t to visit Tony Alamo’s ministry though.  It was to beat the pants off the local football team.

Prescott Curly Wolves  60
Foulke Panthers 12

Go Wolves!

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My good friend Thomas Richards is at it again!  I have recently learned that he has labeled me on his website as a “Jesuit Coadjutor”.  If you’d like to see for yourself have a glance down the lists on the left hand side of this page.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists two definitions of this word:

1)    One who works together with another: assistant
2)    A bishop assisting a diocesan bishop and often having the right of succession

The word comes from the Middle English coadjutour.  And before that from the Anglo-French which in turn is from Late Latin coadjutor (Latin co- + adjutor helper, from adjuvare to help).

So obviously, since Thomas Richards says it this must be true!  The simple fact that this guy would write such a thing has me baffled, but again, it proves my point.  These conspiracy theory folks, the people who actually listen to the likes of Alberto Rivera and his fraudulent ilk, will themselves say and believe anything.

Both I and an acquaintance of mine have contacted Thomas Richards about these asinine statements he is making regarding me and my book yet the poor devil doesn’t see fit to respond – only to claim that I work together with Jesuits, which couldn’t be further from the truth, or that I am even a bishop who is assisting a diocesan bishop – depending upon which definition Thomas meant to apply to the accusation.

He might as well call me the anti-Christ.  There would be just about as much validity to that statement as to Thomas Richards claiming I am any sort of Jesuit coadjutor.

Sorry, Thomas Richards!  The more I see of you the more I get the feeling that you were educated far beyond your intelligence but unfortunately not highly educated as well.  Such a shame, your efforts could have been better served with a little more honesty.

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Thomas,

How are you?  I hope well!

I just saw the below message from you which his reply to a post from a viewer in Melbourne, Australia:

—–
tlthe5th (1 month ago) Yes, I read through some of it. Some of it’s highlights. It’s trash. And i mean it. i was so happy to see that actually. What sources he used were very weak and most of it wasn’t sourced at all. The man is a total Vatican shill as well.
—–

For your reference, this was from this YouTube page.

I am writing this to you because a friend of mine in the United States just sent me this exchange between you and the viewer that concerned me directly.  I saw the link from her and at first I thought that I would just leave it but then I listened to your diatribe about “lying” in the beginning of this video.  As such I feel compelled to reply.

I am the author of the book in question, “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness: The Truth about the Vatican and the Birth of Islam”, and after reading your comments I have to say that I really do not believe that you have actually even seen my book.  I personally think that you are lying.  I wrote a reply to the post which I hope will be posted.

Where do I start?

Besides calling the book “trash”, which I could be taken as a qualitative opinion on any aspect of the book (cover, artwork, writing style, etc.), I have problems with a few of your assertions.  You are free to call the book trash if you want.  I certainly don’t share this view but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

What set off alarms in my head was when you said that my sources “were very weak” and “most of it wasn’t sourced at all.”  You went on to say that I am “a total Vatican shill as well.”

First of all, I spent two years on the research of this book and there are multiple sources on almost every page.  I am very adamant that the sources are open and in order.  I hereby request you to point out exactly which sources were weak.  I ask you in the process to point out exactly what segments of the book were not sourced at all.  I think the onus is on you here due to your unwarranted comments though I seriously doubt that you will take up the challenge.  Case in point, in your own video you don’t source your own assertions about Leo Ryan, the CIA, Jim Jones, Gary Metz, etc.

As for me being a “Vatican shill”, I am not a Catholic, have never been a Catholic and on top of that I am highly critical of the Pope and the Catholic Church on almost all of their positions.  I was raised in an Evangelical church.  My book had nothing to do with defending the Catholic Church at all.  It was solely about taking all of Alberto Rivera’s claims regarding the Vatican and the birth of Islam and looking at them one by one and examining them for the historical truth.  If you have indeed seen the book, which I doubt, you will note that include Rivera’s entire testimony word by word broken down by chapter.  In fact the opening of every one of my chapters that discusses Rivera’s testimony in the book are Alberto Rivera’s own words, as published by Jack Chick, laid out for examination by the entire world.

Personally I do not believe from reading your comments about my book that you have even been in the same room with my book.  (If so can you tell me where you saw this book?)  I recommend that you have a look at the book yourself.  Once you have actually seen and examined the book (and hopefully you will even read it as well!), compare it to your comments.  I think then you will see who is a bullshit artist and who has done their homework.

Best regards,

Gary Dale Cearley

This open letter is directed to Thomas Richards.

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