Monday, August 20, 2007

the view from ... Chuck Dixon

T-Verse: Tell us a little about how you became a Christian.

Chuck Dixon: Well, I was born and raised Catholic. And no matter what that teaching stays with you. Those nuns had a big impact on me and I thought that priests had to be the coolest guys on the planet. I still do. And I suppose I'm still a Catholic in a cultural sense. But my wife introduced me to the Church of Christ and their beliefs seem so simple and streamlined with strict adherence to The Word and none of the mystical mumbo jumbo. And that's where I call home.

T-Verse: What experiences led you to believe that there must be Someone or Something out there beyond just this life?

Chuck: Simple faith. You look at the life of Christ and His words and you'd have to be in total denial not to see that He was a model for humanity and civilization as well as the Big Answers. Once I had faith the rest fell into place. I could clearly see how everything around me sprang from Somewhere; Someone greater than us. The simple fact that science consistently proves rather than disproves the words in the Bible should convince anyone. As someone recently said, "The only reason you wouldn't believe in The Word is because you're afraid to admit it's true."

T-Verse: How did that decision impact your life and your relationships with others?

Chuck: Not terribly. It's not like I hung with the Hell's Angels or anything. I've always been a quiet, straight arrow kind of guy. I didn't fall to rise again. Hey, I'm just a comics geek.

T-Verse: Many Christians seem to have retreated to a subculture where they can recreate the world into a "safer," Christian morals-based mirror of reality, with Christian TV, Christian music, Christian fashion. Do you feel this retreat from the world has helped give the impression that Christians don't really care about people but instead care about protecting themselves from the "bad" influences out there?

Chuck: I think you have to be in the game to win. I could have retreated to Christian comics and probably been happy creatively and financially. But that's preaching to the choir. I think it's better to present moral values in the wasteland of general entertainment. I dealt with the abortion/adoption issue in a Warner owned publication and reached an audience I would never have reached otherwise. I backed out of a government funded project to produce an anti-drug comic because it was ill-conceived and poorly executed. One of the participants accused me of being some kind of heartless jerk saying, "You'd rather make money writing Spider-man." Truth is, I probably reached more readers with anti-drug stories featuring Batman and Robin than any government handout could have.

All that said, as a dad I can see the allure of all-Christian entertainment. It can serve as a filter to block out the crass and vulgar stuff thrown at kids today. They say kids are growing up faster than they used to. That's a load. They're FORCING the kids to grow up by spewing puerile muck at them.

T-Verse: The notion of separating the sacred (that spiritual existence) and the secular (the "real" world of jobs and flat tires) -- what's your response to the person who tries to divide the world into these simple divisions?

Chuck: One of my favorite quotes of all time was said by George Foreman when someone challenged his devotion to Christ when he was a boxer. "I think Jesus and boxing is a great combination." He went on to explain the relationship between sportsmanship and Christian ethics. I agree with him. Jesus' teachings can guide you through anything. The answers are all there.

T-Verse: In what ways have you had the opportunity to see your beliefs and writing career integrated?

Chuck: Mostly in the fortunes God has allowed me. He granted me the talent to write stories in a series of static pictures and then guided me to a career in that area. With His help and guidance I've had an unusually long and successful career.

I mentioned the other ways earlier -- the opportunity to introduce a moral element into stories.

T-Verse: I notice in your writing that you don't limit yourself to writing "Christian" comics or "Christian" books, or even turning the stuff you are writing into outreach publications. And some of the publications you've written for aren't markets most Christians who write would consider (such as The Simpsons comics or war comics). Is that intentional?

Chuck: The Simpsons are the only characters on television or in comics who attend church regularly. Even that insipid family on 7th Heaven only rarely stops in for a service. The Simpsons also deal with BIG issues and their experiences cover the entire moral spectrum. When they address religion, they are often irreverent but never sacrilegious. As far as I'm concerned the episode where Bart sells his soul to Milhouse should be shown in Sunday Schools. C.S. Lewis couldn't have done a better job explaining sin and redemption.

As far as war comics go, it's a part of human experience and fascinates me because it represents the best and worst in human behavior. I've never written stories that wallow in gore and carnage and excuse myself by claiming that my story was "anti-war." I usually emphasize sacrifice and heroism and deprivation in my war stories. My war stories for The 'Nam and Savage Tales were also blatantly anti-communist. As far as I'm concerned that's serving God in a BIG way.

T-Verse: Do you find that by being in the real world and not in the Christian subculture you have opportunities to meet people where they are and discuss your faith naturally instead of using the memorized or "canned" approaches many church outreach programs use?

Chuck: Certainly. I think my job as a Christian is to get atheists and agnostics to question their LACK of beliefs. I'm not out to convert by evangelizing. I think it's better to start by shaking others arguments and at least opening them up to The Word.

T-Verse: What does your faith mean to you? Why is it important to you to believe? What has believing in and following Christ benefited you as you look back on your life?

Chuck: Well, every time I ignored what I knew to be The Truth I made enormous mistakes in my life.

But more importantly my faith gives me courage. Or it helps give me courage to face what comes at me. I'm not one of these guys who shrugs and says, "Oh, it's God's will" when some calamity strikes. But I will explore the nature of the bad news to find what good God meant in it. I find that as my faith deepens my doubts are more easily swept aside.

My belief in Christ also prepared me for my most important job; as parent to my children. You can throw out all those parent guides and how-to books. Raising kids is all covered in the books of the Bible. It's also given me the patience to deal with kids. And that's the most important element of being a parent.

T-Verse: If I were an honest skeptic standing with you right now, what would be the one thing you would tell me in regard to opening my mind to the idea of believing in God and following Him?

Chuck: The Book of Genesis blows it all away.

What other religion or mythology has a creation story that is proven to be true each year by scientific research?

Our universe was created in a series of stages from an explosion of light to the birth of life. And each of these stages happened in a particular order. Science has proven that these events in this order are the way it happened. How did the ancient Hebrews, essentially a bunch of nomadic shepherds, know about the Big Bang Theory, astronomy, biology, thermodynamics, geology, etc., to get all that right? Especially when other cultures had patently ridiculous ideas like the world resting on the back of a turtle or everyone walking down to the earth along the blade of a sword. Hey, maybe somebody TOLD them how it happened. And Who was that Somebody?

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