The reaction of many was to immediately rip up and throw these things away as if they were contaminated with some bacterial agent that would render them stupid. I didn’t. I collected them and used them to teach classes. They are wonderful tools not only for learning more about our faith but how to use that knowledge to engage in apologetics.
If you are confident in your faith do not be afraid of them. In fact, look for them. Engage them. Sit with them. Pray about them. Study them. Know that the issues that they present against Catholicism may not be immediately discernable. The producers have put a lot of time and effort into them. In some cases years. That you cannot see through them after a few minutes with them is nothing to be shocked about, they are designed to offset you. But that they offset you is a good thing. It shows that there is an aspect to your faith that has not yet been fully explored. Explore the issue like a CSI expert. Take apart every facet of the proposal; find the real issues and the facts. Feel free to call in experts. Solve the riddle. It is like a newspaper puzzle but with a purpose and reward.
To get you started here are some hinters. First take a look at the context in which the whole proposal is placed. Here are two examples.
One of my favorite Chick publications is one called “Last Rites”. The first three pages are used to set up a tone for the rest of the booklet. There are two people arguing and in general treating each other poorly. Interestingly enough, they have nothing to do with the rest of the booklet. Their sins are not addressed nor do they play a part in the rest of the story line. They are simply there to set an ominous mood.
Another way mood is used is in a video clip entitled, “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees”. Much of the beginning and peppered throughout are references to the intelligence of the viewer. “You are an intelligent, well educated person”, implying that if you are, you certainly will agree with the narrator as would all intelligent, educated persons. What does this have to do with any of his argument? Nothing, except to hopefully not have the person think any more deeply into the issues presented lest they should disagree with the presenter and thus not be considered intelligent and educated in his eyes.
There are a few more underhanded tactics to look at also. One of the most common is to make a statement that might seem like Church teaching (and is in fact not) and then tear it apart. Further on into “Last Rites,” the main character states, “I spent my whole life doing good works. That alone should have saved me.” This is presented as the teaching the Catholic Church which, of course, it isn’t, which is why it is so easy to then tear the supposed faith apart. But they are not tearing apart Catholic teaching, they are tearing apart something they claim is Church teaching. That would be a kin to saying, “The Catholic Church teaches that WWW is all real”, and then proceed to give proofs that it is not.
Sometimes misleading propositions are proposed. The lead question in “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees” is such a set up. On the surface this might seem quite disturbing. But if you sit with it for a while, maybe do some research into it the question itself becomes questionable. For example, if a person is in need of healing and it is granted, they wouldn’t then need an amputation. But amputation in not even a pathology anyway, it is a cure. We amputate because some other cure has not worked. And besides, healing does not necessarily mean cure. If an amputee is still living and getting on in life, they are healed. Further, a person with an amputation is not less of a person or less loved by God because they are amputees. So the question is misleading. God does heal amputees. Perhaps the real question is, “Why did not God make us like reptilians that regenerate their tails after they have been amputated?” Or an even far better question might be, “Why does God give us the free will to drive drunk and get into accidents in which people lose limbs?” Or, “Why does God allow people to continue unhealthy behaviors that they have been warned may lead to amputation?” Or, “Why in the richest country in the world are we the only industrialized nation that does not provide free health care to those who need it when we clearly could?”
Another tactic is to artificially limit the answers to questions. For example, to the question, “Why is God more concerned about your raise than poor starving innocent children?” The answers are limited to “God must hate them,” or “He wants them to die for some horrible divine reason.” Are those the only possible answers? No. Further, the question is manipulative in and of itself. If the author was really interested in an honest intellectual discussion the question would have been, “Is God more concerned about whether you get a raise or starving children?”
Those are just some examples. So do not be afraid of challenges to the faith. Do not be afraid to strip them of their emotional manipulation. Do not be afraid to strip them of the intellectual manipulation. You do not have to settle for the answers provided. You do not have to stay within unfair intellectual restraints. If you are stumped, there are wonderful resources to help you, go out there and use them! Above all, enjoy the endeavor!