When I saw the title, Jesus Christ Super Zine, it was impossible for me not to crack open Ariel Birks’ personal zine. Distributed by S.S.O. Press out of Olympia, Washington, the first installment is full of illuminating stories from Birks’ stint as a hardcore evangelical Christian. Part handwritten and part typewritten, the charmingly sarcastic stories revisit her teenage years of proselytizing, abstaining from sex, and praying cross-legged on the grass with attractive secularists.
The essays reflect the author’s personal experiences, but there is a distinct familiarity of religious zeal for anyone with a history of zealotry. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Jesus Christ Super Zine, which encapsulate the sincerity and devotion of her then-Christian life:
On Christian camp: I got to hang out with the most awesome people ever. We had few inhibitions about ‘fitting in’ as we were all liberated by Jesus to do whatever the hell we wanted (except sin.)
On Birks’ friend Jamy finding Jesus: I’m sure it was some worship service or camp. You know. With really emotional music that made me feel vulnerable.
On witnessing: He was 19, his name was Chris and well, he was extremely attractive to me. So, so very attractive. Actually he looked exactly like Chris Cornell. And thus, a wee little bit like Jesus, no? But that’s not what I was after, of course. I was there for some mind sex.
Reading Jesus Christ Super Zine is better than remembering my own stories as an ex-Religious Freak. I can rest assured that others have been through the same experience: first hopelessly devoted, then utterly apathetic, and finally truly embarrassed. This trip down the memory lane of impressionable youth turns that embarrassment into entertainment, portraying a light-hearted coming-of-age tale.