Naked Pastor a.k.a. David Hayward draws cartoons. Some of his cartoons are downright hilarious. Most say things that perhaps I have wanted to say for a long time but can’t find the words–he findfs them . . . and draws them.
Many well-meaning Christian folk have “written off” David because of the forthright expression of what he believes to be true. In an interview with Becky Garrison (author of Jesus Died for This?: read about this book in Next Wave), he talks about his present understanding of religion and atheism and how it relates to his work. In particular, two responses struck me as being very insightful of a growing unease among those who formerly would have aligned themselves with Christianity:
I think there are a lot of people out there who recognize that the problem is not belief. There’s millions of gods and millions of religions. People are becoming more and more skeptical signing on to any certain belief system. They want to open the debate and have a genuine discussion. That means coming into the forum with a willingness to hold on to your beliefs, thoughts and ideologies loosely in order to be able to converse with other people. Maybe the best debate is when you allow doubt or mystery to be a greater component of your ideology or belief system. . . .
I struggle with the whole religious language because I’ve come to the conclusion that we use language to control our worlds and realities. When people ask me questions about who I am and what I believe, it’s their attempt to comprehend and grasp me intellectually and then plug me into some kind of a hole that makes them feel comfortable. (Read more here.)
I know I label people, and tend to be quite critical of them based on the pigeonhole I’ve put them in. A friend recently reminded me that people change–that I was once just like the one I was attempting to discredit. It’s far easier for me to slap a tag on to someone than to see them as a fellow human being with similar experiences, joys, struggles, feelings to mine. This is no more clear than the way Christians have dealt with their polar opposite–atheists.
But, as it is more often than not, we fear what we do not understand. In reality, many of us are “Atheish” to some degree. While claiming to believe in God, and saying the right words to back up our profession, we live in a way that often denies the existence of said Divine Being. This may be evident be in the way we fail to love one another fully, or in the way we judge people without ever trying to understand them, or in the way we worship things above God, or in the way we deny basic human rights to certain people simply because they don’t have the right paperwork. . . The truth is the vast majority of atheists excel us in love and kindness.
So let’s get real and admit our “atheishness” and get on with the adventure of living in this world together, getting to know each other, and loving one another: as Christians because we are following the example of Jesus the Christ, and as Christians and atheists because it’s just the right thing to do.