Welcome to Grief 2 Growth
Dec. 16, 2022

David Hayward- The Naked Pastor


This one was a big thrill for me. I've been a fan of David's cartoons for many years. And I got to interview him to learn about the man behind the pen.  His cartoons are biting, funny, and sometimes hurt a little as David expresses the emotions many of us feel when we deconstruct our religion.

David Hayward was ordained to the ministry in 1987 and left in 2010.

He’s been running the nakedpastor blog since 2005 where he posts his provocative cartoons and articles.

He launched an online community called The Lasting Supper, a place for people to change without being judged or instructed, and where they can learn to become spiritually independent.

He’s been cartooning, making art, writing, speaking, and coaching around his core passions: personal authentic freedom, the power to change our own lives, and the creative spirit to make our world a better place.

He and his wife live in eastern Canada. They have three adult children.

🔗  https://www.thenakedpastor.com

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https://www.grief2growth.com/ndelessons

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Transcript

Brian Smith  0:00  
Close your eyes and imagine what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we've been buried. But what if, like a seed we've been planted, and having been planted would grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes. Open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith.

Announcer  0:47  
Hi there. Before we start, Brian would like to share a couple of things with you. First, did you know that Brian is a life coach, a grief guide and a mental fitness trainer? Brian would love to help you with whatever life issues are challenging you. Brian has years of experience as well as training. You can contact Brian at WWW dot grief to growth.com to learn more. Brian is the author of the best selling book grief to growth planted not buried, which you can get on Amazon or Brian's website. This is a great book if you're in grief or to give to someone you know who is dealing with grief. Lastly, Brian creates free and paid resources for your growth. Go to www dot grief to growth.com/gifts www.gr IE F to growth.com to sign up for his newsletter, choose a gift just for signing up and keep up with what Brian is offering. And now here's today's episode. Please enjoy.

Brian Smith  1:48  
Hey, everybody, this is Brian, back with another episode of grief to growth. And I'm really excited today to have this guest with me his name is David Hayward. I'm going to read his bio that I'll introduce him. He was ordained to the ministry in 1997. And he left in 2010. He's been running the naked pastor blog since 2005, where he posts his provocative cartoons and articles in lots of online community called the lasting supper, a place for people to change without being judged or instructed. And when they can learn to be more spiritually independent. He's been cartooning making art writing, speaking and coaching around his core passions, personal authentic freedom, the power to change our own lives and the creative spirit to make our world a better place. David and his wife live in Eastern Canada, and they have three adult children. And the reason why I asked David the bigger than me that I've been a fan of David's for a long time, but following his work, and I wanted to let you know more about him and I want to learn more about myself. So with that I'd like to bring in David Hayward.

David Hayward  2:49  
Hey, how are you? Good to be here, Brian. Thanks for having me on your show. And hello, everybody.

Brian Smith  2:54  
Yeah, it's and I am so excited to have you here. David. I don't even know how I found your work. I don't know if it was on Facebook or, or where but I've been following your work for quite a while. So for people that don't know, tell people what it is you do.

Unknown Speaker  3:08  
Okay, well, my, my work has the tendency to get shared a lot like so I have my cartoons that I'm drawing. But like, like I said, I like you said I left the ministry in 2010. But I started blogging in 2005. With naked pastor, and it was I think it was 2006 when I decided maybe try cartooning as a way to convey my thoughts and ideas, feelings, whatever. And that's when naked pasture started getting shared and noticed and everything and getting me in trouble. And so it just started just growing and growing and growing and people loving my cartoons and, you know, my posts and, you know, I'm also an artist and things so yeah, that's what I do. Basically, I Every day I try to draw a new cartoon. I try to write posts, I tried to do videos, paintings. I've got books out. I do have the online community called the lasting supper for people who are questioning their beliefs and want a safe place to do that. And yeah, so that that keeps me very, very busy. I do that full time.

Brian Smith  4:31  
Yeah. Tell me about your spiritual journey. I'm curious, before you got into ministry, when you're in the ministry, stuff like that.

Unknown Speaker  4:40  
Well, I grew up in a, I would say, a nominally Christian home like I grew up in a Christian home. I was baptized Anglican, as a baby, and then we moved around a lot so I never we never went to any one certain denomination church. We just got to whatever was going convenient. So I actually grew up not feeling like I was anything, you know, like Baptist or Anglican or Catholic or whatever. We just went to the nearest most convenient church that we liked. And as a result, I experienced a lot of different expressions of Christianity and church. And it was when I was a teenager, I got like, born again, you can say, in a Baptist church, of course. And then from there, we went to Pentecost, soul and I went to a Pentecostal Bible college, I went to seminary ended up my wife, Lisa went into the ministry in I was ordained Presbyterian, actually, and ended up in the vineyard movement. And at that time, it was then in 2010, when I left the ministry, so my, my spiritual journey, I call myself on my own Ecumenical Movement, because I've been in so many different, you know, denominations and churches and so on, even independent. So, it my spiritual journey, in a nutshell has been very diverse, and nourished by all different kinds of traditions, and spiritualities, and so on. denominations theologies, and, and it was in 2009, when I had this sort of epiphany moment where I just saw it was it was like a flash of insight, where I just saw the oneness of all things and the interconnectivity and how we are all in a deep and fundamental level connected, and united. And I started sharing my insights in my blog, and that was when that was 2009. That started raising eyebrows and getting attention. That was in 2010, when I finally left the ministry, because it was decided that mutually that we were no longer theologically compatible, that I was feeling grow. I was growing in a certain direction that the Church no longer comfortable with.

Brian Smith  7:24  
Yeah. So were you a pastor at the time? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  7:28  
And what church, 

David Hayward  7:29  
a vineyard church

Brian Smith  7:30  
was a vineyard church. Okay. Okay. So

Unknown Speaker  7:32  
for those who don't know what a vineyard church is a vineyard church is sort of an evangelical in theology, but charismatic and expression is very kind of laid back contemporary music, you know. And but with evangelical theology, yeah.

Brian Smith  7:50  
Yeah. I tend to the venue church for a long time. And it's interesting denomination. Yeah. And it's Natty. Yeah, very, very interesting denominations. You said that the casual music in the light laid back atmosphere gives you one impression, but then the underlying theology is completely different.

Unknown Speaker  8:10  
That's really true. That's a good observation, actually, where it says sort of, yeah, it comes across as very laid back and very cool, and very open and everything. And underneath, though, is a theology that can be quite shaming, condemning, exclusive, you know, and so on. So non affirming, et cetera. So there's, there's churches around me right now that are just like that. And I, it's sort of like, lining the trap with honey. And that's my opinion. And it's, it's a, it's a pretty cool trick, though. It works.

Brian Smith  8:57  
Yeah, cause really attracted me to the church. I was living in Lexington, Kentucky, which is about 100 miles from here, and I had a friend that was going to this church in Cincinnati, I was going to move here. And he told me about this church. And it sounds really cool. They had servant evangelism, where they would go in the street corner and hand out free coats and they do free car washes, and they would ask him for any donations, it was literally free. And it was really cool to see people freak out about you know, how loving and open this church was.

Unknown Speaker  9:28  
But then you'd get there and realize there were certain rules and expectations and ideologies and so on that weren't so cool. There is a there's a church here that it's the biggest church in the whole area and very popular. And people just love it. But it's, it's, it's, it's just like it's you describe it's it's got all the bells and whistles. You You know, it's got all the smoke and mirrors and, you know, dry ice and lights and music and equipment and staff and everything, but it's it's very, very strict and it's theology and polity. Church polity.

Brian Smith  10:21  
Yeah, I've experienced the same thing. And there are a couple here. And it's, it's really interesting to me how successful putting air quotes, those churches are because they just draw people in. So it's that was your experience as well, it's interesting to note that it's kind

Unknown Speaker  10:37  
of like the Hillsong kind of phenomenon that's happening in the world right now. That's just really gathers a lot of people it's really comes across as very cool and, and loving and, and accepting and so on. But when you get inside the machine, if you're, if you have any self awareness at all at all, that it eventually dawns on you that there are, you know, there's things happening behind the curtain that you might not like,

Brian Smith  11:12  
yeah, I for me, it took a while. It took a few years, actually. But I became, I became friends with a lot of the staff and I was I was friends with one of the one of the, and they have huge staffs, of course, friends with one of the pastor's friends with one of the guys on the board. And I remember when I discovered universalism, in a Christian universalism, I was so excited about it. And you know, I started emailing some of these guys to say, you know, and there was a rumor, and I won't out him, but there was a rumor that one of the pastors was a Universalist closeted Universalist. But when I would email him, he was very careful about the way he responded to emails. Just very cautious.

Unknown Speaker  11:51  
Yeah. I mean, you know, I, I was fortunate in that. And I think it's because I grew up not feeling any loyalty to any one denomination. So one of the big things that was absent from my vocation as a pastor was the anxiety that I had to somehow continue making myself eligible to belong to whatever denomination and so I always felt very free. And so I, you know, people saying you were Pentecostal, you were Baptist, and you went Pentecostal, then you were Pentecostal, you went Presbyterian, then you were Presbyterian, you went vineyard, like I didn't, I didn't care. It didn't matter. It didn't matter to me. And it for me, it wasn't a huge leap. And I always tended to find myself gravitating towards congregations that were quite open and accepting of me, and that we could journey together and so on. So you know, like the last church, I was in the vineyard church, I just felt like, I didn't have to hide anything. I didn't feel like I was lying, or pretending, or impostor syndrome, you know, standing in front of the people believing one thing and teaching another I never felt that kind of tension. And fortunately, until 2009, when I had that sort of flash of insight about the oneness of all things, and I started naively sharing this exciting, you know, idea. And I realized that I crossed the line, I didn't know it was there.

Brian Smith  13:35  
Yeah. So click the curious about your flash. How did that come about?

Unknown Speaker  13:41  
I don't know that, you know, it wasn't mushrooms or acid. I often get asked, that sounds like you had a mushroom trip or whatever. But no, it was completely, you know, clean. I have nothing against, you know, people who might want to experiment with those things. But I I was always a very, very intense sort of searcher. And so I was constantly digging in theology, because I, I saw these parts, kind of like a 1000 piece puzzle. And I couldn't figure out how to fit all the parts together. So for example, I'll just give one example where there's a loving God who loves the whole world and you know, etc. But then you have the exclusivity of most Christian theology where you have to believe in Jesus and you have to say this and that and behave this way and, and so on, be a part of the church and I couldn't put all this together where if the whole world has been reconciled, and everyone is included in that, and all things are subsumed in that huge movement, then, how does this work? How does this you know, how do these join together? The exclusivity of Christianity and the universality of the good news, let's say, right. And so I couldn't fit these two pieces together. And then, you know, you add to that the traditional view of Scripture on say, LGBTQ, and then me having LGBTQ friends who are better people than I am, and so on. So I couldn't reconcile I had all these pieces in front of me, and I couldn't reconcile them. And I spent years and years decades actually trying to figure out how to put this puzzle together. And then in, it wasn't 2009 it was just, I think, I'm like down for a nap. It was just that stupid. And, you know, I just had this, like, I just saw this waterfall. And I won't go into explaining the whole, all the details. But essentially, I just saw that we are, there's one reality that we all experience, but we apprehend it through our own paradigms, and through our own lenses, our own worldviews. And then we have our own languages to attempt to articulate what we think we experience. But there's just one reality. However, there's a million words, yeah, and a million paradigms, attempting to describe this one reality and apprehend it and articulate it. So that to me was like, wow, it was mind blowing. And I immediately felt this peace of mind descend on me. My theological angst, evaporated, never came back. And there was just beautiful. So I wanted other people to feel a piece of naively not realizing that I was stepping on all kinds of toes. So,

Brian Smith  17:07  
you know, I, I'm glad you shared that. And I'm always curious about that process. That, you know, it was, as he was describing, the thought that came to mind was born again. And now it's like, it's, it's like that freeing thing that your mind opening up? And I don't know if you're familiar with Carleton Pearson, but he's a he's a pastor, he was a Pentecostal pastor. I followed him for a long time. I still think he's, and yeah, he had an experience. He was watching television, you see these kids, you know, in Africa, they're starving to death. And he prays and he says, You know, God, how could you let those children starve those babies starving to death and then send them to hell? And he has his, you know, like this download from God, like, what makes you think I'm sending them to hell? So he discovers Christian universalism, right. Shortening a very long story. You know, they basically kick him out of his church.

Unknown Speaker  17:57  
Yeah, I saw that documentary. Okay, okay. Yeah. Great. Great. Yeah.

Brian Smith  18:02  
So you know, as I as I look at your your cartoons, and I resonate with them so much, I'm like, I'm thinking, he must have been through what I went through. And I was raised as a Pentecostal, I was raised with some pretty serious spiritual abuse from the time I was a small child. So what what spiritual abuse? Have you have you witnessed? Because you, you understand it so? Well?

Unknown Speaker  18:23  
Yeah, I do. Because there's the systemic issues that come with your church, in my opinion, is the perfect culture for abuse to occur. Because you have all the ingredients you have often controlling leaders are pastors. And they have good intentions, they want to manage people, and keep them in line, you know, that you when you have controlling pastors, and you have people who are looking for intense experiences of community, and then you have a theology that tends to convince us that we're guilty, and we need help. And you know, we're and if you join us, then we're going to help you kind of thing, we'll fix you all that and there's a bunch of others, but you put all those ingredients together, and you've got a perfect culture for abuse to occur. And so we call that in the church. We call that spiritual abuse. And I like you spent a lot of time in the Baptist Church in the Pentecostal Church and the vineyard church, Presbyterian Church, even mainline denominations have the same I experienced spiritual abuse of mainline denominations and independent denominations. And it's a systemic thing where it just comes with the territory. In fact, it's not just a religious thing, any any system is prone, in my opinion, to Ward's the dehumanization of its members, you know, right down to the motor vehicle. Place the DMV or whatever you call it, or education or the hospitals or the military or whatever, bureaucracy, its gravitational pull is towards the dehumanization of its members. So I think that's why I feel it's my duty to continually call, specifically the church to live up to its mandate, that it's here to serve us. We're not here to serve it. And so I, I was in that system as a receiver of abuse, but also as a, you know, one who dished it out that just being a part of the system. Sure. And, and it, it began to dawn on me, many, many years ago, when I was in the ministry that this system is prone to abuse. And that I need to start, you know, changing my ideas about what community is, and what are my expectations on people? And what about that, you know, and everything. And so, I perpetuated the system up up to that point, and the abuse that could occur, but I was also under leadership as well, as a pastor, I have served under spiritual leaders, and experienced unbelievable spiritual abuse, me and my family. People wouldn't thought when I share some of my stories, people just can't believe it happened. But it does, it really does happen. And so I've I read a book many years ago. And this is one of the things one of the ingredients that started me on my journey out of trying to resist systemic evil and participating in it, and systemic abuse and so on, was the Lucifer effect. By I want to say Zamboni, but that's not right. Maybe that's right. Anyway, he. He was one of the professors who created that prison in Sanford University, where students were willingly Yeah, we're the prisoners and other students were the gatekeepers, and you know, guards and security and all that kind of thing. And he, and it had to be shut down. Within days, because the students who are acting as the guards became very abusive, and the prisoners, the students acting as the prisoners were being psychologically tortured. And at cetera, it became a very toxic, unhealthy thing that they had to actually shut it down. And he became an expert in systemic abuse, to the point that he became one of the lawyers involved with the whole Abu Ghraib situation. And how good upstanding citizens who were soldiers were abusing prisoners in unbelievable ways that and it's because of the systemic pull towards the dehumanization of its members. And that's when I saw you know, I could be unknowingly naively participating in the abuse of the church's members. And that's when I started pulling away from participating in the in the system and trying to figure out ways to that we could be a healthy community where I am free without violating your freedom and where you're free without violating my freedom. And so that to me, what became a new challenge that sent me on a road to towards trying to figure out how to be how to build healthy communities. Yeah, that was one of those long answers. You said it was okay.

Brian Smith  24:27  
Yes, perfect is perfect. So I do want to I wanted to actually go into a little bit more because you said that when you tell people your stories of abuse, they don't believe them. So would you mind sharing one of them?

Unknown Speaker  24:38  
Well, I've had past fears who, because I had one pastor I served under who he, we were in conflict we became where we were in conflict, and he requested a meeting. To me, and I was very nervous I because I hate confrontation, I hate conflict. And he said, What's your problem with me? And I'm like, Well, I find you very, I find you very controlling. And that's, by the way, that's the last thing you should say to a controlling past. Yeah. And he actually drove his finger into my chest

Brian Smith  25:30  
to prove that he wasn't controlling, said you

Unknown Speaker  25:32  
need psychological help, and went on about demon possession. And, you know, you name it, that that's just sort of a snapshot of the kind of the nature of his leadership and, and the culture around that. So you know, that kind of behavior is very intimidating. Well, to me, it is, it's very intimidating. It's shaming, silencing, it's fear mongering, it's all those things that make you either have to run or bow down and worship, you know, that those are the two extreme choices that you have. There's no way you can navigate that with integrity and you know, do the dance of leadership versus following. It just it just doesn't work. You either have to run or bow down. And so I chose to run, there were other situations where I served under spiritual leadership where I was, I was fired and removed from my home. And my kids, and my wife and I basically left in very dangerous situations, and very vulnerable situations. And they didn't, they don't care. They just did not care. And so, and I have more stories like that, I could go into detail, but maybe I should.

Brian Smith  27:03  
Well, I appreciate you sharing just the flavor of that. You know, the thing you said something really, really important about like, this is the nature of bureaucracies. This is the nature of hierarchical systems in general. It's not the churches are full of bad people. These are these are good people with good intentions. But it's amped up to a nother level when it's God says like, the other day, someone was commenting on one of my YouTube videos, and they said, you know, your problem was not with me, your problem was with God and God's word. But there's no way to really come back against that, right? Like, you're arguing with God, you're gonna argue with me?

Unknown Speaker  27:41  
Yeah. No, I mean, I'm in the process of drawing another cartoon where somebody challenges the pastor and says, I found your sermon really kind of bullying. And, you know, and the pastor says, actually, that's God discipline, disciplining you as his son, doesn't mean, right. And that's always the tactic that they take. Anytime it's good. It's, it's, you know, they take the praise, but if it's bad, it's gone, you know, punishing you, or,

Brian Smith  28:13  
yeah, you know, if, you know, this isn't about me, but you were talking earlier about the vineyard. And we talked about these years about the puzzle pieces. And I got, I had the same feeling, you know, it's like, there's all these pieces of the puzzle, but the fact is, some of them just don't fit. So this idea that a God's going to send people to hell, or God has created people for destruction. If you believe in Calvinism, those pieces just don't fit into the puzzle. And so for someone like ourselves is trying to put this together. At some point, you have to say, these just don't work.

Unknown Speaker  28:45  
Yeah, yeah. That's kind of like, you know, my, my spiritual journey. Involve me moving from church to church to church, I pastored, several churches, I planted a couple of churches, which means I started a couple of churches from scratch. And you know, I kept finding a box that was big enough for me, or, you know, I felt, you know, I had room and the last church I was at, I realized, hey, there is no box, you know, and, and it's, it's basically the same with the puzzle pieces. It's like, you know, what, there is no puzzles. You know, they the it just the integration of all the things, right? It's, it's a mystery, but the anxiety of trying to figure it out and making things fit is totally gone. Because, yeah, it's just that peace of mind isn't because I know the answer. The peace of mind is because I'm okay. Not knowing the answer now.

Brian Smith  29:55  
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. That anxiety that You have with you when you're in the church, and you're disagreeing with the church, because we're all human beings, we can't we can't believe everything they tell us to believe. Right? And they tell you, there's something wrong with you. Right? Because you won't accept what they're trying to tell you.

Unknown Speaker  30:15  
Right? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And, and that's always the tension is, like, I talk a lot about spiritual independence. And for a lot of people, their, their journey in their own spiritual growth takes them to a point where they realize that they are going to put themselves in conflict with their church or whatever. And I compare it to I compare it to just your personal growth. We're, we're pretty good as children, and preteen things are pretty good. When we get to be teenagers, and moving on towards young adult adolescence, or whatever young adult, we start realizing we need to start working for our own freedom and autonomy, self determination, independence, and this is gonna run us into conflict with our parents, with our teachers, you know, with our bosses, whatever. But this is natural, everybody knows always just a teen, you know, or, you know, they're just rebelling, and all that kind of thing. But it's a necessary part of our growth, to figure out how to be independent, and how to how to develop our own unique personalities, separate from our parents, and so on, so forth. And the same thing has happened spiritually, where we get to this point where we realize if we want to continue growing, it means we're going to come into conflict, conflict with the status quo with the general beliefs with spiritual authorities. But unfortunately, a lot of churches, like many parents won't stand for this rebellion. And unfortunately, many churches, like parents lose connection with their people or with their kids. And I assert that if churches, like good parents would say, Okay, this is the stage, you need to figure out how to be yourself, how to think your own thoughts, how to have your own feelings, how to plan your own life, how to take care of yourself, we're going to provide a safe space for you to figure that out. And we're here for you. And if churches could do that, I think we would see less of a huge migration away from the church that we're seeing right now.

Brian Smith  32:47  
Yeah, I just push back against that a little bit. The problem is, I think churches see themselves as our parents, they don't see us as adults. You know, it's it's a it's supposed to be a community, a place where can come together and grow together. But the people it's become this hierarchy, where the supposedly God through the pastor is telling you, you know what to do. And so I, the way I look at it now is, Jesus freed us from all that stuff. Jesus said, don't call any man your father. So I just I reject that whole notion of the church is my father.

Unknown Speaker  33:23  
I do too. And I think the church should reject that whole notion of leadership as well, that top down hierarchical approach to leadership. It's antiquated, it doesn't work it it, it squelch, it crushes the human spirit. And it won't allow for people to really grow so I'm with you there it's it's it no longer serves and never did. But now we're I really do believe that it no longer serves people. Well.

Brian Smith  34:02  
Yeah, it's you know, it's interesting, I was just watching watch a video earlier today that this guy was talking about how civilizations human kind has grown and we have and we've had to grow as humans just as we grow individually. Right? Um, so there might have been a time when when that structure work, it doesn't certainly doesn't work in modern times. It certainly doesn't work now and I love your your what you do for me and I hopefully do for you. I think I know you do for a lot of people. You give us permission to explore you give us permission to question and you make us feel like we're not alone. When we feel like we're being abused.

Unknown Speaker  34:40  
I am a well thank you for that. I'm glad. I'm glad that you think that because that's what I try to do. But like the what I try, it's hard to articulate. I'm not your girl. Alright, I've also said that but I do not want to be your guru, or your what, what I want to, if I play any role in your life at all, what I want to be able to do is for you to feel like you can empower yourself to be your authentic self. And so that to me, I don't even want to say, I empower you, or I allow you, or you know, anything like that, I want to somehow, if I'm in your presence, to somehow inspire you, or encourage you, to empower yourself, to be your most authentic self, and to figure out how to how to be spiritual. Because it's like Nelson Mandela, you know, I'm the master of my destiny, the captain of my ship, right like that, we all need to be able to get to that place. And we all need to when we're around one another, be that kind of encouraging catalyst for each one of us to feel empowered to do that. And so that's what I tried to do. My online community The Last Supper, I learned very quickly, that people, especially people who are deconstructing their beliefs, questioning their beliefs, leaving the church and so on, they are not interested, for the most part. Some are, but for the most part, most people aren't interested in looking for another leader or spiritual guru, or whatever. And I learned very quickly that I do not want to play that role in anybody's life anymore. Yeah.

Brian Smith  36:42  
Yeah, it's interesting. I think there are people probably on both sides of that there are people that's just like, Okay, well, this is wrong. Gonna be fine. Let me find the next thing. Let me find the next layer and find the next church. And a lot of us do that, right. We shop and shop and shop until we realize there is no, there is no perfect church. But what you do for me, is, as I said, You You inspire me, you make me feel not alone. You I'm curious how you got into cartooning, because it's one thing to prepare a sermon, right. And that's, that's a lot of words a lot of time. But you can put in a couple of picture. And a few words are no words, just these incredibly incredible thoughts. Now think about for the rest of the day.

Unknown Speaker  37:28  
That's great. Well, I've been an artist all my life. I mean, I grew up with art, my dad was a painter, and so on, on on the side. And I've always liked a good cartoon. You know, like, the far side the one frame things are. My gold standard for me is the New Yorker cartoons. That for me is like, the gold standard. So I really am. I was in 2006, there was another cartoonist I was following on Facebook, I guess it was, and he just drew cartoons on the back of business cards. And he tried to do one every day. And I thought, you know, why don't I try it just out of the blue. And just so why don't I try drawing cartoons see what happens. And, you know, up to that point, I was writing my blog, and I'd share a painting once in a while, but I started sharing my cartoons, and then I get started getting more traffic, I thought it would last maybe a couple of weeks, maybe a month. And here it is 17 years later, and I'm still drawing cartoons every day. They say a picture's worth 1000 words. And in some, sometimes my cartoons do achieve that where they say a lot and one little frame, you know, there might be words or not. And I really appreciate the you know, when I get an image that comes to my mind, and I draw it and it reaches out and touches people, that means a lot to me, and I hear from a lot of people every day, you know, that are just so grateful that they feel like they're not crazy. They're not alone. Their journey is theirs, you know, own it. Celebrate it, and that means a lot to me. So that's why I started cartooning. I started because I'm an I am an artist. I love trying to convey stuff through AR and I just really get some really positive feedback for it. So

Brian Smith  39:44  
yeah, so I know you must get a ton of positive feedback. Do you get any pushback from people?

Unknown Speaker  39:50  
Oh, my Yes. Oh, yeah. Yeah, every day. Yeah. And, you know, it's, most of the time it's water off my back by Have water off a duck's back, it doesn't affect me. And I know it's more about them than it is about me. Once in a while though, I get a scary one that, you know, freaks me out freaks my wife out a little bit or something. I'm always a little bit surprised that people take the time to be so rude or mean or whatever, that kind of thing doesn't cross my mind where I see something I disagree with that I'm going to take the time to insult the person or scare the person understand that mentality. But I have empathy for people who don't agree with me. And you know, maybe I was there one time. And you know, people have different ways of expressing things for me, I feel sorry for people who feel that they have to troll me, you know, or harass me continually. If they do, it's three strikes, you're out, I'll block them. And if they if they do a mean comment that's directed at me sometimes a lot at stake, because sometimes they're kind of funny. Yeah. But if if they're being mean to other people in the community, or in that post, or whatever, a person or a trans person or person of color, or a woman or whatever, a person, an atheist, whatever, I will often delete the comment.

Brian Smith  41:37  
Yeah, I'm the same way. It's sometimes it can be instructional, so I will leave it and I will address them. And I will even say like, right out, I know, I'm not gonna change your mind. I'm not here to change your mind. But I want to talk to the other people that are that are witnessing this, the people who are open minded. And the thing is, you know, you're, when we talk about these beliefs, this is a problem that people make, they hold their beliefs as being them. So if if you attack their beliefs, and again, I put that in there, quote, if you challenge your beliefs, they feel like you're attacking them. It's a personal attack. Yeah. And that's, that's a, that's a sign of a small mind, frankly, people that can't separate their beliefs from from themselves. And so and it also shows that they're insecure in their beliefs, because if their beliefs were immutable and not subject to challenge, then you know, they wouldn't have to defend them.

Unknown Speaker  42:26  
There's another drive. That happens, I think, is a lot of people feel the need to save people who are following me. Yes, yeah. They come on and say, Everybody flee. Yes. Like I've actually had people come on as a flee this myth. Or, you know, or say that, Hey, everybody, this is actually heresy, and you got to stop following him and whatever. So there's that need to protect others or save others or, you know, warn everybody or, you know, whatever. So that I see a lot of that going on to,

Brian Smith  43:10  
well, I wear the hair to label with, with as a badge of honor, I actually had a blog for a long time called the beautiful heresy. When I, when I discovered Christian universalism, I was like, Okay, if this is heresy, I'm all in. And, and I looked at it, we're in good company, they called Jesus a heretic, they said, you know, they said, Jesus cast out demons, you know, by the devil, so we're gonna condemn

Unknown Speaker  43:32  
it. Heresy just means basically, other, you're, you know, you're, you're not believing according to the status quo, and you're going against the flow. And, you know, I, early in my adulthood, when I was studying, you know, theology and all that I was very nervous about people discovering my heretical ideas or whatever. But, you know, it's, it's gotten to the point now, where I realized in order to be my authentic self, and to really pursue the truth and try to understand it, then that you're just going to be labeled that is, what's going to happen.

Brian Smith  44:19  
Yeah. And there's a topic I want to talk to you about, because I asked you for a list of topics and you put in the word deconstruction. First, I'm gonna explain to people that don't know I'd like for you to explain what deconstruction means to you, and why you think it's important.

Unknown Speaker  44:34  
So back in 2008, I was required or invited to go to invited with expectation to go, I was invited to go to a weekend workshop seminar on hermeneutics. And it was it was in the vineyard. And there was about I don't know, there might have been about a dozen of us at this So, you know, retreat center, and there was a theologian flown in and the whole, we were to read a stack of books on hermeneutics how to interpret the Bible. And they were all anti deconstruction. So the deconstruction movement is a philosophical movement began with Derrida, in France, French philosopher, basically where you question everything you question the text, you question the intent of the author, you you question how it's received, how it's transmitted, everything is questioned, and that there's no, there's no objective truth in the text. There's just so many layers and intentions and motives and you know, all kinds of things. And the whole point of the weekend was to turn us off or to warn us against deconstruction when it had the exact opposite effect on me, because I thought this is exactly how I'm experiencing my spirituality right now. And so and my approach to the Bible and everything because I grew up. The Bible was like, number one, I, I studied Greek and Hebrew, and Aramaic and theological, French, theological German, I was going to be a Bible scholar, and I started my PhD in Biblical Studies and you know, blah, blah, blah. I was totally in the deep end when it came to the Bible. But I was reading all this, I thought, all my questions about the Bible and everything in the faith, all I'm questioning everything, and deconstruction is a perfect word for it. Which just basically means instead of construction, building something, you're deconstructing, you're tearing it all down. And that's how I was experiencing my life spiritual journey. At that time, I was questioning everything and tearing everything down, not only to the foundations, but even the foundation itself. And so I started kind of using that word, and people were saying, you sound like a deconstructionist. And they meant it as an insult, but I took it as a compliment. But that was back in 2008. And I left the ministry 2010, because I was experiencing a lot of loneliness, as happens with people who leave the church. And I saw a lot of other people experiences and things, same thing. Excuse me, in 2012, I, I launched the lasting supper, my online community for people who are deconstructing and more and more people were using the word and so on and so forth, to the point now where everybody is using the word deconstruction, right? Yeah. And to describe the questioning of their beliefs, everything from you know, good. Was Jonah swallowed by a great fish all the way too? Is there a god? Right? So it can be everything anything? deconstruction is where you basically take apart your, your beliefs, or that your beliefs are being eroded somehow, for some reason. And so that I use that word deconstruction to describe that traumatic process. Yeah.

Brian Smith  48:25  
Yeah, traumatic events. Does she use that word? So did you ever find deconstruction to be scary?

Unknown Speaker  48:31  
Well, yeah, I mean, excuse me, I got a little thing in my mind, deconstruction began when I was graduating from seminary, I've read a I've been reading and here I was graduating with a coon Lada with a degree in a master's in New Testament studies. And I was heading for my PhD. And I've been doing some reading recently, though, where I started questioning the inspiration of Scripture. No, I was at an evangelical Seminary where the inspiration of Scripture was not only taught but assumed. And so the big the three big eyes infallible, inspired, and infallible, inspired and in, in, infallible inspired, and what's the third one? It's inspired, inerrant. And Eric's Yes, yes. And I was actually so shooken up, that my wife had to grab me by the shoulder to say, you got to go to graduation. I had my robe on and everything. And I was freaking out. Because for me, the inspiration of Scripture was the cornerstone of everything. Everything hinged on that all my beliefs on that because that's a source of my beliefs. So if the Bible is in question, then everything's in question. So my that's what's the beginning of My deconstruction and I was just maybe 23 years old, 24 years old. Wow. It finally culminated in when I experienced peace of mind finally, in 2009, how many years is that that's a long, long time. So my deconstruction was kind of like, a glacial melt that it just gradually, is like somebody inserted a corrupt code in my computer, and it just ate away and corrupted my files. Yeah, to the point where, and so there was a, like, I described it before, it was like this constant theological angst and underlying anxiety about what's true, and how can all this fit. And you know, and I delved into meditation and Buddhism, and Hinduism, and quantum physics and philosophy and Judea, I was trying, I was going everywhere, trying to figure out how to put all this together. So that my mind deconstruction was more of this underlying low grade fever experience all the way through my ministry. Whereas for others, it's like, I don't believe this anymore. I'm done. And that's it. Yeah, that was my, that wasn't my experience.

Brian Smith  51:25  
It's, it's different for everybody. And I want to ask you about being scared because it was for me, and I think it's, it is for a lot of people so much to the point where they won't even start, because I call it like, you built your your faith on a house of cards. It's like, it's like a house of cards. And if I pull one thing out, I think the whole thing is going to collapse. And I'll have nothing. And that was, that was my fear, you know, and I try to encourage people to say, you know, every time I've lost something, I've gained something else. When people ask me, like, where I am now, I'm like, my faith is stronger now than it's ever been. It's completely different. It's completely different. But it's, but now it's built on a solid foundation, as opposed to this house of cards.

Unknown Speaker  52:07  
It's interesting, the fears weird, but fear is a major factor that controls us. I do remember lying in my bed. One night, my wife's a nurse, she was working. And it was I just quit the ministry. And I was lying there in bed. And I was like, What am I done? What have I done? Like, what if I'm wrong, you know, that that and that cold, fear descended on me. And on the one hand, it's like, I don't believe any of that anymore. And yet, at the same time, I was scared. It's kind of like, as an adult, you know, I know, there's no monsters, but you go down that weird staircase into the basement and you know, once in a while your stomach flips. Right? It doesn't make any sense. It's not rational. But I have a lot of people reach out to me and say, What do I do with a sphere, like I'm afraid and it's like, you know, eventually it fades. But it's, it might echo once in a while, but it just, it'll fade to a whisper. And then finally, to a faint, Echo, and then finally, just an occasional echo. But, you know, it's just fear as a weird way of, you know, bursting to the surface again, even though there's no rational reason to be afraid.

Brian Smith  53:31  
Well, these things get embedded so deeply in us, then for me, I think it's always kind of there. So every once in awhile, one of the crazies will comment on one of my YouTube videos and says, You're leading people to hell. Or, you know, someone says, you know, because you don't believe there's a hell that means you're going to hell, you know, that little tiny voice in the back of your head goes, What if they're right? Yeah, but but then I've got so much more saying, yeah, no, that's crazy. That doesn't make any sense.

Unknown Speaker  54:01  
Yeah, I know. And then then, and then people say, Well, you're you're listening to the crowds, rather than the narrow way, you know, the few and elect, whatever, I get it all. I hear it all the time. But it comes to the place I was just emailing somebody this morning where they were expressing this fear. And for me, I shared with them. Once you realize there's nothing to fear, then everything's okay. You're free to be yourself. And you're free. To Be your authentic self and to believe what you want and to choose how to be spiritual. Once that fear is gone, once you realize there's nothing to fear, it's funny, you know that? I'm not I'm not sure if this is exactly true, but they say, Do not fear as is said 365 times in the Bible. I don't know if that's actually a factor or not. But I don't disbelieve it

Brian Smith  55:04  
said a lot. Number but it said a lot. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  55:08  
Do not be afraid Do not fear or whatever. And yet, fear is one of the primary tools religion uses to keep us under control, right? So if we can just abide by that those verses and say, You know what, I'm not going to be afraid anymore. And see what happens. And I tried that. And it is amazing when you're not afraid, and you realize nothing's going to you know that there's nothing to fear, then that peace of mind can grow.

Brian Smith  55:42  
Yeah. And I'm sure you get the will just read your Bible. Right? You get that from?

Unknown Speaker  55:48  
I get so much. I get it so much. Yeah. I'm like, I have cartoons about that. Actually, what they really mean is, you need to read the Bible, like I read the Bible. Exactly. Like you need to believe the Bible the same way I believe the Bible. Right? And but I, you know, I don't want to keep having to say, have you read my bio, like, seriously, I, I got all my Bibles from my teen years and everything, were all colored, underlined, and everything right margins. Plus, I have years of Biblical Greek years of biblical Hebrew, you know, Aramaic, even, and et cetera, et cetera. And you're telling me have a read for people. So I,

Brian Smith  56:33  
I laugh at it too, because I'm not as much as you but I've read the Bible a lot. And then I've read all these books about biblical history, you know, where the Bible came from it and then the castle knights, the Nicene, Council, and, and all this stuff, and constantly Constantine or whatever the dude's name was. So I'm like, the thing is, we I started kind of chuckling when you said, I started my deconstruction when when I was in seminary. That is like, a lot of pastors are not believers anymore. Once they go through seminary, they realize that this doesn't make any sense. But then they have to go preach it.

Unknown Speaker  57:06  
Yeah, I know, pastors who are in the ministry, who well, I know pastors who I remember being in a classroom, in my master's, and this guy, freaked out. And he said, I I don't believe this anymore. I just don't and like he was on on the eve of his ordination. Yeah. Like, I, I'm done. And he got up, and he went out of the classroom, but before he left, you turn the lights out. very symbolic gesture. Wow. And and then I do know, pastors who are in the ministry, who who aren't believers anymore, and they really struggle. And some though, they see it, my job is not to, I'm not there, girl, I'm here to encourage them to figure out their own faith. And, and I'm here to assist them in their own spiritual journey without judgment. I think that's valid. And then there's other pastors who are in the ministry, like you say, who don't believe anymore, and they really, really do struggle with having to get up every week and pretend. And so that I feel a lot of empathy for them.

Brian Smith  58:27  
Yeah, me too. So tell me a little bit more about your the lasting separate community, is that an online community? How does that work? It's a Facebook group, or how does how does it work?

Unknown Speaker  58:38  
Well, it's undergoing renovations right now. But how it all started was, we had online forums, I've decided I don't like online forums, too clunky and old fashioned for me. But I send out a weekly letter, we would have like a weekly or monthly webinars like route things, we'd call them zoom meetings now where have live or Facebook Lives or whatever, we have a private Facebook group. And then, but a new feature that I'm adding is I have a whole bunch of courses around deconstruction, so on that I'm going to, instead of trying to promote my courses separately, I'm going to make them a part of the lacing supper package. So it's going to be quite a quite a big deal. And I've got a lot of work to do to get make it work. But you know, there's a couple 100 members now I don't want it to get huge. I like the smallness and manageability of it. Facilitating moderating online community is a full time job. It's it's really a lot of work. And with more Are people there are the more work it is? So I need to figure out that aspect how we're going to do that. Yeah, yeah.

Brian Smith  1:00:06  
So I just feel like it's recently since I follow you on Facebook that you do you also do a commission artwork right people do people like the cartoons you'll do a commission work for them.

Unknown Speaker  1:00:15  
Yeah, I do. I do Commission's on paintings, and also on cartoons, and also tattoos. So I'm always working on a commissioned piece. So I have a lot of fun with that. But yeah, I get requests quite often to do commission work.

Brian Smith  1:00:38  
So I'm curious where you are in your spiritual journey. Now, do you still identify as Christian? Or how do you identify?

Unknown Speaker  1:00:47  
Well, I don't, this is also a theme of my cartoons is that I'm not interested in labels. So the contents of a can doesn't need to know what it is it knows what it is. labels for those on the side. And so often, people come and say, What's your label? Because they want to they there's a lot of anxiety behind that wanting to know, how do I talk to you? Yeah, yeah, I don't relate to you. What slot do I put you in? Exactly. I no longer feel that compulsion to figure out what kind of label the person is. And and so what I tell people is that my home is in Christianity, but I have cottages everywhere. Christianity is definitely my family of origin. I respect my roots and appreciate my roots, but I don't let them limit me either. And then Christianity, Christian theology and so on is definitely a part of my DNA. But that's not all of me. And and so that's pretty much what I say, when people ask me that question, ya know, I'm very comfortable. I know there's a church that's about an hour away, when at least I can get there, we'll go we'll hang out. I have no problem with fellowshipping with anybody, you know, except maybe white supremacist, etc. And not maybe definitely. So to me, that's, that's how I answer that question. Yeah, the label is facing outward. I no longer feel I need to label others. When they asked me, What's the label? It's usually a long answer, just like the one I gave you.

Brian Smith  1:02:43  
I think that's perfectly fair. Because you're right people. I just wanted to ask questions. See how you responded to it. You know, I was, there are a couple of churches that I still really like. And I was talking to someone the other day, they said, they were looking for a community. And I'm like, I like the unity. And I like UCC United Church of Christ. Those are the last two churches that I attended when I was going to church. But I asked the pastor at the Unity Church one day, I said, we were sitting in a little get together. I said, Would you call us a Christian church? And she gave me an answer that was just as long as the one you just gave, which I loved. Because it's like the the roots are still in the gospel. They do read gospel every day, or every week, every Sunday. But they also read from other spiritual traditions. They're like, you don't have to believe in Jesus. If you do. That's great. If you want to be an atheist, and come here, that's fine. So I love that answer. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  1:03:32  
Yeah, I went to a Unitarian Universalist Church locally here for a while, but ended up closing. Yeah, but yeah, it was it was weird. Because it was the exact opposite of my experience in the vineyard where there was a lot of obsessive compulsive behavior to constantly be talking about God and in the Unitarian Universalist Church there seem to be a lot of compulsive obsessive compulsive not wanting to mention God Yeah, yeah. What about weird kind of a two sides of the same coin but

Brian Smith  1:04:10  
yeah, it's it's interesting and I got always because there's Unity does United Church of Christ is Universalist, Unitarian. There's a there's all so that you have to be very careful when you use it these labels because they are very, they can be very different sometimes. But yeah, it's you know, I like I said, I appreciate your answers to that question. I struggle. I still I'm a follower of Jesus. I love Jesus. I expect when I die, I could possibly see Jesus. I think he's a an incredible figure that's unique somehow. But I don't like the label Christian because of what it's become. So I don't identify as Christian anymore. I finally get to the point where I'm comfortable saying that it's like it's too complicated to give all the caveats.

Unknown Speaker  1:04:54  
So interesting somebody today I Uh, I'll do cartoons about evangelicalism or whatever. And so for example, I did a cartoon a while ago of, there's a church and there's a big church sign out front in the yard that says first evangelical Christian church. And Jesus is walking away at nighttime and Jesus is walking away with a spray can and he's spirit sprayed out, Christian. Hmm. And because I think evangelicalism that word, evangelical evangelicalism has been beaten up beyond recognition of what's happening in the, you know, with the right wing kind of stuff. And evangelical used to be a fairly respected kind of theological movement, right? Yeah. But it's lost that I mean, it's, it's lost that now it's, it's an object of scorn now, and this person was still trying to defend evangelical and the root word means good news and blah, blah, right? More power to you, man. But uh, you know, maybe a resurrection in the future but right now evangelical that whole word and everything associated with it is in the garbage. It's beyond recognition.

Brian Smith  1:06:23  
I agree. How far can you stretch it into that same thing? For me? How can I keep the fenders the same but but that's not the true evangelical that's not the true this you know? I want to um, I was kind of myself a fundamentalist because I'm like, I'm going back to what I believe Jesus believed. But fundamentalism has been you know, corrupted. So I'm just I'm like you now I'm like, I don't have a like I tell people I practice Brian ism. I studied Buddhism. Brian ism, it's about what I what I what I put together. Exact opposite what they told me in Sunday school, it's like I've studied Hinduism, Kabbalah, you know, Buddhism, the little bit of Islam, Christianity, quantum physics, you know, near death experiences, wherever I can find truth is what I study.

Unknown Speaker  1:07:12  
So for me the the more I read and listen and so on, when you when you read Christian mystics, for example, Meister Eckhart are the Cloud of Unknowing or any other Christian mystics. Some people might refer to Richard Rohr, or some some people like Thomas Merton, and then you you you read some quantum physics Karlova, Rovelli, you know, his his work on on physics and so on. David Boehm, I just read a biography of Einstein, by Isaacson fascinating, I mean, they they would most people were playing, they were all atheists, but, and then you read some philosophy like Slavoj ejack, who's a living philosopher right now, or Hegel, or, you know, others, it's like the, when, when you read across this sort of diverse spectrum, they seem to be sort of talking the same kind of language, you know, and they might not agree with one another. But I'm hearing overtones, I'm hearing the same theme. There's a common thread through mysticism and science and philosophy and so on, that's where I'm at. And when, when when somebody tries to pull it down into Christian theology, it it limits it, it loses its breadth and universal, you know, appeal. So that that for me, I'm like you the Christian. It needs to I think Christianity needs to seriously I don't know how it's gonna do it. Seriously reexamined itself, because it's, for many people, Christianity is based in some might say, Christ, or Jesus, whatever. But for many, it's based in the Great Commission, which is basically a colonialist ik attitude towards the world. How are you going to undo that?

Brian Smith  1:09:29  
And so yeah, I think it's, I hate to say I think it's beyond redemption. And I was talking to my daughter yesterday, we're talking about the the labels Christian and my daughter's 25. And she's like, she's not she doesn't identify as Christian at all. And I was like, everybody loves Jesus. Jesus is universally loved. Everybody loves Jesus, Jews, everybody, atheists. Everybody loves Jesus, but Christianity is not so much. So I don't know. I don't know how it's gonna work out. I've I've just I've walked away. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  1:09:59  
yeah. Yeah, well, I hear you. Yeah, my kids are the same. They wouldn't identify as Christian. Yeah. They identify as spiritual however.

Brian Smith  1:10:08  
Right. Exactly, exactly. But David, I really appreciate your time. It's been really great getting to know you tell people where they can find out more about you.

Unknown Speaker  1:10:17  
Well, naked pasture.com That's my home base. That's base camp, and everything there on naked pasture and all social media, from you know, Twitter, to Facebook, to LinkedIn, to Instagram to Tik Tok to YouTube. And naked pasture.com though is where you can find everything you can sign up for my weekly newsletters. I've got all my cartoons are on there for prints or are or tattoos or whatever. So, yeah, that's my home base.

Brian Smith  1:10:48  
Again, thanks for doing this. Thanks so much. It's really been a pleasure meeting you.

Unknown Speaker  1:10:52  
Yeah, likewise, thanks for having me on.

Brian Smith  1:10:56  
Don't forget to like, hit that big red subscribe button and click the notify Bell. Thanks for being here.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

David Hayward Profile Photo

David Hayward

Deconstructionist

David Hayward was ordained to the ministry in 1987 and left in 2010.

He’s been running the nakedpastor blog since 2005, where he posts provocative cartoons and articles.

He launched an online community called The Lasting Supper, a place for people to change without being judged or instructed and where they can learn to become spiritually independent.

He’s been cartooning, making art, writing, speaking, and coaching around his core passions: personal, authentic freedom, the power to change our lives, and the creative spirit to make our world a better place.

He and his wife live in eastern Canada. They have three adult children.