words words words

words have an amazing power

I was surprised at myself while I was drawing this cartoon. I got rather emotional. Why? Because I didn’t make this up! All these words have been spoken to me. And when I thought about it, I could count on one hand the people who were actually interested in my intellectual and theological journey that got me to where I am. Most, however, see such a journey not as a progression but as a recession or a digression. Backsliding! And they’re not interested in these stories.

I’ve survived the gauntlet of negative words, some of which carry the power of actual cursing. And such words continue to fly daily in my direction.

However, one eventually learns how to handle them.

Own the original drawing! Or buy a print of this cartoon.

"Nice vid David - hilarious! We'll miss you and wish you all the best! (and ..."

nakedpastor’s goodbye video to patheos
"Good idea! I look forward to exciting developments at your own site. I like Patheos, ..."

nakedpastor’s goodbye video to patheos

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • James

    This cartoon is incredible! All of those comments resonate with me. It was the wonderful feeling that all of these comments were just empty words and couldn’t stop me that kept me going. I don’t miss Christianity at all…

    Thank you so much for making these. I never expect to see you saying what you do 🙂

  • I notice one possibly genuine question did sneak in there – WHY?

  • My own family said some of these to me this week.

  • Marty Carney

    Ah…. and so, as the mystic John O’Donohue puts it, the power of even just one word to “bless the space between us.”

  • I have had this experience. When you are a Church of Scientology minister who leaves, people are much uglier than this. But the bonus is you get to find out who the real friends are (and there are a few) from THAT bunch, plus a whole bunch of new friends. Like Bette Midler says,
    “Standing at the end of the road, boys
    Waiting for my new friends to come
    I don’t care if I’m hungry or bored
    I’m gonna get me some of them.
    Cause you got to have friends ……..
    [La la la la la la la la la]

  • “The last days”? David, I did not know you were one of the signs of the apocalypse!

    Oh, wait, it says here in Revelation 76:54, “And there shall appear in those last days a Pastor, and he shall be Naked. And he shall draw cartoons, and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

  • haha susanna… i haven’t read that scripture until today!! 🙂

  • DC

    I wrote an entire BOOK about my journey and discovery and my family refuses to read it.

    Def. can relate to this one!

  • Amy

    no words…just tears

  • sorry amy

  • Chelle

    Sadly, I can relate to this and so many of your cartoons. Keep putting it out there, and challenging people to think.

  • Nice. Glad to see you made it out alive 🙂

  • Jacquie

    I haven’t necessarily had all these words spoken directly to me….but they’re in my head anyhow as they were preached at us often enough.

    Glad to have moved away from all that abuse!

  • Connie

    I used to hang my head down while in church, sort of like the woman in the cartoon. Even back then, my body was feeling the weight of the words being preached and telling me it was getting too heavy to bear. I’m just now realizing this as I contemplate your message, David.

    Another great insight, as always!

  • Mama Eva

    wow…. there must be a lot of “perfect” stone-throwers out there….FUNNY! I have never met any! 😉

  • Wayne

    Thanks for pastoring us during a difficult transition within the faith. I find myself like Saul – I’ve joined the group that I persecuted.

  • Wow, David. This one has a powerful message. Just… wow.

  • Shane

    Backsliding isn’t backsliding if you’re facing the wrong direction. I’d call that progress. Just tell them you aren’t backsliding, you’re moonwalking. 🙂

  • Christelle

    This is awesome. I’ve heard these as well… and then some… Thx for speaking for those like us…

  • camille

    I have not had these words spoken to me, but I suspect that if I tell people how much my views on the Christian faith and religion as a whole has changed, that I will hear an endless loop of these by those I love most

  • Helen

    I’m a bit like camille – and the few times that I have made mention of my faith (or lack thereof, or questioning, or differences, whatever you want to call it). I’ve been sent literature (books and old yellowing tracts – scarey stuff) or asked “what’s wrong with you?”. It’s from well-meaning, lovely people. I’ve stopped sharing, as I just can’t take any more of the “how do you know you are saved?” tracts. Not just in the church, but in wider society, we are expected to manufacture our emotions and pretend everything’s alright. The price you pay for being honest and authentic is those ‘kill me kindly’ (and not so kindly) words. You know, this picture needs to be handed out to all the naysayers, as they are cursing and not blessing.

  • Heron Feather

    It’s been 25 years now — 1/3 of my life — since I became a non-Christian. I don’t hear very many of these comments any more… Most of what I get is the sincere query about why one makes such a change. Guess what I’m saying is … It Gets Better.

  • Mad =^..^= (AKA ccws)

    A couple of my favorite real-life humdingers:

    “But are you YIELDED?”


    “God doesn’t need thinkers!”

  • Carol

    I will never forget one Sunday School class when we shared our concepts of Heaven and my Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor looked straight at me and said, “And you won’t have any more questions!”

    I wouldn’t count on it. Omniscience is a Divine, not a human attribute and as long as there is something that I do not know I WILL have questions.

    The beginning of wisdom is knowing that you do not know ~Socrates

  • This really hits the mark. You get to a certain point, and you seem to stop being a person. You’re just a cipher to be swayed one way or another, with arguments and guilt trips being thrown at you from all sides.

    When was the last time you saw a website covering belief which said “on the one hand, this, but on the other hand…”?

  • Carol

    When was the last time you saw a website covering belief which said “on the one hand, this, but on the other hand…”?

    Wasn’t that the gist of Tevya’s theology in Fiddler on the Roof?

    Dualistic, either/or thinking always leaves us with a half-truth, the worst kind of lie.

    In Judaism it was possible simultaneously to ascribe change of purpose to God and to declare that God did not change, without resolving the paradox; for the immutability of God was seen as the trustworthiness of covenanted relation to his people in the concrete history of his judgment and mercy, rather than as a primarily ontological category. –Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition—Vol. 1.

    And teaches us to say yes
    And allows us to be both-and
    And keeps us from either-or
    And teaches us to be patient and long suffering
    And is willing to wait for insight and integration
    And keeps us from dualistic thinking
    And does not divide the field of the moment
    And helps us to live in the always imperfect now
    And keeps us inclusive and compassionate toward everything
    And demands that our contemplation become action
    And insists that our action is also contemplative
    And heals our racism, our sexism, heterosexism, and our classism
    And keeps us from the false choice of liberal or conservative
    And allows us to critique both sides of things
    And allows us to enjoy both sides of things
    And is far beyond any one nation or political party
    And helps us face and accept our own dark side
    And allows us to ask for forgiveness and to apologize
    And is the mystery of paradox in all things
    And is the way of mercy
    And makes daily, practical love possible
    And does not trust love if it is not also justice
    And does not trust justice if it is not also love
    And is far beyond my religion versus your religion
    And allows us to be both distinct and yet united
    And is the very Mystery of Trinity

    Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

  • Syl

    So familiar…

    There are a few that I specifically recall:

    You shouldn’t ask those kinds of questions – questions are from the devil and you’re in his grip.

    You just want to take the easy road and do your own thing without answering to God.

    What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you say “praise the Lord”? If you’re right with Jesus you’ll say “praise the Lord”. I want to hear you say “praise the Lord”.

    (Sniff, sob, choke) But, but I don’t want you to go to hell… I want you to be in heaven with me. (Sniff, sob, choke) Followed by pursed lips, furrowed brow and “But that’s your choice”

    These were when I was:
    a) A new Christian eager to learn about the bible, when I asked an honest question of a pastor about something I didn’t understand. (15 years old).
    b) A long-time believer who was burned out on church phoniness and dogma – because of my honest faith, not because of a loss of faith. (early 30’s)
    c) Being sincere, enthusiastic, and polite in offering congratulations to a family member on an accomplishment, but no longer willing or able to put on spiritual airs just to meet expectations. (40’s)
    d) Attempting to diplomatically and gently answer pointed questions from a family member who insisted on probing into my current “spiritual state” – response upon learning that I no longer share her literal view of the bible and am comfortable with saying “I don’t know” or “probably not” to questions concerning god in general and Jesus in particular. (50’s)

    It does get easier over time, moving from insulting to hurtful to infuriating to aggravating to mildly exasperating but generally expected.

    Thank you for posting this David.

  • hey syl. thanks for your thoughtful response.

  • caitriona dalton

    havn’t heard these in a while but could relate to all off them. i also remember “who’s your covering?”, “a lone sheep gets attacked by the wolf”, “an ember away from the fire will go out” “the bible says we must submit” lol.. the are world wide christian cliches

  • stunning. 🙁