a fundamentalist

a fundamentalist cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“A Fundamentalist” (ink and pencil on paper, 8″x8″)

(*Several of my original cartoon drawings are available, as well as prints. Email me if interested.)

What I think is really interesting about this cartoon is that many people believe this is the way it should be.

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  • Gary

    David, your comment is just as perfect as your illustration.

    Having spent some 40 years of my life in the company of “bible believing” fundamentalists I can say they not only believe it…they will ardently attack and condemn any who would suggest it should be any other way.

  • thanks gary. i’m looking forward to the reaction to this one.

  • Someone should cut those chains … Jesus would, if he could. But they don’t let him come close enough, I guess.

  • Tom Hunter

    Don’t you think that everyone is a fundamentalist about something? For instance: I am utterly confident that fundamentalism is wrong; I am positively convinced that the Bible is a collection of middle eastern cultic writings and definitely not a moralistic telescope into the future. I am a fundamentalist about my liberal interpretation of Scripture, and so on. Today even Roman Catholics are fundamentalists … your image could also show a sad believer handcuffed to the boney wrist of the Pope.

  • Oh I’m a Bible believer…but sometimes I wonder if it says what we think it says. Luke the part my sister tried to quote me about how a woman should have long hair. Paul came right out and said that neither he nor the church had any such customs…I wonder if he was trying to correct one of those false letters. Idk, but I like buzzing my head in the summer…it feels wonderful and I know Jesus doesn’t care! Lol

  • Good drawing David – what some see as security others see as a prison.

  • “Let thy bible,like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee…”

  • Mark

    I was once in this camp, and to some degree, still feel there must be a reference for personal Christian faith to be based on. That being said, legalism, absolutes beyond basic issues, problems with universalizing Bible historical times issues to today, misinterpretation of things past to things future (dispensationalism good example) all are rooted in being so locked into the Bible and one groups teaching of that Bible, over another.

  • Davey

    Chained to the wind we are 🙂

  • Rhonda Sayers

    Being a fundamentalist is breaking one of the 10 commandments imo…. “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Ex 20:3

    The bible is not the fourth person of the trinity. It has some inspiring stories and wisdom, but so does a lot of other writings.

  • One of the universal lessons and binding threads that can be gleaned from the Bible is that we are to constantly strive and look for ways to grow in our understanding and practice of the love and grace of God. God does not want our understanding to be static or stuck in one place. The Bible is constantly calling us and urging us to journey forward to a better and enlarging and enriching and more inclusive and more mature understanding of what God wants for us and for this planet. God is always calling us from Exodus to the Promised Land. God is always calling us from Exile to return home. Biblical lessons are illustrated by two types of life examples: those we are to emulate, such as the Good Samaritan, and those we are to avoid.

    The message heard through the entire Bible; as the prophets repeatedly admonished the people of Israel and as Jesus preached and taught the Disciples and crowds, what God wants is not the enforcement of the letter of the Torah. What God wants is that we embrace and live the spirit of the Torah. God does not want a community whose purpose is focused on sin and legalism, on exclusion and punishment. God wants a community whose existence and purpose is based on and focused on and defined by justice and compassion. God does not want individuals who are legally obedient and ritually clean. God wants individuals who are generous and hospitable and who, in a healthy and wise way, serve those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, hurt, imprisoned, enslaved, oppressed, lost – and those who just arrived and do not know the way.

  • John Sennett

    Sadly, They would totally agree and wonder why you would guestion it. I guess they would say,it would be our lack of ‘faith’.

  • Mike

    Right on David.

  • Liza

    A caption for the photo, if I may add;

    “The truth shall set you free”

    “Loose the chains that bind you!”

    This photo and message put to mind the many preachers I have seen who hold their huge, cross-reference, page-tabbed Bibles out in front of them and wave it around, claiming this scripture says this and that scripture says that, either taking things too literally or teaching incorrectly due to mistranslations.

    I used to think I could trust what they were preaching because, I mean, Hey! They went to theology school, after all. They must know better then I. I hungered to know God better and all they did was fill me with precepts, teach me that God rewards us according to our works and they talk with 2 mouths. I was always so confused! They would say “it is not works that saves us” but then teach that works are what makes God happy! What? They teach: “The children of Israel insisted that a man lead them even though God was always telling them ‘I will lead you'” But then also teach that we need the pastoral staff to lead us, even calling themselves sheppards!

    I was always afraid to challenge what I was being taught…guilt, fear…the things they ALSO teach. I just couldn’t take it anymore and stopped going to church. I also haven’t lifted my Bible since then, either. Why? It’s full of mistranslations that I have heard time and time again and never got the true meaning of or incorrect teachings have made them null and void to me. So I told God, “You lead me. You show me what it means to be a Christian. We will work on this relationship one day and a time. I won’t pressure myself or allow the guilt trips. You help me get rid of these negative voices in my head that have been placed there via all the negative experiences in churches. Show me how to serve you. Teach me. Unteach me. Prune me.”

    It hasn’t been easy. Change never is. But it sure has been worth it. I had a rough childhood. Thoughts of suicide plagued me my whole life. All the years of being in church never got me closer to God. I always thought it was something I was doing and never grew. I haven’t given up on my faith. Not going to church and not reading the Bible in no way means that I am lost or backsliding. (don’t show up for even one service and that is what people will think) Recent circumstances, including some “desert time” have helped me get past the thoughts of suicide. I’m never alone. God is with me all the time. And when he knows I need a little extra help, he puts just the right person in my path at just the right time; his time!

    I want others to experience this freedom and peace. That is why I share my story. People need to know that if they aren’t growing in church then it’s OK to seek God out on your own. I have been a Christian for about 25 years and this is the first time in my life that I know for certain that I am OK in God’s eyes. He taught me that.

  • Carol

    It is not the bible that chains us, we forge our own chains or accept the chains forged by others.

    Scripture is a means of grace; not an object to be worshipped. Bibliolatry and Ecclesiolatry are overwhelmingly present in formal/instutionalized Christianity/Churchianity.

  • Liza

    We make our chains, period. If you smoke and want to quit, but it’s difficult, that is a chain.

    When it comes to the Bible, my experience in churches has been that they believe it is the direct Word of God and teach people to fear it. Nevermind that it is filled with errors because it is a translated Bible. If people were to look up scriptures as they were originally written in the Tanakh, they would find where errors had taken place during translation.

    I see the Bible as a combination of lessons. Some of it is history, like a lot of Old Testament stories…or as some read, “His Story” because there are prophesies of coming of Christ. But when a church tries to teach people that we have to live according to the way they lived then, they are in error. We are free from the law. The law wasn’t just about sin. It was so much more then that. There were examples of what Jesus would mean to us, like the precise way a lamb was sacrificed. There were “abominations” that were really just God’s way of having his followers live separate from the nations and peoples around them. I mean, even the Egyptians had their own set of abominations, such as not sitting to eat with the Hebrew people because they ate sheep and sheep were sacred to the Egyptians.

    Yet, churches want to stand on their beliefs that we are supposed to live according to what was written. In all actuality, it could be taught that we are to just live separately, period. And that would be an individual thing, as in no one should try to make all people live the same way. Yet that is what so many churches do. And they will use the Bible to back them.

    This produces chains. I dropped that chain as soon as I stopped going to church. I want to hear directly from God about things. I pray all the time for him to teach me. And he does. Maybe one day I will pick up a Bible again. Maybe not. I just live in today and don’t worry about it. I don’t fear lightening striking me anymore. (as in, OH NO, you aren’t doing this or that…be afraid…be VERY afraid…God is watching…and judging…!!!) All I ever feel now is God’s love. When I am in error…I still feel God’s love. Bible lessons weren’t teaching me that.

    I had a real hunger for God. I really wanted to get close to him and did all I was told to do from church staff telling me how to do that with the Bible. It never worked. It was a chain. A heavy one.

  • This is perfect. I used to be theologicaly attacked everyday by a group of fundamentalists at work. They would gang up on me because
    i was Catholic and they wanted to “save” me from the Church. It was so frustrating debating them because all they would accept was the Bible. They wouldn’t listen to tradition, writings from the saints, experience, or common sense. Heaven forbid I bring up science. Once when I told them my idea of how to interperet scripture one older gentleman really freaked out and said, “that’s why they call you the man of lawlessness!” and scuried off. He called me the antichrist, not because I don’t believe in Jesus, but because I don’t read the Bible the same way he does. Fundamentalists seem to have the least amount of faith. They require proof from the scripture. They disect it like a scientist disects a specimen, and their services are just pep-rallies for Jesus, “We have Spirit!” I do believe most of them mean well, they are just blind. I don’t know if they were raised that way or if some preacher did it to them or what. The worst part is the bad name they give all Christians. People don’t give Jesus a chance because they don’t want to be like THOSE people, and I understand.

  • Rhonda Sayers

    I have been inspired to rewrite a verse 😉

    1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a fundamentalists, I talked like a fundamentalists, I thought like a fundamentalists, I reasoned like a fundamentalists. When I became free indeed, I put the ways of fundamentalism behind me.

  • Caryn LeMur

    May I offer that Jesus was at the core, a fundamentalist – He used scriptures concerning Noah and Jonah as if those scriptures were valid and authentic.

    However, it seems that Jesus had three ‘most important’ lenses when viewing the scriptures: mercy, faithfulness, and social justice [Matt 23:23].

    Jesus lived out the mercy of God: welcoming, touching, being a companion, rejoicing with others, giving unconditionally of Himself and His time to those that sought Him.

    Jesus encouraged faithfulness – staying in the game of pursuing God – even in a Roman centurion that owned a slave.

    Jesus gave to the poor so often that, when He gave money to Judas (on the night He was betrayed), it was assumed the money was for the poor.

    May I suggest that being chained to the Bible is quite ok… it is the lens by which we prioritize God’s themes that deeply matters.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Pat Pope

    “What I think is really interesting about this cartoon is that many people believe this is the way it should be.”

    That IS scary.

  • I love my Bible. And there is a new Lutheran Study Bible. Very nice.


    The link is for the particular size that I find most comfortable for reading. I’ve tried a number of sizes. The compact works if I put my glasses on the top of my head and put my eyes really close.

    There are many law/gospel points spread through the commentary, which I find helpful and lovely. It is so important to get law/gospel right, or else you end up just with some rulebook hanging over your head.

    There is also much commentary straight from Luther and Chemnitz, etc. So, we don’t have to keep saying: I’ve read Luther… and then make him responsible for everything from Communism to Mysticims, to chose your favorite thing that you want him to back you up with. There are some actual quotes, all over the place.

    Really, you will love the Bible, if the gospel is what moves your heart. If the mercy offered to you in its pages and the promised Messiah matter to you, you will love your Bible.

  • Dan

    Always love your art and thinking……

    I do personally feel an attachment to the Bible, but not as chains. I see the Bible more as if it was a large balloon, and I am attached to the balloon (kind of like your drawing) but instead of it burdening one down, it is lifting you and taking you on adventures and to mysterious places. As I believe the Spirit of God inspired the entire Bible and I do want to follow it’s teachings and guidance (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

    Thanks for your creativity!

  • Dan

    here’s a very fast 2 minute drawing of what came to mind about the Bible in a positive way after looking at this comic piece about the Bible and being chained by it – http://on.fb.me/T3uwGS

    It is so sad when people have only experienced the fundamentalist approach to the Bible…. thanks for your art and expressing your thinking!

  • Fundamentalism is about neither religion nor politics, neither theology nor philosophy, neither knowledge nor ignorance.

    Fundamentalism uses the culture, rituals, sacraments, texts, language, and metaphors and allusions and symbols (verbal, visual, musical, etc.) of religion in blind adherence to a dogma as defined and interpreted by a person or group who is self-aggregating and self-justifying raw personal power for the sole purpose of controlling the lives of others.

  • hey dan. ya thanks. cool drawing!

  • shelly

    The 66 books that make up the Bible were put together by fallible men. Who is to say that any of the texts that didn’t make it weren’t divinely inspired? In my opinion, it seems like the views of the Nicene Council in this matter are elevated as to being God’s view when, for all anyone knows, God may not have had a say-so in it at all. *nods* Let’s also remember that when Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:16, the Biblical canon had not been compiled yet.

    Meanwhile, some additional food for thought from a passage in Hebrews…

    For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:7-12; emphasis added)

    I don’t see anything in there about compiling a bunch of little-ish books into one big book to be bought or sold, or left in hotel rooms.

  • I have some old letters that my wife wrote me when we were dating. I hang onto them. But I don’t love those letters. I love her.

    The letters speak of the love that she has for me. But the love she has is more than paper and ink on a page, although paper and ink is one of the ways that she expresses that love to me.

  • If I were going to be stuck on a deserted island and I could only bring 5 of these things;

    extra socks
    ball of string
    book of matches

    I would leave the Bible off the list. Because I pretty much already know what is in there, anyway, and survival would be the first order of the day.

  • Gary

    Do not try to break the chain — that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no chain.

    Quote shamelessly adapted from The Matrix

  • Kris

    Good illustration…we often end up worshiping the book instead of learning how to live as Jesus would have wanted us to.

  • Jim

    Well, I am more wondering if it is a denigration of the scriptures or the corporate interpretations? Nothing of the cartoon is symbolic of tradition but rather appears to say that there is no freedom in the scriptures (as truth). I’ll grant you that man’s traditions make of no effect the word of God as Jesus said. But He said is word is spirit and His word is truth. How could attempts to monopolize the scriptures from the individual alter whether or not the scripture is or is not truth and does or does not hold freedom if its knowledge is discovered? As Jesus said, if you continue in my Word, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Its just the way is strikes me and still to this line, do no know what its true intent is. Shouldn’t a cartoon be self-explanatory or at least have enough text to state its meaning?

  • Carol

    Shelly, most people think of *idols* as something evil. Actually, an idol is anything that has replaced God as first in our hearts.

    The “good” is often the enemy of the “best.” We settle for the comfort and pleasure of the lesser goods in life rather than pursue the Greatest Good, which is a transformational relationship with God. It us more often something that is only a relative good rather than something intrinsically evil.

    Knowing the bible is the milk of our relationship with God, knowing Christ is the meat of our relationship with God.

    ISTM that the first few paragraphs in the Westminster Confession tend to confuse Christ, the Living Word, with Scripture, the written word. There is no wonder that bibliolatry is so common among Reformed Evangelicals.

    Used correctly, as a means of Grace rather than an object of faith, both Sacrament and Bible point beyond themselves to the Ultimate Reality of the Living God.

  • Carol

    Caryn, I don’t agree that Jesus was a fundamentalist.

    Yes, he believed that the scriptures were valid and authentic; but he interpreted them mythologically rather than literally. This makes a big difference in how we interpret the sacred writings in any religious Tradition.

    Rationalism has given us a very simplistic understanding of myth: A myth is not something that never happened, it is something that happens all the time. The historical circumstances may have changed but the dynamic behind the mythological truth remains the same, only the time, place and actors have changed. In Freudian psychology, the human behavior revealed by the myth would be called repetitive compulsion.

    The fundamentalist approaches the scripture with literalistic logic. The Jesus approached scripture with a mythological imagination that relied as much on intuition as logic.

    Intuition gives our minds access to the voice of the non-physical world, the voice of God. The mysteries of faith must be apprehended by faith before they can be comprehended by reason. We can only find truth with reason if we have first found truth without it.

    That is why a true theologian is someone who prays to God; not someone who studies theology.

  • Carol


    “As one of the [UU] denomination’s many itinerant clergy, he [Hosea Ballou] was riding the circuit in the New Hampshire hills with a Baptist preacher one afternoon. They argued theology as they traveled. At one point, the Baptist looked over and said, ‘Brother Ballou, if I were a Universalist and feared not the fires of hell, I could hit you over the head, steal your horse and saddle, and ride away, and I’d still go to heaven.’ Hosea Ballou looked over at him and said, ‘If you were a Universalist, the idea would never occur to you.’” ~ told by the Rev. Elizabeth Strong

    There are three religious truths: 1) Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. 2) Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian faith. 3) Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store or at Hooters. ~Source Unknown

  • Carol

    Liza, even if the Bible were “inerrant” our all too human interpretation of it isn’t. So, IMO, the entire theological pissing contest over biblical inerrancy is moot.

  • Jim: no.

  • Gary

    You were right David. This has generated some great discussion. This may well be one of my two or three favorite cartoons you have ever drawn.

  • ya, thanks gary

  • Liza

    I don’t completely believe the Tanahk is 100% accurate, and I didn’t mean for it to sound that way. I don’t believe one religion (or Non-Denominational church) has all the answers. I believe there is something from everything that can add up to something that is valuable in life.

    The problem with anyone holding so tight to the Bible (as if chained to it the way this illustration demonstrates) is that they are short-sighted. Everything is the Devil to them. I am open to learn from different resources, such as the Tanahk, with guidance from God. I also believe Siddhartha the Buddha had some valuable lessons about life that all could benefit from. I was merely pointing out that the Bible isn’t the only way to learn about God or the mysteries of the universe, or whatever.

    I never felt free to be who I am in church because according to what they teach in the Bible I am cursed, have a demon, or something else. For instance, I believe that God set up sun signs. I don’t believe it is an evil practice to understand how sun signs work. I have figured out for myself that there is a lot of truth to the fact that if you were born on a certain day and at a certain time that you have a particular kind of personality; that sun signs are his great design and we are exactly as he created us to be. I believe we are capable of communicating, with our minds, with others who are far away. I have done it. And I don’t feel like it was an evil thing to do. If people only realized the potential they have they would be able to help others in more ways then they know.

    There are songs that I remember listening to when I first got saved that come to memory now that I really didn’t grasp the complete meaning of at the time, but now I’m like…Oh, wow! Life Steve Taylor’s “I Want to be a Clone” and “Whatcha Gonna do When Your Number’s Up?” were popular (and controversial then). The lyric “You’re so open-minded that your brains leaked out” was always reminding me of what churches were telling me; that based on the Bible almost everything we do outside of what the church teaches and does, is evil. I can only speak from my own experience. What I have been through and who I am is not relatable to everyone. But whoever is meant to hear it, will hear it.

  • Carol

    Lisa, I agree that it is one thing to say that you have found the fullest Divine Revelation in your Religious Tradition and claiming that your religion is the only Source of Divine Revelation.

    I believe somewhere in the Gospel of John Jesus stated that he had sheep in other sheepfolds. I cannot believe that the Creator/Sustainer of the world waited until the Christian/Common Era to make Him/Herself manifest in the world.

    Mother Teresa stated it as I see it:

    “There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people. We have among us 475 souls – 30 families are Catholics and the rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs—all different religions. But they all come to our prayers.”
    –Mother Teresa

    “There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ:
    Jesus is my God,
    Jesus is my Spouse,
    Jesus is my Life,
    Jesus is my only Love,
    Jesus is my All in All;
    Jesus is my Everything.”
    ~ Mother Teresa

  • Carol

    That should be “did not wait” until the Incarnation to make His/Her Presence known in the world.

  • Liza

    Jesus is my God,
    Jesus is my Spouse,
    Jesus is my Life,
    Jesus is my only Love,
    Jesus is my All in All;
    Jesus is my Everything

    I like that. As I grow closer to him he becomes something more in my life. 🙂

  • Jim


    What is meant by “no”? Are you saying, no it is not a denigration of the scriptures, or “no” it does not lend itself to that interpretation? Both can be a problem if you want to make a point and to be understood in that point.

  • i meant “no” a cartoon shouldn’t always be self-explanatory. if i can’t make you laugh or cry, maybe i can make you think. or just say “i don’t get it!” and move on. all is good.

  • Gary

    How would this cartoon be a “denigration of the scriptures”?

  • It is interesting to me that both fundamentalists and liberals agree with this cartoon, though from differing perspectives. How often does THAT happen?

  • Jim

    Dave, I am not a cartoonist. I understand many of them have the objective of humor, using hyperbole and irony. Yes, there is a value in that. But, your posts claim you are a graffiti artist on the wall of religion and I would think such a statement would strongly imply reformative poignancy rather than simple jocularity. Maybe it is my own naivete, but for some reason, I cannot imagine someone nailing 95 knock-knock jokes on the door of the Wittenberg Church and it having an introspective impact. 🙂

  • Jim


    The person is bound to the bible not the fundamentalist church. I don’t think that accomplishes the symbology of contempt for Fundamentalist instead. I know what the Dave meant, but my first visual reaction was it was a denigration of the scripture. Sure, those that now Dave would tend to not interpret that way, but it does make the target of the contempt, at a minimum, ambiguous. That was my only point.

  • Jim: i let shit like that fly. even though it don’t.

  • Carol

    Liza, Mother Teresa’s “personal relationship” with Jesus was very rare. She became a person who lived to serve others; but as a strong, empowered way. There was nothing weak or servile in that little dynamo.

    Evangelicals are always talking about their “personal relationship” with Jesus being what “saves” them. It often seems as the “share” the details of this relationship that Jesus is more like a child’s imaginary friend who is always on their side when any conflict occurs with others rather than the Jesus who loved people enough to tell them, without accusing or withdrawing affection, the hard truths they needed to know to encourge them to make more meaningful choices.

    There are “personal relationships” that have little affect on who we become and then there are intimate, life-changing personal relationships. I have a “personal reltionship” with everyone I encounter in life because we are both “persons.” Most are casual, merely “social”, momentarily pleasant enough; but not intimate. Intimacy requires trust and trust requires time and time is exactly what we don’t have in a society driven by capitalism on steroids, turbo capitalism.

    The Church has become more of a reflection of our secular society than a sacrament of Divine Love.

    “I think the world today is upside down. Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”
    –Mother Teresa

    “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” –Mother Theresa

    “The greatest disease is the lack of love.”
    — Mother Teresa

    “America is a land that is starving for love.”
    –Mother Teresa

    “In a rare interview in 1967 with Thomas McDonnell, [Thomas] Merton pronounced that the great crisis in the church is a crisis of authority precipitated because the church, as institution and organization, has overshadowed the reality of the church as a community of persons united in love and in Christ. He now charged that obedience and conformity with the impersonal corporation-church are a fact in the life of Christians. “The Church is preached as a communion, but is run in fact as a collectivity, and even as a totalitarian collectivity.”~ George Kilcourse, ACE OF FREEDOMS: Thomas Merton’s Christ, Notre Dame Press, 1993

    “There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet, screaming desperation who work long, hard hours, at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” ~ Nigel Marsh

    The life of the contemporary bourgeoisie is a wearying frenzy of work, work, spending, and work, with some time left over for civic duties, commodified leisure, sex, family, and—maybe—a spiritual life. —Eugene McCarraher, “Theology at the barricades,” Commonweal, July 13, 2001

    “How acutely do we want what we want! How desperately important our desires seem and how they haunt us. How easy it is to eternally count our longings and miss our countless blessings altogether. And how miserable it makes us!” ~Jessica Maxwell, Roll Around Heaven

    And did you get what
    you wanted from this life, even so?
    I did.
    And what did you want?
    To call myself beloved, to feel myself
    beloved on the earth.
    ~Raymond Carver, “Late Fragment”

    The Prophet said that God has said,
    “I cannot be contained in hallowed places.
    Heaven and earth cannot hold Me.
    But I am contained by true hearts.
    If you seek Me, search in those hearts.”
    ~ Rumi

  • Carol

    Richard, I do not believe it is necessary to be “religious” to experience Grace. In fact, as you point out, “religion” can actually desensitize a person to Grace, which I understand to be Uncreated, an immanent Divine Presence, not a created “power” that enables us to keep the Law.

    I believe that we are all born with an intuitive faith in the goodness of life; but it is a fragile faith that can be easily lost when we experience cruelty rather than love, often tragically early in life, from those whom we intuitive trust and who are often unconsciously passing on their pain to others.

    I believe that whenever the cycle of cruelty and pain is broken, it is by the power of Grace whether that is consciously comprehended and defined theologically or not.

    “When religion is in the hands of the mere natural man, he is always the worse for it; it adds a bad heat to his own dark fire and helps to inflame his four elements of selfishness, envy, pride, and wrath. And hence it is that worse passions, or a worse degree of them are to be found in persons of great religious zeal than in others that made no pretenses to it.” ~William Law

    Being a Methodist, a Catholic, or a Baptist does not make one a disciple, it only makes him a Methodist, a Catholic, or a Baptist, who may or may not be a daily follower of Jesus Christ. ~Michael Phillips

    The Institutional Church (ecclesia) has killed only two kinds of people: Those who do not believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and those who do. ~Will Durant

  • Carol

    Jim, try imagining the impact of humor from a less “religious” perspective:

    “People have bought into Fundamentalism, with the accent not on the fun, so their universe can be explained and outlined to them. You know, here’s your manual for being alive – follow these rules exactly. It’s a way of pathological safety. Humor is disruptive to structure, disruptive to the structure of language, to the structure of meaning. It constantly puts ideas together that don’t belong together. The nature of humor is to bump us out of dualities and bump us out of structure.”–Steve Bhaerman, The Translucent Revolution

  • Gary

    I think you miss much in Dave’s drawings Jim.

    Perhaps you are uncomfortable with the notion of seeing a problem with being chained to the scriptures…but I see a problem with it so therefor the image resonates with me deeply. Being enslaved to scripture, as religious fundamentalism does, is to elevate that scripture to a place of undue allegiance. Denigrate scripture? Only if you believe it to be some sort of godly incarnation in itself can ome see it that way. Fundamentalists do. They see it as a virtual 4th member of the trinity and worthy of reverence. To them…to in any way question it is completely equal to questioning Almighty God Himself. As such…they are literally enslaved to a book.

    I might remind you Jim…,Jesus said he was going to send us The Spirit of Truth to guide us…not the book of truth.

  • Carol

    Hey, maybe we don’t have to worry about religious fundamentalism. Check out the stats on this Pew Report:


    It would be nice to be able to concentrate on alleviating the fear/hate in secular society instead of in the church for a change.

  • Carol

    Author: Gary
    I think you miss much in Dave’s drawings Jim.

    Jim has possibly experienced Scripture as a means of Grace, not as a moral manual or a dogmatic dissertation.

    We tend to see things from the perspective of our own experiences or as we are, not as they are. Someone for whom the Bible has been a guide to trust/faith rather than authority/fear or who has not been bullied by fundamentalits would probably not understand the “chains” thing.

  • Gary

    Yes Carol I agree. That is perhaps the point I was making to Jim. No doubt he is missing some of the context in the cartoon that makes it resonate with many of us the way it does.

  • Jim

    Wow Carol! How insightful. It sort of clues me in on why others might see the bible differently. Yes, to me the bible is completely unassociated with fundamentalism and denominationalism. Whether or not the bible enslaves you or liberates you is the interpretation and heart you read it with. This was referred to as mixing faith. What I see with religion is that it comes from man which Jesus warned you to not get your understanding from in Matt 16:13-20. He said He would build His church on those getting the understanding “NOT” from “Flesh and Blood” and this would be the large rock (Petra) of which Simon had become a small rock (Petros or Peter). To open this profound instruction about getting your understanding from the revelation of the Father via the Holy Spirit (building your house on the rock) versus getting your understanding from man (building your house on the sand), Jesus opened this apropos instruction with an equally apropos question: “Who do MEN say that I the Son of Man, am?”.

    Men (denominations) give themselves authority and say it comes from a calling from God. But God never confirmed that and it is obvious by the lack of fruit. God would never subject the ones He loves to the fate of the righteousness or lack thereof, of other men.

    But, without being “needed” to interpret what they claim God has hidden from you, these men would have no justification to take from you or Lord over you and imply you should be subservient to them. It was not hard to tell if the disciples and Jesus were “supported” by God, their works were not that of mere words, smoothness of speak and proclamations of having power that was self-evident.

    On the other hand, God does not take. He only gives. I can see how some might recognize this false loading of heavy burdens from men who proclaim a lordship to do so, and not see the easy yoke of Jesus and the beauty of such a lordship.

    All dogs have masters, but some must pull a sled tirelessly in the cold for a demanding master, and others spend their time curled up by the fire with their master tossing them treats.

    But, unlike dogs, ours is a master of our own choosing. Without a master of any kind, you will inevitably end up at the pound. The 7 year old kid who runs away or is abandoned as a child believes he has freedom. But, freedom is just as subjective as slavery is.

  • Carol

    Jim, I have always liked the wisdom of on this website:
    The Wrong Way to Read the Bible
     Two opposite errors exist in approaching the Bible. One is not to read it. The other is to know it so well that you miss Jesus. Jesus pointed out this error: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
    Are you surprised to believe this error exists? We constantly talk about reading and studying the Bible as an unqualified good. But clearly, the way we read the Bible is just as important as reading it.

    Missing Jesus

    So how can you know if you might be reading the Bible, looking for life, but missing Jesus completely?

    Here are a few clues:

    You read the Bible to reinforce what you believe, not challenge what you believe.

    You imagine yourself as the type of person who believes the things you read about.

    You think the things you read are especially applicable for people you know, but not for you.

    You imagine yourself as the hero of the story, not the person or people who are unbelieving.

    You frequently ask in your heart, “How could these people be so unbelieving?” For instance, when you read the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert you might say, “How could those Israelites grumble about food and drink when they just saw God part the Red Sea?” But you are completely blind to how you grumble at work or home when you’re afraid of losing something.

    You love the attention garnered from your knowledge of the Bible, but give little thought to how you have applied what you have read.

    Maybe the Bible should come with a warning label: “Beware: reading this book incorrectly will make you twice as fit for hell as when you began.”

    Don’t miss Jesus. Go to him and find life.
    Matthew 23:15 (New International Version)
       15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

  • Jim

    Carol, I agree with you and let me expound on what you say with Matt 16 again. I believe it is even more abstract than you made it. There are two ways to get interpretation of scripture (as you said right and wrong). But, the way Jesus said it by showing what He would not build His Church on, and by what others would try to build His Church on. Its very simple. One bases it on the opinions and traditions of man who simply got what they believe from other men. But His church would be people that did what Peter did. They got it not from men but from the Holy Ghost. They chose to trust God to do what He said and teach them all things, rather than looked for an easy guide to read tales to them. That is your dividing line. When the disciples taught, they had signs by the Holy Spirit. So that was their authority and evidence of truth. When men teach you they can only teach you the truth as given to them by men. What they give you can be taken away. But, now that the Kingdom is here you have all you need in the Holy Ghost to show you anything you want to know about what the scripture means. He backs it up with signs as always because the will of God never changes. Men taught by men look at the 91st Psalm and are convicted that those wonderful things that are promised to God’s own, are not seen amongst them. But the Holy Ghost reveals the divinity of God’s word to each individual and none can take that away. What men didn’t give you, men can’t steal. The revealing of these bits of information are extremely joy filling because witness to your spirit and eyes. But when you build precept by precept you get a far more radically divine picture of God’s plan and then you don’t struggle with men or even see yourself as a part of them. You sort of feel sorry for them because their pride has blinded their eyes as the pride of the Pharisees blinded their eyes to a Messiah riding in to glorious Jerusalem on a donkey, and all things “supposedly born of a virgin”. He was and will always be indeed a stumbling block to the religious, to the religious defined as me following other men. Blind following the blind. No blind person would lead another unless he thought he knew the way, whether he really did or not.

    I really do agree with you. I am impressed. I see few with that depth. Deep calls unto deep.

  • Carol

    Jim, what you say gives insight into how challenging the matter of correctly interpreting Scripture is; but it is even more complex than that. The Western mind does not cope well with paradox and nor do we have English translations that communicate the nuances of the Hebrew or Greek languages:

    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.

    Excerpt from JEWISH RENEWAL:A PATH TO HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION, Rabbi Michael Lerner, author:

    Abraham must confront the central problem facing every religion and every historical manifestation of God in the world: the difficulty in separating the voice of God from the legacy of pain and cruelty that dominates the world and is embedded in our psyches.
    The greatness of Abraham is not that he takes his son to Mount Moriah, the Temple mount (the place where today stand both the Western Wall sacred to Jews and the Dome of the Rock sacred to Islam), so that he can sacrifice his son. No. The greatness of Abraham is that he doesn’t go through with it. As he looks into the eyes of the son he has bound for slaughter, he can now overcome the emotional deadness that allowed him to cast Ishmael off into the desert. At the very last moment, Abraham hears the true voice of God, the voice that says, “Don’t send your hand onto the youth and don’t make any blemish.” Don’t do it Abraham, says God. You can break the pattern of passing on to the next generation the pain and cruelty that you have suffered. This is the moment of transcendence; the moment in which Abraham finally accepts as real the commandment that started his journey, to leave his father’s house. The real God of the universe is not the voice of cruelty that he had experienced and heard in his childhood; it is rather a God of compassion and justice who does not command the sacrifice of the innocent.
    Startlingly, the text itself points to two different voices that Abraham has heard, not one voice that has changed its mind. In Hebrew, when the text talks about the voice that tells Abraham to take his son, it is ha’elohim (which could be translated, “the gods”). But the voice that tells Abraham not to lay his hand on the young boy is a messenger of YHVH, the four letters that Jewish tradition identifies with the embodiment of God as the Transformer and Liberator from Egypt. It is YHVH who tells Abraham that the chain of pain can be broken—and that makes it possible for Abraham to recognize Isaac as another human being created in the image of God, and hence infinitely precious.

  • Barry House

    To be a slave or bondservant of Christ is meant to imply one’s gratefulness and sense of debt to Christ for bing set free.

    As one who in the past was a slave in all the wrong ways to the ‘law’ I see also another side to the picture, the one intended. It is a sad existence to live in a state where you enslave yourself to a negative self condemning perception of yourself and performance to appease and believe that this accurately depicts how God feels toward us and expects us to operate. Very sad.

    Scripture/the gospel is a set table and invitation to freedom. For me I based my early life on my perception of the gospel. When I began to make time for God and actually read and studied scripture I saw a God such as I had not known before. The shackles fell away. Thank God for His word.