dogs cats and church

dogs cats and church cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Dogs, Cats and Church” (drawn by David Hayward with pen and pencil, 8″x8″)

(*Several of my original cartoon drawings and prints are available, including this one! Email me if interested. Originals are $125 and prints are $30… plus shipping.)

These are the two extremes: unquestioning loyalty and indifference.

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  • tana

    LOL and here I didn’t think I was a cat person. 😉

  • Bev

    Hahahaha! Being a cat person I really can relate to this. (And maybe because it’s been my attitude for so long as well.)

  • Liza

    haha. Love it!

  • KMR

    I love my cat 🙂

    Seriously though, this cartoon brought tears to my eyes because right now I’m the dog. But I really want to be the cat. It’s so hard to sever those ties that bind even when they’ve become nothing but a useless burden.

  • KMR… thanks for your comment. made me smile. you’ll do alright.

  • Jesus was more like the dog, when He decided to go to the cross for us.

  • tana

    Jesus was not an egomaniac, Steve. And if we’re honest with ourselves, part of the dog’s message is that we think we’re pretty important. It also uncovers insecurity and an unhealthy relationship.

    The Jesus I have read in the Gospels was more than willing to leave for the best possible outcome for all.

  • Gary

    I have been both extremes. Neither provided me any comfort. Though I have come to belief the cat phase was absolutely necessary for my spiritual growth.

  • I copied this out, today, from a little local newspaper, before throwing out the newspaper. It really serves as warning to those who are looking for “spirituality” outside the “institutional” or the “biblical” or whichever it is that hasn’t worked for you. Be careful with your little heart. In the word and sacrament is where your healing lies.

    Sorry, if this quote is too long. The writer is pretty much unknown, I would guess, but I am guessing that he can make a contribution.


    Bruce Atchison of Radway has published his third novel. This book, “How I was Razed; a Journey from Cultism to Christianity,” is a memoir of his recovery from the spiritual abuse he suffered while attending a cutlic house church.

    It tells how he became enamored with a lay minister’s teachings and prophecies in 1971. So seductive were the doctrines of that self-appointed teacher that Atchison remained loyal to his church for more than 15 years. This despite receiving continual criticism from church elders because prayers for his eyes to be healed remained unanswered. Atchison is legally blind.

    Eventually, Atchison became so upset at the actions of the elders that he left the house church. He turned his back on Christianity for nine years, until he slowly realized that the theological cult’s pseudo-prophet had taught him falsehoods, particularly about claiming healing in Jesus name. Atchison explained that a number of scholarly bible teachers and friends “deprogrammed” him by steering him toward an understanding of what scripture actually meant. He learned to read the bible for all it is worth rather than accepting the opinions of charismatic preachers.

    How I Was Razed is available for Kindle and Nook readers on line. The paperback edition is sold through Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

    Atchison previously published “When a Man Loves a Rabbit” and “Deliverance from Jericho.” He lives in Radway with Mark and Deborah, his house bunnies.

  • tana

    I need to apologize for my earlier comment. I should NOT be participating today. What I said was rude and while it might be true in some cases, is certainly not true in all. We each have our reasons for staying in any place and those reasons are a unique as each of us.

    My comment was reactionary and it doesn’t belong here. I apologize.

  • ah let’s take it all in stride 😉 we can all be real here.

  • Gary

    “Serves as a warning”…Seriously Brigitte?

    You said ” Be careful with your little heart. In the word and sacrament is where your healing lies.”

    I am forced to ask you the same question all over again.

    How do you know?

    I mean this very sincerely. Because now you not only declare that “healing” (whatever you think that means) comes through your particular brand of faith, you present it in the form of a “warning” to all of us with the further admonishment to “Be careful with” our “little hearts”. What truly baffles me about you is that I really don’t think you comprehend how incredibly arrogant and condescending such a statement really is. Especially when you know a very large percentage of the members here reject your conclusion entirely. I will go so far as to declare I believe it to be 100% bullshit.

    In the word and sacrament is where my healing lies? Really Brigitte? How do you know…and on what authority do you make such a claim and present it as a warning to all of us?

  • tana,

    Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

    We might (and do) leave Him…but He will always be there for us. Even to the point of going to the Cross for those who hate Him.

    That, is love.

  • tana


    I think we’re talking past each other and that’s okay.

  • ok, tana.

    Thank you.

  • Kris

    Tana, I did not think it was rude. It is true; the ego tells us we are so important and needed and that whatever it is we are doing will collapse without our presence.

    Religion/Spirituality/Church does not need me and continues one without me. But I may need them to make sense out of life and find peace.

    Jesus had a specific purpose if you believe in him as the Messiah; to save the world from its sins. That is what he was called to do.

    Jesus did not force anyone to believe in Him and he rejected the Pharisees fake piety and did not care what they thought. He could have saved himself by not challenging them and said “my people need me here on Earth, they need me to teach them and lead them.” But he knew he had to leave his earthly form. He would have been the cat if he said “humanity does not need saving, f**k ‘m.”

    Just another perspective. And preach on, Tana!

  • Chris

    Haha. Love the cartoon David. Total reflection of my life – before and after.

  • randy

    I’d like to see the dog a few years later after repeated kickings and beatings… might look maybe like a Humane Society rescue dog, either cowering and shy, or totally hostile?

  • Thank you for another flogging, Gary. The things that are being juxtaposed are the following “charismatic” leaders vs. word, which is supposed to make some cognitive sense and the sacrament, which is a gift from without, not a searching inside for feelings. Word and sacrament is a not lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps, nor does it rely on the manipulations of an attractive personality.

  • Gary

    Love it. You come in and insult us with your little “warning” laced with condescension…and then when you rightfully receive a rebuke for it you call it a “flogging”. LMAO

    “The things that are being juxtaposed are the following “charismatic” leaders vs. word, which is supposed to make some cognitive sense and the sacrament, which is a gift from without, not a searching inside for feelings.”

    No its not. Charismatic leaders vs the word and the sacrament is a notion entirely drummed up from your own mind, not drawn from David’s cartoon.

    Once again Brigitte…How do you know? And on what authority do you believe you are granted license to warn us?

  • Gary

    My mistake as to your statement about what was being juxtaposed. I see now you were referring to the book review you pasted and not David’s cartoon.

    I stand by my questions to you completely however.

  • We know you are trigger-happy, Gary. We love you anyhow. (Not meaning to be condescending or arrogant.)

  • tana

    I’ve been noticing a lot of people kicking each other when they’re down and I’d really love for each of us to recognize when we do it and try to stop. If a person apologizes – just accept the apology. It’s the grace-filled thing to do.

    I’m trying to take my own advice as well…

  • tana

    Kris – thank you. That was the point I was trying to make. (But I was snappy doing it). Thank you for helping to elucidate my point.

  • Gary

    I am glad Brigitte, that you do not mean to be condescending or arrogant (in spite of the trigger happy remark). But I still very much would like you to attempt to answer my questions.

    I openly challenge your statement that the word and the sacrament is where healing lies. I do not do this to simply give you a hard time or to provoke you. I do it because it was a declarative statement with absolutely no substance, given in the context of a warning to those of us who have sought spirituality outside of the institutional church. I have long ago reached a point where I do not accept simple declarative statements as authoritative simply because the one making it does so with conviction. This was my exclusive diet within the institutional church and I have found these statements to be false far too often.

    It is not meant as disrespect when I ask how you know…it is for the purpose of honest evaluation. Unsubstantiated declarative statements, especially when placed in the context of a warning for others, SHOULD be challenged.

  • tana

    I’m with Gary, Brigitte. If someone is going to make a declarative statement with a warning chaser, I’m going to need evidential proof backing up the statement which can be applied universally before I start to tremble about the supposed warning.

    I too believe that unsubstantiated declarative statements with warning labels should be challenged and I distrust any person who makes such statements, who won’t give evidence backing up the universal application of the statement as someone who might just be trying to control through intimidation.

  • Anne

    This discussion reminds me of a paragraph written by Paula Kirby of the Washington Post. It is a bit lengthy but a perfect example of how all certitude about what hurts or heals according to god is becoming crazy making to me. I think it applies to spiritual seekers as well as pastors.

    “But the nature of religious belief is such that we might feel justified in challenging the integrity of every pastor, no matter how truly committed to the role: for each and every one of them stands in front of their congregation week after week and preaches his personal beliefs as though they were indisputably true – even though none of those beliefs is founded on anything more reliable than the
    pastor’s subjective wishes, desires, hopes and fears. Some of them ‘know’ that every word of the Bible is literally true, others ‘know’ that it needs to be interpreted metaphorically; some ‘know’ that God is loving, compassionate and
    eager to forgive, others ‘know’ that he is angry, jealous and quick to punish wrong-doing; some ‘know’ that God has more important things to worry about than
    what we do – and with whom – in bed, others ‘know’ that sexual impurity offends him more than anything else; some ‘know’ that Jesus is the only way to God, others ‘know’ that all religions are different routes to the same destination; some ‘know’ that hell is a terrible fiery reality and others ‘know’ it is
    merely a metaphor. And so it continues. Those whose personalities lead them to embrace the world and other people in a spirit of openness, generosity, warmth
    and tolerance ‘know’ that God does the same. Those who lack the confidence for that and consequently see the world as a place that is threatening and evil and
    bad, ‘know’ that God sees it that way too. Not one of them has stronger objective grounds for accepting that which they accept than for rejecting that which they reject. Yet week after week they preach their own preferred version
    as though it were unquestionably true.”

  • BW

    I agree with Gary and tana. Brigette, you do come off as condescending and you do often make unsubstantiated declarative statements. And then you don’t respond to queries. (come to think of it Steve Martinez does the same thing….Lutherans must be taught to drop bombs then dodge)

  • BW

    Not Steve Martinez, Steve Martin….oops

  • tana

    Lutherans don’t have the corner market on unsubstantiated declarative statements and dodging related queries. 🙂 I used to do it all the time and I wasn’t Lutheran.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Bonnie (my wife) and I very much love our dog (and cat, too!).

    Our current dog is from the pound, and was allowed to fight other dogs in her previous home. She was 9 months old when we joined her to our family. She is now 3 years old.

    Our dog still communicates with us using her teeth and front paw’s claws. I have lots of scratches; some blood now and then still comes off my skin. But… she tries so hard not to hurt us.

    She only knows one way to communicate.

    Sometimes, I sit with her, and teach her how to only growl at a perceived threat. I have to leash her many times near strangers… even within our home. She will kill wildlife; and lately, is persuaded that skateboards are from hell.

    Perhaps the churches teach people to be loyal dogs. Perhaps, when we leave, we learn quickly to fight for our survival. Perhaps we have sharp teeth and comments for other ‘dogs’ due to many reasons.

    But how then, do we ever learn when to only play again? when to only watch? when to only growl? when to attack?

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • BW

    That’s true tana, but these guys do it often here and they are Lutheran.

  • tana


    Excellent thing to consider. It really is too bad that we can’t just leave the church without being challenged, ostracized, dismissed, hated, etc. The idea that we would feel like we have to survive leaving the church is in itself problematic.

    I think ex-churchers (for lack of a better word) learn how to play again just fine. We let our guard down around people who don’t challenge our survival (perceived threats still feel like threats). When a person enters the play area with an agenda to put me in a crate, I will most certainly speak up. I will say, “No.” I will challenge the other person’s assumption that they have that right in the first place. And I will ask for and expect respect.

    It’s lovely that you and your wife have treated your dog with so much lovingkindness and respect.

  • Unsubstantiated declarative statements, especially when placed in the context of a warning for others, SHOULD be challenged.

    If the “declarative” statements here were: “Gary is a superb communications expert with highly substantiated arguments” or “Tana, BW, etc. are wonderful team players by declaring themselves in support of Gary”… they would probably acceptable.

    So we really can’t be against everything that is “declarative”. I am guessing this is said in opposition to feeling and experience as “spirituality”?–???

    If you would like to have an idea fleshed out, i.e. some more substance put to it, you can ask about it. You should have seen that I not averse to giving explanations and backing them up with more reading and resources. But this not necessarily or even usually what people would like.

    In terms of “healing”. We all consider some different things as healing or comforting. Some of the things we cling to, can turn out to be highly damaging, such as the example that I gave, that this man Achison was hanging on to this charismatic prophet. The point is, that when you are dealing with people who do not reveal exactly what their system is, they can easily manipulate you through flattery, nice feelings, making you feel important, loved, etc. We all experiment with some of this, and even if it is just alcohol, etc. In moderation many things are good, but once we’ve come to rely on them, they have us under control.

    And THIS is NOT what we were after. We were not looking for a new master.

    So, in terms of healing, Mr. Achison was not “healed” by his “prophet.” Also, and here, you will all howl, many here do not seem “healed”. Many still seem angry and hurt and aggressive.

    If the very substantive declarative statement of the Lord’s supper: “Eat And Drink (substance) for the forgiveness of your sins (healing)” does not appeal to you, as through the blood you are made brothers and sisters, I really don’t know how else to defend it to you. It is the very healing essence.

  • tana

    I’m weary of being accused of being “angry,” “hurt,” or “aggressive” when I ask for someone to back up their own attacks on me. And make no mistake, dangling someone’s soul, or spiritual health, or eternity is an attack. It is a subtle and undermining thing to insinuate, suggest, or flat out state that someone who does not toe your personal belief, Brigitte and others, that the Word and sacrament only for healing – will be in danger. That is just as manipulative as the supposed prophet who uses flattery and niceties instead of TRUTH. You, Brigitte, are doing the exact same thing, but instead of moving people to your way of belief through flattery and niceties, you use false warnings of danger – so fear. Neither is supportive of truth. Truth needs neither fear or flattery. Truth stands on its own.

    “Unsubstantiated declarative statements, especially when placed in the context of a warning for others, SHOULD be challenged.

    If the “declarative” statements here were: “Gary is a superb communications expert with highly substantiated arguments” or “Tana, BW, etc. are wonderful team players by declaring themselves in support of Gary”… they would probably acceptable.”

    Brigitte – this “example” doesn’t even make sense in light of Gary’s and my request. You haven’t made declarative statements about me, Gary or BW, you’ve given your nice opinion about us. Are you trying to tell us with this suggestion that your statement about the Word and sacraments being the only place of healing was simply an opinion? If so, my deepest apologies. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

    “So we really can’t be against everything that is “declarative”. I am guessing this is said in opposition to feeling and experience as “spirituality”?–???” – No, as we both said very clearly, we would like you to back up your assertion that the only way to healing is through the Word and sacraments. You made a declarative statement “in the word and in the sacraments is where healing lies” after warning us to be careful with our little hearts. Insinuating that there is danger if we don’t receive healing through the word and sacraments, but through some other means.

    All we’re asking is, “How do you know that to be true for everyone?”

    “If you would like to have an idea fleshed out, i.e. some more substance put to it, you can ask about it.” – We did.

    “But this not necessarily or even usually what people would like.” – By asking, we’re indicating that we would.

    “If the very substantive declarative statement of the Lord’s supper: “Eat And Drink (substance) for the forgiveness of your sins (healing)” does not appeal to you, as through the blood you are made brothers and sisters, I really don’t know how else to defend it to you. It is the very healing essence.” – For you, this is obviously the truth. This is where you’ve found your healing. I have found mine elsewhere. You don’t even know where I found mine and yet because I didn’t find my healing where you did, you feel it’s appropriate to warn me that my heart is in danger. Manipulative and assumptive.

    @Caryn – this is the point in the dog story metaphor where, while trying to play nice with others, I have to choose to walk away because whether the other person realizes it or not, they are not being respectful or playful. I won’t watch, I won’t growl, but I will seek out other dogs to play with – and cats and donkeys and bears and lions.

  • Gary

    “If the “declarative” statements here were: “Gary is a superb communications expert with highly substantiated arguments” or “Tana, BW, etc. are wonderful team players by declaring themselves in support of Gary”… they would probably acceptable.”

    This statement is a bunch of pure rubbish Brigitte…nonsense meant to distract from the point being made.

    “If you would like to have an idea fleshed out, i.e. some more substance put to it, you can ask about it. You should have seen that I not averse to giving explanations and backing them up with more reading and resources. But this not necessarily or even usually what people would like.”

    I of course have asked you many times and my questions have gone ignored. Your present reply is attempting to set up a straw man argument equating Mr. Achison’s experience to the ability to find healing outside of the church and/or the sacraments. This type of gimmick is not going to work with anyone who can follow logical thought.

    The very rare attempt I have ever seen you make to substantiate one of your declarative statements was simply by quoting from Martin Luther or some other historical Lutheran figure as if we should all bow to the perceived authority these figures are supposed to posses. Considering it is often Lutheran doctrine (among others) we are challenging, why would you think that a quote from one of them would be anything we should defer to?

    Your problem Brigitte is not that you have Lutheran beliefs or even that you share them with us. We all have a collection of beliefs and the freedom to express them. No the issue that so often gets you challenged is your insistence on presenting your views as if they are beyond examination, that they represent reality and/or truth. You will often set this in some context of attack or warning against all who would think otherwise. Then you throw in your snide barbs and passive aggressive hostile stance and still somehow seem shocked when someone tells you that you are full of shit.

  • BW

    Brigette, I have no problem with you believing as you will. I do, however, have a problem with your delivery. I am obviously not the only one who feels that you come across as condescending and a bit arrogant in your posts. I admit I feel defensive when responding to you, so won’t you examine this about yourself? Gary and tana are more articulate than I, but I do agree with what they say….please think about it.

  • Wow, fiery comment thread.
    I saw this cartoon this week and told myself to come back and comment.
    I think this cartoon points to a very important principle:

    Our personalities and our temperaments often determine how we see the truth — how we decide to act.
    We are often unaware of the momentum of our own personality and confuse it for “truth”.

    Good cartoon, David.

    BTW — what is with “The Lasting Supper”? Is that yet a third new web site? You’ve got this one, , and now (a locked down server)?

  • is soon to become … i didn’t like the idea of a community gathering around my name.

  • @ David:
    Ahhhhh !
    I, when you site came up, I wondered about your choice of the URL and title for the same reason. I think the change is great and it does not surprise me at all that you are making the change ==>You continue to show flexibility and compassionate insight as your efforts grow. Sounds like a great community.

  • It is a great community. Which is a surprise to me. I didn’t expect it to become a community at all. It was going to be “my” site where I was going to provide resources and services for members. Instead, the people gathering there are totally cool and are building a real interesting community. I’m loving it. So I felt I had to change the name to reflect this reality. There are some who go to church still. Some have left. Some are post-christian. Some are atheists. The commonality is they are all smart, independent, and fun to be with.

  • Carol

    Brigitte, it is not only non-intitutionalized “cults” that can be led or infiltrated by predators.

    I remember reading in an article some really good advice for those seeking a spiritual community: If anyone pressures you for sex or money, run the other way as fast as you can.

    Once again, institutionalization can not be relied upon to protect us from the “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

    What institutionalization does do is preserve the Source documents for its Tradition, even when it no longer preaches or practices it.

    Spiritual movements that do not become institutionalized usually get hi-jacked by a charismatic personality and become a personality cult, disintegrate after the founding generation dies or dissipate in an excess of spiritual enthusiasm.

    Authentic religious Traditions are not static, they are preserved by a conflict between their priestly and prophetic traditions, the hierarchy and the reformers. This preserves and renews the institution; but it in no way protects individual believing members as we have seen in the recent Catholic sex scandals. BTW boinking the parishioners is not unique to Catholicism, I even know of it having happened in a Lutheran Church and of a priest in an Episcopal Church who turned out to be a serial boinker. So much for being able to rely on institutionalized accountability . . . .

  • Carol

    BW, Brigitte and Gary appear to me to feel a genuine calling to not only proclaim the truth as they understand it; but to persuade others to accept it.

    I think we all enjoy sharing our beliefs; but some of us feel less concerned with having them accepted.

    I receive a lot of guidance from Scripture. Ezekial 33:1-9 seems to say to me that my job is to proclaim the Word of God; but conviction and conversion are the job of the Holy Spirit. That is a relief to me since, not only do we hear two voices simultaneously, the voice of God and the voice of our own [often subconsious] desires, even when we are sincere in our faith commitment; but some genuine insights are private revelations that are not universally valid. I believe that when we over-reach in our witnessing, we actually risk becoming an impediment rather than an inducement to faith; but we must all follow our consciences these matters.

    “There’s a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.”
    — Anne Lamott (Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)

  • BW

    @ Carol – Speaking for myself, I have been banged on the head with many versions of ‘truth’. I am at the point of defending myself from the head banging and really have no interest in persuading others to my truth.

  • Gary

    Carol you said “Brigitte and Gary appear to me to feel a genuine calling to not only proclaim the truth as they understand it; but to persuade others to accept it.”

    This is 100% false as it pertains to my posts and you know it Carol. I believe you know your statement to be false regarding me and still chose to utter it anyway out some frustration at not being able to control me the way you repeatedly attempt to do.

    I protest those who believe they hold the reigns of truth and lord it over others. I will continue to do so. But when you deliberately and falsely accuse me of that which you know I abhor, make no mistake about it, I will tell you plainly you are simply being an ass…and completely full of shit!!

    Like BW – I am done playing the passive game when arrogant abusers throw their version of truth at me as an attack. And frankly Carol…YOUR constant attacks of me because I have not yet bowed to your own particular version of truth makes you as bad as any of them in my book.

  • Carol

    Gary, if you re-read my post, which you quoted, I said that “it appears to me”, which is a true, not a false statement.

    I was very careful not to present my perception as “true”, which gave you the opportunity to respond and correct my impression without becoming abrasive.

    My challenges to you have had nothing to do with “truth”, they are about style. It is possible to be firm without being mean. Respect makes all the difference between whether sharing our beliefs is a dialogue or becomes a polemic.

    I am of the opinion that polemics shed more heat than light, push people into taking extreme positions and are not only counterproductive; but wounding.

  • Gary

    Then my point to you is that you if you are not being deliberately false then you are grossly careless with my comments. If you have paid ANY attention at all you would know that I have repeatedly stated I have no claim to truth and reject the notion from others that they do. THIS is who I am here. I have beliefs and look for an honest opportunity to discuss them. In fact my beliefs have changed much over recent years thanks to healthy dialogue and debate. But when a fundamentalist with a closed mind simply insults and attacks rather than discusses honestly I will protest…strongly so. Since you choose to attack me often, and you are so careless with the facts, I will continue to call you out on it.

    I am abrasive at times. I openly admit it. Jesus was abrasive at times…extremely so. I am not saying I am in any way placing myself on a par with Jesus…certainly not. But I am declaring that there is a time and place for abrasiveness. And when one is under attack from dogmatic and arrogant assaults proclaiming some claim to truth, I believe an abrasive response may be the best.

    “Mean” Carol? Well I don’t really see it that way. Was Jesus mean when He called the Pharisees hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, whitewashed tombs, snakes, brood of vipers? Abrasive language to be sure…but mean or out of spite? I think not. The only people I am abrasive to are those who declare THEY hold the knowledge of “truth” and/or “reality” and lord it over the rest of us. And yes I am abrasive to you when you do the very same thing with me every time to attempt to correct me. I make no apologies for my abrasiveness to you, in fact I will continue to challenge you as such as long as you feel the need to try to lord your “truth” over me.

    And if your challenges to me had nothing to do with “truth”, then why do you feel so compelled to try to change me when I have repeatedly told you I believe differently than you do? There comes a point where the oppressed learn to stand up for themselves and fight back, to throw off the shackles of their oppressors and think for themselves. Often times their oppressors will respond by attempting to shame them back into submission.

    I know you have no desire to stand in the camp of the oppressors. So don’t.

  • May I just ask what this “healing” is that we might be after? Is it essentially inter-personal, or is it essentially a feeling within?

    I think Carol always makes some good points that I can learn from and in an acceptable style. I do agree that the facts are sometimes not quite there.

    The cry that rises up from some everything one says something as a “truth” just baffles me. Tell me your truth, then. We can talk about it. But if everything “declarative” (I don’t even know anyone who uses that word. What does it mean exactly?) one has to be considered “arrogant, condescending”, etc., it just seems to be a bunch of hyperbole.

  • We might note, in the line of “supper” (i.e. sacrament) and healing, that NP has chosen to call the other site “the lasting supper”.

    It is virtual, and sometimes I wonder about the virtual vs. the actually present. Since on-line we not actually physically present, I would then call it “word”. It is also among us and heals. But it takes more than one person. So it is always interpersonal. Yet, we are each individual. So it is always “interpersonal” between “individuals”. No dichotomy needed.

  • Gary

    Actually Brigitte I have stated many of my beliefs on quite a few threads over my many months here. I am not shy about stating what I believe or why. What you will not hear me do is tell someone that my beliefs are the correct ones simply because I have declared them as “truth”. This is not what I believe. Nor is it how I behave. And if someone asks me why I believe something, say for instance that I don’t accept biblical inerrancy, I am happy to explain my reasons and discuss it. I really would like for you to answer a question when you make a statement such as “truth is truth”. But rather than provide any rationale for such a claim or make any effort to defend it, you simply ignore the question and proceed with the implication that your version of “truth” is self explanatory and beyond questioning. This is not honest dialogue…it is merely regurgitating some Lutheran approved talking points.

    So let’s try it. Ask me why I believe any of my stated beliefs. I am happy to discuss them and open to reflection and analysis. I have shared and reflected on many issues here including; the role of scripture for the believer, the source of understanding, the meaning of sin, the definition of “The Word”, Christian freedom, biblical understanding of homosexuality, hell, and salvation for all, just to name a few from memory.

    I may be firmly persuaded of my position on most of these issues, but only through careful analysis in an open minded manner, which has resulted in very dramatically changed beliefs in some of them. All of the fundamentalists I have known see the willingness to openly evaluate and challenge one’s own beliefs as a great weakness leaving the devil an opportunity to gain a foothold over one’s mind. But the seekers I have known never cling to rigid and inflexible beliefs since all beliefs represent a grasp at understanding from a very limited vantage point.

    We are all ignorant…but perhaps none more so than those who deny their ignorance.

  • Dear Gary, I don’t know if it’s a very huge gulf between saying you think you know the truth or saying you have belief, which obviously, you also think to be somewhat correct, otherwise it would not be a belief.

    So, if one gets regaled with insults at every turn, it is also not terribly inspiring most people for discussion. If at every turn you have to mention Lutheran regurgitation, I don’t remember when I last quoted him. Last quote was a very smart poem by a Russian nobel prizewinner, a couple of cartoons up. What did you think of it?

  • Gary

    Come on Brigitte…I don’t know how we could make it any clearer for you in spite of your repeated statements of confusion. There is MUCH difference between having and discussing beliefs…and making hit and run statements of fact, declaring they are “truth” and/or “reality” whether we believe it or not. Your repeated denial of understanding of what several of us have shared with you is becoming so very disingenuous.

  • Caryn LeMur


    Whole different subject: were you born in Germany? I lived there for four years (and, speak very bad German). Are you from a different country than the USA?

    Are you now in Canada or the USA? How long?

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Gary

    The poem you quoted is interesting. It strikes me just off hand as a form of Christian Mysticism. I am sure it is somewhat difficult to follow the author’s intent in the translation though.

  • Caryn, it’s kind of you to ask. I grew up in Germany, close to Frankfurt in northern Bavaria and attended an all girl Catholic school with emphasis on modern languages. I’ve lived in Canada, Alberta, since I was 16 years old (which is now quite some time ago.)

    The poem says to me, one, that the every-day stuff is sanctified in the Lord, that he is found there and among us, that all good gifts that nourish us all come from him. Only, the poem says it so much more beautifully and effectively than what I just said. Second, this knowledge is available to our spirits, and even the atheist in the village (probably a Marxist in this Russian context) knows this and experiences a kind of grace. It is universal in this sense. It is a matter of being human. However, the believer in the village, who prays, whose prayers seem to just ascend to the ceiling, according to the scoffer, has many other graces available to him.

    The baptized child of God fulfills his foremost daily vocation by receiving all kinds of good gifts from God which the atheist rejects. It is not that the believer’s God is limited by the room and the ceiling. It is the atheist who does not wish to access the additional graces and gifts and this is his loss–ironically, since he thinks the believer benighted.

    Maybe someone else can add something more profound.

    A Russian exile would really know what he was talking about having lived under communism or Stalin. That fact adds another layer to this poem.

  • Carol

    Perhaps we are beginning to get somewhere now.

    Jesus claimed to be “the Way, the Truth and the Life”; so, in that sense, *Truth* is certainly more than belief in an intellectual concept.

    I think we often end up fighting over the linguistic expressions we use to attempt to communicate an experience that can’t even be fully conceptualized, much less expressed with words.

    St. Francis of Assisi is reputed to have said, “Always be prepared to preach the Gospel. When necessary, use words.” So *Truth* is probably better communicated by “doing” it is by discussing it.

    Scripture reveals that a common response to a direct experience of Divine Presence is to be struck speechless. The initial response to being called to speak for God to the people seems to be reluctance, a feeling of profound inadequacy; not religious zeal. It takes a lot of Divine persistence to persuade the one called to speak God’s truth that his personal weaknesses do not make it impossible for him to serve as a faithful witness for God. St. Paul seems to be an “exception to the rule.” He was blinded, not silenced, by a direct experience of God’s Presence. St. Paul is living proof that even a power-A personality is no match for God’s Grace when the encounter is “up close and personal” rather than mediated through a formal religious Tradition which, as Carl Jung pointed out, serves too often as a defense against God.

    I am an adult convert, not a cradle Christian. When I hear “church-speak” it sounds like a religious cliche’ to me. I have not shared the cultural experience that conveys meaning to these words. I can relate better to narratives that give context to the beliefs that people are trying to share.

    However, not all religious narratives are inspiring. When I hear people sharing how God has delivered them FROM challenging or painful experiences, I cannot help thinking how that must make the people who, like me, are usually delivered THROUGH rather than FROM painfully challenging experiences feel.

    These testimonies are especially galling when the easy deliverance seems to be presented as a reward for their faithfulness in keeping God’s Law. Jesus kept God’s moral Law to perfection and look where it got him. The Pharisaic expectation that so much of organized religion seems to encourage, that good things will happen to us if we are good and bad things will happen to us if we are bad has enough truth in it to be credible as long as we are not tested when it doesn’t quite turn out that way in real life.

    Job never got an intellectually satisfying answer to his, “Why me?” question. He got a reminder that the human intellect has its limitations, that God’s ways are not our ways, nor are God’s thoughts our thoughts.

    Job, whose faith was so solid that, in the midst of his suffering, could still declare, “Though he may slay me, yet will I trust him” got an answer that spoke to the trust in his heart, not his intellectual curiosity. (Job 38-42.

    Of course, we will have questions; but theology is faith seeking understanding, not faith and, if the understanding we receive is valid, it should leave us trusting in the wisdom of God more and in our own understanding less. As Socrates taught, the beginning of (true) wisdom is knowing that we do not know.

    Seeking Knowledge
    There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge;
    That is Curiosity.
    There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others;
    that is Vanity.
    There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve;
    that is Love.”
    -Bernard of Clairvaux 1090-1153

    Why is it that our popular established religions are so shaken in the face of the visible problems of our civilization: drugs, war, crime, social injustice, the breakdown of the family, the sexual revolution? Is it not because somewhere along the line belief took the place of faith for the majority of Jews and Christians? Faith cannot be shaken; it is the result of being shaken. And we can see in the writings of the early Fathers that the primary function of the monastic discipline was to shake man’s belief in his own powers and understanding. This was not done simply by visiting upon men situations they could not handle or which caused them pain. Such experiences by themselves are useless, and even dementing, unless they are met by an intention to profit from them in the coin of self-knowledge. Mere belief that one has already found the way and the truth is the exact opposite of such an intention and was recognized by the early Fathers as a weapon of the devil.
    ~Jacob Needleman, The New Religions

    “Once ‘the religious hypothesis’ is disengaged from the opportunity to inflict humiliation and pain on people who do not profess the correct creed, it loses interest for many people.”
    –Richard Rorty, Religious Faith, Intellectual Responsibility and Romance

  • In theological speak, sorry, this is called the “theology of glory” vs. the “theology of the cross”. Luther wanted to make sure we stuck to the latter. Modern, especially American, “Christianity” is often very much focused on a “theology of glory.” But this does not rule out that God does deliver. He told us to ask for what we need and he gives all the things he promises (forgiveness and eternal life) and some of the other things we ask, if they are good for us and according to his good will.

    So, basically, I’m with you there with your complaints, Carol. Nevertheless, we have been told to ask with boldness.

  • This boldness to ask and seek is faith in its essence.