infestation May 10, 2011

This is the kind of thing that would happen to me. You might say I did it to myself. Anyway, here’s an example: I was young… around 23 years old. While I was in seminary my wife and I attended a small group in a home where we would worship, pray and study the bible together. I would say it was rather Pentecostal in orientation, but with a twist of seminary. One night several people requested prayer for loved ones dying with cancer. The group was about to pray for them to be healed like it was just a matter of course, but I was overwhelmed. I said, “There’s just so much suffering in this world. I just don’t get this. I just don’t understand!” One of the leaders cut me off and proceeded to talk about how great God was and powerful and how healing was available for everyone. I was effectively silenced. In a room full of seminarians and profs, I was very embarrassed.

It was there I learned (and I did take it as a lesson) that in church meetings you don’t express negativity. You don’t expose your confusion, your sadness or your questions. It is important to keep the mood of the meeting up and positive and hopeful. In our groups we have something delicious happening that we don’t want salted with your sorrow. Be triumphant or be embarrassed.

For years following I let these questions build up until, like my cartoon, I became infested with them. Eventually they started leaking out at even more inappropriate times.

(You can buy many of my original cartoons, or prints of them. Just contact me.)

I already have a book of cartoons. For just $9, order Nakedpastor101: Cartoons by David Hayward“, from,,

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  • Mary Ellen Mayo

    good ‘toon, and equally good commentary. I am a Unitarian who is a former Baptist(SBC) who misses Jesus a lot, and am seeking reconciliation. I’m actually keeping a notebook with all those questions that I want to ask, and I’m going to pull it out one day and hand it to a pastor and say,”We need to talk about these….” …such questions as why is the church pro-life but supporting politicians who are shredding the social safety net that enables people to have prenatal care, keep and raise their babies, etc, not to mention programs for poor people, elderly, and disabled; the cuts are getting bad here in Florida. I also ask, in my notebook, if I have to be a member of the Tea Party to be comfortable at your church. (Can’t stand them…) So this reconciliation I am seeking will not happen overnight. I love Jesus and am firmly committed to his lordship in my life, but I have a lot of questions that, 25 years ago, I didn’t have the courage, maturity or life experience to be able to ask. I don’t think I would put them to the average layperson in a small group setting, but to a pastor or deacon, a question or two at a time…for the record, I am a high school grad, have had three jobs in my entire life(church custodian, newspaper pasteup[pre-computer pagination], and grocery deli clerk), am on SSDI for complications of Marfan’s Syndrome, and a Medicare beneficiary, no secondary insurance because I am about $20 over the income limit for Medicaid. About half my monthly disability goes for rent on a 12 x 20 efficiency apartment… I am frightened, in the light of what’s going on politically, that I will be cut off, even though I paid in my entire working life, so that some wealthy Floridian, or corporation-they’re people now, thanks, Supreme Court- can have a tax cut. So, I’m “infested”, too. Great cartoon, and I liked the one about the blood donation and thick skin…:) if you are a blood donor, thank you, I am alive and reasonably well today because of blood donors…

  • Tay

    mmmm…this reminds me of a time years ago when i was in a similar group. I worked with young refugee students and one evening expressed the distress i felt at seeing their continued pain and suffering, even when in safety here. The effects of post-traumatic stress, psychosis, adjusting to a new country, etc., was sometimes overwhelming for me to observe and I often felt helpless to alleviate their pain. I made the mistake of sharing this one evening and compounded it by saying out loud my moment’s desperation, “…sometimes I ask God why he allows them to suffer, why doesn’t he just take them home to be with him?” Oh my…I learned my lesson loud and clear! The same lesson…don’t say that stuff out loud! I didn’t feel embarrassed but I did feel stupid for thinking I could share like that…it was painful and I never forgot it. (P.S. funny how God never seem freaked out. My questions were not answered (and may never be) but occasionally I get to see victories in the lives of the people I work with and that’s enough to keep me going…little glimpses that show me that God is the one truly in the detail).

  • And we all know infestation of questions leads to extermination…or ex-communication…or whatever it takes to silence the questions.

  • Bonnie

    you are so thought provoking David, thank you, I think, lol! Mary Ellen…You are right on the money to question why, oh why would ANYONE to claim to be pro-life act otherwise>EXACTLY!!..’Pro life” is a politcal move that not enough ppl question>DUH!< They are NOT pro- life , they are all ANTI-CHOICE!!!..Glad you've noticed!!!

  • Questioning is the first stage of spiritual individuation. Unfortunately one is treated like a spotty adolescent who’s rebelling against the father figure’s authority and dogma. In reality one is just looking for a more authentic expression of the Divine and in fact, growing up!

  • In our Lutheran church we are constantly asking questions like that (and a million others), and then discussing them.

    Here’s just one audio sample:

    I often point out how what David criticizes, doesn’t have to be and then use my church as an example. I’m just showing you here, how that can be possible.

  • #4 (out of the four mp3’s) is the best example.

  • Angie, You nailed it. (clapping)!

  • The problem is US — not God or His Son, Jesus. We took it upon ourselves to have a Free Will. This means that we can develop supplements for our food, inventions for our lives, and anything that happens to come into our thought processes. These things can INFECT our lives, or ENRICH them. We make those choices, but we don’t have the pure intellect to make the right choices for everything. Therefore, our lives are polluted with our very own inventions. That’s not God’s fault. He is with us through it all and will never leave us, but we have created our own world.

  • LeighAnn

    I did a blog post recently on suffering and my intense anger I feel toward God at times. I think He is big enough to take it, and love me anyway.

  • Anne

    Part of me wishes I did not relate to this cartoon – and your discussion afterwards – so well. In many ways it has been a hard road. BUT the more I settle into and embrace what it means to be free indeed, there is much more gratitude than grief!!!

  • In our Lutheran church we are constantly asking questions like that (and a million others), and then discussing them.

    Here’s just one audio sample:

    I often point out how what David criticizes, doesn’t have to be, and then use my church as an example. I’m just showing you here, how that can be possible.

  • There is a link to an mp3 audio (in a previous comment I made) to show that a church can be open and the people can question and discuss matters of the Christian faith without fear of reprisal.

    I think because it contains a link, it gets automatically held for approval by the blog moderator (David).

  • Sister Marie

    I have cancer. (6 weeks into chemotherapy regimen) Lots of people praying for me which is ok except maybe they should concentrate their prayers on those who are 60 years younger than me. Very skeptical about the faith healers. Wondering why they don’t go down to Danny Thomas Children’s Hospital and clean that place out. Desperate people continue to throw their dollars after these men in spite of numerous demonstrations of their real motives.

  • I think you are absolutely right about these hucksters (faith healers).

    No doubt God heals some (here), and I pray He heals you, Sister Marie, but these people are phonies and what they are doing is terrible.

    The day we see them cleaning out the children’s cancer wards will be the day that it snows in hell.

  • but boy did you feel silly when you went in next week and all of those people had been healed!
    for mother’s day, our family pastor gave the sermon on sunday along with small portions by the kids minister and jr high/ high school/ college pastor, and this is pretty much what the latter talked about. when he was in junior high he asked “if only God existed at the beginning of time and He created everything that exists now, doesn’t that mean He created evil?” he was told that he needed to have more faith, and quickly learned not to ask that sort of question at church. he’s trying to keep an open environment now, where people are allowed to ask the tough questions and have their ideas be respected.

  • God did not come here to heal us in this life. if that were His mission, don’t you think He would have just snapped his fingers and healed everyone?

    He healed some, and not that many, to point to Him as the Savior of the world.

  • Pat

    He healed some, and not that many, to point to Him as the Savior of the world.

    Hmmmm..that rather makes it sound as though they were simply reduced to objects by Jesus. Somehow one doesn’t really get that feel from reading the healing stories.

  • Of course they weren’t objects, Jesus had compassion for them. But that was not his primary purpose in coming to this place.

    Those he healed wee a drop in the bucket to all those he came in contact with.

    No, he had much bigger fish to fry, like dying for our sins and granting us eternal life and eternal healing.

  • Pat

    If he healed them to point to Him as the Savior of the world (your words) then the implication is that he healed them primarily as a means to an end ….in other words they were objects in a bigger game.

    I don’t think that is true – but that’s what your statement makes it sound like.

  • Mary Ellen — what you said hits me at home. That is why I have been seriously considering starting my own church. I am former SBC too. I want to have a church kind of like a college class, where there is question and answer and discussion! We need to be able to ask questions because that is how we learn.

  • I think both things are true. He had compassion on them, and he had bigger fish to fry.

    That’s why he didn’t heal everyone, and that’s why he doesn’t heal everyone now.

    The healing that He wants to give is an everlasting healing.

  • Ant

    I learnt very quickly that if I had a question or a problem with the church or theology then it would be my problem not theirs, they would turn it around so that I would have to work thru something in my life – I would be at fault and I got to thinking (rather plaintively I might add) “why cant I be right for once?” There was no validation of myself for being intelligent enough to ask questions – the faith ruled supreme and I learned not to ask questions or say things that were too left of field. Especially if I wanted to be accepted and loved. I realise now and even then to a smaller degree, that I was only loved and accepted if I did all the right things according to their way. It was all a charade and I figured that out in the end and I was torn – I felt like I couldnt stay and I couldnt go and eventually I left and it was a horrendous time whereby I felt like I had been wrenched from a time honoured lover. But things got better and I learnt more outside of the church – I discovered our humanity – our greatest gift, which sadly the church so often ignores.

  • Susan

    What is not expressed, gets repressed, and then festers…and so on…

  • Sister Marie

    I never meant to imply that it would not be possible for some kind of medically unexplainable healing to occur in this modern world. And I would be very grateful if my cancer was totally removed. (In the meantime, I’m also praying that my body responds positively to this mixture that flows out of an IV, and in some respects, that too would be miraculous.) But what I do strongly object to are these charlatans that I see on TV knocking people off their feet and claiming to heal people of deafness and all manner of sickness. It’s a little known fact that during the Oral Roberts healing campaigns of the 1950s that there was a special tent set aside for the really bad cases, but the cameras never showed those people. Oral Roberts was a fraud and he bilked his sheep out of millions of dollars, and if there is a just God, old Oral will be repaid many time over for the damage he did while he lived.

  • I think the point of miracles/healings has been missed. The real purpose of Jesus doing miracles had nothing to do with people, per se. It was a demonstration of his credentials to the Jewish nation that he was their awaited Messiah. The incident in Luke 7:19-23 illustrates this. The Messiah would make the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers cleansed, the deaf hear. Jesus did that. Jesus also said that miracles were to bring Glory to his Father (John 11).

    For our part, we have similar examples of what miracles are for. Miracles do two things: they verify the Word of God, and they bring Glory to the Father. The is why *I* do not buy into faith healers. Can God heal? Yes. Can God do miracles? Yes. Does God do them on demand for us like a circus performer? NO. Someone is not a “bad” person because they are not healed after they are prayed for. It does not mean that there is sin in their lives, either. God is sovereign, and does things for his purpose. As a subordinate being to God (I know we hate that concept because we think we are special, but its true none-the-less) we have to trust him and his decisions. Its difficult, but that is real.

    We love the flashy and theatrical, and I think some people take advantage of that with their “crusades.” But I am convinced that God does not work that way. I am not saying this because it doesn’t affect me — it does. I am a 70% disabled vet. I beg and plead with God sometimes for relief from pain and a healing. But he has his own reasons why he doesn’t. As his child, I have to trust him and live with it. I know, its not what we want to hear and it doesn’t sound too comforting, but its the best answer I have found.

  • A Different Michelle

    I really want a place to worship where it’s okay to ask questions. I was never comfortable with the pat answers that denied conversation (and thus relationship), and I now am realizing how many things we can’t know with complete certainty. So could we quit pretending to know?

    We aren’t looking for a new church yet, but this is something I have expressed to my husband. It should make looking for a place to worship much trickier. Which is unfortunate. We live in the Southern US, though, and I’ve heard that other parts of the US…the church culture is different in other parts of the US. So your mileage may vary.