my readers

my readers July 5, 2011

I was describing nakedpastor to someone today, and it helped me clarify a little more what it is about:

I realize that some of its readers are people curious about the crazies like me. And some are just interested in what’s an ex-pastor is up to. Others are curious about what heresy looks like. And some just like to argue theologically.

But for the most part, I think nakedpastor can be broken down into a two-fold purpose:

  1. nakedpastor is for those inside the church but are struggling to stay. They find in nakedpastor a mirror of their own doubts and questions, their own dissatisfaction with the system, their discontent with the institution and their frustrations with the organization. Perhaps some have experienced mild to serious spiritual abuse, and may live in a state of constant spiritual compromise in order to belong. Maybe nakedpastor gives them the strength, insight and humor to stay, or the courage, wisdom and independence to leave.
  2. nakedpastor is also for those outside the church. Perhaps they find a kind of community in nakedpastor that they didn’t experience inside the church. I hope that the cartoons and writings validate their decision and their journey, and theologically inform their independent spiritual path. Maybe they begin to realize that they don’t need to belong in order to believe. Or even further, maybe they can even bring belief itself into question, finally suspecting that the belief is not the thing. Having left the church, they find in nakedpastor a legitimizing of who they are and where they are in their spirituality.

I thank you all for reading.

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  • Charlie

    Point #1 described me and why I read to a tee.
    Thanks for continuing to write and share

  • kls

    I’m not sure where I stand on those above categories. I read you because I appreciate your art, and I think I understand what you are talking about most of the time, so I would read you for being a kindred spirit. I would probably qualify for both being a struggler, since a while ago I simply realized that I’ll have to switch completely and start from scratch if I want to take this thing more seriously. And your cartoons, posts, especially about freedom and about not taking God for granted / not “understanding” him have really helped me in that process. So thanks. Your blog definitely helped me to get back on my feet.

  • I’m definitely a #1 – I’ve only been a member of a congregation for a little while, and I really like that NP reminds me that senior people like you, have their quibbles and doubts too, not just me and my liberalism, and lack of understanding that comes from being new to church life. I guess you remind me that a church is made of people, worshipping God, and people are fallible and prone to messing up- but God isn’t!

  • I’m neither one nor two.

  • ttm

    I definitely fall within the description of purpose #2, and I’m still as happy to be here as the first time I visited. 🙂

    I compare my spiritual journey to the educational path of a student fortunate enough to have been schooled in public schools, then private schools, then to have been home schooled and finally to have discovered the serendipitous opportunities and freedom of unschooling. Many days my “unstructured and convention-free” spiritual learning, driven by student interest and the world around me (rather than a pastor’s vision or a church’s scope and sequence) comes via

    The “discussions” here are fascinating, enlightening and always challenging me to consider further or deeper. Discussions like that were hard to find in the church buildings I used to inhabit.

  • What are you, yourself, after, though, David?

    I can see that people can get disillusioned after bad experiences.

    But where do you want to be–and WHO is Jesus?

    Is there such a thing as “truth”? Or is there only a relativistic, make it up as you go individualism? I can’t seem to make it out.

    When I went to Japan, I became curious about Buddhism. I asked all the locals what was meant by this “spirituality”, this bowing to statues, etc. Nobody could really explain it to me. It was just something you did according to how your fancy struck you (this temple, that charm). Then I studied world religions and found that in China, or was it India, or both, you can throw out your god and find a new one and see if he performs better for you. Say the last one did not bring you the right kind of luck. When I read about Buddhism, it was just like that: practice what seems right to you, so many different ways available; whatever makes you feel good.

    But Jesus is different. He knows us. He speaks the truth. He points the finger and says: you have violated your marriage just by looking at this woman and desiring her. So it is. This is our heart. Everyone else wants to say, oh well, I did not really hurt anyone. Ya, well, you’re standard for yourself is a little low. You have disrespected your marriage by lusting.

    Of course, Jesus does not leave us there. We know the story. We are to come to him and be forgiven every day.

    Anyways, that is TRUTH. And it is not convenient and it is not whatever I chose it to be or like, and it is not like any other religion. It is surprising really. No one would have thought of it, and yet we know what he says is right.

    So much for all that.

  • It doesn’t matter whether I am a 1 or a 2. What matters is that you give people space to question and to search, many things an organized church often doesn’t appreciate.

    I don’t doubt God. I doubt man’s interpretation of God. And yes, the nakedpaster gives me the freedom and the courage to think that way AND say it out loud.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Jane Smith

    I agree with the person above: thank you, NP, for continuing to write and share and, of course, for your drawings. There is another religious art blog that quotes Picasso: “Art is a lie that tells the truth”. I don’t know what the protocols are of recommending someone else’s blog, so I’ll leave it at that. Your blog (and his) reminds me of Picasso’s words.

    Here is a question for you: you often refer to something called “spiritual abuse”.

    How would you describe spiritual abuse? Does it depend on psychological domination?

    Thank you for recommending “Prodigal prophet” the other week – this is now on order from Amazon.

    Jane Smith (Pretoria, South Africa)

  • thanks everyone. nice comments. yes… psychological domination is included. emotional manipulation. coercion. fear. etc.
    What is the name of that other blog?

  • Brigitte,

    Great questions.

    If this whole thing turns into a personal “spiritual” journey, then it will end up everywhere…and more than likely not focused on, or anchored in Christ and His gospel.

    But it makes us ‘feel good’ to be open, progressive, tolerent, and “spiritual” when it comes to matters of religion.

    The way to life is narrow and the path to destruction and death is WIDE.

    I didn’t say that, rather the One who created the universe and everything in it (said it).

  • Jane Smith

    Dear Naked Pastor

    The name of the other blog is “Counterlight’s Peculiars”.

    I notice that some of your drawings are focused on solitary figures in various landscapes. An artwork that you and readers may like is: “The anchorite of the northern forest”.