the church as we know it is becoming history

the church as we know it is becoming history June 29, 2013
let my people go cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Last week, I wrote this for The Lasting Supper, which you’re invited to join. This is some of the stuff we talk about:

Sometimes I find it strange that I still think biblically. In other words, I still look for a kind of biblical story within which to fit my own narrative. For example, lately I’ve been thinking just how far outside the church I have become and feel. Let me explain.

Jesus was a radical within a monotheistic culture, society and country. It was perfectly homogenous. When you were this radical the only solution was death because there were no other options. When Paul came along, there were options. There was diversity. But the way they dealt with Paul was to exile him, remove him from the community, shun and reject him.

Even at the very end of his life, Paul continued trying to make a seamless connection between Judaism and “this sect” (Acts 28: 22). Finally, he gave up and said, “… this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” He tried for a while to bridge the gap, but after many years he finally gave up on the synagogue and even Judaism and, basically, started a new religion that came to be known as Christianity. This isn’t to say he still connected with some Jews and kept relationship with them. But the big picture was Judaism could not embrace this new sect and so this sect remained outside and became something new and even separate.

This is where I feel I’m at right now. Christianity and the church, although I’m still in conversation with it, compares to the Judaism Paul was dealing with. Even though he carried within him his Jewish roots, he blossomed into something entirely new and different. He left Judaism behind.

I carry within me my Christian roots. But I feel like I’m turning my back on all this and turning my eyes towards something entirely new and different. I don’t know what “it” looks like because there is no “it”. All I see is “them” that is now becoming “us”. How this plays out practically in my life I’ve yet to discern.

But here’s one thing: I know nakedpastor has helped a lot of people. It has been my way of tearing my way out of the old regime. But now I’m in the new… whatever that is. A lot of the reaction I get for what I do is hyper religious bullshit and I just can’t stand listening to that completely useless drivel anymore. And the reactions I get on Facebook to my cartoons and stuff… I just don’t care anymore.

So now I’m asking myself how to leave behind all that crap, how to continue nakedpastor in a meaningful and useful way, and how to speak a new language to a new people. I don’t know yet. All I know is that it is time for something new. Not a new regime. But new spacious space for freedom.

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  • Pat68

    Maybe shut down the nakedpastor page, keep the TLS group, The Lasting Supper and blogging for Patheos. That might minimize some of it, but of course, you’d still have to deal with some of the vitriol in the comments here. Ultimately, I don’t think there’s really any way to escape it totally without isolating one’s self and then that doesn’t make us any different than those we’ve run from who do the same.

  • it will become clear. it usually does.

  • Gary

    Naked Pastor has been the avenue so many of us have found you through. There will always be those at the early stage of questioning that need a place to challenge the institution and to be challenged. It is part of the growing process in my opinion. I would hate to see you close it simply for the purpose it serves. I would not be a TLS member had it not been for my time spent here.

  • Carol

    There is One God, but there have always been many spiritual paths to the One God. That is not to say that all paths are equal, only that they are all different and what works for one person, may not work for another. We have only to look at the witness of Creation to realize that the One God loves diversity!

    The uniquely Christian Revelation in theTrinitarian and Christological Mysteries provide the spiritual paths that speak most deeply to me although I find many valid insights in other spiritual traditions, especially the Eastern Religions and even primitive shamanism.

    The Christian Tradition is a relatively recent newcomer to the family of Great Religious Traditions. It has only begun to unpack the meaning of its Mysteries. Unfortunately, the rationalistic dogmatic absolutism of the Enlightenment (Modernism), which could be understood to be a narrowing of the Renaissance epistemological expansion, has infected both secular and theological Western European thought.

    The radical epistemological scepticism of post-modernism was an over-reaction to the epistemological hubris Modernist faith in rationalistic certainty. Fortunately, the post-post Modernist realization that, although human reason cannot provide us with absolute certainty since that would require omniscience [a Divine, not a human attribute], we can know many things with a relatively high degree of probability. Once the critical mass has moved from absolute certainty vs. radical scepticism to the possibility of knowing objective truth with high degree of probability through subjective trial and error methodology we will once again begin to experience a “Golden Age” of learning. I believe that we are on the verge of a Copernican shift in human consciousness. Our information technology is facilitating networking between people with open inquiring minds even more effective than the invention of the printing press and we know the 16th century cultural changes–for both good and ill–that technological development produced.

    The modernist age, of “one way, one truth, one city”, is dead and gone. The postmodernist age of “anything goes” is on the way out.
    Reason can take us a long way, but it has limits.
    Let us embrace post-postmodernism—and pray for a better name.
    ~Tom Turner, City as landscape: a post-postmodern view of design and planning

    The sacred history of redemption is still going on. It is now the history of the Church that is the Body of Christ.
    The Spirit-Comforter is already abiding in the Church. No complete system of Christian faith is yet possible, for the Church is still on her pilgrimage. And the Bible is kept by the Church as a book of history to remind believers of the dynamic nature of the divine revelation, “at sundry times and in divers manners.” ~Georges V. Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View

  • Yes I don’t plan on closing it. It’s how to move it with me to where I am now. That’s what I meant. Thanks Gary.

  • Al Cruise

    I don’t know how you keep doing this, easily your best one yet. Wow!

  • Alice

    This describes exactly where I am.

  • thanks alice

  • why thanks al.

  • Seamus King

    David, you’re a prophet for an authentic spiritual path in the steps of Jesus. Like Jesus, like Paul, like Jeremiah, like Isaiah, you will always have your feet in two worlds, be they Judah and Babylon, Judaism and Christianity, or modern Christianity and the new reality beyond. I get the feeling that your involvement in The Lasting Supper, along with your extensive research and time away from your past, is making you feel more grounded and at peace in that world beyond the traditional church and Christianity. Good for you. You’re finding a new voice and confidence to speak more from that. I can see the shift in your more recent work. It’s subtle, but pretty striking when viewed against your older stuff. Keep following that. Those who cannot see will not be able to follow. That’s too bad. But you must be true to yourself. You’ll alienate a portion of your audience no matter what you do. But, your Christian roots will still be there and decipherable, just as Paul’s strong Judaic upbringing in the rabbinical tradition is blatantly obvious in the books he authored.

    Tap into that prophetic root and give us what you have from where you are now. Embrace it. Go for it. I have a feeling we’ll like it an awful lot and cheer you on all the more. Haters gonna hate.

    Now, in the vein of Paul to Timothy, go drink some Unibroue. It should settle your stomach and your mind, as well as give you a reason to be proud to be Canadian 😉


  • klhayes

    And that is why those clinging to the old are fighting tooth and nail! Keep up the good work, David!

  • Al Cruise

    No problem. It takes a lot for me to say wow.

  • Joe Hovemeyer

    Your struggles with the hard-heartedness of the Church remind me of Elijah’s struggles with the hard-heartedness of Israel. Elijah goes into the wilderness, and finally makes his way to Mt. Sinai. “Why are you here?,” he is asked. There is the infamous “still, small voice, gentle whisper, or the sound of sheer slience.” Elijah laments the hard-heartedness of Israel. Eventually, the voice just says “go back the way you came.” There is no pep talk. Just go back. There are some steps to take “next things” in the ongoing struggle to be faithful to the call to be a prophet.