Branded the “Naked Pastor,” cartoonist David Hayward calls himself “a graffiti artist on the walls of religion.” He started a blog in 2005 after 30 years in ministry in Presbyterian and Vineyard congregations, and discovered spiritual independence through art. He lives near Saint John, N.B.
On cartooning and rainbow sheep:
With a cartoon – which I try to keep to one frame – you see it in a split second and the message is delivered. You can’t un-see it. I love the speed, the effectiveness and the power of a single image to convey something that’s on my mind. The neat thing about [my] cartoons is that the sheep are cute and people love them, and when they’re rainbow sheep, it puts a twist on it so that someone who is not affirming suddenly feels this conflict inside – this sheep is adorable, why would you not allow them to be a part of the flock?
A group of people are talking to their pastor: "Pastor, the Spirit has revealed to us that there's a gay person in our church!" The pastor thinks to himself, "What will they do when they find out it's me?"#Exvangelical #ChurchToo #Church #cartoon #LGBTQ pic.twitter.com/ivNBd4eJH3
— David Hayward (@nakedpastor) March 4, 2021
On drawing parables:
I compare what I do to parables. Short, pithy little stories that don’t seem to have anything to do with religion and often don’t mention God or anything spiritual at all. They’re just tiny little stories but the response to these stories is either joyful or enraged. One of my first LGTBQ cartoons is a man walking hand in hand with Jesus and he says, ‘I’m sorry, Jesus, but I think I’m gay,’ and Jesus says, ‘Relax, dude, I already knew that.’ You have this picture in your mind of Jesus accepting, even touching, a gay man. You can’t get rid of the thought. For some, it’s very disturbing and for others, really encouraging and validating. A cartoon has the same kind of power as a parable.
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On spiritual independence:
When we start questioning authority and systems, that’s when the church drops the ball; because losing control of the people and not being able to dictate to the people is uncomfortable. I think congregations would be healthier if people were given permission to really explore and research and discover what their spirituality looks like. If they can do that, in community, I think it creates a richer, deeper, fuller relationship. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see or experience that a lot.
— David Hayward (@nakedpastor) March 3, 2021
On being naked:
[When] I started blogging in 2005, I wanted people to see behind the curtain of what it means to be in ministry for real. I wanted them to see not only the joys and victories, the fun and the fellowship, but also the struggles and frustrations and doubts and fears, the financial struggles and conflicts. What really goes on in the life of a pastor. The word ‘naked’ means vulnerable, raw, open, real, transparent, honest.
LOL I did a cartoon about this. pic.twitter.com/GZ2gkLjkA3
— David Hayward (@nakedpastor) March 3, 2021
On being a disruptor:
A lot people think I’m trying to destroy the church, that I’m an enemy of Christianity or ministry. But they’re not getting it – I’m for the church. I love the church. The church is my mother, spiritually, but can we please do it in healthy ways? That’s my beat. I do critique the church and theology and the ministry because I’ve seen it done right and well, in healthy ways, in affirming and inclusive ways. It is marvelous to witness and experience. It’s beautiful. But we don’t see it very much. That’s why I’m interpreted as a disruptor.
This interview first appeared in Broadview’s April/May 2021 issue with the title “David Hayward.”
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