The End of the Jesus Journey? April 8, 2010

The End of the Jesus Journey?

This cartoon’s from David Hayward (a.k.a. nakedpastor), who recently left his position as church pastor.

Anyone who has walked that same course can tell you how tough that journey is.

However — and I’m sure the commenters can attest to this — you’re so much better off as a result.

If David were to draw a fifth panel to this cartoon, taking place a few months down the road, I’m pretty sure the guy at the end would have a big smile on his face.

(via nakedpastor)

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  • Coty

    I’m thinking that the progression of panels should depict the person aging and I agree with the idea of the fifth panel.

  • alex

    When I was a teenager, about 12 or so, I was a firm believer in God and Jesus. Then, amidst a certain family situation, I started to have doubts, and a decade later was convinced that religion was pretty much bull. Still, considering myself an agnostic, I wasn’t quite sure that there was no God, and sometimes would think, “what if?”. Then one day I remember reading “Why wouldn’t God heal amputees?”, and it was quite liberating. I know it might sound pompous, but now I know how much easier it is to disregard all notions of an invisible sky-man who would (or wouldn’t) grant you your wishes if you “only asked”, and wish others would find that also. At any rate, IMHO, it’s better to live in a harsh reality than in coziness of lies.

  • If David were to draw a fifth panel to this cartoon, taking place a few months down the road, I’m pretty sure the guy at the end would have a big smile on his face.

    I get the point you’re trying to make (and agree with it, insofar as it was my experience), but it seems kind of dismissive of what I’m sure is a very difficult time in this pastor’s life, and it seems wrong to presume to say how he will or won’t feel a few months from now.

    Let him live his life in his own way and tell his story in his own way and his own time. Don’t exploit him to promote a perspective that he may or may not eventually agree with.

    Just my opinion.

    And, on a side note…is it just me, or does Jesus kinda look like Kevin Smith?

  • During the 3rd ad 4th panel I would have had a gun to my head and tears in my eyes….

    but on the 5th panel…smiles…joy all around. Once you become comfortable with yourself and life without a crippling god you realize how disabled you were when you had him.

  • Yeah, that cartoon seems about right.
    My experience:

  • Margaret

    I went through the process myself. If I had to draw the above cartoon, I would show Jesus as a heavy weight on the back of the believer, who as he doubted, the load shrank, until he was finally free. It was a painful experience for me, but my only regret is that I did not do it sooner. If I could change anything, I would have liked to have been the child of atheists, and free of religious dogma from childhood. I wasted > half my life on religion, and will never go back.

  • canadiannalbeta

    I agree with Matt.

  • NV

    I was a believer until after college. I even took steps to try to get into seminary. I was what you’d call a “Jesus freak”… I listened to Christian music, went to YouthQuake, led my youth group and ran the children’s choir. When I started really examining my faith I found that a lot of things just didn’t add up. I, too, considered myself an agnostic at that time. I didn’t negate God, but I did feel that the religion I was involved in wasn’t right for me. I tried learning more and more about world religions and found that they all felt exactly the same to me. That God, Allah, Yahweh, Zeus, Buddha, Saturn, Odin etc all felt like explanations for misunderstood natural phenomena rather than a be all end all of everything. I think a lot of people go through the same thing during radical changes in their lives, with questioning a lot about themselves and what they believe about anything, not just religion, and every person has a unique experience. Some fall away from faith, some embrace it even harder, but no matter what conclusion you come to I think we all deserve respect, and that is what I find difficult about living in a world where religion is still the majority thought. That either side would think less of the other really bothers me. I think everyone goes on a journey and we all end up at different places and that should be respected.

  • JG

    I have one problem with this cartoon. I think it lends credence to the religious belief that atheists, agnostics, and those who would question religious belief and argue with those who would say that they believe with 100% certainty that there is a god, that we are only non-believers because we are mad at god, jesus, or some other fictitious godhead.

  • HamsterWheel

    That’s one of the best atheist cartoons I’ve seen in a long time. It hits dead center at the heart of a Christian’s deepest secret without being cruel or belligerent.

  • Deiloh

    Absolute worst depression of my life was the months I tried to find reasons to keep faith. Now, I am incredibly happy to be free of gods and religions.

  • fiddler

    You mean that Kevin Smith isn’t jesus? CRAP! Another attempt at faith wrecked by you godless heathens…

  • David D.G.

    If David were to draw a fifth panel to this cartoon, taking place a few months down the road, I’m pretty sure the guy at the end would have a big smile on his face.

    I was thinking the exact same thing, Hemant, and then I read my thoughts expressed in your words.

    ~David D.G.

  • jose

    It wasn’t tough at all. He faded away the year they taught us philosophy of science in philosophy class. From that we learned how we get to know things, then I read Sagan’s Demon Haunted World and Feynman’s Surely you’re joking, Mr Feynman! and others and it all just made insanely good sense. It was like “this actually works, this makes things happen!”

    It was all pretty exciting actually.

    If I had drawn it, I’d have doodled Jesus fading with me not even noticing it. I’ve never considered it much of a loss. It didn’t use to work so well anyway.

  • I’ll gently point out that if you read his whole blog he has not lost his faith. I find this post distasteful and dismissive to be honest – using his work to project your own path onto him. I’m disappointed. It leaves bad taste in my mouth and reminds me of non believers who reveled in my leaving the faith as if it was a victory for their side instead of an incredibly painful journey for me. You may have taken note of it being a hard journey but then surmised, ah sure, he’ll be happier. You certainly assumed a lot, mostly incorrectly, in this post.


  • Sabrina

    It describes how I felt as well. But am I all happy about it? Not completely. Having your family not liking it and your youngest child telling you that you going to hell mom does hurt. Now it is getting a bit easier. I am not alone in my family though thank goodness. My 17 year old nephew is atheist as well, but we still have to talk about our views almost in private. Which consists to happen in my bedroom and my theist husband not liking it much to hear it. He supports me thank goodness along with being worried about me at the same time. Sorry for talking so much.

  • Erp

    I have to agree with Jynnan and Her Idealisticness. Some of us are projecting onto the cartoon what the artist does not feel (but the great thing about Nakedpastor is his cartoons are open to multiple sometimes contradictory interpretations). I also read his blog.

  • Killer Bee

    Satan caused his fall by finding the chink in his armor: intellectual curiosity.

    There but for the grace of God go they.

  • @Her Idealisticness — I’m aware David is still a religious man, but whether it’s the loss of organized religion or Jesus, I think he’s better off as a result. I didn’t mean to suggest that’s what *he’s* thinking, but based on what I know of other’s journeys, they end up ok after the tough transition period.

  • Kevin Smith as Jesus. Damn, I’d like to see that movie.

  • I think that there should be earlier panels as a child where no Jesus existed until he was introduced by family and friends. For me that imaginary friend has never been there because he was never introduced. It is odd to see how others assume that Jesus was somehow always there and then you let it go.

  • JRK

    Funny, I never thought of Jesus as being “with” me. Perhaps that is why it was so easy for me to let religion go…

  • XPK

    I have to say I am in full favor of the fourth panel being the last panel. Looking at the first panel I am reminded of the maniacal happiness that I once concocted as a believer. In the last panel I don’t need a huge smile because the only reason I was smiling in the first panel was because of the delusion.

    I think I look okay in that last panel. Why do I need a huge smile to be okay? I personally have found it much easier to lose “God” versus losing my friends, relatives, and parents in the collateral damage. I may not be walking with a smile, but at least I am still walking.

  • Wow. This is why I love NP. He always illustrates so clearly through his artwork what it takes me 5000 words to say unclearly.

  • MoeNeigh

    I think for the longest, I thought I needed God, Jesus, religion, to find my way in life. When I finally realized I didn’t, I thought of a poem that I read that really made sense to me. This is my translation of a poem by the Spanish author, Antonio Machado:

    Wayfarer, it is your footprints
    that are the way, and nothing else.
    Wayfarer, there is no way,
    You make the way as you go,
    As you go, you make the way,
    And when you look back,
    You see the path that will never
    be trodden again.
    Wayfarer, there is no way,
    Only the wake of ships in the sea.

  • fritzy

    Wow–Love that cartoon. Pretty much describes my loss of faith. Very painful experience. Very painful.

    Of course, looking back, there is nothing you could offer me to go back to that kind of delusion. Who knows what journey the naked pastor will take, but your description, Hemant, of the “5th panel” is pretty much identical to what mine would be.

    The point I find most interesting about this whole concept of a “personal relationship with Jesus” is that it is a relatively new one. I think it was a meme created in this century to provide a post enlightenment world a reason to keep believing. There is certainly no Biblical root to this notion, and historically, the only relationship that existed was a patriarical hiararchy with God presumably at the top, the inerrant Church a close second and the human wreckage below that had absolutly no say in it’s own destiny, beyond the presumed choice of eternal bliss or everlasting damnation. Considering that it’s the only part of the xtian faith that kept me believing for as long as I did, I would reckon the church would not be very substantial in numbers if it weren’t for this “own personal Jesus” concept.

  • SmilingAtheist

    Since I see this as art, it’s left to each person to interpret it as they see it.

    Not being a person who went through the different stages I cannot comment on how one feels.

    My feelings about this is that he’s feeling alone now. Whether this is lack of faith or not I don’t know.

  • I would still be about the fourth panel myself right at the moment. A little bit depressed and lost and still questioning “hey, maybe he does exist.” The most painful part of losing my faith is that I know my family will be upset and disappointed when they realize (my sister cried when she realized it, my father thinks atheists are ‘the enemy’)

    I’ll be better for in in the future, I know. Most important I find is how much amazement there is in the universe and science. My mind has opened up even more, and I’m just completeled awed by the natural world. I won’t climb a mountain and think “god made this for me.” Instead, I’ll climb that same mountain and just be stunned at the beauty of nature.

  • Miki

    I went from panel 3 to an overwhelming sense of relief and a stunning appreciation for the moments in which I’m living.

  • SmilingAtheist

    Hmm… just went back to David’s blog, it would appear that people are misunderstanding his cartoon. He said his last panel should have a smile on his face. He isn’t ‘bummed’ like everyone is assuming. Interesting. Whether he is on a godless path or not I’m not sure though.

  • conundri

    I want to point this out again. I am an atheist, who also used to be a Christian. There definitely is a 5th panel, and it should have other people in it. In fact. All 4 of the panels that are there now, should have other people in them. This man is married, where is his wife in this picture? where are his friends? They are not “in the picture”. The Religious people that I know often spend far too much time on their “relationship” with an imaginary “god/jesus”, instead of with the real physical people all around them. This is what’s wrong with all 4 of these panels. If his wife and friends were in them, then the disappearance of one imaginary friend among a crowd of real people, wouldn’t be the sad and lonely event that is depicted here!

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