David Hayward: Naked Pastor

Artists, Authors, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Podcast
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This week’s guest is David Hayward, also known as The Naked Pastor. David is “a pastor turned artist painting, drawing, and thinking about what it takes to be free to be you.” 

For over a decade, David has been creating online spaces for anyone “interested in deconstruction, spiritual journeying, freedom of thought, or looking for your authentic self.” His personal story and the wisdom he’s gained over the years continue to speak to those of us who have completely left religion and those who still believe. 

For more information, be sure to check out David’s website and follow him online!




David’s Books



More from David Hayward
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More from Carlo Rovelli


“So one of the big things that we do when we deconstruct if we keep going in the deconstruction or the deconversion direction, is we demystify everything, everything has to be demystified. De-magical-ized I don’t know what the word is. De-supernatural-ize everything.
… So one of the things we do when we deconstruct, is that magical thinking has to go.”

“I wanted to pull back the curtain and let people see what the life of a real pastor is like. I wanted to be totally transparent and honest and vulnerable and open…That’s why I chose ‘Naked Pastor.’”

“I just had a moment where I saw the connectivity and the oneness, the unity of all things. It was a profound instant where I saw the unity of everything…From that moment on, I experienced a profound peace of mind that I’d been seeking for my whole life…”

“…the inner life of a person which includes, mental, emotional, psychological, everything…All that, to me, is ‘spiritual’.”

“For me, my deconstruction started way back in seminary when I started questioning the inspiration of Scripture.”

“[My wife and I] had to come to the realization that it wasn’t compatibility of belief that held us together. That wasn’t the glue…There was love and mutual respect, wonder and appreciation for this person who isn’t exactly like you. That is what made our marriage better.”

“[Marriage is] an agreement for each of us to grow, and to make space for one another and constantly adapt to that growth.” 

“I don’t label myself. The can of food is very comfortable with its contents. It doesn’t need the label…The label is for other people, slapped on, so I can put you in the right place on the right shelf. And we do that with human beings. We put a label on people so we know where to put them.”

“My home is in Christianity, but I have cottages everywhere.”

“I appreciate my roots, but I’m not going to let them limit me.”


X-Shaped Hole In Your Heart

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NOTE: This transcript is AI produced (otter.ai) and likely has many mistakes. It is provided as rough guide to the audio conversation.

David Ames  0:11  
This is the graceful atheist podcast United studios podcast. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. My name is David, and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Thank you to all my patrons on patreon.com. If you too would like an ad free experience of the podcast and receive the occasional bonus episode, please become a patron at any level on patreon.com/graceful atheist. Our Facebook group deconversion Anonymous is trying to be a safe place to land for those people who are doubting, questioning, deconstructing, and even D converting. Please join us at facebook.com/groups/deconversion Special thanks to Mike T for editing today's show. On today's show, our lien interviews Our guests today, David Hayward, the naked Pastor David deconstructed very early relative to the rest of us, suffered the pain of leaving ministry, and has since become an artist and an author. He is very well known for the cartoons he draws that are biting commentary on the church, as well as freeing and embracing the diversity of humanity. David has written a number of books, including a book for partnerships that have a disparity in faith or lack thereof called till doubt do us part. His most recent book is called flip it like this is a book of cartoons, some of his great work, one of his earlier works, I also really appreciate his called questions are the answer. You can find David at naked pasture.com. There'll be links in the show notes for his website and his books. Here is our Lean interviewing David Hayward.

Arline  2:08  
Hi, David, welcome to the graceful atheist podcast.

David Hayward  2:12  
Thank you. Thanks for having me on your show. Good to be here. Nice to meet you early.

Arline  2:16  
Nice to meet you. I'm, I'm excited. I followed your work on Instagram over the past couple of years. And it's funny, it's clever. And it is extremely timely, often and I'm always impressed with the work that you do. I've learned a lot also.

David Hayward  2:34  
I appreciate that. Thanks very much. It's good to hear positive things back from people that you know, I'm doing some work that people appreciate. I don't always hear it that way. But I'm really grateful when I do.

Arline  2:48  
Yes, I can imagine the the pushback that you would receive for some of your work. But um, the way we always begin is just tell us about the spiritual environment of your childhood.

David Hayward  3:01  
I grew up in a I would say a Christian home I when I was born, I was baptized Anglican when I was a baby. I'm in Canada. So that would be if you're in the States, I would be Episcopal. And I grew up in a home where my father worked for the Ontario Provincial Police where he was transferred quite a bit every couple of years. So we moved a lot in in Ontario, Canada. And so we never, we never graduate. We never gravitated towards the same church denomination we are whatever was convenient and closest or, you know, most fun or most fruitful, you know. So I grew up in a home that was Christian, but at the same time not devoted to any one denomination. And some people think that's a handicap but for me, I saw it as an advantage where I I didn't feel like I needed to stay in the Anglican Church or wherever I ended up. And I always found myself gravitating towards churches that I felt had the most space for me to grow. And to become my most authentic self and even as a pastor I found myself gravitating towards churches that were were a good environment for me and my family to become our truest self. So, you know, I, I was like I said it was we were Anglican. We went into the United Church. We were in the Catholic Church. We were in the Baptist Church, Pentecostal church. I went to a Pentecostal Bible college. I went to an evangelical seminary, got my master's, I got ordained as a Presbyterian minister, and then I switched to vineyard, which is where I ended my ministry and vineyard for people who don't know it's kind of a it's an evangelical move. then kind of a mixture of Baptists teaching and Pentecostal kind of experience. So that's where I ended up. And I, you know, I met my wife at Bible College. We served in the ministry together for many years, roughly 30 years. And then I left the ministry in 2010. And decided to see if I could make my blog naked pastor, full time gig. And it worked. So that's what I do now.

Arline  5:31  
Wow. Very cool. So was there anything specific that led you out of ministry? Or was it just that seemed to be the next right choice for you?

David Hayward  5:39  
Well, it didn't feel like the right choice. But it was because I no longer felt I had the freedom to grow, were in the direction I wanted to grow. So I was starting to get, you know, phone calls from head office and things, suggesting I toned down my cartoons or my posts, and maybe run things through them first for approval. And that's just not the way I live my life. My most fundamental drive, I think, is personal freedom to be who I am. And, you know, that was a huge infringement on that personal freedom of mine, even as a pastor. So that happened that started happening in around 2009. And then in 2010, was when I finally realized I had to go my own way.

Arline  6:32  
So you were already writing you're already drawing? Were you already like, on Instagram? So I am, as of 2020, was when I was like, I don't think I was 2019. I don't think I believe all this stuff anymore in mind, my husband realized he couldn't believe in 2017. And that sent me on a journey and then 2019 And so that's when I first even got on the internet, want to on the internet, but on social media to be like, am I the only person who's gone through this? So it's only been a few years that I'm familiar with your work, but all the way back to 2010? Or before that you were already online and your church people didn't love your online presence?

David Hayward  7:11  
Well, I I started blogging as as naked. pastor.com. And in 2000, sorry, 2005. I started a blog. Yeah, around 2004 2005. I started blogging as naked pasture. And at that point, I'd already been painting and stuff. But I would post written blog posts and I would share my paintings, landscapes mostly. And I it was in 2006, I think where I had been following a cartoonist online, and I thought it just suddenly dawned on me, hey, why don't I try drawing cartoons and see what happens? And they took off. And so I decided to make cartoons, my primary means of communication. And you know, a lot of fun. I thought it would last maybe a month, because I challenged myself to draw one every day until I ran it. But here I am. Many, many years later, still drawing cartoons. And pissing people off.

Arline  8:16  
I love it. I love it, pissing people off and also making the rest of us go like, that is such a clever way to say that, like, that's exactly what I was thinking. And, and it's so concise. And it's, in my personal opinion, way more interesting than like a tweet, where it's just words, but like, the pictures are fantastic.

Going back, where did make it pasture? Where did where did the moniker come from?

David Hayward  8:47  
I started out as David hayward.ca, which stands for Canada. And then I saw that's kind of boring, and I really wanted.com And so I, I called my blog, Church pundit.com. And after a while, I thought, Gee, that sounds kind of pretentious, and kind of boring. And so I for some reason, I searched for naked pasture.com Because at that time, like the naked chef, oh, geologist, and he could true thought that was kind of cool. And I had inadvertently entered into a auction for the, for the URL astra.com Because some months later, I got an email saying Congratulations, you won the auction and my stomach just dropped because I thought oh, how much you know? Like 70 bucks, like nobody wants it. Right. I got a good pastor.com Because I was a pastor at the time. And blogs are a lot of pastors blogging at the time. And you know, talking about theology and about their church services and their sermons and their premium coffee and doughnuts and Bible studies and home groups and leaders and worship, all that stuff. And I wanted to pull back the curtain and let people see what the life of a real pastor is like. And I wanted to be totally transparent and honest and vulnerable and open. And so that's why I chose naked pastor. It's just me being totally out there, unadorned and raw and real. And, you know, for the first while, I mean, I started in absolute Oblivion, like nobody heard about me or anything, and even my own congregation was like, why would we read your blog when we have to listen to you every week already? So I was under the radar for for many years, but it was when I started drawing the cartoons. And they started to, they started to get noticed. And, you know, I was a little bit you might call progressive in my thinking, and might have been, might have been associated with progressive Christianity at that time. But in 2009, I had a profound sort of epiphany moment where it was very mystical experience, no, no chemicals or mushrooms involved. It was just, I just was had a moment where I saw the connectivity, and the oneness, the unity of all things. It was just a profound instant, where I just saw the unity of everything. And that there's one reality that we all share. But we all have different perspectives and opinions and descriptions of of that one reality. And I just sort of naively started sharing that in my blog. That's when I started getting in trouble because it was being seen, it was being interpreted that I was deviating away from orthodoxy at that point. And, yeah, naturally, and I was a bit naive, because for me, it was a very profound, liberating experience, where from that moment on, I experienced profound peace of mind that I'd been seeking for my whole life, I finally experienced that peace of mind, Theologically speaking, ever everything was at rest. And I was excited to share this experience of peace of mind and freedom. And, but it, it made quite a few people unhappy. And it was in 2009, when I started getting in trouble. And people started concern and, and I knew my time was up. And sure enough, it was a year later when I left.

Arline  13:00  
So what did leaving leaving the ministry look like? Was that like, leaving belief Bible god, like? Because I've heard Derrick Webb has said before, you know, we deconstruct different things, but that, you know, the God of the Bible, or the Bible or church, and there's so many different things, but none of it necessarily leads to any specific place. So I'm curious, like, what did that look like?

David Hayward  13:24  
That's, I really agree with what you just said. deconstruction doesn't necessarily lead you to any certain place. And I emphasize that all the time, because there is quite a few movements out there trying to steer people to certain conclusions. And that, to me, undermines the whole purpose of deconstruction was which is basically questioning your beliefs and, and becoming spiritually independent. So, and by spiritual, I'm not necessarily invoking any divinity or supernatural what I when I, when I say spiritual, I'm talking about the inner life of a person, which includes mental, emotional, psychological, everything, all that combined, to me, is spiritual. It's kind of in the kind of a union kind of a field to it to me. Yeah. So I believe and I've said this for a long time, I think for Christians or believers, there's two different deconstructions one is theological and one is ecclesiological. So there's a theological deconstruction when you question your beliefs and, you know, it's kind of like the blue or the red pill to see how far down the rabbit hole go. And you can keep going. The other one is ecclesiological, where you deconstruct your relationship to the church. And my observations are that people who deconstruct Ecclesia logically don't necessarily deconstruct theologically. So I know a lot of people who left the church who are just as dogmatic and fundamentalist they were in In the church, deconstruct the illogical often their relationship with the church has to change. That makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. It's like any relationship really like your I, I'm assuming you're still married, I'm married when I my mind about very important issues that affects the relationship. So it's the same with people. When they change their minds theologically, it's going to affect the relationship to the church.

So for me, 2009 that moment, profound flash of insight moment for me, was the conclusion or the culmination of decades of theological anguish. It's for me, my deconstruction started way back in seminary when I started questioning the inspiration of Scripture. And it took that long for everything to kind of, it was kind of like the final piece of 1000 piece puzzle just sort of snapped into place, the picture came into view, and it was done. Then I had to leave the ministry, which meant leaving the church for me. And that was a whole other ball of wax that happened pretty quickly. But it took but my theological deconstruction took decades, whereas my ecclesiological deconstruction happened overnight, and, and it took Lisa and I, a couple of years to find your feet again, that was a really rough period of time. To the point now, where we're, we're doing great, we're better than we've ever been, ever. But it took a lot of negotiating to figure out how to navigate those really, really tumultuous times.

Arline  16:51  
Yeah, I can empathize my husband. We met in college ministry like that. So like, we were, we were Calvinists. So it's like John Piper, my Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, this, that's our world for a long time. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Neither of us grew up in the church. So we did, we at least had some sense of self when we became Christian. So we didn't have I've, you know, interviewing people and just getting to know people. The things people have to pull apart from what they were taught when they were little, tiny kids. I mean, it's just this whole other experience. But um, our everything was based off of Jesus and the Church and all that. And then 2017, you know, he would we become parents and just things start changing for him, to where he's like, I don't think I can believe in the God of the Bible anymore. And I'm like, so yeah, that tumultuous time where it's like, the, I was told, marry a godly man, find my bow, as you know, like, and then everything will just go wonderfully. And, and at least, you know, just so many promises that they make you. And they do say, you know, marriage isn't for making you happy. It's for making you holy, and all this stuff. But it was still like, I just had expectations that we were always going to be Christians.

David Hayward  18:07  
And I gotta write that. Cartoon out of that. I'm sorry.

Arline  18:13  
Yes, that some of the little one liners that pastors can come up with. But yeah, so I can empathize with just that time of being married and things are just so vastly different than you ever expected. And it was scary for us. It took it was about two years before I was like, and he never tried to D convert me like it was never, it was never like evangelizing for not believing it was just, I just had to figure out well, especially being Calvinists, he can't lose his salvation. So like what what has happened? So yeah, I can empathize with that experience.

David Hayward  18:49  
No, it was it was such a profound experience for Lisa and I, that I wrote a book about a called till death do us part when changing beliefs change your marriage? Oh, wow. Yeah. Because it's happening a lot. There's not many resources out there for couples. Most books for marriage are you need to be compatible, and you need to believe the same things and hold the same value. Whereas Lisa and I suddenly we're on. We're not on the same page anymore. Are we even in the same chapter? Are we in the book? Are we in the same library? You know, so it was it was really difficult to figure out how to be married again.

Arline  19:31  
Yes, we will make sure all of your resources are in the show notes. We have a Facebook group deconversion anonymous, is the name of it. It's based off the episodes that we do. And there are lots of, you know, for want of a better term term, unequally yoked marriages and we have people who one yet one has D converted, the other hasn't and it's hard for the believing spouse to understand we have a least one person in the group who is still a Christian, but their spouse has D converted. And he was just looking for like somebody else who no longer believes I'm not sure how he found the Facebook group, but who know who no longer believes to help him understand his wife. It's so hard on marriages, it's so hard on both both people. And we only usually have one or the other in the group. But um, yeah, yeah, there aren't a lot of resources. You're exactly right. There aren't.

David Hayward  20:28  
Yeah, but I think it's a great opportunity for us to grow as individuals, when our spouses change on such a dramatic level, like Lisa and I, we've been married now we're going on through 43 years, holy, very nice.

Arline  20:42  

David Hayward  20:45  
we, like I said, are better now than we've ever been. Because, you know, we grew along side by side for so many years. And we were serving in the church together. And it was kind of like our lives were kind of mirroring each other. And then when that happened, though, she decided to go to university, she was 48 years old, she decided to go to university and get a nursing degree. And so she's a nurse. And I decided to, I went and taught at a university for a couple of years. And then it was in 2012, when I thought, I'm going to see if I can make make a pastor go. And it worked. But we, our lives now were so very, very different. And our beliefs were different and everything. So it was tricky. But we come to the realization that it wasn't compatibility, a belief that held us together. That wasn't the glue, we always kind of assumed it was. There was love and mutual respect, and wonder and appreciation for this person who isn't exactly like you. And that, for me is what made our marriage better.

Arline  22:06  
David Ames, the main interviewer, the the actual graceful atheists, that's his, that's his moniker. He he and his wife, she is still a believer. And he has said the same thing. It's like, it's love. It's respect. It's honoring and loving her whole self. And she loving him. Not like because we were told in that well, that my husband and I were told in the church that yes, Jesus and you having the same beliefs, even very particular theological agreement, is what's going to hold you together. And so when you don't have that, you think, oh, no, there isn't anything left. And then you just slowly for me, I just watched Donnie be the same husband be the same person he'd always been. And I was like this, nothing. Our values haven't changed. Nothing has changed. I, I expected things to get crazy. But yeah, you're exactly right. It's respect and love.

David Hayward  23:01  
Yeah, it goes back to that. That vision I had in 2009, or experience where I saw the oneness of all things. That there's one reality but a zillion thoughts. So when Lisa changes her thoughts, she's still Lisa, kind of like the river out front of my house. It's very deep and wide, and not a deep, deep level, it's still the kind of cases River, the surface does all the time. But that doesn't change the fact that it's still the same river. And so, you know, our beliefs are like that. I think they're constantly changing and moving or thoughts are changing and moving. And, but at a deep and fundamental level, I'm still me and Lisa still hurt. I remember the first time I saw the Solon Bible College walk into the cafeteria was like, it wasn't, Oh, my goodness, she believes in the substitutionary atonement. No, I it was totally different than the attraction that happened with theology or belief. That came later, but we got back to that primary wonder for each other. And which comes before belief, you know?

Arline  24:21  
Yes. Because you don't know anything about her when you first meet someone, you know?

David Hayward  24:27  
Yeah, I mean, isn't that marriage though, when when you marry someone, you're you're not saying I'm going to marry you never change. Basically, you're saying never grow up. Never become more self aware. Never peel back the layers of your own onion within to become a deeper person, because I wouldn't be able to handle it. It's the opposite. It's like you, you go deeper into yourself and become more self aware and more of an individual individuated person more Have an authentic individual. And I will love that. I will love you for that. And, and so that to me is what marriage is the agreement for each of us to grow and to make space for one another and constantly adapt to that growth.

Arline  25:18  
Yes, I agree completely. 21 year old Arline should not be in 40 year old Arline's body doing life? Absolutely not I, Oh, heavens, poor little young.

Thinking back to that time, that hard time when y'all were married. And for people who are listening, what are some of the things that you guys found to be most helpful when, when you had different beliefs, differing beliefs?

David Hayward  25:55  
Well, there's the obvious ones, and that is therapy finding a good counselor. Or, for us, also, I believe in the value of a good coach, if you can find one. They're more expensive. Yeah, find one. That's good as well. Hopefully, you've got a few friends around that love you both, and can provide a safe space for you guys. And then there's each other. And this, this is the hard part, this is where you sit down with one another, and you have the hard conversations. And, you know, the very uncomfortable squirming kind of conversations. And so that, to me, is is the most important thing. Like Lisa and I went into this transition, this traumatic transition, kind of with tools in our belt already. We'd already been to marriage retreats, and marriage weekends, and we'd already been for marriage counseling several times. And we've read a lot of books on marriage and relationships and love and had already had our government communication skills down. So that when we went into this situation, we weren't caught off guard completely. And we had tools at our disposal. I remember, a few years ago, this was before COVID, we were in a room with a bunch of couples, and we ended up talking about marriage for some reason, or whatever. And I said, well, has anybody here been to like a marriage weekend? Or a marriage retreat? No. Nobody's been to a marriage. Well, anybody here been for marriage counseling? Nobody? Well, has anybody here read a book on marriage? Nobody. So it when when a crisis comes to, to their relationships are totally unprepared. You you learn the skills of how to be married. Hopefully you you have them those skills before a crisis. It's hard to you know, as they say, drain the swamp when you up to your ass and alligators.

Arline  28:22  
That's very true. So my first thought is the hubby and I had also been to marriage retreats. And we we had read but what I had read the books, he's not a book reader, I'd read the books and then give him that, you know, too long didn't read kind of stuff. But there are some problematic things in Christian marriage books. So are you saying like, just the the basic things that are this is universally probably helpful in interpersonal relationships, communication, listening, all those kinds of things. Like just having those.

David Hayward  28:59  
Yeah, so when people ask now about marriage books, I recommend mine for one part, but then there's people like David snark, who wrote passionate marriage, which is, I think the best book on marriage out there. There's Esther Perel.

Arline  29:17  
Yes, she's fantastic.

David Hayward  29:19  
Yeah, there's Gabor Ma Tei. There's other people writing about relationships out there, who I recommend to people. It's, it's really, really it's just about being interested in human growth, and makeup and psychology and depth. Even reading Carl Jung and dream interpretation and, you know, understanding the Anima and the Animus and, you know, the female aspect for the male and the male aspect for the female and all that all those kinds of things are just little tools that we use to understand ourselves better. The shadow side of ourselves, for example, learning how to integrate that rather than reject that, like Christianity tends to want to do. So yeah, it's, there's there's a lot of books out there. And a lot of information to help people in their marriage, relationships or in other relationships. Yeah. And so like the David snark book, passionate marriage has been around for many years. But it's one that I recommend all the time. And even if you just read that one and study it intently, it's, it's your 90% there, you know, it's just a resource.

Arline  30:52  
And I wasn't expecting to have a whole lot of this discussion. But how about for couples, I've seen different discussion in our Facebook group. One of them is like, Oh, well, you have D converted, or I have, I have d converted, and I don't want to do this anymore. Now whether there's more to it, you know, we don't know that just seems to be something that's been brought up where one spouse is like, this can't work because you're not a Christian, or I'm not a Christian anymore.

David Hayward  31:22  
So one of the big things that we do, when we deconstruct if we keep going in the deconstruction or the deconversion direction, is we demystify everything, everything has to be demystified, the magical lies. I don't know what the word is. The supernatural is everything. You know, for many of us, Christians, we grew up in a Christian culture or became absorbed in a Christian culture that said, marriage is forever. And, and, you know, God's blessing and God and all this stuff. And it was all, you know, very scary, sacred, you couldn't even have sex with somebody, because they would take part of your soul with them. And, you know, save yourself for your spouse, because otherwise you're giving your soul parts of your soul away at all to do all this magical thinking, right? So one of the things we want we deconstructed is that magical thinking has to go. And there's another book too, John did her Joan did her on the Year of Magical Thinking, fantastic, but

Arline  32:33  
it's on my TBR list, actually, oh, it's so good.

David Hayward  32:38  
And where she, she spent a whole year she lost her husband, in a whole year, magical thinking. And that book meant so much to me, because it it described my deconstruction that I was, you know, I, I've never seen a miracle. And I grew up in a Christian culture that believed in miracles. So I could, I've never, nope, sorry, I have never seen a miracle. And, you know, I've seen people say, Oh, my head suddenly feels a little bit better. So suddenly, my right nostril, like, breathe through my right nostril. I see that all the time, or, I've never seen a real miracle. And, and so just that kind of thing. So it's the same with marriage, where I really do believe a lot of couples come to that place where they start deconstructing, or one does and the other doesn't, or whatever, and they're like, I don't want to do this anymore. And when you remove that magic, the sacredness, the holiness, you know, God, divinity, all this kind of scary punishment and eternal torment, when you remove all that, it might make absolute sense at that moment for them to go their separate ways. Some couples got married, because they were prophesied to that they should get married, some couples got married, because that was the only way they could have sex. So he just got married, because, you know, their parents made an agreement, you know, and they get to the point where they're saying, I I'm not invested in this, I don't really love you the way I think I should love you. You know, so some people are married, that shouldn't be and, and there's some people who are married that don't have to be and and then there's some people who are married who go through this struggle, where they want to remain married, but they don't know how I want to help those couples do that. In my book, I do have a few chapters in there about you know, maybe maybe it is time to go your separate ways and that's okay. That's totally okay. And, and, and that's fine. It could be heartbreaking for one or the other. But yeah, that happens a lot.

Arline  34:49  

So If you are pastor turned artist, you're doing your drawings. Time is going by, even after you've left the church, like, are your beliefs still changing? Like, are you what, what? What do you believe? Now I was looking, I was thinking back to all the cartoons I've seen. I was like, I have no idea. I know he's calling out the church and calling in the church, and it's fabulous. I have no idea what this man believes. So it's curious, what, where are you now spiritually? Like, what? So? Or is there a label?

David Hayward  35:32  
No, there's not a label. I don't label myself because Nice. Anna food is very comfortable with its contents. Uh huh. It doesn't need to label it, you know, it could be Irish Stew, let's say. And just totally comfortable with being whatever the label is for other people that they slammed on, they can buy who you are, and put you in the right place on the shelf. And we do that with human beings. We slap a label on people, so we know where to put them how to talk with them. Or not? No, I don't, I don't use a label. I say I My home is in Christianity, but I have cottages everywhere. I also have. Christianity is in my DNA. I mean, I was baptized. When I was a baby in the Anglican Church, I was circumcised by a Jewish rabbi when I was eight days old. You know, I was my parents were very, very religious. And all like I, I grew up in that whole whole culture. But so my, it's in my DNA. I also say I appreciate my roots, but I'm not going to let them limit me. So I I'm at that place. Like I said, when that when that happened to me in 2009, realizing that there is one reality with many experiences interpretation, so to say I'm a Christian is basically to cut myself off from all of those other interpretation, interpretations and expressions and articulations. One reality, I feel I'm more at one with everyone. And, you know, for me, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, atheist. They're all just perspectives on the same reality. And one, some might feel one's more right than the other, but no one has a corner on the truth. No one has the whole pie. They're all different interpretations of this one reality. This one reality is the pie. And we all are somewhere in there, you know. And so when I, when somebody says, Are you a Christian, yes or no, I'm saying, well, let's unpack that. Like, what does that mean? And immediately most people are like, Okay, you're fudging you know, you're getting squirmy, you're like jello, trying to nail jello to the wall? Because most people who are believers need that yes or no? Yes. Whereas most people who aren't they're agnostic, or they're atheist, or, or whatever, they don't need that. Yes or no. As much. Oh, so for me, I'm, I'm also there's another reason to, I want to be very careful. So yeah, on the one hand, I do not have a statement of faith. I, I could not write a theology book. Because it isn't a true the true expression of my myself or what I think best reflects reality. But also, I don't want people to say, I believe what David Hayward believes, if I follow David Hayward, you know, it was a cluster. So I really avoid providing anything that caught could cause somebody to want to do that. So, you know, there's people out there writing, theology or spirituality, and people say, I'm going to follow them. I like the way you know, and for me, because what what is at the core of my I said this earlier, my fundamental drive is my, my, I want to be free to be my authentic self. And so how that interprets in the world is, I want you I want our lien to be have the freedom to be her authentic self. Wherever that ends up. You could end up a Calvinist again or a believer or a non believer or an atheist. I do want care. I honestly don't care. And I honestly don't think it matters. In the great scheme of things. What matters is that you eat that freedom to be who you are freely. That to me is what's the most important thing, work no matter where you end up. And so when I talk about deconstruction, I'm very very careful to a I'm emphasize that this is your journey, you're taking the steering wheel of your own life, and you get to drive wherever you want. That, to me is the most the most important thing. I love that. Yeah, a lot of people find that really encouraging. Or like, I feel I'm free I can, I can decide how to be spiritual or not. But for other people find it very, very frustrating because a lot of people want directions, they want a map with a destination. That to me is, is not life.

Arline  40:36  
No, no, I can agree now used to I, I needed someone to like, lead me and tell me and tell me maybe what to believe maybe that really was part of it. Just what to believe, and give me the Bible study and other things. And, and I've heard this from from other people as well, leaving the church leaving Christianity. It's like, Oh, crap, I have to figure out like, what I believe what are my values? What does like I love the little like, devotional size kind of books. I was like, I didn't know the word day book. I was like, I don't what do I read in the morning? Do I have to read things in me was just so many little things and huge things. How are we going to parent the boys, we have two boys. You just have to you have to figure it out on your own. And it's, it's a lot, it's wonderful. And it's but it can be a lot, I can see people being like, you know what, I'm just gonna go back and be in my little square. And they tell me what to do and what to think, like,

David Hayward  41:36  
happens all the time. It's like when we left home, I remember when I first left home, when I was 18, I went to college. It was it was very exciting. There was a it was a lot of fun, but I had to learn how to you know, pay bills, buy growth, make, you know, make a home, you know, meet women, get married, figure out how to, you know all that stuff and eating and scary. And it's the same spiritually, where we get to the point where we need to be, be able to take care of ourselves and decide that. And this, to me is where the church has really dropped the ball and insists it knows how you should be living. And the church not loves nothing better than to hear you say, I need you to tell me what to believe. And that, to me is the exact opposite of spiritual maturity, where we say I'm going to decide how to be spiritual. Thanks very much. It's like walking into a buffet. You get to decide what to eat, you know, by now what's healthy for you and what's not healthy, but maybe you want a night off you, you want to enjoy some pie and some, you know, barbecue ribs and mashed potatoes with gravy. And you know, you want to enjoy all that stuff sometimes. But you're allowed to, it's the buffet, you're an adult, you get to choose. I mean, when you take your little kids, you give them what you think they need. When they get a little bit older. They said Can I have some red JellO too, and you put a little bit of red yellow on there. But then as they get older, they start choosing what they want. Even sometimes you let them load the plate with junk. And eventually though, when they leave your home, they're on their own, and they're going to want and they have to figure out what's healthy for me and you know, what's not? What do I what do I not want? So I think that's just what it means to become spiritually independent.

Arline  43:53  
I love Yes, the idea of people getting to choose what spirituality or religion or any of that looks for them. A lot of your cartoons are very much like calling out often. It's not explicitly white evangelicalism, but if it's talking about racism, white evangelicalism, homophobia that is pervasive in church world as a whole, but when people's religions and choices are causing harm, like how does what are your thoughts on that?

David Hayward  44:26  
So this is kind of a biblical analogy for using it but it's a good one. My cartoons are kind of like a double edged sword. They, on the one hand, encourage people say people of color, First Nations LGBTQ women, children, heretics, you know all the marginalized people. They're encouraging to them. Uplifting, valid Dating affirming. The other edge of the sword though is where I, I go after any beliefs or system or, or policies or whatever that violate those freedoms that I think those marginalized people shouldn't be enjoying just like us. So that's, that's why my cartoons kind of have this sort of double edged. So some people love my cartoons, and other people hate my cartoons. But one is it's lifting up the those who are marginalized, persecuted. Rejected. And on the other hand, it goes after people and systems and beliefs that do persecute and marginalize and reject,

Arline  45:55  
which, from like thinking back to when I was a Christian, and even now, like just singing about Jesus that was kind of religious people hated him, because he called them out. And everybody else loved him, like, you know, and so you're in good company.

David Hayward  46:12  
Yeah, yeah, they say,

Arline  46:15  
Do you have any current projects you're working on? Or future ideas project? Well,

David Hayward  46:20  
I've got I just came out with this book here. Flip it like this? Oh,

Arline  46:23  
that's right. I have some Yeah, I've seen that.

David Hayward  46:26  
It's my new cartoon book. Believers and atheists alike. No, it's my best stuff cartoons. And I have literally 1000s of cartoons, but there's, it's full of my best stuffs. And there's like 15, never before seen, it just came out. So if you want to pick up, it's wherever books are sold, like Amazon, in the books, there's a noble, etc. You can get it at your local bookstore, but people are having fun, you know, accidentally leaving this in their guest room or mailing it to their ex pastor or, you know, I love it. That's hilarious. Yes. But I'm continuing to do my stuff online. Every day, I'm posting times a day, I have an online community like you do, but mine's called The Last Supper. is for people deconstructing and courses and there's interaction in our Facebook group as well. So yeah, I'm very busy every day doing this stuff. Yeah, that's awesome.

Arline  47:29  
It makes my heart happy. Like we just had before we're recording this we just had, I was a teenage fundamentalist the guys, Brian and Troy from that podcast, and they have a Facebook group that's just like space for people recovering from religion, Rachel Hunt has been on here from the support groups. I mean, there's just so many more spaces online and in real life, for people who just, you know, you leave church or you're just asking questions, and you don't, you don't have anybody, and it can feel so, so isolating and so lonely. And so that's awesome that you guys are doing that. That's,

David Hayward  48:07  
it's weird. I started talking about deconstruction, which is a French Derrida coined the word deconstruction, the philosopher, but I started using it in 2006, in reference to reliefs, I started talking more and more and more about it. And then, in 2012, when I launched the lasting supper, I targeted people who were deconstructing and needed a safe place to do that. And we felt very, very isolated and alone out there in the world. Now, it's everywhere. Like you say, there's tons of Facebook groups and other communities sprouting up all over the place. So it's pretty cool.

Arline  48:55  
Yeah, I had, um, a church friend. And her mom was really bothered by like, knowing the work that I was doing, being part of the graceful atheist. And my friend, I mean, she's still a Christian. She was like, Mom, when people used to leave the church, where did they go? She's like, I don't know. She was like, Yeah, this is just like, creating space for people who before they didn't have anywhere to go, they were alone. And I was like, Yay, thank you for like, you know, speaking truth, but it is like before, people just left and I can't remember it was recently on the podcast. I can't remember who said it. But like, in the past, or like, when you become a Christian or become some spirituality, religion, it's usually done in a group. There's some kind of community become part of a college ministry or youth group or whatever. Not always, but most of the time. But when you start asking questions, often, it's just you, or it may be like you and one other person and so it can feel extremely isolating. So that's awesome. What you guys have been doing this for a long time. That's fabulous. I know a

David Hayward  49:57  
very long time. Yeah, that's still going so great.

Arline  50:08  
I have asked a few other people. Do you think there's hope for like American 21st century white evangelicalism like church myths? Do you think there's hope for it to like change and be redeemed? Or do you think it's like, no, just dismantle it, and we got to start back over? Like, I'm just or or, I mean, those are not the only two options, but what are your

David Hayward  50:28  
thoughts? Well, I think the church is here to stay in some shape or form. The church has a resiliency to it, that survives all kinds of programs and programs and persecutions. And it has a, you know, some people like say, well, it's no better than a cockroach, you know, just keep surviving. It could also be people's, you know, ability resiliency to bounce back or to rebel or to meet if they want, you know, where we've seen in the past where the church has been made illegal, and there's underground movement start and so on. So I think the church is here to stay, whether whether they're good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, or there's people there's going to be some healthy expressions of it. And there will also be unhealthy expressions of it. I think American white, white male American evangelicalism is scary. I'm, I'm, but I'm of the opinion of the opinion that such right wing kind of conservative ism is always a reaction to progress. And so I think as long as we progress, and were open and inclusive and fair, and just will continue seeing the uprise zing of resistance to that. I think progress is like the gas pedal, and conservativism is the brake pedal, and the harder you press the gas, the harder they're going to put on the brakes. And I think that's human nature. I think we're going to continue seeing that, that the more progress we do see, the louder the resistance, and even more violent the resistance might might become, which is scary. So that's what I'm seeing happening. This evangelicalism right now in the West is a reaction to to progress. I

Arline  52:54  
was with family this weekend, and I have a family member. Most of my family is very conservative, southern white people. And they, some of them fit the stereotype not all, but um, one of my family members, he and I were sitting and talking and he's just the kindness and gentlest man. But he's so scared of, you know, he knew the trigger words like woke ism, he's so scared of that He's so scared of immigrants so scared, just fill in the blank and it was like, it was my first time seeing someone who wasn't like angry and mean about it. He was just scared of everything. And it was just like bizarre revelation of like, everything I kind of already knew this but like everything that that I have seen with conservative especially like white males and women like I was in white lady Bible study world so like, women too, but um, it's just afraid of everything afraid of like you said progress anything changing anyone else getting rights that they haven't had, and, and there's such this overlap of church world and conservatism and it's

David Hayward  54:04  
yeah, it's, it's icky. Very icky. Yeah, no, I I have friends or people in my family too, that are super super conservative in Canada. And they're otherwise lovely, lovely people, but they're, they're scared they're they have weird conspiracy theory ideas about what's happening. And but then I do know people who are conservative and hateful like they're just nasty would use violence or bullying to achieve their goals. And but that's that's like a fearful reaction as well.

Arline  54:51  
They go into fight or flight. Yeah, we're seeing that for sure everywhere. Last thing, do you have any any recommendations? podcasts, books, YouTube channels, Instagram accounts, anything that you're like,

David Hayward  55:06  
Oh, that's funny. I was telling you earlier. I'm not a podcast listener three times a week for podcasts. But I have this weird thing where I can only do one thing at a time. Yeah, so I'm a painter, for example. So when I'm painting, I can listen to music. But if I listen to a podcast, I'll be painting and all sudden stop, because I have to concentrate on what's being said. So I might as well just sit there and read the book, which of course, you can't do and peanuts. I tried, I tried audible at Christmas time. And I worked really hard to get through one book. But just sitting there, I just have to sit there like a lump on a log just staring into space listening. So it's really weird. Even when I'm running. I run naked, they say, without any gear, you know, just by putting clothes on and shoes. But no, you know, no headphones or music or anything. I just enjoy nature. So but for books, I'm a more of a nonfiction guy. But I do really love Cormac McCarthy. And he just came out with a new book called The passenger. So I'm reading that right now. He's the one who wrote No Country for Old Men and The Road and

Arline  56:30  
road. I've read the road I haven't read it's other stuff. That was

David Hayward  56:33  
horses. Yeah. The road and that changed my life, that book. But I read I read quantum physics. I just finished reading. Isaacson's biography of Einstein. I read Slavoj ejack Living philosopher, right now. I'm reading, you know, some mystical literature, you know, like, like Rumi, or Meister Eckhart or others find that when you're reading quantum physics, you're reading mystic CISM, you're reading philosophy, they all sort of start sounding the same. That's the, that's the, they're, they're sort of, they've sort of caught a glimpse of that one reality and they're, and they're using their language, either mystical, philosophical, or scientific or whatever to to describe this, this one reality so that that's where I'm reading right now.

Arline  57:42  
Whenever I D converted, I did. I was like, what are the things I have not learned? So I was like, I'm gonna learn evolution. I want to learn anthropology, like all these different things that I had just been gently nudged. You probably don't need to take that class or whatever. I wanted to learn these things. And the more I learned about certain scientific things I listened to I like audiobooks, astrophysics for young people in a hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson, I couldn't read the grown up one, because it was like way over my head. But I listened to the young people's one. And I was like, this is fascinating. And it was narrated by LeVar Burton. So clearly, it was going to be wonderful. And I learned so much stuff. I was like, there's so much just mind blowing science. I love the mystical, like, I love Rumi and I've read a few other people I can't think off the top of my head, but like I love the feel of all that but and I love how science there's so much all inspiring science that it was like, I don't have to go beyond this anymore. Like there really is so much science that which I don't understand a lot of it. But yeah, it's just there's so much all in wonder in this world. And I love it. I love it so much.

David Hayward  58:58  
One of my favorite books, it's in my top 10 books of all time, is Carlo Rovelli, who's an Italian physicist, seven brief, I've read that. I can read a lovely little book, beautiful, get the heart for that. You'll treasure it your whole life kind of thing. But you reminded me of something. When I left the church, I stopped reading theology. I am zero interest in reading theology. Because I was in the deep end, I read. I read all the theology. So what I discovered is I was so much in my head that I had to figure out how to get into my body. And so I'm really, I become a little bit of a health freak hedonist. What a Christian would call a hedonist because I enjoy pleasure and my body and and working out out and running and breathing exercises and cold plunges and stretching. And you know, like all these things just get out of my head just to get out of my head, because I lived in my head for my whole life and it got me nowhere. So, so I'm just enjoying, like and Lisa and I go for, you know, where we can forest bathing, where you go for long walks in the woods and like, it's just, it's wonderful and it's guilt free, shame free, beer free. It's wonderful. Just just being out of your head and into your body and enjoying life. It's it's great.

Arline  1:00:44  
I love it. I love it so much. Well, thank you again, David, for being on the podcast. This was fantastic. I learned a ton and I really really enjoyed this conversation.

David Hayward  1:00:53  
Thanks, Arline. Me too. I enjoyed it

Arline  1:01:02  
my final thoughts on this episode. So I tried not to fan girl. But I was really excited about this interview because his little drawings and say little drawings that sounds condescending, but like his very cleverly put together concise stick people drawings are so fantastic. I've I mean, they just they call people out for the foolishness that harms people. They're uplifting, they're kind. And again, they're just so clever. And so I really enjoyed this episode. I loved getting to know, David more. I didn't realize how many he's written multiple books. He also does watercolor and his beautiful landscape paintings. And he's just an artist and a mystic at heart. That plus just the wisdom and intellect that he brings. Like, it's impacted so many people, myself included, and I'm thankful for his his presence online, and the work that he has been doing for decades now. I just I love it. It was so good. So much fun. I look forward to just seeing more things the naked pastor will be doing.

David Ames  1:02:23  
The secular Grace Thought of the Week is it is our humanity that connects us. One of our bloggers Jimmy recently wrote a post talking about the X shaped hole in our hearts. I've talked about this a lot that the suppose it God shaped hole in our hearts is really our need for connection with one another. I truly believe that the connection that we seek is relationship is love for one another. And I mean that in the least mystical way possible to take the demystification the deconstruction one step further. I don't think there's anything terribly mysterious about this. I think it just is our need for each other. Our need to be known by one another, our need to be loved by one another. Our humanity is our connection. And I have done the interview with Holly law rock from the mega podcast that is going to be sometime in April or May. Also upcoming in April, I'll be interviewing Darrel Ray of the recovering from Religion Foundation. And we have a number of community members that will be on the show as well. Until then, my name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Join me and be graceful human beings.

The beat is called waves by MCI beats. If you want to get in touch with me to be a guest on the show. Email me at graceful atheist@gmail.com for blog posts, quotes, recommendations and full episode transcripts head over to graceful atheists.com. This graceful atheist podcast part of the atheists United studios Podcast Network

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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