Does recovering from religion always have to be so morose?

"Walk or Be Dragged" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Walk or Be Dragged” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

[Like this cartoon? Get a reproduction print of it HERE!]

Jesus, in the famous poem “Footprints in the Sand”, says, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints is when I carried you.”

Carl Jung said, “Walk your path or be dragged.” This version seems more accurate for my life.

Actually, that’s not what this is about. This is about the question, “Does recovering from religion always have to be so morose?” Yesterday, a friend commented on my cartoon and blog post that he misses the funnier cartoons I used to post and that I seem to be focusing more and more on the privileges and abuses of power. He’s not the only one. Others have mentioned the same concern. This cartoon is in their honor to hopefully show that I haven’t lost my sense of humor.

It is true. I have focused more on the privileges and abuses of power because I think it is the core consideration about communities, including religious or spiritual ones. It is serious business. And, to be honest, when I do cartoon and write about this, I know I’m helping a lot of people embrace their experiences, trust their guts, find their voices, muster their courage, and liberate their lives.

But it doesn’t and can’t stop there. I also want to help people find their happiness.

You might not realize this, but I laugh a lot. There have been seasons where I haven’t. But I’m generally a happy person, in spite of what many people think. And I generally help other people laugh or at least smile every day, in spite of what many people think about that too.

One of the misconceptions about my online community, The Lasting Supper, that I feel I’m constantly needing to correct is that it is full of vindictive victims, a wailing wall of woe-is-me, a bath of bitterness, or a coven of complainers and whiners.

Not true!

In fact, TLSers (that’s what they call themselves… TLS = The Lasting Supper)… they laugh a lot. Hysterically! They are insanely crazy! If I want a laugh I go to our private Facebook group and it won’t be long before I’m giggling to myself. That’s one of the learned skills of recovering from religion or deconstruction. Sure, we go through morose stages. But I’ve seen it over and over again, not only in my own life but in the lives of others, that it is totally possible to achieve a place of joy again.

My desire is to turn this possibility into an inevitability.

So the answer is NO! Recovering from religion does NOT always have to be so morose. You can be happy, even following the worst abuses, or even in the midst of the most burning questions and profound confusions.

I invite you to The Lasting Supper.


You may also like...

17 Responses

  1. Ren says:

    “No filters, FTW!!” 😉

  2. mark says:

    My favorite ending to the ‘Footprints in the sand’ poem is where Jesus says: “The times when you see only one set of footprints is when we hopped together”

  3. Sabio Lantz says:


    Your humor is always clear to me: refreshing, raw, alive, flexible.
    I remember my early days of being religion-free: they were tough.
    Years later, a religious friend asked if I missed my devote days, and I said,
    “No, my world has broadened, I can love deeper, see more and hurt more fully without the simplified, narrow world my religion neatly packaged up for me. The freedom to love meaningfully is worth it.”

    Recently, I have returned to my series on the Ramayana (one of the major Hindu epics). My last post talks about the many variations of the Ramayana, and of Sita’s role (she is the heroine). There are many unorthodox stories of Jesus. It would be fun to see you create a series of cartoons illustrating a “What if Jesus was like this” gospel. Not a serious abuse-rescuer Jesu , not a social justice Jesus, not a forgiveness Jesus or a lamb-hugging Jesus. But instead, a funny, mischievous one. I think you have done several of these in the past. But what if they developed into a whole parallel-universe Jesus Gospel by David Hayward (ex-Pastor, ex-Religionist) — that may sell too.

    Just as Hindus re-write the story of Sita to play with holy images in fresh ways, you continue with Jesus — after all, that is what the gospel writers did — create a story for their audiences.

    Nina Paley did a great visual in her “Sita Sings the Blues” — you can find segments all over youtube. In case you have never read the Ramayana or know the Sita controversies, you can read about it in your spare time. No one will notice if you borrow ideas from there! 😉

    Have a fine day, David. I am always looking forward to my humor.
    A good sign of healing after being in religion’s chains, is the return of humor!

  4. Just to be clear, I hardly ever sell a cartoon. In fact, it’s rare. I don’t know why people assume I’m getting rich off of this. Makes me laugh! See?! I’m happy even about that!

  5. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ David,
    I am not sure that comment was directed at me. I never think of you as making money off your cartoons — it is more an avocation and work of love. I do own a few of your drawings, however — but they were the funny ones, of course.
    I don’t even imagine that you make much money of the books.
    I’d hope your other revenues are good though. The world is lucky to have you.
    Peace out, dude.

  6. Oh no it wasn’t directed at you. General. BTW, I liked your comment. It is a good summary of many’s journeys.

  7. Gary says:

    “Does recovering from religion always have to be so morose?”

    Great question David. For me it was dark and morose at the separation of course and for at least a couple years after. But now I have found a great deal of happiness in my life and choices. I think self doubt in the initial stages is part of what keeps it so dark for us when we leave or differ with religion. But as the years pass and I have more time to process and actually take ownership of my choices the peace brings the joy back. In fact I have more joy and happiness in my beliefs than I ever did from the inside. At times I step away from NP simply because I don’t want to dwell in the darker frame of mind. But I always find my way back. 🙂

  8. Monica Greenberg says:

    No, if this were me in the illustration, there would be more evidence of a struggle.

  9. Thanks Gary. Always nice to hear from you.

  10. That made me giggle Monica. Thanks for that.

  11. Caryn LeMur says:

    LOVED this cartoon!! Laughed so hard.

    I was not aware that Carl Jung had said such a thing… maybe he understood some things about human beings that transcend religion.

    Cheers! Caryn

  12. Ducatihero says:

    I wonder David can we say healing an doing what is cathartic can not only not be morose but (dare I say it) fun? I was at a comedy gig this week where one of the acts talked about being ope about his “wounds”. I have heard of the actress Kiara Knightly talk similarly and of how her wounds have been important for her in her acting.

  13. megaforte84 says:

    In the dragging frame, you left out the marks from the kicking and screaming. Or maybe it was just me who did that.

    (I’ve been reading your posts via rss for months, but I don’t think I’ve commented yet.)

  14. i did tons of kicking and screaming. voice still hoarse. thanks for commenting.

  15. Cecilia Davidson says:

    Caryn, I strongly recommend Psychology and Religion if you want to get a good start on Jung’s feelings on religion and how religion works.

  16. Elderyl says:

    My husband bought your cartoon, love yourself, of the guy running through a sprinkler of hearts. My husband is a mental health therapist and the cartoon hangs in his counseling office.

  17. That’s so cool to hear. Thanks Elderyl!