By Jeff Goins, Editor
Dave, who are you and what do you do when youre not blogging and cartooning?
Well, to be honest, I really dont spend much time blogging and cartooning. I almost always have my cartoon drawn and scanned before I leave for my church study in the morning. And whenever I write, which doesnt appear as often or frequently as my cartoons, it is usually composed quickly, as if I was writing in my personal journal. I dont think I have time to write full-blown essays or theological treatises.
So, basically, Im a pastor. I pastor a small community of people, a modest size church of about 100. So Im usually doing things that pastors do: studying, praying, meditating; and visiting and being with the people under my care. Our church is our community of friends, so we have a very busy life with this bunch. But it is very pleasant.
Im also an artist. Ive drawn ever since I can remember. Whenever I have some free time Im either painting or sculpting or some other artistic endeavor. I have art in a local art gallery. I also sell art online (haywardART.etsy.com). So that keeps me rather busy on the artistic scene.
And Im a family man. Ive been married to Lisa for 28 years and we have three children, 22, 20 and 16. All my downtime is spent with them. Its wonderful.
Why nakedpastor.com? Whats the meaning behind your blog name?
My original blogging name was churchpundit. I like the name, but I didnt want to get caught up in the whole objective analysis thing. Its still a great name for someone who wants it cheap. I preferred to lay myself out there in a more personal and vulnerable way, to expose the life of a regular pastor. One night I was lying in bed and the name nakedpastor popped into my head. I did a domain name check and it was parked. I put my name in to get it when it was freed up. Little did I know that I had inadvertently entered an auction to buy it. Months later I received an email informing me that I had won the auction. What auction? I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I read that I had won it for under $100. So I took it. I was going to use it as a place to bare my soul. Nothing else.
I wasnt aware of the trouble it would cause. Just the name alone scandalizes people. Some people cant access it at work or school simply because naked is in the title. I suppose some of the content is offensive to some too. Im not that nave to assume it isnt. But Im going to stick with it. Its a good name that captures the gist of what the site is about.
When did you start drawing cartoons?
My first cartoon was in September of 2006. I remember so vividly thinking that I should give it a shot. I sat down with my pencil and paper and sketched something out and wrote the caption. Its very raw and unrefined. But I knew I was on to something. I just kept trying, kept pushing myself. I finally settled into a certain style of character that was uniquely mine and things started to click. I have hundreds of cartoons now. Most are average. But I think there are a few that are really good.
I have some friends trying to convince me to stop writing and just do cartoons because they believe they say it all. So Ive begun focusing more on my daily cartoon and writing less. Still though, sometimes I feel something needs to be said with words. But I agree with them to some degree. I have a feeling I havent accessed my full powers as a cartoonist. I would like them to be even more honest and incisive, kind of like what whistle-blowing graffiti is today.
Where did you get the idea to write and draw satire of the church?
Ive kept a personal journal ever since I was preparing for ordination, way back in 1985 or something. They are full of nakedpastor material. So the blog is just a natural extension of my personal journal. Youre peeking into my personal feelings, thoughts and ideas. I never set out to be a satirist. But I get that label frequently. I suppose I can see that I am using humor to expose and critique the churchs stuff. But I strongly disagree with those who think that this reveals my disdain for the church. I love the church, believe in it, value it and serve it. Thats why I think there needs to be honest critique of the church when it becomes entangled with the principalities and powers, which it often does.
How can Christians use art to communicate deeper messages of truth? Do you see a lot of churches doing this, or is this something that could be improved? If so, how?
When art becomes a tool or an instrument for utilitarian purposes, it loses its power. I believe in creativity and artful living that is spontaneous, natural, indigenous, and unrestrained. I cant stand it when I watch a movie or look at a piece of art or read a novel or listen to music that is trying to preach at me, convert me, or change my mind. The most powerful art is that which is un-self-aware, that just plays. Thats what moves me.
So Im very reluctant to suggest that churches use art to communicate truth. Art, no matter what kind it is, if it is free of expectations and agenda, does communicate truth. If churches and church people started just creating art from the heart in an atmosphere of freedom, the truth will be automatically communicated whatever that truth might be. Ive seen us using art as a vehicle for truth and it just sickens me. Its not real. Its not honest. Its imperialistic, and thats long out of style. I think churches just need to release the people to create. It doesnt matter what. Provide a free environment for unrestrained creativity and youll see things happen.
Ive received some pressure to make my paintings more religious. I do have a few sketches or paintings that can be called overtly religious such as The Narrow Way. But I drew that out of an attempt to capture on paper the struggle of living on the cross. That image caught that for me. My paintings though are usually full of empty space, people are usually tiny in the landscape, and this to me speaks volumes about our spiritual condition. Some people can see alienation and loneliness in the same painting someone sees peace and solitude in. Im not trying to communicate these feelings or ideas. They are just the indigenous and natural expression of my own inner life. The moment I try to communicate spiritual realities, my art will die and I will stop painting.
Can you attach a few cartoons and what they mean to you? Well def link back to your blog and such. Thanks!
This one is inspired in part by my favorite graffiti artist, Banksy. Some people thought I was talking about Guantanamo Bay, but I wasnt. This image applies to me, and all of us, because we are all prisoners to some extent. We can sing this hy
mn asking for ransom with authenticity.
This one intends to poke fun at how lonely, separated and alienated we can actually be within our own communities.
This one is inspired by the pressure we as pastors sometimes feel from people who would like us to preach just what they want to hear. The pressure to conform the message to suit our hearers, especially if they pay us, is enormous.
Finally, this one expresses my distrust of homogenous churches. I love mixture, and I think churches are healthier if they are diverse.
Jeff graduated from Illinois College, a small liberal arts school, with a degree in Spanish and Religion. He lives in Nashville, TN. He works for Adventures in Missions, edits this silly little magazine, and loves to do new things. He just got married.