I apologize for not posting in a little while. It’s taken some time to process all I saw at our conference. This was my first experience and it was really memorable for me. Over all I enjoyed it. It was great connecting with people from all over the country, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. The Worship was great, as were the training sessions. And then there were the business sessions. While I found them informative and well run, it was hard to see the division that exists between us. These kinds of things feel very political and I hate politics. Because I never leave home without my sketchbook, I was able to sort of cartoon the journey. See if you can find the image where I just lost it. In the end, this conference was a microcosm for all of Christendom, there are many things that divide us, but there is One that unites us. When we turn our focus off our division and on to Him, He sets all things right. Blest Be the Tie that Binds.

  1. Wow! Sounds like it was a lively conference! Love the scarf-turned-snake…;-)

    • amokarts says:

      Thanks Elaine,
      Yes it was a pretty good experience overall. In the very least it helped me to understand a little more about where we are at, how to pray and what to do.
      God bless,

  2. Janet Elsea says:

    LOVE IT!!!!!

  3. Leslie Seese says:

    I am offended by your scarf turned snake. I am offended by your destruction of the Church of the Brethren Symbol of the Cross, dove, water. If tearing the church apart is funny I am very saddened.

    • amokarts says:

      As far as the scarf/snake. The reason for that is simple, since Genesis 3 Satan has been using the same tactic, i.e. getting us to question if God really means what He says. That is what the cartoon represents and I stand by it. Please don’t take any of these as me trying to be funny. They are honestly born out of frustration and were sketched on the floor of conference. They are me expressing deep emotions over the state of the church that I love. I live in a tension between what God calls sin and his admonition to love everybody.

      I do not for a minute think tearing the church apart is funny. I just think it’s happening and to be honest I’m angry and saddened about it. If I didn’t love this church, I wouldn’t waste my time with it. The Church of the Brethren is where I found Jesus. To see it in this state breaks my heart. As mentioned in one of the other cartoons, I hate politics and I hate what it is doing to our denomination.

      Sorry if you were offended, these cartoons weren’t meant to offend, they were meant as a wake up call. You won’t catch me wearing either scarf. Nor am I trying to tear the church of the Brethren apart. My goal is to have us all lay down our symbols, come under the authority of Scripture, take up out crosses and follow Jesus. If you want to get a better handle on where I stand with all this watch my video “the tie that binds” on the next post.
      God bless,

  4. Marie Rhoades says:

    Hi, Dave-

    I rarely post on blogs, actually this may be my second or third time, but because I know you and because during the Special Response Process you reached out to share with me, I feel like I can leave a post.

    The more I review your illustrations, the more I see the tension between the dynamics, rather than a characature and critique of the progressive voice (though I see that too). I especially want to thank you for your sixth cartoon, “The meaning of this is unclear.”

    I could spend time commenting on the rainbow scarf as snake, and you probably know much of what I would say. But the frame that has me most worried is the one of the youth at the microphone and your comment following. As a person who served on the Special Response Resource Committee, I can share that there was a concern voiced that youth and young adults would not feel “invited” to the hearings that were all held at “adult” setting/conferences/meetings (lets be real, youth pastor to youth pastor, how many youth really go to district conference meetings and feel invited or that they are for them). I asked more than once that the Special Response hearings be also held at youth and young adult specific conferences (or at least a youth-specific hearing be arranged in districts) but that was not the case. It is hard for youth to stand in front of adults and share what they believe or the questions that they are asking. I resignated with the youth who asked the question and felt heart-broken that my fears for the process (and those of some others) were mirrored in her statement.

    Thanks for the continued conversation.

    In Peace,
    Marie Rhoades

    • amokarts says:

      Hi Marie,
      Thanks for this very reasoned response. I tried to keep the critique even handed but I also tried to sort of let it flow. To me the most telling piece of the whole thing is the one that really doesn’t belong, the warthog, because when those things come out I am usually close to the edge. 🙂 I had friends in both scarves and I spent a lot of time feeling like a little kid watching his family fight. Truth be known I really don’t like the scarves at all it feels a little “jets and sharks” to me. My video in the next post called the tie that binds shows my heart on this. I really hope you’ll check it out.

      As to the youth cartoon, I see where you’re coming from.
      More later, I just realized what time it is…
      Thanks again,

    • amokarts says:

      Here is the continuation of my reply pertaining to the youth cartoon (sorry about the break I realized that I was going to be late for work): I shared that cartoon with my 17 year old son and he had a similar response and you’re right we probably should have had some youth specific meetings. My struggle though is with the whole process. We were seeking our opinion on the topic and I am not convinced it is a matter of opinion. I am sad that we have modeled by our actions in these meetings to our youth that this is a democracy where our opinions matter at all.

      One of my main comments over and over again at conference was, “We have a book…” The Bible says what it says and that’s what we can stand on. It was written by our King. I can’t speak for you but I have strayed from the book and every time I have strayed from the book, I’ve messed up. To me it’s a good news bad news situation. The bad news is what the book calls sin is sin, the good news is Jesus died and rose again for sinners. The good news is Jesus calls us to love everybody, Lord, brothers and sisters, neighbors, even enemies.

      The bad news is we get to live in the tension between what the Bible says or is that the good news? I can love people I disagree with, I have to. All have sinned and the one I follow sacrificed Himself for their sins and mine. It felt like everyone wanted a decision that made the tension go away for them. Everyone wanted to be found right and wanted someone else to be wrong. At the end of the day we were all wrong. We need to lay down our divisions and take up our crosses. We need to gather around the Word and love each other while we let it change us.

      I want to thank you for the conversation as well. I have piles of respect for you and what you do.
      God bless,

  5. shqnh@yahoo.com says:

    Your comic of a specific, recognizable youth in the denomination is inappropriate. As a youth leader, you understand you should be encouraging youth in the development of their faith and in participating in building up the life of the church. While you are entitled to your own theological position, your comment “I apologize that no one ever told you that the word of God is not a matter of opinion” is short-sighted, sarcastic and sounds just plain vindictive. No wonder our youth do not believe they are being listened to! When they voice one opinion an adult disagrees with, they get drawn a cartoon of and told that they obviously don’t know the word of God, and that no one in their lives has ever told them how to interpret the word God. That’s messed up, and it seems to me that your own theological understanding is more important to you more than does the your ability to Shepherd youth. I suggest you check your anger, because it’s seems like whether you realize it or not, it has the potential to get in the way of your youth ministry. I wouldn’t let my kid learn with you – especially if you are presumptuous enough to believe you are the only one able to understand God’s vision. If that were my kid in that comic pain, you and I would be having a personal conversation.

    While I recognize you were using one youth to characterize the greater body of youth who are children with those whom you disagree, you need to remember two things: this is a small denomination and your job is to be encouraging youth to seek the peace of Christ. Our children need to learn to seek peace despite differing theological perspectives. You can begin by teaching the youth not to pick on people and not to be sarcastic.

    I hope this child and her parents never see this cartoon. This is not the kind of thing that makes for peace, even if you and all your comrades think this kind of thing is funny.

    Otherwise, I think you are a wonderful artist, and I do respect your talent.

    • amokarts says:

      Actually it was not my intent to single out one youth nor is it a specific youth but a composite of several things I heard. As to my understanding of Scripture, I don’t think I’m the only one who understands it nor do I believe I fully understand it, but I do believe some things are pretty clear. I am going to go in and edit that cartoon out of the post because it appears people think I was singling someone out and that has never been my intent.

      By the way, on a slightly more personal note, I have devoted my life to helping those who are being picked on, having been one of them. I don’t really have comrades in a cause of this. I hate the politics of all of this and I don’t think any of this is funny. I can assure all of this was simply venting my pain over seeing my beloved church coming apart at the seams.
      God bless,

    • amokarts says:

      I probably shouldn’t take this any further but I will. I’m probably not the only one here with anger that needs to be checked. This line is of particular interest.

      “I wouldn’t let my kid learn with you – especially if you are presumptuous enough to believe you are the only one able to understand God’s vision. If that were my kid in that comic pain, you and I would be having a personal conversation.”

      Contrasting that with this line,

      “Our children need to learn to seek peace despite differing theological perspectives.”

      Well there seems to be a disconnect.

      I also found the last part of that (“you and I would be having a personal conversation.”) a bit threatening. The danger in communicating in this way is that inflections and non verbal cues get lost. I promise you, I am a very loving person who genuinely cares for ALL people especially kids, regardless of theology. As a matter of fact I am usually a bit skeptical of theology preferring instead to take the Word at it’s Word and yes I know that’s a theology too.

      I’m not even sure how these cartoons got so widely distributed. I have taken that cartoon down and it now appears nowhere that I am aware of because I would never want to do anything harmful to anyone especially a kid. When I teach youth, I teach them to love others and the only thing I was intolerant of was bullying. I allowed them all to express their opinions and then we compared those opinions to the Word of God.

      I work a lot in the arts, I know and love a lot of people with a lot of different points of view. I live in the tension more than most people in the Brethren and I try to represent Jesus well to everyone. Don’t judge me too quickly.

      • shqnh@yahoo.com says:

        Thank you for removing that particular image.

        You are right; I was extremely angry. I imagined how I would feel if my own child had been the subject of the cartoon. The mama lion in me escaped. I could have built a better argument but instead ended up being quite hypocritical. For that, I apologize.

      • amokarts says:

        Again, for the record. It really wasn’t intended to be a specific person. Only three of the cartoons were intended to be real people, me, Jeff the guy who said “Fox News Lies” (and honestly even that was not an accurate portrayal but rather of the angst I heard through the mic) and he and I have found some degree of common ground. The third was the Christ cartoon. I rarely draw real people besides myself because I don’t want to hurt or offend. Thanks for getting back to me.

      • shqnh@yahoo.com says:

        Well, there was one young, brunette woman who got up in one of the business sessions regarding the special committee report and specifically voiced her concern that young people were not being involved. While you did not submit a video tape of the session, many people personally know the young woman who made this comment. I mean, you didn’t put a name badge on the cartoon, but whoever was participating in that business session is aware that a young adult made this specific comment. Understand, however, that you did not intend to single anyone out.

  6. “If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing…” (1 Cor 12:26). I’m not judging but truly wondering, as a fellow artist, was this posted with hopes of healing? I would sincerely like to hear more about that if so. For me, it just makes the pain I see in the real eyes of marginalized Brethren brothers and sisters far more deep. What would a healing clip look like, is a question that comes to my own mind. A friend shared about a rainbow scarf wearer and a b&w scarf wearer talking together in a peace insight session. For her, the image was a poignant piece of healing art. And hope.
    Best and caring regards,
    Melissa Shaffer

    • amokarts says:

      Great question and great insight. In my heart, I want to see healing, I really do. The video, the tie that binds that I posted really shows my heart in this. The cartoons were what was going through my mind as I observed what I saw as this thing I love seemed to be exploding before my eyes. I’m not sure what healing looks like in this if I want to be honest (and I do). The two people in the “contradicting scarves” having a conversation is far better than what I saw as people rushed to microphones trying to win the day.

      How do I balance the love I have for many people in my life with the teachings of Scripture especially when I will deny neither one? The only thing I can see is living in the tension. I know what I believe the Bible says, it tells me many behaviors are sin and then it shows me a beautiful picture of a perfect God denying Himself and laying down His life for people who mocked Him, beat Him, spit in His face and Killed Him. He despises sin and dies for sinners (of which I am one, and my pride alone makes me among the worst). Jesus commanded me to repent of my sin and to love everyone without judging. He further commanded us to teach people to obey everything He commanded. The only way I know to do that is to live in the tension between the two.

      What does a picture of healing look like? Yours would be a great place to start. Mine I guess would be a whole bunch of people hand in hand on their faces in circles around the cross of Christ and in the background maybe there would be a large pile of scarves of both types discarded or maybe on fire. Or maybe I should just do what I did, place a whole bunch of the stuff that divides us on a canvas (keep in mind I didn’t know the black and white scarves were coming when I painted the piece or one of them would have been on there too) and paint a picture of Jesus over it. He’s the only one who can heal this.
      In Christ’s love,

      • I appreciate your words, hearing in them care for the body toward healing (and I will watch the video you mention).

        My present personal hope is for there to be a way toward healing and end to lessening the value of persons who acknowledge the spirit and context of scripture…for the living word is lamp unto my feet, too.

        Meanwhile, the scene my friend recalled from the peace insight session is staying with me more and more…it’s as if, for that moment in time, the tension was suspended for something Greater.

        With kindness and God’s peace,

  7. Hey, I’m the guy who said Fox News Lies.
    It needs to be said. They are not just one pole in the the argument. They consciously manipulate facts for partisan purposes.

    Some people believe these lies with a religious fervor. As I said, the measure of your reaction to the words Fox News Lies is the measure of your setting it as an idol before God.

    Jeff Neuman-Lee, Denver, Colorado

    • amokarts says:

      Hi Jeff,
      Nice to meet you. Good to hear your thoughts behind the statement. As to Fox News, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it beyond being a captive audience in a restaurant. There was a time in my life where I may have been a fan, but I divorced myself from politics years ago. I found myself trying to reach people for a party rather than trying to show the love of Christ and something had to give, so I quit. The toon was a reaction to all the politics going on in everything and the division. I felt like the church was just flying apart and the mere mention of Fox News made me think to myself, “See it’s all politics.” Thanks for the clarification, I guess neither of us is an idolater.
      God bless,

  8. Janet says:

    You know, I guess when I looked at all this art, I just automatically posted, “love it” because I appreciated the art and the free interpretation of feelings. I didn’t really think about anyone taking it seriously and feeling alienated or any of that. Perhaps I am just shallow in seeing only the art and doing some personal reflection on what “I” would have drawn, if I could draw anything recognizable, after being in Grand Rapids. Or maybe I’m just too naive in thinking that personal reflections are just what is seen in the minds eye and not the person behind it all. I guess even after reading all the postings, I still appreciate the artistic value of it, without all the baggage.

    • amokarts says:

      Thanks Janet, I really didn’t do this for controversy’s sake, just to share the things I saw and the way I experienced it. I did welcome the conversation though.
      God bless,

  9. Thank you Dave. I appreciate your work. A response to Conference in cartoons works – it works to help us see ourselves. We did that with the scarves and the mania mics – with the instant twitter updates about the political moves. We created those cartoons in your mind to paper. It works. I see myself and others.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.