Pastor creates religious cartoons
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- What: Exhibit of Trey Everett’s “Holy Doodles” cartoons
Jesus reaches out to hand a glass of ice cold lemonade (complete with a little umbrella) to a man in swimming trunks lying on a lounge chair.
"You've been tithing, going to church every Sunday and reading a Bible verse every day," Jesus says. "Take a break ... Would you like a massage?"
"Thanks, Jesus," the man replies. "It's all for you."
Trey Everett's snappy, stinging commentary on the mind of the American Christian titled "Real Sacrifice?" is part of the spiritually minded "Holy Doodles" cartoons created by the ordained pastor in Crookston, Minn.
Fodder for his drawings ranges from the notions of transformation and spiritual growth to critiques of the church to a whimsical reflection on what it would have been like if Jesus had been a pirate.
Fargo-Moorhead residents will get an up-close look at Everett's work this month and next, as a selection of "Holy Doodles" will be on display through Nov. 15 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead.
"I really like the idea of taking complex spiritual or theological ideas that we often don't think about that much or they just seem really cloudy or maybe we just ignore and then drawing a little picture of it so that people really kind of notice that and take a second look and go, 'Oh,' " says Everett, 43.
The southern Missouri native is co-director of the Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing (MICAH), a Crookston organization that works to promote holistic Christian well-being.
Reflection on biblical passages or other writings can serve as cartoon material as can conversations.
"Typically, these ideas will come to me just throughout the day or the week and I'll scribble them down," says the husband and father of three.
Stephen Peterson, assistant to the bishop for the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, calls the cartoons "user-friendly" and says it's sometimes easier to receive a profound truth if "you're smiling at the same time."
"Because they're cartoons they're easier to receive," says Peterson, who has worked with MICAH on various projects for years.
Peterson finds the cartoons reminiscent of the parables of Jesus, which use a story to convey a profound truth.
"And the truth kind of sneaks up on you," Peterson says.
Everett always loved drawing, but "Holy Doodles" is a relatively new outlet for his previously unharnessed talent. MICAH Co-Director Daniel Wolpert noticed Everett's penchant for the visual and said he should do something with it.
Wolpert remembers Everett's response as "Well, what do you mean?"
"And I said, 'Well, I don't know,' " Wolpert says.
Since then, Everett has created dozens of drawings, some of which are included in his book "Holy Doodles: Cartoons to Contemplate, Volume 1." (visit www.micahprays.org for more information on the book.)
Asking why Everett creates the doodles is sort of like asking " 'Why do people do art?' or 'What is art?' " Wolpert says. "I just think this is a real calling. He has a very artistic sensibility just to begin with. Obviously he has a real calling to spiritual practice and the spiritual life."
Some of the doodles are observational or amusing, but others are inward-looking critiques of the Christian world. And there are times that he worries about the possibility of going overboard in his critique.
"I think I want to be realistic, but yeah, sometimes I wonder 'Maybe I'm being a little too harsh,' " Everett says. Still, they're things that he says he and others have experienced.
"I didn't make any of it up; it's all real things, I think," he says.
But, ultimately, Everett sees his cartooning as something that is pleasing to God.
"I think God is creative and God loves creativity," he says. And when we can "be creative people and make things or draw things or use our talents, I think that's good, and I think that God likes that."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734