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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
This entry was posted in food, humour, music, worship and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

118 Responses to 357

  1. thevikingfru says:


  2. Rob Slagle says:

    Some worship music is definately cheesy.

  3. Erik says:

    so do you like any worship music?

  4. Tusk says:

    Hahaha! Funniest strip on here!

    I concede you have a point, but do you like any worship music (as Erik has asked)?

    In fact, do you like anything about Christianity these days?

  5. Becky says:

    Given Jon is co-founder of Proost UK and has worked with Jonny Baker on some of the most amazing worship ever, I feel he’s qualified to offer his commentary on Christian cheese. But much of what passes as contemporary Christian music is indeed godawful – Google Carmen and listen to his crapola for starters.

    Jon – where’s the limburger cheese – surely you must include the stinkiest cheese of them all.

  6. jonbirch says:

    yeh, sorry becky… and i missed gorgonzola! in the real tasty cheese world, smelly is best! it’s like those insects that are really acidic in their colour to prove to predators that they are not tasty when really they are truly delicious! :-) oh, and thanks for the compliment… cheque in the post! :-)

    ‘so do you like any worship music?’
    some. :-)

    ‘In fact, do you like anything about Christianity these days?’
    lots. :-)

    ‘Some worship music is definately cheesy.’
    yep. :-)

    ??????… :-)

  7. thevikingfru says:

    LOL, I didn’t even see the worship one. Wow I must be brain dead these days. I agree that alot of worship music is cheesy, but there is alot of good stuff out there too.

  8. You should have put “decent worship music” on the cheese, and then had John Cleese ask Michael Palin if he had any, which he didn’t.

    I like the fact that the Worship Music Cheese is “Holy”. Was that a hidden joke?

  9. lonia says:

    i don’t know how you do that – you are the best – only you know how to comment truly sad things in a way that i can smile – thanks

  10. subo says:

    It’s not quite a fair argument, because when cartoons are cheesy, that’s cool, when worship slips into the cheesy realm we start to feel embarrassed.

    Have endured a fair amount of daft and irrelevant church music in my time though, so am not sorry to see that challenged.

    Q. So why do churches force feed us with light weight waffle, when there’s some weighty contempory songs smiths out there? (like John Bell)

  11. artbizness says:

    Bloody brilliant, Jon!

    Actually, I thought it was a great surreal cartoon, just with the cheese.

    I didn’t notice the “Christian Worship Music” until the very end.

    Still funny though – I reckon you should just throw in a completely random, surreal cartoon every now and then to keep your readership on their toes… LOL

  12. Steve says:

    Hey Jon. You forgot the crackers! Great cartoon.. Very subtle. Surely worship is about our sincerity in demonstrating God’s qualities rather than our ability to express them. Some of us like cheese.. :( Keep it up!

  13. Since I’ve found this site I don’t feel guilty when I go to ‘church’ and sit through the ‘worship’ really wishing it was over. Sometimes I’m just bored. Sometimes I feel agitated. I smiled on sunday morning when I started to feel like that. Bad songs sung 12 times each. Torture!

    I even like some of the cheesy stuff. But some of it is pretty bad. I’d just rather be doing something different.

  14. marcus says:

    We must remember that the songs and hymns that torture our ears and offend our senses are also the same songs and hymns which bring honour to God through other people’s use of them in worship.

    And indeed the songs and hymns and music that are such a smoothing balm to our ears and senses might actually call God to question our approach to worship – worship should not be equated with enjoyable – we might enjoy some aspects of worship and indeed we would be hard pressed to continue if worship did not excite the soul from time to time but there are sacrificial aspects of worship too and that might mean us sacrificing the kind of music that we choose to worship God with for the kind that others choose.

    Whoops getting into rant mode….must snap out of it before some schoolyard bully asks me to smell the cheese ;-)

  15. Steve says:

    Amen to that brother! Worship is about God, not us! Which is pretty liberating to be honest..

    Can anyone hear Bouzouki music?

  16. artbizness says:

    The point raised about whether or not worship honours God is an interesting one, but I think there in lies the problem..

    Worship is something we do to remind ourselves of the God we serve. It’s our expression. If worship doesn’t do that, or if it turns does that in a way that that turns people off both God and church, then its a problem.

    The idea that because a certain song or form is worship then we must just “deal with it” because it is inspired by God is a form of idolatry.

    Now get that Bouzouki out and start plucking…

  17. Will Taylor says:

    Worship is the response of grateful and humble people to the living God where submission, sacrificial service, praise, profession, testimony and gratitude are freely expressed in innumerable ways. This is a much richer concept than mere corporate singing and praise once each week for 20 minutes – an event that could occur without any actual worship going on at all.

    Sometimes too much emphasis can be placed in sung worship and can be used as an excuse. I’ve been to worship this week, can’t wait till next week. Worship becomes an event not a life choice.

    As far as cheese goes; i personally like the runny, smelly kind.

  18. Steve says:

    Worship needs to make sense. I struggle with Andy Flannagan “throwing down some tunes” with a DJ in a room full of bean bags as much the next fortysomething, but I have to remind myself to be gracious, as God is. (BTW I walked out and let them get on with it).

  19. I like all kinds of cheese. But especially runny brie. And stilton at Christmas :-)

    Marcus, I think you’re right. I don’t worship and enjoyable always go togeher – although personally I do find worship enjoyable. I don’t think we should equate worship with singing either. Sometimes during the singing, I’m not worshipping. I’m singing. And I’m struggling. I’d rather be doing pretty much anything else than singing the same songs over and over. It just doesn’t elicit worshipfulness in me if that’s a word(?!!).

    But it’s the way my ‘church’ does it (church in the sense of the people who turn up on sunday morning). And a lot of people love it. I just don’t.

  20. ‘Worship becomes an event not a life choice’
    Like it :-)

  21. Will Taylor says:

    I think worship music can really end up on a factory line. As long as it is:

    A) in a nice key

    B) Have an obvious bridge that can repeat forever

    C) a tune that either gets under your skin or in recent times songs written by men that jumps an octave and are unsingable for anyone

    D) start based on scripture and for creative license sake move about a bit

    Then you are ok.

  22. Steve says:

    If I am reading the Bible right then worship is as much about how we conduct our lives as what we sing in church on Sunday morning (or Thursday morning whatever). How I drive my car, spend my money, help others or react when someone steps on my foot probably says volumes more about God’s worth(ship) than how I play my Bouzouki with a DJ in church at evensong.
    Anyways, back to the songs.
    Has anyone read “And Now Let’s Move into a Time of Nonsense: Why Worship Songs Are Failing the Church” by Nick Page. Sheer genius.

  23. su says:

    thats a great title ‘why worship songs r failing the ch.’

  24. Jaybrams says:

    blech… whoever said to google “Carmen” in order to find contemporary Christian cheese is about 2 decades too late… He hasn’t been relevant since the early 90s (and it was cheese then).

    I think the underlying point of this isn’t the WORSHIP that’s behind the music… it’s the music/lyrics/presentation. The presentation of “worship music” can seem quite cheesey, but it’s really just a personal preference isn’t it? I don’t get into hip-hop, and I think most hip-hop lyrics (christian or otherwise) are lame, but that doesn’t mean they can’t glorify God.

    You don’t have to enjoy the music/presentation to worship God… perhaps while getting an earful of the cheese we should turn our focus away from the music and focus on what God is trying to do in our lives, or the lives of those around us…

    its not sinful to sit and tune out during the worship if you are better served worshipping a different way at that given time.

  25. Andru says:

    an unhappy consumer i see. (296 – dec 4th 07)

  26. jonbirch says:

    hahaha! :-) not really andrue. actually stepped out of doing upfront stuff a while back… always did stuff or else i got bored, so consuming was something i never really lost myself in at all. i have found other ways of doing, like this blog, which takes me at least an hour a day to keep up… it’s costly, but far more stimulating and useful for me to be doing for christendom i think than alot of stuff i’ve done. i also make movies, music, labyrinths, installations etc. which i hope are of use to people. so i’m not really a consumer at all i don’t think… maybe i should be, but if you don’t like what’s for sale, why buy? :-)

    hope that didn’t all sound too pious… please tell me, someone who knows me, if my self assessment is wrong… i’m happy to be wrong. :-)

  27. Laura says:

    Cheesey is in the eye (ear) of the beholder.

  28. jonbirch says:

    is it?

    here are some definitions that get at what i mean by ‘cheesy’.

    Something that is unintentionally kitschy, tacky, or of poor quality, but these flaws go unnoticed by the admirers of said thing.

    Trying too hard, unsubtle, and inauthentic.
    Specifically that which is unsubtle or inauthentic in its way of trying to elicit a certain response from a viewer, listener, audience, etc. Celine Dion is cheesy because her lyrics, timbre, key changes, and swelling orchestral accompaniment telegraph ‘i want you to be moved’ instead of moving you. Gold chains on an exposed hairy chest are cheesy because they shout out: “I have money and I am manly” instead of impressing a woman in a more subtle way, or allowing a woman to form her own judgments. The excessive showing off suggests he’s compensating for what he does not have–i.e., he’s actually poor, insecure, or short with an inferiority complex. Cliches are often cheesy because they are an obvious and artless way of making a point. A movie might be cheesy if it contains ‘on the nose’ dialogue, like “I can’t live without you” or “You had me at hello.”

    Not living up to a standard. Less than par. Not as good as one would expect.

    sentimental, maudlin, melodramatic, corny.

    (adj) stupid, or of low quality. see corny.

    inferior; poor; tasteless; tacky…

    can ‘kitsch’ or ‘tackiness’ not be defined? it is quite different that some people like it, that is not what defines it necessarily.
    are we able to say ‘a poem is bad’? or ‘a book is good’… or are all these things just subjective?

  29. jonbirch says:

    “Cliches are often cheesy because they are an obvious and artless way of making a point.”
    this is the best of the above.

  30. Chris F says:

    The rest of our lives – the secular bit – have transient but temporarily enjoyable songs or music, the current “hits”, whether popular or classical. They are then forgotten for the most part. Why should we expect Christian music to be any different? Of course some (most) of it is cheesy and makes us groan; some we might connect with and find enjoyable and helpful.

    A few pieces are special and last, and I’m grateful for those. They usually have an easy and memorable tune and rich words.

    Now I’m older it’s my turn to be gracious to the young for whom transient music is important! But it is a sacrifice of praise…

  31. jonbirch says:

    i like your definition of ‘sacrifice of praise’… not quite what the bible writers had in mind i suspect, but fun none-the-less. :-)
    i don’t think cheese is about age, rather it’s about the downgrading of ‘art’ in evangelical church culture which will often be happy to take schlock over meaning anyday. it’s hardly a good expression of worship in itself… it’s like offering to god the runt of the litter… or is it?

  32. jonbirch says:

    ‘The rest of our lives – the secular bit -‘
    i don’t believe in the dualism of sacred and secular. all things we do should be an act of worship, period. it’s as will said eloquently in comment 18.

  33. Carole says:

    Jon, I love the way your nose crinkles when you laugh…

    Yep, could be cheesy in the wrong hands. If it is contrived. But the same phrases (well, perhaps not the one above!) spoken honestly and unselfconsciously could actually be quite poignant. I think kitsch is on a scale. There are things which everyone finds tacky. There are some which fall into a kitsch grey area. Last year’s height of good taste may become this year’s kitsch but watch out, it may be back in force next year (a glance through anyone’s photo album will bear that one out!) As you know, I’m capable of liking a lot of the stuff that is not your cup of tea. However, recently the line that I have found mildly irritating in a ‘he clearly didn’t quite know what to put there’ kind of a way is:

    Let your holy Church arise
    Exploding into life
    Like a supernova’s light
    Set your holy Church on fire.

    Maybe it’s just me…

  34. I’ve been thinking about this post. I think for me it boils down to the fact that I just don’t really like singing. It’s not a way I express myself on any level….
    Drawing, painting, doodling, crafting, talking, sewing….now those things I can express myself through :-)

  35. sarah says:

    I’m glad to say Taize’s not cheesy.

    Nor is the Psalter.

    Oh well…! ;-)

    Sas x

  36. sarah says:

    I have to say, I completely don’t agree with `sacred` and `secular either. For the God follower, it’s all sacred. Or it’s supposed to be.

    Also, with `contemporary worship songs`, sometimes the problems seem to start when the words are someone’s emotions, not spiritual realities. This means that one is completely justified not singing them when one doesn’t feel that same way. That’s personally why I like Taize music and sung settings of the Psalms (yes Spirit and emotion both but at least the emotion’s raw!), and like was said the last time this subject came up, I love to sing and dance to God with a lot of trance music or what gets played on Chill. Fabbie that we all have such different tastes. Plus Elizabethan court music – just love it! All Court of the King type stuff.

    And yes let’s remember our very life is worshipping God, atoms, typing, everything. Relationships, peace, baseball you name it.

    Love it.

    Sas x

  37. sarah says:

    ps I actually really like Celine Dion Jon.

    Sas :-) xxx

  38. jonbirch says:

    haha! my definitions do not preclude you from liking whom you choose… doesn’t mean it ain’t cheesy. :-)

  39. Matybigfro says:

    Jon if you don’t believe in the sacred secular divide

    why are you so supprised that majority of sold music, worship tagged or not, is cheese.

    Ever since i’ve turned on a radio i’ve been aware that that which the mainstream media pedals is in whole s**t

  40. AnneDroid says:

    I like cottage cheese myself but my husband thinks it’s of the devil!
    If we’re talking about worship as songs, I’ve always struggled with this because I can’t sing a note. I used to ask God to heal my lack of singability but I don’t mind it now. However it certainly makes you focus on the words. There are some terribly popular songs which have good tunes but very silly words. And I’ve never been one for the “Let’s sing it again, this time ladies only. Let’s sing it again, this time facing the back. Let’s sing it again, this time men standing on their heads”. No! Do you know what? Let’s not! HOWEVER! I think God would rather we had a go in all our foolishness than that we gave up. So I’ll risk the odd bit of cheese. I might even have it with nachos.

  41. Chris F says:

    I don’t think there is a divide between sacred and secular, rather the opposite – sorry, made the point badly! There’s a lot of cheesy music wherever it comes from, all the time.

    I too profit from music that has the power to evoke genuine emotions from my closed-up English soul!

  42. sarah says:


    Could be because lowest common denominator sells – doesn’t challenge the brain, helps us the masses go about our daily lives and not question anything, just be part of the machine.

    Jon- so lovin’ that Celine. ;-)

    Sas x

  43. sarah says:

    Chris- keep chuggin’ those emotions!

    Sas x

  44. Laura says:

    Taize definately not cheesy!
    Celine Dion…cheesy to the max!

    is “to the max” cheesy jon?? ;-)

  45. jonbirch says:

    “Let your holy Church arise
    Exploding into life
    Like a supernova’s light
    Set your holy Church on fire.”

    what the blinkin’ flip load of hogs droppings is that carole? i bet if i set his (the writers) church on fire he’d want to haul my arse into court! :-) like a supernova indeed!… very beautiful a supernova, from a distance! that’s just rubbish poetry… sorry if i offend, but it is. :-) (i’m sure the writer’s a good bloke (or lady) though). :-)

    hey matybigfro… who said i was surprised? :-)

    ho annedroid… nothing wrong with cottage cheese. it’s cheese, therefore it’s good! except edam, edam is not cheese at all, it is candlewax throughout! :-)

    hey chris f… thanks for clearing that up… i never had you down as a rampant dualist! and you’re not… hurrah! :-)

    yo there sas… i am also partial to the odd bit of cheesy music… doris day ‘secret love’ is (until now) a long time secret love of mine. :-)

    hey all… i think it’s just good to know when you’re being manipulated.

  46. jonbirch says:

    hi laura… ‘to the max’ is certainly cheesy… but a tasty cheese full of verve and vitality coming from you i’m sure! :-)

  47. ben says:

    high five to hymns! :D

    i hate the songs that sound like secular love songs with jesus added to it. can anyone relate to that?

    matt redman is good! what do ppl think about him? lyrically he always seems to be pretty solid.

  48. jonbirch says:

    last time i named names (even though i was only joking) i got complaints. :-)

  49. subo says:

    at least cheese is good food, sometimes I feel church’s serve the cheapest chicken nuggets and turkey swizzles, with extra hype and amplification.

  50. kim says:

    Hi Jon.I’m fairly new around here and I really enjoy your cartoons. hoever, here i think its only a matter of opinion and taste, and its good to have a variety of styles of music. Any type can honour God and be worshipful, depending on the heart of the people. You were harsh on Matt Redman on a cartoon the other week and I didn’t make time to comment. He’s a really genuine guy. No-one forcing you to listen to what you don’t like, right? Cheers, K

  51. Robb says:

    Wow, I turn up late to the party an miss 51 posts! I tend to keep my negativity confined to the living room. I try to be possitive and encouraging in church as we seem to be starting from a low skills base. However, there is something about this that is very permissive so what the heck! :D

    This thread was summed up by ‘the wife’ who read it yeasterday – it has been very predictable. “wow love the cartoon”, “but I like worship music”, “worship isn’t about music”…


    My two penneth – much modern worship is kak. It is churned out on mass without much thought or musical ability. People have generated a musical genre that doesn’t fit in with or speak to any modern music. We have come to a point wher we have “rock”, “blues”, “dubh”, “rap”….etc and “worship”. For some reason people churn out this acoustic guitar based “worship” and insist that it follows a formulaic blandness. People will come up to me after I play in church and comment on the fact that it sounded like [insert artist here] rather than the usual jangle of Dsus4. Shock horror, I play a Les Paul! Even bigger shock horror, I have a stack amp. That is because I am a serious musician who likes to play. If I went into the pub without rehearsing and just jangled a guitar out of time with the rest of the band and made it up as I went along people would leave. [I will leave you to draw your own conlusions]

    The acoustic guitar – I have seen excellent bands be invited to lead worship at huge events. Why do they insist that the band have to demote their singer and install a man with an acoustic guitar as ‘leader’. Just why? What was wrong with the band who sell countlss albums all by themselves? Why do they need ‘dumming down’?

    Just why?

    And while I’m on one – why did a muppet come up to me and say “if you don’t use an acoustic guitar the holy spirit can’t fall on the congregation”. WHAT??!!??

    And why do people start picking up the guitar and calling themselves worship leaders? I suspect that it is a way of getting in the public eye as ‘spiritual’. I don’t necessarily mind that but can you learn to play it before hand? I don’t need to see you learn to play the guitar in public. If I wanted that I would charge £12 an hour for it.

    CD’s of ‘worship’ are churned out with little time, money, or production put into them. If that is all that God is worth, don’t bother.

    Changing words in some onld hymns is OK. Sometimes it unnecessarily says something dodgy. However, ripping the theological, gramatical and musical sense out of Be Thou My Vision is unacceptable. If you want to change it to be inclusive, excellent. You don’t need to stick everyone on the wrong beat of the bar to do that. Thou be my whatnot is not good enough!!

    Oh yeah, the theology of much modern ‘worship’ is highly suspect. The theology of a lot of ancient ‘worship’ is also highly suspect.


    That said, I will be rehearsing tonight to go and play with a worship band tomorrow in a church service. Oh the hipocrasy! ;)

    ‘The wife’ has posted some interesting views on cheesy music last week…


    She has an excellent graph of cheesyness.

    I’m not oposed to cheese so long as it stays within it’s own genre of cheesyness :-D

    Again, the inconsistency of the man. :D

    Sorry everyone. This has been very theraputic. You have witnessed 12 years of bottled up experiences finally be released. I feel like a new man ;)

  52. Robb says:

    Apparently that was so long a post was posted in between posts.

    Sorry to contradict Kim but generally if you belong to a worshipping congregation you are forced to listen week in week out.

  53. jonbirch says:

    hi kim… welcome! :-) i was actually harsh on ‘red manmatt’… but i take your point. :-) perhaps i shouldn’t have done the (what i thought was funny) silly name play thing. as i said in one of the comments, graham kendrick is a really humble and nice guy when you meet him. i’m sure matt r is too… but doing stuff with these guys it was gk that stood out head and shoulders by refusing to push himself forward… big respect to him! :-)

    ‘sometimes I feel church’s serve the cheapest chicken nuggets and turkey swizzles, with extra hype and amplification.’ so do i, subo. :-)

    robb… you get 100 points for the best rant ever! much joy in the reading… it was like therapy for me too! :-)

  54. Robb says:

    It’s the graph that made me LOL!!

  55. just posted on worship songs and westlife, brilliant timing as i turned to asbo to find this one -excellent

  56. Long time reader, though this is my first comment (I think):

    Interesting how you chose a picture of cheese with holes in it to describe worship music. Not only making the connotation that its cheesy, but that its missing something of importance; or worse, like swiss, its got bacteria eating away at it yet people still are accepting of it.

    I say that with Swiss being my favorite cheese. Ouch.

  57. Lori says:

    AnneDroid #42, I laughed ’til I cried. You are so funny, girl. I do think you should post here more often.

    And I totally agree with this: “God would rather we had a go in all our foolishness than that we gave up. So I’ll risk the odd bit of cheese.”

    Me too. :-)

  58. jonbirch says:

    i liked your post richard. i experience much the same thing. :-)

    hi antoine! in truth it was the only kind of cheese i could think of for worship music… but i like all your analogies. :-)

    risking cheese… annedroid and lori… the images in my head are becoming so surreal! i love the idea of cheese being possibly hazardous! :-)
    in gloucestershire, once a year, many towns people from one place (can’t remember the towns name) race down a ridiculously steep hill after an enormous ball of cheese! every year someone gets badly hurt… madness! funny though! :-)

  59. Carole says:

    Woah! Robb, that was a projectile vomit of a rant!

    “if you don’t use an acoustic guitar the holy spirit can’t fall on the congregation”. Ha Ha Ha! Is the Spirit into crowd surfing then?

    I used to like Abide with Me until I noted the following:

    Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.

    Now that always conjures up images of a human cannonball. But since it is sung in solemn ceremony at the FA Cup Final and at funerals, I can’t laugh openly.

    (Though I’ve just realised these lines take on a poignant irony for me at this present moment)

  60. Becky says:

    Jon – I get dumped on all the time for using satire – my response is that I ‘try’ to smash any and all idols that keep pepole away from the love of God – it’s when these idols are smashed that glimpses of God can come shining through. Be careful though or you’ll step on the broken bits. Your work has this same ethos – which is why I love it so.

  61. jonbirch says:

    ‘Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.’ a theologically dodgy line indeed, but that hymn makes me cry like a baby, as does ‘eternal father, strong to save’.

    ‘I ‘try’ to smash any and all idols that keep people away from the love of God.’ that’s a cool job description! :-)

  62. Robb says:

    LOL @ Carole! Projectile vomit indeed. Ruth says that she’s heard me do better!

    The Holy Spirit crowd surfing? I guess that is the reason every one puts their hands up :D

  63. subo says:

    just trying to work out what kind of cheese worship in Iona Abbey might be, probably a really stinky, gooey, un-pasteurised goats cheese. The kind that makes your tongue curl and yr eyes water. Though on the odd occasion they serve a highly regulated edam, depending on who got to be in charge. Then there’s the silent service – .. . .. . .. . .. . .. -

  64. Carole says:

    Subo, I’ve always fancied doing the Iona bit and now you’ve put me right off…

  65. sarah says:

    Carole – lots of love to you x

    Hymns – like that Doctor Who episode where they’re all singing that hymn:

    The OTHER SIDE of hymn singing/ worship songs whatever you want to call it, is to encourage one another and sing to each other. Building community while we sing of Someone who’s Faithful despite all the shit we’re going though, and when we’re happy.

    Being individualistic in the West we might find that hard to comprehend, but anyone who’s been in a halfway decent family knows shared celebration is vital.

    Anyone seen that scene in Cold Mountain where they’re singing together in that church clapping their hands?

    We see God in each other’s faces as we see the pain we’ve been through, and how we’ve come through it together, a treasure too unspeakable.

    Sas x

  66. sarah says:

    Ben 49,

    If I want to sing a Love Song to God I’ll make it up myself, and it’s far too personal for me to sing in public.

    GOOD words Robb.

    Sas x

  67. jonbirch says:

    church choir singing ‘abide with me’, with david tennant acting his socks off! dream telly moment. see, i like cheese.

    iona… hmmm, i’ve never understood the desire to go to such a bleak and flat outpost… mind you, i don’t like bleak… drags me down. i don’t like the yorkshire moors and i don’t like cornwall… i could never live somewhere where the trees only grow in one direction, away from the wind. i’d feel like i had to walk around on a slant every time i left the house! :-)

  68. Carole says:

    I suppose I know what you mean, bleak can be very sombre and oppressive. But bleak does also have its own kind of beauty. Winter skies provide great drama to the landscape and when the sun shines it is no longer bleak. The great, bleak places are not much frequented by people and you can be truly alone. And that is scary…

  69. subo says:

    Oh, Carol, What did I say? – (Subo, I’ve always fancied doing the Iona bit and now you’ve put me right off…) Iona’s great so long as you don’t go as a volunteer house keeper, which is too much like hard work. Iona’s full of fun loving adventurous people, just like this blog. though if your trying to compare it to a kind of cheese, it’s not going to be those little craft triangles.

  70. jonbirch says:

    the laughing cow… now there’s a tasty cheese spread!

  71. I’ve always wanted to go to Iona but I think I’ve romanticised the place. I like what little I know of celtic Christianity :-)

    But I really don’t like the cold :-(

  72. AnneDroid says:

    Carole #62. I’d never noticed that line you mention, but obviously always will now for evermore.
    I’m terribly afflicted that way. For example I got a privatish fit of the giggles lately at a Christian event when we’d been standing singing song after song umpteen times each and we came to the line in one “Forever I’ll stand”! Certainly felt like it…
    And again in another recent service when a verse began “We are called to set the table…” and I had this great picture of all of us going home from church to set the table for lunch, not because we were hungry but because it was our calling. (Incidentally I THINK it was meant to be about communion but to be honest I couldn’t tell). Ax

  73. jonbirch says:

    ‘But I really don’t like the cold.’
    allatsea+… then definitely don’t go to iona. :-)

  74. Pingback: A little too true for comfort « Inside Tim’s Head

  75. sarah says:

    Iona’s FANTASTIC.

    Stayed in a hostel on the far side of the island.

    Swam in the sea.

    Bracing but *not at all* bleak. Crystal blue waters, Spirit so strong. You’ve got to go.

    Sas x

  76. sarah says:

    Moi aussi J’adore La Vache Qui Rit.

    Sas x

  77. jonbirch says:

    ‘la vache qui rit’ was one of the only french phrases i knew when i was in paris… conseqyently i ate alot of cheese spread baguettes! :-)

    re. iona… sas and subo are right i’m sure… go to iona… and in no way be put off by my rant about bleakness. i’ve never been there so am talking rubbish! :-)

  78. sarah says:

    Yeah! ;-)

    Nah seriously Jon, you can only do what you can do. Don’t worry about it. Go to the Seychelles my Boy enjoy ;-) ! :-)

    Lots of love xxx

  79. I kind of know I’ll go one day. Just don’t know when. I’ll take a big fat hoody to keep warm!

    Wouldn’t mind the seychelles either ;-)

  80. subo says:

    Yep it can be cold and wet and misty on Iona, or hot and sunny, though I think the Celts are long gone, a great place to volley and go to mad parties. – see new pic to show the kind of people you might meet up there.

  81. Carole says:

    AnneDroid – Sounds like we share the gift of the absurd – it helps us to see things in a different light.

    Subo – Worry not, you didn’t really put me off Iona – I would still like to go there but of course everyone’s experience is different.

    Allatsea…I too have a romantic vision the place but I’m just an old romantic anyway.

    Sas – thanks for being encouraging, as ever (a rare gift indeed!)

    Jon – I must have done the same French O level course as Eddie Izzard – even before I saw his “le singe est dans l’arbre” routine it was ingrained on my memory forever – I, too, found it difficult to slip that one seamlessly into conversation.

  82. I love cheese! (In small quantities!)

  83. AnneDroid says:

    Incidentally re Iona…
    if anyone does decide to go, take the extra pennies needed for the boat trip to Staffa. If ever a bit of geography showed that God has a great sense of humour and made funny and weird shaped places purely for fun, Staffa is the number one example… I loved it.
    Added tip, go on a nice sunny calm day or take the following: waterproofs and a sick-bucket in case you don’t capsize and a wetsuit and life jacket in case you do…

    (Abbeys don’t light my fire but I got a lot spiritually out of the gorgeous scenery on Iona.)


  84. Laura says:

    i can not believe we’ve gotten this far on a cheese post and no one has mentioned Wallace and Grommit! ;-)

  85. subo says:

    Staffa Rocks

  86. jonbirch says:

    hey laura… why is wallace so mean to gromit? and why does he never believe him? oh, the injustice. gromit a good dog not to give up on wallace as a friend. :-)

  87. Laura says:

    Dunno, I think Grommit hangs in there because he realizes he’s the smarter one. Plus, as a dog, he doesn’t have a human ego to trip him up. He’s got a dog’s loyality and compassion. Maybe Jesus is a bit like Grommit and we’re all a bit like Wallace…

    Ok..that’s a REAL stretch, but it got me thinking…

    ..all I know for sure is that after watching W&G and the Curse of the Wererabbit, I can’t hear the word “cheese” without thinking of them. :lol:

  88. sarah says:

    No it’s not at all a stretch Laura.

    Jesus is totally like a dog – loyal.

    Sas x

  89. Mike_maple says:

    I like most worship music, even though some of what my church makes us sing is rather cheesy.

    But what really makes me cringe is a church full of mostly adults doing the motions to “Our God is a great big God” and such (in my eyes) tripe.

    Sorry to be such a killjoy, I suppose they must enjoy it, and no doubt the kids do. Also I must reflect if they started playing YMCA I’d be the first to fling my arms up in a huge “Y”!

    Just to add to the debate, I also love Taize and it’s music, and someday plan to go to Iona.

  90. Laura says:

    Jesus is totally like a dog…
    hmmmm, i think I have to think about that for a while.

    not sure i can wrap my head around that. maybe dogs are like jesus…
    that i can get.

  91. jonbirch says:

    hi mike… we sang ‘our god is a great big god’ at my mums funeral. i haven’t said that to make you feel bad, quite the reverse in fact. i can’t stand stuff like that, but my mum loved it… she liked being one of the kids… she believed the words with all her heart. and for her it was as authentic as you can get. my mum would have insisted that everyone do the actions, so that is what 250 friends and family did! it was hilarious, because i couldn’t help but look around me and see many people who’d not normally do ‘actions’ doing them for my mum. she had the last laugh on all of us. i now like that song, because it has special meaning and i grasp something more of the delightful child filled with gratitude to her god that always remained in my mother. so, to conclude (finally)… just shows that one persons kak is quite literally someone elses meat… and do you know what?… even though i was amused by uptight brits doing actions, the last laugh was on me… because i was still a bit embarassed by it. :-)

  92. su says:

    maybe everything in creation shows us something of God, – what I love about dogs is that total enjoyment and abandonment, if a dogs up for it, he really is – imagine asking a dog if he’d like a walk, and getting the reply ‘I’ll have to get back to you on that one’

  93. sarah says:

    Yep, look at a Dog and I see Jesus.

    It’s a very helpful image for me.

    Also rainbows, birds…

    Sas x

  94. sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing that Jon x

  95. andrew says:

    I think we sometimes confuse worship with singing!

  96. Robb says:

    That is what my tonally challenged friend says Andrew. Have you read And Now Let’s Move into a Time of Nonsense by Nick Page?

  97. AnneDroid says:

    #95 jon, that’s such a lovely post.
    And how comforting to sing “Our God is a great big God and He holds us in His hands” when you are sad and feeling like a wee child in need of a big cuddle from Father God.
    Maybe kids’ songs are the way to go at funerals cos that’s when we suspend our grown-upness for half an hour and even cry “like babies” which is after all what we are, even though we love to act all sophisticated normally!!

  98. sarah says:

    Anne (is it alright to call you that?), I agree with you.

    We’re always God’s children.

    Sas x

  99. sarah says:

    Worship is…

    Giving God His worth in

    Caring for a sick parent
    Singing Communal Songs
    Making Fire


    and also, I think, being true to life.

    Sas x

  100. Carole says:

    Jon, lovely story about your mum. I must admit I find the whole action chorus a bit embarrassing – easier if there is a child to hide behind cos you can pretend you’re only doing it for them. I tend to err on the side of stoically resisting the pressure to join in. And yet I’m a bit on the mad side in real life, with people I feel at home with. I also don’t mind acting the prat in front of an audience of small kids.

    By the way, thanks for everyone’s prayers for my mum. I, along with another 8 members of her family, was present at her bed when she died on Sunday evening. When the final moment came, God had a beautiful gift for us all.

  101. Andy in Germany says:

    Every now and then you come up with a real beauty, and this one just livened up my afternoon, and gave a big dose of encouragement.

    I don’t like worship music
    I don’t like singing
    I spend many ‘worship times’ looking at my watch every few seconds.

    I don’t actively hate it (I used to, but I think that was connected to being made to feel small and useless by worship leaders for not fitting in) But it makes more barriers than bridges. And yes, we need to learn that ‘singing in church’ and ‘worship’ aren’t always the same.

    I think many people become ‘worship leaders’ because it is presented as the only ‘real’ way to worship and they want to be part of that. If we’d only realise there are other ways many of these people could do what they are good at and offer it to God

    I guess that’s why I’m now working with people who don’t like singing and developing (probably relearning) different ways of worship, mostly through storytelling, so that more people can contribute to the worship of the community.

    Thanks for continuing to say things we need to hear.

  102. Robb says:

    You can’t beat a good bit of emergence Andy! Keep it up!

  103. AnneDroid says:

    Sorry about your mum Carole #104. Thinking of you. Ax

  104. Carole says:

    Thanks, Anne x.

  105. sarah says:

    Dearest Carole,

    Love and prayers for your Mum, for you, and all the Family.

    Love you very much.

    Sas x

  106. sarah says:


    My husband and another guy Chris in our church are like that.

    Chris would like a bit of Jewish / Eastern European group dance and Julian would like war stomping.

    We did dancing once, all together, the delight on Chris’ face, it was wonderful. I felt, he’s really able to express his joy in the face of (presence of) God with all of us, this is his way of worshipping.

    Why are we so stuck on singing? Some historic reason. It’s become so rationalised (see Robb and Su’s comments on 359 & 360, comments 42 on, on the `so-called` Enlightenment and rationalism now) that’s all people feel safe with now.

    But some of us are beyond that – some of us NEED to dance, do stomp war dances, read poetry, smell incense, wash our hands in bowls (already a cliche?! – OK if done right but it has been done a lot) or just do some Bible reading then go out and do the gardening/ their job. Actually I think most people need that, to be whole human beings. We need to come together and praise God for our togetherness in some way, then go our ways till we meet again.

    BUT We do need as congregations to vary how we express our worship in our come-together times, or some people are going to end up feeling completely disenfranchised.

    Sas x

  107. AnneDroid says:

    Interesting, Sarah.

    Talking of dancing, Gabriel, a Ghanian pastor we had with us for a bit tried to get us to dance African style – it didn’t catch on but it was fun! The Womans Guild are still reeling (not in the reel sense).

    On the other nothing induces panic in me like “anything might happen today” type service styles!! Your talk of all that variety un-nerves me!!

    I like a wee bit of familiarity to the shape – not for all time or anything – but just so I can relax and concentrate on me and God rather than watching what’s going on and wondering whether I’m about to be asked to do something cringe-making (I have a very low cringe-threshold, though I admit that my cringey things will be different from your cringey things).

    I’ve been going to church for 200 years now (!) so I must recognise that what is familiar to me is still weird to new people. I suppose one advantage to having plenty of variety is that it puts all of us at equal advantage/disadvantage.

    But then it can become change for change’s sake…

    I’m rambling. I’ll stop.


  108. Laura says:

    Sorry to hear about your mum. Glad you got to be there with her though. I was with my dad when he passed and a friend when he passed at the age of 30. Something quite humbling to be intimate enough to share that moment in someone’s journey.

  109. Carole says:

    Thanks Sas & Laura. At least we know that Mum had lived a good (but hard) life and was ready to move on. And all of us who were at the bedside were blessed by the experience.

  110. sarah says:

    I’m glad Carole. My continued thoughts are with you.

    AnneDroid- yep I know what you mean, both of us need to find expression then don’t we.

    Lots of love,

    Sas x

  111. AnneDroid says:

    Sarah/Sas #102 – course it is. Ax

  112. Mike_maple says:

    just come back several days after posting to see your reply. I found the story about your Mum’s Funeral quite touching – and amusing to think of so many people doing the actions! But I bet your Mum would be proud of them all.

    You’re quite right that one persons meat is another mans poison and vice versa – and it also made me think that maybe it’s got something to do with becoming as little children as in Mt 18:3. Perhaps next time I’ll join in…

  113. jonbirch says:

    thanks mike. hmmmm… i think i’d still struggle to join in without getting embarassed. :-)

  114. janetp says:

    Only just read this post. Love the cartoon and the thread has given me food for thought as well as giggles.

    For anyone who’s interested, the annual cheese rolling event Jon mentions in 61 is held at Cooper’s Hill, just off the A46 between Brockworth and Stroud in Gloucestershire every Spring Bank Holiday (the one at the end of May we used to call Whitsuntide). As a ‘local’, I’ve been once. It was completely mental, but a fantastic atmosphere.

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