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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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65 Responses to 392

  1. Scott says:

    Genius. Pure genius. Thank you for sharing your gift.

  2. su says:

    thats a challenging cartoon! whats the difference between this and a healthy, God given love for another? To some extent we are all human and needy and lost. vr thought provoking

    thanks for the link Laura, it’s really powerful, inviting us to move into grace and beyond ourselves.

  3. sarah says:


    Cheers Jon x

    Sas x this is the other kind of toon you do – great.

    Sas x

  4. Maggi says:

    That U2 song was also the first thing that came in my mind. That’s great!

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  6. sarah says:

    Es ist ja wunderschoener Jon.

    Sas :-)

  7. Robb says:

    Flirty fishing anyone?

  8. Will says:

    I saw this and thought how twisted and then say the tag line… It’s amazing how such a simple word can change a meaning in such a profound way. Good one Jon.

  9. I like this.
    I also like the cartoons you did ages ago – two responses to girl with baggage.
    Sometimes what appears to outsiders be the unhealthiest of relationships can be the most loving and healing environments for both people.
    I think that’s God’s love and grace in all it’s brilliance.

    Fortunately for me, I’m speaking from experience :-D

  10. I like the another possible meaning of the ‘toon too, with Grace being a symbol of God’s grace to us rather than a real live girly.

    Very very grateful for that in my life too.
    Not to get all super duper spiritual but God has been very faithful to me lately through some very difficult times. When I’ve been too stressed to be all that conscious of him. And too concerned for my own well-being to think about what he wants from me. I so so need grace :-)

  11. Maggi says:

    @sas: Of course my trackback is in German. That’s my german blog over there :-)

    And besides that, the cartoon and the video proposed by laura apparently helped a friend of mine over the day. At least he said “That was meant for me today.”

  12. Robb says:

    AASWABAS, I didn’t see it as representing a real girlie until you just mentioned it. I really must stop living in a metaphorical world and start living in a concrete one :lol:

  13. becky says:

    Given we’re all interacting here in cyberspace, I find it intriguing that Grace is communicated via an electronic medium …

  14. Mark Roques says:

    Well done Birchy. God bless you and keep you! This one’s a cracker.


  15. Steve says:

    Excellent view of God’s grace. You have a real gift. Thanks for sharing it.

  16. Peter Kirk says:

    A woman making such a proposition? Shouldn’t you have kept this one for Friday 29th?

  17. Carole says:

    Don’t really need to say anything more, do I Jon? :-)

  18. Brandon Day says:

    Isn’t it funny that Grace can be offered to me like that but I still have the hardest time accepting it? Ah how pride can cause so much unnecessary pain when all I have to do is lay it all down.

  19. sarah says:

    Maggi, Hallo, und super dass das Blog Ihnem Freund gehilft hat.

    Hope that’s right!

    Sas x

  20. sarah says:

    Allatsea, Jon and guys,

    I really like Grace being personified as a woman – in fact, I like the personification of all of his attributes. It helps me relate to this Source of the Universe.

    In the Bible Wisdom is a “she.”


    Sas x

  21. sarah says:

    Allatsea, I think what God wants from us some of the time is just to get better (well). He’s a very loving Father.

    Lots of love,

    Sas xx

  22. Carole says:

    Aye Sas, in Greek she goes by the name of Sophia, I believe. Check out The Star in My Heart, Joyce Rupp.

  23. sarah says:

    Hagia Sophia – Holy Wisdom.

    Wear her like pearls around your neck.

    Joyce Rupp looks good Carole.

    Much love,


    How are you keeping?

    Sas x

  24. Carole says:

    I’m OK, Sas, thanks for asking. Getting back into my studies (I use the term loosely!) I’m doing a lot of assignment evasion at the moment! I met my new class today for the first time. They are delightful.

    And how are you, Sas?

  25. I think you’re right sas
    Yep. Loving Father of the most perfect variety.
    Warms my heart :-D

  26. sarah says:

    And mother too.

    Carole – good thanks, some problems with the church family, but all will be overcome.

    Glad your class went good.

    Hope to move our art group out from the church building into a lovely new cafe run by christians here in Brissle. Will keep you and all posted.

    With love,


    PS MY FRIEND PETER IS DOING MUCH BETTER, and his relocated family is learning to cope. Thank you for praying. Kofi Annan helped bring some peace. praise God

    Sas x

  27. Carole says:

    I’m glad Peter’s situation has improved but it must have been an awful upheaval for him. Sarah says there is more of an air of optimism now. But I think she still has a bag packed just in case. She is annoyed at the attitude of the British ex-pats who are making light of the situation. They rest in their little enclave and have no encounter with the local people. You know, it really wouldn’t surprise me if she knew your Peter. She and her husband did missionary work (I think for Crosslinks) years ago in Eldoret and a place called Kapsabit (I think that’s how you spell it). But I get the impression that in Kenya everyone knows virtually everyone else.

  28. jonbirch says:

    thank you all for the wonderful comments and conversations. clare and i had a lovely night tonight with a wonderful friend, debating politics, the bible and the meaning of life. at the same time as deciding on the attributes of different belgian beers… after tasting a couple i’d never tried before i decided that chimay red is still my favourite. :-)
    thanks for investing time and thought here, i am very grateful to all of you and very blessed by all of you. :-)

  29. ron says:

    Great one.

  30. Loving father, loving mother, loving brother, loving big sister, loving great aunt……all good :-D

  31. sarah says:

    You bet Jon.

    For me this isn’t just a blog, it’s an extension of my family.

    I love you all.

    Sas x

  32. Maggi says:

    @Sas x: I am also starting to follow (and appreciate) the discussions over here more and more. I love blogs where the comments are a thoughtful extension of the corresponding post – and sometimes even going deeper.

    Also, your statements about the gender of wisdom and grace are very good and challenging.

  33. Maggi says:

    Whoops, the nick is “sas”, or what? The “x” must be some kind of nerdy anglo-saxon greeting abbreviation?

  34. sarah says:

    Ja, Maggi, der `x` ist ein Kuss! Nicht `nerdy` aber!

    Sas (oder Sarah) xxx

    Thank you for your comment! ‘Ppreciate it! xx


  35. jonbirch says:

    ron… thank you. :-)

    maggi… welcome. :-)

    sas… x

  36. Maggi says:

    Ah, then there is one more thing I always wanted to know: What means XOXOXOX at the end of teenish mails?

  37. Carole says:

    Hugs and kisses!!! (I think, but not best qualified since I text with full sentences, spelling and punctuation – it’s a mid life thing!)

  38. Robb says:

    Oh no. Are you predicting my demise at 58?

  39. sarah says:


    Yeah, like Carole said, It means kiss hug kiss hug usw…

    Carole – I do the same.

    Robb – Can’t see you demising at 58 my friend! 88 maybe.

    Sas x

  40. Robb says:

    My monk friend is over 90. I was talking about the speed of the CofE and said something should be ready for 2025. He very quietly, slowly and serenly said “I can confirm [pause] that in 2025 [pause] I will be dead”.

    It must be really nice to be at peace with yourself, God and the world. He shows complete certainty in his faith.

  41. Carole says:

    Hey Robb, You cruisin’ fer a bruisin’ or wha’? I’ll have you know I’m only 40…odd.

  42. Carole says:

    …carry on like that and I can personally predict your demise a lot earlier than 58!!

  43. Carole says:

    Ha Ha!, just realised you were doubling your own age and not saying I was 58. Sorry! :oops:

  44. Robb says:

    :lol: LOL!! :lol: That was 6 minutes of intense conniption!! :lol:

  45. Carole says:

    I’m feeling a bit touchy about my age at the moment! I’ve really hurt my knee this morning when I fell over playing ‘tiger tag’ with a bunch of fellow students, most of whom are half my age. And when I jog on the spot I can feel the skin on my face wobbling. I shouldn’t have to do things like that at my mature years…

  46. Robb says:

    Sorry you feel like that. I refuse to get old. My body may age but I wont. Theres nothing better than teaching teenagers to make you feel old. I felt old when I did my PGCE at 22!

  47. Carole says:

    That’s the point – I’m about 15 inside – if anything I’m dafter now than I was back then. But minor injuries that used to sort themselves out in a couple of days linger on for months now. That’s the first thing I noticed about the ageing process. Anyway, sorry to whine on. Must get on with my essay…

  48. jonbirch says:

    playing five-a-side tonight, as i do every friday. i like the glory of scoring goals, so i’ve not grown up… but the need to goal hang becomes more of an issue as the years tick by. :-(

  49. Carole says:

    Jon, you have to make sure all the other players are same age as you, then it’s not an issue. My Phil works in a youth club in town. He likes to thrash the kids (he’s like that character from the Fast Show) at table football, pool and table tennis. But I’m always telling him he needs to be less competitive with the 15 year olds in the 5-a-side football.

    Growing old – God’s way of teaching us humility and thus wisdom – at least that’s what it feels like!

  50. Robb says:

    growing up is for other people. Thing is, I’ve met young people who are old!! Why are you wearing that arran sweater? Why are you telling me I need to be in bed before 12?? Just why?

    OK, this is transgressing a little into a more worship focused thing but…. Why do all the people who were hoopy froods with the beetles and the stones keep complaining about having an electric guitar in church? I mean <i.why!!??!! You invented free love! Hendrix would be older than you! Elvis would be getting meals on wheels and yet you complain about me!! My Dad’s the worst for it. He complains about my hair, my car and my choice of music. He jumped in a mini van and drove to the isle of white to see Hendrix!! What Happened??!!?? When did my mother click the switch and change from The Rolling Stones to Classic FM? It was a concious decision. She says things like “this is more befitting someone of my age…”

    Age is something you do to yourself. It is a form of self harm. Don’t let anyone give you the age placebo. Get older and wiser, just don’t get old!!

    Peace my hoopy froods :lol:

  51. Carole says:

    Wassa hoopy frood?

    Where was all this free love and why didn’t I get any – oh yes I was a teenager in the 70s! And why can’t you have the Rolling Stones and Classic FM. I like most types of music. My iPod is currently shuffling Razorlight, the Killers, Earth Wind & Fire, the Manic Street Preachers, the Kooks, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, the Stereophonics, the Tallis Scholars, the O’Jays, Bryn Terfel, the the Zutons amongst others – an eclectic mix and all me. A bit of a shock to the eardrums at times but it all goes into the mix. Broadminded or tasteless? I don’t actually care which. When I hit 30 I was liberated from the pressure of having others approve my musical taste.

    It’s a terrible shock the day you wake up and realise you’ve morphed into your parent but don’t worry, Robb, a few more years for you before that is likely to happen – but happen it will – Woahahah!!

    The good news is my youngest tells me off for having my music too loud so there is hope for me.

    Thanks for the pep talk. My target this week is to banish the age question into oblivion. I promise! ;-)

  52. Maggi says:

    Hoopy frood – isn’t that a term from Ford Prefect in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy?

  53. Robb says:

    Yep, Watched the HHGTTG a couple of nights ago. I’m a hoopy frood who knows where his towel is!!

    I like classical music – I was the chorister who parents gasped when I walked onto the stage – shock there is a hippy in our midst!! – My mother tells that story with glee – she loves me and is proud of me inspite of my… erm… unusualness ;) But classical is a kind of music not the kind of music… BTW, give me beathoven! A guy who is frustrated by his lack of hearing who lves music. Heartbreaking and yet without it we wouldn’t get those hugely emotional pieces!!

  54. Carole says:

    Yes, Beethoven is superb. I like a bit of JS Bach, too. There is one of his ‘tunes’ from the St Matthew Passion which I want to get hold of – well I’ll probably just get the whole thing – but when I was a kid I remember singing a hymn to that melody during Lent. “Oh Sacred Head ill-used”. I sang it in junior school and even then it took me to places of sweet melancholy that few pieces of music have done since. The words were beautiful, too.

    I also like Mozart – again moreso in the beautiful minor keys. One of my favourite films is Amadeus. But of late, I have been listening to a lot of Renaissance choral stuff. Fave – Miserere Mei by Allegri which has me floating in the rafters every time but I like Palestrina, too. The Church has such a brilliant treasury of musical work.

  55. Robb says:

    The Church has such a brilliant treasury of musical work

    The problem is that it stopped growing 200 years ago!! Church music has evolved over time… until 200 years ago!!

  56. Carole says:

    Maybe patronage of the arts is no longer a priority. Was the Church right to patronise the arts in the first place? Now there’s room for a good debate there.

  57. jonbirch says:

    i too am very broad in my tastes.
    love muse, love massive attack, love radiohead, love nightmares on wax, love johnny cash, love thais’s meditation and griegs piano concerto… man, the list is endless and very varied. such a shame the church stopped being at the cutting edge of the arts and stayed safe and nice. what happened to patronage, eh?

  58. Carole says:

    Hi Jon, How’d the footy go? My evening has gone from the sublime of Allegri’s Miserere to the ridiculous of Austin Powers’ Goldmember.

    I’m sure the patronage still goes on to a certain extent, to celebrate events and stuff, but I think the output is mainly crap! I think it is probably also symptomatic of a growing secularity in society. Which artists/musicians are interested in producing religious work? Dunno. What do others think? Does anyone know of anything worthy from the last 200 years?

  59. jonbirch says:

    yo carole… not so good this week i’m afraid. enjoyed it, but been fighting a funny coldy bug thing this week which showed. the beer and banter was up to scratch afterwards though and that’s a big part of it. five-a-side is probably the thing i’m most religious about these days. love the people, love the socials we do with our partners and wives (they all have a riot too)… and feel better for the exercise… most of the time! :-)

    interesting, you know. beethoven wasn’t a believer and yet he was patronised by a russian priest. the modern church only appears to be interested in work that serves ‘the message.’ this is ridiculously dualistic and a complete failure to grasp what art is. we don’t demand this of scientist or business men… in fact we expect artists to be business men… they should pay their way like everyone else… sod the blessing they bring to the community. sod the fact that at its best art unfolds the creation and reveals something of the creator.
    “but I think the output is mainly crap!” i’m glad you said this and not me. :-) often i’d love to take the route of doing cartoons that say ‘this is crap and that is crap!’ i suppose i’ve given worship music a hardish time… but it’s nothing compared to what i’d like to say! :-)
    re. your question about worthy work in the last 200 years. i know artists who have been commissioned for one off jobs… always something religious (miniature sistine chapels really)… but i don’t know of any church undertaking to commit to an artist properly.
    btw… re. beethoven… the only work his patron specifically requested was that he do a requiem. beethoven died before he had properly finished it. now that’s commited patronage! :-)

  60. Carole says:

    Yeah, when I said what I said, the sweeping nature of my generalisation was only salvaged by judicious use of the word ‘mainly’! I suppose what I was really trying to say is that The Renaissance and the Classical period was a golden age for church music (was there much in the way of secular music?). In the recent times, there has been more emphasis on the hymn/worship song and lots of very pleasant little ditties have been produced (yeah, and lots of Crap with a capital ‘c’ :lol: ). But the great church music has a capacity to transcend time. I’m not so sure we have anything of that calibre. I like some of John Taverner’s music.

    I liked what you said about the duallism. We were in a church in Rome last year and there was a Caravaggio hanging there. He may well have been patronised by the church but he was quite a controversial character and artist with his naturalistic depictions of biblical scenes and use of well-known prostitutes as models. Lots of his paintings were rejected but there are still paintings hanging in churches. Don’t get me going on the Arts vs Science/business debate. Not this week anyway… ;-)

  61. Robb says:

    I have been patronised by the church. It happened in the lent group last week when someone cut me off half way through a sentence to explain greek to me without realising my academic background… have I misunderstood?

    I think the problem is that ‘worship music’ is a slave to market forces. The goal is not to produce the best music to ‘give worth’ to God, it is to produce a CD that appeals to the masses and sells for £15.99. The masses are by and large middle age charismatic women who want something easy listening – I think I have said this on the Rat Meadmann cartoon. We end up with a new genre – rock, pop, hip-hop and now ‘worship’. The worship genre will include an acoustic guitar, four chords (one of them Dsus4) and some backing singers. It will be laid down in a week. The drummer wont be allowed to count anyone in or keep a beat from the begining to the end of the track.

    Essentially recording studios cost money. When you run worship as business you need to weigh up the cost of recording the disc against the number of people who will buy it.

    Art? That was killed off by the reformation and concerns over idolatry.

    The one time I convinced an artist (who does it for a living) to do some painting (with people) as part of a worship act he prduced something amazing that was screwed to the wall and lives in that church to this day. Afterwards he said he wouldn’t do it again as it felt like people weren’t worshipping God but him instead as they thanked him for it and gave him positive feedback.

  62. Carole says:

    The masses are by and large middle age charismatic women

    Well, ‘young man’, you can’t seriously expect me to let that one go without comment…I know plenty of Mead Ratman and Hugh Timms wannabes who are 20-something who are only to happy to lead the worship in their “We lav ya Jeezas!”, southern trendy Christian twang (most of them are from Birkenhead!)…anyway, what’s wrong with Ret Madman…? ;-)

    I like to have a dabble in lots of things but have a very short attention span, so things seldom get beyond the dabble stage. I do, however, take the business of encouragement very seriously, particularly in relation to art ‘n’ stuff in church. A mate of mine does fab charcoal drawings in church and related events. I know exactly where your friend is coming from but a significant number of people have been drawn into the church community through what my mate does. I have another friend who is a wonderfully gifted artist – she is no one-trick pony and I’m sure she could make a living at it if she had the bottle. She will do the most wonderful paintings if asked but is so self-effacing that few know of her talent. I know another person who paints, but is just not in the same league. She was asked to do something for Easter. It hung over the altar for about a year, causing the most awful distraction. It was OK, I suppose, but not brilliant. But the efforts she went to to promote herself and let everyone know how ‘talented’ she was were gut-wrenchingly embarrassing. She’s taken up poetry now and you can’t so much as put the kettle on without her dragging some dodgy doggerel verse on tea making as an analogy to spiritual journey out of her handbag. As you can tell, I struggle with this one.

  63. Robb says:

    But that is the market that is aimed for by the record companies. They know that they have the disposable income to spend on a CD marked up with the christian tax to £15.99. Obviously, other groups will buy a Matt Readman CD as well but a teenage christian isn’t going to have the disposable income to spend big on worship music. What disposable income they do have will be spent on other things that they deem more essential (Sex and drugs*). That is why they don’t produce bands like The OC Supertones on a large scale – they have a limited market that won’t bring a return and they require a lot more production in the studio.

    Interestingly, the only men I have met who have a large collection of “worship” CD’s are aspiring worship leaders with acoustic guitars. Why don’t I ever meet women with acoustic guitars who are leading worship?

    I know people just like the one you describe!! They are often the ones with acoustic guitars.

    *Please note the tongue firmly placed in cheek :D

  64. Carole says:

    :lol: Aye, I take your point.

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