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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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66 Responses to 473

  1. Thats interesting as I feel I have become stronger in God since I have become uncertain of who I had become.

    As a once ‘Pentecostal’ (if I need to label it) I was SO certain of everything! and it Irritated everyone, unknowing to me. Can I be certain of my uncertainty?

  2. I meant to ask you this Jon and I don’t know if anyone has before. These images would make amazing T-shirts (not that I like religious toting t-shirts) especially this one. We could get them printed and sell them at Greenbelt and conquer the world with a massive money making scheme, he he notice how I said ‘we’

    Actually can I get permission to get this printed on a T-shirt? for personal use of course.

  3. Ian says:

    What a great idea! we could sell t-shirts and make money for the kingdom.

    Do I sound like the prosperity gospel yet?

    Though, the idea of printing on t-shirts is seconded.

  4. flippin’ ‘eck, I’d have a wardrobe full!

  5. jody says:

    how weird would it be if I had a t-shirt with the boob cartoon so that the boobs were actually situated over my real boobs which would be covered up by the t-shirt.

  6. Caz says:

    Bagsy the red herring tshirt!

  7. chris says:

    what happened to 472?

  8. jonbirch says:

    ooops! will do 472 next. eeek! :-)

  9. subo says:

    I guess there is a contradiction somewhere between ‘Certainty’ and ‘faith’, though feel as though I’m someone who’s slowly growing towards a tiny bit of faith.

    To start growing some faith I’ve had to recognize the fear I have of getting hurt – and sometimes I don’t seem to have any faith left to spare.

  10. clare says:

    Ha I have been trying to persuade Jon to print t-shirts for ages, maybe now he will listen….!

  11. amywatson says:

    I have realised that usually when I’m certain of something, I am more wrong…

  12. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

    It says that in a book I occasionally read.

  13. Robb says:

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with being certain as such. It is the agressiveness that is the real problem. People who are certain of the faith can be the some of th worst ambassadors of faith. Here is my big stick of certainty with a nail through it and I’m coming to get you in your searching!!

  14. jonbirch says:

    problem i find amy is that being certain affects attitude. people who are certain of something may be right but they tend to be self-righteous with it. what’s the point of being certain if you have bad attitude?… and if you are certain, where do you go next? you’ve already arrived… no possibility of change… stuck in a fixed place. where’s the joy in that!?

    alright, alright clare! i’ve read the comments… didn’t know how to respond. i’ll do t-shirts if you handle the online shop bit. how about that? :-)

  15. Robb says:


    Sorry, are we not playing that game at 12:04?

  16. Trevor Coultart says:

    “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

    It says that in a book I occasionally read.

    Paraphrase: Faith allows you to believe what you know isn’t true.

    (Not mine, allegedly a child’s sunday school definition.)

  17. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

    It says that in a book I occasionally read.

    Paraphrase: Faith allows you to believe what you know isn’t true.

    (Not mine, allegedly a child’s sunday school definition.)

  18. Jonathan says:

    There’s something about maturity that has to involve the assimilation of our doubts as a part of a genuine and whole spirituality.

    If we don’t come to terms with the ever present questions, if we never acknowledge they are there, or speak of their power in the long dark nights, we arrive a place where all we can do is defend the little we know, and pretend that our limited certainties somehow encompass the whole of faith.

    I’m reminded of the lyrics of a David Gray song;

    “What on earth is going on my head,
    you know i used to be so sure,
    You know i used to be so definate, thought i new what life was for,
    i look around these days, i’m not so sure…”

    Living leads to questions and doubts, the only way to avoid this is to deceive oneself, or to avoid real life.

  19. Chris F says:

    Jonathan Sachs says “Faith is in the question” by which I think he means, if I didn’t care or bother to wonder, I would have no questions – like maybe Dawkins, who thinks all faith questions are not worth asking and irelevant

    So having questions is sufficient to be on at least the start of faith.

    I am certain that the certainties I once had are less certain than I thought; I need to learn to feel at home in the desert – cos it fees like that when you move out of the box. But going back into the box isn’t the answer.

    Like so many others on this blog, a sense of deep reality abut God, Jesus, love, remain and I feel will always remain “to whom esle can we go?”

    So I am confused; but I am not confused by my confusion

  20. Will says:

    selling on WordPress.com isn’t possible. Slightly easier on wordpress.org. Anyway blogger is alot easier to integrate paypal etc. If you want i can look at doing this but if other people are better equipped. I.e. know what the hell they are doing i will leave it to them. I don’t want to enter a race to see who can do it first. I wont win!

  21. Robb says:

    You could set up on redbubble.com

    I hate to be a nay sayer but even through a site like this you are looking at an increased workload. Sorting out the images and uploading them in the correct format with transparancy and selecting all of the correct options for coulour of shirt etc… It will be at least doubling the time you put into the blog Jon.

  22. janetp says:

    I’d be up for a teeshirt, as long as it’s one of those V-necked ones: the round-necked ones look pants on me (Note: I said ‘look pants’, not ‘look LIKE pants’). Am I very vain … ?

    By-the-way, is there a reason why the certainty monster has measles?

  23. wezlo says:

    I make the distinction between “certanity” and “certitide.” With the former being able to accept mystery (I am certain that I will never actually “figure out” the Trinity) and the latter being unable to accept even the smallest mystery (“Yes the Bible says you can’t know the day or the hour – but it says nothing about the YEAR!”).

    In the dictionary, they’re synonyms – but when talking theology I find the distinction helpful. To put it bluntly, “certitude” is “certainty” after having (metaphorically) smoked crack – and, yes, it is the great creator of atheists.

  24. Tom C says:

    A core principle of my faith journey is the understanding that the more I know about God the more aware I become of how much I DON’T know.

    In a sense my search for understanding is really a search to truly comprehend how little i will ever comprehend of the person of God.

    or something like that.

    I am certain that God loves me.
    I am certain that God knows what he’s doing.

    beyond that? I wonder if the point is in searching and desiring to know more of God than in actually finding anything.

    I’m not even certain any of this makes any sense to me let alone anyone else!

  25. soniamain says:

    T shirts- how many times have we mentioned that Clare?- maybe he just heard waa,waa, waa again!- see Jon those who love you loads do have good ideas!! :)

  26. Carole says:

    Guys, I knew we’d mentioned the T-shirt thing before – No. 391 (possibly it has been mentioned even before?). Only surely it has to be hoody for ASBO? I’d just carry a small range – classic ASBO. How easy would it be to market through Proost? Dave Walker’s calendar, which I picked up at Greenbelt has kept me amused this year – perhaps a calendar is a less wieldy alternative, I don’t know. Whatever, a lot of these cartoons are too good to be consigned to the cyber archives – one of my personal favourites is 286. But, that said, do you need the stress? Something beautiful could just metamorphose into a monster. Perhaps best just to leave ASBO to the wonderful maverick thing that it is.

    On to this toon – I have known people with what they would call a simple faith. Just the other day I met an Irish nun in her 80s who, as she sees it, responded to her faith when she was 15. She has served God and lived among a multicultural inner city community and worked with schoolchildren for many years. Having been relieved of her work due to health problems, she came back to visit school. Now recovered, she was asked if she would come back to work at the school, she said she would love to return but it wasn’t up to her, it depended where God was calling her. I’d love to give myself up to that kind of certainty…but I’m too “yeah…but?”. And I’m never sure whether God is calling me or I am just doing what I want to do. Especially since, often when I implicate God in the path of my life, things go pear-shaped anyway.

    By the way, when I was looking through the back issues of ASBO it was great to read through some of the old comments. A real slice of ASBO life. Thanks, Jon.

  27. Carole says:

    Jonathan – I was right with you…and then you had to spoil it by mentioning David Gray… ;)

  28. Mimou says:

    Yeah Tom, it’s like when you enter academic studies you realise that even though you are maybe an expert of something, it’s really really tiny fraction of the whole “truth”/material out there! You may know something but it makes you realise also how little you in fact know. =)

    Robb @ 13 – well said! Not everyone is like this, but some people, it’s true..

  29. “He who thinks he knows, doesn’t know. He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.” – Hindu Upanishads

  30. Mike_maple says:

    If you do decide to go for the T-shirt printing option, I’d recommend Spreadshirt.com. I think it’d be a great idea – I’d certainly buy a couple at least – certainly “Exorcising the Dogma”.

    Or if you don’t want the fuss, you could give permission for personal use only for a set donation.

  31. Tim says:

    How about printing iron on transfers – much easier to post out, and they can be put on whatever clothes people want.

    Thanks for the site, always give me something to think about.

  32. sarah says:

    Chris F -lovely comment.

    Sas x

  33. jonbirch says:

    “to whom else can we go?”
    indeed. thanks chrisf. :-)

  34. ben says:

    yeah its funny how we are certain of things we cannot see. i guess thats why God does things to confound the wise of the world.

  35. jonbirch says:

    have you ever read ‘king lear’ ben? the fool holds the wisdom. gods kingdom is so very upside-down. :-)

  36. becky says:

    Actually Jon I’d argue that God’s kingdom is spot on – we’re the ones who are upside down. A book that gave me considerable hope was Mother Teresa’s “Come be My Light” – despite chronic depression that lasted the duration of her time in India, she managed to change so many lives. That gives me hope that God can work in me despite myself.

  37. You could enlarge some of the images and have a pay to d/l…then ppl can buy their own photo transfers (Kodak do them). I’ve used them before and they’re pretty easy and a lot less hassle for you.

  38. jonbirch says:

    becky. point welll made… you are of course right… just looks upside down from where we’re standing i guess i mean. :-)

  39. Dave says:

    perhaps we see through a glass darkly/dimly after all – the big question though is… what is in the glass! dave

  40. subo says:

    for when you’ve had a heavy dose of certainty and seriousness and a little meaningless niceness all round

  41. becky says:

    This is what keeps me in the Episcopal church is that through the prayer book reciting ancient creeds connects me to the past which grounds me somehow. I have had some amazing spiritual experiences observing a chanted evensong at say Canterbury Cathedral where the words, music and incense create a space where I can “be” and allow God’s presence to enter. NOW too much of that and it becomes rigid as though we’re all religious robots, which is why I also seek out more emerging forms of worship that are at times outside of the Anglican tradition. I find that by mixing this up (and taking off the occasional Sunday like I am tomorrow to go flyfishing), I am able to stay in the church though not attached to a particular building or group.

  42. TyTe says:

    Becky, but you are attached to one or more particular groups aren’t you? Isn’t this one? BTW: Have you ever been fly fishing for sea bass? :)

  43. becky says:

    I am not attached to any ONE particular group but I find places where I can play.

    Never tired sea bass but gone for striped bass. In fact, leaving for some urban NYC fishing in a few hours.

  44. TyTe says:

    Cool. I fly fish – but mostly UK sea for sea bass – although it was a bit windy yesterday so ended up bottom fishing… Nothing like being off-topic!

  45. Dave says:

    This is the ‘plaice’ to go off-topic, don’t ‘whale’ about it – flex your ‘mussel’ – ‘sea’ what happens! dave :)

  46. TyTe says:

    He he he – when I was about 10 years old, I walked around with a T-Shirt that read “Happiness is a rod in your hand.” People kept staring and giggling. I just thought they liked fishing…

  47. becky says:

    Don’t get me started on filthy fishing metaphors – a bunch of us female flyfishers here in the States let a woman’s sporting magazine have it when the FINALLY ran a story on women flyfishers and called the story “The Happy Hooker” …

    … re: the certainty post – that’s why I have yet to find a single community here in the states – as groups form, they seem to develop their own brand identity with a mantra albeit “Jesus said it, that settles it” or “Social Justice [sans any mention of Jesus name)” is the the ONLY way to go. Bring single, most traditional churches have no clue what to do with you once you hit 35. And I never was a hipster so the holy hipster vibe never worked as they look at me like their much older sister crashed and caught them making out (when people call themselves hipsters I found that about as unhip or uncool as one could be but that’s another story). Just re-read Mike Yaconelli’s Messy Spirituality and that pretty much sums up where I am these days – but I’m learning to love it.

  48. Anna says:

    hAHAHAHA! Thsi has to be my favourite one ever!
    so true so true! because when you ‘know’ stuff you stop learning right?
    My past time is trying to prove that we cant prove anything. though while Im doing that I still manage to fall into the sense that I know that I cant know stuff. Tis hard, I guess Im not really sure what Im talking about. And thats annoying too. I guess what Im trying to say is, what annoys me is not knowing. But I know(suppose) that I cant know. Troubling slightly. Should I just accept my not knowingness? What do I do after that? Im annoyed cos I dont know the answers to these questions!!
    Ok, that was probably a whole load of random junk out of my brain, hope it makes some sense. I think Im a bit hyppocritical, sorry.

  49. Dave says:

    hey Anna – you looked at ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’ – I draw lots in heart and mind from Christian mystics these days – not everyones cup of tea! I also find stories by-pass preoccupation to ‘know’ for me – Tony De Melo is particularly good – “…whilst it is a great mystery that though the human heart longs for truth, in which alone it finds liberation and delight, the first reaction to truth is often hostility and fear”. He points out that spiritual leaders like Jesus often employed stories to circumvent the opposition of their listens. “It may be common to oppose truth but impossible to resist a story, those leaders knew the power of language and ‘Once upon a time…’ are such entrancing words”! Tony De Mello (‘Prayer of the Frog’ vol. 2)

  50. Dave says:

    # 46 – have to ‘skate’ over this comment! Dave :0

  51. Chris F says:

    44 Tyte – bottom fishing?? Did you catch any? I hesitate to ask – but how big do they get?

  52. TyTe says:

    The thing is, when bottom fishing you have to keep feeling for the bottom. It’s no good if your weight is off the bottom or you won’t get any bites. I prefer a rough bottom but you can do well with a smooth bottom too. I like to use a sliding rig so my weight can slide up and down above the swivel, that way if you get a bite then there is little or no resistance. It is possible to get snagged on the bottom but if you exert enough pressure, you can usually get free.

    FISH people…FISH!

  53. TyTe says:

    Becky – I agree with you and it makes me sad.

    Yet I’m hopeful that churches can exist that seek to follow Jesus without being at one extreme or another. I love all this emergent stuff and I belong to several networks, but I can’t help feeling that there is something so special about being a committed member of a Christian community.

    The last church I was a member of (as a curate) was a laregish, white, middle class, conservative evangelical Anglican church. I made some great friends but it nearly killed me! I once got ten letters of complaint after one service – one was eight sides long! And another time, I accidentally left out the creed and got shouted at! Unbelievable.

    Anyway, I’m sure we all have church horror stories of one sort or another…

    The parish church I’m currently a member of is wonderful. It’s wonderfully broken, wonderfully open, and has this incredible mix of people. It’s messy and it’s often crazy. There is room for discussion, doubt, pain, and joy. It’s missional, social, Jesus-centred, and lots of fun. It’s not perfect, but this is probably why I love it so much. Actually, I think it also has something to do with being able to be me.

    Broken but hopeful.

  54. Chris F says:

    I had no idea fishing could be so interesting

    I would too would dearly like to be a committed member of a christian community again. #53 – 10 letters of complaint, that’s impressive! I fear I was altogether too bland for too long and never want to be again – so sounds like you were on right track. I’m glad you’ve found somewhere now. It sounds great…

  55. becky says:

    Actually see at the end, i said I’m learning to love it – yes I was depressed as hell and yes, it does hurt a bit when I am excluded because I don’t fit any mold. But as I said, Mike Y. broke every mold ever made – he is my first mentor and I’m getting the strength to embrace my uniqueness and then play with whoever wants to play with me — the battle now is wishing “godspeed” on those who thumb their noses (and worse at me) instead of responding likewise.

    I find small little pockets where I can play hidden from the limelight. And sometimes like this weekend, I decided to hang out with Jesus via flyfishing and for me that was church – then I hung around here and got a bit of community. There are a number of churches where I will dip in from time to time and connect with people both here in NYC and elsewhere when I travel – no one place says ‘home” but I realize that just as the farmer said to the pig in Babe ‘ that’ll do pig.’

  56. becky says:

    when I said hidden from the limelight what I meant is that often the places where one can truly play tend to be out of the glare of the media spotlight – the people who tend to promote the heck out of their church as though it’s hip, cool, cutting edge, etc. tend to be very vanilla and cliquish. You have to buy into their brand of the faith which they are certain is the only way to be a Christian or else you feel like a complete missional moron.

  57. Phil Groom says:

    From jody: “how weird would it be if I had a t-shirt with the boob cartoon so that the boobs were actually situated over my real boobs which would be covered up by the t-shirt.”

    Go for it, jody: it’d suit you, that’s a certainty! :D

  58. Josie says:

    There are some things I am certain of, for example I am certain that the bible is God’s word, I am certain that Jesus died for the sins of man, and that through him we are redeemed. This is the truth and it is good to be certain about the truth. Certainty becomes a different creature when it is steered by judgment and exercised over others. I see your monster but perhaps his name does not quite fit?

  59. drewman says:

    Josie, here is the proof that even the one of the two certainties you mention are not necessarily so for all of us.
    I am drawn to believe, after much searching and agonising, that the Bible may well be not quite as God originally ordered it! Because over the last ….years we, humanity, have been involved in its editing and collating; its preservation and interpretation. I find myself able to ‘consider’ that some of what is in it was not meant to be and some of what should have been is not. Thats a huge statement for me – I feel like taking myself outside the city walls and throwing a stone at myself.
    I can manage Tom C’s (24)

    I am certain that God loves me.
    I am certain that God knows what he’s doing.

  60. James says:

    I think sometimes the less certain we are in ourselves the closer we are to God.

    Is it that by becoming closer to get we become less certain in ourselves or that the less certain we are in ourselves the closer be become to God.

    Maybe at the times we are less certain about ourselves we need and rely God more.

  61. Anna says:

    Hey Mr Drewman no. 59, I agree. And it annoys me when people judge stuff as wrong cos apparently its wrong in the Bible. I dont think the Bible can summarize God so we should look for him outside the Bible too. I think that there are lots of things out side te Bible. Like penguins.. and… other arctic animals. Exept for seals, seals are in the Bible. I checked – Revelations, lol!
    I have a very Bible based church though. People say the Bible is the word of God, but some versions say the Bible is the breath of God. So its inspired by God, not complete fact stuff. Right?
    I dont know, what is the Bible? Ive only been around for 14 years – all I know is what Ive found out or been told.

  62. jonbirch says:

    i have been a christian nearly all my life… still am… and i am certain of very little. i know a lot less than i used to.

  63. Josie says:

    My mom used to say that teenagers should become politicians while they still know everything, that still makes me laugh…

    I found a study by John Stott very very helpful in understanding what the bible actually is. I’ve heard it said that it’s a collection of stories with good morals but not at all applicable to modern culture. I also struggled at for a time about distortions that may have been made to suit the purposes of certain groups in history. I would strongly recommend taking a look at what John Stott has to say on the subject because it’s important to understand these things and use our God given reason for ourselves. Incidently there are indeed groups of people who have altered the bible to suit their particular message, I’ll not name them but I would ask what an individual can rely on as Authoritative, if not the bible, an individual or perhaps ourselves?

    On the question of altered meaning, there is alot available today about the original language in which the bible was written that it is relatively easy to get to grips with any questions about original intentions. The texts which were not included in our bible today are also available.

    It’s good to be certain, but not to batter anyone for their uncertainty…I hope I haven’t done that today… Happy thinking :)

  64. Illegal says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Illegal.

  65. Robb says:

    I guess we’re all being spammed. We had the exact same words as Illegal posted by Overrepresented at our band blog. Interestingly what was lost in translation was a very simple and easy to follow account of a rehearsal. Nothing deep, just a verbatum account of the funny things that happen in a cock rock universe.

  66. Pingback: Faith « The Running Sheep

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