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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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59 Responses to 494

  1. Pierre says:

    Ah well, at least some are trying to do something about it… The Vatican has added environmental pollution to the list of deadly sins.
    Still, have you really heard people use those three arguments? They’re just really awful!
    So, in an attempt to convince the first two – just because you get a second life in heaven, doesn’t mean you have to stop dealing with this one, and making it the best, after all you were put in charge of creation!
    To the third one… Well, considering the rising oil prices, I doubt he’ll be able to maintain his lifestyle! ;-) [And I plead guilty of flying abroad a couple of times a year… :-(]

  2. dennis says:

    I have heard the first one before! It makes me angry so much, My local council say they are going to force me to re-cycle. Bloddy idiots! I have been recycling for years, shame they didn’t notice.

    HOWEVER I do own a Landrover 4×4 but try doing my job without it!!

    I don’t get to fly anywhere much probably once every 5 years if I am lucky.

    I did wonder the other day that when Jesus does come again and just say our theology meant that we would go to a different place then what on earth id God going to do with all our stuff?

  3. Forrest says:

    Hey, uh, dude number one; God’s also going to burn up your job, your wardrobe, your bank account, and your house – you ARE being consistent and are applying the SAME logic to them, correct?

    Ummm, lady number two there: my understanding about Jesus is that he was all about valuing the things of God. Is not God’s creation a thing of God?
    If a Pagan whose values include sustaining the world our God created is asked to believe in God by someone who is trashing the world God created what inclination would there be to believe?

    Dude number three: you have issues.

    If they are necessary to do what God has called you to do then they may well be.
    Do just remember that is entirely possible to take resources and income God blessed us with in order to do something for Him and instead use them for something for ourself.

    Don’t ask me how I know that!

  4. jonbirch says:

    hi pierre. i’m afraid i have heard all three sad reasons, yes. :-(

  5. Robb says:

    The Vatican has added environmental pollution to the list of deadly sins.

    I had to look that up. I can’t believe it’s true!

    Forrest, how do you know that? :P

  6. James says:

    Robb it was all over the news a couple of months ago.

  7. Ben says:

    Anyone read ‘Surprised by Hope’ by NT Wright. Gives another view point to this all.

    The way I read the Bible: I’m coming back to the New (restored) Earth when Jesus returns – hence I want to work towards restoring God’s Kingdom on it now.

    Could say lots more but got to go…

  8. James says:

    When I was at college I had drama on a Monday morning. Everyone got a 2 hour dinner and I didn’t have anything in the afternoon anyway. I would go to the pub for lunch with my drama group (there was only like 5 of us) and a couple of other friends. They liked to probe questions about faith occasionally. One day, and I really do not know how, we managed to get onto what kind of car would Jesus have. It was interesting, to me there were two main arguments one was that it was quite possibly he would have an old banger of a car but then the other side of it is that he would quite possibly have a hybrid car.

    Maybe he wouldn’t have a car at all lol but that was our musings on a particular afternoon.

  9. James says:

    hmmm I realised I didn’t really tie it in to the cartoon. Obviously the suggestion of a hybrid car is becuase it would be better for the environment.

  10. gilly says:

    we wouldn’t trash our friends homes

    so i can’t quite see how trashing Gods World is ok

    (unless we don’t give a….)

    like jon , i’ve heard all 3 reasons

  11. TyTe says:

    I agree Ben (7)…

    Part of the problem is this theology that when we die we go to heaven – where heaven is a 100% spiritual place. Whatever happened to resurrection?

    Lucy and I have been toying with the idea of not having a car for a while. It’s interesting, chatting to friends, that we are not alone in this idea. It would mean a radical change of lifestyle – and getting to parents houses miles away in the country would be incredibly difficult but not impossible. I wonder…

  12. JF says:

    Don’t worry, at least all this global warming stuff can’t be true as God has promised never to flood the earth again. That’s what a rainbow is, remember!? (It’s not sunlight refracting through rain).

  13. Robb says:

    In Lump by Rob Bell he says something like “you show how much you care about the creator by how you treat the creation – in the same way that when your child makes you a sculpture [that is probably crap] you keep it on your shelf right until you die”.

  14. Ben says:

    The best tongue-in-cheek reason against recycling etc I’ve heard is: “The world doesn’t need saving, it’s already been done, 2000 years ago by a man on a cross”.

    I’d like to point out that the person who said it does believe in stewardship and was deliberately being flippant.

  15. Ben says:

    Following on from (7)(not 14 who is another Ben): I find that the problem with discussion about global warming is two-fold.

    Firstly people focus on the initial problem not the effects of the problem. The problem is not the Ice Caps melting, nor the sea level rising, nor the climate changing, not even crops or droughts but rather that these changes will cause suffering and death. Rather than talking about climate change we should talk about mothers losing sons and sons losing mothers due to us not caring for the environment (although this makes us feel very uncomfortable when driving home from church!)

    The related second point is that we forget the human faces that are attached to this. Too often I dispair when people focus on the problem not the solution but in this case people focus on the solution and not the problem. We believe we do our bit to the solution and ignore the problems this as caused (not sure if I’m making much sense with this second point! – it’s clear in my head but struggle to communicate it via a keyboard.)

    I also have to point out that I am guilty as charged to my own points: I believe its called Hypocrisy and I’m very good at it.

    ps. (to #12) A rainbow is sunlight reflecting/refracting through rain. It’s not ‘just’ sunlight reflecting/refracting through rain it’s also a symbol (dare I say sacrament) of God’s covenant. Lets not ignore the Physics and alienate people but point out the deeper meaning

  16. jonbirch says:

    as tyte and ben point out. there is no promise in the bible about going to heaven. the earth is our inheritance… the kingdom of heaven here, according to scripture. no wonder we breed generation upon generation of dualist christians when the very framework upon which worldview is built is so deeply flawed.

    jf. water is just H20… but it is also deeply symbolic of many things to many people. personally, i find blossom symbolises new life and the hope of better things ahead… blossom always lifts my spirits for this reason as well as the simple truth that it looks pretty. just a thought.

  17. Robb says:

    We’ve become separated from our own scriptures and tradition and rather caught up in populist mythology. We believe in the resurection of the body and the life everlasting.

  18. JF says:

    I have to explain that after being away for the weekend I was catching up on here and you can maybe see how various different cartoons (boat, land ahoy, environmental disaster) fused in my mind!

    I guess I have a few problems with the Noah story and one of them is that there was no rainbow prior to the Flood. If, in the Garden of Eden, it rained while the sun shone, there was no rainbow?

    Symbolism is fine, but I was taught all of the Bible as historical fact and it still doesn’t sit well. But I realise that I run the risk of widening the theme of this thread somewhat…!

    As for the environment, well… it’s an absolutely massive topic and I am still amazed on a daily basis at how we (incl myself I guess) choose to ignore it at will.

  19. janetp says:

    I find it horrifying (and astounding) that anyone could seriously make the comments in the cartoon. Jon, either you’ve been really ‘unlucky’ or I need to get out more!

    Gilly (10): it always amazes me that a lot of people seem to have an ‘anything goes’ attitude to the way they treat other people’s stuff, yet are very careful when it’s their own. No wonder the planet doesn’t seem that big a deal compared with popping to the shop in 5 minutes instead of 15!

    Ben (15): “Rather than talking about climate change we should talk about mothers losing sons and sons losing mothers due to us not caring for the environment” – an excellent point, and movingly expressed.

  20. janetp says:

    JF: “I was taught all of the Bible as historical fact and it still doesn’t sit well”. You might be interested in a book I’m reading at the moment which looks at this dilemma. It’s called “I Believe I Doubt” by Gunter Weber. The whole book is a robust criticism of the teaching generally still given in most churches (often running contrary to the accepted understanding of biblical scholars) and the contradictory beliefs that have developed from this, from a Christian standpoint.

  21. subo says:

    ” the 4X4….. are real signs of God’s blessing on me” – i know we are supposed to allow our relationship with God develop ect, it’s just that i think we do think like this, (or worse – that God is angry with us when we struggle to find our way forward.) it would just be so helpful to feel really fully and indisputably blessed.

  22. TyTe says:

    I have certainly heard the first, had the second implied and the third, well, I’ve not heard it used consciously as an excuse to trash the environment, but I have heard some say how blessed their ministry is through all their world-wide preaching engagements.

    The good thing about the cartoon is that it’s a well-needed reminder to examine myself, my theology, and my lifestyle. Thanks Jon!

  23. Ben says:

    I thought our primary issue was to love god with our whole hearts, souls and minds….?

  24. zefi says:

    “as tyte and ben point out. there is no promise in the bible about going to heaven. the earth is our inheritance… the kingdom of heaven here, according to scripture. no wonder we breed generation upon generation of dualist christians when the very framework upon which worldview is built is so deeply flawed.”

    In my father’s house there’s a lot of room, I’m going there to prepare em for you?

    Or maybe it’s just METAPHORICAL. Or if you want to convince me, throw me some verses, please. Thank you.

    “Don’t worry, at least all this global warming stuff can’t be true as God has promised never to flood the earth again. That’s what a rainbow is, remember!? (It’s not sunlight refracting through rain).”

    Do you not know Gaia Theory?

    I’m not that bright, so I never understood why we need to be convinced of this global warming thing to start to be environmental friendly.

    When you use too much electricity unnecessarily, you’re wasting your God-supplied money. Bad steward!

    When you “bless” the people around you with the smoke from your car from that casual car ride of yours, dude, where’s Jesus’ Second Commandment!? Bad disciple!

    And when you don’t recycle when you can, you’re wasting resources. Bad steward!

    Ops, am I being too judgemental? It’s ok, since Jon’s doing it too, I guess it’s ok. Heheheh. I’m still learning to be a good steward too anywayyy.

  25. janetp says:

    Zefi (24): No, you’re right. It shouldn’t take the prospect of a global catastrophe and the suffering of (potentially) millions of human beings to persuade us to take care of what we have and use it wisely. Unfortunately, as your comments show it often does, and it’s nothing new. And few of us (myself included) can say with hand on heart that we couldn’t ‘do better’ in this respect.

  26. andy amoss says:

    Re. 14, ben, the best toungue-in-cheek excuse i’ve heard is “the quicker the world ends, the quicker we get to judgement and heaven et al.”

  27. jonbirch says:

    cheers robb. :-)

    I thought our primary issue was to love god with our whole hearts, souls and minds….? and add to that, neighbours as ourselves. loving god and our neighbours means loving the environment. period. the requirements laid out in genesis for humanity were never altered by jesus that’s for sure.

    jf. i guess being brought up with the whole bible as ‘historical’ fact throws up tons of issues. it is amazing to me that people often still want to reduce scripture to a set of facts, without enjoying the poetry, symbolism, historical document and folklore within it. there are so many different kinds of writing from different traditions within the cover of this one book, to reduce it like this sucks all the life out of it in my view. the lessons to be learned from the bible are far richer than simple facts and figures.
    how long do people have to go on ignoring the reality of dinosaurs!!!???

  28. Ben says:

    Zefi (24): historically the church has always believed in resurrection rather than heaven being the outcome. The apostles’ creed ends: I believe in “the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting” – not the transportation to heaven.

    The end of revelation (21:1 through to 22) is the clearest biblical indication to me – there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth. The greek for “new” here is “restored back to new” rather than “a completely new creation”.

    There is more evidence but I’m not a good enough theologian to express them here (I recommend the book mentioed above) and when you read the bible with this in mind there is very little evidence of the heaven that preachers and normally songs suggest. Before I considered this seriously most of my theology came from the Matt Redman song “because of you”!!

    As for the ‘in the fathers house there are many rooms I have prepared’ quote. This fits nicely with the Revelation 21-22 narrative. Jesus is using wedding imagary about how a male fiance would prepare an extension on his fathers house for him and his future wife to live in. As I understand this it is a image of how Jesus will meet the church (the bride of Christ). (I think it’s Rob Bell who puts it far better than me in one of his books).

    Sorry to be so deep! this is my first day posting! Jesus sums it all up elegantly (as always) in the Lord’s Prayer (forgive the caps but I couldn’t underline…):

    “may your kingdom come, ON EARTH as in heaven”

    really complex subject and not enough space to do it justice! However, completly agree with the stewardship bits Zafi

    Grace and peace!

  29. jonbirch says:

    nicely said ben. that is what i believe the bible says. in fact it is the thrust of the biblical narrative from start to finish… creation, fall, redemption… to give it it’s shorthand. :-)

  30. chaino says:

    i think the second one is definitely correct in a way. but that shouldnt mean that we go crazy and destroy the creation we are supposed to take care of. to obey God is our highest priority, so both preaching the gospel, and being stewards of creation come under that.

  31. dadube says:

    Hey jon – been busy so haven’t even lurked but am back now!
    I personally find this soooo hard. I want to be good but fall way short. I take too many plane journeys (although I do pay the extra when companies offer it to offset my carbon footprint) and there is minimal recycling here. The skipster is appalling and I constantly have to run around after him turning off lights…..
    Wish there were an easier way :)

  32. Mimou says:

    Ha interesting as next month I am leading a small group discussion on stewardship! On the same stream ;)

  33. Rich says:

    The old creed says this:
    I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

    This is spot on and despite being repeated again and again is mostly forgotten (I think) by many Christians who like me were brought up on a ‘heaven when you die’ picture of life after death.

    Recently though, resurrection of the body has become increasingly important to me, especially as family and friends have died or come close. It is the hope that drives me forward.

    Having said all this – I think it is vital that we don’t forget the the new earth is indeed a ‘new’ one and not this old one restored or reconstituted – just as Jesus’ resurrected body was a new spiritual/body and not just a resuscitated old one. While there is continuity of some kind between this current planet and cosmos and the new one – there is going to be far more discontinuity and ‘new creation’ about it. For one thing there won’t be any death in it which will cahnge many of the ways things currently work… The ‘new’ earth is our inheritance not this one, me thinks Jon…

    My work therefore, and my recycling and my environmental awareness and care (etc) is therefore, not an attempt to restore God’s kingdom (Ben, 7) – something that Jesus never asked us to attempt – but more simply/humbly rather a sign of the fact that I want to align myself with this future life today … The same argument goes for working to alleviate poverty… I don’t think we do this to ‘bring the kingdom to earth’, for we will always have poverty and the church will always be stuck in there wherever it is found, but we continue to act faithfully and hopefully and radically with our resources, as a sign of the future kingdom that is on its way in Jesus…

    We live in future right now… or at least attempt to…

    What do you think?

  34. Robb says:

    Jesus’ resurrected body was a new spiritual/body and not just a resuscitated old one

    Can you tell me more Rich?

  35. jonbirch says:

    have to disagree rich i’m afraid. :-) the world to come is this one renewed… check the greek. i’m afraid the bible is about salvation of all creation… even the rocks can’t wait according to the bible. jesus’ body is jesus’ body, resurrected and renewed sure, but he goes to great pains to show his wound marks to thomas. ain’t nothing in the bible about a new spiritual body. i’ve heard this preached, but it runs counter to everything else in the bible. we inherit this earth… this is the creation which according to the bible god wants relationship with, not another one. there is nothing in the bible about another one… but a renewed one.
    i may have laboured my point. :-)

  36. Robb says:

    To paraphrase James Alisons book Knowing Jesus:

    For some reason we have this idea that when Jesus is resurrected he is like a big helium filled ballon that is too spiritual for the world to hold and he eventually floats off into heaven. This is rubbish, Jesus died fully human and was resurrected fully human.

  37. chaino says:

    read 1 corinthians 15 in relation to our transformed heavenly bodies. its rescuscitated and new, it will definitely be better than our earthly bodies, since it will be earthly no longer

  38. jonbirch says:

    robb… yes indeed.

    chaino… no one is saying that a resurrected body isn’t shiny and improved from what the bible has to say… but the ultimate destination of the human species is the earth, nowhere else, according to the scriptures.

  39. becky says:

    7. I second the notion to read NT Wright.

    One of the major divides separating environmentalists and certain groups of Christians related to language – some of the environmentalists preached a doctrine akin to pantheism while too many Christians dismissed the environmental movement as a bunch of pagan tree huggers. The concept of creation care seems to contain language that many on both sides can admit there is an issue.

    BTW-my reply to those who scoff at Global Warming is to note that even if the science is proven to be inaccurate, if we adopt the environmental suggestions, we’ll end up with less waste and better air anyway so this sounds like a win-win situation.

    My hunch is Jesus never talked about the environment as living in a largely agrarian society, pollution was a non-issue compared to what we face today.

  40. Rich says:

    mmm… So when we read ‘new’ we ought to read ‘renewed’… Don’t think this is what Paul was so excited about in 1 Cor 15. The spiritual/phsyical body is as similar as a seed is to the tree or plant that grows from it. They are related but of a completely different order. Jesus’ resurrected body was a body… but it was not just his old one reinvigorated and brought back to life. It was ‘resurrected’. This is a very different kind of resurrection to Lazarus’ one which was just a foretaste of something completely different.

    In Revelation 21 the picture is indeed of God coming down from the heavens to once more live with humanity, but it is worth noting that both Heaven and earth become new. Just as in English the word new in greek can mean many things – a new start, or a completely new product (for example)… one is the old thing refreshed, the second is a brand new thing. The brand newness of the new creation is certainly not the complete destruction of everything but the completion of all things in Christ when he will be all in all… all the bad stuff is talked about as if it ‘burns’ away as on a rubbish dump, leaving only the stuff in Christ…

    mmm.. more to think about…

    Do you think there will be computers in the new earth?


  41. chaino says:

    oh yeah i agree with you there jon :)

  42. jonbirch says:

    “the completion of all things in Christ”… yup… continuity… discontinuity… renewal…

  43. Hmm… As usual, better put than I could. I wonder if I could make a drama about it…

    Sadly I’ve heard all three of those as well, although the guy saying #3 did at least sound embarrased. He still wants a Porsche though.

    And those considering not owning a car- sell it, the freedom of not having a car is far better. (I know Forrest, Germany has a good public transport system, but we recently travelled from here to the UK and then all over the UK by train and bus. It’s doable.

    And argument #2 could be arguably correct, but loving our neighbour includes people we are affecting on the other end of the world. Besides. How exactly is someone affected by this supposed to understand the gospel if we don’t show them? We’re God’s hands and feet, right?

    I think part of the problem is those naughty greeks seperating spiritual and physical, and then saying the physical is inferior. That scrambled everything from square one, and we are still recovering.

    Woah. Long comment… I should be working…

  44. Robb says:

    Over time the apocalyptic tradition grew. In the early books of the OT there is little if no concept of an afterlife. It was all focussed upon the here and now. As the persecution came through the various dictatorial regimes who enslaved the nation of israel there became a growing sense of “It’s all right because God has it in hand and it will be better”. In the begining this was “we’ll be saved fom here and go and live in the promissed land”. When the years passed in the exile that became “after we die we will live in the promissed land”.

    Throughout there was no dualistic separation between the physical and the spiritual. That is a later development that comes from Greek philosophy. It has become assimilated by many in the church. It doesn’t fit very well with the body and the life God breathes into it.

    the problem is those naughty greeks seperating spiritual and physical, and then saying the physical is inferior. That scrambled everything from square one, and we are still recovering.


  45. Robb says:

    erm… gnosticism…

  46. TyTe says:

    I think you’re both right Jon and Rich (sorry to be a typical Anglican and take the middle road).

    I think that Jesus body was his old body brought back to life, but in a new way! It was still Jesus’ body and bore the scars of crucifixion – yet it was no longer constrained by physical laws. Jesus could move through walls, etc. I can’t wait! (although I can).

    I’m a new creation in Jesus and I’ve been born again, yet we accept this idea along side the idea that the old me has been redeemed and transformed. In the same way, this world that I am working at transforming will one day reach it’s fulfilment or completion when Jesus returns.

  47. jonbirch says:

    kind of agree tyte. but it is better to say that christ’s renewed physical self is no longer constrained by physical laws as we experience them. i have a cartoon on miracles coming up soon where i’ll push this more. christ comes as the new adam… he restores the correct relationship between humanity and creation… he is in charge, in proper relationship with it, hence the miracles. creation obeys him, just like it was supposed to be all along for humanity. his resurrection is a fulfilment of this, a completion.
    i agree with your end bit, except i’d stress that ‘i’m a new creation’ is an ongoing transformation too… i’m still broken and in need of fixing. :-)

  48. TyTe says:

    I agree with your first line – that is what I meant to say. A new meta-physics!

    I agree with your last line too. I am new, but was saved, being saved and will be saved.

  49. Pingback: Christians & Climate Change « Jeremy’s Weblog

  50. jonbirch says:

    thought you would tyte. :-)

  51. sarah says:


    I’m going to ride on a brontosaurus’ back. And travel to the far reaches of other galaxies.


  52. Rich says:

    Challenging and stimulating discussion about ‘new’-ness of this creation that is coming and so rechecked the greek as encouraged to… Here is what I found:

    Seems as if the meaning of the word ‘new’ in ‘new creation’ means a qualitative newness as opposed to a recent newness. So, for example, If i dropped my ipod and it broke I might get a replacement one – this would be a new one but the same kind of thing (naios). However I might get the latest updated version with more memory and even more features.. This would be a qualitatively new version. (Kainos) And it is ‘kainos’ heaven and earth that is talked about… the type of new earth we apparently inherit is thus a qualitatively new one… significantly different. (indeed the old ‘order’ of things will have passed away and things will be so different that there will be no more crying or pain, etc)

    I also noted that the word for ‘renewed’ is apparently either ananeoo, or anakainoo, which are derivatives of the other words for ‘new’ as we would expect. However, neither of these are the words used for ‘new creation’, making me wonder whether it is actually very good to talk about a ‘renewed’ earth when the text says that is a new one…

    So, my thinking is that the cosmos will not simply be ‘renewed’ (which the text could have said but didn’t) but that it will be radically and wonderfully ‘new’ – qualitatively different… and indeed, not just a new version of the old one but a significantly better and fresh version, simultaneously recognisable as ‘earth’ but unlike anything we have experienced so far.

    Have I got any closer now that I have read the greek or is it all still ‘greek’ to me? Languages have never been my strong point…

    quest ce que tu pense?

  53. jonbirch says:

    i think we’re on the same page rich. :-) scripture tells us there’ll be continuity and discontinuity (my words)… good things remain, bad things shaken off… which is why our word ‘new’ doesn’t quite cut the mustard. but i love what you say. :-)

  54. Robb says:

    So yet again the problem is with the language we use to describe ‘the other’.

  55. Steve says:

    Great discussion, as usual. I think I agree with Rich’s interpretation of ‘newness’ being a qualitative difference and not just a renewing of the planet and cosmos. That said, we’ll find out when we get there.

    Becky (#39) makes a great point that all too often envirnomentalism and greenism morph into a sorry form of pantheism. Creation care is a good thing, but it never should take precedence over reaching the inhabitants of the planet with the gospel. If you are showing Christ in your life, you will treat His creation with respect. Of all creation, though, the only piece that expressly has the breath of God in it is man.

  56. jonbirch says:

    thanks steve. :-)

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