anyone else ever felt like this?


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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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68 Responses to 636

  1. Caroline Too says:

    I’m very sorry, Jon, but I think that it was me who broke it…. :oops:

  2. Miriworm says:


  3. jonbirch says:

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! caroline too… brilliant!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

    cheers miriworm… so far that’s 100% empathy i’m feeling from you guys. :-)

  4. Kim says:

    Awww, he might have thought ‘it’ll be interesting to see what chemical reactions occur when we put this one in the mix!’ but I reckon God doesn’t make ‘iffy’ ones but ‘different’ ones deliberately. It makes me think of what they said to you at Harnhill -its sometimes a gift to not fit in, but I know its also tough on the one who doesn’t fit but sometimes wants to, cos it can be tiring to not fit. I feel like it a lot :lol:

  5. jonbirch says:

    aah… thanks kim… you’re right… caroline too, are you listening. ;-)
    well remembered on the harnhill front… how long ago did i say that!? it must have resonated with you too. :-)

    well, we’re still at 100% empathy! i’m feeling that fuzz! :-)

  6. becky says:

    I like Kim’s analogy – I’ve felt like a total weird ass for being “different” like God blew it – after a lot of spiritual direction and therapy, I realized that God made me as a satirist to serve as a singular voice in the wilderness. I finally gave up trying to be “normal” whatever the hell that means and accepted that this is my position in life. The next form is learning to embrace it which is really rough at times …

  7. Ron says:

    Its fun to embrace being different.
    (Drives the ‘normal’ people nuts) :)
    And how many of us came after Caroline Too?

  8. jonbirch says:

    embrace it becky! thank god for difference i say! normal schnormal!!! :-)

    and we still have a 100% empathy rating! :-)

  9. jonbirch says:

    …and plenty of us came before caroline too as well i’ll wager, ron! :-) it is fun, but it can take a while getting there if others have tried to thump you into submission for years! well said ron.

    still at 100%. this is going well!!! :-)

  10. dadube says:

    so after all the cartoons where you deny being the subject is that a naked mr birch????
    I’m totally a product of a broken mould btw. How my daughter came out beautiful I’ll never know! :D

  11. jonbirch says:

    yup… me, completely in the buff!!! :-)

  12. Caroline Too says:

    There was once a giraffe called Gerry.

    because he was so much taller than the other animals, he could see further.

    He’d tell his friends about it, but they couldn’t see it as he saw it. He tried to explain but they didn’t get it.

    After a while he gave up trying to explain the world that he saw. But he couldn’t fit with the world seen by his friends, from their perspective nearer the ground.

    Gerry was lonely.

    Funily enough some other giraffes lived not too far from Gerry. As you might expect, they did see the kind of things Gerry saw, but they weren’t quite his kind of giraffes, if you know what I mean. He wanted so much to fit in with the other animals.

  13. jonbirch says:

    brilliant ct! :-)

  14. becky says:

    11. Uh, Jon, I wouldn’t claim that is YOU – let’s just say I thought the itty-bitty size jokes were directed at Irish and Jewish dudes not the Brits. :*) Also, didn’t you do a semi-nude of you that involved man boobs? :*) :*)

    I am embracing it – what’s hard is the giraffe metaphor – it has been made to clear to me by some uber cool UK emergent types and their US counterparts that I am not a holy hipster. And even though I think they are jackasses for jesus, I hate being on the outside looking in some days.

  15. darrin says:

    Caroline Too…I prefer hippo analogies

    I’m sitting in the room with my 3 kids…all wonderfully wonderfully different…all a bit iffy to me sometimes…but I’m probably the iffiest of the lot…but always working at being what God wants of me…he was having a bit of a laugh with my nose and teeth though (we are fixing those problems in the kids…thank goodness for plastic surgery and orthodontists)

  16. Caroline Too says:

    I’m not sure that either are analogies… just little stabs at
    writing parables

    For those of you who didn’t see the earlier story (based on a cartoon by Jon and one or two of the comments in our conversation…) here it is


  17. Kim says:

    Jon – you mentioned the Harnhill thing not so very long ago and it made me cry actually, with relief -and I’ve been there for major head work myself, wonderful place.

    I actually wonder if some of us who frequent this space are a self-selecting bunch who fit here but we don’t necessarily fit easily in other more ‘conformist’ places. Jon gives us permission to ‘not fit’! Actually God also gives us that permission.

  18. Kim says:

    Becky – sorry that some ‘uber cool’ people from the UK insulted you. Not so uber cool really were they? ;-)

  19. jonbirch says:

    bless you kim. :-)

    who ‘is’ uber cool in the final analysis? i’ve not met that person yet. :-) i’ve met some pretty cool ones though… loads here! :-)

  20. jonbirch says:

    btw… we’re still at 100% empathy! :-D

  21. becky says:

    It’s people who think they’re cool but they’re not – e.g., call themselves postmodern, hipster, and even iconoclast – I see this a lot in the emergent/emerging/emergence circles in the US by those evangelicals who tend to come off as posers – they think they’re cool but pull back the veneer and it’s still reformed rubbish.

    I just noticed this starting to creep into a few UK sorts who travel here to the US. Not cool to watch. It’s like importing Guinness – some things are much better sampled in the UK. :-)

  22. Aideen says:

    “it has been made to clear to me by some uber cool UK emergent types and their US counterparts that I am not a holy hipster. And even though I think they are jackasses for jesus, I hate being on the outside looking in some days.”

    I’d be interested to hear the story behind this, Becky :)

  23. jonbirch says:

    a lot of beer here doesn’t travel more than fifty miles before it starts to lose it. it’s funny… but the best tap beer is damned if it’ll travel… has a real attitude about it! :-)

  24. Darren says:

    hey, isn’t this the best exposition of ‘let us make man in our image’ yet?

    another great one Jon

  25. Laura says:

    Jackasses for Jesus!! hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    I know alot of those!!
    Thanks for the laugh Becky!

  26. becky says:

    22. We talked about this story to the extent it’s appropriate in Jon’s comic on Emergent church going into some primordial ooze – no point in rehashing what was said and I am always mindful here of the very easy proclivity to veer into gossip. (one of my biggest faults to rant when I’m PO’d and then go too far.) But in a nutshell, what I’m referencing is when an underground gathering seems to get a bit of buzz – next thing you know, select self-appointed speakers/authors become elevated to branded Emergent Church ™ boy and all this gets governed more by who can publish and pontificate.

    Y’all have been INVALUABLE for helping me realize me I’m not a freak and a loser when I see a bunch of cookie cutter Christians albeit Episcopal or Emergent who make me feel like I was clearly baked from the wrong batch of devotional dough. I “thought” the whole purpose of this new forms of church was to give those of us who didn’t fit into the box a place to play but it’s amazing how it all gets turned into commercialized crud.

    Jackasses for Jesus – glad you liked the joke. :-)

  27. perhaps the moulded were farmed out to the production-line angels. Those of us who don’t fit the mould were obviously hand-crafted by Himself!

  28. dennis says:

    I love the nakedness in this place because it speaks of trust. I think I would rather be a little odd than be something I am not.

    If God only made you after he broke the mold then its because he didn’t like the one before so that makes you pretty special jon.

    If you could wear some Y fronts next time I would appreciate it though.

  29. Rockingrev says:

    It is a lot of fun being different, breaking stereotypes and challenging suppositions. However it can also be lonely too. When I arrived in the North-East with my family I was told by members of the church that I was a breath of fresh air. However I then made the mistake of telling them that they could be a breath of fresh air themselves! Oh silly me.

  30. jonbirch says:

    “Those of us who don’t fit the mould were obviously hand-crafted by Himself!” beautiful take botticelliwoman. we all know you were born from a giant clam though. :-)

    dennis… it’s all prosthetics! ;-)

  31. jonbirch says:

    still feeling that empathy. :-)

  32. jonbirch says:

    o dear rocking rev… well here’s to “breaking stereotypes and challenging suppositions.” :-)

    bless you becky. :-)

  33. Lewis says:

    breaking the mould’s meant to be ‘cool’ isn’t it?

  34. just one big fat pearl, me, jon. Here’s to the lumpy, mishaped and irregular as opposed to the manufactured ‘cultured’ ones :-)

  35. becky says:

    33. The moment you define something as cool, it isn’t. That’s what’s so funny about some of the stuff I see out there – look at us all be different, all while wearing the same anarchist outfits.

  36. Linus says:

    haha CT(@2)! stop trying to take all the credit =P

    Giraffes are cool

    Becky you are not on the outside here.

    Kim@17 yes i wondered that when reading the mobile phone thread cos so many people spoke about not liking talking on phones (me too! for the most part, anyway) I love that this site has what Robb calls a broad orthodoxy, but there are common themes and maybe some common personality types to an extent.

    Crucially though, there’s also a welcome to people who are coming from different perspectives, both in personality and worldview, and i for one think those are the most important voices on here. Keep it coming peeps =]

    ps Jon: 110%. At least.

  37. beckyw says:

    For a master craftsmen, God’s mould does seem a little iffy…or maybe we’re just looking at things a little squiffy.

    Having said that, he seems to think we’ve come out all right. Whatever our shortcomings, he thinks we’re worth everything. God you are too good and possibly a little crazy – in a really good, perfect kind of way ;-)!

  38. beckyw says:

    oops – meant craftsman, but then again, there are 3 of them

  39. Kim says:

    Ah, I can fit here if lumpy, mishaped & irregular are the norms – at last, I’m home!! :lol:

  40. jonbirch says:

    i’m lumpier than i used to be. :-)

    very kind, linus. :-)

    funnily enough, many, many of you guys have made me feel welcome on my own blog. given that there are many voices here it is astonishing how you lot hold it all together so often. thank you. :-)

    yup beckyw… we humans often do a good job of squiffy vision. “vive la différence” (in bad french) i say! :-)

  41. jonbirch says:

    hahaha zefi!!! :lol: that’s not me!!! :lol: i’m sitting here giggling mate! cheers! :lol:

  42. Carole says:

    You can’t get anything past our mate Zefi! Joined the back, sack and crack brigade, too, eh, Jon? Embrace your hairiness, that’s what I say…it’s always worked for me (!) ;)

    Well, what is there to add…fellow Asbos have said it far better that I could so…ditto!

    AsboJesus…Sanctuary to the iffy rejects. :)

  43. Carole says:

    So, er, I suppose you produced this toon in the usual way? Flash?

  44. jonbirch says:

    haha! yes, flash! :-)

  45. Kim says:

    still looks like 100%

  46. becky says:

    36. That’s why I hang around here – the only time I’ve seen Jon (and others) get a bit testy is when someone starts acting like a bully. Some of us (definitely me) have very strong opinions but I don’t hold on to my views so closely that I want them to choke me.

    Also, from what I can gather, many been burned by the church but yet we haven’t given up. And a number of us are close enough to the emergent excesses and other spiritual silliness that we can come in here and let off steam without getting hammered (well the one time that happened to me was when Jon named the cartoon with the word “emergent” in it – and that’s when the Emergent Church ™ Boys go into battle with the postmodern equivalent of a sword drill. I need the perspective that I’m not nuts and by letting off steam, I can then look at those engaged in said looniness and not to want to smack them (or at least not quite as hard).

    41. That’s the cartoon I was referencing in #14 – maybe Jon is regressing and is now back at puberty.

  47. jonbirch says:

    hahaha! becky… it wasn’t me!!!!! :-)

    yup kim… 100 beautiful percent!!! :-)

  48. Linus says:

    alright shaggy, keep your hair on! (methinks the lady doth protest too much) =P

  49. jonbirch says:

    hmmmmph, linus. :-( :-)

  50. TyTe says:

    Please hear me say this with all humility and love – I just want to be honest…

    Becky – @47 “burned by the church” and all those who say they are Christians and use phrases like “I don’t get church” and so on…

    I dunno, I get this sad feeling and it hurts when I hear people say phrases like this – and I hear them all the time. It makes me sad because we are the church aren’t we? Sure, many of us carry the scars inflicted by people who are members of the church – tell me about it – but surely not by ‘the church’ as if the church is some self-aware entity.

    *** the truth is that there is no them ***

  51. Caroline Too says:

    I ‘hear’ what you say Tyte, maybe it would be a discipline for all
    of us to learn to say ‘people in the church’ rather than ‘the
    church’ hurt me…

    I’ll try to remember that for myself next time I’m on a rant.

    on the other hand, I guess that part of grace is to give angry,
    grieving people the space to erupt, isn’t that one of the gifts
    of ASBO to us all?

    which then, of course, hurts others as your comment testifies to…

    I dunno… maybe the issue is for us to apologise when we realise
    we’ve said something a little OTT or angry or unfair…

    I wonder what repentance would look like on a blog?

  52. TyTe says:

    Thanks Caroline. You are right, we do need outlets and ASBO is one. I appreciate that – and far be it from me to ever want to stop someone voicing their pain or suffering.

    Such comments don’t hurt me in a burny sort of way – I think that they more ‘pain’ me (if you get what I’m saying). And if this doesn’t sound too holier-than-thou or heretical – or downright weird, I think I feel a bit of what God feels.

    I suppose, being a bit of a vicar-type, there is something deep within me that desperately wants Christians to feel that they are part of the church – God’s gift to the world. The church is Christ’s body in the here and now. It’s terribly important to me – and I feel drawn to love and embrace all the people who have felt marginalised or burned by daft doctrines, practices, actions, or comments.

    It is true to say that there are church cultures that stifle freedom of expression – so perhaps it is true to say that ‘a specific church culture fostered an environment in which I was burned’ – but that’s a bit of a mouthful!

    Hmmm. As I write, I’m wondering if there is also a sub-text to this comment. Today, mould-breaker Jon, and his lovely wife, joined with the church in Twerton for a gathering (what we in the CofE call a service). Now I know that Jon doesn’t like services or churchy things much. But, today, the church in Twerton was just a little bit richer for him being part of it. He didn’t need to conform, or become anyone else, or even like it. But, today, Jon, in one of many conversations, spoke to a person with depression who needed encouraging – and the guy left feeling encouraged. Today, Jon and Clare lent their support to painting a community centre that needed a make-over. Today, Jon was part of the local church. Thanks Jon – for ASBO, yes, but more than that, for being you. You and Clare are wonderful people. Much love and peace!

  53. Gavin says:

    But there isn’t a mould, only ‘made in God’s image’

  54. TyTe says:

    Perfect point Gav. Game, set and match! :) :) :)

  55. becky says:

    I use the term “burned by the church” as a form of shorthand to refer the people who constitute the institution – one of the major objections i hear from New Atheists as to why Christianity is bogus stems from egregious excesses caused when religious institutions became too welded to empire. (e.g., George W. Bush’s re-election was largely credited to the support of specific evangelical entities.)

    I get why someone would give up on the God game – but even when I felt I had to leave a specific church because the scenario was too toxic , I would go out searching for another community. I realized after a while the perfect church I attended in my twenties wasn’t so perfect – so I began a quest not for perfection, just a place where I could go and be me and that was OK.

    In this search I got connected to the emergent church stream – I enjoyed venting with folks that had problems with church but as I soon realized – they were replicating church with their own institutional structures that were just as restrictive and binding.

    What attracted me to ASBO is that even though many here seems to have been burned, we didn’t walk away from the church – rather we sought out groups of fellow broken buddies where we could gather and break bread together and then try to be Christ into the world.

    Makes sense?

  56. jeremu says:

    i’m just checking my blog roll before heading to bed… and now i have to have this image in my head before it hits the pillow?

    Thanks jon… thanks a lot.

  57. Robb says:

    Linus – I wish that was me. Brian McClaren – Generous Orthodoxy.

    Becky – the funny thing about what you describe as someone looking from the outside is that there isn’t “an institution” as such. A disparate group of evangelical mega churches with no centralised structure seem to have control of a political system that has written a separation between religious views and state into the constitution.

    I find it odd that such a disparate group of churches could be refered to as a corporate entity.

  58. becky says:

    Robb –
    I don’t want to go off topic too much here but that’s the intention is to convince folks there isn’t an institution – that feeds into their notion that they are “persecuted” when in fact, they are feeding into a global corporate cash cow.

    Read The Family by Jeff Sharlet – http://harpers.org/archive/2003/03/0079525

    I was using considerable shorthand as I didn’t want to go off topic too much to explain how I use the phrase “burned by the church” even though I still remain a part of the church.

  59. Robb says:

    Sorry, my emphasis had I been speaking would have been on the word “an”.

    I guess there is so much about the US that is a hangover from its inception as “the promissed land”. A whole new slate on which to base a system. Everyone and their wife builds a church so there is no wider structure.

    I guess if some of the institutions were more interested in being involved there would have been less room for self appointed messiahs to lead their massive but drop in the ocean congregations.

  60. jonbirch says:

    nicely put robb. good to have you back. :-)

  61. becky says:

    62. Gotcha – I agree, the US mainline churches blew a lot of the spiritual capital it had accumulated during the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s, thus creating a vacuum that was filled by the rise of the Religious Right and this whole megachurch mania. BTW, these self-appointed messiahs tend to group together into de-facto institutions becoming somewhat of a denomination in the process – that’s what’s so freakin’ frustrating about US emergent church is that it morphed into the very same male dominated system it was rebelling against.

    Back to Jon’s cartoon – they end up creating their own cookie cutter versions of Christians when in fact, we’re all unique. Jon-I’m thinking now of the comments from Life of Brian that you sent me for my book – we’re all the same!! No I’m not… Shhhh…

  62. TyTe says:

    @56 Sorry Becky, I understand what you are saying, but it just doesn’t make sense to me. :(

  63. jonbirch says:

    i wonder becky, whether when things fully emerge they will invariably end up the same as they were before. just a thought.

  64. becky says:

    64. I agree – a good chunk of what I’m talking about re: US Emergent Church makes no sense to me either. Hence my frustration.

    65. Jon – nothing ever fully emerges here on earth. I do know that the moment one tries to capture and market the spirit, the spirit has already left the building. It’s like trying to catch fireflies – they only work when they are truly free to roam.

  65. Robb says:

    I think that is what is so different here. The EC is so small that it can’t do any of that….


    Jon – I didn’t realise I left :D

  66. becky says:

    68. Well there are a few folks from the UK who are marketed as Emergent Church ™ dudes here in the US – The major obvious difference is that you don’t have the Christian (read conservative evangelical) marketing machine in the UK because the demand for product simply isn’t present. But this all may be moot – our economy is tanking to the point where this whole author/tour and Christian conference machine is running out of fuel.

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