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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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58 Responses to 765

  1. Forrest says:

    I wanna be first! Looks with that color like the boat ran aground in the rolling farmland out where I live. ;-D
    Sometimes an identity crisis can be a good thing – look, ask, seek, examine, and find out if what you have become is viable, and congruent, or not.
    Sort things out and become better focused and more confident in yourself.

  2. Tiggy says:

    Never mind, at least it’s got fluoride in it. Or is it a French cross-channel ferry?

    I like the idea of churches being ‘lanterns in the darkness’. Like Bath Abbey being ‘The Lantern of the West.’

  3. Tiggy says:

    Ha, just beat me! You weren’t really first because you’re several hours behind us – so you’ll never be first, mwahahahah!

  4. jonbirch says:

    i agree forrest. can be very positive.

  5. jonbirch says:

    i love bath abbey at night, in the beautiful limelight, whatever the weather, it looks amazing.

  6. Tiggy says:

    I don’t think cathedrals have the same identity crisis because they’ve been around so long and they’re so damn big – they know they’re for everybody and really important.

  7. becky says:

    6. I find it far different experience to visit a Cathedral that’s now geared for the tourist trade versus one that is actually in use. The later really makes history come alive.

  8. Tiggy says:

    What got me at Ely were the modern stained glass windows paid for and dedicated by predominantly Jewish supermarkets! Quite nice in a way, like the old trade guilds used to buy them – but rather blatant advertising.

  9. As individuals we all go through identity crisis’ from time to time and I doubt it is any different for a church. It’s what you do with it that counts. Like Forrest says, making it something positive and floating around and being useless.

  10. sorry, ‘not floating around…’.

  11. Miriworm says:

    Watchout for identity theft then! :-D

  12. Caroline Too says:

    Identity: I am invitation and contribution to those around me

    and I am a part of a church family/community

    that invites any and all to follow Jesus and contributes to that following

    I know how I go about my identity… working with colleagues and students, meeting fellow villagers in my life around the place, discussing possibilities with them, sailing with friends, sharing meals, conversations, worries and hopes with others in my local church family, praying …

    I’m not so sure, however, that the ‘church’ is as clear about how it goes about inviting and contributing … it certainly is not sure about my contribution.

  13. Pat says:

    Identity: I am invitation and contribution to those around me

    I like this epigram Caroline Too:identity most fully actualised/realised through relationship…. very perichoretic :-)

  14. Pat says:

    Which makes your closing comment even more poignant :-(

    [Sorry, hit ‘send’ prematurely on 12]

  15. makes me feel seasick!

  16. Cochleate says:

    Nouwen wonderfully explains the depth of one’s identity through the parable of the prodigal son in one of his books.

  17. Forrest says:

    I hate it when you people make me have to go look up words and learn something new. ;-)

    found this:


    and this


  18. Robb says:

    Tiggy – a lot of cathedrals are just parish churches that have been redesignated.

  19. Caroline Too says:

    you’re going to have to help me here Pat (#13), had to go and look up perichoretic… but couldn’t find it in my shorter oxford dictionary

    but you’re so right, who I am is all creating in relating…

    so I guess that means that you lot (ASBOers) are part of who I am and who I’m becoming…
    :shock: pretty scary eh

    (but even worse for you lot, cos I’m….

  20. Robb says:

    Pat – “perichoretic”

    How very un western….

  21. Robb says:

    Caroline Too – Not just me then? Wikipedia helped me out.

    Every time I hear the word perichoresis I have to look it up. My vicar said “trancept” on Thursday. I had to ask what that meant too.

    My brain feels fluffy!

  22. Forrest says:

    Perichoresis – weren’t there a few cases of that in the isolation ward at hospital?

  23. Forrest says:

    Totally off topic, well, I don’t know, does involve identity crises and boats: pulled out balsa wood boat hull started last year, not sure if it will be large yacht, fast passenger ferry, or small cruise ship, in what scale, one scale, or another.

    “I’m so confused, I don’t know who I am!”

    But, then, it doesn’t _have_ to know which it is yet.
    That time will come.
    But it is not now.
    There’s more “foundational” work to be done before it is time to have to know.

  24. Forrest says:

    Hey Jon, on the boat theme here’s some cartoon fodder:


    “India launched her first indigenous nuclear powered submarine Arihant on July 26. … ‘Arihant’ means ‘Destroyer of Enemies’.
    …the nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) …”

  25. Jane says:

    Here’s a link to a great sermon by Bishop Margot Kässmann about how she wouldn’t want to live in a world without Cathedrals


    Don’t worry it is in English!
    “I would not like to live in a world without cathedrals. I need their beauty and their grandeur. I need them to contrast with the mundaneity of the world.”

  26. Tiggy says:

    Well Robb, those are some ‘big f**k-off’ parishes churches then!

  27. Robb says:

    And some really ordinary sized parish churches.

    A lot of diocese didn’t exist until recently!

    Just looked up wakefield cathedral on google images. Apparantly you are only allowed to use a wide angle lens to shoot it so that it looks massive. Hay ho.

    Not everywhere is in Durham, York or London.

  28. Tiggy says:

    I didn’t even know Wakefield HAD a cathedral. Is it Anglican? Many of the smaller and newer cathedrals are Catholic, like the new one in Brentwood which is architecturally ghastly and inside looks like the lighting department at BHS.

    I know St. Albans, Ely, Salisbury and Bath Abbey a well as a lot of huge continental ones.

    What is the difference between an Abbey and a Cathedral? Is it that an Abbey hasn’t got a teashop? :-)

  29. Pat says:

    Forrest,Caroline Too & Robb @ 17, 19 & 21:I reckon perichoresis (mutual indwelling and constitution) and kenosis (self-limitation) are probably the two ideas that have helped me most in recent times in my grapplings with ‘understanding'(!)God, creation, selfhood,relationality and salvation and my place in all of that! :-D

    They’re wonderfully rich and challenging themes. Colin Gunton, Jurgen Moltmann, John Zizioulas and Catherine La Cugna are some good but rather’heavyweight ‘theological’ reads. Ian Mobsby touches on both ideas in The Becoming of G-d although, to be honest, I found aspects of this book rather disappoining. The book I’d really recommend for getting a feel for kenosis(although I can’t remember off the top of my head whether it specifically mentions the term) is WH Vanstone’s wonderful Love’s Endeavour, Love’s Expense

    Another good read if you want to explore some of the possible implicationsis of kenotic theology is a collection of essays by scientists and theologians inspired by the writings of Vanstone: The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis – which is not anywhere near as intimidating as it sounds :lol:

  30. Tiggy says:

    Well I for one am very pleased to learn the word ‘perichoresis’. Do we have a breakdown of the literal meaning of the word? Love a new word, especially when it relates to a concept I like.

    Not too sure about kenosis, which I have heard of. Can you explain that a bit more please. I like to be very expansive rather than limiting myself.

  31. Forrest says:

    Thanks Pat!
    Sometimes I feel out of place here as I haven’t done all that much theological reading, and therefore haven’t heard of any of these authors, and don’t often talk about religion on either of my 2 blogs.

  32. Tiggy says:

    You don’t SEEM out of place at all Forrest. I’m really glad you’re here.

  33. Caroline Too says:

    golly I love this place for conversations…

    this is a place where you can come up with a crazily obscure word…

    get teased about it a bit

    get some help from people who take the time to go and look it up

    get some further ideas from the originator of said obscure word

    nobody runs you down for being to clever by half

    then we have other conversations where we head off topic and have fun

    or get radical

    or give each other space to be a bit snotty

    or wear the chips on our shoulders a bit too loudly

    thank you guys, I’m so glad I ‘know’ you all :mrgreen:

  34. Pat says:

    Forrest @31 – Don’t feel bad – I should know them as it’s my day job (well, sort of!):lol: Vanstone is well worth reading I think.

    Tiggy @ 30 – I have no pretensions to being a greek scholar of any sort at all (i.e I know none :-D )so I afaid I can’t give you a learned and detailed etymological breakdown of perichorein – but as far as i understand it the prefix (peri)would equate with something like ‘at all points'; and the root terms (‘chora’ ‘choreo’)would relate to the ideas of ‘space’ and ‘proceed’ – hence ‘making room for one another about oneself’ or, more stongly, ‘mutual interpenetration at all points’. So it’s the idea that the fullest expression of personhood (in the Trinity and, by extension, in human persons) comes in relationship – receiving from and giving one’s self to an Other.

    Self-limitation of the kenotic sort is one of those wonderful paradoxes which seem to make up the language of God:The ultimate expression of autonomy, of selfhood, is to choose to voluntarily place restrictions on oneself so as to allow other goods to come into being. The obvious example is Christ – as stated in the great hymn in Phil 2:7 – where the greek κενόω (‘he made himself nothing’)means to empty oneself. The Incarnation required some form of voluntary self-limitation on the part of the second Person of the Trinity – although what form precisely that took has, inevitably, been the subject of much theological debate!

    There is also an argument that creation requires kenosis on the part of God – at least initially (i.e God restricts himself in order to make a space for the material world to exist without being overwhelmed by and subsumed back into Godself). Some would go further and say that freedom in the world (both for the physical world to devlope over time, and in human day-to-day existence)requires ongoing self-limitation by God – so maybe no omniscience/omnipotence within the created realm.

    Caroline Too @ 33: Here’s to good conversations, and to ASBO-shaped expressions of perichoresis and kenosis :-)

  35. Tiggy says:

    Thanks :-) That’s what I wanted. Though to say ‘mutual interpenetration at all points’ to someone like me is asking for trouble. Actually, it made me think of the Enneagram – are you familiar with that? I was also thinking of the Enneagram in connection with kenosis where one gives up or limits the aspects of the ‘false’ or compulsive self in order to reveal one’s true Essence.

    It’s kind of a shame that the Trinity is all male as one can feel a bit excluded. If I try imagining it as female then I feel much more involved. I know some people see the Spirit as she, but most don’t.

  36. theseoldshades says:

    Tiggy: I think (hope) I’m right in saying that the Hebrew word for spirit- ruach- is a feminine noun and of course there is female imagery of God/spirit as in Hosea 13 where God is a bear robbed of her cubs, the mother hen gathering her chicks in Matthew and Luke and one of my favourites:

    ‘As a mother comforts her child,
    so will I comfort you’
    (Isaiah 66:13)

    I believe God encompasses and transcends gender and is both male and female, mother and father. After all, it’s man and woman in the image of God :)

  37. Tiggy says:

    Yeah that’s all very well, but wha’s the Trinity – three guys dancing around in homoerotic unity. If it doesn’t matter so much and God really does transcend gender then why don’t we have images of three women as the Trinity?

  38. Robb says:

    For Tiggy

    And Theseoldshades beat me to the hebrew stuff….

  39. Pat says:

    Well…I seem to have done something to the text beyond simply inserting a link – but I’ve no idea what or how :-D

  40. Tiggy says:

    Thanks, not seen that one before, though it would have been much better as art (rather than icon) if it had been done as a modern version with three women in modern dress and sans wings and not all looking the same. That’s what I would do if I were an artist. I have the original of that icon – well not the original obviously or I’d be rich.

  41. Robb says:

    But it wouldn’t have made the same statement. The challenge wouldn’t have been the same.

  42. Tiggy says:

    I think it would have made a better statement. I prefer the original. They don’t seem real to me.

  43. Robb says:

    It does kind of defeat the purpose. Icons are painted androgenously so that you see the saint, or in rublevs case, the trinity as neither male nor female. I personally think that rublev’s trinity look very female anyway.

  44. Tiggy says:

    Most saints in icons have beards! How is that androgynous? I like icons for their colours and the evocativeness of the Byzantine style, but I prefer less staid art.

  45. jonbirch says:

    icons are a language, they are also liturgical if you will. their original purpose, to illustrate the lives of those they show and thus point towards god. i don’t think first and foremost they are art in the classical sense. there is method and reason behind everything from the egg tempura to the red which underlies the gold leaf. i say ‘not art’, when what i really mean is they are more akin to illustration, but unlike illustration the artists ‘style’ is not supposed to be of primary concern (although it does sometimes creep through). the icon tradition to this day seems to stay very true to it’s roots. i wouldn’t call it ‘staid’, anymore than asbo style is staid. (there are two icons, both famous… one of st herman and the other of arch bishop oscar romero which include helicopters!) it simply works and has for centuries. in fact i think i’m gonna put an icon corner in my work room.

  46. Robb says:

    For some reason I am once again reminded of mitchell and webb….. anywho.

    In the iconographic tradition an icon is seen as a window into heaven. It is to speak of the sacred in a way that words cannot easily convey.

    In the icon in question, the three clearly beardless androgenous figures have an open space inviting you to join in with the dance of the trinity.

    I did contemplate photoshopping some beards into the icon for you but thought that would be hugely offensive and I wouldn’t want to do that.

    On closer inspection I suspect that the figure on the left’s androgeny may even extend to a 1982 Speilburg classic…

    Just been around the house and checked all of the icons and other religious imagery. The only beard I can find is on Buddy Christ. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any in the world, just that the statistical sample I have available doesn’t offer many beards.

  47. Tiggy says:

    I’m sure most of my icons have beards. When did the Greeks stop having beards then? They always maintained them in contrast to the Romans and a beard is compulsory in the Orthodox Church.

    The Rublov Trinity ones don’t have beards because they’re angels. And as we all know from reading Philip Pullman, angels are gay. :-)

  48. Robb says:

    I prefer Dogma’s version. Angels are smooth like action man :D

    I don’t know who some of the icons I have are. They tend to be gifts when people go to foreign parts.

    As with all people who are engaging with the emerging church, the only icon I have bought is Rublev’s trinity :D

    As well as beards the Orthodox get the best hats!

  49. Robb says:

    And yes, lots of icons get beards. But they also tend to be expressionless and androgenous shapes with beards applied on the outside. A bit like the ASBO cartoons. You can’t really gender specify a circle :lol:

  50. Tiggy says:

    Me and my mates at university set up an Eastern Orthodox prayer group where we said The Jesus Prayer and had icons. It was wonderful and lasted for five years and we were a very close group. It was held at our house in the spare room which we called The Prayer Room. However, when our Muslim landlord, Arafat, came to visit we’d take down the big Rubelov icon and put up a picture of the Queen so as not to offend him.

  51. subo says:

    I think the church knows it’s supposed to get into a state of flux, in order to go where the spirit leads.

    it’s just that it’s a tricky manoeuvre – following the new direction, when the previous one was to be ‘bound by reason’, since we now are finding holes in the ‘idol of reason’.

  52. Tiggy Sagar says:

    Yes, the church is finally realising that we’re post-Enlightenment. But the Goddess of Reason was never going to remain on her pedestal for long – the overemphasis was making us less than whole.

  53. subo says:

    thanks for the image, Tiggy, ‘the goddess of reason’. (stuff the sterio types, reason is a woman – don’t mess)

    and have just got a copy of “How (Not) to Speak of God” by Peter Rollins, it’s looking like a great read

  54. Tiggy Sagar says:

    Well after the French Revolution Reason was portrayed as a goddess along with Liberty. I suppose it was preferable to portraying them as men because the revolutionaries and French ‘philosophs’ were against both religion and kings. I don’t think there is particularly any other reason to align women with reason, except for sometimes being the voice of reason when competing ideologies want to fight it out.

    My friend just recently recommended Peter Rollins book to me after reading a review of it on Amazon. Praps I’ll get it too then we can talk about it.

  55. Pingback: Identity Crisis « Fires, Clouds, and Wanderings

  56. Fear No Man says:

    Excellent – Very telling. I can use it for light relief in something I am writing.

  57. I in no way knew that sometimes straightforward matters such as this can also turn fascinating.

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