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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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65 Responses to 792

  1. damn right says:

    jesus’ version is better:

    i’m going to the cross…
    anyone care to follow me?

  2. jonbirch says:

    wasn’t aware jesus had done a cartoon. :-)

  3. part of me says ‘yes’ and part of me says ‘no.

  4. Carole says:

    Yes, that’s me. Trouble is, I don’t really like surprises – they unsettle me.

  5. BlackXanthus says:

    Sure thing!, I’ve got some chocolate biscuits, and tea, in case we meet anyone along the way!

  6. Sophie says:

    I have to make sure there’s enough food around for journeys, as I get pretty nasty when hungry!

    An ASBO road trip would be cool!

  7. Rosslyn says:

    I will!

    That idea really appeals to me. I’d love to just pick a direction and go one day.

  8. danielg says:

    Jon, I don’t mean to be a contrarian, and I really like your strips.

    But it really grates on the absolutist in me! Reading this, I keep thinking of the ‘rebuttal cartoon’ showing Jesus with a cross on his back, saying “I know where I am going – anyone care to join me?”

  9. danielg says:

    BTW, the scripture in my mind is

    John 8:14 (NKJV)
    Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.

  10. Sophie says:

    At the moment life is like that for me. I am coming to the end of my studies, and I have no idea where I’ll head off to to get a job. Kind of exciting.

    I find the idea of the journey really helpful for thinking about faith, and life. I certainly don’t know what’s around the corner. But God has always taken care of me so far, so no reason to beleive that won’t be the case on the next leg.

  11. Sophie says:

    And it’s also important and a great blessing to have people to journey with.

  12. beckyg says:

    I’ll go if chocolate Easter Bunnies and marshmallow chickens are included.

  13. AndyP says:


    I don’t think Jon is trying to speak for Jesus, so your “rebuttal” is misplaced.

    @Jon, I don’t know where I’m going either. And yes, I’d love to join you on the journey, my friend.


  14. Carole says:

    Sophie – well said! :) I shall feed off your positive attitude. May you be richly blessed on your journey. Funny how as we go through life everything seems so random, but with the benefit of hindsight everything seems to be planned so well.

  15. Tiggy says:

    I thought we were supposed to follow the Spirit, which like the wind blows where it wills and no one knows where it’s going.

    I will just say along with the later Larry Norman,

    ‘I know where I’m going
    I know who I must be
    I don’t care how long it takes
    There’s lots of things to see.’ :-)

  16. Tiggy says:

    I had no idea I was coming to Bath. I was called here.

  17. How strange I dont know what your all on about. I saw this as a Soldier and automatically connected it with the 500 or so soldiers being deployed right now who are somewhere they dont know either, I guess I just have a weird mind.

  18. danielg says:

    >> TIG: I thought we were supposed to follow the Spirit, which like the wind blows where it wills and no one knows where it’s going.

    You should study that passage. I do not think it means what you think it means. Let me know if you want my take ;)

  19. danielg says:

    I also think that the open-ended mindset regarding life’s journey has to do more with earlier life, what one might call the “Discovery Phase,” like in the Discovery Phase in the Software Development.

    Life if like an AGILE software development project, which moves through Discovery, Design, Development, and Deployment phases.

    In the beginning, we Discover what our current state, resources, and opportunities are.

    We start to draw some tentative goals in the Design Phase. Then we start to Develop our lives and see what new information shows up.

    As we Deploy, we see how effective our previous steps were.

    But we can’t remain in open discovery phase forever. Eventually, we must commit to what we think will work with some resolve. And after refining it, we should eventually teach others what makes for success.

    And perhaps that’s why I am impatient with the Discovery phase – I did that back in my 30’s.
    Then we enter

  20. Sophie says:

    Thanks Carole I really apreciate it. That’s exactly how it seems to me. Life looks very well planned in retrospect. But it wasn’t planned by me! In fact there (at least) two occasions when I really thought I wanted one thing, but it didn’t work out, and something wonderful happened instead. God’s good like that. It’s really helpful to look back now and remember God’s faithfulness. Makes the future seem less scary.

    and it is wonderful to have people to journey with who we can trust, and take it in turns to look out for eachother.

    Happy Weekend all.

  21. Carole says:

    Dennis – you don’t have a weird mind at all, you just look at things from a different perspective…now that you’ve said what you have said, I wonder how I failed to see it in the first place. ;)

  22. Tiggy says:

    I thought it was a soldier too and I thought he was carrying a parachute.

  23. Carole says:

    Yeah, Tiggy I saw him as a soldier but related to it on a personal level instead of broadening it out to real life soldiers encountering physical risk in their journeying. Amazing what one little picture can bring out. :)

  24. Sophie says:

    I was very releived recently to see that a chap I knew when we were growing up, got home safely from Afganistan. It’s such a scary business.

  25. Will says:

    Danielg: it concerns me to think that we could set our lives on a course so precise and stick to it. Kind of reminds me of my dad who did that in business and did it very sucessfull. Making an amazing business. On his death bed he regretted so much of what and who that made him. The missed opportunities with people and importantly with me. As I helped him sellhis business before he died he said that he was unaware of the person I had become. As I look back now, what a sad place we had ourselves in. So what could I miss in people and knowledge if I close myself up to new thinking/ideas people. What age do I say ” I have it sorted” and get people to simply believe my version of things/life/faith. To me that would be setting my self up for a big fall. However, how dull a place would ASBO be if jon just gave us his answers and not question, if he didn’t allow comments instead of encouraging conversation. My guess after 2 weekes people would stop coming here and hon would be spouting his oppinions to no one. From my perspective I appreciate job being brave enough to open his soul. Gentle enough to allow me to do the same. And gracious enough to allow me to walk with him when I agree and when I disagree with him.

    Thanks jon boy. Much love

  26. jonbirch says:

    andyp… you’re right… i certainly wasn’t speaking on behalf of jesus, i was merely (as you noticed) stating that i had no idea where i was going, and inquiring as to whether anyone fancied joining me. i’d be delighted if you and sophie would join me… actually i feel a sense of shared journey with you anyhow.

    dennis… seeing the guy as a soldier is very powerful. thanks.

    will… thank you for a lovely comment. you have generously shared stuff with us all that i remember really well and i feel privileged to have been a part of your journey.

    when the time comes that i feel i’ve arrived, someone shoot me. :-)

  27. theseoldshades says:

    Can I join too?

    I’ve left church, I’ve left CU, so many Christians I know just drive me completely insane (as I probably drive them mad!) but asbo is somewhere I also find community and comfort and people to help on a sometimes confusing and difficult journey. There’s not many things better than that :)

    Sophie@10: I’m also about to finish my studies and wish I could find some of your calm about jobs/future. I feel a bit of a headless chicken at the moment waiting to hear back from unis for my MA, trying to decide what to do…eeeek! Hope it all works out for you. :)

  28. Tiggy says:

    So Jon, are you saying he wasn’t intended to be a soldier? It’s the colour that did it. I’m not sure what the paras wear, but I thought of him as one of those and it made me think of Steven Murphy who was in my class at school and joined the Paras and fought in the Falklands. The other person who joined from our school was Stephen Bragg, later known as Billy Bragg. He was in my sister’s class.

  29. subo says:

    “But God has always taken care of me so far, so no reason to believe that won’t be the case on the next leg”, love your confidence Sophie, for me it’s about choosing to trust, and accepting no one knows about the ‘word bruises’ that get in the way of just enjoying being with people

    incredibly, i am still alive after the risks my Mum took with us, playing Dr herself instead of calling a real Dr, and i so badly want to be free from all the baggage – yet some situations still seem more painful for people like me than others.

    for me it’s about choosing, choosing to let go of control – because i know how my Mum’s need to control damaged everything, choosing to trust, trying to find out how to love and how to follow Jesus, and knowing Jesus know’s our situations, knows what ails us, knows how to bring us towards himself, i try to work out how to trust him and let a sense of living in his love splash some fun into my day

  30. subo says:

    wow, jumped over the line, phew – i knew there was a kink if i just kept trying

  31. Sophie says:

    Oh theseoldshades! that’s a lot of stuff you’ve got going on there all at once! May God give you some peace on your journey. I found Church and CU pretty tricky when I left uni too. At the end I went to Iona for 6 weeks which opened my eyes to community and inclusivity and shared work and worship. It really wasa joy. Not easy all the time, but wonderful. It has taken me a long time to recover from the narrow theology I encountered at CU. I stopped going to church for a while, and wondered if I wanted to be a christian anymore. The problem was that I had already experienced God in my life, so I couldn’t deny God’s existence, it was more a question of did I really want to follow. So about 6 months in to not going to church or praying it turned out there was an issue that had been brewing in me for years that I really needed to deal with. I had a dream which showed me how much of a problem it was (I loved a guy who would never be in love with me, but we’d grown up together and were very close). That was a few weeks before my first ever Greenbelt. I made a deal with God that I would go if the weather forecast said it would be nice. So I went (and it was sunny). And God dealt with my misplaced affection. That helped me to understand really that we are loved by God first, and that helps us to respond. Also around that time I read ‘a churchless faith’ by Jamieson. I’d recommend it. I found it really helpful to realise that A LOT of people get disenchanted with evangelical, pentecostal or charismatic churches, and find that they have to get out. But that doesn’t mean that’s the end of the journey. It may be just the start of a beautiful thing. (having said that, it really wasn’t fun for me at the time).

    Sorry that went on a bit longer than I was expecting. But there’s some of my journey so far. I suppose all of that (and more) is what gives me hope for the future. I don’t want to come across as all sorted though, my boyfriend will attest that I still have the occaisonal blind panic about what’s coming next!

    I love journeying with you beautiful people at ASBO. Thanks for the invite Jon :)

  32. Spiralis says:

    Augustine -Confessions, VII:xxi
    For it is one thing to see the land of peace from a wooded ridge (…) and another to tread the road that leads to it.

  33. jonbirch says:

    theseoldshades… of course you may, thought you were already. :-) i went ahead and pitched a tent for you, so your rest is good… and anyone who knows me, knows i hate pitching tents… so glad it was a virtual one. :-)
    i think the thing to remember is, that wherever we are on our journey, that is a valid place to be. if we are tired and confused, elated and at peace or even ill, these are places where god can meet us, where the warmth of fellow travellers can be truly experienced and where love can find fuller expression.

  34. Allatsea says:

    I really wish I knew where I was going. I know who I’m following. Or at least who I’m trying to follow. Well, I know his name at least. I really hope he’s not like some of his followers. Or I’m doomed, we’re probably all doomed.
    I just have no idea where he’s taking me. Feels a bit scary to be honest.

  35. duttyo says:

    This cartoon has made me have this part of Blaze of Glory stuck in my head for hours now…

    ‘I don’t know where I’m goin’
    Only God knows where I’ve been
    I’m a devil on the run
    A six gun lover
    A candle in the wind, yeah’

  36. subo says:

    cheers everyone, it’s just so moving reading your comments here

    one thing i know, even if i don’t know the answers, is God knows how to hold on to us through difficulty, he’s attune to our vulnerability and doesn’t take us to places he doesn’t think were ready for/or will be good for us (in my case, that doesn’t mean i’m not capable of taking myself to things that have nearly finished me, i even have memories of asking God ‘shall i do this?’, God’s reply was ‘it’s your choice’, so at least i felt free to find out what it would be like, and knew God didn’t mind if i failed)

    eventually i’ve found some grace or something in sticky places, though at times i’ve blamed myself for feeling frustrated with things other people did to me, now i look back on a lot of time i spent in church house-share’s/groups wondering how close it was to being a cult? often there was a self appointed leader, and it seemed everyone spoke from the same book – weird

    now i do a check, to see if i’m hanging my head quietly or smiling, i’ve remembered what it’s like to feel happy and i’ve got a brightly tuned antenna for ‘self-appointed/messianic complex/control freak’s’, – strange how they always seem to just ignore ideas put forward from anyone else

  37. Jane says:

    The person seems to have a back pack what about “taking nothing with you for the journey” – something for me to contemplate as I pack my overlarge suitcase and head from Crete to geneva in teh morning …

  38. Tiggy says:

    On the journey of life, I’m inclined to get a taxi.

    Wow, it feels really cold tonight!

  39. BlackXanthus says:

    Dear All,
    Reading your comments about how many of you are searching for a liberal view of Church, I was just wondering what would a Church have to offer in order to tempt you back? (not necessarily for a main service, but perhaps a “Pizza and Awkward Questions” session, or something)….


  40. Tiggy says:

    I suspect mine would be different to other people here, but a sense of community is what tempted me to start going to church again after a long break, the receiving of care and practical help when I was in a difficult situation alone in a new city. I think also beauty draws me in, but pizza would also be very appealing. I’m actually thinking of going to an evening service at the Abbey just because they go for pizza afterwards.

  41. subo says:

    not quite BX, i do go to church, i just try to select services where there’s a sense of fun and freedom. i don’t find God dominating, controlling, oppressive or judgmental – so why would i expect to hear God through controlling leadership?. it’s a contradiction. sometimes, i read in Genesis God made man and woman, and said they were very good, and so hearing from the preacher that men and women are very, very, very bad makes me think they’ve got a different version of the Bible to me + the whole conformity thing seems to deny the spirit of creation, where God invested multiple possibilities in a fruitful earth

  42. Forrest says:

    I finally went to Facebook and got “going” there.
    Here’s how and why:

  43. Tiggy says:

    Cool, can I be your friend on Facebook, Forrest?

    Subo, have you read ‘Original Blessing’ by Matthew Fox?

  44. Kim says:

    Jon @ 33 – that sounds a great theology and I hope you’ll have me tagging along at the back.

    This is the kind of conversation that church leaders desperately need to read – we need the space to explore and work out their own way through, in a safe and warm place with others. Pizza usually helps me to do that!!

    I love it here so much, it is definately ‘church’ in its own way. I’m sure Jesus has it on his favourites list :lol:

  45. Kim says:

    oops – our own way thru

  46. BlackXanthus says:

    @Kim: Perhaps (some of) the Church leadership is already reading ;)


  47. beckyg says:

    43. I’m on facebook too by the name “Becky Garrison” if you or anyone want to send a friend request and haven’t done so.

    44. Agreed – one of my biggest beefs with this whole “new forms of church” is when you get down to it, there’s significant intolerance towards those who claim to be advocates of creating a new safe space for all can feel safe to seek God. What they really mean is “come worship me.” There is a safe space but God forbid in these settings you dare to have a different view.

  48. Tiggy says:

    Becky, where are you from? There are lots of Becky Garrisons on there and I can’t see one that looks like you!

  49. Kim says:

    BX – thats good to know

  50. Robb says:

    Jon – have you been listening to whitesnake again?

  51. beatthedrum says:

    having just spent a weekend with a bunch of other couples who are looking to start church plants in the next 1 – 3 years we had a few who had no idea where they were going to go. For some it changed over the weekend, and for some it was narrowwed down somewhat.

    God is Good
    God leads us

  52. miriworm says:

    I think I might have been there … ooops! :-)

  53. BX -the one thing tat is keeping me involved at the moment is Saturday Breakfast – open to the whole community not just the church going – where newspapers, coffee, croissants and bacon sandwhiches are provided, and those of all faiths and those of no faith come together to discuss the news and discuss the stories of the day.

  54. theseoldshades says:

    jon@33: Thanks for the tent! I am need of a resting place tonight, I need a break from fear that I have made the wrong decisions, from missing people, from bad experiences and from stupid Old Norse translations which make no sense at all! :(

    sophie@31: Thankyou :) What you said about leaving church not being the end of the journey is really important and something I need to hold in my heart.

  55. Tiggy says:

    I think it’s a bit cold for a tent. I suppose the equivalent for England in mid October would be, ‘I have gone ahead to prepare the spare bedroom for you.’

    Old Norse translations….mmm! I wish I had one to get my teeth into – feeling intellectually deprived at the moment. I’m sure you can find stuff on the Internet that makes sense of them.

    I had a dream when I was a teenager where I asked the Archbishop of Canterbury, ‘Why is the baptismal font always by the exit to the church?’ (Some of them are by the entrance which of course is also the exit.) He replied, ‘Because of the cycles of birth, life and death.’

  56. Caroline Too says:

    oh I’ve got an idea, JB… quite a few about where I’m going…

    trouble is,

    I’m not sure if I’m right!

    and anyway

    the ideas seem to disappoint

    it’s the anticipation, and the ‘maybes’ that really excite me,

    so, if you have some ‘maybes’ or some hope in that huge kit bag…

    I’ll come along with you, if you’ll have me :-)

  57. Laura says:

    Am I too late to go along?
    Just got back from another trip and had a bit of laundry to do…

  58. BlackXanthus says:

    It ocured to me while reading the cartoon, and the comments, that perhaps what we’re missing is that the leadership don’t really know where they’re going, but are simply there to walk along side us, on which ever journey we are walking.

    There is the expectaion that the Clergy should have a direction, and want to walk towards it, but we often forget that though the way TO Christ is Narrow, once where, there’s no real description of what we’re meant to do. (I know that’s normally described as death, but remember, Christ is the God of Life). The Clergy are just happy to be with us in whatever state we find ourselfes. Don’t be afraid to go and talk to them, their just people like you and me.


  59. Sophie says:

    BlackXanthus, you asked a while back what is is that would draw us back to church, here’s a belated reply. I went to a church which was recommended to me by a friend, and I loved that the vicar there asked my name and remembered it when I went back 2 weeks later, and that the people were friendly, and the church was inclusive. The second time I went a reader preached about the trinity and refered to the holy spirit as feminine, and I thought, I could stay here. The other thing, like you say, is that the vicar is honest, and will say how he is. I don’t get the impression that many people wear masks. Basically it’s not the sort of place where you have to be sorted or at least come across as such, or risk not feeling accepted. I get the impression that we are journeying together. I think I’ve been there about 2 years now.

  60. Tiggy says:

    BlackXanthus, some of the clergy act like they’re not just people like us. Some of them even think they have a hotline to God and if you disagree with them then you’re disagreeing with God.

  61. danielg says:

    >> BX: the leadership don’t really know where they’re going, but are simply there to walk along side us, on which ever journey we are walking.

    >> TIG: some of the clergy act like they’re not just people like us. Some of them even think they have a hotline to God and if you disagree with them then you’re disagreeing with God.

    I think you guys are painting the two extremes here. While clergy ought to be in some sense humble enough to know that they are fallible and sinful like we all are, the bible gives clear demands for biblical leadership. Paul remarks that teachers will receive a stricter judgment from God, and I think it is entirely correct that we *should* have higher standards for those who lead.

    Confident leadership involves having convictions that others may not, and having the courage to pursue them. Leaders with an unsure vision are often poor leaders, not humble.

    And of course, those who are cocksure are often merciless. But let’s not throw out the baby w/ the bathwater and expect our leaders to be as clueless as many of us.

  62. Tiggy says:

    I really appreciate my church leaders in lots of ways and their jobs are very diverse – i.e dealing with the council, matters relating to the huge building they own which is an bistoric building, dealing with the press, organising activities, preaching, running courses etc.

    The thing I do find difficult though is that I don’t agree with some of their theological views and I’m not sure they agree with each other, which I suppose is a good thing really. It’s just that initially they gave me the impression they held very enlightened, informed views of mental health issues and then a couple of weeks ago the top bod started going on about how anxiety and depression were of demonic origin. I asked him on Facebook if my PMT (PMS) was of demonic origin, but didn’t get a response.

  63. I followed a link from somewhere today and found some simple, clever cartoons that express how I feel about my faith, with a very lovely-sounding bunch of commenters. I just wanted to say hello. I may be hanging out here a bit. I hope you don’t mind. And thank you!!

  64. Tiggy says:

    Hi, good name! New cartoons are posted quite often – most days it seems. See you around.


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