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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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40 Responses to 931

  1. Sophie says:

    On the other hand, I saw a line on a church notice board that said “Come as you are. Jesus knows you already.” I found that oddly comforting. I think if we’re honest we all have questions.

  2. DiaTribe says:

    …”your type in here”
    I suspect less Times New Roman and more Comic Sans

  3. Why?

    Oh – I see what just happened.

  4. Pat says:

    Thanks Jon – love this cartoon :-D

    “have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and to try to cherish the questions themselves, like closed rooms and like books written in a very strange tongue. Do not search now for the answers that which cannot be given you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, one distant day live right into the answer.” Rilke:Letters to a Young Poet

  5. Oh dear I’m in trouble then!

  6. subo says:

    oh, cheers for this Jon, and wonderful quote Pat

    I really struggle with this stuff, because I’m the one saying lets dance and dye our hair and chill man, lets have edgy music, and words that are uncomfortable. So I feel crushed by the ‘safe’ music and nice atmosphere churches cultivate – so it’s me saying I don’t want to be with your quiet, reserved, type – and I value inclusiveness as the key to community!

    in Jonny’s new book, (Curating Worship) one group talk about ‘Open Space’, saying ‘the people who come are the right people’, amen bro., amen. lets let our hearts bust with love and welcome and call down the spirit of God, let’s let His love bring hope and healing

  7. Caroline TOO says:

    I love the John Keats quote…

    what makes a great poet? (or a great anything else, I think!)

    we need to have Negative capability

    which is when we are “able to be in mysteries, uncertainties and doubts without an irritable reaching after fact or reason.”

    I’ll have some of that! :-)

  8. Pat says:

    “able to be in mysteries, uncertainties and doubts without an irritable reaching after fact or reason.”

    Caroline Too – I’ll join you if I may please :-D

  9. Si Hollett says:

    I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like questions coming to the church. The problem is more the “no we don’t want answers” when the answers come out the door to them.

    I love people sharing questions and I love asking them, as I have them too. Questions are great – answers are better.

    What I don’t like is when people love having the question and hate receiving the answer. Seriously, what’s the point in asking a question if you don’t want to know the answer? (and that isn’t rhetorical – I really do want to know why!)

  10. Graham says:

    I have sent this to a friend who has been bruised by church. Mainly through having questions about the way church was run, about being a little more transparent, raising mission questions….. She and others were hit with ‘answers’- this is ‘the’ way. In some cases people were disenfranchised and thrown out.

    They have a heart for Christ, but they want to know where they can go with their questions when people intent on ‘answers’ hurt them so much.

    And I don’t know what to tell them-questions can bring great strength to seeking the way forward and to following Christ. Even as a minister, I find places where questions and questioners are valued few and far between.

  11. jonbirch says:

    “Questions are great – answers are better.” it really depends on the question and the answer, doesn’t it? :-)

    caroline too… can i join you and pat please? :-)

    diatribe… the pun had occurred to me… but well done on picking it up! :-)

    pat… subo’s right… that sure is a good quote. :-)

  12. jonbirch says:

    nice one graham! :-) i hope they find empathy in it.

  13. jonbirch says:

    sophie. yup, we all do. :-)

  14. Graham says:

    Thanks Jon! The same friend has just phoned to say her daughter of 18 has been knocked over tonight and the doctors in intensive care are not hopeful. They are praying for a miracle- I am too- I’ve watched her grow and her family feel part of ours.

    Not really the place for this on a cartoon site….just that this is reality below the arguments that beset us… human need crying out in desperation to a God in Jesus we hope is there…

  15. jonbirch says:

    i am so sorry graham. that is terrible. i will be joining with you in praying. news like this makes so many other things seem so much less important. much love to you all. x

  16. I too saw a recent sign for church saying ‘come as you are’ sadly in most churches up and down the country you wouldn’t be accepted just as you were.

    even comic sans should be allowed in!

  17. subo says:

    thinking of you and your friends, Graham

  18. It is amazing how permissive people find my presence in church. If am acceptable it means that they feel acceptable.


    “When I were a lad I’d not even be allowed in church with shoes like yours

    Come as you are.

  19. jonbirch says:

    thank heavens things do change!

  20. Pingback: Who’s Welcome? « Changing Worship

  21. Pat says:

    Robb @19 I know I’ve said it before..but just love the boots. Made me smile to see ‘em poking out from below the cassock and thinking of people feeling welcomed by them and because of them and you :-D

    Hope all’s going well in your (now not so new) job. Pat

  22. Caroline TOO says:

    Hooray, two of my favourite people (#12 and#8) are coming with me into mysteries, uncertainties and doubts ….

    oh I’ll learn on that journey,

    cos these are people of questions, I learn from questions (oh, and there’s plenty of room for others
    to come along too!)

    answers are so problematic… even if they are ‘right’… they stop the questioning, they stop the
    searching…they stop the learning

    in the Northumbria Community we talk of “living the questions” I love that.

    Si (#9) can have his answers, but just for now I’ll be content with questions…

    there will be a time for answers I think,

    it’ll be the time that CS Lewis described at the end of the Last Battle, where things started to
    happen to the characters in Aslan’s kingdom that were too wonderful to write down…

    hmmmm, yes… yes, those are the answers that will be good… the ones that can’t be codified and written down…

  23. Pingback: Who am I? « Glorious Things

  24. Assuming you have all of the answers to the questions people bring to church and that the problem is with the listener’s inability to listen to the, is a dangerous place to inhabit. People don’t tend to come with questions that are that easy to answer.

    Why does my husband have cancer? Why did my unborn child die? How can a human being get to the point where they will commit genocide? How am I going to cope now that I have to live alone? How can I forgive…

    Pat – Thanks. It is really busy. I’m really enjoying it. It has moments of great joy but also moments of great sorrow. It is really difficult moving straight from one encounter celebrating with a young mum who has given birth to the next person who is falling apart over one of the difficult questions. I think the key thing I am enjoying is being welcomed into a community and sharing in people’s lives, warts and all.

    And the boots help ;)

  25. jonbirch says:

    caroline… “hmmmm, yes… yes, those are the answers that will be good… the ones that can’t be codified and written down…” yes! :-)

    changing worship… “I think the key thing I am enjoying is being welcomed into a community and sharing in people’s lives, warts and all.” :-) how do i do a thumbs up emoticon? :-)

  26. duttyo says:

    I’m not really sure that Changing Worship should be sharing his warts with everyone!


  27. Pat says:

    Robb – glad to hear it. Keep well. Pat

  28. Pat says:

    CarolineToo @ 23: :?: :?: s make the world go round! And I for one hope that heaven will be, not just a place of answers, but a place for even more wonderful questions!

    In the meantime though, a question…do you think that there are unanswered questions, unexplored areas and unrealised potentials (which might both equate to ‘unasked questions’) for God too?

  29. I always knew dutyo was a literalist!!

  30. jonbirch says:

    duttyo… that is just the kind of rudeness we abhor on this blog! :lol:

  31. Caroline TOO says:

    oh Pat! (#30) 8-O

    golly, I’m treading here in to a field of ignorance, but that doesn’t tend to stop me…

    I guess that (unless you really go strongly down the predestination route) one could
    say that God has given us a freedom that means (s)He won’t know how we’ll respond to his/her

    I wonder if an issue is time? Does the dichotomy of questions-answers need to be located in
    time? and if God transcends time?

    Then there’s this issue of infinity… does the ‘concept’ of knowing just fail to make any
    sense at all to an infinite God?

    hmmm, guess I’m talking my self towards saying that knowing is nonsensical in relation to God,

    I worship an omniscient God…

    ho hum, head spinning, suspect that this is far more YOUR area Pat than mine….

    but it also makes me think (and this is returning to Jon’s cartoon) that as finite beings in
    relation to a finite God… our very nature is one of being a question…

    our very nature is about becoming in God’s care, who we are is uncertain…unfinalised… a

    oh golly, stop me now before I get lost again…

  32. Laura Anne says:

    Yep. I hear ya.

    Pity God says differently church!!! :P hee hee.

  33. Pingback: We don’t want your type in here «

  34. Pat says:

    Caroline Too…I guess in this instance I wasn’t really thinking about what God knows about ‘us’ but about whether there are questions about Godself and God’s relation to other things that are unknowns or (as yet) unrealised to/by God :?:

    But I think the question of knowing and time is important too. I guess my follow-up question to yours would be – what does God’s omniscience mean in the context of a temporal creation; iow is there any sense in which it (and indeed God’s omnipresence and omnipotence) is limited in his dealings with the temporal?

    And if so…what are the implications of that for the claims we make on God’s behalf? :???:

  35. Does it make more sense when God is outside of the universe and the created order as well as inside?

    I guess I am thinking about Hawkins (percieved) recent statement (he has said pretty much the same in (?) 1989). The God of the gaps? Not the one I believe in. If it is God who inhabits the bits we don’t understand, then God gets smaller the more we understand.

    Is God within the universe or is the universe within God?

    [You’re making my brain hurt – in a good way ;) ]

  36. Or is God without the universe?

    Damn this language and the lack of suitable ways of describing that with is inneffable!!

  37. Pat says:

    Robb – I guess I would think of God as being both outside of the created order and inside it also. Outside because it is Godself which gives rise to the universe and on whom the space-time continuum therefore depends (and in this respect I don’t see any difference in kind with scientific accounts – quantum fluctuations in a vacuum/an event in Godself …one and the same?!)but also as inextricably part of the unfolding universe (and maybe developing too alongside it – but that would be a whole big other conversation :-) )

    However I would also hold that for creation to even exist as seperate from God, and for the concept of ‘freedom’ in creation to have any meaningful content, then a necessary condition must be that God is, in some ways, constrained in relation to the temporal order – i.e God’s operations within the boundaries of creation may be restricted in a way which they are not outside of it. Hence my questions about the ‘three Os’

    I would also see that restriction as being voluntarily self-imposed (and, tapping in to assorted conversations on other threads on ASBO, maybe we could then argue that the ultimate expression of self-hood is to voluntarily limit the self in order to allow for the possibilities of relationality?).

    From all of which you will see that I am not really a Classical Theist :-D I know that the idea that God is not unchangeable and impassible is anathema to some, but I have found kenotic theology a really rich and helpful resource in all sorts or ways.

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