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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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39 Responses to 1047

  1. delboy says:

    there is no try. ;)

  2. chris says:

    I once, in desperation, prayed over my son’s ashes. Foolish as it sounds…

  3. jonbirch says:

    wow, chris… what a harrowing and emotional experience… that does not sound remotely foolish to me. it sounds completely understandable, although i’ve never had an experience like yours. thank you for commenting. much love, j.

  4. jonbirch says:

    delboy… i sometimes wonder whether there is only ‘trying’… esp. if that is trying our best… having a go, even if we fail. ;-)

  5. chris says:

    Thanks Jon, the thing is if the movement that you are in insists on you taking every word of the bible literally then you will try these foolish things and feel like a complete failure, or completely abandoned when what you pray for doesn’t work out and the rest of the church goes on its merry way… What I really wish is that I wasn’t a church-goer when we lost him.

  6. jonbirch says:

    i find that heart breaking and i can see why you would feel like that… and i believe you are right to feel that way. to suffer abandonment and failure on top of such tragic and devastating loss sounds very like abuse to me. i have met so many people who in different ways have had awful experiences in their past churches, whether it be over issues of health, loss, marriage break up, sexual orientation, or simply questioning the status quo. it never fails to upset me (it’s one of the reasons for asbo jesus), but your story particularly frustrates and angers me… and i think it should. my heart goes out to you… and as for your past church, words fail me. thank you for your wonderful honesty and willingness to tell your story.

  7. chris says:

    These institutions are often made up of truly wonderful people who mean no harm. They just have no tools to deal with what happens when their beliefs let them or others down. It’s easier to turn a blind eye, or look for miracle stories happening in other places, than to challenge their own beliefs, Than to ask What went wrong!? … But I don’t think they are bad people.

  8. chris says:

    And I am very grateful for asbo jesus : ) a great place for us “failures”

  9. Joe Turner says:

    chris – my flabber is gasted.

  10. jonbirch says:

    thank you, chris. people like you make asbo worth doing. i think you are very kind about what has happened… and you are right, there are many good people in these places. but good people can collude to do very bad things by turning a blind eye and not questioning the worldview they’re buying in to. history shows it all the time. and it is hard to understand why people still turn a blind eye to the truth of a friend in pain and choose the fantasy world of their faith instead. it’s like relationship and community have been lost and everyone is passively compliant. it is distressing.

  11. Once again Asbo Jesus and Naked Pastor prove brilliant minds think alike http://www.nakedpastor.com/2011/11/07/faith-moves-mountains

  12. teaman says:

    Chris, not foolish at all. very real, very raw and immensely painful just to read it. When my son was born, he wasn’t breathing. Those few agonising minutes I cried out to God in ways I never had before or since. I had no words, just ‘Jesus’ and as they worked on him I sang ‘amazing grace’. I had sung it to him in the womb quite a bit (badly btw, i’m no singer) all i could remember at the time. I didn’t realise at the time but the midwife later told me that it was when i started to sing that he first responded.
    I don’t know why God answers some prayers and not others. I don’t know why. I do know that too often churches fail at ‘community’. happened to us too. those early days after my sons birth we felt very alone. our church ‘family’ failed. but I can’t help feeling that part of the failure was on our part. how much effort did we put forth? could we have done more or did we allow ourselves to become disconnected? were we content to convince ourselves that surface relationships were real?

    I dunno. still struggling with all this. I had a point but chasing an adventurous 2 year old I lost my train of thought. Yes, the same child who lay blue and lifeless and spend the first few days of his life in a plastic box in intensive care is now a charming, lively adventurer.

    no answers, tons of questions.

  13. Thanks, Chris and Teaman, for being so open about your experiences of prayer.

    I rarely pray, these days. Or when I do, I think I tend to subconsciously weigh up the odds before I do. I don’t think I can have very much in the way of faith, when I think about it. I pray in English and I am careful about the words I use, allowing God plenty of ‘get out’ clauses.

  14. jonbirch says:

    thank you, teaman. i am glad to hear of your 2 year old scamp. i hope you don’t mind me asking, but i don’t know how you can look to blame yourself for the behaviour of others. yes, we’re all guilty of shallow and surface from time to time, but the point of community surely is that others are prepared to take the ride with you, no matter how uncomfortable… my own feeling is that you and chris have both been very let down and i think it is shameful. i hope i don’t come across as judgmental, i am very aware of my own failings. but, as one who never had to go through what you have, i feel annoyed and think these are the very things that need calling to account if the church is to have any meaning. i hope it’s okay for me to say these things. if we’re not there for one another at a point of need, what is the point?

  15. jonbirch says:

    ah, my naked friend… must be something in the ether. :-)

  16. Hugh says:

    Jon and Nakedpastor can I be a killjoy and point out that Jesus said “this mountain” and not mountains? (OK – he didn’t speak English but that’s the best translation we have) As this was the mount of the transfiguration I’m not sure what it means but it could be the overturning of the Jewish faith as defined by the Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah)

  17. jonbirch says:

    haha! nowt wrong with a bit o’ theology, hugh. you’ve certainly not killed my joy. :-)

  18. jonbirch says:

    carole. i tend just to go with ‘thank you’ these days… although i spend too much of my time not being as thankful as i should be. i generally feel better when i am being thankful though. i have much to be thankful for.

  19. Pat says:

    I no longer have (and have not for a long time had) a picture of God in which arbitrary intervention in response to specific prayer is a component (and for me too, the unravelling was hastened by a scenario involving children). So intercessory prayer – at least of the kind I have usually experienced in church/home group settings – is no longer a regular feature of my life. However I do still find myself occaisionally tending to this type, but in such instances any prayers are invariably bookended with phrases such as ‘even though I don’t know what this means’ or ‘even though I have no idea why I am doing this’ :???:

  20. Joe Turner says:

    Pat and Carole’s experience seems to match mine. I have a particular problem in that most prayer seems to for the benefit of each other (essentially a form of gossip), telling God what he already knows, or ascribing ‘blessings’ to God which may not be blessings and/or may not be from God. Mostly now I just listen.

  21. subo says:

    thanks for the cartoon, and comments

  22. chris says:

    Mostly now I just listen

    Me too, Joe.

  23. this is very very cool …

  24. rebecca says:

    Jon — it is great that you are blogging again. I was really missing you.

    Two responses to the cartoon, firstly a light-hearted one: when I was at university, one of my friends told me that he had tried walking on water in the bath. This resulted in an unforgettable quote from another friend — “You have to have faith, but not necessarily in the bath”. (Imagine what this looks like out of context!)

    Now a more serious comment. The latest issue of Third Way contains an article by Mark Vernon. I was inclined to be sceptical, because he speaks at Greenbelt on subjects such as why he thinks we are all agnostic, but this is an excellent article. One point he makes is that we should not actually be trying to move mountains.

  25. jonbirch says:

    i’m inclined to agree, rebecca… mind you, i’m not even sure we should be climbing mountains… but then i do get vertigo. :-)

  26. jonbirch says:

    thank you, dennis. :-)

  27. Judith says:

    At least he could pick up the mustard seed if he really needed to move it…

    I was missing your cartoons, too.

  28. rebecca says:

    I’ve now got the magazine in front of me, so I can quote Mark Vernon properly.

    Quoting somebody else, he looks at what the New Testament has to say about doubt. “It turns out, nothing at all – at least in the propositional sense meant mostly today, as in ‘I doubt God exists’. Instead, the Greek words typically translated as doubt mean ‘being of two minds’ or ‘disputing so as to cause division’. This makes a huge difference to the way the texts are read.

    “For example, when in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus talks about moving mountains if you do ‘not doubt in your heart’ (Mark 11 verse 23), it is tempting to read it as a kind of magic trick, as if it is saying believe God exists, or that Jesus is Lord, and the earth will move for you, literally. But the text really means you will achieve extraordinary things if you set your heart on God.”

    I recommend the entire article if you can get your hands on it – it is in the November issue of Third Way.

  29. subo says:

    i believe many of our prayers are inspired by God, i.e., we find ourselves longing for something, praying for it, because God some how planted the idea – or the spirit groans within us (about loads of things)

    this makes it harder to understand why many of our prayers (unfairly my husband’s prayers seem to be answered more clearly than mine), don’t ‘come true’.

    i think it’s because we live in a world where there is a spiritual battle going on, and we don’t fully see all of God’s Kingdom here and now amongst us, though we will, and it’s fine to keep on praying – badgering, cajoling, moaning, reflecting and a little listening. because all prayer is engaging with God and the Kingdom on God, I also fully believe God wants to answer our prayers, even the more massive mountain ones, and some people will bell you about outrageous things they’ve seen God do following their prayers

  30. Joe Turner says:

    @subo – that just isn’t my experience, it is hard to explain exactly why, but more-and-more I feel like I have nothing I could say to God (and indeed to even try to seems precocious). Modern Christianity seems to teach us that prayer is something between equals – as if we should be telling God how to rule the universe in the same way as him telling us to change.

    If I’m bothered by something, God already knows. If I get angry at injustice, he knows. I don’t have to try to verbalise it in a ‘prayer’ for him to know my heart.

    And I reject this notion of a ‘spiritual battle’ on various levels. For a start, I fail to see how the volume of prayer changes anything.

    Listening is not part of prayer, it *is* prayer.

  31. i love what Judith just said …

  32. serena says:

    I’m also glad you’re back with more to prod us with! Asbo Jesus lets me laugh, weep, get angry, and feel better. Amen!

  33. subo says:

    oh, wow. Joe Turner, thanks for personal reply. – I guess the witness of countless ordinary folk through the ages might inspire use to check out the comprehensiveness of our modern outlook, perhaps there’s the possibility of exploring different dimensions in prayer, perhaps for others as well as me, they find themselves up-against it, and with only prayer to turn to stumble into the loving arms of God, perhaps we need to keep seeking, that is if this is what we want?

  34. Naomi says:

    I think the hardest thing, is “why isn’t the person i’m praying for a christian yet?” God loves them, i love them, i’ve been praying, God can do miracles, and then you hear stories about someone else being prayed for for about a week and things start to happen in their life and it’s great, but why is that persons mountain being moved and not mine?

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