G-48: 1619… October 31, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2398)

cargo ship bigger

Excitement.

  • A season of reason.
  • An hour of power.
  • A college of knowledge.
  • A start for art.
  • A relief for belief.
  • A release of peace.
  • A righting of the course of fellowship.

And then … 1619.

A Dutch trader, selling his goods along the African coast, runs across a tribesman who has no money, but is willing to give a cargo of human beings, his neighbors, as exchange for his merchandise.

The wayfaring seaman pauses, thinking. He knows he doesn’t dare return without some sort of remuneration, or face losing his job–maybe worse. He looks at the half-clothed, nervous, twitching beings in front of him. They don’t look like him.

His brain sets in motion a nasty logic:

  1. These people are vulnerable.
  2. Therefore, these folks are less.
  3. These souls are our servants.
  4. These creatures are our property.
  5. These possessions are our slaves.

Much to his surprise, when he returns from his journey, expecting a rebuke for his choice, he is praised for such an inventive idea and commissioned to return and do it again.

As often is the case, there is a market. Therefore we pursue it–without wondering about its ramifications.

A painful portion of poison is perpetuated upon peoplehood. They digress.

And then one day, in a crowded, heated hall, nervous men, trying to cover their apprehension with verbal boldness, agree to a document which states clearly, directly and without apology:

“All men are created equal.”

1776.

Perhaps it is the remedy for 1619.

We shall see what price they’re willing to pay…for their own convictions.

 

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Three Ways to Win an Argument… October 30, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2397)

arguing woman

Arguments are like hamburgers in the sense that most people agree that they’re not very good for us, but on the other hand, few are able to resist them. Unlike hamburgers, they end up being a part of our diet whether we like it or not, so we should learn how to ingest and digest them better.

First of all, we need to stop mingling the words “discussion,” “debate” and “argument,” as if they are the same species.

A discussion is when people come together, admitting they do not have enough knowledge on a subject and engage in an exchange of information for enlightenment.

A debate is when two people of differing opinions share their ideas with the aspiration that one of the presentations will come to the forefront as having more common sense.

An argument occurs when folks are certain they have discovered a truth which they believe has been tested, and they are unwilling to give in to any other insight because they feel they have found the correct path.

So an argument seems doomed to elicit frayed feelings and even digress to some violence if we do not know how to conduct ourselves and become the winners.

And by winning an argument, I do not mean usurping authority over other people, to bend them to our will. Winning an argument is to control the atmosphere and make sure that rage does not enter in.

So what should we do?

1. Ask lots of questions.

Arguments always turn volatile when people literally spit their opinions at one another, rather than challenging the source of the other person’s position. It’s difficult to become overwrought when someone is asking you a question and you’re having to provide evidence instead of just passion.

Some time ago I was arguing with a friend about a project he was working on and I stopped in the middle of the back-and-forth and asked, “Do you feel this project is up to the calibre and integrity of what you’ve done in the past?”

It brought him to a complete halt. In the midst of that stall, he calmed down, thinking more deeply.

To win an argument, always have more questions than comments.

2. Somewhere early on in the argument, concede a point or two which will not alter the quality of your conviction.

Anytime you argue with folks, they will make a good point, and usually pride will prevent you from admitting it. If you stop to acknowledge the truth, you disarm your competitor and also create a more gentle environment for the ongoing experience.

If it’s true, it’s true. And if it’s true, say so quickly. You don’t lose points and in the end you will actually gain respect.

3. Summarize as you go.

Every few seconds, repeat these words: “So what you’re saying is…”

It gives the person a chance to hear back what you heard, and confirm whether it’s true, or if some mis-speaking occurred. It also slows the progression of arrogance, permitting simplicity to have its day.

I guarantee you that if you do these three things, you will win every argument, because the true goal is to arrive at a way for both of you to continue to work together and be friends, even though this rift has occurred.

The key to life is realizing that you can give up some turf and still have enough room to stand.

arguing man

 

 

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Populie: The Holy Land … October 29, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2396)

Isis, Jew and Crusader

Land: a retreating of the waters, leaving behind soil which is available for living and planting.

Holy: promoting, initiating and welcoming a sense of wholeness.

These are truths.

So what is the populie? Calling some region in Mesopotamia “The Holy Land.”

It is neither conducive to growing much of anything or welcoming wholeness. Even though it’s only the size of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, it has fostered more death, destruction, bigotry, selfishness, greed and lunacy than any other location on the face of the earth.

Yet the entertainment industry loves to make movies about the Crusades and supposedly deep insightful, flicks focusing on the conflicts between the Jews and the Arabs.

Politics certainly enjoys spouting the term “Holy Land” because it welcomes certain constituencies into the mix for large donations.

And religion adores the idea that this space of property has magical powers or is ordained by God to be the prophetic source of spiritual renewal.

The Holy Land is not. I have never had a desire to go there, nor will I ever, of my own volition.

It is occupied by inflexible souls who mysteriously continue to fight a battle among each other to honor their traditions instead of dealing with the realities of our time.

It is evil in the sense that it pulls down the rest of our brothers and sisters living with us on this planet, because supposedly Abraham said something thousands of years ago, which Moses confirmed and Mohammed contradicted.

They are quarreling brothers who bang on our door in the middle of the night because they’re fighting again, and somebody punched somebody in the nose, and we’re supposed to decide if we’re going to call the cops or just make a big pot of coffee.

I must tell you:

  • Jesus found nothing holy about that land.
  • Matter of fact, he prophesied that it would be left desolate.
  • He told them that even though they believed they were the “children of Abraham,” that he existed before Abraham, and therefore trumped the patriarch.
  • He warned them that their holy temple would be torn down.
  • He told his disciples to begin their work in Jerusalem but to get out of there as quickly as possible and take the mission to the more receptive parts of the world.
  • He explained that true worship of God would not be in Jerusalem, but would be achieved through spirit and truth.
  • And even though we try to make Jesus Jewish and connect him to the Holy Land, he made it clear that he wasn’t called to those who thought they were righteous, but instead, to those whom the righteous considered to be sinners.

We must begin to call this desolate, angry, self-righteous location the dark place it truly is, and stop trying to revere it as a special piece of turf. If not, we will perpetuate the myth that if we just send one more army in there on a crusade, we can finally win back God’s holy land.

For if Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut suddenly decided to start squabbling over land and spiritual heritage, we would go in there and tell them to shut the hell up, get it right or we would close off all supplies and sanction them from our country.

But even though we contend that God is no respecter of persons, we in the United States continue to treat Israel preferentially and look at the Arabs with a jaundiced eye. They probably won’t be ignored, but we need to stop giving them so much of the human stage.

It is not a Holy Land. Stop planning trips there, thinking you’re going to “walk where Jesus walked.”

Because true holiness is where God is.

And the Spirit of God always dwells where there is liberty. There is no liberty in the Holy Land. Even Israel, which claims to be democratic, has restrictions on spiritual expression and prejudice against their neighbors.

Go where there’s liberty, and there you’ll find the Spirit of God. Forgive me for a little bit of flag waving–but that’s why I’m glad to be an American.

And for me, today, as I travel, the Holy Land … is Roanoke, Virginia.

 

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Quatrain of Discord… October 28, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2395)

abortion both sides

I think this

You think that

They think another

We don’t think

 

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“Ifing” Way: Part 2… October 27, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2394)

If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

Dad arrived just in time.

His youngest son was already primed and ready to run out the door to go see his older brother to try to reconcile hurt feelings. The siblings had never really been close, yet the bond of family had always meshed them with a sense of loyalty. But recent events had exacerbated the tenuous feelings, generating a volatile situation. A simple misunderstanding had turned into a sense of rejection, culminating in a looming burst of rage.

When the incident happened, Dad stepped between them to prevent violence, but the younger son, having a more optimistic nature, believed all that was needed was a good conversation. So he had privately decided to go off on his own, without any counsel, to see his brother at the work site so they could “rummage through their feelings” and arrive at resolution.

Fortunately, Dad came on the scene–just in time.

“Where are you going?” Dad asked.

The young man paused for a second, wondering if he could possibly deceive his father and achieve his own purposes, but then realized that was contrary to his heart.

“You know where I’m going. I’m going to make peace with my brother.”

The father smiled. “I know that seems like a good idea to you, and far be it from me to be against peace, but your brother is a complicated man and his emotions and thoughts are not privy to you, and therefore not available.”

The young man frowned.

Sensing his son’s disagreement, the father continued. “We could talk about this all day and we wouldn’t agree. What I would like you to do is trust me. If I end up being wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. But I would like you to leave your brother alone for a while, until you and I agree on a better time. Because if you go and see him now, all you’re going to do is remind him of the pain of the conflict, and perhaps incense him over the idea that you appear to be the better brother because you’re trying to make things right. I want you to promise me–based upon our friendship and bond–that you will stay away from him until things are better.”

The young man objected. “But how can things get better if we don’t make them better?”

The father patted him on the shoulder and said, “Son, sometimes things don’t get better. But if we interfere, we can make them worse.”

He gave his younger son a hug. The boy agreed to stay away from his older brother until such time as was deemed appropriate.

As it turned out, the conversation never actually happened. The two brothers, who had never been particularly close, maintained a distance throughout their lives. They learned how to be appropriate during family gatherings, and gave each other proper respect and space.

Cain and Abel never became close friends.

But because Adam took his position as a father and intervened in a dangerous situation … no one had to die.

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Jesonian: Jesus of Parkersburg … October 25, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2393)

bearded man in headlamp big

Cara is hard at work, desperately trying to finish up an extra half-shift she has taken on to earn some extra money for her two children at home, who want to go on a field trip to Charleston with their class.

Things have been tough since her husband left early last year, without any explanation.

She’s working double shifts for single-digit dollars, trying to singlehandedly be a mother, provider, disciplinarian, and if there’s any time left over, companion to her fledglings.

She doesn’t need much.

Some encouragement would be nice.

Maybe just to not have people look down on her because her clothes are a bit bedraggled.

Maybe one night off, to laugh instead of budget.

She needs Jesus of Parkersburg.

She needs him not to be religious, but rather, helpful.

Maybe to just listen.

She needs him to tell her that she’s still only thirty-three years old, that her life isn’t over, and she’s not just a paycheck trying to fund her little tykes into an uncertain adulthood.

****

Matt has the afternoon off to go to Wal-mart to buy some incidentals–clothing and shoes–for his family. He tries to plan this trip to the Superstore once a month, taking a good bite out of his paycheck, hoping that they can make all the macaroni last as long as the cheese.

He doesn’t mind the hard work at the coal mines. He doesn’t care that often his safety may not be the primal concern of those who run the company. He has enough faith in God to get him in and out of the tunnels everyday without fear.

But it sure would be nice if Jesus of Parkersburg would lighten the load just a little bit. Not much.

Maybe give him a few extra dollars so he could buy some insulation for the house so that the winter months wouldn’t be so brutally cold and expensive.

Maybe Jesus could help him get a break on that medication that one of his young’uns needs, which the doctor insists will help with the repeated seizures.

Matt’s not a demanding sort, but he sure would appreciate a break.

*****

Calvin hangs out down next to the railroad tracks on the east side of town. He’s officially homeless, in the sense that he neither has an address nor a pillow on which to lay his head.

He begs next to the railroad tracks because when somebody does give him a quarter or a dollar, he jokingly runs across the tracks and says, “Thank you. Now, you just helped me get on the right side of the tracks.”

Ever since his wife was killed by a drunk driver, he has lost much of the will to pursue or succeed. It was just the two of them, and now that’s it just one of them, he feels no compulsion to over-produce.

But he sure could use Jesus of Parkersburg.

Maybe somebody could just come along and pop him a twenty-dollar bill so he could remember what the taste of a good hamburger is in his mouth.

Yes, that would be nice.

Maybe Jesus of Parkersburg could help him find a way to get back into life, and feel important to someone again, like he was to his loving mate.

For you see, Calvin’s not miserable. Just underused.

*****

And then there’s Tim–a young man who’s hanging out at the Dairy Barn, even though it’s set to soon close for the winter months.

He’s not sure where to go. A junior in high school, he’s not adept in sports, can’t sing in the choir, couldn’t afford a band instrument even if the school still had a band.

So he finds himself with a lot of time on his hands, with a bunch of mischief trying to tease and tempt him into some unnecessary choices.

Tim sure could use Jesus of Parkersburg.

Just someone to come along, put an arm around his shoulder and say, “Listen kid. Let’s go out, find what you can do really well, and then get you to doing it.”

He might rebel against such interference, but considering that Jesus is so compassionate and full of good cheer, he just might listen.

For after all, when the Dairy Barn closes, where is he going to go?

*****

You see, the problem is, there is no Jesus of Parkersburg.

There’s no Messiah walking around healing the sick and raising the dead.

For the next twenty-four hours, there’s me. Makes me feel sorry for the good folk of this town. They deserve so much better.

But since there is no Jesus of Parkersburg, I’m going to think, pray, laugh and try really hard, in my own clumsy way, to be Jesus… in Parkersburg.

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Untotaled: Stepping 37 (September 4th, 1967) Fair Weather Friends … October 25, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2392)

(Transcript)

For most of the years of my youth, the fall school year commenced the morning after Labor Day. So the last hurrah of the summer was always a trip to the Ohio State Fair, to hopefully connect with friends, and enjoy some cotton candy, joke about the smell of the pig barns and see each other, so that when the academic year began we wouldn’t feel like strangers or look at each other like aliens.

In 1967 something unbelievable happened. My friend Phil asked me to spend the weekend with him and my parents agreed. That, in itself, was special. But when Phil’s father gave us $5 apiece three days in a row, dropped us off at the fair and then picked us up in the evening, I thought I had discovered the pearl of great price.

(I did take the precaution of not telling my parents what was going on, just in case they would throw a wrench into the gears.)

So we called our friends and made plans to meet up at the gate so we could spend the day marching around the fair as free men and women, knowing that in just a few days we would be on a death march to the classroom.

The fair was amazing that year because the proprietors had scheduled both Herman’s Hermits and The Who to appear in the grandstand for free. Living in a small town, I was not that familiar with either group, especially The Who.

The bands were fronted by Peter Noonan and Peter Townsend, so we guys got a great locker room giggle off of the battle of the “two Peters.” (The girls along with us didn’t seem to understand the joke or they played dumb to maintain their small-town innocence.)

Honestly, I found the concerts annoying. There were girls screaming everywhere, which made us jealous that these chicks were getting all worked up over scrawny Englishmen instead of big, burly Buckeye boys. Plus there was a little propriety swimming around inside of me from my parents, which caused me to criticize the groups because they “looked like girls, dressed funny or weren’t American.”

Matter of fact, we had a huge discussion with the females, which escalated into a fight. So we finished out the fair separated into camps of gender. The boys felt that the rock and roll bands were “sissy” and wouldn’t last long. But the girls, having better intuition, knew that this music was here to stay.

The three days prior to school that year passed way too quickly and we spent too much time eating and not enough time feeling.

But the appearance by these two English rock and roll bands did seal something deep within our hearts that would bloom much later.

My Generation was Into Something Good–and The Times Were Certainly a’Changing.

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