Cracked 5 … May 31st, 2016

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The First Word or Phrase a Baby Might Say If He or She Were Not Coerced by Parents to Speak “Ma-ma” or “Da-da”

A. Oh, crap

 

B. What’s wrong with my legs?

 

C. Breasts!!

 

D. Food with taste, please?

 

E. Donald Trump?!??!

Cracked 5 baby

 

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Good News and Better News … May 30th, 2016

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Mt Pisgah 3Pastor John Crawford had decided to retire.

While in the midst of considering what would be his favorite chair, he was urgently “recalled” to help out at the Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church near Verona, Virginia.

It was a temporary assignment that has lasted for twelve years.

I was fortunate to be invited to share with the delightful congregation and Pastor John this past Sunday morning.

The people are the salt of the earth, unfortunately living in a time when the masses prefer pepper.

Yes, we are a generation who has convinced ourselves that we are happiest when we portray reality as being dissension, describing politics as deception, and fostering religion that has more verse than rhyme.

So as I settled in to play music and chat with these inspiring individuals, I wanted to make sure I kept it simple–not because they were incapable of complexity, but because I am incapable of complexity.Mt Pisgah 2

If it’s necessary to make things difficult to find solutions, please do not contact me.

I’ve read the Bible through enough times that I have discovered there’s a central theme. Such a golden stream of understanding can never be achieved by focusing on a few passages here and there which seem to back your favorite prejudice.

The central theme I’ve discovered is that God will have a kind people, or no people at all.

Yes, I’m telling you–God is love until you get Him really frustrated. At that point He is described as a consuming fire. And what really sparks His blaze? Unkindness.

In our society, we now believe that the tougher you look, the meaner you act and the more aggressive you become, the better off you are in this dangerous climate.

Holy hogwash. It’s about being kind. Which, by the way, begins with the word “kin.”

Yes, to be kind you have to learn how to treat everyone you meet as kin.

This means you will continue to love them through their quirks, their preferences, their ideologies or even, God forbid, their diverse choices in baptism.

Kind.

Mt Pisgah 1For instance, I can never pray to my Heavenly Father unless I’ve already expressed kindness to His children. I even exaggerate it–especially when I’m feeling grumpy and my natural inclination is to spit at the world around me. Instead, I keep my saliva to myself, pucker up and force a kiss.

Case in point, driving to the church yesterday, a young man came behind my van, honking at me. I was a little surprised so I slowed up, thinking I must be doing something wrong. This infuriated him even more, causing him to pass me and give me the finger as he zoomed by.

Now, when I was younger I would have been aggravated at this assault to my person. But in my present mindset, I land somewhere between baffled and amused. (Because if he’s going to give me the finger over my slow driving, he should be around when my real faults show up.)

The good news is that being kind–treating all souls as your kin–is guaranteed to produce pleasure in the heart of God. There may be other things you can do to make Him happy, but they are completely negated if you are unkind.

The better news is that kind is not nearly as exhausting as mean.

Mt Pisgah 4 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 5) Late … May 29th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Sunday morning, and Meningsbee woke up late.

He wanted to blame his alarm clock, but since he was fully aware that he was the master of all of its decisions, he scurried along, skipping two of his pre-shower rituals.

He scooted into his car, started it and zoomed toward the church at what he hoped was a reasonable speed. He was thinking about what he wanted to share.

The Gospel of Mark. Most certainly.

It had been an interesting week.

After the breakthrough, with Betty and Clarice being reconciled, there was a sweet buzz of contentment among those who were present, but simultaneously, there were around twenty-five former members who had begun meeting in the banquet hall of the nearby Holiday Inn Express. They were stirring a flurry of frustration through the town.

Their contention? Meningsbee had “stolen their church.”

He understood their perspective. Yet there was a push in his spirit to continue the experiment–to find the real meaning of gathering together instead of marching in time to the drone of repetitive hymns.

Arriving, he ran to the door of the church, and then paused. He could hear the sounds of conversation. It was not the usual pre-church verbal exchanges, but instead, purposeful–what sounded like meaningful, prayerful tones.

So Meningsbee chose to enter quietly and climb the stairs to the balcony, where he could view the proceedings.

He had noticed coming in that there were a few more cars in the parking lot, and was delighted to see, when he looked down from his perch, that there were four visitors and a few of the original congregation who had returned.

But most enlightening was the fact that the three chairs he had placed in the front on Saturday night were filled with people, surrounded by other folks who were sharing and praying for one another.

On the seventh row was a young family who Deacon Smitters had befriended, and was quietly but feverishly entertaining with one of his stories.

It was a reverent scene, in the sense of the true meaning of reverence–full of humanity, compassion, tenderness and just a bit of the childlike freedom that was so often absent from the normal Sunday morning drill.

Reverend Meningsbee wanted to just hang out in the balcony and watch. He knew that as soon as he entered, the holy spell would be broken and they would turn to him to find order.

Finally he decided that it was not good for him to stay away for the whole time. He climbed down the stairs and came into the church as the gathering fell silent.

He turned slowly and addressed them.

“I overslept. But I have been here for fifteen minutes, just watching all of you. It is so beautiful for you to treat each other so beautifully. I know that’s not a good sentence, but it’s what I feel. Thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for loving each other.”

All at once, a hand went up. It was Clarice, from last week’s reconciliation.

“Hello, Pastor. I just wanted to let you know that after Betty and I mended our fences, I got inspired to contact my son in Lincoln, who ran away from home a couple of years ago because he was mad at me for being such a–can I say ‘bitch’ in the church?”

Meningsbee laughed. “You just did.”

Clarice continued. “Anyway, I invited Michael home, we made peace, and I told him to come here with me today to seal the deal.”

The congregation burst into applause without being coaxed. It was spontaneous and it was electrifying.

One after another, there were testimonies about those who came and sat in the chair to receive God’s grace through the kindness of God’s people.

The good Reverend just stood back and shut up. There was a small part of him that felt useless, but most of him felt he had discovered his true use.

Lead the sheep to the green pastures, and then let them eat.

It came time for the end of the service, and Meningsbee wasn’t sure what to do.

Betty stood to her feet and said, “Did you know that Clarice’s son, Michael, plays a mean piano and can really sing?”

Michael feigned a bit of embarrassment, but also exuded a willingness to display his talent. So Meningsbee pointed to the piano, and Michael slowly rose to his feet, walked over, sat down and played and sang “Let It Be” by the Beatles.

It was an inspiring conclusion to the morning.

Meningsbee listened to the song very carefully.

“Let It Be.”

What good advice.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … May 28th, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Woman: I know you don’t exactly believe in God…

 

Dear Man: No, wait. God sounds like a great idea. It’s the “believe” part that throws me.

 

Dear Woman: What do you mean?

 

Dear Man: Let me see if I can explain. I believed in Santa Claus. I believed in Prince Charming. I believed in the American dream. I believed in the house with the white picket fence. It took a lot of energy to believe in those things, and the payoff was … well, shall we say, disappointing.

 

Dear Woman: Well, maybe I shouldn’t bring this up.

 

Dear Man: No–my heart isn’t set in stone. Let me hear what you have to say.

 

Dear Woman: It’s the story of Adam and Eve.

 

Dear Man: Oh, you mean with the talking snake?

 

Dear Woman: Yeah–let’s just put the talking snake to the side right now. I’m referring to the story line.

 

Dear Man: Okay. The story. Gotcha.

 

Dear Woman: Do you realize that the Good Book says that God considered the man and the woman together as a unit, in cooperation, to be Adam?

 

Dear Man: No, I didn’t. Really?

 

Dear Woman: Yes–they were not only created as equals, but also as what I might call “mutuals.”

 

Dear Man: Mutuals. I kind of like that. What do you mean?

 

Dear Woman: Mutually independent. Mutually valuable to each other. And mutually capable.

 

Dear Man: Do you really believe that?

 

Dear Woman: Yes. So I believe the true evil in the world is when we “split the Adam.”

 

Dear Man: You mean the atomic bomb?

 

Dear Woman: No, not a-t-o-m. A-d-a-m. Whenever we insist that men and women are so drastically different from one another that peaceful coexistence can only be considered as the premise for a farce. So evil is when the Adam–the mutual man and woman, living peaceably together–is split by fear, religion, tradition or domination.

 

Dear Man: So how did this happen in Eden?

 

Dear Woman: Well, I don’t exactly know the moment it happened, but somewhere along the line, the man and the woman stopped talking together–to the extent that Eve felt that her questions would be rejected and not understood by Adam. So she goes off to investigate the unknown without her “mutual.” She does this because apparently she feels cheated, and I think she feels cheated because even though God viewed them as mutuals, Adam was beginning to desire domination.

 

Dear Man: How do you think he did that?

 

Dear Woman: My opinion? By trying to act smarter. Always putting himself in the role of the instructor. I’m sure he did it politely or even with some chivalry. But it was passed along to Eve that she was the lesser of the pair.

 

Dear Man: Keep going. This is fascinating.

 

Dear Woman: And in the process, I think Adam gave Eve the impression that he found her sexually interesting, so to a certain degree, she was afraid of becoming unattractive, or nervous about getting older.

 

Dear Man: Of course, this is all your conjecture.

 

Dear Woman: Hell, yeah. I mean, my plotline does fit with the story, and makes sense with the battle going on with the genders today. But here’s the truth–what constituted evil in Eden is the same thing that stirs it up today. Splitting the Adam. There would not have been any temptation for Adam and Eve if they had maintained their mutual beauty. But because Eve felt misunderstood and cheated, like she wasn’t as smart, and that she needed to avoid growing old, she went to the source of knowledge and got the evil with the good.

 

Dear Man: Very interesting. Of course, you’d have to believe in the story to follow your theory.

 

Dear Woman: I suppose.

 

Dear Man: So let me ask you this. What do you get out of that?

 

Dear Woman: All domination is insecurity trying to hide behind the plot to control. If you’re afraid to be a mutual, you will always try to be the most important.

 

Dear Man: Splitting the Adam, huh?

 

Dear Woman: Yes. It created an explosion of insincerity, inequality and insufferable condescending attitudes that still radiate in our world today.

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G-Poppers … May 27th, 2016

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Jon close up

 

The most important thing is to win.

No, the most important thing is to try.

G-Pop watches closely as these two conflicting attitudes struggle for dominance in our society.

There are those who will not be satisfied unless they are continually prospering, or at least appear to be.

There is certainly a contingency which thinks that maturity, and even spirituality, is best expressed by merely having a sense of willingness.

Yet G-Pop wants his children to be aware that both of these approaches fail to promote winners, and generally speaking, produce whiners.

After all, we don’t always win. And if we don’t win, we have two choices: we can make a ton of lame excuses or we can lie.

And likewise, it’s not always good enough to just try. We end up wondering if we could have done better, or attempt to capsulize the failure into “a learning experience.”

These two concepts run rampant across our culture, especially infesting politics and religion.

For instance, some politicians will do anything to win, and others insist they are the champions of the less fortunate–those who are really “trying hard to make ends meet.”

In the case of religion, it is a misguided juxtaposition of “God will meet your every need” and “all you will ever need is God.”

Deception.

These two ideas are not only insufficient, but flirt with evil.

The winners always deceive, and the “tryers” always blame someone for the deficit.

G-Pop wants to tell his children that the most important thing is to know.

Know what?

1. Know you listened.

It is highly unlikely that any one of us presently posses the wisdom and understanding to solve all of our own problems. It is in listening that we discover new insights from better-traveled souls–ideas which enable us to take a fresher approach.

2. Know you have good cheer.

G-Pop is not certain he’s ever seen grumping, complaining or lamenting lead to success. A certain amount of worry-free humor is necessary to find our best.

And most importantly:

3. Know you are honest.

Looking over your shoulder to see if you’re going to get caught is not a good way to be forward thinking. We may hope we get away with lying, but eventually, at an hour we least expect it, our lack of candor will be brought to the forefront. There is real power in knowing that no matter what the result may be, you were completely truthful about your situation.

As the political furor continues in our country, and winning and trying are lifted onto the shoulders of the cheering masses, it is enriching for the children of common sense to honor the importance of knowing.

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Ask Jonathots … May 26th, 2016

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I have a buddy at work who just separated from his wife and is filing for divorce. He’s going to fight for full custody of his two daughters. He says his wife is not fit to be a mother because she’s mentally unstable. I met her once at a party, and she openly talked about how her daughters had “betrayed” her. They were five and six years old at the time. Here’s my question: how do you know when someone is just flat-out crazy? Is there anything I can do for my friend?

You are actually posing three questions:

1. How can you tell if somebody’s crazy?

2. How can you get involved in a situation without interfering?

3. What is the basic criteria for being a parent?

So I will attempt to address each inquiry individually and let you sew them together as an answer.

I don’t believe there is an actual condition called “crazy,” but when we deny reality, we certainly teeter on the brink of mental instability.

There are many ways to deny reality: you can lie about it, pretend it’s not your fault, insist it’s not your business but instead, God’s affair, you can blame the devil, or as in the case of your subject, you can believe that your children are trying to sabotage you.

Insanity is the idea that ignoring reality can change your circumstances.

Now let’s look at the second question. Unless somebody asks your opinion, giving it is interfering.

I have learned that my opinion is not really needed, wanted or valued unless there is a question pending. In other words, without someone asking me for my input, I am being obnoxious.

Now, shall we go to the third question? There is actually one criterion for being a good parent. Are your children safe?

Because as they grow, sometimes they may perceive the parent as a comforter, friend, warden, enemy, Satan, Santa Claus or boring. So you can’t evaluate good parenting on how happy the children are to actually have a parent.

Are they safe? And by safe, I mean that they have a sense that they will be taken care of, and they are not threatened by those who have authority over them.

So let’s see if we can put the three answers together.

Since children do not dictate the policies of the household, it is difficult for them to be betrayers. Therefore believing children are betrayers is certainly an imbalanced and unhealthy profile. It opens the door for the parent to retaliate instead of express affection.

But since your opinion has not been sought and you are not in a power position to change things, what you need to do is express your joy, concern and hopes by being supportive of the kids–through little notes, maybe some gifts, and a loving, open door.

You should avoid taking sides, but instead, pass on to both the mother and father that you feel the most important thing is the well-being of these children. In doing this, you will establish that you are the champion of the daughters instead of the crusader for either Mom or Dad.

This is the advice I give you–but also be fully aware that any time you leave reality (for instance, thinking you’re the savior of this other family) you can become just as “crazy” as the next person.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … May 25th, 2016

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PoHymn Hiroshima

Teetering

We chose to drop the bomb

To return the world to calm

Keeping our soldiers well

While Hiroshima went to hell

Allowing us to learn

Nagasaki had to burn

For it truly became the goal

Striking terror in our soul

That continued human division

Could produce a lethal decision

Incineration of our race

Exploding into space

Betraying the Creator’s trust

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Twas the serpent

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