Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 14) His Eye Is On the Sparrow… July 31st, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

It was a merciful Monday.

The phone didn’t ring, no one visited and Meningsbee had a chance to sit alone in the parsonage and muse the happenings in his life.

He kept thinking about that scripture: “God sees the sparrow and we are worth many sparrows.”

He roamed the house talking to himself, allowing the ideas stuck in his head to gain air instead of suffocating in his brain or struggling for dominance.

He sorted through things. He opened the door for some healing.

After the cleansing Monday, he was ready for a terrific Tuesday.

Phone calls came from congregation members, saying how much the service had meant to them and how freeing it was to realize that it’s all right to have doubts–as long as you don’t lie about them or assume they are true.

But then came worrisome Wednesday. It began with a knock on the door. Patrick Swanson was there, accusing Meningsbee of sharing their private conversation about the finances of the church with his new congregation out at the Holiday Inn Express.

Meningsbee was so glad that he had remained faithful to his mute position. He could honestly say that he had said nothing to anyone.

Patrick did not believe him. He explained that he had a mess on his hands, because somehow or another, the church folk had discovered his feelings about the old church and were not very appreciative of his plans.

Meningsbee listened quietly but didn’t respond. It wasn’t his business.

At length, Patrick gave up and turned to walk away, only pausing to say, “Word has it that you don’t even believe in God. Is that right?”

It seemed that this dear brother wanted a fight. But thanks to merciful Monday and terrific Tuesday, Meningsbee was more prepared for worrisome Wednesday.

He replied, “My dear friend, my beliefs are a matter of public record.”

With this, Meningsbee quietly shut the door and resumed his life.

The rest of the week was blessed with happenings and intervals of joyous nothingness. That is, until Sunday morning arrived.

Meningsbee was excited–because last Sunday, he had handed out little notes to twenty-two members of the congregation. When they peered at him, wondering what it was all about, he had replied, “Read the note. It’ll tell you what to do.”

So he quickly dressed, ate a light breakfast and headed out the door, pausing as he gazed at the porch swing.

And there she was–the young girl he had met at the motel in South Dakota, cuddled up on the swing with her little daughter, sound asleep.

“Kitty?” he said quietly, hoping he had remembered her name correctly. She woke up, rubbed the sleep from her eyes, eased her feet to the ground, and launched into her story.

She had lost her job and therefore could not afford the motel anymore. She got his address from the front desk clerk, and since he was the only person who had been nice to her, she grabbed her daughter, Hapsy, and hitch-hiked to Garsonville.

She didn’t know what to do, so she chased the last place that she felt love.

Likewise, Meningsbee didn’t know what to do.

He explained that he was on his way to church and invited her. She replied, “If they don’t mind my old, stinky jeans…”

Meningsbee laughed. “I think they’re just old.”

They headed off to his car. Meningsbee held the door and welcomed the two of them inside. He picked up a couple of treats at the Donut Barn on the way.

As they munched, he wondered to himself whether this was a gift from God … or a mis-delivered package.

 

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … July 30th, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: You didn’t ask me my opinions about the political conventions.

 

Dear Woman: Well, no, because I know you really don’t like politics.

 

Dear Man: That’s true, but there is one incident that grabbed my attention.

 

Dear Woman: What was that?

 

Dear Man: Thursday night, when the Muslim father who lost his son in the war in Afghanistan, Mr. Kahn, spoke to the gathering.

 

Dear Woman: Yeah, I saw that. Very moving.

 

Dear Man: I know that’s the popular view, but it bothered me.

 

Dear Woman: What troubled you?

 

Dear Man: He came on the stage with his wife. She did not speak for the whole duration of the event. She remained turned toward him in submission, wearing a hijab.

 

Dear Woman: You mean that head covering?

 

Dear Man: Yes, exactly.

 

Dear Woman: It’s just a Muslim thing.

 

Dear Man: I disagree. It’s not a Muslim thing. She stood in submission, did not speak, with her head covered, as he railed against Donald Trump, in support of Hillary Clinton for President. It was a massive contradiction.

 

Dear Woman: I disagree. You just need to be more tolerant. We need to give religious freedom to people–to have their traditions and honor their culture, otherwise our country becomes bigoted and self-centered.

 

Dear Man: I know the spiel. But when a man, who, by the way, was extremely intense, with angry gestures, stands beside a woman who is not speaking, who is looking on adoringly with her head covered…well, I get nervous. I feel it’s good to give spiritual leniency to people, to worship as they deem appropriate, but our country should not allow oppression to exist in the name of God. For instance, we certainly didn’t honor the traditions of the South and give them cultural “roominess” when slavery was at stake. I’m sure they could have made the point that no slaves were rebelling and that everything was working fine, but we still fought the Civil War to relieve the stupidity of a bad culture.

 

Dear Woman: I see what you mean, but I don’t think it applies in this situation. This is part of their religion

 

Dear Man: No. It’s not. It’s part of their tradition. Tradition is the way that people decide to conduct their religion. It has nothing to do with faith. It has nothing to do with a God who created all men equal, and that includes women. What happened on that stage was wrong. If we want to condone it because we’re afraid of speaking up to a religion’s tradition, and demanding equality, then let us call ourselves cowards. But if every Christian church in America suddenly decided that women should not be allowed to speak and had to wear head coverings, we would remove their tax exempt status. We can’t have two different standards. If he wants to support Hillary Clinton for President, he needs to let his wife be his equal.

 

Dear Woman: Maybe he does. Maybe it was just a decision on their part to have him talk because she was nervous.

 

Dear Man: Then in my opinion she shouldn’t come on stage. Standing next to him, turned in his direction, staring at him with her head covered, communicates subservience. Doesn’t the Democratic Party want equality? Or are they just looking for a bump in the polls from an angry Muslim man speaking against Donald Trump?

 

Dear Woman: You realize, nobody agrees with you. Everybody thinks that Mr. Kahn was one of the highlights of the convention. They think that allowing her to appear on stage in the head covering showed tolerance.

 

Dear Man: Tolerance becomes cowardice when everyone is not included. There were many people during the Civil Rights movement who were angry at Dr. King because he came into a situation that seemed to be peaceful, and stirred up trouble. But had he not pointed out the inequity of Jim Crow, the South more than likely would still be arguing about “colored restrooms” instead of transgender ones.

 

Dear Woman: I see your point, and I guess by your standards I’m a coward, but I think that sometimes you just have to leave well enough alone.

 

Dear Man: You see, my point is that “well enough” is never achieved by leaving women out of the equation.

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G-Poppers … July 29th, 2016

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Jon close up

G-Pop has to be careful.

There are things he wants to share, but he desperately wants to avoid the possibility of thinking that his ideas are sparkling diamonds, when the younger generation views them as cubic zirconia.

Sometimes though, things are too important to avoid uttering.

After watching the conventions by both American political parties, one abiding realization came to the forefront:

  • Hypocrisy is never attractive.
  • Hypocrisy is never viable.
  • And hypocrisy is eventually exposed and tormented for its stupidity.

If we’re going to move forward as a nation, we have to understand, there is one enduring truth that runs like a golden strain throughout the human experience:

Don’t do what you don’t like.

If you’ve discovered that something is distasteful, don’t think that adopting the same indiscretion into your own actions suddenly purifies it. Even though the Golden Rule is powerful, this “Platinum Rule”–don’t do what you don’t like–procures a needful humility and allows your voice to be heard above the crowd.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans stumble in double-talk. They criticize one another for variations on the same things they, themselves, do.

G-Pop wants his children to know that mistakes are forgivable, but hypocrisy is unpardonable.

So G-Pop says:

1. Always be prepared to fail and change.

Failure is inevitable. Change, on the other hand, is the only thing that you personally control. You can’t stop failure, but you can initiate change, making yourself look ingenious.

2. Have compassion for all people.

The lack of consideration for one group of people immediately opens the door for you to be rejected by those who deem themselves superior.

3. Have a sense of humor about yourself.

Laughing at yourself a lot before you laugh with others a little.

4. Listen to people, especially if they’re smarter than you.

Of course, you would have to admit there are people who are smarter. But before you humiliate yourself and insist that you alone possess all wisdom, be prepared to notice those who’ve accumulated information which you require to do better.

Even though all four of these fall into the realm of common sense, until you make them common practice, you will not be able to achieve the common good.

 

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Ask Jonathots… July 28th, 2016

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ask jonathots bigger

Why did Jesus say it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom? Is there something evil about having money?

With all due respect, I think you’ve asked the wrong question.

For a discussion about evil–its sources and implications–is the best way to leave yourself paranoid and frightened to do anything.

The real question: Is there anything good about money?

1. It can allow us to be free of the tension of sustaining ourselves, and cause us to begin to “consider the lily.”

2. If we can convince ourselves that we actually have enough of this money stuff, it is possible to stimulate a wave of generosity in our actions which will be a blessing to those around us.

3. If we find ourselves in the black instead of the red, we grant our spirit an energy to generate creativity and come up with inventive ideas.

4. Having money gives us a chance to give opportunity to those who have talent but just lack funding.

5. If we’re able to convince ourselves that we are accomplished, and therefore do not have to fear losing our finance, we can expand our vision and become less critical.

When Jesus said “it is more difficult for a rich man to make it into heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle,” what he was referring to was not the presence of money, but rather, the failure to exorcise the demon of insufficiency.

Just because you have money does not mean you cease to believe you’re poor.

For it is the love of money that is the root of all evil–the yearning, the despair, the nervousness, the feeling of inadequacy–that launches all sorts of vile actions.

If you’re going to have money, you must reach a point where you’re convinced that you have money.

That frees you up to become generous, turning money into a gift of the spirit, which grants you angelic potential to be a Good Samaritan to the world around you.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 27th, 2016

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PoHymn Crying

crying

I am a voice crying in the wilderness

My throat is parched from screaming the need

Excuse me, sir, can you take a moment’s thought

To wonder why the Earth won’t move?

 

Flowers in the spring dare to bloom in front of us

Deserts of dreams simply blow away

A smile on the street seems to be suspicious

Churches that pray never seize the day

 

Come with me

(we’re too busy)

I have life

(so do we)

Where’s your joy?

(nothing’s funny)

Deal with me

(we have bigger barns to build)

 

I am the voice pleading in the land of less

We pan for gold in fields of debris

We seek for truth and draw swords of selfishness

We bless a lie and curse the truth

 

Come, won’t you join me in Jordan’s waters?

Cleansing the soul which has lost its feel

Tumbling the dice as you kneel before us

Casting your lot through the holy meal

 

Festering frightened

Ever enlightened

Joyfully jumbled

Wistfully humbled

 

I’m the voice

(crying)

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Cracked 5 … July 26th, 2016

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Other Activities Available at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia

A. In response to last week’s Republican Convention, an I. Q. Test will be performed during the gun screening at the gates.

 

B. A planned “ICE CREAM SOCIALIST” held for Bernie Sanders and his followers

 

C. Special community tours, led by Bill Clinton on How to Enjoy Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches and Still Remain Kinda Vegan. (It also gets Bill out of the convention.)

 

D. A seminar:

Other ways to say Divine, Presence, Eternal Oneness, The Force, Nature’s Poetry, She-Heart of the Light and Truth Perpetual without using the G-O-D word.

 

E. A special tribute from Sesame Street to the LGBTQ…RSUVWXYZ Community.

 

cracked 5 IQ

 

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Good News and Better News … July 25th, 2016

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Good News Tunk countrysideLife is not about feverishly searching for the pearl of great price, but rather, developing a ravenous appetite for oysters–and every once in a while, in a blue ocean, getting a magnificent surprise.

As I sat in the hallway of my motel, getting ready to depart, I listened to the sounds of sweet humanity squirming from behind the doors of the rooms around me–a baby crying, televisions growling and grumbling, a young couple arguing, and even a very robust snorer.

This is reality. It is not an inconvenience to my wishes and dreams, but rather, the climate in which they are permitted to bloom.

This weekend I had two opportunities to be in front of that humanity and accept the portion of their hearts they afforded in my direction.

Good News Tunk bookSaturday morning at the Moscow United Methodist Church, I shared readings from my new book, PoHymn, in front of a sparkling handful of locals who overcame the apprehension of how boring it might be to just sit and listen.Good news Moscow

It was amazing. At that event I discovered that the pastor of my Sunday morning church in Tunkhannock was a former clergyman at this Moscow church. The Moscow folks had such wonderful things to say about him.

Then I was off to see the gang in “Tunk” for two services on Sunday morning. I will be candid with you–the different audiences across America have unique meters of reaction, but the temperature of their appreciation remains pretty much the same. In other words, some people clap their hands and others stare with interest.

Yet people are tired of being told that where they are, who they are and what they’re doing is ineffective and that they must become something else or they will suffer with incompleteness.

The beautiful thing about Jesus was that he met people in the street and started working with them at their own street level. He didn’t wait until they worked up the courage to come to synagogue or to a seminar he held in the hillsides of Galilee. He met them where they were and made it work.

It reminds me of one of the ladies who came to my table yesterday. She told me that the church just loved Pastor Jon. I explained to her that I had just appeared at his former church. She said she loved him because she heard that a local church in their town was holding some sort of bake sale, and even though it was not his congregation, he was over there with them, standing on the street corner, calling to people, inviting them to come and buy some sweets.

She was moved.

Now understand–she didn’t mention his sermons. She didn’t tell me about how well he uses his vestments or conducts the liturgy. She loved Pastor Jon because he was trying to find ways to agree.

If only we could become convinced about how much we actually agree instead of meticulously digging through the dead body of our theology to discover bones of contention.

Finding reasons to agree. You see, that’s the good news.

And the better news is that when you actually pursue this lifestyle, the human race finds you much more agreeable.

Good News Tunk Bulletin

 

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