Catchy (Sitting 21) ‘Why’ Is a Nasty One … November 5th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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“So what brought you here?” asked Carlos, as he eased his way up to find a more comfortable spot on the bunk.

Matthew glanced around at the stark confinement of the cell and laughed. “I wonder how many times that question’s been asked in this jail.”

Jubal laughed very loudly, the way a man does when he’s nervous and doesn’t exactly know what to talk about and is grateful for a joke to fill the space.

Matthew said, “As I was telling you, we have this plan on how to use the money…”

Jubal interrupted. “No, I figure we’ve got more time than that. I already understand that story line. I was talking about what brought you to the point in your life where you want to take on some crazy idea to advertise Jesus of Nazareth.”

Matthew quickly fired back. “Money.”

“Nothing else?” inquired Jubal.

Matthew smiled. “We all keep pretending there is something else, don’t we? We discuss high-sounding values, which end up smashed to smithereens by the time they get through a budget meeting. Or somebody runs for President, promising a chicken in every pot, when actually they’re trying to figure out how much money they can make off of legalizing pot. My friend, it’s all about money, because without money, we can’t pay the light bill to sit in a room and argue about high-sounding ideals.”

Jubal tilted his head, frowning. “I guess I would be surprised with your answer–might even call it cynical–except, well, I live in Las Vegas. If they could, they’d wallpaper the casinos with money, just to tempt the tourists to come in and gamble to get it.”

“I know there are things that are important,” Matthew continued. “I know you have to have values you treasure. Otherwise, when you close your doors at night, you’d be terrified, with a gun in your hand, because the world is so screwed up.”

“The world is a screwed-up place, but we’re part of the screw-up, right?” inserted Jubal.

“I don’t like to think of myself as screwed-up,” said Matthew. “Imbalanced, a little greedy. Maybe sometimes I drink too much alcohol. But I can tell you–there are more times I don’t drink enough.”

Jubal laughed–this time, just a little. “So is it hypocritical to advertise a God that you don’t necessarily believe in?”

Matthew objected. “I didn’t say I didn’t believe. Goddamnit, you can’t live in this country without believing. You can’t do business. and expect to get customers if you’re going to deny their God. I just place God where he belongs.”

“And where would that be?” challenged Jubal.

“Watching,” replied Matthew calmly.

“Let me go with that,” said Jubal. “So let’s say I’m walking down the strip, and I see two men fighting and they’re really hurting each other–and I decide to watch. Who in the hell am I?”

“Smart,” replied Matthew quickly. “Look at you. You’re not a big fellow. What in the hell do you think you’re gonna do? You’re gonna get tied up in the mix-up and you’re gonna get hurt. And truthfully, every time we start believing that God cares or that God loves the world, all we do is start blaming Him for every little piece of shit we’ve come up with. I guess maybe I love God more than other people. I don’t want to believe in Him so much that I blame Him for everything.”

Jubal sat quietly for a moment. He decided to change the subject. “In about an hour, they’re going to give you the choice between a bologna and American cheese sandwich and a turkey pot pie.”

Matthew, grateful for a different topic, leaped in. “Well, I personally love a turkey pot pie.”

Jubal shook his head. “No. You loved the turkey pot pie your mother made when you were a kid. This variety comes in two forms–burned on the top or raw.”

Matthew laughed. “No, you’re wrong. It’s just like my mother’s.”

He sat for a second and then asked, “Why aren’t you eating?”

Jubal replied, “I don’t know. It seemed like a noble idea. I mean, I’ve heard of people fasting to make their point. I didn’t make any point–I just got hungry. And now, every time I shift my legs I can smell myself. Honestly, Matthew…that is your name, right?”

Matthew acted affronted. “How can you ever play the son of God if you can’t remember my name?”

“Play the son of God…” Jubal reflected. “Sounds wrong, doesn’t it?”

Matthew stormed. “No. What’s wrong, my friend, is for you to be in jail, smellin’ like my old dog, Bogo, because you were out helping the homeless.”

Carlos squinted. “What do you mean, smellin’ like your dog, Bogo?”

“When I was a kid, my dad found an abandoned sheep dog, and decided to bring him home. He was adorable and loving, but he had so much hair that every time he took a dump, some of it would stick to his fur. Being a good pup, he tried to clean it off himself, which was gross beyond all measure. But every few weeks my dad would point to Bogo, and I knew that meant I had to go and wash his behind and trim his fur. I remember that smell. I have not inhaled it since I was a kid–until I walked into this cell today.”

Carlos smelled his shirt. “Are you saying I smell like the back side of your crappy sheep dog?”

“Identical,” panned Matthew.

Jubal lifted his hand as if making a pledge. “I promise, the next time they offer soap and water I will participate.”

Matthew gave him a thumbs up and said, “Even though I’m not a religious man, I can say amen to that.”

“I’m not a religious man,” said Jubal. “When I’m working in the casinos and I see the pretty titties on the showgirls or some groupie who thought my drumming was particularly divine and tempts me with her entirety, I’m just as horny as the next guy. No, Matthew–I would make a terrible religious person. That’s why I decided to follow Jesus.”

Matthew quarreled, “Jesus was religious.”

“No, he wasn’t,” said Jubal. “If he had been, religious people would have really dug him and sinners would have run away in terror. Instead, sinners cuddled up to him, ate with him, drank with him, slept by the fire with him. It was the religious people who were terrorized.”

“Yeah, I get that,” said Matthew. “I’ve heard that old song and dance. But you see, move ahead and he’s nothing but an emaciated Jew hanging on a cross. Look at it this way. When we were kids we studied Zeus, Apollo, Mars, and Athena in class.”

Jubal nodded. “Yeah, we did. Except you mixed Greek and Roman gods.”

Matthew stood to his feet to accentuate his point. “You see, that’s what I mean. Nobody cares anymore. Even when we studied them in school, we didn’t study them as a religion. It was called mythology. They were myths–even though any Greek or Roman of the time would have vehemently objected to term. It’s all just a bunch of crap. The only reason the stories still exist is because they’re so childish and dumb.”

Jubal interrupted. “So I guess what you’re trying to say is that just as Poseidon and all the other gods disappeared and became part of an old culture, that the same thing will happen to Jesus?”

Matthew shrugged, easing back down onto the bunk. “Not for a while. It’ll start with Jonah and the whale, Noah and the ark. But eventually all these stories that have been called sacred will become mythology.”

“It’s been two thousand years,” Jubal noted.

Matthew considered the thought. “Yeah, I know. I’ve even had some moments when I thought having a God would be a good thing. Honestly, my friend, being around you has made me doubt some of my doubts. But we’ve already eaten away at a lot of the stuff. Because after all, what’s the difference between an emperor who thought he was a god, living in Rome, and the Pope?”

“Let me make something clear,” said Jubal. “I’m not asking you these questions because I’m trying to convert you.”

“Good luck if you are,” punctuated Matthew.

Jubal resumed. “No, I’m just trying to figure out who I’m working with. I’m just trying to decide if I should work with it. I’m just trying to clear my head about what parts of the story I believe and what parts are myth to me. Mostly, I’m trying to learn about you without asking ‘why.’ Matthew, I hate the word ‘why.’ It’s usually mean-spiritied, challenging, ferocious…”

Matthew chuckled. “I never thought of it that way, Jubal. ‘Why’ is the nasty one, isn’t it?”

“It is,” Jubal agreed. “But unfortunately, it’s the one that always demands to be answered first.”

 

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