G-Poppers … August 24th, 2018

“People are stupid.”

This is a statement that seems to be flying through the air twenty-four hours a day, as our society becomes convinced that gaining supremacy over other people is best achieved by insulting them and striking out at their character and intelligence.

Unfortunately, there is way to stop this onslaught without getting ground up in the gears of the mechanism.

So today I offer my last G-Popper.

It has been a great run.

Sharing the wisdom of cordiality and gentleness through the eyes of a grandfather was something I felt, many months ago when I began this column, to be a kind way of expressing the change that needs to be set forth among us all.

But it is important for all organisms on Earth to evolve with the times.

So starting next week I will have a new column on Friday entitled “Sit Down Comedy.” It will be a combination of observations mingled with a humorous peek into how we turn our everyday journey into a sixteen-lane freeway instead of just honoring a path.

And of course, in the process we will determine the difference between a stupid idea and trying to tie that misstep with the people who often accidentally stumble into believing it.

We will use video. We will use audio. We may use music. And just a little bit of writing to express the ways to escape stupidity without declaring people stupid.

It will be simpler than G-Poppers but no less sincere.

So I look forward to seeing each and every one of you next week for “Sit Down Comedy,” when we can sit down and reason together… and use the comedy to ease some of the pain.

 

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3 Things… August 23rd, 2018

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That Mentally and Emotionally Disturbed People Could Do Instead of Shooting Up Schools

1. A rugged buffalo hunt in the Montana Mountains with members of the Shoshone Tribe (you could even use your assault rifle)

 

2. Bingeing video games, mixing tequila with Gatorade and trying to set the record on the most pizza eaten in a 24-hour period (that’s a great shot)

 

3. Take advantage of months and months of free therapy provided by the tax payers, who would much rather see you comfortable in a hospital than for them to attend the funerals of their children.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 22nd, 2018

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Caught Up With God

by Jonathan Richard Cring

I caught up with God last night.

It’d been a while

I had been busy with me.

His matters–more universal.

“How ya doin’ with that life I gave you?” He asked, with a twinkle in His eye.

“Livin’ loud and free,” I replied.

“Oh, my. Sounds bold,” He countered.

“Let there be light, bolder still,” I returned.

He smiled.

I loved His smile. Always warm and left me enlightened.

He looked tired, but not aging–the kind of weary you might see in a friend when you suggest a nap instead of another cup of coffee.

I searched for words.

I suddenly realized why the visits between us were less frequent.

There was a great mutual appreciation, with not much common interest.

“I thought we could catch up,” He suggested.

“Good.” I nodded but remained silent.

I don’t know why He makes me nervous.

There has been no vexation between us. No major disagreement.

There are many things I like, which I hear He thinks are sins.

And the thoughts that cross my head seem unworthy to share with such a pure soul.

Yet venturing for a night that would be memorable for its difference, I said, “Sometimes I stay away from You when I don’t need to.”

I looked deeply into His eyes to see if I had hurt His feelings.

That was not my intention, but certainly could have been the conclusion.

He maintained a stare, as if waiting for more explanation. So I decided to push on.

“Sometimes I just don’t believe in You. Sometimes I feel foolish thinking that the apparition I’ve created of your presence has any truthfulness. Or for that matter, value. Sometimes I grow weary of my own mythology.”

I stopped speaking.

Only half of what I shared was honest. Like many words spoken in a spat, the majority are stirred to hurt instead of reveal.

But why did I want to hurt God?

Why did I want Him to know that I didn’t need Him?

Why was I taking this moment of reunion and turning it into a cup of poison?

Then…

God just walked over and quietly sat down in a chair.

Though He did not motion for me to join Him, the energy compelled me to find a nearby seat of my own.

The two of us, seated.

Old friends?

Or just strangers who finally realized the extent of the disconnection?

He spoke. “What would you think or feel if I said I don’t always believe in you?”

“I would be horrified,” I responded. “Even if I have made you up in my ego, I need you to be supportive. I need you to be my permanent cheerleader. I need you to give me unconditional love.”

“And what do I get for this gift?” He asked, tilting His head and squinting His eyes.

I didn’t pause for a moment. I answered immediately–almost impetuously.

“My guaranteed doubt.”

The Most High laughed.

“Quite a good deal,” He said, rubbing His chin. “Perhaps I should jump on it right away, in case you change your mind.”

I excused myself and went into the bathroom.

I sat in my stall, realizing that I was manufacturing an event in my head that was probably more spirits-in-a-bottle than Spirit-in-my-life.

Suddenly, there He was. In the stall with me, leaning against the wall.

“Stalk’er much?” I asked.

“It’s not really stalking,” He noted. “I thought we were still having a conversation, and just changing locations.”

“It’s a perfect example,” I interjected. “I am a person. I value my privacy. There are times I don’t like to be chased by a spirit or a theology or reminded of my inadequacies by a black book with a lousy cover.”

God burst into laughter.

“How true! For them to claim it’s the Word of God, and not even have great cover art… So much like those who only believe so they can hold it against those who don’t.”

“Would you turn your head?” I demanded. “I would like to finish here.”

Before I could complete my phrase He was gone.

I wondered if it would be another season of absence, or if I would find Him sitting in the chair when I left the restroom.

I stood in front of the mirror and splashed some water on my face.

I realized I was not ugly. Maybe just a little facially displaced.

I smiled, thinking how I wanted to share that with Him. How much He would enjoy it.

We always could make each other laugh. That’s for sure.

It’s just that sometimes, He doesn’t know how to stop my tears.

Feeling I was “stalling,” and then thinking that I must share that pun with Him also, I opened the door and stepped out.

He was gone.

There was this amazing smell in the air.

What was it?

Garlic, tomato and just a hint of oregano.

Of course.

All the ingredients of Chicago deep-dish pizza.

I breathed in deeply.

I shook my head.

He knew it was my favorite.

Our guest reader is Isabella, who is a student at Florida State University.

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Cracked 5 … August 21st, 2018


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Reasons Given for Not Attending Church

 

A. Too much gluten in the communion wafer

 

B. Don’t like heaven, nor favor hell

 

C. PEW-trification

 

D. Allergic to sermons

 

E. The choir is white–REALLY white.

 

 

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Salient…August 20th, 2018

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

“I need to find out for myself.”

This is a rather typical adolescent statement–an attitude that often lingers into adulthood and can even be heard off the lips of the “graying crowd.”

There seems to be an abiding notion that unless we personally experience something, we remain ignorant.

Why do we feel the compulsion to walk so close to darkness?

Why is it necessary to step to the edge of the cliff just to confirm there’s a huge fall available?

Why do we regard those who remain pure of heart and body as simpy or silly?

What causes us to believe that those who have indulged in evil behavior are somehow more suited for offering counsel to the ones going through similar struggles?

Let’s look at some of them:

1. Alcohol, smoking and drugs

Is it really required, in the human race, to try all of these things in order to give an opinion on the variables? Don’t we have enough experience with alcohol to know that it is a killer of the body and the best drink available to promote wife-beating?

How many warnings do we need from the Surgeon General before we accept that smoking turns lungs into coal?

And are there really good drugs? Even the ones we use as medications are chemical poisons. This is why we call them anti-biotics. They kill life. The drugs don’t discriminate good cells from bad cells. The list of side-effects for the drugs promoted on commercials is usually twice as long as the benefits.

Is it wise to dabble–to get a dribble of knowledge? (Maybe we should ask Eve.)

2. Lying.

Once you lie, you’re a liar, which puts you with all the other liars, who can’t hang out with anybody else but the liar’s club. People who require trust can’t interact with you anymore. It’s the nature of the Earth.

3. Pornography.

Perhaps I’m ignorant on this issue, but do men and women actually become better lovers by watching pornography? Or does it twist the brain, causing us to believe that simple romantic encounters lack the pungency to produce orgasms? Can the pictures on the screen ever imitate the patience of nurturing a relationship–smelling and touching the genitalia of the one you love?

Why does the statement, “I don’t smoke, drink, watch pornography and I greatly attempt never to lie” classify someone as a goody-two-shoes, when none of us want to be around somebody with a hacking cough, who is vomiting from being drunk and zoned out on drugs, looking at pornographic web sites, as they lie to us and tell us they aren’t pursuing evil?

So here is your salient moment:

Stay away from the edge.

The reason they call it darkness is because there’s really nothing to see.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 62) Meeting II, Three and 4…August 19th, 2018

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“I usually don’t meet with white people.”

Terrance Eldridge.

Carlin paused, considering the statement. “Well, I usually don’t meet with a racist,” he replied.

Terrance stiffened. “I’m not a racist. I wasn’t casting an aspersion on the white race. I was merely saying that usually white people don’t want to hear what I have to say.”

Carlin smiled. “Maybe if they knew you weren’t going to be reluctant to see them they might be more receptive to your words.”

Terrance leaned back in his chair, reached over and took a sip of coffee. “You see, you feel comfortable being self-righteous, my friend. That’s because you’re white. If I take a dignified position, I’m uppity. Or radical. You may not be aware, Mr. Canaby, but America works on the ‘Hue-y’ decimal system. ‘What is your color? Then we’ll place you on the appropriate shelf.'”

Carlin just shook his head. “There’s nothing new here, Mr. Eldridge. This is the same drivel that’s been shared through Malcolm X, Farrakhan and any number of urban rappers who rail against the system and present themselves as victims.”

“Not victims,” said Terrance. “Just unable to join in the game without being proclaimed a loser before it even begins.”

Carlin sighed deeply. “Well, I’m not here to argue with you. Let me just sit here as the oppressive white person in the room and listen to you rattle on for half an hour, and then deliver my report. But I’ll tell you right now–somebody’s made a mistake in choosing you for anything. You are an agitator. Yes, an agitator. You come along just to stir people up, without offering any solution. And I, as a white man, don’t have any problem telling you that you’re sand blowing in the wind.”

Terrance eyeballed him. Then he spoke slowly. “I think I like you, Canaby. I think you’re stupid. I think you have no grasp of the problem. But you speak your ignorance eloquently.”

Carlin lifted his hands in the air and replied, “Then we agree. We’re both talking asses.”

“Perhaps we should start over,” reasoned Terrance Eldridge.

For the next half hour, the black educator did his best to present a coherent message to his pale brother. Basically it was pretty simple. As long as white people were deciding what black people were, black people would be unable to make decisions for themselves. Even if the decisions made by white people were favorable–“they’re great athletes” or “no one is as strong as they are”–black people were still victims of slavery.

They are really African-Americans, Terrance pointed out.  They deserved to be honored with their history one month a year. But even when such concessions are made, they are still chosen by a white committee.

Terrance explained that the black man achieved nothing by being angry at white America or at the nation in general. This just played into the hands of false patriots, who wanted to believe that equality had already been achieved, and what the black race was looking for was entitlement.

Terrance had two visions.

One was educational–huge weekend rallies held in big cities, inviting famous athletes and musicians to come and share, and to punctuate the fact that the black race, although brought to the United States under evil pretense, still owns their portion of the American dream.

The second piece involved taking the finest actors in Hollywood and making five movies–entertaining but also inspirational–about the journey of the black race in America. Each movie would take a different era, beginning with Movie One: 1750; Movie Two: 1850; Movie Three: 1950; Movie Four: 1960, Movie Five: Today.

Using the foundation of the Alex Haley series, Roots, there would be storylines connecting all the eras, to show what progress had been made and what progress still needed to be pursued. The movies would be entitled “AmeriKin” in honor of Terrance’s book.

So with the combination of the rallies and the release of the films, a new awakening could come into the black community, to seek common ground with all races in the country, to claim the space reserved and preserved solely for them.

The meeting ended up lasting an hour. Carlin listened carefully. Even though Eldridge was guilty of both erroneous opinions and overly zealous projections, Carlin could see where there would be value in having a movement among black Americans to claim their true heritage.

Terrance closed his discourse by saying, “I don’t know why you’re here, Mr. Canaby. I don’t know what this is all about. I don’t know whether you’re a spy or just a nice guy. I don’t know whether curiosity brought you here or if I’m going to walk out in the hall to say good-bye and get blown away by an assassin. So let me just say this–I will find a way to do all the things I’ve mentioned here. I will not judge whether these things will be successful until they’re accomplished. And if I’m the only black boy in America who claims his true kinship in this country, you will have one of us to deal with.”

Carlin smiled. He suddenly felt close to the dreamer. They stood to their feet. Carlin gave Terrance a hug. Terrance recoiled a bit, but reciprocated.

Carlin walked out the door, comically mentioning that there was no assassin–because they couldn’t find one on a Thursday afternoon. He headed for his car.

He had done what he was told. He had completed his mission.

What in the hell did it all mean?

*******

Jasper was freaked out.

He thought he was supposed to meet up with a comedian named Mickey Kohlberg at a comedy club. Jasper was used to comedy clubs. They were pleasant holes-in-the-wall in the middle of Downtown Somewhere.

But Jasper became unnerved when the corporate jet flew him to Tel Aviv in Israel.

Jasper did not like the Holy Land. First of all, it wasn’t very holy–more bloodshed had been perpetrated there than any place in the world. And honestly, Jasper never found it to exactly be land. There was so much contention, so much disagreement, over who owned the little strip of property, that it was difficult to believe that anybody would ever be able to put up permanent housing.

Landing in Tel Aviv, Jasper was handed an envelope by a fellow dressed in black, with no neck. He sat on the tarmac and opened it. It read: “You will be taken by car near Jerusalem, where you will meet up with Mickey Kohlberg at a location called the Sinai Club.”

That was it.

Jasper had a million questions–but the only person to ask was his driver, who only spoke Hebrew. Or was it Farsi? Jasper could not distinguish.

He decided to take a nap on the ride, and the next thing he knew he was sitting in front of a building made of cement blocks–unfinished, unpainted, resembling more a bomb shelter than a commercial venture.

Jasper climbed out of the car and a very small man with wire-frame glasses, long, black curly hair and a beard came walking up, and introduced himself as Mickey Kohlberg.

For a brief moment, Jasper was mentally and physically unable to function. He wordlessly followed Mickey inside.

He couldn’t fathom being where he was. He thought he was heading to a comedy club. What was sitting in front of him was a makeshift structure without air conditioning–without electricity–filled with small round tables and rickety wooden chairs.

Because Jasper felt so overwhelmed, he just allowed Mickey to do the talking.

“This is what we do. You may not know it, but you’re sitting on the border of a disputed territory. You go fifteen feet in one direction and you’re in Israel. Fifteen feet the other direction, you’re still in Israel–but not according to the Palestinians. They believe it’s their land. It’s a little bit hard to define who ‘they’ might be–coming from Bedouin backgrounds, they don’t exactly have a formal government or leader. They have a claim. They believe the land is theirs.”

“Every night I open up this club, put some candles on the tables, and I invite people from Israel and from Palestine to come to this structure and sit down together…and laugh. This club has been blown up five times. That’s why we keep building it in cement blocks. Makes it much easier to reconstruct.”

Mickey smiled a bit sadly. “So you may ask, how do I bring these people together? I find the only thing they really share in common is Jesus of Nazareth. He was once a prophet to the Jews and also one to the Muslims. I don’t sit here and share his teachings, but I take his teachings, his thoughts, and even parts of his life, and I turn them into comedy routines. Because I’m not making fun of Jew or Muslim, they are completely willing to laugh at Christian.”

“Now don’t misunderstand me. I am very respectful. But I do poke fun. Especially when I talk about how Americans have turned their religion into guns and bombs instead of compassion.”

Jasper held up a hand to stop Mickey. “I don’t understand,” he said. “What do you expect to achieve?”

Mickey sat for a long moment before answering.

“I believe,” he mouthed slowly, “that if we can show, even for a moment, that Palestinians and Israelis can agree on a common laugh, we might gain the world’s attention and get comics, musicians or artists from all over the world to come and sit in our little stone building and encourage the possibility of communication.”

Jasper sat very still. He realized that such an effort would require much money, a whole lot of motivation and twisting some arms.

“And what is the end game?” Jasper inserted.

“The end game?” repeated Mickey, uncertain of the meaning.

“Yes,” said Jasper. “Where does this take us? What is the next step afterwards? Where are we going?”

“I don’t know,” said Mickey. “Honestly, I just come here in the afternoons with a bunch of friends–early enough to rebuild the stones if necessary, and grateful if we don’t have to.”

“You’re a dead man walking,” observed Jasper pointedly.

Mickey welled up with tears. “There are worse ways to go,” he said. “That’s why I call is ‘Dying Laughing.'”

Jasper felt horrible for his nasty comment.

He told Mickey he would go and report what he had found and see what the people wanted to do about it. Jasper explained that he didn’t even understand why he was there.

“Just one more question,” posed Jasper. “Why do you call it the Sinai Club?”

“Mount Sinai was the last time that God spoke to my people,” Mickey answered. “I just think it’s time again.”

Mickey stood to his feet and walked out of the building, terminating the interview.

Jasper picked up a handful of the sandy floor of the club and tossed it across the room. He strolled out of the concrete bunker, hopped into the car and headed back to the Tel Aviv airport. The jet flew him to Washington, D.C., arriving ten hours later.

Coming down the steps of the jet, he found himself face-to-face with Jo-Jay, who was getting ready to board.

“Where you been?” she asked.

“Hell,” replied Jasper. “At least, the closest place to hell there is on Earth.”

He walked across the tarmac to the hangar and disappeared.

Jo-Jay shook her head and headed into the jet, waiting for them to refuel. She was on her way to Phoenix, Arizona. There she was scheduled to meet up with the young man named Careless.

She had done a lot of reading. She had a lot of stats and facts–the kind of useless information that makes interviewers feel informed, but actually does little to acquaint them with the subject.

Careless had selected his name based on the idea that if rich people were so rich that they weren’t concerned about money anymore, then they should start acting like they cared less and find ways to care more.

He was an igniter.

He felt it was his job to connect people of great finance with people who had Earth-changing ideas. He called it “the MacDonald project”–after Old MacDonald who had the farm.

In this scenario, the “farms” were worthy projects, organizations, research or efforts to quickly and efficiently impact the human race.

He envisioned a situation where he would be the conduit between those who had money and those who could use money efficiently to heal, protect, save and inspire.

He called it the E.I.O. Project.

Eeliminate

Iilluminate

Oobliterate

He was looking for people to take one of the “MacDonald farms,” a stash of cash, and in a 365-day period, either eliminate an evil or a disease, illuminate a nation or a race of people, or obliterate an injustice that exists on the planet.

Each one of these “farms” would be given fifty million dollars and at the end of a year, would be asked to account for how they used it and what effect they felt their project had achieved. There would also be a private investigating committee, which would likewise review and summarize.

If one of the “farms” was successful, the following year they would be given a hundred million dollars. If they were not, they would be replaced by a new “farm.”

Many people had been critical of Careless, contending that one year was insufficient to evaluate any effort. Careless, on the other hand, explained to his billionaire clients that too much time was spent by charities deliberating the best way to do something instead of experimenting with the next way.

It was radical.

Jo-Jay fell in love with him. Not romantically–but she believed she had found a common spirit. Even though Careless was well-versed in the subject matter, there was a simplicity and optimism in him that was infectious. She left her meeting inspired–realizing that the billion dollars he planned to raise to get the project going was chump change to the fifteen potential clients he was pursuing.

It was an interesting possibility.

Jo-Jay departed overjoyed, thinking to herself that the whole world could use such a sensation.

*******

On Thursday, at 1:15 A.M., Matthew checked himself in to the Las Vegas hospital. It had been a rough week.

Leonora had left him. He wasn’t angry at her–she had hung around for several weeks, even though his ability as a lover had diminished to nothing.

His body was taking on the pallor of a dying man.

She tried, but she was just too pink to be gray. She was too young to be around debilitation.

When she left him, he wanted to turn to the bottle, but now he felt too weak to even get drunk.

When he woke up on Wednesday morning and realized that his left leg was not moving, he knew he was in serious trouble. He spent the day crying, thinking, and even for a brief moment, tried a prayer.

But at midnight he realized it was time to call a private ambulance to pick him up and take him to the hospital.

He was only in the examination room for about an hour when the doctor appeared and confirmed the situation.

“You are in the final stages of liver failure. Your other organs are beginning to give up in sympathy. You need a transplant and you need it now. Before you ask me, I will tell you–we’re talking no more than a week. I’ve had your name pushed to the front of the list for donors. We shall have to see.”

The doctor left the room.

Everything was so still that Matthew could hear the buzzing of the flourescent bulbs.

He needed to talk to someone.

Who in the hell should he call?

 

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Jesonian … August 18th, 2018

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There was an old gospel song that used to get the hometown folks clappin’ and snappin’. It had a lyric which proclaimed, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.”

I grew up in a small town that believed, like most small towns, that if the world behaved like they did, there would be eternal peace. But since the world didn’t behave, all the children needed to be careful going into the big city, or worse yet, into the world.

Matter of fact, like most small towns, over half of my graduating class still lives within ten miles of the place where they got their first kiss.

It’s easy for people who have religion to attack the world. Matter of fact, there are many preachers who wouldn’t have anything to share if they couldn’t criticize the world, sin and the souls around them. Even those practitioners of philosophies which portend to have more open-mindedness will still gladly join into a conversation of discussing how damnable things are on the planet.

Sometimes I wonder how it’s possible to be so in love with God and so hateful of the home He’s given us.

Now I remember. I forgot the lyrics: “This world is not my home.”

It makes me wonder why Jesus prayed that heavenly things be done on Earth.

God is a good Father. As a good Father, he knows His children. And the Earth is filled with His children.

He understands that the world is stuck in a rebellion resembling a sixteen-year-old: snotty, bratty, selfish, indulgent, unappreciative–but certainly unwilling to go anyplace else. That’s a sixteen-year-old.

So maybe we should walk away from our gospel songs and even our theology and take a careful look at what Jesus said about the world.

Two things:

1. “In the world you have tribulation.”

I suppose you could blame God for that–not because He steps back and lets things happen, but because He gave us free will. Honestly, if I had created beings that possessed as much intelligence as humans, I would have curtailed free will.

It doesn’t make sense. For people to have imaginations from the time of their youth, but for those musings to be generally evil, doesn’t bode well for blessings to flow across the land.

But it was God’s way.

He made us smart, with the ability to choose to be stupid.

Therefore, at one time or another, somebody is always being stupid, which makes it seem like all matter is about to fall apart. Jesus called this “tribulation”–a sense that things never find peace or settle down.

Now most religionists love that particular verse about tribulation in the world. Matter of fact, they stop right there and use it as a platform to preach against every sin that comes to their minds. They never factor in the second thought that Jesus had on the world:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. And He didn’t send His son into the world to condemn the world, but so that they could choose to be saved (paraphrase).

Of course, the key coupling there is “so loved.”

Not a passive appreciation.

Not a duty of being a parent of something you wish you could abandon.

But a deep emotional commitment, free of condemnation.

So here’s the truth of the matter, although I don’t want to anger some gospel song writer: this world is my home, for the time being, and I am passing through.

My job is to have good cheer when I see the tribulation, and make sure, through my face, my actions and my tenderness, that those around me know exactly how much they are so loved.

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