1 Thing You Can Do When Your Father, Grandfather, Best Friend, Partner, and Mentor Dies

Jonathots Daily Blog


Change the world.

Jonathan Richard Cring is no longer here.

He died last Friday.

His last week of life was a final adventure—a sad one, to be sure, but still, one that was imbued with the miraculous.

He has six sons, and all of them, along with their wives and children—raced to be at his bedside.

Science, the Natural Order and Humanity (otherwise known as God, Mother Nature, and in this case the nurses and doctors) allowed him to see single visitors—so we literally scheduled every son, daughter-in-law and grandchild for hourly visits over his final three days.

“Change the world,” was his constant comment.

To his grown sons: “Change the world.”

To his daughters-in-law: “Change the world.”

To his teenage granddaughters: “Change the world.”

One son lives in China, unable to come. To him he placed a WeChat video call, at 2:35 A.M. Shanghai time. Nevertheless, all four members of the family crouched in front of the screen, wide-eyed and bed-haired. “This is good-bye,” said Jonathan kindly. Then more firmly: “Listen—all of you. Change the world.”

(In a quick turn-around, back came an email from the ten-year-old grandson: “G-Pop, I’m going to change the world.”)

Here’s the blessing: they all know how to do it. Jonathan (or G-Pop) made sure to teach them how.

“Never leave ‘em how you found ‘em,” was his sage advice.

As for me, Janet Clazzy? I traveled on the road, performing with Jonathan, from 1997 through 2018—twenty-one years. He never left an audience the way he found it.

The effect he had on an audience was visceral—usually right-before-your-eyes kinds of things.

For instance, over the years, it became habitual in Methodist and Lutheran churches to fill the sanctuary from the rear—leaving the front rows empty. When Jonathan took the stage he would sit and stare at the crowded back rows and empty front pews. Gradually, his silence would make the folks uncomfortable and the audience would grow quiet, almost wary. “I’m sure you folks know,” he would finally say, “that everywhere but in the church, the high-priced tickets are up front. What does it say about you church folks that you sit as close to the back door as possible?” He would continue to stare at them balefully, and then finally he’d laugh. “Come on down. Change your life.”

They would laugh—and move.

He never left them the same.

When asked to provide the music and entertainment for a regional political prayer breakfast, we arrived, set up our equipment and watched the folks filing into the room. We began to realize that all the Republicans were sitting on one side of the room and the Democrats on another. Jonathan and I looked at each other and shook our heads, disgusted. To my complete surprise, when the signal came to begin, Jonathan stepped up to the microphone and said, “My dear friends, I am not going to be able to continue this prayer breakfast as is. Jesus has made it clear that prayer works by agreement—you know. ‘Where two or more agree…’ There’s no agreement here. You folks are even sitting down in a disagreeable way. So I’m gonna have to ask you all to move. You Republicans–go sit next to a nice Democrat. And vice versa. You Democrats find yourselves a Republican seat mate. You’re gonna have to do this before I’ll be able to offer a song, much less a prayer.”

They did it. God bless ‘em, they moved.

He changed their world.

On stage he was funny, self-deprecating, and the very definition of humble. I asked him why he was so humble when he was certainly talented enough not to need it.

“God gives grace to the humble,” he answered, “but He resists the proud. I don’t need God resisting me. I’m already fat—I need all the grace I can get. So I work on being humble every chance I get.”

So yes, his children know how to change the world.

And God gave him an extra three days of lucidity—no, acuity. The sharp mind of a man who was one of the most prolific creators on Earth, with enough material in the stacks to fill a daily blog for another ten years. You’ll still be hearing from him.

He made sure to show us all how to change the world–so we’re all going to try.

And how awesome is it that he taught us how?

Change the world.

Never leave ‘em like you found ‘em.

Jonathan sings with himself.

Listening to his version of “Down by the Riverside” … well, it might change your world.

Published in: on September 28, 2020 at 10:27 pm  Comments (5)  

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Poor, Peter. Too weak to send me back. Peter: No I just wanna kill you myself. (Fight Scene) (Tobey Maguires Spider-Man then stops Tom Hollands Spider-Man from killing Green Goblin. Then he is stabbed)


    • Why would post this! These are spoilers for Spider-Man!


    • Please delete this!


  2. A most AMAZING tribute!!!


    • I agree!


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