Not Long Tales … January 21st, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

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24.

Turn Left on Oak Meadows

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Eddie Sparrow committed adultery, if that’s what they still call it.

An affair. A slip-up. A bungle in the jungle. A close encounter of the lustful kind.

Perhaps the strangest part of the whole experience was that he had this tryst with a young lady he was competing with for a promotion. In the process of trying to gain the new position, they were thrown together by the corporation—with tests and projects—so they could prove themselves worthy and literally “win” the position. Eddie became obsessed with her.

Her name was Lorraine.

Eddie already had a beautiful wife. He often heard unfaithful husbands explain that they “still loved their wife”—they just couldn’t help themselves with their new partner. He used to scoff at such a notion, insisting that self-control could win the day.

But when he ran across Lorraine, and she was just as willing as he was to break some rules, his body lit up with fire and he had no desire except to melt over her like hot wax.

A torrid affair it was. Sneaking, lying, not willing to trust anyone, because if the wife found out there would be trouble. But if the company found out there would be equally dire straits, since there was a non-fraternization policy written into the rules.

Right in the middle of this crazy-ass experience, it was decided that Lorraine would get the bump-up. She became his boss.

Eddie didn’t care—he wanted to continue. So intense was his drive to stay with Lorraine that he informed his wife, Cheryl, that he was greatly saddened, but he had lost his enduring love for her and wanted a divorce.

Then insanity gained the room.

Lorraine, who had been so involved in their social experiment, lost interest. Once she acquired the job and realized she was his boss, the thrill of the pursuit, the danger of the escapade and the excitement over Eddie disappeared.

She broke off connection with him. When she did, he begged and he pleaded, knowing that he had no wife to go back to and that his life was meaningless without her devotion.

Lorraine didn’t care. When Eddie persisted, she filed a sexual harassment suit against him with the company.

When the two of them gave their depositions—hers being his unwanted attention and constant haranguing through email (she provided evidence)—and his being that the two of them had been involved in a far-reaching romance for weeks—well, when both stories were shared, the board decided to accept hers.

Realizing he was on probation with the company, rejected by his lover and unwanted by his wife, a crazed Eddie stole the keys to a company car (one of those with a German name, a Japanese engine, a French paint job and a California interior) and took off.

Eddie figured he had about twenty-four hours until the authorities would be called. He decided to make the best of his time.

He drove south for about three hours, listening to music and opening the windows to let in fresh air to keep him awake. He mused over his plight.

Hungry, Eddie pulled over at a diner called “Our First Stand.” Walking in the door and seeing all the empty chairs and booths, he felt sorry for the place, wondering if this was also going to be their last stand. He was greeted by a waitress named Nesla and he sat down, making a crack about George Armstrong Custer being beaten by the Indians, and how he felt much like the old general himself. Nesla stared at him with that look young people often give when they don’t understand a word of what an older person has said—and therefore assume they’re crazy.

But privately, Eddie had decided to order, in honor of the Little Big Horn, a cheeseburger and a big piece of custard pie. He laughed to himself, surprised he was still able to find humor in anything.

Waiting for his meal to arrive, he went back to considering his dilemma.

Certainly he couldn’t continue to run in a stolen car. Eventually he would have to go back, just to have the ability to go forward. He tried to tap his feelings, only to discover that he wasn’t sure whether he loved any woman, or if he ever wanted to work a job again in his entire life.

Somewhere between the cheeseburger and the custard pie, fatigue set in. It had been quite a day. Rejected by two women and dishonored by his company, he was ready for sleep—or at least to roll around in a bed until insomnia subsided. He asked Nesla to give him directions to the nearest motel.

“Well, that would have to be Wycliffe,” she answered. “Thirty miles down that road. They got four motels. Most of them are pretty ratty, but I haven’t heard of anybody gettin’ killed.”

With this, she turned on her heel and headed back to retrieve food (not needed, because nobody was there).

Then all at once, somebody was there. Eddie turned, looked up, and standing next to him was a dude in his late twenties or so—pretty down on his luck, by the cheapness of his clothing and the smell emanating from his body. He was standing so close that Eddie was a bit unnerved.

“Can I help you, my dear friend?” Eddie asked at length.

In rapid fire, the man responded, as if the material had been memorized for a high school play. “If you go down three miles and turn left on Oak Meadows, there’s a place you can stay.”

The monotone and speed of his voice was almost comical, but Eddie, resisting laughter, inquired, “Is it a motel?”

“No,” said the young man, “just a place you can stay.”

With this, he turned away, walked toward the front door, opened it and disappeared. Eddie took a moment to look around for Nesla, to see if she was aware of this other location. She was nowhere to be found. He called out for service. No response. She didn’t even come out when he was standing at the checkout, ready to pay for his bill.

Giving up on waiting, Eddie left the price of the meal and a nice tip sitting next to the register, headed out to his over-stated sedan, climbed in and drove the three miles south.

Apparently, the first time he missed it. So at the six-mile mark on the odometer, he turned around and drove back. This time, off to the right (which would have been to the left) he saw the road sign. “Oak Meadows.”

He turned right and immediately found himself driving on a gravel road. He smiled. He loved gravel roads. As a boy, whenever their family car turned onto the gravel road that went to his grandparents’, he would giggle. To him it sounded like the tires were chomping on peanut brittle.

This one was narrow and covered on both sides with trees, with a deep ditch in between. About a mile-and-a-half up, Eddie saw a man standing, staring off into the distance. He pulled over, rolled down his window and said, “Excuse me, fine sir. I was wondering if you could tell me…well, I was told there was a place down this road where you could rent a room for the night. Like a motel?”

The man slowly turned around, held out his hand and said, “My name is Clancy Johns, and I have such a place, about two miles ahead. Now, I must tell you, it is not a motel but a room in my house that I let out to strangers who don’t want to drive all the way to Wycliffe.”

Eddie listened very carefully. The man had a presence to him—maybe it was his aged face. Or his simple demeanor. But Eddie immediately was drawn to him. It was a visceral connection he didn’t really understand, but the man seemed solid. Truthful. Reliable.

He shook his head. Foolish to draw such a quick conclusion about a total stranger. While he was still parsing his thoughts, Clancy spoke again. “Now, I also must warn you, it is a very simple home. But for fifty dollars for the night—no more and no tips—you get a room, a bathroom, it includes supper and breakfast.”

Eddie searched his mind for something clever to say, or even profound. “My needs are simple,” he said quietly.

Clancy laughed. “Then you would be the only one, my brother. Yes—you and you, alone.”

Clancy started walking in the direction of his house. Eddie shouted after him, “Mr.—Johns, is it? Clancy?” But the old man did not turn. Eddie pulled up next to him. “Would you like to ride in the car with me?”

Clancy bent down to look into the car, then right into the eyeballs of Eddie Sparrow. “Then I would miss my nightly walk, now, wouldn’t I?”

With this he stood upright and began walking again.

“I’ll meet you there, then,” said Eddie. He drove on ahead, and in less than a minute-and-a-half he was at an old farmhouse. He parked his car, got out and turned around like a little kid’s top, to see what he could see.

It was rustic, mostly gray and much in need of a coat of paint. But Eddie liked it. He wondered how long it would take the man to make it up the path. Suddenly, Clancy appeared at the front door of his home and called to him. “What’s keepin’ you, traveler? I already got supper goin’.”

Eddie stared. How was it possible for the old man to have made the journey quicker than his speedy car? But shrugging his shoulders, he grabbed his overnight case, headed up the path, opened the door and entered.

The interior looked like it had been decorated in the 1930’s by a family more intent on saving money than impressing guests. Still, it had all the elements one would need to survive, and even included a well-kept, dark-brown horsehair couch.

Clancy walked into the room behind him. “I warned you,” he said. “We aren’t the Holiday Inn.” He glanced around and laughed. “I guess we ain’t even an inn.”

Eddie smiled, scooted into the living room and plopped down on the horsehair couch. “It looks like home to me,” he said.

“Speaking of that,” said Clancy, “where would be your home?”

“Now, there’s a good question,” said Eddie. “If you’d have asked me yesterday, I would have said my home was in Hartford, Connecticut, and I was married to a beautiful woman and had one teenage son.”

“And if I was to ask you today…?” inquired Clancy.

Eddie took a deep breath. “Well, I’d tell you that the home still exists. It’s just not mine anymore.”

“Trouble with a woman?” Clancy asked, walking toward the kitchen.

“How did you know, my brother?” questioned Eddie.

Clancy stepped back into the room to make his point. “Well, it’s not that women are a problem, but when they get with us men, they don’t always show their best side.”

“I don’t know, Clancy,” Eddie said, lifting his eyebrows. “This girl showed a lot of good sides.”

Eddie went on to explain his situation in great detail as Clancy ducked in and out of the kitchen to make sure all the “eatin’s” were being prepared. Eddie told him about the affair, his decision to leave his wife, and ended up ‘fessing up to being reprimanded and how he illegally “borrowed” a car from the company.

He stopped, waiting for Clancy to comment. Instead, he stepped back into the kitchen, then returned with a big smile on his face. “Well, here we go! We’re gonna have fried chicken. We’re gonna have corn on the cob—and I’m talkin’ about those long cobs with a little sugar sprinkled. And we’re gonna have butter potatoes. I call ’em butter potatoes because I put so much butter in them that they’re about as yellow as a lemon meringue pie.”

Eddie was astounded. Clancy had just described the meal Eddie had asked his mother to prepare for his sixteenth birthday—complete with the butter potatoes and the sweetener on the cobs.

“That happens to be my favorite meal,” said Eddie.

Clancy laughed. “I’m glad to hear that, but honestly, I can’t imagine anybody being disfavorable to it. It’ll just be a few more minutes. Just keep doin’ what you’re doin’.”

Eddie sat still, breathing in the air of contentment. Looking over at the coffee table, he saw a large book with a leather cover on it—cowhide.

He reached over, picked it up and held it on his lap. He opened it, turned a page, then another page. On page three, there was a very small Polaroid—with a picture of his wife, Cheryl, when she was about twelve years old. She was with two other girls he couldn’t identify. He leaned over and peered closely at the picture. He was startled when Clancy spoke.

“Do you like my photo album?”

Eddie looked up. “Yes. I hope you don’t mind. It’s beautiful. Where did you get the cover?”

Clancy smiled and sat down next to him. “Well, let me just say that was a gift from a friend.”

Eddie paused, allowing time for a story to follow. Clancy eyeballed him carefully as if wondering whether to continue. “Yes…” shared Clancy, “she was a friend. I had her for fifteen years. She listened to me grumble about problems on the farm. And the only time she ever complained was when I spent too much time on her teats.”

Eddie smiled. He really enjoyed this old man. Clancy continued, completing his joke. “Oh, you do know I’m talking about a cow, don’t you?”

Eddie nodded. Clancy went on, “Because of her complaints I called her Bossy, but she really wasn’t. She was the best kind of friend you could ever have. She listened carefully, never judged, didn’t offer too much advice, and then, at the end of the experience, she offered you the milk of human kindness.”

Eddie chuckled. “What happened to Bossy?”

Clancy rubbed his knee. “Oh, she died. All things do, you know. But I didn’t want her to just be gone. So I took her hide, cleaned it, tanned it and put it on the cover of that photo album I love so dearly, knowing I would look at it frequently, and whenever I did, I would run my hands over the cover—just like I used to pet her in the barn.”

Some tears stood in Clancy’s eyes. Eddie was moved, too—not so much at the thought of the cow, but because a man could be so devoted. Changing the subject, Eddie asked, “I saw a picture of my wife in your photo album.”

“N-a-w-w-w,” drawled Clancy. “How could that be?”

Eddie opened to the Polaroid and pointed it out. “Is that your wife?” asked Clancy, incredulously.

“Yes,” said Eddie. “Cheryl.”

Clancy shook his head. “Her daddy was an old war buddy. We called that little dear Cee-Cee. She was such a beautiful little girl. So full of joy. And if you ever got discouraged, she’d whip up a quick batch of hope.”

Eddie paused, lost in thought. He could remember Cheryl that way, but it had been many years since he had seen the brightness in her eyes.

“Then,” said Clancy, “there must be a picture of her brother, Thomas.”

Eddie sat up and blurted, “Where? Where? Show me where.”

Clancy reached over, turned a couple of pages and pointed. “There he is. My goodness gracious. Such a small world, huh?”

Eddie stared at the picture of Cheryl’s brother, Thomas, as tears came to his eyes. Thomas was two years older, and Eddie’s hero. He had drowned in a boating accident. Eddie had been traumatized—never able to replace the deep hole left behind from Thomas’s absence.

Clancy excused himself, explaining that he was going to finish up dinner, and that it would be on the table in about five minutes.

Eddie sat, turning pages. There was a photo of his Uncle Barney, the jokester of the family. There was even an old shot of his grandfather. Eddie had only seen the man twice in his life.

Clancy called him to dinner, and they sat down at the table. Clancy looked up to heaven and said, “Not many thoughts on my mind, sir. Just glad to have the company. Amen.”

The chicken was the best Eddie had ever eaten. The butter in the mashed potatoes dominated—dribbling down his chin—and the corn was sweeter than molasses.

He would have eaten more, but the cheeseburger and custard pie weighed down underneath, threatening to rebel. After dinner, Clancy told him to just leave the dishes on the table, that he’d take care of them later.

They took cups of coffee into the other room and sat down as Eddie continued to look through the photo album with Bossy’s cover.

About ten pages in, Eddie saw a picture of his lover. Lorraine. At least it looked like her. She was a young girl in the photo, and she was with her family.

Eddie turned to Clancy. “Who’s the girl in this picture?”

Clancy squinted and said, “Another war buddy’s daughter. I believe…” He paused. “Yes. We called her Lori, but her name was Lorraine. And that’s her mom. I can’t remember her name. And her Dad, Michael.”

Eddie asked, “Who is the girl with her—in the wheelchair?”

Clancy grew quiet. “Well, that’s her crippled sister. She fell off her horse, severely damaged her body and never walked again.”

A breath of silence. Clancy broke it by standing up and saying, “Well, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna do me some dishes—my form of therapy. Then I’ll be headin’ off to bed. Breakfast will be promptly served at seven. Or who knows? Maybe eight.”

Eddie laughed. He reached up to shake hands, but it suddenly seemed inadequate, so he stood up and hugged the old man.

Clancy grinned. “Well, thank you for that. Everybody needs to feel one of those wrapped around him every once in a while.”

An hour passed. Then two.

Eddie was so engrossed in the photo album that he didn’t even hear Clancy finish the dishes or slip up the stairs. The deeper and deeper he went into the album, the more people he saw that he thought he knew—mostly in their younger days, in older times.

He looked across a room that had more memories than future. He cried. It was the last thing he remembered.

With the morning light coming in through the window and into his eyes, he realized he’d never made it up the stairs to his room. He had just laid down and cuddled up on the horsehair couch.

He felt good.

Matter of fact, he couldn’t remember a time he had ever felt better. He looked at his watch. It was 8:15 A. M.

He called out, “Clancy! I’m so sorry to have overslept!”

There was no answer.

Eddie took a deep breath and could swear he smelled homemade maple syrup. He stood up, walked through the house and up the stairs. Clancy was nowhere to be found.

He stepped out the door into the morning chill. The old man had disappeared.

Eddie came back in and walked over to the breakfast table. It was all set—for one. French toast, corn beef hash and maple syrup. All of his favorites. He ate his fill, thinking that at any moment, Clancy would come walking in.

He never did.

Soon it became obvious that he needed to go, so he wrote a note expressing his appreciation. In the note, he told Clancy that he was taking that picture of his wife as a young girl and would return it as soon as he could get a copy made.

He left a hundred-dollar bill on the table for services rendered, walked out, got into his car, drove down the gravel road to the highway—content.

He turned left, drove about three or four miles and suddenly realized he’d forgotten his phone. He found a wide space in the road, turned around and drove back. At about the four-mile mark, he began looking for the sign to Oak Meadows. He’d done that the first time, too. So he turned around and drove back. Missed it again.

The third go-around, he inched his way to make sure he didn’t miss the sign. He still didn’t see it.

He drove the few miles back to the “Our First Stand Diner,” and saw Nesla, who was there for another shift. He asked her if she knew about the Oak Meadows “bed and breakfast,” as he called it.

She didn’t. He explained to her that a gentleman had told him about it when he was there, eating, the night before. She looked at him confused, because there hadn’t been an additional customer when he was there.

He thanked her, climbed into the car, and made the decision to make his way home.

There was nothing positive waiting there. When he arrived, he was rebuked for taking the car and fired.

He went to see his wife, but she was too hurt—and rejected any possibility of reconciliation.

He did not call Lorraine. He was afraid of “three strikes and you’re out.”

He drove about thirty miles down the road to an exit for a little town called “Oak Meadows.” Reading the exit sign, he laughed, but still pulled off. He found an Oak Meadows Inn, and made arrangements with the manager, a fellow named Garrett, for a weekly rate. He paid for a month.

Eddie’s plan was to make no plans until plans came his way.

Trying to make conversation, Eddie said to Garrett, “This is really interesting, because just last night I stayed at an old man’s house on Oak Meadows Road.”

Garrett, a little aged himself, deadpanned, “Well…there are a lot of oaks and a good number of meadows.”

Eddie parked his car and found his room—104—and opened his door. He turned on the lights and looked over at the bed. Pinned to one of the pillows was a fifty-dollar bill.

The note read, “Your change.”

 

Catchy (Sitting 46) Liary… April 29th, 2018

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Carlin Canaby was the only son of Joshua and Myrtle Mensterhall, itinerant evangelists who toured the south, holding revival meetings in Southern Baptist churches.

Carlin was born in a tiny town in Mississippi and by the time he was two years old, was singing “Jesus Loves Me” to congregations to help promote his father and mother’s ministry. He was as cute as a button, but became more and more unfastened as he got older, and was privy to the hypocrisy of the whole process.

His mother and father were often cheated out of offerings, as churches insisted there was some errancy in the message which caused them to dock the payment. But more often than not, there was no explanation at all–just a paltry sum handed over after fourteen days of work.

This never seemed to hamper Joshua’s enthusiasm to “preach the Gospel to every living creature.” That is, every living creature unless they were black, Hispanic or involved in some untoward practice viewed as heinous by the religious system he revered.

Carlin’s mother, Myrtle, had the personality you would expect from someone named Myrtle. She was nervous, uptight and deathly afraid of anything that resembled a germy speck of dirt. She played just enough piano to accompany Joshua’s incompetent singing.

The pair had very little appeal, and even though revivals were scheduled to last for two weeks, they were often cut short due to lack of attendance.

Still, everything went along reasonably well, with biscuits, grits and gravy provided by the local churches, until Myrtle became involved with Reverend Rudy. Reverend Rudy was a chunk of a man, with a girlish giggle and a prancy walk. He loved to lean down into the faces of young boys and ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up–with a big whiff of tobacco bouncing from his breath.

Carlin didn’t like him. He especially found him distasteful when he walked into the room and discovered that Reverend Rudy was very interested in his mother’s groin. Rudy pretended to be dabbing off some imaginary coffee which had spilled on her lap, but it was obvious to the thirteen-year-old Carlin that there was more going on south of the border than picking cotton.

Sure enough, 24 hours later, Reverend Rudy and Myrtle announced their intentions to pursue a life together, just as soon as a quick divorce could be acquired from Joshua Mensterhall.

Carlin’s dad was devastated. He had lost a wife, a piano player and an accountant to try to keep the wheels of the Gospel somewhere in the middle of the dirt road.

And even though Joshua was not the unfaithful one, word spread that he was “a divorced man,” so the revivals lined up for the future canceled, one at a time.

Myrtle made it clear that she didn’t want the boy, so Joshua took Carlin, and for a season they were homeless, panhandling and street preaching.

One day an old black gentleman named Carlton Canaby happened by while Joshua was pontificating to passers-by on a particularly difficult passage from Jeremiah. The Negro gentleman asked him what he was trying to accomplish. Matter of fact, they decided to have coffee together, careful not to enter any restaurant, but instead, getting styrofoam cups from the local gas station, and heading for a nearby park.

Joshua poured out his heart to Canaby, who ended up being a reverend himself, with the National Baptist Church. (This was the Negro outgrowth from the Southern Baptist.) Pastor Carlton decided to invite the pale preacher in, to hold a meeting. Even though many of the parishioners at Pastor Canaby’s church objected to a white man preaching–especially one teetering in an adultery situation–the friendly pastor insisted, and Joshua and Carlin were scheduled in for a two-week revival, complete with eats.

Joshua was horrible. Being a white man raised in the south, he thought himself superior to those he was teaching. On the third night, a young man in the congregation rose to his feet, interrupting the sermon time and said, “You don’t know much about colored folks, do you?”

Those in attendance burst into laughter and Joshua stood, red-faced and defensive. Canaby came forward, easing the tension, and said, “Our brother is here to learn, to heal, to grow and to be himself without apology.”

For some reason, this touched the heart of Joshua Mensterhall. He burst into tears and fell on his knees, pleading to the heavens with an anguished cry. The congregation surrounded him and the true revival began.

It lasted for two months, until one night, after the service, Pastor Canaby was abducted by some angry white men in a pick-up truck. They did not approve of mixing races, so they took Canaby into the woods and hung him from a tree. Fortunately for Reverend Canaby, they had twisted the rope too tight around his neck. It caught on his shoulder muscle, which sustained his life until others arrived and cut him down.

But he was never the same. Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen from the hanging, or just a good old-fashioned dose of fear. He retired into his own soul, where he seemed to receive some comfort.

Shortly thereafter, Joshua died.

Carlin was made a ward of a missionary family named Richardson. They were traveling on mission to Equador. Carlin hated every minute of it. He nearly burst in anger, waiting for his eighteenth birthday so he could run away and start his own life.

When he did, he rejected the name “Richardson” and “Mensterhall,” and took on the name “Canaby,” in honor of the brave dark man who had befriended a bewildered white minister and his frustrated son.

Since that time, Carlin had made it his life work to expose hypocrites with his organization, “Liary”–which was defined as finding a way to tell the truth in the most pleasant way possible, without flirting with the lie.

Carlin had recently received a phone call from a notable businessman, asking him to intervene in the Jubal Carlos campaign, to assist by softening some of the blows of disapproval that were coming over assumed scandals.

This is what brought him to the hotel, where he found an extremely defeated Matthew Ransley.

Matthew immediately liked Carlin, but Jubal Carlos was quick to express his disfavor. Jubal didn’t like anything associated with lying–even if it was an attempt to prevent its severity.

Matthew found himself in a war: one in his heart, his soul, his mind and the excesses that were gradually eating away at his body.

He thought to himself, I wonder how Carlin would spin my life? What positive things could he find that would sweeten my tale?

It was obvious there was a transition coming. Would it take them deeper into the discovery of Jesus, or just make them another clever organization with a hint of charlatan?

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Jesonian … March 10th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Not every morning supplies a miracle. Weeks can go by without walking on water–or water turning into wine, for that matter.

Truthfully, life is more like dry cereal looking for milk–not much to be excited about unless you brought along your own thrills.

This was true in the life of Jesus, too.

Fortunately, the Gospel writers tell us about the good moments and also the bad ones. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John share that sometimes Jesus just hung out, to “tarry” with his friends. And just like us, often his activities were dictated by the whim, intensity and preoccupation of his audience or critics.

In the Good Book, Matthew 19, there is such a situation. Jesus is minding his own business when he is confronted by the Pharisees, who seem to spend a lot of time worrying about things that don’t matter to anyone else. They were especially distressed over the issue of divorce–not because they were against it. The Law of Moses and also the Oral Law, which had been constructed by religious leaders over many centuries, allowed men to divorce their wives simply by leaving a note on the pillow.

The Pharisees felt that Jesus had a different outlook on the subject, so they confronted him about the dilemma.

Jesus made it clear that he believed divorce to be chauvinism. He explained that marriage is meant to be an experience between people of equality, who decide to leave their families to form their own union.

They were very upset.

Yet escaping their probing, Jesus arrives back in camp to discover that his disciples, who had been cut from the same homespun philosophies and bigotry as the Pharisees, were chasing away the women and children. After all, they thought, Jesus was too important to have time for women, who were lesser, and children, who were insignificant.

The feminist in Jesus comes to the forefront. He rebukes his disciples. He tells them to bring the children–which meant the women, also–to him, and he lays hands on the tykes, blesses and enjoys them.

Often we wonder how miracles occur. Miracles happen because people who know how to treat women and children humbly ask for them.

It isn’t about extended periods of prayer, nor ministers on Sabbatical studying the original Greek. Rather, miracles are about people who know how to play with children–people who are aware that a woman is not a “weaker vessel.” When these people pray, God listens.

Jesus treated women as humans. On this week, with “International Women’s Day,” we need to consider what this entails.

Jesus gave women empathy, but not sympathy: You are as good as men, but don’t pull up lame and fall back on femininity when you think it’s to your advantage.

So even though Jesus showed compassion on the woman caught in adultery, he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Go and sin no more.”

He relished a conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria, but when she said she “had no husband,” he reminded her that she had married five husbands, and was now living with another man.

When his mother tried to interfere with his work, he spoke to her as an equal, not as a son, and said, Back off. It’s not my time.

And when busy Martha was doing all the housework, using the “gift of helps” to feed the disciples and Jesus, he stopped her and said, Your sister Mary has decided to listen to the teaching instead of playing “Harriet Homemaker. Follow suit.”

Life is not about what we do when we’re trying to be spiritual or contemplative. Life is lived in the cracks–those moments that seem insignificant when the world around us has cast a negative vibe and it is our job to bring the light.

Jesus believes that spirit begins with how women and children are treated.

I, for one, think he’s right.

 

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Cracked 5 … August 22nd, 2017


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Things God Thought About Creating Instead of Humans

A.   Computers–could have skipped one million years of murder, adultery and bad sitcoms

B.   Carb-free pasta. Certainly a better choice.

C.   Talking monkeys. Washington, D. C.??

D.   Paint with a brain–artsy-craftsy

E.   Grass that makes music, instead of musicians making music using grass

 

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Jesonian… June 3rd, 2017

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This week, one of my sons will celebrate his birthday. He is the pastor of a church. Like most children, he has grown up to be his own man and sometimes listens to my counsel, but many times opts to pursue different voices.

It is the way of our tribe.

But as I considered his birthday, I realized that he does not require a new shirt, pants, tennis shoes or a subscription to “Boys Life.” He has the ability to get all of those things on his own.

What he needs from me is what I have always given him–an honest report. So as a gift to my son, and maybe even a piece of usable information for you, I present the “Seven Practices of a Good Shepherd.”

I use Jesus as my example. If you’re going to be a Good Shepherd–a pastor or leader of human souls:

1. Don’t mess, interfere, refer to, question or condemn anyone’s sex life.

When a crowd of people tried to get Jesus to discuss adultery, he turned away, stooped down and fiddled in the dirt as if he never heard them.

2. Stop trying to make friends.

You’ve been called to make disciples. That is the root word for discipline. As a shepherd, your journey will be to guide people in the direction of their better possibility. Sometimes they will be grateful; sometimes they will be temporarily offended. But they must always know that your heart is to see them “grow to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ.”

3. No preaching, a little teaching, tell stories, make it visual.

Jesus never preached a sermon. He took time to teach his disciples. He told stories to the masses. But most importantly, he gave visual evidence of the power of his word by transforming lives.

4. Family is not everything.

Although we seem trapped in an overly sympathetic mood toward those who share our DNA, Jesus was faithful to his kin until his kin refused to be faithful to his mission. When his family thought he was crazy for preaching the Gospel, he walked away from them until they could grow up.

5. Touch the heart, stir the soul, renew the mind, strengthen the weak.

If you’re not emotionally connecting with people, you can never stir their souls. Therefore their minds will remain concrete, and they will be weakened by their own lack of maturity.

6. Respect free will.

Although you may be tempted to tell people that God has a wonderful plan for their life, the truth of the matter is, God has a wonderful life for their plan. There’s only one thing greater than love–that’s free will.

Even though God loved the world, when the world did not love Jesus, he granted free will to them to make their own decision. From that poor choice–to crucify–He granted them salvation through Jesus’ blood.

If God gives free will, a Good Shepherd can never take it away. So when people decide not to like you, honor their decision.

7. Religion kills.

If you don’t know what religion is, it can be defined simply as a belief in some sort of plan to reach God.

God does not need to be reached. He has done all the reaching. God needs to be acknowledged. God needs to be included. There is no magical plan of salvation. Salvation is when we finally grow permanently comfortable with the fact that God loves us.

So there’s my gift to my son, which I hope you may find of interest also.

I shall tell him that this is his birthday present from his dad, and I hope he likes it … because I didn’t keep the receipt.

 

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Jesonian… March 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3249)

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Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Caiaphas immediately objected to the use of the word “Lord.”

He said, “Jesus is a seditionist, an enemy of the people who caught the masses at a vulnerable time when they desperately needed hope, advertised some well-paid shills with proclaimed miracles, and robbed the children of Israel of their personal identity in favor of what he referred to as the ‘Kingdom of God.’ He did not honor our traditions, he did not recognize the birthright we possess through Abraham, to be the chosen Children of God. He was rude, contemptuous, bawdy, loud and hung around with a bunch of sinners, welcoming iniquity.

“It was necessary to evaluate him by our laws, judge him and therefore condemn him, to make sure we keep the House of David first and foremost. We must go on.”

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Pontius smiled and then snickered. “Jesus was a peasant, and deluded on top of that. Certainly harmless. I never made any doubt in that conclusion. Truth is, I saw him as a bargaining chip. I was constantly at war with the Council of the Jews over tiny matters which should have been insignificant, but they claimed had heavenly proportions. I needed one over on them. I needed to grant them a favor which would grant me a host of favors from them. I am not an animal. I am not a barbarian. I do not slaughter people just to behold the mayhem. But when the dignity of Rome–my only Lord–is put in jeopardy, then Rome must come first. Rome is greater than any man–even Caesar. Just one Galilean was lost, opening the door to a plethora of negotiations, where the Jews would be at a disadvantage.”

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Peter wasn’t. He was scared. Outnumbered, without any weapons, he ran. And when confronted with his involvement with Jesus of Nazareth, he denied him three times. Quickly. For Jesus had jokingly said that Peter would do so before the cock crowed three times. But as anybody knows, the cock crows quickly. Ashamed, broken, but also defensive, Peter stalked away into the night, cussing up a storm, insisting that it was merely human for him to put himself first.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

No, Deborah was asleep. She was exhausted. Since “that day,” she had found the need to take on numerous chores and occupations to earn a decent living for herself and her son. It was difficult to imagine what she would have had to do to stop the insanity that led the mob to Golgotha. But maybe if she had just seen him one more time.

She remembered the first occasion. Financially devastated, with no food in her house, she decided to sell her body to get money for food. Obviously possessing the luck of a witch, her would-be lover ended up being a member of the Pharisees who was conducting a “sting operation” to capture a prostitute who was ready to commit adultery, then drag her off and throw her down in front of the crowd at Jesus’ feet. They wanted to stone her. She just wanted a loaf of bread. But Jesus, using his compassion, his wit and his style, saved her life. He told her to go and sin no more. She heeded his advice. Unfortunately, “sinless” takes more work. Exhausted, she fell into bed every night, setting aside a crust of bread for her little boy in the morning. So when they were crucifying Jesus, she was asleep, trying to build up the energy to honor her promise to never be so foolish again.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Who, me? No. I wasn’t born. I honor his life everyday by trying to understand what he was communicating to us.

Caiaphas thought he was a phony.

Pilate thought he was a pigeon.

Peter thought he was a great distraction.

And the woman caught in adultery knew him only as a Savior.

He’s my friend.

What would I have done if I knew they would crucify him? How would I have tried to stop it? Would I have written a nasty editorial to the Jerusalem Times? Would I have stood there as one voice among so many, demanding his release?

Or would I have rolled over and gone back to sleep?

 

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Jesonian… March 4th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3230)

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Long before the empty tomb, Golgotha, the Garden, the trial, the healings, the miracles, the Sermon on the Mount or even the water turned to wine, Jesus stopped off in the wilderness for forty days to deal with his appetites and the essence of his humanity.

Jesus was a human being. Much of Christian theology is rendered ineffective because clergy are unable to fathom this.

His relationship with God, based upon being the only begotten Son, is completely unknown and irrelevant to us. Why? Because when he lived in our presence, he had no special favors, no advantages and claimed to be a “son of man”–just one of the gang.

Jesus was sent to Earth.

According to the story, Satan was cast down–his punishment, to be bound and limited to Earth.

And for the period of time that Jesus was here, he was in the same situation, except that he was granted the Holy Spirit.

So when we talk about Satan tempting Jesus, what we’re really discussing is the pernicious nature in all of us which makes us aggravated with the way things are.

That is the definition of sin.

The sins of the heart trigger the sins of the flesh.

Therefore when you boil down the three temptations, they are nothing more than a series of lamentations:

1. “I’m hungry. Why are there just stones and no bread?”

2. “Here I am–so cool, and nobody knows me. I’m not famous. Maybe if I jumped off the Temple…”

3. “I need a short cut. Maybe if I worship what everybody else worships, they’ll all think I’m really neat and I can rule the world.”

It is the nature of human beings to want to control. It’s foolish, since there are too many people, animals, weather formations and evolutions going on for us to ever stick a flag anywhere and claim it’s our turf.

Therefore we fail. When we can’t control we either pout or we cheat.

Jesus took the time in the wilderness to abandon his human instinct to control–because during his ministry, sometimes people had faith and sometimes they didn’t. The Pharisees were more interested in traditions than compassion and the disciples were often as dull as your wife’s shower razor.

We fail because when we realize that our plan has gone awry and we’ve lost control, we become depressed and don’t recognize the opportunities around us.

I know it’s hard to believe, but there really is only one sin. We start it early, keeping it to our grave:

Pouting.

  • “It’s not fair.”
  • “It’s not good enough.”
  • “It isn’t what I planned.”
  • “People don’t understand me.”
  • “I’ve been cheated.”
  • “I’m the wrong color.”
  • “I’m mistreated.”

From that position of pitiful, we try to beg enough sympathy to be loved and considered. If that doesn’t work, we cheat, lie, deceive, commit adultery, take drugs or any other sin that’s ready to jump on our backs like a monkey.

Jesus took forty days to deal with his humanity. He accepted the fact that he did not have control and would have to work with what was available.

It was only after the Resurrection, on his way to ascend to heaven that he proclaimed, “All power is given unto me in heaven and Earth.”

So let’s stop controlling, and instead … work with what is available.

 

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