PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … November 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I’ll Let You Know

To all the ladies of the Earth

Who grant our species needful birth

It’s time for us to let you know

Some way for us to finally show

That carnal men from far and wide

Flirt, deceive, have notoriously lied

In an attempt to gain power

Have dominated each moment and hour

For she must become an acquisition

To diminish her purpose and position

A sexual object without a name

An adversary available for blame

So men will intimidate

Like gorillas, they imitate

Thumping the chest

Insisting they’re the best

And whispering a little something

Foul, mean–a sour nothing

Harass her ass

He grovels and pokes

Ask for favors

Pretend it’s jokes

If you want to make progress

He wants you to undress

Fill the Bill

Acting Spacey

Dirty talk

Make it racy

If you cry you lose your chance

If you agree you join the dance

So it’s time to finally replace

And rename the macho disgrace

For I am a woman, watch me grow

And if I’m interested, I’ll let you know.

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G-Poppers … January 8th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop took a moment to stop and think.

Sometimes we have to do that. If we don’t stop and create a window to think, we shall not become thoughtful.

G-Pop believes we have created a problem.

For instance, the goal of politics is to convince people that things are really bad and we need this particular candidate to come along and save the situation.

Likewise, the goal of religion is to make people feel bad about themselves–at least enough that they will come and accept God.

And entertainment has an aspiration to make money by manufacturing ideas which make folks feel good about themselves–perhaps even to the detriment of others.

What’s missing? Anyone or anything that offers the wisdom that problems exist, we are part of them, and ventures a guess at possible resolution.

  • So politicians get elected by being negative, and then we’re surprised when they don’t end up with a positive agenda.
  • Religion claims to save souls, only to leave them dangling in their inadequacy and frustration.
  • And entertainment plays to the lowest common denominator of intelligence, lust and self-righteousness in order to get us to buy a ticket to the never-ending show.

But where is the prophetic voice which reminds us of the mistakes of the past, while addressing our present and offering an ingenious pathway to escape?

Such a voice might lack the pizzaz of doom or the glitter of self-esteem.

Such a proclamation will never be allowed in politics because it offers too much possibility, including the assertion that we could actually agree with our adversary on certain issues.

Religion will certainly reject the message because it involves too much human inclusion and not enough heavenly dominance.

And entertainment is just playing it safe by making sequels of sequels, ending up with the desperate decision to create prequels.

So G-Pop wonders what he can tell his children. What would be a simple axiom which could be applied in every situation as a way of assessing the current twittering mindset?

How about this:

Does this new idea encourage us to love our neighbor as ourselves?

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Jesonian: F. A. A. E. … October 18th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

In an age when Facebook has attempted to simplify relationships down to “friend” and “unfriend,” it might be of social significance to each one of us to look at the Jesonian approach to human interaction.

Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus did not love everybody with the same intensity. There were measures, concerns, confinements and meters to his affection and devotion.

Understanding that those judgments were not based upon prejudice, but rather, practicality, is the beginning of forming a way of dealing with humanity, preventing you from becoming jaded.

Jesus put human relationships into four categories:

1. Friend.

His definition of “friend” was very specific. He traveled with twelve disciples for more than three years before he referred to them as friends–and then he said he felt he could do so because he could “share his life with them.”

A true friend is a rarity because you must be willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly without fear of incrimination.

2. Acquaintances.

These are people Jesus interacted with who shared a common purpose, but not necessarily a transparency. They were the many individuals who believed on him because they encountered a miracle. But generally speaking, these acquaintances did not end up following him, but departed on their own to start a new life, or were instructed by Jesus to go back to their homes and spread the good news.

3. Adversary.

It will probably astound you when I say that most of the interaction you have with your fellow-travelers will be adversarial.

An adversary is someone you really want to grow to appreciate and love, so you’re learning to cooperate with each other, while also being fully aware of your differences. This is why Jesus told us to “reason with our adversary.” Don’t criticize them; don’t kill them. Find the areas where you concur, and interact in those ventures without forcing agreement in others.

4. Enemies.

And finally, an enemy is simply defined as someone who does not wish you good will. Enemies are not happy when you succeed.

They may not plot against you nor gossip but they do not rejoice when you rejoice, nor mourn when you mourn.

This is where the variety and intensity of Jesonian affection is put into place. So:

We love our friends because we can be completely open with them.

We honor our acquaintances because we share so much in common that it establishes a deep sense of human-hood.

We commit to our adversaries because they keep us thinking and challenge us to have a good reason for what we believe instead of stumping and stomping around about our contentions.

And we respect our enemies because that is the only way we can assure ourselves that their animosity will not easily be turned into action against us.

  • Friends are rare.
  • Acquaintances are growing.
  • Adversaries are plentiful.
  • And enemies are few.

Fortunately, the treatment for all of them is easy to remember:

A multi-faceted love.  

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Three Ways to Make a Friend Last…April 23, 2015

 

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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old friends

Merely relying on affection to maintain a relationship will exhaust the closeness.

It takes more than that.

For after all, human passion ebbs and flows. If you want to make sure the person you care deeply for is around for a long time, you need to instill values that incite longevity.

  1. Remember what your friend says and likes.

The quickest way to terminate a relationship is to stop listening to the preferences of your acquaintance. People make it clear what they like. People make it clear that they want to be heard. If you’re aware of what people enjoy because you listen to what they say instead of assuming that you know better, you greatly increase the potential of maintaining good fellowship.

  1. Remember to listen for a question before offering your opinion.

Sometimes people want to vent, not hear your sermon. A sounding board does not require a microphone. In other words, often in a friendship you are a pair of ears which purposely has closed up your mouth.

Only when people ask a question and inquire of your insight should you offer an opinion.

This is why our children can never be our friends. We must instruct them even when they don’t want to hear what we have to say. But our friends are not our children. We must grant them the respect of asking instead of being told.

       3. Remember to forget.

One of the more beautiful parts of repentance is the ointment of forgetfulness that is served up to complete the healing. No one ever truly heals until they press ahead to new projects which take them further and further away from the pain.

A friend should always let you–or even help you–create distance from your latest stupidity.

Anyone who constantly reminds you of your failures or warns you to be careful all the time is taking you out of the best aspects of your game and sidelining you as second string.

But until we remember what our friend likes, to only offer an opinion when asked, and to forget the mistakes that have crossed the path, we will lurk as an adversary instead of an advocates. 

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Jesonian: S.I.N. (Single Issue Nerds) … January 11, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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intellectual gif

Judas thought it was all about poor people. We’re not certain that he really cared about the poor–just that he thought it was a confirmation of being religious.

The Pharisees thought we proved our worth to God by performing traditional worship services. They did a lot of straining and ended up with more gnats than camels.

The disciples of John the Baptist believed that people appear more righteous when they fast–especially if you can go without food and look miserable while doing it.

The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife–either heaven or hell. In other words, it all happens here or nothing happens.

In each one of these cases you are dealing with “Single Issue Nerds”–they believe that the way one does things is more important than the motivation–the faithfulness to a practice more powerful than a conclusion.

Dare I say, they all became the enemy, or at least the adversary, of Jesus of Nazareth? His contention about true religion was that “the kingdom of God is within you.” In other words:

  • If you’re not happy, your faith is failing.
  • If you don’t have peace of mind, your beliefs are weakened.
  • And if you’re not pursuing a life of good cheer and acceptance of others, you might as well be without any kind of spirituality because you’re really just mimicking the heathens.

I see it everywhere I go–“Single Issue Nerds.” They have grabbed some bauble from the Bible and made it their beating bongo. They are obsessed with their discovery, convinced that those who do not pursue their particular issue lack enlightenment and possibly totally misunderstand the will of God.

Let us never forget that Jesus did not have a single issue. It didn’t matter who he talked to, what nationality they were, or even if the people around them thought they were hopeless sinners. He always looked for three things:

1. Are you ready for a change? People who are not willing to change will spend all their time trying to change you.

2. Can you humble yourself? Are you willing to deny your sensation of wholeness, to admit your lack?

3. Can you extend the same mercy to others? Grace is soon dissipated by the absence of mercy. For as Jesus said, “The measure I measure out to others will be measured back to me.”

You may think you have a great social gospel or that your liturgy is significantly deep and meaningful, or maybe that your fundamentalism will squeak you through the doors of heaven when others are rejected.

I suppose you might consider yourself to be progressive–where you only use the Gospel to explain your own mission statement.

But you will find that in your hour of need, your faith has to be able to set you free–because if you’re not free, you can’t free anyone else.

And if you’re in bondage, no matter how good your intentions, you will soon bind up all the world around you.

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Iffing Way (Part 6): I Quit … November 24, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

He asked for a private meeting.

It is very difficult to spit out your feelings while swallowing your pride.

He was insulted. Being a fully grown man, he had been called down in front of his colleagues with no regard for his position.

It was certainly improper. If there isn’t a free flow of ideas, then there is tyranny.

Yet somehow or another he had succeeded in calming his spirit to request a moment of time with this friend who had offended him.

It was all a little silly, yet grounded in a principle which was important enough for making a stand.

Mary had no business taking such an expensive amount of ointment and pouring it out on the Teacher’s head and feet. Three hundred dollars! Did he have any idea what three hundred dollars could do to aid at least five hundred families in this poverty-stricken area?

Yet when he lodged his objection, he was tersely set aside and told that he shouldn’t criticize Mary for her deed because she was anointing him “for his burial.”

What a drama king! What burial? He was thirty-three-and-a-half years old and as healthy as an ox.

Judas could not understand why the Teacher was pulling up lame at this point instead of standing strong and propelling the mission to a glorious conclusion. It was ridiculous.

So feeling confronted, Judas had stomped out, not wanting to say something he might regret later.

Judas chose to be the mature one. But now what was he going to do? He would not play the role of the bruised puppy who had been slapped on the nose by his master.

He had been taught by his father Simon to stand up for himself–to find what was important and risk humiliation and even alienation to defend it.

Once, when he was a kid, one of his playmates had stolen some toys from him and he was in the middle of plotting for the young fellow a painful retribution. His dad stopped him, telling him never to betray his own conscience and soul, but instead, to confront his adversary and try to find terms of peace.

So Judas decided to talk to Jesus.

“Listen, I was really offended by what happened last night.”

Jesus remained silent.

Judas continued slowly. “I want us to be able to discuss this without me playing the part of the disciple and you being the big boss.”

Jesus continued to listen.

“You see, Jesus, my problem is that I don’t think we should waste money and then preach a message of taking care of the poor when we, ourselves, are squandering cash.”

Jesus sat quietly without moving a muscle.

A bit frustrated, Judas pushed on. “Are you listening to me? Do you feel what’s in my heart? Do you appreciate my opinion, or since it’s different from yours, is it irrelevant?”

Finally Jesus spoke. “What is it you want, Judas bar Simon?”

“That’s easy,” replied Judas. “I want to be heard.”

Jesus paused and then looked into his eyes. “I can hear you–unless what needs to be done is more important than your words.”

“Are you pushing me out of this?” demanded Judas with a bit of heat.

Jesus sat quietly, without speaking a word.

“Then I quit,” said Judas. “I cannot stay somewhere that I’m not respected, and my father taught me not to seek revenge or betray people just because they disagree with me.”

“Your father taught you well,” said Jesus.

“So this is it?” punctuated Judas.

“That’s up to you,” said Jesus.

“It doesn’t seem to be,” replied Judas. “It seems like you want me out.”

“No,” said Jesus. “There are just certain things that have to be in my message, in timing and in the flow. Your comments were not within those boundaries.”

Judas wanted to continue to argue but found it difficult to do so because Jesus was still warm, but no longer open.

“I guess this is it,” said Judas.

“I guess so,” said Jesus, and inserted, “I wish you well.”

Judas turned and walked from the room. He should have known it wouldn’t work out–he was from Judea and the rest of the followers were from Galilee. It wasn’t an issue of prejudice–rather, culture.

He went back home to South Judea, to Kerioth, where he settled in, started a family, but tried to keep up with the affairs and times … of the every-growing Kingdom Movement.

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My Five Friends … September 15, 2012

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‘Twas another glorious night spent in small-town America, sharing with her fine citizens.

Coloma, Michigan–proudly displaying its Subway restaurant in the middle of the town square as confirmation of the presence of civilization. About a half a hundred souls made their way out to see me shake my reed in the wind. (Or perhaps most of them were there to hear Jan play her reed on her wind instrument…)But they came.

I have been doing this so many years that it has granted me the age, grace and courtesy to understand the validity of how things work without “kicking against the pricks”–because I will give you a quick definition of stupidity: stupidity is when a God-given reality is explained to you in detail and you stubbornly choose to believe it is merely an opinion.

Here’s what I’ve learned: there are five types of people who show up for everything in life. I am sure that your deeper insight may expand it to seven or boil it down to three. More power to you. Regarding this quintet of human possibilities, though, I have learned to love all of them. Obviously, I am drawn to the more affectionate members of the family, but my understanding of the others grants me the patience and general sweetness to include them.

All five of them were there last night at the First United Methodist Church. May I introduce you to them?

1. Mr., Miss or Mrs. I Am Here and Willing. These are people who show up bringing their own energy. They are the lovely folks you wish to sit next to in an airplane, who happen to have granola bars in their possession when you find out you’re stuck on the tarmac for an extra hour. They are willing to share. These folks require no hats, whistles or cake to have a party. They have made the journey with a sense of anticipation, with their own enthusiasm which will render the evening profitable even if the offering from the stage is less than professional.  They applaud dancing monkeys because the little fellas “try hard.”

2. This particular group I have dubbed I Am Here and Curious. They have left their homes because some little piece of advertising about the event has caught their interest, and they’re willing to come out to see if it was worth their time. They are not unfriendly, but they certainly don’t bring their own power boost. They are similar to that used car that the salesperson touts “only needs a good jump start, but runs great.” They are the kind of people who sit on the airplane, seeing that someone brought granola bars, and swear to do it next time, although they are destined to surely forget.

3. I Am Here Because I Am Always Here. “This is where I live, this is where I come, this is the source of my loyalty, I am not so sure I understand what I am about to experience, it doesn’t matter, I learned as a young human to show up or face the punishment. I am neither enthralled nor in agony–just seeking my gold star for being present. I am always a bit bewildered because my neutrality is viewed as negative instead of as an apathetic adaptation to my ongoing low expectation.”

4. I Am Here to Watch–with absolutely no intention of becoming involved. Matter of fact, I wish the whole event was on closed-circuit TV in a room containing an excellent candy machine. I think that I’m at home, so at the least urging of my whim, I may arise several times to go to the bathroom or check out what’s going on in the narthex. I am not negative, I just have developed a highly polished form of indifference.

5. And finally, I Am Here to Critique. Perhaps I watch too many episodes of America’s Got Talent or American Idol. I am under the conviction that the world is waiting for my scorecard on every issue, so rather than allowing my emotions to become involved, I will sit back, hand on my chin or arms across my chest, and watch from a distance so as to be able to give an impartial representation when asked about the procedure. I have no motivation to be critical–unless it ends up being as mediocre as I fear.

There you go. This is the way human beings function–and it doesn’t matter if you’re in the work place, the church, a concert, a party, a meeting or even around the family dinner table–you will see these five incarnations blossoming in front of your eyes. The problem, though, is that often intelligent people become aware of these variations, but rather than having tender mercy, kindness, humor and gentleness towards the less involved members, they become cynical, angry, challenging and even mean to them.

I am professional enough that I don’t peer at the critics in the audience, nor do I gear in on those who are trying to protect their hearts by perching their arms in front of them. But I also don’t allow myself to become overly giddy about those who are arriving with a pre-smile and a jolt of excitement. My job is to give my talent in excellence–and find a way to love everyone in the room.

That’s why I titled this essay My Five Friends.

  • Because Friend 1, who is here and willing, doesn’t really need me to do much except avoid dashing ever-present hope.
  • Buddy 2 requires information concerning my mission and purpose in order to turn curiosity into an actual level of interest.
  • Comrade 3 merely requires that I establish that I have arrive at his domain where he frequently resides–to edify instead of destroy.
  • Acquaintance 4 is often won over by a bit of surprise and flash–allowing for a smirk or even a smile to pass across a stony countenance.
  • And Adversary 5? Well, the best I can do with this one is to hope that he or she walks out thinking that this was one of the better performance they were ever forced to critique.

You can see the key. Winning over my first two friends is pretty easy. Trying to win over Friends 4 and 5 is an exercise in graying the hair–a bit futile. So the victory lies in turning Comrade 3 into a believer instead of just an arriver.

Is it really that simple? It certainly is, and thank God, because any deeper complexity would render me completely ill-prepared for participation.

So all five of my friends showed up in Coloma last night–and all five of them went home. My hope and prayer is that each one of them found a certain satisfaction that will enlighten their hearts to be the better sparkle of themselves.

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