Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sitting Eight

By midday, Iz and Pal had developed a brand-new game. They called it, “Your Book, My Book.”

They mentioned the various names that were in the Talmud and the Koran, and were shocked to find out how many were the same. Abraham was in both, as was Joseph, Isaac, Ishmael, Noah, Adam, Eve, Moses. Yes, they were all there.

Iz’s book had some other different names and Pal’s mentioned both Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed, but it was really quite surprising. Kind of freaky.

They also realized that the two of them looked much the same. By now they smelled the same. They both believed in God. Both had never touched pork and had strict families. They came from desert Bedouins and they both really, really liked Hershey chocolate bars with almonds.

Aside from Iz being shorted by circumcision and Pal not really having a country, they should be brothers.

It made them wonder if anyone had ever thought of it before. They were so preoccupied with their new game that neither noticed the arrival of a guest—a slender, lanky young man with dark brown skin, curly hair and pieces of coal for eyes—piercing but still permitting some of the warmth of childhood.

Iz did not recognize the stranger but Pal knew him.  He spoke quietly. “Hello, Talsan.”

The young man stood tall, staring off into the distance. “It is hot, my little brother. You will sicken yourself in this heat.”

“I drink as much as I can,” said Pal, continuing his calm tone.

Talsan chuckled. “In the desert, by the time you think to drink, it is already too late.”

He sat down next to his younger brother.

Iz spoke up. “I am Jubal,” he stated. “Amir’s friend.”

“So,” asked Talsan, “are you the trouble-maker?”

Pal interrupted. “No, I am the trouble-maker. No, I mean—there is no trouble. We are just enjoying being together.”

Talsan shook his head. “Papa is worried. He has talked to the elders.”

Pal quickly shifted to his haunches. “Why did he talk to them?”

Talsan raised his voice. “Because he wasn’t going to talk to you out here in the desert, running from family and Allah.”

“I’m not running,” said Pal. “All my life I’ve done whatever I was told to do, even though there were questions exploding in my mind.”

“Questions?” scoffed Talsan, “what questions?”

Pal paused as if deciding whether to continue the conflict. “All right, Talsan,” he said with intensity. “Answer this. Why do we live in a religion, in a culture, that speaks so highly of family, friends and love, but then teaches us to hate these people walking nearest to us in the village?”

“We do not hate them,” Talsan spat. “They hate us. We are merely protecting our lives.”

Iz jumped in. “I don’t hate you. I don’t hate Pal. I don’t hate your father. I would just like to live—and have some fun.”

Talsan laughed scornfully. “Now I know you are a boy. Fun is out of the question. We are to become men and take our place—first at the universities and then, in leadership of our communities.”

“Without fun?” asked Pal.

Talsan heaved a deep sigh. “Papa has explained all of this to you. It is time for you to come home. He will not pursue you. He will pray for you but he will not come to you. It is a shame and a disgrace that you would wish him to defile himself by chasing his son down in the desert.”

“I don’t want him to chase me,” shouted Pal. “I want him to leave me alone and let my friend, Iz, and me, start a new life. Maybe a new town.”

“Or even a country,” piped in Iz.

“Iz,” said Talsan. “Listen to yourself, little boy. Our country has existed for thousands of years, filled with tradition and rich spirituality.”

Iz interrupted. “But how can it be spiritual when it is so full of hate?”

Talsan shook his head. “Do you hate the lamb when you take the wool? Do you hate the chicken when you collect its eggs? Do you hate the animal when you spill its blood to provide meat for your table? What you call hate is merely the way of nature. Things that are alike seek their own. In the process, they reject different species so as to keep purity within the ranks.”

Pal screamed at his brother. “You make no sense! Is this what they teach you at the university? These are just weird stories that don’t mean anything. My friend, Iz, here, is not a chicken. And I’m not an animal stuck in some herd. Talsan, you cannot tell me that you believe this.”

Talsan drew a deep breath. “What I believe has no power if it cannot change what I see. All of my wishes for peace and love are meaningless when I live in a world of bigotry and intolerance. I don’t want to change the world. I just want to keep the world from changing me.”

Both boys squinted at him, confused.

Talsan grabbed Pal’s arm, pulling him to his feet. “You will go with me,” he stated.

Pal collapsed, forcing his body to the ground, as Iz grabbed the grenade.

Talsan spied the weapon extended in the young boy’s hand. “So this is your answer to violence?” he posed. “How are you any different than anyone else? You would kill me to maintain your little society?”

Pal, lying face-down in the ground, spit back, “Talsan, I don’t want to kill you. You are my brother. I just don’t want you to decide my life.”

Talsan released his hold on Pal’s arm and stepped a few paces away, then turned and said, “I will tell Papa that your mind is deranged by the desert sun, and that you are under the power of some evil spirit. This should comfort him.”

He continued. “My little brother, I do not know what you’re doing. I do not know what in the hell this ‘Iz and Pal’ business is all about, but you are skin of my skin and blood of my blood. I will not hate you because I do not understand. This is where I am different from Papa. I pray you will change your ways, but I do not want you to starve and die of thirst. I will have food and water delivered here every morning until you decide to come to your senses. You are a childish idiot—but that should not be a death sentence.”

Pal stood to his feet and gingerly gave his brother a hug. Talsan nodded at Iz and concluded, “I do not hate you Jews. I just don’t believe that God chose you any more than He chose me.”

“No argument from me,” said Iz simply. “And thanks for the food.”

The boys perched in silence and watched as Talsan made his way down the hill. With each step he took they realized they were growing further and further away from their families and communities. Soon there would be nothing but the sand under their feet and the love they had in their hearts.

Still, it seemed like enough.


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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 3)… July 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I must apologize. I’m still a bit troubled.

It’s the whole “Abraham” thing.

There are supposedly three religions–Judaism, Muslim and Christianity–that are knit together in a quilt based on a person named Abraham. If such a weaving is true, it is sewn with a dynamite fuse, ready to be lit at the least provocation.

A very simple study of the Gospels about Jesus will tell you that he was neither a practicing Jew nor did those around him deem him to be. If he felt he was Jewish, he certainly failed to convince anyone, and if they believed him to be their brother, they probably should not have crucified him.

On one occasion the Jews called Jesus a “Samaritan and a demon” while proclaiming themselves to be “children of Abraham.”

He alarmed them by stating that before Abraham existed, he was around. They did not muse his statement nor ask for evidence, but instead, picked up rocks to kill him, and he barely escaped with his life.

Christianity has many benefits but one of the main missions is to gently untangle itself from the Abrahamic family tree, so as to be able to make peace between these two feuding brothers–the followers of Abraham’s son, Isaac, and those of Abraham’s son, Ishmael.

Where would we begin?

We can commence this very worthwhile journey by understanding that Judaism is a culture, Muslim is a culture, but Christianity is a lifestyle.

So whether you’re from China, the Netherlands, Russia or Argentina, the ideas and message of Jesus will fit into your surroundings. Judaism basically works around Jews, and the Muslim faith has the greatest appeal to those who are Arab. That’s because they are cultures, not lifestyles.

As American Christians, we favor the Jews, not because they have any affinity for Jesus. Actually the Quran contains more respect for Jesus than the Old Testament. No, we favor the Jews because they were dispersed into Europe and they seem more American. Yes, it is another one of our racial bigotries–and when Jews look like Arabs, we are much less likely to be tender in their direction.

So let’s get over the foolishness and back to our theme:

If Jesus is God, then Jehovah and Allah are not.

If God is Jesus, then maybe there might be a little bit of Jehovah and Allah lounging around His man cave.

Christianity has the opportunity to heal one of the greatest family squabbles of all time. We cannot do so by saying we are “children of Abraham.”

In the Gospel of John, he clearly states that we are not born of flesh and blood, but of the Spirit. As followers of Jesus, we are not part of a lineage, but instead, linked by a salvation into what truly can be called the greatest opportunity for peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

 

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Ask Jonathots … December 15th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Is Jesus really the son of God?

Which must be prefaced by an initial inquiry: is there a God in the first place, who could manifest a son?

Zeus, Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu and many other deities I personally find dissatisfying, if not unnerving. They seem to be divinities who insist we humans use our earthly journey to attain a heavenly destination.

This is where Jesus steps away from the crowd and offers a possibility:

What if God, rather than being Almighty, is a creative Father, who wants us to use the intelligence of heaven to enhance our earthly journey?

All at once, we are presented with a baby born in a barn to a peasant mother and a baffled “daddy figure,” who arrives under the banner of “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”

Most interesting–as a grown man, this baby never abandons the message, even when confronted by the foolishness of religion and the tyranny of Rome.

If there had been no Jesus, would we find ourselves, every December, creating a story to motivate us toward brotherhood?

For instance, in attempting to survive 2016 with all of its selfishness, would we require a one-month reprieve of genuine affection and universal acceptance?

The reason I choose to believe that Jesus is the Son of God is because he taught about a Creator who chose to be a Father, but asks us to submit to the wisdom already placed in Earth by science, and learn how to use these resources to find reasons to establish commonality with all souls.

So I will tell you, if there is a God, Jesus would make a great son.

And if Jesus is the son of God, we have the promise of a Father who is gentle-hearted but also inspires us to respect the Earth. And if we respect the Earth, we are given the promise that God’s will can be done here, even as it is in heaven.

Even one drop of religion added to Jesus turns it into poison.

But when you take away Zeus, Jehovah, Allah and Vishnu from the equation, you discover a benevolent Father who sent His son to teach us the powers of Earth, the glories of kindness and the simplicity of eternity.

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Jesonian: The Jesus Factor … June 8, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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It’s not that I’m intolerant or spiritually bigoted; it’s just that I don’t think I could believe in God if it weren’t for Jesus.notebook

  • Jehovah strikes me as a bit fussy.
  • Allah is too particular for my taste.
  • The gods of Olympus are pretentious.
  • Buddha offers an enlightened path–yet I need more.
  • Confucius says a lot of things.
  • Shinto offers possible doings.
  • And candidly, I get lost somewhere in the thousand deities of the Hindi.

So when I sit around in discussions, and people begin to explain how all the religions of the world get chopped up and put into a blender to make a pious “smoothie,” I quietly retreat and allow them their amalgamation while I pursue my simple friendship.

Even though somewhere along the line, Christianity has relegated the person of Jesus to the status of Savior and Coming King, I still have the magnificent words of his traveling companion and best buddy, John, who told me, with great certainty, that the Word became Flesh and dwelled among us.

Yes, it’s important to know that Jesus is a word. He is not merely the culmination of ancient Jewish prophesy, but instead, came to fulfill and complete wisdom through his philosophy. There is much I read in the Old Testament and Koran which are not earth-friendly. They are not people-considerate. But in the mind of Jesus, I find a will that can be done on earth as it’s also equally achieved in heaven.

Trying to preach Jesus without talking about the essence of his ideas and impetus of his teachings is merely promoting Judaism with a silent Messiah.

He wasn’t only the word, though. He was made flesh. My journey in finding the Jesus Factor demands that I discover his humanity. If his only purpose for donning a human body was to be sacrificed for our sins, then certainly that could have been achieved by allowing King Herod to murder the infant Christ. But instead, he lived thirty years as a family man and three years as the voice of the people. That’s worth studying, don’t you think?

And not only did the word become flesh, but he dwelled among us.

Yes, it’s my job to find Jesus’ spirit. I’m encouraged in that quest by being told that the same spirit that occupied him can fill my heart. I am also told that he gave us all the power to become the sons of God.

It’s rather ironic that a Christianity that cuddles up too closely to other religions loses the most significant portion of its appeal–Jesus.

I am not looking for a God to believe in so I can separate myself from the rest of the people on earth. I want a God to believe in so I have a reason to enjoy, understand, appreciate, tolerate and embrace my other brothers and sisters.

Jesus gives me that.

Could I do it without him? I would find it difficult to find an ancestor or historical figure who had the compassion, insight, earth-savvy and eternal focus that I find in his person.

It is the Jesus Factor.

He is the word–so I will find his philosophy.

He became flesh–so I will find his humanity.

And he dwelled among us–I will find his spirit.

It is what I call Jesonian.

I can recommend it. Or you can feel free, with my love and blessing, to pursue your favorite blending.

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

Confluence … July 12, 2012

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It was an odd sensation. Not odd in the sense of bizarre, but rather, intriguing, invigorating–spine-tingling, if you will.

He stopped off at my motel room before he headed off to be in Chicago with his wife. He’s a full-grown man but he calls me Pop. The reason for that lovely addressing is that when he was just about ten years old, a rocky storm of a family in peril deposited him on my shore. I took him in as a son. He gradually took me in as a possibility.

We sat and talked yesterday for what ended up being much longer than a traditional farewell. What made this situation particularly unique was that thirty-four years earlier, I sat in a room with his father when he was exactly the same age, discussing many of the same dilemmas, coming to mostly identical conclusions.

But this time it was different.

When I talked to his father, I was only five years his senior–and he was deeply engrained in a culture which possessed too much macho and not enough tenderness for discovery. His father was frightened, nervous, incriminated, worried, horny and broke. It is not a particularly appealing buffet of possibilities. His father was driving around in a beat-up yellow Ford Pinto with a burnt valve, which only started on mornings when there was absolutely no moisture in the air. His father was wounded, but not seeking treatment. His father was angry, but content with the rage. His father was ignorant, while adding the unnecessary and unseemly addition of being arrogant. I worked with his father for a long time, and although there were occasional hints of progress, he always returned to his roots instead of honoring his new sprouts.

So yesterday, when this fine, young man came to my motel room, talking about his life, he lamented that he was a little nervous that he might end up being like his dad.

I laughed. I wasn’t trying to be scornful or disrespectful to this fine fellow; it just seemed humorous to me that this particular insecurity was plaguing him. For you see, something had changed. The curse of repetition of father to son had been broken by the power of a confluence.

It is impossible for two things to remain identical if one insists on changing the level of experience. It is the reason that our society is not moving forward–because we are not admitting our frailties to our children and sending them to places where they can learn how to be stronger than we were. Some folks who tout the name of Mother and Father even feel great pride that their children are exactly like them.

God forbid.

The greatest love you can have for your son or daughter is to wish that they will take the better parts of you, reject the worst and go out and experience more than you did, so that in their souls there can be a confluence of newness.

What is a confluence? It is when the combined streams of many rivers join together to form a heart.  And that is what we’re supposed to be.

The young man sitting in my room could never be his father because:

  • he traveled to China to learn more about our world
  • he met a young woman there, fell in love with her, married her and has a son
  • he walked the streets among the poor in that country, learning their ways, their language and their customs
  • he dealt with his temper by seeking ways to find peace in his soul and harmony with those around him
  • he learned a craft of making movies instead of complaining about his lack of ability
  • he made friends with his wife’s family and has their support instead of their disdain
  • he keeps in contact with his brothers and family here in the United States, letting them know of his love and concern
  • he drives a car that starts with a key instead of needing the will of God
  • he came to the United States with his dear lady to aid her in continuing her education and dreams

Do you see what I mean? He created new rivers from the waters of his soul, to generate a confluence that was guaranteed to be different from that of his hapless father.

It is what we need. Every conservative should have to spend three weeks of his life living in poverty in the inner city. Every liberal who blithely contends that abortion is a choice should take their turn counseling and listening at a Planned Parenthood Clinic. Every Republican should work in a food stamp office and every Democrat should go deer hunting with some of the good folks down in Rome, Georgia. Every religious person should go out and see some of the injustice and pain in the world before they produce the silly piping of “God is good–all the time.” And every atheist should sit in the hospital room of a soul of faith, dying of cancer, and sense the angels entering the room to retrieve a friend.

America suffers because we have one stream of thinking instead of a confluence of many rivers of reason. No one ever became a worse person by opening up to learn about how other human beings feel. It is why we celebrate Jesus–because he insisted that the whole world was to be loved, not just Jew or Arab–and he picked up some boxes and moved God and Allah out of Mesopotamia to a home on the entire planet.

Jesus created a confluence. So did the young man who sat in my room yesterday. I was touched because he was concerned about his destiny, but he has already determined the power of his journey by sending in more water.

It’s a confluence–a decision to let fresh streams into our thinking, which will make us realize that the world is not quite as simple as Mom and Dad made it, and not nearly as complicated as we fear it to be.

   

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Writer–not “Righter”–November 15, 2011

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She was so angry with me. Having purchased my book, Living a Legendary Life, she became incensed with Chapter 1, where I assert that it really doesn’t matter what we call God. We can even call him Larry as long as our deity teaches us to love people. She felt the concept I was putting forth was theologically incorrect and contained a bit of heresy.

I looked at her, bewildered–because I am not a theologian. I don’t even play one on television. Without being too critical, I don’t usually like to find myself in the company of such creatures. I am a writer–not a “righter.” It is my job to shed light upon subjects, and get people to think and feel again, instead of merely reacting within their denomination, political party or social structure’s platform of believing. Cleverness is my greatest tool, not necessarily accuracy. I am an observer of human behavior, not an explainer or controller.

It is my job as a writer, when things are not going well, to remind us of our better selves, and if necessary, chide us into believing that being human is a blessing rather than a curse.

I chose to be a writer because I never found that people who are trying to “right” all the wrongs in the world necessarily begin with a good agenda that would actually set the direction in a forward motion. It’s hard to be “right.” Not quite so difficult to write. Maybe that’s why I chose to be a writer instead of a “righter.”

Possessing a bit of laziness and unwillingness to attach a bibliography to everything I say, I have chosen a path where I can be erred and still be entertaining and enlightening. Do I occasionally discover things that are right as I write? Only God and time will prove that to be true. But as a writer, it is my job to explore all four of the human cavities of experience–the heart, the soul, the mind and the strength.

I am supposed to get people to feel again. Also, can I construct a sentence that might cause folks to consider the existence, or even the purpose, of God? Sitting behind my desk, might there be a concept that I conjure from my imagination that will cause human beings to think beyond their culture and apprehensions? And, as one of those writers, I am not afraid of the human body, sexuality and the expression of our physicality to one another. I examine the language, the tendencies, the trends and add my own little spice of humor and wit, such as it is, to make things a bit brighter.

I am not suggesting to this woman that she call God Larry. Actually, Frank would be just fine. Seriously, I would just like her and everyone else who has become intransigent in their pursuit of eternal righteousness, to consider for one moment what is really important, and if it is important, why it might be the first thing that pops to God’s mind when He meets us. I am not bound by conventional wisdom, nor am I limited to conventional morality. Yes, I can even explore the more unseemly portions of mankind’s behavior.

I have always feared those who believe they’re right. It’s just because I know how inadequate my own efforts can be and I have not yet found anyone else who supersedes my potential by enough of a margin to make me think that they have discovered the one true path to God.

So I write.

In the process, maybe occasionally I come up with something “right,” but I will guarantee you that I say enough wrong that you must not trust every word that comes from my pen and think it is an oracle of the divine.  Shoot, often it’s not even my own best work.

It will not be our prophets that will bring our country to a state of repentance. Politicians would never have enough organization to change the world through laws. Corporations are bogged down with their own profit margin and therefore don’t always seek the best for the consumer. And in my mind’s eye, religion spends too much time trying to please a God who already seems pleased.

It is our writers who will shed light on the dark corners of human selection and make us wonder if we can actually do better. If I really believed that God was angry about being called Larry, I would suggest that He take a course in sensitivity and turn His ego down a notch or two.  After all, I have taken my share of criticism and scrutiny, and have been able to survive it and grow through it. I think God, who certainly made some interesting creations that would be well worth questioning, is perfectly able to handle any mere writer’s imaginary journey.

If you gave me a choice of Allah (who supposedly is very angry at anyone who is not a Muslim) and Jehovah (who kills Amorites because they still have a foreskin) and the thousand gods of the Hindus (who certainly tend to collide with one another) or even the God of the New Testament (who often is perplexed about whether to be more like Jesus or Paul), I think I might prefer a God named Larry, who just really would like to see people get along and be happy. Because after all, you couldn’t have a name like Larry and take yourself too seriously.

So just to make it clear to you and all future critics, I am a writer, not a “righter.” I will leave such decisions of truth and accuracy in the hands of the angels. My hands are flesh and blood–and simply write of such matters.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

 

Jonathan sings “Let”

 

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

 

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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