Cracked 5 … March 13th, 2018



Jonathots Daily Blog

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Ways to Gain Back the Hour You Recently Lost From Springing Ahead for Daylight Savings Time

A. Don’t watch the anemic reboot of “American Idol”

 

B. Change your “hour of prayer” to a thirty-second summary

 

C. Drive faster

 

D. Skip foreplay

 

E. Be one hour late for everything until fall

 

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Just Say Great… May 1, 2014


Jonathots Daily Blog

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American Idol contestantThe contestants line up to offer their small-town, country-fair talent contest versions of popular songs in front of judges who have illustrious careers but still are looking for ways to create a bit more “sheen.”

And then it’s time for the critique.

We call it American Idol. But actually, it’s merely a few notches above the Rotary Club’s talent search at a local high school. And the critiques rarely offer any legitimate criticism.

Why? Because they can’t.

Between a booing audience, which thinks any offering of correction is mean-spirited, and the singers, themselves, who deflate like cheap balloons whenever anything is suggested that doesn’t end up with the affirmation, “you’re great,” the individuals who have been selected to move the show forward and find talented, excellent artists, are tied up and thrown into a corner and told to shut up.

We, as Americans, have become obsessed with our former greatness, which we insist is still intact. Every comment, suggestion, notion or even fresh idea has to be cushioned with the preface: “Of course, this isn’t any big deal. You’re already great. But maybe you might like to try something new.”

We seem to be almost comatose in the face of the reality that as of later this fall, for the first time in over 150 years, the economy of China will become the number one commerce in the world. Not since 1871 has the United States been eclipsed.

Yet if you offer this observation or even put forth the assertion that there is room for improvement, the masses will stare at you in disbelief and say, “You’re not saying we aren’t great, right?”

What I am saying is that greatness does not require praise, but rather, opportunity.

There are three cardinal principles located in the gospel I follow which launch a human being in the direction of success, enhanced by individuality:

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit.

It is the admission that I am not naturally good. Because I’m not. I want to cut corners. I would cheat if I could get away with it. I want to blame other people for my mistakes and I don’t want to hear criticism.

2. I am an unprofitable servant.

The message here is that even when I have done well, I need to realize that I am not naturally better. Better is something that comes my way when I admit my need, make adequate adjustments and receive the benefit of my repentance.

3. Go the second mile.

I am not naturally excellent, either. I have a tendency to spend my time asking an abundance of questions about what is necessary to fulfill the commitment instead of blowing past the competition and guaranteeing myself placement.

You know what the power is of going the second mile? You are a mile ahead. That means if you want to rest, slow down or push forward–getting further distance between you and the competition–you have that choice. No one is nipping at your heels and the only thing you have to compare to is the quality of your own work.

Shows like American Idol are frustrating, but also enlightening because they portray how far we’ve fallen from the pinnacle of passion.

Even though it seems to be popular to insist on being called “great” when you’ve barely shown up for the race and slid on your sneakers–please, don’t do that for me.

I will set a standard and if I find that standard is not up to the par of what is required, I will push myself joyously to escape the criticism that I know my spirit will not handle well.

Sooner or later America must understand that if we allow other nations to supersede us economically, they will gain a voice in our world which will control the spirituality and emotions of our planet–when they may not be worthy of such a calling.

We are still a nation that believes that all men are created equal.

But the purpose of that creation is to strive towards excellence, taking pride in the sweat of our brow instead of sitting around, waiting for the next affirming statement to our self-esteem.

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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.

Populie: Be Yourself… March 12, 2014


Jonathots Daily Blog  

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The VoiceIt happens all the time on shows like The Voice or American Idol: a contestant is voted off by the audience and awaits the final words of encouragement from the judges.

Inevitably, one of the mentors will pipe up with, “Be yourself.”

You can see the look of confusion on the contestant’s face as he or she thinks, “Isn’t that what I just did? I was myself–and I lost.”

It is popular. “Be yourself” has become the mantra of a generation which thinks the cure for mediocrity is pumping people up.

It is popular, but it is a lie.

POPULIE.

The problem with the concept of “be yourself” is that individuality loses its power when compatibility isn’t achieved. In other words, if we can’t find a way to peacefully co-exist with each other, merely standing firm, establishing our presence, won’t achieve much except further separation in thinking and segregation between people based upon their quirks.

I will be honest with you–if you’re able to find one other person in your life that you can actually be yourself around, without them running away in horror, you have just discovered a miracle.

Truth–fine tune who you are according to what you need to do and where you want to go.

The Good Book offers us three other “be’s” to consider “beneath our bonnet:”

1. Be not afraid.

You guarantee failure if you are frightened and choke when opportunity comes your way. If you have a reasonable amount of ability and learn how to use it well, you will find a reasonable amount of success.

2. Be of good cheer.

The greatest buzz-kill in life is to take things too seriously. A light heart lends itself to a willing spirit, which invites an open mind, giving you a chance to survive when things begin to evolve in front of you.

3. Be perfect.

Maybe that should be “perfect your be.” In other words, find something you do well and continue to practice it until it’s at market quality, and then make sure you keep it up to spec-ready to go.

If you decide to pursue a lifestyle to “be yourself,” you will have a narrow vision for what is acceptable, and you will have a smaller and smaller handful of folks who are willing to put up with your alleged uniqueness.

  • It is a populie. 
  • It is marijuana to the masses.
  • It is the notion that we can remain the same and still get our portion.

What we need to be is whatever is necessary to allow ourselves to be part of the human family…successful without hurting anyone else in the process. 

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The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Pretend–October 31, 2011


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Dressing up in costumed apparel of a character of our choice, often with frightening possibilities. No, I’m not talking about the US Congress. Of course, I mean Halloween.  Halloween is today, and for me, a time when I enjoy the festivities of those around me, although I don’t participate to any great degree. It’s not that I’m a nudge or have some theological opposition to the holiday–because quite honestly, bizarre outfits are common in our day and age and you don’t have to go any further than organized religion if you want to see the devil at work.

No, it’s not about religious reasons or even not wanting to don myself in ghoulish garments.  It’s just that I don’t like to pretend. It is my great lamentation about our society–that dissatisfaction with our present circumstances causes us to contend that something else would be better than what we have and that we have some sort of God-given birthright to have more than we currently possess.

It’s more or less the “American Idol” philosophy of talent: “I don’t have to be that good; I just have to be able to dress up like someone who is good–look the part.”  All I need is to have a dream, be dissatisfied with my present life, want better circumstances for my family and arrogantly demand that someone make me famous so I can haul in the loot.

We have become a generation of pretenders. There’s nothing wrong with doing that on October 31st.  It’s kind of fun. But when the desire to acquire a position we have not earned permeates the other three-hundred-sixty-four days of the year, it is not only boring, but eventually becomes ridiculous in its unrighteousness.

I ate lunch with a man and woman yesterday who might have every reason in the world to pretend.  He was a graduate of Yale Theological Seminary–and I’m not talking about the people who make the locks.  These are high-falutin’ theologians who just might think they created God. She had a Master’s Degree and every reason to be proud of her status and position. Yet they found themselves in a little town in South Carolina, serving a small church and working in a hospice, respectively. You might think they would be disgruntled, dissatisfied or feel cheated that their education and status had been placed in such miniscule confines.–because after all, that’s what we love to do.  We love to classify jobs and positions in America according to status instead of productivity. Dare I say the average worker at a McDonald’s on the dinner shift actually is much more efficient and energetic than a CEO at a large company? But we don’t honor work; we give respect to position and the trappings of affluence.

We pretend. We pretend that money makes us happy. We pretend that people who make large sums of cash are actually more important than those who don’t. We pretend there’s a color barrier so we don’t have to interact with a racial mixture which just might cause us to expand our thinking. We pretend.

Not so with my two luncheon companions. He extolled the joy of pastoring a congregation filled with emerging people who are growing in their understanding of one another and trying to become more spiritually and culturally diverse. She rejoiced in the opportunity to aid those about to cross over the great divide between this plane of existence and the next, sharing that she felt purpose and value in performing her task.

Yes, America loves to pretend. It is a country that believes that we bring what we dream while disdaining where we are to get help to achieve our goals so that we might truly, in the end, possess more.

It is the opposite of what really makes people happy.  Actually, the way to be happy is found in the lifestyle of my two new friends from South Carolina.  And here it is: bring what you’ve learned to the place where you are to help who you can, to give yourself the purpose you desire.

That’s it.

So please … go! Dress up! Rejoice!  Bob for apples (if people still do that). Drink some punch.  Trick or treat.  Scare yourself and everyone else to death. Have the time of your life.

But get up tomorrow and do yourself a big favor and stoppretending. Life is not what we want. It is wanting the life that is already here.  Who knows?  Maybe that is just another way of pretending. But it is a way of doing so that doesn’t require that you to imitate anyone else … or scare the world around you.

***************

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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