Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … May 21st, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Woman: Would you vote for a woman for President just because she’s a female?

 

Dear Man: Would you?

 

Dear Woman: I don’t understand what you’re asking. Would I what?

 

Dear Man: Would you vote for a woman for President if you still held true the things you were taught about the differences between men and women.

 

Dear Woman: I think I understand but let me give you a chance to explain.

 

Dear Man: Well, let’s just look at two of them–two things both of us were taught about men and women as being “natural” facts: women are more emotional and men are stronger.

 

Dear Woman: Yes, I was certainly taught that. It was tempered with excuses, examples and supposed reasons, but those two principles are certainly in my brain

 

Dear Man: Mine, too. Matter of fact, as a woman I am taught, to a certain degree, to glory in my sensitivity as a replacement for being muscular, forceful, decisive and strong.

 

Dear Woman: The old bait and switch. “We’ll let you be more sensitive if you let us be stronger.” So to answer your question, with that in mind, do I want a President of the United States who is very emotionally involved with the world, or one who is strong enough to stand up to our enemies?

 

Dear Man: There you go. And that’s not the belief of just common or ignorant people, but of scholars, liberals, ministers and even educators.

 

Dear Woman: There’s only one problem. Every human being is emotional if you find their treasure.

 

Dear Man: You’re referring to the statement, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

Dear Woman: Exactly. I may not get worked up about a sick kitten, but if my favorite project, my favorite cause, my favorite team or even my favorite car is attacked, I can be brought to tears in a minute.

 

Dear Man: So you’re saying it’s not an issue of possessing emotion, but instead, finding the treasure which controls the emotion.

 

Dear Woman: That’s absolutely right. So how about strength? Are men stronger?

 

Dear Man: Let me advance this theory. Strength does not exist like it’s a mountain, standing tall on the horizon. Strength is associated with the amount of joy we’re able to maintain in the presence of difficulty.

 

Dear Woman: Because if we become angry, frustrated and feel cheated, strength goes away. So if a woman–or a man–have contact with their real feelings and avoid getting defensive, either one can be strong.

 

Dear Man: As either one can be emotional based upon what they’ve decided to treasure.

 

Dear Woman: So the danger is the question of whether we will elect a candidate based on what we know about the things they treasure and how easily disappointed they become, or whether we’ll just look at their genitalia.

 

Dear Man: I couldn’t have said it better myself. And to answer your question, I would vote for candidates, male or female, who know where to place their treasure and who don’t allow difficulty to turn them into angry children.

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G-Poppers … May 20th, 2016

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Jon close up

G-Pop has certainly made a religion out of avoiding being religious or political.

It’s not that he lacks faith or devotion to America–just that he is leery of any club that insists on making all the rules.

So when G-Pop was waiting for his son to join him for dinner at a restaurant, as he sipped some water and tried to avoid the breadsticks they had brought to the table, he listened in to a nearby conversation among two men and a woman.

Remarkably, the trio was split among the three remaining candidates who have a chance to be the President of the United States.

  • The woman was for Donald.
  • The younger man was for Bernie.
  • And the older man was for Hillary.

G-Pop chose to quietly monitor their conversation because it was so fascinating.

The woman who was for Donald was attracted to him because he is an Alpha male, angry over all the unfairness of government and the lack of protection seemingly being offered the American people.

The younger man was also incensed by the greed of Wall Street, the unfairness of wages and income distribution, as the older man tried to make the case that Hillary was the safe choice and at least has some background in the internal workings of the executive branch of the government.

G-Pop was keeping score in his mind.

Let’s see now: Two “angrys” and a safe choice.

He tried to remember the last President of the United States who came into office angry or as the safe choice, who ended up doing much to benefit the common good.

So G-Pop took a moment to examine the basic premises of each candidate.

Donald: America is too nice, we need to get tougher and also stop trying to please the whole world. Matter of fact, he lives this out personally by sharing that he doesn’t particularly favor apologizing.

Bernie: On the other hand, he is angry because Wall Street billionaires are hoarding all the profit, leaving the working class nearly destitute.

Hillary: She thinks her greatest appeal lies in trying to get the American people to go back to the 1990’s, when her husband was President, to restore that age of alleged optimism, balanced budgets and job security.

Always remember, every temporary solution looks better than a permanent one. That’s what makes it temporary.

Donald doesn’t want to apologize, yet we have a fellow who’s been around for two thousand years who tells us that as we forgive others, we will be forgiven.

Bernie wants to equalize the finance in the world, when that great thinker from two thousand years ago told us that those who have will get more and those who haven’t may very well lose what they have. That’s why we should be sensitive to the least of our brethren. It never equalizes.

And as far as Hillary’s contention regarding going back to the 1990’s, the same teacher instructed us that you can’t put new wine into old wineskins. 2016 is not 1995. Matter of fact, there’s little similarity anywhere in the mix.

So as G-Pop waited for his son to arrive, he thought to himself, two angry people and a safe choice will not prepare our nation for the problems we will be facing, which will demand strength mingled with diplomacy, force tenderized by forgiveness and devotion tempered by an evolution toward needful change.

Obviously, the three people at the table nearby were unable to come to any conclusions.

But G-Pop wants his children to know that unless one of these three candidates steps out of his or her present format and starts forgiving, being more realistic about wealth distribution and admits that we can’t live off a Presidency that is twenty years gone, we will have more problems than just a close election.

We will end up with leftovers in a world that demands main courses.

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Good News and Better News … March 21st, 2016

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eggs

Yesterday my travels took me to “The Egg Church” in Driver, Virginia.

Thirty-seven years ago, this congregation began a yearly tradition of making the most delicious chocolate-covered cream-filled eggs you will ever put anywhere near your salivating taste buds.

They did so for two reasons: the church was languishing in a bit of the doldrums, threatening to implode financially. And also, thirty-seven years ago it sounded like a whole lot of fun. Of course, like most fun, it has turned out to be a lot of work.

Although these “Chocolatiers” are some of the most delightful people you’ll ever meet, they do lament that in their community, they are known for their confections instead of their convictions.

May I tell these enlightened souls that they have done something absolutely “Jesus like” through their efforts–they have born fruit.

Even better, their fruit is candy-coated.

They have made themselves accessible to their town. In other words, they are reaching out with a box of candy instead of an offering plate–and they have given a quality that far surpasses anything else I have ever eaten during the season of passion.

There are worse things than being known as the “Egg Church.” For instance, you could be known as:

The Prompt Church. (We’re very timely.)

The Prayer Church. (We ask God about everything.)

The Laughing Church. (Giggling in the Spirit.)

The Angry Church. (Somebody’s going to hell–and it sure ain’t me.)

The Pretty Church. (Our stained glass is the window to our soul.)

The Preaching Church. (We hate sin…and maybe you, too.)

The Music Church. (Our worship leader was once a roadie for the Red Hot Chili Peppers)

The Doctrine Church. (We are Biblically sure we would not like you.)

The Athletic Church. (Our gymnasium is the largest in the county.)

The Everybody Church. (We have changed the meaning of so many verses to include our congregation’s actions that we just don’t ever read the Good Book out loud.)

Do you see what I mean? The good news is that you are “The Egg Church,” and known for something positive.

The better news?

Beech Grove United Methodist Church, if you keep loving human beings, you’ll all end up looking like “good eggs.”

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Good News and Better News… November 23rd, 2015

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Lawrence composite

There is a church in Lawrence.

I know this to be true because I was there just yesterday.

It is filled with beautifully flawed people–the kind God really loves. For after all, when we insist we’re beautiful, but without flaw, we become obnoxious to everyone we encounter. And when we spend too much time bowing our heads, feeling we are flawed without beauty, we make our Creator look like a failure.

Yes, coming to the end of another year of traveling across the country, I will tell you: humanity is a holy mess.

We are butterflies, still trying to tote our cocoons. It keeps us from flying high in the sky where our colors can be seen.

The people of Lawrence, like all the folks I’ve met this year, are absolutely outstanding, industrious, faithful and willing–but still unfortunately held in check by the burden and the beast of religion. They are so close to being free. Really, they’re just two steps away.

I spent the morning trying to convince them that those two steps were well worth the effort. It’s the same message Jesus had for religious people in his day, who were frightened of the terrorism of the zealots and angry with the Roman government.

Jesus told the people they were the “salt of the earth” and not to worry so much about the world around them, but instead, to focus on the emerging talent and ability within them. Most of them were unable to make the transition.

Yes, may I say to my dear friends in Lawrence: you are merely two steps away from the message of Jesus, to cut the cord of your cocoon so you can soar like butterflies.

All you have to do is get rid of superstition and bondage to the Old Testament.

For superstition makes us believe that God is angry with mankind, when Jesus told us he loves the world; and the Old Testament is filled with the same type of Sharia Law that insists women are inferior and that stealing and adultery are mistakes punishable by death.

The reason Jesus is powerful is because he does not expect human beings to become righteous. He challenges us to respect one another, and therefore become human beings.

Lawrence, I tell you that I love you dearly, as I adore all of the congregations I encountered this year across America.

But butterflies were meant to stream across the sky, not to stay earthbound …  fearful of climbing.

 

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Jesonian: I’ve Got a Question… September 27th, 2015

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hand

Jesus went to church.

He didn’t go there to hear the pastor preach or the praise band’s licks.

He went there because it is meant to be a bastion for souls who are in need.

At church that day was Willie with the withered hand. (I don’t know his name was Willie, but to give the story a little color, let’s call him that.)

There were also a bunch of religious people sitting around who didn’t particularly like Jesus. The reason they didn’t like Jesus was because he didn’t honor the rituals, the standards and their concepts of worship.

He came to church to help people.

I know this because Jesus asked them a question:

“Are we supposed to use church to help people, to save lives or just to convince one another that we’ve fulfilled the worship calendar?”

They didn’t answer him.

Jesus becomes angry. Do you know why? Because of the hardness of their hearts. Somewhere along the line the worship of God had become more important than the helping of people.

So even though he would receive great criticism, Jesus goes ahead and heals Willie.

And rather than coming out of the church service convicted by the power of a miracle–convinced to become more conscientious at loving the human race–the religious folks leave, get together in a committee, trying to figure out how to get rid of the renegade, Jesus.

So heads up:

When how we conduct church becomes more important than using the time to help people…we are damned by the same angry stare of a loving Jesus.

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G-Poppers … September 18th, 2015

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Jon close up

She came into the room angry and frustrated. G-Pop asked her what was troubling her so.

She explained that she was really pissed off about how the Syrian refugees were being treated by the Europeans. G-Pop sat quietly listening, allowing her to vent for a few minutes until she ran out of steam.

When a few seconds of stillness had settled into the room, he said, “Let’s say you had just finished your dinner and you were sitting down in your chair getting ready to watch some television. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. You rise to your feet, open your door and discover a stranger standing in front of you, obviously distressed. You ask what you can do to help him, and he explains that his home has just burned to the ground and he has no place to go and needs some assistance. The first thing that crosses your mind is that you’ve never met this person before. Is the story true? How would you be able to find out? So you cautiously invite him inside the door while you consider your options. Before you can gather all your thoughts, he explains that he just needs someplace to stay until he can get on his feet and find out what he really wants to accomplish. You ask him if he has family in the area who could assist and he explains in vivid detail that he is from far away and doesn’t know anybody. So while you’re trying to figure out what you want to do, he informs you that he also has a wife and two children.

So now there are four people involved. He goes on to share that as frightened and taken aback as he is, they are completely devastated. Then in passing he mentions that his wife is also pregnant.  You have to make a decision. Trying to be wise, you inquire if he has checked with the local shelters and food banks for possible emergency intervention. He looks at you with a blank stare, not aware of how to go about such a maneuver, and still wishing that you would do something to help. So you agree to invite the family in to sit down while you make some sort of plan to help out. As the wife and two children enter the door, the man goes on to say that his cousin had been staying with them and also has a wife and one child, and is equally as abandoned by the disaster.

“Now you have seven people to deal with. What started as a quiet evening in your home, watching television, has now become an invasion of needy people who seem to be growing in numbers every minute. What should you do?

She looked at G-Pop, wanting to object, even to suggest that the scenario was not the same, but then realized that they were identical.

G-Pop continued. “We are really foolish when we think other people should do what we would not do ourselves. Honestly, there’s not much that I can do about the people who have run away from Syria. Any money sent in that direction would be a drop in the bucket and would take months to reach its destination. So my only recourse is to go into my own community and find the refugees–people without homes, seemingly unwanted humans, rejected souls and struggling families–and before their world utterly falls apart, forcing them to my doorstep, I will seek them out and do what I can.”

G-Pop finished the story and she seemed to understand.

You see, Jesus was absolutely right: the poor will always be with us.

The only thing we can do is share from our bounty before they end up on our porch–and we feel compelled to turn them away.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 10th, 2015

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PoHymn June 10th

If Not, Then

If you can’t think, then feel

If you don’t walk, then bless

If you are confused, stop teaching

If you are amused, share the giggle

If you believe, provide some proof

If you are loved, shout from the roof

If you are angry, spit it out

If you are lonely, stroll about

If you know a secret, whisper its worth

If you have changed, announce the birth

If sadness visits, travel on

If regret nags, will it be gone

If happiness wishes, grant permission

If failure lingers, catch a vision

If time is short, slow things down

If somber threatens, become a clown

The power is yours

And even mine

To choose a path

And embrace the Divine.

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