Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sitting Seven

Karin Koulyea was a reporter at the local newspaper. She was American educated, a tad Bohemian for the surrounding elders, very independent and unwilling to cast her lot with either Arab or Jew.

She dubbed herself “the Bedouin Babe.” After many confrontations and disagreements, the title had deteriorated among her male counterparts at the water cooler, into “the Bedouin Beast.”

She was over-qualified for her job and certainly not on the fast track for promotion in a Middle Eastern culture that viewed women with a similar worth as a stinky herd of goats.

She refused to wear the traditional veil and covering, even for special occasions when her editor felt it would benefit the image of the paper. She wasn’t tempestuous. Perhaps in any other situation in any other city of the world, she might be viewed as a rather dowdy wallflower, but in this war-torn, religiously burdened town, she was Margaret Sanger with a little bit of Bonnie Parker thrown in.

It was ten o’clock in the morning and Karin was bored. She didn’t like coffee, although she drank it. She was on her third cup of the unlikable fluid when a slender boy walked in carrying a note. He placed it on her desk and turned to leave. She attempted to communicate with him verbally, but every hackneyed dialect she knew seemed to perplex him more. She finally let him go and decided to read the note.

To Paper Lady: There are two boys living in the desert, one a Jew and one an Arab. They will not go home. They are dangerous.

There was no signature.

She read it over twice. Two boys. Desert. Arab and Jew. Dangerous? It seemed like a practical joke. Or perhaps worse—a trap.

There was this one photographer always taking pictures of her, minus the necessary veil and covering. He giggled and wagged his finger at her, taunting, “I’ve got you now!”

It was bizarre and disconcerting. Maybe this was just another chance for a “photo op” by Raoul the Ghoul.

She threw the note away, paused, and then chased it to the waste basket, where it was stuck to a half-eaten Danish. She needed a story. Nothing else had come in. She popped up, strolled out of the room, stopped off at her editor’s office and said, “I’ll be back this afternoon.”

“Here’s an idea,” stated the gruff voice from the other room. “How about you bring back a story?”

Karin laughed. “What? And make you go over to a second page of print?” She quickly scurried down the stairs and out the door.

Of course, the first question was, where in the desert? “Desert” by its very nature opened up too many possibilities. She decided to go back inside and grab the keys to the old jeep the paper used for transportation, and start riding around asking people if they had heard or seen anything.

It took half-a-dozen or more confused passers-by, but eventually a bus driver told her that he had seen two boys—just yesterday. Karin put together some rudimentary directions from his memory and headed off toward the location.

She shook her head. How could two boys in the desert be dangerous? Should she take some sort of weapon? But why? Was she going to kill them? She thought not. She could read the headline: “Newspaper Woman Slaughters Two Boys in the Desert Because Not Wearing a Veil.”

She picked up a little petrol and supplies and was on her way, feeling a bit foolish, but intrigued, all in the same thought.

Hot day. She stopped for more water and bread. Who knows? Maybe this was her big story.


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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)

Iz and Pal

In a basket full of oranges, it is often the singular, lonely apple which gains attention.

This is an endearing characteristic of the human race—we are intrigued by difference while simultaneously frightened of the diversity.

So in our day and age, in the midst of clamoring for resolutions, often based on military might, a breath of fresh air comes into the atmosphere of pending war in a region ironically referred to as “The Holy Land.”

Amir and Jubal, two boys who grew up in different camps of a raging, never-ending conflict—one Arab, one Jew—find one another. They rename themselves “Iz” and “Pal” and strike out to change the world around them by creating a love between them. They determine to maintain their friendship amidst the granite-headed thinking of a stubborn society.

“Iz and Pal” chronicles the journey they take, the friends they encounter along the way, the surprising enemies—with a stunning resolution which will keep you riveted to the pages of this odyssey in exploring the value of peace.

Starting next week, I will share sittings from this novella with you, and hope that, in its simple way, it can transcend the pessimism of fruitless negotiations and invite an essential revelation:

After all, no war is ever finished until the children say “No more.”

 

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Jesonian: He Was… November 2, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesus knocks

He was not a traditional Jew, though he loved his mother, father, sisters and brothers who were.

He was not an Arab, even though he spent his formative years in Egypt.

He was not a Greek, though like many of their philosophers, he had great “ideas,” which when applied, improved the human condition.

He was not a Roman, though he told his disciples to “render unto Caesar the things that were Caesar’s.”

He was not an African, though his goal was to make the whole earth a common tribe.

Nor was he Chinese, though in the tradition of Confucius, Jesus say: “What shall it profit man if gain world and lose soul?”

He wasn’t German, but instead, tried to envision a world that was “all the Father’s Land.”

Not French, but turned water into wine.

Was he British? No, but to this day, the sun never sets on his kingdom.

He was not Spanish, though he taught us all to explore the world within and to go into all the world around us.

He was not Native-American, though he introduced us to the “Comfort of the Great Spirit.”

And he was not American, though he certainly believed that all humans were created equally.

Isn’t it fascinating that perhaps in being none of these individually, he had room in his being to become all of them?

Jesus was the “Great Physician Without Borders,” who healed the heart, saved the soul, refreshed the mind and energized the body.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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

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

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Populie: Judeo-Christian … May 28, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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three symbolsOne of the most popular lies being actively promoted today by politics, religion and entertainment is the validity of the term “Judeo-Christian.”

It works on the basis that Jesus was Jewish. Was Jesus Jewish? If he was, he certainly wasn’t very good at it.

He constantly ignored their traditions, broke the Sabbath rules, cleansed the temple of avarice and then turned around and told them it would be torn down, prophesied of the demise of the Jerusalem hierarchy, frequently flaunted that his message superseded that of previous patriarchs and ended up informing them that their “house was left to them desolate,” as they toted him off–not to a ceremony presenting to their favorite son the key of the city, but rather, to nail him to a cross for being anti-Semitic.

It’s not a strong case for Jesus wanting to continue the traditions of Abraham, Moses and David–especially in deference to the children of Ishmael in the Muslim faith.

A quick look:

  • Concerning Abraham–Jesus told them he was around before Abraham and that God could take stones and make children of Abraham.
  • Moses–Jesus let them know that the ideas of Moses were “old men thinking” and that he had fresher insight.
  • David–he refused to be called the son of David, insisting that David, in the Psalms, referred to him as Lord.

So you can see, he dispelled all notions of being the fulfillment of a wish list from Judaism.

Concerning the Muslims, he mocked the idea of praying five times a day by saying that such an action is filled with vain repetition, and he refuted the idea that men were superior to women by including ladies in his ministry and by forgiving the lass caught in adultery, granting her a second chance from a stone-throwing crowd.

The driving force behind “Judeo-Christian” is the fact that because the Jews were dispersed in 70 A.D. from their home in Palestine, therefore of the approximate fourteen million which remain in our world today, mainly come from a background of Europe and America.

In other words–white.

If Jewish people were actually brown and looked Arab, we would be much less likely to include them in the inner circle of our spiritual brotherhood. But since Judaism does have this European or American flavor to it, we are much more likely, in our bigoted state, to welcome them.

It doesn’t make it right.

And also, politics, religion and entertainment love “Judeo-Christian.” It allows them to pull out obscure passages from the Old Testament to use when they want to pursue violence or greed and they find the Sermon on the Mount to be a bit “pansy.”

Jesus was born of God and woman. This is why we contend it was a virgin birth. If so, it ignores the lineage of David.

Jesus rejected that the Jews were chosen people and that the Muslims were destined to spread Sharia Law across the whole world. He taught that “no one is better than anyone else.”

Listen very closely: without alienating our Jewish brothers and sisters and our Muslim kindred, don’t you think it would be helpful to have a Jesonian approach to Christianity, which separates itself theologically, while still embracing the other religions of the world, emotionally?

As long as we promote “Judeo-Christian,” Muslim extremists will strap bombs to their bodies to blow the hell out of our idea. I am not guaranteeing you that the children of Ishmael and the children of Isaac will ever get along.

But it won’t help if the children of Jesus … pick a side.

 

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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

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Outdated … December 1, 2012

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He sat on a talk show elaborating on his present idea while hawking a new book. He is respected and popular (which in America has become the same thing).Dr. Phil

In relating a story about his own life, he explained that at one time he trusted an employee to be involved in his finances because this woman had mouthed many of his convictions and he later found out that she was embezzling money from his coffers. His conclusion from this personal fiasco was that he had “given her the benefit of the doubt”–that she was who she said she was–and in the process, he learned that this was an outdated concept.

His conclusion was slid in so quickly that if you weren’t listening, you might just nod your head in agreement and end up throwing away some better portions of the Golden Rule. After all, that is what our society wants to do.

Nobody really wants to get rid of God. God makes a profit, even if there aren’t any prophets to truly speak His message.

No one wants to get rid of church. After all, we do need a common site to marry and bury.

What we would like to get rid of is the Golden Rule. We would like to join our Jewish and Arab brothers in the consensus that being nice to one another is only plausible when nicety has previously been received. In other words, NOT “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but rather, “do unto others WHAT they have done to you.”

It’s quite the different concept.

You would think that someone would be intelligent enough to notice that this dynamic of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” has historically proven to be ineffective. But I continually hear verbal jabs against loving your fellow-man, while simultaneously there are massive screams for freedom and liberty.

I believe that the black man and woman in our country received the beginnings of liberation because they followed that Golden Rule. I believe if the gay community pursues a vindictive approach, they will fail to retrieve the liberty and justice they so desperately desire.

The Golden Rule works. It just always temporarily looks like it’s going to fail.

It’s similar to watching a football game and seeing a team dominate through three quarters, only to blow their lead in the fourth quarter and lose the game. You see, it doesn’t really make any difference that they won three-quarters of the game and it certainly doesn’t make any difference that revenge, retribution and retaliation appear to win the day initially–only to be stomped to death in the last quarter–by the Golden Rule.

The nations that are still prospering on this planet are the ones who have given place to that precious assertion. The countries which have tried to stomp it out through bigotry, anger and nationalism have been erased from the face of the earth.

It is not outdated to give people the benefit of the doubt.

I will agree there may be wiser ways to do it than turning over your entire bank account to them, but when you’ve been granted a voice of reason and you use that instrument to promote the notion of frustration and fear instead of unity and the repair of human hearts, then you are not only squandering your opportunity to make a difference, you have become part of the problem.

I’m all for technology. You can twitter your life away–I don’t care. But when you come after the Golden Rule, I have to stop you.

  • It is not outdated.
  • It is not a cliché.
  • It is not “hippie.”
  • It is not religious.
  • And it is not impossible.

It is the only way we can keep from destroying one another before we really find out what benefit we could be.

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Sowing Discord … October 10, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

It makes me a little uncomfortable. No, actually it makes me VERY uncomfortable.

Talking about seven things that God hates is not exactly my favorite topic. I don’t know if it’s because I lean towards appreciating the more loving aspects of the Almighty, or if some of the things he finds distasteful come a little too close to my own “skin-life.”

I’m not sure, but I will be honest with you–over these past seven weeks, as I have shared these warnings with you I have learned a lot. So when I came to the seventh one today, which states that “God hates those who sow discord amongst the brethren,” I was emotionally, spiritually and mentally lit up like a light bulb. I realized that this seventh little piece of nastiness is a culmination, or a cementing, if you will, of the previous six and that it generates a doctrine to justify the entire package.

This is how it works. We find brethren who agree with us, who tolerate our inconsistencies. We come into fellowship with them, and then because of a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, wicked imaginations, feet swift to mischief and a false witness, we are suspicious of this new alliance and begin to pick, fuss and gossip with those who are supposed to be part of our own camp. It is hateful. It is a desperate move by insecure human beings, isolating off problems instead of solving them.

The classic definition of “sowing discord among brethren” would be to tell tales, create lies or capture people in their errors and focus on the punishment instead of the redemption. But I don’t think that’s what this is talking about. I think because we know there are many faults within us that have been covered up by excuses and other forms of escapism, we become so suspicious of the world around us that we feel it is necessary to protect ourselves by destroying the competition. Yes, we think that everything is going to boil down to one winner, so we are ready to poison all those in the race.

It shows up with seven sound-byte-type ideas that creep into organizations, religion, politics and even our educational system. When we pursue these particular aggravations, we always end up critical of others and worried about where the next attack will be. Let me give you the seven bad seeds that are sown in discord:

1. “Things are bad.” It’s the only thing you can get a hearty “amen” on in any gathering. Life is tough. Life is full of problems.

2. “Evil is everywhere.” After all, how can we establish that we’re good unless we don’t point a finger at some obvious evil? When those iniquities are not quite so prevalent, we have to make up reasons for attacking a particular cause.

3. “God WILL win.”  Yes, it’s an emphasis on the end times and the ultimate victory over evil, while succumbing to the notion that in the meantime, the devil seems to be taking the day.

4. “People are dangerous.” You may think it’s important to point out that there are terrorists in the world, but dwelling on that particular concept causes us to trickle down our suspicion to everyone around us.

5. “Be careful.” It is one of those phrases that seems very innocent–a statement of wisdom–until you realize that the human life we live is filled with pitfalls and merely trying to look for the puddles of quicksand does not mean you will be less likely to get swallowed up.

6. “Cling to your own.” After all, who could object to developing an inner circle of loved ones to make more important than the other humans who live within your sphere? That’s just natural, right?

7. “Dig in.” Two words that can mean almost anything you want them to mean, but generally conclude that who we are and what we are is fine, and all the enemies of our lives are outside our little fortress of protection.

When you begin to accept any one of these seven ideas as common knowledge or common sense, you set in motion an emotional juice in the human being that causes us to reject new ideas, new people, new possibilities and even new life.

All of these show up in every facet of our interaction with each other. You can hear these seven little pieces of false counsel in churches. You certainly hear these sound-bytes television, where fussy over-anxious women chat about them on talk shows.  Nervous-Nelly men do special reports for their political parties on the pending doom. And not only are these seeds of discord producing a sense of immobility in the populace, but they also cause us to believe that the enemy of life is right outside our window–instead of staring back at us from our mirror.

It makes people self-righteous and afraid. You can see why God hates it. Is there anything worse than a self-righteous, fearful person?

So am I saying that  things AREN’T bad? No, I’m saying in everything give thanks, because none of us are intelligent enough to determine where our particular directional change is going to end up and often benefit us.

Am I denying that evil is everywhere? Yes. I’m telling you that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” and anyone who tries to break that code of behavior will be punished by Mother Nature.

Am I suggesting that God will NOT win? No, I’m saying that God has already won. Jesus said that even though the world is filled with tribulation, that our good cheer buys wonderful time for him to prove that he’s already overcome the world.

Don’t I agree that people are dangerous? I think some people are weak. And weak things try to pretend they’re strong. Jesus refers to these people as “the least of these my brethren.” He says that basically there is no door into them through conflict, but only through accepting your own power by assisting them and setting them on a new path.

“Come on, Jonathan. Don’t you think there ARE times to be careful?” I, myself, am in the middle of a trial at this moment. Can I be honest with you? The more I think about it, the less I am able to think. It is the power of Jesus telling us to “take no thought” over the bumps in our lives. It’s not that we should whistle a happy tune and skip down the road. Rather, it’s because the brain becomes overloaded when too many difficulties are presented, absent of solution.

Do I love my family and treasure them above all else? One of the scriptures you will never hear spoken–or at least not very often–are the words of Jesus: “When you love those that love you, you’re no better than the heathen.” If I can’t step out of my circle, I will never be able to enlarge it, and eventually I will feel cramped within its circumference and start attacking my own.

And do I think it’s important to “dig in” and hold fast to what we believe? No. Forty-eight hours ago I would have told you that I had a solid philosophy which was not particularly in need of additional inclusions. I would not have said this to be pious. I would have shared it with you in contentment. But hours have passed and I now realize that merely “digging in” to what I believe is not going to be enough. I need to expand.

This is why the first thing Jesus told the disciples to do is “go into all the world.” What a contrary thought that is to the normal religious experience! After all, don’t Jews stay with Jews? Arabs with Arabs? Hindu with Hindu? But Jesus said the most positive thing you can do to keep growing and expanding is to “go into all the world” and see how your ideas work in the earth’s marketplace.

God hates those precepts which sow discord amongst the brethren because they teach us to be afraid, and once we’re afraid, we are capable of all sorts of atrocities–be it burning young women at the stake as witches, or insisting that the black race needs to drink from a different fountain.

Watch out for those seven pieces of conventional propaganda that draw us away from the kind of expansive spirit that includes others instead of locking the door to keep all the bad things outside.

Seven things that God hates.

I’ll tell you what. Next Wednesday we’ll tie them all up and finish this little series. I hope you have enjoyed it. I hope it didn’t spook you too much, like it did me for a time.

And I hope you will stop grabbing the seed of anxiety from our generation and casting it into the field of your life.

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Alabama Allegations… September 26, 2012

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Alabama is not my “sweet home,” but I have always enjoyed my numerous visits to the state.

It is located on about the third notch of the Bible Belt (even though with me being blubbery, I prefer an elastic waist). As is often the case in many of the communities in our southern regions, people in Alabama go to church a lot, respecting God and country with tremendous personal fervor. So when I arrived with my proclamation that “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I found myself greeted with a small smile, only partially disguising a wince. My Alabamian brothers and sisters immediately offered two allegations to potentially contradict my theorem:

Allegation One: “Jonathan, isn’t the Jewish nation the chosen people? Doesn’t that make them better?”

I would like to introduce each and every one of you–and also re-acquaint myself–with the power of reading the Bible to discover a consensus. Facts are, it is easy to find a single verse in the Bible to back up almost any notion, perversion, lifestyle or inclination. But when you pursue further, you will discover that many other verses not only temper that particular assertion, but sometimes update or flat-out contradict it.

Since we are Christians and not followers of Moses, we have to go to the words of Jesus to find what he thought about this concept of the Children of Israel being “chosen.” Matter of fact, I will guarantee you on this fine morning that the main reason he hung between earth and sky, suspended by nails, was that they did not favor his opinion on their manifest destiny. He told the Jews bluntly that they took “great pride in being the children of Abraham” but that God had every capability of taking a common rock laying beside the road and turning it into a “child of Abraham.” You can imagine, considering the nationalistic pride frothing at the time, that this particular teaching was met with quite a bit of resistance.

We are also clearly informed that God is “no respecter of persons,” so even though there are those who would love to propagate the notion that Israel and the Jews are a chosen people, favored by God, and therefore they are unique by birthright, the general consensus of the Bible, which we call the Word, is that God has opened His door to include everyone equally.

So as not to get a bunch of emails from people suggesting that I am anti-Semitic, I will tell you that I believe that Israel has every right to exist, be respected and honored for her traditions. It’s just that since  the time that Jesus walked the earth, Jewish people are not preferred above Arabs or anyone else.

Allegation Two: “Jonathan, you certainly believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson, right?”

You see, this is the idea that we are unique by salvation. I can always tell when people are desperate to win an argument. They either bring up their pet dog, Hitler or Charles Manson. They mention their pet dog because they want to create sympathy; Hitler, to prove how bad people are, and Charles Manson when they want to convince you that some people are beyond hope.

So let me tell you what I told these fine folks from Alabama. Actually, thief that I am, I borrowed the sentiment from Jesus. Talking one day to a group of gossiping Galileans, he asked them if they thought that the people who had recently been killed by Pilate were worse sinners than those who didn’t die. And after all, we do the same thing. If someone survives a hurricane, we insist that “God was with them,” which, whether we like it or not, connotes that the people who perished were at least secretly somewhat dastardly.

Jesus’ response to his own question about this “worse sinner” possibility was, “Except you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

You see, folks, it’s basically a PR situation–life comes along and the first thing you need to do is participate. It is true that there are greater benefits if you indulge in earthly activities by following the rules, but when you don’t, you get a second crack, which is called repentance. If you repent, you are blessed with a clean slate to participate again with a little bit more wisdom.

It doesn’t matter whether you are Billy Graham or Charles Manson–the same rules apply. Participate and repent. If you don’t choose to participate, don’t expect anything to happen. If you do participate, make a mistake and stubbornly refuse to repent, don’t expect to be able to participate anymore. It’s really that simple.

Many people were shocked when Charles Manson was the murderous propagator of so many slain, innocent people. I, too, was appalled, but I awaited the great miracle of repentance. It never came. So righteously, Charlie-boy doesn’t get to participate anymore.

But honestly, folks, if we found out something bad about Billy Graham tomorrow, most Christians would abandon him. I, instead, would wait for the repentance. And once my dear brother repented, I would welcome him back into the family of man, to participate.

Do I believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson? Not by creation. He gains footing on earth’s soil because he repents–and if he didn’t repent, like Mr. Manson, he would find himself perishing one miserable day at a time, in a tiny jail cell.

So participate, and if you don’t, please understand that nothing will happen. After you participate, take note of the quality of your efforts and repent where stupidity has clearly been pointed out to you. It gives you license to participate again. There is no such thing as “worse sinners.” Just terrible repenters.

So this ended my little excursion into Alabama, where people tried to establish that we are unique by birthright, or, as in the case of Billy Graham, unique by salvation. But after I had a friendly conversation with these lovely folks, I made it clear to them that God is no respecter of persons, and that the key to human life is participating and repenting.

I moved on down the road and landed in Missouri, which they refer to as the “Show Me” State. I was certainly not going to escape their scrutiny with my new-fangled phrase.

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