Salient … April 9th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3637)

A couple of months ago I began a weekly podcast and decided to name it “Good News and Better News.” Of course, I was already using that title for my Monday segment of the Jonathots Daily Blog, but I knew it was time to find a different emphasis for my Monday endeavor–and therefore, a new name.

So the podcast remains goodnewsandbetternews.com, and today I am introducing my fresh Monday format, entitled “Salient.”

Please don’t feel I’m shooting over your heads with an unusual word. I didn’t know what it meant myself. For you see, this weekend, as I slept, having flashes of dreams and insights in my nighttime hours, this word–“salient”–popped up in one of those visions.

So I got up from my bed, pulled out my I-pad and looked it up. I discovered that “salient” is defined as “something notable and important.”

Then a simple bolt of wisdom from the heavens cracked across my brain. I realized that this is the problem in our country.

So much unimportant, non-valuable, meaningless, uncaring, vicious and selfish data is thrown at us daily that we begin to believe that things that don’t matter actually have some significance because they are over-touted.

We have forgotten what it important.

We have grown fearful of the practical because the arrogant have told us that pursuing such goals is the essence of ignorance.

Our survival is at risk. I don’t mean that we’re teetering on Armageddon–rather, I’m declaring that what makes our human survival special is often left at the curb as we dash into the street dodging traffic.

Therefore I would like to take each Monday and garner the experience of my weekend, explaining in gentle, common-sense terms a single piece of great humanity which has been sacrificed for the blare of over-production.

Perhaps in doing this, you and I can consider “salient.” We can once again become people who are energized by the goodness of the journey, the twists and turns of discovery and the overwhelming blessing of time and chance that happens to us all.

Salient: to pursue what is notable and important.

Please join me each and every week.

And be at peace, knowing that “Good News and Better News” has not gone away–just found a new, green pasture.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 34) Three Fronts … February 4th, 2018


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It didn’t take long.

Twenty-four hours after the announcement of Morgan’s murder, the country was ablaze with controversy, assumptions, conspiracy theories and accusations.

There were enough questions about the circumstances (and since it was well-known that Prophet had betrayed Jubal Carlos by holding interviews) it was determined that Jubal was to be brought to headquarters to answer some questions.

Unfortunately, Jubal and the band had hopped the jet, along with their merry patrons, flying to Europe for a five-city tour–which he had dubbed “The New Jesus.” London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Rome were about to get a healthy dose of “the gospel according to Carlos.”

It was a ten-day tour, so the authorities in Clark Country agreed to wait until Jubal’s return to hold the session.

At the same time, in Washington, Congressman Michael Hinston stepped out of the shadows, where he had been disguising his plot, and stirred up the House of Representatives and many in the Senate to demand that the Justice Department conduct a thorough investigation of the murder.

Normally such a request was ignored, but the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptists added their “yeas and amens” to the demand. Since these two institutions were not known to agree on much of anything, the investigation was sanctioned and set in motion.

With Prophet Morgan dead and Jubal in Europe, the work in America was left in the hands of Sister Rolinda. She had been taken out of the spotlight and placed, as Jubal called it, “backstage” ever since she had ruffled the robes of the Pope in Rome. But now, since there was no one to take over the work in Las Vegas, she was called forth and put in authority, with the assumption, “What harm could she do?”

Matthew checked out.

He refused to take calls, only allowing his two old friends, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam, into his sanctuary. It was all so crazy. All he had ever wanted in his life was to make money without hurting anyone, with his name in the paper every once in a while. Now he wasn’t making money, it seemed like people were getting hurt (if you counted a murder) and his name was in the paper with slanderous overtones.

He also received an accounting from his financial advisors on how much money had been spent of the 250 million dollars. $31,285,652.38. It was a staggering sum. Yet truthfully, in the world of advertising, the amount of publicity that had been received was worth ten times that much. Still, what did they have to show for it? Matthew mulled as he communed with Jack and Jim.

The press arrived for the first night after the announcement of the murder at the Las Vegas “warehouse-turned-church,” to see what would transpire. There was a large crowd, and since the band was overseas, Sister Rolinda had decided to invite a black choir from Los Angeles. They sang the place happy, they chorused the room sad.

At length, as the entire gathering fell silent, Sister Rolinda took the stage, wearing a little nun hat, a gingham dress and an apron.

She clumsily grabbed the microphone and began to speak. “I’ve lost my friend, Morgan. I hurt so badly I can’t breathe. He was not perfect. I suppose some of you wouldn’t even think he was good. He was arrogant–in a humble way. He was loving–with a spiteful streak. And he was a human, searching for his humanity.

“I saw him literally give the coat on his back to a stranger. I was with him when white supremacists beat him up because he condemned their ignorant bigotry. Did you know he was abused himself? But considering that, he tried very hard not to be an abuser.

“I loved him. Did you? Or did you find yourself judging something about him? Maybe it was his funny, overstated hair. Maybe it was because he was so young, he still had pimples. Maybe it was because he dressed like a 1950s backwoods evangelist.

“We feel very powerful when we can criticize. We think voicing our opinion is our God-given right. We have only one God-given right: ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Suddenly Rolinda raised her voice to a scream. “Did you hear me? Love your goddamn neighbor as yourself!”

The building fell more silent than the silence it already possessed. Rolinda continued, softly.

“I am not a speaker. I am not glib. I am not full of wisdom. When I became a nun, I asked God to fill me with only one thing–compassion. That’s it.

“Tonight we need to rid ourselves of revenge, attitude, discussions of foul play and just general stupidity. We don’t need to celebrate Prophet Morgan. He would tear his shirt off in horror if he knew we were doing that. We need to acknowledge the Jesus who Prophet loved, and the best way to do that is to love one another.

“So since the press has shown up tonight, I am going to take this time to answer any questions they may have, to the best of my ability.”

Sister Rolinda paused, lifting a finger, ready to point in the direction of anyone who might want to pose an inquiry. But perhaps for the first time in the history of press conferences, no one had anything to say. There was nothing to ask.

Rolinda took a deep breath, and suddenly tears began to stream down her face. More and more she cried, until she was squalling. Buckling at the knees, she nearly fell on her face, catching herself with her hands, until members of the audience rushed forward to lift her and comfort her.

As if on cue, everyone else who remained turned to each other and embraced, then quietly moved toward the exit.

Meanwhile … Jubal and the band performed in front of ten thousand screaming, hollering Germans, sharing bratwurst and beer.

Meanwhile … Michael Hinston perused a private email from the CLO which applauded his efforts to instigate an investigation.

Meanwhile … the decomposing, chopped-up body of Prophet Morgan lay very dead in the morgue.

And meanwhile … Matthew just drank.

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G-Poppers … December 15th, 2017


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  • G-Pop mused the statement.

    “A moral victory.”

    The phrase was uttered by a news commentator who was characterizing the nature of the defeat of Judge Roy Moore in the Alabama Senatorial race.

    “A moral victory” is what Judge Moore normally would have applauded, touting it as a shout of glory for the conservative Christian movement. But in this case he found himself in the middle of Pharisees who were bound and determined to stone the sinner.

    G-Pop wants to make something very clear. If all men aged 32 were to be considered pedophiles by ogling a teenage girl, we would have to turn the state of Alaska into a prison farm. Sins of the flesh are something we humans certainly understand, though we cannot condone.

    What is difficult to comprehend are sins of the heart–those iniquities that come off our tongues as we try to defend ourselves instead of facing the music.

    Yes, Judge Roy Moore followed what a myriad of politicians have done, going all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt: When confronted about the nature of your business, deny.

    Of course, Judge Moore would have to admit this is not a Christian concept–rather, a secular one that seems to work because people become exhausted with all the tawdry details. Eventually the public walks away in disgust.

    Judge Moore is a great advocate for the Ten Commandments. But like a lot of us, he may have forgotten that Jesus broke the ten down to two:

    “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.”

    Jesus prefaced the second commandment by saying it was “like unto the first.” In other words, it’s impossible to love God without loving people, or to love people without tipping your hat to the Creator.

    When dealing with the stories coming from his accusers, Judge Moore became vehement, claimed he did not remember and insisted they were lying.

    Now, G-Pop is not about to say he knows what Judge Moore should have done in this situation. G-Pop is just explaining that what Judge Moore did had nothing to do with being a Christian. He became a cornered animal, growling at his surroundings, hoping to scare the intruders away.

    Nobody got scared.

    But what happened to our dear friend in Alabama can happen to us also if we allow our ignorance to mingle with our arrogance in an attempt to create dominance.

    Every sinner saved by grace needs to remember the grace–or they soon forget they were ever sinners.

    That’s what G-Pop thinks happened in this particular case.

    G-Pop’s suggestion for Judge Roy Moore? Wisdom would declare that we have less of “Moore,” and that he refrain in totality from “judging.”

    Maybe just work on being Roy.

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3 Things… November 2nd, 2017


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Three Things That Will Endear You to Other People

1.  Admit you have made a mistake

2. Forgive quickly

3. Be self-sufficient without being arrogant

 

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Good News and Better News… June 19th, 2017


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Dislike–deciding to “diss” liking.

In the pursuit of what we call love, and even unconditional love, we’ve reached a point where we just don’t like each other anymore. We have the appearance of Atlas carrying the world on our shoulders because we feel compelled by our civilized natures to be as calm as possible.

We “diss” liking. We claim great affection for souls around us while privately rolling our eyes, communicating that they are annoying.

So when I arrived yesterday morning at the Ruskin United Methodist Church, I was looking for people who like each other. Because here’s the truth–a paraphrase of John the Apostle: I don’t think you can love God if you don’t like people.

It seems that God is really proud of His creation.

I know we portray an anxious deity, constantly perturbed over our sins, but since He gave us the ability and even the permission, I seriously doubt that He will be terribly upset when we occasionally go errant.

The greatest arrogance, the most self-righteousness, and perhaps the sin of all sins, is to believe that human beings are not worth liking.

  • It’s in our government.
  • It’s in our religious system.
  • It’s in our movies.

We are training ourselves to be suspicious, and failing to acquire great moments of human fellowship that just demand a little bit of mercy and grace.

I’m not one to advocate looking in the rear view mirror and assuming that the past was better than the present, but I will tell you, if there was any era when people were given the chance to excel without being pre-judged, then we might want to reach back into that span of time and regain some of that tenderness.

For the good news is, God likes people.

And the better news is, He loves those who like them, too.

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Catchy (Sitting Two)This Young Man … June 18th, 2017


Matthew Ransley was an advertising agent but fancied himself an executive. He was a founding partner in a company called S.E.E.D.S.–an annoying, elongated acronym: “Selling Everything Everywhere, Delivering Success.”

Matthew was very good at what he did. He worked at being congenial but if sufficiently aggravated, could launch into a rampage to defend one of his well-guarded opinions.

It was Tuesday when the phone rang and Mariel, his secretary (though she preferred “executive assistant”) was not yet at work to answer, so Matthew found himself taking the call. It was from Marcus Tomlinson, an attorney—an attorney for the estate of Arthur Harts.

Matthew knew who Arthur Harts was, and had even heard that the old man had died. He listened carefully as Mr. Tomlinson explained about the recent reading of the will and the revelation of the “Make Jesus Popular” addition.

It did cross Matthew’s mind that it might be a crank call. But the attorney established credibility because he seemed to know what he was talking about, including an abundance of information about Matthew and his agency.

“The reason we called you is that we thought that your agency’s name, S.E.E.D.S., sounded a little religious, and in doing a background check on you, we also discovered that you had some interest in matters of faith and such when you were a student back in college.”

Matthew smiled. He remembered. College–a chance to plan your future while simultaneously ruining your life. After graduation he had included every piece of resume-worthy material possible on his application to gain employment.

He had begun a club during his college years, launching a fledgling organization initially called the “Son of One” (he being the only member at the time.) His vision was to create a para-religious/party-motivated/pseudo-intellectual club, which would attract both thinkers and drinkers.

Before too long he achieved a member and they became the “Crew of Two.” Then came another and they became the “Tree of Three.” When a fourth joined, they dubbed themselves the “Core of Four.” A fifth inductee created the “Hive of Five,” and a sixth, the “Mix of Six.” When a seventh young lady cast her lot with the organization, they became the “Leaven of Seven,” where they remained throughout their university years, garnering no new converts.

Matthew assumed this was what the attorney was referring to when he mentioned “some interest in matters of faith.” Honestly, the seven young folk liked to talk about God and politics until the wee hours of the morning while indulging in “the beer and bong.” It was hardly a consecrated conclave, but rather, dedicated to the proposition that all men–and women–are created equally arrogant.

“What is it you want?” Matthew asked. It was too early to chat–or reminisce.

Mr. Tomlinson proceeded to explain that one of Arthur Harts’ dying wishes was to give two hundred fifty million dollars towards increasing the popularity of Jesus.

“How popular does he need to be?” asked Matthew. “I mean, they named a religion after him, and, if I’m not mistaken, doesn’t our entire calendar run by the date of his birth?”

There was a moment of silence. Then Lawyer Tomlinson spoke in metered tones. “Let me just say that I don’t know much about religion, or God for that matter. I am merely performing the literal last request of a very wealthy man.”

“So what do you want me to do?” inquired Matthew.

“What do I want you to do? I guess I want you to tell me that your agency will take two hundred and fifty million dollars and at least try to make Jesus more popular.”

“We could start a rumor that he and Elvis are going to get together and cut an album.”

A pause. “Sounds fine with me,” replied Tomlinson.

Matthew chuckled. It was becoming quite evident that this lawyer was merely going through the motions of fulfilling a contractual oddity. On the other hand, as unusual as the request sounded, the two hundred and fifty million dollars did offer a bit of sparkle. As a founding partner in his business, did he have the right to reject such a lucrative offer simply because it was weird?

The lawyer piped up, uncomfortable with the delay. “Perhaps you could suggest someone else.”

Matthew laughed nervously. “No, I don’t really think I could suggest anyone else. I’m not familiar with any All Saints Agency or God Almighty, Inc.”

“It is two hundred and fifty million dollars. I mean, can’t you do something?”

“Yes,” said Matthew. (He figured it was always better to say yes to two hundred and fifty million dollars. You can revise your answer later, but in the meantime, well, it’s two hundred and fifty million dollars.)

Matthew punctuated his acceptance by adding, “Maybe we could get Jesus to date a supermodel.”

“I think he’s dead,” said Tomlinson, without inflection.

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Jesonian… February 11th, 2017


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jesonian-cover-amazon

 

Opening my email, I discovered a message from a young man–a friend of mine–who was applying for a job and wanted to use me as a recommendation.

He had forwarded a list of questions from the company and asked me if I would take the time to fill it out and send it to them.

Here are the questions:

  1. Does he or she work well with others?
  2. Is he or she reliable? (prompt, truthful)
  3. What are his or her special skills?
  4. Does he or she take orders well?
  5. Would you hire him or her?

A fascinating thought came to my mind. Even though I would have absolutely no trouble filling out this form for my dear friend, the question occurred to me–could I recommend Jesus for a job? If these same questions were sent to me in relationship to Jesus of Nazareth, what would my candid answers be?

(It’s part of understanding the Jesonian–rather than forming Jesus into our theological image which matches our doctrines, we instead take him on as he actually came, without being embarrassed by his approaches.)

1. Does he get along well with others?

Jesus seems to do well around people who are real, honest, humble, simple, flexible and aware. On the other hand, when he gets around hypocrisy, dishonesty, arrogance and a controlling spirit, he can go into a tirade. Rumor has it that he once threw things across the room because people misused the purpose of the experience.

So I would say, as long as Jesus of Nazareth is in the presence of those who are not afraid of who they are and not making up a false identity, he is a gentle brother and friend.

2. Is he reliable?

Generally speaking, you can count on him to be where he needs to be. Now, whether you can depend on him to be where you want him to be might be a different question.

Case in point: he was contacted to help a dying friend and delayed four days before going. But amazingly, upon arriving, he solved the problem.

Will he fall into lock-step and do what everybody else down the line is doing?

Probably not. But he will complete the task.

3. What are his special skills?

Jesus always contributes his part while encouraging others to bring their talent and faith, and then blends those efforts to a cooperative conclusion. I would say his special skills lie in his uncanny instinct to discern what is needed and provide it at just the right moment.

4. Does he take orders well?

Jesus is very independent–yet when he realizes that information is being offered to him that is wise, prudent and full of common sense, he marvels at it, gets behind that counsel and follows it. Even though he has great ability to lead, he does it from the perspective of his fellow-workers.

5. Would you hire him?

It depends on what the job is. If I wanted somebody to continue to follow a path which has proven to be unsuccessful, unproductive and without merit, Jesus would not be my choice.

If I wanted someone to patiently point out where things can be improved without throwing any attitude or insisting on his predominance, I could not find anyone to parallel him.

Therefore, in conclusion, Jesus probably could not get a job in mainstream America. We want people to toe the line whether it’s right or wrong.

So I sent off the completed form to the company on behalf of my young companion.

I had to smile–because there should have been a sixth question:

Can he or she be trusted?

On that one, I would say I can trust Jesus…with my life. 

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