Good News and Better News … November 2nd, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2741)

Good news Better news Columbus

I drove to Columbus, Ohio, to assist one soul. 483 miles round trip.

It was a decision:

  • If I go, then I’ll know I went.
  • If I don’t, I leave all circumstances to time and chance.
  • If I come up with a good excuse to stay and not go, then I will need evidence I tried–some extraordinary measure that expresses my concern. More than “I’m praying for you.”
  • If I make the journey, I risk expense and exhaustion.

“If, then.”

It got me thinking.

If there is a God, then there is a heaven.

Cool. Covered. Taken care of.

If there is no God, we really still need a heaven.

What is heavenly?

That which promotes life instead of death.

That which allows for my happiness and the happiness of others.

“Love your neighbor” jumps out as an essential ingredient.

How about being “the salt of the earth and the light of the world?”

And let us not forget, “don’t judge people”–or become your neighborhood ass.

Makes sense.

If there is no government to help the poor, then my two dollars, given to the guy on the street, becomes the safety net.

If there is a safety net, I can use my two dollars to help someone who can’t find it.

If there is no solution, then we will need really good diversions to keep us happy.

If there are solutions, then perhaps our task is to make big, easy-to-read signs so people can find the possibilities more easily.

I am not a destination; I am a GPS.

“Where do you want to go?”

That’s what I ask.

“Let’s find a good route.”

If there is no eternity, then it is all happening now.

So perhaps we should just “enjoy the heaven” out of it.

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Untotaled: Stepping 22 (May 14th, 1965) Jack Smack … July 12, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2289) 

(Transcript)

School was nearly out. I cannot tell you the relief I felt to finish out the year.

Having survived my infatuation with Jennifer, I had disguised my feelings by using revenge or attempts at ridicule, to make it seem that I no longer cared about her.

We were two days prior to summer vacation, in the midst of a school-wide festival, which had loosened the reigns on the tight restrictions usually imposed on us by teachers and principals.

I was feeling so darned good that I felt like I could say “damn.”

I was in the hallway with my friend, Craig, when we both noticed that Jennifer was standing next to the boy’s locker room door, absent-mindedly staring out the window into the school parking lot.

I had an idea–another way to embarrass Jennifer and therefore appease my male ego from her rejection. I whispered my inclination to Craig and he giggled.

So we ran forward, grabbed Jennifer, opened the boy’s locker room door, and pushed her in. It seemed hilarious in the moment. We lodged our bodies against the door as she pounded and screamed to escape. Her pleas sounded a bit comical to us, so we were in no hurry to set her free.

Suddenly she stopped crying out and the pushing on the door ceased.

So both Craig and I ran back into the festivities, hoping to blend into the crowd so that our misdeed would go unnoticed. Little did we know that in the boy’s locker room was Coach Swartz–and that he had walked out of the shower to discover that Jennifer was there, peering at him, creating what could only be the personification of an awkward moment.

He quickly covered himself, ran around to the other door, to peek and see who was keeping her from escaping.

Now for a moment let me talk about Coach Swartz. He was a collision of cool, crazy and confusion. He was cool because he was very handsome and all the girls in the school thought he was dreamy. Crazy, because he taught health class, and thinking that he was a doctor, passed out some erroneous advice. And confusing because he once told us at football practice that black people couldn’t play quarterback because there was extra oil on their hands, and they couldn’t hold onto the ball.

We also knew his first name was Jack because he had a paddling board which he used to punish students, which he had surnamed “Jack Smack.”

Returning to my story, Coach Swartz, with his hair still wet from the shower, ran into the festivities, found Craig and me, took us into his office and explained his overexposure to dear Jennifer.

He wasn’t mad, but said we would have to be punished. He wasn’t even mad as he took the Jack Smack board from its perch on the wall and hammered us both on the ass, seven times apiece.

Matter of fact, from that moment on, I think he liked us more, winking at us in the hallway as he reflected back to his one-man Chippendale show for Jennifer.

Even Jennifer never complained about our prank.

So you see, even though I got my butt whipped, I didn’t learn anything about being a better person through this experience … whatsoever.

 

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Acada-not me … March 3, 2014

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Academy AwardsThomas Jefferson was a fascinating gent. Attributed with the main authorship of the Declaration of Independence, he established a precept–“all men are created equal.”

Although he did not follow this philosophy through by freeing his slaves, he did contend that elitism and segregation by the hierarchy from the average man was anti-American.

So after I finished having a wonderful evening with fine folks in Chino Valley, Arizona, I arrived home just in time to see the last hour of the Academy Awards.

I nearly gagged through the whole experience. The presumption, pomp and circumstance and “holier-than-thou” attitudes expressed by Hollywood are so contrary to the Jeffersonian approach to freedom that this institution of the Academy of Arts and Sciences is more suited for the court of King George.

Let’s look at the basic premises.

Hollywood makes movies because they are artistic. So in the first premise is the notion that most people aren’t as gifted and talented as those living on “the coast with the most.”

Secondly, Hollywood makes a certain type of movie because they are superior to the masses, who may require some inspiration with their entertainment, but those wishes must be ignored in favor of more high-minded goals.

And finally, the masses are so ignorant and unable to assess quality that those in the Academy vote on their own material within their own ranks–because certainly John Q. Public is too dense to comprehend the subtle nuances of art.

Would you explain how this is any different from our two-party political system, which nowadays only marches to platform ideals, rather than to the heart of the people, or the religious system, which proclaims that the people’s desires to be ministered to in a certain way is childish, and therefore more pious avenues must be pursued?

Candidly, anytime a committee gets together and decides what anybody else thinks–other than the people on the committee–you are dealing with an arrogance which will certainly turn around and bite you in the ass.

And even though the same Hollywood that criticizes the National Rifle Association for being backwoods in their philosophy about guns takes those same guns and put them in their movies, with violent and bloody conclusions, under the guise of “realistic entertainment.”

I, for one, am weary of such hypocrisy.

I know it is considered to be intellectual and open-minded to view the movie “Twelve Years a Slave” as an exposition of the debauchery of slavery in this country, but here’s the problem: the subject is not new and we are not any less racially divided because these movies are made. The people who are already angry over slavery become angrier and the people who are defensive over the issue just become more defensive.

Hollywood continues to make movies they like without asking me–or you, for that matter. We are supposed to sit at home in our underwear watching the show, submitting to the supposed supremacy of the tuxedo-clad crowd, knowing that we have no business challenging their predilections.

I am against elitism in all of its forms. It turns our country into arrogant, bratty children, who stand across the playground from one another behind their makeshift forts, hurling snowballs.

  • The Academy is not for me. It is a self-indulgent buffet for fat cats.
  • The religious system is not for me. It is a cloister of over-educated religionists who have lost contact with the congregation.
  • And the political system is not for me. It is a conglomeration of competitive children trying to get voted into a club that doesn’t do anything but make s’mores in the treehouse.

Can we do better?

Not until we admit to ourselves that we are not great. It is not necessary to be great. It is only wise to realize what Thomas Jefferson shared–that no one is better than anyone else.

 

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Jesonian: Exodus (A Sequel) … February 16, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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crowd exiting“Where are all the people?”

It is the pleading question I hear week after week, as ministers, church leaders, secretaries and music directors stare out at the depleted ranks for evidence of the faithful, probing the pews for the chosen “fews.”

Matter of fact, many proclaimers of the gospel find themselves exaggerating the numbers attending the holy sanctuary in order to maintain any shred of purpose or semblance of clerical ego.

There’s no doubt about it–people are leaving the church.

You could assemble a panel of those of a theological bend to discuss the matter for hours, and come up with all sorts of theories, many of which would have grounding in fact without having any footing in solution.

  • Yes, it is posh to be agnostic.
  • Yes, there is a new indifference masked by the wording of “being busy.”
  • Yes, people are more isolated in their homes than they’ve ever been before.
  • Yes, the Christian movement has done a lot to shoot itself in the ass by being either too conservative or too liberal
  • Yes, we have allowed the “rain makers” to control the message instead of keeping it simple and gently watering the plants that are growing by faith.
  • Yes…

You could go on and on. But truthfully, I believe the main problem is that the Sermon on the Mount has hit the valley–because the thrust is now a proclamation of infinity, when mankind is desperately requiring a voice crying in the wilderness for afinity.

Since we are human beings born on Earth, pursuing the promise of heaven, we need to be careful that we don’t “Pinocchio” the gospel–in other words:

  • comforting people who are wooden puppets by telling them that “someday they will become little boys and girls.”
  • looking at people who have life now and telling them to be overly interested in the life to come.
  • addressing human beings who need to be exhorted to excellence, but keeping them weak on a pabulum of their own sinful nature.

Whether it’s Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal or Lutheran, there is some curriculum teaching that Jesus wants us to focus on “infinity and beyond.” To keep this message in the forefront, you have to emphasize (1) personal weakness so people will be reminded that they need a strong God; and (2) personal salvation, so the elect recognize their weakness and are grateful for a heaven someday.

If you have one ounce of motivation adding up to a pound of desire you will get bored very quickly with this “bad news,” suitable only for the pitiful.

Fortunately, the real message of Jesus of Nazareth was “afinity and be here:

1. Recognize your personal blessing and do something about it.

  • To he whom much is given much is expected.
  • Go the second mile.
  • You are the salt of the earth.
  • Go and do thou likewise.

2. Personal responsibility: “Whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done it unto me.”

Yes, there is a second exodus. The people of God are running across the “over-read sea” into the desert of social nothingness, wandering around complaining about the provisions available, dreaming of a Promised Land.

It comes down to this: if the church continues to preach “infinity and beyond” instead of afinity and be here, we will eventually follow the model of the European church, which is now more or less a museum in remembrance of dead ideas.

If you want to stop the exodus, you’re going to have to start preaching the gospel. And the gospel of Jesus is very simple:

As I bask and rejoice in my personal blessing I take up my cross of personal responsibility and go out and make a better life and a better world.

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