Cracked 5 … December 5th, 2017


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Some people are offended by the religious implications of saying “Merry Christmas.” Here are five renditions they might find even more unsettling:

A. Happy B-Day, Baby J!

 

B. A baby shower for Mary and Joseph (bring a gift)

 

C. Save 50% at the Savior Birth Extravaganza!

 

D. Merry Manger Moments

 

E. Happy Jesus-mas

 

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Ask Jonathots … October 1st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I began a new job three months ago and am enjoying it thoroughly. I am part of a group of ten, and several of them profess to be atheists. It comes up mostly by way of them making jokes about the stupidity of people who believe in God, or people on the “Christian right.” I am a Christian. I would like to be a good representative of Jesus, who represented himself so well. So far, I must admit, I have been a chicken–not even revealing that “I go to church.” Frankly, I don’t want “church” to be a picture of my faith nor wait until someone is in a crisis. Help!

Pizza.

If you ask ten different people what pizza is, you will more than likely get ten different answers. So you intelligently learn not to ask too many questions, but instead, just enjoy pizza.

But pizza really is not complicated. It’s not about the toppings. Good pizza always begins with a delicious crust and a savory sauce.

If the crust and the sauce are crappy, the toppings can’t do much to save it. The crust should be able to stand on its own as delectable and the sauce should be full-bodied–something you would be willing to eat with a spoon.

If your crust and your sauce are right-on, the toppings are only a blessing to your taste.

So pizza is like God.

If you don’t get the crust of God correct and add the right sauce of spirituality, it’s crummy.

That’s the case that atheists make.  Crummy God.

  • You are not supposed to defend God.
  • You are not supposed to defend your faith.
  • You are supposed to have a life that is filled with such good works that people notice and then it affords you a chance to explain where you got such good “crust and sauce.”

This is how Jesus represented God.

So let me draw the parallels. There are two things that make “good God:”

The crust of our faith–God is our Father.

The sauce–Jesus is our life coach.

There’s your crust and your sauce. “God is my Father, Jesus is my life coach.”

So whatever toppings you add above that are just preference.

  • Maybe you like guitar music.
  • Maybe you enjoy communion.
  • Maybe you think going to church twice a month is enough.

Who cares?

This will also keeps you out of religious discussions, which are futile.

In sharing this simple “crust and sauce” philosophy, you generate a climate where people can come and talk to you without feeling they’re going to have to escape your religiosity.

Pizza is all based on the crust and the sauce. The toppings are to taste.

But if the crust and sauce are not good, you will soon grow tired of eating it, no matter how much you heap above.

 

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WITHIN

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Getting in Character … June 15th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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cryingFrom Act II: Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage,” and all the men and women, “merely players.”

Scribbled in the margin of the script was a note from the director: “This scene requires real tears.”

The actor stared at the instruction and was immediately struck by two words: “requires” and “real.”

In other words, this was a non-negotiable situation. It was required.

The director had already decided that based upon the construction of the scene and the characters involved, that the emotion would demand some weeping.

Then there was the word “real.”

For after all, nothing is more displeasing to an audience than someone sprouting crocodile tears which obviously are being dribbled by force.

So what to do? How does one tap the real heart of the matter, and find the deep-down growlings that generate the kind of energy that fosters tears?

The actor thought for a long time and finally came to a conclusion.

Tears are the release of our fears.

Our apprehensions lie within us, trying to hide in corners and disguise themselves as temporary apparitions until we finally break down and admit that we’re scared to death, and allow the tears to flow freely.

Matter of fact, it’s impossible to get in character without tapping the sadness of your role. Every human has fears. Masking them turns us into chilly lumps of flesh or causes us to concede that belief is a joke and never really offers any lasting solution.

After all, most people do not become atheists because they don’t believe there’s a God. They become atheists because they hurt and don’t believe that God gives a damn.

Without tears our fears remain.

And when our fears remain, we are defensive to the world around us rather than optimistic about the possibility of relationship.

We all need comfort. But there’s no comfort given to us unless we mourn.

How would anyone know? Are they supposed to read our minds? Should they anticipate that merely because we wear human flesh, there’s some devastation within?

Without the comfort, the fears remain, taunting our talent and making us believe that our ability is never enough. But when real tears are required and we feel the freedom to weep … we are suddenly afforded the healing of comfort.

 

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WITHIN

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Where’s Ya’ Goin’? … December 8, 2013

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older boy with SantaAt twenty-two years of age, I was an unsettling blend of fun-loving, lazy, irresponsible and unfortunately, just talented enough to have reason to pursue a dream that was trying desperately to elude me. What happens in this type of situation is that normally you do quite well–until you run out of money.

Finance is not the most important thing in life, but it does buy you time to think about the important things.

So at Christmas time, I decided I needed to go out and make some candy-cane funding for my little family, and opted to pursue being Santa Claus. I was built for the position. Matter of fact, when I applied at the department store, they were delighted because the costume fit me perfectly and they didn’t have to add padding.

Honestly, I was pretty good at it, being Santa Claus. It involved acting, joking, caring … and could all be done from a seated position. The best of all my worlds.

Still, because cash flow was tight, I wasn’t able to afford money for lunch, so I lived on candy canes from my bag, which I gave to the children. I carefully tried to insert them into my mouth past the synthetic beard provided for me to accentuate the part. As you probably have already visualized, candy canes are sticky, and I was often unable to push the candy cane past the beard without including some hair in the process. It was yucky, but it was sweet.

Every three hours I was given a break, and would go down a freight elevator to enjoy some water and free time. One day, much to my surprise, a young boy about six years old followed me to the back of the store to the freight elevator, and surprised me when he piped up, “Where’s ya’ goin’?”

I was shocked. But wanting to maintain integrity, I continued my role.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa’s going to go feed his reindeer!” I said with abundant joviality.

“Where’s are dey?”

“Just down this elevator in the basement, waiting for me to bring them food.”

“Is dis the magic food that makes dem fly?” he inquired.

“Yes. I mean, no. Not yet. After all, don’t want ’em to fly until Christmas Eve.” I produced another ‘ho-ho-ho.’

“Which reindeer do you like best?” he continued.

(We were in the midst of a conversation which was quickly becoming an interview. I not only was losing my quiet time, but realized that in a few short moments, I would be beyond my expertise.)

“I like them all the same,” I shared with equity.

“I like Blitzen,” he said with assurety.

“Why is that, young man?”

“Such a cool name. And also, I think he helps Donner pull the sleigh, because sometimes Donner’s a little weak because he’s getting older. Just like my Grandma.”

Wow. This was getting way too deep for a department store Santa Claus.

“Well, I gotta go now,” I said, trying to inch my way to the elevator.

“Can I go with you?”

I should have known this was coming and prepared myself with a good answer. But I was twenty-two years old and punching a clock, even if it was for the North Pole.

“No, you can’t.” That’s all I came up with.

“Why?” he asked.

Once again, a predictable question. I decided to be honest.

“It’s because Santa Claus is tired right now and needs to put his boots up so he’ll be ready to talk to other boys and girls and find out what they want for Christmas.”

Much to my surprise, he accepted this and nodded his head.

“Can I ask you one more question?” he said softly.

“Sure.” He was so adorable I couldn’t turn him down.

“Are you the real Santa Claus?”

He looked up at me with a glance that any Hollywood producer would require off of a child actor, but unfortunately never get, no matter how many takes are procured. What should I say to him?

I thought about the standard fare:

  • No, I’m not really Santa Claus. I’m just one of his helpers.
  • I’m just filling in for him today because he’s busy making toys.

But momentarily inspired, I replied, “What do you think?’

He crinkled his nose, squinted at me, and said, “I think you are.”

“Then you’re probably right,” I concluded.

He hugged my leg, turned on his heel and strolled away, singing.

I thought to myself how wonderful it was to be childlike. What a disadvantage to be so old that I couldn’t believe like him anymore, and so young that my lack of belief would cost me for quite some time to come.

In all my life, I never met anybody who was better off for doubting. I have never seen atheists, agnostics or even overly zealous thinkers walk away singing.

Maybe in the vast spectrum of reality they are better off possessing knowledge, but for me, I want to be like that little boy:

Chase my dreams, talk to my ambitions and walk away … singing.

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

Mediocre … July 11, 2013

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I must be candid–the main problem in our society is not that we are continually embroiled in disagreements, but rather, that the things we have chosen to agree upon are the breeding ground for mediocrity.

I suppose that’s why we selected to compromise in the first place–it’s easy to find human weakness and identify it as normal, and then glorify it as individual. In other words, the more we promote that each one of us is an individual with particular tastes, styles, emotions and beliefs, the simpler it is to tolerate inadequacy.

For example, I may become frustrated with your lack of productivity, but all you have to do is claim that you are a TYPE of person who works “at a different speed” and has varying goals from mine. Once you remove a common standard for humanity which each one of us has to consider in evaluating ourselves, you silently produce anarchy, making us too self-sufficient and overly tolerant of incompleteness.

  • Once we’re convinced that we’re “fine the way we are,” what is the need for excellence?
  • What is the need for introspection?
  • Why should we require ourselves to consider our previous attempts with regret, and determine to repent and do better?

This is the only place where Republicans and Democrats, atheists and believers, and conservatives and liberals agree. It’s the statement: “We are not the same, but rather, individual islands of “special” creation, who must be viewed as independent of general human behavior.”

If this philosophy had wings, we should let it fly. But since the only fruit of this ideology is the generation of loud-mouth critics rationalizing their own inconsistencies, we might want to reconsider what has gotten us to a place where we’re stuck in the mud with no desire to go forward.

Case in point–what you have in Washington, D. C. is not gridlock–it is the application of a selfish society which has finally elected leadership reflecting its own ridiculous formula for life. Our President, Senators and Congressmen are all convinced there are MANY ways to solve problems, and they must fight for their own personal utopia. Since we contend there are a multitude of salvation available for the human race, we therefore believe that each person should “work it out” in his or her own way.

Not only does this eliminate cooperation, but it also institutes an airport with many landing strips and no air traffic controller. It welcomes disaster. It is a certainty that the planes will collide.

So what can we do?  Well, the best way to alleviate pain is to trace it back to its source. Would you allow me to do that? Over the next week or so, I will share where we have derailed our train of thought. Yes–where we have allowed ourselves to extol the mediocre, so as not to impinge on the rights of others to be less than they could be.

It should be very interesting.

You may agree with some of my thoughts and disagree with others. I welcome your disagreement as long as it’s not grounded in the silliness of declaring it “unfair” or “out of the flow of present thinking.”

The first thing I will contend is that life did not begin with the founding of the United States of America. Life didn’t commence at YOUR birth, either. And it was not instituted in the latest revelation of favored Google searches.

Life had a beginning and life has taught us much about ourselves.

On the morrow we shall go to class.

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

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Neutral … January 16, 2013

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Jon SigningIn the often-comical pursuit of trying to create  dialogue and social interaction that does not offend anyone, we have actually ended up being one of the most offensive generations that has ever walked the face of the earth. By the time the commentators finish parsing words, studying body language and playing video tape which has been edited to reinforce their points, they are able to turn almost any conversation, speech or private moment into the abomination of desolation or an obvious affrontation to some beleaguered and misunderstood portion of our society.

So everybody is heading for the low ground.

There was a time when we actually did try to climb the mountain of wisdom in order to find the high ground where we could see better. But now it seems more prudent to those in control to find the lowest point of disagreement and camp there, hoping never to be challenged or questioned.

It happened to me yesterday. Some dear soul who had caught my show requested that I come to present my ideas, music and creativity in front of another audience of her organizing. The lady was thrilled with what she had seen, and wanted to make sure she could include all of her friends in the experience. I told her I was more than willing to go anywhere and for her to let me know how I could be of assistance.

Well, less than twenty-four-hours later she called me and said that she had talked to the “powers that be.” They were more than willing to invite me to come to their auditorium to perform–if I would comply with a few simple rules. (Honestly, friends, I don’t know how the words “simple” and “rules” ever got hooked up. It is not a good marriage–because rules are never simple and simple rarely demands many rules.)

Basically, the main concern by her  fellow-workers was that they wanted to be assured that I would come in and offer a “neutral” program. Many of the people in their constituency are of different political persuasions, faiths, ethnic backgrounds and general dispositions. They needed some guarantee that what I would share would not be offensive, but “in the wheelhouse” of everyone’s comfort zone.

Let me tell you something about neutral. Neutral by definition is a decision not to get involved and neither go forward or backwards. It is not exactly where anyone desires to be, but rather, a profile thrust upon us by fear of being overly passionate or too advanced.

I don’t mind being neutral. I just don’t know whether I can offer the same package of potential and emotional explosion by carefully removing all the meat from my offering, only to display the remaining skeleton.

But as I said, it’s not hard to do. The United Methodist minister, for instance, is more than willing to sacrifice miracles, supernatural events and any controversial subject that might have been brought up by Jesus, in an attempt to create a faith which can be intellectually absorbed through the pores from the hymn book.

On the other hand, the Southern Baptist will gladly and almost reverently take away any of the compassion, open-mindedness and non-judgmental approach of Jesus in favor of the bleeding savior who died for the world’s sins because “we’re all so very rotten, you know.”

It seems to me that the problem with religion is that it chooses to either be weak or to be mean.

So what I told the lady I would do for her gathering is simple. I’ve already found a neutral message. It’s not, however,  neutral in its energy and impact. It’s neutral because it is the only message that cross-sects all of humanity–simultaneously making sense and also convicting the hell out of all of our souls.

That message is “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

It is not obtuse to the atheist OR the pentecostal, yet individuals within those groups may find it humorous or implausible. I am willing to work with any philosophy, political party or clump of clods who will accept that the only way we’re going to get along on this planet together is when we stop feeling either superior or inferior to each other.

It’s not so much a neutral message as it is the only message.

So if my Buddhist friends have trouble with it, I offer them the platform to give me a more concise and on-point directive.

If the agnostics think it is irrelevant, I’m all ears to their findings.

And if the Muslims, Jews, Republicans, Democrats, atheists and “whoevers” wish to banter with me about the specifics of this holy sound bite, I am prepared to be instructed and informed–just not deterred.

So there is my neutral message: NoOne is better than anyone else.

I’m sure someone on MSNBC or Fox News could find fault with it, and if they couldn’t decimate the content, they could certainly delve into my character and find reasons why I am unworthy to front the notion. I don’t care. I will not play the game.

I learned a long time ago–the only way to become a fool is by participating in foolishness.

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Finding a Message in a World a’Twitter: Act II – The Conflict… December 12, 2012

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Jon Signing

Do you want to have an intriguing dinner party? Then invite a bunch of atheists and believers over to your house, and as you serve the first course of soup, pose this question: Did God create man because He was lonely, or did man create God because he was?

Be prepared for some lively discussion. Matter of fact, some of your guests may stomp out, abandoning their main course and certainly their dessert. This confluence of confusion is all based around the foolishness of pursuing or rejecting a belief in a divine being instead of finding the footprints of that intelligence in His own creation and then tracing those clues back to His character.

If life is really just a big crap shoot of luck or misfortune, then candidly, a belief in a reasonable Creator is far-fetched. But if you take the time to study this planet we call earth–what works–you will emerge with your own personal message. In essence, your clue.

Mine, as I told you yesterday, is: NoOne is better than anyone else. That clue led me to several “con-clue-sions.”

1. The earth demands fruitfulness. Things that do not want to progress end up flailing and eventually die. This is something you can find in the Bible OR Darwin.

2. It is the responsibility of earth inhabitants to replenish and give back. Once again, science, technology, religion and even government require a certain amount of payback for receiving the blessings of earth. Those who don’t want to participate in this are always eventually identified as scoundrels.

3. And the third and final thing that is obvious to me as I have spread my wings with my message is that we live in a world that requires us to include. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with” specking out” your own space as long as you afford that to others–even that lion in the jungle. Earth creatures who decide to be insulated from the world around them, vindictive to different species or members of their own group, end up ostracized or extinct. They are also proclaimed by history to be fools.

So before you get into a big discussion about God or the absence of a supernal presence, make sure you understand the evidence that has been left behind in the present plane of existence we call life.

I selected my message of NoOne is better than anyone else because it honors the need to be fruitful, to replenish the earth and to include others. Am I saying that those three things are always easy? No. But they are made easier because the elements that are placed here for our use are not resistant to the flow of these concepts. We may think that having might and strength is the way to rule the world, but every previous empire that followed that philosophy is no longer in existence.

Here’s a clue: Switzerland thrives. It is never conquered, it doesn’t have financial difficulties–matter of fact, it possesses a big hunk of the world’s banks. It doesn’t take sides. Now, I’m not suggesting that we all become Swiss, but I am telling you there is a natural order to this planet that requires that we honor a message and in so doing, discover the purpose for our being and perhaps, the source of our beginnings.

So here is the conflict: those who discuss God without honoring His ideas, which are clearly laid out through His creation, end up looking backward and ignorant. Those who deny God without discovering His fingerprints all over the earth, end up appearing to be inflexible and dogmatic.blue marble

Find your message. Find it in the earth, and then look for those who have also discovered similar evidence and are on the hunt for whoever or whatever got this big, blue marble rolling.

 

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