Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … August 6th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: People are making tons of money by promoting the gender wars–books, seminars, movies and television programs accumulate a huge haul of cash by continuing to foster the irreconcilable differences between men and women.

 

Dear Woman: I suppose that’s true, but what do you plan on doing about it?

 

Dear Man: I’m just explaining that as long as there’s money to be made, there won’t be a willingness to come to the truth of the matter.

 

Dear Woman: And what is the truth?

 

Dear Man: The truth is, we will continue to think that women are the weaker sex and that they are irrational, until we sit down and have a great dialogue and risk losing this dishonest money in favor of seminars and shows that illustrate the two genders working together.

 

Dear Woman: That’s not gonna happen.

 

Dear Man: I don’t know whether it’s gonna work in the end, but we could make a beginning. Let’s start with the fact that you are taught that I am irrational, and I am taught that because you feel that way, you are irrelevant.

 

Dear Woman: Interesting. So what you’re saying is, if you find me irrelevant, I more than likely will naturally conclude that you’re irrational for feeling that way.

 

Dear Man: And if you’re constantly hounding me about being irrational, I will find you irrelevant.

 

Dear Woman: It seems like there’s no solution.

 

Dear Man: Every solution begins with a door, and I think I know where to go in.

 

Dear Woman: I’m all ears.

 

Dear Man: The toilet seat.

 

Dear Woman: Oh, no. No way. That old battle has been fought to a bloody end.

 

Dear Man: That’s because we think it’s impossible to handle. Here’s the truth–a man lifts the toilet seat to piss because he doesn’t want to pee on the seat. That’s already considerate. To lift the toilet seat he has to reach down and bring it up. At the end of his business, he reaches over to flush the pot. At that point his hand is mere inches away from tapping the seat and letting it fall back down.

 

Dear Woman: I understand that. But it doesn’t happen. So if you keep complaining about it, you’re spitting in the wind.

 

Dear Man: It doesn’t happen because we fail to realize that lifting the toilet seat in the first place is a consideration. It requires some effort. It actually takes less effort to knock it back down than it does to lift it.

 

Dear Woman: It may make sense to you, but just mentioning the problem puts men on edge–defensive–and makes women look like self-righteous complainers.

 

Dear Man: Are you telling me that if you were at boot camp and the drill sergeant got in your face and ordered you to put down the toilet seat, you would be unable to learn it?

 

Dear Woman: No. I would do it because I was threatened.

 

Dear Man: So why aren’t you threatened by appearing to be calloused, uncaring and unwilling to change?

 

Dear Woman: I suppose because it’s my way, as a man, of saying that this particular thing will be done my way. Is that what you want to hear?

 

Dear Man: Is it the truth?

 

Dear Woman: The truth is, I don’t think I can remember it every time. So I don’t want to try.

 

Dear Man: You wouldn’t have to remember it every time. If I saw you do it occasionally, it would open my heart–to realize when I finish the toilet I could lift the lid for you. Nobody’s going to die by lifting or dropping a toilet seat. But if we would just show one another that we’re aware, even half the time, it would go miles on the journey to understanding.

 

Dear Woman: It’s not easy.

 

Dear Man: But it is simple. It can be done. And even if it’s done infrequently, the fact that I cross your mind is meaningful to me, and the fact that you think about a woman being in your life when it comes to the bathroom, is powerful for you. We have to get along in every room of the house–not just the bedroom.

 

Dear Woman: So you want me to do this?

 

Dear Man: Do you want to try?

 

Dear Woman: No. But you make so much damn sense that I’d rather try than argue about it.

 

Dear Man: Isn’t that a step?

 

Dear Woman: Yeah. I suppose so. But it feels like a step into a big pile of poop.

 

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Stepping Away… October 19, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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church popscicleElder Ralph was working on a crossword puzzle he had hidden in his Bible.

Deacon Dan was dozing on the third row.

Martha, the church piano player, was thumbing through a Life magazine.

The teenagers sitting around me were passing notes, giggling and trying to time their levity with the jokes infrequently being offered from the pulpit, as Pastor Norm continued to preach on a subject matter which no one seemed to care about.

Suddenly in the midst of this ongoing Sunday night antipathy, it struck me. It was so phony, so contrived and so meaningless to my sixteen-year-old mind.

I quietly rose to my feet, moved past a few of my friends and headed toward the back of the church. Everyone thought I was going to the bathroom. Some people probably thought I was headed to the fellowship hall to see if there were any treats to eat after the service. But actually, I passed on both of those opportunities, headed out the door and walked home. Even though I still believed in God, I had lost confidence in the system that was arranged to represent Him.

For three months, I stepped away.

  • I didn’t go to church.
  • I didn’t stay in contact with the people.
  • I also didn’t go out, get drunk, smoke grass and curse the heavens because of my disillusioned condition.

Various emissaries from the conclave of the righteous were sent to me during the ninety days to tell me how I was missed or what I was missing or how it was absolutely necessary for me to be there–otherwise I would fall into iniquity.

I joyously ignored them.Up the Down Staircase

Instead I took my stepping away hiatus to accept a role in a play at the high school, as Joe Ferrone in Up the Down Staircase. I also worked on my piano playing, which had become as rusty as my Grandpa Ford’s barn door latches, and I practiced singing. (I had convinced myself I was a bass, but actually had enough range to be a tenor. Why not both?)

During my stepping away period I discovered I could do things–yet realized they were more fun when I was tapping the mind and spirit of God to achieve them.

Eventually one of my friends from the youth group came to see me and said, “Jonathan, you may not need us, but we need you.”

Those were the magic words.

It wasn’t an issue of ego–it was the fact that I could no longer attend church because I was afraid not to. I couldn’t go to church because it “made me a better person.” And I didn’t want to go to church to fake it, in order to get heavenly tickets.

I took my newfound drama talent, my expanded singing and my better piano playing back to the “house of people”–to simply enjoy my heavenly Father.

I stopped looking around the room to see what Elder Ralph, Deacon Dan, pianist Martha and all the other kids were doing.

When I disagreed, I chose to simply live differently. And if it got boring, I challenged the ideas.

That three months of stepping away sowed the seed of the man I have become. It was a season of time when I realized that I don’t need to be in church to find God.

But the church needs me ,,, to make sure we don’t lose Him.

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The Ashford Reality… April 1, 2013

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AshfordOnce again, I cheated my alarm clock out of the privilege of awakening me. Ever since I was in my early twenties, I have always been able to think about the time I wanted to arise right before dozing off, and literally like clockwork, wake up  near the exact hour. I doubt this gift, so I always set an alarm clock, which usually ends up going off when I’m in the bathroom, unable to reach it.

Thus I began my day early.

I am taking a road trip today back over to Houston, Texas, to share tonight in Ashford. After all these years–nearly forty–I am still an excited little boy at the prospect of journeying somewhere to share my talents to fine human souls. Over the years, pieces of my ego have been trimmed and discarded, and lessons have been learned about better approaches to achieve more satisfying results–but the enthusiasm remains.

I guess I’m kind of an odd bird. I have never been comfortable being a miserable anything. When I hear my fellow-believers talk about the pain and suffering of Christianity, I am bewildered. My understanding of the message is one of abundant life, in which our joy is full and we are given the responsibility of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, as God’s grace affords us the opportunity of being a city placed on a hill.

So it was in that spirit that I set my goals for my journey to Ashford.

First of all, I just want to tell those delightful friends, “I love you.” It’s not that I want to be mushy or silly–rather, life is about finding a reason to love others. If we don’t, we start acting like we are abandoned on a desert island called earth, and our entire mission is to hoard coconuts, because there is no chance of ever being saved. I refuse to feel that way. Saying “I love you” is just as much or more for me than it is for the hearer. The absence of love is always the introduction of ignorance.

The second thing I want to impart to the fine folks of Ashford is, “You are loved.” Not just by me, but also by the last group of folks I just left, who have opened up their hearts and sent along a sensation of inclusion.  I also want them to know that God loves them. Even though we have made the mistake of attempting to turn God into a person, and therefore cursing Him with virtues ranging from cranky and cantankerous to being a hippie and free love advocate, God is actually a spirit. He is a spirit of light and He is a spirit of love, and whenever you find those two at work, He is there in the midst.

I guess in constructing my Ashford reality for today, I will tell the folks that love is needed for change. Change without love is like a car trying to run without oil, as the gears grind, heat up and smoke, destroying the engine. Love is the oil of change. If it doesn’t motivate the change, then we resort to things like intimidation, anger, frustration and guilt. Nasty stuff. Love gives us a reason to change because we know that even if we falter in the process of revising ourselves, love persists.

And finally, tonight in Ashford I will tell them that change is coming. We can no longer preach a God who is disgusted with human beings. We can no longer have two political parties which are locked in a Hatfield-and-McCoy feud. We can no longer feel superior to one another and think that we can achieve equality and justice. We can no longer have men and women fighting each other in situation comedies and think that one of the genders can solve the problems of earth without the other. We can no longer insist that who we are is sufficient without a little bit of repentance and a whole lot of God’s bolstering.

So there you go. You can see why I’m excited. I get to go on a road trip to bring a blessing to people I do not yet know. I get to say:

  • I love you
  • You are loved
  • love is needed for change
  • and change is coming.

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Motelin Just What … May 29, 2012

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Somewhere between $35.95 cents and $169.99 is the average cost of a motel room in this country for one night. Of course, there are places where you can pay much more for a room based upon locale, special events or some little extra accommodation advertised. But generally speaking, most motels will blush with embarrassment once they go above that top dollar.

It is probably one of the most diversely priced items in this country. For instance, if I told you that a gallon of milk ranged between $1.23 and $18.55, you would be up in arms and ready to lynch some dairy farmer in Wisconsin. Yet the motel industry seems to get by with it by maintaining some dubious rationale in its advertising.

I will tell you right now, after having traveled nearly forty years staying in these establishments, which the top fifty dollars of every price is paying for the name, the location, or the privilege of eyeballing staff wearing coats and ties rather than t-shirts and jeans. If that is relatively important to you, then you should pull out that money and spend it heartily.

Thirty dollars of the price of a motel room in the higher range is for the privilege of being with clientele of your particular social ilk. Yes, I am saying it out loud—cheaper motels tend to draw people who don’t have as much money and unfortunately, in this country we contend that those souls are the source of our crime and violence. (Obviously, not so.)

Motels that charge you a lot of money for the rooms refer to these cheaper establishments as “flea bags–infested with bugs, or dens of drugs and prostitution. Of course, once again, very little truth in the matter (although I would not recommend taking out a motel room adjacent to an adult bookstore.)

If you will allow me to put it into perspective for you, a motel room is a simulation of a master bedroom.  Bed, dresser, closet, television set and adjoining bathroom. And nowadays, most of them have microwaves and refrigerators for convenience, which is a consideration we all might have in the future for our own home unit.

There are really three questions you must ask yourself about your motel room for the night that are essential for a good stay:

1. How much room in the room? Unless you have become very familiar with your traveling companion or don’t mind cramped quarters, being able to walk around your room without running into walls or furniture is a plus.

2. Can I park in front of the door or near to my room? One of the biggest misconceptions is that motel rooms that are enclosed, with a parking lost adjoining are safer than those where you can pull up to your door with your car. Honestly, if I were a criminal, I would not want to rob from cars that are right next to the windows of the owner. I would find a nice, large parking lot far from the front desk–and take my pick.

3. Now, this may surprise you. Staying in a motel room is all about the bathroom. You should be careful of those establishments that miniaturize everything in the toilet area so as to condense space so the room can look larger—because all of the plumbing may look Snow White, but it is best suited for the seven dwarves. Especially beware of toilet seats that are round instead of oblong. They tend to be very uncomfortable and are usually encased by a wall on either side, giving you the feeling that you are being wedged into your experience. The bathroom is the key to a motel room. Good lighting, double sinks a plus–or even a sink in the bathroom and one outside the bathroom is really handy. The shower should be easy to get in and out of and have good pressure.

Once you discover these pieces of information, you understand that the most you should probably pay for a motel room is about $75 a night. Everything above that is advertising name, location, staff or a hot breakfast which is offered to you, including eggs, bacon and sausage (which, by the way, is completely unnecessary unless you’re a lumberjack felling trees in the Yukon.)

As you find with everything else in life, there are ways to save money without losing quality. That seems to stymie a lot of folks, including the U.S. government and Congress–because at least half of what people refer to as quality is name-brand assurance that you will be taken care of if something goes wrong.

So the Holiday Inn wants you to pay extra money for their good name over “Bob and Mary’s Motel” down the street–because in the case of some unforeseen difficulty, they want you to believe they would handle it better than Bob and Mary. But since we don’t know what that unforeseen difficulty would be, and no one knows what anyone would do, you end up spending a lot of money for absolutely nothing–similar to buying extra insurance coverage on a car rental.

So I pulled into Denver yesterday and went to my motel, and as always, it ends up being a mixed bag. The room is small but has a lovely bathroom with an accessible shower AND throne. The air conditioning unit needs some work, but we’ve already met the maintenance man and he seems congenial and willing to try. The television set is too big for the room, but that hardly seems like something one should complain about after simply noting it. And the furniture is not made of oak or covered with leather, but instead, looks like your Uncle Charlie made it out in the garage because he’s hoping to someday leave his job at the factory and start a business.

I feel very good every week upon discovering a diamond in the rough and saving money that people have given me so that I can travel—to use it wisely to buy quality instead of merely a name or false assurance. If we could teach the financiers of our nation the same concept and we would begin to barter once again for better pricing on items instead of signing lifelong contracts with companies based on their previous reputations, we could begin to emerge from this dark cloud of indebtedness and arrogant spending with some dignity–and even have a little fun in the process.

Fortunately for me, I have a traveling companion who enjoys cutting a corner here and there as long as she doesn’t lose and arm or a leg. If we could just find people to elect to be our representatives who had similar mindsets, we would be all set.

So those are my discoveries about moteling. To sum it up, if you need a name, or if you are afraid of being next door to someone who makes less than 50K a year, then you will probably end up paying for the higher priced institutions, for the powdered eggs in the morning, convincing yourself it was worth it. But if you realize that buying a name doesn’t mean guaranteeing quality, or sharing the neighborhood with people who don’t have late-model cars but do have contemporary standards and morals–then you can shop around and save yourself upwards to fifty or sixty dollars a night.

Last week I met some of the most interesting people at the swimming pool where we were staying in Grand Junction, Colorado. They were young enough to be my children or grandchildren, and I befriended them, loved them and enjoyed them, discovering many twists and turns in their ever-evolving lives. It was fascinating.

So “motelin’ just what you’re looking for,” as you stay overnight somewhere, realize that money can be easily spent pursuing a security–that is never pre-ordained.

 

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Posted … December 6, 2011

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Live from Fernandina Beach

Having just finished the setup of our sound system in a church in Georgia recently, I trekked off to our green room, where I have fifty glorious minutes to dress, relax, eat a little bit of fruit, drink some water and prepare to meet the audience du jour. The time is normally ample and without constraints…except on those occasions when nature calls.  Oh, shoot, let me not be coy.  In other words, when I’ve got to go to the bathroom.

This involves finding the restroom in a church, which normally, like salvation, can be a five-step process, still ending with a bit of uncertainty. I don’t like to use the bathroom in churches because I don’t want my first encounter with someone coming into the restroom to be my particular fragrance as I sheepishly walk out of the stall and mumble something about how I wish there was room spray.

But as I said–there was a beckoning.

So I found the enclosure, it was fortunately unoccupied and I slid into the stall and sat down and began my business. (I know it’s not good to talk about what we do in that room in those private moments, but we all know it’s very important–perhaps even essential to our emotions, spirituality, mental health and certainly our physical lucidity. So I rather enjoy the private time and–pardon the expression–cheer on the results.)

As I was sitting there, I looked to my right and there was a poster on the wall, seemingly purposefully set at eye level for those involved in the procedure. It was a beautiful poster with a scripture from Galatians inscribed upon it, emblazoned in gorgeous calligraphy. It read, “Do not grow tired in doing well, for very soon you will bear fruit if you do not give up.”

I was a bit startled. I did not know whether it was an attempt at humor (which, by the way, I found out later from meeting the people that such was probably impossible) or if somebody had discovered this poster and did not deem it worthy of either bulletin board or vestibule, but rather than throwing it away, wanted to give it some position of recognition. I found it extremely funny, because even though I had no intentions of throwing in the towel (or the toilet paper, for that matter) on this particular excursion, just knowing that God was behind me, so to speak, and was fully aware that I might lose heart helped me complete my task with much more fervor.

They say if you travel enough, you eventually see everything. Scriptural devotions in toilet rooms is new to me. But as I was finishing up, I thought that even though the Galatians passage encouraging us not to give up was very good, I think I would have opted for one from the book of Revelation. 

“Surely come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

***************

Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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