Untotaled: Stepping 43 (October 14th, 1968) No Joe… December 6, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

A coffee-house.

I’m not talking about Starbucks.

In the fall of 1968, our church decided to start a coffee-house, where young people could gather under dim light, listen to music and become as contemplative as teenagers can get.

It was very popular for a season.

Ours was held in the church fellowship hall, which required a lot of decorating but still demanded tremendous batches of imagination.

I was put in charge of the event. I wanted to do something special.

So I drove into the city, went to Radio Shack and purchased a black light bulb. It wasn’t very powerful, but in a small area, it could make everything shine with brilliance.

I decided I was going to sing the song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and at the end of the tune, flip on the black light, illuminating a full-sized figure of Jesus.

I went to Bennett’s Department Store in our town–really just a little hole in the wall–and asked them if they had a mannequin. They did. It was a female one, but I felt if I put a beard on this chick, I could turn her into the Christ.

I also went across the street to the rich lady who was so wealthy that she bought all of her clothing through catalogs from New York, and acquired a long, brown wig.

I sewed–yes, sewed–a robe, and then donned the mannequin in the outfit, put on the wig and the beard–and to me it looked like Jesus. Maybe a metrosexual Jesus.

I was in the middle of preparations when the pastor and his wife came in, saw the mannequin and just about lost all of the Holy in their Ghost. They explained that I could not use the mannequin–not because it was feminine–but because the Bible says “we are not to make any graven images.”

I listened, using my most subservient profile, fully aware that after all this work, I would do it anyway.

Sure enough, when I finished the song at the coffee-house I turned on the black light bulb and it beautifully lit up my graven image, as gasps filled the room.

The small group of friends and attendees burst into applause. The response was so good that Mr. and Mrs. Pastor didn’t say anything to me. But from that point on, I was supposed to clear all activities through them.

I didn’t.

Now some people consider a stubborn, willful teenager to be a “criminal in training. ”

Other folks think such behavior is a sign of “budding promise.”

Since I am neither a criminal nor particularly “budding,” I just think that teenagers have the unique benefit of sniffing out stupid rules … and challenging them.

 

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Survival Kit … September 20, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2010)

buckskinHonest to God–he was dressed in  buckskin.

He had long hair and a bushy-wushy beard, giving him the appearance of a bear that had been almost completely swallowed by a deer sporting “frillies” on its hide. He was explaining, on the National Geographic Channel, the three elements necessary to survive in the wilderness.

To my surprise, toothpaste and deodorant did not make the list. The essentials, by my mountain man’s standards, were a knife, a ball of string and matches.

Hmmm. If I had a knife, I would also need bandages and antibiotic cream. I would never be able to get the string off the ball, and in no time at all, my matches would be wet and useless.

Yes, I am willing to admit publicly that my survival time in the wilderness would be brief and distressed.

But I am cognizant that there is a survival kit for just being a good human.

I think the first thing you need is a sense of self–preferably not exaggerated, by the way, and certainly not depleted by a feeling of inadequacy. But if you can emotionally muster the courage to admit who you are and who you aren’t, you probably tackle a goodly percent of the difficulty involved in remaining sane.

Yes, I do think there’s a point where we all have to say, “I am not scared of me.”

If we are secretly frightened of our own motivations, iniquities and predilections, we will work much too hard to disguise our frailties. That is why, when I am in front of an audience, I make it clear to them who they’re gettin’.

A sense of self is one of the greatest scents we possess, to draw other humans to our trail.

The second thing in the survival kit for being a better person is a sense of humor. Do you understand the purpose?

It just lets folks know, “I am not scared to fail.”

It’s quite ridiculous to be frightened of something that is inevitable. As far as I know, failure is the short-cut to success if it’s used wisely, applied correctly and walked away from with good cheer.

A sense of humor is the greatest sign of mental health.

And the final thing that I feel needs to go into the knapsack of our journey on earth is a sense of God.

Now, my definition of “a sense of God” is different from most theologians. I don’t believe we discover God in the Bible, but actually use the Good Book to confirm our revelations.

I don’t think we retrieve God through prayer–that exercise works best when we’re already well-acquainted with the Person we’re contacting.

No–I think we get a sense of God when we can truthfully proclaim, “I am not scared of people.”

For to dislike people, disdain them, ignore them, judge them or always try to change them into your image is to aggravate the mind of God and cause His Spirit to depart from your midst.

For it says quite clearly that “whenever we’ve done it unto the least of these, my brethren, we’ve done it unto Him.” The parallel is clear: to do good unto God means to eliminate any bigotry we might have toward people.

So there you go.

Even though I am not clad in buckskin and gnawing on beef jerky, I am giving you my survival kit for passing through the wilderness we call life:

  • A sense of self: I am not scared of me.
  • A sense of humor: I am not scared of failure.
  • A sense of God: I am not scared of people.

It may not book you on the National Geographic Channel as a wilderness wrangler, but it sure will qualify you … as a great pathfinder.

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

May I introduce to you … November 23, 2012

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I hate my job … in a loving way.

I love my job, although sometimes it aggravates the hell out of me.

You can probably tell from these two statements that I’m a bit conflicted. But the conflict is very necessary in order for me to be successful, fruitful and relevant to my times.

This morning, I would like to introduce you to Jesus. Now, this is a name that evokes  everything from a collective yawn to a congregational cheer. But in a season in our world when we need direction and wisdom grounded in common sense and an eye on history, to most hearers, the name “Jesus” conjures images of crosses, wooden pews and starched, white collars.

Thus my aggravation.

On the other hand, I open up the life and times of this exciting adventurer, and I uncover not merely the spiritual energy of my Creator, but also the flesh, bone and true essence of what human life was abundantly intended to be.

Therefore my joy and love.

How am I supposed to communicate to a world determined to separate everything into boxes labeled A and B?  Yet the power and pungency of a human life lived two thousand years ago does bear consideration in our twitter world.

Let me make three things clear to you as I introduce you to the real Jesus. You may be able to find exceptions to what I share because you’re desperate to maintain your theology or your atheism, but the general consensus of the information provided will contradict your meager holdings. In other words, it’s pretty obvious that Abraham Lincoln had a beard, even though I’m sure you could find someone who would promote the idea that he glued it on every morning.

There are three things that are not only obvious about Jesus, but also important because they are human-friendly and therefore, God-ordained.

1. Jesus hated religion. Just to keep all things fair, religion hated him right back. It was not the Romans, the constables, the tax collectors or the whores who nailed him to the cross. It was the First United Methodist Church in cooperation with the Southern Baptists, who for the first time, had a joint resolution to do something in correlation with one another by ridding themselves of a teaching and infestation that would eventually rob their ranks of parishioners and also steal money from their coffers. Got it?

You may ask what Jesus hated about religion. The answer to that is simple: religion always makes faith about reaching God instead of about God reaching people. There you go. If you’re presently in some sort of doctrinal quagmire, constantly trying to figure out what is pleasing to God, you are in religion, you will live in confusion and you will die in ambiguity. The purpose of faith is to make everything heavenly earthly so that while we are here, we have a working plan, and when we finally are NOT here anymore, God can “surprise the heaven into us.”

2. Jesus taught that humans are heart, soul, mind and strength. If you are attending a church which insists that we are body, soul and spirit, you are pursuing a line of thinking that has no line. Because placing the emotions and the brain in the same container and believing they are able to work together without having a buffer between them consisting of some sort of conciliatory force is absolutely ridiculous. Here’s the truth: I FEEL and I THINK. Those two things normally HATE each other. If there were not a spirit between them negotiating deals, we would live in a world of total confusion, war, political upheaval, financial disaster, anger and inequality. Wait a second…! We do. Could something as simple as a misunderstanding over our nature bring about such devastation?? Absolutely. Jesus came to teach us that out of our heart we speak. So if we don’t keep our hearts pure and understand our motives, recognizing our emotions, we are still going to jabber off things we don’t want to say at the wrong moment, and end up pissing off everyone in the room. That’s why we receive in the heart and we take it to our spirit. And what is our spirit? Our spirit is the place where what we’ve experienced and what we believe sit down and negotiate peace with one another. It is only the spirit that can renew the mind and teach the brain something new–which then gives our body an opportunity to become excited about living again.

3. NoOne is better than anyone else. Jesus lived in a time when the Romans thought they were gods, the Greeks were so confident in their intellectualism that they believed that molesting children was permissible, and the Jews were absolutely convinced that they were the “chosen dudes of God.” This is not exactly the formula for the possibility for a great “mixer.” Jesus broke the curse. Jesus told us that Hamas is not better than Israel. Jesus told us that Japan is not superior to China. And Jesus told us that the United States is not the God beacon and favorite over Russia.

So you can see that I am not a religious man because I really love God and I like the heft of a good hymn book in my hand. I have become a follower of Jesus because I am a true environmentalist, I am a true patriot, I am a true believer, I am a true humanist, I am a true internationalist, I am a true man, I am a true woman–and most of all, I am a true human. This is the only philosophy ever offered that affords me the ability to be all of these without trying to eliminate the competition.

So let me introduce you to Jesus. If you don’t mind, I’ll have to pull him down from the cross where you have placed him in storage. If it doesn’t offend you too much, I will have to tear up his papers of being “only a Jew.” And if you will not crucify me, I will have to let you know that he doesn’t think Americans are “the best.”

If you’re interested in him, you might want to continue to read my column from time to time because I will speak to you of his escapades. If you found something in this essay to be distasteful, disrespectful or unrighteous, I recommend the pabulum from any one of a number of denominations which also offer blogs on their take on the notorious Nazarene.

It’s just that I am angry enough that I am ready to release my love without apology, to unleash the spirit once again of Jesus of Nazareth, whom I believe has earned his “stripes” to be the Son of God.

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

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