Untotaled: Stepping 11 (January 20, 1965) The Cardington Rule … April 26, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Jimmy did all the scoring.

Matter of fact, when our seventh grade basketball team lost the previous week to Mt. Gilead, 32-26, Jimmy scored 24 of our points. The other two additional contributions were provided by our guard, Tom, who miraculously sunk two free throws.

So when Cardington arrived at our school on January 20th, they were fully aware that the only person they really needed to guard was Jimmy.

I was the starting forward but had not scored. I believe the coach had me in there for rebounding. It was not that I jumped really high to retrieve the ball, but rather that my circumference prevented other players from getting anywhere near the rim and the ball kind of just fell into my hands.

So in the first possession of the game, when Jimmy was being triple-teamed by Cardington and they knocked the ball away and it dribbled over to me in my left corner position, and I picked it up, I was nervous to the point of vomiting–and of course, very surprised.

But I looked up and there was my favorite shot. I always used the shot from the left corner baseline when I played Horse, to put somebody away. It was my preferred weapon.

I had lots of time. No one realized where the ball had gone. So I looked up, arched the ball in the air, and nearly wet my pants when it swished through.

The players looked over in shock–and those were my teammates.

I ran down the court to guard for the next series and before I knew it we were back in possession of the ball and I was in my left corner, unguarded again, but this time Jimmy threw it to me and I sank another basket.

Yes. I did three baskets in a row, plus got three foul shots. (For after all, they did eventually decide to send somebody over to distract me.) We weren’t even a minute and a half into the first quarter of the game and I had scored nine points.

The coach called a time out, more or less to allow me the opportunity to catch my breath from excitement, and everybody pounded me on the shoulders as we headed for the bench. I’ll never forget what he said.

“Cring’s hot. Get the ball to him.”

Glory be to God, I was hot.

So my team did try to get the ball to me. I missed a lay-up, fumbled a pass, was double-teamed, and therefore never scored another point.

But it did give Jimmy a chance to get free–and he scored thirty.

We won the game, 39-18.

After that I did not become our leading scorer. But I wasn’t afraid anymore. I put some points up in every game.

I know it sounds silly, but that day I experienced The Cardington Rule:

If you’re going to play the game, you’d better be prepared to make points.

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Jesus Was a Communist… June 24, 2012

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Jesus was a communist.

I know that’s quite a shocking opening statement. I was equally as surprised as I perused the Gospel accounts and realized that Jesus traveled with his disciples, living off the land and sharing all things in common. Thus, a communist.

Upon additional research, I realized that my first assertion of a Communist Jesus was totally erroneous. As it turns out, Jesus is a capitalist. For he said, “He that has shall more be given, and he that has not, even the little he has shall be taken away from him.” Capitalism.

I also discovered through my readings that Jesus would be very upsetting to the NRA, because he was anti-gun, proclaiming that “they that live by the sword shall die by the sword.”

Yet ironically, he did support the troops, because he praised the Centurion who was in charge of one hundred Roman Legionnaires, by saying, “Never have I seen so great a faith—no, not in Israel.”

A bit befuddled, I pressed on with my project. Turns out that Jesus is in favor of gay rights. He said we should not judge, lest we all be judged, for “the measure that is measured out by us to others will be measured back to us.”

I was about to unveil this revelation to some acquaintances, when, with further perusal, I realized that Jesus was also in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, and might even be a homophobe, because he explained to the Pharisees quite clearly that God made male and female and that from the beginning that this was called true marriage—“that a man should leave his mother and a woman leave her home, and the two would be one flesh.”

By this point, I was fully intrigued, yet a bit shocked when I uncovered that Jesus was an Anti-Semite. Speaking to the women of Jerusalem on the day of his crucifixion, he told them that their “house was left to them desolate.”

So imagine how perplexed I was when I also read that he was a Zionist. Giving a partial rebuke to a Syro-phoenician foreigner, he told her it was not good to “give the children’s bread to the dogs.” That’s right—he called her a “Gentile dog.”

Now my curiosity was really piqued, so I started reading indiscriminately, trying to keep an open mind.

Jesus was a party animal. People referred to him as a “wine-bibber, a glutton and a friend of sinners.” Yet, bewildering, he was also a “refrainer.” For after all, he went into the wilderness and fasted for forty days and forty nights, and was hungry.

I then ascertained that Jesus HAD to be a Republican, because he bluntly said that “every good tree brings forth good fruit and every evil tree brings forth evil fruit.” So I was about to make my proclamation on the political nature of his message, when I determined that he was a Democrat, because he strongly believed in the separation of church and state.Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

I then realized that some women might find him to be a chauvinist, because arriving at a well in Samaria, he ordered a woman to bring him something to drink. But this was quickly dispelled by viewing the narrative about the day of his resurrection, when he turned to Mary Magdalene and told her to go and tell the other disciples that he was risen from the dead. Yes. He made a woman his first apostle.

Did you know he was pro-life? He told the surrounding audience that if they “offended one of these little ones, it would be better that a millstone be hung around their neck and that they be cast into the sea.”

Of course, a case could be made that he was pro-choice. He said, “If your right eye offend you, pluck it out.” And we certainly know that some women would find an unwanted pregnancy much more disturbing than bad vision.

Was he a saint? Pontius Pilate, a completely neutral bystander, claimed that he found no fault in him.

Was he evil? The religious leaders claimed that he was “a sinner, a Galilean.”

I pressed on. With my additional readings, I discovered that he was a religionist. He advocated that we fast, that we pray, that we give alms, and even mentioned that we should continue our tithing. So you can imagine how I was a little bit astonished to comprehend that he was a revolutionary, standing toe-to-toe with the religious system. He told them that “he was the Lord of the Sabbath.”

A strong case could be made that Jesus was a humanist, for he told his followers that the”Kingdom of God was within them.” Yet, he did not leave out the presence and power of the Almighty, because he spoke clearly and said that “you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”

Did he favor men? Well, he did have twelve disciples, all circumcised. Yet you might have the inkling that his heart went out to women, because Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna, members of his troupe, gave “of their substance” to make sure the work went on. (You’ve got to love contributors.)

Are you tired yet? Because honestly, I found out he was a liberal. Defending a woman caught in adultery, he turned to a gathered audience of those who assumed they were righteous and said, “Let he that hath no sin cast the first stone.”

Yet I have to tell you, he could just as easily have been a conservative. Because in his Sermon on the Mount, he warned his followers that “he had not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it—and not one jot or tittle of the Law would be cast aside until all was completed.”

Well, you can see—I’ve had quite a journey. But there were still a couple more that jumped out at me.

I had always believed that Jesus was forgiving, because even hanging from the cross, he insisted, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But also, he was a bit vindictive—because he warned that the individuals who did not stand with him were against him.

An environmentalist? Well, certainly a case can be made, because he said that “not one sparrow falls from the sky without God being fully aware of the loss.” But also a pragmatist, because he claimed that nature is fickle and unpredictable, with “the rain falling on the just and the unjust.”

So finally I asked myself the supreme question. Was he a savior? He made it clear that he laid down his life and it wasn’t taken from him. But you have to ask yourself whether he was perhaps a victim, because in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed in great anguish, “Father, let this cup pass from me.”

I finished my pursuit of finding the true nature of who Jesus was. And I ended up, as you see, with so many representations that it is no wonder why we have denominations aplenty, and nearly incomprehensible that we don’t have more.

Jesus can be just about whoever you want him to be. That is why over the years he has become the champion for many causes, some noble and others destructive. So my dear friends, how do we know who he really is? How do we know the best way to represent him? It didn’t take much more investigative reporting on my part to come up with a very simple outline—a prism, if you will—which we shine the light of Jesus through to determine his true colors. Because he makes it clear on three occasions why he came to this earth:

1.”I have come give you life and it more abundantly.”

2.”I have come that your joy might be full.”

3.”I have come to show you the Father.”

So as I looked over my thirty-two insights on the life of Jesus based upon fragments of his filibustering, I passed them through the acid test of these three obvious callings.

I decided not to teach anything that did not bring life to people in abundance.

No matter how many times it is shouted, I will not take partial theology to teach anything that does not encourage full joy.

And finally, it is ridiculous to pursue any path that does not show us a glimpse of God the Father.

  • Full joy.
  • Abundant life.
  • Revelation of the Father.

It’s what human beings need.  Therefore, it’s what Jesus is.

   

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Entertaining the Monster… June 23, 2012

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The monster never leaves.

He remains.

He festers.

He alternates between a domineering profile of supremacy and a whiny fussiness of oppression. He is looking for reasons to be offended. He, himself, offends.

He fears silence. He abhors contemplation. He resists the instinct to worship. He likes things to be noisy. He relishes clutter. He enters a room suspicious of all in attendance, wondering when his perfection will be acknowledged.

He has a memory with no conscience. He has a passion with no desire. He is looking for diversion from what he has not yet determined to be unworthy.

He fears reflection. He mocks repentance. He giggles over the notion of insufficiency. He is not to be reasoned with.

He demands to be entertained.

But sometimes …

Yes, every once in a while, I am able to devise a plan to fool the monster. I step out of my lodging, stride to my van and drive to a nearby park, where I sit on a bench, mulling. The monster is appeased because he thinks we have come to bask in self-pity. He believes we will recite the lines from a script which foretells a betrayal which will leave us bereft. He has prepared for consolation.

But you see, I have private plans. I had a meeting with my own soul, without inviting the monster. I sit in silence.

The monster is disquieted by my choice, but still feels confident that self-pity will soon raise waves of resentment, which will produce tears of anger, ending in childish tantrums.

But instead … I listen. In the midst of gaining solitude, I hear the song of one single bird, high above me in the tree. I concentrate on the bird’s ongoing song. Peace settles in my spirit. I consider the sparrow.

bird at piano lesson with rock

bird at piano lesson with rock (Photo credit: Terry Bain)

I listen to its melody.

Suddenly I am aware of my own inadequacy. My monster is desperate to acquire my attention. He tries to distract me with other sounds, other dangers, other diversions. I resist.

I stay focused on the song of the bird. In no time at all, I am given a window to my own sanctuary and peer at my treasure. And then, there before me–is my own heart. It is divided. It is sliced betwixt the truth of my need and the lies of the monster.

I retrieve the truth. It’s really not that painful, because in the midst of admitting the facts of my life, I am granted freedom through the choice. All at once I am exhilarated by my discoveries.

The monster is enraged by my pursuits, having been thrust to the back of my consciousness, locked in a closet unto himself. I have such a great assurance of peace in my soul that I feel like I can speak aloud to God–and there is that amazing chance that He might just speak back.

What a sensation.

I spend ten minutes on that bench with myself, temporarily freed of my monster. I don’t want to leave. I would love to believe that my adversary is gone forever, locked in the tombs of my past. But I know that as soon as I leave the bench and drive away from the park, the monster will gradually emerge from the shadows–sheepishly at first, acting a bit surprised that I ever deemed him an enemy. He will try to wiggle his way back into my thinking and will take the everyday disappointments and attempt to turn them into signs of the apocalypse.

I will resist him. I will recognize his hovering presence as being anything but protective. I will outsmart him again.

The monster lives. The monster breathes, being granted life by traditions and apprehensions. He seeks entertainment. He wants me to escape into the world, where I lose sight of gaining my own soul.

He wants me to hate. He wishes that I would call that emotion “discretion.” He is devious. He is part of me.

I fooled the monster today. I spent some time with a bird, my own reflections, talking to the Kingdom of God within me, uncovering repentance. The monster is a little weaker.

The monster craves entertainment, like an addict on the second day of rehab. I will attempt to refuse his demands. I will persever in controlling my monster. But it all begins by never forgetting that he is there.

Yes, knowing he’s there … but not giving it a single care.

   

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