Catchy (Sitting 8) Cleanly Rich … July 30th, 2017


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Paul didn’t waste any time.

Before blankets could be spread, cushions situated and all snacks and drinks divvied among the three, he had already begun to drone out his story. It could have been a very interesting tale, but Paul seemed unimpressed with his own reputation.

He had married three years after college–only the fourth lass he had ever seen naked. They had two children who apparently were soldiering on to do their best with the process of growing up to join the ranks of those in file. Paul did not have many hobbies–actually, Paul had no hobbies that he shared. But as he sipped on a bit of diet root beer, he popped off a question.

“Don’t you think there are better ways to spend two hundred and fifty million dollars than propagating the myths of Bedouins who seem to have nothing better to do than kill one another in the name of their mythical gods?”

Matthew chose not to answer. After all, it wasn’t a question. It was a statement of disbelief. Somewhere along the line, Paul Padwick had consumed a sour communion wafer and was still wincing from the experience. Realizing that he was the killjoy of the little airport soiree, Paul rolled over on his Cornhusker cushion and went soundly to sleep.

That left Jo-Jay and God-guy–otherwise known as Joanna and Matthew. The two of them had briefly been a number back in college–a three-week period when neither of them was sexually ravaging or being ravaged–so they cast a glance each other’s way. They made it all the way to the bedroom and even to breakfast the morning after, but then, without any treaty, discussion or negotiation, the accidental collision was never spoken of again by either party.

So Matthew was curious about what would initiate their chatting and was relieved to discover that Joanna had planned all the dialogue, with most of the lines written for herself. She launched into her story.

Two years after college, she met a young fellow who showed great promise–except when it came to keeping promises to her. He had been a rather quiet student in college, but once he got married and realized there were many vaginas in the world, like Columbus of old, he launched his ship to discover new worlds.

Jo-Jay put up with it for a while and then asked for a divorce. She was a little disheartened that he immediately agreed. Because of his unfaithful status, she was granted alimony.

So she tripped along and cavorted for a couple of years, even considering trying to transform herself into a lesbian–but found the experience rather distasteful.

Four years ago she met The Duke. Duke was not his nickname, but rather, his title. He was a Duke of Something-or-other that she could not remember–but it came with much bearing and money. He was thirty-two years her senior. She said that she didn’t really marry her father, but rather, his father.

But he was gentle. He was kind. Generous to a fault, if such a thing is possible. And just about the time Jo-Jay’s hormones were beginning to itch for a scratch outside the mansion, he just up and died, leaving all of his earthly goods to a very earthly Joanna Lawrence. She was actually very surprised at how much she missed him.

She decided to play a game with herself. Every time she withdrew a stack of one-hundred dollar bills from the bank, she pretended it was his face instead of Benjamin Franklin’s.

“So you’re filthy rich,” said Matthew with a tinge of sarcasm.

Jo-Jay smiled. “Actually, I’m clean rich. The difference is, when you’re clean rich, you enjoy the money but you’re constantly trying to do penance by giving much of it away, to apologize for being financially over-nourished.”

All the time that Jo-Jay was sharing, it appeared that she was becoming more intoxicated (though she was gulping nothing more than club soda and orange juice). She was an exciting person. She had the quality of a young girl–the kind of little miss you know isn’t very attractive right now, but someday would be a hellcat.

Finally, Jo-Jay wound down. Or at least, Matthew assumed she did–because he passed out on his cushion in exhaustion.

The next afternoon, the Lincoln airport was opened. Matthew looked for Paul, who apparently had already departed.

So he reached over to hug Jo-Jay and asked, “Where are you off to?”

“San Francisco,” she replied.

Matthew crinkled his brow. “Well, that’s where I’m going.”

Jo-Jay jumped up and down like a little girl and said, “I know, I know. I bought the seat next to you.”

“Don’t you have somewhere to go?” asked Matthew.

“Now I do,” said Jo-Jay. “You see, one of the things about my Duke is that he had a fascination about the Galilean.”

“Galilean?” asked Matthew.

“Jesus,” replied Jo-Jay. “He never called him Jesus. He referred to him as the Galilean because most of his life was spent near the Sea of Galilee. The Duke believed that this Galilean had the solution to mankind’s problems because he refused to let us escape the philosophical juggernaut statement, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Matthew peered at her. “So you’re coming with me to. . .?”

“To. . .” Jo-Jay paused also. “To see where it goes.”

Matthew gave her a quick hug, then pulled back, admiring her like she was a kid sister. “So here’s to wherever the hell it goes.”

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Good News and Better News… December 5th, 2016


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-december-5

Jesus is a lifestyle.

Every time we try to focus on the “Christ” of his Earth journey and turn him into a religion, it seems clunky, fabricated, forced, unreal and nearly irrational.

It’s similar to when we try to make George Washington appear to be a statesman. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were rebels. They were revolutionaries. They actually found it difficult to stop their struggle and create a government.

The early disciples had the same problem when it came to Jesus.

Jesus taught them how to have abundant life, good cheer, tolerance, an expansive talent base and generosity. He did not instruct them to maintain the integrity of Judaism with the purpose of including the Old Testament.

So every time we try to present a Judeo-Christian image, we lose the lifestyle of Jesus–which is the essence of the Gospel.

Our church services today have more of Catholicism in them than Nazareth.

So let’s look at it from the aspect of definitions:

Religion: an attempt to find God in ancient scrolls, mysticism and tradition, feeling that these sacraments are the divine path to reach the Creator.

Church: a system we have set up within this religious thinking, to define our style of worship, welcoming a contingency of people who are comfortable within the format.

Christian: a doctrine that has been established which includes the teachings of Jesus, but focuses equally on the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, to formulate a plan of salvation based upon the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah.

Then we have Jesonian.

Jesonian is a return to the simplicity of the lifestyle of Jesus, who told us that his “ways were easy and his burden was light,” and that the purpose for pursuing his values was to “find rest for your soul.”

So the religious system permeating our society today is a core belief in the atonement of Christ on the cross, the folklore of Judaism, mingled with Catholicism, punctuated with Anglo-Saxon traditions and peppered with American patriotism.

It is not the lifestyle of Jesus.

It lacks the personal responsibility, the joy, the freedom and the experimentation that he promoted as he walked among humanity.

The good news is that Jesus wants to keep things simple and easy.

The better news is that human beings are much more productive and happy when things are simple and easy.

 

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Cracked 5 … April 5th, 2016


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History As Remembered in the Mind of a Millennial

A. Abraham Lincoln won World War II and freed the slaves from the Eiffel Tower, where they were held hostage by Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan.

 

B. The Beatles came with the British Invasion, causing Benjamin Franklin to write the Declaration of Independence, which ushered in the Grammy Awards.

 

C. When the Viets attacked, Richard Nixon opened the Watergate to drown the Nams and save Woodstock.

 

D. The Pilgrims brought turkeys from their boat to feed the starving Indians at the Plymouth Rock Festival.

 

E. Two guys built an airplane and they did it so well that people called them the “Right Brothers.”

Plymouth Rock Festival

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Good News and Better News … March 14th, 2016


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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St. James Composite 2

Saint James Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Realizing that you may never include this sanctuary as a stop off in your pilgrimage of American churches, I will attempt to relate my experience of enjoying the fine folk I met there.

The pastor is John Locke, who has the noble name of a great English philosopher, the inspiration to such American forefathers as James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. (Thomas, by the way, used much of Locke’s language in penning the Declaration of Independence.)

That said, I will tell you that I enjoyed the present incarnation of John Locke of Fayetteville equally.

The congregation was inspiring, and therefore capable of being inspired. Although there were certainly individuals who were curious about my pedigree and what my theological background was, most of them just relaxed and allowed me the chance to share my talents and my heart.

They arrived having survived a week of bitter political struggles and angry candidates, generating a climate threatening mayhem. Let’s be honest–most of us feel rather insignificant when we are viewing the 24-hour news cycle and realize how meager our simple efforts may seem.

But that’s the purpose of the church. It is supposed to be a safe zone–a place where you come to escape social pressure, politics and even religion, and spend an hour or so finding reasons to still believe.

It is a sanctuary where we can proclaim:

1. We’re human.

And then we can ask God, “Is that what you expected?”

We’re not perfect, because in striving for such a position, we would look both prideful and foolish.

2. We’re more “child” than “angel.”

So heavenly Father, enchant us.

Any God we serve who expects us to become more than we are is a charlatan. We are God’s children, and therefore definitely require a certain amount of entertainment with our enlightenment.

3. We need a safe place to come.

The world is full of tribulation, and even though we understand that Jesus has overcome the world, we require a reason to be of good cheer.

It is up to the good folks at Saint James–from leadership all the way through nursery–to provide such an atmosphere.

If they do, they will become viable and powerful in the community, offering an option to the raging storms of those who follow the present wind-blowing.

If they insist on being religious and trap themselves in the drapings of their faith, they will not only be an anachronism to a former time, but will find themselves gnawing on each other out of frustration.

So there’s the good news.

We’re human, we are more like children and we need a safe zone.

But here is the better news: on top of all that, we have this quality–just a bit of sweet, creative divinity placed within us by the breath of God, hinting that we also can surprise you.

We are capable of being gentle and powerful.

So watch us.

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New-fashioned … August 7, 2013


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bicycleGood always wins.

It takes time.

By saying it takes time, I don’t mean there are intervals in history when it appears like evil will actually EVER take the day. There are always inklings of hope–and evidence of faith–which can bolster our love of truth–unless we begin to allow ourselves to be pushed down the broad path of stupidity towards the cliff of insanity.

Of course, you do risk being called “old-fashioned.”

If you cling to that which is praise-worthy, valuable, human-friendly and tender, there are those who will insist you’re out of step with social progress–thus completely devoid of cultural savvy.

Even though life is somewhat like a book, most people forget the plot of the previous chapter as they read the present offering. So to them, it doesn’t seem to be an ongoing tale, but rather, a series of text messages distributed from the mob mentality.

Why can’t good things be considered new-fashioned instead of old-fashioned? What is the difference between good and evil?

Evil kills, steals and destroys.

Good stubbornly refuses to participate.

  • I will not join into the meanness of my society, even though it is considered hip and cool to be vengeful.
  • I will not agree that abortion is an inevitable choice, simply because for this passage of time, we extol personal freedom over personal responsibility.
  • I will not be agreeable toward the nagging battle between men and women simply because some comedian wants to “make hay” off of barnyard jokes.
  • I don’t follow or support war in any of its forms because as Benjamin Franklin said, “there’s no such thing as a good war or a bad peace.”
  • I can’t go along with capital punishment because God did not kill Cain, who was the first murderer, but instead, sent him away for rehabilitation.
  • I will not be party to bigotry, even when it’s portrayed as “cultural preference” or “discovering of our heritage.”

There are so many things in our world that kill, steal and destroy which are being touted as foregone conclusions–just part of the course of the human race.

Good is NOT old-fashioned. It demands that we use restraint.

It requires a person who is straight to understand why someone else might find other people preferable. But it also demands that the gay community realize that 95% of the population cannot possibly fathom their preference.

Good is not when we scream our desire, hoping to gain the podium. Good is when we look at the history of mankind and choose the principles that propel us forward instead of dragging us back to the cave.

I guess to some people, I’m old-fashioned. And if by old-fashioned you mean that I’m clinging to the premise of goodness instead of allowing myself to surrender to a nation which now accepts pornography as some sort of “rite of passage,” then yes. For after all, pornography is not a choice. It’s the denial of a choice for others. It is raping a woman of her privilege to freely love without being intimidated to do so.

So if you must call me old-fashioned, feel free. Actually, I feel I’m on the cutting edge of new-fashioned, when the human race will once again move towards the sanity of life and love instead of death and destruction.

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Thanks for the Turkeys … November 22, 2012


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It was the first thing that came to my mind.

I don’t really like to admit this, because we all like to rewrite the history of what we did, presenting it as a bit more noble than it actually was when it squirted out of our innards. But somewhere along the line, a certain amount of honesty is necessary–otherwise, you end up being bruised and confused by your own lies.

When I discovered that I was having trouble with my legs, the notion of being inhibited in walking was not nearly as uncomfortable to me as the realization that a certain amount of virility, powerfulness and masculinity would be robbed from my profile. For let us be candid–a man sitting in a chair with wheels might be considered one of the classic turn-offs. If it weren’t, someone would certainly have considered using it to pick up chicks at the bar.

  • I didn’t want to be that short.
  • I didn’t want to be that vulnerable.
  • I didn’t want to be that annoying guy sitting around with a ready explanation.

I wasn’t really upset about rolling along instead of walking. It’s just that the stigma attached seemed fairly costly to my manliness and was going to permanently, I guess, rob me of the necessary sexuality to keep me from going bonkers. Do you know what came to my mind at that point?

Turkeys.

Maybe it was because we were coming up on the season–or that my brain just seems to fluctuate between periods of lucidity and inanity–but I realized that the turkey has a really bad public relations problem. You know you’re in trouble with the mass appeal of society when your name conjures images of being a loser.

“You’re a turkey.”

Or the even more pointed example, “You are a REAL turkey.”

It’s hard to hold your beak high when you realize that even if you have smoothed all your feathers and you’re looking your best, people are privately thinking to themselves, “Thanksgiving dinner!”

It must be especially difficult for the turkey because he or she realizes that they came so close to becoming the symbol of American prowess, power and patriotism. Benjamin Franklin, a notable forefather, pushed the bird forward as the candidate to be the nation’s favorite feathered friend. He was outvoted. I’m not sure what the count was, but the bald eagle won. It may be the only occasion when a bald creature won a contest over one with better plumage.

I don’t know what was in the minds of those who voted against the turkey. Was there hidden prejudice? Were they privately thinking to themselves, “That bird can’t fly!” After all, no one is ever going to use the phrase, “Soar like a turkey,” just as no one will ever be able to say, “Run that marathon like Jonathan Cring!”

And the final indignity, do you have to be killed, beheaded, plucked and baked, but for some reason, people step back with a scrunched face, dissatisfied, and think, “It’s not enough. We should stuff him with oysters, bread and seasonings.” And then, on top of THAT, when you’ve made the supreme sacrifice of your carcass–to become tasty–you’re usually smothered in gravy because you’re dry.

Yet, my dear friends, this is not the last indignity. Yes–after people have gorged themselves on your flesh, they have the audacity to insist that it’s your fault that they fall asleep during the football game, because you contain some sort of “hidden drug” which knocked them for a loop.

Do you see the point?

I was greatly encouraged by the plight of the turkey, realizing that I was still able to have a brain and be equated with intelligent conversation instead of relegated to “gobble-gobble.” (Oh, my dear God, is that the source of “gobbledygook?” I’ll have to have Jan look that one up.)

It is also important in this bad public relations swing, to portray the turkey as belligerent, habitually  pecking at things, in order to advertise and promote turkey shoots.

It seems that sometimes in life we all find ourselves in the position of being a turkey instead of an eagle. So on this Thanksgiving morning, and throughout the day, I will commiserate with my fellow-persecuted-old-bird, as I realize that I may have been weakened in some way by my affliction this year, but I’m still not ready to end up face-down on the platter.

I have much to share. I have much to say. And I’m thankful for anyone who has an ear to hear.

By the way … do turkeys have ears? That would be the final insult–or maybe blessing–to be deaf so you wouldn’t have to hear what a turkey you are.

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Squeaky Wheel … September 21, 2012


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Complaining is when we take the precious time to stop off and write the “Book of Lamentations” when we know we should be finishing up the “Book of Acts.” It is the proverbial squeaky wheel which Benjamin Franklin insisted always gets the grease. But candidly, for every dollar’s worth of attention a complainer receives from the world around him, he spends two dollars in lost respect from others.

Human beings are often hypocritical, and one of our main hypocrisies is that we simultaneously despise complaining when it trips off the lips of others, but find it logical and necessary when its origin is in our mouths. Still, all in all, we actually judge the true depth of character in the human family by whether those around us are able to endure, or if they give in to sharing their opinions about their plight. Those who persevere are dubbed spiritual. Those who don’t are viewed as devilish.

The true problem with complaining is that it shuts down the learning process. It is quite impossible to be sharing misgivings and frustrations while still keeping an open mind about new possibilities. It’s just one of those things that makes us too predictable to be valuable.

My friend Caddie had a hard time learning this one. I met Caddie in jail. I was visiting and she was a temporary resident. She had acquired my number off of the wall next to the pay phone in the county jail, placed there by a young man I had assisted through some difficulty a month or so before, who obviously felt compelled to spread the good word about my generosity.

Caddie was a shop lifter. Within twenty seconds of meeting her, she explained that even though she’d had the twenty dollars in her wallet to pay for the scarf, make-up, hair brush and tooth polish, that she couldn’t purchase those items and still have enough money set aside for some groceries and bus fare. Her reasoning was flawless in her own mind. Even though she was surrounded by prison bars, she felt she was the victim of an unjust society which failed to understand that “Caddie needed to do what Caddie needed to do when Caddie needed to do it.”

I helped her get bailed out of jail and offered her a place to stay at my home, and for the next two weeks, as we awaited trial, I attempted to assist this young lady in finding some answers to what I believed were her burning questions.

As time passed, I realized that Caddie didn’t have any burning questions–just complaints. She started off leading me to believe she was asking for my counsel in some matter, but before she ever got to the end of the sentence to form a question mark, we took a detour–four or five details recounting how unfair the situation was in the first place.

She didn’t like the bed we gave her–it was too soft. She was allergic to almost everything we had to eat. She only drank Japanese tea, which I learned was quite different from Chinese tea, or the offerings of Mr. Lipton. She didn’t like television, only appreciated certain types of music on the radio (none of which we were able to provide, by the way) and for some reason, immediately tried to start a war with my young sons, who “returned in unkind” with their own nasty remarks. It didn’t take long for Caddie to set our entire household on edge. People began to root against her. I think one of my boys even hoped that when she walked across the floor she would slip and fall. Caddie seemed oblivious to the disapproval because she was already deeply embroiled in all sorts of disapproval of her own.

When the trial date finally came and we went to court, I found it difficult to be a character witness for her, even though that’s what she desperately needed. So this is what I said to the judge (maybe much to her chagrin):

Your honor, I am not related to this woman, but she has come my way and I have been doing my best to help her find a better path. I cannot tell you that she will never steal again, but I can tell you that she knows she shouldn’t. I also can enlighten you to the fact that Caddie’s main problem is not thievery, but complaining. But… for the past two weeks, she stayed in my home and learned that the squeaky wheel does NOT get the grease. What we do with squeaky wheels is … replace them.”

The judge chuckled and gave Caddie a very light sentence. She stuck around for a week or so more after that, and then took off. About five years later I received a phone call from Indianapolis, Indiana. It was Caddie. She told me she’d had a devil of a time tracking me down, because I had moved and was the traveling sort. She wanted me to know that she had landed somewhere and realized what a pain in all areas of the body she was, had gotten married and started a new life.

With a bit of boldness I stepped up to the plate and asked the most important question. “Have you stopped complaining?”

She laughed. “How do you think I got a husband?”

I laughed, too.

I will tell all ministers, politicians, school teachers and parents this very valuable point. Continuing to leap to your feet to respond to the complaints of a malcontent is to do nothing but build up a thunder cloud of stormy weather in your own soul which will eventually dump rain on them at the wrong moment. Instead:

Don’t give grease to the squeaky wheel. Change the tire.

Ask other human beings to do what you, yourself, have to do to continue to be a learner instead of just a burner of time.

Stop complaining.

And the best way to stop complaining is to understand that difficulty is pre-packaged in life to keep the human race moving forward and discovering instead of just settling into dangerous repetition, boredom and stagnancy.

So the next time you run across something you really don’t like, take an extra moment and find out why it’s really there instead of trying to spit it away with your complaints. Then maybe, like Caddie, you can escape the selfishness that steals time from others and yourself, and instead, find new life.

Maybe … in Indianapolis.

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