Sit Down Comedy … June 21st, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4083)


God.

Would you stop talking about God?

Unless this God of yours has a goddamn idea on how to overcome this god-awful mediocrity.

I, for one, am fed up with anyone or anything that needs to be worshipped.

I can barely get someone’s attention at McDonald’s.

Where does God get off thinking we should stand up for thirty minutes, sing atrocious songs with insipid lyrics, and feed His ego—when He owns title and lien to the whole mess of the Universe?

And by the way, stop promoting books written by Bedouin prophets who believe that demons cause sickness. (By the way, they don’t.)

No more God talk until we have God walk

Here’s the problem—to be religious, you must buy into religion.

They won’t let you be religious by taking God in your everyday life and trying to love people. You have to purchase the whole package—kind of like a gym membership. You sign on the dotted line, it sounds like a good deal, you think you might be interested. But after you go there and realize you can’t measure up to the clientele who are lifting their heavy burdens, you don’t ever want to go back.

Religion says: God is in heaven.

I say: God is on Earth, or what’s the big deal?

Religion: God is to be worshipped.

But I say unto you:  God is a lifestyle—a way of living. Otherwise, if we’re just going to meet Him when we die, why mess around with Him now?

The church says God is a Savior.

I happen to believe that God is life abundantly. He’s just as interested in my pizza choices as He is my Bible study.

They will preach to you that God is a spirit. I happen to believe that God is the person next to me. If I treat him or her poorly, I register “suck” on the meter.

Of course, we’ve all heard that God is contained in the Bible. I will object and say that I think that God is my living word, if I dare to use my words for better living.

God is a Creator? Sure.

But more importantly, God is creating—even strange essays written by folks like me who might perturb those who pursue more of a divine sensibility.

And there are those who feel they can judge other people and tell you that God is Law.

May I proclaim to you that God is love, and if He isn’t, He’s not of much use to us at this point in our history.

OMG.

Stop talking about it, unless you’re prepared to bring something to Show and Tell.


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G-Poppers … February 10th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3214)

Jon close up

G-Pop is fully aware that most people do not realize that their ultimate self-worth is gauged by how valuable they are to others.

Self-confidence may have its charm, but if it doesn’t manifest into some sort of contribution to the human tribe, then it comes across more as boasting than boosting.

With that in mind, it might be good to have a pulse on the heartbeat of people’s needs. So here’s how it breaks down:

50% of the time, the only thing people want from us is our ears.

They just want us to listen. Are they offended when we contribute thoughts? Yes. They have planned a soliloquy and we try to turn it into a dialogue.

20 % of the time they want our hands.

“Can you help me lift this?”

“I need some assistance.”

“Somebody finked out on me and I was wondering if you could be there to fill the gap.”

15% of the time, they yearn to have our feet.

Folks are always advertising something, are tied up, and require others to support the cause and put feet to the faith.

10% of the time, they want our eyes.

They would like us to be observant.

For instance, notice when they have broccoli in their teeth.

Maybe that new outfit we think is so adorable actually makes us look like a stuffed sausage.

And 5% of the time they tolerate our words.

It’s why sermons don’t work well.

Seminars are for those who like stale Danish and anemic coffee.

And prayer meetings and Bible studies have diminishing audiences.

Too much talk.

G-Pop wants his children to learn what makes them worthwhile:

  • People want your ears
  • Then your hands
  • Your feet
  • Your eyes

And on strange occasions when they’re in a particularly cheery mood … they will put up with a little bit of your yammering.

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 40) And With All Your Getting … February 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3209)

Reverend Meningsbee

Sluggish.

A solemn surrender to sadness.

After many weeks of a revival of human emotion, appreciation and pursuit of the general welfare, the Garsonville community gradually settled back into its traditional format of pending suspicion and growing apprehension.

It was actually rather sudden–a transition that occurred over a two-week period. One moment people were smiling, greeting each other warmly and taking an extra second or two while shaking hands. And the next thing you knew, they were creating distance, staking claim to their turf.

Meningsbee noticed it immediately. When he turned to face the congregation, they had stopped grinning. Now they were peering–that fussy, Midwestern squint, poised to offer disapproval.

He felt alone.

This reversion to blandness, which was so clear to him, seemed satisfactory to the rest of the gang, which had obviously decided that the resurrection in their spirits had merely been a Ferris Wheel ride of intrigue. Now it was time to return home from the circus, to do the chores and milk the cows.

Meningsbee thought to himself that over the years, many preachers from this community had faced this quandary–a burst of enthusiasm followed by creeping and crawling backwards, to a profile of preoccupation.

Those ministers may have decided to ignore the digression and accept the inevitable. Not Richard Meningsbee.

So on the ninth Sunday after the beginning of the town’s jubilation, he stood before the congregation and spoke.

“Rich. Young. Ruler.

“That’s how the Good Book describes him. Not a bad combo, do you think? I don’t believe there’s a person here who would object to being richer, younger or even ruling something.

“It also lets us know that this fella was intrigued by all things spiritual. His journey had taken him through the rigors of religion–following commandments, listening to sermons and abstaining from lying and adultery.

“Then he hears about a young man from Nazareth who has an earth-shaking rendition of God-talk. So the rich, young ruler–being rich, young and a ruler–goes out to see Jesus to ask a question. ‘What must I do to get to heaven?’

“From his perspective, that’s all that remained. He was set up for life with all the wine, women and song the commandments would allow. But he was curious how he could maintain that status in the afterlife.

“So when the boy was dissatisfied with Jesus’ response, Jesus gave him a truthful answer. You all remember that, don’t you? The truth? It used to float by every once in a while. Jesus told him, ‘If you want to go to heaven, go out, sell everything you’ve got and give it to the poor.’

“Was Jesus declaring some sort of war on poverty? Of course not. There were poor people when Jesus showed up and they were still there when he left. Jesus was declaring a war on selfishness. In other words, if you’re rich, you’re young, you’re a ruler and you’re following all the commandments and going to church like you should–and you’re still dissatisfied, the problem just may not be linked to your Bible study and prayer. It could be that you know you’re full of crap, but you just don’t like the idea of being full of crap.

“After all, Jesus only asked him to temporarily donate his wealth. He was young and he was a ruler, which certainly granted him the means to get funky and rich again. But to do so, he would have to admit that money was not the source of his power. The Good Book says he walked away sadly.

“Now, I’m lookin’ out this morning at sad people. Oh, you all would argue with me and insist you’re just fine. You would inform me that the boost of joy and gratitude our community experienced over the past couple of months was a shower of blessing, and now we’re just back to the heat of the day.

“You might even shake your heads and say, ‘Reverend Meningsbee, you just don’t understand us Nebraskan folk.’ But I’ll tell you–there are only three roads you can take.

“You can pretend there’s no heaven and just do whatever the hell you want to. You can pretend that heaven and hell is all there is, and make your reservation at the cooler place. Or you can believe that heaven and hell begin now. How we treat each other. How we approach our work. How we accept other people’s children. And whether or not we think God is smilin’ or frownin’.

“I will not pastor a church that thinks our journey is all about ‘making the pearly gates’ or ‘avoiding a devil’s hell.’ Yes, I will tell you plainly, if you don’t give a damn, then be damned with ya’. We’re gonna keep the revival alive instead of finding our hole and crawling in it.

“If you were that young chap, would you leave sadly? I guess the question is, will you leave sadly today?”

As Meningsbee finished, he jogged down the middle aisle, passing through the narthex, out the door, into the parking lot, jumped in his car, started it and left.

He didn’t want to hear opinions–and he didn’t want to be tempted to soften his words as the bruised filed by him on their way to mediocrity.

He would wait and see how the message of the day would survive the week.

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 12) Obsession… July 17th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

A damnable itch, festering in the brain, simpering to be scratched.

Meningsbee was enraged.

He was wounded.

He couldn’t decide if he was more angry or hurt.

But on the drive home, grasping a moment of maturity, he decided to keep the events of the failed Bible study to himself. Yes, when asked about it, he would play dumb and refer all questions to the other parties involved.

And there would be questions. The congregation had great faith that Meningsbee would be able to come into the living room setting of Sammy Collins’ home and use his spirit and charm to initiate healing.

Maybe that’s what bothered him the most–a complete sense of failure; a rage over being out-foxed by this common possum, Swanson. How did he ever let himself be in such a vulnerable position that this upstart could make him look foolish and insignificant?

Even though he decided that the mature–or as he called it, the Jesonian–way of handling the event was to remain silent, his brain was inflamed with an inferno of retaliation.

And the more he considered his noble choice, to turn the other cheek and pretend it never happened, the more a self-righteous slime made him feel pious–superior to his adversary. Then an aching anger chased that religiosity, leaving him bound in a week-long fit of overwhelming obsession.

Fortunately, he succeeded in dodging all the phone calls from church members by proclaiming that he would share his findings on Sunday. This seemed reasonable to all of them. Why tell the story fifty times when you could tell it once, and have it done?

But what would he tell?

Even though Patrick Swanson did not ask him to keep their conversation in confidence, he knew that anything he would relate about the plans of this worship leader would come across petty–and of course, be easily denied.

He’d had such great hopes.

Meningsbee had come to Garsonville with the spirit of a servant, but now he was realizing that he still had a mind to be king.

Yes, in his more enlightened moments he was willing to be patient and wait for good things to come his way, but that damnable itch insisted on being recognized.

He got so worked up that he ended up with some sleepless nights that invited a common cold to further aggravate him. Sneezing, blowing his nose and sipping some tea and honey for a scratchy throat, he wondered if he could skip the Sunday service due to illness.

Implausible.

Things had to be handled, and unfortunately, it was his hands.

He didn’t pray enough, he didn’t study anything, he over-ate, over-thought and over-reacted.

He reluctantly dressed for Sunday morning and headed out the door. He had no message.

He had never come to spend time with the Heavenly Father so ill-prepared. All he had inside him was poison. But he drove to the church and stepped to the door.

A few people tried to hug him and he was able to maneuver away by explaining his contagious condition. Fortunately, the congregation easily handled prayers, offering, testimonies and even a song.

Then everybody grew quiet, the building completely still, waiting for Pastor Meningsbee to speak.

He stood to his feet, vacant of inspiration.

He walked slowly, as a man treading to an execution. He turned and looked into the hopeful faces of those who yearned for peace with their neighbors.

Suddenly tears filled his eyes. He feigned a sneeze and grabbed a Kleenex to draw attention away from his sudden emotional outburst.

Catching his breath, he picked up a Bible nearby and held it in the air. He stood there for a long moment, waiting for the Holy Spirit to give him utterance. There was none.

Yet the congregation was waiting.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 11) Bible-less Study… July 10th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2998)

Reverend Meningsbee

The answering machine was full.

Meningsbee had taken the precaution of turning off his phone for the Sunday afternoon drive which landed him in South Dakota, and now checking it for the first time, he realized that his “professional preacher profile,” which he had selected the previous Sunday, had not fooled any of his congregation.

He had at least thirty messages, all basically intoning a recurring theme: “Are you all right?”

He was in the middle of the eighteenth inquiry when there was a knock at the door. He opened it to discover Sammy Collins, a deacon who had been part of the great exodus from the Garsonville Church. Meningsbee invited him in but Sammy explained that he was in a hurry.

He said, “I have a Bible study at my house on Monday nights, and I would like you to come and see if we can’t make this thing right.”

On any other day, Meningsbee would have been reluctant, but he remembered Kitty’s words at the Four Heads Motel. Maybe he did need to listen.

So he agreed to come–with the stipulation that it would be a secret. Sammy agreed and departed. The following Sunday, Meningsbee was shocked to discover that everyone knew about the upcoming Monday night Bible study. They were thrilled, apprehensive, overjoyed–but mostly wanted to pray for him. Some wanted to come and give moral support, but he declined.

So all through Monday, Meningsbee fidgeted and wondered what his approach should be with the former congregation members.

He knew he didn’t want to be defensive. He knew he didn’t want to take too much time–and mostly, he knew he didn’t want to get there early.

Since it was a pot-luck dinner, which was served after the Bible study, he made his famous hot dog and beans for the occasion.

He arrived promptly at seven o’ clock, to discover that nobody was there. No one but Sammy Collins, his wife and Patrick Swanson, who was formerly the worship committee leader at the Garsonville Church.

Sammy was humiliated, frustrated, and just could not figure out what had happened.

In the midst of Sammy’s attempts at an explanation, Patrick interrupted and said, “Sammy, would you mind giving the Reverend and me an opportunity to chat privately?”

Sammy agreed, took Meningsbee’s casserole dish and headed off to the kitchen. Meanwhile, Patrick motioned for Meningsbee to come and sit down in the living room. Once seated, Mr. Swanson began his discourse.

“I need to be candid with you, Meningsbee. I told the congregation not to come this evening.” Swanson paused to see Meningsbee’s reaction. He offered none, so Swanson continued.

“You may wonder why. It’s because we aren’t coming back. There isn’t going to be a reconciliation, because we need our church out at the Holiday Inn. I know you think that you broke up the Garsonville Church through your policies. I’ll have to admit–they were pretty heavy-handed, and you didn’t really seek anyone else’s confidence, but I had decided months ago to abandon the property. I hadn’t said anything to anyone else, but two years ago I thought the new bypass was going to come through, and we’d be able to sell at a huge profit. But when they picked another path, I realized that the church basically had no financial worth. Simultaneously, the building’s getting old. The roof’s rotten, carpet is threadbare–I even had a guy come in who told us we have termites. Plus, after all my years of being at the church, I was tired of the flow of pastors. Most of them gave hapless attempts at being administrators, with no real business sense of their own. And then you arrived, on some sort of Mt. Sinai mission, to make us into something else. Well, it was enough. I made my move. My prayer was that all the old people would stay with you and all the young couples would come over to the new church, where we could talk about current events, politics, and plan excursions. You know–trips where we could fellowship and have fun. The church was dead, but I didn’t have the heart to kill it–and then you showed up. You became my gun.”

Swanson paused. Perhaps he was expecting an explosion of anger, a retaliation or a threat or two, but Meningsbee remained silent.

Swanson concluded. “Any questions, Reverend? What I’m saying to you is, you can try to keep that church together, but I will fight you.”

Meningsbee stood to his feet and stated, “Will you tell Sammy I’m going to pass on dinner?”

He headed to the door, leaving Patrick in the living room by himself. His hand was shaking as he reached for the knob.

Walking down the stoop to the sidewalk to his car, he felt like someone had taken a knife and hollowed out his insides.

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