Catchy (Sitting 67) Just When You Realized the Donkey’s Ears Were Not As Long As You Originally Thought… September 23rd, 2018

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The name of the restaurant was Vous L’Appelez, which was French for “You Name It.”

It was one of nine restaurants at the Haven on the Mount which offered all sorts of fine cuisine at very reasonable prices since money was not an issue.

The frustration of cash had been removed from the compound by using credits and bartering as a way of distributing goods and services instead of passing around American currency, which really had no relevance. Each family maintained their own personal accounts in other parts of the world, depending on whether they wanted to be “missing in action,” or “presumed dead.”

But Vous L’Appelez had a wonderful advertising scheme of offering anything you wanted to eat–as long as you phoned ahead. Matthew had rented the entire facility for the evening, for what he hoped would be a very special night.

It was the six-month anniversary of his arrival in the mountains, and he felt it was time to sit down with Leonora, offer a ring and a proposal he hoped she would not refuse. Their relationship was sweet. It was well-thought-out. It was without contention–for after all, everything in the region was minus strife and the pursuit of vanity. Their romance was clean, free of obstruction.

But there were moments when Matthew felt that the energetic young woman, who had a tendency to lose interest very quickly, was absent and that her mind was floating to other concerns, even during their times of intimacy.

He had no way of proving it. Every time he brought up some problem with their connection, she cited a hundred examples of bliss and joy. So pushing past his own foolish insecurity and overbearing need to throw a wrench into all great works, he set up this dinner–this meeting, this moment–to once and for all enter a relationship with a woman that would last for more than a night.

It had been an amazing six months. Although he had seen Michael Hinston for some meetings and luncheons, and made sure to connect with Jo-Jay, and even had a coffee a time or two with the billionaire king himself, most of his daytime hours were spent being mentored and emotionally healed by Joshua Jackson.

Joshua was a large man–formidable. Almost frightening. Had it not been for his gentle eyes and warm embraces, Matthew would have been intimidated.

Joshua knew everything.

He knew all the stories of what led up to Matthew’s arrival at the Haven on the Mount and he seemed to have a unique way of taking the cumbersome Bible scriptures and bringing them down to common sense and simplicity for the often-cynical former marketer.

They developed such a deep friendship that several of the residents mistook Joshua and Matthew for lovers. So Matthew was careful to spend his days with Joshua and his nights with Leonora. He wanted to at least appear bi-sexual.

Joshua filled in many of the blanks. He explained a phenomenon that Matthew had never considered–that in every organization there always existed a subversive core of individuals who wanted to use the power of their authority to gain wealth, even if they had to hurt other people.

It made no difference if the organization was a library, a country or a bank–tucked deep into the underbelly of every business or corporation were the radicals who desired to manipulate.

Joshua had been hired to find those under-bellies. It was his job to join them, fellowship with them, drink their favorite booze and learn how to prevent their nasty plans from destroying the movement.

Therefore he often appeared to be the enemy, when he was actually the stopgap who kept tragedy from befalling the lives of those who were trying to bring a little peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

Joshua had planned the abduction of Jo-Jay, rescuing her through that kidnapping from being murdered by a car bomb. He had carefully placed her in the Amazon forest, knowing full well that another member of the team, Reverend Paulson, would be nearby for the recovery when the time was right.

(Matter of fact, the Paulson family, with both children, were currently dwelling in the Haven on the Mount–a blessed retirement for years of bringing the Gospel to the ignored.)

Joshua had also quietly saved Jubal’s life several times, and had even set in motion a plan to foil the plot in Salisbury, North Carolina, killing believers, by joining up with the three assassins. Joshua’s plan was to murder the trio right before the attack. Unfortunately, his fellow-assassins got nervous and antsy, and decided to instigate the job before Joshua arrived.

When Joshua came to Salisbury and saw the death and destruction around him, he was overcome with grief and took his pistol and aimed it at his head to take his own life, feeling he had failed.

It was Carlin Canaby who stopped him; otherwise he would have been marked by all eternity as one of the deceased murderers.

This was before Carlin became known by the group, standing on the sidelines to make sure “the edges didn’t curl up.”

Joshua told story after story of his work among the more sinister, rebellious elements around the country–how each secret counter-culture had manufactured an America in their minds that was run either by Satan or greed.

Time and time again he stepped in to fill the need–a space which was fortunately unknown to most people because of his effectiveness.

Notably, the Christian Liberty Operation (the CLO) used him as an operative and because of his work there, he was able to expose an errant terrorist group within their own ranks, preventing disaster–thereby legitimizing what turned out to be a worthwhile organization.

Matthew fell in love with Joshua–a brotherly love he had never experienced before. He had never known anyone like Joshua. Joshua was candid. Joshua was self-effacing, without being frightened or imbalanced.

Joshua loved people.

After he was convinced that Matthew could be trusted, Joshua shared the story of Prophet Morgan. He did so quietly but defiantly. Joshua still questioned what happened to the young preacher. He believed that Arthur Harts had made a hasty decision because of his dislike of the Southern boy.

Joshua explained that there was no doubt that Morgan was a drug addict. He had started as a boy–to try to keep up with his father’s tent revivals, to stay alert and energetic, but then he was never able to get out from under the monkey on his back, which gradually turned into a gorilla, smashing him into the ground.

Joshua worked with him. Because Prophet Morgan did not know who Joshua was or why he was there, Joshua was able to take him on like a little brother. But the Prophet was determined to fulfill his own dark self-prophesy.

When it became obvious to Joshua that the boy needed help and rehabilitation–perhaps to be brought to the Haven on the Mount to heal–Harts refused.

He explained to Joshua, “To everything there’s a season. This is not a season for the young Prophet.”

Three days later, Morgan took his car out into the middle of the desert and found a way to kill himself. Even though many people in Vegas thought it was a murder, it was, in fact, a horrible suicide.

Joshua closed the story by saying to Matthew, “I do understand. And I do appreciate the importance of the decision. I just don’t agree.”

Matthew had six months of rich conversations and revelations in his mind as he sat down to dinner with Leonora.

He had requested all forms of baked and broiled seafood along with tropical fruits. She loved that mixture and so did he. They dined, they giggled a bit, and they both chilled with joy over being together in such a safe utopia.

Dinner came to an end and Leonora was growing a bit impatient from hanging around the restaurant. Matthew knew he needed to make his move.

What was stopping him? Why didn’t he just reach into his pocket and pull out the ring–a family heirloom provided by Billionaire Harts for the occasion–and place it on her finger?

There was one question–an unanswered, festering notion–that he needed her to explain. It was so awkward, perhaps petty. But still–he wanted to know.

Matthew geared up his courage, guzzled some mineral water, took her hands, looked into her eyes, and said, “I have a question.”

She nodded her head, maintaining her eye contact.

“When I was so sick,” he began, “and it was obvious I needed a liver transplant–but more importantly, I needed you–why did you choose that moment to go away?”

She surprised him. She bristled, stiffened and pulled her hands back.

“Why are we going into this now?” she asked. “I thought…”

Then she stopped.

“You thought what?” asked Matthew.

She shook her head. He leaned forward, drawing closer to her face.

“No, Leonora. Tell me. You thought what?”

Leonora stood to her feet, stepped behind her chair, pivoted and spoke. “I thought you were going to propose to me tonight.”

Matthew leaned back. “What gave you that idea?”

Leonora stepped a couple of feet away, and then turned and replied. “You know what gave me that idea. My grandfather said he gave you the family heirloom ring, and also permission to ask. I thought that’s what this dinner was about. Why are we talking about old silliness when we have our lives ahead of us?”

Matthew craned his neck to stare up at her.

“So which part of this is silly? Me being sick? Me being weak? Me needing you? Or you disappearing?”

“It’s all silly,” she said, moving back into her chair. She took his hands again. “Come on. The past is the past. Why are we ruining this moment, worrying about what’s already happened?”

Matthew took a deep breath and spoke words he had only whispered in his heart in the middle of the night.

“Because, Leonora…I don’t think you love me.”

He shocked himself when he heard the words. They were so lonesome as they hung in the air, without any support; abandoned, needing a place to find rest, but orphaned in the silence.

“You don’t think I love you?” Leonora said. “Haven’t I shown you I love you? I’ve never loved a man the way I love you.”

Matthew interrupted. “I believe that. I do. I just don’t know…Well, I just don’t know if that’s enough for me.”

Leonora stood to her feet again, repeating her pivot around her chair.

“Matthew Ransley, what is it you want? What do you want from me? Am I to be your devotee? Am I supposed to cheer your every move? Should I lessen myself so you feel better?”

Matthew jumped in. “So you think you have to lessen yourself to be my equal? Is that what you’re saying?”

Leonora walked across the room with all the appearances of departing, but stopped a few paces from the exit.

“What I’m saying,” she spit, “is that I don’t like complications. You see what I have to offer. You see who I am. You see how I function. You know my height, you know my depth–and if it isn’t enough, then fine. But don’t ask me to pretend to be your dream girl. I’m nobody’s girl. I am Leonora. I don’t plan on changing that. I am just like my instrument–the oboe. Yes. I’m just like the oboe. You put the right reed in me and you finger me correctly, and add the breath, and I will play you a beautiful tune. It may sound like a silly analogy and it probably is. But not nearly as ridiculous as this conversation. So do you love me? Are you going to give me the ring? Or are we going to sit and talk about this all night?”

Matthew sat and stared at the self-aware but also self-serving lady before him. She was perfect. That’s why he couldn’t be with her.

“Yes,” he said. “I will give you the ring so you can return it to your grandfather. You deserve better than me. Privately you know that. It’s just that sometimes your private thoughts get in my head.”

Leonora walked back to the table, took the ring, thought about speaking, but decided to just walk away.

Matthew sat and stared for a long time at the space once occupied by the woman he desired. He realized that desire is just not enough.

He took his phone out of his pocket, dialed a number and spoke.

“Plan Z.”

The owner of the restaurant, realizing that things had not turned out the way Matthew had anticipated, came over and gave him a tender, Christian hug, and said the meal was free. Matthew patted him on the shoulder, stepped out into the night air, climbed onto the golf cart which had been provided for his needs, and drove the one mile to the airport.

His jet was waiting for him.

Matthew realized that he could stand to live in the Haven if he and Leonora could have had a life together. But a sanctuary of safety was never what Matthew wanted in his life. He would much rather be in the chaos, and try to find a way to tie two ends together, to create some wholeness.

He did not belong at the Haven in the Mount. He was more of a Jubal, a Jasper, a Rolinda. He was going home.

But he was going home with a change in his heart–a belief that Jesus was not only popular, but brought a message and a lifestyle which was essential for Planet Earth.

Matthew was returning to his life–but this time as a believer.

Arriving at the airport, the pilot loaded his bags into the plane, and as he was about to climb up the steps and leave Paradise forever, he heard a voice.

“What’s your hurry?”

He turned around. It was Jo-Jay.

“You didn’t think you were gonna leave without me, did you? I want to tell you, Matthew. This place is so good it makes me feel bad.”

Matthew laughed and gave her a big hug.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Am I sure what?” inquired Jo-Jay.

“Are you sure about going back?”

“Well,” said Jo-Jay, “when I was coming here to the airport, thinking I was going to leave by myself, I felt pretty good about it. But now that I know I’m leaving with you–well–I still feel pretty good about it.”

She burst into laughter. He joined her.

They climbed into the airplane, and taxied down the runway, taking one final look at the Eden of the Hills.

“Maybe we’ll visit sometime,” said Matthew, looking over at Jo-Jay.

Jo-Jay chuckled. “Hell, Matthew. There’s no maybes in our world.”

The two leaned their heads back, feeling completely at peace.

It was time for them to go into the world and live the Gospel.

THE END

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Catchy (Sitting 64) One Year Persisted… September 2nd, 2018

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365.

An odd number–a peculiar collection of time to signify the passing of one year of human life.

Matthew got well.

Not better. Not what a physician would call a “marked improvement.” Rather, Matthew took the little piece of liver from the life of Michael Hinston and generated it into a new human form. He was grateful–especially at first.

At Michael’s funeral, he wept like a baby, testifying as Lazarus, who had risen from the dead, of his appreciation and humility over being afforded such a gift.

He mourned. In the process of mourning, he found comfort in his old friends, who he once believed to be adversaries trapped in a religious fervor which frightened him.

But as time passed, and it did, he was less and less concerned about the past and more and more curious about what might lie in the future.

He was unable to find Leonora. She had done the impossible–disappeared. He checked musicians unions, concert halls and even companies that sold oboe reeds, to see if they had any information on his Leonora. She was gone–and if her goal was to make her retreat clean and complete, she had been successful.

Matthew tried to bury himself in the work. Even though his thankfulness had an air of spirituality to it, his human doubts had grown even stronger with the death of Michael and the loss of Leonora.

He feigned appreciation. He imitated faith. It wasn’t completely absent from his soul–just waiting in line behind hundreds and hundreds of unanswered questions.

Carlin became his good friend. The work of Terrance Eldridge, with his book, “Amerikin,” had spread into the Hispanic community, and also the Asians. There was a move to see Mr. Eldridge run for President, and rather than taking on the mantle of either party, he began “the Lincoln Party,” with the slogan, “Ameri-Can when Amerikin.”

He was rising in the polls daily, but more importantly, at least to Carlin, a true dialogue on the roots of racism had spread across the country, producing both solace, and at times, violent reactions.

Terrence Eldridge’s nephew was assassinated at one of the rallies. The act was caught on film by the networks. The shooter was a member of an emerging and marauding group of citizens who called themselves “The Migrators.” They were unashamedly advocating for an Anglo-Saxon, white America, and were gradually moving their families to Montana to escape the insanity of “racial blurring.” Thus, the name, “Migrators.”

Jubal took his meeting with Milton, and began to market the word Jesonian like a new cereal from Kellogg. Everyone seemed to love a term that described belief in Jesus without an allegiance to the religious system. Matter of fact, many of the Protestant denominations began to advertise themselves as “Jesonian Baptists” or “Jesonian Methodists” or “Jesonian Pentecostals.”

Jubal tried to visit Milton once a week to get a burst of inspiration, clarity and enthusiasm, to take out into his Jesonian rallies, which now offered a definition for what once had been a frat party with a Bible.

Soos mourned Michael Hinston. Matter of fact, money was provided for a permanent memorial in Salisbury, North Carolina, called “Soulsbury USA,” dedicated to Michael Hinston. Since no charges were filed against him before his death, those pursuing the indictment quickly faded away, figuring that any incrimination cast on the man would only create a backlash for them.

Jasper labored with Mickey Kohlberg at the Sinai Club. It was not easy. Gradually, comedians from America and even pop stars made the pilgrimage to the site, under heavy guard, to share their talents and add their agreement. It was one of those things that was popular for a few months, until things went back to normal.

Mickey continued to hold nightly comedy routines at the club. There were threats and occasional bombings, but he persevered. Finally, both the governments of Israel and Syria condemned the project and made it illegal to participate. For a few weeks, some faithful Arabs and Jews persisted, but eventually it was just Mickey.

One night in June, with the stars and the moon as witnesses, he walked into the club, which was empty, stood on the stage, and he launched into his routine.

Jasper was due to arrive the next day to discuss future plans on how to transform the seeds of the idea into an international movement. But Mickey decided to go to the club one more time, faithfully, as he had done every night since its inception.

He was standing onstage, talking to an empty room with a microphone in his hand, when a young fellow–no more than a teenager, clad in black robes and a black hood–stepped into the back. He lifted up an assault rifle, aimed it at Mickey and began to recite prayers.

Mickey, knowing there was no escape, said loudly into the microphone, “So now I will know what it’s like to die onstage.”

The young man fired and fired again, and fired a third time, even though Mickey had fallen to the ground dead.

In happier news, the movement of Careless, with the billionaire donors and the E.I.O. farms, had sprouted great victories. Careless had succeeded in putting together what he referred to as “The Faithful Five,” a quintet of billionaires determined to change the world with their dollars. Not only did they use their money to fund great ideas, which offered cures, answers, plans and relief, but they also pooled together to quietly, behind the scenes, purchase the two largest providers of medicine in the United States and the free world.

Upon gaining controlling interest of the companies, they immediately lowered the cost of the drugs necessary to keep people alive and thriving. They challenged hospitals to stop being profit-making machines and return to the position of sanctuaries for the sick.

It was a drastic transition. Everybody in every corner of the world felt the impact, both in their pocketbook and their sense of well-being.

There was a split in the Catholic Church. Sister Rolinda becoming a priest had created such great havoc that those of the ancient ways felt the need to separate themselves from the apostate.

It was very simply dubbed, “Old World Catholic” and “New World Catholic,” divided rather evenly geographically between East and West, and poor and solvent.

The Old Church kept the old world with the old problems of old destitution.

The New World Catholics rejected the need for a Pope, maintained the cardinals and bishops, but made it permissible for priests to be married. They ushered in forty days of fasting and prayer to repent over the atrocities which had been committed against women and children over the decades. It was an amazing vision of the world giving up its power in order to produce lamentation and the first fruits of joy arriving in the morning.

Carlin was catching Matthew up on many of the happenings across the world, while also reporting that of the 250 million dollars provided by the deceased billionaire, there was still 73 million left. Although Carlin admitted a lot of money had been spent, so very much had been accomplished.

They were in the middle of their fellowship, sipping on fruit juice and seltzer (Matthew’s new drink of choice) when there was a knock at the door.

Matthew, who was very comfortable on his couch, motioned to Carlin to see who it was. Opening the door, there stood Jo-Jay, Soos, Jubal and Jasper, smiling and carrying trays of food and drink.

Jo-Jay pushed past Carlin and the others trailed behind her, dropping off their goodies onto any available surface. Once the clatter ceased, Jo-Jay turned to the room and spoke.

“I don’t mean to interrupt what’s going on, but interrupt I shall.”

Everybody laughed, found seats and prepared for one of Jo-Jay’s comedic, but often long, dissertations.

“I will not take long this morning,” she said with a giggle, “because I shouldn’t. And the reason I shouldn’t is that too many speeches at a wake makes it hard to stay awake.”

The room groaned. Jo-Jay scratched her chin.

“I thought that would be funnier,” she said.

“Who’s the wake for?” asked Carlin.

Jo-Jay stepped over, grabbed a glass and poured some champagne, freshly popped by Jubal. She held the glass up and said, “This wake is for me.”

She confused the entire room, because no one in the world seemed more alive than Jo-Jay. It appeared to be a rather sick joke. She continued quickly.

“I have just received a diagnosis from my doctor. So to dispel all suspense, let me just say, I have bone cancer. I am dying. They gave me six months to live if I chose to go through agonizing chemotherapy, and six weeks if I choose the short way to get home. I decided that I don’t want a few extra months of vomiting, so I’m here to conduct my own wake–because I know you damn losers could never come up with a good one. You’d cry, get sentimental, question God and say stuff about me that I’m sure would be mostly true, but certainly exaggerated due to the circumstances.”

Matthew stood to his feet and moved toward her. She lifted a hand to stop him.

“Don’t you try to keep me from dying, Matthew. You have an overly emphasized sense of importance, but not even you can take the grim out of the reaper.”

Matthew’s eyes filled with tears. “There’s got to be something we can do.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Jo-Jay. “I want you to sit, I want you to eat and I want you to listen to me rattle on about how excited I’ve been to be alive, and how damn angry I am about checking out. If you can’t do that, leave me the hell alone. If you can, let’s have a party–a salute to me before I no longer am me anymore.”

Everybody in the room was on the verge of tears, but laughed anyway. Jasper grabbed a crab leg and bit into the shell without cracking it. “I’m up for it,” he said.

The gathered grabbed plates and glasses, shaking their heads and trembling over the notion of losing such a dynamic package. Matthew gently grabbed Jo-Jay by the arm and pulled her into the bedroom, where they could be alone.

Matthew looked deeply into her eyes. “You can’t die,” he insisted. “We never screwed.”

Jo-Jay glanced over at the bed. “There’s a bed, boy,” she observed. “What doth hinder you?”

Matthew broke down and cried like a little boy who failed to receive his promised bicycle from Santa. Jo-Jay held him, comforted him and stared off in the distance–uncertain of what her brief future might hold.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 18) Clippings … October 15th, 2017

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Michael Hinston sat back in a leather chair which had been a gift from a Congressman from Mississippi who had recently remodeled his office, had no need for the extra furniture piece and “saw no reason for it to go to waste.”

In Michael’s hand was a plain manila envelope–the kind you would buy at a dollar store. There was no writing on the outside, except in the lower right hand corner, in small letters, was the name, Milford Hayes.

It did not take Michael any time at all to recollect who Milford Hayes was. Ever since the visit in his office, when he was given the fifty thousand dollars from Caine Industries, he had recalled the conversation with the stranger many, many times.

He hated himself because he hadn’t kicked the bastard out the door.

He hated himself for being part of a political system that allowed such corruption.

He hated himself because corporations thought they could buy and sell politicians like sides of beef.

He also hated himself because he had already spent some of the money.

And unlike more noble souls who could suddenly possess a fit of conscience and give the money back, he had no such resource.

He was in.

Whatever “in” meant.

And apparently, with the arrival of this envelope, he was about to find out.

He picked up the phone and asked his secretary to hold all calls, though nobody was actually phoning him. This was another troubling part of his journey in Washington. He had been elected by rural hometown folks in Ohio, but nobody in the Capitol even knew he was alive.

He had thought he was going to be invited to dinner with the President, but when it turned out that his vote was not needed for an upcoming piece of legislation, apologies were offered and he ended up eating pepperoni pizza with his family.

So now, sitting in his cast-off chair, in his uncomfortable office, with the knowledge in his mind that his wife and children despised their new home, he slowly opened the envelope.

Pulling out the contents, he found a clump of press clippings held together with a paper clip, and a white business envelope with the words “For the Kids” written on the outside.

He set the white envelope to the side and thumbed through the articles. They had one central theme–they were tiny news announcements, reports, opinions and press releases about his friend, Matthew, taking on the Harts fortune to popularize Jesus.

Included was an 8 X 10 glossy picture of a young man with long hair. Scrawled in magic marker across the photo was the name, Jubal Carlos.

Satisfied that he had discovered the essence of the newspaper clippings, he moved toward the business envelope. He opened it. Inside was a note written on 20-pound typing paper, along with ten one hundred-dollar bills. The note read:

It’s time to do something. It’s time for you to earn your money. Your nosy friend has decided to take on the challenge and we must do what is necessary to stall his efforts. The picture is of Jubal Carlos, a freelance musician from Las Vegas who lives on the street with the homeless and the indigent. Your buddy from college plans on using him. Don’t you think it would be a good idea for you to use your congressional clout to have the local authorities investigate him? It couldn’t hurt, right?

I have enclosed some “pin money” for little Alisa and Bernice. Stay faithful. Milford Hayes.

Michael put the letter down and stared at the picture of Jubal Carlos. He didn’t know what to do. The young man in the photograph certainly seemed likeable–a bright countenance.

Why would he want to trouble someone causing no trouble?

Why would he allow himself to be part of some plot against an old friend?

Why should he care what a dead, old billionaire wanted to do with the rest of his money?

But what truly haunted Michael was the thousand dollars. Just twenty minutes earlier, his wife, Barbara, had called to tell him that the school was launching a field trip to New York City. There would be additional expense. The secretary from the school said it would cost $500 for each daughter. Barbara apologized for laying a thousand-dollar burden on his mind while he was at work.

Michael paused, shaking his head. Now, twenty minutes later, he was staring at a thousand dollars in cash. A coincidence? A miracle? A blessing?

Or did Milford Hayes and Caine Industries know too much about his daughters?

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Catchy (Sitting 7) Accumulating … July 23rd, 2017

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On May 8th, the largest blizzard in the history of meteorology in the state of Nebraska dumped nineteen inches of wet, slushy snow all over Lincoln, closing the freeways and the airport.

Matthew was at that airport.

He had cleverly put together a plan to meet up with three of his old college buddies from the “Leaven of Seven,” and explained to them in vivid detail some of his ideas about how to take the money from the eccentric billionaire and attempt to make Jesus not only the Christ, but popular again.

He had left messages with each, and they had successfully negotiated their air itineraries to have at least a two-hour layover at the Lincoln, Nebraska Airport–all at the same time. It was a feat of magic, only to be expected from those who had benefitted from higher education and had never had to be concerned about anybody but themselves.

When the announcement was made over the public address system that all flights were canceled and that the local motels were also filled, Joanna Lawrence (Jo-Jay) let out a tiny whimper that culminated in a miniscule scream. Yet it was loud enough to alarm people around her who already had experienced the danger of the sky falling.

“I can’t believe this,” said Jo-Jay. “I am going to need lots of alcohol.”

Matthew interrupted. “You always say that, Jo-Jay. You don’t need to be intoxicated. You just choose to be drunk. And if there isn’t a crisis, you’ll tip your glass to the threat of one.”

Jo-Jay paused and peered at Matthew with a surprised expression. “Wow. That was deep. I think you just changed my life. Why don’t we get a drink and celebrate?”

Paul Padwick thought that was hilarious. When he agreed to join them at the Lincoln airport, he requested they no longer use his college name, Pee Pee. (Matthew had texted him back and said, “If we call you Pee Pee, will it piss you off?”)

Michael was supposed to join them from Washington, D. C., but missed his flight, and in trying to catch a later one, discovered they were all canceled.

So after much inquiry and questioning, Matthew, Jo-Jay and Paul Padwick (never, ever to be known again as Pee Pee) discovered that they were going to be stuck overnight at the airport without the benefit of a shower.

Just moments later, poor Jo-Jay found out that the bar had closed at the establishment out of fear that cantankerous folks who were trapped in tight quarters might get along better without being totally sauced.

“I guess,” said Matthew, “we should find our corner in the airport, where we can bed down for the night.”

Bedding down had become possible because airport staffers had begun to circulate cushions and blankets, formerly the property of the “Cornhusker Airline” before it surprisingly went out of business. So the three of them, taking their cushions, blankets and a respectable supply of candy, chips and soft drinks, found a remote corner in the airport where the Cornhusker Airline had formerly dreamed of building a massive terminal.

It was quiet, it was pretty warm and it was just a little bit spooky–the kind of atmosphere which was ideal for old friends to catch up and discuss plans that might bring them together once again.

Jo-Jay had barely opened up her Doritos and begun to consume them like a starving woman when she croaked, “Can I get this straight? At least let me hear it from your mouth. Basically, from your message, you have an old man who died with some sort of religious compunction to leave behind money to make his God the Number One God in the world.”

Matthew corrected her. “Actually, it’s Jesus–but you are kind of close.”

“I guess I felt like the Jesus thing kind of maxed out a while ago. You know what I mean?” posed Paul, making his contribution. “Like, the ones who were really interested in it had already gotten on board and everybody else gave it a look-see and passed on it for their own reasons.”

“That is so true,” agreed Jo-Jay. “I mean, short of lying, cheating and fudging the figures, you either dig Jesus or you don’t.”

Matthew leaped in. “Well, I kind of dig Jesus, but I wouldn’t call myself religious–though I think it’s admirable to be Christian. So I might classify myself in that category…”

Paul laughed. “Well, it’s admirable to be a weight lifter, but don’t you have to actually lift something?”

Jo-Jay roared with laughter. “Yeah, God-guy. If you’re going to be a Christian, don’t you have to do a lot of Christian things?” She reflected. “Or maybe not, come to think of it. There seem to be a lot of those who claim the title who don’t pursue the agenda.”

At that point, they all just stopped speaking.

Maybe it was the darkness falling outside that left the room even more dismal. Perhaps it was the realization that the area they had selected for their resting space was a little chillier than they thought. Or maybe it was just the awkwardness of being back together.

But they didn’t hurry it. No one tried to make small chat or bring up the consistency of their candy bars. Just a moment to reflect on who they were, where they were and what the hell they were going to do about this “heavenly” issue.

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Catchy (Sitting 6) The Boat Ashore … July 16th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Michael always hated the process of trying to get his ducks in a row. Unfortunately, if you follow a duck, it will eventually end up at the pond–but too often makes far too many detours.

Michael resorted to his logical nature. He decided to resign his position on the school board, and three months after Rachel’s departure, he sat down with young Alisa and Bernice and told them of their mother’s preference. Much to his surprise, the girls were infuriated with Mum, repulsed by the notion of the homosexuality and sympathetic to him for being treated so poorly.

Michael mused. What was he waiting for? It was time to share the story in the community, or at least leak it to the people who would do the gossiping for him. Let his conservative community draw their own conclusions, which certainly would be anti-lesbian and therefore, anti-Rachel. This would set him up for his next political adventure—senator in the state assembly in Columbus.

Sure enough, the good Buckeyes repudiated the actions of Rachel and Connie and sent messages of encouragement to the budding political Adonis.

Exactly three hundred and sixty-seven days after Rachel’s departure, Michael began to date a woman three years his senior. She was a handsome lady of means. She fell in love with his two young daughters, an affection they returned gratefully. Her name was Barbara–politically correct.

Two days before Michael and Barbara became the new Hinstons, he announced his campaign for state senator. Freshly married to a woman who showed little interest in her sexual similars, with two lovely daughters blooming with promise (on record with abstinence pledges), he was the H-E-R-O of O-H-I-O.

Toting his family and his Bible across central Ohio, he trumpeted his slogan: “Everyone Needs a Second Chance. Isn’t It Time for Yours?”

Michael was elected with a fourteen-point margin. He fulfilled two terms as a state senator, waiting for his dream job to open.

Then the oldest Congressman from the state of Ohio decided to retire for health reasons. Well, that’s one story. There was a rumor that he struck a deal with the District Attorney to step down instead of facing indictments for soliciting illegal donations for political favors. This was the reputation within the twelfth district–there were many industrial concerns in the borders–enterprises always trying to dodge federal regulations and desiring a champion in Washington to protect them.

So Michael Hinston ran for the Congressional seat and, in a very close race, lost. He was devastated in the grumpiest of ways. He threatened to quit politics until Coach Mack came along and reminded him of how many elections Old Abe Lincoln lost before gaining success. Michael liked being compared to Abraham Lincoln.

Meanwhile, the Hinstons started to have some marital problems. Barbara was like a 1974 Chevy Malibu that was just fine as long as you ran it, but when you kept it parked in a barn somewhere, it tended to wear out more quickly. Barbara felt that Michael had parked her in such a barn.

She felt abandoned. Michael had no interest in any other women, but had an ongoing love affair with his own aspirations. It had been months since they were sexually entwined and weeks since they had even touched. Barbara contended it had been a fortnight since he had even looked her way. She requested that they see a marriage counselor. Michael was terrified over the possible bad publicity.

He shared his dilemma with Mack, who said, “Go ahead and do it. Therapy and counseling are really ‘in things’ now. You know–uptown. People don’t look down on it anymore. It’s kind of hip and contemporary. Shows you give a damn. Just make sure you go to two different counselors—one a psychologist. And don’t be so stupid as to go to a psychiatrist. They’ll think you’re on medication. And you should also see your minister. Go through the motions, work it out, come to a resolution. It’s only gonna make points for you.”

Michael never advertised the conflict he was having with Barbara, but it was the state of Ohio and people do talk. Mack was right. The electorate expressed great admiration over the unfolding counseling sessions. Michael even found the interaction a bit more interesting than he had expected, and Barbara was greatly appeased.

Michael was grateful. Wife two was satisfied by some comforting words and book reading instead of lesbian love.

Then a tragedy.

Not really tragic for Michael, though propriety forced him to feign deep concern. The newly elected Congressman from the state of Ohio had a fatal heart attack on his way to Capitol Hill. A temporary replacement was put in the position. And at the next election, Michael ran for the office, and this time, on the strength of his previous campaign and his recent marital mending, won the seat handily.

He was a Congressman in Washington, D.C., from the state of Ohio, with a wife and two lovely daughters.

Two weeks later, while sitting at his desk, Michael opened an envelope from Caine Industrial, a prosperous concern from his district. The package was hand-delivered by courier, and contained a check for $50,000. Michael was breathless, bug-eyed and baffled.

The phone rang. Michael picked it up, still gazing at the huge amount printed on the face of the check.

“Mikey! This is God-guy!”

Michael paused for a moment, trying to reconnoiter the voice. It didn’t take him long. There was only one person who had ever called him Mikey. He hated the name. But he loved the man, so he tolerated it.

It was Matthew Ransley.

“Mikey, listen. I got this problem. I got a billionaire who wants to give me two hundred fifty million dollars if I can find a way to make Jesus popular. I need your help, buddy. Here’s what I want you to do. . .”Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Catchy (Sitting One)This Old Man … June 11th, 2017

Preface

Welcome to the first installment of our next story, “Catchy.” I will continue to pursue it until it has finished or I run out of ideas, which I hope will be simultaneous. Enjoy.

Sitting One — This Old Man

Arthur Harts was an old man, and being an old man, he had long since forgotten a conviction he held to be true when much younger: old folks should just be ready to die at any time.

He was a billionaire oil tycoon who at one time possessed a reputation of being a playboy, but through the years, due primarily to an aging body, had transformed himself into a philanthropist, and eventually, a somewhat religious fellow.

Eight years ago he had run for President of the United States on what he dubbed the “5000 Plan”–a contention that every man and woman in America should be given $5,000 to begin a business of their own, to stimulate the economy with new products and ideas, and foster what he called “inventionism” amongst the common folk. Amazing as it may seem, those same simple sorts chose not to vote for Mr. Harts, opting to punch the time clock.

So Arthur had spent recent months funding ventures to reach those same individuals with a quasi-spiritual message–combining, as he phrased it, “an ongoing spirit of revision with a heapin’ helpin’ of self-esteem.”

But Arthur was old, and as often happens with those who persist in adding years to their time, his energy waned, his health failed, and well, one night he died in his sleep: the poetic end to a life spent in peaceful pursuit.

Now when a poor man dies, all relatives and friends tend to scatter, not wishing to acquire any of his personal indebtedness. It is much different with a rich man—especially a billionaire. There was a widespread interest in the will and testament of Arthur Harts, including friends, relatives and the collective masses he once stumped for votes and sought to redeem.

So one morning, in a large room with a large mahogany table, a large group of lawyers got together and read a very large document that explained how this man of large influence wished to distribute his large sums of money.

Item #44-A of the testament—a recent codicil–was most intriguing to everyone. It read as follows:

“I, Arthur Harts, being of sound mind (and if I weren’t, there’s not much you can do about it now) wish to leave two hundred and fifty million dollars to a well-recognized, well-selected and well-intentioned advertising company to propel and promote one great idea: find a way to make Jesus popular again. I, Arthur Harts, am not speaking of some anemic attempt to promote a church or religious institution, but rather, in some way to convey to the people of this earth the intensity and intelligence of the person who once walked with us, bearing the name Jesus of Nazareth. There were few more popular than he was when donning a loincloth. So I see no reason why, if he were promoted correctly in our multi-media society, he shouldn’t be just as popular today.”

As the team of bewildered barristers finished reading the passage, there was a hush. Perplexity. How were they supposed to fulfill this bizarre request from this eccentric billionaire?

Perhaps some attempt would have been made to interpret the passage in a different way by evenly distributing the money to the larger denominations of the Christian faith, but time and chance stepped in and the unusual request was leaked to the press. So it would be impossible to ignore Mr. Harts’ wishes, implausible as they may seem.

This is where our story begins–a quandary wrapped in a mystery drenched in an impossibility, garnished with just a little weirdness.

 

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Flatitudes … August 1, 2012

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The big decision in life is discovering whether you want to feel good or feel right. It’s not the same thing. Sometimes, to feel right, for a season you have to be willing to not feel so good. This is why we often opt for pandering to the weaknesses in one another instead of gently dealing with the issues to see if there’s a better way.

There are three platitudes in our society which continue to grow at will, which actually, in real life, end up being flat. They are not true. They are not valuable. They are not even good band aids, because too often they are placed onto gushing wounds. Here they are:

  1.  All you can do is your best.
  2. We all deserve a chance.
  3. We are all the same in God’s eyes.

See how warm and fuzzy these make you feel? After hearing them, you want to take a deep breath and join with the chorus in singing Tomorrow from Annie. “The sun will come up … tomorrow!” That it will, but that big, yellow ball in the sky is not here to warm your face.

Let’s take a look at these statements. Because they melt in the heat of everyday life, they have turned into “flatitudes” and actually end up damaging the confidence and faith of innocent proponents.

“All you can do is your best.” Can I immediately point out the fallacy of this statement? If I am not stimulated in my heart, soul, mind and strength, I really don’t know what my best is. What I normally come up with is the furthest border of my present willingness. That rarely is my best. To discover my best, I have to stretch, which means I must at least consider that there is something beyond my present personal best. No Olympic athlete, scientist, astronaut or anyone else pressing towards a goal can ever build a little fort, put up a flag and call it their best. Further stimulation and possibility always increase our potential. Proclaiming a best is a warning that you’ve already decided when you’re going to pull up lame.

Let’s take on the second one. “We all deserve a chance.” Truthfully, the statement is ambiguous enough that no matter how you try to disassemble it, the speaker will possibly have a door of explanation. In other words, “What does deserve mean?” and “What is a chance?” Actually, the philosophy of Jesus tells us that “those who have, more is given to them,” and “those who have not, even the little they have is taken away.” Even though that doesn’t sound as pretty and kind as “we all deserve a chance,” it is the way life truly works.

Why is that? Why isn’t there more even distribution of blessing, wealth and opportunity? Quality demands pursuit–otherwise human beings lose their most dynamic function–passion. If you take passion away from the human experience, you end up with lazy brats who do nothing but discuss the decor (which they had nothing to do with setting up).

We are terrible when we are sidelined by our own expectation instead of thrust into the game to compete. I don’t deserve anything–certainly not a chance. What is granted to me is seed, which if I place into the ground and faithfully tend, will produce fruit, which I am allowed to take to market and turn into my personal sustenance, receiving more front money to buy seed.

And the third statement. “We are all the same in God’s eyes.” God is an extremely generous soul. He does us a big favor–He looks on the heart. So wait a minute. Do we really believe that every person’s heart, emotions and passions are the same? If you’re asking me if God looks down on people’s fleshly bodies and sees identical potential–absolutely. No one is better than anyone else.

But since God doesn’t look on the flesh, but rather, the heart, He views a very different array of possibilities. For instance, I don’t think God knows that I’m fat. I don’t think God knows that I’m bald. I don’t think God even knows that I limp a little bit when I walk. What He does know is whether that limp has reached my emotions, whether I am bald of any passion to pursue hairy difficulties, and whether I’m a fathead, unwilling to learn anything new.

Because we have taught “grace” and “destiny” in this country, people have become lazy and do not feel it is necessary to actively participate in improving their internal workings. Unfortunate. Because of this, we insist on equality while delivering inferior lives. Therefore we think that the homeless person has the same value as the billionaire who started a business from scratch. Although some people would consider that a noble notion, it is important that we encourage those who have set their hearts to excellence, to both continue to prosper and to come back to the human family, find that homeless person and give him or her the best opportunity to rise above their present circumstances.

The most dangerous thing you can do in life is tell people something that makes them feel good but will pan out to be a lie.

  • We all need to surpass our best by expanding our capacity.
  • We need to realize that we do not deserve a chance, but a chance will be made available if we learn the system, honor the process and bring our talent.
  • And even though God does not look on the outward appearance, He is certainly intensely reviewing the heart … and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Don’t be foolish to quote notions that have no earthly good just so you can get a nod of assent at a party or an amen from the choir. We need to be truly valuable to one another. To do this, we need to get rid of all platitudes which–when applied in everyday life, just turn into “flatitudes”.

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