Salient … April 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3651)

We called him “Denny the Dork” because we were twelve-year-old jackasses. He was socially awkward, walking around in a mental fog from the bog.

We could have been nicer, but when you’re twelve years old, nice is something you think people should do to you. It never occurs in your adolescent mind to be the initiator.

Denny was the equipment manager of our seventh-grade football team. If he had just brought water and taken care of the uniforms, he would have been fine. But Denny was inquisitive–what you might refer to as “an experimenter.”

One day Denny decided to replace the pads in the football pants with poster board. For some reason, nobody noticed while donning the uniforms–and after the practice, everybody arrived back in the locker room with extra bruises, and one kid had a dislocated knee.

When Denny’s act was discovered, he quickly explained that he wanted to learn the purpose of the pads, and thought the best way to do so was to remove them.

This made complete sense to him. It did not to the coach. Denny was kicked off the team and spent about six weeks coming to school early, to help the janitor clean the toilets.

Likewise, we have a lot of people in our world today who are determined to extract civility and kindness just to see what happens.

Is it curiosity? Is it a fear that goodness makes us all look weak and simpy? I don’t know. But because that emotional padding has been removed from our society, people are showing up bruised and broken.

Unfortunately, there is not one “Denny the Dork” to blame. All parts of our society–religion, business, politics, entertainment and even education–are permeated with the contention that dominating one another is preferable to accommodating.

We have allowed the jungle to be released, but unfortunately, none of us have the girth of the elephant, the tough hide of the lion, nor the universal survivability of the cockroach.

We are a vulnerable species that needs to be treated tenderly, or we break.

Yet there seems to be a competition to see who can be the “assiest hole” or the “assholiest.” (Yes, I think that second one fits it better, don’t you?People who act like asses but portray it is the holy mission of self-esteem they pursue.)

Yet in a room full of people who are crazy, suggesting mental instability is neither helpful or healthy. So today I stand as one soul speaking to you, saying that we have removed the padding which protects us from bruising each other.

It’s time to call ourselves dorks, and change this pattern.

So here is your salient moment:

You can’t make omelets without eggs, just like you can’t create a beautiful life without courtesy.

 

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Jesonian … February 10th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3579)

There are two distinct types of abuse.

There is physical abuse, punctuated by an attack against body, heart or mind. It leaves cuts, bruises and scars. It is nasty, evil and inexcusable.

The other form of abuse is neglect. Being commissioned to perform a responsibility, someone decides to set it aside in favor of other pursuits, leaving that which was meant to be cared for destitute.

Although a case could be made that the religious system continues to physically abuse Jesus of Nazareth by crucifying him weekly in sermons, attempting to stimulate some sort of passion from the congregation, I shall step aside from such discussion in favor of presenting the true abuse.

We preach a Gospel of salvation which includes emphasis on “one time only, better do it today, this could be your last chance, hell is hot, Jesus loved you so much that he bled, and don’t you want to go to heaven” rhetoric in an attempt to frighten hearers who have already heard this many times before.

Meanwhile the real message of Jesus–the one that makes him our intimate, elder brother, and also affords the planet an opportunity for peaceful cohabitation–is often read aloud with the energy of reciting last week’s grocery list.

If you’re going to be Jesonian, you need to love Jesus. If you’re going to love Jesus, you’re going to get to know what’s close to his heart. And when you get to know what’s close to his heart, you will no longer be satisfied with a crucified Savior, but instead will become a disciple, pursuing a dynamic lifestyle.

You don’t have to go any further than the first three beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount to see what Jesus was all about. Matter of fact, I could spend the rest of my life elaborating on that trio and never run out of material.

It begins with the reality, follows with a challenge and culminates with wisdom.

The reality: we are happy because we are poor in spirit.

The reason that makes us happy is because we can stop trying to be spiritual instead of human. Once you find your classification, it’s so much easier to compete. Not an angel, not a saint, not a theologian, but rather, a human who is impoverished in the realm of spirit.

First realization: I am human and it is good.

God said so when He got done creating us. I don’t think He lied. Sure, we’re unpredictable, but since He’s not afraid of that, why should I apologize?

This is followed with a challenge. “Blessed are those who mourn.”

I have emotions and this is good.

Although we try to suppress them, these feelings continue to pop to the forefront, churn up our throats and waggle our tongues. Rather than deny them, we should use them to feel, to laugh, and most certainly, to mourn–to escape being uncaring bastards and instead, weep over the loss and pain in the world around us.

This climaxes with a bit of eternal, precious wisdom. “Blessed are the meek.”

Although there is a campaign to promote the notion that the more we brag, the stronger we are, the human race actually has a tendency to cut the stilts out from under those who try to walk too tall.

We honor humility. We are geared to destroy pride, even when it dwells within us.

Humble: “I am weak and it is good.”

In these three statements Jesus establishes a Gospel which is not only able to be mastered by humans, but can also be passed along as the living bread of truth that we all desperately need before we starve to death emotionally and spiritually.

I am human and it is good.

I have emotion, and it is good.

I am weak, and damn straight–it is good.

 

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Why Homing… August 31, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1992)

church signI ain’t no pigeon.

My understanding is that the pigeon can be trained to fly back to its nest carrying messages, to be cast to the winds again, returning faithfully.

In the pursuit of establishing loyalty to “the great American family,” I think we fail to realize the limitations of that organization.

After all, is our journey here on earth about doing what we were trained to be or training ourselves to be what we need to do?

When I look back at my own family and the family I was blessed to father, I see some distinct differences.

My birth family was seven people–four brothers, mother, father and myself. My parents were wonderful people–well suited to the era they lived in–but they had little awareness of how to guide children to a place of self-discovery, self-realization and ultimately, self-improvement.

I grew up in a generation stuck between Dr. Spock and Mr. Spock–so the instruction I received was an unusual mingling of coddling and science fiction. Because of that, my brothers and myself did not know how to glean the knowledge from one another which would have made us more balanced human beings. We were launched to be competitive toward one another, and at times, even critical.church wesley park

The power of having a home and flying back to it is in discovering the gifts your family members have, and siphoning off valuable pieces of their process, to bolster your own pursuits.

I boil it down to four areas:

In every family, one of the children–or perhaps one of the parents–probably possesses a predisposition toward a single element. This was true of my brothers and me. I was more or less the soul of the family, with my sights set on spiritual matters. A couple of my brothers deemed themselves to be thinkers. One was certainly a hard worker. And I think we could have become artists, if our parents had thought such a journey was respectable.

Unfortunately, a family CAN be a trap, because if one of these aspects is pushed more than another, we start to believe there’s a black sheep–one lamb won’t stay with the flock. In other words, if a family thinks that “working hard” is the most essential part of being a good human being, they may criticize one of their children away from being an artist because they don’t see any way to make a decent wage.

A family of artists may teach their children that the only important thing is to be creative, failing to communicate the importance of thinking and hard work.

Our homes should give us our first glimpse into the diversity of human attributes, and instead of criticizing the ideas of our siblings, we should incorporate parts of them into our own lives, generating a balanced existence.

If my brothers had acquired some of my soulfulness and I had latched onto their thinking and working, I certainly would have had an easier path, with fewer bumps and bruises. The purpose of a home is to introduce us to our first world, and realize that not everybody needs to be the same in their heart and dreams in order to be of value.

I tried to pass this along to my offspring when I became a father. Incorporating the beauty of heartfelt artistry with the spirituality of the soul, the renewal of the mind in thinking, while introducing the practical aspects of a work ethic creates a human being who’s ready to take on the next project.

So I think the family is good if it lets the artist, soul, thinker and worker be manifested and gives all four the chance to find home in the children.

On the other hand, I think family can be one of the worst things in the world when it quietly but determinedly demands that we conform to eat our turkey and dressing in peace.

It doesn’t end in our “homing.” There is another step. So if you were not taught to be flexible–yearning to adapt to positive notions outside yourself–then your next journey into the world can be quite harrowing.

 

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Forty-two Months… May 24, 2013

(1,891)

ShreveportIt was a hot, humid, May evening in an area of the country that only knows how to be hot and humid in May.

It was the night that I first met my partner, Janet Clazzy. She was the principal oboist in the Shreveport Symphony and came out to a press conference I had put together to publicize my musical, Mountain, the Sermon on the Mount set to music. I was twenty-nine years old–energetic and just stupid enough to believe that great things could be done with little effort.

This initial meeting came to my mind last night as we drove into Shreveport to do a gig.

The first time I arrived in that town, I was a refugee from a year of my life which had been crowded with too much activity and laced with disaster.

1980.

I moved from Nashville, Tennessee, traveling the country with my Broadway-style show, Mountain, to twenty-five cities. After that I took a position at a church in Alabama. My second-oldest son, Joshua, was in a hit-and-run accident with a car and suffered a massive brain trauma. I left Alabama and moved to Shreveport to take a position at a small Bible college, which appeared to be getting smaller all the time.

I was damaged goods.

I did not know the extent of the buffeting that had occurred in my soul, but I was fully aware of the residue of the bruises. I stayed in Shreveport, Louisiana for forty-two months–in what I would call a complete human overhaul. It was more than healing–it was a rediscovery of my self, my talents, my faith, my potential and certainly–my limitations.

Nearly all the people I met when I was in Shreveport during those forty-two months are still in my life in some capacity. Some of them are close to me, a few have abandoned our former relationship, and most have moved on, taking bits and pieces of what they learned in that season and salting their lives with the experience.

When I finished up last night, walked out to my van and looked at the skyline of the city, I was grateful. It was in Shreveport that I remembered I could write again. I composed songs, penned dramas that were aired on the radio and was called “pastor” by a handful of loving souls.

I learned to fight for what I believed in without becoming aggressive. I became a producer of videos for public access TV and argued with the zoning commission of the town to permit us to have a location for our tiny fellowship. I found myself going down to the county jail in the middle of the night to help people who had fallen through the cracks, and practically begged companies to give food, bread and blankets for us to distribute to the hungry and needy.

I grew a soul.

A soul is like anything else that grows–it requires seeds. Some of those sprouts are unconventional–things like tears, pain, heartache, disappointment and anguish. Yet they all produce beautiful fruit when they are allowed time to mature. But the laughter, joy, cleverness, creativity and the unexpected blessings also were sown into my spirit, “bringing in the sheaves,” rejoicing.

I would not be the man I am today if it were not for that forty-two months I spent in Shreveport–in “spiritual rehab.”

Even though my son eventually passed away and the little work I began there as an outreach is no longer intact, the manifestations of that effort are still evident every day in the lives of my friends and colleagues.

So I am grateful.  I am grateful to Shreveport.

I am overjoyed that instead of giving up on the idea of God, I decided to reinvent faith … inside my tattered being.

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Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

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