Untotaled: Stepping 10–December 31st, 1965 (The Watch Night) … April 19, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

There is certainly not much to do on New Year’s Eve in a little village of fifteen hundred people.

Some of the folks of our town would actually make the trip down to Columbus to take in a show and imbibe some alcohol, feeling as if they had flown to the moon and could disguise their drunken condition without fear of community scrutiny.

But most of the citizens of our little burg were devoid of entertainment or ideas for ringing in the New Year.

So our local church planned a Watch Night service, so as to prohibit–or at least impair–the possibility of the young kids falling victim to the beckonings of “demon rum.”

Watch Night services were a tradition of Dixie which had been transplanted to the Buckeye State via those who floated north. It was in four parts:

  • First there was eating–the best potluck of the year. Everyone tried to outdo one another both in culinary skills and appetites.
  • Then there were a couple of hours of gospel singing, featuring local talent (or at least local persons).
  • This trailed off into some preaching, warning all present of the dangers of increasing sin in our nation and the hopes that revival would break out in the coming 365 days provided..
  • And finally, the twelve o’clock hour offered the opportunity for hugs and handshakes.

This year I was thrilled. My group, The Gospels, a quartet of young teens, was going to participate in the singing portion of the evening. We had lobbied the previous year, and even auditioned for the church elders, were weighed in the balances and found wanting. This year, apparently we were in tune.

The ironic part of being welcomed into the songfest was that our group was about to break up. Actually I was breaking it up by kicking the Connelly brothers out of our team and replacing them with two of my friends who I liked better. This caused quite a stir in the church. Matter of fact, I was called in for a conference with the pastor’s wife, as she tried to explain that human beings had feelings and the Connelly brothers deserved better treatment.

I listened politely and then did what I always did. Ignored her. You see, the Connelly brothers didn’t mind. They sang their hearts out that night.

I don’t know if we sounded good or not, but we sure had fun. It was one of those times when I felt really grown-up, in charge and important. That’s hard to come by in a tiny town.

I thought a lot about what the pastor’s wife said on how to treat people and how to conduct your affairs in a way that would not upset anyone else. I came to the conclusion that this was going to be difficult.

I think many people thought I was a real dick when I was a teenager. But without being a little bit of a dick as a teenager, you can grow up to be a dickless adult.

So I decided to try to continually improve what I do and what I work with without upsetting people too much.

Yes, that should keep me really busy.Donate Button

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Ohio, Oh-My-Oh… September 29, 2012

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I was born in a small village in Central Ohio.

I should know from my adequate education in the state that it is actually redundant to say “small” and “village” together. But I did it so that I could correct myself, to demonstrate the style of thinking I was introduced to, being a resident of this fine state.

For in our town, although quite tiny, we had a nudist and a family whose members were in good standing with the John Birch Society. We had Democrats and Republicans living right next to each other and rarely complaining about their neighbor’s crab grass. Ohio was an unusual state to me because on any street corner you could have had John Lennon and Yoko Ono living in one house while just down the road you might find the home of Rush Limbaugh.

So I was curious about what was going to happen when I came into Ohio with my declaration of “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

Oh-My One: At my first stop, I was surprised when a man came to my table and said, “Jonathan, aren’t men better than women? Isn’t that what the Bible says?”

In earshot was a lady who immediately stepped up and piped in. “No, my friends. It is a scientific fact that women are superior to men.”

So you can see, whatever I said next was going to displease someone. Whenever I get into that position, I think it is just best to displease everybody.

I suppose there are those who would contend that the battle between the sexes has existed since ever Adam and Eve had a quarrel over splitting an apple. But the truth of the matter is that the differences between the sexes is mostly made up to maintain a split marketing plan for the public so as to offer products for one gender and others for the opposite.

Here’s the truth–“in the Kingdom of God, there is neither male nor female.” That’s what it says in the Bible. Now, I know you can find scriptures that contradict that concept, but they all come from a place where someone was trying to appease the existing squabble instead of speaking the truth.

So let’s take a quick look at this: if the Kingdom of God is within us (also from the Bible) and in the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female, it is safe to assume that within us is a universal commonality, whether we be male or female.

Obviously, there are physical differences which create great possibilities for pleasure.  Glory be to God. But truly intelligent people are always in the pursuit of similarity instead of advocating difference.

I have worked with men and I have traveled with women, and I will tell you that the best ones have forsaken their boundaries of gender and have just become human. I have been told that women are more emotional than men, but the truth of the matter is that it’s quite the contrary. Having played sports and indulged in outdoor activities with men, they are just as emotional, if not more so, when their particular team or hunt has been benefitted through victory.

Separating ourselves into a gender battle in this country is one of the worst errors being propagated across the board. You hear it in church, you see it on television, you read it in books. Men are not better than women and women are not better than men.

If you don’t believe me, please make note of the “affirmative action program” Jesus conducted during his ministry on earth. Arriving ina completely male-dominated society, Jesus chose to thrust women and children into the forefront of his ministry. If you remove all the women from the life of Jesus, he not only loses funding, he also loses friends to be with him during his hour of torture AND anyone to recognize that he had risen from his the dead.

When the disciples wanted to get rid of the children, Jesus rebuked them and told them that children were what all humans should become if they wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven.

If you want to be Jewish or Muslim, you can continue to promote the differences between men and women. But you can’t do it if you’re a Christian. NoOne is better than anyone else–and it begins with Adam and Eve.

Oh-My Two: “Jonathan, maybe I just want to be better. It’s a free country.”

This one surprised me a little bit. Even though it appears to possess a bit of honesty, the odor that rises from this heap of misrepresentation stings your eyes and makes you pull away. I, for one, am disgusted with the notion that we are unique “because of our freedom.” Matter of fact, “freedom” may the most over-rated, overused and least understood word in all the world. Now, this is not because our forefathers didn’t explain that freedom only works when extended in equality to others, but over the years, we have decided that freedom is a torch, passed from one dominant race, party or religion to another, based upon the popularity of an idea. The truth of the matter is, no one is free to rob someone else of equality.

The Bible makes it clear that “where the spirit of God is, there is liberty”–and liberty is freedom which has graduated from high school and has taken at least a couple of courses in college. Whereas freedom merely demands “our own way,” liberty understands that when you seek to have your own preferences honored, it is only valid when you’re willing to honor the preferences of others.

As far as I know, there are only three ways to live on this planet:

  • by law, where whatever is permissible in this present hour is enforced, regulated and even prosecuted.
  • by grace, where you continue to do dumb things, and believe that you’re just so pretty and good-looking that everything should work out fine.
  • or by liberty, which means you consider your own desires and pursue them, fuilly aware that you will have to extend the same mercy and possibility to others.

When you arrive at that liberty, you find God, a heavenly Father who desired to send a messenger, His son, but was forced to stand back and accept the rejection of the ignorant masses as they put his boy to death. Now, that’s liberty.

He then turns it around and changes that vicious assassination into salvation for the hapless murderers. That’s grace.

So you can continue to insist that you have the right to be mean because someone bled and died on a beach in Normandy, but eventually, if you’re going to live in this country and abide under the true spirit of God, you will have to afford that liberty to everyone else–thus, once again, establishing that NoOne is better than anyone else.

So in Ohio I found those who thought they were unique by gender–both male and female. And they thought they were unique in their freedom and had the right to be errant and inconsiderate if they so desired. But stupidity only survives until smart has time to put on its shoes–and then stupidity is not just a mistake, it becomes the enemy of mankind.

In this country, only one generation back in our history, we contended that segregation of the races was permissible because … well, we preferred it. But whether we like it or not, every choice of freedom has to pass the test of submitting to the eternal concept of NoOne is better than anyone else.

I send my thanks to Ohio for giving me a place to lay my head until I was ready to use it. But I warn them that uniqueness born of gender or merely screamed out in freedom must honor the fact that liberty is where God builds His house.

So we’ve been to California, Alabama, Missouri, Texas and Ohio, fielding the questions from these “pitchers of culture.” Tomorrow we will sum up what we have learned on our nationwide quest–because … The Caper Continues.

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Twenty-four Miles… December 23, 2011

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Jonathan in Miami

It was three days until Christmas.

I was so young, so inexperienced and so poor. I had two children–one four and one two-and-a-half years of age. In the previous week I had developed a severe toothache which became infected and caused my jaw to swell. I didn’t go to the dentist for three reasons: (1) no money, (2) no insurance, and (3) no real assurance.

I had hated the dentist since I was a tiny kid and my parents took me to see a chap who didn’t believe in Novocaine. (I was unaware that pain relievers were a spiritual issue, but apparently, to this fellow, they were.) Needless to say, I was not anxious to have someone pry into my mouth. But it finally hurt so much and I was getting so physically sick that I broke down and went to a dentist, explaining that I was without funds but would “gladly pay him on Tuesday for a hamburger today…”

He was reluctant–not so much over the money, but because I really required oral surgery and he didn’t have the time to do a good job. But sensing my desperation, he decided to just slit my jaw open on the inside and squeeze out all the infection and then give me antibiotics to take and hope for the best. I had never taken antibiotics before, so they immediately made me feel loopy, a little sick to my stomach and gave me a strange vacant sensation.

So returning to my story, it started to snow.  I was in Westerville, Ohio, which was twenty-four miles from my little apartment above a drugstore in Centerburg. I use the word “apartment” here for the reader’s understanding; actually it was just a large room that was formerly used for storage, and the industrious pharmacist had placed a refrigerator, a toilet and bath and had rigged up some sort of heating and cooling system that generously cooled in the winter and heated in the summer.

We were poor. (Oh, I remember. I already told you that. We were macaroni-and-cheese-with-chicken-hot-dog poor–only having a two-burner hot plate and an electric skillet, which had a cord that only worked directly on alternating days. We had to be quite ingenious in our meal planning. So we would have sweet-and-sour macaroni and cheese with chicken hot dogs and jump the next night to barbecue macaroni and cheese with chicken hot dogs. On Sundays we would have a special surprise: macaroni and cheese and chicken hot dog meat loaf.)

Anyway, back to my story with my tooth and adventures with antibiotics. Three days before Christmas it started to snow like it normally doesn’t snow in Central Ohio. What I mean is, it actually snowed like they forecast when it usually doesn’t. It was the closest thing to a blizzard I had ever experienced in the Buckeye state. I needed to get home but I had an old car with no heater and tires that had lost their hair months before, leaving them quite bald.

Also, quite bluntly, I waited too long. By the time I made the decision to drive the twenty-four miles to be with my family, the streets were completely blanketed. But I was young and stupid (which may be redundant). It was pitch black with nobody on the road when I turned on the old 3-C Highway and journeyed northward towards Centerburg. Within just a few miles, the road disappeared and my only landmarks to know where to drive and not end up in a ditch were the telephone poles on both sides of the highway, which I tried to stay precisely between.

About five miles down the road, I started to get a headache, my neck cramped and my heart started to palpitate. I thought I was dying. Part of me believed I was having a heart attack or stroke and another part thought I was reacting to the antibiotics mingled with my apprehension about the storm and my insufficient tank, rolling along in the inclement weather. I crept like a turtle at twenty miles per hour, believing I was going to pass out at any moment.

Fortunately, there were no cars on the road, only a snow truck that had slid off into the ditch, but still maintained the integrity of its blinking yellow light. I realized that if I couldn’t keep my tires rolling forward, that I, too, would end up buried somewhere in the snow, slumped over my steering wheel, gasping for air from my sudden infestation of illness.

I was scared.

Scared is a bad thing–but it does afford one quality contribution–it makes us think about what’s important. On that stretch of road, with snow falling all around me and ice-cold air blowing into my face from my alleged heater, I realized that I had much to do and had tackled very little of it. I was living in a space that was insufficient to my needs, trying to duck out early in the morning so my landlord would not ask me for overdue rent. I was getting fatter by eating low-quality food and failing to provide basic needs. But as important as all of that was to the betterment of my life, the main thing that troubled me was that I had stagnated my dreams while insisting I was pursuing them. I was a musician, a writer and an artist but I spent more time explaining what I wanted to do than actually performing my vision. I was about to die in the middle of a blizzard in a beat-up Chevy from an overdose of antibiotics due to botched surgery on my jaw and would never be able to celebrate this Christmas with my little family.

I just cried.

It’s not good to cry when you’re driving through a snow storm. My windshield was already smeared with all sorts of slush and sludge, and the tears only served to further diminish my vision–but I didn’t care. I cried. Part of it was feeling sorry for myself, part of it was that my mouth still hurt from the surgery and some of it was that I was lost. I said one word.

“Help.”

That’s it. Actually, even to this day, it is the most effective prayer I have ever uttered. As I came out of my little plea, the snow stopped pelting my car and turned into a mere flurry. The road became clearer. My neck stopped hurting and I was able to drive the remaining miles without fear, to arrive at my home and grab my two little boys, throwing them together into one bed with my wife and myself, covering us with all the blankets in the house and giggling ourselves to sleep.

The road became clearer.

But often we have to be willing for it to freeze over and threaten our complete demise before we can actually see where we’re going. Did my life drastically change after that? No–but I did make a great, gradual improvement.

Twenty-four miles took me into the heart of my problem, gave me a frigid view of my condition and then, when I relented to reason and cried for help mercifully set me free.

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Merry Christmas! Listen to Jangled, below — the snazziest mix of Jingle Bells, Carol of the Bells and Silver Bells you’ll ever hear!

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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