PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 10th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn Russ

2/10/71

Lights! Camera! silence.

Escaping the pernicious violence

Understanding the curly boy

In pursuit of lingering joy

He directs his attention.

 

Mothered by a child bride

Yearning to balance human pride

Staring at the falling water

Bring to us a precious daughter

He desires a creator’s heart.

 

Telling a human story

Curious to touch the glory

Simple in a complex way

He enjoys the priceless day

No hurry when you’re happy.

 

Selfish I am, you see

He is a son to me

But free of nagging ties

Ignoring the cumbersome lies

He labors, sifting truth.

 

He has so much to give

A platform on which to live

Survived the buffalo clinic

To bring hope to the abiding cynic

He returns to an empire state.

 

So mingling together a holy mixture

He seeks to find the bigger picture

Aligned with the Angels of Art

Never afraid to make a start

He always selects his best shot.

 

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The Waxahachie Project… May 18, 2013

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WaxahachieWaxahachie, Texas.

The name “Waxahachie” comes from the Native American tongue, meaning “Buffalo Creek” or “Cow Creek.” Honestly, I have nothing to say about that. Sometimes it’s better to leave things like that alone, and certainly resist any temptation to be clever or draw deeper meaning from the context.

Here is what Waxahachie means to me: I have three-and-a-half hours to spend with a few hundred people, to communicate my heart and soul, and to leave hopefully having edified them and encouraged them in the better parts of themselves. If you didn’t know, that’s two hundred and ten minutes. It’s not very long. There certainly is no time to waste being picky, fussy, careful, suspicious or opinionated.

I have decided that there are five things I would like to accomplish during my brief stay with these delightful human examples of why God loves the world and hopes the best for it.

1. I’d like these folks to know that we have more in common than we in difference. We are killing each other with the religion of “uniqueness,” which is only giving us license to murder attempts at commonality.

2. The gospel is earth friendly because God is people loving. I guess you can feel free to focus on the parts of spirituality that have nothing to do with human beings, but rather, deal with angels, demons, heaven and hell. But considering the fact that we ARE not yet in the realm of the supernatural, it is perhaps wise to make sure that we focus more on natural pursuits.

3. Good cheer is our best offense in reaching the world. Matter of fact, if you want to act worldly, the most obvious way to achieve that goal is to establish a grumpy disposition. It is rather unlikely that we will be able to help people if we suffer from the same disease of disappointment that infests their entire beings.

4. Meanness gets meanness. I don’t know where we got the idea that we could actually “out-muscle” our competition, or find a way to be nastier than the nasty.  Once you establish the fact that you are trying to get what you want and are willing to do anything to do it, you create the kind of enemies who never forget how you attacked them and lie in the weeds, waiting for a chance to wreak their vengeance. I cannot promise you that you will always get “nice” back from being nice, but I can guarantee that you will always get “mean” back for being mean.

5. And finally, I will share with the dear folks in Waxahachie that every buffalo crosses the creek at the same place. I phrase it this way: NoOne is better than anyone else. As I travel, it amazes me how many people give a nod of assent to this idea, only to later resist the notion because it fails to grant them the supremacy they desire. It doesn’t make any difference. The minute you try to be better than somebody else, there is someone standing in the wings, ready to dash your hopes because they have evidence of presumed superiority.

Well, that’s about it for me. Oh, and by the way–one last thing I will impart to these folks: I love you. Because anything less is too hard to explain.

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Ooey-Gooey… December 15, 2012

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Jon Signing

I don’t care that President Obama cried.

I don’t care that the Governor of Connecticut desired people to reflect on their own families and children during this crisis.

I certainly am not interested in all the gory details of the merciless, meaningless actions performed by a narcissistic madman at Sandy Point Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

I just think that taking this “ooey-gooey” approach, where we try to handle such a fiasco by hugging our own children and thinking about the blessedness and contentment of our own family’s security is utter hogwash.

Pardon me if I don’t take time to reflect. I am weary of the self-indulgence in this nation, to lick our wounds until they partially scab over, only to have the scab quickly ripped away, once again exposing our bleeding sores. We are barely getting enough time to take the newspaper from one tragedy and wrap up our abandoned fish bones and coffee grounds before the next piece of insanity splashes across the pages.

Ooey-gooey is not going to solve this problem. Doing another special CNN report on the heroes of the moment is not only infuriating to me, but makes me want to open my window and scream out, “We are all mad as hatters–and I’m not going to take this hell anymore!”

When I heard about the tragedy, this is what crossed my mind: Would I be willing to trade my life for ten of those children?

It’s easy to talk about emotion in the abstract. It’s self-centered to try to equate the devastation that has occurred to these families into some sort of trivial, little piece of silliness about “hugging our own children.” Let’s get right down to it–if I had the opportunity, and God was in a bargaining mood, would I be willing to lay on the slab, dead, so that these ten children could rise from their bullet wounds, to live on? Would I do it for eight? How about six? What if it was just four?

You see, the lower the number gets, the more difficult it is to answer. And since this arrangement can not be negotiated with the Divine, what do I really plan on doing about the senseless slaughter of the innocent?

Because during this Christmas season, as we hear the tale about King Herod killing the babies of Bethlehem to eliminate competition, we, who consider ourselves much more civilized than this maniacal monarch, have now had innocent children slaughtered in our midst. What are we going to do about it?

Well, we might want to start with those who are against abortion–the destruction of a human fetus–having the consistency to also be against the wholesale distribution of guns which also, as we saw yesterday, not only kill womb-oriented children, but those who have actually learned to read, write and express themselves.

Guns should have three purposes:

  1. For the awful possibility of war
  2. To be in the hands of sober-minded law-enforcement officials, who rarely use them and when they do, needfully give a thorough account
  3. And, in much smaller calibre, for sportsmen who like to go hunting and plan on using that meat to feed the poor

That’s it.

If criminals want to have guns, then criminals will have guns. We can not arm the entire United States to protect ourselves against a projected or imaginary enemy.

It is costing us too much.

I am tired of having my friend–Almighty God–who is generally shelved by the dozing masses, suddenly blamed because we are just too damned lazy and uncaring to take responsibility for our crazies and the destination of ammunition.

I did not think about my children last night. I did not weep because it happened, wondering why God was absent. I am angry that I live in a nation of childish politicians with an inert population which is incapable of thinking of anything deeper than its next Twitter.

I am angry.

I am tired of concern for human beings and the life we live being deemed by the conservatives to be liberal and by the liberals, because of my stance against abortion, to be ignorant.

Here it is: I am against killing, period.

  • I do not believe in abortion.
  • I did not favor the Iraq War.
  • I think capital punishment is cruel and unusual.
  • And I think referring to our handling of weapons as gun control is the problem with solving the dilemma. We don’t need gun control. We need extraordinarily limited access to anything that can propel a bullet and hurt anyone.

In doing so, we will put ourselves in minor jeopardy during infrequent robberies for the purpose of freeing ourselves from the possibility of macarbre murders made simpler by unfeeling politicians.

President Obama, don’t weep. Care.

Politicians, stop being afraid of the NRA and decide what would be best for you if you were given the premonition that your children were going to be gunned down by a madman next week, and what stood in the way of that happening were restrictions that stopped the villain’s possibility of getting weapons.

Democrats, stop pretending that our nation is filled with pioneers who periodically need to go out and hunt buffalo so that they might stockpile meat in the root cellar for the winter months.

And to the National Rifle Association–hat’s off to you for allowing people to have guns for the purpose of sport and hunting, but don’t allow yourself to become the eventual victims of your own paradox.

I don’t want “ooey and gooey.” I am not impressed with the flags being at half-staff. I want to see people who are against the killing of babies to also have a concern about the killing of children. I want to see each and every one of us to take responsibility for our own crazies. We must learn how to get in the faces of our loved ones when they are nuts. I do it all the time. Sometimes my family members don’t talk to me for a few days because I see them going down a path less desirable than their dreams and I throw a roadblock in their way.

Take responsibility … or be prepared to build many tiny caskets.

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Sit Ups or Set Backs… January 18, 2012

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In Philadelphia

 
I woke up a 2:00 A.M.  I went to the bathroom and the jaunt stirred me enough that I decided to turn on the television to unwind a bit. I landed on PBS–a special biography about George Armstrong Custer. I’m kind of a sucker for those types of shows. I’m always curious when we have the advantage of looking back on somebody’s life who has already passed on, and reviewing the twists and turns and what caused them to select the particular path that brought their name and journey to the forefront.
 
I was greatly impressed, as I viewed the show, that George just didn’t seem to have any capability of knowing the functions of a sit-up and a set-back. It really got me musing over whether MOST of us have an inclination to comprehend our experiences as either opportunities to learn something or as chances to cease and desist for a season from a particular practice or idea.
 
George was a soldier. He was a soldier in the sense that he liked to go into battle and kill people. He was not a soldier because he could tolerate hanging around the fort, polishing his boots, filling out paperwork or evaluating the technique on particular marching styles. Actually, he may have been one of our first reality stars. His natural abilities might have not taken him any further than Monroe, Michigan, or a brief stint in the army–but because there were wars everywhere and people to kill, he learned to do so by remaining impetuous, a bit arrogant and certainly bull-headed.
 
For all of us must understand, even in the midst of a successful adventure, there are little warnings that come along to tell us that some of our selections should be reviewed and changed. It’s one of the problems I have with the doctrine of self-esteem. If I always have to think of myself as “excellent,” or even “good,” when do I ever stop and reason, “Could this be better?” If I am always supposed to maintain a staunch appearance of “all is well,” what happens when the factors around me begin to suggest that maybe something needs a bit of revision?
 
This is why I love spirituality. Spirituality invites a friend, called “Spirit,” to come into our lives to remind us of three important things:
 
1. We are mortal.
2. We make mistakes.
3. Mistakes can be corrected.
 
I just feel, sometimes, that if you’re not tapping that spirit which emotionally prods you to seek out new horizons, you’ll be stuck looking at the same old sunset every day. That was George. Many mornings came into his life. He was court-martialed for disobeying orders and taken out of the army for a whole year without pay. He left behind a part of his troop at one of his battles, causing them to be slaughtered by Indians. He was constantly under attack by those around him for his belligerent attitude and conceited mannerisms. He actually went to live among the Indians for a season and enjoyed the lifestyle so much that he adapted large portions of their thinking–wore buckskin and hunted buffalo–but still ended up despising them as individuals.
 
So you see, several times life came along and gave him a sit-up–gentle nudges by circumstance to inform him that repentance was necessary for him to continue to be successful and valuable at the rate he desired. I call it a sit up. “Sit up and take notice.”
 
And if you tune your spirit to hear the sit-ups in life, you can avoid an awful lot of set-backs. Because those who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the need for revision and do not respond well to the sit-ups get a second warning–called a set-back. That is when your mistake is so obvious that other people begin to point it out to you. Then you will have to spend your time in the corner, like a scolded child.
 
But God is so good that even in the midst of set-backs we can once again find ourselves, do some reconstruction and start over. Not so with George. There were plenty of sit-ups, telling him that he was too self-involved. Ignoring them, he was then introduced to a series of set-backs, which very well could have been the basis for some character growth and discovery, but instead, he maintained his self-esteem, which “steamed” him towards his failure at the Little Big Horn, where for some reason he thought two hundred of his soldiers could fight off two thousand very angry Indians.
 
As I watched the program, I found myself becoming melancholy. I wondered if I was having empathy for George Armstrong Custer, or whether the impact of his stupidity was rattling my own soul to acknowledge the sit-ups that are coming my way, and to take the set-backs I’ve encountered and use them more wisely.
 
For instance, my traveling partner, Janet Clazzy, had to go to the post office yesterday, and discovered that the closest one was located in a perfume store.  (Yes, a perfume store.)  She walked in. It was crowded. But rather than complaining about the situation or finding it bizarre, she took the opportunity to buy some perfume for herself–because she suddenly realized that she was nearly out, and in just a few short days would require the stuff. So rather than complaining about buying stamps in a perfume store, she took a moment to discover how it might just be the love of God prompting her to take care of something she already needed.
 
I know that buying perfume in a store is not the equivalent to dodging arrows from the Sioux, but my insight here is this: if we tune up our ears spiritually, we can tune down our difficulty in the world.
 
If Custer had noticed his sit-ups–those warnings that come along, telling us to “sit up and become aware of our inadequacies”–or even responded positively to his set-backs–those times when people around us punish us for our obtuse behavior–he certainly could have avoided being dead in the black hills.
 
Can I learn from this? Can I take a moment to be aware of when my personality isn’t jiving with the present flow, and sit up and do a little bit of new mechanics on myself? Or will I wait until other people intervene and I’m set back–and from my position in the paltry, I am able to reconnoiter a better way?
 
I guess the message is, if you find yourself buying stamps at a perfume store, take a moment and wonder if you need perfume. To do that, you have to stop complaining about being in a perfume store buying stamps–because God can’t give you what you want if you insist on doing everything the way you are.
 
After all, if you could get it with your present plan, wouldn’t you already have it?
 
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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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