Perfectly Imperfect … November 30, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2081)

AnisaShe was born on October 1st, 1987.

She has graciously selected to refer to me as her “godfather,” minus the Marlon Brando impersonation, mob hits and Academy Awards.

She was an only child, but surrounded by a gang of boys who teased her, bordering on the verge of torment, which some people in our modern day would consider to be bullying, but ended up working out sufficiently (as far as we know).

For after all, we live in an imperfect world, which is perfectly designed for our penchant for imperfection.

Today she is getting married.

She has asked me to officiate at the ceremony. Honored, I am preparing to do my best.

She is romantically joining together with another human being at a time when such relationships are considered to be expendable, if not ridiculous. She is attempting to launch the ship of their future in a harbor infested with the pirates of indecision, infidelity and inadequacy.

I don’t wish to offer her any advice–mainly due to its imperfection–but I would counsel her to pay heed to herself and be true.

  1. Have a heart that’s pure. You should never go to sleep with feelings because they always wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
  2. Have a soul that’s satisfied–not in yourself, but in the awareness that God has simplified His position, authority and personage into the next human being you run across. Yes, people are God, and every time you forget it, you become an atheist.
  3. Renew your mind. Purposefully find one opinion each and every day that has proven to be wrong and set out to change it by challenging its location within your skull.
  4. And maintain a healthy body–at least as long as you can. Death is chasing us from the time we’re born. True joy is the combination of ignoring it and punching it in the nose.

They named her Anisa, this god-daughter of mine. She was given this name because it was one of the characters in one of my novels. In this book, the girl named Anisa is a princess, filled with spunk, beauty and intelligence.

How apropos.

Happy wedding day, my dear. Keep an eye on your heart, soul, mind and body, and rejoice that the world created for you … is perfectly imperfect.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Recess… November 8, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2061)

children playgroundThe bell rang. Time for recess.

I looked around the room into the faces of twenty-nine other young souls like myself, in Mrs. Arnold’s third grade class and realized that the ringing meant different things to each and every one.

Some were smiling, wiggling in anticipation. Others seemed resigned, as if bored with the prospect. And there were those who were terrified–fully aware that in a few short minutes they would be out on the playground with their peers, trying to compete and falling short of the glory of childhood acceptance.

  • There would be interaction.
  • There would be competition.
  • There would be challenges.
  • There would be ridicule.

It is part of the process. And as we pursue a much-needed campaign against the brutality of bullying, we must be careful not to hamper the interaction among younger folks when they are separated from grown-ups–an exposure that brings about the necessary evolution toward character, confidence and realization.

For when you discuss “peer,” there are three different categories. If you think that each and every time children fuss, argue and fight, it is wrong–bullying–you are disrupting the human jungle that DOES provide a great barometer for cleaning out abnormalities and setting apart better paths.

For instance, I failed to be called a “fat boy” enough in school to rid myself of obesity. I was TOO well-liked, too personable and in some ways, too talented to be challenged over a weakness that has now plagued me my whole life. It should have been taken care of by:

1. Peer presence.

This is just the blending of kids getting together to discover solutions on the best way to get along. It is characterized by talking. This is why sometimes it’s stupid in school, to tell kids to be quiet. They are trying to find a way to blend with each other. Not everything can be solved by an adult guidance counselor. We need our friends to talk with, to blend with and to discover solutions. And sometimes this leads to:

2. Peer pressure.

It is essential in the human race that we learn how to bend. We must discover our differences and even be willing to argue about them in order to produce adequate compromises. Too many teachers think that because kids are arguing, it’s a sign of severe difficulty. The truth is, peer pressure teaches us to bend, acknowledge our differences, and if necessary, fuss our way through them.

I certainly agree that peer pressure can go too far and can lead to the promotion of violent behavior. But I will also tell you there is no person who appears to the youngster to be old, who can intervene and produce the results that they can hammer out, on their own, together.

When you live in the adult world, the only power you have over the young is to teach them right, wrong, manners and gentleness. Then they must go out in the midst of peer pressure and work out the specifics. Occasionally this can get carried away and lead to:

3. Peer persecution.

Some kids feel compelled to bind other children by bullying them.  How can you identify what’s bullying and what is viable peer pressure?

Bullying is when the arguing stops, one person ceases to speak and becomes the target of the other one, who dominates.

That’s right. If two kids are arguing, give them a chance to work it out. But if you come across two kids and only one of them is yelling, ridiculing the other child, who is standing there, without speech, just taking it–you have just come across bullying.

It is a mistake for people who are no longer in school, no longer youthful and no longer understand the playground, to try to come in and make things right for everybody by keeping things calm and on an even keel. You are just making matters worse. Learn the difference.

  • The young students in our country need peer presence. They must be given a human mixer to blend, discovering solutions.
  • Sometimes this leads to peer pressure, where kids will argue, trying to bend to one another’s inclinations, and in the process, uncover differences which eventually are included in the flow.
  • But we should never let it go into peer persecution, where one kid binds another one up with bullying. This is easily identified by the absence of the persecuted child offering any verbal defense.

I recently heard about a young man who felt he was being bullied, so he committed suicide. Here’s my problem with that: why wasn’t there a climate where this young man could express to his parents, family or teachers his need for assistance?

And why are we attacking the very delicate procedure of peer interaction, trying to eliminate anything WE would consider negative, just because in this case, the system failed one young man?

I am saddened by his death, but alerted to the fact that the problem here was not just bullying. It was a fellow who didn’t think he could argue back to the peer pressure, and also did not feel that anybody outside the playground would either hear or have the power to change his circumstances.

We need peer presence. Students must learn to blend.

I think we need some peer pressure, to bend, where kids have the chance to produce some of their own solutions through argument.

What we do need to stop is peer persecution, binding, where one person is silenced as the others continue to rail against him or her.

Can we make these distinctions? If we can’t, we need to stop calling ourselves parents, teachers and leaders.

Our society is overwrought. Some things are necessary to create the cultural revolution in each generation that progresses the idea of humanity instead of trying to keep everything calm, but stalled.

I know it is possible. I did it with all six of the sons I raised. I let them blend and I let them bend. Only when they began to bind each other with persecution did I step in. Because of that, I think each one of them has grown up with a better understanding of who he is and how he fits in.

Bullying–it’s when one person stops talking and runs for cover, only to be chased by an assailant.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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

Tame the Shame… November 7, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2058)

I come to you today as a reluctant writer.

I rarely have apprehension about expressing my feelings, but there are two nagging pieces of silliness that have garnered great acceptance within the American public which I feel compelled to address. As always, I would like to do so by pointing the spotlight at my own inadequacies instead of others.

One of the reasons I hate to be referred to as a “blogger” is that the reputation of such a creature is that of an attack dog rather than a contented puppy. While recently reading an article on the Internet by an individual decrying the action of “shame,” I became conscious that our society is trying to expel all introspection in deference to self-acceptance, which unfortunately, neither helps us find self nor is accepted. Let me explain:

Last night I was trying to make a point. Thinking that my intentions were being repelled by those in the room, I kicked into a gear of vehemence. I felt justified. After all, what I was saying was grounded in truth and relatively important. But my words were crude, my attack vicious and the result was an acquiescence by those who heard me–due to fear of my temperament rather than understanding of the principles.

So when I laid my head down last night to go to sleep, I felt shame.

If I followed the psychology of today, I would reject that sensation as counter-productive to my self-confidence. I would have rationalized my deeds as being correct because they brought about the proclamation of candor. But I would be wrong.

I felt shame. And instead of rejecting that shame, I tamed it–embraced it, if you will.

For I will tell you, my dear friends, there is a difference between shame and ashamed.

  • Shame is thrust upon me because of my conceited, unbowed head, which forbids any notion of lacking on my part.
  • But ashamed is when I take the time to evaluate my own actions and realize that I was “weighed in the balances and found wanting.”

If I have to become angry to relate the beauty of love and truth, I am a bastard in the human family. The end does not justify the means. Hell, the present doesn’t even justify the means.

Without allowing ourselves to be ashamed, we fail to recognize the repentance which is necessary to create the change that we insist is the goal of a progressive society.

So how do I know if I’m experiencing the brunt of shame, or if a necessary amount of “being ashamed” is graciously applied to my life? If I am ashamed:

  1. It’s my idea because I have taken truly holy time to look at my actions instead of justifying them.
  2. If I’m ashamed and it’s to my benefit, it brings about the amazing mixture of good cheer and tears.
  3. I want to do it better next time. If I’m ashamed and it is born of a spiritual instinct, my desire will be to have another opportunity to show more excellent results.
  4. And finally, if I’m ashamed, I won’t be afraid to speak it out and admit it to others–because it was MY idea, and necessary to expel from my body.

Shame is when somebody else forces conclusions on you. In that case, pop culture is right–the scenario is useless.

But ashamed is opening the door to a repentance that allows us to become a person that we don’t mind lying down with and going to sleep.

So that’s Number One–shame.

Tomorrow we will take on bullying.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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

The Sun is at the Center of the City… February 25, 2013

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There was a time when folks were shocked to discover that the sun did not revolve around the earth. It may be central to our egomaniacal natures–to think that even powerful objects like Helios have to submit to our earthly will.
Likewise, just about the time I think I’ve become a well-rounded individual, having freshly knocked off a corner of one of my prejudices, I suddenly realize that I am still in the infant states of understanding, crawling towards comprehension.

It happened to me yesterday morning at Sun City Center. First of all, you will never meet a more delightful group of people, shepherded by an intelligent, competent woman possessing a tremendous world vision. But as I sat at my book table conversing with the departing folk, a dear lady came to my side and explained to me why she attended this particular house of worship.

“I used to go to a Baptist church because I like my worship a little more lively. But I was just never able to tolerate the indifference and even hostility they had for women. It culminated one Sunday when a young couple scheduled to sing a song for the Offertory had to be separated because–the male part of the duo was allowed to sit up on the platform and the female had to sit in the audience until it was her time to play the singing bird. I was outraged by the injustice. I was ashamed to be part of a country that still allows such backward thinking while pretending they’re pushing the world in a forward, democratic direction.”

I listened to her carefully. It struck me. I’ve always been a believer in equality between men and women, enacting it in my dealings. But I realized that the United States of America is stuck in specific timelines on various issues:

  • Racial relations–I think we’re still in the 1980’s. In other words, “people of different races should have rights-=I just don’t want to hear about it.”
  • Equality for all citizens despite individual preferences? though some folks think we’re progressing, we’re still a decade or two behind the rest of the world.
  • But on the issue of women–their rights, place and value–it might as well be 1892, with corsets and button-up shoes.

There are no equal measurements available. If a woman is organized, gregarious and commanding, she gets labeled with the “b” word (even though we feel no compulsion to not use the entire extent of the term). Women in this country have to accept the fact that they earn less money. Women are instructed that if they become assertive at all, words like “annoying,” “nagging,” “motherly” and “nasty” will impugn with character.

It just struck me that as we pursue Afghanistan, bringing the “gospel of America” to these unfortunate natives, to free them from the Taliban, we need to be careful that we do not maintain some of the tenets of the vicious enemy in our own daily discourse and interaction between the sexes.

Especially in Christianity. What would the church of Jesus of Nazareth be without Mother Mary? Mary Magdalene? Joanna and Susannah, who donated to his ministry out of their substance? Not to mention the countless women who opened their homes to the early church as sanctuaries for believers?

It is going to be very difficult for our country to overcome racial bigotry, social stigma, bullying and intolerance as long as we think it’s a comical punchline to portray women and men as natural adversaries. It is one of the few things that conservatives and liberals share in common–a standing joke that women and men are incompatible except in the bedroom.
I want to thank that dear soul who came to my table and prickled my conscience with an even greater revelation of the topsy-turvy philosophy we promote through all of our media. As long as comedians, entertainers and even last night’s Oscar presentation invoke a feminine mystique to keep women from equality, we will be a nation that fails to practice what we preach.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Killing is a Dead Issue … January 2, 2013

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jon with gun to head

I want to have a mature understanding–with a childlike application.

There you go. That is the power of faith–to possess wisdom but not use it against yourself and others, but instead, apply it in such a way that you are as harmless as a dove.

That’s also what I feel about violence. Let’s get several things straight–children don’t play with guns. Children are taught that guns are not cool. And children are instructed that life has value in all its forms.

A quick story. When I was eleven years old I went to church camp and the grown-up in our cabin who was watching over us brought a hand gun.  He pretended to hide it, but brandished it once or twice–enough so that we were horribly curious, being of that age and immaturity. When one of the boys asked him why he brought the gun, he said is was just in case we run into snakes or bears. Here’s the problem with that–there are no snakes or bears in Central Ohio, and secondly, he left the gun under his pillow when we went out to where there might be snakes or bears, and a quick run back to the cabin would have been impractical.

People who own guns in America are not using them to protect themselves. They would have to be packing heat everyday when they walked down the street–which in most communities is illegal. So if you found yourself in a bank robbery, it would not do you much good to have a gun locked in your safe at home. Even if you had a burglar break into your home in the middle of the night, by the time you got your safe open and your gun out, most of the damage would be done and you would possibly be the only armed person in your home, since most burglars don’t carry weapons because if they get caught, it levies a much higher sentence.

So what is the purpose of all this gun craze? It isn’t the Old West. We don’t have holsters hanging from our waist dangling a Smith and Wesson. The only reason to own a gun is to impress or intimidate.

Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My camp counselor brought his gun to camp to make the kids think he was cool. Actually, it scared me–especially when he would yell at us for not making up our beds. I always wondered if he was going to grab the gun and take care of the problem once and for all.It was intimidating. That’s why we came up with the statement, “If somebody put a gun to my head…” This is not a pleasant greeting. It is intimidation. It’s trying to impress. It’s what we tell our children NOT to do.

For instance, we do not suggest that the solution to bullying in our public schools is to make sure that everybody bullies. We attack the bullies for bullying instead of giving everybody mean things to say to each other to even the score on bullying.

The answer to gun violence in this country, and to crime, is not to arm the populace. The answer is to teach people to disarm situations without killing someone.

I do not think that guns should be illegal. I just believe they need to stop being cool. Just as cigarettes had their heyday, were revealed as being dangerous and relegated to a lesser position in our society, so it should be with the necessary evil of firearms.

A young minister told me he bought a snub-nosed revolver. He was so proud. I bit my lip. His revelation concerning his purchase brought great interest from congregation members–perhaps more focus than he gets from preaching the Golden Rule. He puffed up. He was impressing people.

I shook my head and walked away. I have no judgment for my brother, but I am on a quest this year to be more childlike in my faith, and as I told you–children don’t play with guns. Children shouldn’t think guns are cool. And children should value life … in all its forms.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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