Catchy (Sitting Five) Michael…Row — July 9th, 2017

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Michael Hinston was a first-term congressman from the state of Ohio, representing farmers, bankers, mothers, daughters and computer technicians.

He certainly had the background. Raised on a farm in rural Ohio, he had graduated in the upper twelve per cent of his high school class and ended up two years at Ohio University in Athens working and struggling because of a lack of scholarships and financial aid. He transferred in his junior year to Ohio State.

He always knew what he wanted to do–work in a business long enough to build up neighborhood recognition so he could enter politics. Therefore his major was business with a minor in political science. He purposely took one semester of graduate school so, in conversations, he could allude to pursuing his Master’s Degree. For a time, he worked as an investment consultant with D. R. Smithers—the one with the large moose in their ads—with the aspiration of making contacts with the more wealthy and elite, attempting to build a database of future contributors to his campaigns.

He got married at the age of twenty-five, fulfilling statistics without much of a biological urge, to a young woman named Rachel, who was the perfect political wife. She was smart, semi-attractive, well-educated, well-bred, doting, loyal, with a good business sense and willing to bear enough children to qualify as a family, which in this case, ended up being two daughters, Alisa and Bernice (A and B–easy for the electorate to remember).

It was a well-formulated plan by a well-organized man living in a time when well-meaning was … well, everything.

Michael carefully made selections for his life–the right church, the right clubs, the right car, and the right schools for his girls.

Mr. Michael Hinston worked a plan. He was a habit resembling a creature. He never went to the grocery store without a list and never started his car without knowing where he was going. Perfection was in sight.

That is, until his wife, Rachel, met Connie.

Rachel and Connie became fast friends because their husbands were men busy grinding away. They worked together, played together, laughed together and eventually made love together. Two women in their early thirties found out that they were more attracted to softer hands and softer lips and were willing to jeopardize the softer lifestyle.

When Rachel told Michael of her love affair with Connie, he just sat and stared at her. She looked for twinges of anger and signs of disappointment, but what she sensed in Michael was bewilderment.

Michael was dumbfounded. He had recently been elected to the school board—his first political venture, but this diddling by his spouse was not in the plan. He was stymied. Where does a lesbian wife fit in to the great scheme to be elected to the U.S. Congress?

“You really don’t care that I love a woman, do you?” Rachel was incensed.

“Oh, I care,” responded Michael. “I’m just trying to figure out how we could work it into the grid.”

Rachel resigned from being part of Michael’s master plan. She packed her bags and moved with Connie to California, where girl love is a thing.

Michael and Connie’s husband formulated a story. Their wives had temporarily moved to the Golden State to open up a coffee shop. They knew the tale would not hold up very long.

So Michael consulted with his campaign manager, who also happened to be the local high school football coach, Mack Johnson.

Mack offered a suggestion. “Now that your wife is with Connie, it will be no time at all before the public will know that Rach has become a titty-bobber.”

Michael nodded, not sure what a “titty-bobber” was. He was less pessimistic. Rachel was obsessive, having once eaten oysters for six days straight. Perhaps she would lose her taste for lady.

Mac continued. “I would suggest that you go ahead and run for city council before this story breaks, because people will be much more tolerant of a city councilman having a lesbo wife than a school board member.”

This made sense to Michael. He waited a couple of months and ran for city council, which he won handily against, ironically, a lesbian candidate campaigning on “equal pay for the gay” in the workplace.

 

 

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Ask Jonathots… July 21st, 2016

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Last year my friend’s fiancé drowned in a flood. He is very bitter and blames God. What can I say to him?

Before we discuss what you can say to him, let me ask you a question: is it possible that this fiance would have drowned in a flood if there were no God?

In other words, are there floods on Earth? Does water rise? Do people find themselves caught in odd circumstances? And does water filling the lungs kill a person?

The question that’s actually being posed is, “Should God intervene in every situation to eliminate death and destruction?”

And if He were to do that, how would He determine when it was time for someone to actually pass on? In other words, if there were no bad things that happened in life, would there be good things that happen, or just sameness?

We appreciate blessing because we’re fully aware of the possibility of difficulty.

We appreciate our loved ones because we know we’re mortal and susceptible to termination.

So if there were no God, how could one get rid of humans from Earth to make room for more humans? Would we be satisfied with that system, or decry it for its unfairness?

God had an important decision: How could He create a Natural Order which could be studied, but also does its best to keep things even so that the rain and the sunshine “fall on the just and the unjust?”

And after developing this system, was God willing to take the criticism from those who presently feel cheated, and receive too much praise from the ones who are overly confident?

  • Equity.
  • Fairness.
  • Justice.

The best thing God could offer was a clear statement to humanity–study the face of the sky and learn the ways of Nature.

Case in point: I was heading out on tour this year to California when I realized that the weather patterns were forbidding such a maneuver. I changed my itinerary. I based that decision on what I knew about El Nino, and how I have seen it work in the past. I ended up not being caught up in floods and blizzards, but instead, continuing my work unabated.

I used the greatest blessing–it’s called knowledge.

So what do you say to your friend?

I don’t know.

I don’t know what he can hear.

Sometimes it’s just better to hug people until they get their wits about them again.

 

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Cracked 5 … July 28th, 2015

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Ways to Save Water During Drought in California

 

A. Wring out your washcloth to make morning coffee.

 

B. Recycle your spit.

 

C. Exercise, sweat and roll in the grass to water your lawn.

 

D. Pee less–think less about water.

 

E. Shower in 3’s.

 

 

UCLA girl in the cracked desert

 

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Jesonian: Galilean… March 22, 2015

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His critics called him “a Galilean.”

The word means very little to us. But in the time of Jesus, it communicated volumes.

Once your enemies could establish you as “a Galilean,” any number of other insults were available and could be unleashed in your direction without fear of contradiction.

Galileans were people who lived in Palestine, separate from the greater favor of God, with those who dwelt in Jerusalem.

They were outsiders.

They were lesser.

They were cursed by birth, to be relegated to a second-place position in all aspects of life.

After all, the Pharisees made it clear that “no prophet could come from Galilee,” and since Galilee was devoid of prophets, Galilee had to submit to other, more spiritual regions for its faith and hope.

Yes, once the cynics were able to call Jesus a Galilean, soon popping from their lips was the word “ignorant.”

  • He didn’t know his letters.
  • He didn’t know how to properly clean a cup before drinking.
  • Coming from Galilee, it was well-known that he was a sinner.
  • And if he was able to free people of their oppression, it was only because he was in cahoots with the devil himself.
  • Following the reputation of all Galileans, he was “a drunkard, a glutton and a friend of the outcast.”

Shouldered upon him was the burden of generations of bigotry, which still exists to this day as the Jews and Palestinians struggle for a piece of land that is really not much bigger than the state of New Jersey.

We probably find this practice of relegating certain virtues or vices to a particular region to be beneath our intellectual standard.

Yet if someone tells us they’re from the state of Texas, we envision cowboy hats, guns, bigotry, cow-roping, rodeos and backward politics.

A Californian is burdened with the notion that he’s from the Left Coast, is a hippie, smokes marijuana in church (if he ever goes there) and advocates free love.

Florida is for old people, and New York is for crime and gangsters.

We’re often very proud of the fact that we do not follow much of the superstition of those “Biblical fellows” we read about from so many centuries ago.

But because a group of bigoted, religious people were able to oppress Jesus of Nazareth by calling him a Galilean and assigning him all the foibles attributed to such a creature, rather than them being illuminated by the light of the world, they chose to snuff it out.

Even today we have a religious system which is intent on proving that Jesus was Jewish, when the Jewish people were convinced he was Palestinian.

Amazing, don’t you think?

He was right:

“Foxes have holes, but the Son of Man truly does have no place to lay his head.”

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Last Stop in the Lone Star … June 2, 2013

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HoustonTex Mex. I love it.

I’m not just speaking of the cuisine offered in this great state of Texas, which is a blending of Mexican food and Southern cooking. I’m speaking more specifically of the fact that the folks of Texas were smart enough to realize that there were Mexicans already living there when they arrived and also Native Americans, and rather than fighting them, they joined with them, starting in the kitchen and including the living room.

Texas always feels like what you might call America, Part II. When the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, they began the arduous process of assimilating with other cultures and people to form a great union of many nations, merging behind a central idea–freedom.

We had to repeat the process in Texas. People from all over the continent came there seeking a new way of life, but discovered there were already natives and folks from other countries, and rather than killing ’em off or segregating them, they married, interacted and created a cultural Tex-Mex.

It wasn’t always perfect. But it is certainly why Sam Houston, who was governor, refused to leave the Union when the Confederacy seceded. It was the independent nature in Mr. Houston which told him that treating other people as lessers makes for neither good neighbors nor good government. While some people may look to Washington, D.C.,  Hollywood, New York City or the state of California for inspiration in reviving the grass-roots of our national treasure, I think we need much of that birthing spirit found in the original Lone Star State of Texas, which instead of arguing and fussing with their neighbors, made a good attempt at blending.

This is why Texas is different from Alabama, and what makes Texas unique from Iowa. And it is what makes Texas distinct from California and New York. Texans can be stubborn, but after they get their cowboy hats knocked off a few times by reality, they learn pretty quickly, adapt and move toward solutions.

I have spent four months touring across this state and I’m not trying to portray myself as an expert on the state. But I will tell you–the people I met have strong virtues and ideals, but have not buried their heads in the sand or their feet in cement. They realize that time marches on. And what may have been a tradition twenty years ago is now subject to amending. It’s very simple–any idea that alienates us from our brothers and sisters in the family of humankind is useless and therefore needs to be changed.

I am optimistic. While liberals think conservatives are hilariously stupid and conservatives are sure that the liberals are headed for a devil’s hell, I am wondering if it’s possible to take a moment, look into our own hearts, and like true Texans, avoid both ignorance and Dante’s Inferno.

Tex Mex. What a great, simple idea that exemplifies the willingness to at least attempt to blend our flavors.

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Permanent… March 21, 2013

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hairShe seemed to be a little upset. I think she felt it was too soon to have to pursue another adventure.

I’m talking about my traveling companion, Jan. She had just reluctantly informed me that the perm in her hair was no longer … available. I think she thought that the word “perm” was short for “permanent,” and even though it has been a full six months since she had the procedure performed, she still believed that she should have gotten a little bit more life out of the initial undertaking.

I reassured her that it was quite all right and there was nothing wrong with getting another one done and that she should understand that “perm” does NOT stand for “permanent,” and that if it does, like many other things in life, it falls under the category of false advertising.

Quite honestly, I feel that most of our society is harried and tense because people are buying into concepts that just aren’t true. Simply watching one night of television, I encountered a repetitious, fictitious philosophy:

  1. Set your goals high.
  2. Don’t give up.
  3. Follow your dreams.

Every time these words were spoken, it was almost like there should be soft music–strings playing in the background–some Muzak version of Climb Every Mountain.

In this country, we foolishly believe that if you “stick to your goals” and continue to “pursue your dreams,” anything is possible. We also contend that if you DON’T believe in that, more than likely you will fall along the wayside, in some sort of muddy puddle of disappointment.

But the truth of the matter is, the best way to set your goals is realistic–and then do them daily. Also, giving up is sometimes the best way to avoid continuing the pursuit of a stupid path that is taking you nowhere. And finally, the dreams that you have conjured in your mind may have absolutely nothing to do with your talents and abilities.

The two greatest gifts you can give you yourself are insight and awarenessinsight on what is presently available to you in acquiring your desires and the awareness to know when things are really working and when they need to be changed to a better format.

But you won’t be able to do that if you’re looking for a permanent solution to everything in your life. After all, most things about us are quite temporary–including our life span.

So what IS permanent? The standard joke is “death and taxes.” But all of us cheat death at one time or another, and certainly loopholes ARE found in the tax code. So here’s what I think is permanent:

1. Give us this day. I woke up this morning, took a deep breath of air and realized I was alive. There’s my gift. There is my only sense of permanence, which will last twenty-four hours barring some meteor landing on the crown of my head. Every time we slide out of pursuing our lives on a daily basis, we set in motion a plan to derail our own efforts. You will be tempted to plan in advance and to think in doing so that you are far-sighted and wise. Avoid such foolishness at all cost. What is permanent is “give us this day.”

2. Our daily bread. It’s the second permanent thing I’m offered. Every single day I am given a package of energy, intellect, possibilities, problems, interaction and climate. This is what I work with–my present permanent. What I paint on that canvas will be my daily picture for my life, and will set in motion the next day’s energy and possibility. My daily bread is the reality set in front of me instead of the reality I deny in preference to my arrogant whim and stubbornness.

Yes, Janet, some days you get up and realize that your hairdo is uncurled. You can lament that your hairdo is flat, or you can choose this day to seek another perm

It’s really that simple.

So each one of you can pursue the psycho-babble–the fad of our generation–to believe that we can use “mind over matter” to change our circumstances simply through determination. Or you can intelligently take on this day with all of its elements and stir the ingredients into a beautiful twenty-four-hour recipe of deliciousness.

What is permanent? This day and my daily bread. Everything else is up for grabs.

Everything else is yet to be curled.

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Taking Turns… March 20, 2013

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conesReligion and atheism share one aspect in common: they both end up hating people.

Religion preaches itself hoarse, explaining the depravity of man, while atheism becomes exasperated with humanistic efforts and gives up on folks due to presumed ignorance and stupidity.

Meanwhile, God loves people He doesn’t love people because they’re always good, nor does He love people because they’re perniciously evil and desperately requiring His protection. He loves people because they’re capable of both. It makes us interesting.

As I journey, I am often tempted to fall into the pit of this cynical attitude towards my fellow-humans. And then God blesses me with an insight which refreshes my soul with a bit of reality mingled with hope. Such is the case this week.

Sitting out in front of our motel room is a four-lane highway which has been reduced to two in order to perform what seems to be the ongoing tedium of construction. There are orange barrels everywhere, with yellow plastic tape flapping in the wind. It demands that travelers normally accustomed to a much wider path relent to a more narrow vision for progress. It also means there are red flashing lights to stop the traffic at certain intervals, since other roads wish to intersect.

Having journeyed down this road about eight times so far, I have been astounded that every time I come up to one of these red flashing lights, the dear hearts around me take their turn to go forward in the order of appearance. In other words, whoever was there first gets to go first and everyone else waits patiently for their opportunity.

I think religion and atheists would assume that people would push forward, cheat others or crash into each other due to this mishap of arrangement. But there are no policemen, no one to direct traffic and no yield signs. We all just drive up to the red flashing light, stop, look around, figure out who got there first, and wait our turn.

It is amazing.

I don’t think it would be different anywhere. Some people would say it’s because you’re in Texas and if you were in California, cars would be crashing into each other like a demolition derby. I beg to differ.

To some degree, I think people rise to the occasion–if you let them know it’s an occasion and you give them a chance to rise.

A difficulty in our country is that we have built up an atmosphere for cynicism. It starts with us laughing WITH people. That could be a very good thing. But then it digresses to the point that we end up laughing AT people. We begin to believe we’re superior to certain clumps of behavior which for some reason or another have been relegated in our minds to the status of barbaric. Eventually this leads us to laugh at God, who was so scatter-brained that He made people in the first place.

And then suddenly we stop laughing, develop a sour disposition and cease to believe that anything of quality can ever transpire.

It is a dangerous process.

As I watch the politics, the entertainment and the business in our country unfold, I find myself tempted to be drawn into this burning lava, spewed from the volcano of cynicism.

And then … I drive out in traffic and watch people who do not know each other grant one another the space to go forward.

I will never be a good religionist. You will never convince me that we are not capable of growing and doing better.

I could never be an atheist. You cannot make me believe that human beings are worthless–no better than the animals–and therefore not created at all by a loving God, but instead, merely evolved from the common ooze.

We take turns. Do you understand? We even take turns when no one’s watching.

It’s an exciting life. It’s a beautiful life–if you don’t become cynical.

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