Cracked 5 … May 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Other Names Considered for Jesus (and also the ones who proposed the “handle”)

 

A. Temple Tumbler–presented by the sarcastic Pharisees after Jesus “turned the tables” on them.

 

B. Winey Boy–a quickly devised name by some very drunken souls in Cana who suddenly found themselves slurping a burgundy made out of water

 

C. Jim Bay Luben–a proposal by the Southern Galilean Baptists, who were hoping it might promote Jesus to be more like his cousin, John

 

D. Carpo the Carpenter–a business-package idea by the Nazareth Chamber of Commerce

 

E. Bastard–a never-dying rumor by old, disgruntled Nazarenes who were “month-counters” for Mother Mary.

 

 

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Unwise… December 23, 2012

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They followed a star. Folks thought that was crazy.

Folks be wrong.

They left their homes. The real estate community frowned.

Realtors were erred.

They went to a foreign land. The Chamber of Commerce was concerned.

The Chamber was short-sighted.

They were individuals who looked up to the heavens, believing that something better than what they had might just be hatching.

They were right.

How could they have possibly known? Knowing is over-rated. Believing and having the tenacity to follow your faith while simultaneously learning from your experience is the only path that really brings fulfillment.

Yet even though they were wise men, they did do one thing very unwise. Upon arriving in Judea, they decided to check in with the local king–Herod–to see if he knew anything about this magnificent vision in the heavens which was proclaiming the birth of a new king. I’m sure they weren’t ignorant–just naive. It’s really the only mistake they made.

And those people who believe in God today, who trust politicians to pursue noble causes, make the identical boo-boo. Politicians suck–and when they stop sucking, they get more money to make sure they can continue to suck. They struggle for power, with no idea of how they are going to use that energy to benefit mankind.

Even though the wise men try to later correct their error by avoiding Herod upon their exit from Bethlehem, they set in motion the wrath of a jealous political despot, who ends up killing children, saddening men and women, and temporarily exiling the hope of the world. It is important for us to learn from their misstep. So here is the greatest formula for finding the Spirit of Christmas: Follow the star. Ignore the king.

There you go. Take this wonderful season to find your faith–what you really believe is important–and then be wise. Don’t try to market your ideas to the kings of commerce, government and religion. They will just take the purity of your intentions and use it for disastrous conclusions.

So how can we follow the star? How can we keep our eyes lifted up to discover the light in dark circumstances? I will give you two philosophies to follow which will always lead you back to Baby Jesus. If you successfully stay away from the kings–that mainly being religion and politics–you will keep these nasty forces from slaughtering off the innocent souls of human beings. Here are the two principles:

  1. NoOne is better than anyone else.
  2. Don’t complain.

You put those two together as a lifestyle, and you will find yourself not only empowered with greater hope, but of deep value to those around you because you will abandon your agenda to be superior while simultaneously eliminating your annoying sensation to be cantankerous. What do religion and politics love? They love to make some people better than other people, while inciting their constituencies to complain about the condition of the world. The end result is disgruntled people who are looking for reasons to fight with others.

The wise men followed the star but tried to involve the king. It didn’t work. Neither can you propose to work in a religious system that is non-responsive to human need and a political one that is oblivious to truth, justice and the American way, and ever achieve anything wise.

Keep a good attitude, believe deep in your heart that no one is better than anyone else, do your best to stop complaining, and you will find yourself kneeling at the cradle of the Messiah.

Now, there’s a Christmas message:

Follow the star. Ignore the king.

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

Crossroads … May 28, 2012

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I was looking for a space

Within this earthly place

To wisely put my face

And gently make my case

To the surrounding human race.

Who isn’t?

But where does one begin?

Well, for me, it was school—more out of legality than desire. I showed up, did my mediocre best, and found after time that they did offer answers—but rarely to MY burning questions.

Graduating from that experience, I decided to take my little dab of talent and portfolio of songs and go to the bar to perform. Seemed right. They always needed music. They always wanted some troubadour to perform while the patrons enjoyed the fellowship of the dimly lit room. But every time I tried to sing one of my songs—or worse, speak between selections with a thought or two—I  was told by the management that the patrons wanted to hear Proud Mary and Mustang Sally—not one of my made-up ditties.  I was also informed that this was a drinking establishment, and people came here to escape their daily concerns, not rehash them. It became obvious that the bar was not for me. It was a venue to drink, not think.

It may sound unlikely, but for a brief season I thought maybe politics and public service was an opportunity for me to share my ideals and talents. But I soon discovered that supporting the party and making sure it was provided with adequate favors was the goal rather than the pursuit of truth. I was not discouraged.

There were still many possibilities dancing in the distance—such as the corporate world. I scoured the countryside for an organization that would have a product beneficial for the common good, and then I joined up with great enthusiasm, to change the world around me, one product at a time. But alas, I discovered that the business world was not about constantly improving the quality and increasing the value of the products, but rather, getting rid of the present inventory, even if it wasn’t as good as what we could do. Yes, the business world was tell and sell—and I was quickly unable to maintain the top of my game for its bottom line.

Then I thought maybe I could find a market for my music if I scheduled events in concert halls, where the audience would gather for the sole purpose of hearing my material. A brilliant thought. But always remember, there are two things that stand in the way of great ideas—weariness and apathy. They resemble each other in body language, but weariness usually comes after someone who is overly zealous encounters the indifference of the world around him. Concerts were scheduled, but no one came because no one knew my name. And those who did come always preferred that I play, not say.

First fruits of discouragement were beginning to etch across my features. I did have the wisdom to know that the greatest enemy of creativity was cynicism, so refusing to be jaded, I went to my local Chamber of Commerce and decided to get behind its efforts, to instill pride in its citizens. At first it was great fun. I felt a part of something. And then, as life does, the obvious need for change within our little burg became evident, and as people often do, the fear of such a maneuver is avoided at all costs. The Chamber of Commerce is a wonderful place to visit as long as you’re willing to repeat the mantra: “Our city is pretty.” But if you see where energy could be used to produce greater results, you could quickly become an annoyance to anyone who is determined to chant.

I will not lie to you. By this time I was so disappointed that I was flirting with giving up. I escaped into my own home and family. There was nobility to it—a sense that I was establishing my own personal Garden of Eden, with my own off-spring, giving something of quality to the world around me as I boldly proclaimed, in the spirit of Joshua: “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” Although I experienced many beautiful moments and was able to nurture fine souls, the world around me continued to age and wrinkle in its own boredom and I realized that our little personal utopia, built on top of a hill, was more or less just a “fuss about us.”

But infused from the success and the jubilance of being with my family, and having launched little ships onto the sea of possibility, I packed up my belongings and I headed off to find the last great possibility. I arrived there yesterday, in Grand Junction, Colorado—at Crossroads.

It’s a church. People there don’t drink, so there’s nothing to inebriate them, to keep them from thinking. They have a school that they hold on Sunday, but you’re still allowed to ask questions if the right answers have not been provided. Politics are discouraged, although, because they do have a board, there is an ongoing danger of too many votes. It’s not a concert hall, so you are allowed to play your music and still explain why it’s important to you. It’s not a business, even though they do collect money. It’s not exactly a Chamber of Commerce, where they insist that their particular conclave of believers is always the prettiest in town. And it is certainly not a home, because everybody who attends already has one of those.

It’s not perfect. Honestly, it’s not even close. But what it is, is a place that is so ill-defined by human terms that God still has a chance to offer an opinion. It is a building where people sit as far to the rear as possible but still have arrived with an opening in their hearts that proclaims, “We want more.”

What an apt name for that church I visited yesterday—Crossroads. Because that’s exactly what the church should be—a place where people gather without fear, without too much agenda, without a drink in their hands, without needing to vote, without requiring a certain level of beauty, without believing they have all the answers, and without making too much of a fuss about themselves—just allowing an hour to refresh the brain cells which have been bombarded by repetition.

I have tried all the doors into the household of humanity. Many are locked.  Some are doggedly guarded. Others, quite frankly, are rusted shut. Yet I found a stained-glass window in the back of the house that was left open and I’ve wiggled through it.

It’s called the church. It is a crossroads. And what is a crossroads, you might ask? It is a place to sit in the middle of an overly positive and terribly negative world and start believing, thinking and working … for something better.

 

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

Deer, Antelope … May 3, 2012

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Home, home on the range,

Where the deer and the antelope …

I must tell you a secret. (Actually, if I’m sharing with thousands of people on the Internet, it is no longer a secret, but rather, a perceived private thought.) I have been in Antelope Valley for four days now and I have seen … NO antelope. Now, I am not trying to accuse the Chamber of Commerce of some mass conspiracy to defraud the public about meandering wildlife, but no antelope have come before my eyes. And I’m also beginning to seriously doubt that I am actually in a valley. But rather than becoming cynical about the poor choice of name for this region, I have chosen to believe that for some bizarre explanation, the antelope are protesting.

After all, it is not easy to be an antelope. Basically, you are just as functional and attractive as a deer, but they get all the press. After all, they have Bambi. There’s no movie out about Antwerp, the Crusading Antelope who leaps through the woods trying to prevent deforestation. Why do people prefer deer to antelope? Here’s a piece of propaganda–deer supposedly have antlers, but antelope have horns. And after all, once we establish that any creature is “horny,” we are riddled with suspicion. Those things protruding on both of their heads are the same stuff–the only difference being that the antlers seem to rise to the sky and the antelope’s efforts curve. This is apparently distasteful. So deer are “oohed and ahhed” over and antelope are basically treated like some sort of mutant goat.

That would be enough to upset any antelope–and then, along comes this misleading song about life on the range. In this anthem, deer and antelope are portrayed as “playing.” Now, the deer will survive this slight–being trivialized–but the antelope, who are already suffering from the public relations “Horn of Unplenty” are left looking like  twisted, misshapen deer who just want to fool around.

It is so upsetting to the more religious antelope from the First United Antelopians that they have insisted that the words of the song, Home on the Range, be changed to “…where the deer and the antelope PRAY.” It may be a bit too sacred, but it certainly escapes the frivolity of presenting the species as lackluster and lazy, frolicking through the woods, purposeless. The Antelopians have decided to pray that the word “pray” will be placed into the song instead of the word “play,” preying on their reputation. (How about THAT sentence??)

Another group of antelope, with a more political bend, has decided to lobby for changing the song to “…where the deer and the antelope PAY”–a protest over high taxes and rising prices, which are debilitating the local economy.

Any way you look at it, the antelope must be extremely upset to miss an opportunity to show up in a community which has actually honored them by naming its valley after their sake. So what do YOU think? Do you favor the more pious rendition, where “the deer and the antelope pray?” God knows, we need more prayer. (Wait a second … Does God know we need more prayer? Is God really looking to increase His work load? Isn’t that what more prayer would put upon Him? And what would an antelope pray? Is God really supposed to interrupt His day to hear supplications about the need for more berries? Or… “why are my horns crooked, and not pointing to heaven?” I’m sorry. I digress.)

Or do you swing more towards the politically bent antelope, who want to protest high taxation? Where “the deer and the antelope pay“? (Their problem is actually quite human. They do not understand why taxes are being levied on middle-class antelope when it’s obvious from the economy directly above them that there are creatures “squirreling it away”…)

For I will tell you this. The antelope are fed up with “never hearing a discouraging word” and they just can’t figure out what it means…”and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

Maybe that’s it. Maybe the whole song is just faulty and should never have been recorded in the first place. Maybe the guy who wrote the song never saw a deer and certainly never followed an antelope around to find out the extent of its daily activity, and just rendered them “playful” instead of “prayerful” or just good-paying citizens.

Whatever the reason, there are no antelope in sight. (I actually haven’t seen any deer, either.)

Let me suggest a more appropriate name for this region: Cactus Valley. Another possibility: Blowing Dust Valley.

Although I have to say … I am still a little bit dubious that there’s a valley anywhere nearby.

  

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

Location, location, and, oh, yes… location … January 31, 2012

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I have had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce where inspiring speeches were given on the glories of capitalism and business, as people dismissed to pass out their cards and inform others of a booming possibility with their rendition of the American Dream.
 
I have sat at the fireside of a gathering of homeless individuals, sharing a platter of beans with two pieces of day-old white bread purchased from the Dolly Madison Store, as all those surrounding the warmth discussed their day’s activities.
 
I have been at a rock concert with screaming fans leaping to their feet, hoping the next tune would be their favorite one.
 
I have attended a family reunion where aunts and uncles barely of my acquaintance have insisted that I knew some old relative who had since passed on, as we conversed about names unfamiliar, while munching on delectable potato salad.
 
Out of curiosity, I have actually gone to political party meetings of both sides and been inundated with pamphlets, propaganda and platforms, encouraging me to make a good American stands against the opposing party’s irrelevant views.
 
Being a father of children, I have also sat through a PTA meeting, often out-numbered, lacking members of my particular gender, as speaker after speaker lamented the lack of something or other in the educational system.
 
Stupidly, I was lured into an investment party because it promised something free and ended up being a ploy to get me to take the little money I had and drop it into a hole, hoping that the crevice would spew back profits.
 
I have been in many a counseling session–mainly as the counselor–listening patiently as each party made his or her case against the other, well-organized, well-rehearsed and well-entrenched.
 
I have done these things and many others in the pursuit of discovering the best of my human family, only to realize that when we herd together, we normally want to make sure that we’re with cattle of our own kind.
 
It limits us. It retards us (if I may use the word in its correct form without being politically incorrect). It inhibits us from using the two greatest possessions we have–a mirror and a brain. Because in all those conclaves I listed, at no time at all was I asked to examine myself, nor was it necessary for me to think–because the mental agenda was provided.
 
Which brings me to last night in Clinton, Louisiana, where forty-six people emerged from the community–from different paths, walks, theologies and political persuasions. They huddled into one building to consider a message and how they measured up to its intensity. It’s called a church. And even though I will rail against a religious system which tries to turn the true church into something that blends the Chamber of Commerce with a political party meeting with overtones of a counseling session, I am a firm believer that the church is the only place where the possibility of looking in the mirror at oneself and actually tapping the brain that God has given you is plausible.
 
Oh, yes–I am not naive.  I realize that the present religious system would love to mimic the Chamber of Commerce.  Poorer congregations would like to react like the homeless, making fun of the rich. There are those “hip” congregations, which think the church is just a rock concert, cheering on Jesus and the Spirit of God. Smaller groups of church folks actually become nothing more than a family reunion, discussing the week’s activities, dead parishioners and the weather. Too many religious institutions have become the harlot for political parties, pushing a social agenda more than salvation.
 
But when it’s done right, there is nothing in our society like the church–because it asks us to look in the mirror and to use our brains.
 
How do you know if you’re in a real church or just a religious system trying to parrot the world around it? The real church has seven important ingredients:
 
1. Be prepared for the unpredictable. For after all, repetition has always been the agenda of hell.
2. Stop complaining. No one ever learns in the midst of a lament.
3. Love somebody new. If we aren’t expanding the family of man around us to include more and more people, we are shrinking the vision of God.
4. Cry until you laugh. There are people in churches still in pain after many years of suffering, who should have had a nighttime of weeping and allowed joy to come in their morning.
5. Think for yourself about yourself to improve yourself. Don’t use God’s house as a way to confirm your inadequacy.
6. Be thankful. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But thankfulness is missing from our society. It has been bumped out of the way by expectation. We need some place to go where we actually express gratitude.
7. And finally, leave changed. The Chamber of Commerce didn’t ask me to do that; nor did the homeless, the rock singer, Aunt Mabel, the Republicans and Democrats, the teacher’s conference, the investment firm or even those attending the counseling session. We all basically came into those events with one mind-set and left with a little bit more cement added. The true church is a place where we leave changed every time we are there, or we must question  the gospel which is supposed to give us the truth that makes us free.
 
Yes, it’s all about location, location, location. And if you’re looking for a place to go that will renew you and allow you to look in the mirror without fear and think instead of merely react, I recommend a good church which understands the seven things I just stated.
 
I was at one last night. It was a good time … although I did miss my beans and day-old bread.
 
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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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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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