Catchy (Sitting 46) Liary… April 29th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Carlin Canaby was the only son of Joshua and Myrtle Mensterhall, itinerant evangelists who toured the south, holding revival meetings in Southern Baptist churches.

Carlin was born in a tiny town in Mississippi and by the time he was two years old, was singing “Jesus Loves Me” to congregations to help promote his father and mother’s ministry. He was as cute as a button, but became more and more unfastened as he got older, and was privy to the hypocrisy of the whole process.

His mother and father were often cheated out of offerings, as churches insisted there was some errancy in the message which caused them to dock the payment. But more often than not, there was no explanation at all–just a paltry sum handed over after fourteen days of work.

This never seemed to hamper Joshua’s enthusiasm to “preach the Gospel to every living creature.” That is, every living creature unless they were black, Hispanic or involved in some untoward practice viewed as heinous by the religious system he revered.

Carlin’s mother, Myrtle, had the personality you would expect from someone named Myrtle. She was nervous, uptight and deathly afraid of anything that resembled a germy speck of dirt. She played just enough piano to accompany Joshua’s incompetent singing.

The pair had very little appeal, and even though revivals were scheduled to last for two weeks, they were often cut short due to lack of attendance.

Still, everything went along reasonably well, with biscuits, grits and gravy provided by the local churches, until Myrtle became involved with Reverend Rudy. Reverend Rudy was a chunk of a man, with a girlish giggle and a prancy walk. He loved to lean down into the faces of young boys and ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up–with a big whiff of tobacco bouncing from his breath.

Carlin didn’t like him. He especially found him distasteful when he walked into the room and discovered that Reverend Rudy was very interested in his mother’s groin. Rudy pretended to be dabbing off some imaginary coffee which had spilled on her lap, but it was obvious to the thirteen-year-old Carlin that there was more going on south of the border than picking cotton.

Sure enough, 24 hours later, Reverend Rudy and Myrtle announced their intentions to pursue a life together, just as soon as a quick divorce could be acquired from Joshua Mensterhall.

Carlin’s dad was devastated. He had lost a wife, a piano player and an accountant to try to keep the wheels of the Gospel somewhere in the middle of the dirt road.

And even though Joshua was not the unfaithful one, word spread that he was “a divorced man,” so the revivals lined up for the future canceled, one at a time.

Myrtle made it clear that she didn’t want the boy, so Joshua took Carlin, and for a season they were homeless, panhandling and street preaching.

One day an old black gentleman named Carlton Canaby happened by while Joshua was pontificating to passers-by on a particularly difficult passage from Jeremiah. The Negro gentleman asked him what he was trying to accomplish. Matter of fact, they decided to have coffee together, careful not to enter any restaurant, but instead, getting styrofoam cups from the local gas station, and heading for a nearby park.

Joshua poured out his heart to Canaby, who ended up being a reverend himself, with the National Baptist Church. (This was the Negro outgrowth from the Southern Baptist.) Pastor Carlton decided to invite the pale preacher in, to hold a meeting. Even though many of the parishioners at Pastor Canaby’s church objected to a white man preaching–especially one teetering in an adultery situation–the friendly pastor insisted, and Joshua and Carlin were scheduled in for a two-week revival, complete with eats.

Joshua was horrible. Being a white man raised in the south, he thought himself superior to those he was teaching. On the third night, a young man in the congregation rose to his feet, interrupting the sermon time and said, “You don’t know much about colored folks, do you?”

Those in attendance burst into laughter and Joshua stood, red-faced and defensive. Canaby came forward, easing the tension, and said, “Our brother is here to learn, to heal, to grow and to be himself without apology.”

For some reason, this touched the heart of Joshua Mensterhall. He burst into tears and fell on his knees, pleading to the heavens with an anguished cry. The congregation surrounded him and the true revival began.

It lasted for two months, until one night, after the service, Pastor Canaby was abducted by some angry white men in a pick-up truck. They did not approve of mixing races, so they took Canaby into the woods and hung him from a tree. Fortunately for Reverend Canaby, they had twisted the rope too tight around his neck. It caught on his shoulder muscle, which sustained his life until others arrived and cut him down.

But he was never the same. Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen from the hanging, or just a good old-fashioned dose of fear. He retired into his own soul, where he seemed to receive some comfort.

Shortly thereafter, Joshua died.

Carlin was made a ward of a missionary family named Richardson. They were traveling on mission to Equador. Carlin hated every minute of it. He nearly burst in anger, waiting for his eighteenth birthday so he could run away and start his own life.

When he did, he rejected the name “Richardson” and “Mensterhall,” and took on the name “Canaby,” in honor of the brave dark man who had befriended a bewildered white minister and his frustrated son.

Since that time, Carlin had made it his life work to expose hypocrites with his organization, “Liary”–which was defined as finding a way to tell the truth in the most pleasant way possible, without flirting with the lie.

Carlin had recently received a phone call from a notable businessman, asking him to intervene in the Jubal Carlos campaign, to assist by softening some of the blows of disapproval that were coming over assumed scandals.

This is what brought him to the hotel, where he found an extremely defeated Matthew Ransley.

Matthew immediately liked Carlin, but Jubal Carlos was quick to express his disfavor. Jubal didn’t like anything associated with lying–even if it was an attempt to prevent its severity.

Matthew found himself in a war: one in his heart, his soul, his mind and the excesses that were gradually eating away at his body.

He thought to himself, I wonder how Carlin would spin my life? What positive things could he find that would sweeten my tale?

It was obvious there was a transition coming. Would it take them deeper into the discovery of Jesus, or just make them another clever organization with a hint of charlatan?

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Unboxed … February 10, 2013

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jon in a boxFor eighteen years I had a “born” identity. My family, friends, schooling and even church did their best to teach me, basically, what was wrong. They would have insisted they were instructing me in the ways of righteousness, but more often than not it consisted of a series of warnings about dubious behavior and the ramifications of stepping out of the box of security found in “the training.”

I will not tell you it was an unpleasant experience–and certainly not without merit. But it was limited because it failed to give me the emotional release allowing me to live freely among my fellow men and women without feeling the need to scrutinize.

I guess I rebelled a little. My particular path to revolution was to pursue the creative and spiritual. I gained a “reborn” identity. In this new transformed personage, I went out looking for what was right. I did so like a sheep in the midst of wolves, often failing to use the wisdom necessary to discern the charlatans that came my way.

My disappointments in finding what was “right” made me flirt with the dangerous depths of being jaded. It took me a while. I knew that the box I had built for myself was no better than the one provided to me at birth. After all, a prison of our own construction isn’t any more releasing than one constructed for us. I knew I had to once and for all escape boxes. For to merely understand what is wrong, or to pursue what is right, is the path to madness. Just as soon as you think you have arrived at permanent conclusions, a shift in the universe, an outpouring of the mercy of God or just a bit of logic that may have escaped you moves through the scene and leaves you in error, looking ignorant.

I decided one day to become unboxed–a new creature, neither bound by my genetics, upbringing or held in place by my talents and desires. It really wasn’t that complicated. I decided to stop pleasing my family and satisfying my own desires and appetites, and instead, became a student of history, reality and free will. For it is the cohesion of those three that creates truth.

As we study what has happened before us (history), appreciating what is available to us (reality) and understanding that the personal choice given to every man, woman and child is immutable (free will), we finally touch the mind of God, arriving at truth.

It’s made all the difference in the world to me.

I now realize that my job is to recognize the truth–and even when it’s contrary to my ways or confirming of my inclinations, knowing that truth and embracing it is what makes me free.

But free to do what? Escape the box and be on the edge of beautiful, inevitable change.

It’s not so much about being a liberal or a conservative. It isn’t even about Christian, Muslim, Jew atheist and Hindu. It’s about being willing to allow the lessons of history, the value of reality and the love of free will to welcome truth into your heart, to grant you freedom.

So what will be the next big issue? I can either live in the box created for me by my family and judge accordingly. Or I can evaluate circumstances based upon the box I’ve created for myself. But if I want to be a new creature, free of all those boxes–unboxed–I must let the truth make me free.

Sometimes the truth is cruel to me. Sometimes the truth feels warm and cuddly.

But the truth is always freeing.

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What If? — October 19, 2011

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The first dumb question that crosses every human being’s lips is usuallywhat if?

“What if” I had done this? “What if” that happens? There is an ongoing flirtation we seem to have with the past and the future that leaves us either in regret or great anxiety.  I will tell you that if you want to relieve a good portion of your human frustration, you need to do nothing more than simply stop believing in destiny. Otherwise you spend all your time wondering if you missed your destiny or if your mysterious opportunity–predestined in the stars or the heavens–is right around the corner.

Let me tell you this–I can always pick out a charlatan. Anyone who says they know what’s going to happen in the furure is a phony. Why? Because the establishment of free will eliminates the possibility of there even being a future.

Although God is all-knowing, in some strange way beyond my comprehension, He isn’t quite sure what I’m going to be doing next( even though He probably should). Having granted me free will, that particular gift is honored above all others. So the introduction of the question “what if” is always dumb because it is either a re-telling of the past or a foolish exploation into a future that only exists in your and my hands. I do not want to live in a world controlled by either star constellations or angels. Even Biblical prophecy is more a citing of trends than a proclamation of certainties. God granted me free will, and I plan on using it–and the minute we start wondering “what if,” we become seekers of fortune rather than fortunate seekers.

I had a comical conversation yesterday with a young man in his mid-twenties. It was comical because he shared with me that he often finds his belief in the Christian faith to be difficult because some of the things that adherents hold to be true bother him. Things like Jonah and the whale and Noah’s ark. I didn’t argue with him but I had to smile because I know his particular entertainment choices include a vast panorama of fantasy, Lord of the Rings, vampire movies–and he, himself, recently appeared in a futuristic production about a creature who comes from another time–a robot–to save the human race.  He would say that he knows those stories are fiction–he just uses them for entertainment and inspiration. So what happens if somebody is a believer in Jesus and thinks that the Bible stories are great for entertainment and inspiration?

You see, we all choose when we’re going to become ethereal.  All I’m telling you is that the less heavenly-minded you choose to be, the more good you will find in the earth.

“What if” is a question that not only has no answer, but also makes us begin to believe that our decisions and lives are out of our control and are pre-determined in some sort of mystic world where “cloudy” decisions are made in the cosmos about our outcome.

Get one thing straight: free will is sacred. Period. Once you understand that, then God is not nearly as difficult to comprehend, and the difficulties that occur in our lives can normally be traced back to our inability to address our situations in the present.

Here’s a three-step process I’d like to pass along to you:

1. Live in the moment. The past is gone and the future will have to be decided by you later on. It could be affected, though, by what you do in the next moment.

2. As you live in that moment, take a moment to learn everything about the moment and enjoy everything the moment provides. Stop looking at life as a bus route where if you miss one, there will be another one coming along soon. If you believe that your steps are ordered of the Lord and He’s with you, then you’ll understand that life is more like a limousine that pulls up just for you–and you’d better hop in because they don’t arrive on the quarter hour. Do you see what I mean? It’s about treasuring the next moment’s opportunity as essential for you to use for your own benefit.

3. And finally, once you’ve taken a moment to live in the moment, understand that momentarily, things will evolve.  One of the major reasons we decide to live in the moment is that little, subtle nuances of opportunities sprout up, and if we’re looking into the past or gazing into the crystal ball of the future, we often miss this moment’s gentle offerings.

So live in the moment–and while you’re there, take a moment to get everything off of it you can, because momentarily things will evolve.

There you go.

In conclusion–that’s one dumb question so far.  “What if?”

We are not a people of destiny. We are a people of the moment. So the more we live within those boundaries, the more sense our lives will make and the more fruitful our endeavors will become.

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Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

Published in: on October 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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