PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 22nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Caught Up With God

by Jonathan Richard Cring

I caught up with God last night.

It’d been a while

I had been busy with me.

His matters–more universal.

“How ya doin’ with that life I gave you?” He asked, with a twinkle in His eye.

“Livin’ loud and free,” I replied.

“Oh, my. Sounds bold,” He countered.

“Let there be light, bolder still,” I returned.

He smiled.

I loved His smile. Always warm and left me enlightened.

He looked tired, but not aging–the kind of weary you might see in a friend when you suggest a nap instead of another cup of coffee.

I searched for words.

I suddenly realized why the visits between us were less frequent.

There was a great mutual appreciation, with not much common interest.

“I thought we could catch up,” He suggested.

“Good.” I nodded but remained silent.

I don’t know why He makes me nervous.

There has been no vexation between us. No major disagreement.

There are many things I like, which I hear He thinks are sins.

And the thoughts that cross my head seem unworthy to share with such a pure soul.

Yet venturing for a night that would be memorable for its difference, I said, “Sometimes I stay away from You when I don’t need to.”

I looked deeply into His eyes to see if I had hurt His feelings.

That was not my intention, but certainly could have been the conclusion.

He maintained a stare, as if waiting for more explanation. So I decided to push on.

“Sometimes I just don’t believe in You. Sometimes I feel foolish thinking that the apparition I’ve created of your presence has any truthfulness. Or for that matter, value. Sometimes I grow weary of my own mythology.”

I stopped speaking.

Only half of what I shared was honest. Like many words spoken in a spat, the majority are stirred to hurt instead of reveal.

But why did I want to hurt God?

Why did I want Him to know that I didn’t need Him?

Why was I taking this moment of reunion and turning it into a cup of poison?

Then…

God just walked over and quietly sat down in a chair.

Though He did not motion for me to join Him, the energy compelled me to find a nearby seat of my own.

The two of us, seated.

Old friends?

Or just strangers who finally realized the extent of the disconnection?

He spoke. “What would you think or feel if I said I don’t always believe in you?”

“I would be horrified,” I responded. “Even if I have made you up in my ego, I need you to be supportive. I need you to be my permanent cheerleader. I need you to give me unconditional love.”

“And what do I get for this gift?” He asked, tilting His head and squinting His eyes.

I didn’t pause for a moment. I answered immediately–almost impetuously.

“My guaranteed doubt.”

The Most High laughed.

“Quite a good deal,” He said, rubbing His chin. “Perhaps I should jump on it right away, in case you change your mind.”

I excused myself and went into the bathroom.

I sat in my stall, realizing that I was manufacturing an event in my head that was probably more spirits-in-a-bottle than Spirit-in-my-life.

Suddenly, there He was. In the stall with me, leaning against the wall.

“Stalk’er much?” I asked.

“It’s not really stalking,” He noted. “I thought we were still having a conversation, and just changing locations.”

“It’s a perfect example,” I interjected. “I am a person. I value my privacy. There are times I don’t like to be chased by a spirit or a theology or reminded of my inadequacies by a black book with a lousy cover.”

God burst into laughter.

“How true! For them to claim it’s the Word of God, and not even have great cover art… So much like those who only believe so they can hold it against those who don’t.”

“Would you turn your head?” I demanded. “I would like to finish here.”

Before I could complete my phrase He was gone.

I wondered if it would be another season of absence, or if I would find Him sitting in the chair when I left the restroom.

I stood in front of the mirror and splashed some water on my face.

I realized I was not ugly. Maybe just a little facially displaced.

I smiled, thinking how I wanted to share that with Him. How much He would enjoy it.

We always could make each other laugh. That’s for sure.

It’s just that sometimes, He doesn’t know how to stop my tears.

Feeling I was “stalling,” and then thinking that I must share that pun with Him also, I opened the door and stepped out.

He was gone.

There was this amazing smell in the air.

What was it?

Garlic, tomato and just a hint of oregano.

Of course.

All the ingredients of Chicago deep-dish pizza.

I breathed in deeply.

I shook my head.

He knew it was my favorite.

Our guest reader is Isabella, who is a student at Florida State University.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … June 11th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

 

Dear Man: I was twelve years old when I came to my mother and told her I wanted to join the Jr. High football team. She looked startled and then she laughed and said, “No. You can’t. But you can be a cheerleader.” I had never thought about cheering for someone else. I was shocked. It seemed that society was training me to be a Mommy.

 

Dear Woman: So you think it’s a plot? Do you think there’s some committee somewhere that watches carefully for young girls to turn twelve, and then makes sure to transform them into cheerleaders instead of football players?

 

Dear Man: Don’t you? Maybe not a plot, but a programming chip that is slipped into society’s consciousness. So my whole training from that point on, after twelve years of age, was to be a Mommy. It consisted of “get ready to cheer, get ready to worry”, and finally, “get ready to support.”

 

Dear Woman: So you feel that our society encourages femininity as long as it cheers, worries and supports?

 

Dear Man: Yes. Look at the situation comedies on TV. Even the women who are supposed to be strong find themselves cheering, worrying incessantly and supporting the family.

 

Dear Woman: Well, when I was twelve I wanted to go out for the football team, too–mainly because I liked the uniform. I was immediately informed that I could no longer fall down and cry. I couldn’t accept comfort from my Mommy anymore. I wasn’t a little boy, but was instead commanded to be a man, which consisted of three aspects: “get ready to struggle, get ready to fight, get ready to win.” Any young guy who was unwilling to do this ended up in drama or music and was assumed to be queer.

 

Dear Man: A bit overly simplistic?

 

Dear Woman: Not any more than yours. It seems to me that our culture is frightened by the individual who might contradict the genitalia. That’s why, when a man stays home to take care of the children and the woman works, we refer to it as “role reversal.” In other words, “you can do it, but you’re weird.”

 

Dear Man: So it’s difficult for me to believe that we’re born with all these gender tendencies, when just before puberty we are suddenly snatched away and put in different camps to study for future positions. Me, a Mommy, you a Man.

 

Dear Woman: Otherwise, it wouldn’t make the news that a girl is a field goal kicker at a high school…

 

Dear Man: …or that a boy graduated at the top of his home economics class.

 

Dear Woman: So why the manipulation?

 

Dear Man: I think it’s because we feel if we don’t force children into their roles, we might not be able to maintain the species, because the natural interest we have for romance with each other might be insufficient.

 

Dear Woman: So what do you think we should do? I guess what I’m asking is, what did you do when your mother tried to turn you into a cheerleader instead of a linebacker?

 

Dear Man: I bought it. I learned to cheer, worry and support–and I’m trying now to go through rehabilitation to become just a human being and find out what I really want to do. How about you?

 

Dear Woman: Me, too. I struggled, I fought, I won–and when I didn’t win, I learned to make excuses or cheat. Now I’m trying to withdraw from the masculine drug and just become a decent person.

 

Dear Man: Why do they make it so hard?

 

Dear Woman: Because somebody made it hard on them.

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Ask Jonathots … October 15th, 2015

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I have an acquaintance at work who is a fundamentalist Christian. Almost every day she comes into work and cites some tragic world event, such as the flood in South Carolina or all of the conflict and killing in the Middle East–especially with Russia entering Syria–and she joyfully proclaims that these are “signs of the end times” and that “Jesus will be coming back soon.” Is there any way I could convince her that God wants to save the world, not destroy it? Heads up: I don’t want the world to end!

I would like to begin my answer by focusing on the word “fundamentalist,” especially when it’s tied to the word “Christian.”

The definition of fundamentalist is someone who is a strict adherent to a philosophy, a doctrine or a cause. It’s an individual who holds to the letter of the law as being the correct process in pursuing the spirit of the law.

Therefore there are even fundamentalist atheists.

But when you place the word “fundamentalist” with the word “Christian” you create a quandary, because Jesus claimed that he was the fulfillment of all the Law and Prophets, and then he boiled down the entire extent of that body of work to two principles:

  1. We’re to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength;
  2. And the second is like unto it: love your neighbor as yourself.

So fundamentalists who believe they’re a Christian because they hold fast to the Old Testament or to the Epistles of the Apostles will certainly find themselves on shaky ground if one of those ideas is contrary to loving the Lord or your neighbor.

Also, Jesus made it very clear that he had not come to destroy the world, but to save it, nor condemn the world, but instead, welcome change. Our goal was to be peacemakers.

Anyone who finds joy in the suffering of mankind has by default become a cheerleader for evil.

The reason the Bible says that Jesus will eventually return to Earth is to keep us from killing everyone on the planet.

  • It is an act of mercy, not vengeance.
  • It is a position of grace, not judgment.

So if we have any desire to see the world end and for suffering to multiply so that such an event might occur, then we are identical to James and John, who wanted to rain fire down from Heaven because a Samaritan village refused to welcome them.

So when I run across people who have that mindset, I explain to them that I understand their desire but I do not consider them to be followers of the heart of Jesus.

I call them Apocalyptic Believers. In other words, they believe in the Apocalypse.

If they really believed in Jesus, they would pray for a way for the world to be preserved and saved… until more people could find their way home.

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 40 (May 19th, 1967) Last Day of School ’67… November 15, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

How does one describe the last day of school?

I suppose I could use the word “rapture” if it weren’t so entwined with the religious phenomenon.

I could use “orgasm” if it wasn’t so linked with what would be misconstrued by prudes.

So I guess the best word would be “carnivale.” Not that I’ve ever been to one–I’m just assuming the wild, abandoned glee over not having any more pressing responsibilities pushing in on you, realizing that there are a full eighty-eight days of summer ahead.

I never liked to be the first one to leave the school on the last day.

I liked to hang around for a few moments to walk the empty halls, with little clumps of dust still tumbling along, and discarded papers left to the discretion of the overworked janitor.

So by the time I headed home, everyone was pretty well gone, and it wasn’t until I got to my front door that I remembered I had forgotten to pick up an English book which my mother had insisted I bring home, because she had paid eleven and ninety-nine to purchase it because I had misplaced the provided copy.

So I had to weigh my options. My mom’s anger, or returning to the school I had just gloriously abandoned.

I walked back.

The door was still open and as I entered, there was an eerie sensation which crept down my spine at being in this empty edifice of learning, now so silent that you could hear the creaking hinges on the door.

I made my way down the hallway to Mr. Marshall’s English class, which also, miraculously, was still unlocked.

I crept through the door and walked to the storeroom where I knew he kept the books. I gently turned the knob, crossing the fingers of my other hand, hoping that it, too would be accessible. It was.

So I flung the door open in glee, only to discover that in the shadowy confines, not yet lit up by the overhead bulb, was Mr. Marshall, shirt unbuttoned, kissing Miss Crowley, the biology teacher, who had her top off, showing her “booba-toobas.”

(I developed the name “booba-toobas” in an attempt to be unique and humorous, and even though it was silly, I persisted in the terminology since a cheerleader once giggled upon hearing it.)

Honestly, in my entire life’s journey, I have never seen three people so frozen in time. Mr. Marshall, Miss Crowley, and dumb me, peering at one another.

No one knew what to do.

Finally, Miss Crowley grabbed her blouse to cover up her left “tooba” and said, “Jonathan, what are you doing here?”

I gasped, “I came to get my book.”

“You want a book?” she inquired.

Apparently my quest for knowledge was more surprising to her than being found in a closet with her paramour.

Mr. Marshall disconnected himself from the human apparatus, put his arm around me and walked from the room out into the hallway. He stood there looking at me for a long time. I wanted to say something but everything that popped to my mind seemed dangerous.

At length he sighed and said, “Well, Jonathan, we have a situation here.”

I nodded.

“Tell you what I’m going to do,” he continued. “I’m going to treat you like an adult. I’m gonna believe that you’re going to walk out of here with your book and never say another word about what you saw.”

Leaning in close to my face, he punctuated, “Because if you did, Miss Crowley and I would probably get in a helluva lot of trouble.”

I knew he meant what he said because no teacher would ever use the word “hell” in front of me unless he felt I was worthy to join him at the local bar for a drink.

All I said to him was, “I won’t.”

With this, I took flight out the door, running as fast as my fat legs would carry me.

I know he must have thought he was sunk, but on the way home I felt so grown-up.

I was trusted.

For the first time in my life, I was to be taken at my word without the threat of punishment.

And you know what?

I never did tell.

Even a month later, when my friends came over to sleep at the house and we watched “Chiller Theater” and everybody was getting real honest, I bit my lip and the side of my cheek, and stuffed a lot of pizza into my mouth to keep from blabbing.

When I returned to school that fall, Miss Crowley was gone and I heard she had gotten married over the summer–but not to Mr. Marshall.

The grown-up world is very confusing.

I never told anyone until this day, even though I have used memories of Miss Crowley’s “booba-toobas” to stimulate a few sessions in youthful lust.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Untotaled: Stepping 28 (September 14th, 1966) Cindy Kerns… August 23, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2330)

(Transcript)

Fat boy, locker room, peer pressure, fear of inadequacy, dirty jokes, girl talk, not enough information.

This was my life on September 14th. I was in search of bragging rights. Very simply, I needed a girlfriend.

Even though I was just a kid, I had reached an age where if I didn’t get some experience with the girl crowd very soon, I would be considered queer in every way.

So I picked Cindy Kerns. She was a year older than me, from another school and attended my church. The best way to describe her is to tell you that her mother called her a “flower.” The pastor’s wife referred to her as a “late bloomer.” But I knew the guys on my football team would think she was stink weed.

(All the terms have a botanical source, but certainly different interpretations.)

I knew I could get Cindy interested in me. I was no expert with girls, but because she followed me around and swooned a little bit when I was present, I figured she was interested. She was sweet.

So here was my plan: make my boast after showering, tell them about Cindy, and then acquire a picture from Cindy of one of her other friends from school–a cheerleader–which I could show to my friends instead of the real picture of my actual girlfriend. Then I could make lots of claims and look cool.

Amazingly enough, it came off without a hitch.

I don’t know why Cindy didn’t get suspicious about me requesting pictures of other girls from her school. I guess she just thought I was interested in her friends. She only asked for one picture–mine.

It made me feel bad, but not as bad as I would feel if I had to show my friends a picture of Cindy instead of some unknown beauty from down the road.

Once football season was over and I didn’t have to deal with these guys with their macho jargon on an everyday basis, I dumped Cindy.

But in that brief two-and-a-half month period, I grew to like her. I learned when to kiss, how to kiss and things to say to a woman at just the right times.

Adolescence is a terrible time to try to be a human being. In an attempt to become something that you probably will never be, you can really hurt other people from becoming what they could be.

So I would like to apologize to Cindy (who I am sure by now wouldn’t even remember who I am). And I would also like to apologize to the girl whose picture I used to impress my friends.

After all, it’s unfair to carry on a relationship with a stranger by photograph.

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Untotaled – Stepping 26: (April 6th, 1966) Hello, Dollie … August 9, 2014

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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English class.

Right before lunch.

Four days before Easter.

Since everyone was giddy, ready for spring break, the teacher intelligently surrendered to the atmosphere, forsook all nouns and verbs, and instead, posed the question: “What are you doing for Easter?”

Everyone joined in enthusiastically with their plans.

“Ham.”

“Church.”

“Family.”

“Trip to New York.”

“Dinner with friends.”

“A cantata.”

And then, out of nowhere, a young girl who was normally pretty quiet and reserved, piped in:

“I’m waiting for the Easter bunny.”

There were a few chuckles, since the majority of the room believed that such a proclamation was impossible to take seriously.

Now, this young girl’s name was Dollie. She was tall, gangly, bespectacled, often escaping into her own thoughts, but dressed very fancy because her family was loaded. She was a fair student, a little silly, and now, suddenly, with a full spotlight on her in an adolescent English class, found herself the sole advocate for the Easter bunny.

The teacher, attempting to get Dollie off the hook by changing the subject, posed an additional question to the entire class: did they like pineapple on their ham, or raisin sauce?

Yet Dollie persisted, oblivious to the social cliff looming in the near distance.

“The Easter bunny lives in a hole in my back yard.”

She nearly sang it. Yet to the classroom, the idea was off-key.

We were all stalled. We glanced around the room at one another in horror and disbelief, when all at once, the most popular cheerleader laughed out loud. Everyone, feeling license to participate, joined in heartily.

Dollie sat, nearly in tears, perturbed and perplexed that everyone had selected an agnostic position concerning the Divine Easter Bunny who slept in her back yard, awaiting the opportunity to bring candy to all the good little boys and girls.

Fortunately, at that point the inquisition was interrupted by the ringing bell announcing lunch period. Everyone leaped to their feet and headed to the door, still giggling and whispering.

Dollie remained in her chair, stung, emotionally bleeding and bewildered that her faith in the Great Rabbit had been marched into the coliseum of public opinion and slaughtered by the lions of ridicule.

I felt compelled to do something–but I was just a kid. So I walked over and patted her on the shoulder and said, “You know, that’s really dumb. There’s no Easter bunny.”

That was the extent of my empathy.

I then walked from the room, leaving her alone to her thoughts.

It wasn’t the last time I would have an encounter with Miss Dollie.

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 18–(January 14th, 1966) On My Sleeve … June 14, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2263)

(Transcript)

Two doors down from our home were some neighbors who were quite friendly, but we only saw about six times a year and talked to maybe twice.

So imagine our surprise when they showed up at the door the day before Christmas and brought gifts. My mother was frantic, trying to figure out how to reciprocate with some sort of generosity to this surprise burst of holiday cheer.

But the most amazing thing was when I opened my present on Christmas morning from these little-known neighbors and it was a sweater.

It was beautiful for two reasons. First of all, it was a swirl of blue in a cardigan style and had brown leather buttons that looked like chocolate covered cherries.

But the greatest blessing was that it fit. I was a big fat boy, and in that era, no one made provision for such creatures. I don’t know where our neighbors found it, but it was made of Angora–that material that looks like it should be on a goat or a really pretty rabbit.

I loved it. I wore it every day. I pretended it was my winter coat. Maybe because of that, I picked up a cold.

I hate colds.

I guess everybody does, but the main reason I despise getting the common flu bug is that I had no intention in my young teen years of doing anything about it except enduring it with much complaint.

So I was sitting in the study hall while wearing my beautiful blue Angora sweater with the chocolate buttons. It was a very cold day and they had turned up the heat, and the mixture of the other students in the room with the air of the furnace blowing started my nose running.

Now, I was a young man who had little care for anything that looked frilly, so I certainly did not carry Kleenex. (I don’t know what kind of fellow you would have to be in 1966 to have a Kleenex on you.) And I was also too macho to ask a nearby girl if I could use one of her tissues. That was forbidden territory.

So at first I just tried to sniff it back into my nose. Of course, this was loud, sounded gross and caused a cheerleader next to me to crinkle her nose and turn away.

I did not know what to do. I had already used up all my bathroom privileges with the study hall monitor, and was quite sure I would not be allowed to leave the premises. And sure enough, when I raised my hand, he just looked at me and shook his head.

Meanwhile, my nose was reaching avalanche proportions. I don’t know what it looked like, but it felt like Niagara Falls was running down my lip. It had to be gross. I tried to duck my head down, but that made the gravity of the situation worse.

I thought about running my hand under my nose, but then I would have it on my hand.

Suddenly, without thinking, fearing that I was about to embarrass myself in front of the entire class with my river of snot, I reached up with the sleeve of my sweater and ran it across my face two or three times.

Fortunately, at that point my nose loosened up and I was able to have one huge sniff and the running went away.

But my beautiful Angora sweater had been slimed by my drippy nose dropping.

I took off the sweater, folded it up, and when I got home that night tried to wipe the goop out of the fur–but it wouldn’t go away.

I wore the sweater a couple more times, but people kept asking me why the sleeve was matted.

I loved that sweater so much.

But about four days later, I quietly went out into the back yard, dug a hole, and buried it.

I realized there would be no way to ever fix it. My family knew nothing about dry cleaning, and I was in no mood to try to explain why it was rumpled and stiff.

I know it sounds strange, but I cried. Actually, I cried more at the grave of my sweater than I did for a couple of aunts who passed away.

Of course, they never looked nearly as good or kept me nearly as warm.

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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

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