Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3966)

Sitting Eight

By midday, Iz and Pal had developed a brand-new game. They called it, “Your Book, My Book.”

They mentioned the various names that were in the Talmud and the Koran, and were shocked to find out how many were the same. Abraham was in both, as was Joseph, Isaac, Ishmael, Noah, Adam, Eve, Moses. Yes, they were all there.

Iz’s book had some other different names and Pal’s mentioned both Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed, but it was really quite surprising. Kind of freaky.

They also realized that the two of them looked much the same. By now they smelled the same. They both believed in God. Both had never touched pork and had strict families. They came from desert Bedouins and they both really, really liked Hershey chocolate bars with almonds.

Aside from Iz being shorted by circumcision and Pal not really having a country, they should be brothers.

It made them wonder if anyone had ever thought of it before. They were so preoccupied with their new game that neither noticed the arrival of a guest—a slender, lanky young man with dark brown skin, curly hair and pieces of coal for eyes—piercing but still permitting some of the warmth of childhood.

Iz did not recognize the stranger but Pal knew him.  He spoke quietly. “Hello, Talsan.”

The young man stood tall, staring off into the distance. “It is hot, my little brother. You will sicken yourself in this heat.”

“I drink as much as I can,” said Pal, continuing his calm tone.

Talsan chuckled. “In the desert, by the time you think to drink, it is already too late.”

He sat down next to his younger brother.

Iz spoke up. “I am Jubal,” he stated. “Amir’s friend.”

“So,” asked Talsan, “are you the trouble-maker?”

Pal interrupted. “No, I am the trouble-maker. No, I mean—there is no trouble. We are just enjoying being together.”

Talsan shook his head. “Papa is worried. He has talked to the elders.”

Pal quickly shifted to his haunches. “Why did he talk to them?”

Talsan raised his voice. “Because he wasn’t going to talk to you out here in the desert, running from family and Allah.”

“I’m not running,” said Pal. “All my life I’ve done whatever I was told to do, even though there were questions exploding in my mind.”

“Questions?” scoffed Talsan, “what questions?”

Pal paused as if deciding whether to continue the conflict. “All right, Talsan,” he said with intensity. “Answer this. Why do we live in a religion, in a culture, that speaks so highly of family, friends and love, but then teaches us to hate these people walking nearest to us in the village?”

“We do not hate them,” Talsan spat. “They hate us. We are merely protecting our lives.”

Iz jumped in. “I don’t hate you. I don’t hate Pal. I don’t hate your father. I would just like to live—and have some fun.”

Talsan laughed scornfully. “Now I know you are a boy. Fun is out of the question. We are to become men and take our place—first at the universities and then, in leadership of our communities.”

“Without fun?” asked Pal.

Talsan heaved a deep sigh. “Papa has explained all of this to you. It is time for you to come home. He will not pursue you. He will pray for you but he will not come to you. It is a shame and a disgrace that you would wish him to defile himself by chasing his son down in the desert.”

“I don’t want him to chase me,” shouted Pal. “I want him to leave me alone and let my friend, Iz, and me, start a new life. Maybe a new town.”

“Or even a country,” piped in Iz.

“Iz,” said Talsan. “Listen to yourself, little boy. Our country has existed for thousands of years, filled with tradition and rich spirituality.”

Iz interrupted. “But how can it be spiritual when it is so full of hate?”

Talsan shook his head. “Do you hate the lamb when you take the wool? Do you hate the chicken when you collect its eggs? Do you hate the animal when you spill its blood to provide meat for your table? What you call hate is merely the way of nature. Things that are alike seek their own. In the process, they reject different species so as to keep purity within the ranks.”

Pal screamed at his brother. “You make no sense! Is this what they teach you at the university? These are just weird stories that don’t mean anything. My friend, Iz, here, is not a chicken. And I’m not an animal stuck in some herd. Talsan, you cannot tell me that you believe this.”

Talsan drew a deep breath. “What I believe has no power if it cannot change what I see. All of my wishes for peace and love are meaningless when I live in a world of bigotry and intolerance. I don’t want to change the world. I just want to keep the world from changing me.”

Both boys squinted at him, confused.

Talsan grabbed Pal’s arm, pulling him to his feet. “You will go with me,” he stated.

Pal collapsed, forcing his body to the ground, as Iz grabbed the grenade.

Talsan spied the weapon extended in the young boy’s hand. “So this is your answer to violence?” he posed. “How are you any different than anyone else? You would kill me to maintain your little society?”

Pal, lying face-down in the ground, spit back, “Talsan, I don’t want to kill you. You are my brother. I just don’t want you to decide my life.”

Talsan released his hold on Pal’s arm and stepped a few paces away, then turned and said, “I will tell Papa that your mind is deranged by the desert sun, and that you are under the power of some evil spirit. This should comfort him.”

He continued. “My little brother, I do not know what you’re doing. I do not know what in the hell this ‘Iz and Pal’ business is all about, but you are skin of my skin and blood of my blood. I will not hate you because I do not understand. This is where I am different from Papa. I pray you will change your ways, but I do not want you to starve and die of thirst. I will have food and water delivered here every morning until you decide to come to your senses. You are a childish idiot—but that should not be a death sentence.”

Pal stood to his feet and gingerly gave his brother a hug. Talsan nodded at Iz and concluded, “I do not hate you Jews. I just don’t believe that God chose you any more than He chose me.”

“No argument from me,” said Iz simply. “And thanks for the food.”

The boys perched in silence and watched as Talsan made his way down the hill. With each step he took they realized they were growing further and further away from their families and communities. Soon there would be nothing but the sand under their feet and the love they had in their hearts.

Still, it seemed like enough.


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1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Improve the Social Upheaval)

1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Improve the Social Upheaval)

In an attempt to escape the cruelty of racism and bigotry, about fifty years ago we began to extol the importance of culture. Matter of fact, it became a liberal campaign slogan to promote diversity while, quite honestly, sometimes conservatives used it to scare off their adherents, with the fear of “losing the real America.”

America the Melting Pot

For some reason or another, we began to think we were a nation of many cultures. Actually, the vision for this great experiment of the United States of America was to welcome a populace that was a “melting pot”–each one of us dissolving into the other, with our customs, styles and ideas, to form one nation indivisible.

So ironically, in an attempt to create greater acceptance, we have generated more hostility and intolerance.

So the one thing you–and I–can do this week is:

Stop Promoting Your Tribe

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a political party, a church, a zealous business endeavor, a race, a religion, a sexual orientation or a gender. What is tearing us apart is the belief that the more fragmented we are, the greater the possibility of celebrating individuality.

We’ve even done this with our families, believing that our genetic code has more significance than that of the gentleman or lady driving beside us on the freeway. Whether it meets your approval, or even if you find it comforting to be in a small category, it damages the overall peace of mind and well-being of our nation.

Celebrate Similarities

  • There are no chosen people.
  • No race is better than another.
  • Spirituality is known by what spirituality does.
  • And my family is not better than your family.

Until we abandon the foolishness of segregating ourselves in the name of integrating variety, we will be at each other’s throats. Take this week to find similarities, and when you find them, pronounce them and celebrate them with those around you.

In so doing, you will repair the breech instead of widening it.

 

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Jesonian… April 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3277)

jesonian-cover-amazon

A Saturday many, many years ago, the beaten, bruised and bloodied body of Jesus of Nazareth lay still in the darkness of a borrowed tomb, as his spirit communed with the angels and his mind reasoned over the unfoldings of a truly abundant life.

We are not privy to those thoughts.

Matter of fact, all we know of the life of Jesus comes from four major biographers who borrowed pieces from one another, and each, in his own way, had an agenda to offer insights to please his readers.

There is no autobiography.

So we aren’t sure of the emotion in the words attributed to him. Therefore theologians decipher and agnostics disembowel the remnants of the script left to us of this magnificent life.

Yet every once in a while, we get a deeper glimpse. Such is the case in Matthew the 23rd Chapter, Verse 37-38:

“Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou that killest the prophets and stone them which are sent unto you. How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

The great debate over the centuries has been whether Jesus was Jewish or whether he came, in a certain sense, to abolish Judaism in favor of the New Covenant.

If you study the writings of Martin Luther, you might begin to believe that the Great Reformer was anti-Semetic. Yet in many evangelical churches, there seems to be a return to Jewish traditions, including them with their Christian rituals.

What did Jesus feel about the Jews?

What was the heart of the matter?

First and foremost, you must understand, for Jesus to include Gentiles and Samaritans in his movement immediately made him an outcast from the Jewish religious community.

Matter of fact, the Jewish Council that condemned him to death granted him none of the courtesy that was normally extended to brethren.

The reality that Jesus did not believe that the Jews were special because they were the “children of Abraham,” but rather put forth the opinion that God “could take stones” and make offspring of Abe, certainly did not put him in favor with those of the Zionist profile.

Yet John tells us that he “came to his own and his own received him not.”

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, he did use the phrase “we Jews.” It is the only time he did, but he certainly had a kindness and favorability for those who lived in Judea and Galilee.

But Jesus was a man of vision–the Gospel would never reach China or the Native Americans if it were left in the hands of the Jews. The Jewish people had already aggravated the Romans to the point that the annihilation and dispersion of their kindred was inevitable, if not imminent. The Gospel would only survive in the hands of the Greeks and the Romans, who would take it to the rest of the world.

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that when the early church was trying to force Gentile converts to comply with Jewish practices, the former Pharisee condemned them and called them “Judaizers” for limiting the scope and power of the message.

In the two verses recited above, Jesus announces the fate of Judaism.

It is in a coma.

It is left desolate and abandoned.

It is awaiting a day when it can be awakened and all the promises given by the prophets can be fulfilled.

But for a season, it was set aside in favor of salvation and “loving your neighbor” being shared with the entire world.

Basically, if you want to sum up Jesus’ feelings on Judaism, it’s very simple: Jesus loves them.

He just does not believe they’re “chosen people.”

There are no chosen people–just people who choose well.

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Good News and Better News… March 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3259)

In the midst of the morning prayer at the First United Methodist Church in Port Saint John, Florida, I peeked from my bowed-head position out at the congregation. It was a small gathering.

The church as a whole has been losing folks over the past few years. We could probably do a whole article on that subject, but let’s just work on the basis that there is an “exodus of the chosen people.”

So the denominations step in–Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals and the like–and offer their remedies to try to plug the dike of leaking souls. The answers they come up with are rehashing of former traditions or speculation on how better to use social media.

What they fail to consider is that church is dying because the reason for church has been crucified.

  • Church is for people.
  • People are the church.

When the church does not relate to people, but instead, makes some arrogant attempt to reach God through vain repetition, then people run away to brighter prospects for encouragement and a chance to access their better selves.

People often ask me if I am anti-church. Quite the contrary. I think church is our last bastion of hope to retrieve community among all living creatures.

It’s just that we need to be willing, for a season, to be awkward.

We don’t know what we’re doing.

We don’t know how to reach people.

And we certainly cannot figure out a way to escape our vague practices to translate them into real “soul food” for the everyday consumption of our brothers and sisters.

And for those who have left the church–citing hypocrisy, boredom, indiscretions and scandals–I must say to them: well, it certainly doesn’t bother you that your politicians, your entertainers and your movie stars are riddled with unholiness.

We need people who feel awkward about returning to church to join with those who are awkward about being in church, to laugh and cry their way about coming to church.

Folks, it’s gonna be ugly.

But yesterday morning I watched beautiful, insightful, gentle human beings come together with two strangers and create fellowship in an inspired, clumsy way.

It made me cry–it can be done. But we need to get our heads out of religion and our eyes on the prize of finding new ways to love one another and repent of our foolishness without shame.

The good news? It’s just like when we were learning to date in high school and survived our feeble attempts, to eventually end up in a relationship.

The better news is that if we stop trying to be godly, and just start looking for the goodness that has been placed around us, we literally can become a community of faith that “comes, communes and creates unity.”

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 8th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3112)

pohymn-salva

Plantation Salva

A damning God

Seems quite odd

Why the fuss

Since He made us

Didn’t He know

How it would go

A fruitless problem

Closed the Garden

Making the nomad

Always a little sad

Chasing a dream

A meaningless scheme

Killing, making war

Settling an endless score

God sent preachers

Hideous, pious creatures

Listening to what they tell

Made us further rebel

Hate the wait

Fate is late

Will, for me

But it ain’t free

Sow and reap

Fail and weep

What a bore

Craving more

The color of skin

The depth of sin

Chosen people

Erect steeple

While we are here

Twisted in fear

God is over there

Cursed, so unfair

Settle the wild

Birth the child

He’s the Word

Judged absurd

A Master disaster

Kill the Bastard

Where can we hide

No place to abide

Then a voice

Offers a choice

His life, your Eden

Everything you’ve been needin’,

Your Plantation Salva

Is assembling

For you to discern

With a holy trembling

 

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Jesonian: The Author (Part I) … June 14th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2612)

manuscript editing

When I finished writing my first novel, I had 780 pages of typed story, dialogue and background.

Even though this was too much for a book, each part of it was essential, so that when I got to the editing process, I could sift through and find the gold rather than trying to come up with shiny stuff on the spot.

When I was done with that process, I ended up with a novel of about 360 pages.

God was an author, too. As an author, He was writing to a market. Who was that market?

They were human beings, barely stepping out of the jungle of Darwinian theory and just beginning the first fruits in the journey of human evolution.

Still living in caves, they needed a revelation in order to move to tents. Once tents had been achieved, it was a lightning bolt of intellect that brought about mud huts.

It was a long and painful discovery.

Simply telling human beings that they were “very much alike” did not seem to work in an atmosphere where “beheading your enemy” was the true sign of virility.

So first came the Pentateuch–the five books of Moses, which are referred to as the Torah.

Then there were hundreds and hundreds of scrolls, explaining how these laws were to be enforced and interpreted. This was referred to as the “Oral Law,” or the Talmud.

I’m not so certain that the human race could have survived without such a restrictive set of rules guiding towards intelligence instead of allowing the inner barbarian free rule and reign.

Yet it was a clumsy, cluttered, inefficient system that still had “chosen people” thinking that the lightning and thunder in the sky was caused by an angry god.

There was more belief in mysticism than attempts to understand the mystery of the world around them, and superiority was expressed by the sheer brute number of gods worshipped instead of the wisdom acquired from Mount Sinai.

You can’t really call it ignorance if everybody possessed the lacking. It was the status quo–to be vacuous, superstitious and vindictive.

To avoid the elimination of our species, for a season it took a Torah and it demanded a Talmud. God felt the need to use the jot to form the tittle that kept us from being “totaled.”

Yet, like any good author, having completed his 780 pages of overwritten document, as knowledge began to grow, it was time to edit the rules and regulations.

Into such a world entered Jesus of Nazareth. It fell his lot to progress human beings past acceptable depravity, into growing congeniality.

Where should he begin?

(To be continued)

 

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G-40: Practical … September 5, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2343)

hand of JesusCrucifixion should never be discussed casually.

Damn those who study it as a theological necessity or a part of any kind of holy plan.

For after all, the idea of capital punishment isn’t particularly “capital.”

I came to live as a human. Of course, somewhere along the line, that does entail death. I guess I was hoping this would occur as an old, old man, from a mild heart attack as I was sleeping in Rome, after finishing up a spectacular revival.

Just not to be.

If God has a plan, He must desert it because He has cast his lot with humans.

Golgotha–the place of the skull. A cranium without face or brain, for that matter.

My feelings are mixed, tossed to and fro, squeezed by reality, only prohibited from smothering me by the expansiveness of faith.

The trial they put me through came to an awkward impasse–the witnesses against me constantly contradicting each other. It became apparent that I might be cleared on a technicality–maybe exiled back to Galilee.

Yet you can’t go back, can you?

What is their concern?

They say they are worried because I call myself God.

Alexander did it.

Caesar, likewise.

It’s nothing new. Whenever men gain power, they like to claim some aspect of divinity.

But see, here’s the problem: if God really has visited mankind, then why do we need religion or priests anymore? Scared the bejesus out of them.

So I stepped in and simplified their plight.

I told them I was God. I told them that they would see me one day and know I was God.

They deemed this arrogant and blasphemous. The proclamation sealed my fate.

They are killing me.

I am a reluctant martyr, a disappointed teacher, a rejected friend and a lonely savior.

I must warn them that their deeds will reverberate back to them with future consequences.

“Your house is left to you desolate!”

How can I tell them that chosen people must be replaced by people who choose?

I know this–you can’t save the whole world if you’re trying to promote one race.

So I took a haggard breath, wincing in pain.

I am trying to die well.

It is all they have afforded me.

 

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