Sit Down Comedy …March 15th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3985)


There were a few citizens of Springfield, Illinois, who were surprised when the city council did not nominate Maggie and Carl Johnson for consideration as “Parents of the Decade.” There were four nominations in all, but Maggie and Carl were not included.

The long arm of their charitable deeds had stretched across the entire townscape. Their oldest son was a banker, a daughter was a doctor, another daughter a lawyer, and a son was a Captain in the Marines. They seemed perfectly poised to take the prize.

But for many in the capital city, they were disqualified because their youngest son had raped and murdered nine women.

Even though it was common knowledge that he was inflamed by chemical addiction and haunted by mental illness, it still seemed inappropriate to the town fathers to grant Maggie and Carl consideration.

Likewise, two nights ago, I walked into my kitchen and smelled something. I followed my nose on a merry chase, and finally ended up standing over the garbage can, which obviously had something in it that was rotten and wanted the whole house to know. Even though the garbage bag was only a quarter filled, I yanked it out, tied it up and took it and threw it in the trash. It might have seemed rash and the waste of a still-productive garbage bag, but the odor made me do it.

The Christian faith must be prepared, along with its gospel of grace and kindly parables of Jesus, to understand that when humanity assesses the faith, the nasty deeds of the faltering fingertips of offending Catholic priests and the racial bigotry and violence of white supremacists who will swear on a stack of Bibles that “they did it all in Jesus’ name” will certainly need to be stirred in.

When we march around on July 4th, remembering the founding of our country, no truthful telling of the United States can be made without strolling through the back alley of our treatment of the Native Americans, the African-Americans and also a look into the rancid nature of our politics.

Dare I say that I will gladly join you on a quest to find the “good Muslims” if you will freely admit to me that the “bad Muslims” seem to have grabbed the microphone and are doing most of the talking for Mohamed’s children.

There are leaders, missions, governments, and faiths. They are led by human beings who make mistakes. This is not terminal. It’s not even deadly. But when those errors are hidden beneath a campaign to extol only the goodness of the endeavor, then Jesus warns us that it’s like splatting a coat of white paint on the outside of a grave.

We must all understand that the truth about us is what we believe minus what we do, with who we really are being the sum that remains.

 

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Good News and Better News… May 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3294)

I spent the weekend with the “Life of Brian”–once again reminded to “always look on the bright side of life.”

Yes, Brian is the pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Frostproof, Florida. Aside from being personable, gentle and caring, he has intelligently chosen to embrace the work that is set before him and enjoy it instead of complaining about the difficulties or lamenting its limitations.
That is remarkable. (So therefore, I did.)

Because of this spirit which radiates from him, the congregation allows itself to believe that they are not boxed in to either a social or a religious format that makes them run around in circles like gerbils looking for a wheel.

I must tell you–any church that advertises that it is presently on the path of righteous pursuits may very well be deluded. We are all intoxicated by an environment which challenges us to be rough and tumble instead of kind and merciful.

Very simply stated, that must change or nothing will happen.

If we truly go into a deeper study of the Word, we will end up as Paul did, proclaiming that the only commandment that’s necessary is “love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we pursue an existence of prayer, we will find, as Jesus taught, that our best supplications are done in the closet, without letting anyone know that we are seeking divine guidance.

It really comes down to a simple back-and-forth:

What should we slow?

What should become quick?

I use the word “slow” because none of us are without silliness and foolish iniquity, so we will occasionally slip up. Right now we are obsessed with the notion to be quick to judgment and slow to love. For some reason, we insist that this is a sign of maturity, caution or caring for our loved ones. Because of this, the people in our society sometimes look like they’re sniffing the room for nasty odors instead of including the inhabitants of the room.

We are quick to judge yet slow to love.

And no matter how much you learn about the Tabernacle of David, the death of Christ or the Apocalypse, you will make no progress in the Kingdom of God until you become quick to love and slow to judge.

Matter of fact, if I were pastoring a church, I would teach on that subject for at least six months–until everybody in the congregation, including the toddlers, was fully aware that the mantra of our mission was “quick to love and slow to judge.”

This does not mean that prayer, worship, fasting, giving and study have no merit–it just means they have no muscle. They do not bust through the cement of the walls we are building between each other. The only thing that will do that is love and a refusal on our part to judge others.

So the good news is this: if we can learn to be quick to love, even if it seems a little awkward at first, at least we will be stumbling in the right direction.

And the better news is, if we are slow to judgment, we can begin to tear down the dark image of the Christian faith, which has turned us into prudes instead of proof.

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Too Many Gods and Not Enough… September 26, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2018)

ZeusA god: someone or something worshipped as supreme.

Yesterday as I drove in downtown Columbus, Ohio, there was a flashing arrow directing us that the lane was closing.

And then it began.

A few people got over immediately to serve the common need. But most people stayed in the lane which was closing as long as they possibly could–to get a little bit ahead of everyone else. I realized that these folks had no idea that they were screaming loud and proud their god choice.

The reason I have difficulty with religion is because it doesn’t make things better.

I do not understand why we extol the value of a worship system which allows human beings to act on their own whim.

Even if you’re an atheist, you have a god. Maybe it’s nature. Perhaps animals. Could it be morality? But each deity we consider to be supernal sets a style of behavior in motion which is often contrary to earth life.

That’s why, in the Christian faith, we pursue the presence of Christ while ignoring the essence of Jesus. After all, dangling a cross from the ceiling, drinking wine from a magic cup, baptizing and reciting prayers do not replace the Golden Rule. If you allow a convert to follow ritual without learning the “rights” of humanity, you do nothing to improve our planet, but instead, merely unleash another selfish person who is desperately trying to get to the front of the line.

So please allow me to complete the title of this essay: too many gods and not enough human beings.

For I will tell you–some of the most selfish, arrogant, uncaring, unfeeling and disconnected people I have ever met in my life have just emerged from the hallowed halls of a church house. Why? Because we give them a godhead to worship without teaching them how to get into the head of God.

There are only three standards that work. You can refer to them as spiritual, or if you seek no divinity whatsoever, you can acknowledge them as essential:

1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. No law, edict, philosophy or set of rules work if we don’t have an understanding and an empathy for the common traveler.

2. NoOne is better than anyone else. Whether you totally believe this statement to be true or not, to contend anything else is to set in motion the prejudice which leads to bigotry, which ultimately concludes with murder and war.

3. Don’t judge or you will be judged. Some people call it “karma.” Other people call it “even-steven.” Whatever you call it, how you evaluate other human beings is the way you will eventually be critiqued by others–with a little edge added on. This doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions; it means that my opinions are trumped by my realization that even people who live in stained-glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

We have too many gods and not enough human beings.

  • Laws will not work without mercy.
  • Rules are broken without understanding.

Where can we start? We can start by honoring the essence instead of just bowing down in adulation to the presence. In so doing, we might be surprised that the presence of God will not need to be conjured, but instead … will dwell within us.

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