Things I Learned from R. B.


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Episode 7

Eight thousand three hundred and twenty-nine miles.

From Erie, Pennsylvania, down to Jacksonville, Florida, across to Houston, Texas, up to St. Louis, Chicago, then over to Detroit, and even Nashville, Tennessee—with many cities in between.

For thirty-one days we traveled to twenty-five cities, putting on performances of my musical, surviving on fast food, common hospitality, and the financial generosity of an audience asked to pass the hat.

Providing our transportation were two leased vans—one stripped of interior seats, which acted as utilitarian, hauling equipment and suitcases. The other was a twelve-passenger van for the cast.

There were nine of us in all. I drove the passenger van, and Gary and Don took over the responsibilities of the “Ute Van.”

They liked that. And little else.

I often wondered why the two of them had auditioned for the play in the first place. Then I realized it was because they didn’t think they would be good enough to get in, but thought it would be fun to try—never imagining they would run across a producer like myself, who was so desperate for a cast that he hired them.

Every once in a while, just to keep things honest, I sent R. B. back to ride in the Ute Van along with Gary and Don, to act as my eyes and ears.

Unfortunately, R. B. was so inexperienced that he didn’t realize the pair was smoking pot right in front of him. When we stopped for gasoline, his innocence played out comically in how loopy he acted—from exposure to second-hand smoke.

When I cracked down on Gary and Don about the grass smoking, they immediately assumed that R. B. had squealed. They confronted him and he denied it, but they never believed him. They used the remainder of the tour to make his life as miserable as possible, with practical jokes, mocking him in front of the girls in the cast, and I think once even peeing on his costume.

Even though I tried to correct the matter, the cast members were not my wards of the court, but rather, young people wanting to get by with as much as they could and doing as little as they could in the process.

One of the girls challenged R. B. to “stand up for himself.” He explained that such a maneuver was against his Christianity because he believed in “loving people and forgiving them.”

Although his rendition of the Gospels was accepted by the other cast members who heard him share it, I interrupted with a different interpretation.

“Forgiveness is powerful if you’ve already established yourself as the salt of the Earth and the light of the world. If you’re valuable—nearly indispensable—then offering the humility of forgiveness carries some weight. But if you’ve spent most of your time on the back of the bus—or the back of the van, in this case—your forgiveness just looks like what any loser would have to do.”

R. B. had to make a choice. Was he going to side with me and the rest of the troop or was he going to quietly join into the rebellion of Gary and Don, as they attempted to convince themselves that they could do everything better than me?

One night, the sponsor at our concert called me into his office about an hour before showtime. He was an old buddy—going way back. He knew everything about me, and I the same for him.

He said, “You need to get your cast straightened out. I just had three of them in here, trying to convince me that you were crazy and that they needed some relief from your dictatorial style.”

Before I could even ask my friend who the three were, he identified them. “It’s your three boys,” he said. “Gary, Don and R. B.”

I wasn’t surprised with Gary and Don. But I was quite astounded that R. B. sided with his tormentors against me.

I know the cast thought I was going to yell at them before the show once word spread that I had been informed, but I did no such thing.

When I was introduced to do the opening words before the musical began, I received warm applause from the audience, which remembered me from former days. I did something that surprised everybody—even myself.

I said, “I want to thank you all for coming out here tonight. We are not in very good spirits and have been arguing with each other for several days. I didn’t want to try to fake you out. I didn’t want to pretend. I didn’t want you guessing. The cast that’s about to come out and perform are doing a good job, and they’re probably peeing their pants right now, wondering why in the hell (pardon my language) I’m saying this. The reason I am is that we don’t have to be perfect to do good things. But it sure helps if we’re honest. So I would like you to forgive us for being mere mortals, and please allow us to take you on a journey. Perhaps in pursuing that odyssey with you, we might get in better moods ourselves.”

The audience burst into applause.

The overture began and we were off to the races. It was a brilliant show.  When some of the cast members made their entrances, you could see tears in their eyes.

I didn’t have any more trouble with Gary and Don. But R. B. was never able to get over the fact that in his opinion, I had humiliated them all in front of the audience.

Even though Gary and Don despised him, R. B. chose to befriend his detractors.

The B. S. M. G. Report


Jonathots Daily Blog

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As we depart this year

Let us leave behind some fear

2019 certainly weathered us with its conditions.

For we begin to believe that we are so susceptible to the climate of our times that it is beyond our control.

BAD

Too dry.

Yes, that was the problem this year.

In the pursuit of goals, or maybe even high ideals, we lost our humanity and became schoolmasters, instructing one another, incapable of maintaining a sense of humor about our own frailty.

Everything got really serious.

Even interactions we once took for granted—such as the give and take that happens between men and women in the attempt to discover romance and propagate our species—was isolated into tiny danger zones, so that eventually it just became safer not to talk to one another.

Our politicians are as dry as dust. One group hates poor people and the other despises the rich. Unfortunately, both parties believe themselves to be the messengers of truth.

We need to listen to the Earth.

We need to understand our place.

And once we find our place, rather than falling into a sand dune and suffocating, we need to uncover good cheer.

Good cheer is the by-product of a simple principle:

Since I am not the first person this has ever happened to, there apparently is a solution, or at least a reprieve, so while pursuing this, I will keep myself free from all despair.

We are presently too dry. It’s a bad thing.

SAD

Then again, there are times when we seem too wet.

Soppy, sappy and silly.

We’ve begun to believe that things that don’t matter at all have great significance and consecration. And of course, we continue to contend that human sexuality is tied into the divine workings of angels instead of the pleasurable grunting and groaning of humans who are doing their best impersonations of Brother Gorilla and Sister Chimpanzee.

We listen to elaborate stories that people share to draw tears to our eyes, so that we will favor them in a singing contest.

The liberals are worried about the children and poverty and the mistreatment of the persecuted masses while the conservatives shed many tears over the loss of values, family and morality.

I find myself constantly soaked with the false emotion of those who are either bitching their way through life or have fallen apart and don’t seem to be able to be put back together again.

MAD

A case can be made that our whole society has become too hot. With the ability to go from zero to sixty degrees of viral intensity over the smallest matters, it now seems that our worst enemy is our own tongue, which lashes out without ever considering that those we attack might just pull out an automatic weapon and blow our heads off.

I find that temper is fed by two evils:

1. Pride in oneself

2. Pride in one’s God.

When these two are put together, intolerance is the result, which can easily lead to terrorism.

We need to turn down the heat.

Neither you nor I are as good as we think we are, and neither you nor I can guarantee God’s will.

So relax.

Sometimes things need to play out—and when they do, if you have kept your mind from flaming, you might be glad you when you don’t burn up.

GLAD

I guess the old-time phrase was “chill out.” Is it still around?

The reason church people are able to tolerate Christianity is that it’s been a long time since they’ve read the Gospels.

Merely standing in front of a congregation of believers, reading the Sermon on the Mount and offering a cursory explanation would empty the sanctuary within a month.

We are way too concerned about having our opinions taken into consideration. The idea that our conjectures don’t matter would tear at the fabric of an egomaniacal need to be valuable.

So we should chill out—if we can remember what that means.

It was best stated by an itinerant preacher thousands of years ago, who gave a three-word philosophical insight for life on Earth:

Take no thought.

He then produced a list of things we don’t need to think about, which included most of our ego-driven demands.

He closed it out by saying, “Take no thought for tomorrow, for today has enough.”

The greatest thing that you and I can do to make 2020 a perfect vision is to stop thinking about so much.

The really important shit lights up, letting you know when it needs consideration.

Everything else is dim, dull and has been around since Methuselah—whoever in the hell he is.

Jesonian … October 23rd, 2018

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It is thoroughly possible, plausible and even necessary to separate Christianity from Judaism without being considered an anti-Semite.

Jesus spent the majority of his ministry providing parameters for a New Covenant, which was followed by the Apostle Paul becoming downright blunt over the need to extract the message of Jesus from the Jewish tradition.

Yet most evangelicals and many mainline denominational churches continue to foster a sense of equivalency between the Old Testament and the New Testament simply because they know two important factors about their congregations:

  1. They don’t want to lose the ability to seek revenge with “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
  2. They need Jesus to remain the “Lamb that was slain” instead of the Lion, roaring out his commands.

INFUSION OF JESUS

So actually, the teachings of Jesus, the personality of the Nazarene and the mindset of the Christ are often considered to be an intrusion to the organized church instead of welcomed as an infusion.

Simply put, Jesus did not come to contradict the Old Testament–but he certainly did arrive to countermand it. If you’re not familiar with that word, it is most often used in military circles to explain why some officer, usually of a higher rank, comes along to revoke or change the orders of the previous commander. It’s a nice way of saying, “We’re going to change things up.”

MEN OF OLD

Jesus cleverly referred to it as “fulfilling the law.” What an excellent, political word! He then turns around, and in fulfilling that Law, disassembles the instructions of Moses by referring to those who founded Oral Law and taught it as “men of old.”

If we want to become a Jesonian church, infusing the lifestyle of Jesus instead of viewing it as an intrusion, we must understand that, as Hebrews the First Chapter explains, God used to speak through Moses and the prophets, but not anymore. Now He speaks through Jesus.

So stop using Old Testament patriarchs to try to countermand Jesus.

Case in point: it is no longer the Kingdom of Israel–Jesus describes it as the Kingdom of God, which is located inside each and every believer. The new Holy Land is within your soul.

The challenge in this generation is to cease looking at our example, Jesus, as an intrusion, and begin to take his choices and use them as an infusion into our everyday existence.

It should keep us busy–because it’s very difficult to insist that Jesus was a Jewish prophet when he said things like:

“Before Abraham was, I am.”

“God can take stones and make children of Abraham.”

And “Your house is left to you desolate.”

Jesus was a new day.

Jesus was a new way.

And he came along proclaiming

“What you say? Go my way.”


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Jesonian … May 12th, 2018

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It’s all about the day. Today, to be exact.

If you lead human beings to the “browner” pastures of musing over the week, the month, the year, or God forbid, the lifetime, they dispel portions of purpose and chunks of energy.

Actually, this is commonly understood. Perhaps it’s not stated enough, but one reason that religion is so anti-Christ is that it forces the adherents to ponder holidays, ceremonies, rituals, yearly timetables and of course, eternal life.

It removes the congregant from the opportunity to participate in his or her own life on a daily basis and to watch the meticulous changes that occur through just placing one’s attention span in the right timeframe.

Jesus hated the religious system.

Do you understand this? If not, you are wasting your time in a religion called Christianity instead of faith–Jesonian.

Jesus articulates this when he tells the Pharisees that they grow so tired of their own people–so bored with the individuals who come to synagogue–that they traverse land and sea to win one convert, and then transform this individual into “twice the son of hell” as they are themselves.

What makes the newbie twice the son of hell?

He is robbed of the experience of daily life, and thrust into the swirl of meaningless liturgy, peering at his human journey in multiple leaps, culminating with death and heaven.

Humans are horrible when we don’t have a vision for the 24-hour period set before us.

The difference between Jesonian and the religious system is personal acquisition. This begins with:

1. Be aware.

In other words, you have a life. Nothing will happen with it just because you live or because you pray. You must ask, seek and knock.

2. Find passion.

Living demands energy. Living requires your presence instead of your observation. You are the salt of the Earth–therefore without you, there’s no flavor. You are the light of the world. When you are absent, darkness rules.

3. Take responsibility.

The only way to guarantee failure is to look for others to blame. Even if you can prove it’s their fault, you can’t control their repentance.

Find where you are responsible in every situation. Celebrate that you’ve been given the authority to change circumstances for the better.

Religion, politics, business, family and even entertainment–all of them force us to look into the distance instead of peering down at our plate of “daily bread.”

It renders us insipid.

It forces us, by default, to become “sons of hell.”

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G-Poppers … April 6th, 2018

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“GEE-WHIZ,” said G-Pop with an emphatic sigh.

There seems to be a series of “G” words tumbling off of people’s lips, going a bit haywire.

It starts with “GOD.”

G-Pop sat back last week and watched the more ceremonial, Druid aspects of the Christian faith take over in an attempt to temporarily get us to believe in a God who manipulates circumstances, destroys lives and “tunes” fate to produce human sacrifice, which is supposed to be an atonement for our horrific sins. The New Testament refers to Him as “God the Father,” but apparently, for a brief period, Daddy became “God the Executioner,” who went against His own abhorrence for animal sacrifice and laid a big, fat, bloody, smeary death on Jesus of Nazareth.

Then there’s “GAY.”

G-Pop wants the gay community to have all the rights, privileges and benefits as beautiful American citizens. But is it necessary for everything to suddenly be gay? There’s a sniff in the air that we should all become a little gay ourselves, to confirm that we’re open-minded enough to accept the full alphabet of the gay community, which grows by a consonant every day. LGBTQ(RSUV).

“GUNS.”

Is there anything that we, as human beings, own and admire and do not eventually use? G-Pop has been around guns in his life, and every time he did so, he wanted to shoot one. We shouldn’t be questioning whether people should have guns–but it might be good to ask what they plan on doing with them. Because guns may not kill people, but bullets do, and it is very difficult to own a gun without eventually wanting to put a bullet in it and find out how it works.

“GREED.”

G-Pop wonders if the only way to make America great again is money. Is it possible that we could be great in compassion? Was Ronald Reagan correct when he envisioned us as a city set on a hill, to be a beacon-light to the world? Or should we just present our P&L statement at the end of the year, and as long as we’re in the black, “God is good.”

“GRUMBLING.”

When did we start believing that something we despise in other people–complaining–is permissible for us to do? If you don’t want to hear G-Pop spout his grievances, then please don’t establish a lifestyle of grumbling, thinking it makes you sound grown-up, mature and thoughtful.

And finally, “GOODNESS.”

When did goodness become a joke–something to be avoided because it is naive and doesn’t understand how life really functions?

Gee-whiz. G-Pop would like to sum it up:

God is a Father, not a murderer.

Welcome, gays, to America, where you are free to love whomever you want to.

I hope you will enjoy your gun, as long as you help me keep them out of the hands of people who are bent on killing.

Would you consider joining G-Pop in being greedy for generosity?

And while you’re at it, can you set aside your grumbling and take five minutes to see if you can’t balance it with your blessings?

And finally, why don’t each and every one of us make “Oh, my goodness” a reality instead of an exclamation of bewilderment?

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G-Poppers … September 22nd, 2017

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She wanted to make sure G-Pop knew the story.

Even though she had messed up her life to the extent that most of her friends had abandoned her, leaving her to her own explanations and tales of woe, she still needed confirmation from G-Pop that he found some good in her bad.

Always looking for a way to find some good in our bad.

It’s why we come up with a story, a rendition, a plot line, and worst of all, an explanation.

When she started to offer excuses about what happened, G-Pop stopped her. She was a bit surprised and thought he was being judgmental. She immediately became defensive and challenged his Christianity and his charity. He explained that he had no judgment for her whatsoever–just some sage advice:

A story is useless.

When ignorance, stupidity or carelessness invade our lives with some form of mishap, what we need to give is a report. Not a story. A simple report.

It’s not that different from what we did in high school, when we stood in front of the class to cite our discoveries upon reading a book. We weren’t allowed to elaborate on the tale, or make up things the author might have chosen to do. Rather, we were told to showcase the actual events and offer some feelings on what they meant to us.

Here is a powerful thought–our story will not take away our responsibility, even if we enhance it into a Hollywood production with props and special effects. What garners the attention of our fellow-humans is when we have the audacity and tenacity to give a factual report. Here’s how it should go:

  1. This is what I did.
  2. This is why it was wrong.
  3. This is what I could have done.
  4. This is what I would like to do to make things better.
  5. What do you think? I value your opinion.

This five-step process places us within the ranks of human beings trying to move forward through change, instead of merely sporting a nasty attitude.

Give a report.

It’s a little piece of wisdom G-Pop offers to his children on this Friday.

 

 

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 8)… August 19th, 2017

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I am wondering if Christianity can become a mission, cause and lifestyle instead of slinking back into the profile of being “one of the major religions of the world.”

The decision lies around the word “learning.”

For some reason we have taken the simple message of “love your neighbor as yourself” and complicated it with doctrines, forming a morass of misunderstanding.

If we think that faith and hope are even close to charity, we have misconstrued the message of Jesus. Jesus came to turn love into a lifestyle.

He taught in parables whenever he was with the masses, expecting to motivate them to believe for mighty things. Only when the disciples complained about being confused by the stories did Jesus teach them further. His goal was to get these disciples out on the road as quickly as possible, to share their hearts with other people.

Otherwise we have the quandary found in II Timothy 3:7, which describes a church which is “ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Jesus said his “way is easy and his burden is light” and that the Gospel is so simple that a “wayfaring man” can understand it.

Why do we believe that writing 3,000 new books on church practice will promote revival?

Perhaps I am the hypocrite speaking to the hypocrisy, because I, too, scribe my essays, trying to uncover some hidden meaning.

There is no hidden meaning. Just as we would not hide the groceries from our children to find out how determined they are to avoid starving, God certainly has not withheld peace of mind, contentment and joy from his offspring.

The church spends too much time teaching and not enough time sharing.

That’s troubling.

We keep studying the Old Testament–which really wants to study the New Testament. As Jesus said, Abraham yearned to see the Messiah. Yet we think one more classic tale, another seminar or a sermon series taken from a different angle will suddenly alert the congregation to its true soul.

There are three things that matter. They are what make you a Christian or separate you from the Kingdom of God:

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  2. Don’t judge people.
  3. Multiply your talents.

The pursuit of these three things will keep us busy for a lifetime. Trying to figure out what the Apostle Paul meant or what I Peter was connoting or if Hebrews was really written by Timothy will not make good disciples.

We think interactive church is having people stare at a screen and sing songs. Interactive church is actually when humans offer a testimony, which builds up other brethren to share, embracing and encouraging each other.

It is troubling.

We have become a church of learning instead of a body of sharing. Until that changes … we will be as boring as we seem.

 

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