Cracked 5… February 3, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border final

Swear Words Used at Church Camp

A. Kiss my Aspiration

B. Go to Hello

C. What the Fun Vespers

D. Screw U-nitarians

E. Suck my Dickens novel

 camp foulmouth

 

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Published in: on February 3, 2015 at 12:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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If You’re Happy and You Know It … June 9, 2013

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church campMaybe it’s the notion that it’s summertime or that I drove by a lake on the way to my Sunday gig–or just the sunshine filling the air with warmth instead of chill that makes me reflect back on church camp. Church camp is one of those terrifying experiences mingled with lasting memories and benefits that are only recognized as you find a little gray creeping into your temples.

It’s terrifying because you are suddenly thrown together with a bunch of strangers who you deem to be more attractive, lining up to trail down to a lake for swimming, staring at one another in disbelief and confusion.

Lasting memories happen because it may be the first place you got kissed on the lips that wasn’t initiated by some overbearing aunt, and benefits arrive because a vesper service in the woods can certainly make God seem closer than scooting your bottom on a pew, hoping the sermon will end real soon.

But one of the things I remember is that joyous little ditty, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” For all of its simplicity and child-like quality, it is actually a theologically profound message.

For after all, it declares:

  • If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”
  • “If you’re happy and you know it, lift your hands”
  • “If you’re happy and you know it, lend a hand”

and it closes out with the sublime realization that

  • “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.”

No kidding.

I just wonder. If there was such a device as a face-ometer, which was used to evaluate the contentment of a human being, and it was brought into church on a Sunday morning, would the meter  register joy, or immediately dip into the red for a reading of malcontent?

What we consider to be childish often is what God considers to be truly human. So we have given clapping hands, lifting hands and lending a hand over to the care of the world for their celebrations of music and mission, and we use our hands only to fold in prayer or clutch an offering plate to procure funds.

Is this really the best deal? Some mainline denominational churches have such a fear of revivalism that they’ve forbidden clapping hands–and certainly lifting hands–as the taboo of tent revivals.

But if you go to a rock concert, people clap their hands ferociously and if a slower song comes on, they all lift their hands to the sky and wave them in unison. They even take their cell phones out to shine a beam and give light to the situation. Therefore an overpaid singer on a stage who is crooning some melancholy tune is worthy of hand-waving, but not “our Father which art in heaven…”

A politician posturing his political position is appreciated by applause but for some reason, we think God would prefer not to be touted quite so loudly.

If it were possible to express happiness without smiling, being joyful or exuding physical energy, I would be more than willing to accept the sobriety of typical religious worship. But the truth is, even those stern-faced, ardent believers who sit in their seats and fold their arms in an aggravating position of disapproval will go out to a football game or a country music show and hoot and holler at the players.

Sooner or later we have to realize that when people are happy and they know it, their faces will surely show it.

And a God who claims to be pretty upset when we worship other gods probably isn’t too pleased when clapping hands, lifting hands and lending a hand is reserved for adventures other than the kingdom of God.

So I must warn the good folks of Carlyle, Illinois, that I am of a conviction that happiness always shows up in what we do, not in what we pledge, plead, narrate, recite or hymn-sing.

So if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands, lift your hands and lend a hand. You might be surprised that once your face is notified of your intentions to be ecstatic, you will take the tension off those wrinkles and end up looking a lot younger.

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Killing is a Dead Issue … January 2, 2013

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jon with gun to head

I want to have a mature understanding–with a childlike application.

There you go. That is the power of faith–to possess wisdom but not use it against yourself and others, but instead, apply it in such a way that you are as harmless as a dove.

That’s also what I feel about violence. Let’s get several things straight–children don’t play with guns. Children are taught that guns are not cool. And children are instructed that life has value in all its forms.

A quick story. When I was eleven years old I went to church camp and the grown-up in our cabin who was watching over us brought a hand gun.  He pretended to hide it, but brandished it once or twice–enough so that we were horribly curious, being of that age and immaturity. When one of the boys asked him why he brought the gun, he said is was just in case we run into snakes or bears. Here’s the problem with that–there are no snakes or bears in Central Ohio, and secondly, he left the gun under his pillow when we went out to where there might be snakes or bears, and a quick run back to the cabin would have been impractical.

People who own guns in America are not using them to protect themselves. They would have to be packing heat everyday when they walked down the street–which in most communities is illegal. So if you found yourself in a bank robbery, it would not do you much good to have a gun locked in your safe at home. Even if you had a burglar break into your home in the middle of the night, by the time you got your safe open and your gun out, most of the damage would be done and you would possibly be the only armed person in your home, since most burglars don’t carry weapons because if they get caught, it levies a much higher sentence.

So what is the purpose of all this gun craze? It isn’t the Old West. We don’t have holsters hanging from our waist dangling a Smith and Wesson. The only reason to own a gun is to impress or intimidate.

Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My camp counselor brought his gun to camp to make the kids think he was cool. Actually, it scared me–especially when he would yell at us for not making up our beds. I always wondered if he was going to grab the gun and take care of the problem once and for all.It was intimidating. That’s why we came up with the statement, “If somebody put a gun to my head…” This is not a pleasant greeting. It is intimidation. It’s trying to impress. It’s what we tell our children NOT to do.

For instance, we do not suggest that the solution to bullying in our public schools is to make sure that everybody bullies. We attack the bullies for bullying instead of giving everybody mean things to say to each other to even the score on bullying.

The answer to gun violence in this country, and to crime, is not to arm the populace. The answer is to teach people to disarm situations without killing someone.

I do not think that guns should be illegal. I just believe they need to stop being cool. Just as cigarettes had their heyday, were revealed as being dangerous and relegated to a lesser position in our society, so it should be with the necessary evil of firearms.

A young minister told me he bought a snub-nosed revolver. He was so proud. I bit my lip. His revelation concerning his purchase brought great interest from congregation members–perhaps more focus than he gets from preaching the Golden Rule. He puffed up. He was impressing people.

I shook my head and walked away. I have no judgment for my brother, but I am on a quest this year to be more childlike in my faith, and as I told you–children don’t play with guns. Children shouldn’t think guns are cool. And children should value life … in all its forms.

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