Confessing… August 1st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2650)

XIII.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

In the summer of my sixteenth year, my human sexuality cornered me like a ravenous jackal.

I discovered that my penis also had a “wonderful plan for my life.”

I was in the midst of my first serious relationship with a girl and my curiosity was out to see the cat. I had lived as a good church boy, vacant of any understanding of my body parts beyond my hands and knees for prayer. No one had ever told me what I was supposed to do with what.

Only when.

At the same time, I struck up a friendship with Ben, who was one year younger than me. He, too, was on the quest for fire.

So even though we spent sufficient time working on our church coffee-house together, whenever we were out driving around and talking, we were speculating on the anatomy of the various females we encountered, possessing the knowledge of a new-born baby pontificating on eating steak.

Now, there was a drive-in theater about fifteen miles from our home called the Queensland. On Saturday nights, this establishment showed X-rated movies. I had never seen such a flick, and was beginning to feel the absence.

So I talked to Ben and we decided to make a trip down to this theater and bring paper and pencil to become great students. A couple of other guys got wind of it and begged to go with us. Our first instinct was to say no, but when they continued to plead, we acquiesced.

It was only when we got a mile from the theater that we discovered the other two guys hadn’t brought any money along for admission. So I opened up the big trunk of my Impala and they crawled in to hide, so we could get into the drive-in without paying for them.

It worked beautifully.

Upon arriving and finding our speaker-box of choice, we slyly let them out of the trunk and they came into the car. For the next three-and-a-half hours, the four of us drooled like teething babies.

We saw things we had never seen before. Some of it we liked, and some of it was grotesque and scary.

But we watched it all.

I was the oldest one in the car, and therefore should have had better sense–especially in assessing who I took to see the “skin and sin.”

The following Wednesday, I was called to the preacher’s office. One of the young boys who had been in the back seat had a fit of conscience and confessed his evil deed to his parents. I was confronted, disciplined and told what a “terrible witness I was.”

I didn’t care.

I guess none of these young men ended up being rapists or sex offenders, but I’m very sorry for what I did. I had no right to tie their confusion in with my confusion to create chaos.

What should I have done?

I probably should have complained to the adults around me about how ignorant and devoid of knowledge they had left me, in a world of lions, tigers and bears–oh, my.

So when I became a father, I told my children very early about the sexual aspect of their lives.

I don’t know if it affected their purity… but it certainly eliminated their guilt.

 

confessing car trunk

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 61 (October 3rd, 1970) Kentucky Reign… April 4, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2551)

(Transcript)

The generosity did not stop.

The dime’s worth of grace extended to us by the toll-keeper as we crossed the bridge into the little town was further enhanced when a lovely woman from the local church bought us four nights in a motel, so we could have privacy and a honeymoon.

My friend and his wife, who had just come to the local church, were ecstatic that we were joining them to reach this community with a message of hope and the heart of Jesus.

We no longer had any excuse for being alienated or persecuted. Even though a phone call had been made to our new friends, warning that we might be “trouble,” they chose to ignore the foretelling, and accept us as we were.

We both flourished under this new covenant of mercy.

I immediately went to the local school and told the students that we were going to start a coffee-house in town. There was some pretty good buzz.

I was even invited to come to the City Council to explain the venture to the grown-up types. I wouldn’t say they were excited, but they didn’t lodge any formal complaints.

But the most amazing thing that happened was that we located a deserted, small night club right outside the town. We went to the aged owner of the property, and he was so impressed with our proposal of starting a positive hangout for the teenagers that he said he would rent us the facility for a mere fifty dollars a month.

Everyone was thrilled.

We were so pumped that we went out immediately with three cans of paint that we found stuck in a garage, and commenced painting the walls of the night club.

We were in the midst of this activity when the door to the night club opened, and in walked a Kentucky Highway Patrolman. He asked us what we were doing, and I joyfully recited our mission, goals and hopes about having a coffee-house where the kids from the community could come and interact in a positive environment.

I thought he was receptive, but as he turned to leave, he paused and then pivoted on his shoes. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You are not welcome here. We don’t want this. And you need to leave town.”

I thought he was kidding, so I started joking with him. He leaned in closer to emphasize his point.

“The people of our community don’t want your sort coming here and sharing any new ideas.”

He scared me.

I think he realized he did–because he just finished his words, walked out the door, started his car and pulled away with the full confidence that his mission had been achieved.

I was so shaken by the experience that I started to cry.

I went back to the house where our friends had graciously allowed us to stay while beginning the work and told them about the incident. They were incensed–but also thrilled with an opportunity to make a stand and do something that would be truly significant.

I pretended to agree with them.

But in the middle of the night, my wife and I gathered our things, climbed into our car and drove away.

I ran.

We ran.

We didn’t have any place to go … except back to Ohio.

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Boiler plate 

Untotaled: Stepping 52 (October 17th, 1969) Kentucky Woman… January 31, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2490)

(Transcript)

Even though I know that going to church is not a sign of spirituality, if you have lived a life of attending the sanctuary, to suddenly cease and desist can certainly be a sign of some emotional, or even spiritual, regression.

From the age of twelve through seventeen, I attended church three times a week. That sounds a little odd in our world today, but it seemed normal at the time.

In the fall of 1969, I lost interest in the venture. I went only once a week, and then only if there was going to be a youth group meeting to discuss the Saturday night coffee-house.

I fancied myself the leader of that project, even though I think I placed the crown on my own head. I was always there for the coffee-house. It gave me a chance to share, sing and perform.

Then one Saturday night I showed up and there were strangers present. They were from Lexington, Kentucky, and had come to conduct a youth revival, to instruct us in some of the fresh changes going on in the church world.

They were led by a girl named Bree. She had long, blond hair, wore hippie clothes, talked so softly that you had to be completely silent to hear her, strummed a guitar now and then, and loved to lift her hands up and “worship,” as she called it.

All the young people in our church loved her.

I hated her.

She was stealing my spotlight. And I use the word “hate” because I had not yet reached an age when I was able to dislike something. I either loved it or hated it. She got my hate vote.

She challenged my authority by daring to take attention away from me. She pissed me off because when I questioned her, she answered me sweetly. And the other kids were drawn to her because unlike me, she seemed to love them for who they were instead of bullying them into being something else.

The animosity was so great that even though they only stayed for a week, it became necessary for Bree, the pastor, a couple of elders and myself to have a “sit-down.”

I was looking forward to it because I was prepared to show these religious leaders how this “strange woman from Babylon” was coming in to teach the “young’uns” peculiar ways.

The meeting was a disaster–at least for me. Bree was so self-effacing and gentle that she won over the room.

Three days later, Bree and her friends climbed into a van and headed back to Kentucky. Before she left, she found an opportunity to have a private moment with me. I thought to myself, Oh, here it comes. Now we’re going to get her real personality.

She walked up, gave me a quick hug, looked into my eyes and said, “I love you, Jonathan. The Lord has revealed to me that you’re going to be a great man in the Kingdom.”

I couldn’t breathe.

I still find myself … breathless.

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Kneiling… August 28, 2012

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I don’t know much about him.

I mean, I know his name–Neil Armstrong. I know that he walked on the moon. I’ve picked up bits and pieces about his history by listening to spurts of conversation over the past couple of days on the news blabber.

But honestly, I have chosen to remain ignorant about his specifics, and only consider his life as it pertains to me. Yes, I have granted myself a bit of indulgence. I don’t want to study the life of Neil Armstrong to discover patterns of behavior, reveal his denominational affiliation or find out if he’s conservative or if he’s liberal. I am fed up with that type of analysis. I am interested in what Neil Armstrong did and how it pertains to me.

He arrived on the scene in 1969 with his crew cut and space suit, climbed into a capsule which certainly promoted claustrophobia, and was exploded into outer space, to land on the moon.

It fascinates me that in that same time, the United States was fighting a war in Viet Nam while simultaneously opposing the same war, with young folks marching in the street. We were reeling, trying to recover from two recent assassinations in the previous year of Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. We had just elected a new President and were on the verge of fulfilling a promise by another President, who was also assassinated, who vowed to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Also in the midst of this pursuit of the moon, a bunch of hippies from New York were planning a rock concert, which ended up being one of the largest music festivals ever held. They called it Woodstock.

All of this was going on at the same time. (If we’d had a twenty-four hour news cycle, they actually would have had something to report on instead of trying to make hay out of all the straw polls.)

There was a sense that to do anything less than pursue radical excellence was to be  un-American. Even in my small town, our church started a coffee-house, which had grown to 125 kids showing up on Saturday night, in a town of only 1400. When some of the parents objected to the fact that the coffee-house was held in a church and they didn’t want their children pummeled with religion, our board just went down the street and rented a small house where the young folks could have their gathering. Nobody argued about it; nobody called it religious persecution. We just adapted.

In the midst of this confusion and activity, Neil Armstrong, from Wapakoneta, Ohio, took a trip to the moon. He walked around, said his famous line–“one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”–and returned, received a couple of medals, waved from a car in some parades and went back to being Neil. He didn’t host a new reality show. He didn’t start a business off of the fame of being the “Moon Walker.”  He didn’t appear incessantly on television news programs as an authority on every subject thought to be even partially peripheral to his expertise. He didn’t demand anything.

He walked on the moon and then he came back and lived on the earth.

It is a style I would like to study–a better way of “kneeling.” Some people take their posture of prayer and rise to condemn the world around them. But Mr. Armstrong did his “Neiling” and returned to be just one of us.

Here are three things I have learned about “Neiling:”

1. Do something well until somebody notices. Then you might get a chance to do it even better.

2. When you get that chance, do your best walking, your best work and leave behind an example of magnificence.

3. Don’t make a big deal about it, but instead, blend in with your fellow-human beings, thus confirming that the same potential exists in all of us.

It is ironic that the death of this great astronaut is simultaneously commemorated with the termination of manned flights into outer space. They say he was very upset about that. I would imagine so. Someone who prospered and excelled in a season of war, protest, rock and roll and dancing on the moon might find our times and attitudes a bit anemic.

This I know–an eighty-two-year-old man passed away who quietly lived his life with one major exception: for a brief season, to each and every one of us, he confirmed that there was a man in the moon.

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Korny … March 23, 2012

(1,462) 

It’s what we decided to call it since we were in our early twenties and most of our smarts were south of our head.

The actual name was Kearney … Nebraska. And I was more than halfway there, crossing the Illinois border, before it finally soaked into my post-adolescent brain that we were driving too far to perform at a church with only fifty people.

But we were desperate. Now, there is a certain amount of desperation necessary to be twenty-four years old. But we had a rock/gospel group called Soul Purpose that had become a trio–nurturing a sound, writing songs and frantically trying to find people within a one hundred mile radius of our home in Westerville, Ohio, who had not heard us, rejected us, ignored us or were not already raving fans. (We originally were a quartet but soon discovered that it is chemically impossible for people of our age and maturity to co-exist in fours.) So the three of us were bound and determined to become famous for our musical abilities, writing talents and performance attributes, come hell or high water (whatever that means).

So when we were gigging at a coffee-house in Tiffin, Ohio, a young man from Kearney, Nebraska, invited us to come out to his church to share. Normal people would ask how far or how much. But we were musicians, so our only question was … “when??” It was set up, and through some careful budgeting we discovered that we would need twenty-five dollars to buy food supplies and gasoline for the journey there, which meant we would need twenty-five dollars to get home, and hopefully, if the people were generous, we could get an additional twenty-five dollars so we could languish in a motel one evening on the way back.

As you can see the plan was flawless, without error. There was only one hitch. We didn’t have twenty-five dollars. All we possessed was a birthday present one of the girls had just received from her parents, purchased at Lazarus Department Store. So with the agreement of my generous cohort, we took her present to Lazarus, returned it, got the cash and had the front money for “Tour Korny.” We went to the store and bought food supplies–baloney, bread, chips and candy (the basic four  food groups)–filled our van up with gas and launched. We were so excited. We were an American Band.

We arrived at the church and if possible, it was even smaller than our lowest expectation. There were thirty-eight people present–Nebraska farmers who stared at us a little bit like Three Dog Night had suddenly invaded their community. We sang our songs. We had some new ones. They were really good, even though I wouldn’t consider this particular group of people to be our target market. But they listened politely, kindly and even occasionally would applaud. The pastor seemed to squirm in his seat a little bit–because my hair was too long and the girls were not exactly dressed in normal Cornhusker fashion. But it was an era of greater tolerance–or perhaps simply better manners or just abundant fear.

We finished our program to an ovation minus the standing and prerequisite clapping. It was time for the offering. We needed seventy-five dollars to make the trip complete and to guarantee ourselves a nice motel room to sleep in and shower. I carried the offering plates out to my van and quickly counted the proceeds. $64.12.

We had suddenly moved to Plan B … or was it C? We had covered the cost of re-purchasing the gift at Lazarus, the money for eats and gas to return–and probably had enough left over to purchase some souvenirs to prove to our friends that we had actually left the state of Ohio. But we didn’t have enough for a motel room. I was tired, which by my standards today, I would refer to as totally exhausted. I knew we wouldn’t make it far on the road before crashing into a corn field. I didn’t want to sleep in the van at a rest area, so even though I was embarrassed, I walked up to the pastor and asked him if he would be so kind as to allow us to bunk out in the basement of the church for the evening, telling him that we wouldn’t be any trouble and would be gone before he arrived in the morning for coffee and morning prayers following hospital visitations.

He paused, wrinkling his brow. I wondered what he was thinking. I wanted to add further information, but really had none, so I just waited. He cleared his throat and then contemplated some more. Nervously, I interjected. “I’ll tell you what. We’ll even clean up the basement before we leave.”

It was so stupid that my brain wanted to run away in total humiliation. Finally he spoke.

“It’s not that,” he said. “It’s just … well, it’s just that I would want to make sure that you and the girls would not be in the lower regions of our Holy House–fornicating.” 

(To be continued)

**************

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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