Ask Jonathots … January 5th, 2017

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How important is self-esteem?

Damaged people.

They are everywhere.

It would be foolish not to include ourselves.

But as important as it is to acknowledge the damage, it is even more essential to prescribe the correct repair.

Self-esteem is like going out and buying a large picture to hang over the hole in your wall. It is not a solution, but rather, a temporary fix.

Self-esteem functions under three very dangerous premises:

1. Because you were born, you matter.

2. There’s no one quite like you.

3. Therefore, you are special.

This particular “candy-bar philosophy” has no grounding in reality.

There are concepts, however, which have proven to have longevity. For instance, the Bible says:

  • All have sinned.
  • There’s none righteous.
  • Whosoever will may come.
  • God is no respecter of persons.

A completely different approach.

In self-esteem, we are encouraged to ignore our problems and deny our commonality. Unfortunately, if everybody is special, then nobody’s special. If everybody matters, then it’s difficult to get personal attention.

So what should we be trying to achieve? Self awareness.

I have some good.

I have some bad.

I have some lazy.

I have some worry.

I have some fret.

I have some genetic predispositions.

I have family.

I have responsibilities.

I have real pressure.

I have phony pressure.

I also have my present talent so I can launch my solutions.

If we cannot be self-aware about our status, we will lean on “puffy” principles, which make us appear more grounded than we actually are.

When we remove the pressure to be right and eliminate the need to be the center of attention, we can begin to understand that the Earth works when we allow place for each other.

Thus, sometimes we’re the head and on other occasions, the tail.

Ironically, self-esteem robs us of the worth we could possess by taking on simple tasks using our ability–and basking in the joy of completion.

Here is the essence of self-awareness:

We are saved by grace.

But we are distinguished by service.

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Ask Jonathots… October 20th, 2016

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The Presidential election has raised my awareness about gender bias in America. What can I do as a woman to raise the level of respect for women?

Stop trying to raise the level of respect and equality for women. That’s a good start.

As long as you are talking about yourself as a woman, men have been trained to act overly sensitive, or worse, condescending.

The struggle is–and always will be–for human rights.

It was Jesus who used the inclusive word “neighbor” instead of focusing on a pronoun such as “he” or “she” when proclaiming who we should love.

If you treat yourself like a special case, people will never include you as part of the general population. This is why terms like “African American” do not increase fairness for the black race, but instead, qualify them as visitors to the country instead of primally intricate.

Anything you put before the word “human” is useless and ends up relegating you to a status of something different. When we stop talking about difference, we will finally get down to having an Earth-saving conversation about commonality.

You will astound the men and women around you when you start referring to yourself as a human being, a person or a fellow-traveler instead of a gender-bound individual whose feelings have to be isolated and studied for understanding.

For instance:

If a man who thinks he is being extremely equitable says to you, “What is a woman’s thinking on this?” you should respond, “I don’t know, but as a human being, my thinking is…”

If someone asks, “What’s it like being a woman?” you should respond, “It’s very human, just like being a man–except we’re able to birth duplicates.”

Keeping a sense of humor, along with an awareness of our similarities, is the path to equity.

To do this you will have to shed some of the fantasies, silliness and cultural trap doors that have been created by our society to make sure that men stay in their boxes and women remain in their dollhouses.

You can do this. It’s a simple formula:

  • Reinvent the language, you change your attitude.
  • Change your attitude, you revise your approach.
  • Revise your approach, you begin to be perceived differently.

 

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Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … June 25th, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: So are you a Martian?

 

Dear Woman: What?

 

Dear Man: John Gray, in his book back in 1992, claimed that men were from Mars and women were from Venus. So I guess that would make you a Martian.

 

Dear Woman: And you a Venetian.

 

Dear Man: Isn’t that a set of blinds?

 

Dear Woman: Yes. Can the blinds lead the blinds?

 

Dear Man: You didn’t go there, did you?

 

Dear Woman: I did.

 

Dear Man: I think it’s dangerous to think that the two genders of one species are from two different planets, with no plan to build a space ship.

 

Dear Woman: It’s a cop-out. I’m sure this Gray fellow was nice and all, but he didn’t realize that fostering the ignorance of an ongoing farce is not realism–it’s pandering.

 

Dear Man: Yeah. I guess it would just be easier for me to think you were nuts and I was fruitful.

 

Dear Woman: And easier for me to believe that you are incapable of understanding me.

 

Dear Man: Here’s the truth–we both have landed on Earth. We can’t escape to another sphere of living without jeopardizing our relationship and probably even the balance of life itself.

 

Dear Woman: So rather than making up a conflict or feeding a present disagreement, I think it’s contingent on both you and me to try to get along on Earth.

 

Dear Man: Well said. Let me start off by telling you that the first thing all Earthlings have to realize in order to survive here–whether they’re male or female–is that truth gives you freedom. If you lie, you’re bound to spend all your time covering up the lie. The only way to get freedom–whether you have a vagina or a penis–is to tell the truth. Otherwise, you’re in bondage.

Dear Woman: Can I offer a second? Commonality creates allies. I will tell you–Mars and Venus thinking is just a clever way to cover the nastiness of gender bias, just as the pursuit of “culture” is the new Jim Crow.

 

Dear Man: What do you mean by that?

 

Dear Woman: I mean, commonality creates allies. When we insist we’re different, it separates us into camps, which invites bigotry.

 

Dear Man: I get that. So the more we find in common, the more we become allies. As allies, we don’t need to fight anymore just to prove we’re uniquely male or female. So can I give a third one?

 

Dear Woman: Fire away.

 

Dear Man: Respect preserves love. Once we convince ourselves there’s some sort of quiet mutual disrespect going on, love rots. Love cannot survive disrespect.

 

Dear Woman: Boy, is that true. If I think that you think I’m kind of stupid, I will find it difficult to love you.

 

Dear Man: And if I think you think I’m lesser, I won’t have any motivation to give you my love.

 

Dear Woman: So let me make a bold statement–John Gray and those who followed him may have felt they were being contemporary with their observations, but what they ended up doing was driving a wedge between the only forces that can unite to make the world better–men and women.

 

Dear Man: We live on Earth, not Venus or Mars. We are not separated by outer space. Truth gives us freedom, commonality creates allies and respect preserves our love.

 

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Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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G-Poppers… July 17th, 2015

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Jon close up

“After all–we’re all different.”

The words were spoken and the crowd gradually joined in with applause. G-Pop sat and listened carefully.

Something didn’t ring true.

The way to overcome intolerance is not to accentuate our differences. To think that human beings are capable of acknowledging differences among us without secretly holding prejudice against the person who dares to be different is absolutely ridiculous.

We are not divine. We are human. As humans, we are looking for reasons to find commonality.

This holds true in every relationship:

  • If two people are dating and discover they have nothing in common, they don’t continue dating, hoping to build up toleration for one another
  • If two kids are on the playground and one likes to play baseball and the other likes to climb the monkey bars, they quietly separate from one another, seeking out individuals whose taste in play is similar to theirs.

The path to peaceful coexistence is commonality.

How much do I have in common with you in comparison to our differences? Candidly, the word “difference” begins with “differ.”

If we do differ from one another, the process is simple: if we’re civilized, we walk away to avoid an argument. If we aren’t quite so civilized, we stand there and argue.

I do not know when the definition of “toleration” became biting one’s lip and pretending to accept things that don’t make sense. Toleration is finding places of common ground and celebrating them.

The “pendulum do swing.”

In a short period of time, we’ve gone from being a nation that was abusive to the gay community to a nation which now has a plurality which is willing to include gay marriage. But we will never have true openness with one another until we find the linking parts. We can’t fake receptivity.

For I have no intention of taking the social standing of old religion, ISIS and Vladimir Putin and joining with them against the homosexual community. But I came to this conclusion not because I looked at my brothers and sisters as obtuse and unusual, but because they use words that are common to me: freedom, brotherhood, love, relationship and tenderness.

We are not going to become better people by pretending we are tolerant. We become better people when we find common ways that we share in common, accentuating our common values.

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A meeting place for folks who know they’re human

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Populie: Mars and Venus…. May 21, 2014

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mars“Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.”

I never read the book so I shall not comment on its content, but this concept has been a deterrent to finding commonality in the human race.

It generates a POPULIE: men and women just naturally don’t get along very well.

Politics loves this because it gives them an additional demographic and contingency to try to either attack or appease.

Entertainment favors this particular assertion because it gives them fodder for plotlines which are only resolved with a closing decision that “men and women just don’t get along.”

Religion lines up to join in the segregation between the sexes, affirming antiquated scriptures that have done very little to promote harmony in the human family.

Here’s the problem: the process by which we try to distinguish our uniqueness is also the declining mentality that always spirals down to destruction. It begins with:

  1. We’re all different.
  2. Since we’re different, we need our clump.
  3. Our clump is better than their clump. Their clump sucks.
  4. Let’s hurt them.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Nazi Germany, slavery or men and women. It’s the same problem.

Once Adolph Hitler was able to convince the German people that the average family in Berlin was different from the Jews, it was an easy step to suggest that the Jews should clump together and the German people should have their own area.

Of course, once we’re clumped, we need to promote our brand. To do so, we have to detract from anything that isn’t us. So you can see, after a while, all Adolph had to do to support his decision to annihilate the Jews was to prove that the Jewish clump was completely unnecessary, if not dangerous.

The same thing was true with slavery. The white plantation owners needed workers but they couldn’t afford them. So some people with big boats convinced the Southerners that the folks in Africa were different–primitive. Perhaps even unintelligent. So it made sense to clump all the white people together and all the black people together since there was a cultural barricade. Once the clumping was permitted, it became necessary to punish those who were not in our clump by creating the “big house” and the slave quarters. And of course, once you have that clump living in squalor, like pigs, it’s all right to hurt them.

There is only one criterion for spirituality. It is not baptism, communion, faith, scriptures or tithing. It is simply this: how do I treat people?

Do I insist there are differences–to make me look multicultural? Or am I in pursuit of similarities, to make us all become human?

As long as we insist that men and women are in an exhausting struggle of misunderstanding which only occasionally is penetrated by sexual relations, we will be ignorant cave people, scratching our asses and grunting in the darkness.

Truth doesn’t always make immediate sense. It’s because the sense of the day is rarely the truth.

Escape the Populie. Don’t criticize Islam, Africa, China and other cultures for how they treat women, when our country has turned equality into a joke.

This is the cutting edge issue of our day. Until we treat men and women as equals who are intended to work together, racial harmony, cultural acceptance and spiritual toleration will merely be a myth.

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

My Body is in Temple… January 19, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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First Lutheran Temple

It’s been forty years since my body has been in Temple.

Temple, Texas, that is.

I have passed by this fair town several times on my journeys, but never actually plopped down for a few minutes of food for thought, by breaking bread.

Four decades ago when I landed in Temple, it was during a brief tour when I was invited to come to Waco, Texas, to Word Records, to share my music, with the aspirations of having this fledgling company record my musical ensemble and make us famous. (Well, at least as famous as one would get by being the first fruits of a fledgling.)

I remember that visitation vividly. Being raised in Central Ohio, I was told horror stories about the depravity of the South and the backwards nature of unseemly locations like Texas. So up to that point in my life I had never gone any further south than Nashville, Tennessee, or further west than Chicago.jesus rally

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was a different time. Even though Temple was a rural community, ingrained with the traditions of its heritage, a new breeze had blown through, initiated by the winds of Spirit.

Young hippies, fresh from California, had just arrived in the region to sing a new song. So it was really amazing–you had long hairs and butch haircuts side by side, finding common ground with guitars and Jesus. They were tolerant of each other and seemed fairly oblivious to the differences that might build up over hair follicle preferences.

Many of the engineers in the recording studios were good ole’ boys, and the performers were fresh off the street, many of them ex-drug addicts who had been thrust into salvation, with a movement through Jesus.

Shoulder to shoulder, they worked on beautiful tunes, laughed, shared pictures of their families with each other, and acted like they had known one another for a lifetime.

I shared in several of the area’s religious establishments and was greeted with warmth and tenderness by folks who had just come out of the field with mud on their boots, curious about whether what they had just planted would ever reach harvest.

Even though I was a very young snap-off-the-whipper, I realized that what made this thing work was finding something in common with each other and sealing it by believing in the same message of love.

So as I come back to Temple, Texas, in a much different time–when it is considered to be righteous and upstanding to be at odds with one another over miniscule issues–I want to bring that same breeze with me.

I would love to allow the Spirit to permit commonality and faith to blend together again, to make us one.

It is a piece of idealism I permit myself without apology. For I know this: the world will never be a decent place to live until we find reasons to be alike.

And I also know that we will never find reasons to be alike …  when we work so darned tootin’ hard on trying to be different.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Last Night … July 25, 2013

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Not many locals showed up last night in Springville, Iowa, to see the traveling strangers come to town with their show.

It is an unusual season in our country, where sensationalism has replaced common sense, yet at the same time, we are weary of all the rag-tag attempts to dazzle.

“There are times in my life

Nothing comes repairs the breach…”

Those are the words I sang last night to begin the presentation.

“Let it blow…”

I don’t give the human race much of a chance if we don’t look for reasons for commonality.

When I got done sharing that little piece of tune, I talked to them about John Chapman, otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed. Even though I occasionally have someone tell me that Johnny Appleseed actually began his journey of sowing fruitful possibilities because he was trying to get away from his wife and kids, we can become so cynical that we don’t leave a doorway for blessing and truth to slip under the crack. Whatever his reason, Johnny Appleseed left the comfort of his home and security of his neighbors to do something with his life.

Not that different from Jesus, who told us to “be of good cheer.” Yes—I shared “good cheer” with the tiny handful who made their way out to last night’s sanctuary.

That’s our job—to be of good cheer.

So if your philosophy and theology do not deposit you in a position where you have enough air in your lungs to keep on believing and going forward, you probably have the wrong thinking stewing in your brain. Good cheer is just knowing that things work a certain way, and if you learn them, you can push with them instead of pulling against them.

Once we got done talking about that, I told them a story about a man named Russell. This gentleman made the mistake of thinking that life was a shipment he was waiting for instead of a blessing requiring a hunting trip. I think they were a bit surprised at the end of the story when I let them know that Russell was my dad.

Yes, it is possible to love those who birth you and still not wish to imitate their mistakes.

It was at this point that Jan stepped in, talking to them about the political upheaval in the country and how we faced it head on when we did a prayer breakfast with politicians in Washington, D.C., who tried to maintain their parties at the morning devotional—sitting in their respective areas of political persuasion. We demanded that they change seats and sit next to someone they normally would disagree with in Congress, but needed to commune with in the presence of God.

I wanted to make sure that the folks last night understood that Jesus didn’t come to earth to make us into religious people, but instead, came to be human with us. So I told them a story they already knew, but from a different perspective.

You see, Jesus didn’t expect his disciples to believe they could feed five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes. It’s why he broke the problem down into fifties and hundreds—so they could start small and build.

As each moment passed, all of us who came in not knowing much about each other were gradually swallowed up by a common sensation of well-being and brotherhood.

That’s what made it possible for me, at the end, to tell them the secret to the gospel:

NoOne is better than anyone else.

Don’t you just get tired of trying to prove that you’re superior to your neighbor? It’s exhausting. And the time could be more wisely spent finding ways to bless the world around you, receiving blowback your way.

That’s what happened last night.

I’m going back to the same place again tonight because that’s what we agreed to do. I have no idea if anybody will be there—but I learned a long time ago that everything which is truly important has to go through a season of alienation and rejection before it becomes popular.

Unfortunately, often when it does become popular, it loses some of the soul it had during the struggle.

So if you don’t mind, I’ll just enjoy where I am and giggle in my spirit, knowing that when I share my little piece of me, it doesn’t make people mad.

It seems to make ’em glad.

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

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