Good News and Better News … June 6th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Cassius and Martinsburg composite

On February 25th, 1964, I was twelve years old when Cassius Clay totally surprised the boxing world by destroying Sonny Liston in Miami Beach.

It had been an interesting ninety days. Within three months, John Kennedy had been assassinated, the Beatles appeared multiple times on the Ed Sullivan Show, and now a 22-year-old black fellow was ranting and raving about his greatness.

My home town hated all three.

I was told that John Kennedy was a philanderer, the Beatles were communists and Cassius was an uppity colored man.

It got worse when Mr. Clay chose to change his name to Muhammad Ali, becoming a foreign, dangerous infidel.

I was in my twenties before I felt the freedom to think for myself and develop new opinions about JFK, the Fab Four and Ali.

I was thinking about this very thing in my green room yesterday at the Otterbein United Methodist Church in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Muhammad Ali was cursed, threatened with prison and had his title removed because he refused to fight in the Viet Nam War. Why? Because at the time it seemed important to do so.

But we were wrong. We were wrong about him, we were wrong about Viet Nam, we were confused about the Beatles, and Kennedy certainly had some moments of brilliance.

You see, it’s not a political issue and it’s not a spiritual issue. It all comes down to deciding whether to live a life where you complain or an existence where you create.

Because complaining people don’t create, and creative people don’t complain.

My heart’s desire yesterday, as I sat in front of the audience and shared my journey, music and insights, was to communicate that simple thought–complain or create?

Because even though Muhammad Ali was condemned by society, his consecration to his causes has endured the test of time. Matter of fact, the southern city of Louisville, Kentucky has tributes to him all over the metroplex. Isn’t that amazing?

You see, it’s simple.

The good news is that if you stop complaining, you start to learn. And the first thing you learn is that the more you create, the less you need to complain.

The better news is that there were a handful of folks in Martinsburg who got the message.

Others will be driven down the streets named after the men they once condemned–on their way to the graveyard.

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Ask Jonathots … March 24th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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What type of government would Jesus have preferred? Wasn’t the early church basically a communist organization? Is there one form of government that represents Christian principles more than another?

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

He continued by saying that if his kingdom were of this world, then his disciples would need to fight.

Government, politics and nationalism always establish a foundation with a flag flying–which then needs to be preserved and protected. This creates natural allies, and of course, enemies.

Jesus’ premise was simple: Wherever you place your devotion is where you will be devoted.

Makes sense, right?

So if the teachings of Jesus only worked in a democracy, with a capitalistic style of commerce, then nearly 70% of the world would be left out.

On the other hand, if Jesus had favored socialism and an even-handed distribution of funds to the masses, then the initiative to excel and do better for oneself would have been discouraged.

So Jesus promoted a lifestyle which excels under every form of government, because it does not need a particular climate.

Christianity has survived everything–from revolution, to renovation, to renaissance, to reformation–even to the threat of annihilation. Why?

Because Jesus said the kingdom of God is within us.

Each believer is a self-motivating, self-governing and self-aware “nation.” So we make our own decisions without having to express loyalty to politics or society.

To pull this off, there are three laws by which we maintain the “congress” inside ourselves:

1. No one is better than anyone else.

We don’t need a government to tell us what is acceptable or forbidden. It can be lived out through our actions.

2. Don’t worry.

The elimination of the fear of the future gives us the energy to shape our tomorrow.

3. Go the second mile.

The worst enemy of any culture is mediocrity. It’s when we begin to believe that our lesser efforts are sufficient.

You can take these three principles and live them out in any culture.

So Jesus is not a Republican, a Democrat, a socialist or a capitalist.

He is of the belief that meekness (adaptability) enables us to inherit the Earth.

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Untotaled: Stepping Six (May 8, 1965) … March 15, 2014

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When people control your food, water, hygiene, play and sleep, you learn to believe what they say–or spend a lot of time in your room without supper.

On May 8, 1965, I was thirteen years old and still a novice at any form of teenage rebellion. So when the church men decided to go to the mountains of Oklahoma for a meeting of all-male types–three thousand in attendance–to hear nothing but gospel preaching and gospel singing for a whole week, sitting on hard, knotty pine benches with a big knot just beneath my butt crack, I was compelled by those who controlled my supplies, to go.

It ended up being a week of firsts:

  • It was the first time I ever went skinny dipping in an ice-cold mountain creek.
  • It was the first time I heard that Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Communist and a womanizer.
  • The first time I had s’mores made with miniature marshmallows.
  • The first time I heard proclaimed aloud that Jews and Arabs were going to hell.
  • The first time I got poison sumac on my bum (thus the origin of “bummer,” I would assume).
  • And it was the first time I heard the word “nigger” used as a universal, collective pronoun, describing a group of people I didn’t understand and I suspect the speakers had little knowledge of, either.

The rally was forceful. It was intense. It was a meeting that peaked at times in jubilance. It was full of “god-talk.” It was permeated with self-righteousness.

And it was child abuse.

Because I needed …

Well, I needed tenderness. Instead, they gave me large doses of macho.

I needed an open mind. They worked very hard to seal mine shut.

God, I was desperate to know about girls. They proclaimed that women should “submit.”

Some laughter would have been nice. They reserved giggling for the older men around the campfire after they thought we young’uns were asleep.

And of course, I needed a world view. They provided God’s 40 acres.

After I got home and healed of my poison sumac, I started to think for myself. Yes, in my own simple way, I began to rebel.

I have never stopped.

I am still a warrior against anyone who has constructed a box for God … and wants the sheep to come passively, and worship.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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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

1946… March 13, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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Nixon resigningYour mommy is pregnant.

Well, actually, because it’s 1946, one is not allowed to say “pregnant.” Preferable is with child, in the family way or on the nest.

You are about to be born. While you are still in your mother’s gentle jail, two atomic bombs are exploded, with tens of thousands of casualties.

You, too, are going to be part of a “boom”–yes, an explosion of births due to men returning from war, seeking the comfort of family and the pleasure of their wives’ company. By the time you are three years old, China has joined the Soviet Union, becoming Communist.

By age four, the world is back at war, in Korea.

When you are six years old, the Supreme Court makes a decision on Brown vs. Board of Education, decrying segregation in the South. It would take thirteen years of bloody confirmation.

When you’re eight years old, you suddenly are confronted with a Cold War, which threatens to heat up periodically, causing your local village to build a bomb shelter near the school.

In like manner, when you’re sixteen, you feel the anxiety of global annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And then comes the roller coaster:

  • At seventeen years of age John Kennedy is shot.
  • At eighteen the Beatles arrive, disrupting the social consciousness of a society already reeling from the death of a President.
  • At twenty-two, you stand by and watch as both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy are gunned down by no-name nothings.
  • Also in the same year you watch the Vietnam war escalate as thousands of young men your age are dying in the jungle.
  • At twenty-three they put a man on the moon.
  • And when you’re twenty-four, National Guardsmen gun down four students at Kent State.
  • On your twenty-eighth birthday, Richard Nixon resigns as President of the United States, acknowledging a conspiracy to defraud the American people.

The fear of your youth and the anger of your adolescence culminates into an adult cynicism.

Yes, the Baby Boomers became the adult Gloomers–and they passed onto their offspring a sense of mistrust, causing their children to constantly seek ways to escape reality.

It is rather doubtful if we can get out of the bland and bizarre depression that the country is experiencing without understanding how we got here.

We’re all too cynical.

We are too engrossed in ways to escape our lives instead of embracing them. And it is causing us to selfishly close up possibilities which just might make us better people.

Now you know how you got here.

Why don’t you go out today and do your best to reject the cynicism … and inhale some sort of new breath of life?

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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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

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Untotaled: Stepping 2 (December 22nd, 1963) … February 15, 2014

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(Transcript)

It had been exactly one month since the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

I didn’t care.

The reason for my indifference was that my parents were antagonistic against the now-deceased President. Mom and Dad were staunch Republicans, always voting “a straight Party ticket.” Perhaps worse, their political leanings often came with a nasty side order of insults and insinuations.

Two of their favorite words when referring to “that other Party” were queer and Communist.

I was twelve years old–I didn’t know what either word meant. But I surmised that “Communist” meant attempting to overthrow all the good things in our society, including candy and ice cream, and “queer” had something to do with Hollywood stars hanging around the JFK/Camelot White House.

So when the announcer from CBS came on to give a report about what had transpired since the Dallas shooting, I realized that my parents were in the room and it was a great opportunity for me to make some brownie points with them. Christmas was coming up and I had asked for a transistor radio. I was at that awkward age when I wasn’t sure if Christmas gifts came from Father Christmas or Father Cring. I thought I might please Mom and Dad by making a derogatory comment about the late President when the report commemorating his death took a commercial break.

So when the announcer said that the President was killed just a month ago, I clapped my hands in glee and shouted, “Nice shot!”

I turned, smiling, expecting approval from my overseers. But instead, for some reason they frowned, gasped–and my dad walked over, slapped me in the head and ordered me to my room. I lodged a few half-sentence objections, but he was trailing behind me, literally pushing me toward my destination.

Once imprisoned in my bedroom, I sat in a chair, confused.

What had happened? Wasn’t I just repeating what they had said all the previous weeks? Didn’t I hear them point out that he had brought this on himself? That he was the cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs and the rising cost of hamburger? What did I do wrong?

You see, what I was not privy to was the fact that my parents, over that thirty-day period, had repented of their narrow-mindedness and realized that a very interesting but flawed man had been brutally murdered in a country where such foolishness should be forbidden.

They had changed their minds about some things without telling me.

So when my dad struck out at me, he was really attacking his own prejudices, which were now speaking back at him, taunting him for his nasty opinions.

I was the victim of his own repentance.

But what really bothered me was whether this would jeopardize my transistor radio at Christmas. I was so relieved three days later when it was under the tree and I was given access to the rest of the world that existed beyond Letts Avenue.

Yes, my tiny radio became my “ear to the queer.” All the things I had not been allowed to listen to, consider or wonder about were suddenly being piped to me through a little speaker.

As I look back at it I feel shame–not because I was a stupid kid saying something ridiculous, but because it took me too many years after that irresponsible day to finally learn how to think for myself.

It was too long before I comprehended what really happened in Dallas on that horrible afternoon. It had nothing to do with politics. It was stupidity, arrogance and prejudice … given a gun.

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The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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

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