Reverend Meningsbee (Part 35) A Finer Diner… January 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Meningsbee was spooked.

He wasn’t exactly sure why–maybe it was being awakened by a stranger pounding on his door. Or it could be the haunting dream that Nico shared about empty boxes at Christmas time. Or maybe he was just baffled by why he was traveling through Texas, spending money to pretend he was a vagrant.

Whatever the reason, he gathered up his blankets, pillows and the few items he had brought into the motel room, threw them into the back seat of his car and headed out on the road.

He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew one thing for sure: it wasn’t Garsonville.

He wasn’t ready.

So he puttered around from little village to tiny burg for a couple of days, realizing he was going to have to call the church and have someone stand in for him on Sunday. It wouldn’t be a big deal–the congregation was practically on auto-pilot anyway. All the changes he had suggested had brought about a freedom and liberty which gave the people a delightful blending of humility and confidence.

So when he called the office to tell them he would be delayed, the secretary didn’t even question him.

He wasn’t going to Garsonville–but he did feel compelled to at least head in that direction.

So two days later, he found himself sitting in a small diner in Amarillo, Texas, when he looked up from his breakfast of two eggs, turkey sausage and toast, and saw Mercer.

At first his brain didn’t register. But after a second glance, he realized it really was Mercer, walking in the door of the diner.

Mercer was a member of the Garsonville congregation–a quiet, sturdy fellow who was so invisible that Meningsbee had never even learned his last name. He was also a little afraid of Mercer, because the fellow sometimes showed up wearing a camouflage tie.

But then, all of a sudden, in the middle of Amarillo, Texas, Mercer had appeared, with a little smile on his face.

Meningsbee could not disguise his shock, and as Mercer made his way to the table and sat down, he said, “Are you surprised, Reverend?”

“More than surprised,” said Meningsbee. “How did you find me?”

Mercer leaned back in his chair, peered at the Reverend and replied, “Well, I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I worked in Army Intelligence, and it didn’t take me long to follow the paper trail you left with your credit cards.”

Meningsbee frowned. Mercer continued, “Oh, don’t be upset. You can find anybody anytime you want as long as they’re willing to sign on the dotted line.”

“What are you doing here?” whispered Meningsbee.

“Well, I came to find you,” said Mercer. “Seems like I did a pretty good job.”

“Okay…” Meningsbee was not sure what else to say.

There was a slight pause and then Mercer filled in the silence. “What seems to be the problem, Pastor? Are you addicted to pills?”

Startled, Meningsbee replied, “Pills? No. Why would you think that?’

“Oh, it’s just that sometimes you have that pasty-white face of a heroin user.”

Meningsbee shook his head. “No, I’m not addicted to pills. Just pasty white.”

“Hookers?” asked Mercer.

“Again–no,” punctuated Meningsbee.

“Then it must be gambling.”

“Listen, Mercer. I don’t gamble.” Meningsbee realized if he didn’t speak up, Mercer would continue his probing. “If you must know, I’m very upset about what’s happening in our town with the broadcast, and also the intrusion they’ve made into my personal life.”

“You mean how they stole your computer?” asked Mercer.

“How’d you know that?”

“Once again–I was in Army Intelligence. If I want to know it, I can pretty well find out. What was on your computer?”

Meningsbee sat quietly. He didn’t know what to share with Mercer. He didn’t know anything about him. So he decided to be evasive.

“Personal things,” Meningsbee said flatly.

“Like pornography, you mean?” asked Mercer, leaning forward and lowering his voice.

“Maybe like that,” said Meningsbee, relenting.

Mercer chuckled. “Listen, Reverend. Nobody thinks you’re perfect. Lots of people don’t even think you’re good. There are even some folks who think you’re pretty bad. So here’s how it works–the people who know you aren’t perfect will forgive you. The people who think you’re kind of good will be alarmed that you made a mistake but they’ll get over it. And the people who think you’re bad will just think worse about you. You can’t win people. God’s been working on their hearts for thousands and thousands of years. Isn’t that what you preach? But you also can’t run. That’s somewhere in the Bible, isn’t it? So I came out here on my own to find you and let you know that our little town needs you. We’ve made some stupid mistakes trusting these big-town phonies. Now we look pretty ridiculous. We could sure use someone to help us get out of this. What do you say?”

“Are you gonna tell anybody about our conversation?”

“Well, I’ll tell you this, Parson. You got no business lookin’ at that trash. But it really ain’t my affair. Do I disrespect you for doing it? A little. But I’ll get over it. The point is–will you? Because pictures on the Internet will never replace the wife you lost.”

Maybe it was the tenderness of the statement.

Maybe it was too many days on the road in Texas.

Or maybe it was just dissatisfaction with his turkey sausage.

But Meningsbee broke down in tears.

Mercer stood to his feet and patted him on the shoulder. “Do you need me to follow you home, or do you know the way?”

Meningsbee chuckled. “I got my GPS set.” He looked up. “Thank you, Mercer.”

Mercer sprouted a big smile. “You don’t know my last name, do you?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t.”

“Well, good. That’ll make it harder for you to track me down.”

Mercer turned and walked out of the diner as Meningsbee stared straight ahead.

It was time to go back.

It was time to take on his responsibility.

And it was time to stop being afraid.

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 31) Seek and Ye Go Blind … November 27th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Reverend Richard Meningsbee searched for an hour for a computer he knew was gone.

It was impossible it could be any other place than where it had been left, but to fulfill righteousness and drain off some angst, he scoured the house.

It was nowhere to be found.

He spent the rest of the day, when he should have been preparing his Sunday morning sermon, conjuring images of what might have happened to his P.C.

Was Katrina involved?

Was it stolen by an agent of the USBN?

And more frightening was considering what they wanted.

Ninety-nine percent of what he had on that magical box was common drivel or ecclesiastical notes. It was that one percent that terrified him–and each new flashback was more injurious to his mind than the previous.

Surviving a restless night, he made his way to church, and decided that the only way to cleanse his soul of the pain and anxiety was to share–not in detail, but in principle.

So he stepped in front of the congregation and began.

“I feel attacked. Do you ever feel attacked? In my case, I feel attacked by circumstances–just the everyday happenings that seem to have suddenly decided to target me and take me down. This attack is causing me to worry. Like most human beings, I worry about the future. What will this attack mean going forward? Can I overcome my circumstances and achieve some form of victory–or at least draw a stalemate with the evil that taunts me? And most certainly, I feel betrayed. Not so much by others, but betrayed by my own weakness–a hounding dog barking at my heels, reminding me that I am insufficient. So I come before you this morning attacked, worried and betrayed.

Yet in the midst of all this is an abiding faith which says ‘nothing can separate me from the love of God’ and that ‘all things will work together for my good.’

I must be honest with you. Those voices are softer and gentler than the screaming attack of the worried betrayal. But if I get quiet and still, I can hear the whisper of faith. So that is what I am going to do right now. I’m going to stop speaking and just allow myself to listen as I kneel.”

Meningsbee walked to the altar rail, which had basically become a decoration in the modern-day church–a reminder of past revivals, when people allowed themselves to be overtaken by the goodness of God.

He knelt and prayed.

He prayed about his computer.

He prayed about the hidden iniquity displayed on the browser.

He prayed to be forgiven for his weakness.

So intently did he pray that he failed to recognize that he was suddenly surrounded by nearly all the congregation, as they, too, gathered to admit the attack had brought worry and betrayal to their lives.

God had taken the evil that had befallen the community and was now using it to make good.

It was a warm, kind, tear-filled morning that culminated with everyone embracing and encouraging one another.

Reverend Meningsbee was heartened by the experience, but still in the throes of a deep depression as he made his way home.

Stepping inside, he opened the door and gazed into his little office–and there it was.

The computer was back.

“Where have you been, my friend?”

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 18) It’s Not Good For A Man To Be… August 28th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Alone.

More than lonely.

The frightening realization of having no one.

Unable to get the personal attention of another human being.

Meningsbee had settled in for his afternoon time of reflection, which usually started with pulling up some news stories on the Internet and reading some articles to sharpen his insight.

But there was a dark side to this ritual. Ever since he had lost his wife, Doris, the lack of intimacy had driven him to a nagging temptation to peruse pornography.

He hated the word.

When he pastored back East, he often counseled people who were completely obsessed with the practice.

He knew all the right answers but the loneliness overtook him–the sense of abandonment caused by losing his love.

For you see, Doris died as she had lived–suddenly.

She had an infectious spirit with a childlike quality that manifested itself in the belief that her whim was the same as God’s will. If bananas were on sale at the grocery store, Doris believed it was ordained to make banana splits.

Although Richard was a bit put off by the theology, he benefitted from the glow of her enthusiasm.

She loved him. She loved him all the way. If she was dissatisfied, Richard never knew it.

She laughed more than she cried; she planned more than she complained, and in the bedroom, she had the steaminess of the Queen of Sheba mingled with the mercy of an angel.

She granted Meningsbee the role of Midas. Everything he touched she called gold.

He never had a chance to doubt himself–until one morning, she sat straight up in bed and said, “My head hurts.”

They were her last words. She crumpled to the side, the victim of a simultaneous massive stroke and heart attack.

No history of disease, just a demise.

So now Richard was without his Doris, yet still needing the comfort and consistency of a gentle love.

He was repulsed by the images he saw on his screen. He was only interested in “peek-a-boo porn”–in other words, pictures of beautiful women yearning to be loved. But every time he pulled up an innocent profile, his inbox was inundated with popups of violent rape and sexual mayhem.

Strangely, he both hated and pitied himself at the same time–hated because he knew he was wrong, but pitied because he was forced into the wrong by an evil twist of fate.

He was more than ashamed.

He was intellectually disgusted by his choice.

He was spiritually bewildered by his weakness.

And he was mentally dissatisfied with the antidote provided to him via the Web.

So at the end of each one of his afternoon sessions, he scrubbed his browser and walked away from his computer feeling a little more decayed each time.

What right did he have to preach the Gospel when such desperation tormented his soul?

Meningsbee was in the midst of a fresh burst of incrimination when there was a knock at the door. He was startled.

He quickly made sure there was no evidence of his iniquity, and went to see who it was.

Matrisse.

He was so glad to see her.

She was like a supernal presence drawing him back into what he wanted his reality to be.

“I need to talk to you about Sassy,” she said solemnly. Meningsbee nodded his head and invited her in.

Once again, Matrisse was the needful distraction to draw him away from his own foolishness.

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Ask Jonathots… June 16th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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ask jonathots bigger

Three times last week, I heard national news spokespeople say, “People don’t change.” How did this philosophy become commonplace in America?

Just a quick note to begin this answer–whenever you seek counsel, you will normally get one of three approaches:

1. The cynical approach. “Based on the data provided, we can tell you that it is unlikely…”

2. The hopeful approach. “With God all things are possible…”

3. The practical approach. “Present trends do not bode well, but certain actions could change the outcome.”

So I would like to answer this question by explaining that normally people are cynical about human beings changing because they, themselves, are no longer hopeful of much transformation in their own lives, and when presented with alternatives, they reject them.

I think it is a problem for older people to change simply because they embrace three erroneous profiles:

A. “The best things in my life have already happened.”

In other words, if you contend that the most exciting parts of your journey are already over, it will certainly cause you to be less-than-motivated to make transitions.

B. “It’s worked pretty good so far.”

There is an abiding notion that the philosophy which has taken us to this point in our experience should be sufficient to carry us on through the times ahead. There is no basis for this conclusion, but it prohibits aging people from taking an hour to learn how to work a computer.

C. No one’s listening to me anyway.

As you get older, there is a tendency to believe that your influence has greatly lessened because the children are grown, the job is in the past, your appearance is more fragile and you’re cast into the role of a soul on the way out the door.

These three ideas can cause a human being to dig in and refuse evolution. Matter of fact, when we talk about individuals who have great repentant leaps, like Ebenezer Scrooge or George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” these changes usually revolve around interventions from angels or spirits.

So to guarantee that a certain amount of enlightenment continues, consider three principles of power:

1. The best has not already happened or I would not still be here.

2. What worked yesterday will need some tuning for today.

And finally:

3. The best way to make sure people listen to me is to say things that are relevant to the moment instead of nostalgic about the past.

People can change. They just don’t naturally do it.

It takes a desire to live our lives all the way to very end instead of walking around in a misty haze of the past.

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Populie: Children Are a Blessing … October 8, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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baby and mama bear

For every person who loves a baby and refers to the child as a bundle of joy, you will soon find that same individual talking about “the terrible twos,” lamenting “angry adolescence,” and producing an off-spring into the world of “grumbling grown-ups.”

Religion loves the populie of “children are a blessing.” Matter of fact, it’s the easiest way to get people to clap their hands in church–announce the birth of a baby.

Entertainment loves to tell stories of people who had trouble finding children, acquiring children or birthing children and have, through some miracle, been able to have one of their own or adopt one, which brought consolation to their household.

Of course, politics jumps in with its approval because being “pro-family” is a great way to get elected.

  • But children are not born for our pleasure.
  • Children are not jewelry created to adorn the costume of our lives.
  • Children are not proof that our love is intact or that we’re virile.

Children are the means by which the natural order populates the Earth, to eventually get rid of you and me and make room for “he and she.”

To refer to children as “a blessing” and then merely sit them down in front of a television set to be indoctrinated makes us poor stewards of the opportunity.

There’s nothing special about having a kid. The whole process is very primeval. We have decided it’s beautiful because our arrogance will not allow us to admit that cows, bears and whales do it.

But after the cigars are passed around, we need to transform this pink, pudgy creature into a human being before he or she ends up acting like a gorilla.

These are the steps involved in turning the birth of a baby into the blessing of a human:

1. Nurture them.

At first, all they need are hugs and milk. Oh, yes, you may want to change their diapers, too.

2. Encourage their curiosity.

The best way to make disobedient children is to ignore their questions.

3. Channel them towards empathy and gratitude.

You cannot raise a human being if you do not teach him to feel for others and be grateful for what comes his way.

4. Force them to communicate.

Yes, I use the word “force.” A reluctance to talk will inevitably set in. When you add a computer, a phone, an I-pod and Netflix, you have pretty much eliminated their will to converse. You must intervene or you will put them at the mercy society.

5. Let them find and experience a faith which is real to them, not borrowed from others.

6. Don’t be afraid of sexuality. They won’t.

7. Have a defining moment when you have the confidence to allow your child to stop being a deduction and become your adult friend.

Children are not a blessing simply because they arrive. Actually, they are destined to become selfish, cheaters and liars … unless they are guided onto a path of human understanding. 

 

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