Good News and Better News … March 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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eggs

Yesterday my travels took me to “The Egg Church” in Driver, Virginia.

Thirty-seven years ago, this congregation began a yearly tradition of making the most delicious chocolate-covered cream-filled eggs you will ever put anywhere near your salivating taste buds.

They did so for two reasons: the church was languishing in a bit of the doldrums, threatening to implode financially. And also, thirty-seven years ago it sounded like a whole lot of fun. Of course, like most fun, it has turned out to be a lot of work.

Although these “Chocolatiers” are some of the most delightful people you’ll ever meet, they do lament that in their community, they are known for their confections instead of their convictions.

May I tell these enlightened souls that they have done something absolutely “Jesus like” through their efforts–they have born fruit.

Even better, their fruit is candy-coated.

They have made themselves accessible to their town. In other words, they are reaching out with a box of candy instead of an offering plate–and they have given a quality that far surpasses anything else I have ever eaten during the season of passion.

There are worse things than being known as the “Egg Church.” For instance, you could be known as:

The Prompt Church. (We’re very timely.)

The Prayer Church. (We ask God about everything.)

The Laughing Church. (Giggling in the Spirit.)

The Angry Church. (Somebody’s going to hell–and it sure ain’t me.)

The Pretty Church. (Our stained glass is the window to our soul.)

The Preaching Church. (We hate sin…and maybe you, too.)

The Music Church. (Our worship leader was once a roadie for the Red Hot Chili Peppers)

The Doctrine Church. (We are Biblically sure we would not like you.)

The Athletic Church. (Our gymnasium is the largest in the county.)

The Everybody Church. (We have changed the meaning of so many verses to include our congregation’s actions that we just don’t ever read the Good Book out loud.)

Do you see what I mean? The good news is that you are “The Egg Church,” and known for something positive.

The better news?

Beech Grove United Methodist Church, if you keep loving human beings, you’ll all end up looking like “good eggs.”

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Egging Me On… March 30, 2013

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eggsI was eleven years of age, living in a household where my four-and-a-half-year-old younger brother was sucking all the life, appreciation, attention and love from the room, as I wandered about like some sort of unexplained pudgy blob, bumping into furniture and constantly being reminded by my meticulous mother that my hands were filthy. Meanwhile, my younger brother smelled like a diaper pail and had dried oatmeal on his face leftover from two days previously, and he was adorable. Go figure.

It was Easter time and I knew that my mother and father were probably going to purchase me an Easter basket, along with the one they would select for the divine child of promise. So I stepped in early on and told them that I was too old for plastic grass and funny stuffed animals, and that I would prefer to have two dozen chocolatemarshmallow eggs. I loved them. Of course, what’s not to love? But I seriously had an abiding, deep, everlasting affection for these treats.

To my great surprise, on Easter morning, my little brother received his Easter basket, which more resembled the Horn of Plenty, and I got a box with two dozen chocolate-marshmallow eggs, carefully placed in the slots, looking not only well-organized, but ready for consumption. I immediately was informed, though, that I was allowed to have three of these wonder units right now, and that the box would be kept in the bottom of my dad’s closet, so that I wouldn’t overeat on the sweets. I would have to ask permission to have one.

I’m sorry–this was unacceptable.

I knew better than to argue with them, so instead, fell back on my preferred profile–plotting. I came up with an ingenious plan. For you see, in our little town was an establishment called Hills Drug Store (that was back in the time before places like that went to college and became pharmacies). Mr. Hill was what my parents referred to as a “goof.” He was so nice that people thought he might be crazy. I think parents in this day and age might actually be suspicious of him, fearing he might be a pedophile because of his gentleness toward children.

Mr. Hill had a practice of buying a ton of Easter candy, which no one in town ever purchased, because they were partial to driving over to the big city of Westerville to procure their holiday treats. So every year, the day after Easter, he would take this abundance of confections and put them on sale–huge mark-downs. So I knew that I would be able to acquire many of these chocolate-marshmallow eggs, which I could use as a means of re-stocking the box in my dad’s closet as I diminished the number of little ovals by overeating them. That way my parents would never know how many I was absorbing, and I could stuff my face with chocolate-marshmallow and still once a day, ask them for my portion, without fear.

It was brilliant.

And fortunately for me, that year Mr. Hill outdid himself, offering a box of twelve chocolate-marshmallow eggs for a dime.

Now you must realize, I had only two sources of income. The first one was a chair in our home, where my dad would sit at night, and if he was wearing his loose-fitting corduroys, the change in his pocket would fall out and go into the cushions, and I could come back later and procure treasure. My second source of money was to go down to the local telephone booth near the library and to cross my toes and stick my finger in the change return slot, hoping that someone had forgotten to retrieve their returning money. Also, occasionally near the phone booth, an absent-minded grown-up might just drop the dime they had retrieved on the ground while attempting to put it into a pocket. It was a chancy thing, but about one time out of every five, I was able to acquire the magical coin. Between those two sources, I was funded for this particular project.

It worked beautifully for the first week. I ate so many chocolate-marshmallow eggs that I nearly became sick of them. (I said NEARLY.) I then replenished them with the eggs I bought at Hill’s Drug Store, and my parents were never the wiser.

One day I came home, a bit perturbed because Mr. Hill had just informed me that the last of the chocolate-marshmallow eggs had been purchased by Mrs. Smithers, who for some reason or another thought the kids at the orphanage might “enjoy them.” I was already a little depressed from this slight when I slipped to the closet and discovered that the box was gone. Yes–the entire box.

I panicked. I broke out in a sweat. I was addicted and the only thing I viewed in my future was withdrawal.

I pulled myself together and went out to ask my mother what happened to the box of chocolate-marshmallow eggs. She explained that she had discovered it that morning, saw that it was full, and figured that I had just stopped liking chocolate-marshmallow eggs, so she gave them away to little Jimmy, the boy next door, who had just broken his leg tripping over his cat while taking out the trash.

I was horrified. I wanted to rebuke her for such nonsense, but then I would have to reveal the details of my devious plan. I slipped away in silence, sitting in a corner, moping and dreaming of my old friends, who now lived with Jimmy.

What I learned that day was…

Well, I really didn’t learn anything. I just really missed my eggs.

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If I was going to make a cherry pie … June 7, 2012

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I’m not, by the way … going to make a cherry pie.

I don’t like to bake. It’s not some chauvinistic sensation that the kitchen belongs to the woman, for pot and pan rattling. I like to cook. I just never got into baking confections and such. Lots of people like to do that kind of thing. I have a granddaughter who thinks that baking a cake is the easiest way to get close to God (or at least to get people to worship you like you are one…)

I am more a baker of good intentions, similar to the individual who came up with the phrase, “If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake. But since you didn’t give me much notice, you’re stuck sharing a Little Debbie…”

Oh, how handsome this one turned out. Tasty, too.

Oh, how handsome this one turned out. Tasty, too. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But due to the magic of story-telling, and just my particular whim for the day, let us imagine that I WAS going to bake a cherry pie. Now, let me tell you, I picked cherry pie because it is NOT one of my favorites, but if you run across a particularly good one, it is well worth the exertion of picking up a fork. So what makes a good cherry pie? There are four elements.

1. The crust. Putting together a good crust for a pie is underestimated in my opinion. I once purchased a frozen pie crust from my grocer and tried to use it to construct some sort of dessert possibility. The crust was so tough after it was baked that even my dog wouldn’t eat it. (And let me tell you, he has astounded me with some of his choices…) Yes, a crust is more than an outer garment for a good cherry pie. It is more or less the tantalizing part that draws us into the concoction in the first place. It should be flakey, tender and really, almost be able to stand alone as a pastry unto itself. Lots of people spend a lot of time on a good crust.

2. The next thing is determining the sweetness. Cherry pie should be sweet, but not too sweet, very similar to the personality of the cherry itself. It is almost the definition of sweet and sour. It shouldn’t make you pucker but you also shouldn’t require a shot of insulin after indulging. Picking the right amount of sweetness for your cherry pie is probably better suited for the angels. How much sweetness IS good to put into such a project before the grains of sugar grit in your teeth or each bite from your particular piece reminds you more of lemons than cherries?

3. The filling. Now, you might think that the filling is the same thing as the sweetness, but not so. The filling has to have a particular thickness, depth and texture to it–and be present enough in the mixture to hold the lid of the pie up so it doesn’t sink down–with top crust nearly lying on bottom crust. How you fill your pie determines whether one slice actually looks like a serving, or if it just lies there on the plate, flat and lacking promise.

4. And finally, the cherries. You might think they are the most important ingredient in the cherry pie, but I don’t believe so. Certainly it would be wonderful to have top-notch A-1 cherries in your pie, but if the sweetness, crust and filling have been given enough tender loving care, you can put in a few second- and even third-string cherries for the line-up. As long as they attempt to hold their shape, maintain their color and could pass for a cherry during a blind taste test, they should be just fine.

Yes, most people are more concerned about the fruit in their pie than the outer crust that introduces itself to the public. But it’s rather doubtful that you will ever get people inside to inspect the fruit if the outer casing is unappealing or drives them away with its nasty taste.

So if I was going to make a cherry pie, I would put my main emphasis on the crust, which we might refer to as “the greeter.” Then following that would be the sweetness, which we could call “the host.” And then, I would carefully concoct a filling that was suitable for my endeavors, which we might name “the guest speaker.” And finally, I would select good cherries, but not be too bigoted in my perspective, creating the all-important “janitorial staff,” which is there for the clean up.

Now, of course, there is a certain amount of hypocrisy to this whole essay–because I don’t know what I’m talking about and there will never be a practical application produced by my hands. Still, sometimes it is fun to project forth images of what you think you might be able to accomplish–and then to intelligently NOT proceed to demonstrate your ineptness.

But in conclusion, this has been what I think about what makes a good cherry pie. Otherwise, you ought to just go down to the grocery store and pick up one of those Hostess ones in the wrapper, which have been tested and proven to be able to survive a nuclear winter.

Cherry pie:

  • good crust
  • stay sweet
  • lots of filling.
  • and a family of different-sized and quality cherries.

There you go. (For what it’s worth.)

Maybe this is why the myth was begun that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree. Maybe it was his way of getting back at his mother, who was a really, really terrible baker.

   

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Tootsie Pop Logic … January 24, 2012

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Live in Philadelphia, PA

A sucker is a sucker is a sucker.

This became the common theme–and lamentation–of all manufacturers in the lollipop industry. As delicious as the first few licks may be, enduring to the end was often difficult for young tykes, leaving behind sticky, half-eaten globs of goo all over the house.

Something needed to be done, so as always, two extremes were pursued. First was the dum dum–a decision to make the lollipop smaller and offer a variety of flavors. It was, and is, very successful, but still suffers from the redundancy of the common lick.

The other extreme was to insist that MORE lapping and sucking was necessary, so the all-day sucker was created, which was a humongous amount of sugar-candy, which was supposed to be consumed over a 24-hour period. Dedication did not exist for such a project, and you ended up with an even larger sticky object to avoid.

Then came the Tootsie pop. Here was the premise: give people a sucker, but reward them at the end by providing a center of chocolate–a Tootsie roll. How ingenious.

You see, I feel this way about the 2012 election. We are offered a myriad of suckers for our perusal. It is wearisome. It is sticky business. But if you want to be successful at picking a leader of anything, find out what is at the CENTER of their sugar-coated presentation. What IS the Tootsie pop logic of the conservatives and the liberals?That demands that we produce a criteria for what is important and what needs to be said.

Honestly, dear folks, there are only two things that are immutable:  People and money. What are the conservatives going to do about people and money? What is the plan of the liberals regarding people and money?

Let’s start with people.  They require three things:

1. Freedom. If you’re going to call yourself a “free country,” it’s a good idea to back it up with freedom for everyone.

2. Opportunity. This means creating an even playing field as much as possible, so that excellence can truly have a chance to win the day.

3. And finally, rules.  You should have just enough rules in a democracy to maintain the integrity of freedom and opportunity.

That brings us to money. The philosophy on money should be equally as simple:  first, we need to motivate business, industry and personal desire enough to comfortably fund our freedoms, promote opportunities and maintain the necessary offices for the rules which guard these ideas. Secondly, we should have enough money that after we’ve taken care of our own personal needs to a satisfactory position, we can give to others who are less fortunate, so we don’t end up being a bunch of greedy gas-bags.

I know people want to worship the conservative approach or bow their knee to liberalism. I do not join them. I don’t care whether it’s a restaurant, a church, a synagogue, a bistro or the federal government. Are you going to give people equal freedom to pursue opportunity and maintain just enough rules to make sure that everyone has freedom and opportunity? AND will you motivate the raising of money to protect those rights and provide a comfortable living for as many people as possible, while initiating a philanthropic thrust with the remaining funds?

Anything short of that is short-sighted. I don’t care what you’re running, I don’t care what you’re promoting and I don’t care what flag you are waving. People require freedom, opportunity and a set of rules to ensure they will honor the same for all their fellow-travelers. And money must be raised to guarantee that these rights are cushioned by financial blessing and that there is enough left over to instill generosity.

So as I listen to the political candidates, I peruse their mentality on these two issues–people and money. It is what I call the Tootsie pop logic. If you’re going to make me spend all of my time licking away at debates and discussions, you’d better provide me with a chocolate center that lets me know you understand what to do with people and money. Otherwise, it just sucks.

Do I have an opinion on the present crop of candidates? I have many opinions–but honestly it’s difficult to assess either party, because neither one of them has come to terms with the intricate nature and balance of these two necessities. Most of them are more concerned about trouble from outsiders or merely conquering the opposing party in the voting booth. But after the election comes governing–and governing anything is about dealing with people and providing money.

So here’s my Tootsie pop logic. After you get done wading through my numerous clumps of letters forming words, I want you to find a sweet treat in the center, and I always want that center of my writing to give you greater insight on people and money.  Because he who understands what to do with his fellow-humans AND when and how to release the purse strings, basically has total understanding of everything.

What a wild statement.

Tootsie pop logic. What’s at the center of the conservative movement? What is at the center of the liberal take on things? What will they do with people and what do they think about money?

Just some thoughts on this day–and to return to a common phrase in the world of confections:

Try it. You’ll like it.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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