Sit Down Comedy … July 24th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sit Down Comedy

The Science of Séance

Jackson Coodabury was a fervent believer in spiritualism. He not only contended that it was possible to communicate with the dead, but had attempted it several times, gaining great soul satisfaction and insight through the experience.

His greatest hope—his aspiration, if you will—was to make contact with his great-great-great uncle, Homer Coodabury. Homer had fought in the War Between the States, dying from a bayonet wound in the chest on the bridge at Antietam.

Jackson was a fervent believer in states’ rights and an aficionado on both the Antebellum period and the Civil War itself. Even though Kentucky was a border state, the Coodabury family had forged its allegiance with the Dixon side of the line long before it went to war with Mason.

So Jackson decided to hold a séance.

He got together with two friends who were interested in contacting their relatives from the period and hired the most well-known spiritualist in all the tri-state area to conduct the event.

The spiritualist went merely by the name Hector, had written five books on the subject, and it was reported that he had once been able to conjure the ghost of Stonewall Jackson.

Jackson himself was named after the great General. So whether it would be his relative, Homer, or the great Stonewall made no difference to Jackson. He just felt disconnected from this present time, still holding a deep belief that black men and black women were inferior to the white race. This was not a popular idea—not even in a prejudiced community like Melrose, Kentucky.

Jackson didn’t care. He yearned to have a touchstone with someone from the era, who could explain in detail what it felt like to be on the battlefield, fighting for what he believed in.

A small room was selected. All the blinds were pulled, and black cloth was placed over the windows to make sure nothing from the outside world could interfere. A round table was readied for the four to gather, with a single candle and a letter that Homer had written to his mother, right after the first Battle of Manassas.  Jackson clutched the letter in his hands, hoping to drain the soul of his uncle.

The evening began simply, with some quiet music, which gradually Hector decreased as he began to recite information about the life and times of the soul he was calling forth from the cosmic realm.

Jackson sat quietly, trying to calm his nerves. He understood that there would be no physical presence of his uncle but the ghost of his kin would speak through Hector.

There were mumblings from Hector—requests. And finally, a sudden silence.

All at once, Hector began to speak with a strong east Kentucky accent.

“I cannot see you, but I can hear you.”

Jackson broke into tears. He was being addressed by his uncle—a regaling voice. Commanding, filled with authority.

Jackson spoke. “Are you Corporal Homer Coodabury, of the Fourteenth Kentucky Regiment?”

“I was,” bellowed the voice. The tone was eerie, with just a touch of echo.

Nodding his head, Jackson looked his friends, who were just as astonished as he. Probing on, Jackson said, “I understand you were seventeen years old when you joined up to fight the Yankees.”

There was no response.

“Am I right about that?” asked Jackson.

Suddenly, even louder, the voice replied, “Have you come here to confirm history, or to learn the truth?”

Jackson nodded, feeling impotent. Here he was, talking to a spirit from the other side and not sure about what to request. He gathered himself and formed a real question. “What is it like where you are?”

“It changes,” the voice replied. “When I first came, after the Yankee stabbed me with his bayonet, I found myself in a small room, where one corner occasionally lit up with a glow. And when it did, there was a question inside me being asked. And I, without words, was communicating the truth of my experience.”

The answer baffled Jackson, so he followed up. “Who was questioning you and what did they want to know?”

The spirit replied, “I don’t know who, and if I did, I would never be able to explain it to you. What was sought from me was an answer as to why I chose, at seventeen years of age, to give my life for the cause of the Confederacy.”

Jackson scoffed. He now realized that Hector was apparently some sort of Northern sympathizer, who was using the séance to discredit the cause of Dixie.

Jackson stood to leave and turned toward the door. As he did, the voice continued. “Did you come for answers, or did you come for confirmation? What I learned in those sessions in that room with the glowing light which illuminated my mind was that no one is better than anyone else.”

Jackson stalled and stiffened. He remembered those words. In the midst of a very prejudiced upbringing, he had a Grandma who constantly spoke that statement to him, over and over again.  “No one is better than anyone else.”

Jackson had rejected it—but now, here it was again, being uttered to him in a séance from the grave.

Jackson whirled around and blurted, “Where did you get those words?”

The spirit replied, “You know where I got them. She was your grandma, right?”

Jackson was horrified. He slowly walked over and sat back down. After a moment of reflection, he spoke again. “If you could fight—or could have fought more—would you do it today, for the cause of freedom?”

The answer came quickly. “I spent the first part of my time in eternity learning the value of human life, which I could no longer possess. I felt shame. I remembered as a small boy, making fun of the abolitionists because they believed the black man had a soul. Now here I was, dead and gone, dealing with my own soul, tormented by my choices.”

“It was a noble cause!” Jackson screamed. “It was for the glory of the South, the honor of tradition and the heritage of the white race.”

Through Hector, the spirit replied calmly. “Where I am, there is no honor in these things.”

Jackson pursued. “How about the monuments? The statues? The Confederate flag? Consideration of the lost lives? Shouldn’t there be a tribute for the courage of these patriots?”

There was a silence. Then the spirit spoke. “Courage is only powerful when it saves someone instead of hurting them. Don’t make any statues for me. Don’t remember my war record. Just understand that I was young and foolish, and that somehow God, in His mercy, has given me a chance to make amends.”

Jackson still had questions, but Hector shook his head, rubbed his eyes, and emerged from the trance.

Jackson thanked Hector for leading the gathering, and he and his two friends went out for a drink at the local bar.

His two buddies were unimpressed with the whole process—figuring that Hector was a fraud.  Jackson, who had originally been quite impacted by the encounter, gradually lost his fervor, taking on a cynical outlook. “I don’t care what anyone says,” he declared. “Let’s lift our glasses to the glory of Dixie.”

The three drank a toast to the Confederate States, put their glasses down and headed for the door. The waitress arrived with their bill.

As they were paying, she explained that drinks on this particular night were supposed to cost twice as much because there was a convention in town and the proprietor had raised the prices. She further stated that she knew they were regulars and were unaware of that situation, so she charged them the regular cost.

The three of them were grateful and offered her a large tip, which she refused. “No, that’s not necessary,” she said. “We need to do good to each other. Because no one’s better than anyone else.”

Jackson grabbed her arm. “What did you just say?”

She replied, “I said we need to do good to each other.”

“No,” Jackson interrupted. “The last part.”

“I don’t remember,” she replied, a bit startled by his reaction.

Jackson prodded her. “You said ‘no one is better than anyone else.’”

She shook her head, frowning. “Did I? Huh. I don’t remember.”

The waitress escaped his grasp, a bit unnerved. Jackson looked over at his friends, who were nearly as startled as he was.

Jackson took a ragged breath. “Maybe Hector was better than we thought.”

King for a Day… January 16, 2012

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prophet.

Without understanding this simple fact, nothing of any true significance can be gained by discussing his life, studying his path or commemorating his day. As a prophet, he had the purpose of discovering the ants infesting our picnic and dispelling the sand from the gears of the machine of progress. Because of that, I know one thing for certain–neither liberals or conservatives would be happy with him today.

The liberals try to wrap him up in a big bow for their causes, saying that he was a voice against conservative bigotry in this country. The conservatives cautiously mention him in reference to his stands against government establishments.

I will not lead you to believe that I am an expert on the life and times of Dr. King. I know more than some and less than many. But from that limited perspective, allow me to get the dialogue started on a worthwhile subject. What would Dr. King–Martin, if you will–do if he woke up in America today?

He would never have approved the bail-out of Wall Street, AIG and the banks. Even if it were a President of his particular liking, he would have stood against the greed that caused the need that ended up planting the seed of economic disaster. How do I know this? Because what took him to Memphis, where he was cruelly assassinated, was standing with the local garbage collectors against the systems that tried to keep them from a decent wage. The liberals would be very disappointed with Martin because he would not authorize a heavy-handed government solution to a systemic problem–poor usage of funds and lack of economic awareness and principle.

Likewise, Martin would certainly speak out against the conservatives and their belief that they can socially engineer our country into some sort of manufactured righteousness, cleaning the outside of the cup but leaving the inside filthy. He would not tolerate a state in the Union still flying the Confederate flag under some ridiculous assertion of honoring heritage. The conservatives would be greatly upset with his desire to see freedom for all, even if that liberty meant that we must occasionally tolerate other people’s practices which we find distasteful or even sinful.

Martin would upset many people because he was humorous. He was  a practical joker. He didn’t take everything in his life too seriously, but instead made time for fun. His friends remember that the last thing they did with their leader was have a pillow fight in the motel room. Matter of fact, when he was struck down by the bullet, they failed to run to his side because they thought he was kidding around. Both Republicans and Democrats are an overly somber group of grumpers, who feel that maturity is best expressed by furrow-browed discussions of great intensity.

The Hollywood community would be greatly astounded that Martin would not be applauding their efforts. Dr. King believed that the message should affect culture–not that our culture should determine how we pander out our message. He would not applaud the rap and hip-hop community for creating a new level of social ignorance and mistreatment of women, glorifying violence under the guise of presenting realism. He would tell them clearly: there are different ways to keep from advancing as a people. You can be held back by another race–or you can hold yourselves back by locking into the provided stereotype.

I think Republicans AND Democrats would be greatly distressed by his unwillingness to support our penchant for war. Matter of fact, there are those who believe he was assassinated NOT because of his stance on civil rights, but rather, because he had begun to speak out against the war in Viet Nam.

He would also stand against a religious system still using an alleged worship hour for segregation, claiming that the spiritual experiences are “unique” and therefore can remain separate.

He would be distressful to our society because he would not be pleased with what he saw, and as a prophet, he would speak out freely against excess and lack. And the interesting thing is, he probably, if he lived in our time, would not be assassinated–at least not with a bullet. Instead, his sexual trysts, pranks and probably even his finances would come under severe scrutiny, be exposed in our 24-hour news cycle, and within a very short period of time, he would be retired to the hall of disgrace.

That’s the way we handle our prophets today. We find their foibles, which are really what make them human enough to BE voices crying in the wilderness, and we focus on those missteps, advertise them and discuss them off-handedly until everyone agrees that the person we are attacking is so devoid of character that we shouldn’t listen to a thing that he or she has to say.

Dr. King would not make the liberals happy. He was too independemt, asking people to rise up for themselves rather than taking government hand-outs, requiring people to take responsibility for their lives.

Martin would certainly frustrate the conservatives because he would demand that from our position of self-discovery, we allow others a chance to have the same right and privilege, and that we not try to go further, leaving the less fortunate in the background.

Martin would certainly anger the entertainment industry because he would challenge the superficial nature of their art and ask them if there was any soul left in their proposed genius.

King for a Day–it would require that you be a prophet who speaks out about the weaknesses of a society that is aware of its futility, but insists that change is unnecessary and instead, selects a jaded profile of dejection.

I like this holiday. It reminds me that we still require prophets. It lets me know that there is still a message that needs to be shared that is neither conservative or liberal, religious or secular, but rather, human. When we cease to believe that the message from God is really delivered in the language of our own species, we no longer have His blessing.

Dr. King–if he were here today, he would probably read this essay and say, “You got some of it right, kid, but you missed me on several points.”

For after all, he’s a prophet. It isn’t his job to be agreeable, just to get us all to move towards greater agreement.

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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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