Salient … April 16th, 2018

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Let’s say you want to destroy human beings.

You could kill them. That’s called murder. Of course, there’s always the danger of prosecution, being convicted and jailed, losing your own freedom and being trapped forever, recognized only as a criminal.

Nah.

But let’s say you’re bound and determined. Why? Because so many nasty things have happened in your life that you want to make sure no one sprouts a smirk. You need to assure yourself that given unwelcome circumstances, all human beings will turn into creatures of vengeance and darkness.

Where should you start?

Homo Sapiens have three parts to them: what was, what is, what could be. So your attack would have to be levied against this trio of components.

Therefore you assault the “what was” by making people guilty about their past while simultaneously yearning and wishing that “the good ole days” were still here.They end up feeling guilty, but with foolish pride. Nice start.

Remember, the key is to introduce darkness without alarming the victim about the loss of light. So now you have them thinking about their past–partially in terror, but somewhat nostalgically.

Next comes “what is.” Quite simple. Inundate them with so much unnecessary information that they begin to stress over what they perceive to be a mess. If they take all of their waking hours to nervously contemplate how badly things are going, there’s no time left to improve them.

Stress over the mess.

Get your victims to complain until it drives them insane.

This leaves you with “what could be.” If you want to quickly dispose of your humans, just persuade them to embrace the notion that it really is “what will be.” In other words, their lives are out of their hands, mystically steered by destiny. They are merely pawns in a cosmic game between good and evil.

Yes, people really love that one. They do not like the idea of being personally responsible for their own success and failure.

Once they begin to think about what could or will be, they sprout the worry that brings fear and robs them of good cheer.

Let’s review:

If you are a disturbed personality who wants to prove that darkness resides perpetually in the soul of every Earthly human, you should focus on what was and make them feel guilty and prideful. This also makes them appear to be out of step with what’s going on with the present generation. (Just a bonus.)

Then take what is and establish it as a mess that demands their stress. Don’t tell them that they’ve already overcome similar problems in the past. Don’t suggest that they could achieve emotional health by speaking their feelings and misgivings aloud. Trap them in their brains.

And finally, turn them into creatures of destiny, with what will be. But if that doesn’t work, present a dismal view of the future–make movies, write books and have scientists explain how fearful things are coming our way, and therefore, any sense of good cheer is downright irresponsible.

That’s how you destroy a human being without ending up on death row yourself. Bring just enough darkness that they stop desiring the light.

Salient–what is truly significant and important. Today’s salient moment is this:

Human despair is always accomplished by dimming the light without any warning.

 

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Ask Jonathots … June 9th, 2016

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What do you think about the legalization of recreational marijuana? How do you think this will affect American society?

Clarity.

It is the action of clarifying the facts we possess, trying to ascertain how we should proceed. Clarity is a good thing.

So what is the clarity on the issue of marijuana?

First of all, I think we have to get rid of the term “recreational.” We tried to add an adjective to alcohol by calling it “social drinking,” but unfortunately, many of those who felt they were “socially drinking” got in their cars, drove tipsy and ended up killing. It is doubtful that any human being, on their own, can determine their limits.

So once you remove the adjective, you end up with marijuana.

In the pursuit of clarity, let’s not study marijuana from the mindset of those who oppose it, but rather, carefully look at the assessment of the individuals who have or are participating in using the substance.

In every movie I’ve seen, marijuana leaves people listless, uncaring, silly, non-functioning and certainly incapable of performing their best rendition of themselves.

That’s not my assessment. I’ve never seen a film in which someone smokes marijuana and then goes out and saves the life of a child through heart surgery. So if those who are imbibing in marijuana feel that it’s an intoxicant which incapacitates them for normal human participation, then we immediately have to factor this in when talking about legalization.

Are we going to develop Breathalyzers for marijuana use?

Are we prepared to add traffic deaths due to driving under the influence of grass?

Yet on the other hand, marijuana has proven to be a source of relief for pain and discomfort.

So what is the purpose of this plant that has been placed on the earth?

And how can we know that a pain-killer is for killing real pain, not for “recreational” use by those who have no pain?

How can we use marijuana in a productive way without taking our generation, which already has difficulty with comprehension, and making it more bland?

First, if someone wants to smoke marijuana in his or her own home, it should not be illegal.

But we already have laws against public smoking, and we have laws against participating in human activities while intoxicated. Even if marijuana were legalized, it would fall under the same restrictions as smoking and drinking.

You could go to a marijuana bar and smoke with your friends, but when you left there would need to be a designated driver to take you home. Unfortunately, unlike alcohol, your driver might be suffering from a contact high.

So I think the most important thing is for us to clarify the facts instead of stomping around, discussing “freedom and privilege.”

Case in point: I am a fat man. I have the absolute right to go out and eat three pizzas. But if I do, there are ramifications. Perhaps I should understand the boundaries before I eat the three pizzas.

So in conclusion:

1. Marijuana has a purpose because it’s on Earth.

2. It brings relief to those who are suffering.

3. It is an intoxicant.

4. It is mind-altering.

5. Therefore, it will have to be regulated in our society in some way, otherwise we will be endangering the lives of others.

6. It should no longer be criminal when used properly and privately by a person of acceptable age.

There you go.

Never look at a problem as if it’s an issue of freedom, but rather, clarify how that freedom affects the rights of others.

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Good News and Better News … May 23rd, 2016

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Good News Cross Plains

When I was twelve years old, a school buddy invited me to his church for a night of revival, with the tease of a delicious pot luck dinner preceding the event.

I was thrilled.

Of course, I was interested in the pot luck dinner, but much more excited over the chance to see my friend far away from school books and blackboards.

The revival was held at his home church–a Pentecostal Baptist.

I didn’t know much of anything at that point in my life, so I can’t tell you a lot about the evening’s activities, except that at one point during the sermon by the guest evangelist, he paused, staring at the audience with bulging eyes, sweat dripping from his brow, and proclaimed, “God’s grace cannot be earned, nor can it ever be lost.”

The reason I remember this statement is that it evoked an explosion of cheers, applause and “hallelujahs.” The folks really liked it.

Of course they did.

We all deeply enjoy free stuff.

The idea that none of us had to work on our salvation or had any chance of losing it just because we went on a “lying spree” was certainly intoxicating to the spirit.

But unfortunately, when you put no expectations on human beings, generally speaking, you get no production.

When I visited Fishersville United Methodist Church yesterday, I was struck by two outstanding realizations:

  1. These were some lovely, intelligent and caring people.
  2. But left to themselves, they can be lazy, uncaring and unfeeling.

I will tell you that no Creator with the intelligence to make a kidney which enables us to pee would ever let human beings think they did not need to be involved in their own lives, or even their own salvation.

We certainly wouldn’t do that with our children: “I love you, Johnny, so you don’t need to do any chores or clean your room because my affection is enough.”

If we did that we would be in danger of raising a criminal or a politician.

It is important to realize that God loves us.

But He’s also provided a purpose for life, where we learn to take responsibility for ourselves and save some extra time to assist others.

I refer to it as “sanity saves.”

If you do not stay involved in your own life, with an awareness of what you need to work on, your brain will deteriorate to the point that learning ceases to be possible. Then you’re stuck with what you know and nothing else.

God gives me a “sanity save” every day.

My mind is renewed by the celebration of knowing that the Gospel that Jesus preached is not only a message to make me Heaven-worthy, but also Earth-friendly.

It gives me sanity and it saves me from becoming an emotional and spiritual bum.

Without these sanity saves, we start relying too much on chance, fear or a presumptuous faith to carry us through difficulties, instead of using principle, prayer and the power of learning to grant us the wisdom to overcome.

As the folks came to my table yesterday, I found myself conversing with an 89-year-old World War II veteran. He was standing next to a nine-year-old boy.

They both came to chat with me. I looked into their eyes and saw the same thing. There was a sparkle of enthusiasm with the moisture of repentance.

It is what makes us powerful human beings–that which excites us should make us repent. And the repentance stimulates more excitement.

Sanity saves: when we take the salvation provided and turn it into a lifestyle that considers others.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that God’s grace is never deserved, but does offer us lives of sanity.

 

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Ask Jonathots … January 28th, 2016

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One of my friends believes that sexual repression is the reason for almost all problems, from behavioral to criminal. How important is sexuality? Is there such a thing as a religious calling, or, as my friend says, is that the sole reason for the sexual scandal in the Catholic Church?

Sex is an appetite.

It’s very important to realize this.

It is neither holy, nor is it hedonistic.

If monkeys can do it, it’s probably not super-spiritual, and if the end process of the procedure is procreation–the birthing of other human beings–it’s probably not evil.

You have to find the balance. What is the balance?

For instance, another bodily function is a bowel movement. Constipation makes us sick. But diarrhea is also a sign that we’re ill. What we want are healthy bowel movements.

And what we also want is a healthy sex life.

Since sex is not terribly difficult to do, it’s probably unrealistic to think that people are going to avoid it until they get married at age twenty-six.

Yet because it has so many physical ramifications, disease possibilities, and the potential of pregnancy, it should probably not be open season beginning at the age of twelve.

There are three reasons that people say they have sex:

  • They love each other
  • They want each other
  • They desire a child

Of course, there are variations on those–and different intensity levels. But as you can see, those three do not naturally connect.

In other words, love for someone can be manufactured because we are physically stimulated.

Wanting someone can be extremely temporary, until the orgasm is achieved.

And having a baby is an eighteen-minute production for an eighteen-year problem.

So the church tends to teach that the best practice is to refrain from sex until marriage, even though there are no people sitting in the pew who feel that is actually possible–or followed the practice themselves.

The world, on the other hand, or the secular community, thinks that free sexual expression is essential as a choice of adulthood, but offers no comfort for those who are heartbroken or stricken by disease because of promiscuity, or left with horrible choices due to unwanted pregnancy.

We are in the process of finding a balance.

To me, the best way to achieve this is to make it clear to young people–and older folks, for that matter–what sex is.

1. Sex is pleasure.

The fact that a creative God also uses it as a means of procreating our species is just smart due to the fact that if making babies took great effort, we would soon be extinct.

Trying to make sex anything other than pleasure is putting a golden crown on a pig.

2. As pleasure, it is a lesson in discovering how to mutually respect the person we are sharing the experience with at all times.

The idea that women are growing up believing that sex is for men and that they are not necessarily supposed to have an orgasm is one of the greatest abuses to the female.

3. Sex is emotional.

Here’s the trick and here’s the problem: as human beings, we seem to be incapable of separating the physical act of pleasure from the emotional tie of friendship or love. This introduces jealousy. This promotes some revenge. It causes sex to become a tool of pain rather than the promoter of pleasure.

4. Sex is attached to our passion.

Just because you said you loved someone ten years ago doesn’t mean you want to crawl in bed with them and have a crazy night of love-making. If the emotional, mental and spiritual energy does not continue, then the horniness quickly wears off. So we develop silly words like “soul mate” to describe the latest person who excites us.

Human sexuality is tainted both by repression and too much expression.

It is a physical act with emotional overtones, stimulated by mental commitment and spiritual energy.

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Good News and Better News… December 7th, 2015

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Good News December 6

47.

Of the 52 Sunday mornings made available each year, I am blessed and honored to be able to share my vision and message with congregations all over this country in all but 5.

Easter Sunday, All Saint’s Day, and the three Sabbaths leading up to Christmas normally are already pre-packaged.

Yesterday was one of those 5.

I suppose I could say something noble, like the fact that I went to another church, or even found a hollowed-out tree in the forest in which to pray, but honestly, I just enjoyed being with myself and my traveling musical partner.

But one particular reflection came to my mind.

Although there is a contingency of human souls who believe in waiting for things to happen, I have found such a delay to be not only useless and pretentious, but also unproductive and foolish.

I have come to a conclusion: I only matter if I take my matter and address things that matter.

I am not naturally loved or appreciated by anyone.

I know that may sound a little cynical, but each of us must realize that ultimately, we are gauged by our value to the human tribe–whether we offer an opportunity to make things easier, more intelligent or prosperous.

  • I want to matter.
  • I want to have a life filled with purpose.
  • I don’t need to be personally important–just to know that what I’m doing has a level of importance.

So yesterday morning I asked myself a question. Since mattering is the matter at hand, what really matters?

1. Promoting liberty.

Without it, the Spirit of God is absent.

2. Promoting equality.

Without this particular understanding, we start buying in to the concept that we are exceptional.

3. Promoting mercy.

I desperately need mercy, and the only way for me to obtain it is to act it out in my adventures with others.

4. Promoting good cheer.

People who laugh are not better people, they just last longer, waiting for the solution to come.

5. Promoting peace.

Not just the absence of war but also the presence of ideas that find commonality.

That’s the good news.

And the better news is that great ideas are often considered nearly criminal when they are first suggested. Yet if you want to be found among the chosen few who are regarded as forward thinking, make sure you leave your fingerprints on these innovations.

So when they are investigated by future generations, it will be obvious to one and all that you were in on the ground work of an enlightened moment.

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G-Poppers… June 26th, 2015

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G-Pop was wondering how much a sixteen-year-old girl could truly understand. Not because she’s unintelligent or devoid of grasping adult concepts–it’s just that all information remains merely data until curiosity soaks it up. It’s hard to be curious about anything but your own life at sixteen.

But on the other hand, there is something going on in the country that is significant and needs to be addressed.

Even though in collective horror we watch foreign renegades parade a prisoner in front of cameras and behead the hapless fellow, we have to realize that it is equally as ignorant and counterproductive to “head” our captors.

We do not cut off the head of the people we arrest. Instead, we give them a “head”–a face, a personality, a back-story, interviews with their friends, and speculate for days on what prompted them to commit their recent atrocity.

The average criminal receives millions and millions of dollars of free publicity when the main reason that the wickedness flowed from him or her was the desire to be known.

It’s like feeding a bear cub in your backyard and wondering why you go out with provision one day and get eaten by the fully grown beast.

Somehow or another we have to stop sensationalizing evil. I understand that most people do not find goodness, joy and praise-worthy deeds nearly as interesting as the vile expose of a murderous act, but in some fashion we need to strip these perpetrators of the trappings they so desire.

G-Pop saw a news report last night where the picture of the person who had just killed his wife was some sort of Photoshopped air-brushed version, making the murderer look like Denzel Washington.

It’s wrong–and not morally wrong, but culturally wrong.

People who do atrocities against their fellow humans should not be granted face, body, story or future.

How would we achieve this? Well, let’s start with a simple thought: Only heroes get stories.

If you decide to kill someone, you become a silhouetted cut-out on the news, without a name–or given a name not your own to further mock the stupidity of the pursuit of notoriety. We certainly have no problem calling people “John or Jane Doe” when they’re a corpse. Therefore, when someone’s a dead man walking due to crimes against humanity, why can’t they be “Jake or Janice Dork?”

If we as a society do not communicate that such behavior is abhorrent and refuse to grant space, then those who are tormented with obscurity will gladly give their last breath and life for seventeen minutes of fame. (The original fifteen minutes seems to be growing.)

I am fully aware that those who work in the news room will object to this line of thought because they make a living off of affording us gory detail. But gory detail could still be provided without granting the one who produced the anguish any photo space.

How could G-Pop share this with a sixteen-year-old girl without coming across as an old man who is out of step with time?

Would she understand that to give people what they want is to encourage them both to continue to want and also to do things that will get it?

Yes, people who behead are truly barbarians.

Yet I must tell you, in our culture, the decision to “head” our villains only encourages the insanity of evil.

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The Alphabet of Us: R is for Repent… April 6, 2015

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Building block R

All human beings possess a heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

“It’s not my fault.”

Those words sound so sweet to my ears whenever I suddenly find myself cramped up with guilt over some piece of stupidity which has caught up with me and now demands my full attention.

Matter of fact, the sentiment of “it’s not my fault” is so popular that both the religious and the secular communities have adapted it into their own particular mission statements.

In the secular world, it’s, “Relax. You were born that way.”

In the religious community, it becomes, “Relax. You were born again this way, and grace covers your sins.”

Humanity seemingly takes a deep breath of gratitude and resumes activities without change.

Yet a humanity appeased never finds real peace.

70+ years of daily life requires much more attention than a simple Hallmark-card-statement of “I’m OK.”

  • Successful people repent.
  • Losers make excuses.

But what is repentance? What does it mean to repent? Are we talking about crying and confessing our deep-rooted faults in front of some priest or counselor? Is repentance kneeling before God to admit your frailty and weakness?

Actually, a spiritual and historical look at repentance offers us a three-fold, interwoven process:

1. Come to myself.

Nothing happens in our lives without personally discovering the reality of our lacking on our own. Whether you’re speaking of the Prodigal Son or a criminal who decides to turn himself in to avoid the ongoing pain of running from the law, there is a moment in each case when they realize that they’re better off admitting the truth of the situation than continuing to avoid revelation.

2. Come to others.

There is an abiding principle that lingers in the truth of all time, which informs us that it is useless to try to have a relationship with God unless you have first mended your relationship with your fellow-humans.

We must always recall that we are to be reconciled with those who are angry with us before we bring our gift to any altar for spiritual redemption.

I first owe it to myself to admit my weakness; then I owe it to those I have offended, to let them know that I have made a discovery and I’m on the mend.

3. And finally, come to God.

Even after coming into synchronicity with reality, having acknowledged my error and then sharing it with those who were affected, I still need to be cleansed of my unrighteousness in order to resume a life of good cheer.

Without good cheer, self-pity will soon wrangle me to the ground for a repeat performance of my foolishness.

If you are human, you cannot live without the valuable transformation to repent.

But to repent, you have to reject all notions that you have no fault in the matter, come to yourself, come to others and then come to God … to be washed whiter than snow.

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