Populie: Deny and Defend… July 9, 2014

 

Jonathots Daily Blog

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nixon thumbs upReligion, politics and entertainment often get together and find what is popular, mingle it with a lie, and then set out promoting the fad for the masses. After all it’s the easiest way to get along in the short-term.

Unfortunately, it wreaks havoc on the emotions and soul of the human race while declaring a truce with an existing deception.

It is a populie.

Even though we tout that we are a Christian nation, we tend to receive our marching orders from other nations and their philosophies.

  • From the Jews and Arabs, we cling to “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
  • From Buddhism, we believe that we have the power to enlighten ourselves.
  • And from the Hindu we have an inordinate worship of animals.

ClintonCase in point: we tend to prefer to deny having problems and defend our actions in covering them up.

Religion likes this because it makes human beings appear weak, and therefore God seems stronger.

Politics favors the idea because if you can survive a 72-hour news cycle about one of your failings, maybe it will go away.

And entertainment builds whole storylines around characters who either cheat or fudge on the truth, or defend themselves from dealing with difficulty.

Here’s the populie:

1. Deny. “I do not allow myself to make mistakes.”

2. Defend. “Therefore I will not tolerate critique from you or anyone else.”Obama

This populie creates a climate of lies, leading to an ongoing sense of mutual mistrust.

Since we don’t admit our fallacies, insist there’s no problem and refuse to be inputted by others, a complicated web of deceit is constructed and maintained by our spider sense.

It would be comical if it weren’t so dangerous.

And you can certainly judge your spirituality not on whether you attend church, but by whether you’re willing to deal with your problems without shame or falsehoods.

swaggartHonestly, this is what works in the human family:

A. Confess. “I will tell you myself where I’ve made mistakes.”

Confessing your faults one to another is the only way to set inner healing in motion. It is also the only way to prevent people from piling on.

B. Expand. “After I confess, I will tell you what I have learned through my mistakes and how I plan on improving my situation.”

If you want to be the victor instead of the victim, you have to be prepared to admit what is becoming obvious to all. If you get ahead of it, you’re leading the way instead of being drug with a rope by the mob.

Yet I will admit, this is probably one of the more difficult things for people to overcome. But if you don’t confess, be prepared to be confronted.

In the long run (which is often a shorter sprint than you might think) people do find out–and when they do, and they sense that you have tried to escape reality–the punishment will be more cruel.Newt

Deny and defend–a national pastime. But it is time to put it in the past.

In closing let me give you one idea on how to welcome this into your life: start very small.

If you left something on a table and someone had to move it, step over, apologize, and move it yourself. It’s only by practicing this kind of candor that you will gain the muscle to lift your own weights instead of having them dropped on your head.

“Deny and defend” may be one of the most popular of the populie–and may I add … one of the more devastating.

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G-3: Create or Critique… December 20, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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apeI struggled with the decision.

I do believe I have ability, but apparently I possess enough insecurity that I would rather discuss my efforts than enact them. Why? Because stepping forward always generates the possibility of slipping or falling off a cliff.

Yes, it is much more pleasant to contemplate an idea than it is to perform it.

But here’s the difficulty: when we fail to create, we find ourselves tumbling into the backward, ignorant position of critiquing. Why? Because those around us who have the audacity to actually produce a product end up making us look insipid in our indecision, so we feel compelled to pick and fuss at their endeavors in order to make ourselves look viable and intelligent.

At the heart of every critic is a person who could have been creative, but balked out of fear. But I will tell you–once you begin to create things, you are much less likely to criticize the virgin efforts of others. The experience of making yourself vulnerable by presenting your gift also causes you to feel greater mercy for others who brave the terror.

Why are we so afraid?

1. We have convinced ourselves that something has to be perfect.

I don’t know why–nothing ever is.

  • But the reason most people don’t write is because they think every sentence has to be aligned with the gospel of grammar.
  • People refuse to sing, horrified that bad pitch or forgetting the lyrics will render them the fool of the day.
  • A carpenter will stop working with wood, terrified that he’ll hit his thumb with a hammer.

All creativity is brought to a halt by the superstition of perfection. There is no such thing, but we insist on its existence.

2. We are afraid to perfect.

Yes, there is a certain chill that goes down our spine over the dual prospect of admitting lack and jumping in once again to remold the idea. So because we’re plagued by this tentative energy, we choose to critique instead of create.

But after I wrestled with my own frustrations, I finally decided to become a creator instead of a criticizer. And what did I get for my noble decision? Criticism. But also–something to work with.

So I will make something today that did not exist yesterday, knowing that it will be critiqued by those who made nothing. For creativity is the only way we sense the breath of God within us.

Criticism is for monkeys … and those who ape them.

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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Tomorrow’s Today… May 11, 2013

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North RichlandI never think too much about tomorrow. I try to stay on my daily bread and focus on the activities set before me in this particular twenty-four-hour period. Yet sometimes tomorrow’s activities are part of today’s thoughts.

For instance, I know that I am going to be at Smithfield United Methodist Church tomorrow morning. I really don’t have any worries about it–after nearly forty years of interacting with folks and sharing my heart, I have discovered that the real secret is to keep it simple and never try to make things appear either bigger or smaller than they actually are.

But I have also learned that there are a few goals which can be pursued when pressing flesh with mankind–and womankind, for that matter–which universally set in motion a pattern for success instead of fostering a climate for dissent.

Communication. It’s the main thing on my mind. I believe it’s very important that people understand what I’m trying to say and comprehend who I am. I don’t hide behind books, philosophies, religious attitudes or my history of experience. What I try to do is share a very simple message in a simple way, tapping as much excellence in my talent as I am able to do in the moment.

I do not think that we will ever achieve fellowship or stimulate an atmosphere for renewal when we’re presenting things to each other that we don’t understand.

Case in point: I don’t talk about heaven very much. It’s not that I don’t believe in it–it’s just that for most of us it’s not the next stop on the bus line. You’ll rarely hear me mention the devil, simply because there is a dark nature in each of us which already wants to believe there are evil reasons why we don’t achieve righteous conclusions.

I chat about human things and how to do them better. In the process of that communication I hope to make connection. That link-up is a simple question: “Can I help?”

I just don’t think we do much to assist our brothers and sisters by giving them more problems, more commandments and more reasons to despair. If you can’t edify folks, then exhort them. If you can’t exhort them, encourage them. If you can’t do any of those three, you might just want to leave ’em alone.

After I’ve made a connection, I am joyously looking forward to a sense of contentment. What is contentment? “I discovered my best and I gave it to you.”

Candidly, without knowing that this is true, we either become grumpy or obnoxiously make excuses for our failure.

And the final part of the process is continue. Yes, I want to continue to do what I’m doing for as long as I’m able to pursue it, while garnering a new idea from every encounter.

I’ve been criticized by friends and family because I listen to every concern or criticism and weigh it in relationship to what I know–even if the words spoken were an attempt to hurt. I don’t think there’s as much danger in our being overly analytical as there is in repelling critique that might just give us a better path.

So when I come to Smithfield tomorrow, I want to communicate. I want to make sure they understand me.

I want to make a connection–to see if I can lighten their load instead of piling up their wagons with useless trash.

Because when I leave, I want to have the contentment that I’ve given my very best to these fine children of God.

And I also would like to know that because I was with them, I can improve the quality of my own presentation.

That’s what I call tomorrow’s today. It’s a quick review in my heart and soul to renew my mind, looking for better ways to use my strength. And because of the beauty of the process, I am often granted the blessing of leaving a town having edified both my audience … and myself.

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Avoiding … January 25, 2012

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Live in Philadelphia, PA

Wouldn’t it just be a kick in the pants if the Judgment Day–that breathless, final exam–ended up being an assessment of what we avoided? I’m not talking about refraining from being a “potty mouth,” refusing to attend PG-13 movies, repressing our sexuality or even staying away from controversy for fear of being out of the loop. I’m talking about avoiding things that need to be avoided in order to make human life sensible, productive…and awesome. There are probably a bunch of them, but three immediately pop to my mind. Maybe it’s because I work on these three the most, because I find them so annoying in the DNA of our emotional riboflavin.

The first one is hiding. It is so frustrating to everyone–including yourself–if you spend any time whatsoever hiding from reality, a calling, truth or possibilities. It’s one of the first questions that God asked a human being in the Garden of Eden. “Why are you hiding from me?” Well, we know why Adam was hiding. He did something wrong, along with his wife, Eve, and they felt the best way to handle it was to hide from it. But let’s look at it realistically. If we’re playing a game of hide and seek and everyone is in the same house, then the game actually has some merit. But if the game is being played in the house but the person you’re hiding from is living in the heavens above and has the full view of everything below, where do you really think you’re going to go? In other words, for a season we may be able to hide from others, but never from ourselves and certainly not from God. Hiding is the ultimate repression–the notion that denying who and what we are will somehow put off the inevitable evaluation of the world around us concerning our character. What astounds people is when you DON’T hide and you pop out information about yourself before they have a chance to put on their thinking caps and over-process your personage.

“Hello, there. My name is Jonathan Richard Cring. I’ve been married for 41 years and had the pleasure of parenting seven children. I never went to college, am extraordinarily fat, but I do have some talents and have worked very hard at multiplying them and have had the privilege of seeing those abilities provide my livelihood and bless people around me. I have average intelligence, which means that in some ways, I am an overachiever. I am not naturally gregarious, but I have learned that it is necessary to be so to be of any use to anyone around me. I’m working very hard to not hide from myself, others and God–because the danger is that I may eventually find a hole to crawl into that I can’t escape.”

You see? It’s not that hard.

Which kind of leads me to the second thing I like to avoid: lying. See, this one is tricky–because lying, if purely defined, is anything that is absent truthfulness. Shoot, I”m like the next guy–I embellish; I over-explain. I create scenarios in my mind that are only partially true, and I offer polite compliments which are not completely on point with my actual feelings. Lying is something that I will work to avoid for the rest of my life, as I am sure all of my fellow-travelers will also have occasion to do. But the more you have truth on the inward parts, the easier it is to take a breath of fresh air without fear of being attacked from the rear by some falsehood that you’ve spread. Lying is what we do when we really think that who we are, what we believe and who we believe in is insufficient enough to cover our circumstances. It is the ultimate insecurity–the admission that we weren’t given enough, so we must come up with a story about ourselves that sounds better than the real one. How sad.

And finally, the third activity to avoid, in my mind, is judging. I have been working on this one all my life. I think it’s why we have so many shows on television now that have judges, critics and audience voting. We’re all just a bunch of frustrated grumps who have no intention of doing much of excellence ourselves and would like to just sit in a chair and evaluate the progress of others. Here’s what I know: I will never offer an opinion on anything that I have not personally done and had some measure of success in performing. Can you see how this immediately limits my potentials? It is a beautiful measuring stick. For example, if you have actually baked a cake, put on the icing and served it to the delight of your consumers, then feel free to comment on MY baked cake. If you haven’t, then please, just have your cake–and eat it, too.

But the truth of the matter is, the people who judge the most are the people who do the least. Anyone who has actually had to display their wares for consideration is not quite as “peppy” to jump in and ravage someone else’s efforts. That’s why there are pockets of gossips and judges–and some of the worst ones are in church. Because church, rather than being a seminar to produce victorious people, has become a sanitarium for debilitated patients, hacking and coughing up their disappointments and anger. But Jesus makes it clear that the judgment we put out to others will come back to us. Wow. So even though I do have enough experience in writing, music, movies and the arts to give a really intelligent view on the projects I see, over the years I have learned to spend more time admiring than reviewing.

Just stop judging. It’s exhausting–and not particularly fulfilling, either–because the only fellowship you have is with people who like to judge (and YOU are probably their next target).

So without being too presumptuous, I can tell you that if there is some final evaluation of our lives, the fact that you avoided eating meat will probably not make nearly as much difference as learning to avoid hiding, lying and judging.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I know this–I didn’t hide anything from you, and in my essay I did not lie, and if you disagree, I certainly will not judge you.

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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

Missed Takes… January 2, 2012

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Jonathan in Miami

Shakespeare contended that all the world was a stage and we–the actors. Some folks would object to that characterization, insisting that they don’t want to live “pretend” lives.

But there’s nothing “pretend” about theater. Theater is about discovering your character, getting into character and staying in character. In the process of doing that, many errors can be made–and the uncovering of flaws and virtues is illuminating to the thespian and eventually enlightening to the audience. It’s even more true in the movie industry, for when you make a film, rather than having a single performance that you have to live and die with, as in legitimate theater, you can start and stop, and do many takes of the same scene until you find exactly what you want.

Of course, in the process, you end up with an abundance of “missed takes.”

But it doesn’t make any difference. As long as you keep three things in mind when you’re portraying a scene, you will be just fine and always in character.

(1) You must have the right part. In other words, show up knowing your lines. You can’t be reading someone else’s dialogue and think that you’re conveying your own message.

(2) You must have the right heart–a passionate wonder that causes you to pursue the truth of your character faithfully.

(3) And finally, you must have the right start. Showing up grumpy, frustrated, angry or preoccupied will certainly diminish your possibilities.

If you have the right part, heart and start you will succeed in theater–because even if your first or second takes don’t match the style of the show, you will be willing to revise your approach and do better. There is only one thing that makes a bad actor–someone who insists that he has the right interpretation, which causes him to fail to take direction.

Such also is life.

The abnormal fear that now permeates our society over making a mistake has generated a paranoid, lying and cheating generation of people who feel they can avoid all critique by simply insisting they are incapable of error. It makes us look stupid.

Let me give you an example. When I arrived at the church yesterday, I had a long ramp to climb with my bad knee. The dear pastor met me at the bottom of that ramp and greeted me with all the warmth of her heart. She walked up by my side as I panted and groaned a little bit from some pain. In that moment, I appeared weak. There was no need to pretend that I was macho and strong–my weakness was obvious and the only thing that would have made me seem weaker would have been to deny it.

We don’t garner respect by acting like we’re impervious to pain. We need to learn that mistakes are inevitable. They are merely “missed takes” as we live out our lives on the stage provided. There are times we will be weak. If we’ve taken the opportunity to build up our strengths, those moments of weakness will not appear to be fatal, but rather, human. It is our job, just as with the character actor on stage, to show up with the right part.

I will tell you this candidly–if you want to have the right part in life, always pick people over rules. History will be cruel to you if you’re always siding with rules,  regulations and commandments to the detriment of people. People are not always right but they are always closest to the heart of God.

And speaking of heart, you should make sure you have the right one–and to have the right heart in life is not to be error free, but to always pursue mercy over critique. I don’t care if other people want to criticize the world around them. I refuse to join in. You may argue with me, believing that SOME things need to be condemned or attacked. Feel free. I just know that the measure we measure out will be measured back to us. And I, who walk around filled with foibles, obesity and silliness, certainly require my share of mercy. To obtain that, I must be merciful. And considering the fact that I will make mistakes, I need to grant grace to those who preceded me in the process.

And finally, if you’re going to do this thing called “life” well, you have to make the right start. Because back to that climb up the ramp yesterday at the church, there was no need for me to pretend that I was not laboring to achieve it. What WAS available to me was to remain in good cheer about the endeavor instead of casting a shadow of worry. Yes, the right start in life is to always find a reason to have good cheer rather than inserting the fussiness and futility of worry.

You and I will make mistakes. They are like missed takes on our life’s performance.

But if we have the right part–a love of people instead of adherence to rules–and the right heart–mercy displacing critique–and the right start–good cheer bumping the foolishness of worry out of the way–we will live to act another day.

If all the world is a stage and we are actors upon it, then take a little time … to study your script.

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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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