One Per Customer … September 11, 2012


It’s Superman’s fault.

I mean, if we have to blame somebody (which we surely must), he, after all, was a great promoter of the dual existence. Feeling that his Superman persona would not fit into every social situation, he created Clark Kent. And likewise understanding that Clark Kent was incapable of outrunning a bullet, he kept Superman around.

It taught us, even as little children, that we would need many characters to function in a complex society, which often demands more than we can provide with our singular, puny personality.

So we bought into it. No one talks about it very much. It’s a general understanding– similar to the unwritten law that underwear shouldn’t be worn for more than one day.

So we pick a profile to use when we’re with our families, another one on the job; some people even select an identity to don while driving their car. Don’t forget the pious face we keep in the jar to use for more spiritual occasions. And then, when it’s time to vote, we pull out our donkey or elephant costumes and try to stay within party lines. At the end of the day, ready to go to sleep, we’re not quite sure who is in bed with us.

After all, who are we? We wonder why we’re a little sad, preoccupied, uncertain of the future and unwilling to be as generous as we once thought we were going to be. Superman should have made up his mind–be Superman or be Clark Kent, who just had some really neat abilities, like helping his friends lift boxes on moving day.

The only true pressure in life is trying to be more than one person. You have to find your philosophy. It’s one per customer.

A philosophy is easy to recognize: it has one moving part, one concept, one function, one energy, one idea, one piece of holiness. Universally, it extends this particular motion throughout all the facets of our lives. Ten commandments are nine too many. The seven virtues of a successful person is a half a dozen over. Whenever we try to multiply our approaches, we divide our effectiveness. You have to find your philosophy and its one moving part, and remain faithful to it. Therein you find the key to fulfilling human life.

The average person has five philosophies at work at all times. No wonder we are busy, exhausted and cantankerous. Here are the five:

  1. It’s all about family.
  2. It’s all about financial security.
  3. It’s all about health.
  4. It’s all about God.
  5. It’s all about freedom.

You can see–these five are not going to peacefully co-exist within the skin of our human kin. They battle. When you think about family, security becomes upset because everything is too expensive. When you think about God, you feel that your freedom has been impinged by religious imprisoning. When you think about your health, you worry about your family, insurance, God–AND a loss of freedom. So these colliding ideas become the “five stooges” within us–running into each other, knocking each other over and popping to their feet, ready to fight. It’s just too much.

You have to develop a singular philosophy of life that covers family, finances, health, God, and freedom. Otherwise, you’ll get up in the morning, look in the mirror and wonder why that growth has suddenly appeared on your neck as you stumble down the stairs to breakfast to be bombarded by some family member who has also found a growth on her neck and wants to talk about it. Over breakfast, you’ll read the newspaper about the financial collapse, making you wonder if you should withdraw all your money, stick it in a sock and bury it underneath the dog house. Lying on a table nearby is the morning devotional you promised your church you would read everyday before work, which on this particular morning, has lost out to a second helping of bacon, which worries you because of its high cholesterol. Part of you enjoys the morning activity with your family, while another portion of you is eager to get off to work, to have that twenty-three-minute drive, with complete freedom of the use of the radio before you arrive at your cubicle, to be told what to do by someone else who is also worried about his family, security, health, God and freedom.

I discovered this dilemma in stages, but I finally came to the conclusion that if I was going to change hats every time a new situation came up, it was only going to make me look ridiculous, with constantly messed-up hair.

I have a philosophy. It has one moving part. It used to be “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But I found a weakness in that statement, dubbed The Golden Rule.  When I felt bad about myself, or was angry with the world, I would project that anger onto others and justify it by saying, “All humans are angry.” By no means am I criticizing the Golden Rule, but I am saying that everything spiritual matures and grows.

This year I have taken a step of faith and innocence, to make the only moving part of my singular philosophy to be, “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

It is liberating. I don’t have to try to be top dog, nor do I have to look to find out if there IS one. I don’t have to wait to be saluted, nor is it necessary for me to provide the salute. We are all the same in the mind of our Creator, and from that status of equality, we either improve or deteriorate our possibilities. If you run across people who have improved, you should leave them alone or give them applause. Don’t deter them. If you run across people who have deteriorated their equality to become the “poor lost pups” of our kennel, look for an opportunity to scratch them in the right places and give them a bone. They will usually let you know they’re interested in getting off of their leashes by wagging their tails.

During this election year, my heart is heavy as I watch normally intelligent and even caring people turn into political maniacs, trying to prove their point about issues that no one completely understands.

So do I love my family? I sure do, but NoOne is better than anyone else. I also believe in the family of man.

Do I need financial security? Absolutely–but NoOne is better than anyone else. I will need to work for what I get, just like my neighbor.

Do I have concerns about health? Of course, but NoOne is better than anyone else. Broccoli works in my body just like it does in yours.

How about my feelings towards God? That’s easy. He’s the One that came up with the idea that NoOne is better than anyone else, because we are told that He is no respecter of persons.

But what about my freedom? Again, NoOne is better than anyone else. If I am willing to grant freedom to other people, I can anticipate the same.

I do not know if you will take this essay seriously or not. (Perhaps it’s a bit optimistic for me to believe you’ve even gotten this far in reading it.) But you can improve your life one hundred per cent simply by abandoning your “Clark Kent costuming.” Bring your life down to one moving part–one philosophy–one idea. You can pick what it is. You don’t have to follow mine. But each one of us is granted a single unit.

Yes–one per customer.

It not only makes our lives sensible, but it frees us of the responsibility of learning a new script … every time the scene changes.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Bridging the Troubled Waters … July 18, 2012


Poolside at Bethesda in Jerusalem near the sheep gate.

Yuk. Who wants to go swimming near a sheep gate?? I guess the key would be to dive under the water a lot to avoid the smell.

Now, this particular place has significance because it is the source of a story of supernatural proportions, which allows it to become a magnificent tourist attraction. According to legend, an angel fell into these waters and somehow or another transferred heavenly energy into the stream, so occasionally the waters would become “troubled” and allegedly, anyone who jumped into the bubbly brew was immediately healed.

It probably did not occur to anyone that the “troubling of the waters” was brought about by a deep underground spring, and the Artesian effect created the bubbling. But it made for  an impressive mythology and drew out great crowds of people who wished to become the next benefactors of the bountiful bubbles.

You may insist that I am being sarcastic about the miraculous proportions of this tale. Not at all. I believe in miracles. I am humbled by a gracious intervention of a mysterious origin. It’s just that I know that this was not a miracle. How? Let me give you three reasons:

1. It favors those who are the fastest. Honestly, if you were truly sick and completely unable to walk and needed the miracle the most, you were least likely to get it because somebody with acne would immediately leap into the pool ahead of you. Blessing from God is not contingent on portability.

2. The myth was kept alive because the only people who got healed were those who were healthy enough not to need it. If the only success stories in your life are those people who were basically successful before and just hit a bad patch, then you are a pit stop, not a salvation station.

3. Rather than creating faithful, excited individuals who are anticipating great benefit from God, the pool ends up making those who linger around it into grumpy, cynical and whiney losers.

For when Jesus runs across a man who has been crippled, as it turns out, for thirty-eight years, he does not ask him why he failed to get into the waters. He doesn’t move him closer to the pool so that all he has to do is fall in. Jesus asks him “if he really wants to be made whole.”  Is it a dumb question? After all, the guy’s LIVING next to this magical pond. Doesn’t that demonstrate his willingness to be transformed? The guy doesn’t even answer Jesus’ question. Instead, he explains to Jesus why it’s impossible to get to the waters before the “speedy sickos.” The man has developed an apology for his belief.

This is my problem with religion. It develops a storyline filled with angels, heavenly promises and seemingly grounded in the Word of God. Then all the sick people come and sit next to this little piece of superstition, devoid of healing or change–just developing excuses for their desperation and need.

I hate superstition. I hate it when people are left in bondage and handed a series of scriptures to hold onto while they struggle with their misery.

So does Jesus. He doesn’t waste any time. He tells the man to rise, take up his bed and walk. He doesn’t trouble the water for the man and put him in, to promote the lie. No–he connects him. And the funny thing about the story is that this guy, who has now been healed, rather than being grateful, overwhelmed and unabashedly appreciative, ends up joining up with the religious leaders to finger Jesus as the guy who did this wonderful deed for him … on the Sabbath Day.

Jesus is angry. He finds the man and warns him to repent lest a worse thing happen to him. Now, answer me this: what could be worse than being crippled for thirty-eight years, sitting next to a pool of water, sniffing sheep dung and waiting for the waters to bubble up in front of you, knowing that you probably will never receive restoration from its flow? I guess what would be worse is being healed and still bound to a religious system that did nothing to help you get that way.

We have to begin to ask our faith to make us whole, not merely comfort us. Not just be satisfied with wonderful stories that we all recite, memorize and retell, never fully understanding the meaning, nor eat magical bread and drink mystical wine, thinking that somehow or another it transforms us into new creatures. Instead, step away from the superstition and ask God to teach you how to be a good human being.

Here are the three things I believe need to be done to escape the religious rhetoric that is driving people away and has no authority to address the problems of our present generation:

1. If our faith makes us whole, then it’s time to teach people that God will involve them in their miracle.

2. There is nothing wrong with questioning stories, fables and even scriptures that do nothing to invite newness of life.

3. If the by-product of our spiritual experience is not becoming rehabilitated humans, then what we’ve entered is a time capsule of belief that was relevant to a former generation and obscure to us.

Here’s a clue:

  • If your reaction to disappointment is the same as the worker in the cubicle next to you, who does not believe in God, then your faith is meaningless.
  • If you are not finding new ways to use your talents to improve your lifestyle and increase your possibilities, then your religion is an albatross hanging around your neck.
  • If you find yourself defending God more often than you do living out His promises with good cheer, then you probably hooked up with the wrong team.
  • If you’re listening to scriptures and the words are beginning to blur together like a highway on a sleepy drive, you probably have lost the power of the word to transform you.
  • If you find yourself criticizing those who don’t believe more often than using your belief to uplift the critical, you are part of the problem, not the solution.
  • And if you’re lying next to a pool of water, waiting for the angels to trouble the stream so you can be healed, you might just have entered a religious Twilight Zone.

Sometimes people make up reasons for religion because the ability to turn disciples into the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth” has been sacrificed on an altar of tradition. Spirituality is a daily bathing in good cheer and good ideas.

Anything less is religion, which merely gives you an excuse for why you’re not well.


The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

%d bloggers like this: