Getting in Character … July 6th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Gymnast with coach

From Act II, Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage and all the men and women, merely players.”

There are those who feel they tap an insightful genius by using laborious dialogue and depravity to accentuate what they have determined to be reality. Yes, indeed–every actor is tempted to pick up a paycheck by participating in a piece of manipulated negativity.

Yet you must remember–the world evaluates what you want by what you give.

Art can journey through the tunnel but is required to find the light, thus generating the mercy we give to humanity through creativity instead of adding gloom to the doom.

Never forget, there are only three things that human beings require: mercy, opportunity and honesty.

Take any of these away and we starve in agony.

But in each case, we cannot continue to acquire our “food for heart” without first obviously providing it to those around us.

  • Therefore to obtain mercy, you must grant mercy–from your forgiveness through your performance.
  • Opportunity is granted to those who are already providing such a benefit to others.
  • And honesty is the air we breathe, which keeps us from choking to death.

If you’re going to get in character, you must understand that the review left behind for your stage appearance will not only be collected on your professional resume … but will become the heritage of your legacy.

 

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Populie: You Can’t Trust Anybody … August 27, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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ColbertI’m not so sure when it became so popular to be cynical. Under the guise of being streetwise or intellectual, we seem to have become so jaded to one another that relationships are difficult to begin.

Matter of fact, if you go to an average church service, somebody will tell a story about how bad things are and how evil people can be.

It’s difficult to go to a movie or watch television without being pummeled with a revelation of the depravity of humankind.

And politicians are always asking for trust from the public while treating us like ignoramuses.

The general population seems to agree on only three things:

  1. People are no good.
  2. Protect yourself.
  3. Matter of fact, strike first.

So the popular belief that there are dangers in the world becomes the populie that “you can’t trust anybody.”

I refuse to live that way.

To make sure that I’m not devastated by unruly individuals, here are three precepts I use in dealing with the world around me:

1. People are self-involved.

It doesn’t make them bad. It just means that if you can’t establish how your project is to their personal advantage, they will either ignore you or lose interest very quickly.

2. It’s up to me to know my stuff.

For instance, I’m going to purchase an amp today. I did my homework. I read up on it, I found out what it should cost and I have a fairly complete comprehension of what I’m willing to do. Remember–it’s not that people cheat us, but rather, we set ourselves up to be cheated by being ignorant of our material.

3.  And finally, go the second mile.

You will be astounded at how good you feel if you do your part, but also bring along a little extra in case others fail.

It’s not that you can’t trust anybody. but rather, that trust is based on the knowledge that we’ve done all we know to do, and we’re not expecting anyone else to do our part.

I do not know how we can live in a world that talks about unconditional love while simultaneously sprouting horrible attitudes toward one another.

You can choose to indulge in the nagging negativity of our society, which targets our fellow-men as losers if you wish.

I just believe it’s impossible to ask God for His grace and mercy…if all you give to your brothers and sisters is a nasty, bratty shove-off. 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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The Story Goes On… July 14, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Daniel in the lion's denI was having trouble dealing with the stories: Jonah and the whale, Daniel in the lion’s den–even Jesus walking on the water.Three little pigs

So when I was fifteen years old, for a season I embraced agnosticism.

It was pretty easy. For after all, I never believed in religion. Church was tolerable. I had a curiosity about God.

But overall, the religious system asked me to swallow things without question, never realizing how they might affect me.

It was just too much.

Now I know there are those who would like to believe that departing from the church leads to all sorts of depravity. But I did not become a drug addict. I did not start mistreating my dog. I didn’t develop a pornography addiction.

Moses and the Red SeaActually, I rather enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and took the extra time to audition for a play, and won the lead role.Little Red Riding Hood

I was happy.

I made new friends, since my Christian ones turned their backs on me. I joined with these acquaintances to discuss intellectual matters and expound on the problems in our society. I felt like a budding genius. It was like I was on a Mt. Olympus of knowledge, looking down on the world around me, trying to find a way I could assist the mere mortals below.

It was intoxicating.

In a strange sense of speaking, it was a religious experience. Yes, there is a religiosity to atheism. It was the comforting sense that I was self-contained. I needed nothing else.

Everything seemed really positive except for one factor. As time went on, the conversations I had with my new comrades became more bitter and nasty. After a while, we judged those who were not part of our confluence to be inferior–ignorant, if you will.

So one day it occurred to me that this new “religion” I had taken on had the same viciousness and prejudice as the one I had walked away from. There was still a plan of salvation, in the sense that you had to reject anything that might even hint toward the supernatural. There were sermons, as we disemboweled the character of those individuals who dared to disagree with us.

So finally, one night lying on my bed, I realized that the true story was not confined to the sixty-six books of the holy scripture. The story is actually compacted into the message that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

For even though I hated religion, had grown weary of church and felt like I could do without God, I had no idea, in my agnosticism, what to do with people. They seemed cumbersome. They were in the way.

Because as noble as it may sound to give freedom to everyone, when you have eight billion freedom-headers crashing into one another, it’s quite a headache.

My new-found lack of faith caused me to be irritated with the very creatures with whom I shared a species.

We need the story.

Maybe we don’t need all the stories that have been collected and called divine within the volume, but we do need The story:

  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Give and it shall be given unto you.
  • Go the second mile.
  • You are the salt of the earth
  • Love your enemies

Without this narrative, we learn to hate religion, disdain the church, ignore God, and unfortunately, also end up disliking one another.

I went back to church.

I don’t agree with everything that happens there, and when I don’t, I question it. I rail against religion because it is a man-made infestation, formed to cripple the creativity of humankind.

I maintain a curiosity about God, though none of us know what happens a hundred and twenty seconds after we die.

But I believe in people.

I consider it to be the sign of spiritual energy–when the love we have for one another becomes the symbol of our devotion to God.

The story goes on. The story needs to be told.

Because without the story… we become discouraged in our own lack of appreciation for one another.

 

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Arizona morning

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The Big Tow… December 27, 2012

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Yesterday at 2:46 PM I walked out of my motel and into the parking lot to discover that my van had been towed away. Let me share the three steps that led to this dispersion:

1. The motel was painting the floor where I usually go to my room via the wheelchair ramp.

2. I had to find a parking place in the back near another ramp.

3. As it turns out, my selection of parking places was their tow-away zone, and rather than calling me on the phone and asking me to move my vehicle, they apparently took some glee in punishing me.

Let me make a long story short. Both Jan and I went to the front desk and explained our situation as calmly as we could, considering the fact that we were battling a bit of anger, and they corrected the mistake, took us to pick up the van and it ended up costing us nothing but a bit of time.

But it did get me thinking. (I guess if you’re going to write a daily column on the Internet, you should think occasionally. Otherwise you get boring not only to yourself, but also end up disappointing your readers.)

You see, what happened here was that a simple error was overly punished because no grace was given. We talk about grace a lot in religious institutions, and I have never been satisfied with anyone’s definition of this magnificent virtue. The classic definition for grace is unmerited favor.” Whether a church is liberal or conservative, they all contend that human beings are a lost cause and God tolerates us by offering us salvation because we’re helpless.

I don’t think that’s what grace is. If those people at the front desk of my motel had just picked up the phone and given me the opportunity to change my own circumstances by moving my van, I would have been more than happy to do so. But to trap me in my accidental mistake and to follow through with swift judgment, with little regard for my feelings, does not make me very appreciative, even when the outcome is to my favor.

See what I mean? Telling me that God thinks I am a miserable, despicable individual who Jesus came to die for on a cross, and that without accepting his gift of blood atonement, I am destined for a hell-of-an-ending to my journey doesn’t make me particularly glad that I believe in God.

If that is the way you view our heavenly Father, you are welcome to continue to pursue that theology. I find it repulsive. I, being a father, certainly would not treat my children in that way–and I expect God to exceed my efforts.

Here’s what I think about grace, in the form of what I needed from the front desk people at my motel:

1. This person with the big black van is a guest of ours. I don’t know why he ended up parking back there–maybe he was ignorant of the rule. Let’s give him a chance to make it right.

2. Let’s not assume our guest is helpless, and let’s not believe he’s hopeless. Let’s take a moment and just believe that he made a bad choice.

3. Give him an opportunity to do better work.

You see, I don’t think God believes I am a depraved sinner. Why? Because God, for a while, wore a human body when his name was Jesus, so He knows what it’s like. He understands that it often is not an issue of temptation, but rather, too quickly choosing convenience over being smart. He doesn’t want to trap us in our moments of dumbness. He believes there is better in us. If He doesn’t, He’s a lousy Father.

Grace is giving people a chance to realize their error and do it again before any punishment has a chance to arrive. Therefore my life isn’t over when God saves my soul. I’m just given a clean sheet of paper to do better scribbling.

Because the people at the front desk decided to be judgmental instead of generous, they ended up paying for a tow that they thought would be levied on me. Such is the end of all vindictiveness.

Let’s learn grace. Grace is when we believe that people still have a chance to do good… because they came from good stock.

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