Unconventional… August 31, 2012

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I received contact this week from two friends. Both of them are believers in the life and times of Jesus. One is a Republican and one is a Democrat. They were each  sharing their particular rendition of what they believe to be the best profile for our nation in the upcoming four years. Each one believes himself to be a patriot of some sort; each one thinks that the other political party is detrimental, if not dangerous, to the progression of our country’s values.

Neither one believes that the philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth can be applied in purity into a real-world situation of social and political upheaval. They honor the idealism of the Master but doubt that the range of ideas that Jesus presented would practically work in real-time situations. How do I know this?

Because one’s a Republican and one’s a Democrat.

They pursue movements that utilize the name of Christ, but fail to engage his heart and will. They revere political ideas that truly praise him with their lips but keep their hearts far from him.

Here are two outstanding examples of Jesus principles that escape both approaches:

1. You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.  It seems that you can not be involved in politics and keep the sanctity of that idea. Matter of fact, it’s joked about and even given other names, like “disinformation” and “playing loose with the facts.” Here’s what I know: those who gathered in Tampa this week did so failing to recognize their most recent President, George W. Bush, and pretending as if the eight years of his administration did not exist. That’s called a lie. Maybe they didn’t like what he did. Then they should explain how the new platform and ideas will differ. Maybe they thought he got a bum rap from the press. Then they should speak to his honor and his goals. But to totally ignore eight years of a Presidency from your party during a time when you are allegedly celebrating your aspirations and victories is misleading and downright dishonoring of the truth.

And the Democrats will gather in Charlotte next week and will continue to do what they have been pursuing for the past several months–fail to take responsibility for the lackluster performance of the past four years. Honestly, there may be reasons for it. It isn’t like America exists as an island unto itself, able to produce all of its own products and provide its own resources. We are part of a global economy and there certainly are difficulties that arise because of our dependence upon other nations. But instead, the Democrats pretend. They pretend that things are a little better. They pretend that they do not have any responsibility in their Democratic party for what has transpired over the past four years. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats do go back and invoke the name of George W. Bush–as the villain of the situation.

So Jesus says the lack of truth from both parties will cause our nation to be absent of freedom.

2.  Secondly, I become concerned with the political leanings of my two friends–one Republican and one Democrat–because Jesus told us that “the poor will be with us always and we should do what we can for them.” Unfortunately, that is not what I heard in Tampa this week with the Republicans. The Republicans hold to the concept that hard work brings prosperity, everybody wants to be better off and if we all just pull together, we can all be financially solvent and successful. We know this isn’t true. We know that no matter how hard some people work, there are limits on wages for that particular occupation, and certainly doors closed to advancement that would take them into a new tax bracket. It isn’t an issue of whether we discourage people from trying to climb up the economic ladder; it’s just that some people are given shorter ladders. To extol those who succeed with what we consider to be the obvious evidence of financial prosperity, while ignoring those who are still successful in their own way, but without the “dough to show for it,” is not only short-sighted, but could be deemed by the Master to be mean-spirited.

On the other hand, those Democrats who will gather in Charlotte contend they are on a mission to eliminate poverty by trying to make things more fair in the realm of capitalism. Let’s understand two things: (1) capitalism isn’t fair. It rewards those who have the most and then gives head starts to them in the race; (2) Jesus said “the poor you will have with you always.” We are not going to eliminate poverty. What we can do is give everybody a chance to excel and then provide an idea for what happens if they fall short.

As you can see, I’ve only mentioned two of the hallmark principles of Jesus, and both parties fail miserably to either address the ideas or set in motion a plan to honor the principles.

So as I thought about my two friends who are Christians, who have divided into separate political camps, I realized that the reason I remain apolitical is that I am not willing to sacrifice precious, powerful precepts which I know work in an attempt to compromise on lesser notions that have been historically proven to be ineffective.

We need something unconventional–but it is unlikely that this will ever come out of a political convention.

  • The Republicans need to be honest about the administration of George W. Bush, take responsibility, and offer a plan on how they might right their own wrongs.
  • The Democrats need to admit that they had no idea of the scope of the difficulties they were facing and that they spent their time spreading around idealism instead of hard-core principles to address the issues. They failed to embody the idea of hope–and the Bible says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Heartsick. That might be a good description of the American spirit.

So for those of you who insist on pursuing a political solution, may I point out a criteria for what you should require before releasing your vote? Here are the two questions. Which party comes closest to the truth by November 6th? And which party has a realistic approach to poverty instead of idealism or placing the issue on the back burner?

One thing is for certain–our country will need a little bit of luck and an awful lot of blessing to come out of this spin. To do that we must honor something other than ourselves. We must tip our hats to history, respect one another, work together and never stain the facts by ignoring the truth.

I love both of my friends dearly. I am just sorry that they are sacrificing the power of their belief for a temporary solution. The end result could be a complete loss of respect for the truth and the ignoring of the poor.

Jesus’ response to that would be, “I never knew you.”

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

The Lambs–Lying with the Lions… April 9, 2012

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There was a time in our country when lying was expected from little children and politicians who got their hands caught in the cookie jar. It was simple–there was the truth and there was the avoidance of the truth, which we boldly called “lying.” It doesn’t mean that lying had not occurred since the beginning of time. After all, the very first sin, from a Biblical perspective,was lying, not disobedience. Adam and Eve could have survived the trauma of a poor choice had they not lied to the Judge on court day.

Somewhere along the line, the lambs of life–average human beings who used to be ashamed of deceit–are now actively “lying with the lions”–those man-eating, corporate giants and political sharks who have always found it easier to reject reality. It has been a process.

When I was born, lying was “bad.” There was no caveat to that. If you lied, you were “bad” and that was the end of it. Even when Lucy lied to Ricky on the television show back in the fifties, she eventually got caught, suffered some consequences and had to learn a lesson.

A little time marches on and there is a subtle transition–away from “lying is bad.”  The new byline was, “lying is out there–so be careful.” It echoed the paranoid mind-set of the 1960’s, a belief that big government and big everything was out to get us, so we’d better be on our toes.

But then there was a drastic turn. We can speculate on what caused it, but I believe one of the greatest contributors to the loss of veracity in our country was Watergate. Even though the populace denounced what Richard Nixon did, the definition of lying changed from being “bad” or “out there” to “lying is a weakness.”

Once lying becomes a “weakness,” we all can hide behind the frailty of our character and still come out of the experience fairly unscathed, which took us into the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, where another transition happened. We began to believe that sensitivity was primary for communication, and therefore, lying became “merciful.” Don’t tell people the truth–it could hurt their feelings. Don’t share the extent of the problem with folks–they can’t handle it.

Which brought us into a time of one of the greatest misconceptions, which is: “lying is human.” You see, once we establish that something is human, we can do it on the sly and if caught, blame our genetics. It’s a slippery slope. Why? Because the philosophy of “I’m only human” negates the special significance that God gave to the creation of our species, placing within us His own image. So I don’t think you’re going to find much mercy in the Creator by saying that you’re “only human.”

But once it became accepted that “lying is human,” we arrived at President Bill Clinton.  Just as Richard Nixon and Watergate deteriorated the American conscience about the subject to merely referring to it as a weakness, when President Clinton repeatedly misled us, it gave license for a new translation of the situation. It was the arrival of the notion that “everyone lies sometimes”–which immediately led to another step: “lying is a part of life.” Now, you can see, anyone who would stand against lying or even suggest that we as people could tell the truth would come across as unrealistic, or even worse, self-righteous. If” everyone lies sometimes,” you just might not have control over when it’s your turn.

Yes, we began to forfeit authority over our own selections. So lying became “a part of life.” And since it’s a part of life, lying became fodder and fuel for the comedic mind. Soon, in our movies and our television shows, lying was portrayed as something very funny. Unlike the Lucy show, liars in our new art form often do NOT get caught. There is no recompense for their deeds. They are even portrayed as the heroes, who did whatever was necessary to achieve the goal.

It has become almost like “lying is a different way of telling the truth.” Lying is the cushion we lay down on the ground, to ease the fall. In a strange sense, with the introduction of reality shows, lying has become admirable–a shortcut through the park to get to the market. It is a way to achieve your purposes without having to explain your motives.

Which brings us to where we are now–a situation where the lambs–those who once held fast to integrity–have now mated with the lions–predators who have never honored the rules of the jungle–and birthed an offspring of sheep with claws and teeth.

Truthfully, most people believe that lying is “American.” If we’re “doing it for America,” and if we’re Americans and as long as our motives are “good at heart,” then whatever we say to get what is “God ordained.”

There you have it. We have gone from “lying is bad” to “lying is American.”

We have gone from Thanksgiving dinner with the Pilgrims and Indians, where there was a mutual respect because there was a general need–to avoid starvation–to calling those Native Americans “savages” and thrusting them onto reservations. We have taken the spirit of Watergate and mingled it with the events of Monica Lewinsky to generate a resignation of ultimate deception.

It all happened because we grew up believing that (1) inconvenience is nasty; and (2) that truth, more often than not, is inconvenient.

I must be honest with you and tell you that I dreaded writing an article about lying. I have grown up in the same climate and am susceptible to the little splotches of darkness that have stained all of our souls. But here’s what I’ve come up with:

I avoid telling lies at all cost. When I do tell one, I inform myself that I must own up to this as soon as possible because it’s the only way for me to maintain dignity. And finally, if I am so foolish that I allow myself to get caught, I will never piggyback one lie upon another, but will immediately admit that I am the culprit.

It is a formula I call avoid, own and admit. You may not be able to completely escape the inclination force-fed by our society, to distribute what is now called “misinformation.” But you can learn that lying is really the only sin. Everything else is just a mistake, awaiting our repentance.

Some of our lions–those we elected to be the leaders of our country–have set an example that now is being absorbed by the lambs. Candidly, our lambs will have to “trickle up” truthfulness to our lions. It won’t come from the other direction. If we want greatness, we must be willing to do great things.

And the greatest thing a human being can do … is stop lying.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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