Jesonian … June 16th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3705)

“When are we going to stop all this stuff you’re teaching and go back to who we really are?”

This statement seems to ooze from the twelve disciples throughout Jesus’ entire three-and-a-half year ministry.

They didn’t mind being taught, just as long as they didn’t have to learn.

And they didn’t mind learning sometimes, as long as they didn’t have to apply.

And applying was alright every once in a while, as long as it was a one-time thing that didn’t need to be repeated.

You can look at the disciples as either some of the whiniest men that ever walked the face of the Earth, or be candid and admit that they were typical.

Typical of us all.

Every one of us arrives at the Gospel with too many pre-conceived ideas. No wonder Jesus referred to the experience as being “born again.” Otherwise, we try to join a club that pursues all the traditions we have contrived since our birth.

Why are we going to Samaria?

Why was this man born blind?

Why do you talk so tough to the Pharisees?

Why can’t we divorce women?

Why are we supposed to love our enemies?

Why don’t we kill the Romans and start over again?

Why can’t I be scared in a boat when there’s a storm?

Why are we inviting tax collectors into our really neat band of brothers?

Why can’t we bring down lightning and thunder on the Samaritans?

You see, the Gospel is not just a plan of salvation, it’s also salvation from our plan.

Because without the Gospel, everyone would run hither, thither and yon, starting their own renditions of what Jesus said, coming up with funny-sounding names, and focus on one doctrine over another.

Wait. We’re already doing that.

The greatest gift you can give to yourself is to know that Christianity is a lifestyle, not a religion.

It is not a revolving door, where we enter to worship, and leave to catch the beginning of the football game on Sirius Radio on the way home.

The Gospel is the essence of eternity, functioning on Earth. No other philosophy, no other interaction and no other manifesto ever came along which included God, Nature and people.

Instead, each of these other religions focus on one of these factors. In some religions, God is over-emphasized. Other approaches place too much importance on Nature. And of course, there are philosophies which contend it’s a human situation–i.e., every man for himself.

The Gospel is not going away. It is not going to be replaced or even mingled with provincialism. It took the disciples a long time to understand this.

But if we all join together with good hearts and good cheer, we might be able to shorten the process and get people rejoicing again, with exceeding gladness.

 

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Salient…June 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3700)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Even though it is not the holiday season, I found myself thinking about the song, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

If you are six years old, the title of this tune is frightening, leading your young mind to believe there’s a divorce in the making, custody battles and certainly a scandal awaiting the great Toymaker to the North.

If you happen to be older–let’s say above fourteen years of age–you don’t have quite the visceral reaction, since you have some inside information which might explain the circumstance. In other words, there might be a reason that Mommy is kissing Santa Claus that the young tyke isn’t fully aware of.

This is the advantage of knowledge, especially when it’s clothed with a great coat of common sense, and sits in a comfortable chair, with calmness.

Yet we, who are supposed to be grownups, are being carried away by all sorts of foolishness and deceptions, as if we are unaware of the possibility of different interpretations.

In politics, we’ve convinced ourselves that lying is an acceptable part of the practice, even though, in our mature minds, we are cognizant of the fact that no liar ever totally gets by with his or her fabrication.

In social interaction, we don’t seem to be able to distinguish the difference between a very poorly executed attempt at flirtation, harrasment, stalking and rape.

And in our religious realms, we deem ourselves to be the judges of humanity, when we were warned by the Judge of All not to don His auspicious robes.

To put it plainly, we are much smarter and more sophisticated than we pretend to be. Just as we know Mommy’s not really kissing Santa Claus, we likewise know that politicians can’t lie without eventually being destroyed, men and women need to learn how to interact with each other without singeing the edges with sexuality, and God needs to be worshipped instead of our fellow-human-beings defamed because they fail to measure up to chapter and verse.

We can do better.

  • We can actually take responsibility for the intelligence we’re supposed to have.
  • We can walk in the mercy we require for ourselves.
  • And we can garner the respect for one another that our own souls yearn to receive.

So for our salient moment:

Be as smart as you need to be by making sure you do not dumb down the world around you by pretending that dumb things should be heard.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 50) Hiding Out… May 27th, 2018

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(3685)

The digital clock on the nightstand read 2:14 A. M. when the phone in the darkened room pierced through the silence.

Jo-Jay stirred from a contented sleep. She had taken out the motel room for the night to have some private time, away from the hustle and bustle of the tent camp at Soulsbury. She also yearned for a deep, cleansing shower in a bathroom full of steam, warm and cozy.

She sat up as the phone continued to ring. It took her a moment to recall where she was. She eased her way from under the covers, picked up the receiver and said, “Hello?”

On the other end of the line was the nighttime captain at the Salisbury police department. “Jo-Jay, this is Bob down at the police headquarters. We’ve…uh…Well, let’s say detained…this guy. And he’s asked for you to be his contact. You know–his one phone call.”

Jo-Jay had made sure to get to know all the Salisbury policemen, because they were a great aid to the cause at the Camp of Remembrance.

“Who is it?” she asked the captain, with a crackle in her voice.

“I don’t know, my dear. He just wants to talk to you.”

“What did he do?” asked Jo-Jay.

“Well,” said the captain, “I guess you would say he was suspiciously lurking around the campgrounds.”

Jo-Jay nodded her head, even though she did not understand, and told Bob that she would be right down. She threw on the easiest clothes she could find, grabbed her keys, money and purse, ran a comb through her hair and scurried out the door. The police department was only three blocks away, so in no time at all she was standing outside the building, staring through the window at a nighttime skeleton crew, drinking coffee and trying to stay awake.

Coming through the door and walking up to the desk, she introduced herself. The captain stepped forward, greeted her and patted her shoulder. He walked her down a hallway to an interrogation room.

He stepped to the side, allowing her to go in ahead of him. Entering the room, she nearly laughed. Sitting on a chair, dressed in a dirty, wrinkled, stained navy blue suit with a powder-blue dress shirt which certainly had not been laundered in weeks, with disheveled hair and at least three days of sprouting beard, was Michael Hinston.

Jo-Jay had not seen him since the night of the kidnapping and confrontation. She felt no fear, but she also felt no tenderness.

His eyes were swollen, threatening tears. “I bet you didn’t expect to see me,” he said quietly.

The captain interrupted. “Do you know this fellow, Jo-Jay?”

She stared at Michael, wondering if she actually did know him. She absently-mindedly turned and said, “Yeah. It’s fine, Bob.”

Jo-Jay motioned for the captain to leave and sat down with Michael.

He was handcuffed to a chair. She squinted her eyes, sighed, and inquired, “What in the hell are you up to?”

“Do you want the short version or the long version?” he asked with a slight chuckle.

“Actually, I want to be on my Posturepedic mattress back at the Holiday Inn,” she replied, “but since you’ve robbed me of that, why don’t you give me the medium version, edited for television?”

Michael launched. “I’m no longer a Congressman. You might have figured that out. Here’s the story, Jo-Jay. I fell in with some bad people. And what I found out was, I was pretty comfortable with them, which of course, made me bad people, too. So even though I didn’t have anything to do with what happened to you or your friends, I heard rumblings of what might have been the story line. We can get to that later. Anyway, I was told that it was nearly my duty to take a kick-back from Caine Industrial, to subsidize my lack of living expenses. The attorney who instructed me in the ways of Washington and such graft was a guy named Milford Hays. Here’s the truth, Jo-Jay. I kept that fifty thousand dollars he gave me in an envelope for four months. Yet when it came time to consider braces for both Alisa and Bernice, my daughters, and private schools, my salary just fell short. I was tired of being noble. I was sick of being short on a dollar. I ran the check through several different methods of cashing and retrieving–trying to disassociate myself from the funds. And I didn’t think about it anymore until last month.”

Jo-Jay interrupted. “Is there an end to this story?”

Michael bowed his head a bit, sitting still, then slowly lifted his eyes and looked at Jo-Jay. “Jay…I really need someone to be nice to me right now.”

She paused, looked him in the eyes, drank in the depth of his sincerity and nodded. He continued.

“Well, you see, I didn’t realize… Well, a lot of things. But mainly I didn’t realize there was a plot by Caine Industrial to discredit and humiliate me, so they could remove me from my seat and could put in their own flunkie. They sent pictures to my wife of me cavorting around the Beltway with a prostitute. They weren’t real. But that doesn’t mean much to a devoted, aging wife with two children who felt like she gave up her dreams for mine.”

He shook his head. “So a major leak showed up in the media about me taking kickbacks, complete with evidence–accounts and witnesses. The head of the party in Ohio told me I needed to resign. Right after that phone call, I got served divorce papers from Barbara. It came with a restraining order. She was able to convince a judge that my temperament was so unpredictable that she and the children might be in danger. I wasn’t even able to go back and get my clothes. Barbara moved–took the children somewhere. She left three notes behind–one from her and one from each girl. Let me just say that they were not messages of encouragement. The words ‘devastated’ and ‘disappointed’ appeared frequently. Everything I purchased on payments suddenly came due–at least it seemed that way. I was arrested, and they gave me a choice. I could plead guilty to a misdemeanor with a ten thousand dollar fine, or go to trial and risk fifteen years in jail. I took the plea, and as I walked out, I saw the attorney, Milford Hayes, chatting with the district attorney.”

He shook his head again. “All I had was my wallet and this suit. They had picked up my rental car and they froze my bank accounts. I walked out the door of city hall, down the steps, and put out my thumb–to hitch-hike.”

Michael stopped. “Jo-Jay, did you realize that people don’t hitch-hike anymore? I had a horrible time getting anybody to take me anywhere. Finally a truck driver took me into Virginia and dropped me off at a truck stop. He said the best way to get a ride was to sit around the coffee shop and listen to where truck drivers were heading, and then negotiate a deal. It took me three days. I finally found Trucker-man Jackson–that’s what he called himself–heading to North Carolina. I jumped in. Over two days, I developed a toleration for Merle Haggard on the way to Salisbury. I never told him my story–I think if he had found out I was from Washington, D.C., Jackson would have kicked me out of his cab. But I think the filthy suit did make him wonder about my origins.”

Michael sighed. “Well, finishing this up, I arrived in town early this afternoon, and just walked around the Camp of Remembrance. Since I didn’t know anyone…you weren’t there…I didn’t get a tent. So I was hanging out next to a tree when the police came upon me. My reasons for being there were sketchy and my appearance was less than reassuring. So they brought me here.”

Jo-Jay leaped in. “And you thought of me.” She took a breath. “I want to tell you, Michael. I learned a long time ago that it’s not a good time to ask a favor unless you’ve given a favor and believe there might be one available to withdraw.”

Michael nodded his head and considered speaking, but chose silence–a profile Jo-Jay also selected for a couple of minutes.

At length, Jo-Jay asked, “So what do you want to do?”

With tears in his voice, Michael choked out, “I want you to give me the favor I don’t deserve. Vouch for me. Let me get out of these damn clothes. Wash up. Buy a pair of jogging pants, a t-shirt and tennis shoes, and I’d like to be of value to the work here.”

Jo-Jay laughed. “That’s just like everybody,” she said. “After they use up all the good shit in their lives, they suddenly want to give God the husk.”

Michael nodded his head. “Everything you’re saying is true. Everything I’m saying is theory. But everything is closed off to me…but you.”

Jo-Jay agreed to help.

For the next three weeks, Michael grew out his hair, his beard and managed to grow a heart. He actually became a favorite around the camp, because anytime anyone asked, “Can I get some help?” Michael would respond, “I was waitin’ to hear that.”

He was especially helpful with the older gentlemen, who often had more complaints than value. He turned them into a little army of workers who carried groceries and picked up trash.

Although Jo-Jay was still leery of Michael’s intentions, after three weeks, he was succeeding in gradually making a believer out of her.

Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, Matthew and Jubal continued to hide out.

On a Thursday night, Matthew had a strange realization–he had made an initial run through all the clean prostitutes in the town. He found out, because when he asked for a new one, they sent him one he had already met.

Matthew laughed sadly. He knew this was not what he wanted. He had never envisioned himself a “carouser.” But he knew he could not stand to be a follower.

Simultaneously, on the strip Jubal Carlos had made his way backstage to the Sahara, to hook up with an old friend of his, a master at makeup. Jubal’s request was simple. He asked his friend to take makeup, latex and wigs, and turn him into the prettiest version of himself possible.

He wanted to become a woman–not because he was transgender. Just because he wanted the experience. It took four hours of intense effort and extreme electrolysis, but afterwards, a statuesque, dark-haired beauty walked out of the dressing room.

She needed a name. Jubal decided on Jennifer Carmen.

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Salient … May 14th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3673)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

“With great regard.”

It is a phrase that was often used to describe the honor given to truth. “With great regard for the truth.”

Gradually, painfully, and almost silently, we have taken the truth and set it aside, believing it to be impractical. Lying seems to be a “second nature” condition of human beings. Folks feel more comfortable viewing it that way. Assuming people are lying takes away the responsibility to hear the truth.

Yet no lie survives history. In other words:

  • Alexander wasn’t so great.
  • The Third Reich did not last for a thousand years.
  • And the Crusades achieved nothing except the deaths of innocents.

All lies are eventually exposed.

So what is truth? Is the Bible truth? Unfortunately, the Good Book has been used for a lot of bad. There are doctrines which were promoted years ago, which have proven to be too stringent.

After all, there were no witches in Salem, there is no way to prohibit human couples from divorcing, and gay people can’t live their entire lives closeted.

So truth is not about laws or regulations from government or religion. Truth, very simply, is: “Based upon what we know, this is the way things appear to be.”

But we need a way to get there. Yes–we need a way to speak the truth that will give us life. Truth can never be achieved unless it’s greased by the motivation of love.

Truth told without love is vengeance.

Truth told without love reeks of lies.

And truth told without love takes life instead of giving it.

If we use love to humbly speak the best of our knowledge, we will gain life.

And what do we mean by life? Permission to continue our freedom as long as we grant it to others.

When we disregard truth and we begin to use pride, vengeance and selfishness to generate the lies that hurt others, we eventually will have our own lives snatched from us.

There is a way that leads to truth, which brings us life. If we use love to speak the truth we presently know, then we’ll be given a life we can live freely.

So here is your salient moment: Just because the inclination is lying, it does not mean that lying can ever settle in and find peace.

After all, it is the truth that makes us free.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 46) Liary… April 29th, 2018

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Carlin Canaby was the only son of Joshua and Myrtle Mensterhall, itinerant evangelists who toured the south, holding revival meetings in Southern Baptist churches.

Carlin was born in a tiny town in Mississippi and by the time he was two years old, was singing “Jesus Loves Me” to congregations to help promote his father and mother’s ministry. He was as cute as a button, but became more and more unfastened as he got older, and was privy to the hypocrisy of the whole process.

His mother and father were often cheated out of offerings, as churches insisted there was some errancy in the message which caused them to dock the payment. But more often than not, there was no explanation at all–just a paltry sum handed over after fourteen days of work.

This never seemed to hamper Joshua’s enthusiasm to “preach the Gospel to every living creature.” That is, every living creature unless they were black, Hispanic or involved in some untoward practice viewed as heinous by the religious system he revered.

Carlin’s mother, Myrtle, had the personality you would expect from someone named Myrtle. She was nervous, uptight and deathly afraid of anything that resembled a germy speck of dirt. She played just enough piano to accompany Joshua’s incompetent singing.

The pair had very little appeal, and even though revivals were scheduled to last for two weeks, they were often cut short due to lack of attendance.

Still, everything went along reasonably well, with biscuits, grits and gravy provided by the local churches, until Myrtle became involved with Reverend Rudy. Reverend Rudy was a chunk of a man, with a girlish giggle and a prancy walk. He loved to lean down into the faces of young boys and ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up–with a big whiff of tobacco bouncing from his breath.

Carlin didn’t like him. He especially found him distasteful when he walked into the room and discovered that Reverend Rudy was very interested in his mother’s groin. Rudy pretended to be dabbing off some imaginary coffee which had spilled on her lap, but it was obvious to the thirteen-year-old Carlin that there was more going on south of the border than picking cotton.

Sure enough, 24 hours later, Reverend Rudy and Myrtle announced their intentions to pursue a life together, just as soon as a quick divorce could be acquired from Joshua Mensterhall.

Carlin’s dad was devastated. He had lost a wife, a piano player and an accountant to try to keep the wheels of the Gospel somewhere in the middle of the dirt road.

And even though Joshua was not the unfaithful one, word spread that he was “a divorced man,” so the revivals lined up for the future canceled, one at a time.

Myrtle made it clear that she didn’t want the boy, so Joshua took Carlin, and for a season they were homeless, panhandling and street preaching.

One day an old black gentleman named Carlton Canaby happened by while Joshua was pontificating to passers-by on a particularly difficult passage from Jeremiah. The Negro gentleman asked him what he was trying to accomplish. Matter of fact, they decided to have coffee together, careful not to enter any restaurant, but instead, getting styrofoam cups from the local gas station, and heading for a nearby park.

Joshua poured out his heart to Canaby, who ended up being a reverend himself, with the National Baptist Church. (This was the Negro outgrowth from the Southern Baptist.) Pastor Carlton decided to invite the pale preacher in, to hold a meeting. Even though many of the parishioners at Pastor Canaby’s church objected to a white man preaching–especially one teetering in an adultery situation–the friendly pastor insisted, and Joshua and Carlin were scheduled in for a two-week revival, complete with eats.

Joshua was horrible. Being a white man raised in the south, he thought himself superior to those he was teaching. On the third night, a young man in the congregation rose to his feet, interrupting the sermon time and said, “You don’t know much about colored folks, do you?”

Those in attendance burst into laughter and Joshua stood, red-faced and defensive. Canaby came forward, easing the tension, and said, “Our brother is here to learn, to heal, to grow and to be himself without apology.”

For some reason, this touched the heart of Joshua Mensterhall. He burst into tears and fell on his knees, pleading to the heavens with an anguished cry. The congregation surrounded him and the true revival began.

It lasted for two months, until one night, after the service, Pastor Canaby was abducted by some angry white men in a pick-up truck. They did not approve of mixing races, so they took Canaby into the woods and hung him from a tree. Fortunately for Reverend Canaby, they had twisted the rope too tight around his neck. It caught on his shoulder muscle, which sustained his life until others arrived and cut him down.

But he was never the same. Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen from the hanging, or just a good old-fashioned dose of fear. He retired into his own soul, where he seemed to receive some comfort.

Shortly thereafter, Joshua died.

Carlin was made a ward of a missionary family named Richardson. They were traveling on mission to Equador. Carlin hated every minute of it. He nearly burst in anger, waiting for his eighteenth birthday so he could run away and start his own life.

When he did, he rejected the name “Richardson” and “Mensterhall,” and took on the name “Canaby,” in honor of the brave dark man who had befriended a bewildered white minister and his frustrated son.

Since that time, Carlin had made it his life work to expose hypocrites with his organization, “Liary”–which was defined as finding a way to tell the truth in the most pleasant way possible, without flirting with the lie.

Carlin had recently received a phone call from a notable businessman, asking him to intervene in the Jubal Carlos campaign, to assist by softening some of the blows of disapproval that were coming over assumed scandals.

This is what brought him to the hotel, where he found an extremely defeated Matthew Ransley.

Matthew immediately liked Carlin, but Jubal Carlos was quick to express his disfavor. Jubal didn’t like anything associated with lying–even if it was an attempt to prevent its severity.

Matthew found himself in a war: one in his heart, his soul, his mind and the excesses that were gradually eating away at his body.

He thought to himself, I wonder how Carlin would spin my life? What positive things could he find that would sweeten my tale?

It was obvious there was a transition coming. Would it take them deeper into the discovery of Jesus, or just make them another clever organization with a hint of charlatan?

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Jesonian … March 10th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3607)

Not every morning supplies a miracle. Weeks can go by without walking on water–or water turning into wine, for that matter.

Truthfully, life is more like dry cereal looking for milk–not much to be excited about unless you brought along your own thrills.

This was true in the life of Jesus, too.

Fortunately, the Gospel writers tell us about the good moments and also the bad ones. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John share that sometimes Jesus just hung out, to “tarry” with his friends. And just like us, often his activities were dictated by the whim, intensity and preoccupation of his audience or critics.

In the Good Book, Matthew 19, there is such a situation. Jesus is minding his own business when he is confronted by the Pharisees, who seem to spend a lot of time worrying about things that don’t matter to anyone else. They were especially distressed over the issue of divorce–not because they were against it. The Law of Moses and also the Oral Law, which had been constructed by religious leaders over many centuries, allowed men to divorce their wives simply by leaving a note on the pillow.

The Pharisees felt that Jesus had a different outlook on the subject, so they confronted him about the dilemma.

Jesus made it clear that he believed divorce to be chauvinism. He explained that marriage is meant to be an experience between people of equality, who decide to leave their families to form their own union.

They were very upset.

Yet escaping their probing, Jesus arrives back in camp to discover that his disciples, who had been cut from the same homespun philosophies and bigotry as the Pharisees, were chasing away the women and children. After all, they thought, Jesus was too important to have time for women, who were lesser, and children, who were insignificant.

The feminist in Jesus comes to the forefront. He rebukes his disciples. He tells them to bring the children–which meant the women, also–to him, and he lays hands on the tykes, blesses and enjoys them.

Often we wonder how miracles occur. Miracles happen because people who know how to treat women and children humbly ask for them.

It isn’t about extended periods of prayer, nor ministers on Sabbatical studying the original Greek. Rather, miracles are about people who know how to play with children–people who are aware that a woman is not a “weaker vessel.” When these people pray, God listens.

Jesus treated women as humans. On this week, with “International Women’s Day,” we need to consider what this entails.

Jesus gave women empathy, but not sympathy: You are as good as men, but don’t pull up lame and fall back on femininity when you think it’s to your advantage.

So even though Jesus showed compassion on the woman caught in adultery, he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Go and sin no more.”

He relished a conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria, but when she said she “had no husband,” he reminded her that she had married five husbands, and was now living with another man.

When his mother tried to interfere with his work, he spoke to her as an equal, not as a son, and said, Back off. It’s not my time.

And when busy Martha was doing all the housework, using the “gift of helps” to feed the disciples and Jesus, he stopped her and said, Your sister Mary has decided to listen to the teaching instead of playing “Harriet Homemaker. Follow suit.”

Life is not about what we do when we’re trying to be spiritual or contemplative. Life is lived in the cracks–those moments that seem insignificant when the world around us has cast a negative vibe and it is our job to bring the light.

Jesus believes that spirit begins with how women and children are treated.

I, for one, think he’s right.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 8) Cleanly Rich … July 30th, 2017

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Paul didn’t waste any time.

Before blankets could be spread, cushions situated and all snacks and drinks divvied among the three, he had already begun to drone out his story. It could have been a very interesting tale, but Paul seemed unimpressed with his own reputation.

He had married three years after college–only the fourth lass he had ever seen naked. They had two children who apparently were soldiering on to do their best with the process of growing up to join the ranks of those in file. Paul did not have many hobbies–actually, Paul had no hobbies that he shared. But as he sipped on a bit of diet root beer, he popped off a question.

“Don’t you think there are better ways to spend two hundred and fifty million dollars than propagating the myths of Bedouins who seem to have nothing better to do than kill one another in the name of their mythical gods?”

Matthew chose not to answer. After all, it wasn’t a question. It was a statement of disbelief. Somewhere along the line, Paul Padwick had consumed a sour communion wafer and was still wincing from the experience. Realizing that he was the killjoy of the little airport soiree, Paul rolled over on his Cornhusker cushion and went soundly to sleep.

That left Jo-Jay and God-guy–otherwise known as Joanna and Matthew. The two of them had briefly been a number back in college–a three-week period when neither of them was sexually ravaging or being ravaged–so they cast a glance each other’s way. They made it all the way to the bedroom and even to breakfast the morning after, but then, without any treaty, discussion or negotiation, the accidental collision was never spoken of again by either party.

So Matthew was curious about what would initiate their chatting and was relieved to discover that Joanna had planned all the dialogue, with most of the lines written for herself. She launched into her story.

Two years after college, she met a young fellow who showed great promise–except when it came to keeping promises to her. He had been a rather quiet student in college, but once he got married and realized there were many vaginas in the world, like Columbus of old, he launched his ship to discover new worlds.

Jo-Jay put up with it for a while and then asked for a divorce. She was a little disheartened that he immediately agreed. Because of his unfaithful status, she was granted alimony.

So she tripped along and cavorted for a couple of years, even considering trying to transform herself into a lesbian–but found the experience rather distasteful.

Four years ago she met The Duke. Duke was not his nickname, but rather, his title. He was a Duke of Something-or-other that she could not remember–but it came with much bearing and money. He was thirty-two years her senior. She said that she didn’t really marry her father, but rather, his father.

But he was gentle. He was kind. Generous to a fault, if such a thing is possible. And just about the time Jo-Jay’s hormones were beginning to itch for a scratch outside the mansion, he just up and died, leaving all of his earthly goods to a very earthly Joanna Lawrence. She was actually very surprised at how much she missed him.

She decided to play a game with herself. Every time she withdrew a stack of one-hundred dollar bills from the bank, she pretended it was his face instead of Benjamin Franklin’s.

“So you’re filthy rich,” said Matthew with a tinge of sarcasm.

Jo-Jay smiled. “Actually, I’m clean rich. The difference is, when you’re clean rich, you enjoy the money but you’re constantly trying to do penance by giving much of it away, to apologize for being financially over-nourished.”

All the time that Jo-Jay was sharing, it appeared that she was becoming more intoxicated (though she was gulping nothing more than club soda and orange juice). She was an exciting person. She had the quality of a young girl–the kind of little miss you know isn’t very attractive right now, but someday would be a hellcat.

Finally, Jo-Jay wound down. Or at least, Matthew assumed she did–because he passed out on his cushion in exhaustion.

The next afternoon, the Lincoln airport was opened. Matthew looked for Paul, who apparently had already departed.

So he reached over to hug Jo-Jay and asked, “Where are you off to?”

“San Francisco,” she replied.

Matthew crinkled his brow. “Well, that’s where I’m going.”

Jo-Jay jumped up and down like a little girl and said, “I know, I know. I bought the seat next to you.”

“Don’t you have somewhere to go?” asked Matthew.

“Now I do,” said Jo-Jay. “You see, one of the things about my Duke is that he had a fascination about the Galilean.”

“Galilean?” asked Matthew.

“Jesus,” replied Jo-Jay. “He never called him Jesus. He referred to him as the Galilean because most of his life was spent near the Sea of Galilee. The Duke believed that this Galilean had the solution to mankind’s problems because he refused to let us escape the philosophical juggernaut statement, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Matthew peered at her. “So you’re coming with me to. . .?”

“To. . .” Jo-Jay paused also. “To see where it goes.”

Matthew gave her a quick hug, then pulled back, admiring her like she was a kid sister. “So here’s to wherever the hell it goes.”

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