Catchy (Sitting 21) ‘Why’ Is a Nasty One … November 5th, 2017

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“So what brought you here?” asked Carlos, as he eased his way up to find a more comfortable spot on the bunk.

Matthew glanced around at the stark confinement of the cell and laughed. “I wonder how many times that question’s been asked in this jail.”

Jubal laughed very loudly, the way a man does when he’s nervous and doesn’t exactly know what to talk about and is grateful for a joke to fill the space.

Matthew said, “As I was telling you, we have this plan on how to use the money…”

Jubal interrupted. “No, I figure we’ve got more time than that. I already understand that story line. I was talking about what brought you to the point in your life where you want to take on some crazy idea to advertise Jesus of Nazareth.”

Matthew quickly fired back. “Money.”

“Nothing else?” inquired Jubal.

Matthew smiled. “We all keep pretending there is something else, don’t we? We discuss high-sounding values, which end up smashed to smithereens by the time they get through a budget meeting. Or somebody runs for President, promising a chicken in every pot, when actually they’re trying to figure out how much money they can make off of legalizing pot. My friend, it’s all about money, because without money, we can’t pay the light bill to sit in a room and argue about high-sounding ideals.”

Jubal tilted his head, frowning. “I guess I would be surprised with your answer–might even call it cynical–except, well, I live in Las Vegas. If they could, they’d wallpaper the casinos with money, just to tempt the tourists to come in and gamble to get it.”

“I know there are things that are important,” Matthew continued. “I know you have to have values you treasure. Otherwise, when you close your doors at night, you’d be terrified, with a gun in your hand, because the world is so screwed up.”

“The world is a screwed-up place, but we’re part of the screw-up, right?” inserted Jubal.

“I don’t like to think of myself as screwed-up,” said Matthew. “Imbalanced, a little greedy. Maybe sometimes I drink too much alcohol. But I can tell you–there are more times I don’t drink enough.”

Jubal laughed–this time, just a little. “So is it hypocritical to advertise a God that you don’t necessarily believe in?”

Matthew objected. “I didn’t say I didn’t believe. Goddamnit, you can’t live in this country without believing. You can’t do business. and expect to get customers if you’re going to deny their God. I just place God where he belongs.”

“And where would that be?” challenged Jubal.

“Watching,” replied Matthew calmly.

“Let me go with that,” said Jubal. “So let’s say I’m walking down the strip, and I see two men fighting and they’re really hurting each other–and I decide to watch. Who in the hell am I?”

“Smart,” replied Matthew quickly. “Look at you. You’re not a big fellow. What in the hell do you think you’re gonna do? You’re gonna get tied up in the mix-up and you’re gonna get hurt. And truthfully, every time we start believing that God cares or that God loves the world, all we do is start blaming Him for every little piece of shit we’ve come up with. I guess maybe I love God more than other people. I don’t want to believe in Him so much that I blame Him for everything.”

Jubal sat quietly for a moment. He decided to change the subject. “In about an hour, they’re going to give you the choice between a bologna and American cheese sandwich and a turkey pot pie.”

Matthew, grateful for a different topic, leaped in. “Well, I personally love a turkey pot pie.”

Jubal shook his head. “No. You loved the turkey pot pie your mother made when you were a kid. This variety comes in two forms–burned on the top or raw.”

Matthew laughed. “No, you’re wrong. It’s just like my mother’s.”

He sat for a second and then asked, “Why aren’t you eating?”

Jubal replied, “I don’t know. It seemed like a noble idea. I mean, I’ve heard of people fasting to make their point. I didn’t make any point–I just got hungry. And now, every time I shift my legs I can smell myself. Honestly, Matthew…that is your name, right?”

Matthew acted affronted. “How can you ever play the son of God if you can’t remember my name?”

“Play the son of God…” Jubal reflected. “Sounds wrong, doesn’t it?”

Matthew stormed. “No. What’s wrong, my friend, is for you to be in jail, smellin’ like my old dog, Bogo, because you were out helping the homeless.”

Carlos squinted. “What do you mean, smellin’ like your dog, Bogo?”

“When I was a kid, my dad found an abandoned sheep dog, and decided to bring him home. He was adorable and loving, but he had so much hair that every time he took a dump, some of it would stick to his fur. Being a good pup, he tried to clean it off himself, which was gross beyond all measure. But every few weeks my dad would point to Bogo, and I knew that meant I had to go and wash his behind and trim his fur. I remember that smell. I have not inhaled it since I was a kid–until I walked into this cell today.”

Carlos smelled his shirt. “Are you saying I smell like the back side of your crappy sheep dog?”

“Identical,” panned Matthew.

Jubal lifted his hand as if making a pledge. “I promise, the next time they offer soap and water I will participate.”

Matthew gave him a thumbs up and said, “Even though I’m not a religious man, I can say amen to that.”

“I’m not a religious man,” said Jubal. “When I’m working in the casinos and I see the pretty titties on the showgirls or some groupie who thought my drumming was particularly divine and tempts me with her entirety, I’m just as horny as the next guy. No, Matthew–I would make a terrible religious person. That’s why I decided to follow Jesus.”

Matthew quarreled, “Jesus was religious.”

“No, he wasn’t,” said Jubal. “If he had been, religious people would have really dug him and sinners would have run away in terror. Instead, sinners cuddled up to him, ate with him, drank with him, slept by the fire with him. It was the religious people who were terrorized.”

“Yeah, I get that,” said Matthew. “I’ve heard that old song and dance. But you see, move ahead and he’s nothing but an emaciated Jew hanging on a cross. Look at it this way. When we were kids we studied Zeus, Apollo, Mars, and Athena in class.”

Jubal nodded. “Yeah, we did. Except you mixed Greek and Roman gods.”

Matthew stood to his feet to accentuate his point. “You see, that’s what I mean. Nobody cares anymore. Even when we studied them in school, we didn’t study them as a religion. It was called mythology. They were myths–even though any Greek or Roman of the time would have vehemently objected to term. It’s all just a bunch of crap. The only reason the stories still exist is because they’re so childish and dumb.”

Jubal interrupted. “So I guess what you’re trying to say is that just as Poseidon and all the other gods disappeared and became part of an old culture, that the same thing will happen to Jesus?”

Matthew shrugged, easing back down onto the bunk. “Not for a while. It’ll start with Jonah and the whale, Noah and the ark. But eventually all these stories that have been called sacred will become mythology.”

“It’s been two thousand years,” Jubal noted.

Matthew considered the thought. “Yeah, I know. I’ve even had some moments when I thought having a God would be a good thing. Honestly, my friend, being around you has made me doubt some of my doubts. But we’ve already eaten away at a lot of the stuff. Because after all, what’s the difference between an emperor who thought he was a god, living in Rome, and the Pope?”

“Let me make something clear,” said Jubal. “I’m not asking you these questions because I’m trying to convert you.”

“Good luck if you are,” punctuated Matthew.

Jubal resumed. “No, I’m just trying to figure out who I’m working with. I’m just trying to decide if I should work with it. I’m just trying to clear my head about what parts of the story I believe and what parts are myth to me. Mostly, I’m trying to learn about you without asking ‘why.’ Matthew, I hate the word ‘why.’ It’s usually mean-spiritied, challenging, ferocious…”

Matthew chuckled. “I never thought of it that way, Jubal. ‘Why’ is the nasty one, isn’t it?”

“It is,” Jubal agreed. “But unfortunately, it’s the one that always demands to be answered first.”

 

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G-Poppers … April 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesus.

What does the name evoke?

G-Pop remembers a time when the mention of Jesus would flood one’s mind with images of mercy, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance and most certainly, love.

But the years have pressed on, and the insanity of religious fanaticism has begun to lump Jesus in with all his errant practitioners and sour-faced sheep.

It may be the greatest tragedy of Good Friday. Not only was he crucified by ignorant rabble, who had memorized scripture but had no Word in their hearts, but he is now re-wounded by those who fail to comprehend that they are imitating the primer of his murderers instead of the mindset of the Master.

G-Pop recalls a phrase Jesus once used: “Except your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Exceed.

Exceed what?

Prayer? No–it can’t be that. Jesus warned his disciples not to advertise their prayer life, but instead, find a closet, shut the door and create intimacy.

Study? Highly unlikely. Jesus accused the Pharisees of parsing every jot and tittle as they “strained at the gnat and swallowed the camel” forgetting the “weightier matters” of God’s message–that being justice and mercy.

Fasting? Once again, both he and his disciples were accused of never fasting, and Jesus told them that if they did, to make sure they literally put on a happy face.

So how did he want his disciples to exceed the religious people around them?

In the humanities.

  • Training themselves to give a damn instead of insisting that they just couldn’t muster the energy.
  • Refusing to judge other people, even though it temporarily makes us feel ooey and goooey with superiority.
  • Realizing that the folks who are considered the least on Earth have the heavenly Father’s eyeball–to see who will come and gently tend to them.

G-Pop points out that as we consider the crucifixion of Christ, we have to ask ourselves, why such a drastic measure? Why kill him?

And the answer is simple. There was a danger that if Jesus lived, or his disciples were still filled with his power and spunk, that religion would not be able to manipulate people into enough guilt to trap them in ceremony–as it robbed their pockets.

“This Jesus, this Jesus, this Jesus must die.”

G-Pop thinks the best tribute we can give to Jesus on this dark day in history is to exceed the Pharisees that walk the Earth today–by using the humor, kindness, gentleness, cleverness and mercy that he taught us to possess.

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Jesonian: Fire, Wind and Water … July 13, 2014

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PentecostFire, wind and water–the three ingredients of the Day of Pentecost.

It was the appointed time in the history of human kind when God once and for all infused His spirit inside our spirit, to create what He hoped would be a spirit of revival.

  • The fire–the spoken word through our tongue.
  • The rushing mighty wind, displaying the power of God.
  • And the water of baptism, to wash away the enormity of sin.

But you see, this all just sounds like a sermon–the kind of clever parallels that ministers and theologians put together in the privacy of their “den of simplicity,” to try to impress congregations with a bit of insight to mingle with their devotion to God.

Honestly, it’s just too religious. Truthfully, it bores.

Because if you get fire, wind and water out of order, nothing is effective.

To lead with fire–or talking–burns everybody up.

Too much wind of religious practice blows out the fire, leaving just a hint of smoke.

And water can just drown us, dousing everything so that it’s impossible to ignite the flame.

What I would like to do is take the religion and holiness out of all this speak and instead, make it clear exactly what it means to be Jesonian, a follower of Jesus, instead of a generic Christian–one who reveres Christ.

HandBecause if the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth did not set us free by offering truth, but were just another path of righteousness, then perhaps the notion that one well-beaten path is as good as another would be well-founded.

But Jesus didn’t come to start another religion. He came to generate a reasonable and transferable lifestyle.

So here’s the real fire:

No one is better than anyone else.

These words set ablaze all the prejudice, superiority, self-righteousness and arrogance that exist in our world, and purge the forest of misunderstanding.

Here’s the wind:

Find out what you can do and do it well.

After all, just speaking, promising, blustering and preaching don’t carry any mighty effect. But the confidence you gain by realizing that you have a talent and purpose, and then multiplying that ability to the point where you believe you can do it well, creates a breeze of creativity and hope to those around you.

And the water:

Get what you need out of life and then share the balance with everyone else.

Life is neither about fasting nor is it about hoarding. It is about securing the air mask on your own face before you try to help others breathe.

It is knowing exactly what satisfies your soul and not feeling the need to have more–or less–but if you do have more, strategically getting rid of it to the souls that God sends your way.

The Jesonian lifestyle is realizing that the power of God is in the fire, the wind and the water. But rather than teaching about it figuratively, we go out and speak and live that “no one is better than anyone else” as we find out what we can do, discover opportunities to do it well, and in the process get what we want–and give away the rest.

It is why I am a follower of Jesus. Every other philosophy and religion deals in too much symbolism.

These three abide.

These three can change our world.

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Jesonian: Making Better Humans… February 23, 2014

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drawing of jesusWhat would it be like to spend one day with Jesus?

Would there be a lot of prayer involved? Or would it end up that he was being honest when he said he did most of his praying in a closet by himself?

Would you get lunch, or would he be in the midst of fasting? Actually, the religious leaders criticized him for not fasting, and called him a wine-bibber and a glutton.

Would there be a lot of preaching and studying of Old Testament scrolls? Word has it that when he was around folks he just told stories, inviting them to interpret and therefore involve themselves in their own spirituality.

Would he be critical of the weaker members who surrounded him? I’ve read stories in which he was willing to forgive even adultery, if there was a heart for transformation.

Was he a good Jew? Jews sure didn’t think so. Matter of fact, it was against their law to kill one of their own, but they had no trouble putting a hit out on the Nazarene.

Was he a theologian? A deist? A philosopher? A manic healer? Or a humanist?

This is what we know for sure–he marveled at two things: people who had great faith and people who had no faith.

He believed his mission was to make better humans, not to make people dependent on either their faults or some vision of God.

He was delighted when he saw those who broke through their own insecurities and frustrations, to believe there was more. And he was equally as surprised with those who decided to ignore the evidence of blessing in their lives and take the road of doubt.

This I know–Jesus wanted to make better people.

It’s why the religious people didn’t like him. They wanted a quick work of salvation that got them off the hook through the shedding of blood through sacrificial lambs.

He asked them to be involved in their lives and take responsibility for their actions. They left him hanging, on the bad side of town.

If you’re not grounded in a place where Jesus is being taught to you, with the aspiration that you will continue to grow in your love, appreciation and creativity, then you’re just at the mercy of a gaggle of religious fanatics.

And all religious fanatics have one thing in common–when they run out of enemies on the outside, they start killing off each other.

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Moratorium… December 18, 2012

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Jon Signing

It worked with littering.

There was a time in our society when it was commonplace to dump your trash exactly where you were, even if it was on the street. It sounds bizarre today, but it’s true. Our country was becoming overridden with all sorts of teeming refuse. So what did we do?

We made it unpopular to litter.crying Indian

In like manner, there was a season in our history when being prejudiced against people with color in their skin was not only deemed normal, but rational. We mock that kind of bigotry in this day and age. But how did we change it? We made hating people of different color stupid.

Take the case of abortion. There are not nearly as many abortions as there were at one time. I attribute that drop in the number of terminated pregnancies to a very simple statement that was uttered about two decades ago. It was a slogan which stated that “abortion should be legal, but rare.”

We are a people of great intuition when we actually decide to call out our foolishness instead of hiding behind civil liberties, individual choices, state’s rights and fear of admitting our wrongs. Here are some easy statements:

  • Littering isn’t good because it makes a mess.
  • Bigotry is a negative force because it alienates people who could be productive.
  • Abortion needs to be guided in such a manner that human life is given the greatest respect possible.

Likewise, guns and violence need to be showcased for what they truly are and not what they are glamorized to be in order to generate the next blockbuster or promote an arcane freedom that is no longer useful to the common man.

I am declaring a moratorium.

For those of you who do not know what a moratorium is, it is a cease and desist order from my soul to the world around me, to proclaim that I will no longer indulge in a certain activity.

And what is that activity? Viewing, playing around with or musing over violence against human beings.

For instance, if we treated the car the same way as the gun, we would raise our children to believe that when they received their driver’s license, they should go out and drive as fast as they could, hit as many people as possible and dramatically crash into the side of a wall, leaping from the vehicle, giggling over surviving the ordeal.

After all, we don’t show guns being used to hunt deer. Nobody’s making a movie about the great fun one has at a target range. There are no documentaries presently being filmed about the various ways to clean a gun to make it look more presentable or work better. Every depiction of the gun in entertainment, news reports, warfare and even literature shows it as an implement to destroy, mutilate and murder human flesh.

Even within my own circle of friends and family, there are people who enjoy shows like Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, True Blood, Dexter, CSI and other programming for which sole purpose is to show the decapitation, destruction and decimation of the human body. I know people who would insist they are peace-loving individuals who sit for hours with a video game, becoming mass murderers via a push of the button.

It’s time for a moratorium How would you enact that? I plan on fasting violence. I have no intentions of watching  shows that are geared to expelling blood from the body of human beings to kill them off for the purpose of entertainment. I am declaring it disgusting. I am tired of having our society littered with the belief that human beings are cattle which can be slaughtered and turned into hamburger Mine will be a three-step process:

  1.  Fast violence. Stop watching death and destruction.
  2. Cease to accept violence as legitimate entertainment, but rather, proclaim it to be what it is: genocide pornography.
  3. Confront those who continue to watch it and ask them for their motivation.

I challenge my own children to join me in this endeavor. We cannot sit around and pretend we are appalled by what happend in our country as our children were gunned down in their school, and then pop in video games and movies that duplicate the same insane butchery.

I am not connoting that limiting violence in entertainment will eliminate these heinous acts. I am just saying that as sane people, when it is in our power to address a portion of the problem simply by dispelling the barbarian actions and irresponsible presentation of bloodshed, that we have a duty to stop littering our own minds and cease to encourage others who are weaker in spirit and character, to be tempted by the visions.

Violence is wrong. If you’ve ever been in a room when somebody cut their finger while dicing onions and you saw the horror on their face over a simple one-inch nick, you will grasp exactly how unnatural it truly feels for blood to leave our bodies.

So how can you watch the foul play as blood is sprayed everywhere across the screen, and think you’re doing anything but promoting a piece of insanity which will certainly eventually have to be tempered–or will be duplicated by the weak-minded.

I am declaring a moratorium. Today is my birthday and I am taking the license as a human being of maturity and experience to declare that I, for one, am going to fast violence. You want a place to begin? There you go.

And I will tell you that if enough people do this, entertainment will change, society will shift and gun use will be legal, but rare.

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Moment-O … July 14, 2012

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I think I finally understand.

Sometimes it’s not so much that I’m dense or lacking intelligence, but rather that I have a pernicious unwillingness to come to logical conclusions. You too?

Yet I do finally understand why they refer to alcoholic beverages as “spirits.” There is something inside every human being that knows that we need to be prodded by, if you will, these “spirits”–to foster the better parts of ourselves which energize us instead of leaving us forlorn and bedraggled.

I came to this conclusion last night while sitting in the home of my son, having come to meet and visit my new grandson, Johann Luther Cring.  I brought a little oil along with me so we could anoint and christen the fine young man and welcome him into our family as one of us and also as a member of the noble human race.

It was rife with spirit. Because it was already rich with spirit, there was no need for alcoholic spirits to be introduced into the event. Teetotalers are often critical of those who imbibe, thinking these people are weak of character or just have some sort of desire to turn life into a party. Not so. Deeply ingrained in our genetics is the knowledge that we require emotional explosions to keep us from being overcome by circumstances–or just bored. So if you’re not going to tap one spirit, you end up untapping another.

Last night this just made sense to me–because after all, it IS about grabbing the moment to justify the journey. There is no explanation for a creature of our intellect and potential to live for less than a century and then disappear–unless that life is saturated with living. For that to happen, we need spirit. And to gain spirit, we must allow our emotions to be released from their cage of captivity, to be freed to roam, unleashed and permitted the opportunity to express true heart.

Yes, I am saying it aloud–you can’t touch the spirit of a human being unless you first unlock the emotions. To use spirituality to merely promote prayer, foster fasting, generate giving or wiggle out worship is wasting the mission and worthiness of the quest for God. And unfortunately, most people can’t unlock their emotions unless they’re a little inebriated. So you can either be drunk on spirits from a bottle or uncork the Holy Spirit that’s bottled up inside you and let it take you on its “magical mystery tour.”

Last night was immense. It’s because the process of human expression was honored. Everyone in the room was emotionally invested in the birth of a new son and the joy of knowing that the precarious process, although very natural, was pulled off without tragedy. Because we were emotionally invested, the room was engorged with spirit. We just talked a little better. Our thoughts escaped fiscal responsibility and fears of pending doom, and for a few moments we allowed ourselves to revive and believe again in our dreams. And because the atmosphere was enlivened by spirit, everyone felt mentally renewed. It was like our brains had been cleansed from all the unrighteousness of worry, naughtiness and apprehension.

We were thinking better. And you know what happens when you think better? You actually become thoughtful. And once the brain has a chance to rejuvenate ideas instead of merely falling into a default position, all the participants are physically challenged to be healthier, wealthier and wiser–so that we can be around for a long time to enjoy the company of young Johann.

It was a moment–one that should never be isolated as unique–as long as we know how to pull the fine wine of the spirit from the cellar of our existence and use our emotions to drain the cup of all its sweetness and delight.

You WILL be involved with the Spirit. You can do it by pressing in on the breath of life granted to you by your Creator and becoming emotionally invested in your own pursuits, or you can drink a few glasses of wine until you let your guard down and allow your heart to feel.

I just don’t want to be drunk on anything but life. That’s my choice. I’m not being judgmental of others, but as long as there are opportunities to toast the initiation of those who are born–OR born again–I will use the Spirit that is in me rather than the spirits that merely dribble down my gullet.

I am grateful for this. Now I know this may sound trivial, but I will tell you–the more you allow yourself to be emotionally invested, the opportunity to be “spirited” will suddenly flourish in your soul and you will be mentally renewed and physically challenged to live out a better life.

Although the old saying is “seize the day,” the truth of the matter is, there are too many moments to wait for a whole day to pass.

Leap in.

Bring your heart.

And taste the spirit.

   

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