Filmy… April 14, 2012


I have concluded that naïve is the word we use to describe someone when our more courtly nature  restrains us from referring to them as “stupid.” So let me begin this essay today by being generous to myself and saying that I am often naïve. I make no apologies for it. Those who fear naivety often slide down the slope into the cesspool of “jaded.”

For instance, I was naïve at eighteen years of age when I thought I had the right to compose songs. I was equally as naïve when I moved to Nashville,Tennessee, assuming that the music industry would be enhanced and enriched by my presence. Can I be candid with you and tell you I was naïve to think that a man who wanted to make music could also fund the needs of four sons? I was very naïve when I went on the road with my family in 1984 to tour the country in a beat-up van that was barely suitable for utility trips to the junkyard. In 1996 I was naïve to consider writing symphonic music because I had just partnered with a dear lady who was more better acquainted with the downbeat than I was.

And in 2005, when my oldest son came to me talking about the movie industry and his desire to become more intricately involved in making independent films, I was very naïve to think I could write screenplays. Of course, I had written books; I had written stage plays. I had been involved in many video productions during my stay in Shreveport, Louisiana. I had been on the set of movies in the midst of my experience in Nashville,Tennessee. But there was a certain kind of audacious innocence that prodded me on—to embrace the notion that I was capable of writing a screenplay.

I purchased the Final Draft software, studied the format, read a few examples and then took an idea that I thought was going to become a novel, and instead, approached it as a script for a movie. It was a ferocious story—one that many of my friends of more tender conscience considered to be a bit risqué for a Christian writer.

(Before we go any further, let me make something clear. I am not a Christian writer. I am not even a writer who happens to be a Christian. The two callings are quite separate in my mind and each demands its own level of consecration. To be a Christian is to honor the lifestyle of Jesus of Nazareth, surnamed the Christ, and to hold fast to the principle that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Being a writer is not merely an ability to put words on paper or even to form amazingly structured sentences. There are copy-editors who can always edit your work if, at the heart of the endeavor lies a great, truthful idea. Writers are not scribblers nor are they adventurers in adjectives and adverbs. They are people with a constant flow of ideas which never turns off, leaving them at the mercy of perpetual inspiration. Forgive my digression.) 

So I decided to take this story, which I entitled Lenders Morgan–named after a small fictional town in Southern Ohio–and transform it into a screen production. It was the fable of a girl corralled in this little burg, named Taylor Feazle. She was plagued by a bit of naivete of her own. When she was lured by an equally inexperienced boy from her town, who had personal demons of his own, into what started out as a playful flirt—the two lost children found themselves entangled in a web of adult mayhem.

It was an agonizing story to write, and there are those who would consider it impossible to receive. But I loved it. It was raw, real and filled with human character “gone awry,” which can potentially drop each and every one of us into the pit of the pathetic.

I finished writing the screenplay and as is often the case, it was much too short. So I jumped back in and wrote a couple more scenes that were delightfully enhancing and ended up with my first screenplay—and my first collaboration with my son and daughter-in-law. It won entrance to many film festivals.

Honestly, many of you reading my jonathots would probably not enjoy this movie. The movie industry that we are familiar with has fallen into two ridiculous syndromes: (a) Let’s write about something so extreme that people will be shocked into purchasing a ticket. Arriving at the theater, we will poach additional money off of them for candy and soft drinks.  (b) Let us write a story and then sterilize it so that it will be suitable for the entire family and won’t offend any group whatsoever. I must tell you that both of those approaches fail to deliver the kind of emotional impact that art is intended to produce.

In sharp contrast, I have four guiding lights I use when I find myself in the blessed position of constructing a story which will end up on the screen:

1. Truth on the inward parts. It’s what the Bible says God demands. It’s also what good writers must produce in order to continue their faithful journey. I can’t write trying to sensationalize my plot, nor can I write with any clarity when I attempt to spic-n-span my characters to please a Mr. Clean community. There’s truth—and truth comes from honoring your characters and letting them tell their own stories, leaving the conclusion to an unfolding provided for the viewer’s discretion.

2. Redeem whoever repents. I think it is  important in a movie to reward human evolution towards intelligence and maturity with the blessedness of redemption. I am sick of calling movies “realistic” because they focus on some obscure occurrence that might happen one time in a million, expanding its importance beyond any reasonableness. If my characters repent, they should be given redemption.

3. For those characters who do not transform, I feel it is my job as a writer to “let it play out” to a natural conclusion instead of involving angels and demons. Often the greatest curse a character can have is being forbidden to enter the “heaven on earth” that he or she desires.

4. And finally, I give all of my characters free will to determine their end and their means—just like real people. I hate it when a movie manipulates the ending to please the numbed senses of the populace. My endings are not a surprise; they’re just not predictable.

So I wish to thank God, my sense of naivety, my son and daughter-in-law, and the hundreds and thousands of people who have viewed my writing and been impacted by the message. It was a season of growth for me, when I allowed the sense of being a writer—and that is possessing an ever-flowing basket of ideas—to spill out on paper through the performances of aspiring actors and onto the silver screen.

I thought you might find it interesting. And if you didn’t, be grateful. It isn’t a continuing series.


Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

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.


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.

Missed Takes… January 2, 2012

Jonathan in Miami

Shakespeare contended that all the world was a stage and we–the actors. Some folks would object to that characterization, insisting that they don’t want to live “pretend” lives.

But there’s nothing “pretend” about theater. Theater is about discovering your character, getting into character and staying in character. In the process of doing that, many errors can be made–and the uncovering of flaws and virtues is illuminating to the thespian and eventually enlightening to the audience. It’s even more true in the movie industry, for when you make a film, rather than having a single performance that you have to live and die with, as in legitimate theater, you can start and stop, and do many takes of the same scene until you find exactly what you want.

Of course, in the process, you end up with an abundance of “missed takes.”

But it doesn’t make any difference. As long as you keep three things in mind when you’re portraying a scene, you will be just fine and always in character.

(1) You must have the right part. In other words, show up knowing your lines. You can’t be reading someone else’s dialogue and think that you’re conveying your own message.

(2) You must have the right heart–a passionate wonder that causes you to pursue the truth of your character faithfully.

(3) And finally, you must have the right start. Showing up grumpy, frustrated, angry or preoccupied will certainly diminish your possibilities.

If you have the right part, heart and start you will succeed in theater–because even if your first or second takes don’t match the style of the show, you will be willing to revise your approach and do better. There is only one thing that makes a bad actor–someone who insists that he has the right interpretation, which causes him to fail to take direction.

Such also is life.

The abnormal fear that now permeates our society over making a mistake has generated a paranoid, lying and cheating generation of people who feel they can avoid all critique by simply insisting they are incapable of error. It makes us look stupid.

Let me give you an example. When I arrived at the church yesterday, I had a long ramp to climb with my bad knee. The dear pastor met me at the bottom of that ramp and greeted me with all the warmth of her heart. She walked up by my side as I panted and groaned a little bit from some pain. In that moment, I appeared weak. There was no need to pretend that I was macho and strong–my weakness was obvious and the only thing that would have made me seem weaker would have been to deny it.

We don’t garner respect by acting like we’re impervious to pain. We need to learn that mistakes are inevitable. They are merely “missed takes” as we live out our lives on the stage provided. There are times we will be weak. If we’ve taken the opportunity to build up our strengths, those moments of weakness will not appear to be fatal, but rather, human. It is our job, just as with the character actor on stage, to show up with the right part.

I will tell you this candidly–if you want to have the right part in life, always pick people over rules. History will be cruel to you if you’re always siding with rules,  regulations and commandments to the detriment of people. People are not always right but they are always closest to the heart of God.

And speaking of heart, you should make sure you have the right one–and to have the right heart in life is not to be error free, but to always pursue mercy over critique. I don’t care if other people want to criticize the world around them. I refuse to join in. You may argue with me, believing that SOME things need to be condemned or attacked. Feel free. I just know that the measure we measure out will be measured back to us. And I, who walk around filled with foibles, obesity and silliness, certainly require my share of mercy. To obtain that, I must be merciful. And considering the fact that I will make mistakes, I need to grant grace to those who preceded me in the process.

And finally, if you’re going to do this thing called “life” well, you have to make the right start. Because back to that climb up the ramp yesterday at the church, there was no need for me to pretend that I was not laboring to achieve it. What WAS available to me was to remain in good cheer about the endeavor instead of casting a shadow of worry. Yes, the right start in life is to always find a reason to have good cheer rather than inserting the fussiness and futility of worry.

You and I will make mistakes. They are like missed takes on our life’s performance.

But if we have the right part–a love of people instead of adherence to rules–and the right heart–mercy displacing critique–and the right start–good cheer bumping the foolishness of worry out of the way–we will live to act another day.

If all the world is a stage and we are actors upon it, then take a little time … to study your script.


Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:


To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

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