Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4154)

Sitting Thirty-Five

Karin found it difficult to discover what to do with herself on the Wednesday before the rally. An uneasy sense of doom and gloom had settled in her soul and was gnawing at the corners of her mind.

She could not shake it.

She resorted to one of her favorite solutions. She purchased a pint of Mackie’s Cherries Fairies ice cream and ate it in one sitting. It had been known to soothe many an aching need. But on this day, even the delicious confection couldn’t aid her in dispelling the sensation that something very idiotic might happen on Thursday.

Karin was not given to depression, but optimism was certainly not one of her strong suits. Her faith in humanity had been shaken early and hard. She found it difficult to believe there were people who could muster either the mercy or the wisdom to bring about a happy ending to any tale, especially one involving two young men in the desert who were defying the structure of their rickety culture.

She actually considered praying for rain. But she always felt funny when she prayed—she could never figure out which parts of faith were childish dreams and what portions might be linked to some divine order. It was difficult for her to imagine why the God of the Universe would take time commiserating with bitching mortals.

But she decided to go ahead and pursue a prayer life one more time—just maybe for an earthquake to come along. A tiny one. Not to hurt anyone. Just strong enough to knock over some file cabinets at City Hall and overturn a few chairs in people’s homes. A convenient earthquake—something to distract the hysterical masses.

The prayer actually made her feel better. For about an hour she grew content with the notion that things might just work out. But for Karin, praying was like Chinese food. It got inside, but an hour later she was fretting all over again.

Scouring her brain for anything resembling an idea that might contribute to sanity, she decided to go and meet the families of the two boys. After all, she had heard Iz and Pal’s side of the story but had never given their fathers a chance to clarify their position or make their case.

Her mind was eased simply by pursuing the research which she so loved chasing down. Today it took her to the hall of records, where she discovered that Amir’s (Pal) mother had died three years earlier from breast cancer. Amir had only one brother, older—Talsan, who attended the university with aspirations of becoming a doctor.

A fascinating piece of information turned up when she perused data on Iz’s parents. There were two parents, but with separate addresses. Karin could find no evidence of a divorce decree or any other children.

It gave her a place to start. She set out into the city on a quest to uncover some truth. Yet a short two hours later, she returned to her apartment, deflated and even more perplexed. The plan, the visit and the result turned out to be a wasteland.

Amir’s father refused to see her, speaking through the door, “I am in prayer. I cannot view a woman at this time.”

Pada was not at home and Talsan was unavailable, attending class. The only person she was able to meet face-to-face was Shelah, Iz’s mother, who lived in a small apartment just down the street and around the corner from where Iz and his father dwelled.

Shelah explained to Karin that although there was no divorce, she and Iz’s father had separated over financial disagreements and contentious arguments concerning raising the boy. She didn’t even know that Jubal was gone. Pada hadn’t told her.

Karin did not know what to do with Shelah. She possessed that Middle Eastern woman surface submission, masking a dark cloud of rage. Karin invited the mother to the rally but Shelah declined, saying she feared a confrontation of great magnitude would occur if she made an appearance. At no time did Shelah ask about Jubal’s well-being. She did not inquire as to his status, his health or his heart.

Karin was desolate. No one really cared for these two boys, just as people. They were viewed as either burdens or bedlam—bothersome or brats. But certainly forsaken and forgotten.

She was exhausted. Sitting down on her bed, slipping off her sandals and swinging her legs around, she lay down flat on her back—but her mind was actively trying to save the world.

She closed her eyes, hoping for relief. Rest was needed—for it would be necessary for her to be alive, sharp and prepared for tomorrow’s foolishness.

 

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1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Become a Better Person)

1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Become a Better Person)

 

JUST ADMIT YOU ARE PREJUDICED

Being prejudiced just means that we see things in color, shape, size, style, gender and even finance.

But when it comes to matters of the heart, seeing is not believing. All of us believe things which our eyeballs tell us are different.

The importance of admitting prejudice is to prevent ourselves from becoming bigots, and end up racists.

HIDDEN PREJUDICE IS THE PROBLEM

Just because I see a man who is a different color than myself does not mean I feel that I am better than him, and I certainly do not want to act superior, because then, I will try to find a way to hurt him, which will make me a racist.

America will become free of its racial, cultural, spiritual and gender bias just as soon as we realize that our eyes still see what is set before us.

However, we don’t need to believe what we see, or hold what we see to be sacred.

I am prejudiced.

I still see fat, I still see youth, I still see old, I still see color–but because I admit it, I can confront myself and realize it doesn’t make any difference–and certainly doesn’t make me superior to anyone else on the planet.

Therefore I feel no need to hurt them to make myself look powerful.

So there’s your one thing–if every human being in America would admit they are still haunted by prejudice, we would do away with bigotry in a generation, and racism even quicker.

 

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Jesonian … August 4th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3754)

“No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.”

The word “master” is such a nasty, archaic term. But basically, the message is that there is something that compels us. We fancy ourselves to be the compellers, but we actually spend most of our lives compelled. And when you take the word “compel” and look at the synonyms–constrain, enforce, urge, bulldoze, coerce and squeeze–you come up with a vision in your mind which gives you a sense of claustrophobia concerning being manipulated.

Perhaps that’s why people have trouble coming to terms with human life. They continue to pursue the fallacy that they call all their own shots and that everything is perfect if it is at their beckon command.

Unfortunately, Jesus was correct. From the time of our birth to the time of our death, we are obsessed with some compulsion. It is that compulsion that dictates our moods, our actions, our frustrations, our bigotry and to a large degree, our finance.

The reason I bring up finance is that the rest of the verse is a cold, hard statement from the Nazarene, telling us, “You cannot serve God and Mammon.”

Like master, Mammon is one of those words which is barely comprehensible to most of the population. Mammon is just a total obsession with things. Once we are obsessed with things, we are compelled to get them. Whatever stands in our way becomes the enemy.

I sat down before I wrote this essay and asked myself, “What is it that compels me?”

Much to the chagrin of my lineage, who may be waiting for an inheritance, profit and gain has never intrigued me in the least. I’ve had lots of money and I’ve had no money, and have found the two experiences to have little impact on my soul satisfaction.

So I would like to simplify this phrase down to one that may be easier to understand: You will be compelled, and the choice you are given is whether you are going to serve good, or goods.

Pause.

Your immediate instinct may be to say, “I’m not materialistic. I don’t want more than I need.” But there are three questions you can ask that will tell you if you’re being mastered by the good, or by goods:

1. Do you worry about money?

Since you know worrying about money doesn’t achieve anything, what is the purpose of worrying about it unless you’re compelled to do so?

2. Do you feel you would be happier and better off if you had more money?

Candidly, even though we don’t think money can buy happiness, we’re pretty sure it can rent it.

3. Do you have a wish list of things you hope to attain financially before the end of your life?

A large portion of the world will go to bed hungry tonight. In such an environment, having dinner makes you a rich person.

When you look at these three questions, you can ascertain whether you are being mastered by good or by goods.

What was the master of Abraham Lincoln? Saving the Union. To do so he realized he had to abolish with slavery. A double blessing.

What was the master of Napoleon? Conquering the world and proving that the French were superior. In attempting to do this, he ended up dying alone on an island.

What is the master of former President Jimmy Carter? This man just seems to enjoy helping other folks. He is well into his nineties and still keeps picking up a hammer.

You will be compelled, constrained, urged and coerced to do something from some thing which has gained the full attention of your passion.

Just keep in mind, it is impossible to serve the pursuit of good and the quest for goods.

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 43) Broad Shoulders… February 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3230)

Reverend Meningsbee

Even though spring was less than two weeks away, the Windy City was still frigid, with sporadic snow flurries careening through the air.

Meningsbee had spent too much time admiring and devouring his deep-dish pizza, and so found himself hurrying the short distance down the street, to “The Illinoian,” a downtown hotel which in its salad days was dressed lavishly, but with the wear chasing the tear, had somewhat lost its flair.

Meningsbee was late to deliver a speech in Ballroom Three, for the “Midwest Evangelical Mainline Church Convention.” It was an annual gathering in Chicago, usually drawing about 5,000 pastors, church leaders, music directors and congregation members who found such seminars to hold some interest. Matter of fact, Bob Harborhouse from the Garsonville Church, had come, and Monique Jennings, the church secretary.

Meningsbee had been invited to speak on the subject of “Innovation in the 21st Century Church.” His first inclination was to decline, but on second thought, was quite grateful for the opportunity to leave Nebraska for a few days.

He was a little concerned about whether anybody would show up in Ballroom Three. After all, Monique had already decided to go shopping and Bob had opted to attend a different seminar on church finance, entitled “The Power of the Shekel.”

So Meningsbee was on his own and a bit out of breath as he stepped off the elevator on the third floor, and was suddenly surrounded by cameras, with a reporter sticking a microphone to his mouth. It was Katrina Middlesex, who was no longer with USBN, but had now joined a conservative think tank from the blogosphere named “The American Way.”

Meningsbee tried to wiggle past the entourage, but Katrina positioned herself in front of the door, prohibiting him from entering. With bright lights in his face and cameras poised, she began to fire questions.

“Do you think its hypocritical for you to be here?”

“Do you think what happened in Garsonville is your fault?”

Then it was the third question that shocked Meningsbee.

“Is it true that you have a problem with pornography?”

He could not disguise his surprise.

So she asked him again, “Are you involved in pornography?”

Frustrated, angry and beginning to feel some indigestion from his lunch, he snapped, “No comment.”

Katrina smiled and slowly backed away, allowing him to enter the ballroom.

Safely inside, he immediately realized it was the wrong answer. He should at least have denied it. “No comment” was an admission that there might be some substance to the question and that he needed to consult an attorney.

It was so stupid.

Meningsbee lifted his eyes to look at the room, peering at a beautiful hall with 300 chairs–speckled with about forty human beings. Worse, they had spread themselves all over the place, as if trying to avoid a contagion.

He took a deep breath and walked to the front of the auditorium, placing his portfolio on the podium, As he did, he saw a note. It read: “Dear Reverend Meningsbee: I’m sorry I will not be there to introduce you. Got all tied up. Just feel free to start on your own, and may God bless you.”

Meningsbee didn’t read any further. Knowing who had left him out in the cold would not make him feel any warmer.

He tested the microphone, which whirred and whistled a bit, causing some of the congregated to giggle, and then began to speak from his prepared text. He wasn’t even five words into his spiel when a hand was raised in the audience. He stopped, acknowledged the individual, and she posed, “Why were all the reporters out in the lobby?”

Another man sitting three rows in front of her threw a comment over his shoulder in her direction. “There was some sort of scandal in his hometown and they wanted to ask him about his involvement.”

Meningsbee stepped in, objecting. “It wasn’t a scandal. It was just people stuff, which they made scandalous.”

A fellow four or five rows over piped in. “Was it sex stuff?”

A lady all the way in the back responded, projecting her voice to cover the distance. “Yes. I think so.”

Meningsbee interrupted. “I’ve come here today to talk about innovation in the 21st century church.”

Yet another hand went up. Meningsbee reluctantly acknowledged the inquisitor.

“Did you use the scandal to advertise the church? That’s pretty innovative. You know what they say–there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Meningsbee was lost. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what to do.

All at once, another voice. Male, younger–strong.

“If you don’t mind, Reverend Meningsbee,” said the young man, standing to his feet, “I would like to tell them what you did. If you folks are not familiar with the work that is going on in Garsonville, I’ve been keeping up with it through reading the blogs about the movement in the town, and also I have a cousin who lives there who fills me in on all the adventures.

“This gentleman, Reverend Meningsbee, wrote a book called ‘The Jesus Church.’ If you’ve never read it, you should. I know people always say that. In this case, it’s true. Basically, it asks the question, ‘What kind of church would Jesus run if Jesus was in the church running business?'”

People chuckled.

“So,” the young man continued, “the Reverend came to be a pastor in Garsonville, to see if he and the folks there can get together and form…well, I guess ‘form a more perfect union.’ But anyway, let me shut up, and let the parson tell us the whole story.”

The young man sat down, leaned back, crossed his legs and prepared to listen. The other people in the hall noted his position and followed suit.

Meningsbee was able to finish his speech. Afterward, he quickly found the young man, and thanked him for his kindness.

He replied, “Oh, you were fine. You didn’t need me. My dad used to tell me, ‘always travel with a little bit of grease, because most of the time you won’t be the wheel, but lots of times the wheel will need the grease.'”

Meningsbee found out that the young man’s name was Carl–Carl Ramenstein. He was a student at the Illinois Theological Seminary and was due to graduate in May.

“Come and see us,” said Meningsbee.

Carl smiled. “Why?”

The question took Meningsbee by surprise. He was just trying to be polite, but now the astute young man was calling him on it.

“Good question,” responded Meningsbee. “I guess because you’re young, good-looking, level-headed, humble and the Kingdom of God certainly wouldn’t suffer under your efforts.”

Carl feigned surprise. “Are you offering me a job?”

“No, no,” said Meningsbee. “Stale Danish, weak coffee–that’s our offer.”

Carl laughed, paused and considered. He reached out to shake the pastor’s hand, saying, “Well, I’ll tell you what. If I ever need stale Danish and coffee, you’ll be the first place I go.”

They shared a laugh. Meningsbee couldn’t help but be grateful for the intervention of the stranger.

Now all he had to do was figure out how to get out of Ballroom Three without seeing Katrina again. 

 

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G-Poppers … November 11th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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She was cursing the air like it was refusing to let her breathe–stomping, throwing things, shaking her fist–the personification of frustration.

As G-Pop returned from a grocery shopping trip, he slowly parked his van in a space next to a young woman who was in a hurry to go nowhere. She had obviously hit her wall and was determined to hit it again and again, to prove the depth of her anguish.

It was a little frightening.

It was like a scene you watch in a movie and take in stride, but when you feel the vehemence ricocheting through the air, it is much different.

So out of respect to her eruption–and a little afraid to step into the emotional lava surrounding her–G-Pop sat quietly in his car, giving her space.

At length she disappeared back into her motel room to procure more of her personal effects. G-Pop took that moment to go into his own room.

Then it occurred to him–a prompting. The real reason to have the Spirit speaking within. After all, there are always two choices:

  • You can shut the door to your room and pretend there’s no pain.
  • Or you can open the door and risk becoming part of the pain of another human being.

G-Pop asked Jan to go out and find out what was wrong–if there was anything the girl needed.

Jan was back in a brief moment, explaining that our friend had her money stolen and they were kicking her out of the motel because she didn’t have finance.

I suppose G-Pop could have spent five or ten minutes trying to figure out if she was lying, or he could have offered a prayer on her behalf. But the best feeling in the world is to know that you did something, even if the critics around you insist it means nothing.

G-Pop looked into his wallet. He had an abundance of one dollar bills left over from the week’s endeavors. He didn’t count them–just grabbed them and gave them to Jan to take out to the damsel in distress.

After a brief delay Jan reappeared, grinning ear to ear, saying that the young woman was moved to tears and they had hugged it out.

Did it make a difference?

Much more than whether G-Pop voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

Much more than an aggravated post on Facebook.

Much more than a silent request during prayer time the following Sunday at church.

We are living in uncertain times so it is important to make sure what is certain:

  1. Love your neighbor.
  2. Take responsibility for your life
  3. Be of good cheer.

And G-Pop would note: when you see something that needs to be done, do the part that is within your means.

 

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Ask Jonathots… July 28th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Why did Jesus say it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom? Is there something evil about having money?

With all due respect, I think you’ve asked the wrong question.

For a discussion about evil–its sources and implications–is the best way to leave yourself paranoid and frightened to do anything.

The real question: Is there anything good about money?

1. It can allow us to be free of the tension of sustaining ourselves, and cause us to begin to “consider the lily.”

2. If we can convince ourselves that we actually have enough of this money stuff, it is possible to stimulate a wave of generosity in our actions which will be a blessing to those around us.

3. If we find ourselves in the black instead of the red, we grant our spirit an energy to generate creativity and come up with inventive ideas.

4. Having money gives us a chance to give opportunity to those who have talent but just lack funding.

5. If we’re able to convince ourselves that we are accomplished, and therefore do not have to fear losing our finance, we can expand our vision and become less critical.

When Jesus said “it is more difficult for a rich man to make it into heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle,” what he was referring to was not the presence of money, but rather, the failure to exorcise the demon of insufficiency.

Just because you have money does not mean you cease to believe you’re poor.

For it is the love of money that is the root of all evil–the yearning, the despair, the nervousness, the feeling of inadequacy–that launches all sorts of vile actions.

If you’re going to have money, you must reach a point where you’re convinced that you have money.

That frees you up to become generous, turning money into a gift of the spirit, which grants you angelic potential to be a Good Samaritan to the world around you.

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G-Poppers … July 1st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop’s granddaughter called, very sad because she had just finished reading the story of the sinking of the Titanic.

Since she was fresh from the pages of the book and deeply touched by the loss of over fifteen hundred human lives, G-Pop comforted her. On another day, he decided, he would share with her the “Titanic Thinking” that brought about much of the calamity.

Matter of fact, most of that Titanic Thinking exists in our society today, as we thumb our noses at common sense, deeming ourselves invincible.

So many people could have been salvaged from that doomed situation if there had been a willingness to admit mistakes and seek reasonable and equitable solutions.

The first problem with all Titanic Thinking is:

1. We’re too big to fail.

Having constructed the largest, the best, the fastest and the brightest, we are completely intoxicated by the power of our own might.

  • Therefore, the Titanic did not have enough life boats. After all, why would they need them?
  • They didn’t have enough spotters looking for icebergs.
  • And with a sense of devil-may-care, they scooted at full throttle through what ended up being treacherous waters.

2. Don’t alarm the people.

Considering that the Titanic took several hours to sink, and there were masterful men and women of business, finance and commerce aboard ship, not to mention hardworking folk in steerage below–if these forces could have been united in a common goal, many more lives would have been retrieved.

But the captain and crew decided not to alarm the passengers.

There were many things on the Titanic that could float. How many make-shift rafts could have been put together? How many lifeboats could have been filled to capacity and beyond?

Not even an option. The reason they weren’t?

3. Some folks are better than others.

Because the Titanic was divided into first, second and third class, there was no ability for the passengers to interact and pool their information and strength, to assist in the salvation of their own lives.

You will take a toll if you believe that people are less than you–because the law of averages seems to play out that you eventually need them.

And finally:

4. It will work out.

This abiding foolishness, which some people call faith, was ill-placed in a man-made object which was at the mercy of a God-created sea. Yet deep in the hearts of most of the crew was the belief that the “good old boat would stay afloat” until help arrived.

Somewhere between a sense of dependence and independence lies truth. And when we are honest about our concerns and fears instead of hiding them behind the false bravado that “everything will work out,” we have a much better chance to survive.

Even though these thoughts came to G-Pop’s mind, he chose not to share this vivid detail with his young granddaughter. He was just pleased that her heart was touched by the loss of so many, so long ago.

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