Good News and Better News … March 12th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


“There’s blues in the pews.”

A quiet resignation to what is deemed to be an acceptable despondency: “Just a few more weary days and I’ll fly away.”

Motivated to only share a Gospel that gets us to heaven while maintaining a cultural grouchiness on Earth, the church is not ready to tear down the gates of hell.

Instead, the American church spends too much time tearing down one another. Congregations often act like they’re in the middle of a mine cave-in, where there’s a shortage of oxygen and those around them seem to have too many nostrils.

Abundant life and an existence filled with joy seem to be Biblical promises of a coming kingdom instead of the Kingdom of God, which is declared to be within us.

There’s blues in the pews.

It won’t do any good for us to ignore it. There’s no reclamation by refusing to discuss the problem out of political correctness. After all, there are some subjects we are not supposed to broach. For instance, it’s not proper to complain that a funeral is too long nor that Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey is too dry. And it’s completely unacceptable to insist that for some reason, this year Santa Claus was too cheap.

But if we are willing to quietly consider the situation, we could come up with three realities which create some of the blues in the pews:

1. This is what we do.

Even though the Bible says “the Lord’s blessings are fresh daily,” we continue to warm up leftovers and pass them off as new recipes.

2. This is who we do it with.

We get to know each other too well. It invites criticism. And because no fresh blood is being infused, we “clot up” in disrespect and confusion.

3. Simultaneously, we are defensive about how it is done.

It may not make us happy, but “God bless America, we’re gonna keep on doing it because we’ve always done it this way.”

There will be blues in the pews until we realize that church is not meant for God–it’s meant for His people. It’s a place intended for fellowship–where folks can mourn, consider and embrace.

The good news is, Jesus left us a beautiful example of what church should be–for those around him said, “We have never seen it in this fashion before.”

The better news is, it stands to reason that if we follow the example of Jesus, we just might start getting “Jesus results.”


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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … November 29th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog


F, me































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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 53) Surprise Party … May 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Reverend Meningsbee

Constable Bill was able to convince Carla that she needed to stay with someone else for a couple of days while the investigation was going on, and also to make sure she was safe and sound from her notorious ex-husband.

Pastor Meningsbee suggested she stay with Mary and Martha, the two sisters from the church, who would love the companionship. They had an old Cape Cod home with three extra bedrooms, so there was plenty of room.

So Tuesday and Wednesday night, Carla tucked herself away in the loving hospitality of the congenial–and talkative–sisters.

On Thursday morning, Meningsbee stopped over, telling Carla that the police thought it was safe for her to go back home, and try to return to her schedule. Meningsbee decided to accompany her, as did Mary.

When they arrived at the stairs leading up to Carla’s apartment, they were surprised to discover Bill was already there. He had been driving by, and thought he would check and see what the status was on the property, and peering to the top, discovered that the door was open.

He had gotten into his squad car, circled the neighborhood, and lo and behold, came upon the faded red-rusted pickup truck that had been sitting out in front of the diner just two days earlier. Opening it up, he found a bloody seat, maps, Gus’s driver’s license and an empty box of bullets.

So he hurried back to the apartment to secure it before allowing Carla to settle in.

Seeing that the group had arrived, he told them to stand back, pulled out his gun and headed up the stairs. He was about halfway along when Carla broke rank, ran up the stairs, pushed past him, opened the screen door, kicked the inside door with her foot and bolted in.

Everyone was screaming at her to stop. The constable recovered first and scurried up behind her, followed by Meningsbee and Mary. Each one reached the top and peered in like little birds peeking over the top of the nest.

Carla was standing completely still, staring down at the body of Gus, who was perched in a chair, apparently having bled to death from his wound.

Bill walked over, checked for a pulse and shook his head. Carla asked him, “Is he dead?”

“Dead as they get,” he said.

She stepped up, reached into Gus’s pocket, pulled out the gun and aimed it at him. She shot once, twice, three times.

Meningsbee shouted at Bill, “Aren’t you gonna stop her?”

He shook his head. “No. He’s already dead. It’s not against the law to kill a dead man. She’s got a lot of pain to work through, and if I’m countin’ right, she’s only got three more shots.”

Carla stopped at four and handed the gun over to the officer. She fell to the ground in a heap as Mary came over to hold her.

Meningsbee said to the constable, “What do you think happened?”

Bill replied, “Well, I’m no professional with autopsies, but I’d say he died.”

Meningsbee sighed. “I know that. I mean, why here?”

“Well, my guess is, if you look at where he’s sittin’, he’s got a direct shot at the front door. I don’t think he planned on giving her another chance to stab him.”

“Damn,” said Meningsbee.

Bill laughed. “That’s kind of funny. My mother used to have an old saying she’d pop off with when she ran across something unusual. She’d say, ‘That’s like hearing a preacher cuss.’ And here we are. And I just did.”

No family could be found for Gus, whose real name was Gerald Blevins. Suggestions were made to send him to a pauper’s grave in the big city, but Meningsbee felt it would be good to have the funeral right there in town, at the church, so that a very damaged and distraught Carla could be surrounded by loved ones.

On Saturday morning at 10:00 A. M., a funeral was held for Gerald Blevins, who no one had known one week earlier. Since there was no family, there was no eulogy, and since there was no eulogy, there was no need to “praise Caesar.”

Meningsbee felt he had one purpose–to let Carla know that the 128 souls who showed up for the funeral were there for her, not a murderous stranger.

He took his place in the pulpit rather than his usual position on the floor to add more gravitas to the situation. He began.

“I knew Gerald Blevins for about twenty-three minutes. I can’t tell you much about him. He claimed to be a Christian, although we know he did many un-Christ-like things. Of course, we all do.

“Now, I’m not saying this to compare each and every one of you to this dangerous fellow. I’m just saying that none of us know the height breadth and depth of our loving and merciful God. For if we found out there was some limitation, all of us might need to shiver in our boots because we exceeded His grace.

“But this gathering is not about Gerald. Gerald will have to make peace with God and settle his own score. This is about Carla. This is about a woman who has struggled all her life. She’s worked harder than any lady should have to, and raised two wonderful children, only to be invaded–yes, that’s the word–invaded by this foul presence.

“Gus said he wanted money. I suppose he did. I have no idea what he was going to use it for. He never told me. I offered to give him a couple thousand dollars of my own money that I have squirreled away from my book royalties. I actually told him I won it in Las Vegas. First, I would never go to Las Vegas. Second, I would never win.”

A nervous chuckle.

“But in that moment of his life, money was more important than his soul, his future, and the feelings of another human being.

“Carla, all of us gathered here today want you to remember, this is your home. There’s no other town in America that’s going to love you any more than we do. And we want you to stay. We want you to try to find happiness. We want you to continue to be part of us. And we want to watch as the love of God settles into your heart and creates healing.

“Would some of you folks come up here and give Carla a hug?”

Carla embraced everyone who came her way in a dutiful manner. She thanked Richard for his kind words. She checked with the constable to make sure no expenses had been incurred by the county for the burial.

Then she went up to her apartment, packed her bags, got in her car and left without saying another word.

Meningsbee was heartbroken. But he understood.

When you live in a small town, once a major tragedy happens in your life, you’re almost always remembered as “that lady who had the crazy husband, who died in her living room.”

Sometimes it’s hard to heal when other people keep probing for a sign of an open wound. Somewhere out there in America, nobody knew anything–and that was the next place Carla needed to call home.

Meningsbee prayed for her. Meningsbee thought about her.

And being a man, Meningsbee always wondered what could have been.


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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 38) Gramps Creekside… January 22nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Reverend Meningsbee

The local mailman decided to enter the cabin when he heard the old tick hound, Queenie, howling.

He found Gramps Creekside dead in his bed.

Now, “Gramps” was not his given baptism name. His bank signature read “Benjamin Donnelly.” But everybody in town called him Gramps because he seemed to be more aged than anyone else they knew–and “Creekside” because many years before he built a small cabin by a creek about three miles outside of town.

Gramps had the legendary blending of cantankerous, kindly and wise. He always seemed to have a good word when it was needed and a little piece of sass when the world became too complacent.

It’s safe to say that everybody in the town, at least once a year, made a pilgrimage out to the little cabin to visit with the old man as he sat and mused over life, spitting tobacco in his ‘toon.

Meningsbee had made such a journey just three days earlier. Feeling the need to be around someone as old as the hills, with the possibility of receiving irreverent counsel, he headed out and sat in the old man’s only extra chair.

As always, Meningsbee tried to start out nice, but Gramps just didn’t like preachers.

His contention was that ministers didn’t have enough work to keep them busy, which caused them to get nosy about other people’s business. Gramps had only attended the church one time, on no particularly special Sunday, and walked out giving Meningsbee the sideways compliment, “You’re better than most.”

So when the news came to town that Gramps was dead, there was a shudder of grief and a reluctance to accept the reality. Deep in their hearts, people knew they would get over his departure, but the absence of his freewheeling style of observation would certainly deplete their world.

The pastor was asked to conduct the memorial service on Sunday afternoon. The church was filled with those who had been graced by the touch and the gruffness of the aging philosopher.

On Saturday, Meningsbee went out to the cabin and walked around, looking for hints as to what to say at the memorial service. There wasn’t much there. Apparently, the old man had savored tobacco and beef jerky.

Gramps had a Bible on his nightstand, what appeared to be a year’s supply of black coffee, three dozen fresh hen’s eggs in the ice box and many cans of Vienna sausages.

Meningsbee picked up the Bible, opened it, and a little slip of paper fell onto the floor. He retrieved it up and read the brief paragraph with a smile. He had found his subject for the service.

When Sunday afternoon rolled around and everyone had tearfully finished their tributes to Gramps Creekside, the Reverend stood to his feet and said:

“Searching through the limited belongings of Benjamin Donnelly, who we lovingly know as Gramps Creekside, I quickly realized that this was not a man who was laying up treasures on Earth.”

The audience laughed.

“Matter of fact, in the whole cabin I could not locate a second pair of shoes, though he granted himself the luxury of three pair of underwear.”

More laughter.

“What I did find was a Bible–a Good Book which had the strokings of many a finger-passing. In that Bible was a note, handwritten by Gramps himself. It read: ‘Am I starting? Am I done? Don’t rightly know. Guess I’ll go on.'”

Reverend Meningsbee paused for a second to allow the words to sink in, and then continued. “Just like you, at first I was perplexed by the meaning, but then it was so much like Gramps that it was like he was whispering in my ear. You see, here’s a man who wasn’t sure how much time he had or whether it was time to leave. But because he didn’t know, he thought the smartest way to live was to keep going full speed until something stopped him. When I read the words, they convicted my heart. I thought about all the things that have stopped me recently, just because they challenged my ego. I thought about all the matters I worry about, which don’t amount to more than dust on a country road. And I realized that Gramps sat out there, not totally convinced that anybody cared, but always prepared to receive a visitor and encourage a heart. We are too busy being busy to really be busy. That’s the truth of the matter. Let me tell ya’–we’ve taken the last few months and allowed the world around us to come in and dissect us like a bunch of frogs. They’ve looked at our insides and concluded that we’re pretty messed up. Well, so be it. Truth is, everybody sitting in this room could tell a nice story about Gramps–and a bad story about him. He wasn’t very bigoted but he was impatient with children. I once heard him tell a mother of a fussy child at the grocery store, ‘Why don’t you leave that little brat home so the rest of us can enjoy squeezin’ our favorite loaf of bread?’ She was offended. But I will tell you–she is in this room today. Because less than six months later, when her husband died, Gramps was out in her driveway, shoveling snow so she could get to work. You see, it’s not about being right. It’s sure not about being wrong. As Gramps said in his note, it’s about keepin’ the thing going until it’s over. He did not lay down for a nap on Thursday thinking he was going to die. Never crossed his mind. That’s the way it should be.”

The service concluded and the folks trailed off to the cemetery to lay the old man to rest. It was decided by the city council to leave the cabin as it was for a while, so people could go out to visit and reminisce.

For the next two months there was a sweet spirit of revival that swept across Garsonville. Not a “Holy Ghost shouting” kind, but a gentle reflection, where everybody asked themselves, “Am I starting? Am I done? Don’t rightly know. Guess I’ll go on.”


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Cracked 5 … December 27th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog


cracked 5 logo keeper with border

The Day After Christmas Is Fairly Famous

Here Are Some “Day Afters” That Lacked Promise

A. The day after the Titanic launch


B. The day after my first treatment of “Twelve Day Colon Rinse”


C. The day after the end of the world


D. The day after my wife told me to buy a lottery ticket on the way home from work with a specific number she wanted and I forgot and it ended up winning $416,723,000


E. The day after my funeral


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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … May 20th, 2015

   Jonathots Daily Blog


PoHymn May 20

A Guest At My Own Funeral

I would love to attend my funeral

If I didn’t have to be terminal

Listening to what people say

When it truly is my grave day

Wondering if they would “rock it out”

Or sob like babies, whining some doubt

About the way they treated my feelings

In all the fussy personal dealings.

Would their tears make me cry?

Or eulogies contain some lie?

About my festering needs

Instead of “me more noble deeds”

For dying lasts a good long while

Stuffing in your butt–a painted smile

Please someone let loose and weep

Get good flowers, don’t go cheap

Prove that I was your favorite me

Make me more than I appeared to be

Because I’m meeting God on high

He knows my what, where, when and why

Send me off with words so kind

And ignore the occasions I lost my mind. 


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Untotaled: Stepping 30 (November 12th, 1966) Candy Crash … September 6, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog



A mumbling conversation.

An attempt to disguise the nasty details of a tragedy from the fragile adolescent.

That would be me–the teen who is to be seen but never understood.

I listened carefully.


Aunt Janice. Uncle Randy. My cousin Jeremy. And my cousin Candy.

My ears perk when I hear “Candy.”

I love Candy. I mean, I love her because she notices me. She believes I’m alive. Her eyes focus on me instead of quickly darting away to other distractions.

The last time I saw her she said, “Jonathan, you look nice today.”

My breath squeezed from my lungs. I thanked her and rushed from the room, went outside, found a corner unto myself and cried.

No one sees me. And certainly, no one thinks I look nice.

So I listened more intently.

Car wreck. Injuries.

And then many hidden words I can’t quite make out.

When suddenly, the room stands still as I hear uttered, “Candy was killed.”

I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to know–but I had to ask them.

They rebuked me for listening in on adult conversations. I didn’t care.

“What happened to Candy?” I shouted, trying to pull up short of a scream.

Driving on vacation in Florida, Aunt Janice, Uncle Randy, Jeremy and Candy were struck by a drunk driver who went left of center, seriously injuring three of them … and killing the flower.

I couldn’t comprehend.

I saw no reasonable purpose for such insanity.

One week passed. It was Candy’s funeral. Aunt Janice was there in a body cast, Randy with a broken leg and Jeremy, all cut up and weeping. The whole room smelled like blood and rubbing alcohol.

One by one, family members passed by Candy’s casket. They paused and wept for a young woman with such promise, struck down at twenty-one.

It was my turn.

I spoke firmly to my legs, asking them to move, and gradually made my way to look into the mahogany box.

It was so odd.

Because she had been thrown through the windshield and severely mutilated, they had constructed a mask of her face made out of plastic, put make-up on it and squeezed it over her fractured features.

Before me was a doll.

It was a mannequin representation of a living soul.

I must have stood there too long because my mother came to my side, poked me in the ribs, and told me to move on.

I did so obediently, having no urge to stare at the harlequin before me. I excused myself and went outside.

About ten minutes later I returned. No one was in the room–just the casket, the empty shell of a saint … and me.

Mustering all my strength, I walked over again and looked at my departed loved one.

I said, “Candy, you look nice today.”



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