Mayberry Passion … April 17, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog


andyBeing the local sheriff in a tiny village in North Carolina demands a variety of skills. Sometimes a psychologist. On other occasions a fixer of bicycles for young boys. It always requires a smile and a kind word for those passing by.

Andrew Jackson Taylor just seemed to have been born for the position.

Most folks called him Andy. He was always available with a joke or a piece of sage wisdom, but could also offer the occasional warning to those who were flirting with disrupting the peace.

And recently that had become a prime concern.

Deputy Barney Fife, who was known for his nervous twitches, was agog with fear and was trying to warn Andy everyday that this new youngBarney Fife man who had come to town was causing a commotion which was about as close to a riot as the folks of Mayberry would tolerate. Matter of fact, Barney had been on the case of this fellow named Jesus ever since he had sauntered into town.

First of all, he had long hair, which was quite unacceptable to those who sported and required buzzed white-walls around the ears. Barney explained to Andy that Floyd, the local barber, was very unhappy, because many of the young boys in the town had begun to grow their hair long to imitate the stranger.

Jesus lived somewhere out in the woods, where he escaped late at night, only to appear early in the morning, chattin’ up the locals and joining in to the freshness of the day.

Goober came from the gas station to tell Andy how this young feller Jesus, had challenged him about putting water in Aunt Beethe gasoline.

The local sewing circle, led by Aunt Bee, in an attempt to be cordial and neighborly, invited Jesus to come and share at their monthly meeting. He created quite a stir when he decided to speak up against the practice of gossip.Gomer

Barney believed that this Jesus was anti-American because Gomer Pyle, after spending an afternoon with him, had decided not to join the United States Marines.

What really bothered Barney more than anything else was a rumor circulating that the Darlings, who lived in a holler down the road, had invited Jesus to a wedding of one of their young’uns, and word has it he brought his own corn squeezins’ that he had changed to moonshine.

OpieHonestly, Andy didn’t pay much attention to it, knowing that Barney was like a bear-trap with a spring too tight. That is, until he caught Opie fishing down at the lake with Jesus right after school, and didn’t much appreciate anyone interfering with his child. Jesus explained that he was just using fishing to teach the boy the multiplication tables, but Andy was not comforted.

Also when Thelma Lou was attacked by some of the local religious sorts for a reputation she had developed while living in Raleigh, this Jesus pointed out to the accusers how easy it was to have their deeds exposed, and that it might be a good idea for humans who live in stained glass houses not to throw stones.

Barney was even upset because Otis, the town drunk, had stopped drinking so much and didn’t frequent the jailhouse anymore. You just can’t mess with traditions.

But I guess it came to a head when Andy’s girlfriend, Helen Crump, who taught at the local elementary school, allowed Jesus to share withHelen the students a motivational message which ended up being “no one is better than anyone else.” It wasn’t so much that Andy disagreed with the idea in principle—just found it totally impractical.

So with all this ruckus being raised by this stranger, who most people believed must have come from Mt. Pilate, it fell Andy’s lot, as keeper of the peace, to take Jesus for a little drive down the road. He brought along with him a bus ticket and thirty dollars.

Andy explained to Jesus that it was nothing personal, just that it was his responsibility to maintain the dignity and order of this town, and that things just weren’t working out too well with young Jesus being among the citizens.

Jesus listened carefully.

About a mile outside town, Andy pulled the squad car over and handed Jesus the bus ticket and the thirty dollars, and told him he really wasn’t welcome in Mayberry anymore. Andy, being the insightful sort, suggested Charlotte—where there were many more people who just didn’t pay as much attention to one another.

Jesus took the bus ticket and the thirty dollars and climbed out of the car. He started to walk away and then turned and said, “I guess I’m finished here. I hope your memories of me, after a bit of time, will end up being pleasant.”

He waved, turned on his heel and ambled down the road.

Andy watched him for a few moments, and said under his breath, “What a peculiar fellow.”

He turned the squad car around and headed back to town.

It was date night with Miss Crump.


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Gas or Pictures… January 15, 2012


I was asked again yesterday.  “Why aren’t you on Facebook?”

I think it’s a nice thing–I think, for some people, it seems to be a means of communication. It’s just not for me. To me, it comes down to a choice of gas or pictures. Since I’m never coming back from a vacation, nor completing a task or touting the needs of my children when they’re completely able to do so themselves, I spend most of my time gassing up my vehicle and moving on down the road.

I think life is more visceral than visual. For instance, I really don’t know how to explain to someone what it’s like to sit in front of an audience of strangers and share until a common humanity overtakes us in a sweep of spirit. It’s difficult to capture in a single post on Facebook, the sensation of writing a song, or seeing someone’s luggage left outside of their car as they drive away and you chase them down the street to tell them they’ve left it behind as they look at you like you’re crazy; but still, to play it safe, they turn around and are so happy to find their stuff.

I like gas, not pictures. I like to do things and then when the things are done, rather than mounting a display to remember them, I like to go on to the next one. I don’t begrudge those who participate in memorializing their lives. Life just seems so short to me–to be encapsulating everything as I go, when there will be plenty of time when I’m gone for people to remember and to immortalize if they so desire.

I don’t have to worry about taking pictures.  Someone always is. I don’t have to wonder about little bits and pieces of myself being downloaded–we have such folk readily available everywhere. And I do participate in the sense that I keep up with some people via Facebook, so perhaps my hypocrisy is not only evident but in full bloom.

It’s just that I’ve got my foot on the gas instead my finger on the shutter. And there are three things that worry me about this whole process of choosing pictures over the gas:

1. We’re making our children too important. Even as I write that, I realize how unpopular the concept will be. The notion of family is shrinking us, though, instead of expanding us as brothers and sisters across the world. I love my children. I love them so much that I desire them to have lives and not to maintain the childish existences they once shared with me. Facebook keeps us too fanciful about fostering family. Having children was not my purpose in life–so I could settle into a chair and either worry about them or vicariously live through them. I have no inclination that God will ask me anything about my children at the Judgment Day. It will all be about me.

2. Too many events, not enough spontaneity. We have become a nation obsessed with planning and starting things, with very little passion for sustaining and little to no endurance for finishing. Spontaneity is the breath of God. It is the way His Spirit moves–and those who must have two weeks’ notice will miss out on half the excitement that was originally prepared for them. I am just like you–spontaneity sometimes angers me, frustrates me or makes me grumpy. But when I give in to its energy, I discover the breathtaking nature of human travel.

3. Too many awards, not enough art. In the absence of true excellence, we produce decals, medals, certificates and statues to affirm our progress. Yes, it is one of my problems with Facebook. People want to tack up what they’re doing on their walls and let other folks tell them how important it is. Here’s a suggestion–do important things and the fruit of your labors will be so beneficial that you won’t need anyone to tell you the value of your deeds. It’s just a thought. But because most people have succumbed to the notion that being creative is limited to a few genius souls or a sporadic strike of lightning, or worse, just the “whim of God,” we spend most of our time nostalgically remembering “greater folks” who did “greater feats,” or applauding ourselves for remakes, remixes and repetition. Once again, not for me.

I will always choose gas over pictures. It is possible I will reach the end of my life and there will be a dearth of images about my journey. It is a risk I will take. I would much rather welcome someone to sit by my side and “come see” instead of viewing my posts. Old fashioned? I disagree. I think it’s old-fashioned to sit around and thumb through family albums of photographs and reminisce … even if you’re doing it at 4G speed.


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


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