Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … June 11th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

 

Dear Man: I was twelve years old when I came to my mother and told her I wanted to join the Jr. High football team. She looked startled and then she laughed and said, “No. You can’t. But you can be a cheerleader.” I had never thought about cheering for someone else. I was shocked. It seemed that society was training me to be a Mommy.

 

Dear Woman: So you think it’s a plot? Do you think there’s some committee somewhere that watches carefully for young girls to turn twelve, and then makes sure to transform them into cheerleaders instead of football players?

 

Dear Man: Don’t you? Maybe not a plot, but a programming chip that is slipped into society’s consciousness. So my whole training from that point on, after twelve years of age, was to be a Mommy. It consisted of “get ready to cheer, get ready to worry”, and finally, “get ready to support.”

 

Dear Woman: So you feel that our society encourages femininity as long as it cheers, worries and supports?

 

Dear Man: Yes. Look at the situation comedies on TV. Even the women who are supposed to be strong find themselves cheering, worrying incessantly and supporting the family.

 

Dear Woman: Well, when I was twelve I wanted to go out for the football team, too–mainly because I liked the uniform. I was immediately informed that I could no longer fall down and cry. I couldn’t accept comfort from my Mommy anymore. I wasn’t a little boy, but was instead commanded to be a man, which consisted of three aspects: “get ready to struggle, get ready to fight, get ready to win.” Any young guy who was unwilling to do this ended up in drama or music and was assumed to be queer.

 

Dear Man: A bit overly simplistic?

 

Dear Woman: Not any more than yours. It seems to me that our culture is frightened by the individual who might contradict the genitalia. That’s why, when a man stays home to take care of the children and the woman works, we refer to it as “role reversal.” In other words, “you can do it, but you’re weird.”

 

Dear Man: So it’s difficult for me to believe that we’re born with all these gender tendencies, when just before puberty we are suddenly snatched away and put in different camps to study for future positions. Me, a Mommy, you a Man.

 

Dear Woman: Otherwise, it wouldn’t make the news that a girl is a field goal kicker at a high school…

 

Dear Man: …or that a boy graduated at the top of his home economics class.

 

Dear Woman: So why the manipulation?

 

Dear Man: I think it’s because we feel if we don’t force children into their roles, we might not be able to maintain the species, because the natural interest we have for romance with each other might be insufficient.

 

Dear Woman: So what do you think we should do? I guess what I’m asking is, what did you do when your mother tried to turn you into a cheerleader instead of a linebacker?

 

Dear Man: I bought it. I learned to cheer, worry and support–and I’m trying now to go through rehabilitation to become just a human being and find out what I really want to do. How about you?

 

Dear Woman: Me, too. I struggled, I fought, I won–and when I didn’t win, I learned to make excuses or cheat. Now I’m trying to withdraw from the masculine drug and just become a decent person.

 

Dear Man: Why do they make it so hard?

 

Dear Woman: Because somebody made it hard on them.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … April 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

 

Dear Woman: About three years ago, I banged up my knee and ended up being sent to a specialist in a big city about 150 miles away, so I had to spend the night in a motel.

 

Dear Man: I’m so sorry.

 

Dear Woman: Well, my story’s not about the injury–well, not exactly. Anyway, when I arrived at the motel, they only had rooms on the second floor, but said not to worry about it because they had an elevator. So I hobbled over to the elevator, spent the night, and the next morning, I was trying to figure out how I could get my suitcase downstairs. I headed off toward the elevator. Lo and behold, it was out of order. So I was on the second floor, seemingly with no way to get down. But I was stubborn. Let me tell you–I wasn’t innately stubborn because I’m a man–no I was taught that men must do everything for themselves. But when I got to the stairs, I realized that there was absolutely no way I could get down, pulling my suitcase awkwardly behind me. I was stymied. There was no one around. It was really odd because I felt this chilling sensation of fear that went all the way down into my bowels. I felt helpless. All at once, a young woman in her early twenties appeared at the bottom of the steps. She said, “Would you like me to carry that bag down for you?” My first inclination was to turn her down. The whole event happened so quickly, but I recall thinking to myself, why would I turn her down? Of course, it was because she was a girl. I’m a man, she’s a woman, so I should be helping her with her bag instead of her suggesting that I needed assistance. I delayed long enough that she piped up, “I’m really strong. And it looks like right now, you really aren’t.” I know it’s silly, but I wanted to bristle. I wanted to explain my history of immense physicality, that this was just a temporary setback. But instead, I surrendered. Surrendering is not a bad thing. Surrendering is when we realize that where we are is where we are–and it’s not going to change simply because we don’t want to be there. I told her I appreciated the help. She climbed up, picked up my bag and carried it downstairs as I stumbled my way, barely surviving the descent with the rest of my limbs intact. I thanked her. She said, “No. Thank you. Lots of guys would have turned me down and ended up hurting themselves, cursing the Earth because they were too stupid to take the help.” With this, she turned on her heel and left.

 

Dear Man: Pretty cool person.

 

Dear Woman: Yeah, I know. But when I hear people stomping around talking about “the woman card,” or “man’s responsibility,” I realize that all this production we put into the gender roles falls apart when any of us is weakened to the point that we need to be uplifted.

 

Dear Man: Sometimes I’m the strong one, and sometimes there are things I just can’t handle. I’m not stronger when I’m controlling, nor am I weaker when I exhaust my possibilities.

 

Dear Woman: There is an element to being a human which makes us tolerable. It’s when we escape the pride associated with our gender and we allow ourselves the interaction which truly makes us valuable to the human tribe.

 

Dear Man: So there is no woman card.

 

Dear Woman: And there is no man card. There’s just the next thing that’s going to happen, and whether we will be honest about how much we will need others.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … February 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

 

 

Dear Man: Do you think a woman could be President?

 

Dear Woman: Do you think a man could be sensitive without coming across as gay?

 

Dear Man: Do you think a woman is able to teach men?

 

Dear Woman: Do you think a man is able to carry on an intelligent conversation with a woman?

 

Dear Man: Do you think a man and a woman can be friends without any romance?

 

Dear Woman: Sounds like we’ve got all the questions down.

 

Dear Man: But I don’t hear you answering any of them.

 

Dear Woman: I’m not gonna be the first one to jump into that puddle.

 

Dear Man: Chicken.

 

Dear Woman: Cluck, cluck.

 

Dear Man: Well, answer this. Why do you think the questions exist in the first place? After all, we don’t ask if women can be friends with each other or if men can be friends.

 

Dear Woman: That’s easy. Breasts and balls.

 

Dear Man: What do you mean?

 

Dear Woman: From the time you and I were little kids, we were told that women have breasts and men have balls, and that those two dangling pieces of human skin symbolize unique roles.

 

Dear Man: I see what you mean. So because I have breasts, I am viewed as a sexual object, even though breasts have much more to do with feeding a child than they do with luring a man.

 

Dear Woman: Not from my perspective! I am taught that the only way I can get your attention is by demonstrating my masculinity and kind of letting my balls hang out there.

 

Dear Man: Kind of, you mean…

 

Dear Woman: Yeah. It’s the only thing that the secular world and the religious world agree on. Men are strong–balls. Women are weak–breasts.

 

Dear Man: So even though the Miss America Pageant has a talent competition, and they ask them a question, everybody tunes in for the swimsuits.

 

Dear Woman: Hell, yeah. We run our society on sexuality while simultaneously, in our art, we insist that the sexes are so malfunctioning that sexual relations are rarely fulfilling.

 

Dear Man: So if you chase what we’re taught, you’re dissatisfied. And if you don’t chase it, people clump you in as a feminist.

 

Dear Woman: Don’t you think a man could be a feminist?

 

Dear Man: Not really. I think a man who’s smart and understands equality could call himself a realist. After all, we’re not going to do this separately. It’s gonna have to be together.

 

Dear Woman: So I guess in this society we’re stuck with breasts and balls.

 

Dear Man: There is another choice. It’s called brains.

 

Dear Woman: That’s easy to say. It sounds good. But how do you ever convince people that brains come to play in the conflict between the sexes?

 

Dear Man: I think that’s easy. Ultimately, nobody wants to be stuck with a stupid lover. Nobody wants to spend their life with an uncaring buffoon who is completely unaware of what’s going on.

 

Dear Woman: So do you think if brains were brought to the forefront in a relationship between a man and woman, that breasts and balls could be put into perspective?

 

Dear Man: Now there’s a question you don’t often hear. Here’s what I think. People become more attractive when they are pursuing an intelligent path toward solving the problems in their lives instead of trying to be seductive with their breasts or overpowering with their balls.

 

Dear Woman: So how can we use our brains without having the breasts and balls try to take authority?

 

Dear Man: Stop believing what people tell you about yourself unless your experience agrees with it. I don’t feel stupid. I don’t feel weak. I don’t feel like a sex object. I don’t feel I should be forbidden to teach men. I don’t think it’s impossible for a man and a woman to have a friendship.

 

Dear Woman: Me either.

 

Dear Man: That’s two of us. And two people agreeing together, using their brains, can make some pretty wonderful things happen.

 

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … January 23rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: Do you think I’m smart?

 

Dear Woman: Trick question, am I right?

 

Dear Man: No trick. I just wonder if you find me intelligent.

 

Dear Woman: I guess I’d have to know what you mean by intelligent.

 

Dear Man: Stop analyzing the question and give me your general impression of my brain power.

 

Dear Woman: Yeah, I think you’re smart.

 

Dear Man: No, you don’t.

 

Dear Woman: So it was a trick question.

 

Dear Man: No, but if you thought I was smart you would have answered immediately instead of trying to figure out what I was getting at.

 

Dear Woman: Are you trying to say that you don’t understand why I try to figure out what you’re getting at?

 

Dear Man: Do you think I’m too sensitive?

 

Dear Woman: Are we moving on to another question?

 

Dear Man: Let me explain.

 

Dear Woman: Please do.

 

Dear Man: I think I’ve got something figured out. I have a tendency to share what I feel. You, on the other hand, offer what you think.

 

Dear Woman: I would agree with that.

 

Dear Man: Please don’t interrupt me. I’m on a roll. So I react by feeling about what you think and that forces you to think about what I feel, which more or less–at least partially–aggravates both of us, and because we think aggravation might lead to fighting, we shut up and pout in our own corner.

 

Dear Woman: I don’t pout.

 

Dear Man: Yes, you do. You just call it “going for a drive.” Or “watching a football game,” when you don’t even know the names of the teams. Anyway, once we get aggravated and we don’t deal with it, there’s enough of it left over inside both of us that we’re not courteous to each other, or at least not as much as we should be. And then we are both quietly offended by that lack of courtesy and soon we begin to believe we have drifted apart.

 

Dear Woman: So you figured this out on your own.

 

Dear Man: Yeah. I think a lot about us. Don’t you think about me?

 

Dear Woman: Definitely a trick question. Yes, of course I think about you. It’s hard not to consider someone you share a bed with every night.

 

Dear Man: So what do you think can be done about this?

 

Dear Woman: Maybe nothing. Maybe it’s just the way things are. Maybe it’s part of the imperfection that’s evolving. Who knows?

 

Dear Man: Don’t you think there’s a middle ground? A place between my feelings and your thinking where we can meet?

 

Dear Woman: I don’t know and that’s an honest answer. I really don’t know.

 

Dear Man: We go to church.

 

Dear Woman: Every once in a while.

 

Dear Man: Right. Did you ever notice something? In the story of Adam and Eve, God doesn’t give them two different sets of instructions. There wasn’t a manly way to take care of the Garden and a girly way. Just one way.

 

Dear Woman: I never thought of it, but I guess you’re right.

 

Dear Man: And if I can continue, there’s not a blue Bible for the boys and a pink Bible for the girls.

 

Dear Woman: That’s cute. I bet somebody will eventually try that, though.

 

Dear Man: And without getting too religious, Jesus did say that in the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.

 

Dear Woman: I get all that, but what are you trying to say?

 

Dear Man: I’m saying that if God thought we could get along, there must be a way to do it, or he was a real ass for creating an impossible situation, and then sitting back and laughing at our arguments.

 

Dear Woman: I don’t think you can call God an ass.

 

Dear Man: I’m not calling God an ass, I’m saying that anybody who would torture people with a hope that does not exist would be an ass.

 

Dear Woman: I agree.

 

Dear Man: So the reason I asked you if you think I’m smart is that I came up with this idea. What if I took what I felt and tried to make it more thoughtful, and you took your thinking and allowed for more feeling, and we ended up landing together in something that had spirit?

 

Dear Woman: And what would we call that place?

 

Dear Man: Human.

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Ask Jonathots … November 12th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I’m a fourteen-year-old girl and I’ve been playing soccer since I was six. I have a really good kick, and I want to try out for kicker on the high school football team next spring. Everyone has an opinion about it. My parents are afraid I’ll get hurt, and also that I won’t get asked out on dates by boys. My soccer girlfriends are upset because the schedule means I can’t play soccer. I’m a little scared myself, but more about my physicality–I’m really good, but will I get better, like a boy would? Any advice–both about the physical part and the social part?

There is only one great gift we can give to ourselves: tell the truth.

Honestly, if you don’t tell anybody else the truth, you can still find peace of mind if you know that you’re being completely honest. What destroys us is when we create a lie and spend a lot of time convincing ourselves it’s the truth.

I tell you that because the most important question facing you is: why do you want to kick for the high school football team?

The question is not whether you should or whether boys will want to date you–the greatest attraction boys and girls have for each other is success. In other words, if you’re a successful high school kicker, boys will be drawn to you.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying you are lying.  As long as your reason for wanting to kick on the high school football team is because you’re good enough to kick on the high school football team, and  you’re sure it’s the next step in your progress as an athlete, then by all means, go ahead.

So how do you know if your own heart is truthful, and that your reasons for doing this are based on your own desire?

1. If it weren’t unusual, would you still want to do it?

In other words, if you were a boy, would you still want to kick on the football team? If the answer is yes, then what’s the difference in being a girl? The goal is to make the kick–not whether it’s done by a girl or a boy.

2. Can you do this with belief in your heart, realizing that criticism will come, but it won’t change your mind?

You will have to have some determination. If it’s worth it, then determination will come.

3. And finally, if it doesn’t go well, will you still be glad you did it?

Simply put, is this valuable enough to you that if you fail at it, you will still be glad you tried because it’s what you needed to do?

This is all about you.

It’s not about what other people think and it certainly is not about avoiding trying to do it because you’re afraid of what people will feel.

I believe in you.

I wouldn’t care if you were a girl or a boy.

I would just want to know that it’s your dream…and you’re going to do it well. 

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Twain — Part II … March 1, 2013

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Both candy and fruit have sugar in them. The difference is that fruit also has nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Candy doesn’t.

So if you will allow me, for the sake of this essay, I will talk to you about “candy culture” and “fruitful faith.”

“Candy culture” is what looks really sweet, so it’s gobbled up and ends up rotting everything in our heads. “Fruitful faith” is developing a taste for things that are really good for you and then finding your peace with the sweetness contained within.

So here’s what candy culture tells us about relationship and marriage:

1. Emotionally men and women are completely different from each other, so it is practically useless to try to have conversations to work out feelings. Instead, the less we share with each other and the more we accept one another’s preferences, the better off we are.

2. Spirituality is really religion and religion is a very personal thing. We don’t want to force our belief system on anyone else, so of course, discussing the nature of God and how the planet earth works in the realm of the soul seems to be both frustrating and alienating.

3. Since men and women are believed to be so different emotionally, their brains also work with patterns unique to their genders, which usually boils down to some derivation of the “hunter/gather” theory, with men being the aggressors and women being the nesters.

4. Concerning our strength, physicality and sexuality, we are constantly, in this “candy culture,” attempting to blend love, having children and pleasure, to create a package of romance that is palatable to both parties and explainable to the surrounding world.

As you can see, in the “candy culture,” the collision of a lack of information with uncertain conclusions leaves the individuals involved in relationship second guessing each other, paranoid and ultimately, angry–either out of suspicion or dissatisfaction.

So what is a “fruitful faith” relationship?

1. In the realm of emotions, it is necessary to find a common humanity. If you’re going to get along with anyone, you have to find out what things you share in common concerning your desires, emotions and dreams instead of focusing on what may be obtuse or outlandish differences. Every discussion of an emotional nature should begin with two things: honesty and the statement, “As a human being, I … “ When two people agree emotionally on the parts of their beings that have common humanity, the issue of male and female quickly disappears.

2. In the realm of spirituality, there is a need for a common God. If one party believes in “destiny” and the other holds fast to “free will,” the relationship, in times of crisis, will disintegrate in confusion. We need a common God. That notion is not popular in the “candy culture,” but arriving at agreement about what God does or doesn’t do may be the greatest salvation you could ever provide to a relationship. And by the way … keep it simple. Make sure that your belief system has only one or two moving parts, and learn to trust that movement.

3. A common plan. Two heads are better than one–ONLY if they fuse their ideas. Two bull-heads that never stir in with one another just keep butting. A common plan is when ideas are shared, written down, and the “best of the best” is put together. Sometimes one person will contribute more than another. Other times, the other party will be the major donator. It doesn’t matter. Pursuing a common plan is the only way to have a single-minded relationship, which, by the way, may be the sexiest thing in the world.

4. And finally, a “fruitful faith” relationship has a common pleasure. Do yourself a big favor and remove children and love from sexuality. Those two things will have been handled beautifully by your emotions, spirit and mind. For human beings, sex has one purpose and one purpose only–pleasure. When you add anything else into it, you either over-emphasize the value of the act or degrade the energy. If two people who are emotionally seeking their humanity, spiritually worshipping a common God and putting their shoulders behind a common plan come together to pursue a common pleasure, watch out. “Sky rockets in flight.”

This is the difference between a “candy culture” and a “fruitful faith” relationship. If you want to keep your love going with another human being, emotionally you will need a common humanity, spiritually a common God, mentally a common plan and physically a common pleasure.

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From the Beginning… November 28, 2011

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Charlotte, North Carolina

It happened again yesterday.

A vivacious, older chap literally leapt to his feet to announce with great joy the anniversary of his fifty-second year of marriage to his wife. When asked what the secret was to their relationship, he jokingly replied, “Just do everything she says.”

The congregation laughed.

 I refrained.

I know it’s meant in good fun. But the seemingly irreparable breach between men and women in this country is no longer a laughing matter. If fifty per cent of our people have such irreconcilable differences with the other fifty per cent and commonality cannot be discovered then we might truly be doomed. I find myself quite alone in this conviction. The preoccupation with the alleged differences between the male and female of our species inundates our culture, dialogue, art and even politics.

One day when the Pharisees were desperately trying to justify their doctrine of open divorce, they posed the question to Jesus: “Isn’t it all right for people to get divorced, no matter what the reason?” Can you hear it? There was a great undertone in the question that assumed that the sexes were in a perpetual war and that certainly relationship was the ongoing casualty. Jesus had a different perspective. He said, “It was not so in the beginning. A man was to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they should become one flesh.”

Yes, his concept of humanity was one enjoined person. Not male and female, but rather, a single human presence. To accomplish this, men have to stop believing that all women are their mothers and that they are supposed to think and react exactly as their father did. Women, on the other hand, have to cease projecting the idea of “daddy” into every male they meet.

People wonder why romance dies. If you actually believe that you’re supposed to do what your wife tells you to do, how can you avoid viewing her as anything other than your mother–a parental entity? It might be understandably mind-jolting to envision yourself being romantically entangled with the woman who birthed you. Likewise, if you are a woman secretly projecting your daddy onto your sex partner, a certain amount of nastiness might enter your mind and frustration may be the result. So as the fire of passion goes out, it is replaced with responsibility, duty, loyalty or even the honoring of religious tradition. I’m sorry folks, that’s not enough spark to light a match.

I never treat any woman like my mother except the one who was present at my unveiling. And I don’t really want any woman to view me as her papa unless family ties warrant it.

If we are supposed to be “cleaving” to one another, which even by a simple definition would connote great familiarity, and the final goal is to become one flesh, we should not spend all of our time tearing at our own skin and ripping ourselves apart. Let’s look at a list of questions:

1. Are there differences between men and women? Physiologically, less than 2% of our bodies vary. Most of the perceived uniqueness in male and female is culturally installed by our religious, political and school systems.

2. Is it possible for a man and woman to be equal, or does there need to be a dominant partner? I really feel stupid posing the question, because if two men can work in a partnership and two women can work in a partnership, the only reason a man and woman would even hint at having problems with such an endeavor would be an uncontrolled bigotry towards the other party. In other words, take away prejudice and you remove inequality.

3. And finally, are the differences between the sexes just for fun and giggles and really don’t harm anyone? I suppose a man who’s been married for fifty-two years can tell his little tale about how their marriage works and know deep in his heart that it’s truly a union of purposes–but as those ideas trickle down to younger and younger folks who have less and less experience in interacting with one another, what was meant to be funny actually becomes fear. Yes, I believe that for people under the age of thirty-five in this country, there is a literal terror of man to woman and woman to man. To mask that trepidation, the sexes individually try to act superior to one another. That’s what we always do. When we are deeply frightened of being inferior, we try to find ways to prove our prowess.

So I think it’s dangerous to perpetuate this myth–one that Jesus shattered in the presence of the Pharisees of his day–by allowing the cultural ignorance of our time to hold women back by making men look stupid and giving them power by default of muscle. I would love to hear your opinion.

I think we need to make a beginning here. I think somebody needs to step forward and say, “I’ve been married for forty-one years, and every time we’ve fallen into cultural roles of ‘guy’ and ‘gal’ we have basically been miserable. And on the occasions when we have gone eyeball-to-eyeball, lifting the burdens together and respecting each other at the end of the day, sharing a common joy and fatigue, it has been not only pleasant but also romantically fulfilling.”

Yes, someone needs to say it.

 And I guess I just did.

***************

Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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