Sit Down Comedy … July 5th, 2019

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It is not so much what as it is how.

Knowing what needs to be done may be insightful but discovering how to do it is the essence of wisdom.

In our time, the argument over what our problems are is quickly overthrown by a ferocious debate over how to address them.

I put this to the test.

While working on my latest novel, I came across a scene where two of my characters are embroiled in a disagreement. I sat down and wrote the entire passage with back-and-forth dialogue which was laced with animosity. At no time did I introduce foul language.

So the reader, after finishing this particular interchange, might well be alarmed by the severity of the debate—but certainly not frightened that the two souls involved were going to launch into anything other than aggravation.

Then I sat down and rewrote the scene, except in the midst of the fiery comments I inserted expletives, like “damn, shit, fuck and hell.”  As I moved along from line to line, I realized that the discussion had changed, and was now on the verge of violence. In other words, it would have been very easy to end with a murder.

The what was the same. The standoff was identical.

But how it was implemented changed it from a fussy situation to a dangerous dilemma.

In the pursuit of trying to get attention, gain influence and bring fame and fortune in our direction, we may be guilty of taking situations which could be handled more simply, and complicating them merely for the purpose of making ourselves look righteous.

Consider this:

Is it possible that an aging, well-seasoned politician who earned his stripes decades ago might not know to keep his hands to himself, and that instead of sexual assault, it just might be innocent ignorance?

Could it be that in trying to establish reasonable relationships with notorious dictators we could represent our willingness to sit down and prattle over the issues without jokingly referring to the two parties as being “in love?”

Might we possibly consider the myriad of problems that create gun violence rather than cursing all guns or insisting that the situation is just “the criminal mind?”

It may be admirable to know what a situation is, but it is divinely inspired to find the best way how to manage it.

I think this even goes into our relationships with government and faith.

Is it possible that what John Adams and George Washington considered to be of primary concern in 1790 might be better thought through by more educated souls in 2019?

And suffice it to say that a book that was written before Christ and some that were written after his birth might certainly do well to be mulled over and discussed in more detail before we decide on how to conduct our spirited decisions today.

Knowing what is good. But choosing how to solve it is better.

And of course, the best is knowing that the what and the how always have to be tempered by the why.


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Good News and Better News… December 5th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesus is a lifestyle.

Every time we try to focus on the “Christ” of his Earth journey and turn him into a religion, it seems clunky, fabricated, forced, unreal and nearly irrational.

It’s similar to when we try to make George Washington appear to be a statesman. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were rebels. They were revolutionaries. They actually found it difficult to stop their struggle and create a government.

The early disciples had the same problem when it came to Jesus.

Jesus taught them how to have abundant life, good cheer, tolerance, an expansive talent base and generosity. He did not instruct them to maintain the integrity of Judaism with the purpose of including the Old Testament.

So every time we try to present a Judeo-Christian image, we lose the lifestyle of Jesus–which is the essence of the Gospel.

Our church services today have more of Catholicism in them than Nazareth.

So let’s look at it from the aspect of definitions:

Religion: an attempt to find God in ancient scrolls, mysticism and tradition, feeling that these sacraments are the divine path to reach the Creator.

Church: a system we have set up within this religious thinking, to define our style of worship, welcoming a contingency of people who are comfortable within the format.

Christian: a doctrine that has been established which includes the teachings of Jesus, but focuses equally on the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, to formulate a plan of salvation based upon the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah.

Then we have Jesonian.

Jesonian is a return to the simplicity of the lifestyle of Jesus, who told us that his “ways were easy and his burden was light,” and that the purpose for pursuing his values was to “find rest for your soul.”

So the religious system permeating our society today is a core belief in the atonement of Christ on the cross, the folklore of Judaism, mingled with Catholicism, punctuated with Anglo-Saxon traditions and peppered with American patriotism.

It is not the lifestyle of Jesus.

It lacks the personal responsibility, the joy, the freedom and the experimentation that he promoted as he walked among humanity.

The good news is that Jesus wants to keep things simple and easy.

The better news is that human beings are much more productive and happy when things are simple and easy.

 

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Cracked 5 … July 5th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Feelings Hanging in the Air the Morning After the Signing of the Declaration of Independence

A. John Hancock changed his mind and wanted to shrink his signature.

 

B. Ben Franklin suggested adding clip art to the document.

 

C. George Washington said it should be called “Declaration of Eat Me”

 

D. South Carolina wanted to add phrase, ‘cept coloreds after “all men are created equal.”

 

E. Chad, from Connecticut, wanted to take it home and discuss it with his wife, Julie, before inking the deal.

 

Cracked 5 Quaker Goats

 

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Cracked 5 … February 9th, 2016

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Since There Is Great Scrutiny on the “25-Second Explanation” of Senator Marco Rubio, Below Are the 25-Second Presentations of Other Candidates from the Past, Who Became President

A. I did not cross-dress in Delaware. I crossed the Delaware to address the enemy–a battle which I won, by the way. And furthermore, my teeth are not made of wood. I get cavities, not termites. (G. Washington)

 

B. I really didn’t split rails. I wasn’t always honest. My wife drove me crazy. I have smoked opium. I don’t really personally know any black people. (A. Lincoln)

 

C. I did Marilyn Monroe but she liked my brother better. I used a lot of double entendres about the “Cuban missiles.” And by the way, don’t drive in topless cars. (J. Kennedy)

 

D. By the mob definition, I am not a crook. By some definitions, I might be a crook. But let’s not be picky. I basically hated people, but still wanted their votes. I opened up China, so thank me the next time you get Takee-Outee. (R. Nixon)

 

E. I did not have sex with that woman. I did let her have sex with me. How can you say no to the dreams of young people? (B. Clinton)

 

Cracked 5 Presidents

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Mount Vernon … September 21, 2013

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Mount VernonI suppose, to the average person, the mention of Mount Vernon might conjure a hazy memory of an American history class, where the name was mentioned as the location of the home of General George Washington. Even though I, too, have that realization, to me, it was a community twenty-three miles north of my boyhood home town.

As I rolled in to Mount Vernon today, I was astounded at how much living, doing and feeling I had birthed in that space:

When I was twelve years old, we had a Bible League contest in the town, with teams from all over the Central Ohio area gathered to push buttons and light up bulbs, answering questions about Holy Scripture. We had studied every jot and tittle, and split the information apart like atoms to compete with one another for points, prizes or just the privilege of partaking of some overly sweet church punch and dried-out cake. All in all, it was a great way to consider the musings of ancient patriarchs without dozing off in the process.

Mount Vernon was also one of the first places that I promoted my own gospel sing, consisting of my group along with some others, in the Memorial Auditorium. I actually saw people arrive in cars, park them and gather to hear us all squawk and wail.

Just outside of town, in the early seventies, I got the chance to perform for the first time with a fellow named Andre Crouch, who had a group called the Disciples at the Bible College, in front of a good-sized crowd of local folks who certainly didn’t come out to see us, but tolerated what was supposed to be our fifteen-minute fronting of the main event. As I discovered that night, and also from working with Andre Crouch in the future, he was never on time, so our mini-concert turned into a forty-five-minute show, which was certainly a problem, especially considering that fact that we only knew six songs.

Mount Vernon was also the location where in my early years, when I was destitute financially, some of the local quartets gave me a dribble of money to arrange music for them, to try to make them sound a little better in front of the small congregations they were able to schedule to hear their efforts.

And last but not least, my third son, Jerrod Micah, was born in Mount Vernon–about two minutes after I walked in the door of the hospital, rushing to get there to see his arrival. (My wife never seemed to have much trouble with labor. I guess some women would insist she never went through it–more like calisthenics.)

I was nearly in awe of all the memories that just splashed in my face as I drove down the main street of the metropolis. And to think, blessed man that I am, now in my sixth decade, I get to go to Mulberry Street United Methodist Church and make another memory, tomorrow morning and night, adding a new page to my dusty catalogue of memorabilia.

Life is wonderful if you don’t get fussy.

And if you do get fussy, life is still willing to be wonderful … if you just don’t give up on a good idea.

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Creedless … August 6, 2012

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I have never been very enthusiastic about reciting things in unison. I will participate from time to time, but it always kind of reminds me of the scene in the movie, The Omen, when the followers of the anti-Christ mime his words back to him through what sounds like a really spooky echo chamber.

But a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a church where they were reciting the Apostle’s Creed. “I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried …”

At this point I stopped speaking with the rest of the sheep. It just seemed strange to me that in this particular discourse, we leap from Jesus being born straight to suffering under Pontius Pilate.  Wasn’t there a life in there somewhere? Weren’t there thirty-three years of dynamic existence, with the establishment of the Kingdom of God, healing the sick, raising the dead, teaching us to love our enemies? Where is that in the creed? Is the high point of the life of Jesus of Nazareth best expressed in explaining to all future generations that he died? What if we taught history that way?

“George Washington was born in Virginia and many years later he contracted pneumonia, was treated with leeches, was weakened and passed away.”

“Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky in a log cabin and through the passage of time was shot in the head during a theater performance.”

“Adolf Hitler was born in Germany and one day was found dead in a bunker in Berlin.”

Not only would we have a dearth of material to offer for our history classes, but our children would have no comprehension of the struggle, discovery and journeys of these figures who peppered our landscape with both greatness and evil deeds. The National Education Association would be up in arms.

It makes me wonder why the ministers and congregations are not equally as distressed when Jesus is presented only as a redemptive pin cushion to buffer the punishment for our sins.

No wonder our young humans are choosing to walk away from the religious system in favor of Sunday morning outings at the park with the family. Why go to church? If someone is dead, as a courtesy you put flowers on their grave once a year–which is why people show up for Easter. It’s only polite, you know.

Let me dispel some myths:

First of all, concerning this creed–Jesus did not suffer under Pontius Pilate. When Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he absolved Governor Pilate of all responsibility, and laid the cause and blame for the atrocity of the death of Jesus at the feet of that day’s present Jewish religious leaders. If you will pardon my phrasing, I know it’s not kosher to blame the Jews for judging Jesus Christ. They had a bad day. Of a truth, they represented us all, who probably would have been equally as intolerant of someone insisting on tolerance. But it was their watch and they were asleep at the wheel.

Next: Jesus came to earth to show us the Father. For those of you who have been taught that he came to earth to die for our sins, you might want to take another pass at reading his own representation of his mission–because hours before they put nails in his hands, he announced, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to his Father through prayer that he had completed his work.

So what is the cross? It is the greatest act of sacrificial bravery in the history of mankind. It is the final proclamation of love from someone who knew that it was unacceptable to take away the free will-choice of those who wished to kill him. It was an action meant for treachery, which God, as always, brought around to our good.

So the act should be revered and respected for bringing about the salvation which we so frantically attempted to avoid, but it should never be put in predominance over the life, work, heart and mind of Jesus.

Perhaps I mis-titled this article. I called it “Creedless.” I’m not “creedless.” I believe everything in the Apostle’s Creed. It’s just that there is so much more I hold dear, and it is these assertions that make my Christian life meaningful–not the bloody, untimely death of my dearest friend.

Of course, all of this is going to play out. Every one of us will die and find out once and for all what is truly going on beyond our beatless heart. Here are the two possibilities: we will either meet God, our Creator, who certainly can’t be a God of love and also contend that we are so foul that He needed to grab His nearby son to expunge our blackened spot with his miracle blood. No, if there is a God up there, He is, as the Good Book says, Someone who desires mercy instead of sacrifice. So spending all of our time commemorating the death of his son ranges in quality from futile to annoying. As God said to Peter, James and John at the Mount of Transfiguration, “This is my beloved son. Hear ye him.”

There you go. It is just very difficult to hear the words from someone who has been relegated to being a prop for propitiation.

On the other hand, if we pass on and discover that there is nothing beyond the great pale, just paler circumstances, to have spent our lives rallying around the tomb of an executed savior will certainly seem useless when available to us was the spirit and message of a man who wanted to teach people to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

So you see, I have chosen what I consider to be a better path. If there is a heaven, God will have love and mercy as He promised. If there is no eternity, if you don’t mind, I will use the example of the life of Jesus, take that love and mercy, wrap it up and deliver it to the world around me.

 

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Barack Romney … July 20, 2012

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Or is it Mitt Obama?

Either way, the two men are identical because the path available to them and accessible to their Presidential aspirations is already pre-determined.

Basically it comes down to wars and taxes. Yes, we are holding a very expensive election in this country to determine who will be in charge of the guns and bombs and how the revenue will be levied, collected and distributed.

If you are a Republican, you contend that there is evil in the world that needs to be uprooted–if necessary, by force. If you happen to be of the Democrat persuasion, you don’t see the world quite as black and white, but instead, feel compelled to use military force more sparingly and with less obvious destruction and financial loss.

Likewise, if you’re a Republican, you think taxes should be lessened, with money being given back to the people, hoping that the electorate will be inspired by their sudden burst of financial gain, to become consumers and generous towards others. On the other hand, the Democrats are not quite as optimistic about the integrity of the populace and wish to take a bit more tax from them, to ensure that the basic needs of the less fortunate will be addressed.

Wars and taxes.

But on the larger issues of the economy, diplomacy, and energy consumption, the United States finds itself somewhat at the mercy of events.

It happened in 2001 when a plan was hatched in a cave in Afghanistan to attack the United States with its own airplanes. There were three targets: the World Trade Center, to roust about the economy; the Pentagon, to make a symbolic statement against our military; and the Unites States Capitol, to disrupt our government. Even though only one-third of the plan was fulfilled, with the Pentagon being damaged but not destroyed and the Capitol spared by the heroism of common citizens on an airplane, it was enough to send us on a spin, which seven years later, led to a complete economic collapse.

It wasn’t because the World Trade Center was destroyed or even that three thousand people were killed in the atrocity. It was the fact that these devious plotters had an understanding that the American public would respond to this piece of treachery in three predictable ways:

  • First, we would become furious.
  • Second, because we are needy for foreign oil and dependent on other nations for loans, we would make ourselves vulnerable through our fury and overextend ourselves in actions of retribution which we could not pay for.
  • And finally, we would be drunk on our own sense of history and mission, insisting that we are the greatest nation in the world, even though there has been some slippage and repairs and renovation are required.

Osama bin Laden and all of his crew took it for granted that America would become furious, while still needy, and drunk on its own sense of self-importance.

We fell into the trap. We unintelligently believed that the attack was about what happened on 9/11, instead of realizing that the true monstrous deed was to get the American culture to over-react, sending us into a permanent spin. We accommodated our enemies.

The end result is that we have temporarily lost the ability to effectively remedy our situation, and instead, have begun to believe that the problems that face us are due to social immorality or over-spending for the needy.

We have lost our way.

So it doesn’t matter if it’s Barack or Mitt. As long as we continue to insist that we are something we are not, remain angry at the world around us while still needy for its goods, we will continue to plummet in both our fiscal power and our physical presence.

What would make a difference? What kind of leader would we need to choose to pull us out of this nose dive? We would need an individual who would tell us that we must stop being furious–and turn around.

Yes, to continue in the same direction we are heading, arrogantly pursuing a path of self-righteous anger about our situation, is to place us careening towards a cliff and a fall to our death. We must turn around.

Although people debate about guns in this country, the issue is not whether we have guns or not. Actually, the Canadians have more guns per capita than the people of the United States. The difference is, the Canadians aren’t furious. Logic tells us that if we were at a bar and someone was drunk and angry, we would not allow him to have a gun, even if we felt we were taking away his personal freedom.

No, the problem is not guns–it is that we have a nation that believes it has a God-given right to be angry. We require leadership that gently spanks our rump for being so frustrated and childish and tells us to get over it. What has happened in our world is not pleasant at all, but being furious about it and seeking revenge is neither spiritual nor productive.

The first message of any good leader in this situation should be, “Turn around. Stop being mad.”

The second thing this imaginary leader would have to bring forth is to ask each and every American to deal with the facts. We are under the thumb of OPEC because we use too much oil. We cannot possibly produce enough oil to satisfy our needs by digging all over our country. So we need to find other alternatives as quickly as possible, making it a national priority. Hybrid cars should be subsidized by the government and made available at less cost than gasoline cars. We should encourage people to “go green” rather than presenting the option as if it’s some sort of “hippie” fetish, like preferring tofu.

We should understand–the world’s resources and population are tilted to the east. We are a minority on our own planet, and therefore should learn how to deal with nations and cultures that are alien to our sensibilities.

A great President would demand that we deal with the facts instead of sitting around like a bunch of children on our birthday, making wishes as we blow out the candles.

And finally, this imaginary soul who would occupy the Oval Office should insist that we cease being drunk on our own self-reliance and touting of history, and instead, begin to focus on excellence in every portion of our efforts. We should start with education, move into production, spread into the arts and culminate in our own unique families. Without excellence, we will not be able to compete simply because we have George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in our lineage. We do not need anyone to retell our history. What we require are people to rise up from the mediocrity and become history makers.

As long as this country is furious, needy and drunk on its own conceit, it won’t matter who you put in Washington, D.C. The results will be the same because we will be at the mercy of the world around us and trapped in our own inefficiency.

It is time for quality management in this country, which demands we turn around from our anger, that we deal with the facts of our neediness and begin to become more self-sufficient–and finally, that we focus on excellence in the moment instead of having marching bands playing patriotic songs to remind us of better times.

Barack Romney. If he is elected, he will deal only with wars and taxes, leaving us at the mercy of a world twirling and progressing in ways that we don’t quite comprehend.

Is our country ready to recant blind rage, repent of excess and remove frustration? I’m not sure. But until we are, we will spend all of our time arguing about abortion, gay marriage, contraception … and which one of the pretty boys we’re trying to elect can eat the most apple pie.

   

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