Sit Down Comedy … April 10th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sit Down Comedy

My doubt has a gooey center and my faith is a bit crusty.

There are times I feel more like a sympathizer than a believer.

All the Bible-reading and ministerial chats still leave a festering in my curious soul.

For you see, I have been all alone in the wilderness or driving a car late at night when an inspirational silliness caused me to speak to the quiet stillness, “God, are you there? Do you have a word for me?”

It happened again this morning.

My friends left to get groceries and I was all alone in the house. The street was quiet and there were no whistles and buzzes coming from my Internet connection.

A chill went down my spine. I felt so close to something.

So I spoke again. “God, are you there?”

There was no answer—just as there wasn’t in the forest primeval or my motor vehicle.

Immediately, I felt foolish and cheated. Both emotions vied for the authority over my heart.

Suddenly there was this tiny notion that became an idea and evolved into a full-fledged sensation.

“Does my faith have to come from God?”

Are you telling me that if there were no God, we couldn’t figure out, “Love your neighbor?” After all, it lessens the murder rate.

Do we require tablets of stone? What is the purpose of that high mountain?

Could I discover the truth of this planet, and eventually the universe, without a Sunday School teacher? Or is it necessary for me to suffer rebuke, endure reading boring holy passages or shiver at the threat of eternal damnation?

Or is it just obvious that you should leave your neighbor’s wife alone?

Do we really need a commandment to inform us not to kill, to be generous or help the helpless?

Is it really profitable to be scared witless in an attempt to understand the mind of God?

Doesn’t “created in His image” come with an accompanying conscience?

Here is the entire essence of belief:

You can’t do your own thing if your thing messes up someone else’s thing.

Killing sucks.

Selfish leaves you alone.

Oh, and by the way, the Creator loves you enough not to speak. Because if He spoke to one, every human would want a private audience. Then we would start counting words. How many did he speak to Edith? More than Harry? Was his tone sweeter with Joe than with Donald?

Great people don’t need to talk. Great people do.

And if you’re talking about the greatest Being in the universe, speaking could be an immense disadvantage.

***

A friend of mine sat in a garden, pleading for his life. The answer came when the authorities arrived, arrested him, put him on trial and executed him.

How lonely he must have felt during his death.

How forsaken.

He was buried because he was confirmed dead.

But thirty-six hours later, he rose from that body and stepped out of his own grave.

It was an uncomfortable delay, but still … impressive.

The H Word … March 26th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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THE

Image result for gif letter h

WORD


“Go to Hell”

Even folks who are very particular about using profanity will often favor this pronouncement. Matter of fact, they believe it to be their Christian duty to warn lost sinners, deviants and the depraved that there is a “devil’s hell.” And if these unfortunate and misguided souls do not decide to comply to the common appeal of salvation, they will certainly spend all of eternity suffering within the confines of this dungeon of torture and despair.

Hell is a hell of an idea. What’s even more surprising is who ended up being one of the greater promoters of the location.

Yes—Jesus probably talked about hell more than any other religious teacher who ever walked the face of the Earth.

The Old Testament doesn’t have many references to such a place, and really relegates it to one single word: Sheol—meaning “grave.”

It was Jesus who came up with the lake of fire, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth, and the bizarre inclusion of this city ablaze being eternal.

Even if you are able to affix your mind on the possibility of there being an afterlife where those who are evil are sent to receive their retribution, it hardly seems likely that someone—even if they spent one hundred years on the planet, killing, maiming and leaving their puppy out in the cold in the winter—well, it just seems a bit bizarre to think that person, for a hundred years of evil, should receive an eternity of fire and brimstone.

Yet we kind of like the idea.

It’s not so much the notion that there is a hell, or that some people end up there, but rather, the advantage we gain in our self-righteousness, by imagining who we think should be there and how painfully they should be slapped around for mistreating us.

So I will tell you that even though hell is a promo that came from Jesus—and I am very fond of his work—I do choose to believe that this isolated concept was conjured during his “blue period,” and I do not favor it.

Is it not punishment aplenty for each one of us if we go through life without living?

Is it not agony to take this gift of time and sleepwalk through it without giving?

For that lack of tenderness, foresight and rebellion, there certainly will be a grave conclusion.

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Sit Down Comedy …March 15th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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There were a few citizens of Springfield, Illinois, who were surprised when the city council did not nominate Maggie and Carl Johnson for consideration as “Parents of the Decade.” There were four nominations in all, but Maggie and Carl were not included.

The long arm of their charitable deeds had stretched across the entire townscape. Their oldest son was a banker, a daughter was a doctor, another daughter a lawyer, and a son was a Captain in the Marines. They seemed perfectly poised to take the prize.

But for many in the capital city, they were disqualified because their youngest son had raped and murdered nine women.

Even though it was common knowledge that he was inflamed by chemical addiction and haunted by mental illness, it still seemed inappropriate to the town fathers to grant Maggie and Carl consideration.

Likewise, two nights ago, I walked into my kitchen and smelled something. I followed my nose on a merry chase, and finally ended up standing over the garbage can, which obviously had something in it that was rotten and wanted the whole house to know. Even though the garbage bag was only a quarter filled, I yanked it out, tied it up and took it and threw it in the trash. It might have seemed rash and the waste of a still-productive garbage bag, but the odor made me do it.

The Christian faith must be prepared, along with its gospel of grace and kindly parables of Jesus, to understand that when humanity assesses the faith, the nasty deeds of the faltering fingertips of offending Catholic priests and the racial bigotry and violence of white supremacists who will swear on a stack of Bibles that “they did it all in Jesus’ name” will certainly need to be stirred in.

When we march around on July 4th, remembering the founding of our country, no truthful telling of the United States can be made without strolling through the back alley of our treatment of the Native Americans, the African-Americans and also a look into the rancid nature of our politics.

Dare I say that I will gladly join you on a quest to find the “good Muslims” if you will freely admit to me that the “bad Muslims” seem to have grabbed the microphone and are doing most of the talking for Mohamed’s children.

There are leaders, missions, governments, and faiths. They are led by human beings who make mistakes. This is not terminal. It’s not even deadly. But when those errors are hidden beneath a campaign to extol only the goodness of the endeavor, then Jesus warns us that it’s like splatting a coat of white paint on the outside of a grave.

We must all understand that the truth about us is what we believe minus what we do, with who we really are being the sum that remains.

 

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Jesonian: 10 Interpretations … August 16th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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English judge 2

Matthew 7:1–“Judge not lest ye be judged.” (KJV)

Over the years, cultures/humanity/theologians have viewed this simple statement and decided to offer translations and interpretations to clarify the meaning:

1. Judge cautiously, making sure you are around friends of like prejudice.

2. Judge morally, knowing how much God hates immorality.

3. Judge infrequently, using it only for obvious situations and blatant evil.

4. Judge lessers, and grant them no voice to object.

5. Judge righteously, applying a scripture to back up your verdict.

6. Judge by age, fully aware that the passage of years has made you wiser.

7. Judge privately, keeping your strong feelings to yourself.

8. Judge culturally, saying you honor the customs of others while inwardly repulsed.

9. Judge meticulously, coming up with a very specific objection, thus being helpful.

10. Judge sexually, communicating both yours and God’s anger over aberrant lifestyles.

May I, simple traveler I be, offer an 11th possibility?

  • Don’t judge.
  • Never.
  • Make it extinct.
  • Bury it in a grave.
  • Refuse to discuss the word.

Or end up banished yourself from all that is truly good, and perhaps discovering that your eternal reservation has been canceled… without notifying you.

 

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Untotaled–Stepping 15 (August 17th, 1965): Mr. O … May 24, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

I called him Mr. O because he had a Norwegian name with five syllables that I could neither remember nor pronounce.

He was older than death.

What I mean is, his flesh was so gray and his movements were so slow that he appeared to be a creature coming from the grave instead of one inching towards the tombstone.

I didn’t like him. He didn’t like me.

I think our mutual displeasure began one day when I was mowing the lawn and the grass clippings blew onto his beautiful, graveled driveway. He came out of his house screaming at me, explaining that all I had to do was turn the mower around and pull it towards me, so that the clippings would go into my own yard.

Honestly, it sounded tedious, meaningless and frustrating.

So when I went inside and explained it to my mother and father, they had the opportunity to do something inspirational. They could have explained that since it was Mr. O’s driveway, he had the right to decide how it would be decorated.

But I guess they had problems with him, too. Because they rolled their eyes, called him a few choice names and walked away, leaving me to believe it was my family duty to continue to aggravate him.

So I did. I refused to mow in the direction he requested, blowing my grass across his well-kempt drive.

In retaliation, every time one of my balls rolled into his yard, he retrieved it and refused to give it back.

It was a feud.

It was ridiculous and could have been so easily handled if I had been instructed to give place to the feelings of another human being. But instead my childish sensations were justified instead of rectified.

I think my parents thought they were trying to be cool and side with their son. But I needed more than that.

I needed to learn how to live in a world that demands sharing.

Before I could grow up and become a decent human being, Mr. O passed away. So many things I would like to tell him.

  • For after all, Mr. O had the right to determine what came into his own yard.
  • Mr. O even had the right not to like me.
  • And I must realize that Mr. O had the God-given right to be cranky.

For after all, if I am going to be mean to everybody I don’t like or who doesn’t like me, I’m going to be too busy pursuing vendettas … to ever enjoy myself.

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

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The Absence of Presence… August 22, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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jonlolAs for me, I like my fireworks to be explosive, lighting up the night sky with beautiful colors. I am not interested in any kind of firework that has been diffused of explosion and can only muster muted tones of brown.

In our attempt to make everything safe, common, accessible and equal, we gradually have taken all the “presence” from the institutions and outreaches that make human life rich with experience.

Chief among them, to me, is the church.janlol

An organism that should exude life, energy, jubilance and spiritual unpredictability has been disemboweled by caution, tradition, suspicion and  judmentalism. It has become a Petrie dish for the study of prejudice or, at times, a sure cure for insomnia.

It is disappointing to hear those who have chosen a path of disbelief to win the day simply because the individuals who were meant to prosper and live abundantly under spiritual energy have decided to entomb their faith in the grave of repetition.

It is equally as disheartening to see a government that is “for the people, by the people and of the people” brought to a screeching halt, or maybe better phrased, a grinding cessation, by political stubbornness and arrogant posturing.

There are things that are meant to have a presence.

The word “church” should bring a smile to our faces and evoke memories of joy. And the utterance of the United States of America should put a chill of hope down our spines–for a world that struggles in tyranny and poverty.

Instead, we have surgically removed all the aspiration from our faith and our country, to whittle ourselves to a futile fussiness which we interpret as “adult debate.”

Jesus warned the Pharisees that they were concerned about the money and the organization of their religion, but had forgotten the weightier matters of judgment, mercy and faith.

Judgment: a decision to honor what is truly valuable instead of coins that can be counted.

Mercy: packaging what we evangelize to be appealing to human beings–our market.

Faith: being prepared to evolve toward greater understanding of God instead of diverse interpretations of scripture.

Until we put the presence back into our spirituality and our government, the absence will leave behind the anarchy of loneliness.

I am hopeful.

I refuse to be defeated.

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Rabble and Rubble… March 31, 2013

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church inside biggerSome were killers. Others watched. The rest ran away in terror, except for a tiny handful, which stuck around to stow the mutilated corpse in a tomb.

I didn’t know what to do. I was no killer, didn’t have the stomach to watch, couldn’t run as fast as the cowards and wouldn’t wrap my mind around a “grave” conclusion for my best friend.

So I just walked.

Actually, I’ve been walking for twenty-four hours, now. Of course, I exaggerate, but it sure seems like an endless odyssey of meaningless meandering. I walk and I look.

I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for–I guess some sort of sign of shock, revulsion or horror over the atrocity just committed on that hill so far away. But truthfully, life seems to be going on. Nothing is canceled. No one discusses postponing local events to consider the murder of an innocent man. I even came across a wedding in progress, with the sound of jubilation and music. The Passover is in full swing. The Romans are in control and religion has dressed up for the day.

I feel like I’m about to go insane over the calmness that’s settled in on a world gone mad. Jesus loved the rabble. He embraced those souls the world deemed riff-raff. He met them in their hour of need, saved them, healed them and even raised them from the dead. Yet when he reached his critical moment–when he required the support of these who were benefitted by his mercy–they accepted the wisdom of a Council which they normally mocked, and they screamed in unison for a murderer and robber to be released to their fellowship. They chose the allure of darkness because it was closer to the coloration fo their own souls.

Mostly I’m disgusted with myself. Because the absence of knowing what to do is not the presence of an excuse for not doing anything. It may seem that way in the moment, but it is a lie.

I don’t know where to go. Some of my friends went fishing to take their minds off the dilemma. There are a few hiding out in an upper room–simulating prayer, but really shaking in their sandals over every rustling outside the door, wondering if it is the Romans coming to slice them into pieces.

I just can’t be with any of them. The rabble disgusts me because they denied their own best solution. And the rubble of a once-great “kingdom movement” is so insipid and vacant of ideas that I can’t tolerate sitting in their presence, commiserating.

I feel so alone that I’m taunted by the specter of suicide. Yet I won’t do that. That would require a certain amount of courage which I lack, and an insanity which I refuse entrance.

I walk on.

Has it really come down to the simplicity of the rabble and the rubble? My friend Jesus dedicated his life to protecting the lost and innocent, only to have them choose cowardice in his hour of need. Likewise, he spent hours and hours instructing people like me–his followers–but when he was confronted with evil, he only found frightened little Jewish boys and girls, who had learned much but acquired little.

Now hours have passed. I must have dozed off, although I would have sworn I was incapable of sleep. The Sabbath is over and the first fruits of the light of dawn are creeping into the velvety haze of darkness. It will soon be morning. What will I do?

Even though I used to enjoy the beginning of each day, now the sun mocks me because it shines its light on my indecision. Do I go and resume my life among the rabble–pretending that the little piece of misfortune that happened on Calvary was a thing of the past?

I can’t do that. Too many miracles. Too many blessings. Too many hugs. Too many roads. And too many reasons to remember.

I guess I will head to the tomb. In the long run, it is better to be with the rubble–the remains of a great idea–than with the rabble, lacking any inclination toward solution.

Sunday morning. I will go to the tomb.

After all … it is the last place I saw Jesus.

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