Things I Learned from R. B. (May 3rd, 2020)


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4399)

Episode 13

Not every door is an opening to happiness, but instead. can be a passageway to a cave with no exit—a darkened confinement.

After three-and-a-half years of traveling with the family, we found ourselves ricocheting from one miracle to another.

Although miracles have a glorious side, they also warn of an inconsistent living pattern, which requires grace to be poured out in barrels instead of cups.

Our journey became irresponsible.

Even though we tried to remain pure in heart, it was becoming difficult to see God. We were truly poor in spirit but bewildered by our insolvency.

We certainly set our goals to be merciful to others, but we were overly dependent on obtaining mercy for our lackings.

We were broke most of the time, and the rest of the time, nervous about how soon it would be before we had nothing again.

The fellowship, the family time and the intimacy was so enriching that we were nearly unable to make solid human decisions about our daily responsibilities.

Coming upon an opportunity to settle into a motel room in Santa Clara, California, where we would work our rent off by assisting on the premises and filling in front desk duties—was just too alluring.

I legitimately wanted my children to be confident. Although they were growing in their faith, their personal sense of talent and capability was diminished by persistent trial and tribulation.

At first the motel situation seemed ideal. My wife was even able to get a job, which for the first time in a long time, gave us money without having to wonder whether it would soon trickle away.

But to remain in the situation and do it righteously required that we abandon our music, our mission and that closeness that can only be achieved by pilgrims on a journey to the same holy place.

We drifted apart.

My sons became too familiar with HBO at young ages and had too much time on their hands. (We were uncomfortable placing them in a local school, lest the teachers or authorities ask too many questions.)

For a little over two years, we experienced an unhealthy prosperity.

One day, a traveler passed through and talked to me about my situation. He remarked, “If the owner here has been charging you tax for your room, he owes you that money. Because after the first month, no one has to pay tax on a motel room.”

I laughed. I didn’t know it was true. So I joked with the boss about it when he came into work that day.

I left, went out to lunch, and when I came back, he was standing in front of my door with a check for three thousand dollars in his hands—apparently frightened that I would make more out of the tax situation than I ever would have. He decided to cover his butt by paying back the money, so he wouldn’t have to worry about being accosted in court.

After he left me alone, I stared at the check.  I realized it was three thousand good reasons to leave “the cave” and start looking for a door again. I didn’t waste any time because I didn’t want to waste any of the money.

We packed up that night and the next morning we rolled off to Sacramento, California. Within two days, we rented a duplex with three bedrooms, a sunken living room, a fireplace, and a huge dining room—a heavenly haven to call our own.

We decided to try to start scheduling concerts again and live off our talent. The first three months were tremendously successful. Wanting to celebrate that Thanksgiving with friends, we invited two from San Diego, and I called R. B., who was living in Tacoma, Washington, to come and join us.

For the first time in his life, R. B. jumped at an opportunity. I was shocked. I was anticipating a rejection, or at least a request for three days of fasting and prayer to decide.

He arrived—and he looked terrible. After a few conversations I discovered that he had lost his job four months earlier and was living off of unemployment insurance. He was drinking, smoking more and was quickly running out of money. It was the most vulnerable I had ever seen him.

As the tenderness of Thanksgiving swept over him, he was in tears several times, grateful for the opportunity to escape his Washington surroundings and be with those who accepted him in the form he arrived.

On Monday, the San Diego couple left. R. B. decided to stay on a few more days.

During that time, we played music, sang songs and even devised a plan so he could come and live with us, join the band and be part of the tour.

Even though my sons were not particularly favorable to R. B., they still thought it would be inspirational to have another band mate.

We laughed and cried our way to a local department store, where we purchased a matching vest for him, to go with the ones my sons wore.

He seemed to belong. More importantly, he felt needed.

Yet, two days later, as we were about to rehearse, he became very still. Something was amiss. After allowing him a space of time to come clean with his feelings, I finally confronted him.

He cried again—and these were not the tears of a grateful traveler. This weeping was coming from a place of fear.

He explained to the whole family that he wanted to travel with us and be a part of the band, but he was scared. All of his life, he had counted on a job to take care of his financial needs, and even though he wasn’t working now, he felt more comfortable occupation than he did launching out by faith, to see how far his abilities would take him.

I wanted to argue with him. But one thing I knew was that each human being sets his own time and place. If we try to find a place and establish a time, he will only rebel.

Two days later, he quietly packed his bag.

He silently ate a breakfast with us, and he walked out our door without saying another word.

I really did believe this would be the last time I ever saw him.

I felt mercy, because I, myself, just a few years earlier, had gone into a dark cave—because I was afraid of my circumstances.

“Be safe,” I spoke aloud.

The family looked at me. They didn’t know what I was thinking.

But they certainly understood what I felt.

The Bleeping Game… April 13, 2012

(1,483) 

I decided to count.

I wasn’t trying to be priggy or self-righteous; I was just curious. While watching a very popular reality show, I began to count the number of times the performers on this particular episode were “bleeped.” You know what I mean, right? When they insert some sort of sound to replace what is considered to be a “bad word.”

It is the new way of handling foul language in our society–to cleanse our programming of nastiness for the general audience. Anyway, back to my counting…nineteen times in a one-hour show the Bleeping Game was inserted. I am sure this was an extraordinary situation and usually it wouldn’t be that many. But on this night, the repetition of the same phrase of controversial language kept coming up over and over again. I became agitated, which soon turned into aggravation–not because the language was used (I find foul communication to be more boring than actually evil). No, it was because the way of handling the situation is nothing but a game, inserted by some corporation to give the appearance propriety without actually achieving proper.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the Bleeping Game is self-defeating. At least when I watch HBO I see the people on the screen speaking of their own volition and therefore responsible for the content. I can then choose to continue to watch or change the channel. But the addition of the bleep is an attempt to cover up the language, and the speaker is not responsible for the words. Instead, I become the culprit.

None of us is stupid. Everybody over six years of age can tell you exactly what word is being said underneath the bleep, and therefore WE mentally fill in the word. So rather than detaching the listener from the impropriety of the language, the Bleeping Game actually involves the listener, forcing him or her to complete the sentences. It’s impossible to stop doing it–your brain just fills things in.

It’s the typical scenario of malfeasance brought about by a corporation–inadequate, ineffective and insincere. It is inadequate because the human brain still fills in the words; ineffective due to fact that the nastiness and anger surrounding such communication is still hot, heavy and present; and insincere because it is a band-aid placed on a gaping wound of ignorance and a lack of sophistication.

This is probably one of the worst schemes we’ve ever come up with in the history of the US–and when you consider slavery, internment camps for Japanese citizens during WW II and New Coke, that’s a bold proclamation.

What do we think we’re doing? Now, I am not a prude. In my day I’ve used a variety of language in a multitude of situations to produce specific results. If I write a screenplay, I allow my characters to determine their vernacular instead of trying to purify it, using a King James-version-dehumidifier. But this new outburst of language is beyond the pale. It is the phrasing used in our society when we are unable to communicate our ideas in a clever manner or if we’re trying to impress people with how “tough” and “street” we are. And it is exemplified by the Bleeping Game.

The thing that I appreciate about HBO is that it is consistently bizarre. Once they allowed the language to come into their programming, free of bleeping, the producers, directors and actors have become more and more unusual and out-of-the-box. Sometimes I giggle because HBO is determined to do a program about every type of lifestyle and business that exists in the underbelly of our society. They seem to enjoy vampires, werewolves, midgets (or are they dwarves?), down-and-out anybodies, and folks who are in various stages of degradation through alcohol and drugs. It may not be your cup of tea, but it is honest. What is dishonest is to place programming for the general public littered with trash, which merely has to be deciphered by translating the bleeps.

It is beneath us as a country. It is total foolishness and shows me how poorly our general leadership has sunk in its mission to enrich us instead of merely enthrall us.

Considering the Bleeping Game, I would like you to keep three things in mind:

1. Lying can never become the truth, no matter how loudly you say it or how frequently it’s espoused. Simply trying to avoid the problem of a language barrier in this country by bleeping out what are considered to be “foul words,” simultaneously allowing the anger and frustration to remain, is one of the worst resolutions of a problem since I put duct tape on one of the water hoses in my car engine, thinking I had stopped my leak. We continue to lie to ourselves and think that after a certain length of time, deception becomes acceptable and therefore, honorable.

2. Prohibition causes promotion. The minute we make bad language, foul talk or questionable dialogue forbidden, it is exactly what everybody will want to do. You do not keep children from swearing by putting a sound over the top of swear words. It encourages it. So most young people spout off these words during their private times–feeling very adult–never realizing that the language is not suitable for public consumption. I learned this when I was sitting in a restaurant having a lovely dinner and heard someone a couple of tables away say the “f word.” Once again, I am not a prude. I have heard the word many times–matter of fact, I’ve even used it. But when I heard it in a public setting, it was shocking–and made me wonder if the person speaking it had lost control and was on the verge of becoming violent. As it turns out, it was just a casual conversation coming from someone with a loose tongue. But it alerted me to the fact that the language that seems acceptable on film or video tape, when placed in actual public situations, is quite volatile. But we will not generate a good dialogue about good dialogue by pretending that we are prohibiting such bad speech, while instead privately promoting it.

3. And finally, teach communication and language improves. I know this about myself–when I get the urge to swear, use foul language or pop off a nasty colloquialism, it is simply because cleverness has escaped me. I have become insecure or I’m trying to scare people away so I don’t have to talk to them. Just as we have to cease making men and women enemies with each other if we’re going to see our planet move towards reconciliation, we also need to understand that off-color language is a white flag of surrender in a world of ideas.

This is not an issue of salvation, spirituality or even puritanical values. Foul language is just dumb.

It’s time for us to stop the Bleeping Game. The language is either all right or it’s not. If it’s not, we should begin to encourage people to find better ways to use our English dialect to foster clever turns of phrase instead of blatant verbal spittle.

It’s time to do better. It’s time to tell those people who have resorted to unexplainable outbursts of nastiness during their violent fits of behavior that we would welcome more creative ways of expression. Feel free to keep HBO for those folks who like to walk on the wild side, but somewhere along the line we need to stop using the language of frustration unless we’re making it clear that the people who are using it are frustrated … and have lost their advantage.

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

Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

Friday, It Better Be Good… April 6, 2012

(1,476) 

6:41 A.M. I wake up and realize it’s time to take a shower–and in the midst of my thick-headedness, I step into the enclosure and immediately drop the bar of soap, having to bend down and pick it up, which is followed by two identical droppings. Three times–bending down in the shower to pick up my bar of soap. Why can’t I hold on to the slippery little booger?

Meanwhile, Jesus is carted off and then ridiculed in front of King Herod and his court because he refuses to do miracles as parlor tricks for their amusement.

7:21 A.M. I find it difficult to enjoy my breakfast because I only have two strips of turkey bacon. Even though it’s a decision of my own making, I’m a bit aggravated because several days ago I allowed myself four strips. Honestly, four strips would not kill me. It’s just that in the pursuit of trying to lose some weight, I felt it was a simple area to cut back on. It doesn’t feel simple today. It feels like someone stripped me of my bacon.

Simultaneously, Jesus is unceremoniously returned to Pontius Pilate because he failed to gain the approval of King Herod. The religious leaders, lacking footing for their charges, decide to accuse him of sedition against the Roman government in order to gain the attention of the single-minded governor. There is no truth to their statement, but as is often the case with those who have a “political mind,” the mere whiff of impropriety frightens him.

8:30 A.M.  My right knee is sore. It’s sore because I’ve been exercising to try to achieve a status in which my right knee will cease to be sore. So what is the purpose of exercising to make your knee stronger, if in the short run it makes it more sore, which makes you want to exercise less? It may be the true definition of a defeated purpose.

Baffled as to what to do, Pontius Pilate makes a decision to whip Jesus thirty-nine times with a cat-o-nine tails to satisfy the blood-thirsty nature of his enemies, without completely draining the life from his body.

9:51 A.M. I open up my Outlook Express to discover that I have no emails from friends and family today. I do not understand why they forsake me, considering that I am faithful to write them each and every week. Would it kill them to put down a few words or send along some niceties? Or just type in my email address and claim they forgot to include a message? I do not understand why people are the way they are. It doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I don’t think it’s mean to lack understanding. I think it’s kind of mean to not send an email to somebody as cool as me.

Following typical human logic (which lacks any true merit) the decision on the fate of a young man from Nazareth who preached love and healed the sick is left in the hands of a howling mob which has been paid off to yell the correct phrase: “Crucify him!”

11:32 A.M. I just realized I left two things in the van that I need–and it’s also laundry day. These are in two different directions. It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s just that I’ve reached an age where I like to economize my efforts. Also, I’ve been exercising and my knee is sore. And more walking will just make it sorer, right? So I’m going to take a few moments to figure out how I can lessen my activity without coming across as perniciously unmotivated–and still get the two things out of the car I need and also help out with the laundry. Maybe if I think long enough Janet will get tired of the delay and do it for me.

A night without food. A night without water. A severe beating and numerous verbal and physical attacks. A beam is placed on the back of Jesus of Nazareth as he is commanded to climb up the Via Dolorosa to his position of death. It’s too much. He falls under the weight of the cross. He feels humiliated that he’s unable to man up to the moment. Another is called to bear his load as he stumbles his way to his execution.

12:21 P.M. I open up my cupboard. Lunchtime. And I realize that several days ago I purchased the wrong soup for lunch. I was looking for some sort of chicken soup, but ended up with an anemic chicken noodle that tastes like you hosed down a hen in the coop. Suck.

Jesus is nailed to the cross and in the midst of the initial burst of agonizing pain, he speaks to those who will hear and says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

1:41 P.M.  Jan drank all the diet Coke and all that’s left is diet Sprite. Do you think I’m being picky to be upset about this? There’s plenty of diet Sprite. Of course–because it’s NOT diet Coke. I don’t want diet Sprite, but I don’t want to fight with her about it. That would make me seem small. So I pour myself a cup of water, which I really don’t want, so I don’t have to drink diet Sprite, which would make me mad because she drank all the diet Coke.

At this point, nailed to the cross, having lost nearly a third of his blood, he is plagued by a nagging thirst. With a dry, parched throat, he rasps out to the surrounding guards, “I am thirsty.”

2:22 P.M.  Taking a few moments to check out the television shows available, nothing looks good. There is a Law and Order episode available but I’ve seen it too many times. Daytime talk shows and HBO has its crappiest movies on. So many television shows, so little potential. And all I want is a bit of entertainment to pass the time.

In the midst of the agony of dying, a companion on a cross nearby asks for grace in the upcoming realm of the afterlife. Jesus takes a moment from his own concerns and tells the young fellow that “this day you will be with me in Paradise.”

2:59 P.M.  Television is a bust. It’s not time to do my next project. I’ve already completed my other work. I can’t eat any more because I’ve used up all my calories for mid-day, so I allow myself the grace of becoming bored, which soon leads to believing I’m tired, as I settle down on my pillow and give in to a delicious nap.

Back on the cross, Jesus has lost all energy to lift himself up to gather a breath. His chest is heaving; his muscles are cramping. Right before his heart explodes from all the pressure, he says, “It is finished.” And into the Father’s hands he commends his spirit. He is dead. He is alone.

Epilogue

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul. Why? So I can be petty, trivialize important things and search for reasons to be dissatisfied? Maybe someday, because you died with such dignity, I will finally live long enough to learn how to take my cushy, relaxed and privileged life … and make a difference.

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

Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

%d bloggers like this: