Reverend Meningsbee (Part 40) And With All Your Getting … February 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3209)

Reverend Meningsbee

Sluggish.

A solemn surrender to sadness.

After many weeks of a revival of human emotion, appreciation and pursuit of the general welfare, the Garsonville community gradually settled back into its traditional format of pending suspicion and growing apprehension.

It was actually rather sudden–a transition that occurred over a two-week period. One moment people were smiling, greeting each other warmly and taking an extra second or two while shaking hands. And the next thing you knew, they were creating distance, staking claim to their turf.

Meningsbee noticed it immediately. When he turned to face the congregation, they had stopped grinning. Now they were peering–that fussy, Midwestern squint, poised to offer disapproval.

He felt alone.

This reversion to blandness, which was so clear to him, seemed satisfactory to the rest of the gang, which had obviously decided that the resurrection in their spirits had merely been a Ferris Wheel ride of intrigue. Now it was time to return home from the circus, to do the chores and milk the cows.

Meningsbee thought to himself that over the years, many preachers from this community had faced this quandary–a burst of enthusiasm followed by creeping and crawling backwards, to a profile of preoccupation.

Those ministers may have decided to ignore the digression and accept the inevitable. Not Richard Meningsbee.

So on the ninth Sunday after the beginning of the town’s jubilation, he stood before the congregation and spoke.

“Rich. Young. Ruler.

“That’s how the Good Book describes him. Not a bad combo, do you think? I don’t believe there’s a person here who would object to being richer, younger or even ruling something.

“It also lets us know that this fella was intrigued by all things spiritual. His journey had taken him through the rigors of religion–following commandments, listening to sermons and abstaining from lying and adultery.

“Then he hears about a young man from Nazareth who has an earth-shaking rendition of God-talk. So the rich, young ruler–being rich, young and a ruler–goes out to see Jesus to ask a question. ‘What must I do to get to heaven?’

“From his perspective, that’s all that remained. He was set up for life with all the wine, women and song the commandments would allow. But he was curious how he could maintain that status in the afterlife.

“So when the boy was dissatisfied with Jesus’ response, Jesus gave him a truthful answer. You all remember that, don’t you? The truth? It used to float by every once in a while. Jesus told him, ‘If you want to go to heaven, go out, sell everything you’ve got and give it to the poor.’

“Was Jesus declaring some sort of war on poverty? Of course not. There were poor people when Jesus showed up and they were still there when he left. Jesus was declaring a war on selfishness. In other words, if you’re rich, you’re young, you’re a ruler and you’re following all the commandments and going to church like you should–and you’re still dissatisfied, the problem just may not be linked to your Bible study and prayer. It could be that you know you’re full of crap, but you just don’t like the idea of being full of crap.

“After all, Jesus only asked him to temporarily donate his wealth. He was young and he was a ruler, which certainly granted him the means to get funky and rich again. But to do so, he would have to admit that money was not the source of his power. The Good Book says he walked away sadly.

“Now, I’m lookin’ out this morning at sad people. Oh, you all would argue with me and insist you’re just fine. You would inform me that the boost of joy and gratitude our community experienced over the past couple of months was a shower of blessing, and now we’re just back to the heat of the day.

“You might even shake your heads and say, ‘Reverend Meningsbee, you just don’t understand us Nebraskan folk.’ But I’ll tell you–there are only three roads you can take.

“You can pretend there’s no heaven and just do whatever the hell you want to. You can pretend that heaven and hell is all there is, and make your reservation at the cooler place. Or you can believe that heaven and hell begin now. How we treat each other. How we approach our work. How we accept other people’s children. And whether or not we think God is smilin’ or frownin’.

“I will not pastor a church that thinks our journey is all about ‘making the pearly gates’ or ‘avoiding a devil’s hell.’ Yes, I will tell you plainly, if you don’t give a damn, then be damned with ya’. We’re gonna keep the revival alive instead of finding our hole and crawling in it.

“If you were that young chap, would you leave sadly? I guess the question is, will you leave sadly today?”

As Meningsbee finished, he jogged down the middle aisle, passing through the narthex, out the door, into the parking lot, jumped in his car, started it and left.

He didn’t want to hear opinions–and he didn’t want to be tempted to soften his words as the bruised filed by him on their way to mediocrity.

He would wait and see how the message of the day would survive the week.

 

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Jesonian: COPs (Part 1)… May 31st, 2015

   Jonathots Daily Blog

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Karate Kid

Stuck in a room with the fading scent of Wizard air freshener, competing with the growing aroma of many fellow-humans who found themselves waiting, becoming bored with their circumstances, somebody brought up the subject of death, which quickly led to a discussion on heaven and hell.

Even though we were all mortals and no one had a supernal insight, the conversation eventually fell into two definitive categories.

There were those who only believed in heaven.

These folks had a vision of all of us being some sort of “danielsons,” who had been “waxing on and waxing off” for many years, who suddenly discover that the expensive antique car we had been brutalizing with our amateur efforts becomes ours as the “Great Miyagi in the Sky” tosses the keys in our direction.

There is no explanation for the generosity or evidence of deservedness, but all the parties holding this view universally agreed that we all get a Jaguar as a certificate of participation.

Then there was the other family of Darwins who put forth the theory that heaven would be “streets of gold” whether or not we prefer rubies or emeralds. And there will certainly be a Lake of Fire since the Good Book mentions the bad thing.

None of them were clear what this fiery body would be like or where this 10,001st lake would be located in Minnesota, but they were vehemently positive that a lot of folks were going to burn.

I became frightened–not over the responsibility of holding the title to a $250,000 car, or of burning off my fat calories in a whole new spark, but rather, because they began to glance my way to see if I would contribute my insights.

I tried to prevent thoughts from popping into my mind lest a giant “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” would begin to chase me across the Milky Way.

You see, it’s not that I’m devoid of imagination.

It’s not that I’m in disbelief of eternal life.

It’s just that it amazes me that we feel that the God of the Universe would be limited to ideas coming from John the Revelator, Himbo the Hindu, Alan the Atheist and Walt the Disney.

Did it ever occur to anyone that all the possibilities we discuss might have some vein of validity, plus a couple of billion more that a creative genius might come up with?

But one thing is fairly certain: there will be no COPs.

No Certificates of Participation.

We will not merely stand in line to receive an inexpensive diploma printed by the Angel Gabriel at the last moment from Kinko’s, and march in together with our vanilla lives to live vacuous existences in a creamy-dreamy afterlife.

I remained silent during the discussion, which caused half the room to think I agreed with them, and the other half to assume I was a heathen.

Only one phrase came to my mind during this vigorous, sweaty exercise in futility–the words of Jesus, the founder of the Jesonian way of thinking.

“I go to prepare a place for you.”

Since as far as I know, Jesus is the only one who owns full citizenship to both Earth and Heaven, I choose to place great credence in his gravitas.

  • Where is he going?
  • What is he preparing?
  • And what in the heavens–literally–does he mean by “a place for me?”

More coming in Part 2. 

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Populie: There Is No Hell … March 26, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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hellOnce again, politics, religion and entertainment have joined together to agree upon a message to massage the masses:

  1. No personal responsibility.
  2. No challenge.
  3. No questioning.
  4. No evolution.
  5. No real difference between evil and good.

The difficulty with this particular popular lie (thus POPULIE) is that when they seek a poster boy to represent their cause, they are shocked to discover that Jesus was actually a great proponent of hell. Now, maybe “proponent” isn’t the correct word, but since he was a common sense teacher, he realized there’s no yin without a yang, no heads without a tails, no day without a night–and no heaven without a hell.

The reason this “hell-free” populie is catching on so quickly is that it removes guilt, covers everything with some sort of universal blanket of grace, and makes everybody feel good about themselves.

The difficulty is that most of the time we are not attending pep rallies which encourage us in self-esteem, but rather, lying in the dark on our beds, trying to go to sleep and realizing who we really are, face-to-face.

Let me give you some simple points:

A. Effort without consequences eventually eliminates reward. Reward is a consequence.

B. Pursuit without a second mile leads to easily falling short of the first mile marker.

C. Salvation without responsibility generates lazy, self-righteous, yet unfulfilled disciples.

D. Entertainment glorifying the darker side of humanity discourages anyone from trying to be “the light of the world.”

E. Politics without progress fosters a ruling class of self-satisfied statesmen.

F. Parenting minus correction is the care-taking of animals which could have become human.

F. Romance without surprise is the doldrums of predictability.

And finally, heaven without hell is just a common bus stop for all travelers…instead of a new world for true explorers.

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