Sit Down Comedy … July 24th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4473)

Sit Down Comedy

The Science of Séance

Jackson Coodabury was a fervent believer in spiritualism. He not only contended that it was possible to communicate with the dead, but had attempted it several times, gaining great soul satisfaction and insight through the experience.

His greatest hope—his aspiration, if you will—was to make contact with his great-great-great uncle, Homer Coodabury. Homer had fought in the War Between the States, dying from a bayonet wound in the chest on the bridge at Antietam.

Jackson was a fervent believer in states’ rights and an aficionado on both the Antebellum period and the Civil War itself. Even though Kentucky was a border state, the Coodabury family had forged its allegiance with the Dixon side of the line long before it went to war with Mason.

So Jackson decided to hold a séance.

He got together with two friends who were interested in contacting their relatives from the period and hired the most well-known spiritualist in all the tri-state area to conduct the event.

The spiritualist went merely by the name Hector, had written five books on the subject, and it was reported that he had once been able to conjure the ghost of Stonewall Jackson.

Jackson himself was named after the great General. So whether it would be his relative, Homer, or the great Stonewall made no difference to Jackson. He just felt disconnected from this present time, still holding a deep belief that black men and black women were inferior to the white race. This was not a popular idea—not even in a prejudiced community like Melrose, Kentucky.

Jackson didn’t care. He yearned to have a touchstone with someone from the era, who could explain in detail what it felt like to be on the battlefield, fighting for what he believed in.

A small room was selected. All the blinds were pulled, and black cloth was placed over the windows to make sure nothing from the outside world could interfere. A round table was readied for the four to gather, with a single candle and a letter that Homer had written to his mother, right after the first Battle of Manassas.  Jackson clutched the letter in his hands, hoping to drain the soul of his uncle.

The evening began simply, with some quiet music, which gradually Hector decreased as he began to recite information about the life and times of the soul he was calling forth from the cosmic realm.

Jackson sat quietly, trying to calm his nerves. He understood that there would be no physical presence of his uncle but the ghost of his kin would speak through Hector.

There were mumblings from Hector—requests. And finally, a sudden silence.

All at once, Hector began to speak with a strong east Kentucky accent.

“I cannot see you, but I can hear you.”

Jackson broke into tears. He was being addressed by his uncle—a regaling voice. Commanding, filled with authority.

Jackson spoke. “Are you Corporal Homer Coodabury, of the Fourteenth Kentucky Regiment?”

“I was,” bellowed the voice. The tone was eerie, with just a touch of echo.

Nodding his head, Jackson looked his friends, who were just as astonished as he. Probing on, Jackson said, “I understand you were seventeen years old when you joined up to fight the Yankees.”

There was no response.

“Am I right about that?” asked Jackson.

Suddenly, even louder, the voice replied, “Have you come here to confirm history, or to learn the truth?”

Jackson nodded, feeling impotent. Here he was, talking to a spirit from the other side and not sure about what to request. He gathered himself and formed a real question. “What is it like where you are?”

“It changes,” the voice replied. “When I first came, after the Yankee stabbed me with his bayonet, I found myself in a small room, where one corner occasionally lit up with a glow. And when it did, there was a question inside me being asked. And I, without words, was communicating the truth of my experience.”

The answer baffled Jackson, so he followed up. “Who was questioning you and what did they want to know?”

The spirit replied, “I don’t know who, and if I did, I would never be able to explain it to you. What was sought from me was an answer as to why I chose, at seventeen years of age, to give my life for the cause of the Confederacy.”

Jackson scoffed. He now realized that Hector was apparently some sort of Northern sympathizer, who was using the séance to discredit the cause of Dixie.

Jackson stood to leave and turned toward the door. As he did, the voice continued. “Did you come for answers, or did you come for confirmation? What I learned in those sessions in that room with the glowing light which illuminated my mind was that no one is better than anyone else.”

Jackson stalled and stiffened. He remembered those words. In the midst of a very prejudiced upbringing, he had a Grandma who constantly spoke that statement to him, over and over again.  “No one is better than anyone else.”

Jackson had rejected it—but now, here it was again, being uttered to him in a séance from the grave.

Jackson whirled around and blurted, “Where did you get those words?”

The spirit replied, “You know where I got them. She was your grandma, right?”

Jackson was horrified. He slowly walked over and sat back down. After a moment of reflection, he spoke again. “If you could fight—or could have fought more—would you do it today, for the cause of freedom?”

The answer came quickly. “I spent the first part of my time in eternity learning the value of human life, which I could no longer possess. I felt shame. I remembered as a small boy, making fun of the abolitionists because they believed the black man had a soul. Now here I was, dead and gone, dealing with my own soul, tormented by my choices.”

“It was a noble cause!” Jackson screamed. “It was for the glory of the South, the honor of tradition and the heritage of the white race.”

Through Hector, the spirit replied calmly. “Where I am, there is no honor in these things.”

Jackson pursued. “How about the monuments? The statues? The Confederate flag? Consideration of the lost lives? Shouldn’t there be a tribute for the courage of these patriots?”

There was a silence. Then the spirit spoke. “Courage is only powerful when it saves someone instead of hurting them. Don’t make any statues for me. Don’t remember my war record. Just understand that I was young and foolish, and that somehow God, in His mercy, has given me a chance to make amends.”

Jackson still had questions, but Hector shook his head, rubbed his eyes, and emerged from the trance.

Jackson thanked Hector for leading the gathering, and he and his two friends went out for a drink at the local bar.

His two buddies were unimpressed with the whole process—figuring that Hector was a fraud.  Jackson, who had originally been quite impacted by the encounter, gradually lost his fervor, taking on a cynical outlook. “I don’t care what anyone says,” he declared. “Let’s lift our glasses to the glory of Dixie.”

The three drank a toast to the Confederate States, put their glasses down and headed for the door. The waitress arrived with their bill.

As they were paying, she explained that drinks on this particular night were supposed to cost twice as much because there was a convention in town and the proprietor had raised the prices. She further stated that she knew they were regulars and were unaware of that situation, so she charged them the regular cost.

The three of them were grateful and offered her a large tip, which she refused. “No, that’s not necessary,” she said. “We need to do good to each other. Because no one’s better than anyone else.”

Jackson grabbed her arm. “What did you just say?”

She replied, “I said we need to do good to each other.”

“No,” Jackson interrupted. “The last part.”

“I don’t remember,” she replied, a bit startled by his reaction.

Jackson prodded her. “You said ‘no one is better than anyone else.’”

She shook her head, frowning. “Did I? Huh. I don’t remember.”

The waitress escaped his grasp, a bit unnerved. Jackson looked over at his friends, who were nearly as startled as he was.

Jackson took a ragged breath. “Maybe Hector was better than we thought.”

Getting in Character … July 6th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Gymnast with coach

From Act II, Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage and all the men and women, merely players.”

There are those who feel they tap an insightful genius by using laborious dialogue and depravity to accentuate what they have determined to be reality. Yes, indeed–every actor is tempted to pick up a paycheck by participating in a piece of manipulated negativity.

Yet you must remember–the world evaluates what you want by what you give.

Art can journey through the tunnel but is required to find the light, thus generating the mercy we give to humanity through creativity instead of adding gloom to the doom.

Never forget, there are only three things that human beings require: mercy, opportunity and honesty.

Take any of these away and we starve in agony.

But in each case, we cannot continue to acquire our “food for heart” without first obviously providing it to those around us.

  • Therefore to obtain mercy, you must grant mercy–from your forgiveness through your performance.
  • Opportunity is granted to those who are already providing such a benefit to others.
  • And honesty is the air we breathe, which keeps us from choking to death.

If you’re going to get in character, you must understand that the review left behind for your stage appearance will not only be collected on your professional resume … but will become the heritage of your legacy.

 

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G-49: June 30th, 1863… November 7, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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            Gettysburg          June 30th, 1863

Gettysburg
June 30th, 1863

Three prayers float their way up to the heavenly realm.

They are distinctly different, uniquely crafted by the speaker to adequately accentuate the piety of their position while simultaneously offering sufficient humility for the auspicious occasion.

Prayer 1

Our most sovereign God, we have just taken over this command of troops and are headed off into the Pennsylvania countryside. We are certainly without experience. We are vacant a master plan. So we come to You, seeking both wisdom and protection–wisdom for our frailty of mind, which causes us to dance between fear and an over-exaggerated sense of importance; and protection because the enemies set before us are much more adept at their craft and perhaps even more dedicated to their cause.

Our purposes for marching through these fields are diverse and perhaps for some of us, unknown. It is everything from duty, to mission, avoiding disobeying the common law, and even for some, seething anger.

We do not ask that you give us the day in battle, but please give us our daily bread, and may we be able to chew it, swallow it and accept it as our portion.

“We feel we are in the right, but as is often the case, we may learn the error of our ways. Amen.

Prayer 2

Eternal God who is Almighty in the Heavens, we come to you as the Army of Virginia, set out to right what is wrong and to preserve the glorious blessing of our heritage and beliefs. As cheated brothers, for a season we feel the need to pick up arms and right the injustice and regain the freedom to live among our constituency with integrity and with respect to that which we consider to be holy.

We know you have been with us as we have prevailed in battle, and we know you will be with us throughout this day as we once again set a path towards quickly ending the bloodshed and resume our lives with family and kin.

Here in Gettysburg, make our cannons accurate, our swords swift and our bullets straight. Even in our hearts, we have no animosity towards these individuals. They just stand in the way of our liberty.

Yet as you said in your Holy Book, there is a time to kill, and we respect that season by doing it to the best of our ability. Amen.

Prayer 3

Derz Jesus: Dey have plans to kills Marcus today. Lawd, he don’t do nothin’ but pick cotton slow. I’z wishin that Yous listen to me eben though I’m not worth more than the dirt I came from. Maybe, Lawd, if Iz talk to the Massa, he’s let me pick extra cotton to make up for Marcus. Gives me words. May the work that I done here speak, gon ahead of me, so when I ax for Marcus’s life, theys not be hangin him, but instead, he be comin home to his wife and three.

Iz so weak. I needs Youz, Lord. I needs to save my brother. Helps me before my mind goes to breakin apart. Helps me to keep from bein angry. Helps me to be a man, even though dose I talk to don’t believe I be one. Amen.”

Three prayers presented to God.

But only one was answered.

For you see, because the plantation owner was busy trying to gather provisions for the Rebel Army, it slipped his mind to kill Marcus.

The prayers that came from the two armies gathered to do battle were ignored. The combatants were left to their own devices, to slaughter one another at will.

God had stopped honoring nations, peoples, cultures and ideals.

He was looking for someone with great ideas, a heart for his fellow-man and a willingness to do something noble in a time of utter chaos.

 

 

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Populie: The Holy Land … October 29, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2396)

Isis, Jew and Crusader

Land: a retreating of the waters, leaving behind soil which is available for living and planting.

Holy: promoting, initiating and welcoming a sense of wholeness.

These are truths.

So what is the populie? Calling some region in Mesopotamia “The Holy Land.”

It is neither conducive to growing much of anything or welcoming wholeness. Even though it’s only the size of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, it has fostered more death, destruction, bigotry, selfishness, greed and lunacy than any other location on the face of the earth.

Yet the entertainment industry loves to make movies about the Crusades and supposedly deep insightful, flicks focusing on the conflicts between the Jews and the Arabs.

Politics certainly enjoys spouting the term “Holy Land” because it welcomes certain constituencies into the mix for large donations.

And religion adores the idea that this space of property has magical powers or is ordained by God to be the prophetic source of spiritual renewal.

The Holy Land is not. I have never had a desire to go there, nor will I ever, of my own volition.

It is occupied by inflexible souls who mysteriously continue to fight a battle among each other to honor their traditions instead of dealing with the realities of our time.

It is evil in the sense that it pulls down the rest of our brothers and sisters living with us on this planet, because supposedly Abraham said something thousands of years ago, which Moses confirmed and Mohammed contradicted.

They are quarreling brothers who bang on our door in the middle of the night because they’re fighting again, and somebody punched somebody in the nose, and we’re supposed to decide if we’re going to call the cops or just make a big pot of coffee.

I must tell you:

  • Jesus found nothing holy about that land.
  • Matter of fact, he prophesied that it would be left desolate.
  • He told them that even though they believed they were the “children of Abraham,” that he existed before Abraham, and therefore trumped the patriarch.
  • He warned them that their holy temple would be torn down.
  • He told his disciples to begin their work in Jerusalem but to get out of there as quickly as possible and take the mission to the more receptive parts of the world.
  • He explained that true worship of God would not be in Jerusalem, but would be achieved through spirit and truth.
  • And even though we try to make Jesus Jewish and connect him to the Holy Land, he made it clear that he wasn’t called to those who thought they were righteous, but instead, to those whom the righteous considered to be sinners.

We must begin to call this desolate, angry, self-righteous location the dark place it truly is, and stop trying to revere it as a special piece of turf. If not, we will perpetuate the myth that if we just send one more army in there on a crusade, we can finally win back God’s holy land.

For if Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut suddenly decided to start squabbling over land and spiritual heritage, we would go in there and tell them to shut the hell up, get it right or we would close off all supplies and sanction them from our country.

But even though we contend that God is no respecter of persons, we in the United States continue to treat Israel preferentially and look at the Arabs with a jaundiced eye. They probably won’t be ignored, but we need to stop giving them so much of the human stage.

It is not a Holy Land. Stop planning trips there, thinking you’re going to “walk where Jesus walked.”

Because true holiness is where God is.

And the Spirit of God always dwells where there is liberty. There is no liberty in the Holy Land. Even Israel, which claims to be democratic, has restrictions on spiritual expression and prejudice against their neighbors.

Go where there’s liberty, and there you’ll find the Spirit of God. Forgive me for a little bit of flag waving–but that’s why I’m glad to be an American.

And for me, today, as I travel, the Holy Land … is Roanoke, Virginia.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Two That Make One … January 20, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Angy and ClintWhen I found out he died, it was the first thing that came to my mind.

I suppose if I were a more traditional fellow, I would have taken a moment or two to conjure images of his face, life and interactions with him. But honestly, the best thing this fellow ever did with his life was to marry a woman–whom he eventually divorced–and have a daughter, who now continues to overcome her culture, becoming a dynamic force within her own family, with personal aspirations.

Often, two people make one. Matter of fact, it is a biological imperative. But even though historically, the two that made the one may leave behind no other heritage or footprint, the one who was birthed can still honor the memory by living a life that has joy over precious memories, but also an eye toward exceeding the training.

It was a startling fact. A young woman I know quite well, who is doing her best to bless the world, has recently lost both of her parents–and the determination of society and history on their lives will be evaluated by how this dear woman conducts her journey.

My parents, too, made five. I place no judgment on their lives, but I will tell you that their legacy is held in scrutiny by those around them who view their offspring.

It is a solemn affair.

If we don’t create art, share a great idea, chase windmills or speak against injustice, our lineage becomes our sole eulogy.

It made me very happy for this gentleman that passed away. Although in a critical moment, I might suggest that some of his choices were terribly introspective, he does have the advantage of giving life to a missionary who is doing a much better job at propelling beauty to the earth.

So I guess in a sense we get two cracks–one opportunity with our own lives, to say something, be something, feel something and do something that causes the world to be a better place. But then, when our time is finished, we have those we have brought into the world who can offer a new and improved product.

So even though I weep for this gentleman who has passed on, simultaneously a smile comes to my face because I realize that the woman he left behind, carrying his DNA, is intent on making a massive difference.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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Messin’ With My Mess… January 2, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Christmas fam pic

  • Two filmmakers.
  • One aspiring dental hygienist.
  • Two people who own their own housecleaning business.
  • A great cinematographer.
  • Three sound technicians.
  • A drum-line instructor.
  • An ordained minister.
  • A guitar maker.
  • Five grandchildren.
  • An extraordinary musician.
  • A gamesman and blogger.
  • Food service.
  • National director of a beauty company.
  • An entrepreneur businesswoman.
  • An English teacher.
  • Two bass guitar players.
  • A studio producer.
  • A pair of young singers and actresses.
  • A retired administrative assistant.

Behold–a list of the doings of the family and friends pictured above, which happens to be the group of individuals with whom I shared Christmas cheer.

I was “Daddy” to some, “Pop” to others, “G-Pop” to a few, longtime friend, confidante, and now I am the aging patriarch who travels the country, cropping up every once in a while to remind them of their heritage.

As I sat in the midst of the photo session for the picture  you see today, I was thinking to myself, “What do I hope for these people?”

Is it realistic to dream that they might share my faith? Part of me wishes they would, because my substance of hope certainly conjures delightful, unseen evidence.

How about my politics? Well, since I feverishly and fervently avoid such foolishness, it might be difficult for them to pinpoint my leanings.

No, family is the great testing ground for us to realize that it is important to love people without ever thinking you’re going to control them. I really only hope that they maintain three cardinal principles:

  1. Love people.
  2. Like your work.
  3. Hate injustice.

Because without loving people, you have absolutely no chance of ever seeing God. And if you don’t like your work, it makes most of your day feel tedious. And if you don’t have the foresight to stand up against injustice, you will feel very silly and be proven wrong more often than not.

So take the picture. Preserve it for all time.

But hopefully when we stroll out of the room to our varied pursuits, we can remember that great trinity of responsibility.

 

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

New-fashioned … August 7, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1968)

bicycleGood always wins.

It takes time.

By saying it takes time, I don’t mean there are intervals in history when it appears like evil will actually EVER take the day. There are always inklings of hope–and evidence of faith–which can bolster our love of truth–unless we begin to allow ourselves to be pushed down the broad path of stupidity towards the cliff of insanity.

Of course, you do risk being called “old-fashioned.”

If you cling to that which is praise-worthy, valuable, human-friendly and tender, there are those who will insist you’re out of step with social progress–thus completely devoid of cultural savvy.

Even though life is somewhat like a book, most people forget the plot of the previous chapter as they read the present offering. So to them, it doesn’t seem to be an ongoing tale, but rather, a series of text messages distributed from the mob mentality.

Why can’t good things be considered new-fashioned instead of old-fashioned? What is the difference between good and evil?

Evil kills, steals and destroys.

Good stubbornly refuses to participate.

  • I will not join into the meanness of my society, even though it is considered hip and cool to be vengeful.
  • I will not agree that abortion is an inevitable choice, simply because for this passage of time, we extol personal freedom over personal responsibility.
  • I will not be agreeable toward the nagging battle between men and women simply because some comedian wants to “make hay” off of barnyard jokes.
  • I don’t follow or support war in any of its forms because as Benjamin Franklin said, “there’s no such thing as a good war or a bad peace.”
  • I can’t go along with capital punishment because God did not kill Cain, who was the first murderer, but instead, sent him away for rehabilitation.
  • I will not be party to bigotry, even when it’s portrayed as “cultural preference” or “discovering of our heritage.”

There are so many things in our world that kill, steal and destroy which are being touted as foregone conclusions–just part of the course of the human race.

Good is NOT old-fashioned. It demands that we use restraint.

It requires a person who is straight to understand why someone else might find other people preferable. But it also demands that the gay community realize that 95% of the population cannot possibly fathom their preference.

Good is not when we scream our desire, hoping to gain the podium. Good is when we look at the history of mankind and choose the principles that propel us forward instead of dragging us back to the cave.

I guess to some people, I’m old-fashioned. And if by old-fashioned you mean that I’m clinging to the premise of goodness instead of allowing myself to surrender to a nation which now accepts pornography as some sort of “rite of passage,” then yes. For after all, pornography is not a choice. It’s the denial of a choice for others. It is raping a woman of her privilege to freely love without being intimidated to do so.

So if you must call me old-fashioned, feel free. Actually, I feel I’m on the cutting edge of new-fashioned, when the human race will once again move towards the sanity of life and love instead of death and destruction.

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