Acada-not me … March 3, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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Academy AwardsThomas Jefferson was a fascinating gent. Attributed with the main authorship of the Declaration of Independence, he established a precept–“all men are created equal.”

Although he did not follow this philosophy through by freeing his slaves, he did contend that elitism and segregation by the hierarchy from the average man was anti-American.

So after I finished having a wonderful evening with fine folks in Chino Valley, Arizona, I arrived home just in time to see the last hour of the Academy Awards.

I nearly gagged through the whole experience. The presumption, pomp and circumstance and “holier-than-thou” attitudes expressed by Hollywood are so contrary to the Jeffersonian approach to freedom that this institution of the Academy of Arts and Sciences is more suited for the court of King George.

Let’s look at the basic premises.

Hollywood makes movies because they are artistic. So in the first premise is the notion that most people aren’t as gifted and talented as those living on “the coast with the most.”

Secondly, Hollywood makes a certain type of movie because they are superior to the masses, who may require some inspiration with their entertainment, but those wishes must be ignored in favor of more high-minded goals.

And finally, the masses are so ignorant and unable to assess quality that those in the Academy vote on their own material within their own ranks–because certainly John Q. Public is too dense to comprehend the subtle nuances of art.

Would you explain how this is any different from our two-party political system, which nowadays only marches to platform ideals, rather than to the heart of the people, or the religious system, which proclaims that the people’s desires to be ministered to in a certain way is childish, and therefore more pious avenues must be pursued?

Candidly, anytime a committee gets together and decides what anybody else thinks–other than the people on the committee–you are dealing with an arrogance which will certainly turn around and bite you in the ass.

And even though the same Hollywood that criticizes the National Rifle Association for being backwoods in their philosophy about guns takes those same guns and put them in their movies, with violent and bloody conclusions, under the guise of “realistic entertainment.”

I, for one, am weary of such hypocrisy.

I know it is considered to be intellectual and open-minded to view the movie “Twelve Years a Slave” as an exposition of the debauchery of slavery in this country, but here’s the problem: the subject is not new and we are not any less racially divided because these movies are made. The people who are already angry over slavery become angrier and the people who are defensive over the issue just become more defensive.

Hollywood continues to make movies they like without asking me–or you, for that matter. We are supposed to sit at home in our underwear watching the show, submitting to the supposed supremacy of the tuxedo-clad crowd, knowing that we have no business challenging their predilections.

I am against elitism in all of its forms. It turns our country into arrogant, bratty children, who stand across the playground from one another behind their makeshift forts, hurling snowballs.

  • The Academy is not for me. It is a self-indulgent buffet for fat cats.
  • The religious system is not for me. It is a cloister of over-educated religionists who have lost contact with the congregation.
  • And the political system is not for me. It is a conglomeration of competitive children trying to get voted into a club that doesn’t do anything but make s’mores in the treehouse.

Can we do better?

Not until we admit to ourselves that we are not great. It is not necessary to be great. It is only wise to realize what Thomas Jefferson shared–that no one is better than anyone else.

 

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Flakies … July 12, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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big snowflakesA snowflake only exists in heaven. When it falls to the earth, it is simply SNOW.

The same is true for human beings.

Our Father in heaven recognizes us and knows the number of hairs on our heads. But on earth, we’re just another “harried participant.”

Failing to realize this and insisting on specialized, individual treatment for each one of our quirks and anomalies is what creates dissension among people instead of the universal proposed utopia of self-esteem.

There are three statements which have seeped into mainstream thinking of all people in the United States of America. It doesn’t matter if you go to the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or if you attend a meeting of the ACLU in Hollywood, these statements are simultaneously adapted and dangerously executed.

1. “There’s nobody like me.” Actually, my friend, there are eight billion and counting. Separating yourself from the herd does not make you any less a cow. The beauty of our race is in our similarities, predilections, inadequacies, intelligence and fellowship. The power is NOT in isolating our whims as curiosities.

2. “I was born this way.” You may want to go ga-ga over that statement, but you must realize that you cannot maintain the sanctity of free will and also believe you are under the influence of the elixir of your DNA. As a Christian, I must realize that the person who gave me my philosophy told me that I need to be born again.  In other words, our race does not progress if the children are enslaved to their own genetic codes instead of breaking out, by their own freewill choice, to discover personal freedom.

3. “Think the best about yourself.” I do not know why an audience applauds when someone makes an unrealisitic statement about his or her ability. Truthfully, in mere moments, the proclaimer will have to back up the statement. Humility is not a virtue, nor is it a way of lessening our potential, but rather, a means of survival. Large statements demand even larger proof. That’s right–we must EXCEED the expectation in order to convince people that we have actually met it.

On top of that, always thinking the best about yourself pretty much closes the door to repentance. And back to my friend, whose teachings I follow–he said that unless we repent, we perish–not in the sense of dissolving into thin air, but rather, by imploding–because we put a thick candy shell on the outside, when inside is nothing but hot air.

It will not be popular to change these irrational mantras even though they are constantly disproven by how our system works. After all, the race is run by many, with only one winner. But everybody gets in shape.

Snowflakes may be individualized if you can get them under a microscope. But only God has a microscope which can discern such intricacies about human beings. Basically, to each other, we are a “fellowship of snow,” trying to learn to drift in the right direction.

Rejoice.

There are many people like yourself. You are not alone. It doesn’t make you less valuable. It gives you the opportunity to set yourself apart by the fruit you bear. Even though you were born of flesh and have a particular ribbon of DNA flowing through you, spirituality sets you apart from the other animals on the earth, enabling you to be born again by your own free-will choice.

And thinking the best about yourself does not make it so, but maintaining a necessary humility which allows for repentance will keep you from perishing on the earth.

I am proud to be human. I’m not ashamed of my similarities with my brothers and sisters. And I am ready to do my part to make this world a sweeter place in which to live.

Would you like to join me?

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Last Stop in the Lone Star … June 2, 2013

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HoustonTex Mex. I love it.

I’m not just speaking of the cuisine offered in this great state of Texas, which is a blending of Mexican food and Southern cooking. I’m speaking more specifically of the fact that the folks of Texas were smart enough to realize that there were Mexicans already living there when they arrived and also Native Americans, and rather than fighting them, they joined with them, starting in the kitchen and including the living room.

Texas always feels like what you might call America, Part II. When the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, they began the arduous process of assimilating with other cultures and people to form a great union of many nations, merging behind a central idea–freedom.

We had to repeat the process in Texas. People from all over the continent came there seeking a new way of life, but discovered there were already natives and folks from other countries, and rather than killing ’em off or segregating them, they married, interacted and created a cultural Tex-Mex.

It wasn’t always perfect. But it is certainly why Sam Houston, who was governor, refused to leave the Union when the Confederacy seceded. It was the independent nature in Mr. Houston which told him that treating other people as lessers makes for neither good neighbors nor good government. While some people may look to Washington, D.C.,  Hollywood, New York City or the state of California for inspiration in reviving the grass-roots of our national treasure, I think we need much of that birthing spirit found in the original Lone Star State of Texas, which instead of arguing and fussing with their neighbors, made a good attempt at blending.

This is why Texas is different from Alabama, and what makes Texas unique from Iowa. And it is what makes Texas distinct from California and New York. Texans can be stubborn, but after they get their cowboy hats knocked off a few times by reality, they learn pretty quickly, adapt and move toward solutions.

I have spent four months touring across this state and I’m not trying to portray myself as an expert on the state. But I will tell you–the people I met have strong virtues and ideals, but have not buried their heads in the sand or their feet in cement. They realize that time marches on. And what may have been a tradition twenty years ago is now subject to amending. It’s very simple–any idea that alienates us from our brothers and sisters in the family of humankind is useless and therefore needs to be changed.

I am optimistic. While liberals think conservatives are hilariously stupid and conservatives are sure that the liberals are headed for a devil’s hell, I am wondering if it’s possible to take a moment, look into our own hearts, and like true Texans, avoid both ignorance and Dante’s Inferno.

Tex Mex. What a great, simple idea that exemplifies the willingness to at least attempt to blend our flavors.

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Excuse Me… March 14, 2013

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Tree drawing

Excuse me, Tree. When did you bloom? Hours earlier you were barren, devoid of bud, and now, in a full array of leaves.

Excuse me, Blackbird. How did you fly from that second branch skyward, perching on top of the wire dangling in the air?

Excuse me, Ma’am. How do you do it? Tend to your children’s whims, while pursuing womanly dreams?

Excuse me, Brother. I am so sorry for the hot-shots who are so busy discussing billions and billions that they didn’t notice that you were $83.14 shy on your rent this month.

Excuse me, Sun. Where did you go? It has been so cold for so long. Now the warmth gradually returns with renewed vigor.

Excuse me, Book. Would you tell me a story? Your words become feelings, transforming into ideas and projecting them in my mind as visions unimagined by Hollywood.

Excuse me, Rain. What a wonder you are! Somewhere between my head and the earth, you change from a nuisance to nourishment.

Excuse me, God. Where have You been? Much has happened. Did You notice? Is it a plan set before us or merely an atmosphere for human choice? We do welcome You, if You are still interested.

Excuse me, Tree, Blackbird, Ma’am, Brother, Sun, Book, Rain and God. I fear I have been a bit absent–in more than mind. I am back now. I will do my part. Watch me.

You will be proud.

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The First Valentine … February 14, 2013

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I wake up this morning terribly curious about what miracles St. Valentine would have performed to gain his station in the Mother Church. It is required in the Catholic experience, that each saint have two confirmed miracles. What would they be for Val? Maybe he lived in Hollywood–and was able to stay married for more than seven months. Perhaps instead of just saying that women are equals to men, he believed it and followed through. Maybe he enjoyed shopping and cooking with his spouse.

I’m not sure. But what I know about love, romance, women and the interaction between the sexes, I learned elsewhere. I learned it from a man who never treated a woman any differently from the dudes hanging around.

  • He didn’t create a separate message for men and another one for women, pretending they were at odds with each other.
  • Simultaneously, he demanded that women be human instead of following the darker parts of the internal nature.
  • He called them on their lies, not winking and pretending like it is a female prerogative.
  • He welcomed and blessed their children.
  • He forgave them when they fell.
  • He honored them when they made a good point that he hadn’t considered.
  • He included them without exception.
  • He never separated them off into women’s meetings.
  • He made them apostles and messengers of what was dear in his heart.
  • He was not ashamed to accept their financial help, citing some sort of macho philosophy of only men being bread winners.
  • He praised their faith.
  • At no time did he ever make them the butt of a joke, even when he was alone in a testosterone-driven circle.
  • He protected them against religion, politics and culture, which wanted to relegate them to being “birthers” instead of fellow-laborers.

I didn’t learn much from St. Valentine. Everything I learned about how to treat, love, labor and interact with a woman was imparted to me at the feet of the Master.

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One Size Frets All … January 20, 2013

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Jon SigningThe power is in knowing what is common and what is different.

What is common among us all is our humanity. What is different are the many paths we have taken which have tempted us to deny, hide or obscure our commonality.

Maybe you decided to join religion. Basically you were told that “God is mad but He still wants to save you.” That’s enough to make anybody mad at the whole world.

Maybe you joined the Republican Party. You were indoctrinated into believing you were not supposed to kill babies (unless you do it with a gun).

Is your definition of “difference” being a Democrat? That’s where you’re allowed to kill babies, but still raise money to feed the hungry children in faraway lands.

How about a conservative? “Let’s go back to when things were better”–even though most things were worse.

A liberal–let’s go forward blindly without using the common sense of history.

Maybe you’re picking up your check at the corporation. If so, you’ve been told to buy the product and learn to like it.

Did you jump in your car, go out and seek entertainment? Yes, it is a world where Hollywood tells you that THEY’RE the artists–so shut up.

Maybe you bought into the sanctity of family. With tears in your eyes, you proclaim that your particular collection of human beings is everything–until you realize that the world is much bigger than the boundaries of your property.

Have you found your solace in patriotism? “God bless America”–and good luck to everyone else.

In the process of trying to extol uniqueness, we have created single islands that are only linked by rivers of mistrust. So the “one size” that was intended to coagulate us into a bloodline of believers has just succeeded in covering up a series of bigotries which just fester blood feuds.

What will it take for us to understand that every time we alienate ourselves from the world around us and try to make ourselves better than others, we lessen the chance for our own opportunity at success.

NoOne is better than anyone else.

It is the abiding truth that tells us that when we attempt to separate into “birds of a feather,” we stop being able … to fly.

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Stick To It, Sticky, Stuck–October 29, 2011

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“Just hang in there.” 

 Seemingly pretty good advice–unless you happen to have a rope tied around your neck. The American people have a great admiration for perseverance. We love a good hard-luck story, where someone survives extreme difficulty and comes out the other end victorious. Of course you realize, the reason these stories are special is that they’re rare. Most people have extreme difficulty and DON’T survive it–therefore not providing much impetus for a celebration party.

If the only thing we have to offer people is “stick to it,” most of the time they’ll hit a patch that’s extremely sticky and find themselves stuck with the unfortunate results. So when is perseverance the legitimate muscle of faith and when does it become stubbornness? When are we moving forward at a slow pace and when are we being warned by nature, and even God, that our path is against the flow of good sense? How can we tell?

If I were to describe the national expression on the countenance of the American public, it would exude this sentiment: “I’m stuck–stuck with my wife, stuck with my husband, stuck with my job, stuck with my family, stuck with my church, stuck with my government.”

They DID “stick to it.” And then, because they weren’t where they could have been, life got sticky, and so instead of moving forward they got stuck in a position unfavorable to their dreams.

What can we do to make sure that what we’re pursuing is worth the running, sweat and energy we’re expending?  If we don’t, we’ll find ourselves sticking to a sticky mess with the end result being that we’re just stuck.  Fortunately for us, there is an answer–and it is simpler than many people would guess.

Every successful adventure begins with a season of counting the cost and coming up with a truthful assessment. That’s what the Bible means by “the truth will make you free.” When you’re not afraid to deal with the truth of the matter, your soul has the freedom to pursue something with great zest without fear that it’s a dead-end street.

Why is the truth more difficult than a lie? Here it is:sometimes the truth may make me appear weaker than I want to be. I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to us that the weakness will be played out for all to see anyway.  It isn’t like you can hide your inefficiencies and lack.  All we end up doing is delaying the inevitable.

I never decide to “stick to” something until I have truthfully determined whether I have the ability, I can multiply the talent or I can locate someone who is smarter than me to help.

Truth is the missing ingredient in every endeavor that ends up in failure.

I need to sit down and truthfully look at myself. If I choose not to share my findings with others, that’s fine.  But my discovery should determine whether I am actually going to go after the goal or leave it to folks more qualified than me.

I meet such wonderful people who have introduced misery into their lives by taking on challenges that they are either not interested in or have absolutely no aptitude for accomplishing. To avoid embarrassment, they continue to do the job without joy and without much productivity. Unfortunate.

Truthful is a great replacement for “stick to it.”

Otherwise you’re going to find yourself in a sticky predicament where you’re already committed, everybody is expecting your involvement and you suddenly realize that you hate what you’re doing. So if you want to do it right–after you’ve done a truthful assessment of your abilities–then take a good hard look at what is working and what is not.

For instance, in our economy, here are two things we know for sure: (1) Giving tax breaks to the rich was unsuccessful; and (2) giving billions of dollars to billionaire corporations in a stimulus was equally as doomed. Yet the Republicans and Democrats are intent on “sticking to their plans,” creating this “sticky” situation in our economy. To escape this it will take truthful people admitting what they can and can’t do, finding out what really will work in this situation.  It may not be exactly to their political leanings; it may not be right up their alley. It may demand the involvement of other people they have deemed to be their enemies. But if you cannot truthfully ascertain what the real situation is and you will not study what works and doesn’t work, you will just find yourself sticking to stuff that just creates sticky surroundings.

So what do we have so far?

Truth.  And all truth must be on the inward parts–not ME deciding what is factual for YOU. Truth that is not on the inward parts is either legalism–or lies.

So once I find out what the truth is as it pertains to me, I am ready to study, without fear, what is working and what is not working.

And this leaves me one final mission.  In order to not get stuck in my sticky situation, I make a mature decision to duplicate what I see working around me in my own life … honestly. What do I mean by honestly? I mean without my particular interpretation and also in the sense that when it finally does stop working–which things eventually do–I will go back to the truth of the matter and learn what’s going to work next.

Perseverance is nothing but stubbornness unless it is birthed in truth. Sticky situations happen because we don’t really seek out what is working but instead, take our stubbornness to repeat practices which have proven to be unfulfilling. And the best way to avoid being stuck in a rut is to duplicate honestly what is working in the world around you until it doesn’t work anymore and then start the process all over again by doing a truthful evaluation.

Politics is a failed proposal because it insists that its adherents stick to a platform which may or not possess the truth to actually work. Religion is equally ridiculous because it asks the faithful to stick to teachings which may or may not have truth for our time and are not necessarily bound by the criterion of needing to work.

You can continue to “stick to it” and get into sticky situations where you find yourself stuck, or you can take a few minutes and uncover the truth about yourself and your abilities, find what’s really working and duplicate it honestly until God shows you even a better way. It is the key to happiness.

For I will tell you, my dear friends, happiness is being able to perform what you set out to do because it’s in the ballpark of your ability and it’s proven to be effective.

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Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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