Jesonian … August 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3761)

Astonished.

It is the word that Saint Matthew selected, in his Gospel, to describe the reaction of the audience which heard Jesus of Nazareth share the Sermon on the Mount.

Some synonyms for astonished:

  • Shocked
  • Confounded
  • Bewildered
  • Astounded
  • Flabbergasted
  • Startled
  • Stunned
  • Dumbfounded
  • Blow your mind

Astonished is a word that combines impressed and alarmed.

It is the way Matthew perceived the mood of the hearers.

He added that they felt that Jesus had more “authority” than the scribes. As you probably know, the scribes were not the Pharisees. The scribes were the local ministers in charge of writing and reading the Law of Moses.

The style they imparted in sharing those ancient words was: read, said, dead. When the scribes read, they said what was exactly there–as dead as they possibly could, so as not to add too much flavor.

So as you can see, it was not a roaring accolade, to say that Jesus exceeded the knowledge or enthusiasm of the scribes.

The importance to the verse is that the people departing that day were “astonished.” What do people do when they’re astonished?

On the way home, as the afterglow disappears, they begin to pick at the corners of great ideas until they disassemble them, convincing themselves that these principles are implausible.

How do we know this is true?

Most of them do not follow Jesus down the hill, but instead, go to their homes, where they justify their disbelief.

Meanwhile, Jesus, who has just delivered the most radical, truthful and practical message ever heard on Earth, descends the hill, and is greeted by one leper, who asks for healing–who had probably missed the sermon.

After twenty-two years of traveling with my dear friend Janet Clazzy, to thousands of churches, I will tell you this:

It is very possible to stir up a congregation, and even their local shepherd, to the point of astonishment.

You can raise dead spirits that haven’t been alive since Grandma and Grandpa sat in the pews.

You can get people to clap, think, react, smile, and even do their best impersonation of loving one another. But you can’t go home with them.

And home is where they rationalize all their present actions–to avoid the horror of repentance.

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Confessing … November 7th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2745)

XXVII.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

I was 23 years old, and already the father of two little boys. I had no regular job and was quickly becoming known for mooching lodging and meals off of friends and relatives.

My saving grace was that all the people of the town knew I had some musical talent.

I had proven this recently by winning a contest, and in so doing, being awarded a recording session with 100 free albums.

I was thrilled.

Every time somebody would ask when I was going to get a job, I explained that I was getting ready for the project. I was blessed to have a music group filled with friends who believed in my writing.

We went to do the record and ended up having a studio engineer who had seen us at the talent contest, and was very excited about working with us.

The first couple of songs went really well, but when we came to the third selection, I went into the booth to record my piano first, before we laid down vocals.

In the process of playing the tune, I hit a really bad note. It was isolated off by itself. I was trying to hit a Db, but my finger slipped and I ended up with a C included. Without going into too much detail, it sounded terrible and it was obvious I had made an error.

When I finished the piece, the engineer waited for me to request another go-through.

I didn’t.

I asked him to play it back and when the foul-sounding note came over the speakers, I pretended I had planned it that way. He even gently took me to the side and asked if I was sure I did not want to go back in to correct the note.

I told him I was fine with it.

Matter of fact, that note remained through the whole session, mix-down, and was pressed onto the final record.

I was so defensive over being a jobless dad that I did not want to admit I had made a mistake.

You see, my sin was not in being young, foolish and without money. My sin was being prideful and defensive about my situation.

I look back on that day in horror.

It is difficult for me to believe that anybody could be so stupid–and then I turn on the television set and listen to grown men and women in politics, defending their mistakes as if they had actually planned them.

Sometimes we hit sour notes.

Our only advantage is to point them out before others discover them, or at least change them … before they become part of the permanent record.

confessing piano

 

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UNTOTALED: Stepping 7–Tackling Laziness (September 4th, 1965) … March 22, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

(2184)

(Transcript)

Starting the seventh grade scared the crap out of me.

Actually, that particular cliché doesn’t fit very well because when you’re entering junior high school in a new building, the idea of any sound or bodily fluid coming out of your being is completely terrifying.

You want to simultaneously be invisible and also appreciated, which of course, is not only socially impossible, but scientifically implausible.

I had spent the week before school began begging my mother to allow me to go out for the football team. She was afraid I would get injured. This was a maternal prophetic sensation, long before the recent onslaught of concussions and head injuries. What was comical, though, about this assertion on her part was that I was nearly six feet tall and weighed three hundred pounds. The coach joked with her, when trying to solicit her support, that it would be more likely that I would hurt other children.

I whined, cajoled, pleaded, promised, praised, complimented and cleaned my room up enough to get her to agree to allow me to try out for the team.

So September 4th, 1965, was not just the first day of horror in the new junior high school. It was also my first day to go out after school and practice with the football team.

The trials continued when they were unable to find a pair of football pants to fit me.  (This was the era when men’s sizes stopped at extra-large, and anyone who needed anything bigger must order it from the sheep herders of Tibet.) So I wore a pair of tennis shoes and blue Dickey work pants to work out with the other guys, who were in suitable apparel. (They did find a helmet that fit my head, since the term fat-head is merely an urban legend.)

It became obvious to me immediately, on that small practice field, what I liked and what I didn’t.

  • I loved the game.
  • I loved tackling.
  • I loved thinking about what was going to happen next.

On the other hand, I hated exercise in all of its contorted, convoluted and fastidiously constructed forms. After all, every exercise program is really geared to skinny people–even the ones which insist they are trying to appeal to the obese. Their speculations always exceed our limitations.

I hated sprints, calisthenics, too much running of any type, and all the drills which they insisted were essential for becoming a great football player.

I endured the sport for three years, but finally my laziness regarding exercise overtook my love of the gridiron.

Maybe if I’d had the right kick in the pants from an authority figure, or perhaps mercy at the right moments and toughness at others, I might have continued playing the game. I don’t know.

But because I didn’t tackle laziness on the football field, it took me too many years to overcome that gooey, drippy vice that drags one down, draining off potential.

So the next time you run across a kid who has ability, but not much drive, please don’t assume that you should leave him alone.

I was left alone. And fascinatingly enough–it was just lonely.

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Untotaled: Stepping 3 (February 9th, 1964) … February 22, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2158)

(Transcript)

“She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah …”

God, I desperately needed that.

At twelve years of age, going through puberty, it would have been wonderful to have a “she” that loved me. Yeah.

But when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show February 9th, 1964,  my parents refused to let me watch. They didn’t know anything about the Beatles, they had just seen a picture, and from that had determined that the young gentlemen from Liverpool were freaks, queers, girls, Communists and immoral.

So instead, they sent me to church, where I got to listen to our preacher expound upon Peter and the lame man at the Gate Beautiful.

Lame.

I returned home, realizing that the Ed Sullivan Show was not over yet, hoping that I could still negotiate permission to watch the last part and hear the Beatles’ final selections. My father, even more irritated, refused. He turned the channel to Bonanza–an episode called The Cheating Game.

Yes, I felt cheated.

Even though I liked the Ponderosa, I did not want the Cartwrights on this night. I needed the Beatles.

Yet the next day, when I went to school, out of some sense of fierce loyalty, I explained to my friends, who were ablaze with excitement over the performance by Paul, John, Ringo and George, that these guys were freaks, queers, girls, Communists and immoral. (Honestly, I didn’t even know what most of the words meant.)

What happened next was chilling to my bone. Rather than arguing with me, my friends looked at me with a combination of horror and pity. They couldn’t even imagine how miserable I must be … Beatle-less.

So over the next few months I broke out of my shell, slipped over to my friend’s house and listened to the Beatles. This eventually led me to Herman’s Hermits, the Monkees, and even a little taste of the Animals and Jimi Hendrix. To that revolving play list I added the Oak Ridge Boys, Beethoven, Strauss and Sousa.

As the diversity of my musical taste increased, so did my openness and willingness to accept others and absorb new ideas.

Music saved my young soul from turning into a lame man, which certainly would not have been the gate to anything beautiful.

I never got to hear the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. But on the long and winding road … they rocked my world.

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A Nice Price for Mice … November 16, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2069)

dead miceIt was a rather odd dream–not really spooky, just bizarre.

I found myself in a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant, chomping on a chicken sandwich, chatting with friends, when a young tyke about seven years old came walking up to me. He had chubby cheeks and wore a winter hat, similar to the ones you would see in the 1950s on kids who were forced to don them by their parents. In his hand he was holding an old-fashioned bird cage, and as I peeked inside, I discovered it was filled with little dead white mice.

I was taken aback. Then the youngster pointed to a sign pinned to his coat. It read, “A nice price for mice.”

I realized the kid was trying to sell these deceased little rodents–peddling from table to table.

Before I could express my horror, he ambled over to another patron, where a lovely older lady purchased one of the mice from the determined seller. He made his way all around the restaurant, with each person buying one of the dead boogers and patting the young man on the head.

I observed that none of the customers knew what to do with their purchase. As I mentioned, this was not a spooky dream. No one ate one or put it between their sesame seed buns. One lady wrapped the dead mouse delicately in a napkin and placed it in her purse; another man stuffed it in his pocket.

Why was the little boy selling dead mice? And why were people purchasing them?

Suddenly I awoke.

So you see, my friends, I don’t like to ignore my dreams. It may actually be one of the few occasions when my harried soul is still enough for God and my conscience to speak to me. In the process of analyzing the dream, I realized it was a parable of our American culture.

If Madison Avenue is able to find the right “little boy” to send our way to appeal to us, we are more than willing, at a nice price, to buy mice.

We really don’t know what we’re going to do with them. We don’t particularly favor them. But we find it difficult to say no to the attractive offer–especially when those around us are purchasing.

So we end up stuck with something we may not even believe in, and certainly do not treasure, as we pretend that it is our choice. Here’s the truth: mice aren’t nice–at any price.

Especially dead ones.

So I will tell you–there are some mice which have entered our society, promoted by Madison Avenue and large corporations. I would like to point them out and call them nasty, instead of wrapping them up in a napkin and tucking them away.

Here are three that immediately come to my mind:

1. Killing.

I am against it. I don’t like war. I don’t agree with capital punishment. I don’t like abortion. I don’t particularly like it when a guy shoots a woman through a screen door. It’s a dirty little mouse being peddled to the public as realistic and entertaining.

2. Drug abuse.

I don’t understand why we need them. What I mean is, I don’t understand why we would want to take drugs for recreational purposes when we’re reluctant to use them for treatment. I think we should be in the business of becoming a drug-free society because we’re working on being happier people. I will not purchase that little wall-dweller and call it a pet.

3.  Pornography.

It isn’t cute. It isn’t pretty. It doesn’t create equality between the sexes. It is another form of slavery for women. It is notorious. It is a dead “stinky” being sold by pretty people who want to portray themselves as open-minded–unless you are talking about the rights and dignity of the female of our species.

There you go.

I realize we live in a society that wants to peddle a nice price for mice, but I will tell you, things like killing, drug abuse and pornography are dirty rats.

And they are not a deal for me … at any price.

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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

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