Catchy (Sitting Four) Ideas Are a Dime a Dozen… July 2nd, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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The day arrived for the meeting of the minds. Landy rented a small conference room and catered in some delicacies and drinks. The three partners sat at the head of a table like a trio of judges at a Miss America contest.

The Shelley Corporation was the first to present. They had been given the job of producing three slogans. The first was a poster–a man dressed in a plaid leisure suit with his hair slicked back. The caption read, “But Jesus—He will never go out of style.” There was a grunt or two and a threat of applause.

The second poster was a close-up of a Jesus look-alike. The caption read, “Here’s lookin’ at you, baby.” Too commercial and might raise some objections from Hart’s estate (and perhaps from relatives of Humphrey Bogart).

The third one was a cartoon of Jesus playing soccer, kicking in the ball for a score. The caption, in large red letters, read, “Goal? He loves you.”

The partners liked this one least of all, finding it a bit confusing and reiterating to one another that soccer would never be an American sport, anyway.

Next on the chopping blocks came the “You Want to Know Survey Company,” with the results of a questionnaire that had been given to over fifteen thousand registrants. The ten questions were as follows:

  1. Would you enjoy eating dinner with Jesus?

The choices were:

  • very much
  • might be fun
  • never thought of it
  • might give me the creeps

Fifteen percent of the people said they would enjoy dining with Jesus. Fifteen percent said it might be fun. Sixty percent said they had never thought of it and ten percent said it kind of gave them the creeps.

  1. Do you think that Jesus is popular today?

Four percent said “Very popular.” Eight percent said, “Somewhat popular.” Eighty-eight percent said, “Don’t know” or “Don’t care.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular without his beard?

One percent said, “Maybe.” Ninety-nine percent said, “No.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular if he weren’t so religious?

Fifty percent said “yes.” Fifty percent said, “Don’t know.”

Randall stifled a yawn. There were six questions to go and he was already bored. If they couldn’t come up with an interesting survey, how could they ever come up with a campaign to promote Jesus to the marketplace?

The questions droned on as Randall began to think about his own experience. He was raised in a church environment, learning about the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and Jesus all in the same week. At four years of age, all three seemed equally plausible. By age ten the tooth fairy had fluttered away. At twelve, Santa Claus was “sleighed,” and at sixteen—well, at sixteen, girls came into the picture and Jesus got in the way.

So the crucifix was tucked under the t-shirt, the Bible inserted in the closet with the Scrabble game and the Ouija board, and he was off on the pursuit of hormonal surges, drinking binges and mandatory orgasms. After exhausting all known religions, he formed his own—a delicate blending of humanism, hedonism and Methodism.

Meanwhile back at the meeting, the survey was completed, rendering no results. The only thing remaining was the panel of theologians– four in all. There was one Catholic, one Protestant, one evangelical Christian, and, for some reason, a Jewish rabbi (who was possibly selected to avoid any hint of anti-Semitism).

The Catholic priest spoke first. “If by popular you mean the Savior of the world in conjunction with his mother, Mary, and the intervention of the Saints, then Jesus is already truly the most outstanding figure in all of history.”

The partners nodded an exhausted assent.

The Protestant spoke next. “I think we have to do something to make Jesus groovy to the young people. You know how they came up with ‘Rock the Vote?’ How about ‘Vote for the Rock’?”

This time there was no way Matthew, Randall and Landy could hide their disapproval. After all, he said “groovy.” Matthew, who had long ago lost the ability to disguise his disgust, groaned audibly.

The evangelical literally leaped into the moment. “I think you need to just let Jesus be Jesus, because He said if He be lifted up, all men would be drawn to Him.”

“He has been lifted up,” inserted Matthew. “And Arthur Harts, the billionaire, didn’t think all men were drawn to him.”

“All men who have a heart for God,” replied the evangelical.

Matthew winced. He hated religions jargon. He called it “the God-out.” When in doubt, religious people would always bring God into every situation, so you could never argue with them without seeming that you were trying to disprove the heavens.

Randall smiled and thanked the enthusiastic believer.

That left the Jewish rabbi. “Well, I don’t know why I’m here, exactly, because, you may have heard, we accept Jesus as a great teacher, but we contend the problem is, he’s really not the son of God. I mean, if I were promoting him to Jerusalem, I would just put up his picture with a caption that read, Hometown Boy Is Acquitted.

This brought some laughter throughout the room, but Matthew sprang up to terminate the meeting.

Even though it was a minor disaster, both Landy and Randall still wanted to pursue the project.

Greed. No other explanation.

They had pledged long ago that when two of the three partners were in accord on anything, they would do it. But it looked bleak. The slogans had been drab, the survey droll, and the theologians a drone.

Matthew had one idea. One wild and crazy notion. He got on his computer and looked up six names.

Michael Hinston, whom he knew as Mikey.

Joanna Lawrence, Jo-Jay.

Susannah Lacey, Soos.

Paul Padwick, who tolerated the nickname, Pee-pee.

Mary Rogers, who was now Mary Rogers-Kent, known by everyone as Mother.

And Lydia Lars, who loved Eric Clapton, and so was surnamed Layla.

Along with Matthew Ransley, whom everyone affectionately called, “God-guy,” they formed the Leaven of Seven.

They were his best chance at making some sense of this queer mission.

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Jesonian: First Human, Then …… February 8, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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human race big

The story is told of a man who set out on a quest to find God.

He began his odyssey by praying, “Almighty One, I am on a search to discover and commune with You.”

He returned ten months later, bitter and in despair.

He proclaimed, “There is no God. I searched everywhere. I opened my heart to His message. And all I found was an endless parade … of people.

Exactly.

First human, then God.

There are many churches, religions and spiritual organizations which fail to achieve any fire with their smoke because they believe they are supposed to be “studying God.”

The Jesonian lets us know that everything is contingent on how we treat people.

After all, we get mercy by giving mercy.

We’re forgiven because we forgive.

If our brother has something against us, we’re supposed to work that out and be reconciled before coming to God for communion.

And how about the fact that we are not supposed to judge other people, because for some amazing reason, God evaluates us with the same intensity?

Likewise, a very angry Jesus told two of his disciples that they were completely out of whack because they wanted to kill off the Samaritans to prove a spiritual point and therefore, please God.

Why did Jesus tell us that what we do to the “least of these, our brethren” is how God considers that we treat Him?

And when the pious religious man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told a story about a bruised human in conflict, who is befriended by a true believer who puts effort–and cash–toward his hope.

And lest we forget, the writer of the epistle makes it quite clear that “it is impossible to love God, whom we cannot see, if we don’t love our brother, who we can see.”

So as we seem to have a Christian movement which is split between devotion to God or ignoring the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit by adapting to only humanistic pursuits, we are weakened, and dare I say, ignorant.

Jesus made no distinction between humanism and faith in God. He claimed they were interspersed, interactive and intertwined.

All that is important for us to remember is the order:

First human…then God.

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Unto Us … December 1, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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babies newbornSome people just don’t get it.

They seem to be completely adverse to the notion of a “baby God,” born in a stable, to bring peace to the world.

Maybe it sounds too much like a “hippie philosophy,” or reeks of humanism. I don’t know. But this is what I’m sure of–or at least, convinced of in my own mind: God didn’t cheat.

When He decided that a more human approach was necessary to convey His love and message, He put Himself through the entire process, beginning with birthing, circumcision and diaper rash.

The story of Jesus is not a supernatural one. It is a naturally superone.

It isn’t God stuffed inside the skin of a human being, but rather, a human being who allowed God to come in.

On this Advent Sunday, which welcomes in the Christmas season, some individuals will remind you that the most important thing about the Christ is his death, to bring us salvation for our sins. They are so anxious to nail Jesus that they’re willing to tear apart the bassinet in order to build the cross.

But as the prophet said, “Unto us a child is born.”

Yes. It’s for us.

Jesus was a little brother who took the hard knocks of human life without exception, to become our older brother. But it all began with Mama’s milk, burping, and a helluva lot of crying.

I love Christmas because it reminds us that God didn’t take any shortcuts in finding a path to become one of us–even choosing to be conceived, born and becoming a child needing to grow in wisdom, stature and in favor with everyone.

So Merry Christmas. And in this season, stop looking for the supernatural and find magnificent ways … to make the natural more super.

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Stay on the Boat… March 13, 2012

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Jack and Rose–the two protagonists from the movie, Titanic. They find themselves in a bewildering dilemma–in the midst of a rising romance on a sinking ship. Running from deck to deck to escape ever-increasing calamaties, Jack stops momentarily and turns to a breathless Rose and says, “We need to stay on the boat as long as we can.”

It is a great line, filled with emotion and enormous sensibility. For after all, there is no escape for the two of them in the cold water. Rescue boats have not arrived, offering a “plank” of possibility for salvation, and understanding human nature, those who are already afloat in tenuous safety in the lifeboats were most certainly not going to be generously inclined to “scoot over.”

Stay on the boat.

It struck me last night when I heard somebody mention the name Kurt Cobain. It followed Whitney Houston being referred to several times. One newsman even made a reference to Tim Russert. All three are dead. All three achieved  notoriety, but now only exist as memories for their families and an occasional hint of appreciation by those who view their work or have benefitted from their craft.

It made me think about my friend, Rick. He passed away nearly five years ago. When he was alive he was a cranky sort, but had a few moments of endearing humor that made him passable. But now–nobody ever mentions him. In an odd sense, it’s as if Rick never lived.

Even though people glamorize death as a doorway to eternal life or they trivialize the more spiritual implications, presenting human life as little more than a jungle journey, those who are wise put on their thinking caps, clean out their hearts and come to some very mature realizations. When we are gone, we’re gone. And it’s good we’re gone, so that those who are here can go on. What will remain of us is what we have created, expressed, the love we’ve shared and pictures and videos that hauntingly remind those who still maintain earth space that we were once present among them.

So my best advice is to stay on the boat as long as you can.The waters of death are cold. Rescue and salvation may be on its way but is still secured only in the beckoning of our faith. I am appalled at a religious system that places little significance on our human life and its value, in deference to a heavenly one, which as far as I know, is neither guaranteed nor have we ever had anyone come back to confirm.

On the other hand, those humanists–or even agnostics and atheists–who reason that we are just flesh and blood and do not survive our own earthly casing, usually end up with a sense of cynicism and futility that makes them cease to be of much use to those around them and causes them to begrudgingly see the journey through to an end.

It is not for me, my friend. I am not going to be so supernaturally charged that I fail to enjoy the electricity of my present earthly connection.  But I also am not going to be so short-sighted as to contend that this mere passing of my lifespan needs to end the recognition of my efforts and terminate me in an urn or a grave.

It’s really simple. (1) Live strong, humorously and ever-changing. (2) Write notes, messages and have yourself videotaped as often as possible–to leave behind a documentary of your passage. (3) Believe with all your heart that no one is better than anyone else. (4) Keep the memory of another person alive who did things worthy of consideration–and therefore establish a needed precedent.

Suck in a great moment of clarity. Life is not short; it is not long. It is just available.

And those who have the sensibility to stay on the boat and dodge the calamities will gain the most immortality … both here and in the hereafter.

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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.

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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.

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