Cracked 5 … March 6th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Things A Cowboy Really Wants

A. A soothing powder for chafing

 

B. A way to remember not to scratch his leg when wearing spurs

 

C. Indians that don’t insist on being called “Native Americans”

 

D. A quicker way to navigate a hoop skirt

 

E. To be a cowman

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … July 2nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Woman: Premise: Six couples on a ship, cruising through the Caribbean, participating in a couple’s retreat…

 

Dear Man: What are you talking about?

 

Dear Woman: Just be patient. Follow the premise. Do you see the six couples?

 

Dear Man: Are they squabbling?

 

Dear Woman: Each one on the verge of divorce. So they have all decided to take this last step in an attempt to save their marriages, even though all six are pretty well convinced it’s over.

 

Dear Man: So why are they on the cruise?

 

Dear Woman: Propriety. Maybe it just sounds fun to go on a cruise. Who knows? But they’ve agreed to do the therapy for three days, mingled with daiquiris and fresh crab.

 

Dear Man: OK. I can see it. So what’s the point?

 

Dear Woman: In the midst of the journey, the ship, although a pretty large yacht, is struck by a tsunami.

 

Dear Man: Wait. There are no tsunamis in the Caribbean.

 

Dear Woman: Work with me here. Let’s say there are. It’s huge. The tsunami, I mean. It destroys the ship and all the crew and counselors are lost except for these six couples, who wash on the shore of a desert island.

 

Dear Man: Is one of them named Gilligan?

 

Dear Woman: No. There’s no Professor or Mary Ann, either. Just six couples who went on a trip in an attempt to save their marriages–kind of.

 

Dear Man: You got my interest. So what happens next?

 

Dear Woman: That’s the point. Suddenly six couples who were fighting and arguing discover that they are marooned and in need of cooperation.

 

Dear Man: Don’t you think they would just keep fighting?

 

Dear Woman: Not if they want to survive. You see, I think that’s what keeps the gender wars alive in America–the luxury of laziness. Because we have so much time on our hands, and we’re not trying to raise crops and fight off Indians, and keep the drought from destroying the cattle, we have all this extra energy that we spend finding reasons to dislike each other.

 

Dear Man: That’s a little weird.

 

Dear Woman: Maybe. But think about it. If six quarreling couples suddenly found themselves trapped on a desert island, needing to interact to live, would there even be any discussion about who’s spending too much time at work or who needs more space?

 

Dear Man: Of course not. They wouldn’t even talk about man and woman issues at all.

 

Dear Woman: Here’s where it gets exciting. I think four things would immediately come to play. First, what do we really need? Not “what do we want?” or “what can we complain about?” What do we really need to make it through this day and maybe tomorrow?

 

Dear Man: I get it. Can I do a second one? I would want to know what you can do. After all, we have suddenly gone from being six couples to twelve people. So what can you do?

 

Dear Woman: And you would want to know about yourself–“what can I do?” Which leads to the fourth point: “What can we do together?”

 

Dear Man: So you’re saying, as men and women, we are much better off when we’re in survival mode instead of arguing about Netflix and PTA meetings.

 

Dear Woman: Absolutely. If our lives revolved around “what do we really need, what can you do, what can I do and what can we do together?”–we would embrace compliance.

 

Dear Man: Because on a desert island there is neither male or female. You are either a contributor or you are a drain on resources.

 

Dear Woman: Well said. So what happens if we simulate this in our everyday lives and look at each other as contributors instead of competitors?

 

Dear Man: That could be truly amazing.

 

Dear Woman: And amazing is exactly what we need to survive.

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symPATHy … June 2, 2012

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Manifest destiny.

It was a contention by the Democratic Party in the mid-nineteenth century that the entire continent of North America was not only available but the God-given right of the American people to possess for their own. It turned our nation into a bunch of settlers. The word “settlers” is very interesting, don’t you think? It unveils two meanings: to settle in and also to settle for.  It is the third part of the cultural DNA that permeates the history of our country.

(Please understand that as I share these, I do not do so to be critical of our nation’s heritage. Recognizing the lineage of our existence and the way things came about, is by no means a condemnation of who we are, but rather, a challenge for us to consider in determining where we want to go.)

There was one main problem with “manifest destiny.” We landed on the shore of a world that already had inhabitants. They are called “Native Americans,” or by many people, just “Indians.” They were organized into tribes, and being human, they were having conflicts with each other.  In fact, they had established some territories, boundaries and areas which they considered to be their possession and home.

We disagreed. The history of the relationship between the arriving immigrants from Europe and the Native Americans is tainted with many atrocities and many sad tales. Some would say it’s a blight on the conscience of our country. But I think a blight only exists if we fail to recognize the lessons we have learned and apply them into our next situation.

Here’s what settlers never do: they never have sympathy for the world around them. The definition of sympathy is “sharing the feelings or interests of another.” Is it possible that we could have found a way to settle this country without stealing land, creating enemies with the local inhabitants and generating a series of wars which cost the lives of many innocent folk? Of course it is, but it would have demanded that we have sympathy instead of believing we had a manifest destiny.

The only sure way to guarantee the God is NOT with you is to insist that God is ALWAYS with you.

On the other hand, the greatest piece of intelligence that any human being can have is to believe that the will of God is not contingent on our feelings or on our need, but rather, on the best for all of His children. It demands a mindset, a heart and a spirit of sympathy.

Jesus characterized this in his statement, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Yes–it is definitely a trade-off. Showing a lack of mercy guarantees you no mercy in your time of need. Showing mercy places a deposit of mercy for you in a bank, to withdraw at a later time, when you are overcome by your circumstances.

Instead, we settled, as settlers often do.  We Americans perched on land that was not our own while robbing other human beings of their feelings and concerns in favor of our pursuits.

It is in the cultural DNA of our nation. We are the children of the settlers. We have a tendency to want to settle in ourselves–to our homes, believing that our families are the most important units in the world, and acquiring jobs and lifestyles that may be less than what we desire. This causes us to be a little bit on edge, which makes us lack sympathy for others. And when we lack sympathy for others, honestly, they lack sympathy for us. It sets in motion a chain reaction of indifference, which aggravates us, makes us defensive and causes us to settle for less.

What could have been different in the foundation of our country that would have included the Native Americans as part of us, instead of going on a campaign to promote them as “savages” to the public? I am just a humble writer, but may I offer three suggestions that might have enabled us to avoid manifest destiny, and instead, could have established the third path to true spirituality and a world view in expressing our sympathy?

1. Make your intentions clear. One thing that infuriates people is when we try to disguise our true motives with lies. If you want the whole land, then go in negotiating for the whole land. Don’t steal it county-by-county, acting like there’s nothing you can do about it.

2. I would have insisted that the Native Americans organize their tribes so that I could speak to one voice instead of trying to negotiate with hundreds. This would have been good for them. This would have aided them in stopping some of the squabbling that had gone on  amongst them for generations.

3. I would have gotten an accurate count, a census, of how many Native Americans there were and determined how they could have been included in the mix of the American dream. The greatest enemy of negotiation is a lack of information. If you do not know your adversary, you are destined to create an offense that will lead to war.

Is it possible to have established the United States of America and still have given sympathy to the Native Americans who inhabited the land before our arrival? Of course–but it would have demanded that we reject two little tin gods that settlers always revere. And those two false deities are arrogance and ignorance. We would have needed to stop believing that white people were supreme and have learned the value of our Native American brothers and sisters.

As in the case of slavery, even though the wars have ended, the conflict between the white man and the Indian still exist. It is an unhealed wound. So if we’re going to go onto the path of true spirituality, giving us the necessary world view to be inhabitants of earth instead of infestations, we must use sympathy. We must have a capacity for understanding the feelings and concerns of others. We must be merciful so we can obtain mercy.

Without this, we become settlers. We settle into a place where we can settle for the next piece of foolishness that floats our way.

Sympathy–it is more than expressing a sentiment, but rather, a decision to foster and promote legitimate concern for the needs of others.

So we have three steps to the path so far: apathy, empathy and sympathy. These are universal, spiritual, holy altars needed in the human being to avoid being Puritans, participating in slavery and becoming settlers. Where will it take us? What do we really acquire as a gift when we finally allow ourselves to have correct apathy, excellent empathy and the sanity of sympathy?

I’ll join you tomorrow and we’ll close this off.

 

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Sit Ups or Set Backs… January 18, 2012

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In Philadelphia

 
I woke up a 2:00 A.M.  I went to the bathroom and the jaunt stirred me enough that I decided to turn on the television to unwind a bit. I landed on PBS–a special biography about George Armstrong Custer. I’m kind of a sucker for those types of shows. I’m always curious when we have the advantage of looking back on somebody’s life who has already passed on, and reviewing the twists and turns and what caused them to select the particular path that brought their name and journey to the forefront.
 
I was greatly impressed, as I viewed the show, that George just didn’t seem to have any capability of knowing the functions of a sit-up and a set-back. It really got me musing over whether MOST of us have an inclination to comprehend our experiences as either opportunities to learn something or as chances to cease and desist for a season from a particular practice or idea.
 
George was a soldier. He was a soldier in the sense that he liked to go into battle and kill people. He was not a soldier because he could tolerate hanging around the fort, polishing his boots, filling out paperwork or evaluating the technique on particular marching styles. Actually, he may have been one of our first reality stars. His natural abilities might have not taken him any further than Monroe, Michigan, or a brief stint in the army–but because there were wars everywhere and people to kill, he learned to do so by remaining impetuous, a bit arrogant and certainly bull-headed.
 
For all of us must understand, even in the midst of a successful adventure, there are little warnings that come along to tell us that some of our selections should be reviewed and changed. It’s one of the problems I have with the doctrine of self-esteem. If I always have to think of myself as “excellent,” or even “good,” when do I ever stop and reason, “Could this be better?” If I am always supposed to maintain a staunch appearance of “all is well,” what happens when the factors around me begin to suggest that maybe something needs a bit of revision?
 
This is why I love spirituality. Spirituality invites a friend, called “Spirit,” to come into our lives to remind us of three important things:
 
1. We are mortal.
2. We make mistakes.
3. Mistakes can be corrected.
 
I just feel, sometimes, that if you’re not tapping that spirit which emotionally prods you to seek out new horizons, you’ll be stuck looking at the same old sunset every day. That was George. Many mornings came into his life. He was court-martialed for disobeying orders and taken out of the army for a whole year without pay. He left behind a part of his troop at one of his battles, causing them to be slaughtered by Indians. He was constantly under attack by those around him for his belligerent attitude and conceited mannerisms. He actually went to live among the Indians for a season and enjoyed the lifestyle so much that he adapted large portions of their thinking–wore buckskin and hunted buffalo–but still ended up despising them as individuals.
 
So you see, several times life came along and gave him a sit-up–gentle nudges by circumstance to inform him that repentance was necessary for him to continue to be successful and valuable at the rate he desired. I call it a sit up. “Sit up and take notice.”
 
And if you tune your spirit to hear the sit-ups in life, you can avoid an awful lot of set-backs. Because those who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the need for revision and do not respond well to the sit-ups get a second warning–called a set-back. That is when your mistake is so obvious that other people begin to point it out to you. Then you will have to spend your time in the corner, like a scolded child.
 
But God is so good that even in the midst of set-backs we can once again find ourselves, do some reconstruction and start over. Not so with George. There were plenty of sit-ups, telling him that he was too self-involved. Ignoring them, he was then introduced to a series of set-backs, which very well could have been the basis for some character growth and discovery, but instead, he maintained his self-esteem, which “steamed” him towards his failure at the Little Big Horn, where for some reason he thought two hundred of his soldiers could fight off two thousand very angry Indians.
 
As I watched the program, I found myself becoming melancholy. I wondered if I was having empathy for George Armstrong Custer, or whether the impact of his stupidity was rattling my own soul to acknowledge the sit-ups that are coming my way, and to take the set-backs I’ve encountered and use them more wisely.
 
For instance, my traveling partner, Janet Clazzy, had to go to the post office yesterday, and discovered that the closest one was located in a perfume store.  (Yes, a perfume store.)  She walked in. It was crowded. But rather than complaining about the situation or finding it bizarre, she took the opportunity to buy some perfume for herself–because she suddenly realized that she was nearly out, and in just a few short days would require the stuff. So rather than complaining about buying stamps in a perfume store, she took a moment to discover how it might just be the love of God prompting her to take care of something she already needed.
 
I know that buying perfume in a store is not the equivalent to dodging arrows from the Sioux, but my insight here is this: if we tune up our ears spiritually, we can tune down our difficulty in the world.
 
If Custer had noticed his sit-ups–those warnings that come along, telling us to “sit up and become aware of our inadequacies”–or even responded positively to his set-backs–those times when people around us punish us for our obtuse behavior–he certainly could have avoided being dead in the black hills.
 
Can I learn from this? Can I take a moment to be aware of when my personality isn’t jiving with the present flow, and sit up and do a little bit of new mechanics on myself? Or will I wait until other people intervene and I’m set back–and from my position in the paltry, I am able to reconnoiter a better way?
 
I guess the message is, if you find yourself buying stamps at a perfume store, take a moment and wonder if you need perfume. To do that, you have to stop complaining about being in a perfume store buying stamps–because God can’t give you what you want if you insist on doing everything the way you are.
 
After all, if you could get it with your present plan, wouldn’t you already have it?
 
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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

The Power of Poor … November 24, 2011

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In Washington, D.C.

Here’s a fact. Chief Running Deer and Pilgrim John Alden are never going to share a turkey together unless they first have partaken of a common poverty.

If the Pilgrims had been highly successful in the New World, they would never even have considered turning to their perceived savage neighbors–the American Indians–for assistance. The difference between red skin and white skin was made null and void by the fear in each one of them of just becoming dead skins.

The Pilgrims were starving. Sickness had set in. The harvest was not plentiful. They had not found the New World to be the vista of possibilities or the land of milk and honey, but rather, a kingdom of mean and hurt. The Native Americans had survived the weather and learned the ways of the soil, and though they themselves were still very impoverished, these industrious people had found a way to survive the climate and still have enough to share with paler brothers. Without poverty, there is no Thanksgiving.

I sometimes become amused when I hear politicians in our country dream of a day when all Americans are rich–or at least securely tucked away in the middle class.  Here’s a clue, my friend.  Rich people don’t develop a sudden tendency towards generosity.  That’s why, when a rich person actually does give a gift, it makes headlines. Wealthy folks are even MORE concerned about maintaining the inventory of their supply house than those who are pulling roots out of the ground and plucking berries off of bushes.

Of course, the introduction of the middle class into any society is the intrusion of a mindset that has everything budgeted down to the tinest farthing, so as to maintain the blessing of perceived security. No, I will tell you on this Thanksgiving Day that there would never have been a Thanksgiving without the power of poor. It is amazing how racial barriers, ethnic fussiness and religious bigotry disappear when there is only one slice of bread and two people to share it. At that point, there is a choice: are you going to kill your neighbor to procure the whole slice, or find a way to be grateful as you munch your half?

The weakness of capitalism is the notion that people will not be happy until they’re financially secure. If we really believe that no one can find contentment without remuneration, we limit the scope of the human heart to share, the human soul to generate ideas, the human mind to make plans and the human body to endure a bit of discomfort in order to achieve sustenance.

Can we really be thankful if there were no chance that we actually were in peril of being without? I just don’t think so. In my lifetime I have had much and I’ve had little, and I will candidly tell you that the times I had little I was more innovative, generous and forthcoming than I ever was when my coffers were full. I tried to be the open soul when I possessed greater wealth, but nothing compares to the power of poor.

As Pilgrim John Alden stood outside his cabin and saw Chief Running Deer walking up the path, his first puritanical instinct was probably to grab his musket and destroy the enemy. And then he noticed that the Chief was carrying corn, had a wild turkey thrown over his back and some sort of flask containing what he hoped was good drink. The instinct to kill was replaced by the desire to survive.

So as you sit down at your Thanksgiving meal today, give yourself a great gift. Envision a climate where you really would be in need–and what would be your choice and direction in handling that lacking? Then look at your table of plenty and realize how magnificently blessed you are–and unworthy of such consideration. For me, I remember one particular Thanksgiving when turkey was served only as hot dogs and desserts were certainly absent altogether, but what we had was a great sense of humor and a hope for a better future. Perhaps a bit of tenderness will enter your heart and you will realize how close we all come, from time to time, to being abandoned.

Racial barriers were eliminated at the first Thanksgiving … because hungering and thirsting drew all the parties closer to true righteousness.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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