Jesonian: Judgeless… May 24th, 2015

   Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesus and mary magdalene

At an early age, I awoke from a theological nightmare, quickly realizing that Christianity was not about relating to a composite of Moses, David, Abraham, Joseph, Jesus and the Apostle Paul, but rather, an intriguing study of the personality and character of a Nazarene carpenter, who became a philosophical, healing Redeemer.

I dubbed this pursuit Jesonian.

One of my earliest revelations in this quest was that Jesus did not judge.

This was not an assessment on my part or a consensus of his actions. He said it.

“I do not judge. If I did judge, it would be righteous and fair, but I do not judge.”

To confirm this, he dealt with Herod the Great, who as the story goes, was guilty of killing babies. Infanticide. Yes, it is said that Herod slaughtered all the children two years and under in Bethlehem. Jesus never mentions it.

Jesus also coexisted with the Romans, who arguably might be considered the most hedonistic and cruel dictators of all time. His response concerning them was, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

He was criticized for befriending tax collectors, who were traitors to their Jewish brothers and also thieves, levying extra penalties without legal right. He welcomed them as disciples.

He constantly had to dodge the attacks of the Pharisees, who had turned spirituality into an exercise for profit and gain. He told his disciples to “honor their position, just don’t follow their doctrine.”

And of course, his response to sexual immorality was to rescue a woman who was caught in adultery and was about to be stoned by the tenets of Mosaic Law. He snatches her from death, forgives her and gives her the opportunity to “go and sin no more.”

He further enraged the pious prudes around him by saying that the prostitutes would enter the kingdom of God before the religious leaders.

So surrounded by baby killers, hedonists, injustice, cheats, liars and sexual immorality, Jesus decided not to judge.

Stop and think about that.

You see, it’s not that I don’t have opinions.

It’s not that prejudices don’t scream inside me for justification.

It’s the fact that my example–Jesus–felt no need to judge the world nor condemn it, but instead, quietly offered a lifestyle alternative which he died to validate.

 

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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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Jesonian: Belly-Aching … May 4, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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belly acheHe said, “Everybody understands the problems. There’s no need to keep talking about them. We should stop belly-aching.”

He is a minister of the Gospel.

Over the years he has convinced himself that he prefers the “more positive” teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and wishes to focus on them in order to build a congregation of believers who think good thoughts and don’t generate any negative energy toward the world around them.

Here’s the problem: injustice will never leave as long as it’s making a profit. So it’s up to the prophets to chase injustice away through pointing out its hypocrisy and deceit.

Even though Jesus is portrayed by many churches as a combination of Gandhi and a hippie attending Woodstock, the young Nazarene actually has quite an edge.

Especially as he reached the end of his Earth journey, he began to spout off profusely against the excesses of religion, the selfishness of systems and the indifference of leadership.

There are three chapters in a row–Matthew 23, 24 and 25–where he exhibits his own form of belly-aching. Because you see, belly-aching occurs when you consume something that doesn’t agree with you, and is only relieved when you dispel the thing with which you do not agree.

Understanding that most of you may not want to read the three chapters, if you will allow me, I’ll summarize:

In Matthew 23, Jesus viciously attacks the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers who used their position to extort wealth while doing nothing to relieve the burdens of the people around them. He claims that they cared more for their traditions than they did for the human beings placed in their charge.

So because of their iniquity, in Matthew 24 he informs them that the Romans would come and dismantle their entire hierarchy and destroy their city.

To further reiterate the necessity for repentance, he tells a series of parables in Matthew 25 about a Judgement Day in which God, our Father and Creator, will expect us to deliver evidence of our faith and victory during our human escapade.

The three chapters are full of complaint, warnings, admonitions and some downright insults.

We forgive this belly-aching because the prophesy came true and we understand that the message Jesus preached survives today. To determine whether we are just purveyors of doom and gloom or messengers of hope, we have to keep three things in mind:

1. Never do anything to hurt people, but also do not permit anything to happen that is hurting people.

2. Never offer a warning without giving an olive branch of hope. Nothing is over until God says it is.

3. Always note progress–even if it’s a little–and appreciate it when you see movement toward sanity.

So am I a belly-acher?

If I run across ideas which historically have been proven to be foolish, and I see injustice which is cheating people out of the value of their human lives, or if I come across greed which is suffocating the life out of the needy, I will speak out, using every bit of cleverness, comedy and even cunning that I can muster.

Because without doing this, we become part of a third clump … the ones who stood by and watched the oppressor oppress the helpless.

 

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Populie: America Is Exceptional … April 9, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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American flag colorsTricky business.

How can you maintain a conviction without attacking or denigrating others if they disagree?

It is a huge problem, personified, I believe, in the popular belief that “America’s great,” intermingled with the lie, “we are better than others.”

It generates the populie, “America is exceptional.”

And by the way–good luck objecting to that in a room full of people.

  • For after all, politics loves it because the cheers come easily.
  • Religion observes it to welcome a patriotic element in the congregation, willing to attend.
  • Entertainment is always aware that butts in seats are more easily placed if asses are kissed.

But what is the truth? Let’s look at it using the element of common sense. Exceptional is a status. Case in point: if someone said you were an exceptional parent, you would suddenly feel the responsibility of the title, and need to continue your status through effort, fully aware that greater scrutiny will certainly be coming your way.

So therefore if we declare our nation to be exceptional, the proclamation comes with responsibilities. We must:

1. Lead the world in freedom and human rights.

2. Challenge mediocrity and reward the pursuit of excellence.

3. Reject self-satisfaction in favor of true self-awareness.

4. Follow through on all men and women being created equal.

5. Constantly be on the cutting edge of science and technology.

6. Speak out against injustice.

7. Take care of our own people and teach them to have a heart for others.

8. Lead by example.

Which leads me to an interesting conclusion–if we did the eight things listed above, there would be no need to claim the title of exceptional.

For after all, the world would know us by our fruits.

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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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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

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Finding a Message in a World aTwitter: Act III – Resolution… December 13, 2012

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Jon Signing

I started my hunt.

I was looking for fellow-people who shared my message–and also for the possibility of some sort of divine order in the universe sympathetic to my cause.

  • I spent a few minutes with Buddha. He offered me Nirvana, a state of nothingness, when I was yearning for abundant life.
  • Moses had commandments, but was unclear about the payoff. He also insisted on being referred to as a “Chosen People.”
  • Mohammed had too much of his father, Abraham, in him. What I mean is, he was more interested in building a great nation to encompass the world with his message than he was in making kinder people.
  • Hindi had too many gods. Honestly, sometimes one is enough, if not too much.
  • Philosophy seemed to focus on one point in a spectrum of potential–I guess, more or less to sell a book or create temporary controversy.

And then an amazing thing happened. I found a brook within a stream of humanity that seemed to grasp the concept that “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

“All men are created equal.”

“With malice toward none and charity toward all…”

“People  should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

Jefferson, Lincolnand King–a plantation owner, a lawyer and a preacher. All three came to the same conclusion as mine. I was onto something. They shared only one thing in common–they had come to America to escape injustice. So this is why I am proud to be an American. At least in our field of activity, the seed of commonality has been sown, even though we permit weeds to prosper. I have brothers and I have sisters. My message has forefathers, contemporaries and even the promise of a future generation of proclaimers.

So then I searched for a God. Why, you may ask? Why not just relish the message? Because on dark nights, when our mission is being battered by critics, we need the fellowship of other human beings and the confirmation that somewhere in the heavens we are being supported.

I found Jesus. Although he is hampered by much religious fussiness and tied to too many failing causes, at the heart of his message is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Pretty close, huh? Almost “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

He also said that God is our Father. If that is true, it usually means that a father doesn’t have favorite children. Jesus gave me a God who doesn’t think that some of His seed is better than others. There you go.

So even though I would not call myself a conventional Christian, I am a follower of Jesus and a believer in my Father who art in heaven. When people try to get religious with me, I go back to my message. When people deny my message, I go to another village.

I will end my life that way–because I know if some people are better than other people, then most certainly, beyond a doubt, there is no God.

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