Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 33) Another Tank of Gas… December 11th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Nebraska suddenly seemed cold–frigid.

The meeting with Hector put a chill down Meningsbee’s spine, causing him to yearn for some warmth. He thought about sharing his dilemma with some folks he trusted in the congregation, but realized that there’s an assumption made in the human family–that even when a soul confesses, somehow or another he or she is withholding a portion of the story.

He felt trapped–squeezed into an ice box.

So he went to his house, grabbed a bunch of blankets, quickly packed a suitcase, stuck a variety of canned meats and beef jerky in his glove compartment, got into his car and headed out.

His choice for this particular retreat was south. He just wanted to drive until he could feel warm.

He journeyed for three days.

One night he stayed at a cheap motel in a town in Texas called Bullywok. Another night he used the blankets and slept in the back seat of his car at a rest area. And on a third evening, trying to pursue some personal discovery in his life, he checked into a YMCA to interact with other human beings and see what the experience might be like. (He found the Y rather pleasant except for being greatly unnerved by sharing a shower with other men.)

He drove and he drove until he landed somewhere in South Texas. The sun rose, and by ten o’clock in the morning, the air was warm enough for him to emerge from his car and walk around a local park in short sleeves.

He was so damn far away from Garsonville. But maybe he always had been. Maybe the idea of inserting himself into that small community was not only intrusive, but implausible.

Disheartened.

It’s when your heart stands on the outside of your body and makes fun of you for believing you could make a difference.

During his journey, the fifth episode of “Gar-SIN-ville” aired. He watched it in a diner outside of El Paso.

He was surprised at how those enjoying their “blue plate specials” basically ignored the program as he listened carefully for the revelation of his hidden sin.

It was never mentioned.

He felt deeply foolish to have run away from his home town and his congregation simply because a scary man said “boo.”

He called back to the church and asked one of the deacons to handle Sunday service as he settled into Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, at a small motel that offered everything in miniature. Tiny towels, tiny bed, tiny service.

He didn’t care.

He just laid down on the small, uncomfortable single bed and stared at the ceiling.

Who in the hell was he…and why was he running?

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Ask Jonathots… September 8th, 2016

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I had to do a short talk in speech class and wanted to chat about my church experience, but I felt I had to offer a disclaimer about Christianity: “I’m a Christian, but I don’t hate you.” I would love to stop having to do that. How?

Every single week, Americans go and spend money at Wal-Mart, even though it is pretty well known that their products are manufactured through cheap labor, often with the mistreatment of the employees. Should we stop shopping at Wal-Mart because the company has chosen practices that disregard the workers in other countries?

You can feel free to do so, but Wal-Mart is not going to be affected by your decision.

Or you can come to the conclusion that the only responsibility you have is to make sure that your life, your aspirations and your interactions with other human beings are free of intimidation and unfairness.

You’re not responsible for Wal-Mart.

You are responsible for you.

It’s very important that each believer in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth understand that the religious system that represents him is guilty of excess, greed, indifference and at times the subjugation of the poor. The system has drug its feet on issues of human rights and racial and gender equality.

Yet to stop attending a church, turning it over to the indifferent, is failing to capture an opportunity to quietly change the atmosphere.

If enough people show up at the religious system and refuse to merely act in ritual and repetition, then eventually, because the religious system likes to collect offerings, it will have to change in order to accommodate the new spirit.

For instance, I only buy groceries at Wal-Mart. Why? Because most of the products that come into the grocery department are not grown in sweat shops. It is a small consideration but still a difference.

And I don’t refuse to go to the church because it is filled with hypocrisy and vanity, but instead, I go to encourage my brothers and sisters and fellow-humans to be of good cheer, lighten their load and give a damn.

So I suppose if I were standing in front of your speech class, I would say:

“I’m a follower of Jesus. He thinks we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus was fine until the committee showed up–just like the United States was a great idea until politics corrupted it. But I neither give up on Jesus nor the United States just because those who scream the loudest are ignorant. I am a follower of Jesus. I don’t make a very good Christian, because I’m just not religious.”

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Two That Make One … January 20, 2014

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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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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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I “Loke” You … November 20, 2013

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I heart youOf course, it will never catch on.

Even though my made-up word, “loke,” is the perfect blending of like and love, and in so being, expresses the balance necessary for human relationships, we will keep the two words, like and love, as distant fourth cousins.

But after many years of travel, sharing, writing and counseling, I will tell you that like and love are the best way to build a life with another human being without feeling compelled or forced.

You may say to yourself, there are people you like and people you love, but if you analyze it, you might discover that the very best interactions you have with others are when these two words merge and become as one.

Let’s look at the word like. What does it mean?

  1. I have confidence in your abilities.
  2. I enjoy being with you.
  3. We have fun.

Now, no one would believe that those three elements are enough for building a marriage or lasting partnership. But they certainly make life more pleasant. After all, lacking confidence in another human being, failing to enjoy their presence and not having mutually satisfying experiences brings “duty” to the forefront and pushes “party” to the rear.

How about love?

  1. I have made a decision to commit to being with you.
  2. Because of that, I have forgiveness ready and at hand.
  3. You make me want to be loyal.

Love is a sealant to commitment. It creates confidence that even when things aren’t likable, they don’t have to end. It is God finding a way to forgive, even when the sin or iniquity may seem to be insurmountable.

So when I hear people say they love me, or that God loves me, I understand they’re saying they have decided to make a commitment, forgive me when necessary and be loyal. But honestly, what I want to hear is the word like included in that proclamation:  I want you to have confidence in my abilities, enjoy being with me and come to have fun.

The marriages that work are those that blend like and love to create my manufactured “loke.” The relationships that merely endure focus on the love and tend to give up on likability.

I would encourage you to learn how to “loke” people.

Because even though I’m glad that God loves me … I really want Him to like me.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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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