Catchy (Sitting 22) Meanwhile … November 12th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Soos got busy.

Having placed the shoddy-quality video she shot at the jail up on YouTube, she worked very hard with her understanding of the Internet, attempting to force traffic in its direction. She had some awareness of how to accomplish this, but it was still a rather hit-and-miss proposal. But seven hours later, there were 350,000 hits, and it was growing by 100,000 an hour. By the end of the day, the viewings were nearly two million.

Not only were people checking out the video, sharing it, reposting it and talking about it, but an organization called “The Defense of the Innocent” had decided to make the case their pet project for the week.

They started a crowd-funding campaign to get Jubal Carlos out of his bind, and within a day and a half, they had raised over a million dollars.

It became the subject of conversations on talk shows. People were discussing it at their jobs. It even crossed over the generation gap, with mothers and fathers finding something to converse about with their teenagers.

The Defense of the Innocent did not waste any time trying to get to the bottom of how a drummer for Las Vegas Casinos, who had a heart for the homeless, had ended up in the clink. Within three days they had tracked the conspiracy back to a Washington lobbyist, who then disappeared on a flight to South America. The organization continued its investigation, finding that the request for the arrest of Jubal Carlos had come from somewhere in Congress.

Calls flooded the Clark County jail. The sheriff was inundated with emails, letters and all sorts of communications, accusing him of persecuting a generous man.

But things really got poppin’ when the famous acts appearing in Las Vegas, who had enjoyed Jubal’s accompaniment on the skins, began to speak out, which generated even more press and stirred up a whirlwind of questions.

Pressured, frustrated and not certain why the whole thing had begun in the first place, the Clark County sheriff ordered Jubal released for time served.

However, Jubal had to negotiate to get Matthew out since it was a completely separate matter. But the sheriff was in no mood to make a stand, so after only six days, the new comrades, Matthew and Jubal, came strolling out of the Clark County Municipal Building–free.

They were immediately surrounded by reporters. A crowd of several hundred people had gathered on the steps to hear Jubal speak. There was only one question:

“Mr. Carlos, what do you plan to do about the false imprisonment that you’ve undergone?”

Jubal stood for about three seconds, and then responded, “Nothing.”

This brought a hurricane of inquiries hurled in his direction, all with the same theme:

“But you were mistreated…”

“Injustice was done…”

Jubal patted Matthew on the back and said, “This is my buddy, Matthew. He’s kind of like a tax collector.”

There was a smattering of laughter.

“I thought I’d take him down to the homeless section, see if I can get somebody to grab my congas, call up my band, ‘The Pebble Pushers,’ and have a celebration concert.”

“When will this happen?” one of the reporters asked.

Jubal shrugged and said, “How about three o’clock this afternoon? Everybody’s invited.”

As they walked away, Matthew furrowed his brow and whispered to Jubal, “What are you doing?”

Jubal laughed. “I don’t know, but it sure sounds like fun.”

Calls were made.

Soos was contacted to get ahold of The Pebble Pushers and rig up some sort of sound system.

Prophet Morgan, who had just come from the blackjack tables with his yearly bonanza of funds for the poor, started spreading the word all through the casinos.

Jo-Jay quickly found a courtesy suite at one of the famous hotels so Matthew and Jubal could clean up and get ready for the afternoon activities.

And a spot was found in a park near the homeless haven for the impromptu concert.

At three o’clock, Matthew and Jubal arrived to an amazing scene. There were thousands of people. There was a stage made up of old crates, boxes and palates–the perfect venue for Jubal Carlos and The Pebble Pushers. Sitting on top of the makeshift stage were Jubal’s famous double set of congas, waiting for a good beating.

Jubal took the stage, to the screams and applause of an appreciative audience, giddy on the elixir of defiance.

Jubal announced, “I know people always say this, but I truthfully, honestly, gloriously and faithfully want to thank each and every one of you for helping me gain my freedom. It is not my doing, but it is a work of God–because people came together. Do you understand what I mean? When people come together for something good, it is the presence of God. So let’s play some music, let’s dance, let’s celebrate and let’s see if they will take me in this time for actually disturbing the peace.”

The crowd cheered.

For the next hour-and-a-half, Jubal and the band played song after song, driving the audience into a state of frenzy.

All at once, in the midst of a particularly vibrant number, Jubal stopped and called Matthew to the back of the stage. Stepping aside from his drums as the band continued to play, he stepped down to speak to Matthew.

“Listen, here’s what I want you to do. How many McDonald’s do you think there are in this town?”

Matthew shook his head. “I don’t know. Fifty? A hundred?”

Jubal replied, “Good. These people are hungry. I want you to go to all those McDonald’s and buy up all the McDoubles and small fries that they have in stock and bring them out here.”

Matthew blanched, eyes widened, and said, “What??”

Jubal continued. “And while you’re at it, pick up thousands of bottles of water.”

Jubal headed back to the stage, and Matthew grabbed his arm. “How am I going to do this? I’ve only got fifty bucks on me.”

Jubal frowned. “Don’t you have millions in the bank for this promotion?”

Matthew nodded. “Yeah… but how does this fit into the promotion?”

Jubal laughed. “Well, I think we’re gonna get a lot of press if we pass out a McDouble and a small fry to everybody in this audience. What? About five or six thousand? If we give them bottles of water and we continue to rock the park, the press will stay as long as the music’s hot and the hamburgers are tasty.”

Matthew shook his head. “It’s a great idea. I just wish I had the people to do it.”

Jubal pointed to the crowd. “Grab some people from the audience. You’ll have plenty of helpers. And while you’re getting the burgers and fries together, I’ll continue the concert. And you can roll in with a bunch of vans filled with meat, cheese and potatoes.”

“This is crazy,” said Matthew.

Jubal paused.

And then, as if struck by a great notion from the heavens, replied, “No. It’s the beginning of our Good Cheer Revolution.

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Catchy (Sitting 12) A Collision of Colossal … August 27th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Susannah Lacey, known as “Soos” during her infamous days of cavorting around the campus with the “Leaven of Seven,” was waiting at the headquarters when Matthew arrived on Wednesday morning. She looked exactly the same, except age had etched a little worry and miles onto the terrain of her frame.

She gave a big smile as Matthew came into the door, raced up and gave him a hug. taking his breath away.

They had never been terribly close. It was an awkward situation. Matthew always suspected that Soos had a crush on him, and she believed it was the other way around. So not so certain that any crush existed, no romance ever came to fruition.

But Matthew had a great respect for Soos. She was a “reasoner.” When it seemed like all problems were surrounding the “Leaven of Seven,” threatening to destroy their idealism, she came through like Joan of Arc, rescuing their innocence. (Usually it consisted of buying a pizza or finding some marijuana, which made them all feel nasty-cool.)

She explained to Matthew that she had gotten his message and was heeding the call as if he were Commissioner Gordon turning on the Batman beam to summon the crusader. Matthew was not terribly familiar with the reference but giggled anyway.

While the greeting was still in full swing, in walked Prophet Morgan. He hadn’t left the offices since his arrival. Prophet was a pleasant enough sort, though he had the sniff of the brimstone which accompanied the fire of his faith. Matthew thought he seemed sneaky. Having heard his full story, Matthew thought it was a miracle that Prophet Morgan wasn’t in either an insane asylum or jail upstate.

At age five, his drunken father, who was an evangelist with a tent revival, decided to bring his little boy up onstage to pray for people, and lo and behold, the tiny Prophet Morgan laid his hands on a woman and spoke in an unknown language. The next morning she awoke completely healed.

No one took the time to wonder if she would have been healed anyway, or if she was really that sick in the first place. The word spread like a grease fire–a five-year-old prophet with the gift of healing, sent by God to the backwoods of Arkansas to transform His people.

In no time at all, huge crowds were showing up at the tent revival meetings and Prophet’s father was getting rich on the proceeds of his sprout.

About a year into the process, at age six, Prophet had a nervous breakdown. Matthew guessed that’s what you’d call it. The six-year-old started running around the room, only stopping to bang his head against the wall. He was placed in a mental institution, where he stayed until he was twelve.

Prophet explained that no one ever told him why he was there or how he would ever get out. One bright, sunny day, someone left the back door open to the asylum while spray-washing some chairs. The twelve-year-old detainee simply strolled out, started running, and never stopped.

That was the story thus far. Obviously there were many more tales to be told. But Prophet Morgan was a young man burdened by old demons.

He took an immediate liking to Soos, who found Prophet to be a bit bizarre in appearance but just ethereal enough to grease her wheels.

While the two of them were making friends, the phone rang. It was a call from Michael Hinston, from Washington, D. C. Matthew was surprised to discover that Michael had a change of heart and was now interested in the “make Jesus popular” project.

Matthew hung up the phone scratching his head, trying to figure out why, all of a sudden, all these elements were falling together. Well, if not together–at least colliding with one another.

Another phone call came in. It was Marcus Tomlinson, who had originally asked Matthew to consider the 250 million dollar project. He explained that he would be flying in the next day to talk about the future of the idea.

As Matthew hung up the phone, he felt there was a gloominess emanating from Tomlinson–coming with some bad news. Or maybe it was good news.

Maybe the burden of making the decision about this bizarre errand would be taken off Matthew’s shoulders.

He wasn’t sure.

Prophet Morgan stepped over and slapped him on the back, awakening him from his thoughts of deep escape.

“Quite a day, huh?” said the prophet.

“Yes. A lot going on,” Matthew answered, preoccupied.

Prophet looked off in the distance. “I remember an old Creole woman in Louisiana I once met, who said about this kind of day–the one we’re living in right now–she called it a ‘collision of the colossal.’ Lots of things happening, but no way to be sure if any of them smell of God.”

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Squeaky Wheel … September 21, 2012

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Complaining is when we take the precious time to stop off and write the “Book of Lamentations” when we know we should be finishing up the “Book of Acts.” It is the proverbial squeaky wheel which Benjamin Franklin insisted always gets the grease. But candidly, for every dollar’s worth of attention a complainer receives from the world around him, he spends two dollars in lost respect from others.

Human beings are often hypocritical, and one of our main hypocrisies is that we simultaneously despise complaining when it trips off the lips of others, but find it logical and necessary when its origin is in our mouths. Still, all in all, we actually judge the true depth of character in the human family by whether those around us are able to endure, or if they give in to sharing their opinions about their plight. Those who persevere are dubbed spiritual. Those who don’t are viewed as devilish.

The true problem with complaining is that it shuts down the learning process. It is quite impossible to be sharing misgivings and frustrations while still keeping an open mind about new possibilities. It’s just one of those things that makes us too predictable to be valuable.

My friend Caddie had a hard time learning this one. I met Caddie in jail. I was visiting and she was a temporary resident. She had acquired my number off of the wall next to the pay phone in the county jail, placed there by a young man I had assisted through some difficulty a month or so before, who obviously felt compelled to spread the good word about my generosity.

Caddie was a shop lifter. Within twenty seconds of meeting her, she explained that even though she’d had the twenty dollars in her wallet to pay for the scarf, make-up, hair brush and tooth polish, that she couldn’t purchase those items and still have enough money set aside for some groceries and bus fare. Her reasoning was flawless in her own mind. Even though she was surrounded by prison bars, she felt she was the victim of an unjust society which failed to understand that “Caddie needed to do what Caddie needed to do when Caddie needed to do it.”

I helped her get bailed out of jail and offered her a place to stay at my home, and for the next two weeks, as we awaited trial, I attempted to assist this young lady in finding some answers to what I believed were her burning questions.

As time passed, I realized that Caddie didn’t have any burning questions–just complaints. She started off leading me to believe she was asking for my counsel in some matter, but before she ever got to the end of the sentence to form a question mark, we took a detour–four or five details recounting how unfair the situation was in the first place.

She didn’t like the bed we gave her–it was too soft. She was allergic to almost everything we had to eat. She only drank Japanese tea, which I learned was quite different from Chinese tea, or the offerings of Mr. Lipton. She didn’t like television, only appreciated certain types of music on the radio (none of which we were able to provide, by the way) and for some reason, immediately tried to start a war with my young sons, who “returned in unkind” with their own nasty remarks. It didn’t take long for Caddie to set our entire household on edge. People began to root against her. I think one of my boys even hoped that when she walked across the floor she would slip and fall. Caddie seemed oblivious to the disapproval because she was already deeply embroiled in all sorts of disapproval of her own.

When the trial date finally came and we went to court, I found it difficult to be a character witness for her, even though that’s what she desperately needed. So this is what I said to the judge (maybe much to her chagrin):

Your honor, I am not related to this woman, but she has come my way and I have been doing my best to help her find a better path. I cannot tell you that she will never steal again, but I can tell you that she knows she shouldn’t. I also can enlighten you to the fact that Caddie’s main problem is not thievery, but complaining. But… for the past two weeks, she stayed in my home and learned that the squeaky wheel does NOT get the grease. What we do with squeaky wheels is … replace them.”

The judge chuckled and gave Caddie a very light sentence. She stuck around for a week or so more after that, and then took off. About five years later I received a phone call from Indianapolis, Indiana. It was Caddie. She told me she’d had a devil of a time tracking me down, because I had moved and was the traveling sort. She wanted me to know that she had landed somewhere and realized what a pain in all areas of the body she was, had gotten married and started a new life.

With a bit of boldness I stepped up to the plate and asked the most important question. “Have you stopped complaining?”

She laughed. “How do you think I got a husband?”

I laughed, too.

I will tell all ministers, politicians, school teachers and parents this very valuable point. Continuing to leap to your feet to respond to the complaints of a malcontent is to do nothing but build up a thunder cloud of stormy weather in your own soul which will eventually dump rain on them at the wrong moment. Instead:

Don’t give grease to the squeaky wheel. Change the tire.

Ask other human beings to do what you, yourself, have to do to continue to be a learner instead of just a burner of time.

Stop complaining.

And the best way to stop complaining is to understand that difficulty is pre-packaged in life to keep the human race moving forward and discovering instead of just settling into dangerous repetition, boredom and stagnancy.

So the next time you run across something you really don’t like, take an extra moment and find out why it’s really there instead of trying to spit it away with your complaints. Then maybe, like Caddie, you can escape the selfishness that steals time from others and yourself, and instead, find new life.

Maybe … in Indianapolis.

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