Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4154)

Sitting Thirty-Five

Karin found it difficult to discover what to do with herself on the Wednesday before the rally. An uneasy sense of doom and gloom had settled in her soul and was gnawing at the corners of her mind.

She could not shake it.

She resorted to one of her favorite solutions. She purchased a pint of Mackie’s Cherries Fairies ice cream and ate it in one sitting. It had been known to soothe many an aching need. But on this day, even the delicious confection couldn’t aid her in dispelling the sensation that something very idiotic might happen on Thursday.

Karin was not given to depression, but optimism was certainly not one of her strong suits. Her faith in humanity had been shaken early and hard. She found it difficult to believe there were people who could muster either the mercy or the wisdom to bring about a happy ending to any tale, especially one involving two young men in the desert who were defying the structure of their rickety culture.

She actually considered praying for rain. But she always felt funny when she prayed—she could never figure out which parts of faith were childish dreams and what portions might be linked to some divine order. It was difficult for her to imagine why the God of the Universe would take time commiserating with bitching mortals.

But she decided to go ahead and pursue a prayer life one more time—just maybe for an earthquake to come along. A tiny one. Not to hurt anyone. Just strong enough to knock over some file cabinets at City Hall and overturn a few chairs in people’s homes. A convenient earthquake—something to distract the hysterical masses.

The prayer actually made her feel better. For about an hour she grew content with the notion that things might just work out. But for Karin, praying was like Chinese food. It got inside, but an hour later she was fretting all over again.

Scouring her brain for anything resembling an idea that might contribute to sanity, she decided to go and meet the families of the two boys. After all, she had heard Iz and Pal’s side of the story but had never given their fathers a chance to clarify their position or make their case.

Her mind was eased simply by pursuing the research which she so loved chasing down. Today it took her to the hall of records, where she discovered that Amir’s (Pal) mother had died three years earlier from breast cancer. Amir had only one brother, older—Talsan, who attended the university with aspirations of becoming a doctor.

A fascinating piece of information turned up when she perused data on Iz’s parents. There were two parents, but with separate addresses. Karin could find no evidence of a divorce decree or any other children.

It gave her a place to start. She set out into the city on a quest to uncover some truth. Yet a short two hours later, she returned to her apartment, deflated and even more perplexed. The plan, the visit and the result turned out to be a wasteland.

Amir’s father refused to see her, speaking through the door, “I am in prayer. I cannot view a woman at this time.”

Pada was not at home and Talsan was unavailable, attending class. The only person she was able to meet face-to-face was Shelah, Iz’s mother, who lived in a small apartment just down the street and around the corner from where Iz and his father dwelled.

Shelah explained to Karin that although there was no divorce, she and Iz’s father had separated over financial disagreements and contentious arguments concerning raising the boy. She didn’t even know that Jubal was gone. Pada hadn’t told her.

Karin did not know what to do with Shelah. She possessed that Middle Eastern woman surface submission, masking a dark cloud of rage. Karin invited the mother to the rally but Shelah declined, saying she feared a confrontation of great magnitude would occur if she made an appearance. At no time did Shelah ask about Jubal’s well-being. She did not inquire as to his status, his health or his heart.

Karin was desolate. No one really cared for these two boys, just as people. They were viewed as either burdens or bedlam—bothersome or brats. But certainly forsaken and forgotten.

She was exhausted. Sitting down on her bed, slipping off her sandals and swinging her legs around, she lay down flat on her back—but her mind was actively trying to save the world.

She closed her eyes, hoping for relief. Rest was needed—for it would be necessary for her to be alive, sharp and prepared for tomorrow’s foolishness.

 

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

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3356)

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… June 24th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“Go.”

But where?

Into all the world, Jesus said as he was about to ascend into Heaven.

Although most theologians like to focus on the Ascension based upon Jesus’ arrival to “sit at the right hand of God the Father,” I would like to discuss what we have called the “great commission”–to go into all the world.

Was it not actually the ludicrous commission? After all, Jesus had traveled with his twelve disciples for three-and-a-half years. He knew they were Jewish, bigoted, disrespectful of women, indifferent to children and completely bound to their home base. How could he possibly anticipate that these immovable religious boys could ever take a message anywhere?

There were three keys to the success of the early church:

  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Apostle Paul
  • The destruction of Jerusalem

If you remove any one of these elements, Christianity becomes a cult of Judaism, therefore suffering the fate of the Jews when the Romans destroyed their Temple.

Peter, Andrew and John had no intention of doing anything but hanging around Jerusalem and aggravating the Pharisees. (You may notice that I left out James because early on he mouthed off and lost his head–literally.)

So the Holy Spirit arrived on the Day of Pentecost and gave Peter the boldness to speak about the murder of the Messiah in front of Jews visiting from all over the known world. Three thousand of them were saved that day, went back to their homes and began the process of reaching the entire planet.

Meanwhile, a Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus became quite adept at killing Christians, therefore terrorizing them. He was on his way to crippling the movement when Jesus signed him up on the road to Damascus, to take the message to the Gentiles. Why? Because the original twelve were not going to do it.

And even though Paul was a Pharisee, he was a rabble rouser–a fire-brand of intellectual and spiritual energy. He found himself criticizing the original disciples because they would not eat with the Gentiles, deeming themselves better.

Paul took the Gospel to the Greeks, and since the Romans always followed everything the Greeks did, they made excellent evangelists. He ended his life in Rome, teaching, knowing that the Romans were going to reach the Germanic tribes and the Germanic tribes would evangelize the Angles and Saxons, and the Angles and Saxons were going to climb into boats, land on rocks near Plymouth and begin a new nation called America, which would generate the technology to reach the whole world.

To ensure that those “stay-at-home disciples” would eventually leave Jerusalem and follow in Paul’s footsteps, Jesus warned them about the coming destruction of Jerusalem–to make sure they left town before the Romans arrived with their deadly foreclosure.

By 70 A. D. there was no Jewish synagogue, race or movement. Christianity survived because the followers of Jesus literally “headed for the hills.”

In the process of touting the power of prayer, the value of meditation and the worth of Bible study, we need to understand that Jesus intended us to be a “go” people.

He wanted us to view the world as a whole instead of just our little village, and he desired that his children would be the most tolerant, non-bigoted, caring and clever people on the face of the Earth.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 16) Purify … March 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

Jesus was not Jewish.

This doesn’t mean he hated Jews. He was like you and me. That’s what the Bible says.

Being like you and me, he was one-half jungle and one-half Garden. So he was Jewish on his mother’s side and Holy Spirit on his Father’s side.

It’s an important point.

Jesus did not come to Earth to confirm Judaism, nor was he a forerunner for Mohammed.

Yes, we must understand that Jesus did not establish his message in order to create a third generation for Abraham. He said quite clearly that “before Abraham was, he existed.”

He pre-dated the Patriarch of Judaism and the Muslim faith.

Why is that important?

Because Christianity is here to bring peace to the Earth, not pick a side in the fight.

Until we purify the Christian message, we will miss the essence of the struggle in the early church, when Paul told the leadership that they needed to stop acting so damned Jewish. The message needed to survive Jerusalem so that it would be well-understood in Hoboken and Siberia.

So if we’re going to be like Jesus, we must purify the mission in the following seven ways:

1. I am not political.

Whoever is the next President will be my President and I will honor him or her with my prayers.

2. I am not religious.

The simple truth is, God loves me and there’s no act of contrition or worship that will make that any better.

3. I am not a skin color.

God has vision for only one thing: He sees my passion because He looks on my heart.

4. I am not a culture.

The whole Earth is the Lord’s–therefore I am part of His greater vision, not His local flavor.

5. I am not confined to my nuclear family.

Even though I love my offspring, my real family is anyone who is interested in pursuing the Kingdom of God.

6. I am not afraid.

Fear weakens my love, so I choose good cheer as my refuge.

7. I am not better than anyone else.

There are no chosen people, just people who choose well.

Until the message of Jesus is purified as the “repairer of the breach” for mankind’s misunderstanding, we will be tempted to pick sides and will wage a political conflict…instead of welcoming a human unity.

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Ask Jonathots … July 16th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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ask jonathots bigger

I love my church and my pastor, but every four years my preacher tells us who to vote for. I really don’t like this. Should I speak to him about this? Write an anonymous note? What is the best way to handle this? I don’t want to leave the church because of this one issue.

Well it really comes down to this point: does a minister of the Gospel have a responsibility to steer his congregation concerning a political decision?

It is not a question of whether he has the right. If a preacher insists he has a calling from God, then he can’t use the Constitution of the United States as proof of his legal authority to voice his opinion in the pulpit in political matters. If you’re going to claim a higher purpose, then you must live by the dictates of that higher calling, not merely the civil rights afforded to you by your government.

So it comes down to the question of how did the Good Shepherd handle the issue of political favoritism? And of course, when I say Good Shepherd, I am speaking of Jesus.

  • Jesus had a congregation.
  • Jesus had a flock.
  • Jesus had a following.

Unquestionably, they were swayed by his opinions.

Judea in the 1st Century A.D. was politically charged. It was Jews against Samaritans, Samaritans against Gentiles, Gentiles divided over their allegiance to Rome, and Rome basically swallowing up most of the air with its imperialism and desire to conquer.

There was tremendous pressure on Jesus to pick a side. For instance:

He was invited to the palace of Herod to discuss his work. He declined.

The woman at the well suggested that he should show a bit more favoritism to the Samaritans to balance things out. He didn’t.

And of course, the Jewish hierarchy wanted him to speak out against Rome. And his classic phrasing of “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” still remains as a guideline for those who preach the Gospel.

They even wanted Jesus to express sympathy for Jewish folk who had been killed by Pontius Pilate while merely worshipping in the synagogue. Although it would have been easy for him to do so, he remained neutral.

Since he taught that “the Kingdom of God is within us,” how we are governed doesn’t make nearly as much difference as the decision we make on how to live our personal lives. Your pastor has absolutely no right to color the vote of his sheep. But confronting him on such an issue is not only disrespectful, but would certainly be unproductive.

If your church does not use Jesus as the primary example, then your pastor will probably fall back on Old Testament nationalism to condone his choices.

At that point, you have to make a decision.

Do you want to be part of New Testament church that follows Jesus, or a church which haphazardly mingles Jesus and Moses together with equal authority and power?

I see nothing wrong with posing the question to your pastor, “Do you think Jesus would campaign for a candidate, and if you do think so, what story from his life do you use to confirm that?”

Even the Apostle Paul told us to pray for those who are in authority over us–not campaign against them.

The church will become a much more powerful unit for spiritual and social change when it pushes for separation from the state.

 

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Jesonian: Pillars… July 12th, 2015

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Three pillars

Anyone who is willing to spend 24 hours hanging out with me will quickly realize that I have three pillars that hold up the household of my faith and keep a roof over my personality.

  1. Be of good cheer
  2. Be creative
  3. Be honest

It doesn’t mean that I’m never grouchy, lazy or a liar. It just means that normally I reject those profiles and when I accidentally slide into them, I attempt to repent quickly.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that Jesus of Nazareth–the unemployed carpenter-turned-preacher–should also have such pillars.

If you ignore them, you will fail to understand his character.

So what are the three pillars of Jesus?

1. Be smart.

He told his disciples to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

In other words, not everything can be solved by the Bible, and certainly not every situation is covered by the Constitution.

Sometimes science has all the answers, and on other occasions, we must defer to the mystery of creation.

The true Jesonian person understands the importance of being smart–applying what is applicable instead of forcing something in that is irrelevant.

2. Be universal.

Jesus made it quite clear to the Jewish people around him that he was not Jewish. He told them that before Abraham existed, he was around. He interacted with Samaritans and outcasts.

If you don’t believe this to be true, then you have only to look at the reaction of those who were Jewish around him. They deemed him a sinner, a seditionist and a friend of those who were against Israel.

He didn’t care. He knew the power of his message was to package it for the whole world and not merely for a small portion of Mesopotamia.

3. And finally, Jesus made it clear that he expects his followers to be forgiving.

Every time he was confronted with someone who was faulty and that individual was willing to repent, Jesus never failed to forgive.

What is forgiveness? It is the realization that we don’t perform the job of God and that each one of us is so needy that we shouldn’t point out the need in others.

Those are the three pillars of Jesus:

  • Be smart
  • Be universal
  • Be forgiving

I’m terribly curious what would happen if the Christian church actually followed these pillars…and built their house on the rock instead of the sand.

 

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Jesonian: Galilean… March 22, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2539)

Iz and Pal

His critics called him “a Galilean.”

The word means very little to us. But in the time of Jesus, it communicated volumes.

Once your enemies could establish you as “a Galilean,” any number of other insults were available and could be unleashed in your direction without fear of contradiction.

Galileans were people who lived in Palestine, separate from the greater favor of God, with those who dwelt in Jerusalem.

They were outsiders.

They were lesser.

They were cursed by birth, to be relegated to a second-place position in all aspects of life.

After all, the Pharisees made it clear that “no prophet could come from Galilee,” and since Galilee was devoid of prophets, Galilee had to submit to other, more spiritual regions for its faith and hope.

Yes, once the cynics were able to call Jesus a Galilean, soon popping from their lips was the word “ignorant.”

  • He didn’t know his letters.
  • He didn’t know how to properly clean a cup before drinking.
  • Coming from Galilee, it was well-known that he was a sinner.
  • And if he was able to free people of their oppression, it was only because he was in cahoots with the devil himself.
  • Following the reputation of all Galileans, he was “a drunkard, a glutton and a friend of the outcast.”

Shouldered upon him was the burden of generations of bigotry, which still exists to this day as the Jews and Palestinians struggle for a piece of land that is really not much bigger than the state of New Jersey.

We probably find this practice of relegating certain virtues or vices to a particular region to be beneath our intellectual standard.

Yet if someone tells us they’re from the state of Texas, we envision cowboy hats, guns, bigotry, cow-roping, rodeos and backward politics.

A Californian is burdened with the notion that he’s from the Left Coast, is a hippie, smokes marijuana in church (if he ever goes there) and advocates free love.

Florida is for old people, and New York is for crime and gangsters.

We’re often very proud of the fact that we do not follow much of the superstition of those “Biblical fellows” we read about from so many centuries ago.

But because a group of bigoted, religious people were able to oppress Jesus of Nazareth by calling him a Galilean and assigning him all the foibles attributed to such a creature, rather than them being illuminated by the light of the world, they chose to snuff it out.

Even today we have a religious system which is intent on proving that Jesus was Jewish, when the Jewish people were convinced he was Palestinian.

Amazing, don’t you think?

He was right:

“Foxes have holes, but the Son of Man truly does have no place to lay his head.”

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