If You Knew … January 26, 2012

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From Miami, Florida

 

If you knew taking a ten-minute walk every day would lengthen your life by five years, would you do it?

If you knew the person of your greatest affection was truly the very best you ever could have done, would you decide to be more appreciative of their presence?

If you knew that pickled beets, when eaten with Brussel sprouts, promoted longevity, would you adjust your palate accordingly?

If you knew there was basically no difference between men and women except a couple of obvious physical ones, would you reject society’s bigotry, or continue to join in the misguided laughter and fantasy?

If you knew your religion was incorrect and through some miracle, were given the true revelation, which ended up being from another religion’s hearth and home, would you change your affiliation to gain greater insight?

If you knew your car was being made in a foreign country at the expense of people who were suffering under the management of the manufacturer, would you switch to another vehicle to make a stand against tyranny?

If you knew the political party of your choice was actually detrimental at this time to the nation’s better interest, would you abandon your affiliation and change your vote?

If you found out that Santa Claus really did live at the North Pole, and during all these years, there’s been a vast conspiracy to disprove his existence, would you be willing to go back to a childlike heart on Christmas morning?

If you knew there was no difference between the races, would you still insist on keeping them separate?

If you knew money was important to give you the confidence to become a giver, would you work harder to get it, so that you could become more generous?

If you knew there was no God, would you still decide to love your neighbor as yourself?

If you knew that interfering in other people’s lives was the main cause of most of the disruption in our society, could you learn to keep your nose out of other people’s business?

If you knew chocolate chip cookies caused cancer, would you stop eating them, or gamble with the risk?

If you knew that “thank you” were the two most important words in the world, would you swallow your pride and say them more often?

If you knew that hoping for things was unfortunately a convenient way of not doing what you know to do, would you exchange your hopes for action?

If you knew that your mother and father were good people but had human flaws that caused them to teach you faulty logic, could you still love them as people but reject their philosophy?

If you knew more than you know now, would you be glad you knew it, or wish it wasn’t known?

Life is about one major decision. Actually, it’s an answer to a simple question.

Am I looking for answers, or do I want confirmation?

Because the truth of the matter is, if you seek you WILL find. If it’s confirmation of all your feelings, including your prejudices, you will certainly discover enough ammunition to fuel your war.

But if you’re seeking answers, you must be prepared for some of your pre-conceptions to be ravaged so that the landscape can be cleared for beautiful improvement.

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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

Avoiding … January 25, 2012

(1,404) 
 
Live in Philadelphia, PA

Wouldn’t it just be a kick in the pants if the Judgment Day–that breathless, final exam–ended up being an assessment of what we avoided? I’m not talking about refraining from being a “potty mouth,” refusing to attend PG-13 movies, repressing our sexuality or even staying away from controversy for fear of being out of the loop. I’m talking about avoiding things that need to be avoided in order to make human life sensible, productive…and awesome. There are probably a bunch of them, but three immediately pop to my mind. Maybe it’s because I work on these three the most, because I find them so annoying in the DNA of our emotional riboflavin.

The first one is hiding. It is so frustrating to everyone–including yourself–if you spend any time whatsoever hiding from reality, a calling, truth or possibilities. It’s one of the first questions that God asked a human being in the Garden of Eden. “Why are you hiding from me?” Well, we know why Adam was hiding. He did something wrong, along with his wife, Eve, and they felt the best way to handle it was to hide from it. But let’s look at it realistically. If we’re playing a game of hide and seek and everyone is in the same house, then the game actually has some merit. But if the game is being played in the house but the person you’re hiding from is living in the heavens above and has the full view of everything below, where do you really think you’re going to go? In other words, for a season we may be able to hide from others, but never from ourselves and certainly not from God. Hiding is the ultimate repression–the notion that denying who and what we are will somehow put off the inevitable evaluation of the world around us concerning our character. What astounds people is when you DON’T hide and you pop out information about yourself before they have a chance to put on their thinking caps and over-process your personage.

“Hello, there. My name is Jonathan Richard Cring. I’ve been married for 41 years and had the pleasure of parenting seven children. I never went to college, am extraordinarily fat, but I do have some talents and have worked very hard at multiplying them and have had the privilege of seeing those abilities provide my livelihood and bless people around me. I have average intelligence, which means that in some ways, I am an overachiever. I am not naturally gregarious, but I have learned that it is necessary to be so to be of any use to anyone around me. I’m working very hard to not hide from myself, others and God–because the danger is that I may eventually find a hole to crawl into that I can’t escape.”

You see? It’s not that hard.

Which kind of leads me to the second thing I like to avoid: lying. See, this one is tricky–because lying, if purely defined, is anything that is absent truthfulness. Shoot, I”m like the next guy–I embellish; I over-explain. I create scenarios in my mind that are only partially true, and I offer polite compliments which are not completely on point with my actual feelings. Lying is something that I will work to avoid for the rest of my life, as I am sure all of my fellow-travelers will also have occasion to do. But the more you have truth on the inward parts, the easier it is to take a breath of fresh air without fear of being attacked from the rear by some falsehood that you’ve spread. Lying is what we do when we really think that who we are, what we believe and who we believe in is insufficient enough to cover our circumstances. It is the ultimate insecurity–the admission that we weren’t given enough, so we must come up with a story about ourselves that sounds better than the real one. How sad.

And finally, the third activity to avoid, in my mind, is judging. I have been working on this one all my life. I think it’s why we have so many shows on television now that have judges, critics and audience voting. We’re all just a bunch of frustrated grumps who have no intention of doing much of excellence ourselves and would like to just sit in a chair and evaluate the progress of others. Here’s what I know: I will never offer an opinion on anything that I have not personally done and had some measure of success in performing. Can you see how this immediately limits my potentials? It is a beautiful measuring stick. For example, if you have actually baked a cake, put on the icing and served it to the delight of your consumers, then feel free to comment on MY baked cake. If you haven’t, then please, just have your cake–and eat it, too.

But the truth of the matter is, the people who judge the most are the people who do the least. Anyone who has actually had to display their wares for consideration is not quite as “peppy” to jump in and ravage someone else’s efforts. That’s why there are pockets of gossips and judges–and some of the worst ones are in church. Because church, rather than being a seminar to produce victorious people, has become a sanitarium for debilitated patients, hacking and coughing up their disappointments and anger. But Jesus makes it clear that the judgment we put out to others will come back to us. Wow. So even though I do have enough experience in writing, music, movies and the arts to give a really intelligent view on the projects I see, over the years I have learned to spend more time admiring than reviewing.

Just stop judging. It’s exhausting–and not particularly fulfilling, either–because the only fellowship you have is with people who like to judge (and YOU are probably their next target).

So without being too presumptuous, I can tell you that if there is some final evaluation of our lives, the fact that you avoided eating meat will probably not make nearly as much difference as learning to avoid hiding, lying and judging.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I know this–I didn’t hide anything from you, and in my essay I did not lie, and if you disagree, I certainly will not judge you.

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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

Tootsie Pop Logic … January 24, 2012

(1,403) 
 
Live in Philadelphia, PA

A sucker is a sucker is a sucker.

This became the common theme–and lamentation–of all manufacturers in the lollipop industry. As delicious as the first few licks may be, enduring to the end was often difficult for young tykes, leaving behind sticky, half-eaten globs of goo all over the house.

Something needed to be done, so as always, two extremes were pursued. First was the dum dum–a decision to make the lollipop smaller and offer a variety of flavors. It was, and is, very successful, but still suffers from the redundancy of the common lick.

The other extreme was to insist that MORE lapping and sucking was necessary, so the all-day sucker was created, which was a humongous amount of sugar-candy, which was supposed to be consumed over a 24-hour period. Dedication did not exist for such a project, and you ended up with an even larger sticky object to avoid.

Then came the Tootsie pop. Here was the premise: give people a sucker, but reward them at the end by providing a center of chocolate–a Tootsie roll. How ingenious.

You see, I feel this way about the 2012 election. We are offered a myriad of suckers for our perusal. It is wearisome. It is sticky business. But if you want to be successful at picking a leader of anything, find out what is at the CENTER of their sugar-coated presentation. What IS the Tootsie pop logic of the conservatives and the liberals?That demands that we produce a criteria for what is important and what needs to be said.

Honestly, dear folks, there are only two things that are immutable:  People and money. What are the conservatives going to do about people and money? What is the plan of the liberals regarding people and money?

Let’s start with people.  They require three things:

1. Freedom. If you’re going to call yourself a “free country,” it’s a good idea to back it up with freedom for everyone.

2. Opportunity. This means creating an even playing field as much as possible, so that excellence can truly have a chance to win the day.

3. And finally, rules.  You should have just enough rules in a democracy to maintain the integrity of freedom and opportunity.

That brings us to money. The philosophy on money should be equally as simple:  first, we need to motivate business, industry and personal desire enough to comfortably fund our freedoms, promote opportunities and maintain the necessary offices for the rules which guard these ideas. Secondly, we should have enough money that after we’ve taken care of our own personal needs to a satisfactory position, we can give to others who are less fortunate, so we don’t end up being a bunch of greedy gas-bags.

I know people want to worship the conservative approach or bow their knee to liberalism. I do not join them. I don’t care whether it’s a restaurant, a church, a synagogue, a bistro or the federal government. Are you going to give people equal freedom to pursue opportunity and maintain just enough rules to make sure that everyone has freedom and opportunity? AND will you motivate the raising of money to protect those rights and provide a comfortable living for as many people as possible, while initiating a philanthropic thrust with the remaining funds?

Anything short of that is short-sighted. I don’t care what you’re running, I don’t care what you’re promoting and I don’t care what flag you are waving. People require freedom, opportunity and a set of rules to ensure they will honor the same for all their fellow-travelers. And money must be raised to guarantee that these rights are cushioned by financial blessing and that there is enough left over to instill generosity.

So as I listen to the political candidates, I peruse their mentality on these two issues–people and money. It is what I call the Tootsie pop logic. If you’re going to make me spend all of my time licking away at debates and discussions, you’d better provide me with a chocolate center that lets me know you understand what to do with people and money. Otherwise, it just sucks.

Do I have an opinion on the present crop of candidates? I have many opinions–but honestly it’s difficult to assess either party, because neither one of them has come to terms with the intricate nature and balance of these two necessities. Most of them are more concerned about trouble from outsiders or merely conquering the opposing party in the voting booth. But after the election comes governing–and governing anything is about dealing with people and providing money.

So here’s my Tootsie pop logic. After you get done wading through my numerous clumps of letters forming words, I want you to find a sweet treat in the center, and I always want that center of my writing to give you greater insight on people and money.  Because he who understands what to do with his fellow-humans AND when and how to release the purse strings, basically has total understanding of everything.

What a wild statement.

Tootsie pop logic. What’s at the center of the conservative movement? What is at the center of the liberal take on things? What will they do with people and what do they think about money?

Just some thoughts on this day–and to return to a common phrase in the world of confections:

Try it. You’ll like 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 Year of the Draggin’ … January 23, 2012

(1,402) 
 
Live in Philadelphia, PA

     

Happy Chinese New Year! And in honor of the occasion—and also to make a little coin off of a phrase—what DO a billion Chinamen care about? Actually, the same thing as three hundred million Americans:

Themselves.  It’s not a bad thing. It is fascinating to me that we think the best way to teach people to be more expansive is to enter them into some crucible of self-denial. We’re just not very good at it.  What we can do is question what parts of us are working and what units have closed down shop and ceased production.

Yes, it is the year of finding out what is draggin’ us down.

It is my joy as I travel to meet the most delightful people God could ever have hatched from a mere fanciful notion of “let there be …”  I have no complaints about them whatsoever, but I do have one lamentation. Many of them are burdened by the amount of baggage they carry when what they want to do is fly off to pursue their dreams. Each one of us has three compartments to our thinking:

1. What we were taught. This is a mixture of conversations with our parents, Sunday School classes in our small towns and dialogue we had with our friends growing up in our close-knit environments. Much of what we were taught was good, and even universal. But there are portions of what each one of us was instructed in that are prejudiced, errant and even destructive. Identifying the dangerous chemicals in our cupboards can keep us from ingesting the poison.

2. What we believe. Our beliefs are those thing that we’ve taken from what we were taught, the prayers and sermons that dented the armor of our resistance and the general consensus of our feelings about what has happened to us and those we love. Belief is a good thing—unless you believe in something that is harmful, restrictive, selfish or foolish.

3. What we’ve personally experienced. This is the living we have done on this orb we call earth, free of parental interference—flying solo, away from merely believing. Many young people lose all of their training and spirituality the first time they walk into a college classroom and someone begins to recite different experiences which contradict their own earlier training. That’s too bad—not because I think we should hold fast to our “village precepts,” but rather, because I contend that experience should enhance our belief and reinforce the portions of our upbringing that were truly grounded in common sense.

But as we begin this Chinese New Year (understanding that most of us aren’t Chinese) how can you take this moment and make sure it’s a year where you’re not “draggin’ yourself down?”

A. Trust your experience. The Bible says “that which we have seen and heard we declare unto you.” Honestly, my friends, I was not there when the Red Sea parted nor when Jonah was belched out of the mouth of the big fish. It’s not that I’m denying that these things happened, nor am I feverishly defending them. My faith has to be MINE—a collaboration of my own personal discoveries, as God and I together reinvent Christianity just for me. If your experiences are not primal in your life, you will fall back on beliefs that you end up defending, and training that is more parroting than lionizing. You’ve got to trust your experience. The reason most people don’t change is because they do not allow experience to reform their patterns of behavior, but instead, deny their own encounters in favor of belief and local, small-town thinking. If your experience is primal, you will find that your beliefs will be fewer, but more realistic and strong, and your respect for the parts of your childhood memories that were rich—with good tradition—will not only be upheld, but glorified.

B. Don’t try so hard to believe. There’s no magic number on the things that we hold close to our hearts and insist are true. There are a lot of things in the Bible that I don’t understand. I don’t deny them. I don’t discuss them. They are not part of my experience; they are not relevant to my life and therefore, I choose to ignore them. If people want to argue about them, I will listen in for a few minutes, but will not participate in the debate because the irrelevance the material has to my experience would make me hypocritical if I were to voice a concern in the matter.

For instance, I don’t know why the New Testament talks so much about hell. To make coin off of another phrase, I honestly don’t give a hell about hell. It doesn’t make me doubt the New Testament; it doesn’t make me believe less in Jesus. I just don’t need a hell to get to heaven. Heavenly things attract me, joy seduces me and the act of loving people entices my soul towards excellence. I don’t know—maybe some folks need the bottom to get to the top. It is not part of my experience.

When I was a teenager, I probably believed two hundred different things but now that I have become a man, it has really boiled down to one factor: “NoOne is better than anyone else.” So relax and love everybody who will let you do it, and move on from the ones who won’t.

C. And finally, honor your father and mother by doing them a big favor and ignoring all the stupid things they said because they didn’t have the information we now possess. I’m not mad at my parents because they weren’t God. I am grateful to them for so many things and I choose to focus on those instead of clinging to misconceptions and accidental bigotry that they passed along my way simply because they lacked one trip to the library or were one decade short of revelation.

So in conclusion, the Chinese say it’s the Year of the Dragon. But may I suggest that we make this the Year of the Draggin’? Identify those parts of our upbringing and belief system that are repressing us and dragging us down and instead, push to the forefront the personal experience that grants us an amendment to our constitution—that we are loved, and therefore are capable of the same.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

**************

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

Sit Ups or Set Backs… January 18, 2012

(1,397) 

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 Triplet… January 17, 2012

(1,396) 

In Philadelphia

 
It is musical–three notes, played in rapid succession, linked together on the paper in unity–the triplet.

We also have such a phenomenon going on in our lives, based upon the philosophical choices we make, which ultimately steer our emotions–either renewing our minds or keeping them tethered to former fears.

God is…

I am…

Why not…?

There it is. The word or words that follow each of those three phrases end up controlling how we look at our time span and also how we react to those around us. It is not that a belief in God, or even an unbelief in the existence of a universal creator, has to manipulate our destiny or our reaction. It’s just that we have some sort of inner barometer that generates our sense of good will based upon where we believe we were spawned.

It is the triplet: God is…  I am …  Why not?

What about for those who don’t believe in God at all?  Simple. God is not. I am here. Why not allow the weariness to overtake me? It is very exhausting to find oneself carrying the whole world on one’s shoulders.

How about this one? God is light. I am enlightened. Why not illuminate? It is difficult for us as human beings to replicate anything we haven’t experienced for ourselves. If we have seen the light, it is much easier to reflect its blessing.

God is dead. I am abandoned. Why not be lonely?

God is a judge. I am unworthy. Why not condemn others?

God is a consuming fire. I am scorched. Why not burn it down?

God is love. I am loved. Why not love my neighbor as myself?

God is far away. I am searching. Why not give into the darkness?

God is in heaven. I am on earth. Why not prepare for eternity?

God is powerful. I am weak. Why not let Him do it all?

God is good. I am learning. Why not imitate?

God is religious. I am human. Why not lie?

The triplet determines whether we are going to take our image of God and transform our lives into usable units of fruit-bearing favor–or just give in to futility. Desperation is what overcomes every human being when we really dislike the God we have chosen to worship. It’s a frightening thought. Matter of fact, it would be almost impossible to admit that the source of your devotion is also the origin of your disappointment. It would be like having a long-term marriage, bound by children, mortgages, checking accounts and responsibilities, but knowing deep in your heart that when the bedroom door shut, there was not only an absence of warmth, but a complete presence of apathy. It is something we all must understand if we’re going to actually allow ourselves to be emotionally clean, spiritually faithful, mentally alert and physically fit.

It is the triplet–the philosophical thrust that either pushes us forward, grabs us by our shoulders and stops us from progress, or casts us backwards into the pit of anxiety.

God is …

I am …

Why not?

What words would you fill in? What is the truth of the matter about your relationship with the One who decided to set this thing in motion? Or maybe you believe it’s all a myth. But if it is a myth, it has one reality–you. What are you going to do with that if the rest of the equation doesn’t add up? Think about it. What you decide, what you believe, what you walk in and what you possess will be determined by that triplet.

And because it’s musical … what will be your melody?

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

**************

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

King for a Day… January 16, 2012

(1,395) 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prophet.

Without understanding this simple fact, nothing of any true significance can be gained by discussing his life, studying his path or commemorating his day. As a prophet, he had the purpose of discovering the ants infesting our picnic and dispelling the sand from the gears of the machine of progress. Because of that, I know one thing for certain–neither liberals or conservatives would be happy with him today.

The liberals try to wrap him up in a big bow for their causes, saying that he was a voice against conservative bigotry in this country. The conservatives cautiously mention him in reference to his stands against government establishments.

I will not lead you to believe that I am an expert on the life and times of Dr. King. I know more than some and less than many. But from that limited perspective, allow me to get the dialogue started on a worthwhile subject. What would Dr. King–Martin, if you will–do if he woke up in America today?

He would never have approved the bail-out of Wall Street, AIG and the banks. Even if it were a President of his particular liking, he would have stood against the greed that caused the need that ended up planting the seed of economic disaster. How do I know this? Because what took him to Memphis, where he was cruelly assassinated, was standing with the local garbage collectors against the systems that tried to keep them from a decent wage. The liberals would be very disappointed with Martin because he would not authorize a heavy-handed government solution to a systemic problem–poor usage of funds and lack of economic awareness and principle.

Likewise, Martin would certainly speak out against the conservatives and their belief that they can socially engineer our country into some sort of manufactured righteousness, cleaning the outside of the cup but leaving the inside filthy. He would not tolerate a state in the Union still flying the Confederate flag under some ridiculous assertion of honoring heritage. The conservatives would be greatly upset with his desire to see freedom for all, even if that liberty meant that we must occasionally tolerate other people’s practices which we find distasteful or even sinful.

Martin would upset many people because he was humorous. He was  a practical joker. He didn’t take everything in his life too seriously, but instead made time for fun. His friends remember that the last thing they did with their leader was have a pillow fight in the motel room. Matter of fact, when he was struck down by the bullet, they failed to run to his side because they thought he was kidding around. Both Republicans and Democrats are an overly somber group of grumpers, who feel that maturity is best expressed by furrow-browed discussions of great intensity.

The Hollywood community would be greatly astounded that Martin would not be applauding their efforts. Dr. King believed that the message should affect culture–not that our culture should determine how we pander out our message. He would not applaud the rap and hip-hop community for creating a new level of social ignorance and mistreatment of women, glorifying violence under the guise of presenting realism. He would tell them clearly: there are different ways to keep from advancing as a people. You can be held back by another race–or you can hold yourselves back by locking into the provided stereotype.

I think Republicans AND Democrats would be greatly distressed by his unwillingness to support our penchant for war. Matter of fact, there are those who believe he was assassinated NOT because of his stance on civil rights, but rather, because he had begun to speak out against the war in Viet Nam.

He would also stand against a religious system still using an alleged worship hour for segregation, claiming that the spiritual experiences are “unique” and therefore can remain separate.

He would be distressful to our society because he would not be pleased with what he saw, and as a prophet, he would speak out freely against excess and lack. And the interesting thing is, he probably, if he lived in our time, would not be assassinated–at least not with a bullet. Instead, his sexual trysts, pranks and probably even his finances would come under severe scrutiny, be exposed in our 24-hour news cycle, and within a very short period of time, he would be retired to the hall of disgrace.

That’s the way we handle our prophets today. We find their foibles, which are really what make them human enough to BE voices crying in the wilderness, and we focus on those missteps, advertise them and discuss them off-handedly until everyone agrees that the person we are attacking is so devoid of character that we shouldn’t listen to a thing that he or she has to say.

Dr. King would not make the liberals happy. He was too independemt, asking people to rise up for themselves rather than taking government hand-outs, requiring people to take responsibility for their lives.

Martin would certainly frustrate the conservatives because he would demand that from our position of self-discovery, we allow others a chance to have the same right and privilege, and that we not try to go further, leaving the less fortunate in the background.

Martin would certainly anger the entertainment industry because he would challenge the superficial nature of their art and ask them if there was any soul left in their proposed genius.

King for a Day–it would require that you be a prophet who speaks out about the weaknesses of a society that is aware of its futility, but insists that change is unnecessary and instead, selects a jaded profile of dejection.

I like this holiday. It reminds me that we still require prophets. It lets me know that there is still a message that needs to be shared that is neither conservative or liberal, religious or secular, but rather, human. When we cease to believe that the message from God is really delivered in the language of our own species, we no longer have His blessing.

Dr. King–if he were here today, he would probably read this essay and say, “You got some of it right, kid, but you missed me on several points.”

For after all, he’s a prophet. It isn’t his job to be agreeable, just to get us all to move towards greater agreement.

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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

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