Jesonian… May 20th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“A certain lawyer.”

This is how the King James Version of the Good Book describes a chap who comes to hear Jesus teach. We do not know his real name, but we are made aware of his agenda.

So was he “a certain lawyer” because he was identical to the other lawyers around him, or was he referred to as “a certain lawyer” because he had a legal mind–already made up and sure of itself?

As the story unfolds, we find that actually he’s a bit of both. He’s on a mission. His job is to take his intellect, his knowledge of Mosaic law and his wit, and trip up the bumpkin would-be prophet from Nazareth.

He crafts a plan. It’s the classic trap. He asks Jesus “how to gain eternal life.” He figures this will cause the over-wrought preacher to launch into a series of crazed statements which are easily contradicted by existing spiritual philosophy. Imagine how astounded he is when Jesus defers to him.

“What does the law say? How do you read it?”

The lawyer was not expecting this response, but seeing the crowd of people, he thought it would be unwise to be absent a reply. He grabs a safe answer. (That’s what “certain people” do. Even “certain lawyers.” They grab safe answers.)

He said, “You should love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.”

To which Jesus replied, “Fantastic! Go do that.”

The certain lawyer is embarrassed. He has been out-maneuvered by a former carpenter. He has been managed. He has been handled. He gained no additional information, and made the audience think he was completely in tune with the teachings of Jesus.

So he does something truly dastardly–he tries to justify himself. Every lasting malady happens when we come across a reality and explain why we’re already doing something else.

The certain lawyer (who is losing certainty by the moment) asks, “Who is my neighbor?”

In other words, there must be some restriction. Jesus is not talking about Gentiles, is he? He’s not referring to nasty whores and thieves?

“I need you to clarify. And in the clarification, it is my hope that you will foul up, so I can go back to those who hired me, and have a good laugh concerning me bettering the Galilean.”

Jesus doesn’t miss a beat.

He tells a story about a man who fell into a situation where he was robbed and beaten. He immediately establishes that those who “the certain lawyer” respected–a priest and a Levite–passed by and did not help the bleeding fellow. Instead, he offers a hero. He introduces a Samaritan–which by the way, to that “certain lawyer” was even worse than a Gentile–who comes to the aid of the gentleman, binds his wounds, takes him to an inn and then leaves real money behind to make sure he’s cared for until he recuperates.

Jesus directs the story. In politics, they refer to it as “controlling the narrative.”

A lawyer who thought he was so smart was side-stepped; trapped by question from Jesus which could only evoke one logical response. Upon finishing the narrative, Jesus asks the certain lawyer, “Who was neighbor to the damaged man?”

The lawyer was surrounded by people, and the answer was so obvious that any hem-hawing or parsing of words would make him look foolish, not thoughtful. So he splurted out:

“The neighbor was the one who showed mercy to the wounded man.”

And even though the “certain lawyer” had hoped that the end of his dialogue with Jesus would leave the Master speechless and him dominating, instead Jesus turns and as he walked away, says, “Go and do thou likewise.”

There must have been a chuckle throughout the crowd.

The humiliated, foiled, aggravated and convicted lawyer left to go lick his wounds.

Over the next few weeks, he devises his own story–a retort he should have given to Jesus. Why do I feel that? Because the Gospel writer never told us his name.

The “certain lawyer” didn’t matter. He was a prop–a vehicle to share wisdom.

A story for the ages: The Good Samaritan.

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Chasing Hippos … February 21, 2012

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There are five things I just don’t like. (Actually, there are probably more, but it’s only Tuesday. No need to get over-eager.)
 
1. Honking horns. I don’t like it when I pull out into traffic, finally finding a slot that seems acceptable, only to be honked at by someone who apparently feels that under no circumstances whatsoever should I be in front of them.
2. Bratty attitudes. Here’s a clue–just because you spent twenty dollars at a restaurant does not mean you have purchased the waitress. He or she is a busy person doing a difficult job and could certainly use a bit of your patience and a lot of your appreciation. Honestly, if you were born a king or a queen, someone certainly would have let you know by now.
3. Suspicious minds. Sometimes I actually giggle when I see the facial expressions on people when they meet me for the first time. Maybe it’s because they’ve seen one too many shows with serial killers, watched too many programs about terrorism or they really have gas and it’s being released through their facial features. I’m not sure. But I will guarantee you this–no mugger or murderer is deterred by your sour expression.
4. Bible quoters. That would also go for people who choose to borrow the inspiration from Shakespeare, Bob Dylan or even recite to you their favorite Doonesbury cartoon. It’s just important to know that you don’t become smarter because you can quote smart people. You aren’t more clever because you know two or three sentences uttered by a clever individual. And you don’t gain depth of spirituality by memorizing Bible verses.
5. Cynics. You know why I don’t like cynics? It’s too easy. There’s nothing simpler in life than to be cynical about everything. After all, it takes a few minutes to start a fire but only a second to douse it. There are people who feel it is their mission to discourage any attempt at progress, happiness, intuition, gentleness or even success. They are cynics and they are not limited to those who are unbelievers. No–many who claim to have a devotion towards God are convinced that He must be on some sort of permanent vacation.
 
But as aggravating as these five things may be to my soul, there is one devilish doodler worse than all five put together: complaining. Specifically, ME complaining. I realize that there is nothing that is more of a sexual, psychological, emotional or spiritual turnoff than citing all of the things that I find unfavorable. So instead of becoming angry at those who honk, are bratty, suspicious, quoting quotables and cynical, I spend most of my time … chasing hippos.
 
Now, I spelled  the word h-i-p-p-o-s for ease of recognition, but actually it should be  h-y-p-o-s–because it is the abbreviation for hypocrisy.
 
Of all the creatures who walk the face of the earth, the hypocrite is ultimately the only one that is never allowed a moment’s peace. Those who know him or her are aware of the hypocrisy, and unfortunately, when he or she is left in their private moments, a guilty conscience allows no rest for the weary. Hypocrisy is what we do when what we really want to accomplish is complaining and we feel no energy towards self-inspection at all.
 
So BECAUSE I don’t like honking horns, I will often sit at a light behind a car driven by a daydreamer in front of me who fails to notice that we have arrived at “green.” Out of principle, I refuse to honk. (I really don’t need to worry about it, because there is always someone behind me that bypasses my discretion and lays on the horn. But I, myself, will not do it.) I honk my horn only to let people know I love Jesus if I happen to see that bumper sticker–“Honk if you love Jesus”–or if I think somebody has gone to sleep at the wheel and requires a quick awakening.
 
I also chase my hippos–or hypo–by refusing to be a brat. Even though I have reached a certain age that perhaps gives me a bit of clout, and have a background to reinforce it, I will not demand ANYTHING. If people do not want to provide me general hospitality, I will settle into the atmosphere and cuisine available and make it work. Am I resentful? No. Because inconvenience doesn’t last very long.  Sometimes it just seems longer because we fuss and fret about it. And for every person who is inconsiderate to me, there are ten who will step into the gap and replenish my experience.
 
I also will not be suspicious. Yes, I lead with a smile. Does it make people think that I am a pigeon, or a mark for their devious scheme? I think that’s foolish. I believe if folks are out to hurt me, they actually might be less likely to do it if they think I have an open heart than if I look like their frowning uncle who molested them.
 
I also don’t quote–especially the Bible. The Bible should be consumed, enjoyed and then regurgitated in your own words. You do not impress anyone by adding King James language to your thoughts. And it might be nice to give people your rendition of the truth–what the Bible refers to as a testimony. It is what has saved us and it is really what is of interest to others.
 
And finally, God forbid that I ever allow a cynical bone in my body. In many ways I view myself as a walking miracle, although occasionally at the end of a long day, it may look like a hobbling mishap. Either way, I am still going forward. I’m not so sure there are many of people my size who have journeyed as much as I have who are still kickin’ and living. So if you don’t mind, I am not going to be cynical even if part of me believes that the things being done might be a bit redundant, if not ridiculous.
 
There is nothing we can do about what other people do. Such a simple statement. But we forget. So then we turn around and perform a worse atrocity than what we’ve just seen by complaining about it.
 
I can recommend to you dear friends that ones great mission in life is chasing your hypos. Find what you don’t like, don’t complain, but instead, extract all versions of your aversions from your human practice. It’s fun. It keeps things interesting. And you don’t have to bend someone’s ear with your nastiness.
 
Chasing hippos (hypos)–finding little pieces in myself of the big problems that make life really stink.
   
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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

Dr. Foul–November 2, 2011

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Telling people that life is easy is misleading them into believing that nothing they are or that they possess will need to change.

Utterly ridiculous. 

Informing people that life is hard makes them reticent, a bit reclusive and frightened that change will be thrust upon them and they will be insufficient to the task. 

Equally harmful.

And telling people that you have the answers and that if they would just listen to your counsel they would be better is not only turning yourself into a false Messiah, but making them subservient to such a fictitious character.

Damnable.

There is a gentleman on TV who postures as a renowned psychologist and pops off advice in a homespun way, having very little understanding of the history of the people he’s talking to, while sharing some personal anecdotes about how he has overcome the same problem with a “tell it like it is” attitude, leaving people helpless to disagree with him, and therefore cowering in the corner, just waiting for the onslaught of his opinion to stop. They call him Dr. Phil. But to me, he’s Dr. Foul.

I know what you’re thinking. “Jonathan, you don’t usually come out with such blatant statements about individuals.” This is true–and I apologize for my lapse in procedure, but I’ve grown weary of television gurus who feather the nest of their reputation by using wounded human beings who are caught in a web of difficulty and deception to make themselves look like they are smarter than the average person and that they can fly high over the masses. Here’s the problem with Dr. Foul:

1.Change is a necessity and relationship is necessary to human beings, so the need for change within a relationship has to be worked out by the individuals who are involved in that covenant and cannot be simply handled in two quick stories and three platitudes. Dr. Foul likes to find the person who appears to be victimized and portray him or her as someone who needs self-esteem and is being torn down by the mean aggressor. It isn’t always that easy. There are people in this life who have declared war on the concept of change. Their “changeless” attitudes causes conflict, financial difficulties, problems and even illness. To tell them that they are “fine the way they are” is to lock them in a box of their own insufficiency and throw away the key.

2. He believes that conventional wisdom always works. It doesn’t. It’s why the Bible says that we “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” It is why the Bible also teaches that we “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” Bluntly, that premise contends that if we need space for our pointy corners, then we must grant that same opportunity to our fellow humans. Knocking off the corners on people’s lives does not make them fit better into Godly containers. It just bruises them.

3. Not everything is a story about you. I realize that Dr. Foul is an entertainer who has neither the patience nor the time anymore to actually involve himself in   human contact with those in need. But presenting how YOU did something so well is not a motivation to make others do the same. It just makes them feel more helpless.

4. He doesn’t allow for an argument. It doesn’t matter how smart you get–people still on occasion are smarter than you. If you cannot listen to what they’re saying and give in to common sense, but rather, feel that you must maintain a position, then you have become useless to them. Dr. Foul is never wrong and becomes quite heatedly angry if you suggest otherwise.

5.  And finally, mixing philosophies together to form a hodge-podge of psychological babble is not conducive to establishing a good pattern for life. In the process of one show, Dr. Foul will bounce between Zen Buddhism, pop psychology, fundamentalist Christianity, Cracker Box chatter, hipster lingo and just man-on-woman chauvinistic superiority. Make up your mind.

For instance, when I run across fundamentalist Christians who only believes in the King James version of the Bible and they are ardent in their belief, I can have a conversation with them because I understand their hearts.  This is why I admire people who are against abortion, but also against capital punishment and war. It’s consistent. On the other hand, if you were to actually follow the advice of Dr. Foul, you would find yourself so uncommitted to any particular path of righteousness that your wishy-washy approach would render you insipid to the point of being comical.

Case in point: it is impossible to instruct people that women are the weaker sex or that women are the emotional arm of the species and that men are sexually driven, dominant and more powerful and think that you are going to establish any kind of relationship based on equality. Yet Dr. Foul persists in offering an Old Testament version of relationships between men and women while at the same time insisting that he is the modern Renaissance man who views both sexes as equals.

I do not share this with you today because I want to be mean-spirited to this gentleman. I just want to make it clear that you should not listen to anything anyone says, including this writer, without trying and testing it through your spirit, your experience and your willingness–your spirit because God speaks to you if you’re willing to listen; your experience because that which you’ve seen and heard is what you should declare to others; and your willingness–just because something NEEDS to be done does not mean that after you have counted the cost, you are going to be able to undertake it.

Dr. Foul does not allow enough time for these people to do this wonderful three-step process.  He tells them what their problem is, makes them accept it and sends them off somewhere for therapy as he closes the show with a smirk, to the roar of applause. When you are truly helping people it is no laughing matter and there rarely is ever a standing ovation.

As I said, feel free to disregard this humble author’s insights in this matter. But also please examine the counsel of anyone–no matter how many degrees they may possess–and ask God to show you what part of it has meat and what part of it is just dry bones.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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