Sit Down Comedy … August 2nd, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Hurling insults.

It may be the only exercise that many folks are getting.

We’ve become very concerned about being offended, yet are we becoming more offensive ourselves?

An interesting question.

One of the favorite insults is accusing one another of being racist. I think we must understand the path of intolerance. It begins with”

Prejudice

“I have an idea that I hold to be true.”

Opinion

“That idea has become my foundational thought.”

Bigotry

“I believe my idea is so good that I am prepared, willing and in the midst of sharing it with others.”

Racist

“I am convinced that my idea is supported by both nature and God, and therefore means that I must enforce it, alienating some group of people.”

As you see, it’s not easy to be a racist—and no one who is truly a racist is ashamed to admit it. They are loud and proud.

I think what each one of us needs to do instead of hurling insults is take a look at where prejudice tries to wiggle its way into our lives.

There are four encounters which give us the opportunity to use our speech in different ways if we so choose—or arrive at a unity of one voice.

First there’s Platter Chatter

These are the conversations we have with friends and family over dinner or during fellowship.

Next, the Pew View

These are the scriptures, sermons and ideas promoted by our particular religious organization.

Third is the Work Week Speak

I’m referring to the “around the cooler talk,” which sometimes is not cooler. It can actually be hotter.

And finally, the Walk Talk

This is a social environment with people we do not know, so we must be cautious in sharing our ideas and beliefs in front of them.

Is your conversation more prejudiced during Platter Chatter with your family? Does your church have a view of lifestyles that disincludes some people from salvation based on their choices? How about the bigoted jokes spoken at work? Can you refrain from laughing loudly, and in so doing communicate your disdain? Or must you object? And what is the profile of your interchanges around strangers?

In trying to figure out the amount of racism you have in your life, you have to concentrate on whether bigotry has found a home inside you—whether somehow or another you’ve formed your own personal opinion based upon a prejudice that has lingered in your mind.

So ask yourself:

Is your Platter Chatter, Pew View, Work Week Speak and Walk Talk all the same? Or do you allow a little more opinion, prejudice and maybe even bigotry to appear in certain environments, which you don’t permit in others?

It’s a great way to analyze your situation, and it also makes you a bit more cautious about slinging the term “racist” around.

It’s something to ponder.

Of course, there always is the choice of going for a long walk instead of hurling insults.

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Ask Jonathots … December 29th, 2016

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I am so frustrated. What happened in 2016??

Well, I’m not quite certain of your particular frustration, or what crosses your mind as a grievance concerning the year.

But certainly overall, the United States abandoned its sense of “civil” rights. In pursuing rights it is essential we maintain a civil attitude.

Somewhere along the line it became more important to chase down an agenda or voice opinions of opposition than to find ways to peacefully coexist and respect one another.

In the process, we had a lot of shouting without having any real interaction.

  • It became important to be right.
  • It was essential to win.
  • It was a game to degrade your opposition.
  • And it was considered fair play to dig up dirt and heap it on your opponent.

Because we humans are susceptible to selfishness, once we realized that our leaders were participating in playground antics, we felt the freedom to lessen our general toleration while increasing our volume.

It created a caustic environment.

So all the political parties, all the religions, and all the intellectuals who were supposed to guide us in ways of structured sensibility, instead became armed forts, where rocks were thrown across the chasm.

This will only change when we return to civil ways to establish our rights.

So what is civility?

1. It is impossible for me to completely be right.

I am human and therefore not only capable, but susceptible to error.

2. Listening means shutting up.

There is no such thing as listening with one ear as you prepare your speech to contradict your enemy.

3. Treat every human with the respect and reverence you would give to God.

If you don’t believe in God, treat every human like you would your mother.

4. Be fully aware that in a democracy you will need to include other people who have lifestyles and ideas which are completely opposed to your own.

If it isn’t killing anyone, you will have to learn to adapt.

5. Practice kindness whenever you can.

In other words, if there are going to be conflicts, we need to also have many moments of gentleness in between, or we will start bashing each other instead of learning to enjoy one another.

In 2016, rights became more important than civility.

It was not merely a liberal problem nor a conservative problem. It became universal.

Help change 2017 by making sure that the way you express your opinion is just as respectful as the passion with which you proclaim it.

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Ask Jonathots … February 4th, 2016

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I grew up in Buffalo, New York, and am considering going to Auburn for college because of a great scholarship offer in my field, which is art. I’m concerned about the cultural difference. I know you travel the country all the time–what are the differences between the different areas of the country–especially the North and the South–if any? Am I making a mistake?

One of the odd coincidences that occurs when you’re traveling on the road with people is that because you’re eating a similar diet, your bathroom habits become almost identical. (I know this is a strange way to begin my answer, but please bear with me as I try to make a point.)

If four people are consuming the same food, it’s reasonable to assume, with slight variations, that their daily routine will parallel.

So even though the media in this country, in pursuit of developing story lines, insists that various areas have differing views and approaches, the truth of the matter is, we’re all subject to the same diet of television, news and movies.

For instance, there wasn’t a Star Wars made for the South and another one for the North. There are not sitcoms viewed in Dixie and others favored in Brooklyn.

When you travel into the South, you will find minor cultural preferences, but overall, the people are citizens of the United States, and therefore, indulge in the same philosophies, laws and approaches of everyone else.

So I think it’s safe to say that if you’ve been blessed with a scholarship to Auburn, you should not only go, but travel there with the confidence that you’re going to run across outstanding American citizens who may have some attributes that are slightly unique, but possess a full awareness of what’s going on in the world around them.

Church attendance differs from one area of our nation to another, and to a certain degree, appreciation for lifestyles and culinary dishes may vary slightly.

But overall America is exactly what it advertises–a great melting pot.

The prejudice, bigotry and ill-founded conclusions which are drawn are put together by those who need to make a deadline for the news and stir up tales that create conflict so people will tune in.

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Jesonian: Enlightened … September 20th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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enlightened thinking

The average man sitting in the audience listening to Jesus of Nazareth believed the following:

1. God was angry and manifested His displeasure through disasters, afflictions and plagues.

2. Nature was beyond comprehension, and to be feared because demons caused illness.

3. People were evil unless they were related to you or were part of your village. Any strangers who lived outside your enclosure were dangerous and needed to be killed.

How do you address such superstition and ignorance?

Here’s one thing we know for certain: Jesus did not cater to their bigotries, wave their flags or agree to their religious lunacy.

Jesus told them that God was our Father. As our Father, He is at least as nice as we are as parents.

Jesus told them that Nature was meant to be understood and discerned, and we can apply what we learn from that study to improve the quality of our lives.

And Jesus told them that we are judged by how we treat our enemies or those who are adversarial to our point of view.

It was an enlightened way of thinking, containing one solid eternal truth:

Where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom.

Every time we try to remove freedom from people, governments, spirituality or relationships, we place ourselves in a Dark Ages of misunderstanding, setting us back generations.

Unfortunately, those who followed Jesus did not remain enlightened.

  • They went on Crusades.
  • They bought human beings and used them as slaves.
  • They attacked their brothers and sisters who had different lifestyles, calling them abominations.

I don’t know where the Spirit will take us in the years to come, but I do know that the true gift of God’s presence will be granted to those who are enlightened.

And to be enlightened, you must believe in freedom instead of legalism.

 

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Ask Jonathots … August 20th, 2015

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I know the Bible says not to worry, but I worry about money all the time. I really don’t have enough to pay everything. Every month I juggle something out of rotation, and then wait through all the notices. I hardly have any debt–I have one credit card, so that’s not the issue. I’m talking about rent, utilities, cable, phones, car, insurance and childcare (two of them, ages six and eight). I just don’t make enough money to get by. Suggestions?

Brain space.

Long before you solve a problem, you have to make room in your brain for creative consideration.

Jesus told us not to worry. He didn’t say this because he was some sort of air-head who believed we should live off our faith in God, with no consideration for being responsible for our needs. He was just enlightening us that worry, fear, apprehension and too much budgeting take up humongous amounts of space in our minds, closing the door on inspiration.

Someone asked me the other day what I thought about welfare. Here’s what I think: if someone is unable to work, finds it difficult to live on the money they make from working when daycare is included, then, they should be given assistance–as long as they realize that this blessing requires a lifestyle of using what they have instead of what they want.

In my lifetime I’ve had much money and literally no money. When I had no money, my main problem was feeling cheated out of the things I wanted, and therefore I was unable to creatively address what I needed.

The first thing I would suggest that you do is figure out how much real money you have coming in each and every month. Get a number.

Then take a look at your responsibilities, and subtract them. If you end up in the red, go back again, trim things up, and see if you can get yourself within striking distance of your own budget.

I understand that with children there are always surprises, but you won’t know what to look for, ask for and seek out until you understand how you must live within your means.

I know it’s not popular to say this, but you just don’t get to eat Hamburger Helper if your budget only allows for hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. And you certainly don’t get to eat chicken and steak if your intake only allows for Hamburger Helper.

The best way to get assistance from agencies–or even friends–is to ask for a specific portion of your living expense that you’re having trouble with, instead of coming in general desperation.

To do this, you must free up your brain space.

To free up your brain space, you have to transfer your fear of money (or the lack thereof) and change it into numbers.

As long as money is about feelings instead of numbers, you will fail.

  • Money is a number thing.
  • Your feelings should be reserved for creative solutions.

So keep in mind that Jesus was not trying to get you to spend hours in prayer, waiting for the miracle of a big check. Jesus was asking you to take the brain space you’re using for worry and fear, change your need into numbers, and use your ideas to find solutions.

If it doesn’t work out on paper, don’t start worrying.

Instead, get it out of your head and onto paper … so you are freed up to seek out solutions.

 

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It Took a While … June 10, 2012

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Realizing that Father’s Day is a full week away–NEXT Sunday–I wanted to take a moment with this particular jonathots to “warm up the oven,” as it were, on the subject.

I have the distinct honor of knowing six human beings who call me “Father,” “Dad” or “Pop.” Three of those individuals I had the pleasure of conceiving and three I had the great honor of enjoying. Along with those six young men, presently come four daughters-in-law, who graciously allow me to be included in the spectrum and vision of their desires for a father. Ten in all.

I think I was well into the process of being a father before I realized anything about the substance, value and importance of the process. First and foremost, above all else, if fatherhood is done correctly, it is not that much different from motherhood. I know this may upset some religious people (or folks who are trying to make a buck off of separate greeting cards) but once you understand what it means to be a parent, the vision for pursuing the project is not that dissimilar, whether you be male or female.

But what I never comprehended was that the logical linkage between human birthing of children and God‘s innovative creation of humans is identical. It’s why Jesus told us that the best way to understand God is to understand fatherhood. I go to churches and frequently see a banner displaying all the names for the Divine from the Old Testament–but honestly, folks, they’re irrelevant. God is a Father, and the minute you leave that perspective, you depart from understanding His true nature. So as I learn to understand my function as a parent, I really grow to comprehend the heart of the Almighty.

Fatherhood comes in three portions–like a three-act play, if you will. First is to conceive. It amazes me that something so pleasurable as sex can lead to the unearthing of another human being. The conception part of fatherhood is boisterous, exciting, boastful and intoxicating. I have one of my sons right now who is in the midst of this emotional inebriation. His chest has grown about six inches with pride, and he can basically think of nothing else but the fact that he and his dear wife have conceived a child and they are about to birth the little one. This spirit should never be dampened, quelled or even challenged. I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled that God is passing around cigars somewhere because He created me. It may be pure human vanity, but I do not think that I want to consider a Heavenly Father who is not a proud Papa. Yes, as fathers, first we conceive.

And then the second step is equally as pleasant as long as you do not argue with the results. A good father receives. With the factors of the genetics of two separate families colliding together, environment, climate, attitudes and training, gradually a human being emerges from the birthing ooze to become a voice. It is a voice that often has an opinion contrary to yours. Sometimes it’s purposefully antagonistic. But a very important part of fatherhood is to receive. Can I be candid with you? If God has created a natural order, and he honors His own system, He is often just as surprised with the results of His creation, as far as its make-up, preferences and pursuits, as they are. There is no power in preaching about an all-knowing God who is all-possessing and therefore, all-controlling. Good fathers don’t control. And God is the supreme example of a good father.

I have to receive all six of my sons as they are. Honestly, it was not easy. I wanted to reshape them and at times, wished that I had the power of do-overs. But that’s not what fatherhood is about. It’s about receiving what you’ve conceived, and doing your very best to instruct without manipulating, and to love without taking away free will. It IS the difficult part of parenting–which makes us grateful for the experience and honestly, jubilant when it’s finally over. God does not force Himself on His children. Why? Because He’s a good Father.

Which leads me to the third step in discovering the essence of fatherhood. Believe. The notion that “God has a wonderful plan for my life” is similar to me insisting that my six sons pursue a path of my liking. If I actually did that, people would condemn me, attack me, and insist that I receive counseling for being such a tyrant. So why would we attribute to the greatest Father in the Universe the attribute of being an interfering ninny?

No, the truth of the matter is that somewhere along the line, your children grow up and you have to believe in them. You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t have to stand back and endorse all of their choices. But you have to allow them the privilege of making them without your ever-present sense of disapproval or stoppage.

It is a step that is missing from parenting today. I think it came along with the baby-boomers. For some reason, my generation just seems incapable of letting go of their children and allowing them to be people. It is this notorious notion which is spoken aloud and now has become part of the brain process of our nation–“they will always be your kids.”

Not so, my friend. Somewhere along the line, they become their own people with their own dreams and their own children. You have to believe in what you’ve done, stand behind it and let them live. This is where religion fails to deliver the true promise of God. God is no respecter of persons–therefore what He conceives He receives, and then allows to live–with Him believing in them.

It’s perfect.

With six sons and four daughters-in-law, I have ten ongoing lifestyles bouncing around me all the time. I have to have faith that what I’ve conceived and received, I can now with confidence believe in. Without this, I create an atmosphere of tension and apprehension that makes me appear to be a dictator and them frightened to be themselves. It doesn’t mean that I do not continue to insert my opinions, and even desires. But they are just that–mine, and therefore, subject to dismissal by my offspring.

Conceive. Receive. Believe.

It took me a while, but I finally understood the make-up of a good father–actually, a good parent. But it is also the true nature of God. Our Father conceives, He receives and He believes.

That’s fatherhood to me. It demands that I be involved, but like John the Baptist, it also requires that I learn that “I must decrease and they must increase.”

   

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