Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3994)

Sitting Twelve

A comedy of horrors, worst fears realized—for a bedraggled, sweaty soldier huffed and puffed his way to the top of the hill, screaming, frustrated and completely aggravated by the role of bully, which had been thrust upon him by two thieving, punk hoodlums.

A young Arab boy, gasping for his next breath, too frightened to move from the clawing hands of his attacker, the great Behemoth of military strength.

A seasoned female reporter, jaded by the world around her, reduced to becoming a screeching tearful lass in distress at the prospect of the mayhem unfolding before her eyes.

And then there was the young Jewish boy, sitting quietly, overly calm, holding a hand grenade and heaving huge sighs as tears careened down his cheeks.

The scene was an active one, filled with danger, yet unnervingly still, poised in the moment, as the great fear of all those concerned had now become reality.

The soldier, focusing in on Pal, pulled on his leg, yanking him down the hill as the boy pleaded in the many languages of his culture.

Meanwhile, Karin was punching the arm of the enraged soldier, shouting obscenities and trying to trip him with her legs.

Iz remained quiet. But then, all at once, he commanded, “Stop!”

It wasn’t that his voice was powerful and loud. He was standing on his feet, holding the hand grenade in his outstretched hands, his finger fiddling with the pin. Yet the soldier only delayed for a moment—then scoffed and continued pulling Pal down the hill.

Iz seemed peaceful, wide-eyed and aware when he squeezed the pin and pulled it from the fuse.

Everything halted.

Karin ran the few short feet to Iz as the soldier scrambled up the hill and grabbed the grenade from his hand. Iz remained like a statue—immovable. The sergeant, though well-trained, was petrified and froze.

Karin squalled, “Do something!”

Hearing those words, all of the training that Minioz had received kicked into gear. He wielded back and with the brute force granted only to a soul energized by adrenalin, he hurled the grenade across the desert, as everyone leaped to the sand.

That is, everyone but Iz. The young boy stood and watched as the grenade flew through the air and bounced on the sand about thirty meters away.

Everyone waited. Everyone held a collective breath. And then, everyone was bewildered.

Nothing.

Nothing happened.

Very gradually, each of them got up from the ground, staring in the distance at the tiny object lying on the sand, which for some reason, had failed to deliver its big bang.

“What happened?” whispered Karin.

Minioz wiped some sweat from his face. “A dud. Or maybe a fooler.”

Pal wiggled his way over to Iz’s side. “What’s a fooler?” he asked.

Minioz shook his head. “Sometimes they pretend not to work until you go over and try to move them again, and then they blow up in your face.”

All the gathered souls at the desert encampment paused for a moment and thought about the statement offered by the sergeant, each conjuring a horrifying word picture.

Iz finally spoke. “I told you to leave us alone.”

He possessed an unsettling tone—icy and cold, his pain seemingly buried deep inside. He walked toward the failed grenade.

Karin looked at Minioz, expecting him to do something. “Stop him!” she ordered.

The soldier just shook his head. “As I remember it,” he replied, “the one who throws it goes and gets it.”

Pal leaped to his feet and called his friend’s name. “Iz! Iz! Iz!”

Karin gained her feet and jogged toward the determined young man. The soldier rolled his eyes and simply said, “Oh, hell.”

He caught up and grabbed Karin’s arm. “I don’t want to be here when they pick up the bodies of a boy and a woman and ask me why I didn’t do something. I will get it. But in case you didn’t know, I really, really hate you.”

Minioz craned his neck and concluded, “You just make sure that crazy boy there stays out of the way.”


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G-Poppers … May 18th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop would like to address two words with his children: constraint and restraint.

Although they have similar definitions, their application is quite opposite.

Constraint is normally a commandment or demand placed on others, and restraint is a restriction we apply to ourselves.

Even though we certainly would love to place many constraints on the world around us and guide it into deeper understanding of what we envision for an excellent planet, the fact of the matter is, no one really listens to anyone else, especially when controlling through instruction.

When constraint is in the air and cultures, religions and political parties are attempting to convert one another, the end result is usually violence. Of course, long before the mayhem, painful discourse ensues, often punctuated with insult.

G-Pop wants to tell his children that it is time for good-hearted people of good cheer to take on some selected restraint, with the goal, in so doing, of making it much easier for people to see the vision of the choice–and judge for themselves what they want to do.

Here are G-Pop’s Four Posts of Personal Restraint:

1. I will live and let you live.

2. I will be odd, and not get even.

3. I will make more and take less.

4. I will be kind and ease my mind.

No human being will be able to pull these off every day, or even for the preponderance of a week. But just doing it every once in a while changes the quality of the air we breathe, and lightens the burdens of the load we bear.

You can try to force these on other people, but they will resist you.

Or you can simply take them on as a goal, a mission, a blessing and a great relief to your own brain.

Constraint leaves the world bickering over details and never taking on the “weightier matters” of mercy and love.

Restraint opens the door, showing others what it’s like to clean up your own house before you try to dust the furniture in someone else’s living room.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 31) Everything Butte That…January 14th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sitting on the tarmac in Butte, Montana, getting ready to lift off in the jet back to Las Vegas, Jubal Carlos desperately tried to capture pieces of his mind, seeming to float in his inner space.

The major question was very simple. What in the hell was he doing? He found himself interacting and working with people he hadn’t even known this time last year. They were nice enough, but a loneliness was settling into his soul–a yearning for purpose to join passion, to offer possibility.

The band he once loved was beginning to grumble and complain over the schedule, even though there was lots of money and a gentle atmosphere for the work. He cited to his mates that they were reaching people, but realized that they were becoming weary in all their well-doing.

The craziness of Washington, D.C. and the near-death experience of Jo-Jay hollowed out his insides.

But mostly, it was Butte, Montana. It was the most recently-selected little city to receive the noontime luncheon and show. Of the thirty-thousand-plus residents, a jubilant and warm-hearted five hundred came out to sit on the grass and “consider the lily.”

Shortly after the rally was over, Jubal excused himself and drove a rental car over to a nearby convenience store to buy snacks for the plane trip. In the parking lot he saw four young men sitting in the back of a pick-up truck, passing rifles back and forth.

It seemed fairly harmless.

Just before Jubal entered the store, one of the young men screamed across the distance, “So do you supposed to be Jesus?”

His comrades in the truck giggled.

Jubal just smiled, waved them off, and went into the store to acquire his delights. When he came out, the four fellows were gathered around his rental car. A shiver went down Jubal’s spine. Could be trouble. Yet small-town folks could just be curious, even though you’d swear it seemed threatening.

Jubal took a deep breath and walked to his car. He opened it, threw in his supplies and started to climb in himself when one of the young men grabbed his arm.

“You ain’t Jesus,” he said.

Jubal mustered his courage. “You sure are right. I’m not. No more Jesus than you are.”

“Well, I ain’t Jesus,” said another.

The boys showed no sign of being dangerous, but were certainly out on a lark, and Jubal realized that from their menacing profile, they could accidentally produce some mayhem.

A third one spoke. “We got all the Jesus we need here. What nationality are you anyway?”

Jubal smiled. “I don’t know. My mother died before I was two. My father split out after he found out I was gonna be born, and I don’t know where my grandparents are. So I usually have people guess. What nationality do you think I am?”

The fourth one piped up. “You look a little Korean.”

The other three laughed. “He ain’t no Korean,” said the second fellow. He was still holding his shotgun. The other three had leaned their weapons against the car, making Jubal’s departure more precarious.

The original fellow who had yelled across the parking lot offered, “I think he’s just a partially bleached-out nigger.”

“Now, Billy–you can’t say that word. It’s not proper,” laughed his friend.

“What? Bleached out?” said Billy, giggling.

Jubal decided it was time for him to use the gifts God had given him. “I could be bleached out,” he said. “You see, when I was a little boy, the foster home I was living in did laundry every Tuesday morning, and I wasn’t able to help much. So I sat on a stool nearby, watching all the grownups and older kids work on the clothes.”

Suddenly all four gentlemen were listening intently. Jubal continued. “Well, here’s what happened. Auntie Maria–that’s what we called her–well, she brought in a big bucket of bleach. And wouldn’t you know? I was so young and dumb I thought it was water. So when nobody was lookin’, I jumped in. I mean, the bucket was big enough to hold me, and I saw no reason to resist.”

There were a couple of snickers.

Jubal pressed on. “I wasn’t in the bleach very long. So I didn’t get totally bleached out, like you suggested. But word has it that before I went in that bleach, I was as black as an ace of spades.”

The young men stared at him curiously. Billy squinted. “So what you’re sayin’ is, you could be bleached out.”

“Maybe you are, too,” said Jubal.

Young Man Two jumped in, objecting. “No siree. I’ve been white all my life. I’ll live white and I’ll die white.”

“Well, I’ll probably die this color,” answered Jubal, “unless I get a hankering to jump in some more bleach.”

“You’re a dumbass,” said Billy flatly.

“Of course I am,” smiled Jubal. “What kind of idiot jumps in a bucket of bleach? So if you fine gentlemen will forgive me, I’ve got some friends waitin’ for me.”

There was a long pause as the group considered their options.They looked around the parking lot to see if they had gained any attention. There was a small crowd at the door, watching the events, since word had spread that the “Jesus fella” was in town and was picking himself up some Twinkies.

Billy peered at Jubal. “Do you think Jesus liked guns?” he challenged.

Jubal thought for a moment to make sure he portrayed that he was taking the question seriously. “I don’t know, Billy. I’m not real familiar with his feeling on firearms. But I do know that he loves people. And I do know he loves you fellas.”

They laughed him to scorn.

Billy turned to walk away, motioning to his friends to come on. “Like we were tellin’ you–we got plenty of Jesus here. You don’t need to come back.”

With a smooth, choreographed motion, Jubal slid into the car, shut the door and rolled down the power window. “Tell you what. Maybe I’ll just come back and see you guys. Thanks for the conversation. By the way, you didn’t ask me what I think about guns.”

Billy paused, turned around and frowned. “Well, that’s true.”

“You see?” said Jubal. “I’ve already got a reason to come back.”

He rolled up the window, started the car, backed up and drove away.

As Jubal sat on the plane, he realized that even though the moment in the Butte parking lot had been fraught with some danger, he loved it.

He loved the opportunity to meet people and see if he could sweeten their spirits and motivate their minds.

Off to Vegas.

Another three hours in the air, when he should be sleeping.

But his thoughts held him captive.

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 1)… July 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.”

These are the words of Jesus.

But you see, there’s my problem. Believing in Jesus is simpler for me. It’s believing in God that itches my brain.

You see, God has a lot of history–thirty-nine books of Old Testament, filled with murder, mayhem, racism and contradictions–before we arrive at the doorstep of the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth, where Jesus emerges and begins to speak to the world.

Every once in a while, I’m sitting in a room by myself and a sudden gust of realization sweeps in and blows my mind.

God?? What in the hell am I thinking? How could there be a God?

And this isn’t because there are bad things happening–it’s just that the stories told about this god are similar to the Greek mythology concerning Zeus. All at once, I am inundated with feelings of foolishness and slowly, bitterness jumps into my heart, mocking me for following such ancient tales.

Sometimes the Holy Bible reads like a Grimm fairy tale, full of witches, warlocks and little boys and girls threatened because they’re on their way to grandma’s house.

But then I pause. Why? It’s the chimpanzee.

Although I believe that science is the favorite hobby of the Father in Heaven, the order in the Universe, even in the midst of chaos, and the fact that human beings exist, hearkens to the presence of a Universal Creator. Feel free to try to deteriorate the human spirit, soul and intellect, and place it side-by-side with the animals–but if any one of us spent a week trying to reason, infiltrate and dine with chimpanzees (supposedly our closest relative) we would quickly return to the human race with newfound appreciation.

I’m sorry–animals are animals and people are people. There’s a huge gap. Somebody–did you hear me?–somebody put that gap there.

On the other hand, upon spending several weeks with the chimpanzees of theology, I am equally as baffled by the fact that for some inexplicable reason, they want to blur the God of Judaism with the person of Jesus.

So if the proclamation is, God is Jesus–I’m there, and the spiritual evolution from God and the devil playing poker with Job’s soul, to “love your neighbor as yourself” was needed and makes complete sense.

But if Jesus is God, I really have to include stories from the old volume, which are absolutely implausible, without merit and of no benefit to any creature on heaven or Earth.

It is troubling.

Without being accusatory, may I suggest that all of us, to some degree, are turmoiled by this mish-mash and collision of meaningless facts being thrown together into one book called the Bible and then dubbed “Holy.”

If you will allow me, over the next couple of weeks, I would like to deal with this troubling situation–because to a certain degree, all an atheist has to say to any Christian is, “Really???” and we are immediately defensive.

Because we possess our own doubts.

So doubts be damned and discussion begun, I will see you next week.

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G-Poppers… June 17th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop received an email from one of his children.

“Dear G-Pop: Why is there so much killing going on?”

He sat for a moment, thinking. Then he sent back this note:

We are in a struggle with anti-matter.

There are human beings who have decided that nothing matters. Once they come to that conclusion, they believe life is insignificant.

You can walk around the fringe of the problem by trying to remove guns, increase background checks and ask law enforcement to be more enforcing. But until you address the heart of the “matter,” these frustrated killers will slip through the safety net.

It is up to each one of us to take care of the “crazies” who surround us and make sure we do our part to prevent the next massacre.

Learn what to listen for.

1. “I don’t matter.”

Whenever you hear anyone state these words, stop what you’re doing and get involved. Listen to them. Take them someplace positive. Give them a reason to exist. Work with them shoulder to shoulder and see if it doesn’t improve the outlook.

2. “You don’t matter.”

Yes, there are folks who will decide for you exactly what your value is and limit the scope of your power. When you run across these people, take them into your home. Let them walk through some of your journey with you. Show them how your faith has feet.

3. “God doesn’t matter.”

Even though many of these murderers use the name of God to justify their mission, they obviously have given up on a Divine Being because they contend He’s given up on all of us. For example, it’s impossible to kill a deer if you think it has a soul or if it has the capacity to talk to you. To turn into a creature of mayhem, you have to believe that human beings are just ants.

And since Jesus told us that each human life is worth “many sparrows,” those who come to the conclusion that God doesn’t matter become dangerous.

At this point, you should invite two friends in. Don’t lay this on yourself. You’re dealing with a serious issue. You have to counsel with other people about the deteriorating scenario with this troubled soul.

The three of you should gently go and share with this person, to reason with him. Perhaps you can get him or her to once again believe in a loving Father and Creator or seek professional help.

4. “Nothing matters.”

When you hear a friend, relative, acquaintance or co-worker state that nothing matters, it’s time to contact the authorities.

You will certainly be afraid that you’re jumping the gun, but in this case that may very well be true. You may be jumping ahead to avoid the destruction of a gun.

When people begin to believe that nothing matters, they are susceptible to dark and evil suggestions which can lead to lasting tragedy.

With every single vicious, gun-slinging event that happens in this country, there are always at least four people who are fully aware of the pending calamity and decide not to interfere.

  • Law enforcement will not be able to solve this problem.
  • Making guns more difficult to acquire will only have limited effectiveness.

We need human beings who are attentive to the situations that come their way–when “anti-matter” tries to turn friends into demons.

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Good News and Better News … March 14th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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St. James Composite 2

Saint James Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Realizing that you may never include this sanctuary as a stop off in your pilgrimage of American churches, I will attempt to relate my experience of enjoying the fine folk I met there.

The pastor is John Locke, who has the noble name of a great English philosopher, the inspiration to such American forefathers as James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. (Thomas, by the way, used much of Locke’s language in penning the Declaration of Independence.)

That said, I will tell you that I enjoyed the present incarnation of John Locke of Fayetteville equally.

The congregation was inspiring, and therefore capable of being inspired. Although there were certainly individuals who were curious about my pedigree and what my theological background was, most of them just relaxed and allowed me the chance to share my talents and my heart.

They arrived having survived a week of bitter political struggles and angry candidates, generating a climate threatening mayhem. Let’s be honest–most of us feel rather insignificant when we are viewing the 24-hour news cycle and realize how meager our simple efforts may seem.

But that’s the purpose of the church. It is supposed to be a safe zone–a place where you come to escape social pressure, politics and even religion, and spend an hour or so finding reasons to still believe.

It is a sanctuary where we can proclaim:

1. We’re human.

And then we can ask God, “Is that what you expected?”

We’re not perfect, because in striving for such a position, we would look both prideful and foolish.

2. We’re more “child” than “angel.”

So heavenly Father, enchant us.

Any God we serve who expects us to become more than we are is a charlatan. We are God’s children, and therefore definitely require a certain amount of entertainment with our enlightenment.

3. We need a safe place to come.

The world is full of tribulation, and even though we understand that Jesus has overcome the world, we require a reason to be of good cheer.

It is up to the good folks at Saint James–from leadership all the way through nursery–to provide such an atmosphere.

If they do, they will become viable and powerful in the community, offering an option to the raging storms of those who follow the present wind-blowing.

If they insist on being religious and trap themselves in the drapings of their faith, they will not only be an anachronism to a former time, but will find themselves gnawing on each other out of frustration.

So there’s the good news.

We’re human, we are more like children and we need a safe zone.

But here is the better news: on top of all that, we have this quality–just a bit of sweet, creative divinity placed within us by the breath of God, hinting that we also can surprise you.

We are capable of being gentle and powerful.

So watch us.

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Overreaction … January 18, 2013

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BushmasterSlight traces of mercury are found in apple juice in containers from Upper State New York. As a precaution, a nationwide recall is made of all apple juice, not only from that particular company, but also from all distributors for a season, to ensure the public safety.

An overreaction.

A report is made that a razor blade is found in apples given out at Halloween to children near Cleveland, Ohio. A warning is broadcast across the nation via the media, informing parents of this danger. So many of these loving individuals take their children’s candy to the local hospital, where free inspections and X-rays of the treats are made available. Other parents (including yours truly) make sure they comb through every piece of sweet so that their children will not be damaged. It ends up being an isolated incident, in one case in one community.

So all the concern was certainly an overreaction.

Arsenic is discovered in several capsules of Tylenol near Chicago, Illinois. Within hours, all Tylenol products are pulled off the shelves, quarantined and put to the test, to make sure the public is protected from this poisonous outbreak. Once again, it was limited to that single store.

One might consider this an overreaction.

In the Pacific Northwest, ecoli turns up in some fresh spinach, making several people ill and causing the death of one. Within twenty-four hours, all fresh spinach is removed from the produce aisles, to shield us all from what turns out to be a very narrow spectrum of danger.

Likewise, toys that came from China had tiny particles of lead in the paint, forcing concerned parties to cease accepting shipments and to physically take all such products off the shelves.

An overreaction?

And now, twelve years later, we are still removing our shoes, having all of our possessions radiated and even being frisked at airports because of what happened on September 11th, 2001. Simultaneously, due to that tragedy, a Patriot Act was quickly voted into place, which limited freedoms and allowed for personal intrusions into our lives when it was deemed necessary to guard the common good.

An overreaction?

The truth of the matter is, if tomorrow’s news cycle generated a story in which a young man in Atlanta, Georgia, threw a coconut cream pie at one of his fellow-students in the cafeteria at Oglethorpe High School, in a matter of just a few hours, coconut cream pies would be removed from all cafeterias in our schools, deemed a recent danger. An investigation would be set into motion to determine when and how the treat could be returned to the menu.

Certainly an overreaction.

Yet when the Newtown Twenty-six were lying in their own blood in an elementary school, the American public, rather than producing a righteous overreaction by ceasing further commerce in the matter of weapons, ammunition and insisting on a full investigation of the kind of mental illness that produces such a macabre fiasco–yes, instead of this NORMAL overreaction that Americans would grant to a bunch of suspected spinach, the public instead went out and bought more guns than they ever have before–especially interested in the assault rifle used by the assailant who murdered our children.

No overreaction. Really no debate.

We are settling for a contentious conversation about how we can continue to be mediocrely prepared for such mayhem, while continuing to put an amendment in first place, which should be secondary to human lives.

Do I have this right? Spinach and Tylenol can be blamed in entirety for delivering ecoli and arsenic, which is not in the original makeup. But guns get a free pass simply because normally they sit on a shelf, waiting to be used. If spinach and Tylenol are blamed for producing a few deaths when they are completely innocent, guns must take their turn.

The only way for us to prove that we are serious about stopping violence in this country is to generate an overreaction, demanding a thirty-day moratorium on the sale of any weapons. It would speed up the process of our debate–because certainly the gun sellers would want to expedite a conclusion–and it would show that we have as much concern for our children’s safety from bullets as we do from ecoli.

The absence of this is the presence of a nationwide insanity, riddled with hypocrisy, which renders us at the mercy of an instrument that has a trigger on it, which can be pulled by anyone at anytime.

I am not against guns. I am against guns until we find out how we can keep them in the possession of the common citizen without putting the general citizenry in jeopardy.

And please do not quote the Second Amendment to me unless you’ve taken a moment to read it. The Second Amendment allows for a militia, which, if you move ahead to current time, would be the police force. I have no problem with policemen having automatic weapons. And by the way, the Second Amendment has already been infringed upon–because it allows citizens to BEAR arms. Most states have laws against walking around toting a pistol. You have to have a carrying permit, which after all, is the government infringing on your rights.

This is not a states’ rights issue. This is not about personal freedom. It is about the necessity we have as intelligent people to overreact when we realize … that a bit of hell is threatening our heaven.

It is time for an overreaction to violence. It is our responsibility to give the Newtown Twenty-six a decent burial and memory by taking more than five minutes to commemorate the loss, but instead, honoring these casualties by making sure that they … are the last ones.

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