Sit Down Comedy …March 15th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3985)


There were a few citizens of Springfield, Illinois, who were surprised when the city council did not nominate Maggie and Carl Johnson for consideration as “Parents of the Decade.” There were four nominations in all, but Maggie and Carl were not included.

The long arm of their charitable deeds had stretched across the entire townscape. Their oldest son was a banker, a daughter was a doctor, another daughter a lawyer, and a son was a Captain in the Marines. They seemed perfectly poised to take the prize.

But for many in the capital city, they were disqualified because their youngest son had raped and murdered nine women.

Even though it was common knowledge that he was inflamed by chemical addiction and haunted by mental illness, it still seemed inappropriate to the town fathers to grant Maggie and Carl consideration.

Likewise, two nights ago, I walked into my kitchen and smelled something. I followed my nose on a merry chase, and finally ended up standing over the garbage can, which obviously had something in it that was rotten and wanted the whole house to know. Even though the garbage bag was only a quarter filled, I yanked it out, tied it up and took it and threw it in the trash. It might have seemed rash and the waste of a still-productive garbage bag, but the odor made me do it.

The Christian faith must be prepared, along with its gospel of grace and kindly parables of Jesus, to understand that when humanity assesses the faith, the nasty deeds of the faltering fingertips of offending Catholic priests and the racial bigotry and violence of white supremacists who will swear on a stack of Bibles that “they did it all in Jesus’ name” will certainly need to be stirred in.

When we march around on July 4th, remembering the founding of our country, no truthful telling of the United States can be made without strolling through the back alley of our treatment of the Native Americans, the African-Americans and also a look into the rancid nature of our politics.

Dare I say that I will gladly join you on a quest to find the “good Muslims” if you will freely admit to me that the “bad Muslims” seem to have grabbed the microphone and are doing most of the talking for Mohamed’s children.

There are leaders, missions, governments, and faiths. They are led by human beings who make mistakes. This is not terminal. It’s not even deadly. But when those errors are hidden beneath a campaign to extol only the goodness of the endeavor, then Jesus warns us that it’s like splatting a coat of white paint on the outside of a grave.

We must all understand that the truth about us is what we believe minus what we do, with who we really are being the sum that remains.

 

Donate Button

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this inspirational opportunity


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

 

3 Things… February 22nd, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3590)

To Remember if You Find Yourself in the Midst of a School Shooting

1. Don’t worry about your books or obtaining a hall pass

2. Don’t be a hero–get the hell out of there

3. Spend the rest of your life standing against violence in any form

 

Donate Button

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this inspirational opportunity

Three Ways to Be Wanted … November 6, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2405)

wanted cropped

Everybody yearns to be wanted.

Are there universal aspects of human behavior that make us more appealing to the tribe than others? Of course there are.

So it’s ridiculous to continue to preach a gospel of individuality when a certain amount of conformity is necessary for us to get along and succeed with our brothers and sisters.

So let me offer three suggestions on how to make yourself more wanted by friends, and even strangers.

1. Stop complaining.

I mean, completely. And when you do slip up and begin to grump and growl, catch it and apologize. It’s a piece of self-righteousness that we must acquire, otherwise we will find ourselves hanging around with folks who believe that complaining is an option rather than a vice.

To identify what complaining is, let me give you a definition: Complaining is when your expectation has been dashed and detoured by reality and you still feel you have the right to an opinion.

You don’t, I don’t and neither does anyone else.

One of the most appealing aspects of human character which draws people your way is a reputation for “taking one on the chin” without bruising up for a week.

2. Start listening and remembering.

Some people say they’re good listeners, but they’re horrible at remembering.

  • If people tell you they don’t like pickles, don’t keep serving them.
  • If you hear that someone is searching for a specific item and you run across it, buy it and present it to them.

We extol the virtue of listening, but it is a useless attribute if we don’t allow the information to become part of our conscious memory.

Listen–yes indeed, but more importantly, remember the preferences, deeds and desires of others.

3. Pick a mood.

You don’t have to be happy all the time. But you do have to land on a general temperament which people can trust. Even though we may not admit it, we get frustrated by folks who are high one day and “in the pit” the next. Matter of fact, we tend to become amateur psychiatrists, diagnosing what their condition might be.

Unless you have a neurological disorder or a mental illness, your moodiness is your choice.

All of us desire to be wanted. But to achieve this status, we must pack our knapsack with the kind of supplies that make us valuable on this great camp-out called life.

Donate Button

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

 

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Populie: Always Be Positive … April 2, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

(2193)

black eye smiley faceTo review: a POPULIE is an idea which is popular but is laced with a lie.

It is something we agree to when we’re around large groups of people, but privately either question or dismiss as irrelevant when applying it to our own lives.

One of these is the contention that it is important in all of our dealings to “always be positive.”

Politics loves it because promises get votes. Reality often scares people away.

Entertainment favors this particular populie of “always be positive” because it gives them an ending to a movie that the audience members can predict, making them feel smart and preferably, happy.

And religion touts this precept because we have this imbalanced notion that faith is about believing that good things will always happen because God is in control. (Of course, on the flip side, spiritually it makes us believe that when bad things happen, we’re being punished.)

I think the most important question we can ask is what kind of people does this create and what kind of society does it evolve?

If you’re going to live a life where you’re always trying to be positive, you will view trials, tribulations and hassles as deterrents to your cause instead of little friends–pesky as they are–who come along to warn you of fallacies in your plans.

So if you’ll allow me to offer an alternative to this populie:

THE CORE OF FOUR

Yes, let me introduce you to the Core of Four.

We need to determine what our outlook should be in any given situation. To get this information, simply ask four quick questions:

1. What do I see?

Faith is not about poking your eyes out until you become blind. Faith is about accepting what you see, but then also being able to see beyond it, to further possibilities. You will never be successful if you’re not able to deal with reality. Matter of fact, one of the signs of mental illness is the insistence that reality should “go away.”

2. What do I believe?

Sometimes the things you want to accomplish are not yet seen, but the need for them is still in existence. Belief is a wonderful combination of what we see, what we desire and what we’re willing to endure.

3. What will I do?

A positive attitude is quickly killed off by an unwillingness to participate. I won’t tell people I think a plan will work if I cannot commit to them how I will be involved. For after all, nice words and encouraging prayers are not very helpful in the heat of the struggle.

4. And finally, what are the prospects?

As I take a look at what I see, what I believe and what I’m willing to do, it pretty quickly becomes obvious what the logical prospects are for the adventure.

After this evaluation, I can choose my profile.

  • Often I can be passionately positive, because my “see, believe, do and conclusions” are very encouraging.
  • On other occasions, it’s important to be realistic. That which I see, believe, and am willing to do show my prospects to be within the realm of possibility–but maybe not quite as fruitful as I once thought.
  • And finally, there are times when it is required for us to be needfully negative. What we see, believe, and are willing to do has brought forth prospects which show that this particular endeavor is doomed.

A fruitful process. It is the absence of the populie which tells us that we should walk around with a smirk on our face, saying that everything will be fine, when secretly we’re dying inside.

Don’t forget your Core of Four. This will help you to choose the right attitude to approach each and every opportunity.

Donate Button

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Brother’s Keeper… October 24, 2012

(1,678)

Live from October 1st filming

Mary and Russell had five children.

I was the fourth intrusion. I do not characterize myself in that way to be mean-spirited. No human being is good at parenting. Even Adam and Eve were not “Abel” and ended up raising “Cain.”

Here’s the problem: By the time we figure out babies, they become toddlers. We graduate that phase, and suddenly they’re children. Just when we grasp the concept of childhood, they escape into the great tunnel of adolescence. Some brave souls actually try to follow them into that cave–and are never heard of again. The intelligent ones stand on the outside of the deep, dark hole, pray, cross their fingers and wait for their dear offspring to emerge about eight or nine years later.

Feel free to purchase books on the subject of raising children–although some piously insist that the term should be “rearing.” Your little darlings will be more than happy to dash all theories and bring to rubble great plans for household advancement.

So it was no different with Mary and Russell. Their particular skills were stuck somewhere between the McGuffie Reader and Dr. Benjamin Spock, causing them in their confusion to be too mean when compassion was required and too gentle when my four brothers and myself were desperate for discipline.

The only regrettable conclusion of this situation is that the five brothers grew up not particularly fond of each other. We were too competitive. We were too self-involved. We were too much of everything that is associated with the word “too.”

My oldest brother passed away before he and I were able to make peace with each other. Sad.

The third son and I made a truce which lasted until the day he died.

My younger sibling expresses affection in my direction, which is never followed up with any connection.

But Brother Number Two has become my project over the past twenty years. He was an intelligent, promising student many years ago, who had a vision for becoming a high school English teacher extraordinaire. He pulled it off for many years, but in the mid-1980’s he had a nervous breakdown and has lived on disability ever since.

I have great devotion for him. You notice I am careful not to call it “love.” To me, “love” is reserved for those excellent earthly moments when true connection is made between souls and an unearthly understanding of the universe unfolds.

No, I am devoted to him. For twenty years I have written him. For twenty years, I have visited every chance I can–whenever I get within a hundred miles. And every week I also receive a letter from him, ranging in tone from the kindness of mundane to the anger and virulence of vicious.

I endure.

So imagine my mixed emotions this week when I arrived in Central Ohio knowing that I needed to see him, but realizing that there was a reluctance in my heart to be confronted–especially at this time in my journey–with such a malevolent presence. I always have to remind myself that he strikes out at the world around him because he feels struck. But it’s not very comforting in the moment.

So I made a plan to pick him up at 9:15 yesterday morning, confirmed it with him by phone, and drove into his driveway to discover that his entire front yard had been transformed into a giant garage sale, strewn with trash and old junk. I thought to myself that at least we had a good topic for opening conversation. As previously agreed, I tapped my horn to let him know of my arrival.

There was no response.

My present physical condition does not permit me to leap from the van and go to the door to pound upon it with urgency. So I waited five minutes and tapped my horn again. Nothing.

My mind flashed back to the last three times I tried to connect with this dear brother, and had been stood up by him with a nasty letter from him following, explaining that it was my fault that he didn’t appear because he knew deep in his heart that I don’t really care anything about him.

So I started to wonder how long I planned to stay in his driveway, tapping my horn, before leaving with the realization that once again I was to be viewed as the ugly girl at the junior prom.

Yet I persisted. After five horn beeps and twenty-five minutes, he appeared sleepily at the door and told me he would be right out. Ten minutes later, I was rewarded for my perseverance by the appearance of my brother at the side of my van, and we were off.

The next two hours that I spent with him are a study in human behavior and an exploration into the definitions of feeling helpless. For you see, the reason his front yard has been turned into a flea market is that he has allowed two vagabond young men to come in and live in his home, and they have completely taken over his abode, and are beginning to fight with him to such an extent that the police have actually had to be called to the scene.

I resisted running away in horror.

He explained to me that these same individuals have chased away his beloved cats, which are really his only family, leaving him without feline protection. One of these young intruders has also brought a homeless man into the house to stay, further complicating the chemistry brewing in the cauldron.

Then my brother explained to me that he is trying to evict one of the squatters, while said squatter is also taking him to court for reimbursement on construction supplies that the young fellow purchased to build in a living quarters–for himself–on the back porch. (Now, I realize that all of this is very confusing when written into a story form, but let me comfort you by telling you that it was no easier to understand in the original telling.)

My dear brother had no trouble whatsoever filling in 129 minutes of conversation on his own, only once asking about my doings, in passing. He has a life that is full … without having a full life.

You see, it’s what happens to all of us when we don’t decide the purpose for our breathing and moving; circumstance and crazy travelers can come in and fill in our empty space with their own trauma and terror.

This is why I pity grown people who make their children their lives. Your seed will be more than willing to destroy your garden of hopes. I am always careful to warn those who have retired to start a second career, finding a reason to get up in the morning. Otherwise, all of the insanity of the world will crash in on you, exhausting you with its nuttiness without ever granting you fruit.

My brother was exhausted but had nothing to show for it but sadness, exasperation, apprehension and defeat. They had broken his television set, taken his car and left him desolate. And because it appears that he has given these things over to them, it is impossible to prosecute the perpetrators.

I was so depleted. I remembered the lament of an exasperated brother from thousands of years ago: Am I my brother’s keeper?

It’s so easy to walk away from insanity and allow it to be turned over to the general asylum. You can disassociate yourself from it so easily, returning to your own peaceful ways.

But he is my brother. He would be my brother if we had not shared a common womb, because we share a common God.

I did my best to encourage. I did my best to bless. I did my best to promise him that I would return again very soon to renew our conversation. I did my best to give him some money so he could spend it on himself instead of squandering it on his emotional assailants.

I did my best not to cry.

Mary and Russell did their best, too. But like many of those born after the Garden, they grew some weeds. It is now the job of those stray children to find one another and make some sense of it all.

I am my brother’s keeper. It’s just that sometimes the most difficult part of caretaking … is cleaning up.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Dark Night Descending … July 21, 2012

(1,583)

Gary and Terri were my friends. Neither relationship was based upon ease and comfort, but rather, hinged on need.

I met Gary during a brief station of living in the Bayou State. He was just a little younger than me and both of us were much too immature for our own good. He had been diagnosed as bi-polar, and like so many folks who find themselves in that position, he yearned to be normal by conventional standards. To confirm that desire, he often refused to take his medications. When he didn’t allow for chemical intervention, he was completely out of his mind and would occasionally run through the streets of our little Southern town naked, proclaiming what he determined was the “good word of the Lord.”

Because I was young and lacked experience, I took a long time to consider what my job was with Gary. He had been to so many churches in his life that in many ways he was more qualified than some ministers–at least in being able to quote large passages of scripture. He had been counseled by an abundance of professionals, so he had learned to be a great con man and was quite able to convince you of his complete competence at the drop of a hat. He was charming enough to have deluded many hapless lasses into bedding with him, so he lacked respect for the opposite sex as human beings, viewing them as sexual conquests.

I watched all this unfold in front of me. I made a decision with Gary that I have used the rest of my life. The notion that we will never meet crazy people or that there’s nothing we can do about them is what causes the empowering of the weak-minded. People are either afraid of them, baffled by them or disgusted by them. All of us have crazies. Many of these crazies are in our own families.

Now, what do I mean by crazy? If you’ll allow me to insert my definition here before you become offended by my candor, here it is: crazy is when we allow disappointment and frustration to drain us of our better virtues and invite self-pity to take control. For some people, it’s pronounced because they have chemical imbalances or issues going back into their childhoods. For others, it’s an imitation of maturity–acting depressed, upset and pulling themselves out of the game of life just as they’re about to have the opportunity to score a touchdown.

The first thing I did with Gary was love him. The second thing I did with Gary was insist that he take his medication. In the process, he became annoyed, sometimes appreciative, attempting deception, and bounced among those three profiles for the rest of our relationship. Because he was on his medication, his life got better, he grew in true wisdom of his faith instead of superstition, and he met a lovely woman and married her. But then he decided to go off his medication, and ended up abusive, threatening and dangerous.

I realized I had one last responsibility with Gary. I stepped in, protected the young woman from his viciousness and got him admitted to a mental ward. I visited him. They decided to keep him for a long time. They even transferred him to a more permanent facility. Shortly after that I left the state and I’ve never heard from Gary again. But Gary taught me a very valuable lesson.

God sends you people. People are often crazy. Deal with your crazies.

Terri, on the other hand, was a young lady who joined my musical group in its early years. She was attractive, although she thought she was beautiful–her parents had told her so. She was a pretty good singer but she thought she was great–she had a letter from her church choir director to confirm it. She had a friendly personality, but believed she was dynamic. Everything about her perceptions were exaggerated. It wasn’t exactly Terri’s fault–in a great cloud of deceptive self-esteem, she had been raised by a family which believed it was their job to over-state their appreciation for their daughter to build up her confidence so she wouldn’t be depressed by the true nature of life’s competition.

So when Terri got in a music group and needed to sing harmony with other people, it was a shock for her to discover that she was occasionally sharp or flat. She would burst into tears at the notion that she needed to rehearse more to perfect her portion. It was a painful process and a grueling detail–to smother the false awareness that had been placed in her by her upbringing and replace it with reality, allowing her to improve so that she could measure up to the standard of the praise she so yearned to receive. Terri got better, and when she got better she wasn’t nearly as devastated by being worse.

Americans are under the misconception that giving praise will keep people from being dashed by the dastardly criticism of everyday life. Really, nowhere else in the world does any culture mislead its citizenry in such a way. Young people waking up in Africa are not told they are beautiful. The Chinese don’t laud their children with tons of accolades, but rather, expect perseverence and the desire to excel.

It’s in America where we feel the need to lie so as to cushion the harshness of the necessary system. Let me explain–when something is fair, it can not be considered to be okay. Okay is a little better than fair. Learn the difference. Likewise, when it’s okay, it is not good. The word “good” means that we have entered the ballpark of possibility. Okay means we’re still trying to get a ticket. Here’s a tricky one: good is not exceptional. We love to over-praise people and end up exaggerating their sense of importance, which means that exceptional is not great–and great, my friends, is not genius. I am not so sure that “genius” is proper to use for anyone but our Creator.

Our doctrine of self-esteem in this country has created a generation of “lazies,” and because of their addiction to accolades, they cease to try to get better. It affects our society, from the President all the way down to the street sweeper.

Very early on Friday morning, a man walked into a movie theater and emptied out all of his craziness and laziness into a theater full of unsuspecting people. Because it was not caught early enough by astute family members, friends and just folks who were perceptive to human need, his unleashing was in the form of bullets instead of frustrated bad language in a counseling session.

I will be blunt with you: James Holmes should have either ended up being taken care of and helped, or so frustrated that he put a gun to his own head, killing himself. Yes, let me say it loud and proud–suicide is preferable to homicide.

So even though the anti-gun people will insist that the purchase of weapons was the source of the tragedy and the NRA will defend itself by saying that guns are a God-given right, and those against video games will cite that the young man was trying to play the part of the Joker from the Batman movies, and the entertainment industry will bring in its experts to prove that merely watching violence does not create a climate for it, all of them miss the point.

The reason James Holmes was allowed to commit this atrocity in Aurora, Colorado, is because people didn’t deal with their crazies or motivate their lazies. When he was a kid he was given too much self-esteem because that’s what our society does, so when he arrived at adulthood he found out he wasn’t nearly as valuable as he thought he was; he also was a little crazier and more imbalanced than anyone was willing to admit to his face. So even though when people got around him, within half a minute they knew something was wrong, they chose to leave him alone instead of dealing  with their “crazy” and trying to motivate the laziness, which would allow his promise to turn into the reality of some accomplishment.

Every one of us has crazies in our lives. Every one of us has lazies. They are people who are weaker and require our focus and attention. What we decide to do with them determines whether they end up struggling, discovering a mixture of daily victories and defeats, or angry with the world, emptying ammunition into terrified ticket-holders.

Don’t blame anybody for Aurora. Be smart. Deal with your crazies and motivate your lazies. Stop avoiding people who are imbalanced and challenge them to find help. Cease to give over-zealous flattery, and instead, call great “great,” good “good,” fair “fair” and by the way–poor “poor.”

When we finally arrive at this point, people who love and care will take the crazies and the lazies out of the spotlight, and in so doing, save the lives of average people who just wanted to go out to a movie premiere.

    

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

%d bloggers like this: