I’m Looking For… A Thoughtful Thinker February 2, 2013



Laying on the table in front of me are two pictures. One is a grainy black-and-white photograph of the decaying skeletal human remains discovered in Auschwitz at the end of World War II–evidence of the genocide perpetrated by Hitler and his henchmen, to eliminate Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and other folks deemed undesirable.

The other picture is a glorious color photo of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, complete with Michelangelo’s rendition of God and man touching hands, creating an eternal link.

The two photos share very little in common–actually, only one definite similarity. Both of them were conceived in the brain of a human being. One, a dastardly mutilation of mercy and concern, often passed off as satanic intervention; the other, a glorious connection between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God, generating the miracle of creativity.

What’s the difference? After all, we are constantly talking about the power of knowledge without taking into consideration that there are two Garden of Eden varieties: the knowledge of good and the knowledge of evil.

It would be difficult to make a case that our generation is stupid. We may be the most educated race to ever walk the face of the earth. But the problem with thinking is that if it isn’t thoughtful, it can quickly become crude, self-involved and even dangerous, finding itself spewed from the darker regions.

Yes, to be a thinker is only good if you’re thoughtful. If the goal of receiving information and learning better ways is to use that tool of comprehension to enrich your own life and the lives of others, then the acquisition of knowledge transforms into wisdom. What is the turning point to change a mere human brain into an instrument of thoughtfulness?

1. I have what I need. Every nasty inclination occurs because we convince ourselves that we are cheated, short-changed or ignored. Somewhere along the line, in that glorious gray matter located in our cranium, we need to settle the score and understand that what we presently are working with is our treasure. It is when we begin to believe that we need more that we hatch plans to steal it from others.

2. I will use what I have. Even though laziness is a dangerous vice, when you team it with optimism, it becomes the breeding ground for the kind of thinking that makes us believe we deserve something without ever using our stockpile. One of the questions I ask myself monthly as I analyze my own progress is, “Am I using what I have instead of awaiting a shipment of supplies?” Nothing creates frustration any quicker than believing that opportunity is right around the corner rather than walking over and answering the door which is already being knocked upon.

3. I will daily invite God to come along on my journey. I am not going to be so ridiculous as to believe that He is in control of my life when He’s made it quite clear that He has granted me complete free will. I also will not be so stupid as to merely have a worship experience with Him in a religious sense without welcoming the wisdom of His spirit and the knowledge of the natural order into my decision-making process. Somewhere along the line, if you can stop being religious, you might actually get the chance to meet God. Likewise, if you’re an atheist, it’s going to be easier to garner information from nature–God’s workbench. I think it is impossible for human beings to be thoughtful until they stop needing more, but instead, use what they have and include God in their daily activities.

Without this, our brains become greedy, envious, lack-luster and we contend that we are the masters of our own fate, without having to give an account to anyone else of our deeds. I will go so far as to say that if Adolph Hitler had followed these three principles, it would have been impossible for him to lay a single filthy hand on any member of the Jewish community.

Too much thinking–not enough thoughtfulness.

My gift to you is to never use my brain without first connecting it to my more thoughtful nature. In so doing, I can tap the knowledge of good … and bypass the evil.

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

A Gospel Moment … April 24, 2012


A single drop of reason can sweeten a bucket of misunder-standing.

It is the gospel. For when you remove the underpinnings of religiosity from that word, “gospel” literally means “good news.” And the good news is that human beings are fine–when they’re human. And gratefully, there are those who are sent to every generation to remind us of the power of our gift–humanity.

It doesn’t matter what their backgrounds are or what nationality or bloodline pumps through their veins–the message is always similar. It is a moment when the spark of revelation triggers the human spirit to enlighten the brain with the notion that we are all human. We need each other. And if we just realize it, we can do better.

  • For Hippocrates, the father of medicine, the message was summarized as: “First, do no harm.”
  • King Arthur had his round table for all the gathered souls, who were encircled in a fellowship of equality.
  • Gutenberg came along and told us that the Word could become Print.
  • Michelangelo walked into a chapel and said, “Look up. Make beauty.”
  • In the midst of ages assumed to be dark, men and women rose up and remembered the value of their own lives and attributed that currency to the generation around them, as Thomas Jefferson intoned, “All men are created equal.”
  • It was Louis Pasteur who granted us the great revelation that bacteria kills people, and because of that, milk, which before had poisonous possibilities, was purified and smallpox, which killed more people than AIDS and cancer combined, was eradicated.
  • It was a man named Lincoln who proclaimed, “…with malice toward none and charity toward all.”
  • A simple fellow named Woodrow Wilson had a vision of a League of Nations, where all the people of the world could discuss their disagreements until unity could be found.
  • Let us not forget Helen Keller, who demonstrated that we could love without all of our senses.
  • And Mother Teresa, who stood firm in proclaiming that there were no untouchables.
  • And a preacher named Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “I have a dream…”, and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a young woman, Rosa Parks, who had tired feet and refused to go to the back of the bus. Yes, Martin took his people to the Promise Land, but was not able to go in himself.

These were gospel moments, when good news was allowed to fill the air to cover the cacophony of unreasonableness and bigotry. They are all derivations, reincarnations, interpretations and anointing of the words of Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It is the only message. It is the good news.

It caused a young inventor to try thousands of different techniques to finally say to the world, “Let there be light.” Yes, it is the spirit of Thomas Edison that we desperately require in this day and age of bleakness. Gospel moments demand that you cease to believe in the bad news around you, that you stop up your ears from hearing the futility, and instead, you allow a sweet melody to sing in your heart, telling you: “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

How can we do it? How can we avoid being trapped in the incessant repetition that demands we stand in line to wait for our next cup of unchanging gruel? What will produce a “gospel moment” for us? Better phrased, how can WE become a gospel moment for others?

Because truth does not come merely from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hindu or any other variety of religious expressions. Truth is one person who refuses to believe that life is a jungle, but instead, clears a path towards understanding.

Is it too much to ask? Or have we used up all the angels of our better nature, and now we’re left with the lingering demons?

Ridiculous. For it is no easier OR more difficult to be “gospel” today than it was for Dr. Hippocrates. Matter of fact, it is merely understanding this simple couplet:

The world’s gone nuts;

Don’t join.


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.


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.


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.

Opening Lines … November 20, 2011


Live, outdoors in Ambler, PA

Sitting in my motel room last night in Knoxville, Tennessee, I began to think about what I wanted to share in the three programs I’m going to be conducting at the Colonial Heights United Methodist Church. Unfortunately, every new experience in front of an audience demands an opening line. I say “unfortunately,” because there’s nothing more awkward than introducing oneself to many selves who are not always in the mood for an introduction.

Having done this for about forty years, I have learned certain phrases and ideas which I do NOT like. For instance, I despise, “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen…I can’t HEAR you.” (You see, the reason they are not responding to you is that they haven’t decided if they like you or not yet, and asking them to repeat something is not the best way to endear them to you.)
I also hate it when entertainers ask the audience to clap their hands and play some hokey, fast song to get them excited.  I mean, where do you go from there? It’s like having the honeymoon and then leaving the hotel to go on your first date. No–I really don’t like any attempt to force myself on a group of people who are reluctant at best and who at worst could very easily turn into a lynch mob.
I noticed when I set up at the church that there was a table in front of me with all sorts of Thanksgiving and autumn paraphenalia–like corn stalks and pumpkins.  I thought it might be funny if I began with, “Hey, do you agree with me here? It’s not a good idea for a fat guy to sit behind a pumpkin.” But you see–that’s HUMOR.  Humor is dangerous. It demands the intertwining of two conclusions: (a) that the people listening are intelligent enough to UNDERSTAND a clever comment; and (b) that they will actually laugh loudly enough that crickets will not be summoned to the scene.  It’s a big gamble.
My more ornery side considered that since the church is named Colonial Heights, I might begin with: “I see you call the church Colonial Heights? Speaking of colonies and being high…did you ever hear that the forefathers had opium in their snuff?” (You see, that’s what you call a joke to TASTE–and if people don’t have humorous taste buds, they might actually find it tasteLESS.)
But I do like good opening lines. There have been some famous ones.
  • Moses: “Let my people go.”
  • Pharoah: “No.” (Of course, that response ended up plaguing him … )
  • You can’t beat God’s opening line: “Let there be light!” (Of course, he probably was a little surprised when the sun blazed in his face, when all He was looking for was some subtly placed track lighting…)
  •  Then in the 1970’s, folks had opening lines for picking up girls in bars. Since I never picked up girls and really never went to bars, I was not accustomed to using the lines.  What was the common one? Oh, yes: “What is your sign?”–referring to astrology and the zodiac. I was always afraid if I said that to a girl she’d hold up a stop sign. 
  • I like funny ones, too. Abraham Lincoln: “Mary Todd, I need to see a play like I need another hole in the head.”  (Once again, that would be a particular presentation flavored to taste.)  But if you like that one, how about this one?
  •  Judas Iscarios to a local priest: “How much will you give me for a wandering Jew in a garden?”  Too dark?  Too soon?
  • And of course, the infamous one with Julius Caesar to his friend: “Brutus, you’re just a real pain in the chest.”
  • Then there is the simple approach.  “Hi. My name is Johnny Cash.” Just a little piece of trivia here for you who enjoy such matters–most people don’t know that before he became famous and started making lots of money, his original name was Johnny Credit.
  • One of the favorite opening lines that I’ve used is when arriving at the scene of a fire at a motel where I had been staying. The fire had been extinguished by local fire-fighters, but was still smoldering a bit. I strolled up to one of the brave fellows and said, “Excuse me. I’m here to install the smoke alarm.” (That one did not get much laughter, although I thought it was rich with possibility…)
So I ended my evening not really certain how I would launch my ship of conversation with the congregation–because the most effective way to initiate an encounter is to land somewhere between surprise and shock, but still within the realm of understanding. Over the years, I have found that the best for me is something like this: “Well, listen up. Here’s how I see it …”


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!

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