Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4133)

Sitting Thirty-Two

Sergeant Minioz lay on his bunk, confined to his barracks, awaiting the outcome of the charges levied against him: absent without leave and dereliction of duty.

Plenty of time to think.

The first realization was that if he had used the time two weeks earlier to be just a little more reflective, he might not be sequestered, trying to figure out if the stink was coming from the room or from him.

Fresh in his mind was the questioning he endured from his major, a petty young officer with a jaw of granite and the disposition of a camel (if it had hemorrhoids.)

He remembered it well.

“What is your rank?” barked the major.

That one was easy. The stripes on Minioz’s shoulder told it all.

“Serial number,” came the next demand.

The sergeant had that one memorized. He also got the right platoon, company, commander and the days of the week complete and accurate.

Then the questions got tougher. The major drew in a deep breath and released it slowly, as he queried, “Have you now, or have you ever lost any military issue?”

Now there was the heart of the matter. Minioz paused for a second and decided it best for his cause to focus on the word “lost”—because certainly, he had never “lost” anything. After all, having something snatched by a little brat was not having it “lost,” right?

Minnioz spat out as quickly as possible so as not to appear tentative. “No, sir, I have never lost any military issue.”

The major spit right back. “Are you presently in possession of your entire weapon stockpile?”

Once again, the sergeant breathed a sigh of relief, thankful for the words “presently” and “in possession.” For Minioz had rectified his lack of a hand grenade by purchasing one at an Army surplus store in the city. It did not work—disarmed—and he hoped he would never have to demonstrate its purpose and power. But still, it hung impressively from his belt.

So the answer was simple. Yes, presently he was in possession of all of his military weapons. Of course, he did not volunteer the considerable span of time he was absent some hardware, which he had tracked down in the desert to two little punks who had outsmarted him and nearly killed them all.

The delay between questions was maddening. A bead of sweat broke on Minioz’s brow. He tried to stop the dribble but after all—how does one do that?

And then, the next challenge: “If you are in possession of all of your weapons, why was a report filed that you were attempting to retrieve a hand grenade which you alleged had been stolen from you?”

The brain of Sergeant Minioz exploded like a volcano. Report filed? Whom had he told? Who knew? Who had the evidence to derail him if he lied?

Of course, it’s very difficult to contemplate the correct answer without appearing evasive, so as quickly as possible, the sergeant retorted, “I know of no report, and know of no alleged charge and know of no one who would make such a claim.”

Minioz managed to stop himself before incoherency took over his reply. The fussy major stared at him but said nothing. Had he gotten by with it? Was his answer so twisted that the major was afraid to disassemble it?

But apparently, it was not enough. Obviously, the major knew more than Minioz thought he knew. Now it seemed that his superior officer was just stalling to watch him squirm.

The sergeant chose silence, limited his squirming and suffered through what was now a stream of perspiration.

After a long pause of scrutiny, the major spoke again. “So that is your answer?” he thundered.

Minioz widened his eyeballs to try to keep away some tears of fear. “Entirely, for now,” he piped back.

The major didn’t miss a beat. “So why were you absent from your post without leave?”

Minioz was not prepared to answer, but grateful to get away from the subject of the hand grenade. He cleared his throat and spoke slowly to the major. “Personal problems forbade me, sir, from arriving at camp at the designated time. Poor judgment prevented me from reporting my status, and utter stupidity kept me away a little longer out of fear of punishment.”

Sudden silence. The sergeant muted a smile. It was quite an answer, threatening truth. Matter of fact, in the history of all military justice, it might have been the best response ever offered.

The major nodded. The answer had even impressed Old Sour Britches. “One final question,” he posed. “Is there any truth to the rumor that a hand grenade is loose and available among the citizenry, which found its point of origin in our camp?”

“Sir,” said Minioz, “I do not know the whereabouts of every hand grenade in this camp. I do not want to be so presumptuous as to suggest that such an absence is not possible. All I know is that my hand grenade is hanging from my belt, and ready for further orders.”

Minnioz felt horrible. He knew he had lied. It wasn’t a big whopper, but certainly, a stinky fish laying on the dock.

But he thought to himself, “Is it really a lie, when the alternative is so dastardly and detrimental to all parties involved? Sometimes the truth is just a sword ready to behead everyone in the room.”

Sergeant Minioz was busy trying to make sense of his own failure. Whatever the answer, he was going to stick to his story. He chuckled to himself. After all, he had just purchased one dud to replace the dud the government had issued him. 

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)

Iz and Pal

In a basket full of oranges, it is often the singular, lonely apple which gains attention.

This is an endearing characteristic of the human race—we are intrigued by difference while simultaneously frightened of the diversity.

So in our day and age, in the midst of clamoring for resolutions, often based on military might, a breath of fresh air comes into the atmosphere of pending war in a region ironically referred to as “The Holy Land.”

Amir and Jubal, two boys who grew up in different camps of a raging, never-ending conflict—one Arab, one Jew—find one another. They rename themselves “Iz” and “Pal” and strike out to change the world around them by creating a love between them. They determine to maintain their friendship amidst the granite-headed thinking of a stubborn society.

“Iz and Pal” chronicles the journey they take, the friends they encounter along the way, the surprising enemies—with a stunning resolution which will keep you riveted to the pages of this odyssey in exploring the value of peace.

Starting next week, I will share sittings from this novella with you, and hope that, in its simple way, it can transcend the pessimism of fruitless negotiations and invite an essential revelation:

After all, no war is ever finished until the children say “No more.”

 

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Jesonian … October 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is thoroughly possible, plausible and even necessary to separate Christianity from Judaism without being considered an anti-Semite.

Jesus spent the majority of his ministry providing parameters for a New Covenant, which was followed by the Apostle Paul becoming downright blunt over the need to extract the message of Jesus from the Jewish tradition.

Yet most evangelicals and many mainline denominational churches continue to foster a sense of equivalency between the Old Testament and the New Testament simply because they know two important factors about their congregations:

  1. They don’t want to lose the ability to seek revenge with “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
  2. They need Jesus to remain the “Lamb that was slain” instead of the Lion, roaring out his commands.

INFUSION OF JESUS

So actually, the teachings of Jesus, the personality of the Nazarene and the mindset of the Christ are often considered to be an intrusion to the organized church instead of welcomed as an infusion.

Simply put, Jesus did not come to contradict the Old Testament–but he certainly did arrive to countermand it. If you’re not familiar with that word, it is most often used in military circles to explain why some officer, usually of a higher rank, comes along to revoke or change the orders of the previous commander. It’s a nice way of saying, “We’re going to change things up.”

MEN OF OLD

Jesus cleverly referred to it as “fulfilling the law.” What an excellent, political word! He then turns around, and in fulfilling that Law, disassembles the instructions of Moses by referring to those who founded Oral Law and taught it as “men of old.”

If we want to become a Jesonian church, infusing the lifestyle of Jesus instead of viewing it as an intrusion, we must understand that, as Hebrews the First Chapter explains, God used to speak through Moses and the prophets, but not anymore. Now He speaks through Jesus.

So stop using Old Testament patriarchs to try to countermand Jesus.

Case in point: it is no longer the Kingdom of Israel–Jesus describes it as the Kingdom of God, which is located inside each and every believer. The new Holy Land is within your soul.

The challenge in this generation is to cease looking at our example, Jesus, as an intrusion, and begin to take his choices and use them as an infusion into our everyday existence.

It should keep us busy–because it’s very difficult to insist that Jesus was a Jewish prophet when he said things like:

“Before Abraham was, I am.”

“God can take stones and make children of Abraham.”

And “Your house is left to you desolate.”

Jesus was a new day.

Jesus was a new way.

And he came along proclaiming

“What you say? Go my way.”


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Salient…July 9th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Strolling down any thoroughfare in 1975, it was highly unlikely that you would see a person dressed in a military uniform unless it was an aging hippie who was donning the garments to protest the whole concept of war.

Soldiering just wasn’t popular. It was not contemptuous, but it was contentious.

In other words, it created so much conflict because of the Vietnam War that people tried to avoid any discussion about army men, marines or sailors.

This continued for many years. Matter of fact, may I say that for most of you reading this, if you encountered a guidance counselor in high school, you were offered many choices on college, technical institutions and even mechanic schools. Then, at the tail end of such a conversation, you might have been given the option of military service.

A last resort.

“He is so screwed up he needs to go into the army.”

“Maybe the marines will straighten him out.”

The military was never considered a fast track to success and was often riddled with guys–and maybe even a gal or two–who “just never found themselves.”

It was a volunteer army for those who volunteered because volunteering for anything else seemed pointless.

These are hard, cold, historical facts, and have nothing to do with the sentiments of this author or even the lasting emotions of the American people. It was just felt that being grateful to a warrior seemed to be promoting the war.

Then there was a change–a needful one.

At first, it was politicians who wanted to pander to their more conservative base.

Then it was ministers in churches, welcoming the fighting men home to their families and friends.

Gradually, a phrase emerged from the lips of the American populace: “Support the troops.”

Then it evolved from this generic form, it has become: “We want to thank you for your service.”

It doesn’t make any difference if it’s President Trump, a game show host, a first grade class or Bernie Sanders–it is now universally executed. Whenever a person in uniform is standing before us, we must pipe up with, “Thank you for your service.”

We have learned to do it. Sometimes it doesn’t even sound sincere. It doesn’t matter. It is the respectful piece of etiquette, which has been inserted into our common, everyday lingo, to express a positive position.

So why can’t we do the same thing over race? Why can’t we start looking at the color of people’s skin, and honor them for surviving their struggles, battles and the ups and downs in being American citizens?

It might take a while–but perhaps we could start off by making eye contact with someone of a different race, and tenderly, through that gaze, communicate that we understand that their journey is more difficult than ours.

After all, we don’t give a nod to the troops because they’re changing light bulbs in the kitchen. That’s what we do. We give appreciation to them because they do and have done what we can’t or won’t do.

They serve. They survive. They use their intellect to protect our freedom.

Why can’t we do this with the black man?

“I want to thank your ancestors for their service to America, even though it has gone unnoticed and unheralded.”

To the Hispanic population:

“Thank you for your industrious nature, which continues to work despite all the criticism you receive.”

To the Native Americans:

“Thank you for allowing us to live on this land which was originally yours–and even though we stole it, you stopped fighting and decided to coexist with us.”

And to those from Asia:

“Thank you for coming to this country and bringing your energy, heart and family values, which we have incorporated into our own lifestyle.”

So here is your salient moment:

Support the troops. Yes, let us rally around those who are prepared to fight for our country.

But perhaps we could take the next two decades, applying the same principle we did to bring necessary respect to the armed services, to learn, once and for all, how to support the groups.

 

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Ask Jonathots … January 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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When is it right to fight–to stand up for yourself? Everyone I know and everywhere I look, people say you have to “fight back” and “defend yourself.” So what does it mean to “turn the other cheek” or even “thou shall not kill?” And how is it we are a “Christian nation” when fighting and killing and wars are constant?

Let’s begin with the concept of a “Christian nation.”

Jesus never envisioned his work as a country. He said his “kingdom is not of this world.” So the Christian message was intended to be an individual experience. Then these converts were challenged to become “the light of the world,” and affect the climate of society.

So to tout ourselves as a Christian nation, we have blended in the concepts of the Old Testament so that we can obtain a nationalistic flavor. And when you include the Old Testament, you get “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and vendettas against enemies.

So I don’t know if it’s possible to approach this as a Christian nation without including ideas which Jesus said had been cast aside in favor of more loving and noble adventures.

If we were a Christian nation, our agenda would be simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In other words, take care of those around us and develop a healthy, prejudice-free environment where people can prosper, and in so doing, gain personal peace of mind and solvency.

Then that “city on a hill” could be a testimony to the world and they could begin to measure their philosophies against our philosophy, and decide where they might want to revise their thinking.

Of course, in the process, we must realize that enemies still come along due to jealousy and revenge, but when this happens, we can stand guard without totally destroying those who attack us.

This is exemplified in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus takes eleven men into this secluded place for a time of prayer, asking them if they had the means to defend themselves, and when they said, “We have two swords,” he replied, “It is enough.”

So if we could put together a military without trying to overwhelm our enemies with our prowess, then we would be in a position to take the rest of our money and use it to improve the lives of our citizens instead of constructing an arsenal of intimidation.

You will be told by most people that this idea is childish and stupid. This is why Jesus never intended to take over countries and rule them.

The Christian message is intended to be placed in existing cultures, and through its charity, affect the climate that surrounds it.

So I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question. Yet I will tell you that the fighting and killing that goes on in our world cannot be attributed to the message of Jesus of Nazareth, because he never intended to possess turf.

And if you ever have to add Old Testament to New Testament to justify your actions, then you are not living under the total spiritual impact of the Kingdom of God.

So I walk in a simple situation:

  • If the United States is attacked, we should defend ourselves.
  • We should also protect the innocent of the world as much as possible without entering into old grudges that are thousands of years in the making.
  • And we should take most of our financial power to build up the lives of our people so that we can offer a testimony of peace and prosperity to the world around us.

Whatever it would take to do this is what would be sufficient. Because when eleven men told Jesus they had two swords, he said it was enough.

It certainly is not enough to attack, but it did end up being enough to allow them to escape.

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King Jesus … November 23, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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crownI don’t like kings.

They give me the creeps. Too much pomp for the circumstance.

On the other hand, I like Jesus.

So imagine my surprise when I discover that the church wants me to call him a king.

Yes.  Christ the King. Here’s my problem:

Kings live in castles. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes but the son of man has no place to lay his head.”

Kings always possess land. Jesus told us that “his kingdom was not of this world” and therefore couldn’t be measured in acres.

Generally speaking, being a king comes with a certain gaggle of servants. Yet Jesus told his disciples that he didn’t come to be served, but to be of service.

How about a lavish throne? For Jesus, that was the back side of a baby donkey, bouncing his way into Jerusalem.

Then there’s fine clothes and a royal family. Yet Jesus’ philosophy was to “take no thought for what ye shall wear” and his mother was a peasant woman.

Here’s a question: can you be a king without an army or a treasure chest to fund that force? If I recall, Jesus said “we shouldn’t lay up treasure on earth, but in heaven.”  And concerning the military, he warned us that “they that live by the sword shall die by the sword.”

Even though Jesus was surrounded by devoted women, he possessed none of them as his queen.

And at his coronation, he was crowned … with thorns.

Christ the King Sunday.

He was a king. But he was a king because he came to testify to the truth: the truth that faith is the part of belief that we use, like a mustard seed. Hope is the desire we pursue. And love is the God we give to others.

All hail, King Jesus, who taught us that the only way to be a master … is to become a servant.

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Sackcloth and Ashes … February 13, 2013

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ashesLong ago, when fire-breathing dragons stomped across the earth and a gallon of gasoline cost less than milk, prophets would occasionally ramble into town, condemning the deeds of the wicked, speaking forth the chilling but effective sound bite, “Repent or die.” Even more disconcerting was how little the prophet actually cared about whether his message was received in a positive light, and often actually would have preferred it if death was the result of his invitation. I suppose there were those cities which would resist the opportunity to save their lives–we wouldn’t be that familiar with them because they are no longer on the landscape. But often the ruler of the nation would comprehend the seriousness of the situation and repent, ordering all of his subjects to do so, demonstrating their regret by adorning themselves in sackcloth and smearing ashes all over their bodies.

Time marches on. (Or does it creep? I’m not sure.)

We now have advanced in our self-esteem to the extent that we would never consider lowering ourselves to wear sackcloth and display bacteria-ridden ashes on our faces. Yet it doesn’t change the fact that we are still doing many of the same ridiculous practices that should require a bit of reflection, if not repentance brought on by the threat of doom.

I’m not a prophet. (I guess that would make me a non-prophet organization. But I digress.) Yet, to me there are three obvious things that need focus in this country as primal objectives, allowing for a discussion about the implementation of how to achieve them, but not whether they are righteous and necessary.

1. Let’s stop killing. There you go.  I’m not picky. Let’s stop killing babies so much. Let’s stop killing people with capital punishment. And let’s stop starting wars because we have a big military and they get out of practice if they hang around the base too much with no real combat experience. I think it’s a good start. Every time you stop something in life, two things happen: you cease a few things and you start up other things. Stopping killing would probably take away some of our rights in this country. But it would give us a sense that we were trying to address a murderous history of rampage that seems to be threatening to infest our national DNA. Yes–stop killing. Then have the debate about how to actually make it a practical or legal application.

2. Stop stealing. Let’s not ask people to do jobs that we don’t want to do and then continue to insist that they live in squalor and poverty in order to serve us. Let’s stop taking away from people their praise-worthy actions and pretending they’re lesser fellows. Let’s greatly discourage corporations from becoming so greedy to feather their nest that they kill off all competing birds. Let’s stop stealing. That would be good, right? We could decide that refusing to steal is a good thing and then have a healthy debate on ways to initiate integrity.

3. Why don’t we stop destroying? If there is any chance at all that we are party to affecting the climate on this earth, why don’t we just grin and bear it? Why don’t we find out what we can do and instead of arguing about whether it is pleasant or within our wheelhouse of understanding, and just stop the destruction. Why don’t we become the nation that makes it “uncool” to be unfeeling? Why don’t we stop destroying our own psyche by peppering our young people with violence and encouraging them to use technology incessantly–which is gradually fostering an epidemic of indifference?

Why don’t we stop destroying our bodies? Why can’t we encourage farmers to raise more vegetables so you can get a tomato at the grocery store for less money than a greasy eight-hundred-calorie hamburger at McDonald’s?

Certainly it would demand that we abandon hypocrisy. It would require that we forfeit some of our abstract definitions of freedom to provide for the common good. The same people who extol the beauty of marriage–which is the setting aside of sexual freedom, the possibility of many partners to cling to one–feel grieved over the notion of making it more difficult to get a gun for themselves in order to possibly save the lives of those on the perimeter of their understanding.

I don’t think we’ll ever get our nation to sport sackcloth and ashes. But I do think we could sit down and agree that killing, stealing and destroying are really bad things, and even though we may have varying definitions, in the long run, we could come up with a FEW ideas limiting death, thievery and destruction.

Ash Wednesday–a religious holiday when people commiserate for an hour or so about whether they treat those friends around them with enough respect and if they should eat less chocolate.

Maybe it’s time for some real repentance. In the absence of a prophet who isn’t afraid of the king, queen and parliament, let me proclaim, stop killing, stop stealing, stop destroying.

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