Not Long Tales … November 5th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4219)

13.

Turnkey Dinner

Melanie Shakeland was the mother of two intelligent, talented, precocious sons, Maxwell, thirteen, and Johnny, ten.

Unfortunately, the boys were also poverty stricken, since their mother had been out of work for thirty-five days, and all the remaining finance had been used up in the pursuit of living and breathing.

They lived in a two-bedroom apartment at the Bermuda Manors, Room 1211. There were about seventy units in the building, with people of all nationalities, all ages and certainly all dispositions.

Melanie had made her run through all the agencies, charities, churches and generous friends and relatives in McKendree, Michigan. There was no one left to tap—no one who hadn’t heard her story of difficulty and struggle.

She made a plan.

Sitting and talking candidly with her two sons as if the three of them were board members from a Fortune 500 company, she explained her scheme. She was going to go somewhere to get money to pay their rent on October 15th, take care of the utilities and leave behind enough money for the two industrious young men to survive on for eats and treats until she returned to them by November 15th—with a new job, a new city and a new home.

Maxwell and Johnny could barely contain themselves with joy. Although they liked the McKendree school system and had many friends, it was embarrassing to be considered the “poor boys” of the class. They believed in their mother—actually, they believed in their mother more than their mother believed in herself.

Melanie took a deep breath and visited one more person—a minister who was new in town at the Universalist Unitarian Church. He was a foreigner from someplace in the Mideast. He was called Tanzier. He refused to be called Reverend, Pastor or any title whatsoever. Tanzier listened carefully to Melanie’s plight, which by this time she had perfected to a sharp, pointed edge. After she was done, Melanie was shocked when the young Arab man agreed to give her money for her October rent, utilities and also extra for food and gasoline.

Melanie was so startled and breathless over the blessing that on the way home she picked up a five-dollar pizza so they could celebrate with the remaining root beer in their last bottle.

She explained the plan one more time. She would be gone for one month. They were to tell nobody that she was out of town. The boys were to keep to themselves.

She showed Maxwell her signature, making him practice it so he would be able to fake school permission slips. She also created a fictitious relative named Aunt Mindy to deter those who might be so nosy as to challenge the situation. Mindy would be staying with them while their mother was away on business.

Although Maxwell and Johnny were frightened and saddened by the absence of their mother for a month, they were determined to do their part to help the family remain a family—and hopefully, with some good luck, become an everlasting family.

On the morning of October 15th, Melanie, having paid the rent and secured the utilities, rose and shared some toast and jelly with the boys before kissing them on the forehead and lips. She handed them two fifty-dollar bills, and with tears in her eyes, said, “Make it last.” She headed out the door.

Time passed. There were many close calls—folks who felt it was needful to talk to Mother Melanie. But the promise of Aunt Mindy—the reassurance that she would get back to them as soon as she could, eventually caused all parties concerned to back away and leave well enough alone.

The hundred dollars Melanie left behind spent pretty well, but after all, the boys were only thirteen and ten, and had little experience with purchasing groceries. They went through half the money in the first week, buying things to eat from the closest convenience store.

November 15th came and went. There was no contact from Mother Melanie. The same was true the next day and the day after. Maxwell encouraged Johnny, and Johnny was attempting to be uplifted—to give Maxwell some peace of mind.

Before they knew it, here came Thanksgiving Day. All they had left was eight dollars and forty-one cents. They nearly got into a fight on Thanksgiving morning, over who had spent too much money on what, and why some particular candy bar should have been avoided.

Just when they were about to start scuffling, Johnny stopped, looked Maxwell in the eyes, and whispered, “I don’t want to fight with you. You’re all I’ve got.”

The two boys broke into tears, grateful they were alone and such an action couldn’t be mocked by their friends.

“What are we gonna do?” whimpered Johnny.

“About what?” asked Maxwell.

“Thanksgiving,” replied Johnny, with a crackle in his voice.

Maxwell smiled. “You know, my brother, I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve got a plan, if you’ll help me. At school the other day, I looked up on the Internet the ingredients used for a Thanksgiving dinner. I wrote them all down. So I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind going to apartments and asking people if you could borrow some of these simple ingredients, because your mom ran out, or forgot to get it at the store.”

Johnny interrupted, upset. “Maxwell! You can’t ask people for a turkey!”

Maxwell patted him on the shoulder. “No, no, of course not. You see, that’s the beauty of the plan. What you do is ask them for this easy, cheap thing, and then when they invite you in to get it, you stare at something from their table, or maybe from their kitchen they’re preparing, and then—if my thinking is right—they might offer you a little bit of it. When they do, you can shy away like you’re upset that you got caught looking. That’ll only make them insist more. Then finally, let them give you a piece from the dish, and bring it back here. Take the thing you requested and leave, thanking them a whole bunch.”

Johnny stood and stomped his feet. “This ain’t gonna work,” he objected.

“Oh,” Maxwell said. “I see. I got it. I didn’t know you were Chicken Boy.”

Johnny hated to be called Chicken Boy. It was like pouring salt into his gizzard. “I ain’t no Chicken Boy and you know I ain’t no Chicken Boy!”

Maxwell spat, “Well, I know you think you ain’t a Chicken Boy. Since it’s Thanksgiving, maybe I should change it to Turkey Boy. Are you a turkey, Johnny?”

Even though Johnny wasn’t sure what was entailed in being a turkey, he was deeply offended, and threatened to punch his bigger, older brother in the belly. Maxwell blocked the punch and hugged him, holding his flailing arms.

“Listen,” Maxwell spoke into his ear. “Just try it once. If it doesn’t work, that’s fine.”

Johnny, still irritated and twitching, slowly nodded his head. Maxwell released his grip. “Here’s the first thing I want you to go after,” he said. “Poultry seasoning.”

Johnny crinkled his brow. “What’s that?”

Maxwell sighed. “I don’t know, and you don’t need to know either. It’s Mama stuff.”

Both Maxwell and Johnny thought it would be good to start on the furthest end of the building and work their way back toward 1211.

The plan worked at the first stop, where they offered Johnny a huge clump of pumpkin pie. When he went to the next unit, asking for cinnamon, he got some dressing. When he inquired about borrowing some aluminum foil, he was loaded down with a generous portion of mashed potatoes. At the next apartment, he requested corn on the cob holders, and they gave him a huge hunk of ham. Finally, when he was in search of a potato peeler, two ladies who happened to share a home both gave him treats—one, some corn on the cob, and the other, a salad (which had enough non-green things in it to make it look possibly edible).

It took about an hour and fifteen minutes, but the boys sat down at a table with a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner—and poultry seasoning, cinnamon, aluminum foil, corn on the cob holders and a potato peeler, just in case they ever needed them.

They were about halfway through their surprising feast when there was a knock at the door. Maxwell frowned, worried. Maybe somebody had become suspicious. Maybe they had noticed Johnny going to more than one apartment to borrow things. Or maybe, after a whole month and twelve days, some neighbor had put together what was really going on and was ready to uncork his or her opinion on the two befuddled lads.

Johnny looked at Maxwell and Maxwell back at Johnny. Should they answer the door?

They stayed as quiet as possible, but after the third knock, the visitor spoke from outside the door. “Maxwell? Johnny? Are you two boys in there?”

They immediately knew who it was. It was Mr. Caylens, one of the teachers at the McKendree School, who lived right down the hall. He was a nice fellow—kind, and always a little bit sad because he had lost his wife to cancer over the summer. But whenever he saw the two boys, he greeted them with gentleness and asked them about their studies and activities.

Still, Maxwell remained quiet, and held Johnny’s hand to keep him from responding. For some reason, Mr. Caylens refused to leave. “Maxwell? Johnny? I know you’re in there. I just saw you, not more than ten minutes ago, running down the hallway. That was you, Johnny, wasn’t it? I just wanted to step in and wish you a happy Thanksgiving. I brought some fried turkey I made this year—it sure is juicy and good.”

The two boys couldn’t help salivating. Although their dinner was quite impressive, the only turkey they had acquired had apparently died and dried out in the desert.

Maxwell considered his choice, and then all at once, spoke up. “Just a second, Mr. Caylens. Thank you for thinking of us.”

He walked over and opened the door. Mr. Caylens looked him in the eyes, but also gazed above his head, searching for an adult presence. “Is your mother here?” said the teacher.

“No,” said Maxwell. “I thought you knew that she went on a trip and left us with our delightful Aunt Mindy.”

Caylens laughed. “Is she delightful?”

Johnny stood to his feet and ran over to join them at the door. “She sure is, Mr. Caylens,” he piped in.

Caylens chuckled. “Well, if she’s that delightful, I certainly must meet her.”

He tried to step through the door, but Maxwell awkwardly blocked him. Mr. Caylens pulled back, a little startled, and Johnny tried to fill in the moment. “It’s interesting that you brought up the fried turkey, because Aunt Mindy just left to go pick ours up at the grocery store. I mean, it’s not frozen or anything—you probably saw the sign, that they cook turkeys, and she was just going down there to get ours, but this is gonna be great!”

Johnny reached up to take the turkey, wrapped in aluminum foil, from Mr. Caylens’ hands. Maxwell touched Mr. Caylens’ shoulder, trying to turn him to leave. “Yeah, this is going to be great. Aunt Mindy told us that sometimes those store-bought turkeys can be dry to the bone.”

Mr. Caylens paused. Although he had been guided to walk out the door, he turned back around and looked into the faces of the two boys, trying very hard to play their parts in the deception.

He had pretty well figured out that there was a problem when he overheard the landlord, who arrived on the fifteenth of November for the rent, and the boys explained that their mother was sending it in the mail, and it would be a few days. It just didn’t ring true.

Mr. Caylens had been a teacher for nearly twenty years, and he certainly could sense a ruse when it was trying to rise. He didn’t want to scare the boys, and certainly didn’t want to disrupt their unity.

Then, struck by a thunderbolt of inspiration, he said, “I don’t know whether you boys know this, but your mother did explain her plan to me.”

Maxwell looked over at Johnny, who was about ready to speak, excited at the prospect of an ally. Hurriedly, Maxwell stepped in. “What are you talking about, Mr. Caylens?”

Mr. Caylens leaned against the doorpost. “You know,” he replied. “The plan she devised so she could get back on her feet to take care of you boys.”

Maxwell was stumped. There was just enough truth in what Mr. Caylens said that he sure was tempted to believe that his mom had a backup person to watch out for them. After all, that would be pretty smart. And one thing Maxwell knew—his mama was a genius.

Johnny couldn’t stand the wait any longer. “She’s a few days late, Mr. Caylens,” he said. “She said it would just be a month, but you know how time can slip away.”

Mr. Caylens nodded. Even though Maxwell was still suspicious, he was also very tired of carrying the burden. He was weary of deceiving the teachers and friends who had once meant so much to him, but now were just obstacles to a private scheme.

Maxwell spoke very slowly. “I don’t know whether you’re lying to us, or trying to get information, or whether my mom did talk to you. What I want you to know is, if you have plans to mess with our plans, well…” He paused. “Well…”

Mr. Caylens interrupted. “Well what, Maxwell? Are you gonna kill me?”

Maxwell shook his head. “Hell, no! What would make you say a thing like that? I’m not a killer—and please forgive me for saying hell.”

Johnny interrupted, using his most mysterious voice. “I guess we just have to get you to swear to silence. You know—like a blood covenant.”

Mr. Caylens frowned. “Well, I certainly don’t know what you mean by that, but it doesn’t sound very good. Here’s what I can do. I can become Aunt Mindy.”

The two boys frowned at him. Mr. Caylens burst out laughing—like he probably hadn’t done for months. “What I mean,” he said, still chuckling, “is that I know there’s no Aunt Mindy. But you see, I’m right down the hall. I don’t need to move in with you, but I do need you to check in with me. And I need you to trust me to quietly find out what’s happened with your mother.”

Johnny looked up at him with big, brown eyes and said, “Sir, we’ve only got eight dollars and forty-one cents left—plus the food we were given by all the nice folks.”

Mr. Caylens reached over and ruffled his hair. “I don’t think it’ll bust my budget to help you all to keep groceries in the refrigerator. But here’s the one stipulation—”

Maxwell jumped in. “Now, I know you’re an English teacher, but does stipulation mean ‘rule?’”

Caylens nodded. “Yeah,” he answered. “Basically. Rule might be too mean. Stipulation is just an agreement. And here’s the stipulation. You will contact me when you come and go. You will let me know if you need something. You’ll let me do all the signing on the notes, and you’ll check in with me in the morning and before you go to bed.”

Maxwell and Johnny felt like slaves that had just been freed from a Roman galley ship. No longer would they have to lie, cheat, plot—and worse, scrounge. Johnny looked up into Mr. Caylens’ face. “Don’t worry, sir,” he said. “It won’t be long. Mama’s comin’.”

Caylens sat down with the boys that night, adding some leftovers from his own table, and he had a delicious dinner with the turnkey boys. As he left to go back to his apartment, wishing the boys a good night, deep in his heart, he knew there was something wrong.

He had always known Melanie Shakeland to be a solid person but being poor could make someone do poor things. He was doubtful that the boys would ever see her again. He was already formulating what he would have to do on the first of December when she didn’t return.

It was November 30th, in the afternoon, when Johnny knocked on Mr. Caylens’ door. Opening it, the young man said excitedly, “Can you come down to our apartment?” As soon as the words were out, he disappeared down the hallway.

Caylens slipped on a sweater and slippers and ambled down to their unit. The door was open, so he stepped in.

There was Melanie Shakeland, surrounded by two of the happiest boys that had ever been known.

She reached out, took Mr. Caylens’ hand and thanked him. “Maxwell and Johnny tell me that you figured out our little deception, and that you were good enough to watch over them. I’m sorry I was late. But I found a job. A good one. Actually, it’s kind of weird—I got a position as a nanny for a very wealthy family down in Grosse Point. I couldn’t come back on time because they were going to Europe and needed me to immediately move into the home to take care of their two children. I didn’t know how to get hold of the boys or what to tell them. I probably did wrong. But anyway, this family lives on beautiful grounds with a mansion and a house out back, that used to be called servant’s quarters. They’ve invited me to bring my two boys to live there, and to take care of their daughters. I don’t know how science, God or Mother Nature saw fit to bless me so. I just plan on trying to do my best to be worthy of it.”

Mr. Caylens was shocked to the point of tears, overcome with the emotion of being present for what could only be called a miracle.

For this mother he had presumed dead was alive.

She was lost, and now was found.

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Not Long Tales … September 24th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4177)

7.

The Grass Is…

Having been married for five years and saving up the residue from paychecks, Harry and Sandy Richardson were finally able to muster the down payment, mingled with the gumption and the good fortune, to purchase their first home—not exactly what they wanted, and certainly a little more than they could afford.

Sandy worked the night shift at the local county hospital and Harry was the overnight manager at the local pencil factory.

Now, the little two-bedroom, one-bath cottage sat on 156 Carmel Street in Walakons, Washington. There was no back yard, as the home sat in front of a nearby forest, but there was a quarter acre of beautiful lawn in the front, with the prettiest green grass you’ve ever seen.

Shortly after arriving, the neighbor to the right came over with a special casserole, and the neighbor to the left soon appeared at the front door with two bottles—one of wine and one grape juice, just in case the Richardsons were teetotalers.

So Harry and Sandy settled into domesticated life, and even began to consider having a child, though the idea terrified them. They certainly knew how to make one, but not necessarily what to do once it sprouted.

Speaking of sprouting, their front grass didn’t.

Something went awry. The beautiful lawn they had purchased suddenly began sporting dry patches—ugly brown sections all over, splotching the expanse. Harry quickly ran down to the local self-help store and asked what to do. Several different nutrients, and bags of this and that were suggested, but no matter what he applied, the grass continued to die out.

Harry thought it was a good idea to go over to the neighbor to the right to ask for a suggestion, since his lawn seemed fine. He was happy to help though he had to admit he had never seen such a problem in all his living days. He explained to Harry that the best thing to do was buy a big bag of hog excrement mingled with plenty of nitrogen to enrich the soil. He further expounded that the key was to spread it over his lawn at night, so that the evening mist and dew could perform their magic. Harry was so excited that he almost hugged the man, though it was a bit too soon for familiarity of that sort.

That night, Harry and Sandy, before going to their jobs, went out and sprinkled the magic potion all over the front yard. It took about forty-five minutes. When they arrived back home the following morning and the sun rose, they prepared for a miracle.

But the patches of ever-losing grass remained the same. The only evidence of the treatment was the lingering fragrance of a hog farm in full bloom.

Then the left-hand neighbor, sympathetic to the plight of the Richardsons, stepped in, patting Harry on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, my man,” he said. “I have the answer for you. There is this grass seed you can buy which is derived from a strain from the rain forest in Brazil. You plant this in your yard, and then, just make sure that for the next two days you water the entire area in three-hour intervals.”

It sounded so promising that Harry nearly cried. (Sandy went ahead and did it for both of them.)

Once again, the pair faithfully followed the prescription offered by the left-hand neighbor, but after a week nothing improved, except that the front yard had patches of puddles, resembling a rice paddy in China.

Harry talked to a botanist. He consulted a turf and earth specialist. He listened. He studied. He scanned the Internet.

He began losing some of the sleep he needed during the day, trying to find out what to do with his deteriorating quarter-acre. Because both Harry and Sandy were so invested in the issue, they became snippy and started blaming each other. There was no basis for the attacks—it just felt good to scream at something other than the front yard.

The death of the grass continued. Then Harry and Sandy noticed that the neighbors weren’t coming around anymore. Matter of fact, they had stopped making eye contact. The normal “howdy” or “how are you?” disappeared, as right-hand neighbor and left-hand neighbor quickly turned their backs, busying themselves and avoiding all contact.

There was even the whisper of a rumor which trickled back to the Richardson household. There were those in the surrounding block who believed there might be some sort of curse on the couple, which was manifesting itself through this unnatural occurrence. Of course, most of the sane folk of Carmel Street rejected such superstition but still played it safe by not getting too close to the 156 address.

As the bickering between the Richardsons grew worse, they sought out a counselor who offered little comfort to them, except to suggest that no matter how odd it seemed, perhaps a move to another house might be in order, to salvage their nuptials.

Then one day, neighbor to the right had a knock on his door. It was Harry, informing him that he and his wife were going on a cruise to Bermuda—one of those counseling affairs, where married couples with problems could escape onboard a beautiful ship, sip Mai Tais and solve their painful struggle.

Harry also visited the neighbor to the left. He told both neighbors that while he and Sandy were away, he had hired someone to come in and do a very special treatment to the lawn, blending both right-hand neighbor’s idea and left-hand neighbor’s idea together—to see if the twain could make the lawn one.

Harry outlined to his friends that these experts would be pitching a huge tent over the entire quarter-acre to do their work and to keep the sun from interrupting the treatment. Both neighbors were fascinated and promised to keep an eye on the house but would stay away from the tent area so the blending could be truly miraculous.

So on Tuesday, Harry and Sandy put their bags in their car and headed off to the airport to escape to rediscover their marital bliss. As promised, trucks arrived, workers erected a huge tent, there were the sounds of digging, and people coming and going for the next five days. Matter of fact, the workers had to come to Neighbor Right and Neighbor Left to apologize, because they would be doing some work on the final night, and might make a little noise, which they hoped would not be an intrusion.

Exactly nine days later, Harry and Sandy returned, well-tanned and doing a lot of smiling and hugging. They went to Neighbor Right and Neighbor Left and invited them over for the unveiling of the front yard—the result of the two treatments that had been so graciously suggested.

Five workers came, and meticulously removed the tent. After about an hour of labor, they exposed the prettiest green lawn you ever saw in your life.

Neighbor Right gasped and Neighbor Left clapped his hands. The two men walked over, shook hands vigorously and patted Harry on the back. Harry returned their enthusiasm, thanking them profusely for their contributions, and standing back to admire his lawn—the evidence of a community effort.

Well, before you knew it, there were half-a-dozen other folks, who came out and stood back in wonder, peering at the green grass like they had arrived on resurrection morning, witnessing Jesus himself walking out of the grave.

Everyone was so thrilled that a block party was planned for the following Saturday night to celebrate the patch of grass that was once brown and now had “greened” before everyone’s eyes. After all the congratulations were done, the giggles were finished and the back-patting was fulfilled, everyone returned to their homes and Harry and Sandy walked into their front door.

Harry gave Sandy a big, huge, loving hug. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s hard for me to believe that I let our front yard control my affection for you.”

Sandy nodded. “Do you think it’s gonna work?” she asked Harry thoughtfully.

Harry Richardson turned and stared out his front window at his amazing lawn. “Yes,” he said. “I think it will. If our neighbors don’t ever find out that we put in really high-quality artificial turf.”

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Jesonian … May 26th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3684)

The key to success is a smart start.

Human beings fail because they start out on the wrong path, but determine to stick to the plan instead of changing their steps and beginning again. Sometimes it’s good to be perseverant, but often it’s like throwing marshmallows at a brick wall.

Jesonian is finding the heart of Jesus. His goal was to gain total humanity, while simultaneously using his spirit to “show us the Father.” Therefore, it is wise to tap his experiences.

You don’t have to go past the first verse of his manifesto–the Sermon on the Mount–to uncover what Jesus believed to be the key to attaining full awareness and a completed life:

“Blessed are those who know they are spiritually poor.”  Thus: Find your weakness, discover your strength.

This is completely opposite from the way we are trained. The media thrust is always, “Find your strength, deny your weakness.” In other words, play up what you can do and play down what you can’t.

Yet what happens when we fail to deliver? We feel compelled to deceive. Otherwise, it may appear that we do not have enough self-esteem to carry the day.

There are two things the human race admires: humility and competence. This is why Jesus told us to lead with an awareness of our own weakness. “He that will gain his life will lose it.”

Why? When our claims are proven false and we fail, looking incompetent, we become defensive, which removes all semblance of humility. “He that would lose his life for my sake will gain it.”

Can we establish an inventory? Can we do it humbly? And then, can we give a competent performance which grows to excellence, startling our critics and increasing our value?

In today’s “super-church” promotion, we have the ongoing premise that “we are all great–we’re just waiting for the enemies in front of us to be destroyed by God’s hand, so that our miracle can be manifested.”

This may get you a hoot and holler in Houston, but it does not give you the kind of start in your life that is sustainable. “Blessed are those who know they’re spiritually poor.”

I am not good at spiritual things. I’m just a few steps out of the jungle, granted a larger brain than the ape and a soul provided by God, which I am still trying to comprehend.

Acknowledging my status launches me into discovery of what talents, gifts, abilities and attitudes I can muster, developing them into strengths to counter my weakness.

The power is in our weakness because once established, it opens the door to progress.

If we lead with strength, then when our weakness shows up, we appear to be insipid liars.

Yes, being Jesonian is making a choice.

Will you follow the folly? Or will you pursue the wisdom of one who came to learn human life, show us God, and empower us to make this journey more and more like heaven on Earth?

*****

If you like the mind of Jesus without religion, buy the book!

                $7.99 plus S&H

*******

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

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Catchy (Sitting 40) 101 Days… March 18th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3615)

Wedding bells.

Landy Loren, one of the original members of Matthew’s marketing team, fell in love with McKendree Davis, who was the drummer in Jubal Carlos’ band.  Most folks knew him as “Michelob” because of his fondness for beer. He wasn’t a “bowling alley drinker”–more a connoisseur of fine beers from all over the world. He always talked about how he drank his beer like wine-sipping, never chugging.

Landy and McKendree were married on the jet plane en route to a rally in Washington, D.C., where Cassidy Templeton was scheduled to speak in front of a crowd predicted to be 500,000.

After his national exposure, his phrase, “check if you’re dead,” became a slogan all across the country, selling two million t-shirts with the saying in just eight days. The nation had suddenly gone from being engorged in its own self-involvement to being given a new set of eyes–and those peepers were all on Cassidy.

Cassidy was astounding on all fronts. He was strikingly handsome, muscular, devoted to his family, but drenched in good old-fashioned humility. His speeches were blessedly short, his sense of humor was keen and his energy seemed boundless.

Three days earlier he had appeared on international television with Merklin Shineer–probably the most well-known atheist walking the planet. Even though Shineer was in his early seventies and considered intolerably grouchy, young people from all over the world were drawn to him because of his plain-speaking manner and his no-nonsense approach to what he deemed “the monster of religion.”

Even though Jubal Carlos warned Cassidy to avoid this “cattle show,” as he called it, Cassidy just smiled and said, “It never hurts to tell the truth.”

So when they got together for the debate, a coin was tossed, and Merklin was given first crack at the audience. He talked for a solid forty minutes about the indignities of life, the unfairness to the poor, the wretched treatment of women and children and the absence of any divinity to curtail the efforts of what seemed to be rampant evil. Merklin occasionally glanced back at Cassidy, who sat thoughtfully, listening.

At the end of his time, Merklin turned to Cassidy and posed a challenge: “If you can give me one reason why I should believe in a God who doesn’t give a damn about people, then I’ll walk out of here today accepting your Jesus and repenting of my sins.”

The audience hooted and howled their approval. Merklin strolled over to his chair, sat down and smugly crossed his legs. He motioned to Cassidy to take the platform. The crowd continued to hiss and sneer as Cassidy got to his feet.

He walked over and shook Merklin’s hand, and then took the microphone and said to the crowd, “That was amazing. What was truly astounding to me was that as I sat there listening to Merklin speak, I realized how much I agree with him. I became fully aware that I share pretty much all of his doubts. I, too, am pained by the power that evil seems to carry in our world. I am deeply saddened that women and children are the targets of that sinister plot. I often sit in a corner by myself and say, ‘Cassidy, how could there be a God?'”

He paused, looking at the people with tears in his eyes. “I do, you know.”

There was a stillness in the room. Even the babies knew it was no time to cry for their mothers.

After a long moment, Cassidy continued. “But I found, Merklin, that you left out one doubt that I have. I thought you would cover it since you’re such a beautiful and intelligent man. But you didn’t. So let me state the one doubt I have more than you.”

All at once Cassidy slipped to his knees and reached out his right hand to the audience. “I doubt,” he began. Then he stopped. “I doubt,” he started again, his voice cracking, “I doubt if I can love you all as much as I need to without God’s help.”

He bowed his head and let the microphone drop to the stage, sending an echo of reverb throughout the building. And then he just wept. He cried like a widow who had just lost her long-loved husband. This went on for a solid two minutes.

Then there was a sniff or two from the audience, some gasping, and then sobbing. In no time at all, most of the people in attendance joined Cassidy in what seemed to be a needful moment of mourning.

Merklin himself bowed his head, squeezed his nose between his thumb and finger, stood up and strolled off the stage.

America seemed to be coming to a long overdue introspection:

The Catholic Church had decided to try a “test parish,” assigning a female priest in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. They asked Sister Rolinda if she would become “Mother Rolinda” to the congregation and lead them.

After much controversy and many debates, the Mormon Church offered an apology for allowing years of indoctrination against the black man to be included in their books.

The Baptists came out against Confederate flags.

The United Methodist church became more energized, with a sense of hope and revival.

Everywhere there was the essence of awakening, without the religious trappings.

Yet as the jet made its way to Washington, D.C., and the marriage ceremony was completed, Matthew found himself enjoying the night life of Las Vegas and the benefits of Nevada’s legal prostitution. He never jumped on the plane to join the “caravan of the concerned” anymore. He wrote checks, he took care of the books and made sure that all legal questions were fielded by the proper attorneys.

Jo-Jay was busy tracking down Prophet Morgan’s murderer, so every attempt he made to contact her was met with her familiar answering machine: “Hi, this is Jo-Jay. Like the Blue Jay but I’m not a bird. Leave a message.”

Matthew was a man who knew he was ill but preferred the pain to the cure.

Meanwhile, the rally in Washington exceeded expectations. Nearly 700.000 people showed up, many sporting the black t-shirts with hot pink lettering which read, Check if you’re dead. Cassidy spoke only ten minutes in front of the crowd, which had traveled from all over the world for the moment.

Jubal Carlos, who had been taking less and less of a role of late, filled in with music and a fifteen-minutes retrospective on where they had come from and where they prayed to go.

After the meeting, the 700,000 people dispersed with hugs, smiles and tears, as Cassidy was whisked away to the White House to meet the President. He was to be honored with a special Public Servant Award. When he arrived, it was not just the President but his whole family, plus the Vice President and many members of Congress, who had gathered in the East Room to see “the Lazman.”

Cassidy, when asked to say a few words, stood to his feet and quipped, “You know, I used to work with power. But looking around this room–this is ridiculous.”

A great burst of laughter. So he continued. “And as I learned, power can energize you, or it can…well, it can kill you. I hope all of us in this room realize that. I pray for each and every one of you every day. I wouldn’t want your jobs. My job is easy. I take the life God has given me–now in my 101st day of resurrection–and try to just love as many people as I can. It may sound silly, or even weak, but it’s what I got.”

He nodded to the dignitaries, who burst into applause and stood up to give him honor.

Cassidy went to sit on a lovely divan and lay his head back for moment, resting. The President and First Lady walked over to meet him. He took their hands and thanked them for their courtesy in inviting him.

All at once, he raised his eyebrows as if he was looking deeply into their souls. He gave a small chuckle, took a deep breath, and quietly said, “I guess that’s it.”

He laid his head back against the divan, and the President and First Lady, thinking he must be exhausted from the rally, left him to rest. Everybody gave him space. Actually, people thought it was cute that he had fallen asleep at the White House during a tribute to his life and success. Some people even started to leave.

Then one of the butlers noticed that Cassidy had not moved for some time, and it appeared that he wasn’t breathing. The butler slowly stepped over, lifted a hand and felt for a pulse. He lurched back in alarm, speaking to the surrounding guests, “He’s dead.”

A doctor who was present for the occasion ran forward and discovered the same. He placed Cassidy on the ground, trying to revive him. An ambulance was called, but by the time it arrived, it was much too late.

Cassidy Templeton was dead. He had passed away in the White House, on the 101st day after his miracle resurrection.

The nation was stunned.

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Jesonian … March 10th, 2018

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Not every morning supplies a miracle. Weeks can go by without walking on water–or water turning into wine, for that matter.

Truthfully, life is more like dry cereal looking for milk–not much to be excited about unless you brought along your own thrills.

This was true in the life of Jesus, too.

Fortunately, the Gospel writers tell us about the good moments and also the bad ones. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John share that sometimes Jesus just hung out, to “tarry” with his friends. And just like us, often his activities were dictated by the whim, intensity and preoccupation of his audience or critics.

In the Good Book, Matthew 19, there is such a situation. Jesus is minding his own business when he is confronted by the Pharisees, who seem to spend a lot of time worrying about things that don’t matter to anyone else. They were especially distressed over the issue of divorce–not because they were against it. The Law of Moses and also the Oral Law, which had been constructed by religious leaders over many centuries, allowed men to divorce their wives simply by leaving a note on the pillow.

The Pharisees felt that Jesus had a different outlook on the subject, so they confronted him about the dilemma.

Jesus made it clear that he believed divorce to be chauvinism. He explained that marriage is meant to be an experience between people of equality, who decide to leave their families to form their own union.

They were very upset.

Yet escaping their probing, Jesus arrives back in camp to discover that his disciples, who had been cut from the same homespun philosophies and bigotry as the Pharisees, were chasing away the women and children. After all, they thought, Jesus was too important to have time for women, who were lesser, and children, who were insignificant.

The feminist in Jesus comes to the forefront. He rebukes his disciples. He tells them to bring the children–which meant the women, also–to him, and he lays hands on the tykes, blesses and enjoys them.

Often we wonder how miracles occur. Miracles happen because people who know how to treat women and children humbly ask for them.

It isn’t about extended periods of prayer, nor ministers on Sabbatical studying the original Greek. Rather, miracles are about people who know how to play with children–people who are aware that a woman is not a “weaker vessel.” When these people pray, God listens.

Jesus treated women as humans. On this week, with “International Women’s Day,” we need to consider what this entails.

Jesus gave women empathy, but not sympathy: You are as good as men, but don’t pull up lame and fall back on femininity when you think it’s to your advantage.

So even though Jesus showed compassion on the woman caught in adultery, he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Go and sin no more.”

He relished a conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria, but when she said she “had no husband,” he reminded her that she had married five husbands, and was now living with another man.

When his mother tried to interfere with his work, he spoke to her as an equal, not as a son, and said, Back off. It’s not my time.

And when busy Martha was doing all the housework, using the “gift of helps” to feed the disciples and Jesus, he stopped her and said, Your sister Mary has decided to listen to the teaching instead of playing “Harriet Homemaker. Follow suit.”

Life is not about what we do when we’re trying to be spiritual or contemplative. Life is lived in the cracks–those moments that seem insignificant when the world around us has cast a negative vibe and it is our job to bring the light.

Jesus believes that spirit begins with how women and children are treated.

I, for one, think he’s right.

 

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Cracked 5 … May 30th, 2017


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

What the Fellow Did With His Collection of Hats After Discovering That His Hair Had Miraculously Started Growing Again

A.  Gave them to miracle-deprived, hairless hombres

 

B.  Used the hats in the bucket brigade to put out fires

 

C.  Made a great condom dispenser next to his bed

 

D.  Trimmed the hats to fit on the heads of frustrated bald eagles

 

E.  Ran through the meadow with a hat in hand, high in the air, gathering love vibrations from butterflies and bees, to present to his easily impressed young niece

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 47) Increase and Decrease … March 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

June in Nebraska is a celebration. It is a festival of survival.

Until the end of May, winter threatens to clamp down on any enthusiasm about the arrival of warmer weather. But by June, the monster of frigid temperatures and the obstruction of snow drifts have melted away, leaving behind fields blossoming with corn, sunny skies and the threat of blistering heat.

One local once conjectured that the reason most Nebraskans were so easy-going was because “everything that happens around them is so extreme.”

They wouldn’t dare over-react–to a blizzard or a heat wave.

It was on the third Sunday in June, right when people were beginning to think about the upcoming July 4th celebration, that he came walking into the back of the church.

At first Meningsbee didn’t recognize him. He certainly didn’t remember him being so tall–six foot two, as it turned out. Dark brown hair, chiseled chin, hazel eyes and weighing in at a military 183 pounds was Carl Ramenstein, the young hero who had rescued Meningsbee months earlier in Chicago, from the onslaught of some challenging questions.

As Carl had explained, he had a cousin in town and he came to spend a couple of weeks, having recently graduated from seminary.

Carl fit right in. Everybody loved him. He grew up on a farm, worked on a ranch, liked fishing, knew the working end of a plow.

All the kids adored him because he played so hard. All the old ladies straightened their buns when he walked in the room. And the men pulled out their war stories. It took only one Sunday for Carl to become part of the atmosphere, attitude and heart of the Garsonville Church.

So when two weeks passed and it was time for him to leave, the folks begged him to stay. It turned out to be tremendously beneficial, considering that on the following Wednesday, a little boy about five years old fell into an abandoned well just outside town. Carl spearheaded the rescue effort.

He was in the local newspaper and had dinner invitations enough to last the rest of the year.

But Carl was not interested in all the praise. Carl loved God. In a season when such devotion from a man of his age seemed unlikely, or maybe even suspicious, his legitimate warmth and appreciation for the heavenly Father was demonstrated in how well he treated his children.

Carl loved people.

Meningsbee stood back–astounded. You see, Meningsbee wanted to love people and every once in a while mustered the spirit to do so. But Carl possessed a streak of conviction that every human he met had been waiting for the chance to meet him so that Carl could pass on a blessing.

It was the most amazing mixture of confidence and humility that Reverend Meningsbee had ever seen.

Young women were literally following him around town, just hoping he would turn and give them a smile, and although fully aware of their attractions, he was careful not to put himself in dangerous situations where rumor could give way to scandal.

The people took a liking to Carl.

Carl took a liking to the church.

The church was taking a liking to the community, and the people, who had been sitting on the fence, trying to decide what it felt about the Garsonville Church, were now beginning to trickle in, one by one, and find a place of peace and fellowship.

Matter of fact, one older gentleman took Pastor Meningsbee aside and said, “My dear parson, you had a good idea, but you’re a rather odd little fellow. There’s nothing wrong with that–but Nebraskans are not completely familiar with odd and try not to do much that resembles little. That boy coming to town–well, he’s taken your words and turned them to life.”

Meningsbee smiled, not knowing how he should react.

Although some folks were waiting for the dark side of young Ramenstein to come creeping out, Carl took the opportunity to sit under the teaching, simplicity, honesty and common sense of Meningsbee, and grow taller and stronger.

So Carl kept delaying his departure until finally, one of the deacons of the church said to Meningsbee that he’d better “hire the boy or lose him forever,” because somebody certainly was going to grab him.

When Meningsbee said that the budget would not tolerate it, ten families stepped forward and offered to increase their pledges so that Carl could stay.

So it was on the seventh Sunday after his first visit that Carl Ramenstein was ordained as the Assistant Pastor of the Garsonville Church.

There was a party with joy all through the town.

The following Sunday there were twenty additional visitors, some of whom said they had just been “waiting around to see if they were smart enough to hire him.”

Right after the ordination, Meningsbee realized that he had never heard the young man preach. Carl never asked for the pulpit. It never came up. Carl may have been the first minister ever hired without having to offer three points.

The folks immediately dubbed him “Pas Carl,” for Pastor Carl.

He was a breath of fresh air.

He was a summer miracle.

And he was here to stay.

Now Meningsbee had to get used to sharing the attention.

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