Good News and Better News… June 19th, 2017

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Dislike–deciding to “diss” liking.

In the pursuit of what we call love, and even unconditional love, we’ve reached a point where we just don’t like each other anymore. We have the appearance of Atlas carrying the world on our shoulders because we feel compelled by our civilized natures to be as calm as possible.

We “diss” liking. We claim great affection for souls around us while privately rolling our eyes, communicating that they are annoying.

So when I arrived yesterday morning at the Ruskin United Methodist Church, I was looking for people who like each other. Because here’s the truth–a paraphrase of John the Apostle: I don’t think you can love God if you don’t like people.

It seems that God is really proud of His creation.

I know we portray an anxious deity, constantly perturbed over our sins, but since He gave us the ability and even the permission, I seriously doubt that He will be terribly upset when we occasionally go errant.

The greatest arrogance, the most self-righteousness, and perhaps the sin of all sins, is to believe that human beings are not worth liking.

  • It’s in our government.
  • It’s in our religious system.
  • It’s in our movies.

We are training ourselves to be suspicious, and failing to acquire great moments of human fellowship that just demand a little bit of mercy and grace.

I’m not one to advocate looking in the rear view mirror and assuming that the past was better than the present, but I will tell you, if there was any era when people were given the chance to excel without being pre-judged, then we might want to reach back into that span of time and regain some of that tenderness.

For the good news is, God likes people.

And the better news is, He loves those who like them, too.

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Dudley … March 9th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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DUDLEY

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Published in: on March 9, 2017 at 2:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 42) Rest Stop … February 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

2.3 miles east of Garsonville, on an old country road, was an abandoned roadside rest–long forgotten and unattended, with a broken picnic table, a dry pump and an eroded sign which had once explained the origins.

Over the past two months, every single week, Reverend Meningsbee made his way to that spot before attending church, to take ten or fifteen minutes, just to “get decent.”

Getting decent meant freeing himself of all the hardships, prejudice, bruised ego, disappointments and frustrations of the week, lest he arrive in front of the congregation and pour out his misgivings instead of sharing a parcel of hope.

It had been a strange week.

On top of languishing in memories of his beloved Doris, he also discovered that Jesse, Marty and Hector McDougal were moving from town. They had become the touchstone–the stopping off place–for all the publicity and turmoil that had risen up because of the little boy’s amazing healing.

The family had received notice from a mega church in Idaho which had been spreading its spiritual wings into making movies, and the three were invited to come and live free of charge for a year while the screenwriters, actors and production team shot a film entitled, “Hector’s Baptism.”

They were so excited.

They even had a copy of the screenplay, which Meningsbee perused, quickly realizing that the writers had taken some creative license.

Meningsbee felt sad.

He wasn’t sure it was the right thing for the family–but it’s hard to argue with a year’s worth of free room and board. So he kissed them all on the cheek, prayed for them and two days later they were gone.

That departure was followed by the information that Patrick Swanson, whose congregation had been involved in some sort of wife-swapping scandal, was also leaving and stopped off at Meningsbee’s house to say goodbye.

He and his wife were off to Utah, to a marriage clinic, to restore their vows and commitments.

Patrick had become a Mormon. He looked much different–fresh haircut, crisp white shirt and a sweater vest instead of jeans, shaggy locks and a t-shirt. He was, shall we say, very appropriate.

When Meningsbee reached to give him a hug, Patrick instead took his hand and offered a warning. “Beware the sins of the flesh, my friend. I think you teeter on too much secular input in your ministry, and therefore are robbing your congregation of the full impact of the whole Bible for the whole man.”

Meningsbee felt a flame of anger ignite in his gut but he realized that Patrick would soon be gone, and his advice with him.

Meningsbee was in the midst of these thoughts and many others when a car rolled up next to him.

It was Sammy Collins.

He got out of his car and tapped on the passenger window of Meningsbee’s vehicle, requesting permission to enter. Meningsbee popped his locks and Sammy scooted in, shut the door and took a deep breath.

“Let me get right to it. I’ve been doing a lot of praying. I know we haven’t always agreed, but I believe I’m supposed to come and be your assistant minister.”

He paused. Meningsbee was speechless.

Sammy jumped in. “Well, that’s it. What do you think?”

“How did you know I would be here?” asked Meningsbee.

“I followed you,” said Sammy with a smile. “You didn’t even know, did you?”

“Nope,” said Meningsbee quietly.

Sammy turned sideways in his seat, filled with energy. “So what do you think, Pastor? You sure could use the help.”

“You see, Sammy, the kind of help I need wouldn’t work because it’s inside me. I couldn’t get you in there. Or maybe I wouldn’t want you in there. Or maybe, it just seems to me, that if I needed an assistant minister, God would tell me before he told the assistant minister.”

“God works in mysterious ways,” said Sammy with a twinkle.

“Yeah, but usually not hyper-weird,” replied Meningsbee.

Sammy, undaunted by the rebuke and rejection, opened the car door and said, “Think it over. You’re never gonna find anyone quite like me.”

Meningsbee just nodded, holding his tongue over a variety of responses that immediatly popped into his brain.

Sammy jogged to his car, got in and took off. Meningsbee, fully disturbed and interrupted, decided to head off to church.

He wondered what he would find there. He had to admit to himself that his message last week about the rich young ruler and how the congregation needed to decide if they were going to keep the revival alive or go back to their old ways, was pretty strong. Matter of fact, he had even used the word “damn” right in the middle of the pews, flowers and pulpit furniture.

Arriving at the church, there was a hum in the room. No–a real hum. The organist was playing the prelude and the congregation, uncharacteristically, was humming along with the familiar tune.

There were two apple pies sitting on the fellowship table which were normally not present for coffee time.

Deacon Smitters shook Meningsbee’s hand and held it a little longer than normal.

The song service was more boisterous, the testimonies enlightened and the “amens” aplenty.

No one said a word about the previous week’s service nor whether they were offended, challenged or informed. They just did what people in Garsonville do. They took it all in, let it rattle around for a couple of days, and decided what their best path might be.

There’s a lot to be said for that.

 

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … December 17th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Man: I do enjoy talking with you.

 

Woman: Me, too…except I would love to start seeing some things change instead of just lamenting how they are.

 

Man: Where would you start?

 

Woman: I think I would start by exposing the dangers of the “religion of romance.”

 

Man: What an interesting phrase. The religion of romance. What is that exactly?

 

Woman: It’s over-emphasizing the pleasure of sexuality between men and women, leaving out the greater benefits we have for each other.

 

Man: Which would be…?

 

Woman: Men and women are both controlling and conniving. It’s the weakness of the human race. We don’t learn to address these two vices when we’re children, living in a house with Mom and Dad, or even when we hang around people of our same sex. Because there is so much controlling and conniving put into romance, it is an excellent opportunity to expose that troublesome two, and in the process, become better human beings.

 

Man: I see. So you think that because we focus so much on sexual intercourse, we never allow our relationship to mature, to be the give-and-take of discovery.

 

Woman: Not only that–because we characterize romance as “sexiness,” when that begins to die down, we feel we have lost something. Then we go out and find other lovers to ignite the memories.

 

Man: Meanwhile, we have a mortgage and children through our initial flame, which have to be distributed as “goods” when we decide we’re not right for each other anymore.

 

Woman: It’s one of the few things that the religious and secular communities agree on–they feel romance should be hot, scintillating and so strong that we can’t keep our hands off each other.

 

Man: It’s so foolish when you think about it. Sex obviously won’t stay at level ten, so there needs to be a transition to something deeper. But since romance centers on our genitals instead of our brain, we lose faith in each other and start looking for that “necking session in the back seat of the car” from high school.

 

Woman: It isn’t like maturing a relationship is not absolutely dazzling. Having someone who challenges you on your controlling nature, or who doesn’t put up with the shit of your lies, is a gift from God. But if you’re afraid you’ll lose your bedroom magic, you may play the game and end up losing.

 

Man: So what would you suggest to get this thing started?

 

Woman: I think we should make fun of the overwrought plots in movies and television that focus on the physical aspects of love instead of the complete package. I would be so thrilled to see two mature human beings of the opposite sex talking about this issue in candor as a plot for a movie.

 

Man: So to overcome the “religion of romance,” we have to really prove that sex is not a god.

 

Woman: Very good. Because we worship sex. We sacrifice at the altar of carnal relationships. And we end up mistreating each other when the fire turns into a cozy sensation of security instead of a torrid affair.

 

Man: This is really interesting.

 

Woman: I know. It’s great to talk about. But here’s the truth. As a human, I will be controlling and conniving unless I have a long-standing relationship with someone who refuses to let me be ridiculous.

 

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … August 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3039)

Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: It really perturbed me.

 

Dear Woman: “Perturbed?” What an odd word.

 

Dear Man: Well, I didn’t want to use “mad” or “angry.” I was looking for a softer term and I came up with perturbed.

 

Dear Woman: So, what perturbed you?

 

Dear Man: I was listening to some pundit on television talk about sexual politics.

 

Dear Woman: Sexual politics… I don’t hear that much anymore.

 

Dear Man: No. because we’ve taken it for granted. Now we call it gender wars, battle of the sexes…

 

Dear Woman: And the reason it upset you?

 

Dear Man: Not everything is politics. Not everything is a struggle for power and money. There are so many lies, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

 

Dear Woman: And if you did begin, you wouldn’t be able to finish because sexual politics is big business. Billions of dollars are made every year in television, movies, books and seminars, keeping the conflict going, so there is a lot at stake to keep men and women at odds.

 

Dear Man: So you’re saying that in a battle for power and money, we pretend that there’s a battle for power and money.

 

Dear Woman: Basically. Here’s how I know. The truth is, women don’t get along any better with women than they do men, and men don’t get along better with men than they do women. Women vie for place and men kill each other in war.

 

Dear Man: Wow. I hadn’t thought of that. Actually, the human beings that get along best are men and women, because they do succeed in procreating and raising families.

 

Dear Woman: Sometimes. But when you add the dimension of politics, then it’s kind of like men become the Republicans and women are the Democrats.

 

Dear Man: I see what you mean. In other words, men are the level-headed pragmatists and women are the “feely-good” liberals.

 

Dear Woman: Exactly. So what I think needs to be done…

 

Dear Man: Let me step in here and tell you what I think. I believe we need to call it out every time we see it. Every time that smirk comes across the face of a man, or a woman takes on the profile of bitching and complaining about a male problem, we should step in and say that if men and women can’t get along, the human race is doomed.

 

Dear Woman: Well, of course it is. If 50% of the people are fighting 50% of the people, you have a 0% chance of survival. But keep in mind, this applies to civil rights, too.

 

Dear Man: What do you mean?

 

Dear Woman: There’s money to be made in civil rights. Keeping black people agitated and white people pumped up with a sense of superiority generates huge donations to causes and eliminates the common sense of finding things we share.

 

Dear Man: So do you think it’s sinister?

 

Dear Woman: No, I think it’s greedy. If you’re a comedian making millions of dollars off of sexual politics, why would you repent and try to find another way to make millions of dollars?

 

Dear Man: So without a quiet revolution which gradually makes prejudice taboo, we will live in an ignited atmosphere of sexual politics, which feathers the nest of those odd birds who want to make a living off of the struggle for more power and more money.

 

Dear Woman: Exactly. That’s why the most important thing to remember is that we have a human problem, not a gender problem. We have a human problem, not a race problem. We have a human problem, not a cultural problem. And we have a human problem, not battles between nations.

 

Dear Man: Sounds impossible.

 

Dear Woman: It does, doesn’t it? Of course, we could take the first step. You and I can agree.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 10th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn Seated

Seated

I hope I did not scare

You with my wheelchair

It’s just my legs are sore

From all the weight I bore

Crossing this American scene

Since I was just nineteen

First appeared my song

Then the books came along

I saw my movies on the screen

A symphony born, sweet, serene

I raised a house full of boys

Suffered the trials, blessed by joys

A feeling–a calling within my soul

A deeper wish to make me whole

Yes, my heart is full of humble praise

My soul is young and quite ablaze

My mind reaches–ideas to seize

But I’m a bit weak at the knees

You might think I should rest a spell

A doctor’s care might do me well

But the fields are ripe and ready, you see

For laborers to come–is that not me?

Then please forgive my weakened frame

And not consider me a shame

I will tell you of good common sense

And soothe the terror that makes us tense

And find our hope in one another

You’re my sister, you’re my brother

So don’t you worry–all is well

Let’s join together … and change this hell.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … August 6th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3025)

Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: People are making tons of money by promoting the gender wars–books, seminars, movies and television programs accumulate a huge haul of cash by continuing to foster the irreconcilable differences between men and women.

 

Dear Woman: I suppose that’s true, but what do you plan on doing about it?

 

Dear Man: I’m just explaining that as long as there’s money to be made, there won’t be a willingness to come to the truth of the matter.

 

Dear Woman: And what is the truth?

 

Dear Man: The truth is, we will continue to think that women are the weaker sex and that they are irrational, until we sit down and have a great dialogue and risk losing this dishonest money in favor of seminars and shows that illustrate the two genders working together.

 

Dear Woman: That’s not gonna happen.

 

Dear Man: I don’t know whether it’s gonna work in the end, but we could make a beginning. Let’s start with the fact that you are taught that I am irrational, and I am taught that because you feel that way, you are irrelevant.

 

Dear Woman: Interesting. So what you’re saying is, if you find me irrelevant, I more than likely will naturally conclude that you’re irrational for feeling that way.

 

Dear Man: And if you’re constantly hounding me about being irrational, I will find you irrelevant.

 

Dear Woman: It seems like there’s no solution.

 

Dear Man: Every solution begins with a door, and I think I know where to go in.

 

Dear Woman: I’m all ears.

 

Dear Man: The toilet seat.

 

Dear Woman: Oh, no. No way. That old battle has been fought to a bloody end.

 

Dear Man: That’s because we think it’s impossible to handle. Here’s the truth–a man lifts the toilet seat to piss because he doesn’t want to pee on the seat. That’s already considerate. To lift the toilet seat he has to reach down and bring it up. At the end of his business, he reaches over to flush the pot. At that point his hand is mere inches away from tapping the seat and letting it fall back down.

 

Dear Woman: I understand that. But it doesn’t happen. So if you keep complaining about it, you’re spitting in the wind.

 

Dear Man: It doesn’t happen because we fail to realize that lifting the toilet seat in the first place is a consideration. It requires some effort. It actually takes less effort to knock it back down than it does to lift it.

 

Dear Woman: It may make sense to you, but just mentioning the problem puts men on edge–defensive–and makes women look like self-righteous complainers.

 

Dear Man: Are you telling me that if you were at boot camp and the drill sergeant got in your face and ordered you to put down the toilet seat, you would be unable to learn it?

 

Dear Woman: No. I would do it because I was threatened.

 

Dear Man: So why aren’t you threatened by appearing to be calloused, uncaring and unwilling to change?

 

Dear Woman: I suppose because it’s my way, as a man, of saying that this particular thing will be done my way. Is that what you want to hear?

 

Dear Man: Is it the truth?

 

Dear Woman: The truth is, I don’t think I can remember it every time. So I don’t want to try.

 

Dear Man: You wouldn’t have to remember it every time. If I saw you do it occasionally, it would open my heart–to realize when I finish the toilet I could lift the lid for you. Nobody’s going to die by lifting or dropping a toilet seat. But if we would just show one another that we’re aware, even half the time, it would go miles on the journey to understanding.

 

Dear Woman: It’s not easy.

 

Dear Man: But it is simple. It can be done. And even if it’s done infrequently, the fact that I cross your mind is meaningful to me, and the fact that you think about a woman being in your life when it comes to the bathroom, is powerful for you. We have to get along in every room of the house–not just the bedroom.

 

Dear Woman: So you want me to do this?

 

Dear Man: Do you want to try?

 

Dear Woman: No. But you make so much damn sense that I’d rather try than argue about it.

 

Dear Man: Isn’t that a step?

 

Dear Woman: Yeah. I suppose so. But it feels like a step into a big pile of poop.

 

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