Good News and Better News … October 24th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Yesterday when I arrived at the First United Methodist Church of Plainwell, Michigan, a gentleman asked me, “So, what do you think about the 2016 Presidential election?”

I replied, “It’s like going to the grocery store to get some steak and finding out they’ve only got baloney.”

Yes. The campaign is just “cold cuts.”

So it’s very important that when we come to church, we give those who have chosen to attend a “people experience”–full of emotion, joy, humor and inspiration–because they certainly are not going to get it on MSNBC, CNN or Fox News. Likewise, neither Donald nor Hillary are motivated to edify people.

My Plainwell experience began the day before when I arrived for setup, and was delighted to meet Pastor Kathy and Sue, who generously afforded us their efforts, hospitality and gentleness. They were absolutely inspiring human beings who just happened to be women.

Therefore, when Sunday rolled around, my heart was full, and I wanted to ensure that everyone I met was aware that even though the world is full of tribulation, this is our season to “be of good cheer.”

good-news-plainwell-cup-and-spoonHowever, serving up good cheer demands that you portion things off in the right units. Otherwise, the recipe doesn’t taste quite right.

For instance, I do think we need a tablespoon of Bible–as long as it’s mingled with a cup of mercy.

How about a tablespoon of prayer, with a cup of helping out?

You can have a handful of church if you throw in a bunch of kindness.

I would welcome a teaspoon of preaching mingled with a quart of living.

I think you can have a cup of worship if you stir in a gallon of joy.

I suppose I could stand a pinch of study, if it will motivate a dash of discovery.

And certainly feel free to throw in a tablespoon of faith–as long as you realize it functions best with a cup full of effort.

The Gospel works because it is suited to people.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to find the gaps in the world, and instead of being angry about them, fill them:

  • Life is rather tasteless, so bring your salt.
  • Things get pretty dark, so make sure you light it up.
  • Most people demand–learn to ask.
  • Lots of folks blame. Jesus suggests that we seek.
  • And of course, it’s very common to stand on the outside and feel cheated, but Jesus insists that it’s more fulfilling to knock on the door.

We had a fabulous time yesterday in Plainwell.

We laughed, cried, snickered, snorted, watched, listened and embraced. It was a human event–which means it gave God glory, since He was the One who came up with the idea of humanity in the first place.

So the good news is, church is a great remedy for politics.

And the better news is, the more people-friendly church becomes, the more people will be drawn to it.

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G-Poppers … May 6th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The situation is that our solution has actually become our problem.

G-Pop is trying to explain this to his son.

Even though there is a strong contingency of the American public which contends we are a “Christian nation,” when it comes to dealing with others, our prejudices and our policies, we completely abandon the teachings of Jesus in favor of the message of Mesopotamia.

Therefore we tout “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and “our country, right or wrong.”

So we end up with two candidates for President who both have unfavorable ratings and seem baffled by their unpopularity. But it’s really quite simple. Even though there may be a rag-tag group of citizens who cheer arrogance and self-reliance, all of us know in our hearts what is necessary to be a human being:

  1. “From what I know…”
  2.  “I was wrong.”

Any time those two statements are ignored or even pushed to the rear in favor of barnstorming stubbornness, you have a credibility problem.

Since none of us are sure of anything, taking the precaution of being candid about our knowledge is only wise.

In like manner, keeping in our back pocket the ability to be wrong without feeling that we’re diminishing our career is equally as valuable, so that people can trust us.

So it is ironic that we campaign for our two candidates while simultaneously voicing that we don’t trust them.

Of course we don’t.

  • Both of them plot instead of letting the truth play out.
  • They both maneuver instead of managing the circumstances provided.

And they defend themselves instead of allowing the new revelation to push them to the forefront as leaders.

You have to make up your mind. CNN, Fox News and MSNBC may love a fight among the candidates. They say it makes good news. Actually, it makes bad news, which they spin into good revenue through advertising.

But if you’re going to edify people, you will have to be forthcoming about what you presently know and also be prepared to be wrong.

G-Pop realizes there are those reading this who would say, “Politics doesn’t work that way.”

But he would retort, “Therefore, politics doesn’t work.”

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Cracked 5 … October 27th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Questions the Congressional Committee Might Like to Ask Me

A. Excuse me, sir … who are you?

 

B. You’re a big’un. How much you weigh?

 

C. FOX News or MSNBC?

 

D. When the Benghazi compound was attacked, is it true you were carelessly at home eating a hot dog?

 

E. Do you know anything about anything?

 

Cracked 5 Trey Gowdy

 

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Neutral … January 16, 2013

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Jon SigningIn the often-comical pursuit of trying to create  dialogue and social interaction that does not offend anyone, we have actually ended up being one of the most offensive generations that has ever walked the face of the earth. By the time the commentators finish parsing words, studying body language and playing video tape which has been edited to reinforce their points, they are able to turn almost any conversation, speech or private moment into the abomination of desolation or an obvious affrontation to some beleaguered and misunderstood portion of our society.

So everybody is heading for the low ground.

There was a time when we actually did try to climb the mountain of wisdom in order to find the high ground where we could see better. But now it seems more prudent to those in control to find the lowest point of disagreement and camp there, hoping never to be challenged or questioned.

It happened to me yesterday. Some dear soul who had caught my show requested that I come to present my ideas, music and creativity in front of another audience of her organizing. The lady was thrilled with what she had seen, and wanted to make sure she could include all of her friends in the experience. I told her I was more than willing to go anywhere and for her to let me know how I could be of assistance.

Well, less than twenty-four-hours later she called me and said that she had talked to the “powers that be.” They were more than willing to invite me to come to their auditorium to perform–if I would comply with a few simple rules. (Honestly, friends, I don’t know how the words “simple” and “rules” ever got hooked up. It is not a good marriage–because rules are never simple and simple rarely demands many rules.)

Basically, the main concern by her  fellow-workers was that they wanted to be assured that I would come in and offer a “neutral” program. Many of the people in their constituency are of different political persuasions, faiths, ethnic backgrounds and general dispositions. They needed some guarantee that what I would share would not be offensive, but “in the wheelhouse” of everyone’s comfort zone.

Let me tell you something about neutral. Neutral by definition is a decision not to get involved and neither go forward or backwards. It is not exactly where anyone desires to be, but rather, a profile thrust upon us by fear of being overly passionate or too advanced.

I don’t mind being neutral. I just don’t know whether I can offer the same package of potential and emotional explosion by carefully removing all the meat from my offering, only to display the remaining skeleton.

But as I said, it’s not hard to do. The United Methodist minister, for instance, is more than willing to sacrifice miracles, supernatural events and any controversial subject that might have been brought up by Jesus, in an attempt to create a faith which can be intellectually absorbed through the pores from the hymn book.

On the other hand, the Southern Baptist will gladly and almost reverently take away any of the compassion, open-mindedness and non-judgmental approach of Jesus in favor of the bleeding savior who died for the world’s sins because “we’re all so very rotten, you know.”

It seems to me that the problem with religion is that it chooses to either be weak or to be mean.

So what I told the lady I would do for her gathering is simple. I’ve already found a neutral message. It’s not, however,  neutral in its energy and impact. It’s neutral because it is the only message that cross-sects all of humanity–simultaneously making sense and also convicting the hell out of all of our souls.

That message is “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

It is not obtuse to the atheist OR the pentecostal, yet individuals within those groups may find it humorous or implausible. I am willing to work with any philosophy, political party or clump of clods who will accept that the only way we’re going to get along on this planet together is when we stop feeling either superior or inferior to each other.

It’s not so much a neutral message as it is the only message.

So if my Buddhist friends have trouble with it, I offer them the platform to give me a more concise and on-point directive.

If the agnostics think it is irrelevant, I’m all ears to their findings.

And if the Muslims, Jews, Republicans, Democrats, atheists and “whoevers” wish to banter with me about the specifics of this holy sound bite, I am prepared to be instructed and informed–just not deterred.

So there is my neutral message: NoOne is better than anyone else.

I’m sure someone on MSNBC or Fox News could find fault with it, and if they couldn’t decimate the content, they could certainly delve into my character and find reasons why I am unworthy to front the notion. I don’t care. I will not play the game.

I learned a long time ago–the only way to become a fool is by participating in foolishness.

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I’m Proud … December 30, 2012

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I’m proud of my country. I haven’t seen folks handle so much crap since Ben from the fertilizer store moved his family, complete with inventory, from Sunbury to Galena.

It’s been a tough year. I guess we aren’t supposed to say that. If you’re a Democrat, they’ll tell you that you don’t believe in the President. The Republicans will snipe at you and suggest you should have voted for their paraded puppet. The optimistic sort believes we should always look on the bright side of life. The pessimist will leap in, explaining that you “don’t know the half of it…”

Just like any other year–too many dead people, not enough explanations. Too much debate, not enough progress. Too much self-esteem and not enough true esteem over self.

It was a horrible election year. Maybe I should use a different word than “horrible.” How about “yucky-puckey?” No, that’s too cute.

We’re very good in America at assessing blame and being satisfied with discovering who is responsible for the crime, without ever making attempts to satisfy the victims or assure ourselves that it needn’t happen again.

But you see, I was out there all year in the midst of what we refer to as “everyday people,” who are really the people who make sure that one way or another, we have an every day.

They are a brave lot. You would barely be able to tell that they were in a hailstorm of adversity–if you didn’t look closely and see the dents in their armor.

We don’t smile enough. We clap instead of laugh. We need to be entertained to relax. Conversation is limited to tiny bites of half-words, quickly typed on miniscule machines in an attempt to eliminate the need for either confrontation or communication.

But I’m still proud of us. We’ve reached the end of another year and have not imploded with the sheer lunacy of intoxication from reality shows. We have actually listened to the best of Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and a host of others–and have mercifully not run en mass and burned down their stations.

We were given a choice of two men, neither of whom knew what they were doing, and we intelligently selected the one still living in the house–so as to avoid paying moving expenses. We didn’t like either one. We didn’t favor their views and we certainly didn’t approve of their lifestyle–that being a politician.

I’m proud of this country. I’m proud to be an American because after we get over our fits of arrogance, we do actually settle down, look at our history and realize that we’ve got a long way to go on our way to celebrate how far we’ve come.

There were a couple of times this year when I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it. After all, movie theaters and elementary schools were never meant to be shooting galleries. But we will keep our guns because no one has the ability to make amends. We will stubbornly continue to believe it’s someone else’s fault because catching a glimpse of our true selves in the mirror is much too frightening.

But there will always be the folks I met on my journey. They start off cranky, fussy and unwilling–but after a few brief moments of levity, silliness and honesty, they begin to unpack the soul they’ve kept hidden behind false memories.

I was proud to be in front of them. Doggone it, I’d be proud to be behind them. I’m proud of this country and I’m hoping that in the coming year, we can do something we’re really proud of… something more eternal than survival.

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With All Your Getting … September 17, 2012

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Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the news media’s overly simplistic, goofy representation of life in these United States. Travel with CNN, MSNBC and Fox News as they journey us around the country to break us apart into little bits and pieces of quirks, which they then amplify to represent the majority popular opinion.

First stop for our tour bus?

  • Alabama. Guns, God and grits.
  • Then we journey down to Florida. Medication, Middle East and Medicare.
  • Cruising on, we arrive in Texas, with faith, football and fried…everything.
  • In no time at all, we enter the state of California, with television, tarot cards and tofu.
  • I think we have time for a bathroom break in Minnesota. Stoic, Scandinavian, and St. Lutheran.
  • Our tour bus now takes us to the state of Indiana, where …

Hold on a second. Please allow me to interrupt this cavalcade of comedic conclusions. I just spent the weekend in Indiana. What I found there was the same thing I uncovered in Alabama, Florida, Texas, California and even Minnesota. They’re called folks. And by the way, some get it and some don’t.

It’s really that simple. Some people burst out of the borders of their training and provincial surroundings and realize more universal truths of human behavior and how to get along with other individuals. Others cling to the bad habits of their ancestors, getting the same results of inadequacy, poverty and prejudice.

It all boils down to three be’s. If you learn these, you can go anywhere in the world and co-exist with any culture, religion and even form of government. If you don’t, you make yourself cranky, and therefore, a target for criticism by neurotic folks around you, who are looking for a reason to be offended.

1. Be friendly. Really, it won’t kill you. Suspicious, careful, backward, frowning, reserved, reticent and distant leave to the public their opinion on who you are and what you are. Friendliness is required to create the image of who we wish to be and how we wish to be viewed. I do not know when people decided it was their God-given right to be unfriendly, but all it does is make them look arrogant and causes other humans to want to hurt them.

2. Be there. Please do not come to a meeting talking about the your next meeting. Don’t have a conversation with me about how busy you are and how lucky I am that you’re even taking the time to speak with me. We owe one thing to everyone we meet–give them the time they deserve and our attention, or just don’t show up. The most aggravating attitude you can present to another person is to lead them to believe that your mind is on something else other than being with them. Great people do great things by focusing on small details. Be there.

3. Be changing. My brain is not presently manufacturing enough truth to sustain me for the rest of my life. I need more information. In the process of receiving that input, I will also have to deal with challenges to things that I already hold dear. If I am prepared to change my mind, I am a candidate for prosperity.

Let us realize that not everything can be voted on. America is presently obsessed with the notion of popular opinion. If popular opinion had been allowed, slavery would never have been abolished. Segregation would still be in place. Rock and roll would have been banned. The right for women to vote would have been a joke. And even smallpox, by this time, would be bigpox. Sometime the people DON’T know best. It requires us to have the kind of leaders who are willing to change their minds–in a  direction that will benefit the common good.

And if you are willing to be friendly, be there and be changing, you will be on the cutting edge of the three things that make life on earth prosper, and therefore, fulfill the will of God.

People need liberty. And here is my definition of liberty: Liberty is when health, happiness and honesty are thrust to the forefront.

People have a right to be healthy. They certainly have the right to pursue happiness as long as it doesn’t exclude others, and the presence of honesty allows us to keep a pureness of heart that makes the viewing of God so much easier.

Please do not fall victim to the news media, which tries to divide this nation into smaller and smaller units of conflict. What I saw in Indiana yesterday was very simple. I met some absolutely inspiring human beings, who had decided to be friendly, be there and be changing. What remained were those lost sheep, who think that by avoiding others, avoiding their surroundings and avoiding change, they can actually keep life the way it is. They can’t.

So with all your “getting,” get understanding–and the greatest understanding is that where the spirit of God is, there is liberty–the pursuit of health, happiness and honesty.

Happy Monday to you. Be friendly, be there and be changing.

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If I Were a Democrat… May 11, 2012

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Politics may be the quickest way to remove purity and passion from any aspiration. Once we require a majority to proceed, we oust intelligence and creativity out the door.

My opinion.

Yet– in the spirit of MSNBC and Fox News, to present all things “fair and balanced,” since I have given time to ruminate on what I would do if I were a Republican, I will now tell you what I would do as a Democrat. (Once again, as in the case of the Republicans, I am not a member of the donkey cult…)

1. If I were a Democrat, since I do have a social agenda, it would be a good idea to stop apologizing for it.  Many of the successful projects of the twentieth century were achieved by people who had a social agenda, discovering an injustice and exposing it, much to the chagrin of those who preferred the status quo. If government does not have a social conscience that produces some sort of agenda, we will constantly be burdened with a sense of inequity which has to be explained away by erroneous research. For instance, I grew up believing that black people were good in sports, Asians were the crack aces at math, American Indians knew the best way to climb rocks and Hispanics, generally speaking, should always be hired for your gardening. It seemed innocent at the time. Of course, we now know that all of that is racist. Without a social agenda, we are delinquent in arriving at good conclusions.

2. Governing should be an issue of equality or legality. When you remove preference, emotion, bigotry, religiosity and politics from governing a nation like the United States, you are left with two criteria:  (A) Is it legal? If the answer to that is yes, then  (B) it should be equally distributed amongst the populous. Otherwise we end up with inequity and prejudice. If it is deemed to be illegal, then inequality is acceptable because the particular activity has been judged by the general public  to be detrimental to the community. Do you see? In other words, if you believe that abortion is not only immoral, but should be illegal, then work to pass a law in that direction instead of trying to make it more difficult for CERTAIN groups to have this opportunity over others. That’s un-American. If it is your contention that homosexuality is both immoral and of great danger to our society, then pass a law to return sodomy to the books, making it illegal. Therefore, inequality is acceptable because the action is against the law. Case in point: we determined that cigarettes cause cancer and second-hand smoke is dangerous. So laws were passed. We levy upon smokers an atmosphere of inequality by forbidding them to smoke in public places and charging heavy taxes onto their habit. It is righteous, because of the illegalities and unnaturalness of the activity. But on the other hand, if I were a Democrat, I would point out that if you are NOT willing to make abortion and homosexuality illegal, then according to our Constitution, equality for all American citizens must be the same. If it’s illegal, it can be unequal. But if it’s legal, then equality needs to be given to everyone.

3. If I were a Democrat, I would make sure that the country understands that we need to have a world view. Isolationism is what gets us into wars. I would ask the following questions: is there a chance that by understanding more about Islam we could address terrorism more effectively? Would having some empathy for the European banking crisis help us prevent some of the same problems in our own country? Would it be beneficial for us to understand the mind-set of the Chinese people? The way we handle countries like Iran, Pakistan, China and even Russia reminds me of a man who thinks he can pet his neighbor’s pit bull because they live on the same street. The pit bull will bite you, because you do not have any familiarity with it. If I were a Democrat, I would make it clear that this is a world we live in and not just a country.

4. If I were a Democrat, I would extol the virtues of ALL energy. I think we should go ahead and use coal–as cleanly as possible–and oil, as long as we are also aware that we are going to run out of these things. It reminds me of how I handle my sugar-free popsicles. I use them as snacks, late at night. So the first couple of days after I purchase them, I lavish myself with blessing by eating many. But by the end of the week, looking in my box and realizing they are depleting, I slow up my consumption, yet without forbidding benefit completely. The same is true with coal and oil. And we should find a way to use nuclear energy–and what would be the harm of harnessing the wind? It is ridiculous to think that this country is going to go “green.” If I were a Democrat, I would just suggest light brown–a combination of green and the nearly black of coal and oil.

5. If I were a Democrat, I would talk about spirituality instead of religion. There is perhaps no other subject in the world that has as little resolution than discussing theology, God and the practice of worship. Yet–spirituality is an intricate part of every human being. It unleashes both mercy and really, the willingness to pursue new ideas. As you may know, this year I have summed up spirituality into one sentence: NoOne is better than anyone else. If I were a Democrat, I would make that my thesis for faith.

So there you go. That’s what I would do if I were a Democrat. Rather than trying to make my position sound as Republican as possible, I would take the essence of government and the practice of making laws and insert as much humanity as feasible in order to achieve equality.

That’s it. They call Democrats donkeys because supposedly the animal is quite stubborn and has a big kick. But if the Democrats really want to be stubborn about something, they should start with staying faithful to their own pursuits. And if they want to place a “big kick” into society, they should extol the virtue of Lincoln’s expression–a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

Two days in a row I have given you what I would do–if I were a Republican and if I were a Democrat. But since I am actually apolitical, let me tell you tomorrow how I choose to approach the issues of our time.

  

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