G-Poppers … July 31st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop was perplexed to the point of being perturbed.

Sometimes people insist that it doesn’t matter how and where you were born, and then, in the next sentence, they will turn around and say you should honor how and where you were born by studying your culture.

Which one is it?

Perhaps it would be better to separate it off. For instance, learning your native language is brilliant. Also, pursuing the customs of your ancestry can be enlightening.

But the culture is where we have to be careful. How we treat other people based upon how we view ourselves is not negotiable.

There are many cultures that died because they treated people poorly. There are even cultures that exist today which in 200 years will cease to be because of their record on human rights.

After all, there is no Roman Empire, Greek city-states, Mongols, Huns, Angles or Saxons. Also, the Vikings have disappeared.

Even in the past few months, the American Southern heritage spawned from the Confederate states, which held slavery in place, has been attacked and maligned.

Needless to say, there is no Nazi culture.

There are only three rules to culture. If your culture does not honor these three, it is not worthy of study and it will not survive:

1. No one is better than anyone else.

If your culture believes that your brand of citizens are superior in any way, it will be evolved out of existence.

2. Give freedom to yourself and everyone else.

Any culture that negates the rights of others is eventually extracted from the human family.

3. Be creative in your choices.

If a culture is not evolving toward new answers to face the problems of the new generation, and instead insists on ancient documents for authenticity, then it is not long for this world.

G-Pop sees nothing wrong with learning your native language or following the customs, but until human beings share a common culture of acceptance, tolerance and creativity… we are fostering bigotry under the guise of patriotism. 

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Ask Jonathots … July 16th, 2015

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I love my church and my pastor, but every four years my preacher tells us who to vote for. I really don’t like this. Should I speak to him about this? Write an anonymous note? What is the best way to handle this? I don’t want to leave the church because of this one issue.

Well it really comes down to this point: does a minister of the Gospel have a responsibility to steer his congregation concerning a political decision?

It is not a question of whether he has the right. If a preacher insists he has a calling from God, then he can’t use the Constitution of the United States as proof of his legal authority to voice his opinion in the pulpit in political matters. If you’re going to claim a higher purpose, then you must live by the dictates of that higher calling, not merely the civil rights afforded to you by your government.

So it comes down to the question of how did the Good Shepherd handle the issue of political favoritism? And of course, when I say Good Shepherd, I am speaking of Jesus.

  • Jesus had a congregation.
  • Jesus had a flock.
  • Jesus had a following.

Unquestionably, they were swayed by his opinions.

Judea in the 1st Century A.D. was politically charged. It was Jews against Samaritans, Samaritans against Gentiles, Gentiles divided over their allegiance to Rome, and Rome basically swallowing up most of the air with its imperialism and desire to conquer.

There was tremendous pressure on Jesus to pick a side. For instance:

He was invited to the palace of Herod to discuss his work. He declined.

The woman at the well suggested that he should show a bit more favoritism to the Samaritans to balance things out. He didn’t.

And of course, the Jewish hierarchy wanted him to speak out against Rome. And his classic phrasing of “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” still remains as a guideline for those who preach the Gospel.

They even wanted Jesus to express sympathy for Jewish folk who had been killed by Pontius Pilate while merely worshipping in the synagogue. Although it would have been easy for him to do so, he remained neutral.

Since he taught that “the Kingdom of God is within us,” how we are governed doesn’t make nearly as much difference as the decision we make on how to live our personal lives. Your pastor has absolutely no right to color the vote of his sheep. But confronting him on such an issue is not only disrespectful, but would certainly be unproductive.

If your church does not use Jesus as the primary example, then your pastor will probably fall back on Old Testament nationalism to condone his choices.

At that point, you have to make a decision.

Do you want to be part of New Testament church that follows Jesus, or a church which haphazardly mingles Jesus and Moses together with equal authority and power?

I see nothing wrong with posing the question to your pastor, “Do you think Jesus would campaign for a candidate, and if you do think so, what story from his life do you use to confirm that?”

Even the Apostle Paul told us to pray for those who are in authority over us–not campaign against them.

The church will become a much more powerful unit for spiritual and social change when it pushes for separation from the state.

 

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The Alphabet of Us: L is for Love… February 23, 2015

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All human beings possess a heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

Love is marginalized and trivialized–so much so that I almost decided not to include it in our “alphabet of us.”

This is because we think love is an emotion. It isn’t.

When considering faith, hope and love, the latter is always proclaimed the greatest. Why is that?

Because hope loses its energy and faith is often overcome by doubt. But love is a decision confirmed through endurance.

Let me give you the best definition I have for love:

Love is an abiding confidence which is so secure that it is able to manifest itself through a nourishing humility.

It grants us a balance of self-worth and self-awareness. Here are the three states which initiate love:

1. I am not better than anyone else.

The insecurity of superiority is what creates loneliness.

2. I am not alone.

For after all, when loneliness arrives, it can be a terrifying state of mind, which welcomes fear into our lives.

3. I am not afraid.

And if fear is forbidden to live within us, love is given room to breathe.

True love is not being given much of a chance nowadays because our society is tormented by a contention that we’re better than one another.

  • It makes us lonely.

It generates “us against them.” And then we become convinced that there’s much to be afraid of from enemies who surround us.

I strike a blow against terrorism every day by believing that I am not better than anyone else. This causes me to realize that the planet does not belong to me, my kin or my nation.

  • I am not alone.

And because I’m not alone, and I am joined by eight billion fellow human beings who are equally as intelligent and confused.

  • I am not afraid.

Love is not the answer; it is the ongoing question.

And the question is simple: “Do I realize I’m on a journey which will only be completed when I reach the end?”

 

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Published in: on February 23, 2015 at 1:25 pm  Comments (2)  
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Troublemaker… March 29, 2013

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jesus at UN

Love your enemies.

What is he talking about? There are dangerous people in the world who have to be monitored and even confronted in order to maintain a civil society. You cannot initiate a diplomacy of “love” to countries like North Korea and Iran. They will view it as weakness and use it as leverage against you in the next confrontation. You certainly cannot tolerate someone tooling around, asking us to love our enemies. The trouble he will end up making could cost us our freedom and our way of life.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Impractical. If we actually treated other nations and people with the same integrity we bestow upon our own citizens, we would be affording them undue respect, since they don’t have the same morals and guidelines that we offer to our people. It would lead to a demise in nationalism and a lack of pride. What we need to do is continue our practice of giving “most favored nation” status to the cultures that agree with us and are willing to be like us in most ways.

Don’t judge or you will be judged.

Another portion of idealism. If there is no way for us to feel superior in some aspect of our lives, how are we to gain the confidence to be leaders instead of just an elongated trail of followers? A certain amount of pride is necessary to maintain purpose, right? If people are not better than other people, how can we enforce integrity and morality, granting us a universal sense of well-being? It’s not so much that we’re judging people in order to alienate them, but instead, enlightening them to the error of their ways.

You are the salt of the earth.

Once again, it may be nice to present the concept of an even playing field, and even to insist that “all men are created equal,” but when you give too much power to the weaker members of our population, they will use it for an occasion to welcome anarchy. Encouragement is one thing–but to unleash the idea that everyone can become equally spiritual or equally human is to produce a chaotic environment, where “lessers” mingle with “greaters” and we are never able to determine true excellence. It is possible to understand that people are ignorant–without hating them.

The kingdom of God is within you.

If we’re going to teach people that true spirituality spawns from their own inner faith, inner soul and inner emotions, then we are weakening the foundations of organized religion, granting us the civilization of understanding God. After all, statistics show that people prefer a worship experience that is full of liturgy and pre-fabricated messages, which can be spoken by the entire assembly to instill faith and unity. If we allow people to have their own experience with God within themselves, we are eliminating the demand for religion and replacing it with abstract searching. Where would this leave our churches?

As you can see, the basic teachings of Jesus, which he intoned two thousand years ago, still cause the hierarchy of society to tremble–or laugh–depending on their particular mood. Conventional wisdom trembles at the notion of human beings being blessed with the individuality of discovery, without being constrained by ritual and commandments. And it laughs at the respect given to folks by the Nazarene–to be able to find the face of God and righteousness on their own.

Perhaps the progression of years would keep us from publicly humiliating, mutilating and executing Jesus for such actions taken in our American culture. We are beyond such barbarism.

We would just let the 24-hour-news cycle assassinate his character.

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Simon’s Son… April 5, 2012

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From Safford, Arizona

Simon fathered a boy–a delightful young lad–his only son. “Proud” could not possibly describe the experience that occurred in Simon’s soul over having such an opportunity–to have an heir and a young, fertile mind in which to plant great ideas and dreams.

He taught the boy to love God, because without the love of the Divine, the appreciation of the earthly is often tainted. He taught his son to be loyal to his family. After all, there is nothing greater than family. He instructed his fine pupil in the value of loyalty to your country–being willing to stand up for liberty and independence. He shared with him that generosity to the poor is a great way to please God and also a signal to your neighbors of the purity of your motives. He taught his son that government interference in the choices of its citizens should be limited, allowing for the population to grow, prosper and expand.

He was pleased when his young fellow grew into a man and offered his talents to the resistance party. Even though his child was not a warrior, he possessed great skill in communication, negotiation–and also had a knack for finance. After all, even freedom fighters need an accountant.

He was a bit surprised when his son ended up in Bethabarra by the Jordan with a new movement that promoted the idea that repentance and immersion in water replaced debate and standing up against tyranny. Yet he never questioned him. After all, all young people go through phases and as he got older, he would return to his moorings and roots.

But when his son chose to join forces with a Galilean, it was time to object. Simon was a proud citizen of Kerioth, a town in Judea.  Now, Simon did not feel that Judeans were better than Galileans, but the natural pecking order in both the physical and spiritual worlds seemed to have produced such evidence. Galilee was poor, absent loyalty to the country and too preoccupied with sustenance to be of much use to the common good. Judeans were faithful to both God and country, and were prepared to do whatever was necessary to free themselves from the interference of government and the tyranny of foreign influence.

But Simon loved his son. He realized that there is a season of reflection, when every man questions his values and wanders into the oblivion of possibilities for a brief season, to then return to the righteous struggle.

Simon loved Judas. Nothing could change that love. He was proud that Judas had found a place of high regard in this new movement, one of the top twelve–even though it was spawned in Galilee.

But today he had received news that his hope and dream–his prodigy and the symbol of his destiny–was dead.

Simon decided to make a journey to Jerusalem to try to trace the last days of his beloved Judas. It was difficult to find anyone who would talk to him. Apparently those associated with the new movement had escaped into private chambers or were completely unwilling to meet with the father of the man they knew as a traitor.

A traitor. Simon could not imagine his Judas betraying anyone. Loyalty to family, country and God had been the bulwark of their household philosophy.

Finally one of the women from the Nazarene‘s camp–a lady named Mary of Magdala–agreed to meet with him. He was a little uncomfortable to be discussing such important matters with a woman, but decided that something was better than nothing. He had only one question.

“Who killed my beloved son?”

Mary paused, eyeing him carefully, contemplating how to share the truth. She had no desire to hurt this father’s feelings. She had no wish to bring judgment on a man who was once a friend and now lay dead by his own hand. The delay troubled Simon, agitating his soul.  He asked again.

“Tell me, woman.  Who killed my Judas?”

Mary drew a deep breath. “I don’t know. And sir, I’m glad I don’t know. For Judas loved his country, but in the midst of his affection and devotion, his country changed. Judas loved the poor but didn’t realize that they would never go away and that merely casting coins in their direction was not a resolution to the problem. Judas believed in a religious system that was evolving from true Godliness to a safe Godliness that included greed and too much nationalism. Judas was my friend–but he forgot how to be a friend to the one who befriended him the most. So when our master asked him to stretch his mind and expand his heart to believe in things he did not yet comprehend, Judas returned to his training, his instincts and his security instead of abandoning them for the quest for the Kingdom of God.”

 Simon was aggravated. “You didn’t answer my question. Who killed Judas?” he asked.

Mary, without pausing, replied, “Religion. Tradition. Fear of being out of the mainstream. Insecurity. Selfishness. Hurt feelings. Jealousy. Nationalism. Wanting revolution instead of revelation. Money. Acceptance. And … probably mainly horror over being different for a season, to be right forever.”

Simon tried to interrupt, but Mary continued. “Your son betrayed. You see, it wouldn’t be a betrayal if the end result had been the betterment of mankind. But our master, Jesus, called him the ‘son of hell.’ I remember when I heard those words come from his lips, I thought to myself, ‘This is too harsh.’ But then I realized that hell exists whenever we believe that God is merely in heaven and not in the hearts of our brothers and sisters. And anyone who tries to stop God from loving people instead of just statues, countries and causes becomes hell’s son.”

Simon departed without saying another word. This woman was obviously deluded, as females often were. He went back to Kerioth feeling cheated and robbed of his only begotten son. Was there any truth to Mary’s words? Had he failed as a father? What was wrong with believing in God, family and country? What was wrong with objecting to government interference? What was wrong with being a patriot?

Six months later Simon passed away, still grief-stricken over the loss of his son. He never got to hear the words of Jesus. The only thing the name “Jesus” meant to him was that the son he had raised to be a good Jew was dead–because he had followed this teacher.

Simon had a son. He named him Judas–in honor of the great warrior who had fought for the Jewish people, Maccabees. His son grew up to be a man–a dastardly deceiver–the one who betrayed the Prince of Life.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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