A Simple Questionnaire … March 10, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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  1. What do I want?question marks
  2. What do I need?
  3. What do I have in ability?
  4. What do I fear?
  5. What am I doing?
  6. What do I desire to do?
  7. What is the bridge?

Even though it’s a very simple questionnaire, it is filled with important inquiries, which help us understand more about ourselves and our aspirations.

The confusion of every generation is the ongoing belief that we are not confused. People on their way to the discovery of truth always start out with a bit of personal perplexity, questioning, and maybe even feelings of insecurity, because the road to candor is never clear, but always filled with revelation and sometimes, shocking realities.

So let me be the first to jump in and answer these questions.

First, I want to write, teach and share with my generation without being inhibited by so many restrictions and fears. I would like to escape the rigidity of all the systems that exist, which are determined to bring people into submission to a set of rules instead of helping them find the true cause.

Secondly, I don’t know what I need. I feel pretty comfortable with that because the Good Book tells us that God knows what we need even before we do. Excellent. Maybe that’s why He’s such a good partner–he brings the plastic spoons along for the yogurt, because nobody else thought about actually eating them.

My ability is to use insight with humor, and hopefully a gentle spirit, to communicate difficult ideas and contentious causes in a season where people are so easily offended. I do it through art, music, and hopefully, giggles.

I have a dual fear–falling short of my goals because of my age and physical limitations, and losing my solvency and embarrassing the people around me because my ideas are solid but my bank account is dwindling.

What am I doing? Good question. I’m finishing up a seventeen-year career, working faithfully in the mainline denominational churches, to bring a message of common sense, realizing that I can no longer limit myself to such a tiny market, but must at least attempt to expand my borders.

What I desire is to take that which has been forsaken by society, which has callously cast away great means of communication, replacing them with Instagram, and use these methods to reach people with a simple message of hope and personal responsibility. Just because it’s popular to believe that theater, newspapers, books and even musical albums are obsolete because of downloading, it’s not necessarily true. If I owned Facebook, I would also decry any other form of communication that wasn’t “me.” The world will always return to intimacy. It may take a week; it may take a year. We will come back to needing one another.

Which leads me to the final question. What is the bridge? Just as with my need, I don’t have the foggiest idea. But I’m excited about the search; I’m thrilled about the quest. I feel like a Knight of the Round Table pursuing the Holy Grail.

And I know this: it takes courage to chase something that half the people need and the other half don’t believe in.

But those are the only adventures that are truly worthwhile.

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Humbled, Aware, Empowered … September 7, 2012

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I AM:

Humbled by the beauty of our nation

Aware that beauty is only skin deep

Empowered to find the heart and soul of my countrymen

Humbled by the generosity of my new friends

Aware of the responsibility of their faith in me

Empowered by the uplift and confidence it provides

Humbled by the need around me

Aware of what I can do

Empowered to go ahead and do it

Humbled by the grace of grace

Aware that grace is given to the humble

Empowered to embrace productive humility

Humbled by my weakness

Aware of my gifts

Empowered by the balance granted me by my Creator

Humbled by the overwhelming need

Aware of the needs already met

Empowered to continue to pursue meeting needs

Humbled by fatherhood

Aware of the requirement for my children’s independence

Empowered to see them do greater things than me

Humbled by failure

Aware of teeming progress

Empowered by promising opportunity

Humbled by what I create

Aware that it was birthed through adversity

Empowered to persevere

Humbled by tomorrow

Aware of today

Empowered by yesterday

Or sometimes …

Humbled by yesterday

Aware of tomorrow

Empowered by today

Humbled, aware, empowered:

  • The balance of power for this important hour.

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Redlands… May 21, 2012

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I keep searching.

Every week I climb into my big, black van and go from town to town across this expansive country, trying to find a spark of revival. (I do take the precaution of bringing along my own “matches”…)

And when I speak of revival, I’m don’t mean merely a spiritual awakening, but rather, a complete human awakening, fueled by spirit. I will not bore you by telling you about the disappointments along the way. I have never been one to belabor the darker edges of the quilt of my experience. What I would rather do is tell you how encouraged I was yesterday.

I arrived in a church that had rejected complexity in preference to simplicity. They relished communication over the repetition of mere religious practice and liturgy, and they had enough vulnerability that even a stranger such as myself could come in, and as long as I was willing to be equally as transparent, they were of a mind to listen.

It’s not really very complicated. It’s all about ingredients. If you talk to four or five chefs about spaghetti sauce, each one will tell you what elements he prefers prefer to make the ideal concoction. Some want more oregano. Others insist on large doses of basil. Of course, there’s a strong contingency that will tell you it’s all about the garlic. These are all issues of flavor. The truth of the matter is, you can’t make spaghetti sauce without tomatoes. And in our society, emotionally, spiritually and mentally we lead so strongly with taste that we forfeit the tomatoes. Yesterday in Redlands, I discovered a lovely group of souls who were still focusing on the main act.

  • For instance, I talked to a trombone player from the band, who lamented that there was not printed music in the bass clef for his particular instrument–BUT he was still playing. Unlike so many other folks, who have given up playing in the band due to the lack of perfect conditions, he still remained–tootin’ away.
  • I met a women who had recently lost her husband, but rather than making that the focal point of her communication, she uses the experience to spring off with greater concern and love for others.
  • I met a fine fellow with a great interest in independent films, who transfers that passion for the movie industry into his own interpretation of how his life in the spirited realm should be revealed.
  • I saw young humans sitting in the front of the church instead of texting in the back, allowing themselves to be affected by a good thing instead of resisting it simply because it came out of an older vessel or sounded like God-talk.
  • And I met a pastor, excellent at golf, and successful in taking the same energy and intelligence he uses in perfecting his back swing, bringing it into the church service as he claps his hands during the songs and rejoices over being with his congregation–a “holy in one.”

Last night, as I mused over these comrades, I realized that they had discovered a simple procedure that makes spirituality work. It is the blending of three words: need, ability and power.

Although many churches are persistent in expressing how much we need God, it rarely gives us the impetus to tap our abilities and grant us the power of our own conviction. Then there are the more out-of-the-box religions that focus on the power without insisting that we perfect our abilities or ever express need in any way, shape or form. Both approaches leave us void of what is necessary to use our humanity effectively.

No, it’s getting things linked in the right order that gives you the kind of results that allows you to remain human without being obnoxious, while still touching the heart and mind of God. Here’s how I see it–the way I think it should work, confirmed yesterday with my visitation to Redlands:

1. A need to do better. Human beings become ugly when they cover up their inadequacy with false bravado–self-sufficient. They become equally as grotesque when they insist that they’re constantly needy, devoid of any goodness whatsoever. It’s just the admission that we have achieved something, but upon closer examination, we have a heart’s desire to do it better. it makes us sexy. It makes us happy; it makes us powerful. And mostly, it makes us tolerable to those of our own species.

2. An ability to pursue a goal. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But there are many folks who can not remain faithful to a plan simply because they feel more intelligent when they are critiquing it, ignoring it or trying to prove why it won’t work.  Just having the willingness to learn how things work, shutting your mouth and pursuing to the best of your ability may be the definition of godliness. I know this–what we call faith is really when need and ability sign a peace treaty. Faith is the magnificent emergence of a new energy created by the convergence of admitting our need while still pursuing our abilities. And as the Bible says, “without faith, it’s impossible to please God.” Some religions are too needy. Therefore, their adherents are always repenting–reluctantly. Some theologies are too arrogant about personal domination. The result is that those who follow that philosophy end up making claims to everyone else around them, who are privately hoping they fail.

 But when you combine need and ability, you get faith. And then faith gives you the third element:

3. A power to change YOUR world. You need to stop trying to change MY world. Also, you need to relieve your mind of any Pollyanna notion that you’re going to change THE world. Faith gives you the power to change YOUR world. As Jesus said to all the people who came to him, “Your faith has made YOU whole.” My faith can’t make anyone else whole. But it does give me the power to be a light to those who desire to escape the darkness.

When you get those three things placed in the correct order, human beings are really delightful, God seems like a wonderful next-door-neighbor, and the universe is absent a devilish vendetta against you.

Redlands, I hope you continue to understand how wonderful you are in your innocence. And if you do forget, perhaps you can refer back to these words I have shared this morning.  Because when you take a need to do better and mingle it with an ability to pursue a goal, you get the power to change YOUR world.

And the fact of the matter is, if we singularly change enough worlds … who knows? Maybe someday we can surprise the planet and change the whole blessed thing.

 

  

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The Dental of Mental … May 4, 2012

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“Let me sink my teeth into it.”

It was a popular phrase long before the current craze of vampire movies. Deciding what to “bite off” and putting some energy into it is a valuable process in our lives. How should we determine it? What should we bite into?

There are three basic reasons that people bite things off, making the new taste their project. Sometimes they bite things off because everyone around them, including their families, tells us that it’s perfect, encouraging them to “take it on,” even making it clear that if they don’t, they have passed on a golden opportunity. Can I tell you that guilt is one of the worst motivators for human beings? And it is usually followed by a sense of dread, interpreted as “being responsible.” Biting off something because someone else wants you to do it will always leave a bad taste in your mouth.

The second motivation that often taunts us is that we “need” to do something.Whenever it appears that I need to do something, I purposefully delay, to make sure that my choice is not generated in frustration or futility, but rather, by my own inclination. Because the only reason to bite anything off is because I WANT it.Yes, the only question that needs to be asked by anyone at any time before biting into a new piece of life is,Do I want it?”

It doesn’t mean that everything we bite off is good for us, or even necessary–because there are only two things that human beings require to maintain their sanity: (1) The choice was my own; and (2) if I find out it was a stupid one, please permit me a road to retreat and repent

The “dental of mental health” is to choose to bite off only what you want, not what others tell you is required or what you believe you need. Everyone knows–once you bite something off, you’ll have to chew it, and chewing is the process by which we prepare food to leave the delicious world of our taste buds and enter the unknown of digestion.  So as we consider what we want, the only question we really need to pose to ourselves is, “Can I chew it?” In other words, “Can I be patient?”

Chewing is being patient. It is also making sure that we drain the last bits of flavor out of what we’ve bitten before discarding it for more practical use.If we can’t enjoy the process of chewing, then we’ll probably end up trying to swallow everything whole, which will certainly cause us to choke in our hour of need. Can I be patient? Patience is one of those words that’s thrown around without definition, so let me give you two applications:

  1. It tastes good enough that I don’t mind keeping it in my mouth for a while. Don’t think you’ll chew very long on something bitter.
  2. I don’t mind being patient and chewing on it, because I know when it finally reaches my body, it’ll be good for me.

The main piece of success in my life is that I have learned to enjoy the chewing process. If you need instant gratification or immediate appreciation, you will never draw all the taste out of every experience, but will either become reluctant to bite anything off in the first place, or end up gulping, swallowing life whole, without tasting.

Can I be patient? Because after all, when the chewing’s done in the “dental of mental,” it comes time to swallow. What I have bitten off has now been chewed and no longer resembles anything of what I once took on. Swallowing is asking yourself the question, “Am I ready to evolve?”

Some folks believe that if their plans change, they have lost the integrity of the experience. Yet, plans changing IS the experience. Swallowing is what transfers food into energy.Change is what transforms “choice” into fruitfulness.Without change, we arrogantly begin to believe that everything we put into our mouths should remain there instead of being absorbed. How many evolutions will I have to absorb to get the full benefit of what I’ve bitten off and chewed? Well, let me swallow the next one and we’ll see how it goes. Am I ready to evolve?

Which leads to the final step in the dental of mental–digestion. Will what I have bitten off, chewed and swallowed produce the nutrient of even greater desire? There is nothing more discouraging than beginning a project and finishing it by saying, “I will never do that again.” Most people are not lazy–or vacant of purpose. They are afraid to bite things off because the last time the chewing and swallowing produced indigestion. It was dissatisfying and left them with a severe case of heartburn.

Yes. The heart, rather than being rejuvenated through the experience, is aggravated and disappointed.

So–will what I want be patiently evolved in me to end up producing even greater desire to do more? Because that is the essence of mental health. At the end of our experience, we should be fatigued, not exhausted. We should feel exhilaration, not exasperation. And we should want rest–in order to pursue again–instead of escape, to avoid contact.

If you don’t do what you want, you end up being on somebody else’s mission, which means that even if it’s successful, you lose the credit.

The dental of mental health: biting, chewing, swallowing, digesting.

  • Do I want it?
  • Can I be patient?
  • Am I willing to evolve?
  • Does it appear that it will produce even greater desire?

Don’t cheat yourself out of great mental health. Even though the world around you insists that you need to accomplish their desires, never sink your teeth into anything that you don’t really want.

  

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Sufficiency… January 27, 2012

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From Miami, Florida

 “There’s nothing you can do.”
 
To the human, there are no words more chilling than these. If you heard them from your doctor concerning your diagnosis, you would be frantic–pleading for alternatives. Probably the same sensation if the phrase came off the lips of your mechanic. It is not the natural state of mortals–to be abandoned without alternative. It is not clever; it is not meaningful. It is not submissive and it certainly is not spiritual.
 
When you remove the ability to affect one’s own life from the equation, then liberties are taken by that same person to affect life in SOME way. So religious people, who believe in grace and consider themselves to be at the mercy of God, will take their theology and decide who goes to heaven, who gets communion, who gets considered righteous and who gets included on the registry of the faithful. Of course, those jobs really aren’t their business and are in the hands of the Almighty, but when you remove possibility from people’s lives and replace it with hopeless, hapless and helpless, they will initially become lethargic, and then end up vindictive.
 
This could not possibly have been the plan of a Creator who understands the emotional, spiritual, mental and physical make-up of His creation.
 
What we’re actually trying to eliminate is worry. Of course, everyone knows that worry has nothing to do with being involved or participating in solving your problem. Worry is what we do when we stop believing in grace–and grace is what people select when they’re trying to escape worry and mask it with the smirk of faith.
 
What IS the right thing to do when we are presented with the day-to-day difficulties which sometimes seem to overwhelm us? Because removing your own personal responsibility and involvement in your life does not promote mental health. It allows for deception, frustration and laziness to co-exist with each other, creating an atmosphere of desperation. Here’s the truth, friends. I have never seen anyone succeed who is desperate. Certainly we all believe that God’s grace is sufficient for us–but when does God’s grace kick in, when am I supposed to be involved and when does the combination of the two create the necessary energy for resolution?
 
Let me give you a quick four-step process that I hope will help you and certainly does help me in discovering the balance between “doing” and “trusting.”  When any problem or situation arises:
 
1. Understand it. I mean really understand it. Not what you fear it is or what you think it is. And if you’re too close to the situation, get a second and third opinion. Don’t lean to your own understanding when your butt’s on the line. Make sure you comprehend what your dilemma truly is instead of what you might perceive it to be, or even sometimes how it’s presented to you. This is the first step, often ignored because we think our quandary is obvious and does not require us to reflect on the elements of the problem. If the doctor has given me a diagnosis, I need to leave the doctor’s office and go read up on what he has told me. It’s not that I think he’s stupid–it’s that I know he is human and limited by his own education on any given subject. Understand. If you get a bill in the mail from the electric company and it seems large, don’t immediately leap to figuring out how to pay it. Make some calls. Find out why it’s so large. Track down the elements and understand them before you proceed any further. Understanding is like an ointment on a sore wound. It gives you time to escape the pain, to allow healing to begin.
 
2. Evaluate. What are we evaluating? We are taking what we now understand and cross-secting it over to what we know we presently have. Jesus referred to it as “counting the cost.” It is the step necessary in order for human beings to maintain sanity in the midst of adversity. If you receive a charge on your credit card for $500 and you look in your checking account and you see $210, you no longer have a $500 need. You have a $290 need. Subtracting what you are able to do from the problem that you now understand is also part of the healing process for your emotions–which gives you the energy and willingness to pursue. For I will tell you, it is impossible to be successful in life without calming yourself down enough to receive the healing information that “everything’s going to be all right.”
 
3. Provide. Isn’t it interesting that sometimes, after we understand what the problem truly is, and we have evaluated what we have for any given proposition, we sometimes fail to have the energy to provide and give it up? What would have happened if the disciples had not brought the five loaves and two fishes for the five thousand hungry people? What if they had decided on their own that it was completely insufficient, so why even bring it up in conversation? Or what if they concluded that five loaves and two fishes would at least give the twelve of them a little snack? I’ll tell you what would happen. Nothing. And that’s what happens in each of our lives when we fail to provide what we have, convinced that it’s useless–or selfishly trying to save it just in case everything falls apart. There is no feeding of the five thousand without the five loaves and two fishes. God is not going to move without people moving first. You must provide. It’s where faith comes in. Faith is when we take the last cup of what we have and pour it into the bucket of need, giving us a sensation of participation and also leaving plenty of room for God’s contribution.
 
4. And finally–relax. If you truly understand what the situation is, you’ve evaluated your own resources and you’ve provided them into the chasm in front of you by faith, then you can relax–that God’s grace is sufficient to you. For the Bible says that God “will supply all of our NEED.” It does not say NEEDS. It is the singular of the word. We only have one need–and that is the deficit that’s left in our particular piece of difficulty that is still hanging around after we understand, evaluate and provide.
 
The word “covenant” means to be joined together in a common cause. I cannot be in covenant with God and refuse to understand, evaluate and provide. Nor can God be in covenant with me if He does not see my faithfulness and step in to foot the balance of the responsibility. It is a beautiful system if it’s handled correctly. But grace is not believing that we are depraved, desperate and helpless. Grace is when we believe that God has given us the ability to understand, the capacity to evaluate, the desire to provide and then–having done all that–the opportunity to relax in His mercy.
 
You will find many theologians who will disagree with my formula. But dare I say that they have raised up congregations filled with insecure, flinching, judgmental people who are so exasperated by their lack of input in life that they’ve begun to turn the sword of frustration on the world around them. God is smart enough to know how we work. Actually, you and I are smart enough to know to some degree how we function.
 
So take a moment. Understand your true situation. Evaluate the inventory of your potentials. Joyfully provide what you have into the equation, and then relax–knowing that you’re in covenant with a God who can supply your need–that gap between your  provision and your solution.
 
It’s a wonderful system. And in all cases it WILL provide sufficiency, because grace is when we accept what we have, give it over to God and believe that the combination will work.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Primarily… January 10, 2012

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Sixty-three per cent.

I am told by those who schedule me for engagements across the United States that sixty-three per cent of those who are contacted about the possibility immediately say no. That leaves thirty-seven per cent who express some interest.  I am further informed that about half of them eventually choose to decline, bringing it down to about eighteen per cent who actually welcome me into their environs. Eighteen per cent. I don’t think I could win ANY election with that, do you? I don’t think eighteen per cent would impress any pundit pouring over the numbers from New Hampshire today. Matter of fact, someone from the outside might look at those numbers and say, “Gee whiz. Maybe you ought’a find something else to do. It sure looks like you’re not very popular.”

Popular. What an interesting word. From the first day I stepped into kindergarten, popularity and how it worked was very clear to me. It had something to do with giving people what they think they want. Of course, humans, being fairly fickle, have to constantly revise themselves to the ever-changing demands. So the “popular people” in high school did not necessarily go out and change the world, invent something or cure a disease. No, they married their popular counterpart, had children and tried to teach their off-spring to be popular.

I do not understand how we elect and vote for a President in this country. If I were running for office (you can stop giggling now), I would immediately do three things:

1. I would make two videos–one on the best of my accomplishments, entitled The Best and a second video of my faults and bloopers in life and surname it The Worst. I would play both of them equally so as to make it clear to the constituency that I am capable of good AND bad, with a greater inclination to discover the good because I’m not afraid of admitting that I’ve done bad.

2. After making those two demonstrations of the equality of my actions, I would challenge the competition by asking them to do the same. Anyone who’s afraid to deal with his or her bloopers is never going to be a good leader. Anyone who feels the need to qualify his or her mistakes in some lengthy explanation is going to try to justify future bumbles. I would even the playing field by making us all human–or let us all realize that nothing of any human good will come of it.

3. And finally, the third thing I would do is put out a daily report on how I would choose, as President, to handle the situations facing our present administrator. If I believe it’s a serious job, I should not fault the man or woman holding it for having some difficulty. But if I cannot offer solutions to the problems that exist now, and only project what I might do in the future, I probably am not only worthless, but also potentially a liar. Offering a plan, day by day, of how one would handle being President of the United States is the only real way to let the public know what they’re getting with the deal.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? There is what the public wants, what they require and what they need. Politics, religion and entertainment continue to pander to a confused populace materials which they are guessing are adequate to the desires of the current whining. A few bolder souls might make suggestions on doing things better, but the minute those are rejected as impractical–or worse, un-American–those brave adventurers quickly retreat back to advertising the status quo.

What people NEED demands that we look at the history of the human race, the hearts of our species and both the spiritual and physical needs of each other. At times it means being out of step with the current trends and perhaps even at odds with what seems to be the “taking the poll” way of doing things.

But what people need is, after all, what they need. So I continue to travel across the country with an eighteen per cent approval rating because my message is not borne of popular opinion, hatched from a voting booth or manufactured in a Madison Avenue board room. No, my message is, “NoOne is better than anyone else.” It seems simple until you sit down and realize how many different ways we express our superiority to others. But when we abandon that foolishness–to be better than others–we allow mercy, tenderness and humor to return to our lives.

So let them hold the primary today in New Hampshire, and let America once again believe it can vote in the favorite flavor. I will continue to travel around the country and joyously share my little piece of heaven. I may not ever become President, but by the grace of God … I don’t ever have to lie.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Hey, Buddy — September 28, 2011

12 23 OBOE THEME

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I like to sit out in parking lots, roll down my windows, open my sun roof and work on ideas, writings, scripts or whatever is on my present platter, while enjoying the surrounding sunshine and people passing by. I don’t like offices; they sniff of officious. Desks and computers are sterile. or me, just a pad, a pen and surrounding life is a nice atmosphere for creativity.

I was doing so yesterday in Richmond, Virginia, when I was approached by a gentleman who had both a need and an agenda. “Hey, buddy!  Nice car! Is it a Mercedes? How ya’ doin’?”

I don’t know exactly what to do with a flurry of questions.  What do you address first? But I did immediately know two things: this was a guy who was trying to be very friendly because he was going through a hard trial. He wanted something from me.

Now, people in need don’t bother me. Honestly, individuals who have an agenda are pretty obvious, so they don’t particularly trouble me either. But I am not fond of people who have both a need and an agenda. I told him my car was a Korean knockoff of a Mercedes called an Amante.  

He didn’t even hear me; he was in full need and agenda.  Here was his speech:

“Listen, man. I’m a Vietnam veteran and I’m on my way to work and my truck broke down. I left my wallet at my house. I believe in God and I know God’s going to take care of me, so I was wondering if you could give me a lift back to my house so I could get my wallet, so I could get some gas for my truck, which is a big truck, so it takes a lot of gasoline, so that I could get to work, so I can take care of my family, which I love very much.”

Amazingly, he said it in one breath–yet with no real emotional inflection.

Let’s look at the story. 

  • First, he said he was a Vietnam veteran. The Vietnam war ended forty years ago–which means the youngest people who would have fought in that war would be sixty.  He wasn’t a day over forty-two.
  • Secondly, it was 10:15 in the morning, so he probably wasn’t on his way to work. 
  • And there was no truck in sight, so the story about needing gasoline for his vehicle may have been a little bit contrived.
  • “He left his wallet at his house” is pretty unlikely–although I was unsure why he wanted me to put him into my car to take him to another location. (A pretty good rule: don’t follow a potentially homeless person to his alleged home.)
  • For some reason, these individuals with the combo of “need” and “agenda” always demand that you understand that they believe in God, they’re God-fearing, or God is with them, or God is their savior, or God … whatever.  I’ve never met a person who is homeless who doesn’t have a deep, abiding, verbal faith in the Almighty.  It isn’t really a great testimony for religious participation, even though David says in the Psalms, “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging for bread.”  Sorry, David.  I have.  Actually, most of the people I have encountered who are without sustenance will tell you that God is King of the Universe–as they beg you for a dollar or two to pick up some of that good stuff for themselves.
  • And adding the final feather in the cap of his spiel, he mentions “family.”  “Family” seems to be the great elixir in our country, intoxicating us into believing that we are loving and caring people. We must realize, though, that to create a family only requires that you make children, which demands a bodily function between two consenting adults. It’s not making a family that’s special. It’s whether you can make the process meaningful to not only yourselves, but to the world around you.

I am not offended by people who are poor.  As Jesus said, “the poor you have with you always.  Do what you can for them.” I am just fed up with the politics of ANYTHING. I certainly don’t like the politics of politics–where destroying your opposition is more important than opposing what destroys us.  I certainly despise the politics of religion, where placing a candle in its sacred place is more meaningful than teaching the congregation to be the light of the world. I hate the politics of corporations, which possess no sense for the common good, but only view a line that runs at the bottom of the barrel. And I don’t like the politics of poverty. I don’t like it that a man has to lie to me about his situation just to coerce a little money out of me to make it through his day. I don’t like the fact that he has to cajole me into listening to him by using buzz words instead of admitting that for whatever reason, right now his life sucks, and he needs me to squeeze off a few singles his way.

I understand the politics of poverty. I realize that most folks think that homeless people are lazy, trifling and have chosen to be impoverished. So if the unfortunate don’t come up with a good story line, they will not only go without and be disregarded, but also will be looked upon as common, meaningless and trashy.

I just think it is our responsibility to attack politics wherever we see it. I am tired of the phrase, “Well, that’s just the way the world works.” No, my friend, that’s the way someone decided the world works a long time ago, and because nobody argued with him in that moment, and many cowards have followed since, we have ended up with a system that is insufficient to our needs and irreverent to the requirements of others.

My friend closed his little spiel yesterday by saying, “If you’re going to be here for an hour, I’ll come back and give you double repayment for what you give me.”

It was at this point that I stopped him.

“Stop it,” I said. “Let’s not do the dance. You and I both know you don’t have a job, there is no truck, if you have a wallet it has the addresses of local food banks in it, and whatever family you have needs just as much help as you do. Let me tell you, friend, I’m going to give you some money, but not because you came up with a great story or because in your mind you shot Viet Cong. I’m going to give you some money because you crossed my path, and if I don’t I would never be able to explain to myself or God why I chose this moment to be so damned stingy.”

He tried to object but I just held up my hand and he realized there was no need.  He nodded his head and I pulled out some money from my pocket, which I carry at all times for just such occasions. If you don’t carry a few singles around for the lost individuals who happen your way, then you might just be tempted to pretend that there’s nothing you can do. I gave him the money and he was on his way.

As he was leaving, I proffered one final thought.

“You see, brother,” I said, “Now we can actually talk about God and it’ll mean something.”  He smiled and disppeared into the surrounding day.

Here’s the truth: politics creates the need that makes people feel they must have an agenda to get what they want.

I, for one, am tired of it. I refuse to participate. And I am not ashamed when I run across those in need–as long as they don’t try to pretend they’re somebody they really aren’t.

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