PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … December 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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big-ball-of-twine

Just Jim Dandy

It is just Jim Dandy with me

If you hunt deer, rabbit, bear and flea

As long as you teach your children

That brothers and sisters with black skin

Are not niggers, jungle bunnies or monkeys.

 

Share your heart about your anger over abortion

As you visit the fatherless and the widows

 

Chat away about climate change and the melting of the polar ice caps

But please cease to refer to hard-working people who do not share your concern as “deplorable.”

 

Salute the flag, stand for the Star Spangled Banner and support the troops

Struggling with all of us to bring freedom and justice to every American

 

Choose to deny the existence of God and develop your own moral code

While honoring your neighbor nearby and the sanctuary where others gather to worship

 

Express your dismay over illegal immigration

While making sure your laments have nothing to do with race, religion or sexual orientation

 

Yearn for simpler times by keeping things simple

Joke about women and comically complain about men

Remembering that God in His Kingdom has neither male or female.

 

Make sure your belief is grounded in love

Your opinion has a little elastic on the edges

And decisions are merciful instead of final

 

Welcome to America!

Be yourself just short of being an asshole.

It’s just Jim Dandy to have you here.

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G-Poppers … April 15th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop’s grandson was a bit spooked by the notion of evil coming from the hearts of humans, so G-Pop continued his discussion with a little more sensitivity toward a little boy’s tender consciousness.

“Let’s put it this way,” said G-Pop. “If evil is out of our control, then who’s to say that goodness is available for us to choose?

The power in life is in having power in your life.

If the devil can defeat you and the angels have to rescue you, you kind of become the classic damsel, constantly in distress. So here’s where evil comes in:

  • Our appetites. We’re just too hungry.

We keep looking for adventure. And the more advertised forms usually involve risk or deceit.

Our true adventure is life. And when we screw it up the first time, fortunately for us, we usually have another chance to revisit the location with a better travel plan.

Our appetites drive us to do stupid things. It’s good to be hungry, but just as we adjust our physical diet to include nourishing portions, we should do the same with our emotional, spiritual and mental buffet.

  • Our second problem is ego. It’s when we are too selfish.

There is certainly nothing wrong with loving yourself if you make sure to leave enough time to grant your neighbor the same courtesy. But if you believe you must destroy, out-flank, cheat or curse your brothers and sisters to get your portion, you will eventually hatch some form of evil.

  • And finally, there’s delusion.I’m too important.’

Finding our true worth is our greatest achievement. Otherwise we start thinking we’re more valuable than we really are, making us pompous, or less valuable, which causes us to become defensive over our deteriorating worth.

This allows delusion to come to the forefront. We convince ourselves that we have a greater capacity than we can prove, and become quite infuriated when anyone challenges our assessment.

When our appetites make us too hungry and our egos cause us to become selfish, then our delusion makes us insist that we are primarily important.

There you have the formula for evil.

Goodness is when we let our appetites lure us to righteousness, our egos make us generous to the needs of others and our delusion is eliminated because we know exactly who we are and who we aren’t.”

G-Pop finished explaining this to his grandson. Amazingly, the little fella appeared to understand.

He turned and said, “I think I’ve got it, G-Pop. Don’t eat too much of anything.”

G-Pop smiled.

A pretty good analysis.

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G-Poppers … January 1st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

Over the Christmas celebration, one of the family members asked G-Pop if he had any predictions for the coming year.

Actually, speculation on the future is not as difficult as it might seem. After all, the entire Earth works on the “sow-reap” concept.

Unfortunately, right now our country is in a fighting mood. Everything is a political fight, a social struggle, a spiritual confusion and an emotional upheaval.

  • We honk our horns in traffic more often.
  • There’s more impatience in the air.
  • And to some degree, we feel the answer to every question is violence.

So making predictions about the future is a little gloomy. Therefore, let’s avoid it. G-Pop would rather focus on the ingredients to put together a consciousness which welcomes the idea of change while honoring powerful, proven tradition.

It really settles around three rules. Tipping out hat to the Olympics, let us refer to them as the Golden Rule, the Silver Rule and the Bronze Rule.

The Golden Rule is easy:

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

Yes, until we are certain of the direction we want for our own lives, we cannot grant others the courtesy of similar liberty, but instead will stand at a distance and criticize them because they dare to pursue their dreams.

How about the Silver Rule?

To he who is given much, much is expected.

We need to take responsibility. In other words, if you have ten of something, you shouldn’t be waiting for someone who has five to give. Although we want to be successful, we fail to invest ourselves in the procedure. Step up with what you’ve got instead of insisting it’s not enough.

And then there’s the Bronze Rule.

To get mercy, you must be willing to give it.

God knows we all require some measure of mercy. But if we have no track record of being merciful to others, we will find that our bank accounts are vacant of deposits, and when we need mercy the most, we will be absent forgiveness.

So rather than being dark with predictions based upon a fussy populace, G-Pop would rather encourage us to go for the Gold, celebrate the Silver and rejoice over the Bronze.

Be a neighbor, find a friend.

Be fruitful, eat fruit.

Give mercy, get mercy.

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The Gesundheit Factor… November 26, 2011

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In Washington, D.C.

Maybe it’s because I’m in Chattanooga, Tennessee–a town known for its choo-choo–which made me think of “At-choo!”  Sneezing. Which prompted me towards the appropriate response when hearing a sneeze, culminating with “Gesundheit.” (Honestly, if you followed that logic, maybe you’ve read a few too many of my essays.)

I like “Gesundheit.” It is some sort of German derivation of “God bless you.” Yet, I’m not so sure it was a German who first said it, but rather, some forward-thinking, sensitive human being who realized that every time he or she said “God bless you,” there were those NOT part of the faithful sheep-fold who might have been a little offended by the reference to the Divine in the midst of their normal, bodily function of sneezing. So rather than offend people who did not have a spiritual sensibility, he or she decided to place the context of the message in another language, which would still convey the essence, but perhaps beg the question: “Gesundheit? What does that mean?”

Because to be quite blunt, dear folks, if you can’t get people questioning, answers are somewhat useless, lying dormant on a side shelf, collecting dust. It is contingent on those who have discovered peace of mind through emotional health and spiritual well-being to find ways to communicate the principles of their great bonanza of revelation in the most creative ways possible. It is certainly why Jesus spoke in parables instead of pulling out old scrolls and reading the same material that people had heard over and over again.

It’s why he told us to “bury the leaven in the lump.” Yes–to take things that are truly eternal and completely absorb them and dissolve them into the practical world around us. For after all, if things truly are spiritual, they will be like yeast, giving rise to any project in which they are placed. It’s religion that ticks people off. It is the notion that one book or one doctrine is sufficient to cover every human need–with no particular sensitivity given to individual preference. That’s why I like “Gesundheit.” It is clever, communicates a message and also begs the question which lends itself to further enlightenment.

I am very weary of ministers and people who attend worship services lamenting why the masses don’t come filing through the door to find inner peace and salvation. Here’s a clue:  it’s boring. And truthfully, if 90% of the people who attend these times with God can get out of them, they do. It’s not exactly that there’s a mad rush by the fervently faithful to attend worship services, either. They are boring, they are predictable, they take pride in the fact that they do not change and possess more tradition than relevance, and they are geared to the taste of the members who attend instead of to the need of the community where they live.

There’s a certain amount of pomposity that accompanies the decision to be irrelevant. Unfortunately, that particular approach to spirituality is very Old Testament and has absolutely nothing to do with a young Nazarene who lived with the masses, communicated with the masses, told stories to the masses and spoke the language of the masses.

We must find a way to bury the leaven in the lump. We must “Gesundheit” our theology. I have five personal beliefs from the philosophy of Jesus that I hold dear. I never share them as blatant quotations from the holy book. Why? Because people have an aversion to religion that comes from pages instead of people. Here are my favorite five:

1. Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s so easy to change this into the “me factor.” People don’t mind talking about themselves, and all you have to do is allow them to do that and merely guide them to give that same courtesy to other folks.

2. Don’t judge, lest you be judged. All of my art and expressions of creativity are peppered with the notion that we cannot expect to get back any different than what we give. The reason I have mercy on other people is that MY lifestyle demands mercy.

3. Go the second mile. In a generation that has trained itself to settle for second-best, we can still rejoice in the fact that those who exceed expectation are not only appreciated but revered. Finding ways to go the second mile is a fun little journey for all of us–as long as you don’t quote book, chapter and verse.

4. Whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done it unto me. Projecting God into the face of those who are less fortunate is a simple concept for people to grasp. It is much easier than the plan of salvation and it is certainly more fruitful than another discussion on the rapture or the second coming of Christ. And finally…

5. You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. People really want to believe that their lives mean more than a pile of bills hopefully paid each and every month. Quietly give people a sense of mission and their spirits will soar, their emotions clean up and their minds clear. Empower people to believe they were created by God instead of constantly reminding them of their depravity.

I just believe in the “Gesundheit factor.” I’m not trying to water down the truth of the Bible–I’m trying to put its ingredients into the recipe of life, and then allow those flavors to expand the dish for all the world to enjoy.

So you can feel free to say “God bless you,” but understand that you are communicating immediately that you are a religious person. No one likes religion. We tolerate it. That’s why we always talk about “religious tolerance.”

But everyone can use ideas that benefit their souls, enhance their feelings and maybe even sweeten their pots. So it’s up to you. As for me, I will take my favorite five and stir them into the daily coffee of American life. It’s worked for me–and when people sneeze, I say, “Gesundheit!” Those who know what it means hear “God bless you,” and those who don’t get a chance to know why God wants to bless them.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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