Catchy (Sitting 18) Clippings … October 15th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Michael Hinston sat back in a leather chair which had been a gift from a Congressman from Mississippi who had recently remodeled his office, had no need for the extra furniture piece and “saw no reason for it to go to waste.”

In Michael’s hand was a plain manila envelope–the kind you would buy at a dollar store. There was no writing on the outside, except in the lower right hand corner, in small letters, was the name, Milford Hayes.

It did not take Michael any time at all to recollect who Milford Hayes was. Ever since the visit in his office, when he was given the fifty thousand dollars from Caine Industries, he had recalled the conversation with the stranger many, many times.

He hated himself because he hadn’t kicked the bastard out the door.

He hated himself for being part of a political system that allowed such corruption.

He hated himself because corporations thought they could buy and sell politicians like sides of beef.

He also hated himself because he had already spent some of the money.

And unlike more noble souls who could suddenly possess a fit of conscience and give the money back, he had no such resource.

He was in.

Whatever “in” meant.

And apparently, with the arrival of this envelope, he was about to find out.

He picked up the phone and asked his secretary to hold all calls, though nobody was actually phoning him. This was another troubling part of his journey in Washington. He had been elected by rural hometown folks in Ohio, but nobody in the Capitol even knew he was alive.

He had thought he was going to be invited to dinner with the President, but when it turned out that his vote was not needed for an upcoming piece of legislation, apologies were offered and he ended up eating pepperoni pizza with his family.

So now, sitting in his cast-off chair, in his uncomfortable office, with the knowledge in his mind that his wife and children despised their new home, he slowly opened the envelope.

Pulling out the contents, he found a clump of press clippings held together with a paper clip, and a white business envelope with the words “For the Kids” written on the outside.

He set the white envelope to the side and thumbed through the articles. They had one central theme–they were tiny news announcements, reports, opinions and press releases about his friend, Matthew, taking on the Harts fortune to popularize Jesus.

Included was an 8 X 10 glossy picture of a young man with long hair. Scrawled in magic marker across the photo was the name, Jubal Carlos.

Satisfied that he had discovered the essence of the newspaper clippings, he moved toward the business envelope. He opened it. Inside was a note written on 20-pound typing paper, along with ten one hundred-dollar bills. The note read:

It’s time to do something. It’s time for you to earn your money. Your nosy friend has decided to take on the challenge and we must do what is necessary to stall his efforts. The picture is of Jubal Carlos, a freelance musician from Las Vegas who lives on the street with the homeless and the indigent. Your buddy from college plans on using him. Don’t you think it would be a good idea for you to use your congressional clout to have the local authorities investigate him? It couldn’t hurt, right?

I have enclosed some “pin money” for little Alisa and Bernice. Stay faithful. Milford Hayes.

Michael put the letter down and stared at the picture of Jubal Carlos. He didn’t know what to do. The young man in the photograph certainly seemed likeable–a bright countenance.

Why would he want to trouble someone causing no trouble?

Why would he allow himself to be part of some plot against an old friend?

Why should he care what a dead, old billionaire wanted to do with the rest of his money?

But what truly haunted Michael was the thousand dollars. Just twenty minutes earlier, his wife, Barbara, had called to tell him that the school was launching a field trip to New York City. There would be additional expense. The secretary from the school said it would cost $500 for each daughter. Barbara apologized for laying a thousand-dollar burden on his mind while he was at work.

Michael paused, shaking his head. Now, twenty minutes later, he was staring at a thousand dollars in cash. A coincidence? A miracle? A blessing?

Or did Milford Hayes and Caine Industries know too much about his daughters?

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 54) Angel Unaware… May 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Pas Carl had family all over the world.

That’s what Meningsbee had decided. Matter of fact, it was so comical that he started a list of all the alleged relatives.

There was an aunt who lived in New York City, a great uncle from San Francisco, a third cousin who was a whale hunter in Alaska, a half-brother who lived in Key West, Florida and a godfather who lived in (you guessed it) Rome, Italy.

The most recent surprise was an announcement that an aunt from Houston, Texas, was coming to town and wanted permission to share with the ladies at the church about a program she conducted called “Turning Dreamers into Doers.” Her name was Shannon Tremaine. She was an author.

Pas Carl believed that she and Meningsbee would have a lot to talk about. But Meningsbee was in no mood for additional encounters. The events surrounding Carla’s departure had finished off any remaining pornography in his life, like an atomic bomb landing and obliterating all life in sight. He was definitely not lusting.

But he was also not passionate. He had lost the drive–whatever that truly was. He had tremendous memories of what he wanted to do and even what he could do, with no desire to actually do it anymore.

So he offered no objection to Pas Carl’s aunt coming to share with the women, but let the young man know that he wanted limited involvement. He was resetting his spiritual clock. Even though Carl did not know what that meant, he thanked Meningsbee and left the office.

Meningsbee had gone through this once before in his life, right after Doris died. There are three clocks inside every person, Meningsbee felt. One sets the timing on survival. The second is the world around us, dictating time. But the third is a watch, to let us know when we’re in sync with ourselves and God.

Meningsbee knew very well that the first clock was off. His sense of survival was weak, his passion energy almost nil. And his fight was overshadowed by a specter of fear.

He was going through the motions–on the schedule being dictated to him by friends, the church, the town and circumstances. He was following a time clock instead of following an ideal.

He seemed to be doing it well. People were complimentary. Some folks even noticed that he appeared to be looking healthier. But he had lost his timing with God. The Spirit was still contacting, but he was missing the calls. His mind was drifting when it needed to be focused, and his wishfulness had overtaken his willingness.

He knew the symptoms. He just didn’t know if he could escape the disease. He had barely been able to do it after he lost his love. It took writing his book, “The Jesus Church,” to shake him and wake him up to the greater needs around him.

At that time, he just got tired of seeing sensible people lose out to shouters and detractors. He grew weary of watching the words of Jesus being turned into a cardboard religion, pre-fabricated and lacking its original soul. And he was very, very upset that the younger generation had gained its sense of purpose by denying the purpose they had with their Creator.

“The Jesus Church” pulled him out of his nosedive into oblivion. But by no means was he in the mood to write another book, and he certainly wasn’t going to become youthful and optimistic again.

No, the only way an aging man can continue to believe in faith is to deny many of the realities around him–but rather than making him foolish or ignorant, hope carves off years of scars, leaving fresh skin.

He was in the midst of considering his transformation when he met Shannon Tremaine. She was forty-seven years old. He knew that because it was one of the first things that popped out of her mouth. She could have passed for thirty-five, but she wanted everybody to know that age was insignificant. What mattered was the spark.

She was so well-received at the women’s meeting that they begged her to stay two more weeks and hold seminars. By the end of the two weeks, she had gathered a crowd of nearly a hundred souls from the community, to come and hear her message.

Meningsbee felt compelled to attend one of the sessions to see what was drawing all of these ladies. It was on a Thursday night in the church basement, with almost sixty-five women in attendance, that Pastor Meningsbee sat down and listened for the first time to Shannon Tremaine.

She was passionate. She was emotional. She was driven. She was saucy. She was iron. And simultaneously, she was as soft as cotton. In a moment of time, she unveiled the tenderness she had for each person in the room.

Her message was clear: politics gives you false hope, an education gives you a degree, religion steals your will to excel and your family will limit your possibilities. The only friend you have is truth, and the reason it is known to make you free is because it liberates you from the need to lie.

She went on to explain that the three great lies always began with the same words: (1) I couldn’t because… (2) I am not suited… (3) I don’t have the time.

Shannon electrified the room–a space normally used for potluck dinners and storage. She was not a typical motivational speaker, relying on props, slogans and testimonials to portray her vision. She just spoke it into existence, and her words were so much a part of her that they were believable.

It reminded Meningsbee of the statement in the Good Book, when it says that the people “were astonished” at Jesus because he addressed them “with authority.” Not domineering, just well-traveled.

The end of her meeting that night was almost like a revival. Women came to the front of the room in tears, and departed clapping their hands. She promised a personal word–a mantra of sorts–for each one of them and did not fail to deliver.

At the end, she slowly walked over to Pastor Meningsbee and said, “Even though you did not come up to the front, would you like a personal word also?”

Meningsbee paused. She waited a moment to give him a chance to think, but then inserted, “To delay receiving a blessing is either saying you’re not worthy of it or you don’t want it. Now, which one is it, Richard?”

He was surprised that she used his first name. He liked the way she said it.

“I guess,” he said, “I would have to say that I don’t want to feel unworthy by being offered a blessing.”

She smiled. “My word for you is really easy. The position of savior has already been filled. You may have heard of him. We call him Jesus. At no time have I ever heard him referred to as Richard.”

Meningsbee interrupted her. “I’m not trying to be a savior.”

She interrupted right back. “That’s true. You think you are the savior, and shouldn’t have to try so hard.”

Meningsbee looked her right in the eye and said, “What’s wrong with wanting to save people?”

She stared right back at him. “Because not even Jesus can do that. Jesus said he came. Jesus said he shared. Jesus said he gave. But when he was done coming, sharing and giving, he was hanging on a cross. I wouldn’t call that successful, would you? But fortunately, he went from being a dreamer to a doer, because his resurrection proved his point.

“I don’t know you real well, Richard Meningsbee, but I tell you–you’re dead. And I’ve seen many dead men. And unfortunately, I’ve run across very few who were able to admit it, climb in the tomb for a few days, and get resurrected.”

She looked around the room, realizing that nobody was left, and said, “I guess it’s just us. This is my last night in town. If you’re ever looking for a new dream to do, come to Houston. I can use you.”

She leaned up on her tiptoes and gave him a sweet, tender kiss on the lips. She patted his face and walked away.

Richard stood completely still in the middle of the basement of the Garsonville Community Church, afraid to move.

 

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Leotarded … May 30, 2013

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fairgroundsWe called it “Artist’s Haven.”

It was a gathering of local people in the Shreveport, Louisiana, area who deeply believed they had a creative itch to scratch and wanted to get together, if for no other reason, to have someone else listen to their poem, song–or just general speak-easy.

We met in a museum which had a small art gallery in it (see above picture). We were surrounded by lovely oil paintings and sat around a huge wooden table with large red-velvet chairs, which tried to insist they were still elegant, although age had taken its toll.

The weekly event lasted about an hour and consisted of me sharing some thoughts, followed by an open air to the entire room, allowing anyone to take three minutes to present an offering of inspiration. Considering how unorganized it was and how many of the community’s misfits found their way through the doors, it was really a magnificent melee.

Amazingly, we had only been meeting for about two months when I received a phone call from a young woman from the Arts Council telling me about a ballet troupe which had traveled to Shreveport from New York City. She took a moment to promo them to me –with their resume and accomplishments. I wasn’t sure why she was selling them so hard. Then came the closer.

The ballet troupe had received a grant to travel around the US to about thirty cities. It was required that they perform three times in each town in order to fulfill their obligation. Bottom line was that the agent had been unsuccessful in finding three different places in Shreveport willing to let people come in and “toe dance.” They had located one high school and a retirement center, which reluctantly allowed them thirty minutes of cavorting between tapioca and bingo.

The agent had gotten word that we were meeting at the art gallery and wondered if we would be willing to let the troupe come in and share during our meeting.

I couldn’t help myself. I giggled. I was trying to envision our group of human specimens being invaded by an avant-garde troupe from New York City. But on the other hand, it seemed rude to say no to such talent–AND I have enough of an ornery nature that I decided it would be wonderful to shake things up.

So I told her I would try to get at least forty people there–up from our usual twenty–and immediately launched on a phone campaign. It was rather successful. A couple of our young girls knew some fellows from the university who were involved in dance, and leaped at the opportunity to see these professionals.

All in all, we ended up with forty-two people gathered around six gorgeous. professional vessels of movement, watching them perform things that none of us understood. For me, it was just fun to look around the room–especially at the young girls who had never seen that much leotard live in concert. Also, the young men were quite enamored with the female form and balance.

Our Artist’s Haven was a rowdy group, so the dancers were overjoyed to be regaled with applause and hoots on every single maneuver. Just imagine if you blended an opera with a cock-fight–you pretty much have the atmosphere. The artists answered questions, accepted hugs, had conversation and a little refreshment followed.

I will never forget that night. It showed me that people do not have to be sophisticated to be willing. People do not have to be well-versed to be present. And people do not have to be liberal to avoid being conservative.

What you have to do is just love people–even if they’re leaping in the air in front of you and you don’t quite get it.

It was a wonderful time in my life. And from the Artist’s Haven, I learned that the reason we need art is that it reminds us that we are not yet whole.

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The “Ants” That Make Us Cry “Uncle” — October 1, 2011

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1912. The world was erupting with innovation and invention.

  • A canal had been constructed across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the east and west, making both commerce and communication more plausible.
  • In a twenty year span, we had gone from horses to cars, from trains to airplanes and from mere boats to … the Titanic.

The Titanic was the greatest ship that had ever been built. It was huge, luxurious, modern and seemingly impenetrable and unsinkable.  Everyone believed this–even her captain. But it is very important in the process of creating a righteous environment that those who lead us maintain enough of an inquisitive nature that they permit learning to occur instead of settling in to ignorance. The public could believe anything it wanted to. The manufacturer could tout that the Titanic was incapable of being harmed in any way. But the captain had responsibility to not only know his ship, but more importantly, be aware of the ocean where he traveled. After all, being a captain is not merely steering a ship. Being a captain is steering a ship safely through the unknown waters. Maybe that’s where we get the word “leader-ship”–because to lead, you must be able to understand everything about your ship, but also everything that your ship will be going through en route to its safe destination.

If you don’t, the end result is ignorant: I ignore the world around me. It is the doorway to foolishness.

*In religion, we have no awareness of what other people believe and whether those contentions parallel anything of our thought patterns–or even are contrary to human success.

*In politics, a party line is passed along and spoken aloud as the objection against the platform of the other side without any real understanding of either source or motivation.

*And in corporations, our product is just better because…well, we made it.

A captain got on a ship in 1912 and because he was told that it was unsinkable and he felt he was well-prepared in learning all of its ins and outs, he ended up killing himself and fifteen hundred other people–because he lacked knowledge of the world around him  He was ignorant.

And this caused him to be arrogant.  Here’s my definition of arrogant: arrogant occurs when I am positive of my beliefs. Most people would disagree with me and call that conviction.  But all in all, we are just too fragile and human to allow ourselves to possess convictions. We must preface everything we believe–and even put forth in conversation very careful disclaimers of “this is what I think, but I’m willing to listen to other ideas.”

How about this? I realized the other day that 99% of the time I am an atheist. So are you. Because more than likely, if you’re reading this, you believe in one God. That means the other 99 gods out there touted by other religions you insist are mythical or even comical. 1% of the time you are God-fearing, and to the rest of the world, 99% of the time you are Godless.  It’s a different perspective–see what I mean?

But it begins by being ignorant.  “I ignore the world around me.”

Even though God made the world and has placed a system within it for us to learn, for some reason I have chosen to ignore the world because I feel I have garnered enough data to be successful without learning anything else. And this leads to arrogant“I am positive of my beliefs.”

The captain of the Titanic was so sure that his ship was in great shape that he didn’t even have binoculars for his crew to spot icebergs with. They didn’t even provide an adequate number of  life boats for the entire passenger list. Why would you? If you were positive in your belief that the Titanic was unsinkable and you had chosen to ignore the world around you–what would be the problem?

But ignorant and arrogant often leads to a third “ant”–intolerant. Quite frequently, the ocean around you will rise up with ice, strike your ship and find its weakness–and you will have to decide whether to be broken in repentance or angry over the results. Intolerant is the notion that “I will stubbornly cling to my truth.”  And of course, “my truth” consists of those beliefs I am positive about because I have ignored the world around me.

That night in 1912, a literal perfect storm of stupidity linked together to kill off human beings for no particularly good reason. It is because “ignorant” led to “arrogant” and ended with “intolerant.”

I’m going to give you a statistic and I want you to think about it. It is an important one. And before you accept OR reject it, I want you to try it out.  There is nothing I write to you in jonathots that is sacred as it lies on the paper.  (Or screen, in this case.)  It becomes valuable as it is able to bless human beings.  Here is what I want you to consider:

 70% of the anger and frustration that plagues our existence can disappear if we will admit that we’re just not sure.

Think about that. Most of the arguments, fussing, divorces, wars, splits and even bodily harm that occur amongst our species is caused by people who are ignorant of the world around them, arrogant about their beliefs, and intolerant because they feel it is necessary to defend their truth. God and nature are always trying to teach us something new.  Most of us just don’t show up for class.  If we took five minutes to ask ourselves one simple question–“what if I”m wrong?”–that solitary inquiry could resolve the majority of our dilemmas.

What would have happened if a captain in 1912, when asked about the danger of icebergs by his crew, instead of saying, “Don’t worry about it,” would have said, “Tell you what let’s do.  Let’s play it safe and put a double watch on it, just to protect our friends on board.” But to do that, he would have had to overcome being ignorantignoring the world around him; arrogantbeing positive about his belief in his ship,  and finally, intolerantclinging to his decisions in spite of the objections of his crew.

Fifteen hundred people could have walked off a ship in New York City, safe and sound, because one man avoided the “ants.” 

Yes, the “ants” that always end up making us cry “uncle.”

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Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan Sings “Harvest Time”

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