Good News and Better News… November 13th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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In the midst of a furor of a nightmare of screams, it is nearly implausible to discern the whispers: the soft, gentle pleadings of the Spirit within us, to find ourselves and pursue a precious path.

We become the victims–the auditory slaves of foolish men and women who have succeeded in providing us decibels without hope.

It’s loud.

It’s brash.

It’s bloody.

It’s irreverent.

It’s irrelevant.

And it’s often meaningless.

But the sheer brute blast of this storm of stupidity seems to be the cultural forecast, threatening to blow us all away.

Into such a climate Jesus of Nazareth also came.

Just like us, he was surrounded by mayhem–a nasty empire, brutal religion, vendettas, bigotry, prejudice, gender bias and ignorance that rebuffed knowledge.

He chose not to yell.

He found a space and made his place.

If you’re determined to be recognized, wealthy or even famous, you will be worthless to this time–because the natural flow of human degradation will determine whether you will be ushered in for consideration, and unless you are willing to be as crazy as the world around you, you will probably be considered unnecessary.

But…

You can find your space and make your place.

  • Jesus was profoundly simple.
  • Jesus was deemed uneducated because he chose this path.
  • Jesus was mocked as unaware because he would not join into the political fiasco and the religious ramblings.
  • He was simple.

He offered three ideas to humanity which still trigger our best efforts and initiate the only march to beauty that we have ever marshalled:

1. Consider.

Stop being sure. Don’t recite all the things you learned as a young’un. Don’t repeat the bigotry of your benefactors. Consider. Consider your life, consider an intelligent approach–even consider a lily.

2. Watch.

Sometimes he said to go ahead and while you’re doing that, pray. But always watch. Don’t be so quick to pull the trigger on your support. Listen for the buzz words that talk of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and creativity.

Watch what is before your eyes carefully instead of merely lining up for the next I-Phone.

3. Cheerful.

“Be of good cheer” is the match. It lights a fire that warms instead of burns. For after all, joy is the best treatment for insanity.

These were the three messages of a simple man. They will never be outdated but unfortunately, they will also never be regaled as “trending.”

It will take you and me to close our ears to the screams, and listen to the whisper of “consider, watch and be of good cheer.”

The good news is that living such a life is far less exhausting.

The better news is, only this simple life is truly fulfilling.

 

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Good News and Better News… November 6th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Some years back, I finished writing my novel, “I’m…the legend of the son of man”–Jesus telling his own story.

To a large degree, in the publishing world, it’s “have book, pack bags.” In other words, “hit the road, Brother Jack”–and share with people what your volume has to say.

Fortunately for me, Janet Clazzy had recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and for some inexplicable reason, was interested in collaborating in music and a business partnership. She had only one request. Having been raised in the mainline denominational church, she thought it was time for someone to go to the United Methodists, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians and such, and share a candid message of invigorating hope.

My reply was, “We can be like evangelists to those denominations.”

She grimaced a bit as her eyes glossed over in disbelief. I understood her quandary. The word “evangelist” hardly has a powerful interpretation in the mind of the American people. There have been too many fakes, too much greed, not to mention scandal and immorality, for anyone to take the term seriously.

But I was referring to the position as outlined by the Apostle Paul to Timothy so many centuries ago. You see, Paul explained to the young minister that the day would come when there would be so many misinterpretations, confusions and false teaching that congregations would be sick of hearing all the mess–therefore it would be difficult for anyone to endure, or even recognize, sound doctrine.

After this, Paul makes an interesting insight. He tells Timothy to keep his head, be willing to endure some hardship and to do the work of an evangelist–because the evangelist is the bearer of glad tidings. He is a giver of peace and hope. He is an exhorter to higher standards. And because of his journeys, he offers the children of God an insight on what is going on in the world around them.

So we launched on our journey–that was 22 years ago.

Since then, Ms. Clazzy and I have crisscrossed the country ten times, ministering in thousands of churches and in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

Yet we have never been able to claim our title as “evangelists to the Methodist, Lutherans”–or any other array of denominations. Honestly, the word scares most of the pastors.

We thought about freshening up the term by using the word “messengers,” but thought it was too common.

Enthusiasts: We knew it was too weird.

Proclaimers: Of course, then everyone wants to know what you’re proclaiming.

Jubilators: That was the most bizarre of all, though I later used it as a title for one of my novels.

We realized it was our job, mission and goal–as one book turned into others and music compiled–to bring “times of refreshing” to the church.

So that we have done.

If you are brave, you can call us evangelists. If not, you can fall back on the hyper-safe “special guests.”

But our slogan is concise and has not changed over the years:

Travel light, bring the light.

Here’s the good news: it has worked beautifully, gloriously and fluidly for over two decades.

And the better news is, we’ll see you soon.

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Catchy (Sitting 13) Can Bad Come Out of Good? … September 3rd, 2017

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In a fit of weary and dreary delusion, Soos stumbled her way through the parking lot en route to her Hertz Rent-a-car, fumbling with her keys. Opening the door, plopping her exhausted backside into the bucket seat and slamming her bag beside her, she gently hammered her head on the steering wheel and unleashed a poetic proclamation of prayer.

“Dammit!”

Having just sat through four-and-a-half hours of meeting–no, not just meeting, mindless meeting. No, more than that–mindless, menacing meeting–with seven or eight folks which could have been nine, her brain had turned inside out, dumping both its knowledge and its will to live, exposing the insanity that had always lurked within.

She ran the words through her mind.

“Soos, I was wondering if you could type up some notes to summarize today’s meeting with the attorney, Marcus Tomlinson.”

She had stared at Matthew, who made the request, as if he had possibly had a stroke. How was anyone supposed to sum up four-and-a-half hours of lethargy in motion? For after all, it was a meeting to prove that a meeting had occurred, to discuss why a meeting was necessary, to conclude that a future meeting would be required. It was like paint drying while staying wet.

It began painfully slow, but Soos knew she was in real trouble when Tomlinson arrived with a guest–a tall, elegant man of color in his late forties, garishly dressed in expensive clothing which shouted its value. His name was Bishop Merrill Handerling. He was the director of the Believers International Fellowship (B.I.F.)

She remembered thinking to herself that Bif was the villain in “Back to the Future.” Quickly regaining her maturity, she attempted to listen as Matthew, Randall, Jo-Jay, Marcus Tomlinson and Bishop Merrill discussed the potential, but mostly the dangers, of the project of making Jesus popular again.

Although Attorney Tomlinson was careful to be respectful of Arthur Harts, who had been dead for less than three months, he also made it completely clear, in his litigious way, that the old fart was crazy.

The Bishop objected to any criticism toward the billionaire–but also wanted to establish that he felt there was a sinister element in commercializing Jesus and turning him into the new “flavor of the day.” (At this point, the dignified black gentleman actually held for laughter. Jo-Jay was generous and giggled a little.)

How was Soos supposed to immortalize the collision of imaginary trains of thought? No one actually knew what they were talking about. To some degree, no one actually cared.

But things really stalled when Prophet Morgan stepped into the room, arriving late, and the Bishop and the Prophet came face-to-face. Soos remembered thinking to herself that it sounded like great stage direction for a Shakespearean play. It became quickly obvious that everything Bishop disliked Prophet approved of, and likewise, everything that profited the Prophet baffled the Bishop.

They just didn’t like each other.

Meanwhile, Matthew sat over in the corner trying to shrink and disappear, looking like he wished he was a cube of ice that could simply melt.

Soos was shocked. After all the discussions and back-and-forth agreements, it seemed that Attorney Tomlinson was trying to find a way to euthanize the whole “popular Jesus” idea, hoping he could use this overstated Bishop to be the hit man.

After hours of exhausting listening, Soos spoke up for herself. She remembered the moment well because it was so contrary to her normal personality that it seemed to be coming from a different person who had temporarily taken occupation of her soul.

“I don’t think anything bad can come of doing something good.”

That’s what she said. It was not terribly intellectual, but in this room full of disconnected thoughts, it sounded almost Biblical.

Matthew sat up in his chair as if suddenly aware that life was still going on. The Bishop accidentally spoke a quick “amen” before realizing that Soos was disagreeing with him. And Prophet? Well, Prophet leaned over and kissed Soos on the mouth.

Immediately after that simple statement, the meeting was adjourned to a future time which would be determined in the future if such a future was necessary.

It was also shortly after that statement that Soos received the instruction to “type up a summary” of the meeting–her punishment for profundity.

She now sat in her car and just tried to decompress. She needed a diversion. If she were a drinker, this would require a martini. If she were an exercise freak, she would need to go run. If she were religious, prayer would be demanded.

But Soos was a carboholic.

On her way back to the Holiday Inn Express, she picked up a dozen doughnuts.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 8) Cleanly Rich … July 30th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Paul didn’t waste any time.

Before blankets could be spread, cushions situated and all snacks and drinks divvied among the three, he had already begun to drone out his story. It could have been a very interesting tale, but Paul seemed unimpressed with his own reputation.

He had married three years after college–only the fourth lass he had ever seen naked. They had two children who apparently were soldiering on to do their best with the process of growing up to join the ranks of those in file. Paul did not have many hobbies–actually, Paul had no hobbies that he shared. But as he sipped on a bit of diet root beer, he popped off a question.

“Don’t you think there are better ways to spend two hundred and fifty million dollars than propagating the myths of Bedouins who seem to have nothing better to do than kill one another in the name of their mythical gods?”

Matthew chose not to answer. After all, it wasn’t a question. It was a statement of disbelief. Somewhere along the line, Paul Padwick had consumed a sour communion wafer and was still wincing from the experience. Realizing that he was the killjoy of the little airport soiree, Paul rolled over on his Cornhusker cushion and went soundly to sleep.

That left Jo-Jay and God-guy–otherwise known as Joanna and Matthew. The two of them had briefly been a number back in college–a three-week period when neither of them was sexually ravaging or being ravaged–so they cast a glance each other’s way. They made it all the way to the bedroom and even to breakfast the morning after, but then, without any treaty, discussion or negotiation, the accidental collision was never spoken of again by either party.

So Matthew was curious about what would initiate their chatting and was relieved to discover that Joanna had planned all the dialogue, with most of the lines written for herself. She launched into her story.

Two years after college, she met a young fellow who showed great promise–except when it came to keeping promises to her. He had been a rather quiet student in college, but once he got married and realized there were many vaginas in the world, like Columbus of old, he launched his ship to discover new worlds.

Jo-Jay put up with it for a while and then asked for a divorce. She was a little disheartened that he immediately agreed. Because of his unfaithful status, she was granted alimony.

So she tripped along and cavorted for a couple of years, even considering trying to transform herself into a lesbian–but found the experience rather distasteful.

Four years ago she met The Duke. Duke was not his nickname, but rather, his title. He was a Duke of Something-or-other that she could not remember–but it came with much bearing and money. He was thirty-two years her senior. She said that she didn’t really marry her father, but rather, his father.

But he was gentle. He was kind. Generous to a fault, if such a thing is possible. And just about the time Jo-Jay’s hormones were beginning to itch for a scratch outside the mansion, he just up and died, leaving all of his earthly goods to a very earthly Joanna Lawrence. She was actually very surprised at how much she missed him.

She decided to play a game with herself. Every time she withdrew a stack of one-hundred dollar bills from the bank, she pretended it was his face instead of Benjamin Franklin’s.

“So you’re filthy rich,” said Matthew with a tinge of sarcasm.

Jo-Jay smiled. “Actually, I’m clean rich. The difference is, when you’re clean rich, you enjoy the money but you’re constantly trying to do penance by giving much of it away, to apologize for being financially over-nourished.”

All the time that Jo-Jay was sharing, it appeared that she was becoming more intoxicated (though she was gulping nothing more than club soda and orange juice). She was an exciting person. She had the quality of a young girl–the kind of little miss you know isn’t very attractive right now, but someday would be a hellcat.

Finally, Jo-Jay wound down. Or at least, Matthew assumed she did–because he passed out on his cushion in exhaustion.

The next afternoon, the Lincoln airport was opened. Matthew looked for Paul, who apparently had already departed.

So he reached over to hug Jo-Jay and asked, “Where are you off to?”

“San Francisco,” she replied.

Matthew crinkled his brow. “Well, that’s where I’m going.”

Jo-Jay jumped up and down like a little girl and said, “I know, I know. I bought the seat next to you.”

“Don’t you have somewhere to go?” asked Matthew.

“Now I do,” said Jo-Jay. “You see, one of the things about my Duke is that he had a fascination about the Galilean.”

“Galilean?” asked Matthew.

“Jesus,” replied Jo-Jay. “He never called him Jesus. He referred to him as the Galilean because most of his life was spent near the Sea of Galilee. The Duke believed that this Galilean had the solution to mankind’s problems because he refused to let us escape the philosophical juggernaut statement, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Matthew peered at her. “So you’re coming with me to. . .?”

“To. . .” Jo-Jay paused also. “To see where it goes.”

Matthew gave her a quick hug, then pulled back, admiring her like she was a kid sister. “So here’s to wherever the hell it goes.”

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Catchy (Sitting 7) Accumulating … July 23rd, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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On May 8th, the largest blizzard in the history of meteorology in the state of Nebraska dumped nineteen inches of wet, slushy snow all over Lincoln, closing the freeways and the airport.

Matthew was at that airport.

He had cleverly put together a plan to meet up with three of his old college buddies from the “Leaven of Seven,” and explained to them in vivid detail some of his ideas about how to take the money from the eccentric billionaire and attempt to make Jesus not only the Christ, but popular again.

He had left messages with each, and they had successfully negotiated their air itineraries to have at least a two-hour layover at the Lincoln, Nebraska Airport–all at the same time. It was a feat of magic, only to be expected from those who had benefitted from higher education and had never had to be concerned about anybody but themselves.

When the announcement was made over the public address system that all flights were canceled and that the local motels were also filled, Joanna Lawrence (Jo-Jay) let out a tiny whimper that culminated in a miniscule scream. Yet it was loud enough to alarm people around her who already had experienced the danger of the sky falling.

“I can’t believe this,” said Jo-Jay. “I am going to need lots of alcohol.”

Matthew interrupted. “You always say that, Jo-Jay. You don’t need to be intoxicated. You just choose to be drunk. And if there isn’t a crisis, you’ll tip your glass to the threat of one.”

Jo-Jay paused and peered at Matthew with a surprised expression. “Wow. That was deep. I think you just changed my life. Why don’t we get a drink and celebrate?”

Paul Padwick thought that was hilarious. When he agreed to join them at the Lincoln airport, he requested they no longer use his college name, Pee Pee. (Matthew had texted him back and said, “If we call you Pee Pee, will it piss you off?”)

Michael was supposed to join them from Washington, D. C., but missed his flight, and in trying to catch a later one, discovered they were all canceled.

So after much inquiry and questioning, Matthew, Jo-Jay and Paul Padwick (never, ever to be known again as Pee Pee) discovered that they were going to be stuck overnight at the airport without the benefit of a shower.

Just moments later, poor Jo-Jay found out that the bar had closed at the establishment out of fear that cantankerous folks who were trapped in tight quarters might get along better without being totally sauced.

“I guess,” said Matthew, “we should find our corner in the airport, where we can bed down for the night.”

Bedding down had become possible because airport staffers had begun to circulate cushions and blankets, formerly the property of the “Cornhusker Airline” before it surprisingly went out of business. So the three of them, taking their cushions, blankets and a respectable supply of candy, chips and soft drinks, found a remote corner in the airport where the Cornhusker Airline had formerly dreamed of building a massive terminal.

It was quiet, it was pretty warm and it was just a little bit spooky–the kind of atmosphere which was ideal for old friends to catch up and discuss plans that might bring them together once again.

Jo-Jay had barely opened up her Doritos and begun to consume them like a starving woman when she croaked, “Can I get this straight? At least let me hear it from your mouth. Basically, from your message, you have an old man who died with some sort of religious compunction to leave behind money to make his God the Number One God in the world.”

Matthew corrected her. “Actually, it’s Jesus–but you are kind of close.”

“I guess I felt like the Jesus thing kind of maxed out a while ago. You know what I mean?” posed Paul, making his contribution. “Like, the ones who were really interested in it had already gotten on board and everybody else gave it a look-see and passed on it for their own reasons.”

“That is so true,” agreed Jo-Jay. “I mean, short of lying, cheating and fudging the figures, you either dig Jesus or you don’t.”

Matthew leaped in. “Well, I kind of dig Jesus, but I wouldn’t call myself religious–though I think it’s admirable to be Christian. So I might classify myself in that category…”

Paul laughed. “Well, it’s admirable to be a weight lifter, but don’t you have to actually lift something?”

Jo-Jay roared with laughter. “Yeah, God-guy. If you’re going to be a Christian, don’t you have to do a lot of Christian things?” She reflected. “Or maybe not, come to think of it. There seem to be a lot of those who claim the title who don’t pursue the agenda.”

At that point, they all just stopped speaking.

Maybe it was the darkness falling outside that left the room even more dismal. Perhaps it was the realization that the area they had selected for their resting space was a little chillier than they thought. Or maybe it was just the awkwardness of being back together.

But they didn’t hurry it. No one tried to make small chat or bring up the consistency of their candy bars. Just a moment to reflect on who they were, where they were and what the hell they were going to do about this “heavenly” issue.

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Catchy (Sitting 6) The Boat Ashore … July 16th, 2017

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Michael always hated the process of trying to get his ducks in a row. Unfortunately, if you follow a duck, it will eventually end up at the pond–but too often makes far too many detours.

Michael resorted to his logical nature. He decided to resign his position on the school board, and three months after Rachel’s departure, he sat down with young Alisa and Bernice and told them of their mother’s preference. Much to his surprise, the girls were infuriated with Mum, repulsed by the notion of the homosexuality and sympathetic to him for being treated so poorly.

Michael mused. What was he waiting for? It was time to share the story in the community, or at least leak it to the people who would do the gossiping for him. Let his conservative community draw their own conclusions, which certainly would be anti-lesbian and therefore, anti-Rachel. This would set him up for his next political adventure—senator in the state assembly in Columbus.

Sure enough, the good Buckeyes repudiated the actions of Rachel and Connie and sent messages of encouragement to the budding political Adonis.

Exactly three hundred and sixty-seven days after Rachel’s departure, Michael began to date a woman three years his senior. She was a handsome lady of means. She fell in love with his two young daughters, an affection they returned gratefully. Her name was Barbara–politically correct.

Two days before Michael and Barbara became the new Hinstons, he announced his campaign for state senator. Freshly married to a woman who showed little interest in her sexual similars, with two lovely daughters blooming with promise (on record with abstinence pledges), he was the H-E-R-O of O-H-I-O.

Toting his family and his Bible across central Ohio, he trumpeted his slogan: “Everyone Needs a Second Chance. Isn’t It Time for Yours?”

Michael was elected with a fourteen-point margin. He fulfilled two terms as a state senator, waiting for his dream job to open.

Then the oldest Congressman from the state of Ohio decided to retire for health reasons. Well, that’s one story. There was a rumor that he struck a deal with the District Attorney to step down instead of facing indictments for soliciting illegal donations for political favors. This was the reputation within the twelfth district–there were many industrial concerns in the borders–enterprises always trying to dodge federal regulations and desiring a champion in Washington to protect them.

So Michael Hinston ran for the Congressional seat and, in a very close race, lost. He was devastated in the grumpiest of ways. He threatened to quit politics until Coach Mack came along and reminded him of how many elections Old Abe Lincoln lost before gaining success. Michael liked being compared to Abraham Lincoln.

Meanwhile, the Hinstons started to have some marital problems. Barbara was like a 1974 Chevy Malibu that was just fine as long as you ran it, but when you kept it parked in a barn somewhere, it tended to wear out more quickly. Barbara felt that Michael had parked her in such a barn.

She felt abandoned. Michael had no interest in any other women, but had an ongoing love affair with his own aspirations. It had been months since they were sexually entwined and weeks since they had even touched. Barbara contended it had been a fortnight since he had even looked her way. She requested that they see a marriage counselor. Michael was terrified over the possible bad publicity.

He shared his dilemma with Mack, who said, “Go ahead and do it. Therapy and counseling are really ‘in things’ now. You know–uptown. People don’t look down on it anymore. It’s kind of hip and contemporary. Shows you give a damn. Just make sure you go to two different counselors—one a psychologist. And don’t be so stupid as to go to a psychiatrist. They’ll think you’re on medication. And you should also see your minister. Go through the motions, work it out, come to a resolution. It’s only gonna make points for you.”

Michael never advertised the conflict he was having with Barbara, but it was the state of Ohio and people do talk. Mack was right. The electorate expressed great admiration over the unfolding counseling sessions. Michael even found the interaction a bit more interesting than he had expected, and Barbara was greatly appeased.

Michael was grateful. Wife two was satisfied by some comforting words and book reading instead of lesbian love.

Then a tragedy.

Not really tragic for Michael, though propriety forced him to feign deep concern. The newly elected Congressman from the state of Ohio had a fatal heart attack on his way to Capitol Hill. A temporary replacement was put in the position. And at the next election, Michael ran for the office, and this time, on the strength of his previous campaign and his recent marital mending, won the seat handily.

He was a Congressman in Washington, D.C., from the state of Ohio, with a wife and two lovely daughters.

Two weeks later, while sitting at his desk, Michael opened an envelope from Caine Industrial, a prosperous concern from his district. The package was hand-delivered by courier, and contained a check for $50,000. Michael was breathless, bug-eyed and baffled.

The phone rang. Michael picked it up, still gazing at the huge amount printed on the face of the check.

“Mikey! This is God-guy!”

Michael paused for a moment, trying to reconnoiter the voice. It didn’t take him long. There was only one person who had ever called him Mikey. He hated the name. But he loved the man, so he tolerated it.

It was Matthew Ransley.

“Mikey, listen. I got this problem. I got a billionaire who wants to give me two hundred fifty million dollars if I can find a way to make Jesus popular. I need your help, buddy. Here’s what I want you to do. . .”Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Catchy (Sitting Three) And Then There Were Three … June 25th, 2017

 

Randall Caron and Landy Loren were Matthew’s partners in S.E.E.D.S.

Randall was Matthew’s junior, a gentleman in his thirties–skinny, with the energy level of a mosquito, and the greed to match. Matthew always lamented that Randall seemed to lack sufficient conscience to balance his ego. But it was hard to argue with his productivity and the ruthlessness he employed to plump the bottom line.

Landy was a woman in her forties, which she coyly referred to as “fortyish.” She was short and pudgy enough to disguise a fading attractiveness which had once dazzled young men and now left the same suitors satisfied with conversation.

The three partners met every morning at 9:30 to discuss upcoming projects and share a cheese Danish, an English muffin and an Irish coffee—a personal nod to continental cuisine.

On this morning, Matthew wasted no time, feeling idle chatter should not trump a two hundred and fifty million dollar proposal.

“I got a call.”

“And…?” said Randall, with a crumb or two of muffin creeping out the corner of his lips.

“It was a lawyer,” Matthew continued.

“Uh-oh,” inserted Landy.

Matthew interrupted. “No. A good lawyer, if such is possible.”

“A good lawyer?” questioned Randall. “What would that be?”

“Good in the sense of. . . well, good in the sense of money.”

“A lawyer offering money instead of demanding payment?” questioned Landy.

“Freak show, huh?” Matthew smiled.

“Where did you ever get that saying, ‘freak show’?” Randall asked, irritated.

“College.”

“Well, it’s weird,” said Randall. “Kind of gives me the willies.”

“The willies?” Matthew chuckled. “Now, that’s weird.”

“Sorry–works for me,” Randall responded.

“Anyway,” continued Matthew. “It seems that old man Harts—you know, the billionaire that died a couple of weeks ago?—left two hundred and fifty million dollars for some advertising agency…”

Randall almost spilled his Irish coffee on his gray gabardine slacks. “You’re shittin’ me.”

“What do you mean? Who? You mean us?” Landy could not contain her excitement.

“Maybe…” Matthew said tentatively.

“Maybe?” Randall leaped to his feet. “I’d do anything for two hundred and fifty million dollars.”

“Sit down. Now, tell me what you’re talking about,” Landy demanded.

Matthew leaned back in his chair and dropped the remaining portion of a Danish into his mouth. “Here’s the catch,” he said as he brushed his hands to dispel morsels of sticky crumbs.

“There’s always a goddam catch,” said Randall, sitting back down.

“For two hundred and fifty million dollars I might put up with a hundred catches,” said Landy.

“The old fart wants some agency to take two hundred and fifty million dollars to promote—are you ready for this?”

“Stop stalling and tell us,” interrupted Randall.

“…to make Jesus popular again.”

“What?” Landy gasped.

“Popular with who, or is it whom?” asked Randall.

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask. I guess popular with everybody,” said Matthew.

There was a sudden stillness—not reverential, but more a stomach-aching quiet that ensues upon seeing two hundred and fifty million dollars tumble into a bottomless cavern.

“What a crock.” Randall finally broke the silence.

“Who could do that?” Landy asked.

“You mean make Jesus popular?” Matthew smirked.

“Yeah,” replied Landy. “I mean, Jesus is Jesus, right?”

“Well, there’s our slogan,” said Randall with a grin.

“No, I’m serious,” said Landy. “I mean, if you’re looking at him like a product…you know what I’m saying? There are only certain things you can do with it.”

“New and improved…” ticked Randall.

“Misunderstood and now finally revealed…” added Matthew.

“Under new management,” concluded Landy.

“Okay, I’ll grant you, it’s bonkers,” said Matthew. “But it is two hundred and fifty million dollars.”

“I don’t care if it’s two hundred and fifty billion dollars,” said Randall. “It’s impossible, therefore it’s immoral to take the money.”

“Ahh. Suddenly a man of principle,” said Matthew.

“The main principle I’m interested in is the principle in my bank account,” said Randall. “But…”

“Can we get back to the proposal?” Landy broke in.

“You’re not taking this seriously, are you?” Matthew was shocked.

“I can think of two hundred and fifty million reasons to be very serious,” said Randall.

Matthew got up and walked across the room. “I was just making conversation. I mean, obviously, I told the guy we weren’t interested.”

Randall leaped to his feet. “You what?”

“Without asking us?” Landy challenged.

Matthew sighed. “Come on, guys. It’s ridiculous. You said it. Jesus is Jesus. The product is worn out. I mean, for instance, what could you do with Quaker Oatmeal?”

“Lace it with grass. I don’t really care. For two hundred and fifty million dollars we could at least try,” said Randall. “I mean, someone’s going to get that money. Why not us? We can fail at this just as well as anyone else, and have a few dinners and a new swimming pool at the same time.”

“I want a Lexus LE,” said Landy.

Matthew strolled across the room and sat back down. “Don’t you think it’s kind of creepy—I mean, weird—to take money that you know you’re just spending because the project you’re working on is—well, it’s non-promotable.”

Randall sat down beside him and patted him on the leg. “Maybe not. What do we know? I mean, are we theologians? Why don’t we do this–why don’t we express an interest? Why don’t we ask for, say, a hundred thousand dollars in advance to do a feasibility study?”

Landy crossed the room.  “A feasibility study? Go on.”

“Yeah, you know,” said Randall. “Subcontract. Ask for a few ideas. Take some surveys. Who knows? It might be fun.”

“Fun?” asked Matthew flatly. “And you’re not worried about your immortal soul?”

“Hell, I sold that years ago for stock options in Microsoft.” Randall downed the last bit of his Irish coffee and winked.

So it was decided.

Randall called up the lawyer, Mr. Tomlinson, who readily agreed to release a hundred thousand dollars for a study on the feasibility of making Jesus more popular.

Contacts were made for slogans, surveys were passed out to testing groups and a panel of theologians was invited. The date was set a month in the future when all the participants would gather and share their ideas.

Hopefully, divine ideas on how to promote the founder of Christianity.

 

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