Sit Down Comedy … December 7th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3872)

The Wise Crack (Up)

Dorkius was also wise.

He just enjoyed his wisdom with a strong portion of practicality. Matter of fact, Dorkius believed that wisdom without practicality was just foolishness with a nasty surprise.

So when his three friends–Santere, a wealthy merchant, Chenaul, a renowned seller of purple cloth, and Beloit, a little person in charge of the maintenance of a huge flock of camels–came to visit him, telling him about a beautiful star sparkling in the sky, Dorkius was already familiar with the phenomenon.

Very impressive.

Like his friends, Dorkius was always prepared to view heavenly wonders, and discuss them for hours over a nice flask of wine and a sumptuous meal. He believed that discussion held the power to calm every fiber of the human soul, and was therefore the ointment of contentment and good health.

But pursuing false wisdom produced a contentious nature which caused one to fear that not enough was being accomplished, and generated the eager itch to follow the unknown. This often left a confused traveler discombobulated, and therefore, ailing.

Even though Santere, Chenaul and Beloit were well-traveled, excellent reasoners, they were never able to out-debate the adept Dorkius.

So when the three came to visit, enthused over the revelation of the star, they insisted that it foretold a great event–a social and spiritual awakening–the announcement of a great ruler who would bring a sense of harmony to the Earth.

Dorkius immediately pointed out to his friends that there was no basis for this in the science of astrology, for such an alignment was unlikely for thousands of years. But Santere objected, noting that perhaps “the heavens felt the need to hasten the pace.”

Dorkius smiled. Chenaul was all to familiar with that particular smirk. It meant that her friend had been amused by some piece of illogical thought and was about to pounce on it with all the aptitude of his intellect.

“The heavens in disarray?” asked Dorkius, as if posing the question to the entire Universe. “My dear Santere, why would the heavens be in disarray? Why would they need to hasten anything, when they, and they alone, hold the vision to all answers? You must remember, my dear friend, that in the pursuit of great knowledge, many imitators, bringing stupidity, will scamper to our side.”

Beloit, who had a wee voice, spoke with great conviction. “But consider this, dear Dorkius. What if it is miraculous? What if it’s the only star of its kind to ever appear in the heavens? What if it is the beckoning light for the King of all Kings and the Master of all Magistrates? What if it is the greatest light we shall ever see?”

Dorkius countered with a fury of anger. He was always annoyed with Beloit’s overly simplistic approach. “And what if it isn’t?” he challenged. “If there were ten chances before you and nine of them were death and one was eternal life, would you take the risk? Is the prospect for a greater and longer existence worth the nine possibilities of losing the one you have?”

Chenaul touched Dorkius’ arm tenderly and said, “It is if it’s the brightest chance you’ve ever seen.”

Dorkius shook his head. He prepared himself for another onslaught of verbal battling and an additional flask of wine.

Instead, Santere stood to his feet and offered, “We have not come tonight, my dear friend, to argue philosophy or to wrangle over the intellect of odds. We have come to invite you to join us on a journey with a great entourage–to find the source of the Star. To find the resting place. And hopefully, to find the King it proclaims.”

Dorkius laughed, at first with great levity, which gradually curdled into a cruel tone. “Are you asking me,” he scoffed, “to drop all I have, all I own, and all I do, to follow a star?”

“No,” said Chenaul, also standing to her feet, “we’re inviting you. Since we feel the star invited us, it seemed unrighteous to leave behind our sweet friend.”

Beloit also stood, and spoke boldly. “I know you don’t like me, Dorkius. We don’t need to discuss that. But I love you enough to want you there when we find the source of the reflection that radiates the heavens.”

Dorkius sighed. “I would continue to reason with the three of you but I think it’s time for Nature and the gods to teach you a lesson. We are mere mortals. We live and die, and all that remains are the values we have taught others, the deeds we have done and the shadow of a legacy that is always fading. I don’t want my last memory to be a foolhardy odyssey to chase a beam of light. Please, reconsider your plan. I know the three of you to be extraordinarily wise. Now, use that wisdom in a practical way. The gods do not call us to chase, but rather, observe, learn and apply. I, for one, will take the beauty of what I see in the sky and report it to those I see around me–encouraging them to enjoy the spectacle. You see, herein lies wisdom–but mingled with appreciation for one’s own circumstances.”

The three wise ones could not argue with their friend. Everything he said had elements of truth, value, some nobility and certainly the safety of sleeping in one’s own bed, in one’s own tent.

But his perspective lacked faith. It lacked vision. It lacked the adventure required by hope–to bring the joy in the human soul.

They all embraced. They shared meditations. And the three mounted their camels and set off on a journey.

That night Dorkius wept for his friends. He mourned for their misguided, meaningless meandering. He went to bed confident that he was safe and sound.

Dorkius was wise, but practical.

And practical is what kept him from seeing the Christ Child.

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Turning Kids Into Humans: (Part 1) Special Delivery … August 18, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2326)

Humanating

You have just received delivery of your new little baby girl or boy, with sufficient pounds and accompanying ounces.

You are thrilled.

You are ecstatic.

You feel as if you are the founder of procreation, and maybe the first person that ever completed the task sufficiently. Now–the next step is to pull out the instructions. They should read:

“We guarantee arrival, but the contents may have shifted during shipment.”

Read on.

“Does not include batteries.”

Yes, what you have received is a being who is not yet human. Perhaps you thought the unit should arrive completely assembled and energized by the correct emotional, spiritual, mental and physical electricity to make it function well and be successful.

Not so, Joe.

Your little he or she, to some degree, remains an “it” until you learn how to insert the correct charge to make your wonder child truly wonderful. By the way, here are the batteries:

  1. Empathy
  2. Appreciation

No child is born with them, but without them, you have all the parts but they don’t chug the choo-choo. Shall we define?

Empathy: “I can feel what other humans are feeling.”

Appreciation: “I am grateful for what has been provided.”

Children do not come with these installed. They are born “beings”–being hungry, fussy, thirsty, self-involved, unaware and ignorant.

To achieve the status of human depends on you. This pursuit is more important than piano lessons, soccer, new shoes or a college education. Without the batteries, your little bundle of joy will fail to deliver much happiness to the world around, and therefore end up defensive and cynical instead of hopeful.

So how do we, as parents, install the batteries of empathy and appreciation into our offspring?

If you will join me over the next eight Mondays, I will take you on an odyssey to uncover how this can be accomplished at the varying stages of development. It will not be complicated; it will be frighteningly simple, but it shall require your faithful attention.

All aboard!  Let’s try to become proficient with our special delivery.

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Practical … October 24, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2044)

Nuts-and-Bolts1Meanwhile, back at our dilemma:

The problem we face here on the road at the end of our yearly odyssey will not disappear just because we throw some cynical attitude its way. Trials and tribulations are not impressed with our disgust. And also, you must understand that heavenly conclusions cannot be achieved without pursuing some sort of earthly application.

To put it bluntly, prayer becomes useless if we haven’t tuned our senses to the world around us and find ourselves ready to move out on the opportunities that come our way.

Therefore it is just as possible to pursue a darkened path by saying we have faith in God, but not taking the cues from the world around us, and instead, insisting that our particular miracle must float down from the heavens.

This lends a second possibility in approaching our human quagmires: practical.

Amazingly enough, the Good Book, which is often portrayed as ethereal, is actually better presented as a handbook for planet living. Practical divides into three parts:

  • Count
  • Contend
  • Control

First of all, we should count what we actually have. Don’t expect any progress to be made if you’re not willing to invest what you already possess. Much of the cynicism and darkened conclusions will depart when we realize we have resources.

Case in point: when you’re trying to feed five thousand people, five loaves and two fishes don’t seem like very much, but they aren’t nothing–and at least it affords the opportunity for in-depth conversation.

Secondly, after we know what we have, we need to contend. What does that mean? It means, “Where are we?” Knowing our resources will not always stimulate faith, but sometimes will weaken our resolve. There will be some human effort involved in achieving divine conclusions, so it is necessary for us to understand our emotional state, our spiritual belief, our mental awareness and our physical strength. If we are going to be an army, we need to be well-fed, well-trained and well-armed.

And finally–control. Sometimes the whole problem cannot be whipped in one whack, so we should work on our negotiation skills, to buy time to take on our difficulties one piece at a time.

For instance, here on the road, it is ridiculous for me to worry about what we’re going to do at the end of next month. Instead, I should focus on what happens today and at the end of this week. Won’t that get me closer to my goal?

Count: what do we have?

Contend: where am I emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically?

Control: can I divide this up into smaller pieces?

Pursuing this path removes the specter of darkened cynicism, which opens the door to our Creator being willing to link with His creation. Once that relationship is initiated, our third possibility comes to play.

See you tomorrow.

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Destiny’s Childish… July 21, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1950)

destiny signThose who are not religious by nature call it “destiny.” The more religious among us refer to it as Calvinism.

It is the contention that there is some sort of “master plan” for every human being–that we find our purpose, value and joy in discovering this mystical path and following it fervently.

It is one of those strange areas where those who believe in God and those who don’t converge in a common mission of discovering an individual odyssey that was pre-determined for each and every soul.

There are many problems with the belief in destiny:

  • Often it removes the motivation to excel in our pursuits or experiment with new ideas.
  • It can make us bitter when misfortune strikes our journey and we are dumbfounded because our Benefactor has taken us down a darkened thoroughfare.
  • It can cause people to walk away from legitimately good relationships under the guise of pursuing the perfect soul mate.
  • And it can render us completely incapacitated as we wait for guidance that just never seems to come.

There are really three choices:

1. God has a wonderful plan for our lives, which we must follow if we want to be pleasing to Him and truly happy.

2.  God has a plan for our lives but we can take detours and even change it up a little bit, as long as we still get to the point He wills us to be.

3. We have free will choice and a Father who stays with us and will never leave nor forsake us.

Now I’m sure there are derivations, blendings and even differentiations but generally speaking, anything you would come up with probably falls within the scope of one of these three ideas.

My problem with #1 is that Jesus compares God to an earthly father. There is NO earthly father who would ever think about controlling the lives of his children–even if he felt it was to their betterment. In doing so he would weaken their wills and perhaps make them resentful of his interference.

When it comes to Choice #2, I become confused because random acts and accidental discoveries are frequently at the root of the progression of the human cause. People were searching for different cures when magnificent elixirs were stumbled upon. The Bible makes it clear that time and chance happens to all–and if we’re under some belief that God’s will is a straight line or even an arc, heading for a specific apex in the future, then we rule out the glorious possibility that our lives can be enriched and changed for the better. And even generational curses, which seem placed on some families by genetics and environment, can be breached and overcome.

The only sensible understanding of humans on earth is free will. That means there is a past, by the grace of God there is a present, but the future is undeclared. Why?

Because the future is in our hands.

Perhaps you would feel more comfortable to think that God was controlling everything, but in doing so He would be taking away any significance of worship–because we would not be selecting to follow Him, but instead, toeing the line out of fear.

I love God because He gives me free will. I love free will because I can choose God.

There you go.

I can choose God in my dealings with human beings, I can choose my Father in heaven through the tenderness I express through my art–and I can even choose a divine sense of earthly understanding when I consider my calories and food intake.

I believe that the devotion to the notion of destiny has stymied our creativity, expansion, love and spirit of adventure.

It makes us childish–childish in the sense that we are afraid to displease an angry parent, while insisting that we love him dearly.

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Hurt, Heal, Praise … June 29, 2013

(1927)

dancersThe most difficult road to take to achieve humility is the highway of humiliation. Yet for some reason, it’s the most popular.

Many years ago, I wrote a musical called Mountain. Humbly I offer to you that the composition was really quite good. I had some friends in Columbus, Ohio, who let me use their studio very reasonably and we put together the music for the production. In the process of doing so, we stirred up a lot of interest in the community. So when it was announced that a two night premiere would be held,  tickets sold quickly and we realized we were going to have a hit.

Our job? To come up with a cast who could perform the piece and portray the material adequately. We selected our individual members but failed to consider that most of the young folk we had placed in the roles had grown up believing that dancing was “of the devil,” and the rest of them were just hellish dancers.

The musical required some choreography. Even though the music itself came off very well, and the acting was sufficient, the instructors we selected to teach our entourage how to do live stage movement were far too advanced and left our fledgling foot-flyers completely confounded.

So on opening night, the portion of the show that required choreography was an absolute disaster, leading one observer to refer to it as “collisionography.”

Unfortunately, the theater was nearly packed. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. I was young, impetuous and unfortunately, too quick to want to give up.

But from somewhere down deep in the bottom of my socks, I found the faith to get up the next morning, realize we had another premiere to do, and instead of being angry or frustrated, took the cast and worked on simplifying the dance portion of the show.

We were all hurt.

Life is not a journey of avoiding hurt, but rather, a continual odyssey to be healed.

The only way my cast was going to be healed was by believing they could actually find something to do onstage that was within their grasp, and that they could have another opportunity to prove their ability.

The second night was fantastic–night and day difference. Unfortunately, the crowd had shrunk due to the bad reports about the faltering footwork. We didn’t care. We had been hurt the night before and it was time to heal. And heal we did.

Our confidence soared and we went out on a tour to twenty-five cities, getting better and better each night–because our healing turned into praise.

I will never forget that experience. It is a constant reminder that being hurt has absolutely zilch nobility or value unless you immediately set a process in motion to be healed. All healing is then confirmed by the presence of praise.

We have to learn this in our society:

  • Hurt people are determined to hurt. They don’t mean to–they just duplicate what’s inside themselves out to others.
  • Healed people seek healing.
  • And people of praise are always looking for reasons to praise.

So the next time you get in a  mood and think there’s nothing that’s any good anymore, take a moment and trace back in your life to find that unhealed hurt. You will be surprised at how much brighter the world looks when you have shed some light … on your own pain.

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Earth Trek … June 8, 2013

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clouds

But what does that mean? Why hasn’t any man gone before? Is it because they’re lazy? Maybe they’re prejudiced against the natives? Could it be that the GPS is malfunctioning? No money?

But candidly, where would a place exist where no man has gone before?

I guess such an arena might be a sanctuary for honesty instead of making excuses to cover up simple errors that become even more complicated because of the lies.

I guess I’m on a search for a place that has faith instead of relying on tradition and superstition–faith being an actual belief that proves itself by being set in motion instead of just screaming at unbelievers.

Well, I know of a place where no man has been before–it’s where humor is pursued instead of convoluted, made-up drama. (After all, do we really think we’re more important because we complain?)

How about this? I’m in search of an atmosphere of equality instead of men and women fussing with each other to gain dominance in a struggle that ultimately requires both participants to find some sort of agreement.

I think we could find wisdom without going through the painful process of listening to know-it-alls who are constantly backpedaling from former positions because life or Mother Nature has doused their fires.

And of course, my quest leads me to search for life forms who are child-like–simple and fun-loving instead of childish, selfish, bratty and demanding.

So I am on my Earth Trek.

It is one I will continue until such time that I am no longer needed for the mission. To be successful, I will keep my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds. Because right now they don’t need me in heaven–but it seems that my services might be of some advantage on earth.

  • Earth Trek.
  • I am certainly Captain Quirk,
  • And I will continue my odyssey until the Star Fleet Commander beams me up.

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Rabble and Rubble… March 31, 2013

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church inside biggerSome were killers. Others watched. The rest ran away in terror, except for a tiny handful, which stuck around to stow the mutilated corpse in a tomb.

I didn’t know what to do. I was no killer, didn’t have the stomach to watch, couldn’t run as fast as the cowards and wouldn’t wrap my mind around a “grave” conclusion for my best friend.

So I just walked.

Actually, I’ve been walking for twenty-four hours, now. Of course, I exaggerate, but it sure seems like an endless odyssey of meaningless meandering. I walk and I look.

I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for–I guess some sort of sign of shock, revulsion or horror over the atrocity just committed on that hill so far away. But truthfully, life seems to be going on. Nothing is canceled. No one discusses postponing local events to consider the murder of an innocent man. I even came across a wedding in progress, with the sound of jubilation and music. The Passover is in full swing. The Romans are in control and religion has dressed up for the day.

I feel like I’m about to go insane over the calmness that’s settled in on a world gone mad. Jesus loved the rabble. He embraced those souls the world deemed riff-raff. He met them in their hour of need, saved them, healed them and even raised them from the dead. Yet when he reached his critical moment–when he required the support of these who were benefitted by his mercy–they accepted the wisdom of a Council which they normally mocked, and they screamed in unison for a murderer and robber to be released to their fellowship. They chose the allure of darkness because it was closer to the coloration fo their own souls.

Mostly I’m disgusted with myself. Because the absence of knowing what to do is not the presence of an excuse for not doing anything. It may seem that way in the moment, but it is a lie.

I don’t know where to go. Some of my friends went fishing to take their minds off the dilemma. There are a few hiding out in an upper room–simulating prayer, but really shaking in their sandals over every rustling outside the door, wondering if it is the Romans coming to slice them into pieces.

I just can’t be with any of them. The rabble disgusts me because they denied their own best solution. And the rubble of a once-great “kingdom movement” is so insipid and vacant of ideas that I can’t tolerate sitting in their presence, commiserating.

I feel so alone that I’m taunted by the specter of suicide. Yet I won’t do that. That would require a certain amount of courage which I lack, and an insanity which I refuse entrance.

I walk on.

Has it really come down to the simplicity of the rabble and the rubble? My friend Jesus dedicated his life to protecting the lost and innocent, only to have them choose cowardice in his hour of need. Likewise, he spent hours and hours instructing people like me–his followers–but when he was confronted with evil, he only found frightened little Jewish boys and girls, who had learned much but acquired little.

Now hours have passed. I must have dozed off, although I would have sworn I was incapable of sleep. The Sabbath is over and the first fruits of the light of dawn are creeping into the velvety haze of darkness. It will soon be morning. What will I do?

Even though I used to enjoy the beginning of each day, now the sun mocks me because it shines its light on my indecision. Do I go and resume my life among the rabble–pretending that the little piece of misfortune that happened on Calvary was a thing of the past?

I can’t do that. Too many miracles. Too many blessings. Too many hugs. Too many roads. And too many reasons to remember.

I guess I will head to the tomb. In the long run, it is better to be with the rubble–the remains of a great idea–than with the rabble, lacking any inclination toward solution.

Sunday morning. I will go to the tomb.

After all … it is the last place I saw Jesus.

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