Things I Learned from R. B.

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 26

I purchased an old-time gazebo for the front yard of my home on Bayshore Drive. I envisoned it as a place where time could slip away, as two or three friends perched in the gilded cage and talked about important matters of life.

After three treatments of chemotherapy, R. B. requested one of our private sessions—so I suggested we meet in that gazebo, to give us a different perspective, a surrounding of antiquity.

He sat before me with his yellow legal pad and pen in hand. His fingers seemed longer because they were free of flesh—suspended by bone.

He began the discussion by telling me that he had gone from 193 pounds before the cancer to his present weight of 118. I asked him about his chemo and he told me that the doctors were not certain how much shrinkage had occurred in the rectal tumor, but they would take X-rays next week, to gauge whether an operation could provide more Earthly time.

He was amazingly coherent and free of self-pity. Matter of fact, if I had met him the way he was that day in the gazebo, we probably would have been lifelong friends, bonded with mutual respect and devotion.

Everything went well until he brought up the subject of the meeting. He was worried about his bills.

Now, he had not expressed any such concern over the past two years, but all of a sudden, the spirit of a quite-dead father had tormented him from the grave, into fretting over credit rating and propriety.

I was incensed—not mad at R. B., but rather, angry at the human race, because for some reason, we launch out on our teen rebellion and then circle back as old people, defeated, to scrounge at the table of our parents.

Yet I saw a door.

For you see, I did not want to be there for R. B.’s last breath. I did not want to make the funeral arrangements for this man, who was so close, yet so far away.

I suggested that considering his condition, it might be time for him to go back to Rhode Island, to be closer to his family. As I heard myself explain the suggestion, I thought how rational it sounded—almost compassionate.

But R. B.’s reaction was quite different. He was astounded, hurt. He challenged me, asking why I didn’t understand that he had no relationship with his kin—the only family he had was right here and right now.

I was stunned but wanted to be careful. R. B. was a child of God. He deserved a dignified answer and an appropriate ending.

I paused, took a deep breath and replied, “I’m sorry. Of course, we want you to remain here. I just wanted to let you know that if you did feel the urge or the compulsion to return to your loved ones in Rhode Island, we would not be offended.”

His eyes, which had been filled with tears and rage, dried and softened.

We continued our talk. I soon realized that he had no intention of paying his bills. He just wanted me to know that he had a conscience for them. I suggested we take care of these responsibilities after he got on his feet, gained some weight and was on the way to healing.

We only talked about an hour-and-a-half, but he was exhausted. Matter of fact, I asked my son, Jasson, to walk with him to his car, to make sure he wouldn’t fall.

I sat alone in the gazebo as nightfall was creeping its way down our home-town street.

I didn’t know what I thought.

I didn’t know what I felt.

Fortunately for me, it was not an unusual sensation.

 

Sit Down Comedy … August 2nd, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Hurling insults.

It may be the only exercise that many folks are getting.

We’ve become very concerned about being offended, yet are we becoming more offensive ourselves?

An interesting question.

One of the favorite insults is accusing one another of being racist. I think we must understand the path of intolerance. It begins with”

Prejudice

“I have an idea that I hold to be true.”

Opinion

“That idea has become my foundational thought.”

Bigotry

“I believe my idea is so good that I am prepared, willing and in the midst of sharing it with others.”

Racist

“I am convinced that my idea is supported by both nature and God, and therefore means that I must enforce it, alienating some group of people.”

As you see, it’s not easy to be a racist—and no one who is truly a racist is ashamed to admit it. They are loud and proud.

I think what each one of us needs to do instead of hurling insults is take a look at where prejudice tries to wiggle its way into our lives.

There are four encounters which give us the opportunity to use our speech in different ways if we so choose—or arrive at a unity of one voice.

First there’s Platter Chatter

These are the conversations we have with friends and family over dinner or during fellowship.

Next, the Pew View

These are the scriptures, sermons and ideas promoted by our particular religious organization.

Third is the Work Week Speak

I’m referring to the “around the cooler talk,” which sometimes is not cooler. It can actually be hotter.

And finally, the Walk Talk

This is a social environment with people we do not know, so we must be cautious in sharing our ideas and beliefs in front of them.

Is your conversation more prejudiced during Platter Chatter with your family? Does your church have a view of lifestyles that disincludes some people from salvation based on their choices? How about the bigoted jokes spoken at work? Can you refrain from laughing loudly, and in so doing communicate your disdain? Or must you object? And what is the profile of your interchanges around strangers?

In trying to figure out the amount of racism you have in your life, you have to concentrate on whether bigotry has found a home inside you—whether somehow or another you’ve formed your own personal opinion based upon a prejudice that has lingered in your mind.

So ask yourself:

Is your Platter Chatter, Pew View, Work Week Speak and Walk Talk all the same? Or do you allow a little more opinion, prejudice and maybe even bigotry to appear in certain environments, which you don’t permit in others?

It’s a great way to analyze your situation, and it also makes you a bit more cautious about slinging the term “racist” around.

It’s something to ponder.

Of course, there always is the choice of going for a long walk instead of hurling insults.

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3 Things… March 8th, 2018

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To Do When You Are Offended

 

1. Step away–create some distance so you can think instead of react.

2. Step back–consider the person who offended you. Is he or she valuable or historically problematic?

3. Step down–close the chapter with a kind final word or, if curious or needing to interact, gently ask for an explanation.

 

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Jesonian … January 20th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A growling grouchiness tends to fester my soul every time I sit down in front of some sort of clerk who wants to ask me questions so that he or she can “punch me into their system.”

I have a natural inclination to turn and run full speed out of the room, thus “unplugging.”

Systems don’t work.

Now, I know over-generalized conclusions such as this one are frowned on by people who want to remain congenial and open to all parties, but once any organization or movement acquires a mortgage, as far as humanity is concerned, they usually become no damn good.

Rules are established, guidelines are formulated, temperaments are discussed and limitations established.

I don’t care if the system is taking care of the poor, preaching the Gospel or electing candidates to office–just the presence of the instinct to follow an “inner office memo” filled with stipulations stifles creativity and smother passion.

Nicodemus came to see Jesus by night-Step 1 of any system.

Play it safe.

Nicodemus did not know whether his friends would approve of him interacting with the rogue Galilean, so he “came by night.” I’m sure he thought he was smart. I’m sure he believed he was more open-minded than his buddies, who wouldn’t come at all, even if it was pitch black.

He begins his dialogue with Jesus by trying to coerce a mutual sense of equality from the Nazarene–Step 2 of a system. “We know you’re a teacher sent by God.”

(Just like us…)

Every system wants to make everything the same for everybody, because if it isn’t, it’s just not fair–and if you acquiesce to one person, then everyone wants the same consideration.

I am not a conceited man, but my mission is not the same as the pastor of some United Methodist church in Wisconsin. I am not better than him–but I have been given more. And the scriptures tell me that because I’ve been given more, more is expected of me.

Jesus doesn’t mince any words with Nicodemus. He doesn’t give in to the equality theory, but tells Nicodemus that he “must be born again.” The cleverness of the statement–the parallel of spiritual rebirth to original birth are ignored by this scripture peruser.

He does what people always do to someone who apparently wants to rock the boat–he mocks the simplicity. He makes fun of Jesus suggesting that an old man could go back into his mother’s womb. He might even have chuckled at his own reference. He is convinced that in a world of black and white, it is necessary to strictly honor the available colorations.

Jesus explains to him that it’s an uncomplicated concept and challenges Nicodemus to walk more in his intelligence instead of marching in beat with the purists. Jesus says, “If I tell you of Earthly things and you don’t understand, how could I ever tell you of heavenly things?”

Then, as always, the system is offended, and begins to denigrate the concepts which lead to the conclusion of personal responsibility.

It is so much easier to be religious if you believe God is in control, has a plan for your life, is moving angels and demons back and forth and has already won the battle. It becomes a bit more intricate when you realize the Kingdom of God is within you.

Nicodemus departs, unimpressed. Matter of fact, later on the scriptures refer to “some of the Jewish leaders” who privately had sympathy for Jesus and his Kingdom movement, but were afraid to speak up.

Nicodemus found himself trapped. When the Council decided to have a meeting to put Jesus on trial, and Nicodemus objects to them indicting the Master without hearing him, they dismiss Nicodemus. They ask if “he, too, is a Galilean.”

He says nothing more. He is silenced.

You will never make strides in your spiritual life or truly understand the humanity of Jesus and the mission he had to save souls as long as you hide behind vespers and prayers.

Jesonian is a lifestyle.

And Jesus spent his life being the champion of the human race. To do so, he had to dodge many systems and ignore those who were locked up in the mindset of the moment instead of grasping the born-again heart of those who were fully aware that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.”

 

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3 Things… November 23rd, 2017

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You Do That Let People Know That You Can Be Trusted

1.  You are not shocked, offended or defensive about making a mistake.

 

2.  You hear other opinions and may even use them.

 

3.  You confess your lie before getting caught.

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G-Poppers … August 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop spends more time thinking than he does talking. Long before he offers a chat to his children, he tosses the ball of confusion around in his brain to see if he can get it to bounce right.

Such is the case between caring and involved.

Normally we think that if we care, we will become involved–but the danger of becoming involved is, with our assistance, we bring our opinion.

This year G-Pop has learned this lesson with great clarity. He aspired to be helpful and involved. Why? Because he cared.

But he did not believe that caring was enough–caring being that action of expressing concern and standing ready with prayer or even some financial support, to help those around him achieve what they set out to do.

  • “Caring” comes without interference.
  • “Involved” often brings a bit of nosiness and mouth along with the tender touch.

For instance, does God care for us or is God involved? And if He is involved, where does that place free will?

In other words, can you be involved in other people’s lives and still completely honor their choices, without displaying a disgruntled expression?

G-Pop believes the answer is no.

Here’s a truth: it’s better when people work out their own problems. We need things to be our idea. If possible, we need the idea to be born of our will.

Following advice does make you a follower.

G-Pop now realizes that he needs to care, but not get so involved. Caring will always be received well but involvement can be interfering.

So G-Pop says to his children, be careful not to intrude and then become offended because people treat you like you’re an intruder.

“All I was trying to do was help.”

What we should try to do is care–and encourage people as they find their path. Because if we stand afar and care more instead of involving ourselves, the number of people we can bless increases.

Because here’s the fact: involvement is downright exhausting.Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 9) Tongue Depressor … June 26th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Monday morning was no better.

Before noon, Meningsbee succeeded in offending three well-meaning souls.

Coming back from the church service on Sunday in a growling mood, he had tossed and turned all night, failing to get enough sleep. So when he was awakened at 8:45 A. M. by the phone, he was barely able to eek out a respectable “hello.”

The call came from Pastor Mickey Jiles from the Pentecostal Assembly Church just down the road. Mickey explained that he had awakened “concerned for his brother” after the events of the past week, and wanted to let him know that “prayers were going forth” and “if he needed anything at all, just give a buzz.”

Meningsbee was in no mood for generosity. He managed a curt, “Thank you, but I’m fine,” and hung up–wondering if Pastor Jiles felt the conversation was over.

In the midst of Meningsbee trying to don his socks, there was a knock at the door. It was young Danny, the paper-boy, who came to collect for newspaper deliveries. Suddenly Meningsbee found himself in a squabble with the fine lad over a price hike that had come from the big city without asking Danny’s permission.

Meningsbee begrudgingly paid the extra money as he slammed the door.

Then, somewhere in the midst of a bite of burnt toast, the phone rang again and it was his good friend from Chicago, calling to see how he was doing and how the great experiment was coming along. Meningsbee lied and said he was on his way out the door and would call back later. The sweet old chum remained jovial, but sensed there was some difficulty.

Tuesday was not much better, and Wednesday threatened to get worse. By Thursday, Meningsbee felt it was best that he not interact with any human for fear that he would generate emotional devastation.

So when Sunday rolled around and it was time to go to the church, every “negative nagging ninnie” notion came to his mind as he drove to the sanctuary. He sat in his car, trying to get in a better mood.

The transformation was aided by the fact that there was a pretty good turnout. With his professional pastoral “car-counting ability,” he judged that most of the folks who last week made the benevolent journey to the other congregation had made their way back to the flock.

It should have put him in a good mood, but it didn’t.

So it was time to fall back on his training. How should a good pastor act?

He took three deep breaths, emerged from his car and proceeded into the building.

He forced a smile.

He portrayed himself as jovial.

He hugged a couple of children.

In so doing he became a little too loud, a bit boisterous, and although he had set a precedent for allowing the congregation to determine the tempo of the service, on this morning he stepped in to become the “leader of the worship.”

It was adequate. The average person sitting in the pew possibly didn’t sense anything different, but Meningsbee knew better. He had lost some innocence. What was once a passion for constructive change had now become a competition by a company man.

He was so angry. Or was it disappointment? Or was it a feeling that justice was not being provided?

He remained human just long enough to greet all those who came, and then, before the building was even emptied, he slipped away to his car, climbed in and sat for a moment, staring at the departing friends as tears filled his eyes.

It was a shitty day.

Yes, the word “shit” came from his lips.

Profanity had speckled his mind all week long, but had been held at bay by propriety.

Now it was unleashed.

What the hell was going on?

He started his car, backed up and headed out the exit. He turned right, pointing his vehicle northward, and just started driving.

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