Salient … April 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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We called him “Denny the Dork” because we were twelve-year-old jackasses. He was socially awkward, walking around in a mental fog from the bog.

We could have been nicer, but when you’re twelve years old, nice is something you think people should do to you. It never occurs in your adolescent mind to be the initiator.

Denny was the equipment manager of our seventh-grade football team. If he had just brought water and taken care of the uniforms, he would have been fine. But Denny was inquisitive–what you might refer to as “an experimenter.”

One day Denny decided to replace the pads in the football pants with poster board. For some reason, nobody noticed while donning the uniforms–and after the practice, everybody arrived back in the locker room with extra bruises, and one kid had a dislocated knee.

When Denny’s act was discovered, he quickly explained that he wanted to learn the purpose of the pads, and thought the best way to do so was to remove them.

This made complete sense to him. It did not to the coach. Denny was kicked off the team and spent about six weeks coming to school early, to help the janitor clean the toilets.

Likewise, we have a lot of people in our world today who are determined to extract civility and kindness just to see what happens.

Is it curiosity? Is it a fear that goodness makes us all look weak and simpy? I don’t know. But because that emotional padding has been removed from our society, people are showing up bruised and broken.

Unfortunately, there is not one “Denny the Dork” to blame. All parts of our society–religion, business, politics, entertainment and even education–are permeated with the contention that dominating one another is preferable to accommodating.

We have allowed the jungle to be released, but unfortunately, none of us have the girth of the elephant, the tough hide of the lion, nor the universal survivability of the cockroach.

We are a vulnerable species that needs to be treated tenderly, or we break.

Yet there seems to be a competition to see who can be the “assiest hole” or the “assholiest.” (Yes, I think that second one fits it better, don’t you?People who act like asses but portray it is the holy mission of self-esteem they pursue.)

Yet in a room full of people who are crazy, suggesting mental instability is neither helpful or healthy. So today I stand as one soul speaking to you, saying that we have removed the padding which protects us from bruising each other.

It’s time to call ourselves dorks, and change this pattern.

So here is your salient moment:

You can’t make omelets without eggs, just like you can’t create a beautiful life without courtesy.

 

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Untotaled: Stepping Four (April 28th, 1964) … March 1, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

The Gospel Tones.

They were a singing group that visited our church on April 28th, 1964–actually, three friends of our pastor, who used to sing together back in college.

The southern gospel quartet–bass, baritone, lead, high tenor–an interesting blending of a musical circus atmosphere mingled with the sanctity and sobriety of the Gregorian chant.

I remember that night well. I had never seen our preacher so alive. He usually had a somberness which accompanied his sermons, granting him the authority to be holy.

But on that night he was moving around and singing low bass notes on the RCA Victor microphone which had been placed in the middle of the platform.

I got excited. Honestly, it was a little corny, but still had enough fun in it that I participated.

After the show everybody processed to the fellowship hall for cookies and punch. I grabbed three of my friends and we headed off  to a Sunday School classroom which had an off-key Wurlitzer piano, and started pounding out some songs of our own. We didn’t sound very good but we were totally enthusiastic.

Right in the middle of an exhilarating screech, one of the church elders stuck his head in, rebuked us and said we were bad children because we weren’t joining in with the rest of the church. My friends were intimidated by the austere condemnation and left to go eat their cookies, but I stayed in the room. I played and played; I sang and sang.

That night changed me. I realized I liked music. I liked entertaining.

I regathered my three friends shortly after that evening and we began to sing everywhere–nursing homes, school talent shows, street rallies, coffee houses–and later, when my buddies paired off and got married, I kept it up.

In the process I worked with the Blackwood Brothers, the Rambos, the Happy Goodmans, the Imperials and the Oak Ridge Boys.

I became an egg. Whether I was scrambled, fried, poached or put in an omelet, I was an egg. You could use me to make a cake, a souffle, or even to hold your meatloaf together.

I was not a ham and certainly not a crab.

On April 28th, 1964, listening to the Gospel Tones, I chose to become an egg. Over the years many people have tried to get me to fit into their box, but I’m an egg.

I was built for a carton. 

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The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Central… August 17, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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For a city, it’s downtown.CentralMuskegon

A doughnut, the hole.

The earth, the equator.

And a Twinkie, the cream.

Center of things. It’s important stuff.

As I take off tomorrow morning to do my thing at Central United Methodist Church in Muskegon, I realize that the end of my little excursion needs to make clear to this handful of souls what I believe is central, intricate, everlasting and truly necessary.

CentralMuskegoninsideHonestly, that’s easy.

Happiness.

Any time we stop believing in happiness, refuse to pursue it or think we’ve outgrown the magnitude of its blessing, we paralyze ourselves, with all of our emotions lying dormant and useless.

Life is about the pursuit of happiness. Some may call it idealism, but the lack of happiness should be a fire alarm pulled at the first sign of smoke.

Enough said. How do we get happiness? Just remember this little four-step process: don’t expect, don’t reject, don’t worry, do more.

That’s it:

  • Expectation turns us into brats, waiting for a reason to throw a fit.
  • Rejection makes us critics who have already written the review before seeing the play.
  • Worry makes us comical because we’re not energetic enough to participate and always have “egg on our face” when the omelet actually flips over and is perfect.
  • And doing more, although it seems to be futile at times, is the best way to stay busy while we’re waiting for today’s tragedy to become yesterday’s little piece of silliness.

Central is happiness.

It keeps us from becoming so grown-up that we lose our childhood dreams.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Scrambled Eggheads … February 12, 2013

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Jon Signing“It could be this or it could be that, and of course, there’s a chance that it just might be…”

These are words you certainly don’t ever want to hear from either your mechanic or your doctor. Honestly, they’re not particularly helpful to hear from anyone. In this season in our country, when we are most in need of a defining message, what we have is a cacophony of voices screaming at us–usually offering a book for sale at the end of their proclamation of doom and gloom.

It just doesn’t help. Watching television news is like peering at a bunch of eggheads, who scramble around trying to argue their point with nobody able to make a good omelet. Let me boil down the scrambled messages being offered:

1. “You are important so find your talent.” Can I edit this? You are just as important as you allow yourself to believe that other people are important, and you may feel free to USE your talent–as long as you are humbly aware there is always somebody more accomplished than you.

2. “God doesn’t make mistakes, so be happy.” Well, it is my recollection that God was so disappointed with His creation at one time that He destroyed the world, and then later felt really bad about doing it. I do not need a God who is mistake-free. I would just like to have a God who catches His own boo-boos before He drowns the world. I don’t need God to be perfect in order for me to enjoy the process of watching the world move forward, perfecting.

3. “It’s a tough world, so cover your backside.” If you’re always looking around to see your backside, you’re never looking forward. In my experience, the minute you take your eyes off the road, you greatly increase your chances of ending up in a ditch. Here is a simple way of looking at it: take a few minutes to study the past, celebrate your present, and while you’re at it, get some idea and vision for what you want for yourself in the future, because it is all up to you.

Just with these three “screamers” from the eggheads spilling out, you can be overwhelmed with too much information, receiving mixed signals which only produce frustration instead of clarity.

Is there a message that is universal to human beings? Probably not–but I do know a first step that usually takes us in the right direction: share your fears. They’re not doing you any good. They hide inside of you and only to show up when your greatest opportunity for success is available, nagging you about the pitfalls of trying anything new.

A spoken fear is not only an unmasked enemy, but also establishes your humanity with the world around you and takes you out of the role of being a competitor and into the possibility of becoming a brother or sister.

Let me be the guinea pig:

  • I’m fat. At my age, I’m finding it very difficult to shed pounds. I’m wondering if my physical weakness is going to overtake my emotional and spiritual zeal and put me down.
  • My knees aren’t getting any better. I persist in walking, but can tell that it really isn’t helping me–just establishing my perseverance.
  • I wonder if I’m doing enough. When I think about doing more, I hit a wall as to know what to do, and dangerously reach a point of being unappreciative for my present accomplishments.
  • I’m afraid my children will not use faith to their advantage, but instead, will be absorbed by the worldly silliness around them, becoming flippant instead of fruitful.

Honestly, my dear friends, I could go on all day. And every time I speak one of my fears out loud, it shrivels–even as it wiggles out of my mouth.

The less fear you have, the more room there is for love. And if you build a space for love, all of the family can move in: understanding, compassion, humor, tenderness, awareness and intelligence. And if you have that family living inside you, you will use your talents. You’ll find a way to be happy and you won’t worry about your enemies because you’ll be too busy coming up with ways to creatively intimidate them … by loving them.

So you can continue to listen to the scrambled eggheads as they fry the truth and poach each other’s messages. For me, I am going to share my fears, and in the process, resurrect my love.

Because honestly, if love is not enough, maybe the world should end.

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Without a Net … February 4, 2012

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I met Imogene and Anton on New Year’s Eve in Sarasota, Florida, many years ago after sharing in a local church with my group, Soul Purpose.  We had stopped in at the International House of Pancakes to break a few eggs and eat an omelet to welcome in the New Year. It had been a great year, so I was feeling particularly festive, and was even in such a silly mood that I decided to mingle all the syrups on the table onto my pancakes to determine what flavor would emerge.

Now, the reason I noticed Imogene and Anton was that they were such small-boned individuals. I mean, I knew they were adults—he had a beard and she had all the girl things.  But they were so tiny that I could probably put one in my right pocket and one in my left pocket and not increase the girth of my silhouette. I was fascinated by them because they ate quietly together and chatted, and with my big ears I overheard them talking about the circus.

Sarasotawas the winter headquarters for the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus—where they tested out their new acts. As I said, I was feeling gregarious, so I engaged them in conversation. They decided to come over to our table to join us. We quickly discovered that they were not only talking about the circus, but they were members in good standing. Their field of expertise was the trapeze and walking the high-wire. (Suddenly it occurred to me why the slightness of their frames would be of great advantage. Putting me, for instance, on a wire in the sky would create quite a bend in the universe.)

We were going along fine with our conversation until I asked them about their new act and they told me it was a death-defying routine which demanded much of their attention and at this point, was quite nerve-wracking.

I said, “Thank God you’ve got that safety net down there, just in case you slip.”

At that moment, all at once, Imogene blanched, dropped her fork onto her plate, rose from the table and scooted her way towards the restroom. The members of my group turned to look at me like I had stabbed Imogene in the heart. I was baffled by her reaction. Fortunately, Anton stepped in with an explanation.

“Relax,” he said. “She’ll be fine. It’s just that we never mention the net. I mean, we kind of know it’s down there, but you can’t be walking on the high wire and have one single thought about the net. Matter of fact, Imogene and I have sworn to never bring it up or speak it aloud—because the minute you believe you have a safety net, you will unconsciously lose your concentration, become dependent upon it and end up falling. Eventually, you will need to perform without the net—and if your mind is relying on it, the results … well, the results could be deadly.”

As he finished his explanation, Imogene reappeared at the table and began to apologize. I interrupted her. “I am so sorry, my dear,” I said. “I had no idea.”

“How could you?” she replied. “You don’t walk our high wire. You don’t live our life. You don’t sense our need. Therefore, you don’t understand our dilemma.”

She was right. I was very careful the rest of the night not to bring up the word “net” in any way, shape or form. We had a lovely conversation and stayed at our table until the New Year rang through.

I will never forget that experience. It came to my mind again this week when I heard someone bring up the term “safety net” in relation to poor people in this country. I personally have suffered poverty. Poverty is infectious. It doesn’t just make you hungry. It doesn’t just remove your finance. It makes you frightened, dependent, defensive, and angry. And of course, if you express any of these emotions, possessors of money will be critical of you because you’re not appreciative of the services available.

But let me tell you, if you’re poor and you begin to trust that safety net—that government assistance—that intervention of kindness from others—your personal journey of discovery and self-reliance is over. Imogene was right to run away from anyone who would talk about the net. Because if you’re walking the high wire—be it in the circus OR one of poverty—you need to keep your attention on improving your plight instead of wondering what’s going to happen if you make a mistake.

I learned something that night which I’ve tried to apply in the rest of my experiences in working with others. Unless I am going through the identical situation that you are, I don’t understand what it takes for you to make it work. Merely telling you that you should be all right because there’s a net underneath you could be the worst thing in the world for you. Because if you want to get good at walking a tight rope, you have to stay focused on your next move—and not trust the net.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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