Catchy (Sitting 32) The Prophet Has No Honor…January 21st, 2018

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It was a starry night in Las Vegas. The weather was perfect–just warm enough that you wanted to be out and about, but not so hot that you would avoid getting close to someone you loved.

It had been such a refreshing day that Jubal decided to take the evening’s meeting and put it out in an abandoned Little League ball field, offering hot dogs, corn on the cob and great rock and roll.

The word spread like creamy peanut butter. By 6:30 P.M., for a 7:30 starting time, there were nearly three thousand people gathered. Jubal had expected a good crowd, but nothing of that magnitude.

Hot dogs were soon gone, and there were only “cornless” cobs. People didn’t care. Those who brought food shared, and those who didn’t were careful not to over-stuff themselves. About halfway through the musical portion of the show, Jubal ceased in mid-drumming and walked to the microphone.

After about ten seconds, as the band stopped and the audience grew silent, Jubal spoke.

“I just have never understood it,” he said. “If you go to the church down the road, they’ll hand you some bread and wine and tell you it’s what Jesus did at the Last Supper and what he wants us to do to remember him. They seem to completely forget that he did something else that fateful night. He took off all of his clothes, wrapped a towel around his waist, and got down on his hands and knees and washed the feet of his disciples.

“It blew their small-town minds. They viewed him as the Messiah.They thought he was better than them. They believed he was God–and it was beyond their comprehension that God could kneel down and do such a menial task.

“Jesus told his disciples to do it in the future. Wash feet, that is. And in so doing, communicate our commonality as people, and the gentleness of our spirit.

“But don’t get freaked out. I’m not going to take my clothes off…”

A boo and then a groan went through the crowd.

“Oh, stop it,” said Jubal, looking officially red-faced. “I brought along water, I’ve got these basins and wash cloths, and I’m also gonna wear my swimsuit.”

He held it up, displaying it for the audience. “I don’t swim much, so I just picked this up at Dollar General on the way over. How’s it look?”

There were some whistles and catcalls.

Jubal giggled. “Again–stop it!”

Everyone laughed.

“As I’ve told you before many times, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just feeling my way. And I feel like taking this water and washing some feet. If you want to, help yourself.”

Jubal jumped off the stage to the ground, filled a basin with water and headed out into the crowd. People backed away like the wind had blown them to the side.There was a deep respect for Jubal’s words, but apprehension over such intimacy.

Finally a little girl came up, plopped down and sat cross-legged on the ground. Jubal pulled out her feet and started washing them as the people stared in amazement.Then he did another, and another.

Having waited for one of the policemen who had been sent to watch over the gathering to remove his shoes and socks, Jubal sponged his feet, and many in the audience burst into tears. Nowhere on earth was there a more beautiful sight.

A few people here and there began picking up basins, filling them with water and heading out into the crowd. Soon there was a new practice–one soul would wash the feet of another, and they, in turn, washed the feet of the person who had blessed them.

It was very quiet in a noisy sort of way.There was a sweet hum and mumble of conversation, and the sound of weeping, and some laughter. It went on for thirty minutes. Forty minutes. Then an hour. No one was growing weary. No one was looking at a clock. No one was concerned about a lack of hot dogs and corn.

Everyone seemed to realize they would never in their lives be any closer to other human beings than they were in this moment. The most amazing part of the whole experience was that most people completely lost sight of Jubal–they didn’t even pursue having him wash their feet. They became intensely focused on one another.

Jubal found himself standing next to Matthew, who was watching, shaking his head in disbelief.

“Did you get your feet washed, Matt?” asked Jubal.

“Had two offers,” said Matthew. “But I’m holding out for the free manicure.”

Jubal laughed. He didn’t push it. He knew very well that the scene was beyond Matthew’s comprehension. He just allowed his buddy to receive it in the moment.

In the midst of this explosion of human contact, there was a sudden interruption. Standing on the stage was Prophet Morgan.

He grabbed the microphone and screamed, “Matthew 23! 23! Matthew 23–23!”

He kept repeating it over and over again.

Matthew turned to Jubal and asked, “Is he talking about me?”

“No,” said Jubal. “It’s the scripture where Jesus said if they tell you the Christ is over here, don’t go.”

“Well, that’s kind of shitty advertisement,” said Matthew. “What are you gonna do?”

Jubal walked over to the sound man and whispered in his ear. Suddenly it appeared that Prophet Morgan was still screaming but no one could hear him.

“What’s going on?” Matthew asked.

“I didn’t want to hurt his feelings,” explained Jubal. “So I kept the monitors on so he could hear himself, but turned the house speakers off so the people could still enjoy their experience.”

Matthew didn’t know exactly what that meant, but the problem was solved. Prophet continued to rant from the stage, but nobody else was able to make out his words. After about two minutes of hate and rage, Morgan left the stage, climbed into his sports car and took off.

Matthew turned to Jubal. “What are you gonna do about that, my brother?”

“I don’t know,” said Jubal. “I want to give him space, but not enough to destroy himself.”

“He hasn’t been the same since he did those interviews,” Matthew noted.

Jubal shook his head. “Nope. He feels like a traitor. I keep telling him that nobody’s upset–but he sees disapproval where there is none.

“Well he really went crazy,” Matthew inserted, “and they started calling him Profit Margin.”

“That was screwed up,” Jubal replied.

Matthew nodded in agreement. “You know–he’s just a young fellow but he’s had a helluva life.”

“Yeah,” Jubal acknowledged. “But we all have. You see, here’s the key, Matt. When you get a free tour of hell, it’s a good idea to come out of the experience, find heaven somewhere and make sure you never return to the fire.”

Matthew smiled, looking around the ball field. “How do you plan on stopping this foot thing?”

Jubal laughed. “I don’t know–but I’m thinkin’ if we had some more hot dogs and corn on the cob, we could certainly steer their interest.”

**************

The next morning, a Nevada highway patrolman found a sports car sitting by a huge rock near the edge of a cliff. The ignition was still engaged, but the car had run out of gas.

Inside was one man, his body leaning against the steering wheel–quite dead.

It was Prophet Morgan.

The preliminary diagnosis by the Nevada crime scene investigator was death by carbon monoxide poisoning. Apparently, Prophet sat in his car, unaware that he was being killed.

Yet taped to his windshield was a note. It read:

“I’m sick of being sorry. Or is it that I’m sorry I’m sick? Sometimes I want to be dead. Sometimes I am dead. Since I was a child, I’ve been abused by religious fanatics who said they loved God–but really hated people. I am a mess. It’s a mess I don’t want to deal with anymore. Father, into your hands I commit my mess.”

 

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Jesonian … January 13th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Every single week.

As I journey across the country and stop off to do my presentation, I am always greeted by people who want to know my political persuasion. When I reply, “Apolitical,” they smile and begin to probe me so they might unearth my hidden beliefs, and thereby categorize me with either a big “R” or a big “D”–Republican or Democrat. How disappointed they usually end up being when I do not attack President Trump or swear my allegiance in that direction.

Many years ago, I discovered four verses from the Good Book which are so full of common sense and understanding of the human condition that I have embedded them into my own thinking, declaring this passage to be my touchstone.

When Jesus was explaining the Pharisees to the disciples, he said, “They hold Moses’ seat.”

In my lifetime, twelve men have held the position of President of the United States. Jesus’ approach on the matter? Honor the men because they’re in the position–and he goes on to say that we need to be careful to do what they say.

You see, this is where it gets tricky.

Many of my friends who are Democrats feel it’s necessary to resist President Trump, and likewise, my Republican friends demand some blind acceptance.

Jesus’ take? “Be careful.”

For instance, every time I step into my van to drive, I realize I am losing my freedom, suddenly at the mercy of the policemen in the local village who might have a speed trap. If picked up, I lose my ability to be autonomous.

“Be careful.”

Jesus says to “be careful to do what they say,” but then he adds, “But don’t do what they do.”

Not one of the twelve Presidents I’ve encountered in my lifetime would I choose to imitate in personal profile. Fortunately, since we don’t live in a dictatorship, I don’t have to do that. As long as I maintain a respectful cooperation with present laws, America gives me the right to pursue my single-minded goals while following my own philosophy.

With that in mind, I will also tell you that every week I meet a new pastor. He or she has a job. They also have a calling. What they discover is that the job often interferes with the calling, and the calling certainly complicates the job.

So they often end up pastoring a church instead of the church. They learn the mannerisms of their congregations–the quirks, limitations, aggravations and the preferences–and then try to build an institution saluting the lifestyle of Jesus inclusive of these guidelines. It often leaves them exhausted, and sometimes faithless–because believe it or not, people don’t always agree with Jesus, even while they’re praising him. People don’t always concur because they’re too busy being Republicans or Democrats.

So unfortunately, the job of the local pastor becomes that of an arbiter instead of a proclaimer.

They can even forget to give respect to the congregation, but don’t follow their ways. It is the mission of the pastor to shepherd the people to greener pastures. That begins by removing the “R’s” and the “D’s” and the denominational allegiance, and finding the simplicity of the message of Jesus, and keeping it as healthy and pure as possible.

It will take such men and women to bring about a revival.

But in Matthew 23:1-4, Jesus pronounces that it is completely plausible to respect the position of someone without following the leadership.

I do it every week. It doesn’t make me anemic. It doesn’t make me hypocritical. It simply means there are temporary solutions which are offered and can be implemented as long as the greater good is held in supremacy.

To be Jesonian is to follow the heart of Jesus. Part of the heart of Jesus is respecting those who have “gained a seat” in our society.

But most of the heart of Jesus is clinging to your autonomy so that the choices you make in your life are yours and yours alone.

 

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G-Poppers … December 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop was considering unusual circumstances.

What would he do if he found himself in a parking lot and a gentleman with a gun ran up, demanded the keys to his van, pushed G-Pop inside, started the vehicle and took off down the road, G-Pop in the passenger seat?

A strange situation–yet it demands more calm than action.

  • Who is the man that’s taking his van?
  • Could he be a policeman commandeering the vehicle?
  • Is he motivated?
  • Is he desperate?
  • Is he of sound mind?

All good questions that need answers before G-Pop would try to struggle with him to take control.

First, there’s a gun involved. Secondly, since the fellow is now in charge of the van and driving, it could be dangerous or lethal to interrupt his process.

People always admire heroics, but the truth of the matter is, lots of heroes die.

G-Pop doesn’t want to die.

G-Pop doesn’t want to be foolish.

G-Pop doesn’t want to make a point just so he can claim bravery.

You see, much of the same situation is facing our nation:

Some think President-elect Donald Trump is crazy.

Some folks believe he’s an economic genius.

There are those who insist he’s a lewd, vulgar predator.

Then you have his supporters, who claim he’s a family man with nothing but good intentions.

All of this debate is useless.

President-elect Trump has the keys. He has the guns at his disposal. He’s in charge.

So what should G-Pop’s approach be?

What should an intelligent American do, given the information we have of an authorized election which established the will of the people?

The same thing you would do if you were in the van being driven down the road.

1. Find your seat.

It is not wise to be stupid.

2. Buckle up.

Just in case this ends up in an accident, it would be a good idea to be protected.

3. Get as comfortable as possible.

The human brain does not work well when it’s festered by confusion.

4. Talk common sense.

Yes, talk to the person who’s driving. Hell, pray for the person who’s driving your van. Let him know who you are, what you feel and why you feel that way.

5. Help if you can.

The last thing in the world you want to do is disrupt someone who may feel intimidated.

6. See if he knows what he’s doing.

If he is a policeman and just needed your van, then everything will probably be alright.

The foolishness of trying to fight against what has transpired instead of finding a way to live our lives in decency and order is not only self-defeating, but contrary to the philosophy of this country.

Every four years we elect a leader. Our leader is Donald John Trump.

Before we become frantic, we should at least see where this is going to take us.

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Cracked 5 … February 16th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Worst Things to Say to a Policeman During a Traffic Stop

A. I’m sorry I was speeding. I just love to see your pretty, flashing lights.

 

B. Drunk?? I’ve been drunk, and believe you me–this ain’t it.

 

C. Hey, bub. Let me borrow your gun and two bullets.

 

D. It’s like my Grandpappy always said. Ain’t no problem that can’t be worked out offerin’ a shot of bourbon and a fifty dollar bill.

 

E. Tail light’s out?? I must have jiggled something loadin’ my wife’s body into the trunk.

 

cracked 5 cop car

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Untotaled: Stepping 41 (July 14th, 1967) Needing Change… November 22, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

It had never happened before.

There was going to be a carnival set up at the Westerville Shopping Center, right across the street from Redman’s Hardware.

Even though that in itself was cool, even cooler was that this cavalcade of amusements was advertising unlimited rides and midway games for five dollars for the whole day.

It was great.

The only trouble was, Randy and I didn’t have five dollars apiece, so I was ready to do my usual small-town plan of giving up and spending my carnival time complaining about missing the parade.

Randy, on the other hand, had an idea.

He went down to our local phone booth, sitting on the north corner of the Town Commons, and stuffed a bunch of Kleenex into the change return, so that when people missed a call or had money coming back their way, it would get caught and would not return to them.

I thought it was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard.

I wasn’t so concerned that it was dishonest as that I didn’t think we would ever get ten dollars out of such an adventure, with the money coming out in increments of ten cents a throw.

But Rand did it anyway, and three days later, when he pulled out the Kleenex, we ended up with a haul of $10.75.

Apparently a very popular phone booth.

We could not have been more giddy. We went to the carnival and had a fabulous time, never once feeling guilty about how we acquired the funds.

No, for me it was four days later.

I was sitting in my mother and father’s loan company, and I peered out the window and saw there was a policeman inspecting the phone booth.

It scared the crap out of me.

I had to do something–not out of guilt over my misstep, but rather, because I didn’t want to go to Juvenile Hall, where I heard they only served partially cooked pot pies.

So when my parents weren’t looking, I snuck into the safe of the loan company and grabbed a roll of dimes. I quietly stepped over to the phone booth, trying to pretend like I was going to make a call, and as calmly as possible, stuffed that whole role of dimes back into the slot, one at a time, to do recompense for my sin.

Once again, it never occurred to me that I stole from my parents to cover my previous thievery.

It was nearly three weeks later, when my uncle gave me five dollars for school supplies, that my conscience finally showed up.

I determined to go to the bank, purchase a roll of dimes and slip them back into the safe, no one the wiser.

Unfortunately, my plan was foiled by the fact that my parents hung around all day long, never giving me the chance to do penance.

I decided to try again the next day, but on the way home I passed by the local five and dime, and they were advertising candy bars–six for 20 cents.

Well, the only 20 cents I had was in the roll of dimes, and I thought, what the hell? What difference would two dimes make?

The next day I forgot to return my dimes to the loan company, but I did stop off at the Dairy Queen to get a hot dog and a coke, which took another seven dimes.

Long story short, within a week I spent all the dimes I had planned to return.

I didn’t feel bad–I felt stupid.

I did make one determination, and that was to never steal from the phone booth again. And when Randy tempted me, I changed the subject and refrained from further iniquity.

From then on, I went on a personal journey in search of my own integrity.

It was ten years later, long after my dad had died.

I was visiting my mother at her home, and I walked up to her and gently placed a roll of dimes into her hand. She looked up at me, quizzically.

I patted her on the shoulder and said, “It’s a really, really long story…”

 

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Bank On It… August 25, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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bankOne of the rituals we actively and faithfully follow in our travels across these United States is to arrive about twenty minutes early to our gigs. The reason for this is quite simple–actually numerous.

First, we get away from that “heated rush” so that our demeanor can be cool, calm and collected.

We also allow for the unexpected, like traffic, or in some of the more rural locations, a reluctant cow or horse crossing the road.

It also gives us a great opportunity to trim down our egos and low-ball our expectations about the evening’s event–whether we will be inundated with audience, awash, sprinkled or barely drizzled.

Normally we find a park, an abandoned building or some out-of-the-way little space to pull in, roll down the windows and chat for those few minutes.

But Wednesday night in Portage I spotted a mailbox in the parking lot of a bank. I was delighted because I had a couple of pieces of correspondence I wanted to drop in. Well, since I was there, I decided to go ahead and park underneath the shade tree in the back of this well-known lending institution.

We were just talking away as Jan took out her oboe case, made sure all the pieces were in the right location and began to soaking her reeds for the evening’s performance.

It was finally time to leave, and I backed our big, black van out and turned toward the exit, only to discover that an orange cone had been placed in the road, with a policeman standing there, peering at me quizzically. I didn’t think much about it and attempted to pass on by, when he ordered me to halt.

I rolled down my window and asked him what I could do to help. He was curious why we had been sitting in the back lot of the bank for so long. It had stirred interest among the employees, who were trying to figure out why a bunch of folks were sitting in this dark vehicle with out-of-state plates, perched in the rear of their establishment just at closing time.

I explained to the policeman about our habit prior to heading off to a performance. He grinned, now realizing there would be no need for a SWAT team or helicopter coverage from above. Actually, he became inquisitive about the nature of our journey and asked for one of our pamphlets so he could check out our websites. He waved us on and we headed off to our destination.

As I pulled out, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a whole collection of nervous, twenty-something, bank-teller-type individuals, who had obviously been wondering if there was going to be a shoot-out between our gang and the local Portage police.

I don’t know if they were disappointed or not, but I did promise the police officer that in the future, I would certainly avoid using a bank for my peaceful repose.

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Terkel… February 23, 2013

(1,800)

On the third day I decided to stop.

Sprawled on the gravel near the dumpster behind the convenience store, sitting out in front of my motel, was a man who certainly conveyed that he had lots of time on his hands and not too many places to go. I guess that’s a quaint way of saying–homeless.

I passed by him in my van the first two days, waving and smiling. On my first passage, he seemed a bit bewildered by my friendliness but on the second day he returned my greeting with the vigor of a long-lost friend watching his confidante fly off to Siberia on a secret mission.

But on the third day I decided to stop. I rolled up, eased my window down and said, “How ya’ doin’?”

Stumbling to his feet, staring into the distance and refusing eye contact, he replied, “Zeus has given me the light.”

I paused, recollecting my Greek mythology. Zeus was the top-dog god on Mount Olympus. I continued. “Zeus, huh? How’d you get an appointment with him?”

The question obviously baffled him so he continued his runaway train of thought. “Mercury gave me wings,” he proclaimed, still staring off into the distance.

It seemed we were going to run the entire roster of Hellenistic deities.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

There was a long pause. I decided not to repeat my question. I felt it would seem as if I were insensitive or impertinent. I just waited. At length, he responded.

“Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” Each letter grew in pitch of volume and intensity.

“I would have guessed Brian or Kenneth based on your age,” I replied.

For the first time the trance was broken and he glanced at me with a crinkled brow. Noting his coherency, I asked, “So what are you doing out here behind the convenience store?”

He yelled, ‘The policeman said I could be here as long as I didn’t lean against the building and sat on the gravel. It’s public property.”

I obviously had struck a nerve.

“You misunderstood my question,” I explained. “What I’m asking you is, what’s your story?”

“Zeus gave me…” he began.

I interrupted. “Listen, Terkel. I don’t know whether you believe in Zeus or not, but let’s just pretend for a second that you don’t. If you’d like me to stop bothering you, I get it. But really, it’s quite simple. I have passed by you for two days and waved, and I thought i would stop this time–just to see if there was anything human that could happen between us.”

This time he paused, recollecting human manners. “Do you have any money?” he asked.

“You know I do,” I replied. “You see, they don’t let you leave the back end of the convenience store and roam around if you don’t have it.”

I think he smiled, which led me to believe there was a little bit more inside of him than just a supernal messenger from Zeus.

“Do you have any money you can give me?” he asked more pointedly.

I reached for my wallet, pulled out two one dollar bills, and as I was beginning to hand them to him he added, eyeing the cash, “Breakfast tacos are three dollars.”

“You  mean Zeus left you out here without breakfast?” I probed with a smile.

He smiled back, as if mirroring my image. I reached into my wallet and added an additional one to my offering. “Breakfast tacos it is, then.”

He took the money and inquired, “What’s your name?”

“This is gonna be weird,” I said. “My name is also Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” I mimicked his previous bravado.

He chuckled in spite of himself. “You’re not Terkel,” he said.

“Neither are you.”

He chuckled again.

“You see, this wasn’t so bad. We talked for a minute, we got past the lineage of the Greek gods and you ended up with money for breakfast tacos.”

I reached down to close my window, finishing up the conversation. He stepped forward, and for the first time, looked me in the eyes.

“Thank you, Terkel,” he said. Then he stepped back and stared in the distance as if perched on the deck of the Santa Maria, peering for the north star. He mumbled something about Zeuss and collapsed onto the gravel in a giant heap.

I drove away. I do not know if I did a good thing or a bad thing. Such determinations, in my mind, are deliberated by foolish souls who pursue levels of divinity instead of acquiring the true depths of their humanity.

What I did was something different. And without difference, we are stuck with what and who we are … believing that nothing can change.

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