From the Stacks … November 20th, 2020

Jonathan had an acute awareness of the brevity of life. My son rediscovered this particular essay demonstrating that very thing and was moved by it. Jonathan wrote it on his birthday in 2011.


Musings Upon Turning Sixty

 

I am a child of God

The heavens reverberate with a shudder of grief when I am in tears

The angels from a million pinnacles give a shout when I find joy

For I am part of a universal plan

A determining factor in His Almighty decision

Whether I fly by night or drive by day

All of heaven is hushed and brought to action

When I am in need …

This is a poem I wrote on a Greyhound bus when I was twenty years old, on my way to meet up with a friend who was in need. I had two packets of Zesta crackers, a can of Diet coke and exactly $1.25 in my wallet for other incidental expenses. I didn’t care. After all, I liked Zesta crackers. I also didn’t care that I had $1.25 in my pocket.

Truthfully, I still don’t.

I wake up this morning sixty years of age. My birthday

Sixty is significant.

First of all, you’re no longer in your fifties–that in-between season, in which you’re not quite an old codger yet, though you’re past many “studly” possibilities.

No, sixty is different.

It’s the gateway drug to Medicare.

There are sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour. Sixty is three twenties, six tens, four fifteens, twelve fives… Now I’m just being ridiculous.

The reason I shared the verse at the beginning of this essay is that I could have written it today and it would have been just as fresh and true.

I still believe it.

I still believe that I am a son of God–not in the sense that I must be careful handling my water glass, lest it gain alcoholic proportions, but a son of God because I am included in the mind of my Creator and Father.

Everybody in our generation is concerned about “liberal” and “conservative,” right and left–but honestly, my friends, I’ve always prayed for a straight, plain path and avoided the drastic turns based on society’s pressure to conform.

In the 1960’s, when I was  teenager, it was posh to cast a jaundiced eye towards civil rights and social reform while rallying around the American flag regarding Vietnam. It just never made sense to me to go halfway around the world to kill off the people in a small country in the name of democracy when we hadn’t yet given full rights to all of our citizens.

In the 1970’s, it was all about partying and lavishing oneself with platitudes of perfection and dancing the night away. Since I knew I wasn’t perfect and wasn’t a very good dancer, I chose to work on my personality, principles and trying to practice what I preached.

In the 1980’s, while the religious community was becoming obsessed with social issues, I continued to expound upon the notion that since God does not look on the outward appearance buts looks on the heart, we should spend more time working on our own internals and not so much about our other people’s  morality.

Likewise, in the 90’s and even coming into the 2000’s, I just could never sign on the dotted line” of the Contract with America. After all, who’s America were they talking about?

The reason for my choices?

It’s because I know how limited my faculties are, how fragile my talents and how weak my resolve.

The problem with self-esteem is that it so easily loses its steam–always having to be boiled up again. Truly, a waste of time, energy and talent, perpetuating self-involvement and little awareness of the needs of others.

Today I am sixty years old. How do I feel?

Starting with my feet–they feel about seventy-five.

My ankles are hangin’ in there at about fifty-two.

My knees are about ninety-one.

My hips maintain a really cool forty.

My waist? Well, let’s not go there.

My heart is a mystery, but certainly has more creaks than it used to.

My face has a myriad of ages, depending on how much sleep I get.

My eyes are a split vote–the right one an octogenarian, and the left one, still floating around thirty-five.

 My emotions are daily cleansed so they’re like a newborn.

My soul is always attempting to be as old as God but as young as a child.

And my brain? Well, my brain is still twenty years old, riding on that bus, believing that God cares …  about me.

Don’t be so concerned about the right and the left. Look at where you want to go–and steer your life straight ahead. Because after we’re gone, no one is going to discuss our faults, only our good points. If we don’t leave behind much of a record of righteousness, we probably won’t be mentioned at all. What I want people to remember is that I started out doing something and on the morning I passed, I was still doing it.

So let me call sixty a bookmark. 

I have fewer chapters to write than those that have already been edited.

But that means I have the complete capability of going for a great twist in the end.

From the Stacks … November 13th, 2020

In November of 2016, Jonathan found himself contemplating the initial difficulty that always appears whenever there is talk of “repairing the breach.” His thoughts are oddly applicable today. See if you agree.

 

A great book once alleged that there is great power in “repairing the breach”–finding that break in etiquette or sensibility that can be covered with a multitude of grace.

It is a noble notion.

The difficulty with the mission is that people will often argue with you about whether there’s a breach in the first place. After all, a common conversation with fifty Americans will render much different responses:

  • Is racism a problem in America?
  • Is chauvinism an overpowering issue?
  • Should poverty be addressed or should we just try to motivate people to work harder?
  • Is there a God or are we on our own?
  • Are people of different lifestyles entitled to all equal rights?
  • Should we judge people by the color of their skin?
  • Should we question religions?
  • Is it possible that some people are just better than others?
  • Do the heavens have a “chosen people?”

If we cannot agree that there’s a breach, then the repairing will be considered foolish or intrusive.

What can we agree on about our pain before we seek a relief?

It is not so much that our problems are complicated–it’s more that they’re denied.

 

From the Stacks … November 6th, 2020

This week, most of us are considering the notion that sometimes political outcomes have a stark affect on our lives. So I decided to explore some of Jonathan’s more socio-political ideas. He had a great disdain for politics but also a great hunger for justice–which sometimes required that he speak out on such subjects. Here’s one from January, 2014.

But Not Now

Everybody knows this is true: the main reason that government doesn’t work is that it avoids solutions by replacing them with discussions.

I wish I could tell you that conversing on a given subject brings about change. It does not. It is actually a way to dodge the work of transformation.

It usually shows up in the form of putting off the action.

This is not new. The ineffective nature of our government has been present since the beginning–how else could Adams and Jefferson have been such good friends? They tabled their issues. And how did they do it? What did they say to themselves?

“Something should be done–but not now.”

Here’s a quick list taken from my own memory banks:

1.In 1959 in the United States, the average white person contended that segregation was not ideal, but thought it was practical. In other words, they knew it was wrong–that black Americans should NOT be separate. Something should be done–but not now.”

2. Women should also be equal and have the identical pay scale as men. But not now.

3. Truthfully the minimum wage has never been sufficient for a human to be able to live, eat and prosper. Something should be done–but not now. It could wreck the economy.

4. Something should be done for the homeless–put them to work or offer alternatives to their present condition. But not now. It is much easier to discuss whether their condition is caused by lack of opportunity or by laziness.

5. It is obvious that gays and transgenders in our society must have complete equivalence if we want to maintain our concept of liberty and justice for all. But not now. What we want them to do is acquire moral acceptance before they are granted civil rights.

6. Political gridlock in our country is the result of a two-party system that gains power by maintaining power. We know we would be better off if this two-faced monster were beheaded, and many more candidates were offered to the electorate. But not now. Too disruptive to consider. Someone might lose that power they so enjoy.

7. Likewise, the electoral college is antiquated and needs to be replaced with the popular vote. But not now. What would we do with all the people who make their livelihood by honoring its cumbersome inner workings?

We don’t lack the intelligence or even the integrity to know what to do. But we nevertheless choose to be stalled in a lethargic fear of change.

The American government should take heed:

Americans are tired of discussions.

We are no longer willing to “table” justice and equality, which have been standing in the wings waiting to play their parts for lo, these many years.

It is time for America to grow up.

Maturity is when the truth of what must be done is more important than what is convenient.

1 Thing You Can Do to Make Your World More Honest and More Friendly … October 26th, 2020

Decide What Is Truly Abrasive

This may sound like a simple task, but the statements that were once considered abrasive have altered considerably.

The actual definition of abrasive is “harsh, rough to the ear and showing little concern for the feelings of others.”

Here is a rather comical collection:

“King George is a tyrant.” In colonial days, this would have incited at least violence and possibly jail.

“Slaves should be free.”  If you had said that in Congress in 1851, you’d have been dubbed abrasive for sure.

I love rock and roll.” Try that one in 1961 America.

“The Vietnam War is criminal.” In 1967, your father might have taken your car keys away.

Black people should have the right to vote.” Obviously, there are people today who find this an abrasive statement.

“We should have a woman President.” Once again, that one will polish a rough surface or two.

Honestly, I think “abrasive” is a tough one.

Often there are things that need to be shared–even shouted from the housetops. If they’re not said, they can’t be heard and if they can’t be heard, the faith to change things for the better is never launched.

So how do I know when I’m abrasive? This is where it does get simple.

If I’m saying something because I was personally offended or if I have a hankering to offend somebody else just for the hell of it, you can pretty well guarantee–it’s abrasive.

But words that are said to cry out for freedom and protect the innocent may be initially considered abrasive, but history will laud them as prophetic and courageous.

Perhaps it would take an angel to discern all the subtleties in this process.

Perhaps we need a few more angels.

From the Stacks … October 23rd, 2020

 

If It’s Not As It Appears, Then What Is It?

“Appearances are deceiving.”

“No, indeed. Things are not as they appear.”

Two people in conversation, agreeing on something that really makes no sense.

It is always fascinating to me that human beings are granted certain gifts which enable us to function in an intelligent way in a topsy-turvy world, and then we are told not to trust these senses.

Sometimes I get confused by knowledge which is imparted to me but then retracted, leaving the door open for future contradictions.

It’s confusing. I need the ability to look at what is set before me and make brilliant decisions.

So why not ask the question, What does it appear to be? 

Being who I am, I made a list:

1. It appears to me that color of skin makes very little difference in the viability of the humans around of me to interact, procreate and work together.

2. It appears to me that homosexuality is not my choice and therefore it will take me a while to get used to the idea, but in the meantime it appears to me that I can grant the gay community the dignity I give to myself.

3. It appears to me that our political system has broken down in its own lavish overstatement and needs to be retooled to meet the needs of the population.

4. It appears to me that religion has replaced God.

5. It appears to me that men and women are very much the same 95% of the time, and I am a fool to focus on the trailing number.

6. It appears to me that if I don’t lose some weight I will die sooner rather than later.

7. It appears to me that my talent is sufficient to give me room and board for the rest of my life if I don’t freak out.

8. It appears to me that I am more appealing when I’m not judgmental.

9. It appears to me that God has given me eyes to see what appears, and have a sound mind to think good and pure thoughts instead of negative and dark ones.

Even though we find ourselves to be a generation of enlightened and knowledgeable souls, we often remove the greatest gift we have by rejecting the responsibility that has been given to us:

Deal with what appears to be. 

Sensitize (Substitute) … September 21st, 2020

SENSITIZE (Substitute)

A discovery from the 2018 “Sit Down Comedy” catalogue

It’s entitled “Dicktator”

Sensitize … September 7th, 2020

SENSITIZE 101

“Are you a liberal or a conservative?”

Cring answers and explains.

Every morning, Mr. Cring takes a personal moment with his friends.

Published in: on September 7, 2020 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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