Catchy (Sitting Four) Ideas Are a Dime a Dozen… July 2nd, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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The day arrived for the meeting of the minds. Landy rented a small conference room and catered in some delicacies and drinks. The three partners sat at the head of a table like a trio of judges at a Miss America contest.

The Shelley Corporation was the first to present. They had been given the job of producing three slogans. The first was a poster–a man dressed in a plaid leisure suit with his hair slicked back. The caption read, “But Jesus—He will never go out of style.” There was a grunt or two and a threat of applause.

The second poster was a close-up of a Jesus look-alike. The caption read, “Here’s lookin’ at you, baby.” Too commercial and might raise some objections from Hart’s estate (and perhaps from relatives of Humphrey Bogart).

The third one was a cartoon of Jesus playing soccer, kicking in the ball for a score. The caption, in large red letters, read, “Goal? He loves you.”

The partners liked this one least of all, finding it a bit confusing and reiterating to one another that soccer would never be an American sport, anyway.

Next on the chopping blocks came the “You Want to Know Survey Company,” with the results of a questionnaire that had been given to over fifteen thousand registrants. The ten questions were as follows:

  1. Would you enjoy eating dinner with Jesus?

The choices were:

  • very much
  • might be fun
  • never thought of it
  • might give me the creeps

Fifteen percent of the people said they would enjoy dining with Jesus. Fifteen percent said it might be fun. Sixty percent said they had never thought of it and ten percent said it kind of gave them the creeps.

  1. Do you think that Jesus is popular today?

Four percent said “Very popular.” Eight percent said, “Somewhat popular.” Eighty-eight percent said, “Don’t know” or “Don’t care.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular without his beard?

One percent said, “Maybe.” Ninety-nine percent said, “No.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular if he weren’t so religious?

Fifty percent said “yes.” Fifty percent said, “Don’t know.”

Randall stifled a yawn. There were six questions to go and he was already bored. If they couldn’t come up with an interesting survey, how could they ever come up with a campaign to promote Jesus to the marketplace?

The questions droned on as Randall began to think about his own experience. He was raised in a church environment, learning about the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and Jesus all in the same week. At four years of age, all three seemed equally plausible. By age ten the tooth fairy had fluttered away. At twelve, Santa Claus was “sleighed,” and at sixteen—well, at sixteen, girls came into the picture and Jesus got in the way.

So the crucifix was tucked under the t-shirt, the Bible inserted in the closet with the Scrabble game and the Ouija board, and he was off on the pursuit of hormonal surges, drinking binges and mandatory orgasms. After exhausting all known religions, he formed his own—a delicate blending of humanism, hedonism and Methodism.

Meanwhile back at the meeting, the survey was completed, rendering no results. The only thing remaining was the panel of theologians– four in all. There was one Catholic, one Protestant, one evangelical Christian, and, for some reason, a Jewish rabbi (who was possibly selected to avoid any hint of anti-Semitism).

The Catholic priest spoke first. “If by popular you mean the Savior of the world in conjunction with his mother, Mary, and the intervention of the Saints, then Jesus is already truly the most outstanding figure in all of history.”

The partners nodded an exhausted assent.

The Protestant spoke next. “I think we have to do something to make Jesus groovy to the young people. You know how they came up with ‘Rock the Vote?’ How about ‘Vote for the Rock’?”

This time there was no way Matthew, Randall and Landy could hide their disapproval. After all, he said “groovy.” Matthew, who had long ago lost the ability to disguise his disgust, groaned audibly.

The evangelical literally leaped into the moment. “I think you need to just let Jesus be Jesus, because He said if He be lifted up, all men would be drawn to Him.”

“He has been lifted up,” inserted Matthew. “And Arthur Harts, the billionaire, didn’t think all men were drawn to him.”

“All men who have a heart for God,” replied the evangelical.

Matthew winced. He hated religions jargon. He called it “the God-out.” When in doubt, religious people would always bring God into every situation, so you could never argue with them without seeming that you were trying to disprove the heavens.

Randall smiled and thanked the enthusiastic believer.

That left the Jewish rabbi. “Well, I don’t know why I’m here, exactly, because, you may have heard, we accept Jesus as a great teacher, but we contend the problem is, he’s really not the son of God. I mean, if I were promoting him to Jerusalem, I would just put up his picture with a caption that read, Hometown Boy Is Acquitted.

This brought some laughter throughout the room, but Matthew sprang up to terminate the meeting.

Even though it was a minor disaster, both Landy and Randall still wanted to pursue the project.

Greed. No other explanation.

They had pledged long ago that when two of the three partners were in accord on anything, they would do it. But it looked bleak. The slogans had been drab, the survey droll, and the theologians a drone.

Matthew had one idea. One wild and crazy notion. He got on his computer and looked up six names.

Michael Hinston, whom he knew as Mikey.

Joanna Lawrence, Jo-Jay.

Susannah Lacey, Soos.

Paul Padwick, who tolerated the nickname, Pee-pee.

Mary Rogers, who was now Mary Rogers-Kent, known by everyone as Mother.

And Lydia Lars, who loved Eric Clapton, and so was surnamed Layla.

Along with Matthew Ransley, whom everyone affectionately called, “God-guy,” they formed the Leaven of Seven.

They were his best chance at making some sense of this queer mission.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 27) Carpet Bombing … October 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

You can’t have valleys without mountains. It’s the beauty of the landscape of life.

In the midst of the sludge of mundane activity and the alarm of tragedies, there are everyday decisions which either tickle the funny bone or leave us with a tiny ball of aggravation which tends to growl for weeks after the infestation.

Mike and Maggie had been wed for thirty-two years. They were married at the Garsonville Church. They had served on almost every committee, and faithfully performed the duties of nearly all positions. Although they loved each other dearly, they rarely agreed when it came to matters of what should be done with the sanctuary.

Ten years earlier, they had a huge conflict–long before Meningsbee arrived–about carpet.

Maggie was a traditionalist, a woman whose grandparents came to America from Ireland during the potato famine. She had fiery red hair, now streaked with gray, and possessed a Catholic passion with her Protestant faith.

Her husband, on the other hand, was a progressive–well, as progressive as you dare be in Garsonville, Nebraska. He nearly convinced a majority of the church board to sell the organ to put a down-payment on a project to build a gymnasium, so the local kids could come and play games on Saturday, with the intent that they might decide to stay over for Sunday services out of curiosity.

The measure lost by one vote. Maggie’s.

Even though the two loved each other faithfully, they rarely agreed on God’s will for Garsonville.

So when it was time to purchase carpet ten years earlier, Maggie insisted the only suitable color for the sanctuary was red. She had two reasons. Red carpet was a sign of welcoming and also a tribute to the blood of Jesus.

Mike strongly disagreed. He contended it was “just too red.” He led a group which desired cranberry carpet from Dalton, Georgia. Amazingly, this time, unlike the gymnasium, the “cranberries” won.

So the sanctuary was covered with cranberry carpet, much to the chagrin of Maggie and her crimson cohorts.

Now, recently…

There had been complaints that the cranberry carpet was looking dingy and needed to be cleaned, so it was agreed to find a contractor to remove all the pews so the carpet could be shampooed. It was quite a job.

Several local carpet cleaners bid on the job but it was the Garsonville Bubble-Uppers, a new firm in town, which underpriced the competition and was given the contract.

Arrangements were made to hold services elsewhere for two weeks so the cleaners could have full access to the church and be able to do a great job.

Everyone was elated. Maggie thought cleaning the carpet might make it more red, and Mike was convinced that such a cleansing would restore the original beauty of his cranberry vision.

But no one was prepared for what happened.

One of the young men working with the Bubble-Uppers thought it might be a good idea to add a little bleach to the concoction which was traditionally used by the company. He didn’t inform anyone of his decision–just poured it in.

So they scrubbed the carpets faithfully, only to discover when they returned the next day that the cranberry carpets had been transformed.

They were orange.

Bright orange.

The Bubble-Uppers were very apologetic, and refused to charge the church for their services, but a very shocked and bewildered congregation restored its pews on top of a carpet ablaze with bright fall-colored pumpkin.

Everyone was afraid to say too much about it–they knew there was no money in the budget to get new carpeting.

So for the first time ever, Mike and Maggie came to consolation.

Mike decided that orange was better than red and Maggie was convinced that it was closer to red than that horrible cranberry.

 

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Jesonian: Rome, Jerusalem and Antioch… July 19th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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streetwalking Jesus

The religious system is confused.

Confusion normally sets in when what we have set out to do fails miserably, and rather than admitting our lacking, we choose to cover it up with freshly concocted stupidity.

All the churches in the United States are desperately trying to hang on to every blade of grass to keep from falling off the cliff into oblivion.

The level of disinterest for all things spiritual is growing daily. Rather than allowing for candid reflection and legitimate repentance, a strange sense of nostalgia has set in, causing these diminishing denominations to grab on to one of two efforts: to either become more Rome or more Jerusalem.

For some it’s an issue of attempting to return to the tenets of the Mother Church in Rome and put greater emphasis on sacraments, liturgy, tradition and form. They cite statistics telling them that most people want their church services to be somber, guarded and filled with relics of childhood memories of spirituality.

  • So communion around the table becomes more important than communion of the saints.
  • Repetition of words becomes more prevalent than the repetition of our ongoing commitment to one another.

Although many of them are Protestant, they secretly yearn for a reconciliation with Catholicism.

Then there are those who think the key to expanding their spiritual borders and increasing their attendance is Jerusalem:

  • More emphasis on praise, worship, Old Testament practices and an apocalyptic geyser of predictions concerning the end of the world.
  • If you can’t make people happy, then make them glad they’re sad because they’re waiting for Jesus to come back and make everything right.

And even though Jesus continues to stand at the door of all of these churches and knock, no one opens up to him because all of them are possessed by forms of godliness while denying the power of the Gospel to transform our everyday experiences.

There is a third choice. It is characterized in the Book of Acts by a body of believers who lived in Antioch.

  • They were not Jews.
  • They were not Romans nor Greeks.

They rejected the term “Gentile” and instead embraced a new name: Christian.

It was a mocking title placed upon them by their pseudo-intellectual neighbors, referring to this new breed of thinker as “Little Jesuses.”

They liked it.

They understood that to be a follower of Jesus was to embrace the lifestyle he proclaimed in his Sermon on the Mount and in all his dealings with his fellow-humans.

The Roman church will not give us the intimacy required to show mercy to others. We’re too interested in our own absolution.

The Jerusalem church will not provide us enough Jesus of Nazareth to transform the lives of the congregation from Old Covenant to New Covenant. And looking to the eastern sky for a Second Coming eliminates a vision of the entire horizon.

We must go back to being Christians–but in the style of Antioch, not Rome or Jerusalem.

That particular position functions with two Jesonian tenets:

  1. We should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
  2. And we will love our neighbor as ourselves.

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