Catchy (Sitting 42) Head Hunter… April 1st, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Moving stealthily across the room, Matthew eased his way into a large, brown, shiny leather chair with golden buttons. Crossing his legs, he wiggled his nose as if dispelling a fly and inquired, “You are an atheist, aren’t you?”

She replied, “I am a psychiatrist and a graduate of the University of…”

He interrupted her. “I know all about your degrees and all your studies. I’m a professional. I check things out. What struck me was that you advertised that your therapy was non-religious.”

She paused. “Yes. That particular line from my promotion is a hold-over from my days of working in Gadsden, Alabama, where they still believe that peters can walk on the water.”

Matthew laughed. “That’s very good. I just wanted to make sure that you’ll be able to listen to me with an objective mind, neither judging me critically because you’re faith-based, or over-evaluating me intellectually from some throne of godless superiority.”

She shifted in her chair and said, “Why don’t we just order in sushi and forget about the whole thing?”

Matthew liked her. Her name was Dr. Sherry Lynn Montgomery. He had carefully sought out her services because Matthew was convinced that another week of being the sole proprietor of his own brain might end him up in a sanitarium.

He needed to talk. He was tired of listening. So many opinions, so much rhetoric, so much danger, so much assurance. He just wanted to say “one, two, three” with the hope that someone would counter with “four, five.”

The doctor jumped in to fill a quiet space. “I grew up in Alabama,” she said. “My father was an evangelist for the Church of God. He was the kind of man who believed everything that came his way was true as long as it could be confirmed that a prophet, savior or apostle said it. He was not a horrible human being, but there were folks he hated. To use his colorful language, he explained to me many times that he despised ‘sinners and niggers’ and not necessarily in that order. He would jokingly tell me that ‘the niggers should be glad he made the distinction.’ I use the language for your ears, not to be flamboyant or cavalier, but to let you know that there was a cave I had to climb out of before I could reach even ground. I am familiar with that process. I have led many other religious spelunkers from their darkness to an understanding of the simplicity of this life.”

Matthew shook his head. “Damn, you talk pretty. I bet you’ve used that speech before.”

Dr. Sherry smiled. “I have. It’s a good speech–mainly because it’s true.”

“All right,” said Matthew. “Let me tell you a little bit about myself.”

This time, Dr. Sherry interrupted. “You are the young man who owns his own advertising agency, and decided to take on the task of making Jesus popular again. I also investigate my possible patients.”

Matthew scrunched up his face. “Well, not exactly. I’m not personally trying to do it. I just could not figure out how in the hell to turn down two hundred and fifty million dollars…”

“So what you’re saying,” continued the doctor, “is that you are not a religious fanatic–just willing to become one for the right price.”

Matthew stood to his feet and clapped his hands. “You got it! You really do know your stuff. Excuse me, Doctor Piety. Would you turn down two hundred and fifty million dollars if they offered it to you, to make Jesus popular again?”

“It seems to me that Jesus’ popularity has already cost the human race much more than two hundred and fifty million dollars,” she said tersely.

“Oh, I see,” said Matthew slowly. “We’re going to be serious.”

Dr. Sherry Lynn Montgomery leaned forward and pointed her finger at him. “Since you’ve taken over this little enterprise, there have been rumors of miracles, healings and even some fellow raised from the dead.”

Matthew inserted, “That one was temporary. He croaked, you know.”

She shook her head. “We don’t need more religion in this world. We need more reasonable people who will take the time to use their common sense and available knowledge to access real solutions.”

“Hell, you got no complaint from me on that one,” responded Matthew. “Except the parts of what you’re looking for don’t seem to be available. Are there such people in the world? Isn’t everybody waiting for the magic lamp they can rub so they can get the three wishes? I have to be honest–there’s a part of me that wants some sort of God, to take all the shit out of my life and leave behind promises. I don’t even care if He breaks the promises. I just can’t believe that my life is limited to what I know or even to what I can learn.”

“Why?” asked the doctor. “You’re not a stupid man.”

Matthew interrupted. “You can call me Matthew.”

“Actually, I won’t call you anything,” she said, “until I can determine if we’re going to have some sort of ongoing conversation.”

Matthew held his hand up to stop her. “What I want to know is, why do Christians always seem so sure about God and atheists always seem so mad?”

“I’m not mad,” said Dr. Montgomery. “I am just not titillated by fairy tales about eternal life, and I refuse to waste the one life I’ve got trying to measure up for the one that does not exist.”

“Are you sure it doesn’t exist?” asked Matthew. “Damn–if someone would just guarantee me that there’s nothing else but here and now, I think I could make it work. And if I couldn’t, at least I would know I was just another miserable son-of-a-bitch, waiting to expire. But I’m not sure. I’m not sure there is a God. I’m not sure there isn’t. Which means I’m not sure I know what the hell I’m doing.”

“I’m sure,” she replied. “Take my word for it. Listen to a young girl who said her prayers every night until she was eighteen years old and was able to sneak out at the end of the revival meeting, escaping into the darkness to start a new life.”

“You mean you ran away?” asked Matthew.

“Yes. And that was twenty-five years ago. And no one tried to follow me. I was told they declared it was God’s will–that my flesh had to be turned over to Satan for purification.”

Matthew just stared at her. “I know you don’t believe in any of this. At least that’s what you say. But I’ve been there for the meetings. I’ve listened to my friend, Jubal, talk about the joy of the Lord. I sat and spoke with a man who was electrocuted and was alive again. I saw my friends from college, with dismal outlooks on life, who now are coming to some kind of awareness. Pink returning to their cheeks and peace to their minds.”

“Fine,” the doctor said curtly. “Why don’t you just join them?”

“That’s easy,” said Matthew. “There’s too many of them. I’ve never been a soul who followed the mob mentality. I wore my leisure suits a full three years longer than the fashion snobs permitted. I still occasionally look in the Farmer’s Almanac for weather information. And I’ve never ordered anything but a pepperoni pizza any time in my life. I like things steady. I like the taste of my own efforts on my tongue. I don’t want a God to take control of my life. But I don’t want a devil to haunt my efforts.”

Dr. Sherry Lynn Montgomery just shook her head. “You’re very confused, Matthew. You neither have the bliss of ignorance nor the refreshment of enlightenment. What is it you think you have?”

“Jack and Coke,” Matthew said quickly. “I have Jack and Coke. It is the cocktail of rock stars. It’s what the Beatles drank, and it is what the next rock and roll band who offends some fearful mother in America will be guzzling down.”

He grinned. “Do you know why the rock bands started drinking Jack and Coke? When rock and roll began, the cities where the bands performed would not allow alcohol backstage. Many of the tours were sponsored by Coca-Cola, so there would be tons and tons of cans of Coke backstage. So the bands found it very simple to smuggle in bottles of Jack Daniels in their road cases, and even when the liquor was added to the cola, at first sight to any innocent producer, it just looked like a soft drink. Isn’t that amazing? It’s another example of humans adapting and evolving to meet the need.”

“Are you an alcoholic?” asked the doctor.

“No, no,” said Matthew. “That would be much too easy. I can go five days without drinking, and then follow it up with three days of doing nothing else. I never feel the need to drink, I usually just feel compelled to waste some time so I don’t have to think about this shit I’m talking to you about today.”

Matthew held up a finger. “Here’s what I know. If God doesn’t leave me the hell alone, He’d better be prepared to pay for my rehab. And I’m not talkin’ about some little state-sponsored place in the woods. I’m talkin’ about Malibu–with lobster for breakfast.”

“So it’s God’s fault?” questioned the doctor.

Matthew stood up and ambled toward the door. He turned the knob, opened it and was about to walk out, but then decided to conclude his speech.

“No, actually, good doc… Now it’s your fault. I occasionally like to include new people in my life so I can have someone fresh to blame.”

 

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Ask Jonathots … May 12th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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My daughter is in the first grade. She’s always been very shy and insecure, which her father and I have been trying to address with encouragement. But the school psychologist tells me she’s developing a neurosis and I should take her to a psychiatrist. What is a neurosis?

Being neurotic is having a fear of the edge of a cliff which is in front of you.

Psychotic is thinking that the edge of the cliff is chasing you.

But there is a situation where we become so afraid of the edge of the cliff that we keep backing away from it while increasing our trepidation and limiting our possibilities.

Although I am sure there are psychological and physiological reasons for people to be afraid, normally in the case of a child, these insecurities are caused by hesitation, which is accepted by parents who don’t want to “push” their children.

There is a certain amount of jeopardy necessary if we want to grow instead of falling back into intimidation.

What do I mean?

Let’s say your little daughter takes piano lessons. She comes home at the end of the first lesson and says, “I don’t like piano.”

So you ask her to go a second week, but she has even less passion–so when she returns from the lesson and is nearly in tears over being pressured into doing this adventure, you give in and let her quit.

She’s relieved.

You feel you’ve done a good thing because she’s no longer terrified. But terrified is not a position of life–rather, it’s a reaction to it. And if you don’t live enough, you gradually become horrified by things that used to be enjoyable. This is where we develop a neurosis.

You’re catching this at the right time.

We’re not trying to turn all of our children into concert pianists, Broadway dancers or professional athletes. But we are trying to teach them to begin something, muddle through the middle and finish it the best they can.

Success does not go to the world’s most talented people. Success is achieved by those who are still around when the awards are handed out.

So let me make three quick suggestions:

1. Sign a contract.

In other words, if your daughter wants to take piano lessons, make her sign a contract that says she will stay with it for two months. Hold her to it.

2. Encourage what is encourageable.

Children are not stupid. They know when we’re insincere and when we really think they might have done something good. Point out what seems to be growing without criticizing what is lacking.

3. Learn to ask why.

If your child says she’s afraid, have her verbalize the source of her fear and explain why she thinks that is acceptable or why she believes it needs to change.

Fears are not alleviated by conquering them, but rather, by talking about them so we’re in the right mindset to begin to address the problem.

If you do these three things while she’s still young, she won’t become convinced that she’s just not “a particular type of person.”

I can always recognize someone who’s poorly trained. They will begin a discussion by telling you what they aren’t instead of stepping forward with what they are.

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Jesonian: The Rule of the School … November 15th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The latest piece of pseudo-intellectual drivel seems to be the jaded proclamation, “People don’t change.”

It’s especially disheartening when coming from the mouth of a prison warden, a psychiatrist or a minister.

I suppose we could take this entire essay to discuss the validity or over-simplification of such a decree. Matter of fact, as Christians we could cite that even though the disciples spent at least 38 months with Jesus of Nazareth, the amount of personality and ethical change inside each one of them was questionable.

Peter may have confessed his faith, but he was still prone to over-exaggeration and eventually, denial.

James and John may have ceased to be fishermen, but maintained much of their prejudice, wanting to kill a group of Samaritans.

Thomas certainly had a conversion experience, which he often chose to doubt.

And Judas was elected treasurer, only to betray his position… and his friend.

So it is obvious to me that Jesus was the Christ, but not necessarily able to completely change goats into sheep. No, it seems that we get lost in that process and end up basically being asses.

Yet I must tell you, if I thought that change was impossible, I would not be able to tolerate the mediocrity of the world around me.

So what is the truth?

Actually the truth is a coagulation of two principles. Whatever you are, whatever you were, whatever your inklings or whatever your genetics, you can be transformed by a pair of unchanging and necessary conclusions.

We call the first one the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Yet I must tell you, that single concept becomes merely idealistic if you don’t take the “rule to school.”

In other words, if you do not allow the truth of the Golden Rule to enter your daily activities, you will worship the premise as you simultaneously defile it.

There has to be an application for the cleansing power of “love your neighbor.” This is found in John the 8th Chapter, verse 15. Jesus makes a simple statement.

He says, “You judge according to the flesh. I judge no man.”

We do become different people when we realize that “loving our neighbor as ourself” is the survival mode for human interaction, and that the only way to apply it is to never judge anyone.

You may feel an inclination towards a lifestyle, a genetic predisposition, or have just developed habits which seem to cling to you like feathers in the wind, but you can still be completely reborn by realizing that loving your neighbor is refusing to participate in any judgment about him or her.

Are you ready for some truth?

  • Jesus did not believe in adultery, but he forgave an adulterous woman.
  • At no point in the Gospels will you find a situation when Jesus supported gay marriage, yet I guarantee you–he would never condemn a homosexual.
  • It would be difficult to make a case for Jesus being pro-choice, but it would be equally as difficult to think that he would forbid a woman the right to choose.

I am often confused why we think it is necessary to hold a conviction and then force others to comply.

For instance, I do not like alcohol and never have. Yet I would be completely against Prohibition.

I think smoking marijuana is granting yourself a license to be inept in the name of recreational drugs, but by the same nature, I think it’s wrong to condemn and incarcerate those who want to puff.

An obvious way we can all change is to admit that “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the essential chemical compound of life, but the only way to take that rule to school is to refuse to judge anyone.

It is never all right, and certainly is never God-ordained.

Even though the Apostle Paul had his experience on the road to Damascus, by the time he got on the road to Corinth, he had somewhat turned back into an officious, overly opinionated Pharisee.

But there is one thing he never lost: the realization that we are to love one another … which means expressing mercy instead of judgment.

 

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Three Ways to Be Wanted … November 6, 2014

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Everybody yearns to be wanted.

Are there universal aspects of human behavior that make us more appealing to the tribe than others? Of course there are.

So it’s ridiculous to continue to preach a gospel of individuality when a certain amount of conformity is necessary for us to get along and succeed with our brothers and sisters.

So let me offer three suggestions on how to make yourself more wanted by friends, and even strangers.

1. Stop complaining.

I mean, completely. And when you do slip up and begin to grump and growl, catch it and apologize. It’s a piece of self-righteousness that we must acquire, otherwise we will find ourselves hanging around with folks who believe that complaining is an option rather than a vice.

To identify what complaining is, let me give you a definition: Complaining is when your expectation has been dashed and detoured by reality and you still feel you have the right to an opinion.

You don’t, I don’t and neither does anyone else.

One of the most appealing aspects of human character which draws people your way is a reputation for “taking one on the chin” without bruising up for a week.

2. Start listening and remembering.

Some people say they’re good listeners, but they’re horrible at remembering.

  • If people tell you they don’t like pickles, don’t keep serving them.
  • If you hear that someone is searching for a specific item and you run across it, buy it and present it to them.

We extol the virtue of listening, but it is a useless attribute if we don’t allow the information to become part of our conscious memory.

Listen–yes indeed, but more importantly, remember the preferences, deeds and desires of others.

3. Pick a mood.

You don’t have to be happy all the time. But you do have to land on a general temperament which people can trust. Even though we may not admit it, we get frustrated by folks who are high one day and “in the pit” the next. Matter of fact, we tend to become amateur psychiatrists, diagnosing what their condition might be.

Unless you have a neurological disorder or a mental illness, your moodiness is your choice.

All of us desire to be wanted. But to achieve this status, we must pack our knapsack with the kind of supplies that make us valuable on this great camp-out called life.

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