PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … September 23rd, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2701)

PoHymn Anniversary September 23

Anniversary

45 years

Many good cheers

Started to date

Began to mate

Planted a seed

Created a need

Flew far away

Met at U of A

Decided to remain

Drove me insane

Changed your mind

In Buckeye we find

Gossip and chatter

Just doesn’t matter

Carolina bound

To confirm we’re sound

Started a coffeehouse

With my brand new spouse

Yet scared away

To New York that day

“Thou shalt not kill”

We changed our childish will

Birthed a son, then two

Three came before we knew

Music and dance

Take a chance

To the Bay we went

Running, not sent

Lost a son too soon

Born the last of June

So I took my maven

And started The Haven

Saw each state

Tempting the fate

Then came four

At Peoria’s door

Soon lads were men

And needed to begin

To Music City

Seemed quite pretty

Gained a daughter

To tote some water

Given another

Who married his brother

Welcomed a friend

Remains to the end

A flash of cash

Building a stash

Started a band

Blessed the land

Raised a quartet

Bayshore’s where we met

Music, movies and books

A festival of looks

Lost the family home

Time again to roam

Spreading the blessed news

Writing the daily views

We continue to this day

Seeking a better way

So I say to you from me

Happy Anniversary, E.G. C.

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Populie: We’re Only Human… November 26, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2425)

animal man

A mite of monkey

A little lion

A bit of bird

A teaspoon of turtle

A cup of camel

A dab of dog

A pinch of perch

And a dash of dinosaur.

Human beings. That’s who we are.

We are the storage warehouse–the culmination of all evolution–and the art museum for the Creator’s masterpieces.

Yet “we’re human” is used as an excuse instead of a motivation.

Politics loves the populie, “we’re only human,” because it provides an adequate excuse for the latest scandal.

Entertainment extols the virtue of our limitations so as to look on the darker side of our appetites, providing for a more venial outlook on our progress as a species.

And of course, religion feels the need to make us look as weak as possible in an attempt to maintain the strength of the Almighty.

We get sucked up in it.

We begin to believe that we are just part of the animal kingdom, even though Jesus jokingly, tongue in cheek, told the disciples they were worth “many sparrows.”

If we do gain a moment’s breath of spirituality, we’re encouraged to seek false humility in our attempt to worship God instead of seeking the “Christ in us,” which is the hope of glorious things happening.

Here are three things about human beings. I would ask you to place them deep in your memory banks and make sure, the next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself, that you recall these ample axioms:

1. We are created in God’s image.

If you’re an atheist, you are still aware that going into business with what you perceive to be your nearest relative, the chimpanzee, would certainly make for a failed project. We are unique by creation. If you do not believe in such a thing, we at least are unique by design.

2. We can feel, pray, think and do our way into or out of any difficulty.

There is no other species which has ever lived on earth with that quartet of possibilities.

3. We can choose to love.

Other animals mate, have bonds, maintain connections through offspring, but never really get the choice of loving.

These three things, combined, grant us an inner aura of divine nature, which can either be tapped or drained. The choice is yours.

But do not allow yourself to become part of a culture which, in an attempt to do away with God and personal responsibility, degrades the human being down to the level of porpoise instead of uplifting us to purpose. 

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Untotaled: Stepping 39 (March 23rd, 1967) The Gospel Brothers–Dreamy, Cute and Darling… November 8, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2407)

(Transcript)

If you live in Central Ohio, the month of March is a beacon of hope–not just of the arrival of spring, but the burgeoning reality that summer cannot be far behind. It makes everyone want to shed their parkas, remove their long underwear and run naked through the streets, clapping their hands to some great Woody Guthrie folk tune. (Well, maybe not that far, since we tend to be a stoic, bashful Germanic sort.)

The month of March was also the time when we had our annual youth rally, held at the Ohio State Fair Grounds, featuring an array of speakers no one remembered, seminars when we passed notes to each other, and venues when the young people could express themselves through music, which had to be gospel.

Last year our group was the hit of the conference. The guys were slapping us on the back and the girls were swooning. We felt we were studs, ready to conquer the world.

But this year, when the poster arrived advertising the event, there was a new music group on the slot, from Boardman, Ohio (up with the rich folks) who obviously were named Dreamy, Cute and Darling–since that’s what all the girls said as they lingered, drooling over their picture.

I thought they were ugly and obviously could not sing, since visually they did not exude any tonal quality.

Jealous, I decided to bad-mouth them, and found that the only allies I had were the other members of my group, who were equally as intimidated by the “beauties.”

Making matters worse, when we arrived at the conference, the three little dweebs were nice. Their rich daddy had just purchased them a Shure Vocal Master System, fresh off the assembly line, which they proudly reported was the twenty-fifth unit available. Only a few famous rock groups were ahead of them numerically.

They were so expansive that they allowed us to use their new PA system, explaining how it worked and encouraging us during rehearsal.

This did not keep me from hating them, and as hate often does when it links with jealousy, it wipes our mind clean of any thought and talent, making us look completely incapable of achieving what we originally were easily able to accomplish.

In other words, we stumbled all over ourselves trying to be better than people who were already better than us because they were nicer.

Yet unwilling to relent from our jealousy, we tried to gossip about them, garnering no audience other than the Grumblers Four.

I learned a lot at that conference.

And although they wanted me to learn about King David and his mighty sling against Goliath, what I learned was that jealousy makes you look small, resentment robs you of your talent, and gossip gives you an ever-shrinking market.

I retain that to this day.

The brothers never went on to pursue a musical career and I have. I assume they did continue to be handsome, and I continued to be … well, determined.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Untotaled: Stepping 35 (May 8th, 1967) The Sanbobs … October 11, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2377)

(Transcript)

They were called the Sanbobs.

They were one of three rock and roll bands in our school, although I use the term “band” loosely, to cover a multitude of whims.

They were headed by a guy named Chip Sanford. He worked with a fellow named Bob Wigglesworth. Thus, the Sanbobs.

Now, Chip did not like me, which caused Bob to follow suit in loyalty. I think the reason Chip didn’t like me very well was that he was chubby, wore glasses, and people were constantly saying that we “could be brothers,” which is a certain way to make sure that people won’t have an affinity for each other. I think another reason was that Chip played piano and so did I. I used my gifts in the gospel field, while he was drawn to the Troggs, the Beatles and the Kinks.

The Sanbobs had four members. As I already told you–Chip was on piano, Bob Wigglesworth on guitar (knowing an amazing five chords), Mark Jackson on drums, who was highly recommended for his loud playing, and Larry Mankins on bass–even though he couldn’t afford an electric one, so instead thumped on a stand-up, which left him appearing to be very vigorous, but unheard.

The biggest happening in the spring of 1967 in our school was that Chip got a new electric organ. It was so cool. So it was decided that the Sanbobs would be scheduled to play for the spring dance, and the diligent members of the quartet went out and learned six songs.

The only problem was that one of the songs they selected was Louie, Louie–which had already been banned by the state of Indiana for having obscene lyrics. Now, we lived in Ohio, but certainly did not want to seem immoral by advocating such a “loose tune.” When word got out to the principal’s office that the Sanbobs were planning to play the piece, a meeting was held and it was forbidden.

The FBI had investigated the lyrics, and had come to the conclusion that they were basically unintelligible. (The Kingsmen had made sure of that.) But just to play it safe, the song was still considered to be nefarious.

On the night of the dance, after they had played each of their five songs three times over, the Sanbobs decided to rebel against authority, and began to play Louie, Louie. The girls screamed in delight and the young men clapped their hands, peering at each other lasciviously.

It took a few minutes for the adults to figure out what was going on, but when they did, they proceeded to the stage to stop the performance. To my surprise, about twenty-five of the kids rushed the platform, locked their arms, and forbade the teachers from getting near the band, as the Sanbobs continued to croon the bewildering poetry.

(I was one of the participants who scattered to a corner of the gym in horror, like a mouse being chased by the handmaiden’s broom.)

When the teachers were unable to get through the “Red Rover, Red Rover” line-up, they decided to kill the electricity, which left the gymnasium encompassed in darkness.

At first there were some “oohs” and “aahs” and screams, which gradually became whispers and culminated in silence. The teachers, not sure what was going on in the dark, restored the juice and discovered that the students were making out with each other.

So it became a choice–which vice did you want to promote? Louie, Louie, with its garbled goodies, or a make-out session in the high school gym?

So the Sanbobs were allowed to finish their song, but an early termination of the dance was proclaimed.

Of course, as the years have gone by, it is obvious that nobody was really defiled by a single rock and roll song. It was prejudice, fear, apprehension and narrow-mindedness which did that to us.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

 

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

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Click here to listen to Spirited music

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Untotaled: Stepping 27 (June 15th, 1966) Piano Boy … August 16, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2324)

(Transcript)

The Shelby Valley United Methodist Church tracked me down and invited our little quartet to come “two Sundays coming” to sing at their church during the morning service.

I almost swallowed my heart, which had leapt into my mouth. Without me knowing, we had become famous.

I was so thrilled that I ran and told my friends and were all jumping up and down over the prospect of becoming a “travelin’ band.”

Now, the Shelby Valley church was a tiny, white clapboard construction just south of town, sitting on the corner of Shelby Valley Road, thus giving it both its charm and name.

Our quartet was accompanied by a lovely young girl named Paula, who was always being hit on by the hormonally drugged young men singing next to her. She liked it. We liked it too because she never picked a favorite, but flirted with all of us.

Now, her father, Elder Kenneth from our church, found out about our performance opportunity. He became enraged because he wasn’t about to let his daughter go elsewhere on a Sunday morning, especially not to a United Methodist Church, where they ignorantly ignored immersion.

He raised such a fuss that I was brought before the pastor and elders of the church to explain the situation. Even though I waxed a bit eloquent with enthusiasm and received approval from the governing body, Kenneth still refused to let his daughter play piano for us, feeling that he had triumphed by removing the music from our singing.

Actually, all he succeeded in doing was pissing off this big, fat white boy.

I grabbed a young friend of mine from our church, the brother of one of our singers. We usually ignored him because he had the foolishness of being a year and a half younger than us. I said I was going to teach him to play piano. His name was Andy–and he was thrilled by the notion of becoming an ivory tickler, even though he had never taken a single lesson.

I, on the other hand, was the veteran of three years of both Shaum and Thompson book training, and so was thoroughly qualified to become his instructor.

We asked the Shelby Church if we could make it six weeks in advance instead of two, and I took that time to work with Andy. And would you believe that by the time we stepped in front of that congregation of “sprinklers” (their preferred baptism method) we had learned six songs with Andy, and he played them perfectly?  (Unfortunately, they asked for an encore, and we had to opt for a capella, which actually made us look quite diversified.)

Andy continued playing piano, within months becoming better than me, and when he graduated from school, played professionally for a while before settling into Illinois, to delight the Illini State with his talent.

What I learned from this experience is that the only way to defeat stupidity, ignorance and bigotry is by coming up with better ideas and proving to them that you really don’t need their help.

Unfortunately, Paula just cried.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

 

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

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

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

It Takes a Knife… February 2, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2139)

Bowie knifeSelfishness, prejudice, politics and apathy.

Trying to avoid being overly dramatic and resisting the temptation to fall into the cliché of deeming them the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” let me just choose to refer to selfishness, prejudice, politics and apathy as the Four-headed Buffoon.

Of course, no one would admit that our country is plagued by this off-key quartet. So we have come up with different names for the vices:

  • Selfishness is disguised behind self-esteem.
  • Prejudice is marketed as cultural pride.
  • Politics is pushed onto the unsuspecting public as “the great debate.”
  • And apathy is perhaps the worst of all because it hides behind the beauty of “family,” leaving behind the needs of others.

Can I tell you what I’ve learned over my forty years of traveling the country? Railing against the rabble is similar to spitting in the wind and picking off a scab before it heals. It all comes back to haunt you.

So my way of resisting the short-sightedness of selfishness, prejudice, politics and apathy is to bring a knife–something to cut through the foolishness.

For instance, I don’t want to argue with you about what’s selfish. I just want to joyously, almost comically, pursue generosity. And I’m talking about silly giving–a quarter to a kid on the street, a dollar to a street-corner beggar. Anything to cut through the delusion.

Likewise, I don’t want to jump into the argument of race, creed–or sexual orientation, for that matter. I just travel around proclaiming, “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Slice, slice. You can sort it out from there.

And politics is simple. I don’t follow any party–you are in danger of becoming drunken on the liquor of self-satisfaction. I talk about what’s best for the heart of human beings. You know what happens? Sometimes that’s conservative and sometimes it’s liberal. Get my point?

And I take out my great big Bowie knife of being interested to overcome the cloud of apathy that darkens our skies. Yes, I spend an extra minute asking one additional question of another living soul about his or her dreams instead of merely focusing on the weather or “how are the kids are doing?”

It takes a knife to cut. And if we’re ever going to trim away the foolishness of selfishness, prejudice, politics and apathy, it will take the sharpness of generosity, knowing that NoOne is better than anyone else, bringing true emotion and being interested in life … instead of acting like a damn tourist.

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

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Thick is bloodier than water… November 8, 2012

(1,693)

Michael won.

I was furious. It wasn’t supposed to happen. My arrogance and stupidity got together and planned a pity party with no refreshments. I didn’t understand. I had won junior class president the year before, only challenged by one girl who received two votes–her own and that of her twin sister. I was supposed to be a shoo-in.

But before we elected our senior class officers, Michael decided at the last minute to throw his hat in the ring, and he got all of his buddies together from the Future Farmers of America (the FFA) to support him, boosting him on their shoulders to victory. This was made possible because I lived in a rural community where the FFA was the largest club in the school.

As painful as it was to lose to Michael, even more aggravating was the discovery that my friend, Howard, had gone behind my back and voted for my opponent. Howard explained to me that he felt compelled to do so because he, too, was a farmer, and the pressure from the club to get behind Michael was more than he could resist.

I was so pissed off. Howard and I were friends. Now granted, we hadn’t tilled the soil together or considered the best way to herd cows, but we had done many more important human things which should have engaged his loyalty in my direction.

For instance, we sang in a quartet together. That means there were days of rehearsal, little road trips, late-night talks about girls and how parts worked, giggling, crying…and oh, speaking of crying, I was there with Howard when he discovered that his girlfriend, Jackie, was dating Ben behind his back. (By the way, another farmer.) Actually, Howard was not sure that Jackie was being a two-timer, so one night the two of us went out in his 1958 Chevy coupe and found Ben and Jackie, parked in Lover’s Lane, necking away, with Ben plowing where Howard had already planted crops. Howard was devastated. I stayed up with him all night, talking, crying and coming to the early morning decision that Jackie was just no good.

So you see, we had history. We were friends. And honestly, sometimes being a friend is much stronger than being a relative, especially a farmer. I just didn’t understand.

Howard knew I was angry. I stayed that way for at least a month. We would talk, but I made sure that he was aware that out of revenge, I was withholding some of the better stories that I could have been sharing. Actually, within a couple of weeks, I was glad that I wasn’t president of the class. Being vice-president meant I didn’t have the responsibility, but still got out of class, still got the respect of students and teachers, but Michael was left to deal with the sticky messes. But I didn’t tell Howard that’s how I felt. No, Howard was on my crap list. And it really wasn’t a list–just Howard’s name, signed at the bottom.

Finally one day, Howard took me aside and tried to explain. He said, “You know, blood is thicker than water.”

I just stared at him. “Is there a bloodline of farmers? And what’s that got to do with anything?”

But in a moment of pity I looked into his eyes and realized that Howard was afraid. And whenever we’re afraid, we go back to patterns of behavior ingrained in us long before we are able to resist. After all, even if your parents were abusive, they were still the first ones to put a bottle in your mouth and tell you about Santa Claus. It’s hard to forget that. And if your parents are farmers and you’re a member of FFA, it makes you feel like you’re betraying your kin if you vote for your buddy instead of your barn-mate.

I didn’t exactly forgive him, but I realized he was thick. Emotion, truth, gentleness, loyalty and faithfulness were unable to get through a crusty hide of tradition and false respect.

We eventually made up. If I recall, it had something to do with him meeting a new girl, who also cheated on him–so we had to go out together and chase down the latest infidelity. (For some reason Howard had very poor success in maintaining the ongoing affection of loyal girlfriends.)

I remember this story because I always want to be reminded that not all blessing comes from my family tree. Not all wisdom comes from my little village. And not all growth can be spawned from my little garden patch of understanding.

I need newness of life–and that includes new people with new ideas, new faces and new ways that may at first seem contrary to me, but in the long run, expand my heart and make me a better human.

Thick is what bloodies the waters.

Dear God, help me not to be thick-headed, building concrete around my brain.

Heavenly Father, help me not to be thick-gutted, padding the fat around my waist with additional reinforcements.

And Almighty Creator, keep me from being thick-hearted, protecting my emotions from the experiences that will make me more understanding instead of so doggone sure of myself.

I didn’t get to be senior class president. Part of it was because a dear cohort chose a farmer over a friend. But what I learned is that God always allows us to grow, even from our disappointments, as long as we don’t get so thick that He can’t reach our insides.

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