G-Poppers … September 2nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop considered a beautiful thought: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Suddenly a fresh breeze of wisdom blew across his mind. If we’re supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves, it certainly is much easier to love them if we believe they’re a lot like us. Actually, it becomes nearly impossible to express affection and respect if we find they differ too much.

So any attempt to make human beings culturally diverse is feeding the racial retardation. We first must become common, and then manifest our traditions and preferences.

But without discovering the common good, the common nature and the common cause of the human race, we open the door to giant chasms of misunderstanding.

Perhaps the most overrated and ill-founded notion is, “There’s no one in the world quite like you.”

Prepare yourself for a truth–there are millions of people in the world like you. You cannot establish uniqueness by your molecules or quirks.

You are part of a species.

As part of that species, the thought of loving your neighbor as yourself is the oil and grease that allows you to move among others without friction.

So the ignorant may express bigotry through racial slurs and feelings of superiority, but those who deem themselves intellectually astute also promote prejudice by trying to box the human race into little containers of culture.

G-Pop wants his children to understand that they will never be able to love their fellow travelers until they see these humans inside themselves, and see themselves inside their brothers and sisters.

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Good News and Better News … August 29th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dividing people is easy.

Just get them to focus on their differences, and their prejudices will do the rest.

But uniting people is equally simple.

Turn the conversation toward our common humanity and let our sense of humor draw us closer.

Ebensburg Penn State highway signAs I finished up eleven weeks in Central Pennsylvania, I headed off to Ebensburg en route to begin my tour in Michigan.

Every little community in America touts some piece of uniqueness, or sometimes even insists that it has a personality unto itself. I have absolutely no idea why we want to distinguish ourselves by our quirks and profiles.

But once you break through that initial crustiness, what you find are human beings. As human beings, they have three basic natures:

1. They are concerned for themselves.

2. They are concerned for what is directly around them.

3. But it doesn’t take a whole lot for them to realize that in order to get Numbers 1 and 2 means they need to be concerned about others.Ebensburg set with Jan

I loved my time in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.

The audiences were not easy. Having an insulated sense of community, they wanted to look on Janet and myself as strangers, but we popped out of that box and offered big hugs.

So by the time we got to the end of our programs and were ready to pack up, they invited us to a luncheon. We shared with them that we needed to hit the road, because we had a two-hour drive to Youngstown, Ohio. dividing people, prejudices, uniting people, sense of humor, commonality,

They sweetly accepted our explanation, but then they came back a second time and invited us again. Why? I suppose if I were bratty, I could say they were being pushy. But that wasn’t the case.

Ebensburg pianoIn the three hours we were with them, a connection was made–and they just wanted us to know that they were fully aware of it and treasured it.

We gently declined again, and all at once one of the sweet Ebensburg souls said, “Why don’t we make you some plates to go? You have to eat. What is it you want?”

It was so moving. Perseverant love.

They wanted us to eat their food, and we needed to eat food, even though we could not stay–so they came up with a plan.

They bagged us up dinners, complete with two cold bottles of water.

As I drove down the highway enjoying my salad with just the right dressing and all the little choices they put on my plate, I considered perseverant love.

The church is in a position to become the only resource in America that has an open door policy and offers perseverant love. It will begin when we stop studying the Bible in abstract, but instead, study human life, find out what’s really going on with people, and then come back to the Gospels to unearth what Jesus says about it.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that when we have this perseverant love, it’s a lot easier to comprehend that somebody could feel that way toward us, too.

Ebensburg empty piano bench

 

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The Box Created for Me … February 8, 2013

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contentsDecember 18th, at Mercy Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, I arrived in this world as the fourth son of James Russell and Mary Adele Cring, weighing in at a whopping twelve and a half pounds. I was a big blob of chub.

Before I had completed taking my first breath of human air, already deposited into my being were weaknesses, strengths, predilections, inklings, chromosomal domination, DNA damage and family traits such as skin color, eye hue and even baldness.

This was my “born” identity. Every one of us has one. To ensure that this particular package of information is reinforced, we are basically surrounded for the first six years of our lives with only a handful of individuals, teaching us how to do everything from holding a spoon to the correct position for crapping. We absorb their culture. It becomes ours. And because it is ours, in our minds it is preferred above all others.

We are taught to have devotion to one set of people who have granted us this identity over, the other individuals we come into contact with who are equally as human, and maybe a more suitable blessing to our lives. I learned the manners of the Cring clan. I absorbed the fears. I heard the jokes. I retained the prejudice: “Eenie-meenie-minee-moe, catch a nigger by his toe…” (Later, arriving in school, I discovered that the more acceptable word was “tiger” instead of “nigger,” but deep in my soul I rejected it because after all, my DNA masters had taught me differently.)

These family members wasted little time trying to influence my destiny. By the time I was six weeks old, they were already guessing at my personality by the expressions on my face (which really were reactions to excess gas, but they interpreted them as personality quirks.) I became a “good baby”–or was it a “quiet little one?” Maybe I was a “real handful.” Could it be that I would be an athlete–because my legs seemed really strong when I kicked my booties off?  Aunts and uncles joined into the barrage of suggestions with their own interpretations of my unformed thinking. Entering the schoolroom made little difference–just exposed me to more ideas and more individuals who insisted that I should stay within the box created for me, and of course, coloring within the lines.

By the time I was thirteen years old, I had taken my twelve and a half pounds at birth and accelerated them to three hundred. No one intervened. Since I was playing on the football team, it was assumed that I was just “one of those big boys.” Or maybe it was because no one wanted to admit they had raised a fat kid. Who knows?

But when I left the security of this conclave of seeming protectors, I was unprepared for the world, which had little toleration for my vices and even more varied demands for my destiny.

My box was delivered into life–but it seemed to arrive postage due.

The result? I am confused. I was told that I was a Cring and everything would be all right if I just followed the household rules. And now, even my family is wondering why I just don’t seem to fit in with the rest of the world around me.

I have outgrown the box in which I was created, but I am frightened to lift the lid and escape.

My God. What’s next?

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