Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4105)

Sitting Twenty-Eight

All at once, Karin was chilled by a startling realization. She considered herself to be an intelligent, astute, and even clever discerner of human emotions, especially being able to separate the false from the true, with some regularity. Now she found herself completely overwhelmed by the common sense of two twelve-year-old boys, whose argument not only left her perplexed, but nearly breathless with its sincerity.

Was she going crazy? Had she spent too much time in the desert with these two youngsters? Or perhaps it was just her own internal questioning about the hypocrisy of the society surrounding her, surfacing and finding voice in the two adolescent rabble-rousers.

But there was no doubt about it—Karin Koulyea, newspaper woman extraordinaire, was stymied. She realized that Iz and Pal could not be coaxed back to their former lives through the presentation of treats or the sum token of receiving a little more freedom.

She took a deep breath and then growled at them with the most gravitas she could muster. “You see, here’s the problem. They are grown-ups. They have earned the right to be stupid. The years that have passed, that have grayed their hair, have also given them the privilege to do stupid things. I’m not telling you I agree, but I am telling you that nobody cares what my opinion may be on the matter. Guys, they don’t have to make sense. Of course hate is stupid! But hate is what they always do when they run out of ideas. And if you ask me, government is what people do when they feel they’ve lost control. If you’ll just hear me for a second, I, Karin, your friend, am just telling you that they are not going to let you continue to be your own little country out here in the sand.”

Iz interrupted. “I suppose you’re talking about the rally.”

Karin was taken aback. “Iz, how did you find out about the rally?”

He just shook his head. “They wrap some of our food in newspaper, so as we sit and eat the cheese and bread, we read the local news. We understand that next Thursday, they plan on coming out here and taking us away.”

Karin sat for a moment. Pal started to speak but Iz reached over and put a hand on his leg, encouraging his silence.

Finally Karin asked, “So what are you going to do?”

Iz lifted his hand, motioning toward Pal, giving him the moment. “You just don’t get it, lady. What do you mean, ‘what are we gonna do?’ We’re gonna stay. They’re the ones who are going to cause trouble. So as long as we don’t fight, they’ll end up looking like the troublers.”

Iz interrupted, “And we will end up looking like the heroes.” The two boys exchanged a high five.

Karin didn’t know what she felt about their statements. There was an optimism that might have a grain or two of truth, but deep in her heart, she was aware that the staunch purveyors of religion and culture would never be satisfied without dominating.

She reached out and took each boy by the hand. “They won’t let you be what you want to be—mainly because they all want to be something else but have convinced themselves that their God is mad at anyone who is truly happy.”

There was a moment of stillness, almost resembling understanding. Suddenly, Iz crawled away on all fours, across the desert sand, stumbling to his feet, and walked a few paces away. Turning, he said, with tears in his voice, “What good is it if we start something out here and don’t finish it? How are we any different from them? They make peace treaties, and the first time it becomes hard to follow, they drop it. They make promises to love and care, and then they just forget.”  He stepped toward Karin. “We will not forget. And we will never give up.”

Karin struggled to her feet, stood and pointed at Iz. “Yes, you will. Because they will make you give up. They will defeat you and humiliate you and make you seem even younger and smaller than you really are.”

Karin turned to include Pal in her words. “Maybe when you’re men someday, you can change the world. But nobody changes the world with a child’s hand.”

Pal leaped to his feet and pointed to Iz and back to himself. “Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘a little child shall lead them?’” he asked defiantly.

“The Bible says a helluva lot of things,” Karin scoffed, “but the Bible always gets shouted down by folks with money and power.”

The three stood in the desert, exchanging glances. Slowly, Iz stepped over and sat back down. He looked off in the distance as if speaking to the universe. “I don’t care about that. We have a plan.”

He quickly glanced over at Pal, who widened his eye sockets to well back the tears. Pal nodded and added, “Yes. A plan.”

Karin pivoted and turned to them, a little bit shaken by their tone of voice. “Well, come on. You can tell me what the plan is.”

As if on cue, Iz and Pal stood and began to kick the soccer ball back and forth, running in circles around Karin, bouncing the ball against her legs, off her hips and then, her head, closing in nearer and nearer to her.

“Quit it!” she screamed, angry and frightened. But they didn’t. They kept kicking the ball, dancing in a circle around her. She stumbled, nearly falling, and tried to push back at them, but they kept kicking the ball, encircling her. They were laughing.

“All right, you little jerks!” she screamed. “I’m out of here!”

Gaining her balance, she rushed past them and stomped away, but as she left, she turned and said, “This doesn’t change anything. You can chase me away, but you can’t chase the goddamn world away.”

The two boys continued their kicking and playing, ignoring her words. When they were sure that she was far down the hill and would not return, Iz stopped, wiping the sweat from his brow. He turned to Pal, panting, and said, “She’s just like all the rest. She doesn’t understand. No one understands.”

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G-Poppers … December 9th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3150)

Jon close up

Facebook is actually rather faceless.

Church has become more worship than fellowship.

Politics is about winning instead of communicating.

Concerts are darkened halls, where only the stage is lit up.

G-Pop contends that we’ve lost something. Maybe we’ve sacrificed it. Maybe it was taken away from us to promote corporate profit. Who knows?

But somewhere along the line, the ability to sit down with another human being, share a sandwich and let the small talk grow until it’s big has been lost.

During G-Pop’s holiday time, he has sought out occasions to be with individuals or tiny handfuls of people who use the instigation of a little bit of food to create great thought. The process is so precious and free of complexity that we’ve abandoned it in this era of prideful over-dramatic expressions.

Here’s how it works:

1. Convene.

Find a location that doesn’t need your attention, which can be a catalyst for dialogue.

2. Converse.

Yes, talk. It doesn’t have to be deep, but it will become meaningful because we quickly run out of foolishness and begin to favor some heart.

3. Connect.

Find reasons to listen which will lead to opportunities to agree. Take the agreement and build on it.

It’s time to realize that stuffing twenty thousand people in a building is not a movement–it’s a rally.

G-Pop wants you to know that a movement occurs when a convening of souls leads to a great conversation, which is truly satisfied as we connect.

 

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … September 10th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3060)

Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: Where have you been? I’ve been trying to get hold of you all morning.

 

Dear Woman: I can see that. Six missed calls. What can I do for you?

 

Dear Man: Listen, I didn’t believe it, but I heard through the grapevine that you went to a Donald Trump rally.

 

Dear Woman: You heard correctly.

 

Dear Man: Why would you do that?

 

Dear Woman: I was curious. I wanted to hear for myself what all the fuss was about.

 

Dear Man: Curious? How can you escape the fuss? It’s on the television twenty-four hours a day.

 

Dear Woman: But that’s their opinions. I wanted to draw my own conclusion.

 

Dear Man: Okay, I guess. Did you learn anything?

 

Dear Woman: I did. What I learned is that Mr. Trump answers a need.

 

Dear Man: A need?

 

Dear Woman: Yes. There are times when things are moving so fast that I just need everything to slow down a bit so my head can catch up. Gay rights, gay marriage, transgender, immigration, Black Lives Matter… It just crowds my brain. It’s not that I want to prevent these people from having a voice. I could just use some time to get accustomed to it.

 

Dear Man: Well, you need to realize, all these people have been waiting decades–sometimes centuries–for the basic rights that you take for granted.

 

Dear Woman: I don’t need your sermon. I get that. But it doesn’t change how I feel. The world seems dangerous, and when you see something dangerous, you want a weapon. You want to protect yourself. I’m sorry. Hillary Clinton just doesn’t seem like a weapon to me.

 

Dear Man: She’s got so much experience! Why can’t you see that? Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about the world.

 

Dear Woman: I agree. But it’s not a geography test. It’s not a civics exam. It’s about leadership. And I just don’t know if Hillary has it.

 

Dear Man: Why do you say that?

 

Dear Woman: Well, first, she can’t even manage her own email.

 

Dear Man: Not that old story! She’s answered that a thousand times.

 

Dear Woman: Yes, but it’s the same answer. “I made a mistake but I didn’t know it was a mistake.” Is that what she’ll do as President? Constantly making mistakes but apologizing to us for fouling up? And speaking of that, the main thing that bothers me is having Bill Clinton in the White House again.

 

Dear Man: He won’t be President.

 

Dear Woman: I got that. But he’ll be back. And the things he did the last time he was there to defile the Oval Office with his immorality were nasty. And the fact that Hillary stuck with him makes me believe she’s kind of … girly.

 

Dear Man: You mean you’re mad at her because she forgave her husband?

 

Dear Woman: I guess so. I would just find it easier to vote for Hillary Rodham than Hillary Clinton.

 

Dear Man: I get it. It’s because she’s a women Answer me three questions, without thinking too much. Number 1, do you think women are weak? Number 2, do you think women are more emotional? Number 3, are men smarter?

 

Dear Woman: Wow. I don’t want to do this.

 

Dear Man: Come on. Be honest.

 

Dear Woman: Okay. Are women weak? They don’t have the same muscle mass as men. Concerning the second question, I was always told women are more emotional, even by women. And concerning men being smarter, well..they do win more often on Jeopardy!

 

Dear Man: What?

 

Dear Woman: I was just kidding about the Jeopardy! thing. I suppose you’re going to say my answers prove I’m a male chauvinist.

 

Dear Man: No, they just prove that you would vote against Hillary because she’s a woman instead of based on her qualifications.

 

Dear Woman: I just don’t want any more Orlandos or San Bernardino terrorist attacks. I would like to scare the shit out of them–the terrorists, I mean. Hillary is more like a queen. She’s stately, polite, on-point, courteous. But here’s the problem–the world is filled with pirates. Pirates take down queens.

 

Dear Man: So what is Donald Trump?

 

Dear Woman: He’s a pirate. So it’s a pirate fighting pirates. See what I mean?

 

Dear Man: No, I don’t. Because with a pirate you get thievery, treachery and the danger that he’s going to make everybody walk the plank.

 

Dear Woman: Well, anyway. Do you remember that story of the man who came across two doors, and behind one was a lady and behind the other was a tiger?

 

Dear Man: I think so.

 

Dear Woman: You see, that’s our choice this time. A lady or a tiger. I just don’t know if the lady can get it done.

 

Dear Man: You know that’s very prejudiced.

 

Dear Woman: Yes. But I don’t think I’ll be the only one thinking about that when I walk into the voting booth.

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Good News and Better News … August 1st, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Enola NewsletterI always request a church newsletter–every place I go. I imagine the staff might speculate on why I want it. They might think I’m trying to confirm whether our appearance was adequately advertised, but since I’m already there, it would be fruitless to know.

The reason I read the church newsletter is that I’m trying to figure out what they’re doing and where they’re going.

It’s very important. Without a definite idea on doing and going, we can find ourselves whisked away with many a tornado of confusion.

So I read the newsletter of Enola Emmanuel United Methodist Church while I was sitting in my green room before the program.

The main article was about “branding”–passing on an easily identifiable image to the surrounding community concerning mission.

Here’s the dilemma: in branding, we too often try to chase spiritual goals, using limited human abilities. For instance, we extol the importance of prayer, witnessing, church attendance and Bible reading to human folk who spend most of their time working, eating and sleeping.

Jesus had a different idea.

He told us that the world was full of tribulation but there wasn’t anything we would be able to do about that.Good News Enola Good cheer

He also said the world would need to be overcome. He placed that chore on himself.

He gave us a human mission: “Be of good cheer.”

Yet if you share this with people, they look at you as if you’re silly or irresponsible. But good cheer is the only thing we can accomplish with energy.

It begins by understanding that church should not be a service or a worship experience, but rather, a rally. We need to teach our congregations to:

1. Be

“I will find joy, joyfully”

2. Of

“I will join with others”

3. Good

“Together we will discover what is valuable”

4. Cheer

“Linking in fellowship, we will celebrate goodness”

Removing celebration from church is like taking the breath out of lungs. It leaves us with reverence and no praise. The Gospel of Jesus was intended to be human-friendly, not ethereal.

Good News Enola penSit down, take a pen and paper and write what turns you on. Make a list of the things you find joyful, enhancing and enriching. Then go out and find a way to do those things while benefitting others.

There is an empty chair waiting in the church for the person who will dare to be real and admit that he or she is human, and not ashamed of it.

The good news is that branding is finding our way to “be of good cheer.”

The better news is that cheerful people are a great draw.

Good News Enola chair

 

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Pulled… January 21, 2012

(1,400) 

Live in Philadelphia, PA

Last night I had a dream.

I was traveling with two companions on a hot, Sunday afternoon, on what seemed to be an unending roadway, a dusty thoroughfare, attempting to arrive at a church to set up our equipment and share our vision. The humidity was so high it was difficult to breathe and sweat poured down our faces, leaving us with headaches and nearly devoid of energy. When we finally arrived at our destination, it was a large, rustic, barn-like tabernacle with too many steps, wooden seats and no air conditioning.

We unloaded our equipment, set up and began with our sound check. I played Let It Be, by the Beatles, and sang about a verse and a half, when a young man appeared from a back room of the barn structure and stopped me, telling me we would not be allowed to perform that evening. When I asked him why, he explained that the leader of this particular church or organization was in his office and had heard me sing the worldly song and knew in his spirit that we were not fit to preach to his congregation. The young man before me was resolute, angry and with just a hint of glee over sharing the news with me.

I asked to see the leader and excused myself from my companions, who informed me they were very hungry and needed some nourishment. I told them that I would be back, and was escorted into an office, where an old man with a tattered suit sat behind a desk, leering at me. He looked similar to that white-haired cult leader in the Poltergeist series–the one who had led his followers to destruction. I made a case to him. I explained that I only sang the Beatles song to warm up my voice and that it wasn’t in our program. He didn’t care. He insisted that my choice of songs told him that I had no real heart for his people and that therefore it was his duty to protect them from my errant ways.

I spent what seemed to be the next many hours reasoning with this fellow about my dreams, aspirations and asking him to give us a chance. He walked around from room to room, not really trying to escape my pleas, but more or less seeing if I would follow him to continue my groveling. Finally, he agreed to let me sing two songs and then, if everything was all right, he might let me share a word or two.

On the way back to the barn structure, somebody walked up to him and gave him some news, and he began to pound his fist into his hand and then rolled around in the dusty ground until his coat was covered with dirt. He ran into his “tabernacle” and began to weep bitterly. The small audience that had gathered in the wooden seats joined in the crying, hovering around him to comfort him.

Suddenly, in my dream, I was transported back to the dusty roads and saw young people–including the one who had so gleefully given the report of the disappointing news–climbing a hill. They were all dressed in tattered robes, but marching in step with one another, towards a destination which somehow or another I knew to be a rally of anger, bigotry and destruction.

All at once I was transported back to the tabernacle and the beleaguered leader with the unkempt clothing waved his hand, giving me permission to share my song. I went to the piano and began to sing, but my comrades were unable to join me because they were weakened by a lack of food, so I tossed each one of them an apple, and as I sang, they munched, gaining strength.

I sang my song, but no one was listening. The audience, which had been very small to begin with, had now shriveled to a mere dozen, huddling around the weeping leader to give him comfort, and they had no interest in anything I had to share. I finished my song and the white-haired lamenter lifted his head, with red eyes and tears streaming down his face. He said sternly, “You should have left.”

In my dream, I remember thinking that not only was it bad English, but also that it was cold, deliberate and stubborn. I quickly packed up my belongings and climbed into the car.

I awoke. As you all well know, dreams are nearly as much emotion as they are revelation of images. I immediately understood what had transpired.

The old man was the stubbornness of religion and politics, which believes it can continue the same practices which have proven to be unfulfilling and satisfy the present needs.

The angry souls in the tattered robes were those who were abandoning faith–and government–wandering off to unknown pursuits that will only bear the fruit of their rage.

And the handful that remained are the wounded participants of systems that have failed them, but they have no other place to go so they spend all of their time defending and comforting the stubborn.

I was the outsider. I was not welcome because I had too much of earth for the religious and too much of spirit for the political. I was alone. I had those who desired to travel with me, but the nourishment of encouragement was absent.

Yes, I awoke from my dream feeling a great sense of purpose, as the politicians and religionists of our day try to stubbornly return us to traditions which have long past lost their fervor, and the young people and disenfranchised wander away with a tattered sense of purposelessness, at the mercy of the next burst of frustration. And the wounded remnant, who once believed in great ideals, now merely guard the ruins and stand by, unable to hear any newness for their lives.

It is the duty of those who still have a vision for love and a faith in humanity to persevere with good cheer. 

In my dream I was pulled. Now that I’m awake, I am pulled towards keeping on.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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