Living a Legendary Life … November 22nd, 2020

Slip-Slidin’ Away

If you’re intrigued with the notion of living a legendary life, you have to be aware of (and beware) slippage.

In olden times they referred to it as “backsliding”–allowing oneself to back away from principles once held dear because the temperature of the times have changed.

In the past ten years, we’ve allowed a streak of meanness to become acceptable. I’m sure this is no surprise.

But the meanness brings about a slippage in the attitudes of people toward each other–and even in the passion for life.

It’s like the proverbial rolling stone:

Those who were once merciful have slipped into being merely open-minded, leaving mercy abandoned.

The open-minded people have slipped to being generous–but only to people they know well or who are related to them.

Generous folks have backslidden to being kind–hoping that flashing a smile will suffice without having to commit to action.

And kind people, who used to think up ways to be contributors, have slipped to nice. If at all possible they will offer a pleasant countenance to the world around them–unless something odd happens.

At that point, nice people become careful. They will swear that the reason they become careful is because the world is screwed up and “you can’t trust anybody.”

And of course, careful people drop into being suspicious. They talk about animals being more trustworthy than humans.

And those who were naturally suspicious before become downright grouchy. They don’t even pretend to lead with a sweetness of spirit. It’s too risky.

And it goes without saying, there were people who were grouchy to begin with. They have become edgy–ready for a fight. Unfortunately, edgy people usually find that fight, and end up being bullies.

Bullies have become fighters and fighters are more violent.

The Republicans blame the Democrats and vice versa–but this problem of slippage did not come along with Donald Trump. Even if he exacerbated the problem, you have to admit that during the two terms of President Obama, there was a mind-boggling amount of fussing, arguing and struggling

You may consider this a “conservative” problem, or the “liberal media.”

But here’s something we all need to face:  If we’ve done everything we can do to improve our nation, our states, our cities, and there’s nothing more we can do, then perhaps it’s time for us to just work on ourselves.

Where have you slipped to?

Where have you fallen?

If even 10% of the population would raise their human effort up one notch, to the position they occupied before 2016, there would be such an improvement in the climate of this country that the other 90% would not be able to ignore it.

Now is the time to stop backsliding.

Let us lead the leaders. After all, there are no indication that government, business, education or religion is going to lead a resurgence in civil behavior.

No–it’ll be up to us. Let’s just take a look at our own slippage, and climb up one notch toward civility.

And my friends, it’s a necessary step if we’re going to lead legendary lives.

Living a Legendary Life … November 15th, 2020

The Clay Way

Henry Clay was known as the “Great Compromiser.”  Although he ran for President of the United States five times–and lost five times–the main thrust of his political career was in Congress, negotiating the particular “deal of the day.”

Although the Washington and Lincoln are extolled by the history books as great leaders, Henry Clay is rarely mentioned in the same breath. It certainly isn’t because of inactivity. He was probably the most powerful political figure of his era.

It’s because he was the great compromiser–and ended up negotiating matters that really should never have been negotiated. For you see, Henry Clay found himself in the position of trying to compromise a deal between the North and South and the emerging states of the Union over the issue of slavery.  Although most historians will agree that Henry Clay, himself, was opposed to the institution, he felt it was more important to maintain the status quo of a peaceful union than to pursue the excellence of a slave-free society.

  • When is it right to be peaceful? 
  • When is it necessary to raise the fuss that creates the change that fosters new attitudes that lead to a better world?

 Some things may be compromised and some things are not negotiable.

In leading a legendary life, perhaps the greatest attribute to attain is discernment.  And specifically, discerning what is changing, what needs to change, what will change and what must remain the same. If you mix these up, you end up on the short end of the stick, with history viewing you as an encumbrance.  So how do we know the difference?  How do we determine what is flowing toward evolution and what is carved into the face of the mountain?

There is nothing wrong with the great discussion.

What is the great discussion?  Who are we, why are we, where did we come from and where in the hell are we going?  Feel free to participate with gusto at will.  Just do not be so arrogant or ignorant to build a fort in any particular idea. People who think they know God’s address, telephone number and all of his personal habits are not only laughable, but potentially dangerous.

I heard a preacher the other day on television quote the great Hebrews scripture, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  I had to smile.  For most assuredly, the minister’s interpretation was that what Moses believed about God is still true today.  When actually, that scripture means that Jesus, who was in a constant state of learning and growing in stature and wisdom while he was mortal on this planet, was always that way and is still learning and growing and expanding today.  I cannot believe in a deity that asks me to repent at whim while maintaining a permanent residence with no revision.

So what are the absolutes in life?  What are the things that are immutable?  Do they actually exist?  Is there a compass, or is life just a boat without a rudder and an oar?

I believe there are only three absolutes in this life from which we draw all the energy for decision-making and interaction with our human fellows.

1. There are no chosen people.

There are just folks who choose to stay involved. Every time we have tried to isolate one group of people as a superior race, the result has always been destructive.

We are not chosen. We are here. Any attempt to improve our status by birth, doctrine, proclamation, skin color, national origin or sexual preference is a futile adventure in fatalism.

If you must think you’re special, be prepared to always be trumped by those with a stronger case and more militant inclinations.

2.  Any belief in a supreme being that doesn’t place human beings in a primal role is erred.

I can just hear the groans and the moans from the religiously fervent from all over the world. “He’s trying to make people God.” 

No.  I’m just trying to say that it’s impossible to reach God without respecting Bob and Sally.

There is only one absolute that comes to play in blending the supernatural and the natural.  It’s phrased in many different ways but the end conclusion is the same.

We must duplicate in other people what we want done for ourselves. 

Yes, what goes around comes around.  Any breach in this practice, or any attempt to circumvent human beings and their needs will not end in favor from either God or man.

3. We are evolving towards simplicity.

The only certainty on this planet is change. And ultimately, that change is an evolution toward simplicity. If you want to get into the flow of the cosmos, find a simpler path and a plainer, more direct way of dealing with others and the everyday things that make life tick.

Complexity is what causes the philosopher to ruminate over things that don’t really matter, the theologian to preach homilies that homogenize nothing, and the politician to pass laws that make the inevitable illegal.

  • Keep it simple, stupid.
  • There are no chosen people.
  • And human beings must play a primal role.

You can either follow the example of the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, and end up negotiating the destiny of men already deemed equal in a higher court of understanding, or you can abandon the foolishness of absolutes and deal with the round, rotating world.

After all, it’s the only one we know for sure that exists.

From the Stacks … November 13th, 2020

In November of 2016, Jonathan found himself contemplating the initial difficulty that always appears whenever there is talk of “repairing the breach.” His thoughts are oddly applicable today. See if you agree.

 

A great book once alleged that there is great power in “repairing the breach”–finding that break in etiquette or sensibility that can be covered with a multitude of grace.

It is a noble notion.

The difficulty with the mission is that people will often argue with you about whether there’s a breach in the first place. After all, a common conversation with fifty Americans will render much different responses:

  • Is racism a problem in America?
  • Is chauvinism an overpowering issue?
  • Should poverty be addressed or should we just try to motivate people to work harder?
  • Is there a God or are we on our own?
  • Are people of different lifestyles entitled to all equal rights?
  • Should we judge people by the color of their skin?
  • Should we question religions?
  • Is it possible that some people are just better than others?
  • Do the heavens have a “chosen people?”

If we cannot agree that there’s a breach, then the repairing will be considered foolish or intrusive.

What can we agree on about our pain before we seek a relief?

It is not so much that our problems are complicated–it’s more that they’re denied.

 

From the Stacks … October 23rd, 2020

 

If It’s Not As It Appears, Then What Is It?

“Appearances are deceiving.”

“No, indeed. Things are not as they appear.”

Two people in conversation, agreeing on something that really makes no sense.

It is always fascinating to me that human beings are granted certain gifts which enable us to function in an intelligent way in a topsy-turvy world, and then we are told not to trust these senses.

Sometimes I get confused by knowledge which is imparted to me but then retracted, leaving the door open for future contradictions.

It’s confusing. I need the ability to look at what is set before me and make brilliant decisions.

So why not ask the question, What does it appear to be? 

Being who I am, I made a list:

1. It appears to me that color of skin makes very little difference in the viability of the humans around of me to interact, procreate and work together.

2. It appears to me that homosexuality is not my choice and therefore it will take me a while to get used to the idea, but in the meantime it appears to me that I can grant the gay community the dignity I give to myself.

3. It appears to me that our political system has broken down in its own lavish overstatement and needs to be retooled to meet the needs of the population.

4. It appears to me that religion has replaced God.

5. It appears to me that men and women are very much the same 95% of the time, and I am a fool to focus on the trailing number.

6. It appears to me that if I don’t lose some weight I will die sooner rather than later.

7. It appears to me that my talent is sufficient to give me room and board for the rest of my life if I don’t freak out.

8. It appears to me that I am more appealing when I’m not judgmental.

9. It appears to me that God has given me eyes to see what appears, and have a sound mind to think good and pure thoughts instead of negative and dark ones.

Even though we find ourselves to be a generation of enlightened and knowledgeable souls, we often remove the greatest gift we have by rejecting the responsibility that has been given to us:

Deal with what appears to be. 

I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian … October 4th, 2020

Our jaws dropped.

That was the frequent reaction from those of us who loved and listened to Jonathan Richard Cring. He said things we might have thought. Or said things we felt but had not put into words. Or said things that were too controversial to be said.

The funny thing was, when asked about that particular quality, he would pause, and then say, “Yeah, but when I think about the things Jesus said, I’m just a chicken-heart.”

This passage, taken from his 2007 book, Jesonian, illustrates the point. Both points, in fact.


Sometimes a word just gets worn out.

It has been squeezed into so many diverse jobs that it ceases to have any practical definition or application.

Such a word is “Christian.” I am a firm believer in the life, times and all the philosophies and claims of Jesus. But I have just come to the conclusion that Jesus would make a lousy Christian.

He was uncomfortable with ritual.

He hated judgmentalism.

Hypocrisy made him so mad that he became violent and whipped people.

He found it impossible to be dogmatic, saying, “Those that are not against us are for us.”

Let us think rationally. Christianity has committed too many atrocities and applauded too many fools to be taken seriously as either a word or a movement. Maybe when they first used the word in Antioch so many centuries ago, it was clever and pointed. Now, it is miserable and ambiguous.

Jesus dealt with an identical dilemma during his ministry—so many cults of Judaism existed that the only way he could separate himself from the platitudes of the day was to talk about the Kingdom of God. It was not only thematic; it became the headline banner for his ministry.

His philosophy was, “Call me a Nazarene. Call me a Galilean. Call me a healer. Call me a Kingdom teacher. Call me a wine-bibber, a glutton, a friend of sinners. Anything but a Jew.” And as atrocious as the word “Christian” has become, the phrase, “Judeo-Christian” incorporates an even greater, more insulting insipidity.

There is nothing wrong with being a Jew—unless you are supposed to be a Christian. And there is nothing wrong with being a Christian, except it has lost all its external meaning.

I can no longer look at the actions—or perhaps I should say inactions—of a stumbling religious system that parades itself as Christian and jump on the bandwagon. The term will never be pure again.

Facts are, we have abandoned many words in our society:

Prohibition

Nigger

Bull Moose

League of Nations

Segregation

Manifest Destiny

Indian

Slave

Midget

And “little woman”

Others that are soon to be abandoned in this humble author’s opinion:

The weaker sex

Time-out for kids

African-American

Asian-American

Or anything before American

Redneck

Pro-life and pro-choice

And “ideal body weight”

Jesus said, “By your words you are justified and by your words you are condemned.”

I do not feel justified anymore when I call myself a Christian. I feel condemned, cast into a pit with all the hackneyed representations of religious fervor or denominational deaths that wreak from the pit of meaninglessness.

There is a higher calling. I want to be spiritual enough to be a practical man. Do I need a name for that? I don’t know, but it sure isn’t “Christian”—and it is not Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic or any one of 350 other names. I do not want to become a demagogue on this issue—but the word just must go.

I knew Jesus before he was a Christian. What am I supposed to do with that information? Just look at the evolution the name of Jesus underwent in the history of Christian theology:

First, he was Jesus of Nazareth. Then the Son of Man. Then he was Jesus Christ. Then he was Jesus Christ Our Lord. A few more years pass and they add Savior to his title. Then, after Savior came King of Kings, followed by the Lamb of God, culminating in The Coming King.

Now, I may believe all those things about him, but they are not his name. His name is Jesus. He liked being Jesus, and throughout all my travels, I do believe that his name is still marketable. But the word “Christian” can evoke anything from apathy to rage.

Jesus doesn’t want to be a Christian. Dogmatic? I don’t know. But since he is not here right now, I thought someone should speak up for him.

Jesus does not want to hate homosexuals even if the majority of presumably moral people feel that way.

Jesus would not condone blacks and whites worshipping separately just because “they do it different.”

Jesus did not believe that women were supposed to be subject unto men.

Jesus did not believe in Children’s Church—he was constantly surrounded by the little tots at all times.

Jesus did not begin a praise and worship team—the egos would have destroyed his ministry.

Jesus did not preach against anything except the hypocrites who preached against everything.

Jesus would not steal money from widows to support his television ministry.

Jesus would not start a university to foster parochial thinking and provincial scruples.

Jesus would not advertise his upcoming crusade in the newspaper—where he would be walking on water.

Jesus did not bore his audience to tears with little anecdotes and meaningless homilies, leading to no change in people’s lives.

Jesus would not own a stained glass anything.

Jesus would not allow himself to be sucked up in the political fray.

Jesus would not condone a war as being “for the good of the people.”

Jesus would not allow women and children to be categorized as lesser citizens and objects for manipulation and control.

Jesus would not be comfortable just listening to organ music.

Jesus would suggest that choirs cease to sing if they must do it in a drone.

Jesus would not tolerate prejudice in the guise of racial pride.

Jesus would not be able to stomach theological discussion that did not lead to the relief of human conflict.

Jesus would refuse all titles extoling his goodness, just like he did with the young ruler.

Jesus would deflect all praise and bring focus on the faith of the people.

Jesus would chop up all the pulpits and make firewood to warm the homeless.

Jesus would ask us to give more of ourselves and our hearts, and less of our money and bonds.

Jesus…would refuse to be a Christian.

Sensitize … September 5th, 2020

SENSITIZE 99

If it’s broken (and it is) that’s the place to start.

Every morning, Mr. Cring takes a personal moment with his friends.

Published in: on September 5, 2020 at 1:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sensitize … August 21st, 2020

SENSITIZE 84

Every morning, Mr. Cring takes a personal moment with his friends.

Today: Is it good? Or is it bad? Here are two questions to help figure things out.

Click the picture below to see the video

Published in: on August 21, 2020 at 1:49 pm  Comments (1)  
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