Jesonian … April 21st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3649)

44 words.

Yes, 44 words that changed the realm of faith from a God belief to a source of relief.

Standing on a hill, Jesus of Nazareth explains to his disciples that the law they had been following was being fulfilled in the lifestyle he was teaching. It is a philosophy that no longer promotes worship, praying, fasting and trying to be better than other people. Jesus transforms the message from religion to reality.

And now for the 44 words:
“Therefore…”

In other words, in conclusion. If you were wondering where we were heading, here it is. What follows will be the prophesy of the day.

“…if you’re offering your gift at the altar…”

Church should no longer be your life. If you do go, then go with a good heart, but don’t go anymore because you’re afraid. Don’t go anymore because you think it makes you a cut above the rest of humanity. And make sure when you go, you’re offering something instead of demanding.

“…and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you…”

Tune your spirit. Stop waiting to hear messages from heaven. All the messages will be coming from the Earth. And by the way, get rid of your gender bias. Don’t think the Jesonian is just for the brothers and not for the sisters, or for the sisters and not the brothers. You’re listening because you know if you’re going to hear the voice of God, it will come from those around you. Often it will be expressed as a chunk of disgruntled dissatisfaction they may have with you. In other words, be prepared to change. Don’t think you’re going to participate on Earth without being revised.

“…leave your gift there, in front of the altar.”

Get the point? It’s not about the gift. It’s not about the altar. It’s not about the worship service. It’s not about your devotion. All of that can be left when there’s a need to be a person to another person, to generate something personable.

“…first go and be reconciled to them…”

Cease insisting that this is the hard part. Stop giggling as you pretend that it’s so much easier to love God than it is your fellow-humans. If that’s the case, you’d better start practicing, because God has no intention of accepting a congregation which gathers to criticize the people He loves.

“…reconcile…”

Learn reconciliation. Reconciliation is the measuring stick of the depth of your spirituality.

“…then come and offer your gift.”

It will wait. It’s not as important as the feelings and consideration of another fellow-traveler. This is no longer a reaching for the sky, but instead, reaching out to those around you, and in doing so, finding God.

The sermon that Jesus spoke on that mountain many years ago was based upon the concept that the best way to find God is to stop looking for God, but instead, discover His creation. In doing so, you will ask, seek and knock your way into the Kingdom.

For understand clearly: God will have a people who become people to honor people by working with people–to love people.

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Good News and Better News … April 2nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3630)

Little Jonathan, Jonny, Precious, Jon, Big Jon, Rock, singer, artist, Jonathan Richard, lover, boyfriend, daddy, Papa, father, traveler, performer, controversial, G-Pop, blogger, songwriter, friend.

These are all names associated with me over the years. What a list.

I am not that significant. But I also must tell you that Alexander the Great was not that great, and Ming the Merciful was often fussy.

Names are bandied about to explain what we feel rather than to clarify what someone or something is. This came to my mind last night when I watched the NBC version of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

Not only did he need to be “Jesus,” but someone required him to take on the name “Christ.” And not only “Christ” but now, by reputation, he has become a “Superstar.”

A list of such names and adjectives is accumulated in Isaiah from the Good Book.

  • Wonderful
  • Counselor
  • Mighty God
  • Everlasting Father
  • Prince of Peace

I suppose most people would proclaim that Jesus was all of those. But I’m sorry. “Wonderful” just does not do it for me. Sitting around and praising a deity for his goodness does very little to enhance my life.

Some folks would find it essential to establish that he is a “Mighty God,” but I think mastering the rising of the sun and the setting of the same makes that pretty clear.

“Everlasting Father?” I actually need a father here. I don’t know if I need one for eternity.

“Prince of Peace?” That’s cool, but the Prince of Peace also required that I be a peace-maker.

As I look at all the superlatives used to describe the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the one that stands out to me from the list is “Counselor.”

Jesus is my counselor. He has kept me out of jail. He has assisted me in maintaining my fibers of sanity. He has led me in understanding how to become more valuable to the human beings around me. He has informed me on discovering when a door is closed and when it is open.

He taught me to ask and seek and knock instead of complaining about the menu that life has thrust at me.

Because I have accepted him as my counselor, wonderful things have happened. I have been able, through my testimony, to confirm that he is a “Mighty God” and an “Everlasting Father.” And peace? He has been a Prince.

But more importantly, he is my counselor because he is my confidante, and for those who pursue the path of atheism, he is my invisible friend, whom I frequently talk to. And if he doesn’t exist, he’s still a great therapy session. After all, not everyone can afford two hundred dollars an hour for a professional.

I do believe that what you call Jesus does determine the level of religiosity which plagues your soul–because every drop of traditional religion that inhabits us also inhibits us.

So the good news is that Jesus, being versatile, has many names, and just like you and me, has taken on a variety of personas.

And the better news is, you can feel free to call him anything you want.

 

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Jesonian … March 31st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3628)

 For thirty-six hours, God walked away and left humanity to dangle in its notorious decisions.

Long ago, from six o’clock Friday to six o’clock on Sunday morning, the conclusions derived by the honoring of religion, the promotion of politics and the inclusion of jealousy reigned supreme on the Earth.

In the process, a hapless lamb was slaughtered so that a less-than-noble tribe of Bedouins could believe they were special because their ancestors had the fortitude to escape Egypt.

A governor of Judea slinked away to Caesarea to spend a quiet weekend with his wife, only to discover that she was enraged because he had failed to take her dream into consideration when judging an innocent man.

A betrayer from Kerioth who was blindly jealous of his Master, his best friend, climbed a small hill, tied a rope around his neck and hung himself from a tree.

Soldiers were demanded to guard a tomb to make sure that nobody went in, or for that matter, nobody came out.

Disciples who had followed a messenger of love were scared into hiding because they simply believed that “loving your neighbor as yourself” was not a greeting-card sentiment.

Repairmen came to clean up after an unexpected earthquake shook the region, leaving behind great damage, even in the Temple.

The world proceeded with a nauseating sameness, which gained the smugness of superiority because it appeared that any variables were nailed down and silenced.

The kingdom of religion seemed to succeed–a philosophy contending that tradition must decide.

The kingdom of politics stomped around the Great Hall, believing that greed decides.

And the kingdom of jealousy slithered away to lick its wounds, confident of temporary victory because fear had made its decision.

For thirty-six hours, God removed Himself from the circumstances, leaving religion, politics and jealousy to win the day.

It seemed that the obvious forces in power were as formidable as advertised–because everything which had objected, contradicted or shared a different approach was beaten, crucified and buried.

At first sight, there was no light.

And then God returned.

Actually, it was the Kingdom of God, which is within us. It is a Kingdom where faith decides because we are the ones who offer the input.

Even though the disciples of the slain Master were still tucked away, three women bravely made their way to a tomb.

They were not expecting a resurrection.

They were not anticipating finding a miracle.

They did what women have done since the beginning of time–they viewed how men had screwed everything up and they came to clean up the mess.

No bands played, no dignitaries arrived with a key to the city, no men who had pledged eternal allegiance surfaced.

Just three women carrying a bunch of spices, which they immediately dropped when they saw an empty tomb.

Easter is a time when we celebrate more than a resurrection. It is a moment in history when God shows us that even though insanity may temporarily take control, His grace, mercy, understanding and wisdom are never far away.

It was not easy to survive thirty-six hours without God. But because those thirty-six hours showed us the foolishness of religion, politics and jealousy, we can now revel with great joy in the Kingdom of God, which allows our faith to decide.


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Catchy (Sitting 40) 101 Days… March 18th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3615)

Wedding bells.

Landy Loren, one of the original members of Matthew’s marketing team, fell in love with McKendree Davis, who was the drummer in Jubal Carlos’ band.  Most folks knew him as “Michelob” because of his fondness for beer. He wasn’t a “bowling alley drinker”–more a connoisseur of fine beers from all over the world. He always talked about how he drank his beer like wine-sipping, never chugging.

Landy and McKendree were married on the jet plane en route to a rally in Washington, D.C., where Cassidy Templeton was scheduled to speak in front of a crowd predicted to be 500,000.

After his national exposure, his phrase, “check if you’re dead,” became a slogan all across the country, selling two million t-shirts with the saying in just eight days. The nation had suddenly gone from being engorged in its own self-involvement to being given a new set of eyes–and those peepers were all on Cassidy.

Cassidy was astounding on all fronts. He was strikingly handsome, muscular, devoted to his family, but drenched in good old-fashioned humility. His speeches were blessedly short, his sense of humor was keen and his energy seemed boundless.

Three days earlier he had appeared on international television with Merklin Shineer–probably the most well-known atheist walking the planet. Even though Shineer was in his early seventies and considered intolerably grouchy, young people from all over the world were drawn to him because of his plain-speaking manner and his no-nonsense approach to what he deemed “the monster of religion.”

Even though Jubal Carlos warned Cassidy to avoid this “cattle show,” as he called it, Cassidy just smiled and said, “It never hurts to tell the truth.”

So when they got together for the debate, a coin was tossed, and Merklin was given first crack at the audience. He talked for a solid forty minutes about the indignities of life, the unfairness to the poor, the wretched treatment of women and children and the absence of any divinity to curtail the efforts of what seemed to be rampant evil. Merklin occasionally glanced back at Cassidy, who sat thoughtfully, listening.

At the end of his time, Merklin turned to Cassidy and posed a challenge: “If you can give me one reason why I should believe in a God who doesn’t give a damn about people, then I’ll walk out of here today accepting your Jesus and repenting of my sins.”

The audience hooted and howled their approval. Merklin strolled over to his chair, sat down and smugly crossed his legs. He motioned to Cassidy to take the platform. The crowd continued to hiss and sneer as Cassidy got to his feet.

He walked over and shook Merklin’s hand, and then took the microphone and said to the crowd, “That was amazing. What was truly astounding to me was that as I sat there listening to Merklin speak, I realized how much I agree with him. I became fully aware that I share pretty much all of his doubts. I, too, am pained by the power that evil seems to carry in our world. I am deeply saddened that women and children are the targets of that sinister plot. I often sit in a corner by myself and say, ‘Cassidy, how could there be a God?'”

He paused, looking at the people with tears in his eyes. “I do, you know.”

There was a stillness in the room. Even the babies knew it was no time to cry for their mothers.

After a long moment, Cassidy continued. “But I found, Merklin, that you left out one doubt that I have. I thought you would cover it since you’re such a beautiful and intelligent man. But you didn’t. So let me state the one doubt I have more than you.”

All at once Cassidy slipped to his knees and reached out his right hand to the audience. “I doubt,” he began. Then he stopped. “I doubt,” he started again, his voice cracking, “I doubt if I can love you all as much as I need to without God’s help.”

He bowed his head and let the microphone drop to the stage, sending an echo of reverb throughout the building. And then he just wept. He cried like a widow who had just lost her long-loved husband. This went on for a solid two minutes.

Then there was a sniff or two from the audience, some gasping, and then sobbing. In no time at all, most of the people in attendance joined Cassidy in what seemed to be a needful moment of mourning.

Merklin himself bowed his head, squeezed his nose between his thumb and finger, stood up and strolled off the stage.

America seemed to be coming to a long overdue introspection:

The Catholic Church had decided to try a “test parish,” assigning a female priest in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. They asked Sister Rolinda if she would become “Mother Rolinda” to the congregation and lead them.

After much controversy and many debates, the Mormon Church offered an apology for allowing years of indoctrination against the black man to be included in their books.

The Baptists came out against Confederate flags.

The United Methodist church became more energized, with a sense of hope and revival.

Everywhere there was the essence of awakening, without the religious trappings.

Yet as the jet made its way to Washington, D.C., and the marriage ceremony was completed, Matthew found himself enjoying the night life of Las Vegas and the benefits of Nevada’s legal prostitution. He never jumped on the plane to join the “caravan of the concerned” anymore. He wrote checks, he took care of the books and made sure that all legal questions were fielded by the proper attorneys.

Jo-Jay was busy tracking down Prophet Morgan’s murderer, so every attempt he made to contact her was met with her familiar answering machine: “Hi, this is Jo-Jay. Like the Blue Jay but I’m not a bird. Leave a message.”

Matthew was a man who knew he was ill but preferred the pain to the cure.

Meanwhile, the rally in Washington exceeded expectations. Nearly 700.000 people showed up, many sporting the black t-shirts with hot pink lettering which read, Check if you’re dead. Cassidy spoke only ten minutes in front of the crowd, which had traveled from all over the world for the moment.

Jubal Carlos, who had been taking less and less of a role of late, filled in with music and a fifteen-minutes retrospective on where they had come from and where they prayed to go.

After the meeting, the 700,000 people dispersed with hugs, smiles and tears, as Cassidy was whisked away to the White House to meet the President. He was to be honored with a special Public Servant Award. When he arrived, it was not just the President but his whole family, plus the Vice President and many members of Congress, who had gathered in the East Room to see “the Lazman.”

Cassidy, when asked to say a few words, stood to his feet and quipped, “You know, I used to work with power. But looking around this room–this is ridiculous.”

A great burst of laughter. So he continued. “And as I learned, power can energize you, or it can…well, it can kill you. I hope all of us in this room realize that. I pray for each and every one of you every day. I wouldn’t want your jobs. My job is easy. I take the life God has given me–now in my 101st day of resurrection–and try to just love as many people as I can. It may sound silly, or even weak, but it’s what I got.”

He nodded to the dignitaries, who burst into applause and stood up to give him honor.

Cassidy went to sit on a lovely divan and lay his head back for moment, resting. The President and First Lady walked over to meet him. He took their hands and thanked them for their courtesy in inviting him.

All at once, he raised his eyebrows as if he was looking deeply into their souls. He gave a small chuckle, took a deep breath, and quietly said, “I guess that’s it.”

He laid his head back against the divan, and the President and First Lady, thinking he must be exhausted from the rally, left him to rest. Everybody gave him space. Actually, people thought it was cute that he had fallen asleep at the White House during a tribute to his life and success. Some people even started to leave.

Then one of the butlers noticed that Cassidy had not moved for some time, and it appeared that he wasn’t breathing. The butler slowly stepped over, lifted a hand and felt for a pulse. He lurched back in alarm, speaking to the surrounding guests, “He’s dead.”

A doctor who was present for the occasion ran forward and discovered the same. He placed Cassidy on the ground, trying to revive him. An ambulance was called, but by the time it arrived, it was much too late.

Cassidy Templeton was dead. He had passed away in the White House, on the 101st day after his miracle resurrection.

The nation was stunned.

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Jesonian … March 3rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3600)

The Gospel writers had a really stiff drink to mix to stir together all the ingredients to write the cocktail of the life of Jesus.

First and foremost, let me tell you as a writer, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are not books. They are long short stories–an oxymoron. The number of words in each Gospel is about the same as a big short story.

So with an economy of words and phrases, these gentlemen set out to capsulize what is arguably the most interesting life ever lived. On top of that, they had the problem of being infested with some agendas of their own. Each one of them was intent on convincing the reader that Jesus was Messiah/Anointed One/Christ/Son of God.

They were also pretty pissed off with the Jewish leaders. This is reflected in many references. And they certainly wanted to compete with each other in the retelling of the resurrection.

I offer this preface because in a good overview of their works, there are only a few times that each of them include the same stories.

  • Crucifixion
  • Resurrection
  • Feeding of the five thousand

These are in all four Gospels. And in Matthew, Mark and Luke–the Synoptic Gospels–one other particular story is included by this trio of authors.

It seems to be a rather insignificant tale–matter of fact, I doubt if it makes its way into many sermons. But it was very important to Matthew, Mark and Luke.

On a Sabbath, the disciples were walking through a field of wheat and picked some of it because they were hungry. The story-tellers are clear that the disciples take the kernels and grind them in their hands to “get the good stuff to eat.”

The significance? According to the Pharisees, it was permissible to pick the wheat but you couldn’t grind it in your hand and eat it–not on the Sabbath. That was work. Therefore, if you were hungry, you would have to take the wheat home and wait until the next day to eat.

It is the travesty of the religious mind–to manufacture a God who is so displeased with us that He demands we function in uncomfortable contortions to receive His favor.

In this story, the Pharisees complain to Jesus.

Now, Jesus is not a diplomat. He is not determined to offend the Pharisees, but every time he did, refused to pull back from his position.

He told these fellows that King David ate the shewbread that was reserved for holy days and for the priests. His army was hungry. No one died.

Jesus explained that the Sabbath was a time to do good and not evil. It was an occasion to fulfill mankind’s needs instead of heaping heavy burdens on them.

Knowing that the Pharisees would be quite unwilling to criticize King David, he offered this argument while simultaneously insisting the his disciples should be granted the full measure and respect that David deserved.

Then, in the story, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they should learn mercy and not sacrifice–otherwise they will spend their whole lives attacking innocent people.

And if that wasn’t enough to fully flummox these religious leaders, he closed off by saying, And by the way, “I am the Lord of the Sabbath.”

This story was important to Matthew, Mark and Luke. It sniffed of their Master. It smelled like Jesus.

For they experienced and knew that Jesus was a champion for the human race and would not tolerate anyone attacking people, especially if it were being done in the name of God.

Damn it to hell, you don’t pick wheat and then not eat it. It is illogical, irrelevant, irreverent and inhuman. Jesus didn’t come to turn human beings into gods.

Jesus was the personification of God turning himself into a human being.

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Jesonian … January 27th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3565)

Considering what a contrarian Jesus of Nazareth was to structure, practices, piety and legalism, it is sometimes difficult to understand how he ended up bleeding out a religion.

It’s not just his own words, which abhor the strict nature of religiosity, but also the reaction of those who were the faithful partakers–how they deemed him ignorant, a drunkard, a glutton, an evil man who was demon possessed, and a friend of sinners.

Not a rousing recommendation.

Let us start on the basis that all religions have one similar goal–to promote the notion that there is some sort of Supreme Being(s) or enlightenment which prompts us to worship.

Also, when you put the religions of the world in the order of their inception, you gain an interesting insight.

Buddhism and Hinduism preceded Christ, as did Judaism. Then came Jesus. But the only religion that had the benefit of eyeballing the fallacies of following faith without rhyme and reason was Mohammed. Yet the Muslim faith is riddled with the misleading trap doors that open up to fanaticism.

What is the difference between Jesus and Mohammed?

Mohammed wanted to start a cliqué.  Jesus was avoiding one.

Let’s look at specifics.

When it comes to the basics of spiritual expression–prayer–Jesus constantly warned his followers to make their overtures to God as practical and personal as possible. He said that prayer was necessary but should never be done in public to be seen by others, using vain repetition, or at a wailing wall or on a rug, but instead initiated behind a closed closet door.

When the subject of fasting came up, Jesus said there was nothing wrong with it as long as nobody knew you were doing it. In other words, put on a happy face, wash up and look energized by the experience instead of depleted.

How about worship? When he talked to the woman at the well, she was worried about where to do it and the style of doing it. Just like today–should it be contemporary or traditional? Jesus pointedly informed her that location and style were irrelevant. Worship was to be unfolded “in spirit and in truth.”

Seems like we’re on a roll. How about giving? Jesus claimed that giving was the key to getting. He once again wanted to make sure that generosity was not expressed to impress others, but instead, to instill in our hearts the knowledge that every little bit helps, and someday those we assist might come back our way and be our angels of blessing.

And then there’s the Law. Judaism and the Muslims are intent on maintaining a code of ethics, conduct and social interaction that was conceived more than two thousand years ago, with no respect for the power of freedom and the necessity of evolution.

For you see, Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the Law. And what is that fulfillment? Two fold: “He has come to give us life and it more abundantly, and also come that our joy might be full.”

By no means should we condemn or even critique those of the Muslim faith for adhering to their rendition of God. But we must question whether the faith that is promoted has sufficient warnings to scare away all the rascals, fanatics and self-righteous rabble which can try to hurt others by using the words of the Prophets.

  • Jesus told his disciples to worship God by being as normal as possible.
  • He told them to blend in.
  • He told them to honor Caesar instead of hating Caesar.
  • He told them they were the light of the world, not the scourge of the Earth.
  • And most of all, he told them that they had no right to judge. (He even sealed this point by saying that he–Jesus–could judge and it would be righteous and fair, but he refused to do so.)

Christianity works because we know how to isolate our idiots and make sure it’s clear that they are not really part of the faith.

The Muslims talk a big game, but after decades and decades of terrorism, they are still represented by those who kill women and children.

 

 

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Good News and Better News … December 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3525)

 

Christmas takes my breath away because it removes the stale air of predictable behavior and infuses the pure oxygen of the beauty of life.

It took a baby in a manger to address my childishness–because I am guilty of making the unimportant valuable, as I set aside the truly significant parts of life, praying in my soul that one day I will be able to give them their due.

Heft.

Yes, Jesus said there are “weightier matters” in life–things with girth, depth and breadth, which need to be addressed before all others, but are often ignored in favor of the pursuit of solvency.

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The difference between religion and faith is that religion is satisfied to perform a service, and faith requires our full mustard-seed.

The weightier matters:

Mercy.

Mercy is not a lip-service devotion, but a proving ground, where those things that make us uncomfortable are forgiven so that we might retain human souls within the borders of the Earth.

Justice.

Escaping our family, clan, kin and even our country to catch a world-wide vision of equality within our race.

Faithfulness.

It is more than telling the truth and escaping the lie, but rather, making sure that the truth endures so that the lies don’t have a chance to gain root.

There is no season like Christmas.

There is no time during the year when “good will toward men” is considered a plausible possibility. There is no other occasion when redemption is viewed as a message rather than a human sacrifice.

The good news is that God weighs matters and gives them importance.

The better news is, if we place our concerns on the scale, we will know what value to give to each and every offering.

 

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