G-Poppers … November 17th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It certainly seemed to be a concerted effort.

At the close of the twentieth century, the social malaise gelled into a common theme. Whether it was the educational system, the government, the corporate world, the entertainment industry or the religious community, for one prolonged season they converged on a universal axiom: “Everybody’s different.”

Matter of fact, you could pretty well guarantee applause in front of any audience by saying, “I’m different, you’re different, we’re all different–but it’s okay.”

G-Pop calls it “the snowflake philosophy.” You know what he means. “There are no two snowflakes exactly alike–and that’s the way people are, too.”

And it seems that nobody had the temerity to come along and say, “How do you know that no two snowflakes are alike?”

The sentiment sounded sweet, kind and cuddly, so it was embraced as a truth. Matter of fact, if anyone had come along to suggest that the human race is pretty much the same group of people, just in different locales, it would have been considered out of step, and even, to a certain degree, bigoted–in the sense that if for some reason you could not accept eight billion different cultures colliding with each other on the same landscape, then you were downright intolerant.

After about fifty years of this propaganda, the common patter has begun to bear the fruit of its contention. In other words, “since we’re all so different, how is it possible to procure common ground?” And therefore, we only feel comfortable around those who share our genetic markers, are part of our own household–and we’re mistrustful of anyone sporting “different genes.”

Where has this philosophy gotten us? Where is it going to take us?

G-Pop wants his children to understand that establishing uniqueness is not based upon genetics or proclamations, but rather, the use of our consecration and talent.

The first step is understanding that human beings are at least 95% the same–similar bodies, similar faces, and even similar attitudes.

God had the wisdom to explain our interwoven relationship with the simple statement, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

G-Pop says that perhaps we may view our sin as “special” or not nearly as nasty as the ones around us, but the ultimate Judge has clumped them all together.

It is time for sane people with quality minds to set out on a new vision.

We have much in common, we’re more alike than different, and what we refer to as culture is merely personal preference.

There are things that work with everyone in every land:

  • A smile
  • Offering a kindness
  • Working hard instead of complaining
  • Tidying up your space
  • And refraining from complaining

In every culture, these are exchanged as gold.

G-Pop believes it is time for his children, once and for all, to tear down the myth of uniqueness.

It is time to enjoy the idea of being common. 

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Jesonian … November 4th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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On hundreds of occasions, I was sitting backstage in my Green Room in a church somewhere in America, waiting for the program to begin, when there would be a timid knock on the door and the sponsor would appear, and he or she would awkwardly and sheepishly say, “Well, there are not many people here, but it will be worth it if you reach even one person.”

I often found myself smiling approvingly, as if I agreed with the bizarre statement. Let me make it clear. It was never worth the effort, the spirit, the energy and the creativity that Ms. Clazzy and I mustered to reach “just one person.” It is ineffective, it is inefficient, and therefore it certainly is not the will of God.

Jesus punctuated this point in Matthew 23:15. If you ever read that chapter, you will find that Jesus is extremely pissed off. He has reached the end of his ministry and he’s nauseated by the religious system, which has not only blocked his efforts, but has left the people impoverished, physically and spiritually. He accuses the religious leaders of exhibiting great pretense over traveling land and sea to preach their foolish doctrines, and when they finally gain a convert, they turn the poor son of a bitch into “twice the son of Hell” as they are themselves.

Amen and Amen.

Our religious system has taken a message that God sent through Jesus to reach humans, and has replaced it with a human message which is continually trying to please God. Therefore, our congregations are emotionally immature, spiritually stunted, mentally confused, physically tempted, and pleading for other folks to come to the sanctuary and be equally as damaged, in order to help defray the cost of the mortgage on the church building.

Religion sucks. There’s no other way to say it.

God intended to bring an abundant life which was suited to humans, not abundant rules, regulations and commandments that scare them away.

Church has become a place where we train people to be so heavenly that they become hellish. It is a hiding place for the insecure, the demented and those who feel a need to establish their superiority over their fellow-man.

Are you religious? You should find out. Here’s what religion believes:

1. God matters more than people. (The Bible makes it completely clear that how we treat people is what God believes we feel about Him).

2. People are evil. (Actually, people are encumbered with the knowledge of good and evil. Through spirited instruction, they can let the goodness win.)

3. Evil is powerful and often wins. (Evil is trapped in the atmosphere of Earth, and historically never wins.)

If you believe any one of these three things listed above, you are religious, and being religious, you will develop a childish reverence to God and a growing distaste for people.

You will find yourself cast into the role of “twice the son of Hell.”

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Good News and Better News… June 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3342)

Dislike–deciding to “diss” liking.

In the pursuit of what we call love, and even unconditional love, we’ve reached a point where we just don’t like each other anymore. We have the appearance of Atlas carrying the world on our shoulders because we feel compelled by our civilized natures to be as calm as possible.

We “diss” liking. We claim great affection for souls around us while privately rolling our eyes, communicating that they are annoying.

So when I arrived yesterday morning at the Ruskin United Methodist Church, I was looking for people who like each other. Because here’s the truth–a paraphrase of John the Apostle: I don’t think you can love God if you don’t like people.

It seems that God is really proud of His creation.

I know we portray an anxious deity, constantly perturbed over our sins, but since He gave us the ability and even the permission, I seriously doubt that He will be terribly upset when we occasionally go errant.

The greatest arrogance, the most self-righteousness, and perhaps the sin of all sins, is to believe that human beings are not worth liking.

  • It’s in our government.
  • It’s in our religious system.
  • It’s in our movies.

We are training ourselves to be suspicious, and failing to acquire great moments of human fellowship that just demand a little bit of mercy and grace.

I’m not one to advocate looking in the rear view mirror and assuming that the past was better than the present, but I will tell you, if there was any era when people were given the chance to excel without being pre-judged, then we might want to reach back into that span of time and regain some of that tenderness.

For the good news is, God likes people.

And the better news is, He loves those who like them, too.

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Good News and Better News… February 20th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3224)

church-lady

Scold: a nasty rebuke offered by a disciplinarian to an underling.

No one likes to receive the scold. Matter of fact, it can unearth a teenage rebellion out of an eighty-year-old.

And also cloistered within “scold” are two other words, just as fussy and frustrating:

Cold: an absence of warmth, and

Old: the passing of years, turning us into grumpy sorts.

Although a strong case can be made that repentance is at the heart of our faith, trying to initiate that with harsh words offered to a fellow-traveler is highly unlikely. But it’s exactly the approach we take in the religious system to attempt to get people into the church.

We scold.

First we scold by saying, “We just don’t understand why people don’t come to church,” instead of sitting down and coming up with the logical reasons why a human being might not want to flock to the flock.

Then we turn cold.

If they actually do pop in on Easter, Christmas or for the baptism of a little grandson, we don’t know how to treat them. To a certain degree, we are frightened of the outside world–therefore, when people show up, we’re at a loss to muster the confidence to welcome them wholeheartedly.

And of course, we are freakishly old.

We expect people to come into the church and adapt to our ancient traditions. It’s been years since we’ve questioned whether the rituals in the church actually minister to human beings, or are just symbols of what we think the Divine might like.

The good news is, if we’ll stop scolding people with our cold attitude from an old mindset, we might just free up a new idea, using our talents to embrace strangers.

The better news is, we really have no option. If we don’t evolve very soon … there will be no one left around to scold.

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Ask Jonathots… September 8th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I had to do a short talk in speech class and wanted to chat about my church experience, but I felt I had to offer a disclaimer about Christianity: “I’m a Christian, but I don’t hate you.” I would love to stop having to do that. How?

Every single week, Americans go and spend money at Wal-Mart, even though it is pretty well known that their products are manufactured through cheap labor, often with the mistreatment of the employees. Should we stop shopping at Wal-Mart because the company has chosen practices that disregard the workers in other countries?

You can feel free to do so, but Wal-Mart is not going to be affected by your decision.

Or you can come to the conclusion that the only responsibility you have is to make sure that your life, your aspirations and your interactions with other human beings are free of intimidation and unfairness.

You’re not responsible for Wal-Mart.

You are responsible for you.

It’s very important that each believer in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth understand that the religious system that represents him is guilty of excess, greed, indifference and at times the subjugation of the poor. The system has drug its feet on issues of human rights and racial and gender equality.

Yet to stop attending a church, turning it over to the indifferent, is failing to capture an opportunity to quietly change the atmosphere.

If enough people show up at the religious system and refuse to merely act in ritual and repetition, then eventually, because the religious system likes to collect offerings, it will have to change in order to accommodate the new spirit.

For instance, I only buy groceries at Wal-Mart. Why? Because most of the products that come into the grocery department are not grown in sweat shops. It is a small consideration but still a difference.

And I don’t refuse to go to the church because it is filled with hypocrisy and vanity, but instead, I go to encourage my brothers and sisters and fellow-humans to be of good cheer, lighten their load and give a damn.

So I suppose if I were standing in front of your speech class, I would say:

“I’m a follower of Jesus. He thinks we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus was fine until the committee showed up–just like the United States was a great idea until politics corrupted it. But I neither give up on Jesus nor the United States just because those who scream the loudest are ignorant. I am a follower of Jesus. I don’t make a very good Christian, because I’m just not religious.”

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Ask Jonathots… August 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I want my kids to have a spiritual upbringing but I don’t feel comfortable with a lot of the churches available to us. How do I ensure that I am instilling spirituality in their lives?

Your question is really in two parts.

First, what should I do about the church, and second, how do I instill spirituality in my kids?

Let me start with the second question. There are three steps to true spirituality:

1. What do I truly believe?

I will tell you something shocking. The less you believe in, the better the chance will be that you will follow it.

This is why, in the Good Book, the entire sixty-six units boil down to a single phrase: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The truth is, when you love your neighbor as yourself, you’re already putting into practice at least fifty principles. But if you focus on loving your neighbor as yourself, you will be honoring a thousand ideas.

2. How does what I believe affect me?

The absence of an abundant life is the presence of a crappy belief system. It was Jesus who said that fruit would be borne in our lives through what we believe. If you are miserable, irritable, grouchy, complaining, bigoted, self-centered, short-sighted and selfish, you probably need to go shopping for a new belief.

3. How does my belief affect others?

Our belief was never intended to be a preachy condemnation of the lifestyle of our brother or sister. It is a light that shines in place, available for those who wish to emerge from their darkness.

In other words, if you’re teaching your children to love their neighbors as themselves, use their beliefs to progress them emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically, and allot mercy and tolerance to others while affording a helping hand, then you have spirituality.

Now, when it comes to the church, the spiritual representation of that idea has been lost in the implementation of the organization. But here’s the truth of the matter: if you have a good heart, a willing spirit, an open mind and an active desire, you can go into any church and affect the theology simply by being a worker instead of a critic.

There is no way that people with true spiritual insight can be ignored in a religious system that stumbles over its own clumsy rules.

So once you get your children in an attitude of understanding what true spirituality is, then go to church and let your light shine–because that beam of confidence will soon put you in a position to change the mediocre surroundings.

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Jesonian: Head for the Hills … November 8th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Drachma

The Middle East is a muddled beast.

It has baffled politicians, military strategists and rational thinkers for generations.

Following a Jesonian philosophy, which is an attempt to tap the heart of Jesus, I decided to find out if the Nazarene had any insight on the issue.

Turns out he does.

It was in the latter part of his ministry when Jesus visited Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and took the opportunity to attack the religious leaders for their hypocrisy, excess, indifference and greed.

He spends quite a bit of time elaborating on the iniquity that filled the religious system of his day. But it is the closing of his speech which is most chilling. He finishes up his talk by saying that he had come to Jerusalem many times, trying to reason with them and get them to repent of their stubbornness and sense of superiority. But the continual rejection had caused him to decide that “their house was left to them desolate.”

Because they had killed the prophets, ignored wise men who had been sent their way, and shunned anyone who was practical enough to believe that spirituality could be best expressed through the love of human beings instead of the practice of ritual, he felt it was time for him to depart.

So the 24th Chapter of Matthew begins with a chilling proclamation: Jesus left the Temple.

He never went back again.

He never has.

All the dealings of the Christian faith are meant to be conducted in the streets and homes of human beings–at the point of need.

The ironic part is that the disciples try to draw him back to the Temple, to show him all the sights and wonders–a “Holy Land tour.”

He emphatically tells them that what they see before their eyes will be torn down, stone by stone. He even describes the process. He says that people will be so involved in their religion and their family life that they will not notice the signs of their times.

They will be “marrying and given in marriage,” oblivious to the dangers of conflict and generational revenge.

Jesus gave his disciples counsel. He said, “When you see there is conflict around Jerusalem and that there are armies gathering … head for the hills.”

Don’t stay and fight.

Don’t pick a side.

Don’t assume that God will protect those who are out to destroy each other.

Head for the hills.

We, as the United States, should take the wisdom of Jesus’ warning. There is no Armageddon unless all the armies of the world go to the desert and fight.

It is possible for us to support Israel and also welcome the Palestinians as long as the Palestinians accept the right of Israel to exist and Israel includes the Palestinians.

This is a family fight, and if we join it, both sides of the family will fight against us. So basically, we don’t please the Muslims and we don’t satisfy the Israelis.

Head for the hills.

It is possible to be an arbiter without putting on boxing gloves to join in the bout.

This should be our mission. We should watch the signs of the times, keep ourselves free from the conflict, and do our best to guide these lost brothers and sisters into understanding that the world is big enough for both of them, if their hearts can grow big enough for each other.

So I say to the Republicans and the Democrats: from a Jesonian perspective, you’re both wrong.

Jesus realized there is no negotiation with religion.

  • Religion will kill to fulfill its principles.
  • Religion will repeat instead of repent.
  • Religion is constantly looking for a new Messiah.
  • And religion invites war because it thinks peace is compromising doctrine.

But Jesus left the Temple.

We should do the same.

Stand back and let’s see if these warring factions will grow tired of burying their children, and begin to have a heart for making peace. And then, let us be the peace-makers instead of the fellow-warriors.

I believe it’s the only answer.

There is no Holy Land in the Middle East: people are dying, people are hurt, people are abused and people are marginalized.

It is the definition … of unholy. 

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