PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Crumbling Dream

Hot temper, bitter words

Flying insults, dirty birds

Pent-up snarl from the soul

Heard the half, now here’s the whole

Feelings raw from being hidden

Hell erupts as pain is bidden

To share the anguish of being slighted

Fussy memories, unrequited

Shocked to perceive and be accused

Vehemently denying, yet still refused

Layer upon layer, vicious sound

As our home burns to the ground

Can’t we cease this devastation

And abandon all retaliation?

Or must we struggle to the end

And watch the truth gradually descend

To overwrought exaggeration

White noise buzzing from every station

If no one listens, how can we hear?

Violence threatens, we tremble in fear

Stop the madness, no logic impresses

By ranting about the current messes

I need breath–just some air

You’re so mean, completely unfair

I once loved you with all my heart

So much damage–where can we start?

Yet in the midst of the emotional debris

I still desire a way to be

Your heart again, sweet and real

A tender caress, a path to feel

God forgive us as we scream

And help us save our crumbling dream. 

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Ask Jonathots … November 17th, 2016

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When turning the other cheek, how do you ensure you won’t be slapped twice?

A door has two functions.

If open, it provides access to another possibility.

If closed, it creates curiosity, but also can pass along the impression that what is beyond the barrier is forbidden.

The reason most people fight is because the doors are closed. It’s the main reason that “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” fails to achieve any purpose–because slamming the door in the face of another human being does not mean they won’t try to burst through or close doors in your face.

Retaliation is a never-ending process–unless somebody opens a door.

I have relationships with people who are fruitful, even though they’ve been speckled with egregious conflict and offense. They work because doors are left open.

And I have broken connections with other folks that were halted because the door was slammed on communication, leaving behind a climate of mistrust–a grudge.

When you turn the other cheek, you refuse to slam the door on the possibility of creating peace.

Will someone take advantage of your willingness and slug you again? Perhaps. But if you push back they will certainly follow up their violence with additional attacks.

For after all, there are no guarantees when it comes to interaction with human beings, yet I can promise you that if you slam doors, strike out, or try to get even, you will certainly be in danger of escalating the aggression.

It is in that moment of turning the other cheek, refusing to participate, and allowing for cooler heads to prevail, that you thrust a mirror into the face of your enemy and let him or her see themselves as the villain.

Does it always work? Does anything?

Certainly there are some folks who will continue to beat on you once you stop fighting, but it is not the norm. Usually when you refuse to seek revenge, you will stall the vitriol of others and give them pause to contemplate.

In that moment, more than likely you will avoid the second slapping–and just possibly open the door to conversation. 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 12) Obsession… July 17th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

A damnable itch, festering in the brain, simpering to be scratched.

Meningsbee was enraged.

He was wounded.

He couldn’t decide if he was more angry or hurt.

But on the drive home, grasping a moment of maturity, he decided to keep the events of the failed Bible study to himself. Yes, when asked about it, he would play dumb and refer all questions to the other parties involved.

And there would be questions. The congregation had great faith that Meningsbee would be able to come into the living room setting of Sammy Collins’ home and use his spirit and charm to initiate healing.

Maybe that’s what bothered him the most–a complete sense of failure; a rage over being out-foxed by this common possum, Swanson. How did he ever let himself be in such a vulnerable position that this upstart could make him look foolish and insignificant?

Even though he decided that the mature–or as he called it, the Jesonian–way of handling the event was to remain silent, his brain was inflamed with an inferno of retaliation.

And the more he considered his noble choice, to turn the other cheek and pretend it never happened, the more a self-righteous slime made him feel pious–superior to his adversary. Then an aching anger chased that religiosity, leaving him bound in a week-long fit of overwhelming obsession.

Fortunately, he succeeded in dodging all the phone calls from church members by proclaiming that he would share his findings on Sunday. This seemed reasonable to all of them. Why tell the story fifty times when you could tell it once, and have it done?

But what would he tell?

Even though Patrick Swanson did not ask him to keep their conversation in confidence, he knew that anything he would relate about the plans of this worship leader would come across petty–and of course, be easily denied.

He’d had such great hopes.

Meningsbee had come to Garsonville with the spirit of a servant, but now he was realizing that he still had a mind to be king.

Yes, in his more enlightened moments he was willing to be patient and wait for good things to come his way, but that damnable itch insisted on being recognized.

He got so worked up that he ended up with some sleepless nights that invited a common cold to further aggravate him. Sneezing, blowing his nose and sipping some tea and honey for a scratchy throat, he wondered if he could skip the Sunday service due to illness.

Implausible.

Things had to be handled, and unfortunately, it was his hands.

He didn’t pray enough, he didn’t study anything, he over-ate, over-thought and over-reacted.

He reluctantly dressed for Sunday morning and headed out the door. He had no message.

He had never come to spend time with the Heavenly Father so ill-prepared. All he had inside him was poison. But he drove to the church and stepped to the door.

A few people tried to hug him and he was able to maneuver away by explaining his contagious condition. Fortunately, the congregation easily handled prayers, offering, testimonies and even a song.

Then everybody grew quiet, the building completely still, waiting for Pastor Meningsbee to speak.

He stood to his feet, vacant of inspiration.

He walked slowly, as a man treading to an execution. He turned and looked into the hopeful faces of those who yearned for peace with their neighbors.

Suddenly tears filled his eyes. He feigned a sneeze and grabbed a Kleenex to draw attention away from his sudden emotional outburst.

Catching his breath, he picked up a Bible nearby and held it in the air. He stood there for a long moment, waiting for the Holy Spirit to give him utterance. There was none.

Yet the congregation was waiting.

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G-Poppers … July 15th, 2016

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The Two-Headed Devilish

G-Pop is humbled by words.

He wants his children to know that if words are selected intelligently, they can be used to justify the feelings of the heart. On the other hand, if expelled carelessly, they can condemn, exposing ignorance.

While the nation stumbles about, trying to figure out what has happened in the last few weeks–why we are hurting one another–it is essential that we reflect on the power of words.

For you see, two monsters have been invited into the living room of American life:

  1. Lying is expected.
  2. Meanness is accepted.

Up to now, we have successfully held rancid racism and putrid prejudice at bay, simply by recognizing that lying is wrong and being mean produces nothing but retaliation.

Somewhere along the line, we’ve become convinced that lying only has consequences if one is caught, and that meanness is effective if it achieves domination.

Meanwhile, policemen are afraid of black men, which in turn, causes black men to be terrified of policemen.

Let’s begin here: those who have been nominated for the Presidency of the United States feel it is their privilege to attack one another, lie, cheat and imbue dishonor. Just for the record, Donald Trump is not a “big faker” and Hillary Clinton is not “crooked Hillary.” These verbal barbs are not funny, not interesting, and certainly not newsworthy.

So dare I say, this kind of flippant, childish wording is the culprit–the nexus–for two dead young black men and five noble policemen.

Why? Because we expect lying and we accept meanness, so there’s no one to trust and no one who is guaranteed our respect.

We must deal with this “two-headed devilish” or we will continue to decline as a culture, lying in the meanest ways possible.

So what should we do?

A. Lying is easy, but it’s wrong–yet forgivable.

To gain that forgiveness, we have to embrace the truth, which makes us free of the insecurity causing us to attack others.

B. Meanness hurts.

There is never a good time for it. It is never a preferable position. It is the profile of a soul who has run out of ideas. It opens the door to blame, which is always seeking a new name.

G-Pop wants his children to know that lying is wrong, and meanness is unacceptable.

Until we return to systemic logic–drenched in common sense–we will lie about our prejudices and rationalize our meanness.

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 11) Bible-less Study… July 10th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

The answering machine was full.

Meningsbee had taken the precaution of turning off his phone for the Sunday afternoon drive which landed him in South Dakota, and now checking it for the first time, he realized that his “professional preacher profile,” which he had selected the previous Sunday, had not fooled any of his congregation.

He had at least thirty messages, all basically intoning a recurring theme: “Are you all right?”

He was in the middle of the eighteenth inquiry when there was a knock at the door. He opened it to discover Sammy Collins, a deacon who had been part of the great exodus from the Garsonville Church. Meningsbee invited him in but Sammy explained that he was in a hurry.

He said, “I have a Bible study at my house on Monday nights, and I would like you to come and see if we can’t make this thing right.”

On any other day, Meningsbee would have been reluctant, but he remembered Kitty’s words at the Four Heads Motel. Maybe he did need to listen.

So he agreed to come–with the stipulation that it would be a secret. Sammy agreed and departed. The following Sunday, Meningsbee was shocked to discover that everyone knew about the upcoming Monday night Bible study. They were thrilled, apprehensive, overjoyed–but mostly wanted to pray for him. Some wanted to come and give moral support, but he declined.

So all through Monday, Meningsbee fidgeted and wondered what his approach should be with the former congregation members.

He knew he didn’t want to be defensive. He knew he didn’t want to take too much time–and mostly, he knew he didn’t want to get there early.

Since it was a pot-luck dinner, which was served after the Bible study, he made his famous hot dog and beans for the occasion.

He arrived promptly at seven o’ clock, to discover that nobody was there. No one but Sammy Collins, his wife and Patrick Swanson, who was formerly the worship committee leader at the Garsonville Church.

Sammy was humiliated, frustrated, and just could not figure out what had happened.

In the midst of Sammy’s attempts at an explanation, Patrick interrupted and said, “Sammy, would you mind giving the Reverend and me an opportunity to chat privately?”

Sammy agreed, took Meningsbee’s casserole dish and headed off to the kitchen. Meanwhile, Patrick motioned for Meningsbee to come and sit down in the living room. Once seated, Mr. Swanson began his discourse.

“I need to be candid with you, Meningsbee. I told the congregation not to come this evening.” Swanson paused to see Meningsbee’s reaction. He offered none, so Swanson continued.

“You may wonder why. It’s because we aren’t coming back. There isn’t going to be a reconciliation, because we need our church out at the Holiday Inn. I know you think that you broke up the Garsonville Church through your policies. I’ll have to admit–they were pretty heavy-handed, and you didn’t really seek anyone else’s confidence, but I had decided months ago to abandon the property. I hadn’t said anything to anyone else, but two years ago I thought the new bypass was going to come through, and we’d be able to sell at a huge profit. But when they picked another path, I realized that the church basically had no financial worth. Simultaneously, the building’s getting old. The roof’s rotten, carpet is threadbare–I even had a guy come in who told us we have termites. Plus, after all my years of being at the church, I was tired of the flow of pastors. Most of them gave hapless attempts at being administrators, with no real business sense of their own. And then you arrived, on some sort of Mt. Sinai mission, to make us into something else. Well, it was enough. I made my move. My prayer was that all the old people would stay with you and all the young couples would come over to the new church, where we could talk about current events, politics, and plan excursions. You know–trips where we could fellowship and have fun. The church was dead, but I didn’t have the heart to kill it–and then you showed up. You became my gun.”

Swanson paused. Perhaps he was expecting an explosion of anger, a retaliation or a threat or two, but Meningsbee remained silent.

Swanson concluded. “Any questions, Reverend? What I’m saying to you is, you can try to keep that church together, but I will fight you.”

Meningsbee stood to his feet and stated, “Will you tell Sammy I’m going to pass on dinner?”

He headed to the door, leaving Patrick in the living room by himself. His hand was shaking as he reached for the knob.

Walking down the stoop to the sidewalk to his car, he felt like someone had taken a knife and hollowed out his insides.

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Ask Jonathots … January 21st, 2016

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When is it right to fight–to stand up for yourself? Everyone I know and everywhere I look, people say you have to “fight back” and “defend yourself.” So what does it mean to “turn the other cheek” or even “thou shall not kill?” And how is it we are a “Christian nation” when fighting and killing and wars are constant?

Let’s begin with the concept of a “Christian nation.”

Jesus never envisioned his work as a country. He said his “kingdom is not of this world.” So the Christian message was intended to be an individual experience. Then these converts were challenged to become “the light of the world,” and affect the climate of society.

So to tout ourselves as a Christian nation, we have blended in the concepts of the Old Testament so that we can obtain a nationalistic flavor. And when you include the Old Testament, you get “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and vendettas against enemies.

So I don’t know if it’s possible to approach this as a Christian nation without including ideas which Jesus said had been cast aside in favor of more loving and noble adventures.

If we were a Christian nation, our agenda would be simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In other words, take care of those around us and develop a healthy, prejudice-free environment where people can prosper, and in so doing, gain personal peace of mind and solvency.

Then that “city on a hill” could be a testimony to the world and they could begin to measure their philosophies against our philosophy, and decide where they might want to revise their thinking.

Of course, in the process, we must realize that enemies still come along due to jealousy and revenge, but when this happens, we can stand guard without totally destroying those who attack us.

This is exemplified in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus takes eleven men into this secluded place for a time of prayer, asking them if they had the means to defend themselves, and when they said, “We have two swords,” he replied, “It is enough.”

So if we could put together a military without trying to overwhelm our enemies with our prowess, then we would be in a position to take the rest of our money and use it to improve the lives of our citizens instead of constructing an arsenal of intimidation.

You will be told by most people that this idea is childish and stupid. This is why Jesus never intended to take over countries and rule them.

The Christian message is intended to be placed in existing cultures, and through its charity, affect the climate that surrounds it.

So I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question. Yet I will tell you that the fighting and killing that goes on in our world cannot be attributed to the message of Jesus of Nazareth, because he never intended to possess turf.

And if you ever have to add Old Testament to New Testament to justify your actions, then you are not living under the total spiritual impact of the Kingdom of God.

So I walk in a simple situation:

  • If the United States is attacked, we should defend ourselves.
  • We should also protect the innocent of the world as much as possible without entering into old grudges that are thousands of years in the making.
  • And we should take most of our financial power to build up the lives of our people so that we can offer a testimony of peace and prosperity to the world around us.

Whatever it would take to do this is what would be sufficient. Because when eleven men told Jesus they had two swords, he said it was enough.

It certainly is not enough to attack, but it did end up being enough to allow them to escape.

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