Sit Down Comedy … December 14th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Bad inflow, stinky outflow.

The human race has been given lots of bad information.

Thus the stink in the air.

The collaborators are at work. They have gotten together and either lined up in one brigade or clumped in another–those camps being the secular notion that all human beings are basically good, just needing to be left alone to prosper within their own consciousness, or the religious assertion that we are rotten, and if God doesn’t save us and constantly monitor our activities, we are fodder for hell.

It’s spooky.

And trying to find a real life out of these warring armies of philosophy makes the common person like me wish for some peace. The problem is, I end up less productive than I wish to be.

Human beings are probably one of the simpler forms of life.

We are not creatures in the jungle, struggling for survival. We are not bees, frantically trying to make honey, and we also are not cockroaches, scurrying across the floor to escape being squashed by grossed-out adults.

We have two buttons. Yes, just two: LESS and MORE. Should we press LESS or press MORE?

The conflict arises when our ego tells us to press MORE when LESS is needed, or our fear demands we press LESS when it’s time to hunker down on the MORE button.

The entire Gospel of Jesus was a less and more proposal. Don’t take my word for it–you read it and you’ll see the principle. He came to guide us into what should be done less, what should be thought less and what should be felt less, and what requires a good dose of more.

You don’t have to go any further than the Beatitudes to find this in full application:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

In other words, less ego about being spiritual because you really aren’t, and God doesn’t expect you to be anything but human.

“Blessed are they that mourn.”

More compassion is needed for others if we expect to feel the compassion coming back our way.

“Blessed are the meek.”

Less struggling, fighting, arguing, back-biting and cursing will give us a chance to buy time for a shift in society’s thinking or a change of scenery.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

We all need more energy in trying to learn to achieve our goals by using the most common sense we can possibly muster.

“Blessed are the merciful.”

It’s made clear that the more merciful we are to others, the more we receive in return.

“Blessed are the pure in heart.”

The less we inundate our emotions with unnecessary arguments, the easier it is to see God working in our lives.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”

The more we stay out of the fracas of politics and religious intolerance, the more we will be viewed as individuals who make things happen–good things.

“Blessed are those which are persecuted for righteousness sake.”

Yes, less worry about whether we will come out on top. We should stop being concerned about goodness going out of style.

And the culmination: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”

Bluntly, less fretting about whether things are going to turn out well for us here on Earth and in the kingdom beyond.

Step into your day with your two buttons: LESS and MORE.

Then take the time, all the good things you’ve learned, and choose which one to press when it is the moment to render an excellent decision.


We are delighted to announce that every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!

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G-Poppers … January 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

18 years of age.

G-Pop’s granddaughter is celebrating today.

She is so excited. She has waited a lifetime for it–at least, her lifetime.

She is ready to be a person instead of a passenger.

A participant rather than a daughter.

A mover and not just a child.

G-Pop could share many superlatives about this young woman and bore you to tears.

She is intelligent to the point of being sharp.

She is clever and creative.

She is tender-hearted and allows tears to flow without shame.

Even though her life has been peppered with missteps, she went back, corrected them and took responsibility for the stumbles.

She is talented, she can sing, and dear Lord, she even plays the ukulele.

The canvas set before her is prepared for the beautiful colorations of her dreams.

But she is still plagued by one concern:

She doesn’t want to miss anything.

She doesn’t want to be considered an “also ran.”

She does not want people to believe she’s just a preacher’s daughter who cushioned herself from the realities of human life.

She wants to do it all.

She is frightened of becoming a “goody-two-shoes.”

It is a sensation that jolts the heart of every person who dares to pursue goodness. Can you chase the star of purity and still enjoy the cosmic journey?

But here’s the reality: nothing bad ever made anything good.

No vice ever actually promoted a versa.

No inhalation stimulated respiration.

No liquid spirit ever conjured a Holy Spirit.

Side-tracks. That’s what all those are–little temptations to distraction that we’ve convinced ourselves are necessary to add to our diary to make our lives seem plausible instead of merely a fairy tale.

What G-Pop would like to tell his granddaughter on this glorious day is that good is the only thing worth living for.

But you must never preach it.

Preaching good always leads to self-righteousness, selfishness and anger over missing out over some sort of sinful delicacy.

The more the reverend reverberates against iniquity, the more he is drawn to it. It is a historical fact.

God never gave us permission to preach good–thus the warning, “Don’t judge other people.”

G-Pop would also tell his granddaughter that being good is the curse of a thousand yearnings.

None of us are good. No, not one.

So every time we try to be good, we punish ourselves, incriminate our hearts and tear down our confidence. It’s why the phrase, “I’m sorry” needs to be at our tongue-tip, prepared to be uttered at any moment.

We’re just not good.

And those who try to be good often end up either lying or preaching. (I’m not sure if there’s a difference there.)

What G-Pop wants to wish to his beautiful, creative, gentle, comical granddaughter is the mission of doing good.

Good becomes very obvious because it’s always the thing that includes somebody besides yourself. It’s not hard to find–and even though you’re not going to preach against evil nor claim to be pure, the least you can do for a battered, bewildered and betrayed mankind is grant them the touch of grace brought by a moment of goodness.

I’m always enamored by the story that comes out of the 1969 music festival, Woodstock. Even though all the parents were critical of their young ones who went off to this “den of iniquity”–and perhaps there was a farm-load of sin being perpetuated in every field–when it was discovered that the purple acid was hurting people, they interrupted the concert and got on the microphone to warn their brothers and sisters to stay away from it.

They did good.

I suppose some pious parents might suggest that if the children were not taking acid in the first place, there would be no reason to avoid the purple.

But you see, that’s not life.

Life is realizing that wherever you are, whoever you’re working with, and whatever the rules for that environment, there is still a way to do good.

It does not make you a goody-two-shoes.

It means that you walk with feet of blessing.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 31) Seek and Ye Go Blind … November 27th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Reverend Richard Meningsbee searched for an hour for a computer he knew was gone.

It was impossible it could be any other place than where it had been left, but to fulfill righteousness and drain off some angst, he scoured the house.

It was nowhere to be found.

He spent the rest of the day, when he should have been preparing his Sunday morning sermon, conjuring images of what might have happened to his P.C.

Was Katrina involved?

Was it stolen by an agent of the USBN?

And more frightening was considering what they wanted.

Ninety-nine percent of what he had on that magical box was common drivel or ecclesiastical notes. It was that one percent that terrified him–and each new flashback was more injurious to his mind than the previous.

Surviving a restless night, he made his way to church, and decided that the only way to cleanse his soul of the pain and anxiety was to share–not in detail, but in principle.

So he stepped in front of the congregation and began.

“I feel attacked. Do you ever feel attacked? In my case, I feel attacked by circumstances–just the everyday happenings that seem to have suddenly decided to target me and take me down. This attack is causing me to worry. Like most human beings, I worry about the future. What will this attack mean going forward? Can I overcome my circumstances and achieve some form of victory–or at least draw a stalemate with the evil that taunts me? And most certainly, I feel betrayed. Not so much by others, but betrayed by my own weakness–a hounding dog barking at my heels, reminding me that I am insufficient. So I come before you this morning attacked, worried and betrayed.

Yet in the midst of all this is an abiding faith which says ‘nothing can separate me from the love of God’ and that ‘all things will work together for my good.’

I must be honest with you. Those voices are softer and gentler than the screaming attack of the worried betrayal. But if I get quiet and still, I can hear the whisper of faith. So that is what I am going to do right now. I’m going to stop speaking and just allow myself to listen as I kneel.”

Meningsbee walked to the altar rail, which had basically become a decoration in the modern-day church–a reminder of past revivals, when people allowed themselves to be overtaken by the goodness of God.

He knelt and prayed.

He prayed about his computer.

He prayed about the hidden iniquity displayed on the browser.

He prayed to be forgiven for his weakness.

So intently did he pray that he failed to recognize that he was suddenly surrounded by nearly all the congregation, as they, too, gathered to admit the attack had brought worry and betrayal to their lives.

God had taken the evil that had befallen the community and was now using it to make good.

It was a warm, kind, tear-filled morning that culminated with everyone embracing and encouraging one another.

Reverend Meningsbee was heartened by the experience, but still in the throes of a deep depression as he made his way home.

Stepping inside, he opened the door and gazed into his little office–and there it was.

The computer was back.

“Where have you been, my friend?”

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G-Poppers … April 15th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop’s grandson was a bit spooked by the notion of evil coming from the hearts of humans, so G-Pop continued his discussion with a little more sensitivity toward a little boy’s tender consciousness.

“Let’s put it this way,” said G-Pop. “If evil is out of our control, then who’s to say that goodness is available for us to choose?

The power in life is in having power in your life.

If the devil can defeat you and the angels have to rescue you, you kind of become the classic damsel, constantly in distress. So here’s where evil comes in:

  • Our appetites. We’re just too hungry.

We keep looking for adventure. And the more advertised forms usually involve risk or deceit.

Our true adventure is life. And when we screw it up the first time, fortunately for us, we usually have another chance to revisit the location with a better travel plan.

Our appetites drive us to do stupid things. It’s good to be hungry, but just as we adjust our physical diet to include nourishing portions, we should do the same with our emotional, spiritual and mental buffet.

  • Our second problem is ego. It’s when we are too selfish.

There is certainly nothing wrong with loving yourself if you make sure to leave enough time to grant your neighbor the same courtesy. But if you believe you must destroy, out-flank, cheat or curse your brothers and sisters to get your portion, you will eventually hatch some form of evil.

  • And finally, there’s delusion.I’m too important.’

Finding our true worth is our greatest achievement. Otherwise we start thinking we’re more valuable than we really are, making us pompous, or less valuable, which causes us to become defensive over our deteriorating worth.

This allows delusion to come to the forefront. We convince ourselves that we have a greater capacity than we can prove, and become quite infuriated when anyone challenges our assessment.

When our appetites make us too hungry and our egos cause us to become selfish, then our delusion makes us insist that we are primarily important.

There you have the formula for evil.

Goodness is when we let our appetites lure us to righteousness, our egos make us generous to the needs of others and our delusion is eliminated because we know exactly who we are and who we aren’t.”

G-Pop finished explaining this to his grandson. Amazingly, the little fella appeared to understand.

He turned and said, “I think I’ve got it, G-Pop. Don’t eat too much of anything.”

G-Pop smiled.

A pretty good analysis.

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Unboxed … February 10, 2013

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jon in a boxFor eighteen years I had a “born” identity. My family, friends, schooling and even church did their best to teach me, basically, what was wrong. They would have insisted they were instructing me in the ways of righteousness, but more often than not it consisted of a series of warnings about dubious behavior and the ramifications of stepping out of the box of security found in “the training.”

I will not tell you it was an unpleasant experience–and certainly not without merit. But it was limited because it failed to give me the emotional release allowing me to live freely among my fellow men and women without feeling the need to scrutinize.

I guess I rebelled a little. My particular path to revolution was to pursue the creative and spiritual. I gained a “reborn” identity. In this new transformed personage, I went out looking for what was right. I did so like a sheep in the midst of wolves, often failing to use the wisdom necessary to discern the charlatans that came my way.

My disappointments in finding what was “right” made me flirt with the dangerous depths of being jaded. It took me a while. I knew that the box I had built for myself was no better than the one provided to me at birth. After all, a prison of our own construction isn’t any more releasing than one constructed for us. I knew I had to once and for all escape boxes. For to merely understand what is wrong, or to pursue what is right, is the path to madness. Just as soon as you think you have arrived at permanent conclusions, a shift in the universe, an outpouring of the mercy of God or just a bit of logic that may have escaped you moves through the scene and leaves you in error, looking ignorant.

I decided one day to become unboxed–a new creature, neither bound by my genetics, upbringing or held in place by my talents and desires. It really wasn’t that complicated. I decided to stop pleasing my family and satisfying my own desires and appetites, and instead, became a student of history, reality and free will. For it is the cohesion of those three that creates truth.

As we study what has happened before us (history), appreciating what is available to us (reality) and understanding that the personal choice given to every man, woman and child is immutable (free will), we finally touch the mind of God, arriving at truth.

It’s made all the difference in the world to me.

I now realize that my job is to recognize the truth–and even when it’s contrary to my ways or confirming of my inclinations, knowing that truth and embracing it is what makes me free.

But free to do what? Escape the box and be on the edge of beautiful, inevitable change.

It’s not so much about being a liberal or a conservative. It isn’t even about Christian, Muslim, Jew atheist and Hindu. It’s about being willing to allow the lessons of history, the value of reality and the love of free will to welcome truth into your heart, to grant you freedom.

So what will be the next big issue? I can either live in the box created for me by my family and judge accordingly. Or I can evaluate circumstances based upon the box I’ve created for myself. But if I want to be a new creature, free of all those boxes–unboxed–I must let the truth make me free.

Sometimes the truth is cruel to me. Sometimes the truth feels warm and cuddly.

But the truth is always freeing.

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More or Less … July 31, 2012

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Hearsay.

It’s when I hear something and go ahead and say it, sharing it with someone else without totally confirming that it’s true. It can be nasty stuff. So since what I am about to share is a bit of hearsay, we will make it hypothetical rather than real, to salve my conscience.

There was this guy who said that he believes what the world needs is MORE. Therefore, he felt that everybody requires more Jesus, more money and even more pornography. He was determined to do his part to bring this abundance to mankind.

It’s similar to the way Congress is trying to cut the deficit. They all seem to understand that the amount of indebtedness needs to shrink, but they fail to comprehend that to accomplish that, we have to stop spending more money. It’s tricky business.

That’s why I sought out the wisdom of a friend on this issue of “more.” I trust his counsel because he, too, has a desire to bring happiness to the world.

But his first suggestion was that happiness is achieved by discovering a “poverty of spirit.” I would have to agree that if we had fewer people in this world using their intellect and spirituality to lord it over other folks, and instead, were spending more time examining their own hearts, motives and efficiency of choices, things would be a lot better. Some people think the earth would be enriched by more religion, when actually, we need less religion and more personal responsibility for our spirituality touching our own lives and making us more pliable to others.

My friend also said that happiness can be achieved by mourning. It’s that old “less and more” thing again–many of us do a lot of crying, but truthfully, much of it is self-pity. Would we be happier if we had less self-pity? I think so. We’d also be happier if we had more emotional investment in the pain of others around us instead of being completely preoccupied with our own narcissism. So once again, you can see, as in the case of poverty of spirit, we need less of one thing and more of another.

This is the same way you balance a budget, right? You take less of something so you that can have more of another.

How about another thought from my wise friend? Happiness is best achieved by understanding how to use meekness. This one is pretty simple to me. There is always something on earth to be inherited. Many times we just disagree on the plan of action. We may even feel that if we don’t stand up for our rights and fight for our cause, we may end up defeated and destitute. Actually, when we find ourselves taking a profile of being less overbearing, we buy time for more opportunity to come our way to insert our opinions, ideas and ultimately, even our will.  Less and more. There it is again.

Then my friend had this idea that happiness is like hungering and thirsting for righteousness. What is one of the more unattractive things about human beings? That’s a tough question, but I would have to say that within the top five is acting like a know-it-all. There is something appealing–even sexy–about people who long for more knowledge and wisdom, even though you can see they have already stockpiled a lovely arsenal. Yes, we need more hungering and thirsting and less patting our bellies like we just had a good meal and are completely satisfied.

Can happiness really be achieved by being merciful? Yes–if you extend it more to others and spend less time demanding grace, which you neither deserve and is being blocked from delivery because of your pride.

Likewise, how do we achieve happiness by being pure in heart? Would you agree that the world might be a better place if there were less lying and more transparency? It might even enable us to see God in more parts of our lives instead of looking for the devil behind every mishap.

And finally, my friend put forth the premise that happiness is possessed by being a peace maker. This does demand that we cease to be too nationalistic, gain a vision for the entire world, understand the customs and beliefs of other nations and have more diplomacy and less saber-rattling. Yes, I guess I have to say that my friend with his plan for happiness suggests to us that the human experience is a very delicate understanding of where to apply less and when to go for more. Because the danger of “more” is that we always hit the limits on our ability to acquire and start stealing from others.

So as I said, having not confirmed my story, I don’t know whether this fine fellow I originally referred to actually voiced this opinion or not. But it is a prevailing thought–that if we could just “give more” to everybody, all the problems of the world would go away.

But sometimes, a poverty in spirit leads us to mourn the loss of others instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, which causes us to slow up our egos and buy time instead of tramping through other people’s turf, trying to dominate them. Once you see that’s effective, it causes you to hunger and thirst for more information to empower you, instead of making you look calloused and stupid. On that journey comes the opportunity to be merciful, which also enables you to obtain mercy. Guess what? You also realize that telling the truth keeps your heart clean and enables you to see God in life. Now you are finally prepared to go out and make peace with folks who are just determined to take more–even if they have to rob, kill and destroy.

I have actually experienced a situation where more was given to someone who was not prepared to appreciate it. I watched in surprise as this individual did less with it than I could ever have imagined.

More or less? Happiness, I believe, lies in knowing when to chase more and when to relax with less.

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Fully Empty … December 20, 2011

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Jonathan in Miami

   

A good used car. It might seem to be an oxymoron but if you take care of your vehicle, check the fluids and drive sanely, it can remain faithful  to you beyond the normal miles of expectation.
 
Martin had such an automobile. He loved it–not in a weird way, but just with a deep sense of admiration and compatibility that he had developed with this particular mechanism over the years. Perfect seats, exactly situated for his frame from the steering wheel. Good heater. Nice radio. Started up every time, even on frosty mornings.  All the requirements necessary to create a lasting matrimony between man and machine.
 
Well, there was one thing. About two years into the relationship, the gas gauge on his dear friend stopped working. Well, that’s not exactly true. Better stated, it registered incorrectly. It was odd–because the gauge, rather than falling to the empty position in exhaustion from years of use, had instead propelled itself to a permanently stuck-up position, on full. So every time Martin started his car, the gas gauge touted that it was filled to the brim and ready for the longest trip that its owner could contrive.
 
Of course, it wasn’t true, but Martin found it very difficult to keep up with the actual gas level because of the over-zealous representation of the gauge. So after running out of gas for the second time because his memory had not stirred him to purchase fuel, but had somehow or another started trusting the braggart needle, he decided he had better take it to the shop to get it fixed. The mechanic explained that it was possible, but very expensive, and that the repair would be a bit unreliable and he would not be able to guarantee it.
 
So Martin pushed on, trying to accept the frailty of his ailing friend. But when he ran out of gasoline a third time, failing to remember to purchase the magic elixir because of the gas gauge registering full, he decided he had to do something. He went out and bought a roll of black electrician’s tape and carefully–and stylishly, may I add–taped over the screen of the gas gauge, completely blacking out any visibility. He deemed it better to go without a gauge than to trust one that told him he was always full.
 
The system worked. Oh, at first it was a little aggravating because Martin got tired of keeping track of his gasoline purchases, but eventually it made him realize that the only way to be full was to know you might be empty–because without emptiness, you are tempted to gauge yourself as full and sometimes forget the need to be fueled.
 
Actually, it made Martin a better man across the board. His attention to detail about his gasoline consumption helped him remember his anniversary and his wife’s birthday. He also noticed when the little boy was riding his bicycle across the road without paying attention to traffic and slammed on his brakes in the nick of time. He received a promotion at work because he perceived a need in the company’s planning before anyone else had seen it.
 
Martin never regretted having a bad gas gauge–and to this day, the black tape remains over the screen, forcing Martin to consider the emptiness of the tank every time he entered the vehicle. It was a most intelligent and valuable lesson.
 
If we always believe we’re full, we will never sense our emptiness–and even though religion, politics and pop psychology may want to gauge us as needing nothing, it is the sensation of hungering and thirsting that makes us yearn for righteousness, permitting us to become full.

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