Catchy (Sitting 14) Abashed … September 17th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Matthew knew.

Yet he was surprised to find out that Landy Loren also knew. She sent him an email.

“Dear friend: Sorry to hear that Tomlinson is not interested in making Jesus popular. I can think of two hundred and fifty million reasons for it being a great idea, but since, so to speak, another lawyer is going to snuff out the light of the world, be comforted that I am dropping my lawsuit. It wasn’t anything personal. Just business, you know. Yours, Landy Loren”

Matthew pondered. Was it that obvious? Was it completely evident to everyone that this request of an eccentric billionaire to try to popularize Jesus of Nazareth was about to go the way of the dodo?

Why? What was the real reason?

Matthew understood that the controversy scared the hell into everybody. Panel after panel met to discuss the idea, and snubbed the possibility as being either irrelevant or irreverent. There was one little boy in a small Midwest town, who quietly said, “I’d like to meet Jesus.”

But generally speaking, the reactions were negative. An angry man in Birmingham, Alabama, bellowed at Matthew, “Jesus doesn’t need your help to do his job!” while an Episcopal Bishop in Chicago, Illinois, wearing the drapings of his profession, spoke in a nearly inaudible voice and asked, “Which Jesus are we talking about?”

Matthew felt abashed–that uncomfortable sensation of being embarrassed for feeling something he wished he didn’t. The whole experience had just left him uncomfortable in his own skin. Where he was usually blithe and carefree, uproariously overjoyed over his abiding indifference, he was suddenly plagued with fits of introspection.

It was maddening.

But he couldn’t deny the bizarre union of souls who had come together, who would never have made acquaintance if it had not been for the project. Finding Soos, Michael and especially re-linking with Jo-Jay had been enriching to his tired soul.

He felt something for Jo-Jay. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it was more than just a passing business interaction. He could tell because when they chatted together, the tones were soft, nearly whispers; and upon leaving her presence, there was the tingle and ooze of romance.

But Matthew was too busy to be romantic.

He was too busy to think about his life.

And he was much too busy to take on any new silly project which no one wanted to happen anyway.

It was when Sister Rolinda showed up at the office to offer her services to the cause that he gained a little piece of insight on his turmoil. Rolinda had been a nun for thirty-eight years in the Roman Catholic Church, and had left (or been ousted, depending on the story you believed) because she no longer wanted to be a sister, but demanded the full status of the priesthood.

The Pope disagreed, along with all of his cohorts. So she left.

She was a sage with a hint of oracle. When Matthew was in her presence, he believed there was a chance she was actually hearing something from the heavens she was trying to translate into Earth words. She was creepy, sweet, kind and prided herself on making the best pineapple upside-down cake this side of the Mississippi. One day she stared deeply into Matthew’s eyes and said, “You have been chosen to do this.”

A chill went down his spine.

For after all, what could bring together a Congressman, a hippie, a prophet, a former Catholic nun and his business partners, who normally had no interest whatsoever in the content of anything, especially their character.

But he realized the longer he waited the more likely it was that Tomlinson would close the door. And once it was shut there would be no way to gain entrance.

He needed to move fast.

He needed to decide if he wanted to go back to being “Matthew the Rambler,” or investigate this new, confused being crawling out of his own skin.

He remembered a statement made by an old man in Des Moines, Iowa, during one of their test marketing meetings. The aged gent had slowly and deliberately stated, “It’d take Jesus to make Jesus popular.”

Matthew agreed.

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Except What? … September 18, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2009)

cartoon melting potThere is no such thing as a “pure-blooded American.” America was accumulated, not ordained.

We are a mish-mash mess of a miraculous mixture, a mysterious mutation majestically merging into a magnificent mob.

Our ancestors left monarchy, anarchy, oligarchy, patriarchs and matriarchs to come and experiment with the outlandish assertion that all men–and women, for that matter–are created equal.

So what causes us to jut out our multicultural jaws and claim that “we are exceptional?”

Do we really become more valuable to the human race by expressing superiority? Does God in heaven smile down on us as the new “Chosen People,” having abandoned the Jewish race for the job?

I guess what bothers me is the word “exceptional.” The root of it is “except.” In other words:  to make exempt from consideration.

Even though all of my training, understanding and basic common sense tells me that whoever has much, of that person is required more, we have taken on some sort of “Holy-Roman-Empire-mentality,” believing that since we are born and reared within a three-thousand-mile radius of one another on this continent, then we somehow have a free pass to make mistakes without critique.
When I was a kid I did childish things. Some slack was cut. Thank God.
When I had kids of my own, the slack was removed and was replaced with the “r word”–responsibility.
When those kids grew up and needed me to be a wise sage to them for guidance–and to transform myself into a grandfather–it was my purpose to make that journey without grumping or complaining and certainly minus useless immaturity.

So looking at our country, I see that we went through our toddler phase during the Revolution, through adolescence by continuing slavery in a rebellious way, which led to Civil War. But now, as we father the notion of freedom and become grandfathers to the concept of democracy, we should put away childish things. We should not compare ourselves to other countries when we talk about human rights. Most of THEM never claimed that expression of equality in their forms of government.

We shouldn’t even look at our Olympic athletes and extol them as higher and better when they win medals, for we live in the lap of luxurious training as a lifestyle instead of having to work it in around the planting and harvesting seasons.

The word should not be exceptional, but instead, should be “expect-tional.” Since we’ve been blessed with freedom, ingenuity, prosperity and spirituality, we should expect more from our country than those around us.

When I finally see us use a different measuring stick to our own morality than we do to the world at large, I will understand that we finally have comprehended what it means to be American, settling our souls on the fact that to be exceptional means you must live by the credo: to he who much is given, much is expected.

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Missing Ingredient … July 24, 2012

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It was named Chicken Groovy.

Many years ago, Ben and Josey invited Dollie and me over to partake in a new delicacy they had come up with from their own imaginations.  Chicken Groovy.(For those of you born after the invasion of the bell bottom, groovy means something really fine or absolutely sublime.) Continuing my story, Ben and Josey

English: Logo of the Groovy project

English: Logo of the Groovy project (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

requested that we bring three pounds of fresh boneless and skinless chicken breasts to the party–and they would do the rest. So I went to the store, picked up the meat and we headed over to their house with our recently deceased, disassembled birds.The evening started out terrific. Music was playing, giddiness was in the air, conversation was rich … when suddenly Ben came out of the kitchen, horror written all over his face, asking Josey where… Well, I forget what was missing. Some sort of spice. It could have been parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme. It became obvious that Josey had forgotten to pick up this particular ingredient at the store. Ben was devastated and informed everyone that the evening was ruined because the meal couldn’t be completed due to the absence of this mystery spice from the East.

That in itself would have been enough “over-wrought” for me, but the failure to acquire the purchase from the grocery store led Ben and Josey into a deep discussion–in front of us–about many of their internal problems. I was fine when they were discussing the poor choice of a couch in the living room. I remained silent when she expressed her displeasure over him leaving the toilet seat up. But when the conversation moved into frustrations about bedroom technique, I decided it was time for me to get to my feet and do something.

So I grabbed the chicken, a salt shaker and headed off to the kitchen, acquired a frying pan and started to make my own evolution of Chicken Groovy. (By this time, honestly, any chicken or food whatsoever would have been groovy.) Ben and Josey were a bit shocked by my presumption but didn’t sense that they would be able to stop my progress, so I cooked up the chicken and we ate it. They were a bit disgruntled because it wasn’t REALLY Chicken Groovy, but we finished the food and left.

I never forgot that night. It amazed me how quickly we went from being contented individuals to completely enraged and argumentative, simply because there was a missing ingredient. There wasn’t even a discussion on how we could improvise with something else. After all, catsup covers a multitude of inadequacies.

The trouble is, when people want things to be perfect, they convince themselves that the key to that perfection is in surrounding themselves with the elements. Big mistake.

In like manner, I was born a twelve-and-a-half pound glob of pink, hairless “homely.” Since then, I have only added poundage to that perplexity. Somewhere along the way, though, I received a calling in my heart to use my talent to try to enrich my own life and touch the borders of the human beings around me. Honestly, I wasn’t visually suited for that, for human beings are notorious for looking on the outward appearance instead of the heart. I had a missing ingredient. But I chose to ignore it. I placed myself in the vulnerable position of being criticized initially for the possibility of being a blessing later.

About ten years ago, my knees and legs started wishing to retire. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) my mind, heart and spirit were not ready to play shuffleboard. So I find myself touring around the country, daily convincing my lower extremities to participate as they reluctantly joined the quest like a grumpy old man complaining about the available choices at a Tex-Mex restaurant.

I have a missing ingredient to being a traveler–my legs don’t work very well. I suppose there are folks who would use that as an excuse, or even as a sign from God, to cease peddaling. I just find it a humorous diversion to a necessary mission. This is why I am of a firm belief that life really boils down to one of two choices:

1. Am I going to wait for all the ingredients to arrive so I can pursue the recipe of my desire and complete it to my own satisfaction?

2. Am I going to ignore the lack of possibilities available to me and try to piece together something that resembles my desires with what has been provided?

Isn’t that it? The first group spends most of their time explaining why they don’t do things; the second group never offers an explanation, even though you might wonder how they have achieved as much as they have, considering the lack.

I guess the question I should have asked Ben and Josey that fateful night was, Which came first–the chicken or the groovy?” Is the chicken made groovy because you have found a particular gravy to make chicken palatable? Or is the groovy made possible because the chicken, itself, is hard to screw up?

It’s a big question, folks–one we all must answer. Otherwise, we will spend most of our lives on the sidelines with a very good discourse to share about why we never did what we really wanted to do. We can cite family responsibility, minimal funding, health issues, a dearth of breaks, and even insist that perhaps it was never the will of God. But the truth of the matter is, there was some missing ingredient we thought was necessary in order to make our particular goal a reality, and we chose to sit out the contest instead of using what was available.

Here’s my philosophy–I’m going to go ahead and plant, hoping that somebody else comes along and waters, believing in my heart that God will actually get off of His throne and give us some increase.

I will continue to pursue my vision out of stubbornness, willingness, humility and a bit of silliness, if you don’t mind. You more mature folks may wish to wait for the next bus, the next opportunity, the next splitting of the sky or Halley’s Comet, for that matter. But no one lies on his death-bed and says, “Gee whiz, I shouldn’t have tried that …”

Do yourself a favor–once you resolve who you are and who God is and how the two of you are going to get along, go ahead and solve two other questions:

1. What am I going to do today that resembles my dream?

2. How much good cheer am I willing to use when things just refuse to work out the way I planned?

This is the key. It is the way to keep things groovy. Otherwise, you end up just being chicken.

   

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