My Little Improv… January 5, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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masksSome rules are good.

They help people understand better ways to do things to welcome success and happiness.

On the other hand, some rules are bad. They’re put in place–sometimes in stone–to control folks, eliminating the creative passion that allows us mere mortals to touch the face of God.

I’ve tried to figure out which one is which for most of my life.

When I was a kid, they had a rule in our church that young students in junior high school couldn’t be on the Bible League competition team until they got into the ninth grade. I suppose somebody who originally came up with the idea imagined it was a good thing–to make being on the team a reward, and also that probably most youngsters in seventh and eighth grade were not mature enough for such an endeavor.

It was a bad rule. I objected, complained, lobbied, got it changed and was the first thirteen-year-old on the team.

It doesn’t matter where you go. There are people who enjoy their work so they try to make it more accessible to themselves and others, and then there are those who are a bit miserable, who feel it is their duty to pass on the sullen attitude.

Music, religion, politics, corporations, clubs, schools–all of them have their share of “grumpy grumpers” who really hate their lives and want to make sure that everybody hates equally.

So when I sat down to plan what I wanted to do in my sharing this year–and also how I wanted to expand–I came up with three very important criteria:

  1. I need more time at every stop-off to spend with the audience, to make a greater connection.
  2. I need to work on defining the message instead of allowing the confusion of present philosophy and theology to leave people devoid of feeling.
  3. I need to purposefully break some bad rules.

So yesterday, as I thought about what I’m going to be doing Sunday night–a drama entitled Front Porch U.S.A.–I realized that I was truly blessed with a piece of great improv.

I call it a “three-active play.” By that term I mean that each and every time I perform it, the message, the pursuit and even much of the plot will remain the same. But the words, stories, conflict and resolution will be different each and every time.

There is no script.

I’m going to allow myself to be led of the Spirit, to share what’s on my heart in the moment, as will my fellow-thespian, Janet.

It’s breaking the rules. In theater, you’re not supposed to be too improvisational. You’re not supposed to interact with the audience too much. Blocking, staging and scenery are to remain the same.

I plan on breaking all these rules. Why?

Because I think the three greatest things we possess as human beings are often buried under form and tradition.

  • We have a story.
  • We have a spirit.
  • And we have an imagination.

So every Sunday night, I’m going to trust my journey, my faith and my heart to give an audience, at the conclusion of my weekend, a fresh piece of myself that no other gathered congregation has ever heard.

I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to follow good rules that help people discover their humanity and the breath of God inside them. But don’t be timid in using your improv, and challenge rules that were put in place to stifle and foster “fussy fussers.”

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Last Night … January 10, 2013

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The success of any adventure is usually devised in one’s own mind, wherein the failure is likewise plotted.

Often I don’t believe that.

I falljon and jan oboe victim to the concept that circumstances can be so intense or forbidding that no matter how much effort or good attitude I bring to the table, it ends up being impossible to create a banquet. Foolish.

Yesterday I had a 300-mile round trip to go to a small church in Palm Bay, Florida, to put on a program. The number of people projected to attend the event was not much more than one would have at a large dinner party. I began to focus on my potential fatigue–the energy I would have to expend to perform this deed–and preliminarily, depressed myself with the “notion of the motion.” In other words, I had a dread before I was dead.

But I have learned one or two things as I have opened up the magic box of tricks provided for me on life’s journey, and the main thing that has finally settled in my soul as truth is that nothing is decided until I bring everything I’ve got, invite God along on the journey and then actually play it out.

So when I arrived at the church, I was suddenly struck by a verse which commands us, as people of faith, that when we come to a house we should salute it.

Now, this always seemed like a silly little piece of advice. After all, a house is just four walls with corresponding furniture and knick-knacks. But I realized, as I stared at the building in front of me where we were scheduled to present our ideas, that many sermons, discussions, meetings and even arguments had occurred in this edifice long before my arrival.

I think locations have emotional wallpaper. Because the doings in a room have been so repetitive over the years, the people who find themselves walking in the doors fall under the spell of the surrounding spirit. I know that sounds creepy, and I’m not suggesting that any particular address is inhabited by demons or angels. I’m just saying that we get accustomed to the procedures tied to certain buildings and we convince ourselves that nothing can be changed. That’s why we say Congress and Washington, D.C. are hopeless. Religion also seems locked in to emotional wallpaper, which can be anything from sullen to judgmental to joyous.

This is why Jesus wanted us to salute a house when we enter it. He said if the house is worthy, that “your peace will come upon it.”

So instead of being in a grumpy mood about my drive all the way up to Palm Bay, I decided to walk into the house of Fellowship United Methodist Church and salute it. Matter of fact, I saluted the youth room, where I sat to prepare for the service. I saluted the narthex, where people gather before entering to worship. Doggone it, I even saluted the bathroom.

I felt a little weird doing so, but I realized that God has called me to speak my piece to the world around me. Even as I sit in my motel room today, I realize that this space has been rented many times. It’s been the scene for happiness, sleep and maybe even violence. I have an opportunity during my stay to change the emotional wallpaper–to leave behind my peace.

If the house is worthy, my peace will remain. And Jesus said if it’s not worthy, my salute and peace will return to me–unscathed. It’s a pretty good deal.

I didn’t come to this planet to leave things the way I found them. There is much emotional wallpaper hanging off the halls of justice, schools, homes, churches and auditoriums in this country. They need to be renovated. We need to believe once again that our salute has value because it brings peace.

I saluted those beautiful people last night, who actually came out in abundance. And I found a worthy place–where my peace remains.

It made the long drive back much easier, and it makes this morning sweeter to know that I haven’t come to use my talents to tear down anything.

I am an interior decorator of mankind.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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