Things I Learned from R. B. (May 24th, 2020)

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4419)

Episode 16

For nearly five months, I had been squirreling some money away, trying to fund an idea I believed needed to be pursued.

It was time.

Whatever inspiration had once possessed the soul of our family—to travel across the country, working, living and making music together—had gradually dissipated down to a stream of loyalty and an irritating question.

If we weren’t doing this, what in the hell would we do?

My wife mustered the energy to be happy, but certainly had lost the desire to schedule, travel and perform.

My sons were thrilled to be brothers, enjoined with me, but knew deep in their hearts that the “call of the mild” must replace the “call of the wild.”

They needed lives of their own.

This would take money.

I knew it was foolish to announce to the family my campaign. It just might make them fearful that if they ate an extra apricot, they were destroying our future.

So I kept it private.

After five months, I had a small sum I was grateful for—but knew it was nowhere in the ballpark of fulfilling the need.

We were traveling across the panhandle of Florida, heading toward Jacksonville when I said a very simple prayer.

“Dear Lord, I’ve painted myself into a corner. Either help the paint to dry quickly or direct me clearly on how to leap out of my predicament.”

Also, it had become more difficult to acquire schedulings. It takes a lot of passion to convince somebody of what you want to do—and honestly, people were not quite as open to being convinced.

So in late August, in boiling hot Jacksonville, we succeeded in getting one booking for the week–on the Sunday night.

One opportunity to pay our way.

One mission field.

One audience.

I came to a decision before we rolled up to our engagement.

“Whatever we have at the end of tonight I will use to set us up somewhere and give my sons the chance to launch their own lives.”

Yet I was discouraged when I arrived and realized we were at a church that only had fifty people on a Sunday night—a black church, which meant we might have to wade through some resistance.

It’s not that black churches were difficult, but sometimes, because of the nature of the South and memories of segregation, the parishioners wondered why a white family was coming to a black church instead of sharing their talents with white folk.

I put those thoughts out of my mind, making sure they were busy elsewhere. Instead, I took a count of my situation.

I felt I needed three thousand dollars to settle in.

With some amazing blessings from the previous two weeks, I had managed to collect $1434 in cash.

That night, when the pastor introduced me and I stepped in front of an audience of forty-two people, the calculator in my brain boiled over with frustration.

I needed to make about thirty-five dollars a person to get my nest egg.

Now, I am not negative by any stretch of the imagination but am also not a fool. I don’t know whether I could have pulled a gun and gotten thirty-five dollars a person out of the gathering. There were several souls who might have needed me to donate to them.

But no matter.

Whatever happened, I was going to take the whole family to our next destination and do the best we could.

We would no longer be “on the road again.”

Over the years I have experienced some magical nights, yet none to compare with the warmth and tenderness exchanged in that sanctuary.

About halfway through I realized that these strangers had decided to become one with us, and we, likewise, one with them.

We laughed.

We cried.

We sang nearly every song we could play.

At the end the pastor stood and took up the offering.

I was astounded when he handed me $1,433.

Now, I will not tell you that I should ever have taken my family on the road. I also will not lie to you and say that everything I did on that journey was well-thought-out or appropriate.

But the science of our music, the Mother Nature of what apparently was a good season, and the humanity of this congregation launched us to our new beginnings.

The next morning as I drove north, I explained what I envisioned for us to do as a family.

They were relieved.

They didn’t act that way—there were some tears of regret.

But there were also some shouts of “hallelujah” over the new possibility.

To avoid a motel room, we drove all the way into Nashville, Tennessee, and in just three hours, located a new apartment.

We spent that first night sleeping on the floor of our new home.

The next four days were nothing short of miraculous.

My sons got out, secured social security numbers, found jobs and set in motion getting drivers’ licenses.

It all fell in place—mainly because I felt as if I was no longer forcing the direction. Rather, the passions of my children were driving the solution.

I hooked up a phone—landline. Two hours later it rang.

It was R. B., calling from Tacoma.

I don’t know how he knew we were coming to Nashville or how he successfully tracked down our phone number so quickly.

He did a little hemming and he did a little hawing, and somewhere in between, I got the idea that he had hatched his own plan.

He needed his own miracle.

Sensing his frustration and his desperation, I said, “Hey, buddy, why don’t you just move to Nashville? It’s where you started. It’s where we met—and it’s where they make music. How can you lose?”

Two weeks later, driving a car that should not even have been on the road, he arrived, found a small one-room apartment and settled in.

We were in the same community again, with even less in common.

Still, all in all, it was better for both of us than where we found ourselves short weeks before.

Sit Down Comedy … July 26th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4117)


Father Abraham had two sons.

Two sons had Father Abraham.

One was born of slave. His name was Confederate.

The other—Union—was birthed in free will.

Confederate worked very hard planting the land, establishing a close-knit home where family was honored above all and faith was treasured. In the household of Confederate, change was feared, opening the door to superstition, aggravation and an unrighteous pride about race.

Union, on the other hand, sat on the cusp of a great industrial revolution, where a man’s work was in a line of assembly, his home perched in the midst of hundreds of other families. Union believed his faith was better expressed by his deeds, and that change was the only way to frighten superstition and dispel racial baiting.

Father Abraham understood both of his sons.

After all, he, himself, was conceived and reared in blue grass but nurtured in a spring field.

But try as he would, Father Abraham was unable to bring the boys to cooperation. They argued, they struggled, and eventually they chose to fight. Just short of the last drop of blood flowing from their veins, peace was sought.

It was a tenuous agreement, and even while the ink was drying on the pages of the treaty, a friend of Confederate killed Father Abraham.

It enraged Union.

It made Confederate defensive, feeling compelled to explain the sinister deed.

Even to this day, the two brothers are segregated, isolated in their politics and their traditions—one believing that life is more a “state of mind,” and the other rallying behind “we, the people.”

Father Abraham had two sons.

Two sons had Father Abraham.

I am one of them

And so are you

So let’s just praise the Lord.

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1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Improve the Social Upheaval)

1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Improve the Social Upheaval)

In an attempt to escape the cruelty of racism and bigotry, about fifty years ago we began to extol the importance of culture. Matter of fact, it became a liberal campaign slogan to promote diversity while, quite honestly, sometimes conservatives used it to scare off their adherents, with the fear of “losing the real America.”

America the Melting Pot

For some reason or another, we began to think we were a nation of many cultures. Actually, the vision for this great experiment of the United States of America was to welcome a populace that was a “melting pot”–each one of us dissolving into the other, with our customs, styles and ideas, to form one nation indivisible.

So ironically, in an attempt to create greater acceptance, we have generated more hostility and intolerance.

So the one thing you–and I–can do this week is:

Stop Promoting Your Tribe

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a political party, a church, a zealous business endeavor, a race, a religion, a sexual orientation or a gender. What is tearing us apart is the belief that the more fragmented we are, the greater the possibility of celebrating individuality.

We’ve even done this with our families, believing that our genetic code has more significance than that of the gentleman or lady driving beside us on the freeway. Whether it meets your approval, or even if you find it comforting to be in a small category, it damages the overall peace of mind and well-being of our nation.

Celebrate Similarities

  • There are no chosen people.
  • No race is better than another.
  • Spirituality is known by what spirituality does.
  • And my family is not better than your family.

Until we abandon the foolishness of segregating ourselves in the name of integrating variety, we will be at each other’s throats. Take this week to find similarities, and when you find them, pronounce them and celebrate them with those around you.

In so doing, you will repair the breech instead of widening it.

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 5)… July 29th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3382)

jesonian-cover-amazon

It is troubling.

“Family is everything.”

This philosophy is so widely accepted in our society that any attempt to question its veracity would be similar to suggesting the public execution of puppies in the town square.

Let’s first make something clear–Jesus was not an advocate for the genetic family. For instance:

–His clan was certainly dysfunctional.

–He was nearly killed by the hometown folk because they did not appreciate his message.

–And his family members went to Capernaum to bring him home because they thought he was crazy. He had to sidestep them, and informed them clearly that his family was anyone who did the will of his Father.

–When telling parables, he often criticized those who used family obligations as an excuse for not doing more for the world.

–He said our worst enemies would be those of our own household.

–And certainly he made the point that if you don’t “hate your mother and father, “you aren’t worthy of the kingdom.”

Jesus was concerned that we would love those who were connected with us through family ties, and not extend the same courtesy to our brothers and sisters throughout the planet. Why did this bother him? It’s really quite simple.

Please understand that evil never permanently leaves the spotlight, but merely goes backstage, dons a different costume, changes make-up and reappears as a new character. I believe this is what has happened in America. We are obsessed with the holiness of family. Yet it has suspiciously grown in popularity following the disintegration of segregation, Jim Crow and newfound civil rights for immigrants and the gay community.

Prejudice needed somewhere to hide. Bigotry was looking for a disguise. What could be better than family? It is literally “Mom and apple pie.”

So the same tenets which were promoted through segregation–that being “staying with your own kind”–have simply resurfaced as a maudlin proclamation of “loving your own.”

If everybody prefers their own family, we will isolate ourselves, making us vulnerable to evil tyrants who come and use our fears of one another to bring about mayhem and death.

I am troubled by the “family is everything” brigade. It is a way of hiding bigotry, which is no longer allowed to express itself through cross-burning, so instead is using cross-lifting.

My children know I love them–but they know I love them as I also love all of God’s children.

Remember, the last words of Jesus in the Great Commission were not, “Go back to your families and be happy.”

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … November 19th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Woman: “Separate but equal.” It was a Supreme Court decision justifying segregation in this country, as long as it didn’t limit the rights of any one party or race.

 

Man: I’m familiar with that.

 

Woman: It didn’t work. Why?

 

Man: Well, first, it was prejudiced–bordering on racism with the intent of limiting the quality of one group of people over another.

 

Woman: How could that be, since it was intended to be equal? Let me answer my own question. The minute we segregate into cultures, genders or races, we do so to generate a superiority in our environment, while touting that it’s just a way for people to honor their traditions.

 

Man: What brought this to your mind?

 

Woman: Genders in this country are also under the misrepresentation of “separate but equal.” All of our comedy and even drama states how different men and women are from each other, and how they naturally clump. But we insist that both sides are equal.

 

Man: That’s interesting. So what you’re sharing is, the “separate but equal” propaganda is inserted into the roles of men and women, allowing for a male dominated society to continue to control, while pretending they are granting equal status to the other side.

 

Woman: Exactly. But what’s most important is how it is promoted and believed to be true. Because even though we know that human beings are heart, soul, mind and strength, we are first attracted to each other physically, which leads to some sort of romantic or sexual encounter.

 

Man: So you’re saying that we start out with the most base part of our nature–our sexual drive–to foster the foundation of equality. That sounds like it’s not going to work.

 

Woman: Worse than that. It makes us believe that since we’ve had a sexual encounter, we should have breakfast conversation and attempt to turn it into a relationship by including the mind without ever really engaging the brain.

 

Man: Thus the awkwardness that occurs when people try to start a relationship, which usually fails.

 

Woman: Because we can’t get it to an equality of emotion, sharing our feelings without fear, laughing at them sometimes, but always allowing them to be expressed. Here’s the truth–a man and woman who can’t find emotional equality will never find spiritual unity.

 

Man: What is emotional equality? Aren’t women more emotional than men?

 

Woman: Women are more verbally emotional, maybe, but men are equally as emotional–just not able to find the outlets to release these conflicted sensations.

 

Man: We fall back on a separate but equal decision for men and women because we really want to keep it physical, and we’re nervous about the mental. This prevents us from finding an emotional equality which just might lead to spiritual unity.

 

Woman: That’s it. I know it sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo–until you put it into a real life situation. For instance, a guy and girl meet at a bar. They get a little tipsy. She goes home with him, they have sex the first night they meet. They wake up the next morning. It is very topsy-turvy–they don’t know what the other person is thinking. Yet they found the experience pleasant enough that they try to engage in conversation over donuts and coffee. It feels forced. But they decide to meet again later in the week, which leads to another sexual encounter and more uncomfortable interaction. At this point, there are emotions–nervous, tense, resentful, curious, maybe even selfish. If they were able to reveal their feelings, laugh at one another, and realize that this unorthodox beginning was still salvageable as long as they were in unity about their emotions, they could progress their possibility. But the usual pattern is to hide emotions and try to “think” their way through it, which eventually leads to misunderstanding and what we call a break-up.

 

Man: So men and women will never be equals until they find emotional equality and admit their vulnerabilities, which opens the door to spiritual unity.

 

Woman: It’s a unity which God refers to as the two literally “becoming one flesh.” This is not just a reference to the entwining of sexual intercourse, but also the willingness to become equivalent mentally and emotionally, and therefore find unity spiritually.

 

Man: But as long as we’re separate but equal, we will hook up and try to think our way into an entangled relationship, frightened to share our emotions and never really convinced of any unity.

 

Woman: Absolutely. So just as separate but equal did not work in the South, it is also not going to work in the gender wars–to create harmony and oneness. This is why those who begin with emotions and sharing as friends often garner a similar mindset which leads to sexual intercourse, lending itself to the opportunity for unity.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … March 16th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn March 16

I Am Common

I am common

Don’t blow smoke

I can be an ass

Quell your sermon on esteem

Teach me to be honest

Escape the perils of self-worth

And find the worth of true self

I am common

One with all

All within my one

For snowflakes may be unique

But never travel alone

A drizzle, flurry, blizzard

Do you catch my drift?

I pursue no culture

Just human blood

I possess no country

Merely a searching soul

I see you

It is my mirror

For you are common, too

Separation creates the anger

Segregation invites the danger

Nationalism destroys our peace

Religion vacates the heart of compassion

I am common

No better, no worse

I believe, not bound by verse

I clear my eyes

To give window to my soul

I scourge my mind

So half can become whole

I am common

And so are you

The sooner we appreciate this

The quicker we will know

No one is better than anyone else

Please, help me grow

I am common

So I come as a man

Will you meet me in the middle?

Doing the best you can

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 3) UnJudging … December 20th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

Into a world filled with religious intolerance, promoted by souls who deemed themselves exceptional, Jesus arrived as a contrarian.

The Jews disrespected women, hated the Samaritans and despised the Romans. Not only did Jesus refuse to participate in this national pastime, but he actually propagated the notion that women were to be treated as equals, Samaritans deserved a revival and that Caesar was to be honored for what Caesar accomplished.

For this piece of insight, the Jews gave him a cross response.

Meanwhile, in the midst of our determining whether we have the impetus to stop judging other folks, a more serious situation has settled in on the children of the Kingdom.

At times we find ourselves uncomfortably linked with religious extremists who seem to share some of our batch of prejudice. After all, ISIS does not like women, ISIS has great fear and condemnation for sexual expression of almost any kind.

So until we wake up and realize that we not only need to cease judging the world, but also need to set in motion a path to “unjudge” what has already been done, we just may find ourselves irrelevant to the next generation of searchers.

I have never owned a slave but my ancestors did.

I do not treat women as weaker vessels, but I grew up in a church and a society where females were relegated to lesser positions.

I have never personally lobbied against homosexuals and their rights as American citizens, but I lived through a time when the Moral Majority was insulting and even threatening to these brothers and sisters.

So it falls my lot, mission and joy to repent for the stupidity of the past.

Yes–I get to unjudge the world.

  • I get to apologize for 400 years of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, racial profiling and alienation.
  • I get to act out acceptance and equality, to atone for the sins of mistreating women by refusing them rights and place.
  • And I get a chance to preach the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit do its work instead of deciding what is wheat and what is weeds.

It is a reasonable thing–the necessary step to becoming Jesonian.

Not only do we stop judging those around us, but we allow ourselves a season of sackcloth and ashes, to admit the evil that has occurred in our history, which has forbidden racial inclusion, female equivalency with males and social liberty for all Americans.

So I apologize for my brother Paul, who one day made some sideways comments about women which ended up in a holy book, producing hurtful results.

I’m sorry for Jerry Falwell and Anita Bryant, who used the Gospel to isolate people instead of including them in the fold.

And I’m sorry that we seem to be so afraid of the world around us that we cannot allow the mercy in our souls to realize that evil does have life, but a very short span.

It is time to unjudge the world.

If we do so, we have a message for the next generation, filled with promise.

If we don’t, our religion is the dinosaur that must die so people can walk in peace on the earth.

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