Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … January 23rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: Do you think I’m smart?

 

Dear Woman: Trick question, am I right?

 

Dear Man: No trick. I just wonder if you find me intelligent.

 

Dear Woman: I guess I’d have to know what you mean by intelligent.

 

Dear Man: Stop analyzing the question and give me your general impression of my brain power.

 

Dear Woman: Yeah, I think you’re smart.

 

Dear Man: No, you don’t.

 

Dear Woman: So it was a trick question.

 

Dear Man: No, but if you thought I was smart you would have answered immediately instead of trying to figure out what I was getting at.

 

Dear Woman: Are you trying to say that you don’t understand why I try to figure out what you’re getting at?

 

Dear Man: Do you think I’m too sensitive?

 

Dear Woman: Are we moving on to another question?

 

Dear Man: Let me explain.

 

Dear Woman: Please do.

 

Dear Man: I think I’ve got something figured out. I have a tendency to share what I feel. You, on the other hand, offer what you think.

 

Dear Woman: I would agree with that.

 

Dear Man: Please don’t interrupt me. I’m on a roll. So I react by feeling about what you think and that forces you to think about what I feel, which more or less–at least partially–aggravates both of us, and because we think aggravation might lead to fighting, we shut up and pout in our own corner.

 

Dear Woman: I don’t pout.

 

Dear Man: Yes, you do. You just call it “going for a drive.” Or “watching a football game,” when you don’t even know the names of the teams. Anyway, once we get aggravated and we don’t deal with it, there’s enough of it left over inside both of us that we’re not courteous to each other, or at least not as much as we should be. And then we are both quietly offended by that lack of courtesy and soon we begin to believe we have drifted apart.

 

Dear Woman: So you figured this out on your own.

 

Dear Man: Yeah. I think a lot about us. Don’t you think about me?

 

Dear Woman: Definitely a trick question. Yes, of course I think about you. It’s hard not to consider someone you share a bed with every night.

 

Dear Man: So what do you think can be done about this?

 

Dear Woman: Maybe nothing. Maybe it’s just the way things are. Maybe it’s part of the imperfection that’s evolving. Who knows?

 

Dear Man: Don’t you think there’s a middle ground? A place between my feelings and your thinking where we can meet?

 

Dear Woman: I don’t know and that’s an honest answer. I really don’t know.

 

Dear Man: We go to church.

 

Dear Woman: Every once in a while.

 

Dear Man: Right. Did you ever notice something? In the story of Adam and Eve, God doesn’t give them two different sets of instructions. There wasn’t a manly way to take care of the Garden and a girly way. Just one way.

 

Dear Woman: I never thought of it, but I guess you’re right.

 

Dear Man: And if I can continue, there’s not a blue Bible for the boys and a pink Bible for the girls.

 

Dear Woman: That’s cute. I bet somebody will eventually try that, though.

 

Dear Man: And without getting too religious, Jesus did say that in the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.

 

Dear Woman: I get all that, but what are you trying to say?

 

Dear Man: I’m saying that if God thought we could get along, there must be a way to do it, or he was a real ass for creating an impossible situation, and then sitting back and laughing at our arguments.

 

Dear Woman: I don’t think you can call God an ass.

 

Dear Man: I’m not calling God an ass, I’m saying that anybody who would torture people with a hope that does not exist would be an ass.

 

Dear Woman: I agree.

 

Dear Man: So the reason I asked you if you think I’m smart is that I came up with this idea. What if I took what I felt and tried to make it more thoughtful, and you took your thinking and allowed for more feeling, and we ended up landing together in something that had spirit?

 

Dear Woman: And what would we call that place?

 

Dear Man: Human.

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What Do I Want? … April 28, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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What do I want JonathanAs I scanned the congregation yesterday morning at Highland Hope United Methodist Church, looking into the varied countenances of those attending, I was reminded of a question posed to me two nights earlier by a young man after my concert. He was a precocious fellow with a bit of edge, but a curiosity that was born of purity rather than guile.

He asked me, “Mr. Cring, what is it you want?”

In other words, if I actually had a say in the matter, what is it I would like to see happen in the spiritual, social, cultural and maybe even political climate of our country?

People who pursue good cheer

Good cheer that leads to truth

Truth sensitive to humans

Humans searching for hope

Hope grounded in reality

Reality that uses talent

Talent which grows

Growth moving towards mercy

Mercy that believes in change

Change that births better people

Yes, I would love to see a church that has followers of Jesus instead of merely observers of the after-effects of the doctrine of blood atonement.

Jesonian: excited about the announcement that Jesus still has good ideas.

 

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Finding the “man” in manly … August 4, 2012

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Macho. I got very weary of that particular profile early on in life. Watching a bunch of young guys strut through a shower room naked while other, more humble participants huddled against their lockers to hide their more private moments  quickly cured me of any notion that manliness is equated with physical attributes. Yet merely objecting to an overabundance of testosterone, or “showing off the guns” in some sort of prideful pose is not enough to establish what truly being a man is all about.

It is not up to women to define manliness. Women are just as confused on the issue as are their male counterparts. They gyrate between wanting to be dominated and looking for a sensitive fellow who at least understands why Thelma and Louise decided to go off the edge of the Grand Canyon. Candidly, one of the worst ways to evaluate your manliness is to try to use women as a determination for your value and prowess.

I’ve just come to the conclusion that there are two attributes that make up what is involved in maintaining the integrity of the “man side” of our species, and they both begin with the letters m-a-n: (1) Manners; (2) Manifest.

By manners I am not referring merely to the ability to discern the difference between a salad and dinner fork or where to place your napkin while dining. That particular style of awareness is really an off-shoot of a mindset rather than a learned activity–because you can teach your children to be mannerly, but as soon as they leap into a corral of over-zealous “guys,” they will immediately abandon that particular training and situate themselves right in the middle of what is deemed acceptable in the bull pen.

What I am referring to by manners is the abiding outlook that a man has on the world around him. For I believe the doorway to being mannerly, courtly, respecting others and giving place to the human beings around you is to possess a steadfast, unwavering commitment to the idea that “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

The minute you believe that by some right of birth or genetic tendency or even locale that you have gained some sort of supremacy over another fellow-traveler, you will eventually succumb to obnoxious behavior, self-righteousness and whatever prejudice has become ingrained in the environment around you. Don’t be fooled. If a man thinks that he is better than a gentleman of another race, he will just as surely believe in his supremacy over women. Any man who believes that Americans are better than Chinese will have no trouble whatsoever making the maneuver to the preference of one skin color over another.

Once prejudice has found a home in your heart, how you treat other passers-by will be contingent on whether your first viewing of them is favorable or casts them in a dimmer light. I have never met a male chauvinist who is not also bigoted racially, and I have never met a racial bigot who thinks a woman is capable of doing equal work to a man.

If you want to build a man you must first place deep within his soul the conviction that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” It will cause him to give respect to those who serve him instead of treating them like common servants. It will cause him to give place to a woman without needing to become effeminate himself. It creates a knowledge deep within him that since God is no respecter of persons, then any attempt we make to differentiate one body from another is merely an ongoing aggravation to the Divine.

I don’t care if it’s a political party, a religious sect or a corporation’s Madison Avenue advertising campaign. Any conglomeration of people who try to alienate one group of individuals from another is removing manners from human interaction, and therefore is giving the status of manliness to little boys with hair in the right places.

I did not become a man until I realized that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” When I did that, I ceased to be a threat and became an advantage to those around me, and because I had the sniff of benefit instead of the stink of an adversary, I found myself embraced and my confidence boosted.

A man needs manners–and manners spring forth from understanding that “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

Now, after that revelation is registered deep in the heart of the male of our species, it is time for him to manifest. This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “man up.”

Because “NoOne is better than anyone else,” a true man will stand tall and say, “I have set my sights on doing better.”

He will proclaim, “I’m not speaking for anyone else–just me. The whole world doesn’t have to follow my example. Society does not have to concur. I will manifest something in my life that is born of my passions, nurtured by my talents and brought to the finish line by my perseverance.”

The sure way to lose the respect of the world around you–especially a female’s–is to make claims, set goals … and never accomplish anything.

A true man manifests. He brings to fruition realities that show he is aware of his weaknesses and is moving towards solutions.

  • It is sexy because it’s sensitive.
  • It is intelligent because it shows we’re thinking.
  • It is spiritual because it allows the possibility for repentance.
  • It is emotional because it shares a vulnerability with an aspiration towards improvement.

The notion that manliness is expressed by refusing to admit wrong has caused at least eighty percent of the pain, evil and darkness that has befallen our world. I want leaders who flip-flop. I want to be around men who are given new information and instead of ignoring it, burying it or pretending they already were aware of it, they implement it into their next decision.

I do not know where we got the idea that manliness means “being right.” Being a man is pursuing right, and therefore, being willing to be wrong. The foolishness of our art, entertainment, politics and even our religion in portraying men as hunters and domineering has placed pressure on mere human beings to cover up their flaws instead of deciding to do a little bit better every day.

The most romantic thing I have ever done in the presence of a woman is to tell her where I have erred, share with her my plan and then follow up with some evidence that my convictions are bearing fruit.

It is time to put the “man” in manly.

Manners–they are set in motion when we finally comprehend that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” It tenderizes the human experience into compatibility instead of competition.

Manifest“I will set my sights on doing better.”

There are only two things you can do in life to pass the time: think up excuses for why you aren’t changing, or make a plan on how to change. One is the profile of an ignorant coward and the other is manly. Would you join me in putting the “man” back in manly?

Perhaps it will be easier for women to understand their heart and purpose when they don’t have to spend nearly as much time figuring out why little boys never became men.

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Mood Stings … June 12, 2012

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In the spirit of complete disclosure, I will tell you that I have consumed so much crab at an all-you-can-eat buffet that for the next four days, it smelled like the little critters were crawling out of every pore of my body. Like every good, red-blooded American, I have over-eaten my share of all sorts of delicacies over the years.

I remember one Thanksgiving, my son, Jasson, who is a normal-sized fellow at about 180 pounds, decided to weigh himself prior to the meal and also following. In the pursuit of great turkey and dressing, he gained seven pounds in less than an hour. Yes, eating is a great American pastime which normally culminates with either indigestion or constipation. These two obstacles don’t seem to stop us.

Everyone has suffered from eating too much or from ingesting the wrong foods at the wrong time. But it amazes me why we don’t understand that taking in large doses of entertainment and information will equally cause us to have mental indigestion or emotion constipation.  For some reason we think we can watch or do anything and just sweep it away from our thinking at will.

I am not suggesting that watching a murder mystery is going to make you go out and kill your next adversary but I am telling you that the entertainment we select, the information we absorb and the attitudes that pummel our minds DO leave behind what I shall call mood stings.

Yes, they affect our mood. And depending on how long we stay in that mood and what opportunities and problems may come our way which need to be addressed while we are still smarting from that sting, we can end up with lost revenue or even disaster.

I can always tell when people have spent too much time in front of the TV or movie screen. They get plagued by three moods that are very difficult to shake until you replace the experience with something that enriches your heart and plumps up your soul. Here are the three mood stings that can puncture your life with their nastiness:

1. Feeling vacant. Yes–sometimes after watching entertainment, rather than being filled with inspiration, you are instead engulfed in a sense of emptiness. Much of what we consider to be enlightenment in our society is really a sharp nail that pierces our souls, causing the air to seep out of our spirits. It leaves us feeling vacant.

I see it all the time. When my kids were growing up they would go to a movie and get up the next morning devoid of energy or any sense of drive or passion. They would insist that the movie was “fabulous,” but they never realized that it had drained them of all motivation.

2. Overly sensitive. How many zombies do you have to watch being killed before you lose all sense that life is being lost? How many women raped before they all look the same? How many bullets ripping through flesh and pouring out blood before human life doesn’t have as much meaning? We become defensive that human life is so worthless. If the end of the world is so near, why make a fuss over doing anything of quality? So instead of stepping up to pursue excellence, people become overly sensitive about their own space.

3. Suspicious. If you’re listening to a news report about cheating politicians, philandering ministers and terrorists around every corner, it may be a little difficult to allow any form of trust to exist in your dealings with your fellow-man. For instance, I was walking out of a door a couple of days ago and held it open for a young mother and her child. The woman was not grateful, but rather, suspicious about why I was being so nice. She even tried to take the door away from me so she could hold it for herself. I wondered what had caused her to become so careful in an environment where blessing was possible.

The wrong type of entertainment, news programs and even books can make us suspicious. And when we’re suspicious, we always close the doors to possibility and open them to attack.

These are mood stings.

Just as eating too much food gives you indigestion or constipation, taking in input from the outside world that is laced with hopelessness, despair and disrespect for human life can make you vacant, too sensitive and suspicious. And if God sends you a blessing in the midst of one of these stingings, you are certainly going to miss it because you are recovering from the shock of your ordeal.

So what am I saying? Should we avoid all entertainment? Should we stop watching things that might be a little bizarre? Not at all. But just as in the case of eating, you have to know when to push away from the table, and you also have to occasionally reach for an antacid to overcome your gluttony.

When I know I’ve run across a piece of entertainment or some broadcast that brought darkness to my mindset, I never end my day with that particular experience. Sit down and read a book. Say a prayer. Play a game of cards. Take a spiritual antacid to counteract the over-indulgence in material that was not intended to refresh you.

Remember–entertainment and news programs try to bypass the heart and soul and go directly to the mind. When you bypass the heart and soul you are speaking to a mind which is not rejuvenated or revived by spiritual regeneration, but rather, carries its own fears, prejudices and cultural upbringing. If you want to have a true experience in entertainment, the heart and soul have to be involved in order to renew the mind.

I never write a movie script unless it reaches the heart, which I know will expand the soul and therefore give the mind something fruitful to chew on.  But not everyone who writes agrees with that premise. So it is our job to beware. We shouldn’t turn into nuns or join an Amish clan, but rather, be more intelligent, introspective viewers. And when you do catch some program that lays a human body out on a slab like it’s a chunk of meat for dissection, come out of the theater and go do something else before you close your eyes and go to sleep.

Replace the gore with something more. If you do that, you can avoid the nasty mood stings of feeling vacant, being too sensitive and ending up suspicious.

After eighteen months of traveling across this country, what would I say are the main weaknesses in our nation? We seem to have a vacancy in our soul. We are way too sensitive, and certainly, overly suspicious of each other. It is the effect of mood stings.

And just like when you’re stung by a bee, the sooner you acknowledge it and treat it, the less itching will follow.

   

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