Good News and Better News … April 2nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Little Jonathan, Jonny, Precious, Jon, Big Jon, Rock, singer, artist, Jonathan Richard, lover, boyfriend, daddy, Papa, father, traveler, performer, controversial, G-Pop, blogger, songwriter, friend.

These are all names associated with me over the years. What a list.

I am not that significant. But I also must tell you that Alexander the Great was not that great, and Ming the Merciful was often fussy.

Names are bandied about to explain what we feel rather than to clarify what someone or something is. This came to my mind last night when I watched the NBC version of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

Not only did he need to be “Jesus,” but someone required him to take on the name “Christ.” And not only “Christ” but now, by reputation, he has become a “Superstar.”

A list of such names and adjectives is accumulated in Isaiah from the Good Book.

  • Wonderful
  • Counselor
  • Mighty God
  • Everlasting Father
  • Prince of Peace

I suppose most people would proclaim that Jesus was all of those. But I’m sorry. “Wonderful” just does not do it for me. Sitting around and praising a deity for his goodness does very little to enhance my life.

Some folks would find it essential to establish that he is a “Mighty God,” but I think mastering the rising of the sun and the setting of the same makes that pretty clear.

“Everlasting Father?” I actually need a father here. I don’t know if I need one for eternity.

“Prince of Peace?” That’s cool, but the Prince of Peace also required that I be a peace-maker.

As I look at all the superlatives used to describe the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the one that stands out to me from the list is “Counselor.”

Jesus is my counselor. He has kept me out of jail. He has assisted me in maintaining my fibers of sanity. He has led me in understanding how to become more valuable to the human beings around me. He has informed me on discovering when a door is closed and when it is open.

He taught me to ask and seek and knock instead of complaining about the menu that life has thrust at me.

Because I have accepted him as my counselor, wonderful things have happened. I have been able, through my testimony, to confirm that he is a “Mighty God” and an “Everlasting Father.” And peace? He has been a Prince.

But more importantly, he is my counselor because he is my confidante, and for those who pursue the path of atheism, he is my invisible friend, whom I frequently talk to. And if he doesn’t exist, he’s still a great therapy session. After all, not everyone can afford two hundred dollars an hour for a professional.

I do believe that what you call Jesus does determine the level of religiosity which plagues your soul–because every drop of traditional religion that inhabits us also inhibits us.

So the good news is that Jesus, being versatile, has many names, and just like you and me, has taken on a variety of personas.

And the better news is, you can feel free to call him anything you want.

 

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Confessing … November 21st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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XXIX.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

Matt was a minister.

He also was a singer.

He decided he wanted to record what I called a “Twinkie.” It was a 45 R.P.M. record with an A and B side. I called them Twinkies because they were small, delicious and you only had to record two songs to brag about having a record.

Matt came to me because I was only twenty-one years old, sang, played an instrument, had done some vocal arrangements for local gospel quartets, and had written two songs and recorded them, putting out my own Twinkie.

In my little town, I seemed to be a kind of superstar. I enjoyed it. I was a big frog in a cardboard box, content with the air holes provided.

Matt wanted to pay me to produce his record. I said yes.

We had numerous meetings, set a date, and Matt thought that all systems were go.

Here’s the problem: I didn’t do anything.

I didn’t work on the songs, I didn’t hire the musicians, I didn’t even book the studio, although I told him I did.

I lied.

Why? Because I loved the notion of being creative, but despised the footwork.

Matt became a little suspicious. He asked a bunch of questions about the plans. I decided to act offended over his doubt. He immediately backed off.

So Matt arrived at the studio to meet with me on the day I told him we were scheduled, only to discover there was no session planned, and I was nowhere to be found. This was before the time of cell phones and texting, so Matt was stuck with these strangers, hoping I would arrive any minute to straighten things out.

I never arrived.

Matter of fact, I never contacted Matt again.

About six months later, he caught up with me in a shopping mall. I can still remember the chill that went down my spine when he walked up to me and simply asked, “Hey, what happened with the recording session?”

I struggled to make two or three excuses, and he interrupted me and said, “It was really weird. When you didn’t show up, the recording engineer had time available, and he and I sat down together, arranged the music, and I recorded my songs.”

I felt so embarrassed, stupid and strangely affronted. After all, how could Matt make a good record without me?

He didn’t hang around to talk much more.

He just walked away into history.

I learned a lot through that experience, which I continue to still learn.

There is no such thing as talent without integrity. When we attempt to promote it, it ends up being like a lovely sandwich … discovered in a mud puddle.

 

Confessing microphone

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … March 18, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn March 18

A Workable We

Thought about vegetarian

But couldn’t “meat” the need

Wanted to become a doctor

But afraid to watch it bleed

Could have been a singer

But didn’t sew up a deal

How about a game show host?

Stymied by the wheel

Pondered pursuing politics

Yet couldn’t suffer to lie

Yearned to father children

Despised it when they cry

Dreamed of going to heaven

But terrified of heights

Made it safe to Friday night

But apparently missed the lights

Curious about kissing

She said, “Don’t give me lip”

Wanted to write a poem

Never, ever quite that hip

Went to see the sunrise

Peering to the west

Got to good and better

Yet never was the best

I shopped for a boat

But never completed the sale

Inherited a mountain goat

Without a suitable tale

I am a dollar short

On any given pay

But rich with thoughtful words

Conscious of what to say

I am the me that comes to thee

Searching for ways to be

Alive, content and satisfied

Creating a workable we.

 

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Boiler plate 

Ed … March 5, 2012

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I was twenty-one years old. My life was a mish-mash of contradictions, colliding into one another, creating what seemed to be a big ball of excitement, which occasionally deflated to just no game at all.

I already had two children, even though I had no visible means of supporting them. You see, I was a musician—a songwriter and singer—bound and determined to continue to be so, in the midst of objections from family, friends, landlords and bill collectors.

It was a confusing time because I had nights of great success, when I would perform onstage with some of the top gospel acts of the day, only to return home to an eviction notice hanging on my door. The big gospel acts loved me because I was willing to bring in my group to warm up the audience for them, and didn’t charge them anything. I was pleased and overjoyed to share for the exposure. Also, I was a lot of fun.

I picked up a few dollars here and there doing vocal coaching and arranging music for local gospel quartets. Yet I was a contradiction in terms. I was talent with no audience—energy dissipated into a vacuum. And I was supposed to be an adult and father of two children, but constantly required a wash cloth to dab the moisture from behind my ears. Just to give you a further idea of the weirdness going on in my life, on the day that I signed one of my songs for publication with a Nashville recording company, I was standing in my small apartment, reading the letter, when the lights went out as the electric company turned my power off for lack of payment.

In the midst of this back and forth existence, I met Ed. He was the pastor of a small church who invited me to come in and share with my group, and he immediately took a liking to me. Well, actually it was more than that. He was so impressed that he asked me if I would help him record some of the songs he had written. So he booked a local studio, requesting that I produce the session and gather and rehearse the musicians. I listened to some of his songs. They were really nice. But remember—I was twenty-one, and on top of being a bit irresponsible, I was also an insecure brat. So privately, to the other members of my group, I chose to make fun of Ed’s material, because for a brief moment, it made me feel big and very important.

But I agreed to do the album with Ed. He was thrilled. He immediately started to work on his voice and songs in preparation. Ed was in his mid-thirties and on the fourth or maybe fifth reincarnation of his dreams, feeling that this present opportunity could be his last. I didn’t understand—I was too young to fathom running out of time.

 Ed got ready and I agreed to meet him there. After making the promise, I went out, and with a combination of babies, traveling and dodging my landlord, I soon forgot Ed. A bit nervous, he called me from time to time and I lied and reassured him that everything was on target and all he needed to do was bring a good voice and relax—that we would have great results.

I meant well. I think there was a part of me that believed that at the last minute I would snatch out some sort of musical miracle and dazzle both Ed and myself with the completed, mysteriously hatched juggernaut. But on the morning that I was supposed to meet Ed at the studio, I had done no arranging, gathered no musicians and had further discovered that I had an appointment and needed to travel to Nashville,Tennessee.

I didn’t even call him.

When I arrived in Nashville several hours later, there was a phone call from Ed. I don’t know how he had tracked me down to my motel, but he asked me where I was. I lied. I told him I was a couple of hours away but I was coming—and looking forward to the session.

I don’t know what I hoped to achieve—maybe I was just treasuring a few more seconds of Ed’s adoration. Two hours later the phone rang and it was Ed. He explained that the studio was charging him for all the time he was waiting for me and he wondered what my estimated time of arrival was going to be. It was time to come clean.

“Listen, Ed, it’s kind of weird but kind of funny, too. You see, I got all tied up in stuff and I forgot that our project was in this month—well, anyway. I had to go toNashvilleand that’s where I am, so I won’t be able to do this today. See if you can reschedule.”

There was silence on the other end. Then Ed finally spoke. “That’s all right,” he said. “Some of the guys here have agreed to help me put my album together. I appreciate your time.”

Ed hung up. I thought about his words. He appreciated my time. I had no time for Ed. Matter of fact, my dear friends, I never gave myself enough time to even feel guilty about what I did to Ed. I went back to pursuing my goals and allowing Mother Nature and my heavenly Father to teach me gradually, over the years, how to be a human being instead of the south end of a donkey.

I thought about Ed today. It’s been thirty-nine years since it happened. I don’t even know if he’s still alive. Years and years ago, I heard through the grapevine that he did make that album, though, and that he was very pleased.

But I thought about him today—because it’s important for me to do so. My life has moved on and I’ve grown. I would never, ever treat a child of God that same way again. Some folks would say, “Why dredge up bad memories? Why put yourself through it? Why reflect upon things that are negative?”

It’s because they’re MY bad memories. They were a painful part of my journey to who I am. And they’re only negative if I stubbornly continue to repeat them.

Yes—the musing of the masses is that it’s useless to feel guilty. I disagree—because quite honestly, friends, guilt is sometimes the only thing that really makes us feel at all.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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