Catchy (Sitting 65) Just As I Am… September 9th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3790)

Matthew sat quietly in the rental car he had selected at the airport, having arrived early for a meeting with Milton Crenshaw–one he promised Jubal he would cover.

As he sat on the narrow thoroughfare winding through the trailer park leading to Crenshaw’s mobile home, he watched with great curiosity as a mama duck led her four babies across the road. She was so damn organized.

He suddenly felt very stupid because he envied her. She was just a duck–but she had a family. Matthew had no “honey” and no “sonny.” Just himself and a nice rental car. Oh–and of course, there was that little thing of being saved by his old friend, Michael Hinston and being given a second chance via a liver transplant.

Matthew knew he was an ungrateful son-of-a-bitch, but that didn’t make him any more thankful. When Soos called him that morning and told him it had been a hundred days since anyone had heard from Jo-Jay, he was concerned–but not engaged.

Likewise, it had been seven days since anyone had heard from Carlin Canaby. Matthew investigated, and discovered that Carlin had turned in all his rental properties and checked out of his suite at the Las Vegas casino. He was nowhere to be found.

Jubal felt that he should take over some of Carlin’s duties, so he asked Matthew to take the weekly meeting with Milton.

Matthew had been very reluctant. There was no real reason for it. Well, he didn’t like trailer parks. Or old men. And he wasn’t particularly fond of fat people–especially if they were “preachers of the Gospel.”

Overall, he just felt ill-suited for the task. However, the ducks completed their journey across the road, so Matthew decided it was time to go meet Mr. Crenshaw. Like a boy called to the dinner table on broccoli night, he took his time, dragging his feet. He trudged to the door, knocked, and a voice from inside bellowed, “Come on in. It’s open.”

Matthew stepped through the door. Sitting in a wheelchair was a big fat man with a grin. The fellow reached out a hand and Matthew took it. He then offered Matthew a seat. Matthew sat down and declined coffee, breakfast and water–he wasn’t staying long.

Milton waited for a moment and then realized that Matthew had no intention of starting the conversation. So he launched. “You’re a talkative one, aren’t you?”

“No disrespect, sir,” answered Matthew, “but you’re a stranger to me and I’ve never been particularly fond of strangers…”

Milton interrupted. “Especially big fat ones that preach the Gospel, right?”

Matthew was taken aback by the bluntness, but managed to reply, “Oh, no. Nothing like that…”

“So are you tired?” asked Milton.

“My flight wasn’t that long,” began Matthew.

Milton interrupted again. “I’m not talkin’ about your damn flight. I’m just wondering if you’re tired of dodging and trying to escape the obvious.”

“What is obvious?” asked Matthew.

“What is obvious?” mulled Milton. “Well, how about this? We’ve tried for several hundred years to live in a world where everyone is allowed to believe anything they want to, do anything they want to, and even form governments around that thinking, without any objection.”

“That’s what they call freedom,” inserted Matthew.

Milton laughed. “‘Freedom’s just another word, for nothin’ left to lose.’ That’s from Bobby McGee.” He peered at Matthew and added, “I’m sure thqt was before your time.”

Matthew sat up in his chair and stated, “Well, if it’s conversation you want, and you want it to be honest, I would just love to receive this report I’m supposed to collect and get the hell out of here.”

Milton smiled. “Well, I see you have some backbone. That’s good. So you want my report? Here’s my report. I’m sitting in a room with a man who has been blessed–who is so ignorant that he feels he has the God-given right to question the logic of the universe. How’s that for a report?”

“I don’t like you, Mr. Crenshaw,” said Matthew. “And it’s not because you preach the Gospel or because you are heavy-set.”

“You mean fat?” Milton interrupted.

“Your word,” countered Matthew. “It’s not because of that. It’s because you’ve eye-balled me ever since I walked in, as a potential conquest for your ego-stroking evangelical need to save the world, one damnable sinner at a time.”

Milton lurched back in fake horror. “Oh, my God! I don’t want you to get saved! Then you’d be my brother in Jesus and we might have to work together! I’m just pointing out that you find yourself to be so intelligent and erudite–yet the obvious continues to escape you.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. What is the obvious?” asked Matthew.

“I didn’t say I’d tell you,” replied Milton. “I don’t usually waste my time sharing valuable information with those who are determined to be ignorant.”

Matthew stood to his feet. “And I’m not accustomed to hanging around to be insulted. I’ve had enough of this. I’ll just tell Jubal that it was great and you were super-fine. How’s that?”

“Sit down,” demanded Milton. Matthew didn’t move.

“Please,” added Milton with some tenderness. Against his better judgment, Matthew sat back down.

Milton paused. His demeanor changed.

“My dear friend,” he began gently, “if the human race does not find a common cause, a common kindness and a common appreciation, we’re just gonna fuckin’ kill each other. I hope you don’t mind me using that word. I don’t very often, but sometimes it’s the only one that grants correct emphasis on the desperation and futility of a situation.”

Matthew jumped in. “My problem with you is not that you say ‘fuck.’ My problem with you is that you’re a big, fat fuck.”

Milton laughed. He roared. He slapped his chubby thigh and he rolled his wheelchair closer to Matthew.

“That I am,” he said. “Do you know why?”

Matthew shook his head.

“It’s because while you deliberate two inches of rope to determine its strength, the world is hanging itself by the remaining length. Please understand–I don’t follow Jesus because I’m a religious man. Hell, I had a porn addiction at one time in my life. I had to fight it off like crazy. I’m not a good man; I’m not a pure man. Morality is not my primary concern. It’s common sense. You see, the reason they killed Jesus of Nazareth is because he was sensible. And the reason the church today does not preach Jesus is because it’s afraid their people will not tolerate the simplicity of ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ It’s much easier to play the organ, the guitar, preach the sermon and feign worshipping the heavens with candles and eucharist. But meanwhile, the world keeps dividing into smaller and smaller groups. And the smaller the groups are, the more dangerous they become. Organization becomes easier. You see, it would take China months–maybe years–to get agreement to destroy the world from all its various leaders. But sixteen fanatics in a garage in Syria, with a dirty bomb, could pull off tragedy before the weekend.”

“If we don’t come up with a common message–a common goal, a common sense–we will kill each other. And you see, Moses won’t do it–he believed in killing. As did Mohammed, Buddha and all the religionists throughout history. Jesus never killed anyone. He never recommended it. He said God is your Father, nature is your Mother, I am your brother, and the whole world are your cousins.”

“If that message doesn’t permeate our society in the next twenty years, we will have diminishing results, which will end up in a foolish decision to prove some asinine point.”

Matthew was stunned, but didn’t want to act like it. “What gives you the right, Mr. Crenshaw, to make decisions for everyone in the world?”

Milton leaned forward and said, “What gives you the right, young man, to deny that the decision has already been made, the price has already been paid–and all that remains is for each one of us is just to walk into the wisdom of loving one another and being kind and tender-hearted?”

Matthew laughed. “And you think you’re kind and tender-hearted? You think the way you treated me this morning is the spirit of love? If your attitude is Jesus, then you can stick the motherfucker right back up on the cross as far as I’m concerned.”

“Very dramatic,” said Milton. “I can see why they asked you to take on this mission. You have the power of your convictions even when they’re wrong. You started out your life–you wanted to be funny. You are funny. You wanted to have your own business. You do. You wanted to be successful. You are. You wanted money. God knows you got that. You wanted people to look up to you. Accomplished. Yet you sat in your casino suite and nearly drank yourself to death. How gentle do you think I should be with such arrogance?”

All at once Matthew broke. It really wasn’t anything Milton had said. It wasn’t a conviction from the challenge. But tears filled Matthew’s eyes. Not the usual weeping, where he conjured self-pity over some perceived injustice to his character. These tears were coming from another place, out of his control, streaming down his face, though he willed them to cease.

Matthew wept. Then he sobbed. And then he cried out, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”

Milton backed up his wheelchair and turned away to give Matthew a private moment.

Matthew was moved–but angry at the same time. He didn’t want to be some common, everyday sinner, repenting and weeping over evil actions. He hated himself for being weak.

But none of that stopped the tears.

Quietly, Milton spoke–nearly under his breath. “Just as I am, and waiting not, to rid my soul of one dark blot. Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me.”

Through a gushing of tears, Matthew squalled, “Why did they kill him?”

Milton paused and turned slowly to Matthew. “Because they foolishly thought it would stop him.”

This brought an even greater torrent of mourning. Milton eased his wheelchair over and put his arms around Matthew, who laid his head on the old man’s chest and cried like he had lost everything.

No one hurried the moment. No one spoke again. Neither Milton nor Matthew knew exactly what it all meant.

Yet something was different.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3730)

Every Winner

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Don’t look for me down the road just yet

I’m reveling in this particular spot

Don’t insist my feet need to be more wet

I’m really learning a lot

The race you run is exhausting to me

I like to stop–enjoy what I see

So speed on, dear friend, just let me be

I’m enjoying the power of free

I really lost my single soul

Trying to be the “Best in Show”

Teaching the old dog takes its toll

Yes, the bite is worse than the bark

I’m not a philosopher, nor a king

Not a possessor of all that’s wise

I want to wear simple shoes

And avoid the nasty lies

My feelings were raw and full of hurt

Frightened to make a start

So give me time to sense again

And open up my heart

God means nothing if I feel small

So I relax, peaceful, awaiting my call

There is no hurry, there is no worry

No need to toil and spin

Slow down the race and find my place

Perhaps I still can win

For today has come to keep me busy

Making my logical case

For every winner is still a sinner

Pursuing amazing grace

Today’s reader is Jerrod, who lives in Florida and works as an executive technician at 3G Productions, residing with his wife and two daughters

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 25th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3653)

Walk Away

Upon this rock a church to build

And then we pray, “Pews be filled”

Waiting for the sinner man

To accept the Christ, be born again

Giving that tithe once a week

To fund this haven for the meek

But the gates of hell are unafraid

Evil seems to have it made

We perch, debate the Holy Ghost

Wondering which of us has the most

Of God’s favor, we call grace

A free pass to heaven, the Holy Place

Yet where’s the salt or the light of Earth

Evidence that we truly have rebirth?

We gather and make a pious scene

Every week at ten-fifteen

And listen to David, Moses and Paul

With stained glass on each and every wall

Or strum a guitar, beat the drum

Standing still, we barely hum

Time to find something clever

While spouting “nos” and certainly “never”

The younger humans are leaving each day

Looking to achieve a better way

And the old saints insist we keep it the same

Searching to find a devil to blame

Jesus wanted to have a people

Not a gravesite with a steeple

It begins by respecting one another

That includes sisters–not just brothers

And walk away from the power of fear

Delighting ourselves to be of good cheer

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 18th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3646)

Become a Human

No more words from me
Just you wait and see
I will close my trap
And stop my verbal crap
Allowing you to breathe

I may have a truth
But you require more proof
Perhaps I love your soul
But that won’t make you whole
To feel released, refreshed

For there is nothing worse
Than pieces of Holy Verse
To convict you of a path
Just invites your needful wrath
Closing me out of your space

For God is our maker
But refuses to be a taker
Yet I use His Word
To make you feel absurd
Chasing you from His grace

For it seems my actions
Have divided us into factions
What once was a joyous peace
Becomes a manipulated tease
Sinners probing for a winner

Forgive this foolish fraud
Place your faith in God
Let sweet time pass away
We will meet on another day
When I have become a human.

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Catchy (Sitting 42) Head Hunter… April 1st, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3629)

Moving stealthily across the room, Matthew eased his way into a large, brown, shiny leather chair with golden buttons. Crossing his legs, he wiggled his nose as if dispelling a fly and inquired, “You are an atheist, aren’t you?”

She replied, “I am a psychiatrist and a graduate of the University of…”

He interrupted her. “I know all about your degrees and all your studies. I’m a professional. I check things out. What struck me was that you advertised that your therapy was non-religious.”

She paused. “Yes. That particular line from my promotion is a hold-over from my days of working in Gadsden, Alabama, where they still believe that peters can walk on the water.”

Matthew laughed. “That’s very good. I just wanted to make sure that you’ll be able to listen to me with an objective mind, neither judging me critically because you’re faith-based, or over-evaluating me intellectually from some throne of godless superiority.”

She shifted in her chair and said, “Why don’t we just order in sushi and forget about the whole thing?”

Matthew liked her. Her name was Dr. Sherry Lynn Montgomery. He had carefully sought out her services because Matthew was convinced that another week of being the sole proprietor of his own brain might end him up in a sanitarium.

He needed to talk. He was tired of listening. So many opinions, so much rhetoric, so much danger, so much assurance. He just wanted to say “one, two, three” with the hope that someone would counter with “four, five.”

The doctor jumped in to fill a quiet space. “I grew up in Alabama,” she said. “My father was an evangelist for the Church of God. He was the kind of man who believed everything that came his way was true as long as it could be confirmed that a prophet, savior or apostle said it. He was not a horrible human being, but there were folks he hated. To use his colorful language, he explained to me many times that he despised ‘sinners and niggers’ and not necessarily in that order. He would jokingly tell me that ‘the niggers should be glad he made the distinction.’ I use the language for your ears, not to be flamboyant or cavalier, but to let you know that there was a cave I had to climb out of before I could reach even ground. I am familiar with that process. I have led many other religious spelunkers from their darkness to an understanding of the simplicity of this life.”

Matthew shook his head. “Damn, you talk pretty. I bet you’ve used that speech before.”

Dr. Sherry smiled. “I have. It’s a good speech–mainly because it’s true.”

“All right,” said Matthew. “Let me tell you a little bit about myself.”

This time, Dr. Sherry interrupted. “You are the young man who owns his own advertising agency, and decided to take on the task of making Jesus popular again. I also investigate my possible patients.”

Matthew scrunched up his face. “Well, not exactly. I’m not personally trying to do it. I just could not figure out how in the hell to turn down two hundred and fifty million dollars…”

“So what you’re saying,” continued the doctor, “is that you are not a religious fanatic–just willing to become one for the right price.”

Matthew stood to his feet and clapped his hands. “You got it! You really do know your stuff. Excuse me, Doctor Piety. Would you turn down two hundred and fifty million dollars if they offered it to you, to make Jesus popular again?”

“It seems to me that Jesus’ popularity has already cost the human race much more than two hundred and fifty million dollars,” she said tersely.

“Oh, I see,” said Matthew slowly. “We’re going to be serious.”

Dr. Sherry Lynn Montgomery leaned forward and pointed her finger at him. “Since you’ve taken over this little enterprise, there have been rumors of miracles, healings and even some fellow raised from the dead.”

Matthew inserted, “That one was temporary. He croaked, you know.”

She shook her head. “We don’t need more religion in this world. We need more reasonable people who will take the time to use their common sense and available knowledge to access real solutions.”

“Hell, you got no complaint from me on that one,” responded Matthew. “Except the parts of what you’re looking for don’t seem to be available. Are there such people in the world? Isn’t everybody waiting for the magic lamp they can rub so they can get the three wishes? I have to be honest–there’s a part of me that wants some sort of God, to take all the shit out of my life and leave behind promises. I don’t even care if He breaks the promises. I just can’t believe that my life is limited to what I know or even to what I can learn.”

“Why?” asked the doctor. “You’re not a stupid man.”

Matthew interrupted. “You can call me Matthew.”

“Actually, I won’t call you anything,” she said, “until I can determine if we’re going to have some sort of ongoing conversation.”

Matthew held his hand up to stop her. “What I want to know is, why do Christians always seem so sure about God and atheists always seem so mad?”

“I’m not mad,” said Dr. Montgomery. “I am just not titillated by fairy tales about eternal life, and I refuse to waste the one life I’ve got trying to measure up for the one that does not exist.”

“Are you sure it doesn’t exist?” asked Matthew. “Damn–if someone would just guarantee me that there’s nothing else but here and now, I think I could make it work. And if I couldn’t, at least I would know I was just another miserable son-of-a-bitch, waiting to expire. But I’m not sure. I’m not sure there is a God. I’m not sure there isn’t. Which means I’m not sure I know what the hell I’m doing.”

“I’m sure,” she replied. “Take my word for it. Listen to a young girl who said her prayers every night until she was eighteen years old and was able to sneak out at the end of the revival meeting, escaping into the darkness to start a new life.”

“You mean you ran away?” asked Matthew.

“Yes. And that was twenty-five years ago. And no one tried to follow me. I was told they declared it was God’s will–that my flesh had to be turned over to Satan for purification.”

Matthew just stared at her. “I know you don’t believe in any of this. At least that’s what you say. But I’ve been there for the meetings. I’ve listened to my friend, Jubal, talk about the joy of the Lord. I sat and spoke with a man who was electrocuted and was alive again. I saw my friends from college, with dismal outlooks on life, who now are coming to some kind of awareness. Pink returning to their cheeks and peace to their minds.”

“Fine,” the doctor said curtly. “Why don’t you just join them?”

“That’s easy,” said Matthew. “There’s too many of them. I’ve never been a soul who followed the mob mentality. I wore my leisure suits a full three years longer than the fashion snobs permitted. I still occasionally look in the Farmer’s Almanac for weather information. And I’ve never ordered anything but a pepperoni pizza any time in my life. I like things steady. I like the taste of my own efforts on my tongue. I don’t want a God to take control of my life. But I don’t want a devil to haunt my efforts.”

Dr. Sherry Lynn Montgomery just shook her head. “You’re very confused, Matthew. You neither have the bliss of ignorance nor the refreshment of enlightenment. What is it you think you have?”

“Jack and Coke,” Matthew said quickly. “I have Jack and Coke. It is the cocktail of rock stars. It’s what the Beatles drank, and it is what the next rock and roll band who offends some fearful mother in America will be guzzling down.”

He grinned. “Do you know why the rock bands started drinking Jack and Coke? When rock and roll began, the cities where the bands performed would not allow alcohol backstage. Many of the tours were sponsored by Coca-Cola, so there would be tons and tons of cans of Coke backstage. So the bands found it very simple to smuggle in bottles of Jack Daniels in their road cases, and even when the liquor was added to the cola, at first sight to any innocent producer, it just looked like a soft drink. Isn’t that amazing? It’s another example of humans adapting and evolving to meet the need.”

“Are you an alcoholic?” asked the doctor.

“No, no,” said Matthew. “That would be much too easy. I can go five days without drinking, and then follow it up with three days of doing nothing else. I never feel the need to drink, I usually just feel compelled to waste some time so I don’t have to think about this shit I’m talking to you about today.”

Matthew held up a finger. “Here’s what I know. If God doesn’t leave me the hell alone, He’d better be prepared to pay for my rehab. And I’m not talkin’ about some little state-sponsored place in the woods. I’m talkin’ about Malibu–with lobster for breakfast.”

“So it’s God’s fault?” questioned the doctor.

Matthew stood up and ambled toward the door. He turned the knob, opened it and was about to walk out, but then decided to conclude his speech.

“No, actually, good doc… Now it’s your fault. I occasionally like to include new people in my life so I can have someone fresh to blame.”

 

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Good News and Better News… July 17th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3371)

Church attendance is dropping.

The statement is so widely accepted that no one is objecting, nor considering the ramifications.

We are absolutely terrified if the ocelot become an endangered species, but barely flick an eyebrow over losing an intricate part of our society–the church.

Those who hate the church smile in a bit of wistful glee, and those who still attend look around at the empty room, shrug their shoulders and quietly head to the altar for communion.

If the American church dissipates to nothing, what are we losing?

We are forfeiting a place where once a week we can come and admit that we’re sinners. The humility does us good.

Also, it’s a location where we can rejoice over being forgiven.

Where else in America do you sit in a room and sing with other people?

How about the message? A lesson on the power of good.

It gives us the chance to be quiet. Everything roars around us–and we have a tendency to roar back.

When I was growing up, I was suddenly around kids from other school districts, who became my “church friends.”

It gives me a chance to think about possibilities other than myself.

While I’m trying to stay awake, I have the realization that I’m part of something.

I have to look for a shirt that matches my socks.

I find myself giving.

I also am put in the position to receive.

I’m actually leaving my home for something other than shopping, games, movies and dinner.

I am in a room full of people who will pray for me.

When church is done right, I can question. I can doubt. I can shout.

I can see, hear, feel and touch the gospel.

We certainly should be concerned about baby seals–they are a part of creation.

But if we allow the church to go the way of the dodo bird, we should stop wondering why things are not flying high and straight.

The good news is, there is still a church out there.

The better news is, that church is waiting for our unique input.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 8th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2958)

PoHymn June 8th

The I’s Keep Coming

I was raped

I am a rapist

I killed a gorilla

I aborted a fetus

I laughed at a vicious joke

I told the joke

I preached a sermon

I am a sinner

I am a virgin

I am promiscuous

I am a liberal

I am a conservative

I cheated on my taxes

I pay too much tax

I am saved

I am lost

I am Muslim

I am Hindu

I hate Jews

I despise Palestinians

I am a Christian

I am an atheist

I love animals

I butcher cows

I bully weaker folks

I pee in the pool

I am an American

I want to kill all Americans

I am a terrorist

I am terrified

I am a racist

I am considered inferior

I am a man

I am a woman

I want to die

I am dying

All God’s children

No respecter of persons

Papa’s love

Mystifying

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