Catchy (Sitting 44) A Very Slow Fast … April 15th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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It was meant to be a very quiet arrival at Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, D. C. Over the weekend, Jubal had contacted Matthew, explaining that he planned on returning on Wednesday afternoon at 2:15, and would appreciate a pickup, so he could get right back into the hunt of things. He had briefly updated Matthew on his journey.

Jubal had only spent four days with the Dalai Lama before traveling on to Japan, China, India, and ending up at a conference of rabbis and mullahs in Jerusalem. He had many stories and much adventure but he wanted to come home.

Matthew agreed to meet him in Washington, and contacted Soos to put together the “on-the-ground-plan.” Perhaps that was his mistake–because Soos decided that the return of Brother Carlos was good reason to have a national festival.

First she put the word out on social media, so there were five thousand screaming fans at the airport when he taxied down the runway. She also got hold of Mother Rolinda, who was still pastoring up in Baltimore, even though her burned-out church was being repaired and the local congregation was meeting in the park. Rolinda suggested they hire “The Angels”–fifty motor-cycle-riding dudes and lasses for God, who used to be part of the Hell’s Angels. Soos loved the idea and also thought a local high school marching band would be wonderful once they arrived in the middle of Washington, D. C.

As Matthew arrived at the airport, he became aware that he was once again part of an event. The past few weeks had changed him from a mere curmudgeon to a full-blown people-hater. He had “jailed himself” in Las Vegas for nearly a month. He drank, he slept, he gambled a bit, and he discussed with several prostitute friends whether lemon was necessary to add to the butter for a “good lobster-eatin’.”

So when Matthew drove up and saw all the people with banners and damnably sweet faces, he was tempted to turn around and pretend he had been waylaid in Nebraska due to a storm. (You could always count on Nebraska to provide you such a cover.) But he figured there was some member of the press who would identify him and foil his deception.

A beleaguered Matthew greeted a surprised Jubal Carlos, as they both headed to the parking lot and Jubal was offered a Harley Davidson to ride into Washington. (Matthew opted for the chauffeured Lincoln Town Car.)

Fifty motor-cycle disciples with shiny helmets were escorted into town by the police department as the fans roared and Jubal Carlos waved his fist in the air as if leading a charge at Gettysburg. The five miles into town were quickly covered, since there was such a smooth passage. As soon as the high school band saw Jubal, they burst into what sounded like a John Phillips Sousa march dipped in salsa. Jubal rolled up with his cohorts, jumped off his motorcycle and danced his way to a set of congas which were waiting for him and joined the band in sweet revelry.

Soos estimated there were probably ten thousand waiting for them in the Capitol Square. She had set up a microphone so Jubal could address the crowd and share about his journey.

After about ten minutes of music and everybody getting their fill of Nathan’s hot dogs, Jubal stepped onto the stage and walked up to the microphone. Matthew pushed closer–he wanted to both see and hear. He was curious. He had missed Jubal Carlos. Even though Matthew had no intention of bowing to a divinity, he still had deep admiration for Jubal’s convictions.

Jubal stood quietly for a minute, letting the crowd have its will. All at once, everyone fell silent. Jubal took the moment, added his own pause, and then spoke.

“I have been with the Dalai Lama, to Japan, China, the Ganges River in India, and Jerusalem, where Jesus was glorified.”

The crowd cheered. Jubal looked across the mass as if gazing upon a beautiful horizon. Then he started to laugh, pretended to wipe some sweat from his brow, leaned into the microphone and shouted: “But it sure is damn fine to be home!”

What followed was a scream that could have awakened all the stone monuments in the fair city. Matthew laughed. Jubal was very corny, somewhat predictable, fairly ordinary, and loved by all. Deep in his heart Matthew believed that he was much more clever than Mr. Carlos. Yet it was difficult for Matthew to get any affection, even from the bell-boy if he gave a particularly good tip. Jubal continued.

“I’m not gonna hold you here long, but I am going to tell you what’s next. I’m going to leave this stage, and I’m going to head to that building–”

He turned and pointed to the Capitol.

“Here’s what I’m going to do. Yesterday morning I began a fast. Actually, it’s rather simple. I’m drinking water, some electrolytes, and bottled fruit and vegetable juices. I just wanted you to know the truth before the press calls me a liar because they smell asparagus on my breath.”

More uproarious laughter, leaving Matthew shaking his head. Jubal waited for the giggles to die down, and went on.

“I’m going to sit in the rotunda of that Capitol and stay there, fasting, until this country passes a bill. I think we should call it ‘The National Action of Kindness.’ I know people will say it’s meaningless, but it is time for the United States to lead the world forward by using kindness–before we bury each other in a grave of nuclear ash.”

A chorus of “amens” and a few “hallelujahs” skirted across the gathered. Jubal spoke on.

“I do not know if I will be allowed to stay in the Capitol, and I certainly don’t plan on being any trouble. In other words, I will find my own corner and brighten it. But until we Americans realize that everything we do–every law we pass, every decision we make–has to be run through the concept of kindness, we will continue to hurt one another, destroy our young people and fail to be the shining light to the world. I’m not asking you to join me in the fast. I’m not doing it because I feel like I’m special. No one likes to eat like your Brother Carlos. So pray with me that those fat-cat-politicians will hurry up and do something, so I can get back to continuing my burrito addiction.”

And yes…more laughter.

Jubal stepped away. He didn’t even stop to talk to Soos, Rolinda or Matthew. He slow-jogged his way toward the Capitol, where in a very few minutes, he came to the door and was refused entrance.

By this time, many from the crowd had followed, including all the staffers. They stood on the steps and shouted at the Capitol above them. “Let him in! Let him in!”

Jubal did not say anything at all, but stepped back four paces, crossed his arms and stood his ground. All at once the doors opened, and the guards moved to the side.

Ninety-year-old Medero Fairchild, the oldest sitting Senator, slowly stepped out and embraced Jubal. He put his arm around him and walked toward the guards. They stepped forward to prevent Jubal from entering the Capitol Building. The old man lifted his hand and spoke to them.

“This is my friend. He’s here at my request. You young gentlemen do a fine job guarding us, but now Mr. Jubal and I need to get inside and catch up on things.”

The austere protectors looked at one another and realized that it was foolishness for them to argue with the “Old Eagle of Liberty” (one of Fairchild’s nicknames).

Jubal Carlos stepped inside the Congress with his arm around a ninety-year-old senator from the state of Tennessee. The crowd went wild, and the guards broke form and style and waved at them.

Matthew shook his head. He raced to the car, hurried to the airport, and flew back as quickly as he could to his cave of protection.

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G-Poppers … February 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop looked on with a bit of sadness as social media lit up with posts about evangelist Billy Graham.

Many of them were cruel. Matter of fact, an inordinate number were laced with vindictive language and resentment against the deceased Reverend.

He lived for ninety-nine years, so trying to abridge his life into one space of time is completely impossible. So the last generation only has insights on the occasional press release which came from his home in North Carolina and the actions of his son, Franklin Graham.

G-Pop feels the same way about Billy Graham as he does about Michael Jackson. G-Pop is not sure either one of them would appreciate the comparison, but every person’s life, including Michael and Billy, comes down to two questions.

What did he or she do?

What did he or she miss?

Can it be as simple as the good doings outweighing the bad, which means someone ends up righteous?

Yes. Any other standard would be prejudicial.

What did Billy Graham do? He preached the Gospel to the whole world. Granted, it was a particular gospel–focused mainly on repenting of sin, accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior and being baptized. Therefore he missed the greater glories of the Gospel of Jesus:

  • Abundant life
  • Mercy to others in order to obtain mercy
  • Refusing to judge fellow humans
  • Wise to stay away from politics.

Michael Jackson arguably wrote the most unique blend of R & B and pop music ever penned. The tunes were filled with humanity, generosity, giving, joy and tolerance. We also have to note that he missed the opportunity to learn to love himself or accept who he was, and in the process may have accidentally damaged the lives of some young people because he was abused as a child.

Billy Graham stayed married to the same woman and was never involved in a sexual scandal throughout his entire ministry.

Yet he missed the opportunity to link arms with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and failed to encourage the South to join the North, East and West to accept civil rights in this country.

He missed the moment when the gay community sought equality as citizens, and instead evaluated them by his moral code and traditions, dating back thousands of years.

Michael Jackson was generous, childlike and desperately tried to address world hunger while simultaneously destroying himself through drug abuse.

It would be terrible if Dr. Billy Graham were to be known as “Billy Graham Cracker.”

Just as horrible would be “Michael Jackson, child molester.”

G-Pop thinks both of these men established that they had hearts to do more good than bad. The weakness of each one showed up at poor times in their personal histories, but with confidence, G-Pop will continue to respect their journeys.

So every time G-Pop hears the old hymn, “Just as I am without one plea,” he will think of the love, efforts and mission of Billy Graham of North Carolina.

And when G-Pop hears Beat It, Billy Jean and Man in the Mirror, his eyes will tear up over the memory of one of the greatest talents that ever inhabited the Earth.

If G-Pop expects this same quarter when he dies–to be evaluated by what he’s done, minus what he missed, hoping for a positive total–then he must first extend that grace to others.

We must first extend that grace to others.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … January 17th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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On a Monday Afternoon

Don’t want to be a party favor

The latest tasty ice cream flavor

Following along with the aimless crowd

Status proud, whisper loud

Mock the leader of the nation

Just to gain social station

Abandon the hope of my soul

To achieve a social media goal

I’m not a rubber stamp

Nor a bitch, loser or tramp

I enjoy the search for myself

Placing options on the shelf

I cry for freedom with my voice

Fostering by granting choice

I love to learn to live again

I laugh at failure, repent my sin

I am not born for your pleasure

Nor evaluated by your bratty measure

I am me, yes me with a twist

An open hand, never a fist

I will move and go

​And let you find me

We will discover one another

Just you wait and see

 

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Good News and Better News… July 31st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I was sitting in the nursery of the Nativity Lutheran Church in Weeki Wachee, Florida, between services, snacking on some fruit which had graciously been provided by Pastor Giuseppe and glorious souls who have a knack for putting together such compotes, when I was struck–or perhaps just “pwanged”–by a simple revelation.

The world is always moving. It is our job to note the direction.

Just because the pace seems harried, leaving us all in the flurry of busyness, does not mean that we’re trudging forward. Sometimes we go backwards, often it’s just side-stepping right or left. We even become distracted by hitting a wall and continuing to push instead of stopping long enough to find a way around it.

Church is still a beautiful thing–it’s just that in the present march of humanity it seems irrelevant.

For we classify information that comes our way into three categories:

1. Philosophical.

This ranges from our educational system, to reading books, to listening to someone explain the value of a gluten-free diet.

2. Religious.

Once again, this could be anything from a Bible conference to a yoga class to hearing a testimony about someone’s ordeal or joining with others in prayer over some nasty bit of business that’s come along.

3. Necessary.

Every single day of our lives, we alter the gauge on what we feel is necessary for our existence. This explains the tremendous success of Amazon and Wal-mart. These companies have made it friendly to come and buy things we want at reasonable rates, and in the case of Amazon, have them delivered to our door without even needing to leave the comforts of the breakfast nook.

Candidly, if a piece of information is not necessary, we deem it useless. Once something becomes useless, it only receives attention if it can prove–even temporarily–that it has the value of Wal-mart or Amazon.

So something beautiful, like church, which at one time was considered necessary because it initiated relationships, faith, music, cooperation and a sense of community, has now been completely shoved to the rear by the collision of social media and the rising tide of agnosticism.

When I went into the second service I took the realization with me. I discovered that being philosophical or religious bored even those individuals who still remained in the holy sanctuary.

Give them what’s necessary.

When Jesus came to Earth, the common people were slaves to the Romans and subjected to criticism from the religious system.

Jesus told the people they were “the salt of the Earth, the light of the world,” but that they needed to take responsibility for their lives and not wait for either the Romans or Judaism to save them.

He made the message of God necessary. He referred to it as “daily bread.” He told people to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” and to “take no thought for tomorrow” but to live for today.

You will never meet a more promising group of people than I encountered at Nativity. But I will tell them that until the message they share is necessary in people’s lives, a philosophical or religious content will leave folks cold–staying at home and watching television.

The good news is that Christianity can still be about Jesus.

The better news is that he came to give us life–necessary life–and it more abundantly.

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Cracked 5 … October 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border
 Other Ways to Skin a Cat

A.  Have any rational person spend one day with a cat

 

B.  Let dogs be dogs

 

C.  Start the rumor on social media that cat skins are very valuable

 

D.  Have your cat live near a Chinese restaurant

 

E.  Nurture a virus in your laboratory that loosens paw fur–then pull with delight

 cracked-5-cat

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 22) Thirty Days Has Remember… September 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

One month passed.

It’s one of those phrases a writer inserts to move the story along. But they don’t really move. Stories must be evicted from the hovel where they huddle to escape progress.

Ten days after the “Old Time Religion Community Church” signed its incorporation papers in the living room of Sammy Collins’ home on a table near the fireplace, he was rushed to the hospital, red lights flashing. He had collapsed at work and everyone was certain it was a heart attack. The town was abuzz with gossip and prayer.

As it turned out, it was a ruptured gall bladder, and while he was having his personal rendition of that organ removed, it was discovered that he also had high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

It was suggested he slow down.

Also within the month, a crumpled letter arrived in the mail at Matrisse’s house, postmarked Atlantic City, New Jersey. Inside was a note and a ten-dollar bill.

In her own words, Kitty attempted to explain to Matrisse that she was on an odyssey to find herself, which had taken her to the East Coast, and that she had found a job as a bartender at one of the casinos which had managed to escape bankruptcy.

Kitty said she was sorry and happy at the same time–because she missed her little Hapsy, but knew she was well taken care of, and until Kitty could find all her answers, she was probably better off separated from her growing daughter.

Also, about fifteen days into the “month of remember,” an article appeared in the local paper about Patrick Swanson and the church meeting at the Holiday Inn Express, entitled, “A Gathering for the Young Up-and-Coming Conservative.”

It seemed that Patrick had found his target market, as they say in the world of social media. Being interviewed by the local reporter, he explained that the congregation did not believe in gay marriage, government interference, and were certainly strongly against gender blurring. What they were interested in were young families who wanted to see the country return to its original glisten and gleam.

Then, seven days ago, a young boy named Alex Bachman arrived at school early, went into the lower portions of the building to the furnace room, threw a rope over the top of a pipe and hung himself.

He left a suicide proclamation. It read:

They said it would get better. It didn’t.

Reverend Meningsbee was called by the family and asked if he would be willing to conduct a memorial service at the church building, free of godly trappings, since the Bachman family was a non-religious group of people (what the average Nebraskan would call “avowed atheists”).

The family also wanted Meningsbee to be the moderator–yes, that’s the word they used–for the event, and to give a retrospective on the life of young Alex, ending with a positive message of humanity, and everybody departing to walk to the local park to plant three trees.

At first Meningsbee wanted to decline, offering his best wishes and regards, but then, in a moment of clarity, he realized there was no other place in town they could go for such a commemoration–and that opportunity never arrives resembling anything of what we really want.

So on a Saturday afternoon, with memories of a month full of Garsonville life racing through his mind, he drives to the church, on his way to a presentation which denies the importance of everything he believes.

What should he say?

What did he feel?

Maybe he should have studied more.

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Just Talk… March 9, 2013

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allAt 9:15 A.M. yesterday, I found myself tooling through the grocery store in search of those final ingredients that escaped my initial purchasing from earlier in the week. One of the things I was looking for was an inexpensive package of shrimp which I could add to a can of New England Clam Chowder, transforming it from a poor bowl of soup to go along with a tuna sandwich, into a meal fit for a Gloucester fisherman.

So I eyeballed the frozen foods and headed in that direction, discovering an older woman unpacking boxes nearby. She seemed a bit bedraggled by her task.

This is where I am probably weird. Maybe it’s that I’m arrogant–but I just don’t believe there’s any power in seeing someone under the weather or depressed and leaving them alone, hoping they’ll work it out by having an inspiring evening of prime time television. So I ventured a bit of conversation.

“How are you?” I asked

“Fine,” she replied, making her one-syllable answer sound even shorter.

You see, that in itself was a noble effort. But I didn’t leave it alone. “Are you sure you’re fine?” I chuckled.

She looked up from her mountain of boxes and gave me a small smile. She launched. Yes–she started to talk. In the two-and-a-half-minute conversation, I learned her entire financial situation, her frustrations with Medicare, her worries over the President and Congress, and the fact that her husband’s pension doesn’t cover much of anything.

Now, I will admit to you that there IS difficulty in finding a way to extricate yourself from the flood of words that proceed from people once the “dammit” is broken. But it’s worth it.

Because when I came around about five minutes, I paused to take a look her way.  Her pace had quickened and she was humming a bit to herself.

You see, it’s not that I am such a good Joe for talking with people. The point I’m trying to make is that we have become a nation instructed to listen and watch as OTHER people talk, giving us no outlet for our feelings, frustrations and especially, our ideas.

So when you see folks trudging along, there are three dark clouds that encircle them:

  1. “Nothing matters”
  2. “No one cares”
  3. “Never mind”

You may think this is no big deal, and often it isn’t–until you accidentally cross one of these storm clouds with all of this negative energy bottled up inside.

When we are not allowed to talk, we become creatures of silent defeat–and depending on the mental health status of the defeated one, it can lead to anything from reclusion to stepping into the marketplace with a semiautomatic rifle and opening up fire.

Just talk.

It has to be more than a tweet. Our new social media forces us to be brief and clever, instead of forthcoming and honest. Matter of fact, I would suggest that the church become a forerunner fo this great idea. Instead of projecting images on the wall that people sing and recite, cueing them on when to stand and clap, let’s have an hour sometime during the week when human beings can talk and share their hearts.

As the old verse says, we certainly ARE “saved by the word of our testimony.”

My words may encourage you, but it is your own words that motivate you.

The Bible may offer a great sense of comfort, but it is your interpretation and re-speaking of truth that makes it a reality.

There may be nothing greater that we can do for each other than overcoming the silent defeat that settles into the human soul because we don’t get the chance to talk about our feelings, and we begin to insist that nothing matters, no one cares and never mind.

I left a woman singing a song. That’s pretty good for this fat boy. And until we realize that watching and listening is no any replacement for feeling and sharing, we will have a country that is saturated with a sense of desperation–exhausted before it even begins to work.

Just talk. Just share. And make sure that any sensations of sadness have a chance to escape before you become convinced that we were meant to be lonely.

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