Neutral … January 16, 2013

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Jon SigningIn the often-comical pursuit of trying to create  dialogue and social interaction that does not offend anyone, we have actually ended up being one of the most offensive generations that has ever walked the face of the earth. By the time the commentators finish parsing words, studying body language and playing video tape which has been edited to reinforce their points, they are able to turn almost any conversation, speech or private moment into the abomination of desolation or an obvious affrontation to some beleaguered and misunderstood portion of our society.

So everybody is heading for the low ground.

There was a time when we actually did try to climb the mountain of wisdom in order to find the high ground where we could see better. But now it seems more prudent to those in control to find the lowest point of disagreement and camp there, hoping never to be challenged or questioned.

It happened to me yesterday. Some dear soul who had caught my show requested that I come to present my ideas, music and creativity in front of another audience of her organizing. The lady was thrilled with what she had seen, and wanted to make sure she could include all of her friends in the experience. I told her I was more than willing to go anywhere and for her to let me know how I could be of assistance.

Well, less than twenty-four-hours later she called me and said that she had talked to the “powers that be.” They were more than willing to invite me to come to their auditorium to perform–if I would comply with a few simple rules. (Honestly, friends, I don’t know how the words “simple” and “rules” ever got hooked up. It is not a good marriage–because rules are never simple and simple rarely demands many rules.)

Basically, the main concern by her  fellow-workers was that they wanted to be assured that I would come in and offer a “neutral” program. Many of the people in their constituency are of different political persuasions, faiths, ethnic backgrounds and general dispositions. They needed some guarantee that what I would share would not be offensive, but “in the wheelhouse” of everyone’s comfort zone.

Let me tell you something about neutral. Neutral by definition is a decision not to get involved and neither go forward or backwards. It is not exactly where anyone desires to be, but rather, a profile thrust upon us by fear of being overly passionate or too advanced.

I don’t mind being neutral. I just don’t know whether I can offer the same package of potential and emotional explosion by carefully removing all the meat from my offering, only to display the remaining skeleton.

But as I said, it’s not hard to do. The United Methodist minister, for instance, is more than willing to sacrifice miracles, supernatural events and any controversial subject that might have been brought up by Jesus, in an attempt to create a faith which can be intellectually absorbed through the pores from the hymn book.

On the other hand, the Southern Baptist will gladly and almost reverently take away any of the compassion, open-mindedness and non-judgmental approach of Jesus in favor of the bleeding savior who died for the world’s sins because “we’re all so very rotten, you know.”

It seems to me that the problem with religion is that it chooses to either be weak or to be mean.

So what I told the lady I would do for her gathering is simple. I’ve already found a neutral message. It’s not, however,  neutral in its energy and impact. It’s neutral because it is the only message that cross-sects all of humanity–simultaneously making sense and also convicting the hell out of all of our souls.

That message is “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

It is not obtuse to the atheist OR the pentecostal, yet individuals within those groups may find it humorous or implausible. I am willing to work with any philosophy, political party or clump of clods who will accept that the only way we’re going to get along on this planet together is when we stop feeling either superior or inferior to each other.

It’s not so much a neutral message as it is the only message.

So if my Buddhist friends have trouble with it, I offer them the platform to give me a more concise and on-point directive.

If the agnostics think it is irrelevant, I’m all ears to their findings.

And if the Muslims, Jews, Republicans, Democrats, atheists and “whoevers” wish to banter with me about the specifics of this holy sound bite, I am prepared to be instructed and informed–just not deterred.

So there is my neutral message: NoOne is better than anyone else.

I’m sure someone on MSNBC or Fox News could find fault with it, and if they couldn’t decimate the content, they could certainly delve into my character and find reasons why I am unworthy to front the notion. I don’t care. I will not play the game.

I learned a long time ago–the only way to become a fool is by participating in foolishness.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

May I introduce to you … November 23, 2012

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I hate my job … in a loving way.

I love my job, although sometimes it aggravates the hell out of me.

You can probably tell from these two statements that I’m a bit conflicted. But the conflict is very necessary in order for me to be successful, fruitful and relevant to my times.

This morning, I would like to introduce you to Jesus. Now, this is a name that evokes  everything from a collective yawn to a congregational cheer. But in a season in our world when we need direction and wisdom grounded in common sense and an eye on history, to most hearers, the name “Jesus” conjures images of crosses, wooden pews and starched, white collars.

Thus my aggravation.

On the other hand, I open up the life and times of this exciting adventurer, and I uncover not merely the spiritual energy of my Creator, but also the flesh, bone and true essence of what human life was abundantly intended to be.

Therefore my joy and love.

How am I supposed to communicate to a world determined to separate everything into boxes labeled A and B?  Yet the power and pungency of a human life lived two thousand years ago does bear consideration in our twitter world.

Let me make three things clear to you as I introduce you to the real Jesus. You may be able to find exceptions to what I share because you’re desperate to maintain your theology or your atheism, but the general consensus of the information provided will contradict your meager holdings. In other words, it’s pretty obvious that Abraham Lincoln had a beard, even though I’m sure you could find someone who would promote the idea that he glued it on every morning.

There are three things that are not only obvious about Jesus, but also important because they are human-friendly and therefore, God-ordained.

1. Jesus hated religion. Just to keep all things fair, religion hated him right back. It was not the Romans, the constables, the tax collectors or the whores who nailed him to the cross. It was the First United Methodist Church in cooperation with the Southern Baptists, who for the first time, had a joint resolution to do something in correlation with one another by ridding themselves of a teaching and infestation that would eventually rob their ranks of parishioners and also steal money from their coffers. Got it?

You may ask what Jesus hated about religion. The answer to that is simple: religion always makes faith about reaching God instead of about God reaching people. There you go. If you’re presently in some sort of doctrinal quagmire, constantly trying to figure out what is pleasing to God, you are in religion, you will live in confusion and you will die in ambiguity. The purpose of faith is to make everything heavenly earthly so that while we are here, we have a working plan, and when we finally are NOT here anymore, God can “surprise the heaven into us.”

2. Jesus taught that humans are heart, soul, mind and strength. If you are attending a church which insists that we are body, soul and spirit, you are pursuing a line of thinking that has no line. Because placing the emotions and the brain in the same container and believing they are able to work together without having a buffer between them consisting of some sort of conciliatory force is absolutely ridiculous. Here’s the truth: I FEEL and I THINK. Those two things normally HATE each other. If there were not a spirit between them negotiating deals, we would live in a world of total confusion, war, political upheaval, financial disaster, anger and inequality. Wait a second…! We do. Could something as simple as a misunderstanding over our nature bring about such devastation?? Absolutely. Jesus came to teach us that out of our heart we speak. So if we don’t keep our hearts pure and understand our motives, recognizing our emotions, we are still going to jabber off things we don’t want to say at the wrong moment, and end up pissing off everyone in the room. That’s why we receive in the heart and we take it to our spirit. And what is our spirit? Our spirit is the place where what we’ve experienced and what we believe sit down and negotiate peace with one another. It is only the spirit that can renew the mind and teach the brain something new–which then gives our body an opportunity to become excited about living again.

3. NoOne is better than anyone else. Jesus lived in a time when the Romans thought they were gods, the Greeks were so confident in their intellectualism that they believed that molesting children was permissible, and the Jews were absolutely convinced that they were the “chosen dudes of God.” This is not exactly the formula for the possibility for a great “mixer.” Jesus broke the curse. Jesus told us that Hamas is not better than Israel. Jesus told us that Japan is not superior to China. And Jesus told us that the United States is not the God beacon and favorite over Russia.

So you can see that I am not a religious man because I really love God and I like the heft of a good hymn book in my hand. I have become a follower of Jesus because I am a true environmentalist, I am a true patriot, I am a true believer, I am a true humanist, I am a true internationalist, I am a true man, I am a true woman–and most of all, I am a true human. This is the only philosophy ever offered that affords me the ability to be all of these without trying to eliminate the competition.

So let me introduce you to Jesus. If you don’t mind, I’ll have to pull him down from the cross where you have placed him in storage. If it doesn’t offend you too much, I will have to tear up his papers of being “only a Jew.” And if you will not crucify me, I will have to let you know that he doesn’t think Americans are “the best.”

If you’re interested in him, you might want to continue to read my column from time to time because I will speak to you of his escapades. If you found something in this essay to be distasteful, disrespectful or unrighteous, I recommend the pabulum from any one of a number of denominations which also offer blogs on their take on the notorious Nazarene.

It’s just that I am angry enough that I am ready to release my love without apology, to unleash the spirit once again of Jesus of Nazareth, whom I believe has earned his “stripes” to be the Son of God.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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