Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … July 9th, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: She was born in the middle of America, in the middle of the century, in the middle of a great struggle of human advancement.

 

Dear Woman: His roots were more Southern, in a climate of quaint settings and reverence to Good Book passages.

 

Dear Man: She was a simple young lady with farm-girl beauty, possessing a great curiosity for knowledge.

 

Dear Woman: He was a lad with charisma who found schooling too easy, opening the door for plotting mischief.

 

Dear Man: Though conservative at first, she gradually realized how expansive the world was around her, and set out, in her own simple way, to try to find a means of understanding it.

 

Dear Woman: He, on the other hand, felt destined for greatness, even though his beginnings foretold of poverty and a life too common.

 

Dear Man: She met him at college. She was immediately struck by his ability to communicate, seemingly without ever needing to coordinate his ideas or organize his approach. She was drawn to him. She was not the only one–but she was drawn to him.

 

Dear Woman: He found college to be the perfect atmosphere to spread his wings and launch his self-belief into a dynasty of friends, arrangements, love affairs and universal embracing.

 

Dear Man: Her path was not so obvious. So she studied, she worked, she succeeded, she failed–trying to gain her visibility through academic achievement.

 

Dear Woman: When he met her, he knew he needed her. He required her. She was the common sense for his wild notions. She was the appearance of respectability to his more erratic demeanor.

 

Dear Man: She was in awe of the fact that he was interested. The world stopped. She was being pursued by one of the more popular, dynamic young men, who had been selected by many for greatness. Within a few dates, she became devoted. He, on the other hand, understood that she was coming from a place of invisibility, and what she yearned for was approval–mostly his approval.

 

Dear Woman: They went on a journey together. She remained devoted and he continued to provide her approval, even though his lust for power and for the affirmation of his masculinity, through the appreciation of other women, was a source of conflict and aggravation.

 

Dear Man: She objected. But she persevered. She saw a bigger picture instead of the snapshot of the present moment’s annoyance. She stayed with him.

 

Dear Woman: And he stayed with her, because he needed her. To some degree, he wanted her. So he continued to provide her the necessary blood-flow of approval that pumped her full of life.

 

Dear Man: They went to great places and did great things. And then it was her time–her chance to step out of obscurity and have a say in her own life, very possibly positively affecting the lives of millions. She devotedly asked for his approval.

 

Dear Woman: He seemed excited. Yet because the warmth of the spotlight was too prevalent to his skin, he was somewhat disheartened by the backstage. So even though he promised to approve her, a lingering stupidity deep within his heart caused him to sabotage her efforts.

 

Dear Man: She had been devoted through the affairs, the winks, the rumors, and the issues. Now she needed his devotion, and was failing to get his approval. She was hurt, but she was still loyal.

 

Dear Woman: He was approving, but so preoccupied with his own concerns that he left very little air for her to breathe.

 

Dear Man: For you see, love is more than devotion.

 

Dear Woman: And certainly more than mere approval.

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 10) “Ketching-Up” … July 3rd, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

“Maybe it’s your job to go talk to them.”

These were the words of Kitty Carlson, as she sat on the patio at the Four Heads Motel, talking to a bewildered and bleary-eyed Richard Meningsbee.

The previous day he had driven two hours when he passed Chadron and decided to keep going, ending up in South Dakota, very near Mt. Rushmore. He found an outdated Mom and Pop motel and decided to spend the night instead of braving the drive back to Garsonville. He was in no hurry to go to a home that no longer felt homey.

Shortly after arrival there was a knock on his door. He opened it to a young girl in her twenties–blue-jean shorts, t-shirt, long brown hair pointing to the ground, barefoot. She held out a styrofoam cup and said, “I was wondering if you might have some ketchup I could use.”

Sensing Meningsbee’s oblivion, she continued. “My little daughter…well, I microwaved her some french fries for dinner and she’s desiring some ketchup for dipping.”

Since Meningsbee didn’t have any ketchup and still had shoes on, he offered to drive to a convenience store he had passed on his way to the motel, to see if some of the good stuff could be acquired.

Sure enough, the folks at the Jiffy Thrifty Mart were happy to sell him a small bottle of ketchup, at $5.63.

Upon returning, he handed the bottle to her and she started to walk back toward her room.

Meningsbee was nervous. After all, he was a stranger.

So he called after her. “Maybe I’ll see you at breakfast in the morning. Do they have breakfast here?”

Kitty turned around, walking backwards, and replied, “If you like stale Danish. By the way, my name is Kitty Carlson. I’m not from around here. I grew up in Crosstown, Kentucky.”

She continued her backward walking. “My daughter’s name is Hapsy. It’s a blending of Happy and Sassy. I liked it.”

Then she turned facing forward and headed off.

Meningsbee called after her. “Richard. That’s my name.”

Over her shoulder she replied, “Good night, Rick.” (Meningsbee hated being called Rick but chose not to be fussy.)

The next morning he went down to try one of those infamous Danish with some lukewarm coffee and sat down next to Kitty and her daughter. The little lass was frightened in that Southern-child way, connoting that all strangers need to run away or learn the customs more quickly.

Kitty told her story. She was married at seventeen, divorced at nineteen due to domestic violence, and couldn’t seem to get away from her oppressor. So she had moved to this little village, where she works at a diner during the day and does a desk shift at the motel in the early evenings, which covers her room. The managers were gracious enough to allow her to bring Hapsy along, who, by the way, appeared completely thrilled with stale pastry.

“No, really. You haven’t given these people a chance to get used to you, but instead, you came into their town like an unwelcome tornado.”

Meningsbee–or Rick, as she knew him–had shared his dilemma with her, careful not to mention too much “God stuff,” to scare her away.

“No one wants to hear from me,” he droned in self-pity.

“Well, if that’s the case, then they probably don’t want to hear you preach either.”

The statement stung Meningsbee. She of course was right. Since preaching was the last thing most people wanted to hear, it might be good to learn how to chat them up.

She rose to her feet, determined to leave. She stuck out her hand, with a piece of Danish dangling from her teeth, and mumbled, “Nice to have met you, Rick.”

He shook her hand and then reached in his pocket to retrieve the twenty-dollar bill he had set aside as a gift for Kitty and Hapsy. She shook her head.

“No, thanks. We’ve got enough. If I start taking twenty-dollar bills, it just makes me think about what else I don’t have.”

She smiled, waved, took Hapsy’s hand and walked away.

Meningsbee watched them as they headed back to their room. How much had he taken–and still wanted more?

He turned in his key, grabbed a cup of coffee for the road and headed for his car. He pulled out onto the highway and began his drive back to the source of his struggle.

He had a lot to do.

This time, the drive seemed longer.

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Ask Jonathots …December 24th, 2015

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ask jonathots bigger

Do you think it would be a good thing for the United States to have a woman President? Why or why not?

With no disrespect to your question, the issue of the Presidency of the United States has nothing to do with gender or race.

It requires a leader who represents all the people in all ways possible, keeping an eye on better choices which will progress our humanity.

It shouldn’t matter if it’s a woman, a black, a gay person or any particular inclination.

There are four things I think are necessary to consider in selecting a leader of the United States–a champion for our cause and a motivator for the free world. Is he or she:

1. Idealistic enough to pursue the heart of the Declaration of Independence instead of merely discussing the mechanics of the Constitution?

Let us never forget that the Constitution originally insisted that black people were less than whole individuals. But the Declaration of Independence said that all men were created equal. Without this kind of idealism, we will begin to believe that maintaining the status quo is ultimately better in order to keep peace.

2. Able to endure suffering.

If you’re going to be the President of a diverse nation, a certain percentage of those people will be angry with you at all times. To secure the freedoms and rights of a minority does risk being attacked by the majority.

3. Living a life of good cheer.

I’m not talking about being able to tell jokes at an expensive dinner. I’m speaking of a sense of joy about one’s own life and expressing great hope that things can become better instead of always focusing on the next torpedo which just might sink our dreams.

4. Non-partisan.

Our country is neither conservative nor is it liberal. We require the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, who refused to accept dividing the country simply because the North did not understand the lifestyle of their Southern brothers and sisters.

If you show me candidates who possess these four attributes, their genitalia does not matter, but rather, their gentleness. 

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Jesonian: The Jesus Con… July 5th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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pharisee and publican

Condemn, condone, console, consider.

These are the four basic approaches available to us when dealing with our fellow-humans.

Jesus had his angle. The Jews, the Romans and the culture did not agree.

Just this week, one of my sons asked me what I thought about marriage equality. I smiled. Because honestly, you cannot approach individuals as a group and develop an opinion of “them” and think you’re doing anything that resembles righteousness.

In other words:

  • Not all Baptists are Southern.
  • Not all Catholics are Pope worshippers.
  • And not all homosexuals are hapless victims of a bigoted society.

So Jesus had his criteria for evaluating life.

Jesus did condemn. It is ridiculous to assume that he was “liquid love” seeping into every hidden crevice of human existence. It’s just that he didn’t condemn what most people condemned. It’s popular to condemn things that are different from us and try to make them look weird.

Jesus condemned hypocrisy.

It would be easy to get along with Jesus of Nazareth as long as you didn’t go into your bull-crap mode. You could make mistakes, fall short, have inconsistencies or even sin, and his profile would basically be, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Likewise, Jesus always condoned those who insisted on finding a way to love. When James and John became infuriated with the Samaritans because the disciples were forbidden entrance into the city, Jesus cautioned them that when we fail to give a loving response, we lose control of the end result.

Jesus did console. Yet when they asked him to express his empathy and pity for those killed by a tower falling on them, he surprised them all by saying, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

But Jesus always consoled those who repented. Repentance is the first journey we must take on our way to receive our gift of grace.

And Jesus certainly was a man who took time to consider. He considered the lily. Why? Because it did what it was supposed to do without demanding attention while producing great beauty.

Jesus always chose to consider those who knew there was more to believe, more to receive and more to retrieve.

What you do with condemn, condone, console and consider will determine the quality of your life, and possibly even your eternal destination.

So as a Jesonian follower I will condemn hypocrisy, condone those who pursue life with love, console the repenter and consider the individuals who comprehend, yet still know there is more.

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A Carnal Man … June 3, 2013

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He was scrawny to my fatso, black to my white, smoker to my smokeless and Southern to my Mid-West. Yet he made his way to the window of my van to ask about the conversion aspect of my vehicle and to inquire whether it came “with a bed.”

Always glad to attempt the art of small talk, even when it seems to have microscopic possibilities, I explained all about my vehicle, including the fact that I purchased it with a bed, but I removed it so I could store equipment.

After a few questions about gas mileage, engine size and ride on the road, he finally arrived at his primary concern. “Do most of these conversion vans have beds in the back?”

I told him I believed they did–and he smiled. (When he smiled, I discovered that he was minus a few teeth.)

He then launched into a discourse on the beauty, the power, the glory and the availability of “pepper pots.” (Now, it really wasn’t pepper pots, but for the sake of keeping my jonathots free of questionable language, I will insert this euphemism.)

It very quickly became clear that my new conversation friend loved pepper pots. Matter of fact, he wanted to buy a van so he could climb into the back, onto the bed and discover all the intricacies and inner workings of pepper pots.

Honestly, I was a bit startled with the transition–from talking about front disc brakes to pepper pots–but I decided to hang in there so as not to appear judgmental, naive or discourteous. Little did I know that pepper pots was one of his favorite topics of conversation.

Also somewhere along the line, in elaborating about pepper pots, he decided to start talking about “salt mounds” (once again, a euphemism.)

He yammered and yammered and yammered about the subject. I think I saw a tear come to his eye when he discussed the gorgeous nature of pepper pots and salt mounds joining together to perform the action that God intended.

All at once, he mentioned the fact that his wife had died six years earlier. I seized that moment to change the subject to his dearly departed, to find out a little more about her. He softened as he explained that he had been married to her for twenty-three years, had stayed faithful and had never visited another pepper pot as long as she lived. It was a sweet moment.

But then he noticed my I-pad sitting in my lap and wondered if I had been watching X-rated movies. Reassuring him that I hadn’t, he went on to explain that if I WAS looking for such entertainment, there was a wonderful video store just down the street that had some of the finest flicks available–and also some side rooms where you could improv with the scenes you had just beheld.

I was certainly out of my element–but honestly did not want to come across like a prude or some sort of evangelist out to save his soul or … well, I really just didn’t know how to get out of the entanglement.

He stayed and he stayed and he stayed. Several times I reached out to shake his hand, to bring finality to our excursion, which he gladly shook–and then continued on with his tales.

I believe he took every angle on the pepper pots and salt mounds that was humanly possible.

I listened. Why?  Because I knew this stranger was lonely.

Sometimes we’re very critical of people and refer to them as “carnal” because they only pursue matters of the flesh. We never stop to realize that this kind of odyssey ends up your day with skin and goo. Nothing much ever gets inside.

But here I was–a fella sittin’ in front of him, about his age–and I was listening.

We must have talked for forty minutes–so much so that any additional dialogue about pepper pots and salt mounds would not be necessary for me for at least a couple of years.

At length, I realized I could not get rid of the fellow unless I told him I had to go. Fortunately for me, it happened to be the truth. I excused myself and he asked me where I was heading.

I said, “I have to go pick up my friends.”

“Pepper pots?” he asked.

“And much more,” I replied.

I squeezed his hand and looked into his eyes. There was a living soul there. There was a lot of passion there. There was a lot of belief in life that would not necessarily be acceptable in normal liturgy on a Sunday morning.

This man worshiped one part of creation–honestly, a very small part. Yet getting him to believe in the true nature Creator would be much easier to do than some hardened Bible thumper who was convinced that he was already redeemed.

I think this is why Jesus said that God is very willing to leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness to go after the one that’s lost. Sometimes you get tired of tending the sheep and you want to chase down a wild one. You know–folks who talk about pepper pots and salt mounds.

I told him I’d be thinking about him … and “God bless you.”

He was sad to see me go.

I read somewhere that a carnal mind is the enemy of God. It’s not because God is prissy. It’s because when all you can think about is fleshy things, you often end up alone.

And I also read: “It’s just not good for a man to be alone.”

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