Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3966)

Sitting Eight

By midday, Iz and Pal had developed a brand-new game. They called it, “Your Book, My Book.”

They mentioned the various names that were in the Talmud and the Koran, and were shocked to find out how many were the same. Abraham was in both, as was Joseph, Isaac, Ishmael, Noah, Adam, Eve, Moses. Yes, they were all there.

Iz’s book had some other different names and Pal’s mentioned both Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed, but it was really quite surprising. Kind of freaky.

They also realized that the two of them looked much the same. By now they smelled the same. They both believed in God. Both had never touched pork and had strict families. They came from desert Bedouins and they both really, really liked Hershey chocolate bars with almonds.

Aside from Iz being shorted by circumcision and Pal not really having a country, they should be brothers.

It made them wonder if anyone had ever thought of it before. They were so preoccupied with their new game that neither noticed the arrival of a guest—a slender, lanky young man with dark brown skin, curly hair and pieces of coal for eyes—piercing but still permitting some of the warmth of childhood.

Iz did not recognize the stranger but Pal knew him.  He spoke quietly. “Hello, Talsan.”

The young man stood tall, staring off into the distance. “It is hot, my little brother. You will sicken yourself in this heat.”

“I drink as much as I can,” said Pal, continuing his calm tone.

Talsan chuckled. “In the desert, by the time you think to drink, it is already too late.”

He sat down next to his younger brother.

Iz spoke up. “I am Jubal,” he stated. “Amir’s friend.”

“So,” asked Talsan, “are you the trouble-maker?”

Pal interrupted. “No, I am the trouble-maker. No, I mean—there is no trouble. We are just enjoying being together.”

Talsan shook his head. “Papa is worried. He has talked to the elders.”

Pal quickly shifted to his haunches. “Why did he talk to them?”

Talsan raised his voice. “Because he wasn’t going to talk to you out here in the desert, running from family and Allah.”

“I’m not running,” said Pal. “All my life I’ve done whatever I was told to do, even though there were questions exploding in my mind.”

“Questions?” scoffed Talsan, “what questions?”

Pal paused as if deciding whether to continue the conflict. “All right, Talsan,” he said with intensity. “Answer this. Why do we live in a religion, in a culture, that speaks so highly of family, friends and love, but then teaches us to hate these people walking nearest to us in the village?”

“We do not hate them,” Talsan spat. “They hate us. We are merely protecting our lives.”

Iz jumped in. “I don’t hate you. I don’t hate Pal. I don’t hate your father. I would just like to live—and have some fun.”

Talsan laughed scornfully. “Now I know you are a boy. Fun is out of the question. We are to become men and take our place—first at the universities and then, in leadership of our communities.”

“Without fun?” asked Pal.

Talsan heaved a deep sigh. “Papa has explained all of this to you. It is time for you to come home. He will not pursue you. He will pray for you but he will not come to you. It is a shame and a disgrace that you would wish him to defile himself by chasing his son down in the desert.”

“I don’t want him to chase me,” shouted Pal. “I want him to leave me alone and let my friend, Iz, and me, start a new life. Maybe a new town.”

“Or even a country,” piped in Iz.

“Iz,” said Talsan. “Listen to yourself, little boy. Our country has existed for thousands of years, filled with tradition and rich spirituality.”

Iz interrupted. “But how can it be spiritual when it is so full of hate?”

Talsan shook his head. “Do you hate the lamb when you take the wool? Do you hate the chicken when you collect its eggs? Do you hate the animal when you spill its blood to provide meat for your table? What you call hate is merely the way of nature. Things that are alike seek their own. In the process, they reject different species so as to keep purity within the ranks.”

Pal screamed at his brother. “You make no sense! Is this what they teach you at the university? These are just weird stories that don’t mean anything. My friend, Iz, here, is not a chicken. And I’m not an animal stuck in some herd. Talsan, you cannot tell me that you believe this.”

Talsan drew a deep breath. “What I believe has no power if it cannot change what I see. All of my wishes for peace and love are meaningless when I live in a world of bigotry and intolerance. I don’t want to change the world. I just want to keep the world from changing me.”

Both boys squinted at him, confused.

Talsan grabbed Pal’s arm, pulling him to his feet. “You will go with me,” he stated.

Pal collapsed, forcing his body to the ground, as Iz grabbed the grenade.

Talsan spied the weapon extended in the young boy’s hand. “So this is your answer to violence?” he posed. “How are you any different than anyone else? You would kill me to maintain your little society?”

Pal, lying face-down in the ground, spit back, “Talsan, I don’t want to kill you. You are my brother. I just don’t want you to decide my life.”

Talsan released his hold on Pal’s arm and stepped a few paces away, then turned and said, “I will tell Papa that your mind is deranged by the desert sun, and that you are under the power of some evil spirit. This should comfort him.”

He continued. “My little brother, I do not know what you’re doing. I do not know what in the hell this ‘Iz and Pal’ business is all about, but you are skin of my skin and blood of my blood. I will not hate you because I do not understand. This is where I am different from Papa. I pray you will change your ways, but I do not want you to starve and die of thirst. I will have food and water delivered here every morning until you decide to come to your senses. You are a childish idiot—but that should not be a death sentence.”

Pal stood to his feet and gingerly gave his brother a hug. Talsan nodded at Iz and concluded, “I do not hate you Jews. I just don’t believe that God chose you any more than He chose me.”

“No argument from me,” said Iz simply. “And thanks for the food.”

The boys perched in silence and watched as Talsan made his way down the hill. With each step he took they realized they were growing further and further away from their families and communities. Soon there would be nothing but the sand under their feet and the love they had in their hearts.

Still, it seemed like enough.


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1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Improve the Social Upheaval)

1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Improve the Social Upheaval)

In an attempt to escape the cruelty of racism and bigotry, about fifty years ago we began to extol the importance of culture. Matter of fact, it became a liberal campaign slogan to promote diversity while, quite honestly, sometimes conservatives used it to scare off their adherents, with the fear of “losing the real America.”

America the Melting Pot

For some reason or another, we began to think we were a nation of many cultures. Actually, the vision for this great experiment of the United States of America was to welcome a populace that was a “melting pot”–each one of us dissolving into the other, with our customs, styles and ideas, to form one nation indivisible.

So ironically, in an attempt to create greater acceptance, we have generated more hostility and intolerance.

So the one thing you–and I–can do this week is:

Stop Promoting Your Tribe

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a political party, a church, a zealous business endeavor, a race, a religion, a sexual orientation or a gender. What is tearing us apart is the belief that the more fragmented we are, the greater the possibility of celebrating individuality.

We’ve even done this with our families, believing that our genetic code has more significance than that of the gentleman or lady driving beside us on the freeway. Whether it meets your approval, or even if you find it comforting to be in a small category, it damages the overall peace of mind and well-being of our nation.

Celebrate Similarities

  • There are no chosen people.
  • No race is better than another.
  • Spirituality is known by what spirituality does.
  • And my family is not better than your family.

Until we abandon the foolishness of segregating ourselves in the name of integrating variety, we will be at each other’s throats. Take this week to find similarities, and when you find them, pronounce them and celebrate them with those around you.

In so doing, you will repair the breech instead of widening it.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … May 2nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3660)

Listen to the Poet

Blessed Bastard

Oh, blessed bastard, I continue to plod

In search of important

I missed a meaningful opportunity

Trying to be spiritual

God simply passed me by

Yearning to be loved

I was deemed intense

Laughing at the clown

The circus left town

Chasing a dream

Ignoring a possibility

Trying to be equitable

I appear contrived

Insisting I am not a bigot

I out my disguised prejudice

Mindful of my emotions

I withhold my heart from my soul

My body is demanding

I listen to my flesh

So my complaint betrays my talent

And my sarcasm abandons all hope

I can see where I fail

But still fail to see all I can

Never do I quiet, hearing the whisper

Bewildered by the screaming in my ears

I always thought if I understood

Evil would be denied

I’d embrace the good

But good arrives a wee bit late

Deciding hastily, I seal my fate

Breathe deeply, blessed bastard

Yes, air instead of error

I must learn to find the flow

Then relax and take it slow.

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Good News and Better News … March 26th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3623)

I was honored to spend a week high in the mountains of Colorado with friends. It was many years ago, when I was traveling all over the country, pretending I was significant and well-known.

Although I was grateful for the invitation, within the first 48 hours I realized that the altitude was making me uneasy. It was a weird sensation.

I was breathing but it seemed I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. It made my backbone tingle with apprehension. I couldn’t sleep because I was a bit frightened that I was breathless, even though there was no evidence of that fact.

The air was too thin–at least, for me.

When I finished the visit and descended, I immediately lost all my symptoms and felt like I was actually getting air into my body. It was markedly different.

Emotionally and spiritually, I feel much the same way in our country today. I am still getting some respiration to my heart and spirit but it is not a sensation of breathing. It’s more like suffocating. The climate is too thin with substance to sustain any of us.

Human beings are not complicated–if you think they are, you should go back to the drawing board and view their inception.

Humans require two distinct pieces of input:

1. To be inspired

That means the things that come into our lives should enrich us. Even if we find them challenging, we should be fully aware that our experiences are lifting us up on the shoulders of new possibilities. There is no replacement for this.

What we are given in our culture is a warped representation of reality, which we are supposed to accept as inevitable evidence that human beings are nothing more than animals. It is demeaning. It leaves us gasping for hope.

2. To be entertained.

By entertainment I am referring to finding joy in what we do instead of trudging along in an “adult life” which is predetermined to be problematic.

It is the joy of the Lord that’s our strength. Even though weeping may come into our lives, it should not endure. There should be an awakening every morning, to fresh ideas.

We are not allowed to be entertained anymore, but instead, overwhelmed. The powers that be tout that we are in the “information age,” but the data provided is rarely uplifting, but instead, debilitates us with the wickedness of the world around us.

Just as I had to escape the thin air to be able to breathe again, it is the responsibility of sane men and women everywhere to refuse the inadequate sniff of experience being proffered as truth.

The good news is that we are human beings, and therefore we need to be inspired and entertained.

The better news is, the God who created us sent His son to tell us to “rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 11)… September 9th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3425)

jesonian-cover-amazon

Most troubling.

I was a very naive, impressionable fifteen-year-old boy with a volatile battle between carnality and spirituality raging in my soul. I was very enamored with the pastor of my local church.

He had baptized me. In many ways, he had befriended me. And he had welcomed me into the small-town church, which was now growing because young people were bumping up against each other, carrying the fellowship they felt at school into a second Sunday morning experience.

I had also made another friend. He was a young minister from a different denomination–a forbidden one–who was cool, cared about me and loved rock and roll music.

So when I was talking to the pastor of my “every week church” about this young fellow, he suddenly frowned and warned, “Stay away from him. He preaches a social gospel.

I did not know what that meant, nor did I ask. But it sounded really bad. And the delivery was enough to nearly make my heart stop. “Social” could be “socialist,” which was communist. Don’t want any of that. So I cut off all ties with the young minister, much to his chagrin.

For you see, my pastor taught redemption. “The blood of Christ cleanses from all sins.”

And later on in my life, as a young man, I ran across those who preached “the full Gospel.” They believed that the gifts of the Holy Spirit and miracles were just as available to believers today as they were in the time of Peter, Paul and Mother Mary.

The bizarre fact is that these three renditions of the Gospel of Jesus–social, redemption, and full–don’t generally get along very well.

It is troubling.

It’s what makes the evangelical church anemic–because it lacks social passion along with personal motivation.

It makes the “social Gospel people” appear to read from a book that in many ways they no longer believe in.

And often the “full Gospel people” contend that without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you don’t have the presence of God working in your life.

It’s really quite befuddling.

  • Because you can’t start a fire with just a match.
  • Nor can you ignite a flame with kindling.
  • And no fire is possible minus oxygen.

It is the joining of all these forces that makes fire ablaze.

Therefore, to follow Jesus, you must have a social consciousness that shares a redemptive message, believing that God is still in the business of healing and moving by the Spirit.

Why would we want anything less than that? Why would we want to focus on one of these factors of fire, yet end up flameless?

Troubling.

I deeply believe in the social Gospel of Jesus. I believe there’s no need for me to bring my gift to the altar if I am not reconciled with my brothers and sisters. I believe I am to be the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.

But I also believe that when I have obvious, evident weakness, it is the redemption of God’s grace, through the life-saving blood of Jesus, that pulls me through. But once I am redeemed, I am compelled, challenged and exhorted to trust that the same spirit that dwelt in Christ also dwells in me.

My gospel should be full.

And when it is full, redemptive and socially aware, I become of value to myself, mankind and the heavens.

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Good News and Better News… May 22nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3314)

There’s a question hanging in the air, waiting for a brain to slurp it up and a tongue to dribble it off. If it isn’t expressed, we will continue to live in a world of assumptions.

I am not speaking of answers. I’m talking about beliefs people hold because of the dark side of their experiences and the edge of prejudice maintained from their upbringing.

Ask the question. If possible, ask it without being disgusted. Inquire with a thirst for knowledge instead of attempting to trick someone into saying something you can leap upon in anger.

The church has lost its questioning. Out of fear of making waves, we have decided to just never get in the boat. We stand on the shore and curse the ocean because it seems unchangeable. Yet there is an energy in the air. While people are despairing, sparring and spitting, the Holy Spirit is quietly seeking out those who will question and wait for the answers.

It sounds simple enough.

It even seems to have a spirituality unto itself. After all, Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given.” He never said, “Assume and you will be proven.” Jesus believed you could seek and find, and even, with a bit of perseverance, knock and have the door opened.

What Jesus never intended for his church was a gathering of smug converts who assume that getting their butts in the door was the last thing necessary to fulfill the quorum for the pearly gates.

Here’s the truth: you can join the church if you are a questioner. Even if it aggravates the worship committee, you can continue to pose questions in pursuit of finding a better way of doing things.

Likewise, you are certainly welcome in the church if you have answers as long as they are well-salted with humility and lit up with evidence.

But nowhere at any time did Jesus welcome the complainer. The complaint will be the death of the American church if we don’t call it out and exorcise that demon from the sanctuary.

How can you tell when someone’s complaining?

1. There’s an absence of a question.

They may speak to you for ten minutes about the problem, but never formulate an inquiry.

2. There is a complete denial of an answer.

They begin to enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice lamenting the difficulty–and if anyone suggests a solution, they will bury the notion as “impossible” so as to maintain their frustration.

3. They’ve rejected good cheer in favor of a bad sneer.

They think it’s ridiculous to maintain joy in the midst of difficulty and transition.

Beware complainers who pretend they have answers or insist they are just questioning.

The good news is that questions are always welcome in the Kingdom of God.

The better news is that answers will come if we don’t grump our way to fatalism.

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Ask Jonathots… September 15th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3065)

ask jonathots bigger

I truly don’t understand what the big deal is about sex. I haven’t figured out why people think your sex related decisions define you. Is it just because a) you’re naked, and b) it’s how babies are created?

There is a simple problem in our country:

Those who believe in God fail to honor science, and those who revere science find it necessary to turn their backs on God.

There seem to be relatively few people who understand that a Creative Father felt the need to establish an order through Mother Nature.

With that in mind, let’s address your question.

  • When do people mature sexually? Somewhere between the age of 13 and 15.
  • When do we think people should get married? Late twenties, or some folks even think early 30’s.

So in our culture there are fifteen years of sexual viability which is supposed to be stuffed away in a closet in preparation for marriage, or stumbled into through carnal experimentation made dangerous through immaturity and disease.

We really have to make up our minds. Are we going to continue to believe that people are children until they’re thirty, or are we going to establish an earlier emotional awareness to match the sexual awakening?

Sex is a big deal because people either pretend it’s sacred or just “a physical experience.” Since human beings may be the only species in which both male and female have the capacity for pleasure outside of procreation, we should probably emphasize the pleasure side of sexuality instead of insisting that God has belabored the girl with birth and the boy with “killing the game and dragging it back to the fire.”

What is sex? It is a physical experience producing a burst of pleasure which is also used by our species for procreation.

So if you have no intention of procreating, then you should be looking for ways to tap the pleasure without becoming irresponsible.

If your intention is to procreate, then you probably need to do what all the animals on Earth do–find a way to nest with your mate to take care of your baby birds.

You have to make up your mind:

Are we just animals or is there more to us than that?

Are we just spiritual or do we possess a bit of animal?

Sexuality can never be casual because we’re not just tigers. It can also never be considered completely spiritual–it’s too easy to do and we really don’t do it any different from the monkeys.

So what’s the best answer for you?

Get a mature look at both your physical evolution and your emotional responsibility. You will never be able to have sex without having some inclination toward an emotional union.

Avoid the stupidity of the religious, who make the joining of the penis and the vagina some sort of holy oracle.

And also escape the worldly, who view it as a common crossroads of human interaction.

In the long run we will have to teach our children to mature more quickly–or else not be so concerned that they start “probing the parts.”

For after all, even the Pope knows that nobody’s going to arrive at twenty-nine years of age a virgin.

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