Sit Down Comedy … July 26th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Father Abraham had two sons.

Two sons had Father Abraham.

One was born of slave. His name was Confederate.

The other—Union—was birthed in free will.

Confederate worked very hard planting the land, establishing a close-knit home where family was honored above all and faith was treasured. In the household of Confederate, change was feared, opening the door to superstition, aggravation and an unrighteous pride about race.

Union, on the other hand, sat on the cusp of a great industrial revolution, where a man’s work was in a line of assembly, his home perched in the midst of hundreds of other families. Union believed his faith was better expressed by his deeds, and that change was the only way to frighten superstition and dispel racial baiting.

Father Abraham understood both of his sons.

After all, he, himself, was conceived and reared in blue grass but nurtured in a spring field.

But try as he would, Father Abraham was unable to bring the boys to cooperation. They argued, they struggled, and eventually they chose to fight. Just short of the last drop of blood flowing from their veins, peace was sought.

It was a tenuous agreement, and even while the ink was drying on the pages of the treaty, a friend of Confederate killed Father Abraham.

It enraged Union.

It made Confederate defensive, feeling compelled to explain the sinister deed.

Even to this day, the two brothers are segregated, isolated in their politics and their traditions—one believing that life is more a “state of mind,” and the other rallying behind “we, the people.”

Father Abraham had two sons.

Two sons had Father Abraham.

I am one of them

And so are you

So let’s just praise the Lord.

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Sit Down Comedy … April 26th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is completely unlikely that anyone over the age of seventy in the United States of America has not heard, spoken or nervously laughed at a joke containing the “N word.” As painful as this may be, we were a country that was comfortable with bigotry.

Likewise, is there any chance that there’s a human being over the age of fifty who hasn’t stated, repeated or stood silent when the word “fag” was offered in an adult conversation? For years, this was the way we described anyone we deemed incapable of the tenacity, strength and energy to succeed.

And dare I say, there is probably no one over the age of twenty-five who has not referred or heard a reference to the female of our species as “bitch.”

It’s just the nature of our journey. We are born without the ability to walk, talk or use a spoon. We graduate from high school and enter grown-up land unable to solve problems, and therefore often opt for selfishness, in order to protect the little we have. As the old song says:

I wish I knew then what I know now.

But do you?

Do you really want to be the first white person in Montgomery, Alabama, who comes to the conclusion that Jim Crow laws are evil and must be overturned?

Do you desire to be the straight person, who during the AIDS pandemic of the mid-1980’s, decides to defend the gay community instead of insisting they brought a plague down on mankind?

And even more recently, do you want to believe the stories of women who were subjugated by domineering men, when it seems more popular, or at least politically acceptable, to come to the side of the accused, dominant, masculine figure?

There are no rewards for those who think ahead of their time.

Society has a history of putting to death those who finally clarify their message, especially when that proclamation is contrary to cultural standards and mores.

You can be popular—or you can be right.

You can’t be both.

It wasn’t even popular in 1863 to free the slaves, even though supposedly we were fighting a war to do so.

It wasn’t popular to take those same slaves—after the war was already over—and give them human and states’ rights.

It took us until 1919 to allow women a chance to vote—and even after that “lightbulb decision” was enacted, there were many places in our country where females were not allowed to serve on juries.

Being spiritually insightful, emotionally empathetic, mentally progressive and physically fit never places you in the forefront of anything.

BEING A LEADER MEANS…

If you decide to be a leader instead of a follower, you will lead alone—since the followers have already pledged their allegiance. Yet we, as a people, count on certain souls to walk a lonely path, pursue through resistance and overcome public opinion to bring us the solutions which lead us into a spirited life instead of rendering us dispirited.

As we judge candidates, senators, congressmen, President and judges, let us keep in mind that they gain their positions by either being voted in or approved. In order to get a vote or be approved, you have to get the blessing of those who walk in the present—not those who have the presence of mind to know where history is walking.

If I knew then what I know now, I would either have to forget it so I could still be fairly popular, or else decide to take the path untraveled—alone.


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The C Word … February 19th, 2019

THE

WORD


Jonathots Daily Blog

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When I sat down to consider “the C word,” many grotesque possibilities came to mind. I will not go into the ones I rejected. They are obviously repugnant or too controversial to even give utterance.

Instead, I chose a peculiar one because it is subtle and might even seem to be positive until you carefully study the history of its drastic devastation.

So the C word—the word that should never be used again or even spoken—is CULTURE.

For eighty-five years in this nation, we fostered, promoted, advertised, argued and finally fought over a fictitious cultural difference.

Here was the contention:

Mason liked fried potatoes. Dixon preferred grits.

Yankee Doodle drank beer and brandy, while Johnny Reb preferred whiskey and moonshine.

The North favored a Union. The South touted states’ rights.

Missy, a woman living north of the line, spent time working in the fields with her husband, planting, while the Dixie chicks pretended to be more fragile, appearing dainty.

Mason didn’t have slaves. Dixon did.

But Dixon didn’t call it “slave labor.”  Working under the guise of business, these folks who were shipped in from Africa were addressed as “field hands,” for it was the commerce of the South—and King Cotton required serfs to work, and black ones seemed to be more suited for the heat and the burden.

For eighty-five years, we pretended it was a “cultural difference.”

Men we extol as the founders of our nation, ignorantly hid behind debate, hoping it would disguise the atrocity.

It came down to a simple question:

You say slave, I say worker—almost a member of my family.

You say a person and I claim property.

You interrupt my culture and I wail and squeal about states’ rights.

We thought we could compromise, tolerate, negotiate and even appease one another. There were so many compromises that we started naming them after states, like Missouri. There were so many times we thought we had it worked out on paper, negotiating a deal or producing a favorable agreement, that many people were shocked when this “culture problem” created a Civil War which killed three-quarters of a million people.

And the fires of that conflict still smolder to this day.

We thought we could handle cultural difference. We believed we could let bygones be bygones.

But a cultural crisis was brought on by the crisis of culturing.

The truth is, human beings become viable to one another when they insist on similarities and pursue commonality.

You can eat your potatoes and drink your liquor any way you want.

But free will, justice and equality cannot be negotiated.


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G-Poppers … August 25th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

 

 

 

They were called “Tories”–colonists who remained loyal to King George III during the American Revolution. They were honorable folks. They wanted to respect authority. They saw no reason to change the status quo. They were following what seemed to be common sense.

They were unfortunately mistaken.

There were other folks known as the “Moral Majority.” The moniker certainly tells of their assumptions. They were convinced that homosexuality was a blight on the American scenery–even that HIV and AIDs were punishments on the homosexual community–the “gay plague.”

Their ranks were filled with Bible-loving, dear-hearted people who were completely misinformed.

It was called “separate but equal”–later to be tagged “Jim Crow.” It was the notion that since color separated human beings, and culture seemed to follow along, it was in line to complete the separation in public restrooms and schools. Great people adhered to the philosophy. Dynamic human beings were involved in promoting it.

It was flawed.

It’s very important to know the difference between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorance is when actions are taken without the benefit of adequate knowledge. Stupidity is when knowledge has arrived and we choose to remain ignorant.

No matter how honorable, self-sacrificing or righteous the Antebellum South felt it was on the issues of states’ rights, tarriffs and slavery, time has marched on and brought us an infantry of reasons to conclude that the assertions were faulty.

Just as the Tories are not allowed to build statues to Benedict Arnold, the Moral Majority isn’t in a position to extol Jerry Falwell, and Jim Crow is not recognized in the public square of Birmingham, for its historic quality, we can no longer accept the “good intentions” of the Confederacy.

They, like the Tories, the Moral Majority and the Jim Crow crowd, must find their absolution with the words of Jesus from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

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Good News and Better News … May 16th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Appomattox 2

On Sunday morning, I had the privilege, honor, joy and excitement to be with the congregation at the Memorial United Methodist Church in Appomattox, Virginia.

One hundred fifty-one years, one month and one day earlier, on April 9th, 1865, just three miles down the road, Robert E. Lee surrendered the 28,000 remaining soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant, thus, for all intents and purposes, ending the Civil War.

I admire Lee for that.

Good News Appomattox 1I don’t agree with all the things that he did or set out to achieve, but I am greatly impressed by the fact that Robert recognized when the cause he was pursuing had taken a sharp left turn–and rather than being an expression of states’ rights, had become the oppression of the black race.

He could have continued to fight, hiding in the mountains and the forests which permeate Dixieland, and probably prolonged the conflict for months or even years.

He brought it to an end.

He surrendered.

He had the wisdom to know there’s a time to attack and a time to surrender.

So many lovely human beings I met on Sunday at Memorial United Methodist. Story after story, human feeling after feeling–each one deeper in its expression.

Pastored by a fellow named Russell, who seems to have discovered the correct balance of humanity and leadership, the folks have come to the same impasse as Robert E. Lee.Good News Appomattox 3

Surrounded by a religious community which continues to believe it can force its convictions on others who do not share in the faith, these people at Memorial are at a crucial crossroads.

For I will tell you, as Christians, it is time for us to surrender before we become as irrational as the extremist Muslims.

And the terms of the surrender are very easy:

“I will no longer use the Bible to attack other people.”

Instead, I will use it to help me become a better person. I will use it for encouragement. I will use it for beautiful language at a wedding or funeral. I will use it to remind me of my need for the goodness of God. But I will never use it again to attack other people.

The war between the state of human beings in this country needs to stop. There is no sign that the Republicans and Democrats will cease fighting.

No, it falls the lot of intelligent, Jesus-loving people to step in and surrender.

  • We need to live.
  • We need to learn.
  • And we need to love.

Good News Appomattox 4We need to live our lives to the fullness that we understand.

We need to learn whatever else comes from the heart of God and the truth of knowledge.

And in the meantime, we need to love without fear of it being insufficient to the need.

That’s the good news.

The better news? If more than living, learning and loving is necessary, we’re all screwed.

 

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Suffering Succotash… April 4, 2013

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succotashShe didn’t wear a hair net.

The health department had not yet enforced that particular rule, so Madeline would occasionally serve me my macaroni and cheese with a long red hair included within. It was one of the perils of being a ten-year-old, eating in the school cafeteria.

A second equally frightening concept was succotash. Somehow or another, somebody decided that succotash–the mysterious blend of corn and lima beans–was the vegetable of convenience to put on the plates of unsuspecting children.

Let us start out by saying that NO ONE likes succotash. I did meet one person  who told me he ate it and enjoyed it–right before the white truck arrived to take him back to the mental hospital.

Even though tons and tons of succotash were continually returned on plates and scraped into the trash can weekly, the school system refused to consider the possibility of finding a better vegetable to entice the young patrons. It was just assumed that vegetables were going to be hated anyway, so you might as well give them a cheap one that they could disregard, so you could stay on budget while piously maintaining that you tried to offer nutrition.

Yes, every child, in his or her lifetime, has gone through the indignity of suffering succotash.

Likewise, in the realm of the spirit, we are instructed by religion–fed in our churches an emotional and intellectual diet of doctrinal succotash. We are told that being a Christian is grounded in a certain amount of suffering. Otherwise we are not fulfilling the life of Christ. It doesn’t even take five minutes of gospel-hopping to discover that Jesus believed in abundant life, that he came to bring full joy, insisted that his burdens were light, told us we were the salt of the earth, said to rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and when faced with tribulation, to be of good cheer.

But if you base the entire message of Christianity on a twenty-one-hour period–from the Garden of Gethsemane to the death on the cross–as an illustration of devotion and lifestyle, you probably have missed the significance of thirty-three years of joy, victory, marveling, compassion and blessedness.

Why do we choose to offer succotash in the church under the guise of suffering, when no one is interested and every week, ends up scraping it off their plates, uneaten, into the trash can? Jesus never said that the door to heaven is through suffering. Actually, the door to heaven–or if you will, happiness–is through personal responsibility.

The world gives tribulation. My response is to be of good cheer. Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world.

It’s really that simple.

While the world debates gun control, abortion, states’ rights and racial issues, I refuse to join in and comply with the misery, but instead, take stock of myself and decide what I am going to personally do about guns, abortion, states’ rights and racial issues. Once I discover my approach, I can rejoice and be exceedingly glad. If I’m worried about world events, I probably will work myself into a tizzy.

Children don’t like succotash. When you continue to serve them succotash, you not only are wasting time and money, but you’re turning them into anti-vegetable people.

Human beings don’t like suffering. When you continue to preach suffering and insist it is the only available path, you’re turning them into anti-spiritual people.

Fortunately for me, I grew up and discovered that succotash was not the only vegetable. Also fortunately for me, I read the Bible, and in so doing, discovered that Jesus promoted joy–and not suffering.

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Sympathizer … February 20, 2013

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Black Jon

Two Johns.

Two men living at the same time.

John Brown.

John Booth.

Two men with B names.

Two men with nine letters in their names.

Two sympathizers.

One a sympathizer for the cause of halting slavery.

The other, a sympathizer for maintaining the dignity of the south, states’ rights and  slavery

Both men took up the gun.

Both men ended up dying in Virginia.

Both men made the history books.

Both men took lives.

But one of these sympathizers, John Brown–although viewed by some to be a domestic terrorist–is revered as a forward thinking abolitionist and even a prophet, who foretold of a bloody struggle to rid our nation of the scourge of slavery.

The other, John Booth, a well-respected actor, took a small hand gun and walked into a theater and killed the President of the United States, thinking he would be known as a hero, and ending up arguably the most notorious man in US history.

In the season of their lives, they were viewed quite differently.

John Brown was hated, tried, convicted and hung–with John Booth in the gallery.

John Booth was considered by many to be one of the greatest actors of his time, and had at least half the nation believing in his cause of maintaining the integrity of the hinter lands and the necessity of slavery.

Move ahead in time.

John Brown was right.

John Booth was wrong.

*****

What did you think of my picture? I think I make a fairly striking black man, don’t you? Some people would think such a photograph is tasteless. I understand their sentiment. Many people are frightened of any semblance of controversy for fear it might lead to a discussion that demands transformation.

Some folks might think it’s clever–but only from an artistic angle, not realizing the significance of the timing of the artwork. For I am trying to learn to be a good sympathizer. I am studying what history, God, common sense, liberty and free will tell us are the landmark issues that cannot be restrained and must be allowed to play out with full bravado.

I am attempting to navigate course across a sea of confusion and land in a safe port, where in the future they will look at my dealings and say, “Jonathan Richard Cring made some good choices.”

I want to be a sympathizer. To do this, I must occasionally abandon my own predilections, sensations and even the tenets of my faith to allow free will to have its holy moment–because to remove liberty is to chase away the spirit of God.

I want to become a sympathizer. I want to find myself erring on the side of liberty instead of faltering in the fables of my youth. How can I know that I am sympathizing with the right causes? The truth is, I will never be a black man. How can I sympathize with my brothers and sisters and still demand of each one of us that we be conscious of goodness and mercy?

After much thought, I came up with a simple conclusion. I will allow you to muse over its deeper meaning:

You can’t build up any idea, organization, doctrine, faith or political movement that tears down other people. If you do, you will be John Booth instead of John Brown.

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