Ask Jonathots … November 24th, 2016

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How do you keep politics and religion from ruining a family gathering?

Life is truly about giving–but not merely in the sense of being generous. Rather, it’s about learning early and permanently when to give effort and when to give up.

Giving up can actually be one of the more noble steps of submission to overwhelming evidence. And giving effort is essential to achieve progress.

I bring this up in relationship to your question, because in order to have a good family gathering, you must know when to give effort and when to give up.

First of all, give up on changing people. You can’t, you won’t and you shouldn’t.

If Uncle Fred is a Republican, he will probably leave Thanksgiving evening equally as convinced. If Aunt Margaret is a Democrat, she will likewise ride her donkey out the door. And if any of your relatives claim to be atheists or insist that “all baptism must be by immersion or you’re not saved,” it is always a Godless pursuit to change those who are “all wet.”

So what can you do during a family gathering to be productive, but faithful to your own ideals? There is one simple, easy step:

Never speak in the abstract.

  • Don’t talk about doctrine.
  • Don’t talk about beliefs.
  • Don’t talk about Vladimir Putin.

Talk about your own life–your own goals, your own anecdotes–and in so doing, you gently confirm your beliefs.

In other words, if someone says “the homeless are a blight on the conscience of America,” wait until the conversation changes, and then double back and say, “I was waiting at a light at Wal-Mart, and a fellow was there with a sign, looking for money, so I rolled down my window with two dollars and I gave it to him, and he was so appreciative that it nearly made me cry.”

Then leave it alone.

When it comes to religion, humor is always your best vehicle:

“Well, I was driving down the road and I was nearly out of gas in a country setting and I wasn’t sure I would find a station. So I kept my eyes open, checked my GPS, but also–call me crazy–I said a little prayer. I’m not sure which one worked, or whether they worked together, but three minutes later I was at a gas station getting fueled up.”

Since you can’t change people, give up on that and instead, give effort into what you can change: your attitude toward people.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … July 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: You didn’t ask me my opinions about the political conventions.

 

Dear Woman: Well, no, because I know you really don’t like politics.

 

Dear Man: That’s true, but there is one incident that grabbed my attention.

 

Dear Woman: What was that?

 

Dear Man: Thursday night, when the Muslim father who lost his son in the war in Afghanistan, Mr. Kahn, spoke to the gathering.

 

Dear Woman: Yeah, I saw that. Very moving.

 

Dear Man: I know that’s the popular view, but it bothered me.

 

Dear Woman: What troubled you?

 

Dear Man: He came on the stage with his wife. She did not speak for the whole duration of the event. She remained turned toward him in submission, wearing a hijab.

 

Dear Woman: You mean that head covering?

 

Dear Man: Yes, exactly.

 

Dear Woman: It’s just a Muslim thing.

 

Dear Man: I disagree. It’s not a Muslim thing. She stood in submission, did not speak, with her head covered, as he railed against Donald Trump, in support of Hillary Clinton for President. It was a massive contradiction.

 

Dear Woman: I disagree. You just need to be more tolerant. We need to give religious freedom to people–to have their traditions and honor their culture, otherwise our country becomes bigoted and self-centered.

 

Dear Man: I know the spiel. But when a man, who, by the way, was extremely intense, with angry gestures, stands beside a woman who is not speaking, who is looking on adoringly with her head covered…well, I get nervous. I feel it’s good to give spiritual leniency to people, to worship as they deem appropriate, but our country should not allow oppression to exist in the name of God. For instance, we certainly didn’t honor the traditions of the South and give them cultural “roominess” when slavery was at stake. I’m sure they could have made the point that no slaves were rebelling and that everything was working fine, but we still fought the Civil War to relieve the stupidity of a bad culture.

 

Dear Woman: I see what you mean, but I don’t think it applies in this situation. This is part of their religion

 

Dear Man: No. It’s not. It’s part of their tradition. Tradition is the way that people decide to conduct their religion. It has nothing to do with faith. It has nothing to do with a God who created all men equal, and that includes women. What happened on that stage was wrong. If we want to condone it because we’re afraid of speaking up to a religion’s tradition, and demanding equality, then let us call ourselves cowards. But if every Christian church in America suddenly decided that women should not be allowed to speak and had to wear head coverings, we would remove their tax exempt status. We can’t have two different standards. If he wants to support Hillary Clinton for President, he needs to let his wife be his equal.

 

Dear Woman: Maybe he does. Maybe it was just a decision on their part to have him talk because she was nervous.

 

Dear Man: Then in my opinion she shouldn’t come on stage. Standing next to him, turned in his direction, staring at him with her head covered, communicates subservience. Doesn’t the Democratic Party want equality? Or are they just looking for a bump in the polls from an angry Muslim man speaking against Donald Trump?

 

Dear Woman: You realize, nobody agrees with you. Everybody thinks that Mr. Kahn was one of the highlights of the convention. They think that allowing her to appear on stage in the head covering showed tolerance.

 

Dear Man: Tolerance becomes cowardice when everyone is not included. There were many people during the Civil Rights movement who were angry at Dr. King because he came into a situation that seemed to be peaceful, and stirred up trouble. But had he not pointed out the inequity of Jim Crow, the South more than likely would still be arguing about “colored restrooms” instead of transgender ones.

 

Dear Woman: I see your point, and I guess by your standards I’m a coward, but I think that sometimes you just have to leave well enough alone.

 

Dear Man: You see, my point is that “well enough” is never achieved by leaving women out of the equation.

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A Simple Questionnaire … March 10, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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  1. What do I want?question marks
  2. What do I need?
  3. What do I have in ability?
  4. What do I fear?
  5. What am I doing?
  6. What do I desire to do?
  7. What is the bridge?

Even though it’s a very simple questionnaire, it is filled with important inquiries, which help us understand more about ourselves and our aspirations.

The confusion of every generation is the ongoing belief that we are not confused. People on their way to the discovery of truth always start out with a bit of personal perplexity, questioning, and maybe even feelings of insecurity, because the road to candor is never clear, but always filled with revelation and sometimes, shocking realities.

So let me be the first to jump in and answer these questions.

First, I want to write, teach and share with my generation without being inhibited by so many restrictions and fears. I would like to escape the rigidity of all the systems that exist, which are determined to bring people into submission to a set of rules instead of helping them find the true cause.

Secondly, I don’t know what I need. I feel pretty comfortable with that because the Good Book tells us that God knows what we need even before we do. Excellent. Maybe that’s why He’s such a good partner–he brings the plastic spoons along for the yogurt, because nobody else thought about actually eating them.

My ability is to use insight with humor, and hopefully a gentle spirit, to communicate difficult ideas and contentious causes in a season where people are so easily offended. I do it through art, music, and hopefully, giggles.

I have a dual fear–falling short of my goals because of my age and physical limitations, and losing my solvency and embarrassing the people around me because my ideas are solid but my bank account is dwindling.

What am I doing? Good question. I’m finishing up a seventeen-year career, working faithfully in the mainline denominational churches, to bring a message of common sense, realizing that I can no longer limit myself to such a tiny market, but must at least attempt to expand my borders.

What I desire is to take that which has been forsaken by society, which has callously cast away great means of communication, replacing them with Instagram, and use these methods to reach people with a simple message of hope and personal responsibility. Just because it’s popular to believe that theater, newspapers, books and even musical albums are obsolete because of downloading, it’s not necessarily true. If I owned Facebook, I would also decry any other form of communication that wasn’t “me.” The world will always return to intimacy. It may take a week; it may take a year. We will come back to needing one another.

Which leads me to the final question. What is the bridge? Just as with my need, I don’t have the foggiest idea. But I’m excited about the search; I’m thrilled about the quest. I feel like a Knight of the Round Table pursuing the Holy Grail.

And I know this: it takes courage to chase something that half the people need and the other half don’t believe in.

But those are the only adventures that are truly worthwhile.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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Populie: It’s Your Destiny … February 26, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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dragon slayerAnother popular assertion that is grounded in a lie is, “It’s your destiny.”

It is a POPULIE that is once again promoted by politics, religion and entertainment.

Politics loves it because it makes the voters feel that some leader is “destined” to become the savior of a project or movement.

Religion promotes the idea simply because it keeps the faithful in submission to the illusive will of God.

And entertainment advertises this populie mainly because there is an ongoing accepted premise that people “just love fantasy” and therefore want to escape their real lives to conjure big dreams of slaying dragons.

Yet in our private moments, when we are alone with ourselves and we’re not in a bad mood, blaming the world or some divine force, we realize that it is our own choices that create our situations. And we still persist in using words like:

  • destiny
  • soul-mate
  • being born a certain way
  • having talent sent from God
  • and feeling superstitious about “roads converging in our lives through cosmic energy”

Well, let’s look at the cosmic energy. What does this cosmic energy–in other words, God–have to say on this subject?

1. What we sow we will reap.

If I understand this statement, it means that I am in control of the harvest that comes my way by the planting I personally do. I am not under a family curse, demon possession, angelic fairy dust or the turn of a card.

2.  If you do well, you will be accepted.

Interesting. When God spoke these words, He wasn’t relating the information to someone who was particularly spiritual. He shared it with Cain, who ended up being the first murderer. But He told him that the system is geared toward those who do and not those who wish.

3. Let every man prove his own work, that he has rejoicing in himself alone and not another.

So if God is in charge of my life, why would I need to prove the work? And if God is the one who’s manipulating everything, what gives me the right to rejoice in myself for achieving my goals?

4. Everyone will give an account of their deeds at the Day of Judgment.

If I am at the mercy of destiny–or even at its bequest–why should I be responsible for everything that happens?

When you remove the superstition, fear, tradition and anger from religion, you come up with one simple principle: no one is better than anyone else.

So if I work hard I will succeed. If I don’t, I will fail.

And it fascinates me that those who believe in the populie, “It’s your destiny,” would also become infuriated at the notion of someone removing choice from their lives.

It is your choice.

And today, you are about the business of determining what your life will truly be.

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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