Not Long Tales … August 27th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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3.

The Assignment

Miss Tamara Taylor was thirteen days into her sixth year of teaching third grade at the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Shimmering Pines, Virginia.

She was a single woman—not by design. She did favor the attention of a male admirer. Matter of fact, in her twenty-six years of being “the great American girl,” she had encountered three lovers, one actually a suitable suitor. He had been willing to share her bed and consider “wed,” until all at once, he got frightened by the specter of a never-ending future, and bought himself a one-way ticket to oblivion. He hadn’t been heard of since.

Tamara had not given up on possibilities but had learned the charm of dinner for one. She told her closest friend that she “didn’t mind dealing with children at work but did not want to come home to one.”

After six years of teaching, she found it beneficial to develop a philosophy. Some of her fellow educators were intent on the program, the knowledge, the books or the discipline. Tamara’s thoughts were much simpler. She decided the best way to teach young children was: don’t harm them and awaken something. She permitted her students call her “Miss T.” She didn’t mind at all, and being part of the present generation, they were absolutely enthralled with the abbreviation.

After thirteen days of cafeteria lunches, her class was gradually getting used to seating assignments and her style of conveying information. So Miss T decided to offer an assignment. She phrased it this way: Write two hundred words on ‘If You Had to Decide Today What or Who You Would Want to Be When You Are Old Like Me.”

The whole class giggled when they heard the title, which was her intent. It didn’t stop them from grumbling over the notion of having to put together a paragraph or two, but the subject matter certainly stirred their brains in the direction their hearts were already mounting a desire.

The papers were turned in yesterday, and she spent the night reading them. She found that the choices her students made fell into categories. When it came to the matter of who or what they wanted to be, king or queen were quite popular. Of course, President made an appearance. Ballerina and rock star were favored—one girl dreaming of being a ballerina by day and a pop diva by night.

There were a couple of firemen, a doctor, a nurse. Money was brought up quite often. Several wanted to be a mommy and a couple, a daddy. And for some reason, one student wanted to manufacture ukuleles.

Then she came to Andrew. He was a quiet, shy, frightened, bullied, smiling lad. Andrew was thoughtful. Andrew refused to follow the color scheme of the common playground. Andrew noticed bugs on the sidewalk. Andrew was the only one who observed that Miss T had changed her hair.

So Andrew’s essay was as different as his choices. It was entitled, “Not Sour.” It read:

My dad likes grapefruit. It is sour. One day he asked me to eat some. He had that smile on his face that told me it was a trick. I took a bite. My mouth puckered. He laughed as I tried to spit the bad taste out. He said, “Grapefruit is sour.”

Dad told me that people can be that way, too. He said that grapefruit needs something to make it sweet. Sugar, honey, that pink stuff, or the blue. Is there one that’s yellow? Or maybe green? Anyway, every sour needs a sweet. The Chinese people figured that out.

My Dad said it’s our job to make our grapefruit taste good. But remember, sweet isn’t good all by itself. It needs a job. It needs to sweeten something.

I don’t want to be sad about the sour in life. I want to sprinkle. I looked that word up. I want to be a sweetener. Maybe I can just go out and join the mess but make things sweeter. I hope that’s not too weird. I don’t think I want to live in a sour world, but I don’t think it will get sweet by itself. So I guess if I have to grow up and do something, I want to be a sweetener. Yeah, I think that’s it.

But maybe driving a limousine, too.

Miss T finished reading the essay and sat back, engulfed in smiling tears. It was so beautiful that she knew all the teachers and grown-ups would want to hang it up, print it or ask young Andrew to read it at some sort of assembly. This was a problem. He was already battling being different and bullied. What would the rest of the kids do if they found out that he wanted to be a sweetener? Clever is a wonderful thing, unless you live around people who are dull.

Miss T wanted to reward his beautiful thoughts.

Miss T wanted to stimulate his budding creative energy.

Miss T desired to have the essay read and understood by everyone at John F. Kennedy Elementary School.

Miss T even knew that the citizens of Shimmering Pines, Virginia, could profit from listening to little Andrew’s ideas.

But Miss T also knew that what was a solution for others could be a huge problem for Andrew.

She took a solid hour considering what to do. Finally, on his paper she wrote A+ Good Work, and tucked it away in her folder.

She needed time to think about it.

 

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Good News and Better News … January 1st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“When life gives you lemons…”

Hold out for some nice oranges. See if you can’t pick up some fresh strawberries. Even some marked-down bananas would be better. Lemons need too much sugar to be drinkable–and often still end up tart.

It was my deep, abiding pleasure and joy to begin our 2018 tour across this great nation by sharing my heart at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

It is ably and gently pastored by an open-faced and friendly brother named Brad. He sent along Jim, Chris and David to help us set up on Saturday, and they all treated us like kings instead of the vagabonds we be.

As I sat behind my keyboard before the service began and watched the congregation gathering, my heart was ablaze with the blessing of contentment. Even though I have lived for a decent season on Earth, I am still jubilant and optimistic over the possibilities of seeing humanity achieve its better potential by negating the available lemons and shopping for more fruitful possibilities.

And the lemons are available.

So my message to all I will encounter this year will be very simple:

  • Stop believing that lying is acceptable.
  • Mean is not and never will be good.
  • And prejudice is not common–just prevalent.

Once we accept these lemons, attempting to sweeten them, we can find ourselves frustrated and stuck with a drink that is still sour. Why? Because it’s got lemons in it.

So stop accepting the social lemons that make us believe we are trapped in our humanity instead of blessed by God to revel in it.

The command for this year is monumental: We will be kind to those of our own kind.

Of course, I’m talking about people. You may feel free to enjoy your pets, you can admire the wonders of nature, you can insist that you have the loveliest home in town, but we will be evaluated on how kind we are to our own kind.

The good news is, Saint Andrews has got the message.

The better news is, they don’t have to make lemonade.

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Quatrain of the Lemon … February 4, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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lemon

I am sour, this is true

You like sweet, yes you do

Pour the sugar in my juice

Steal my soul, I’m left obtuse.

 

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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

Twain — Part II … March 1, 2013

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Both candy and fruit have sugar in them. The difference is that fruit also has nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Candy doesn’t.

So if you will allow me, for the sake of this essay, I will talk to you about “candy culture” and “fruitful faith.”

“Candy culture” is what looks really sweet, so it’s gobbled up and ends up rotting everything in our heads. “Fruitful faith” is developing a taste for things that are really good for you and then finding your peace with the sweetness contained within.

So here’s what candy culture tells us about relationship and marriage:

1. Emotionally men and women are completely different from each other, so it is practically useless to try to have conversations to work out feelings. Instead, the less we share with each other and the more we accept one another’s preferences, the better off we are.

2. Spirituality is really religion and religion is a very personal thing. We don’t want to force our belief system on anyone else, so of course, discussing the nature of God and how the planet earth works in the realm of the soul seems to be both frustrating and alienating.

3. Since men and women are believed to be so different emotionally, their brains also work with patterns unique to their genders, which usually boils down to some derivation of the “hunter/gather” theory, with men being the aggressors and women being the nesters.

4. Concerning our strength, physicality and sexuality, we are constantly, in this “candy culture,” attempting to blend love, having children and pleasure, to create a package of romance that is palatable to both parties and explainable to the surrounding world.

As you can see, in the “candy culture,” the collision of a lack of information with uncertain conclusions leaves the individuals involved in relationship second guessing each other, paranoid and ultimately, angry–either out of suspicion or dissatisfaction.

So what is a “fruitful faith” relationship?

1. In the realm of emotions, it is necessary to find a common humanity. If you’re going to get along with anyone, you have to find out what things you share in common concerning your desires, emotions and dreams instead of focusing on what may be obtuse or outlandish differences. Every discussion of an emotional nature should begin with two things: honesty and the statement, “As a human being, I … “ When two people agree emotionally on the parts of their beings that have common humanity, the issue of male and female quickly disappears.

2. In the realm of spirituality, there is a need for a common God. If one party believes in “destiny” and the other holds fast to “free will,” the relationship, in times of crisis, will disintegrate in confusion. We need a common God. That notion is not popular in the “candy culture,” but arriving at agreement about what God does or doesn’t do may be the greatest salvation you could ever provide to a relationship. And by the way … keep it simple. Make sure that your belief system has only one or two moving parts, and learn to trust that movement.

3. A common plan. Two heads are better than one–ONLY if they fuse their ideas. Two bull-heads that never stir in with one another just keep butting. A common plan is when ideas are shared, written down, and the “best of the best” is put together. Sometimes one person will contribute more than another. Other times, the other party will be the major donator. It doesn’t matter. Pursuing a common plan is the only way to have a single-minded relationship, which, by the way, may be the sexiest thing in the world.

4. And finally, a “fruitful faith” relationship has a common pleasure. Do yourself a big favor and remove children and love from sexuality. Those two things will have been handled beautifully by your emotions, spirit and mind. For human beings, sex has one purpose and one purpose only–pleasure. When you add anything else into it, you either over-emphasize the value of the act or degrade the energy. If two people who are emotionally seeking their humanity, spiritually worshipping a common God and putting their shoulders behind a common plan come together to pursue a common pleasure, watch out. “Sky rockets in flight.”

This is the difference between a “candy culture” and a “fruitful faith” relationship. If you want to keep your love going with another human being, emotionally you will need a common humanity, spiritually a common God, mentally a common plan and physically a common pleasure.

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Peanut Better … July 19, 2012

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I like peanut butter.

I do. If you’ll forgive me a bit of presumption, I think it’s safe to say that most folks enjoy the stuff. There are those who have allergies to it, and always some who will insist that it’s “just too something or other,” but peanut butter certainly has not survived merely because of its partnership with jelly. Especially since I’ve been cutting back on eating too much meat, peanut butter is a great source of protein. Unfortunately, like meat, it is an overwhelming storehouse of calories.

Español: Mantequilla de maní

Español: Mantequilla de maní (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do not understand why we live in a nation that can work on several I-phones at the same time and have numerous reality shows funded, leading to no seemingly sensible conclusion while raising funds for all sorts of causes, many of which are nearly impossible to explain, yet we can’t come up with a way to make peanut butter that’s low-calorie.We have also failed at the search for really good-for-you pasta. Sugars, carbohydrates and fat seem to escape the purview and perfection of our scientists. We have come up with products that are fat-free, but normally that just means they add more sugar. We have come up with products that are sugar-free, but their textures, taste and timeliness are debatable.

Is it too much to ask to have someone seek out a government grant to make peanut butter plausible to our diet? Maybe it’s because we talk about healthiness in this society as we come up with a double-decker sausage McMuffin (since the first one certainly was not large and greasy enough). Is it really necessary to have three hamburger patties with bacon and cheese?

It comes down to the issue of healthy, wealthy and wise. That is the order that we have placed these three pursuits in while advertising our vision for a successful existence. But I don’t think it would hurt for us to begin with wisdom. If the most nutritious and healthy foods are also often those products that are least in calories, why can’t we take a hint from Mother Nature and learn how she makes delicious treats without stuffing them to the rim with calories? Isn’t there a scientist somewhere who might actually want to help humanity instead of padding the bottom line of drug companies? I guess if we worked on food that was healthy and low in calories, using wisdom in doing that, there are other companies that might suffer temporarily–until they made the transition over to better choices.

For instance, we were making plows in this country until World War II started, and then those who were making farm implements just changed over to constructing bombs and airplanes. I realize we have become dependent on oil, but there’s no reason to believe that within a decade the oil companies couldn’t turn their profit margins over to better, more practical choices. If you start talking about a healthy diet, the farmers and ranchers get very nervous because they wonder if they will be able to get rid of all their crops and cattle.

So if you decide not to lead with wisdom, it’s going to be very difficult to be healthy. And if you’re not healthy, you’re probably not going to have the initiative or the lifespan to achieve wealthy. So I would suggest that we change the old saying from “healthy, wealthy and wise” to “wise, healthy and wealthy.”

And let the first piece of wisdom be an attempt to put nutritious food in our mouths that is low in calories so that we can eat a lot of it and feel very satisfied without putting on excess pounds and loading ourselves down with obesity and health problems.

Why don’t we start with peanut butter? Yes. Let’s make it peanut better. Let’s find out if we can make a product that is absolutely filled with good taste but is lower and lower in calories. Why don’t we make pasta that is not packed with carbohydrates, which shoot up our weight and our blood sugar?

It is a worthy project for some aspiring young researcher, who would like to really help this society instead of debating health care for our populace, which is suffering under the load of food that is inevitably destined to make them too plump.

Peanut better. Yes–I will believe that our country is going forward when the citizens are the primary concern of both the government and the corporations, instead of maintaining a traditional approach to sales and commerce, leaving us unhealthy, pretty stupid and without enough time to get wealthy.

Let me know when peanut butter has much less to butter me up and is better for me. Until then, I will continue to eat it–cautiously–convincing myself that it’s better than Sloppy Joe.

   

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Val’s Pals … February 14, 2012

 
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Valentine’s Day–a delivery system for chocolate, flowers, jewelry, aftershave, golf shirts and miscellaneous power tools. Yet–is it more than that? It could be–if we actually focused on relationship instead of just commemorating a once-great union of hearts.
 
In my lifetime, I have watched as the pendulum has swung from the extreme of Father Knows Best to “Mama Knows Everything.” There is a general misconception in dealing with interaction between the sexes that some sort of cushioning or compromise MUST be established–because we apparently are from different planets, arriving on spaceships fueled by diverse energy. Because of this false representation, we seek to compliment or ignore one another in the pursuit of domination. Domination is useless, especially when it comes to interfacing with someone we purport to love.
 
Yet in the times when Father was supposed to be the All Knowing, women were underpaid, not considered worthy of leadership on a national level (or even high management in corporations), a little unpredictable and ditzy and meant for the home, not the battlefield–be it war, politics or business.
 
Move ahead through years of alleged women’s liberation and cultural growth, and today we insist that women are smarter than men, as we continue to underpay them, forbid them high seats in government and the Fortune 500, think they’re very unpredictable and ditzy and keep them far from the front lines of the war–be it commercial, cultural or military.
 
So what has changed? All we have done is play a pretend game: “Women are really smarter than men, but after all, we don’t need smarter. We’ve got men!”
 
As long as the goal in any relationship is to dominate, we will never truly understand one another, no matter how many boxes of chocolates, bunches of flowers or trinkets are peddled. Somewhere along the line, we have to understand that true friendship is neither complimenting or ignoring, but rather, trying to stay on point and being as honest as we can, while dancing around trying not to offend.
 
If a woman can’t find that in her mate, she will have a best friend she converses with and a husband she tolerates.  May I immediately point out that merely tolerating another human being is not the greatest aphrodisiac to lead into the bedroom? So then we get to preach that “women don’t like sex and men do.”
 
Now, this particular Mexican standoff doesn’t vary, whether in the secular or in the religious realm. The religious community believes that men should dominate and that women should raise the children and take care of the household. In some religions they’re even willing to cut off her sexual organs to make sure she doesn’t forget her mission.
 
In the secular community, the pretense is that women are much smarter, more organized and able to direct, while simultaneously they are relegated to a submissive position where they are basically housewives, even in the office (coffee and comfort), and they’re disemboweled sexually by being forbidden true authority.
 
Here’s my suggestion–let’s do something special on this Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to reject the power of the flower or the thrill of the drill, but you might want to sit down and have a conversation with the person you say you love that begins with this statement:
 
“Honestly… Well, I am not always honest with you, but instead, compliment or ignore you because I foolishly think, because of my training, that I am supposed to dominate you. I would like to stop that and instead, maybe for the first time in our journey together, find out who you are and what you want … and ditto for me.”
 
Now, if I thought the farce of “romantic America” could continue without creating chaos, I would never even bring up the subject. After all, America believes that McDonald’s makes the best hamburger and really, no harm, no “fowl.” But when you think that complimenting or ignoring your love to create domination is the best way to interact with another human being, while internally you find them obtuse or irrelevant, there is a nasty hypocrisy going on that will eventually flare up and decimate your contentment.
 
This is why we often step back and say, “I never thought they would get a divorce.”
 
Just removing domination from a relationship allows for two people to actually begin to talk again. The reason we didn’t like dating is because we had to chat. It is exactly the reason we should return to it.
 
So if you look at Val’s Pals on this day, they are  com through gifts and the action of ignoring expressed by pretending that somehow or another we forgot that it was a special day. It is all an inglorious ploy to create domination. Neither Father nor Mother know best.
 
Actually, we never get the best until Father and Mother learn how to communicate with each other.
 
 
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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

Teaspoonology … February 13, 2012

 
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I understand and I am certainly not offended.  To the mindset of the average person in our hectic society, my little  philosophy seems frivolous, if not futile. I call it “teaspoonology.”
 
I have no grandiose notion that my contribution to life is going to come in some sort of magnanimous flood of information and wisdom. But daily I am provided a teaspoon–and I realize that I’m going to dump that portion into a vast ocean of life.
 
You might wonder how I was introduced to my particular brand of teaspoonology. Some years ago I noticed that “sour” was becoming the countenance, the taste, the thinking and reaction of those around me. A puckered face became the preferred visage.  It was like we had all decided that life was meant to be just a little bitter, so why fight it? And it was ushered in along with the assertion that presenting reality meant studying the dark side of humanity.
 
There was once a time when our literature, art, religion and politics presented our more bleak options as obscure, unnecessary and escapable. But then that changed. Goodness became the elusive; mediocrity and evil became the commonplace. It “soured up” the flavor of human life. So that’s why I decided to take my little teaspoon of contribution afforded to me every day of my life and sweeten it. So when it is added into life’s mix, for a brief time there is just a hint of a change in taste. Within moments it gets stirred in and the more discriminating soul might be able to notice the subtle difference.
 
I have discovered that I don’t have more than a teaspoon, but I do have the power to make sure that the elixir I add becomes sweeter and sweeter as I adjust its intensity. Yes–more potent with the nectar of possibility instead of adding vinegar to the already-tainted contents. For after all, what power is there in succumbing to stupidity? What joy in insisting that only sadness rules the roost? What victory in bowing one’s head in the presence of death instead of fighting to the end? It is my little concept of struggling against what most people would consider to be inevitable.
  • Yes, I am angry at religion. It makes people believe they have no hope unless they embrace a God they are told they can’t understand.
  • Yes, I am infuriated with politics.  It persists in a message of doom and gloom in order to garner a vote which grants power which is rarely used to improve anything.
  • Yes, I am baffled by an entertainment industry which tantalizes us with images of our creature instead of the possibilities of our creative.
But I will not allow my anger to overcome my mission–and that particular odyssey is quite simple: to take my teaspoon of contribution, sweeten it more each and every day and faithfully drizzle it onto the great concoction before me.
 
It is a childlike precept. May I share it with you? “Since no one is better than anyone else, let’s ease up, take our teaspoon … and sweeten the pot.”
 
Does it work? Case in point:
 
When I arrived at my present lodging location, I met a maid who services the rooms and befriended her. I gave her a few dollars for her generous work and treated her as I would want to be treated if I found myself in her station. Last night, when I went to perform my final show at Cokesbury United Methodist Church, I left a bag of money in my room accidentally–not realizing that the maid was going to come in and clean my room. When I came back and saw the room was spotless, my mind immediately went to that vulnerable clump of cash. You know what happened? Even though she had to move the money to do her cleaning, she restored it in entirety to its proper place. An honest woman, true. But might she have been tempted to be dishonest if her first encounter with me had been a jolt of sour instead of a teaspoon of sweet? I don’t know–and I don’t care.
 
I am determined to take my teaspoon and blend it into the broth of daily life, working on increasing the intensity of its potential while encouraging others to simply reject the sour and embrace the sweet. It was my message yesterday. It will be my message tomorrow.
 
I do not think we can change the world by insisting that the world is too big to change.
I do not think we can personally be happy as long as we spend most of our time in despair over the unhappiness that surrounds us.
 
Somehow or another, we need to purify our teaspoon of involvement, sweeten it up and pour it in. If enough people would do it, it might alter the taste of our society just enough that others might notice and want more of the flavor. Certainly it is a piece of idealism, but without it, we are left dumping our refuse of bitterness into the common pot.
 
And this I know: the only way to truly stop misery is to refuse to participate in its insanity.
 
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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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