Ask Jonathots … February 25th, 2016

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My parents and I got into a fierce argument in which they claimed that the Baby Boomers were the best generation–the most politically aware, socially progressive, and creative. I said they were sell-outs who only protested because they didn’t want to get drafted. What do you think?

And on the other hand, the Baby Boomers were greatly pissed off that their parents believed that winning World War II made them a superior generation.

I think there’s only one criterion for determining the quality of any group of people.

How well did they avoid distractions?

Distraction is what causes us to believe that the temporary situation will become permanent.

Saying that, I will tell you that technology and pseudo-intellectualism has distracted us more and more into believing that we are smart and non-prejudiced.

There has never been a greater amount of bigotry, racism, clamoring for war and intolerance than there is today. Yet the Baby Boomers had an opportunity to free our culture of much of this foolishness, but instead, mimicked their parents’ materialism just as soon as the threat of blood and mayhem in Vietnam had passed.

So the question is, can our generation–the new generation–avoid distraction?

Can we refuse to allow Facebook to be the well of our understanding?

Can we rightly judge within ourselves what still remains of selfishness and superiority?

Because if we can’t, the distractions will take this generation and cause it to sell out just as much as the Baby Boomers and the WWII heroes.

So how do we avoid distraction? Everything in our lives needs to be run through the prism of two ideas. If it is run through this prism and comes out with flying colors, then it is worthy of our consideration. If not, it’s a distraction.

  1. Does this new thing, new idea or new approach cause us to love people more?
  2. Does this possibility make us want to do better with our lives?

If the answer to these two questions is yes, then it is not a distraction. It is a pathway to progress.

If the answer ends up being no, then it is a dangerous detour which will only take us further away from understanding and peaceful coexistence.

  • The WWII generation thought owning a house and having a family was the most powerful thing in the world.
  • The Baby Boomers were convinced that a blending of social consciousness and financial prosperity was the key.

Today’s question is this:

Can we find our hearts, to touch our own souls, to renew our minds to grant us legitimate strength?

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G-Poppers… January 2, 2015

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G-Popper

As the New Year rolled around, G-Pop’s youngest son (who is fully grown) asked him, “So what do you think about the New Year?”

G-Pop: Son, it all depends on if you think things will be better, or grow worse. I happen to believe in better because somehow or another the human race always musters an instinct for avoiding extinct.

The young man smiled and pursued, “All right. Do you have any predictions?”

G-Pop: More heart. Real emotion instead of over-stated, staged reality shows. How can we achieve more heart? I think we just need to stop being afraid of the beauty of goodness.

More soul–transforming our theology and mythology into real human action. We are actually going to explore the spiritual axiom, “By their fruits you will know them.”

More mind–starting with being mindful of each other. Inventing and creating things that inspire people to excel instead of relinquishing all of our independence and genuine thoughtfulness to technology.

More strength. You know, son, I think it’s time for us to study a “hand-to-mouth” existence, realizing that what we hand off in food to our lips is affecting our power, personality and happiness. Not only is it true that you are what you eat, but that consumption eventually eats up what you are.

More heart, soul, mind and strength.

And then we will realize that we will only see more if we dare to become more.

 

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G-47: The Chosen Two … October 24, 2014

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Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

 

Something changed.

Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus

For 199,500 years, people focused on land, children, eating, drinking and warring–so much so that 1,000 of those years were spent submerged in a darkened era, when religion and politics kept humankind bound in serfdom.

But you see, the glory of an omnipotent God is that He made Himself submissive to human free will. This is why the question, “Why doesn’t God do something?” is not only ridiculous, but futile.

William Harvey

William Harvey

Granting free will is an invitation to interruption.

So in the last 500 years, the Father who created all has escaped the rigors of Jews and Gentiles and welcomed the new chosen two: science and creativity.

It was a risky decision, because those who tend to be scientific and creative are not always reverent or worshipful. Matter of fact, they might even be atheistic.

Galileo

Galileo Galilei

It might seem counterproductive–to be a God who encourages the godless. But if people don’t have a vision stimulated by science and creativity, they perish in small-mindedness.

So God, the Father, who created us all and placed within us the image of His creative mind, linked with Mother Nature, welcoming science to join the party as a family. Adding the Son to be the human example of how all things work, you have a lovely nuclear union.

It is no longer about who prays the most.

It is not about lineages or birthrights.

Guttenburg

Johannes Gutenberg

It is not about the worship of holy books.

Progress in the Spirit is being made by discovering the science that God has placed in His evolution and creation, and the unfolding of the creativity He anointed in the human race.

Handel

G. F. Handel

Our heroes are not patriarchs–they are patrons of the arts and pathologists who are helping mankind advance in understanding, with the hope that granting longevity of life will open the door to spiritual revival.

For 199,500 years, we progressed 10% in our comprehension. But once science and creativity were given license to breathe, and Mother Nature and Father God, along with the Son, were united, we began to believe there were answers in the world around us.

The question remaining was if we could translate these discoveries into a deep sense of praise and appreciation for the Giver.

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Populie: America Is Exceptional … April 9, 2014

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American flag colorsTricky business.

How can you maintain a conviction without attacking or denigrating others if they disagree?

It is a huge problem, personified, I believe, in the popular belief that “America’s great,” intermingled with the lie, “we are better than others.”

It generates the populie, “America is exceptional.”

And by the way–good luck objecting to that in a room full of people.

  • For after all, politics loves it because the cheers come easily.
  • Religion observes it to welcome a patriotic element in the congregation, willing to attend.
  • Entertainment is always aware that butts in seats are more easily placed if asses are kissed.

But what is the truth? Let’s look at it using the element of common sense. Exceptional is a status. Case in point: if someone said you were an exceptional parent, you would suddenly feel the responsibility of the title, and need to continue your status through effort, fully aware that greater scrutiny will certainly be coming your way.

So therefore if we declare our nation to be exceptional, the proclamation comes with responsibilities. We must:

1. Lead the world in freedom and human rights.

2. Challenge mediocrity and reward the pursuit of excellence.

3. Reject self-satisfaction in favor of true self-awareness.

4. Follow through on all men and women being created equal.

5. Constantly be on the cutting edge of science and technology.

6. Speak out against injustice.

7. Take care of our own people and teach them to have a heart for others.

8. Lead by example.

Which leads me to an interesting conclusion–if we did the eight things listed above, there would be no need to claim the title of exceptional.

For after all, the world would know us by our fruits.

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There’s room in the front… October 16, 2013

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I pick my battles.church attendance

After all, it’s a free country.

I do believe these two statements are doing more to deter progress and the growth of human beings than any I’ve ever encountered. They are so frequently spoken that I wonder if those piping the notions might want to just have it tattooed on their chests.

Recently, it was shared with me by a pastor at a church, who was explaining why his congregation sat in the rear instead of moving up to the front of the church. In the most gentle way possible, I told him that I found this annoying.

He replied, “Well, what’cha gonna do? I pick my battles, and after all, it’s a free country.”

But here’s the problem: faith is not a worship service. It is not a eulogy of a once-great idea. It is about burgeoning relationships among human beings which need to be nurtured, fostered and even corrected, to assure that it moves forward instead of sliding back into tradition.

Case in point: at the first sign of a member of our family becoming ill, we step into the situation to get them treatment, right? Likewise, it is really sick to go to a church and see people gathered in the rear, spread all over the place, separated from each other, and to pawn that off as a “rightful choice of American citizens.” For when you isolate the reasons for such dispersion, the conclusions are a bit telling:

1. “I sit in the rear because I don’t want to be close.”

Fellowship is not defined as “friendly disconnection” or “surface amiability.” The Good Book says, “draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you.” So what do you get when you sit in the back? Less God.

2. “I sit in the back because I have always sat here.”

The back seats of a church should be reserved for those who timidly arrive in need, looking for a home, or the infirm. It is not for those souls who supposedly have been redeemed, set free and are there to celebrate abundant life.

3. “I sit in the back because I don’t want to be forced into participation.”

I’m sure they continue to pursue this practice when going to the stadium to watch the football team or huddling at the local amusement park on fifty percent off day.

4. “I sit in the back because I want to watch.”

With our society immersed in technology, we feel we have the privilege of standing at a distance and gazing at the horror of the lives of others without feeling any empathy whatsoever. But that’s not church.

A relationship with God is not a spectator sport. It cannot be downloaded. It must be infused.

5. “I sit in the back because I want to leave quickly. I’m willing to be here but anxious to get out the door.”

Wham-bam, thank you, God. This is not a very good advertisement for a contented lover of spirituality.

One minister recently told me that he “didn’t want to be a dictator.” I feel sorry for a generation of potentially good stewards who do not know the difference between being a dictator and a leader. A dictator makes everything a battle–true.

But if you take too long to pick your battles, the war will be over, and one thing will be certain:

You lost.

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You can’t punch people in the nose and expect to get Christmas cards … July 15, 2013

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armyI had another delightful day with human beings in Austin, Minnesota.

Candidly, what makes it delightful is the variety of experiences which floated my way. Actually, over the years I’ve learned there are three basic types of individuals:

1. The person who has the demeanor of “I’ve been marchin’ around for some time and my feet hurt.” They’re not mean, but it would take an awful lot of helium to fill their balloon and make ’em look like they were ready for a party.

2. This group carries the attitude: “I’ve been marchin’ around and I’m mad about the march, so get out of my way.” You can see, a little bit more negative energy.

3. And then, there’s the folks who have discovered that the life they’ve been given is the only one they’re going to get, so they have decided, “I’m gonna STOP marching, and just enjoy the walk.”

This was exemplified last night in a lovely woman who came to my book table with her family and related a story about being in the process of moving into a new house. She said that opportunities and surprising benefits had come their way to furnish that house without them having to struggle or worry. It was such a delightful tale because this family has discovered a key to life: God is not out to hurt anyone. Nor is He particularly out to help anyone.

Now, I know this causes many theologians to curl up in a ball and explode, but it’s the truth. If God is no respecter of persons, He can’t choose a handful and make them His pet project. Let’s just take a quick moment to look at what God has ALREADY done:

He has created human beings, of which I am one. That’s pretty remarkable, don’t you think? If He never did anything else but just THAT, He could call Himself God. But  He didn’t stop there. He blessed us with a beautiful planet, the pleasure of procreation and a kingdom of fruitfulness which is under our dominion, especially if we use it wisely. (Goll-eee, Dad. Thanks. You not only let me get my license, but you bought me a car!)

But He still wasn’t done. He made this earth explainable through science, technology, spirituality and wisdom, so much so that we can get a handle on how it works by whether the clouds roll in or the sun peeks through.

So what do we have so far?

We are created marvelously, blessed with gifts, and are handed a detailed road map.

And is this enough? No–we want to be favored. We want to have the burden of responsibility removed from our shoulders. We want God to relieve us of the need to function by surrounding us with a bubble of grace.

No wonder some people get grumpy and want to punch everybody in the nose. But it doesn’t win friends and influence people.

Life is not a race to heaven OR a march to hell.  It is an opportunity for us to slow up and enjoy ourselves, absorb the scenery … and relish our walk.

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Launder Nut… May 17, 2013

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laundromatThe quickest way to experience failure is to complain about things that have to be done. Not only are you wasting your time by lamenting the activity, but in the process of shifting your focus to crabbiness, you are lengthening the process of the task.

First and foremost, I am not a graduate student of this philosophy, but rather, still in elementary school. In other words, I occasionally fuss about things that are inevitable. Somehow or another, I must believe that my rankling over some chore is going to cause God or the people around me to change my circumstances and allow me a free pass. Of course, it’s ridiculous and never happens.

I used to be that way about doing the laundry. Now, I’ve never been one of those men who thinks it is “women’s work.” Since no woman dirtied my clothing, there’s no reason to think I deserve a launder maid. But from time to time, I have grumped about the activity, thinking that made me more mature, fighting the “tide,” or that it let everyone know that I was sacrificially performing the duty without good “cheer.”

Then one day I asked myself three questions:

1. What did they used to do to wash clothes? For you see, what I do is throw them in a washer, pour in some detergent, and walk away to read a book. My ancestors–by the way, not TOO far back–had to go down to the stream with a bar of lye soap and beat their clothes with rocks to get all the soil out of the fabric. It’s difficult to believe that cleansing your threads could be an aerobic workout, but for my great-grandmother, it certainly was. Humbled by the answer to my first question, I asked a second.

2. What do I have to do? As I shared earlier, I have a washing machine and a dryer to assist me in my endeavor, plus any number of additional distractions to entertain me as I wait for the full baptism of my clothing. The answer to my question is, I can do whatever I want to do. The machines do everything else. The only part of the process that resembles ancient times is that the clothes do require folding. But I have learned to turn that into a game. I see how quickly I can do it, how efficiently, or, on a given week, I fold them in a different direction than I did in the previous one. I also allow myself points and pride for taking those inside-out garments and restoring them to their correct position. Which leads to my third and final question:

3. What do I get out of it? Aside from clean clothes, I get underwear that actually smell good. I like the smell. Sometimes when I’m folding the clothes, I sniff them, which to onlookers may have a perverted bend. But they smell good.

And because laundry is a job that most people abhor, when I return with clean clothes, I become the hero of the hour. As people put them away in their drawers, they thank me over and over again for the arduous activity I endured.

And last but not least, I have the confidence that I will not have to do it again for  several days. It is one of those few pursuits that is actually finished for a season–without constantly looming, threatening repetition.

What I’m trying to tell you is that the door to happiness is unlocked when we realize that we live in a “gilded age,” where the blessing of technology has alleviated nearly all of the suffering from the succotash. We also greatly benefit by being able to complete our journey and see the blessed results of our quest.

Complaining is what people do when they believe two very dumb ideas: (1) life is not fair; and (2) that anybody cares that I’m upset.

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*****

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