Good News and Better News… June 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3342)

Dislike–deciding to “diss” liking.

In the pursuit of what we call love, and even unconditional love, we’ve reached a point where we just don’t like each other anymore. We have the appearance of Atlas carrying the world on our shoulders because we feel compelled by our civilized natures to be as calm as possible.

We “diss” liking. We claim great affection for souls around us while privately rolling our eyes, communicating that they are annoying.

So when I arrived yesterday morning at the Ruskin United Methodist Church, I was looking for people who like each other. Because here’s the truth–a paraphrase of John the Apostle: I don’t think you can love God if you don’t like people.

It seems that God is really proud of His creation.

I know we portray an anxious deity, constantly perturbed over our sins, but since He gave us the ability and even the permission, I seriously doubt that He will be terribly upset when we occasionally go errant.

The greatest arrogance, the most self-righteousness, and perhaps the sin of all sins, is to believe that human beings are not worth liking.

  • It’s in our government.
  • It’s in our religious system.
  • It’s in our movies.

We are training ourselves to be suspicious, and failing to acquire great moments of human fellowship that just demand a little bit of mercy and grace.

I’m not one to advocate looking in the rear view mirror and assuming that the past was better than the present, but I will tell you, if there was any era when people were given the chance to excel without being pre-judged, then we might want to reach back into that span of time and regain some of that tenderness.

For the good news is, God likes people.

And the better news is, He loves those who like them, too.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … May 31st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3323)

 

A Stinky Job

I am not God

You are not God

Who would want to be God?

It’s a stinky job

You have to tell the truth.

Even though it eventually sets people free

In the meantime it makes them pissy

So those who worship you are also constantly a little angry

Because you are God but won’t be just their God

And their God alone

When you are God, you say,

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of me.”

“There is none righteous–no, not one.”

“Except you repent, you will perish.”

“Your righteousness is like filthy rags.”

Filthy rags??

Please lighten up

How about just a dirty t-shirt?

So God says He loves people

Then we sing, “You are an awesome God!”

Yet we privately wonder why He doesn’t kill some people to help us out

Couldn’t God be nicer–just to us?

We come to church

We’re in the praise band

We once memorized two whole chapters of the Gospel of John

What does He want?

Maybe if He just phrased things more gently

Changed “sinners” to “winners in training”

Instead of “damnation,” call it “escaping the oops zone”

God, why don’t you just say “mistakes?”

And since we all make them, let’s call these little flubs “journey-markers”

Listen, God, I could love you so much more if you wouldn’t lord it over me

I need encouragement

I’m a kitten that requires exaggerated petting

But since you won’t do your God job

With some tenderness

Then I look for tenderness to become my God

Are you feeling lonely?

And you wonder why you have grumpy praisers

Even though I am not God

I could give you some pointers

Would you listen?

Or–because you are all-knowing–do you have to be a know-it-all?

But where can I go?

Movies don’t move me

Drinking makes me drunk

Weed creates need

Which will only feed my greed

And poli-ticks me off

I got nowhere to roost

Of course, you know that

STOP SMIRKING AT ME

Go ahead

Tell me the truth

But stay a little while–sweetly

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Good News and Better News… December 26th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3167)

good-news-christmas-morning

 

My Christmas morning:

  • Four tiny little ones
  • One twelve-year-old
  • A teenager
  • Eighteen adults
  • And six dogs marauding about, sniffing at presents.

It was all held in a lovely, but somewhat square-footage-impaired house in East Nashville.

Although most people consider Christmas to be a holiday season which they either enjoy or complain about trying to get through, I contend that Christmas is a microcosm of life as it should be. It’s a collision of giving and receiving, organizing and finding yourself surprised by a slip-up, and having a crunch of humanity around you which requires you to be open-minded and willing to adapt.

For instance, in the course of our morning, well over a hundred presents were opened.

Also, one of the young men decided to use it as an occasion to propose marriage to his girlfriend–an amazing precedent.

And there were moments of silliness followed by junctures of tenderness, concluding with decisions to stay energetic enough to survive the gauntlet.

The adults made themselves flexible to appreciate toys opened by Santa believers and the subtleties of certain gifts which needed to be explained because they only had significance to the recipient.

Then, in the midst of the festivities and the brunch following, we discovered that one of the guests just lost his grandma. She had passed away in her sleep.

Quiet–and amazing it was how quickly it settled on the room, even among the children. A time to feel and consider the magnitude of such a departure.

Tears.

Gentleness.

Allowing ourselves to transition from one emotion to another without trauma or drama, to return to eating and enjoying one another as life insisted on pushing forward. I heard one person declare the day a “miracle,” but actually, it’s the way our lives are meant to be lived: in abundance.

Abundant opportunities

Abundant problems

Abundant relationships

Abundant attempts

Abundant failures

Abundant successes

And abundant gratitude

The good news is that Christmas is a time for abundance.

The better news is that the baby in the manger came to give us life, and it more abundantly.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant… June 17th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2615)

PoHymn June 17

I’ve Done That

A man honking his horn,

Angry with the hour of rush

I know him

I understand, my brother

I’ve done that

A woman complaining of heat

Who six months earlier spoke a chillier regret

I am with my sister

She is me

I’ve done that

A little boy trapped in a web of lies

Trying to fly away from the spider

I see you, little friend

I, too, have been tangled

I’ve done that

A plump fellow with goals to reduce

Explaining the complexities of his burdened diet

Your words are mine

Your results I own

I’ve done that

Compassion is simple if you open your heart

For the task is frightening when first you start

So smile with tenderness as you breathe a prayer

Remembering your weakness as you show you care. 

 

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G-34: Punishing Absence… July 25, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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black shirt

Four hundred years.

A “non-prophet” business.

The messengers sent did their very best, many of them giving their lives for the cause, only to be killed by those who heard.

Everything fell into a malaise of three reactions:

  • Deny: “There is no Creator.”
  • Ignore: “What has the Creator done for me lately?”
  • Fear: “I am frightened of the Creator.”

A very dissatisfying conclusion for One looking for intimacy. It was time to review.

Billions of years of evolution had culminated in the creation of human beings. They were placed in a Garden of ideal circumstances for fellowship and pleasure. It failed.

Once separated from their Creator, the creations over-simplified their lives and over-complicated their emotions. All the indecision led to violence, and the Creator, in a foolhardy moment, destroyed His own work.

He regretted it.

So He tried to become a Father, even though He was guilty of abuse.

A provider.

Then a protector.

And culminating by sending prophets to be the mouthpiece of the deep affection of the Creative spirit.

Nothing worked.

When failure is the conclusion of your efforts, you have a choice of either becoming defensive or admitting the inadequacy and allowing for healing.

Four hundred years to think about it.

Something needed to be done. If human beings could not comprehend the tenderness of their Creator through Eden, provision, protection and prophets, then a much more personal solution would be required.

During the four hundred years, kingdom rose against kingdom, nation against nation, until finally one empire nearly encompassed the entire earth: Rome.

It was time to do something. It was time to be something.

It was time, once and for all, to show the creation … the Father.

 

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Breakstart … March 24, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

(2184)

toiletTradition is a habit that seems to have a purpose. Yet every once in a while, we have to stop and ask ourselves, “Is there a better way?”

Otherwise, tradition, lacking a reason, resembles a prison.

Please allow me an oversimplification. When I was in my twenties I traveled with two women in a music group across the country. I learned two things about women:

  1. They are human beings just like me, and
  2. If you truly want to impress, dazzle, seduce and even receive respect–just put the toilet seat down.

I know it sounds trivial, and facts are, it is. It is so trivial that not recognizing it as simple and easy to do is an obvious breach of respect, tenderness and concern.

Let’s be honest–when a man lifts the toilet seat to do his business, the flusher on that pot is right next to the seat on the way out the door. In other words, if you reach for the flusher, your hand is already on the seat, able to permit it to come down. So making an excuse that it’s two separate motions,  hard to remember or difficult to execute is not only ludicrous–to the female mind, it’s insulting.

We are never going to learn to do extraordinary things until we openly admit that we’re ignoring ordinary things that could be done but are being passed over by us out of either insolence or laziness.

It took me about ten tries, but on the eleventh one, it was not only natural to put the toilet seat in the position more suitable for the ladies, but I did it without even thinking.

Or was it that I did it with thinking?

It may be traditional to have the classic battle between men and women exemplified in the bathroom, with the toilet. But success is doing something you don’t have to do, knowing that it will make someone else’s life easier.

Break a tradition and start a miracle–because miracles never happen when you’re repeating yesterday’s efforts. And by the way, you want to startle and enthrall a woman?

Put a lid on it.

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

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Untotaled: Stepping Six (May 8, 1965) … March 15, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

(2177)

When people control your food, water, hygiene, play and sleep, you learn to believe what they say–or spend a lot of time in your room without supper.

On May 8, 1965, I was thirteen years old and still a novice at any form of teenage rebellion. So when the church men decided to go to the mountains of Oklahoma for a meeting of all-male types–three thousand in attendance–to hear nothing but gospel preaching and gospel singing for a whole week, sitting on hard, knotty pine benches with a big knot just beneath my butt crack, I was compelled by those who controlled my supplies, to go.

It ended up being a week of firsts:

  • It was the first time I ever went skinny dipping in an ice-cold mountain creek.
  • It was the first time I heard that Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Communist and a womanizer.
  • The first time I had s’mores made with miniature marshmallows.
  • The first time I heard proclaimed aloud that Jews and Arabs were going to hell.
  • The first time I got poison sumac on my bum (thus the origin of “bummer,” I would assume).
  • And it was the first time I heard the word “nigger” used as a universal, collective pronoun, describing a group of people I didn’t understand and I suspect the speakers had little knowledge of, either.

The rally was forceful. It was intense. It was a meeting that peaked at times in jubilance. It was full of “god-talk.” It was permeated with self-righteousness.

And it was child abuse.

Because I needed …

Well, I needed tenderness. Instead, they gave me large doses of macho.

I needed an open mind. They worked very hard to seal mine shut.

God, I was desperate to know about girls. They proclaimed that women should “submit.”

Some laughter would have been nice. They reserved giggling for the older men around the campfire after they thought we young’uns were asleep.

And of course, I needed a world view. They provided God’s 40 acres.

After I got home and healed of my poison sumac, I started to think for myself. Yes, in my own simple way, I began to rebel.

I have never stopped.

I am still a warrior against anyone who has constructed a box for God … and wants the sheep to come passively, and worship.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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