Good News and Better News… December 5th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesus is a lifestyle.

Every time we try to focus on the “Christ” of his Earth journey and turn him into a religion, it seems clunky, fabricated, forced, unreal and nearly irrational.

It’s similar to when we try to make George Washington appear to be a statesman. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were rebels. They were revolutionaries. They actually found it difficult to stop their struggle and create a government.

The early disciples had the same problem when it came to Jesus.

Jesus taught them how to have abundant life, good cheer, tolerance, an expansive talent base and generosity. He did not instruct them to maintain the integrity of Judaism with the purpose of including the Old Testament.

So every time we try to present a Judeo-Christian image, we lose the lifestyle of Jesus–which is the essence of the Gospel.

Our church services today have more of Catholicism in them than Nazareth.

So let’s look at it from the aspect of definitions:

Religion: an attempt to find God in ancient scrolls, mysticism and tradition, feeling that these sacraments are the divine path to reach the Creator.

Church: a system we have set up within this religious thinking, to define our style of worship, welcoming a contingency of people who are comfortable within the format.

Christian: a doctrine that has been established which includes the teachings of Jesus, but focuses equally on the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, to formulate a plan of salvation based upon the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah.

Then we have Jesonian.

Jesonian is a return to the simplicity of the lifestyle of Jesus, who told us that his “ways were easy and his burden was light,” and that the purpose for pursuing his values was to “find rest for your soul.”

So the religious system permeating our society today is a core belief in the atonement of Christ on the cross, the folklore of Judaism, mingled with Catholicism, punctuated with Anglo-Saxon traditions and peppered with American patriotism.

It is not the lifestyle of Jesus.

It lacks the personal responsibility, the joy, the freedom and the experimentation that he promoted as he walked among humanity.

The good news is that Jesus wants to keep things simple and easy.

The better news is that human beings are much more productive and happy when things are simple and easy.

 

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … June 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Woman: Are you looking for equality?

 

Dear Man: Absolutely not.

 

Dear Woman: Well, I think I know you well enough that you’re not going to settle for inferiority–or pursue superiority.

 

Dear Man: That’s right.

 

Dear Woman: So isn’t the whole thing about equality? Even hearkening back to the Equal Rights Amendment?

 

Dear Man: That would have been a mistake. You see, the word “equality” is a trick. Thomas Jefferson used the word “equal” in the Declaration of Independence–while still owning slaves. For many years in the South, there was a proclamation of “separate but equal,” which was supposed to make everything right. But of course, it didn’t.

 

Dear Woman: So what you’re saying is, to a certain degree we are pursuing “separate but equal” between the sexes.

 

Dear Man: Exactly. We have created a Jim Crow situation between men and women with all the books, jokes and rules that are enforced in our society.

 

Dear Woman: I get it. Things like “man cave–chick flick.”

 

Dear Man: They connote that there’s equality–a place where each gender has dominion, but keeping us totally separate from each other.

 

Dear Woman: So is it possible to be separate and equal?

 

Dear Man: Not unless the power is equal. In other words, if men are in charge of almost everything, then the stream of equality that trickles down to women will be subject to their whim.

 

Dear Woman: Just like it was in the South during the Jim Crow era. They claimed equality, but because they were separate, and the white population had domination, the black folks had to rely on the white interpretation of equality.

 

Dear Man: You got it. It sounds a little complicated but it really isn’t. Separate but equal was the way the white community in the South tried to control things while making it look like they were creating equality.

 

Dear Woman: In other words, when we say women do this and men do that, we’re separating them off, while insisting that in the separation there is still equality.

 

Dear Man: That’s why I don’t want to be equal. I want to be equivalent.

 

Dear Woman: Interesting word. So where do you see the difference?

 

Dear Man: It’s a situation in which men and women head for the common ground–human. Attributes, emotions, preferences, desires and skills are not viewed by gender but instead, solely on talent and choice. We’re working on this in racial relationships–the black community is not trying to be equal. They’re trying to establish the fact that we’re all equivalent.

 

Dear Woman: This makes complete sense to me. Because even though I’m trying to be forward thinking on this issue, unfortunately, I still contend that there are things that women do better than men and vice versa.

 

Dear Man: Me, too. We were trained that way. So when it comes to the gender wars, we promote “separate but equal,” which has historically proven to be nearly worthless.

 

Dear Woman: So how do you think I can confirm to you that I believe you and I are equivalent?

 

Dear Man: That’s easy. Stop assuming. Stop assuming that I won’t like a football game. Stop assuming that I’d rather go shopping than help you fix a cabinet in the kitchen. And I’ll stop assuming that you won’t like a movie because someone declared it “for women.” And I won’t assume that you’re completely uninterested in an outfit I’m buying.

 

Dear Woman: Is it really that simple? Do you really think that will bring some resolution?

 

Dear Man: What it will bring is clarity–that we’re not looking for an equality that still allows for separation, but instead, an equivalency that gives us the right to enjoy what we want to enjoy without having to distinguish it “pink” or “blue.”

 

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Good News and Better News … March 14th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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St. James Composite 2

Saint James Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Realizing that you may never include this sanctuary as a stop off in your pilgrimage of American churches, I will attempt to relate my experience of enjoying the fine folk I met there.

The pastor is John Locke, who has the noble name of a great English philosopher, the inspiration to such American forefathers as James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. (Thomas, by the way, used much of Locke’s language in penning the Declaration of Independence.)

That said, I will tell you that I enjoyed the present incarnation of John Locke of Fayetteville equally.

The congregation was inspiring, and therefore capable of being inspired. Although there were certainly individuals who were curious about my pedigree and what my theological background was, most of them just relaxed and allowed me the chance to share my talents and my heart.

They arrived having survived a week of bitter political struggles and angry candidates, generating a climate threatening mayhem. Let’s be honest–most of us feel rather insignificant when we are viewing the 24-hour news cycle and realize how meager our simple efforts may seem.

But that’s the purpose of the church. It is supposed to be a safe zone–a place where you come to escape social pressure, politics and even religion, and spend an hour or so finding reasons to still believe.

It is a sanctuary where we can proclaim:

1. We’re human.

And then we can ask God, “Is that what you expected?”

We’re not perfect, because in striving for such a position, we would look both prideful and foolish.

2. We’re more “child” than “angel.”

So heavenly Father, enchant us.

Any God we serve who expects us to become more than we are is a charlatan. We are God’s children, and therefore definitely require a certain amount of entertainment with our enlightenment.

3. We need a safe place to come.

The world is full of tribulation, and even though we understand that Jesus has overcome the world, we require a reason to be of good cheer.

It is up to the good folks at Saint James–from leadership all the way through nursery–to provide such an atmosphere.

If they do, they will become viable and powerful in the community, offering an option to the raging storms of those who follow the present wind-blowing.

If they insist on being religious and trap themselves in the drapings of their faith, they will not only be an anachronism to a former time, but will find themselves gnawing on each other out of frustration.

So there’s the good news.

We’re human, we are more like children and we need a safe zone.

But here is the better news: on top of all that, we have this quality–just a bit of sweet, creative divinity placed within us by the breath of God, hinting that we also can surprise you.

We are capable of being gentle and powerful.

So watch us.

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Cracked 5 … June 30th, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Previously Unknown Edits that the Forefathers Made to Thomas Jefferson’s First Draft of the Declaration of Independence

 

A. All men are created funky.

B. Wearing powdered wigs, frilly shirts and satin pants does not make one a “dandy.”

C. Reduced child support for “Slave Mama.”

D. England sucks soggy crumpets.

E. The Declaration of “In YO Face…”

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12:37 A.M. … June 30, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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bird at nightI awoke suddenly. Or is it better phrased, “I suddenly awoke?” Either way, it’s a little erroneous, isn’t it? It’s a little unlikely to gradually awake. We may decide to react to our new station of alertness at a snail’s pace, but once consciousness arrives, it’s here.

Setting all of that aside, though, let me explain why I was suddenly fully aware in the middle of the night.

I had to pee. A decision was necessary. Should I get up, walk to the bathroom and do my duty? Or roll over and dream of peeing–which is always fairly dangerous.

I chose to put my feet on the ground and make the journey. Returning from the excursion, I laid down and immediately realized it would be a while before sleep overtook me. So I decided to enjoy the solitude and the silence.

And it was very quiet.

Except for one single bird perched outside my window, singing at the top of its little lungs. It was so bizarre. It wasn’t a duet or a barbershop foursome and certainly not a chancel choir, just a single soloist pounding away, a tune which I could only assume was an aviary version of “We Are the Champions.”

What was this bird doing up so late? Or was he just confused and starting early?

Unfortunately, once I became obsessed with listening to the bird, it was the only thing I could hear. And then my brain latched onto it, refusing to relieve me of the tedium and repetition of the refrain.

At length I had an idea. Since it was just me, alone in the room, and no one else would need to know, I got this energizing, private, whimsical idea of asking God to share His presence and proof of His existence by silencing the bird.

I know it sounds stupid, but keep in mind–it was the middle of the night. After all, I can understand why God wouldn’t want to speak to me as I walk through the mall, to the shock and awe of other patrons. But why not reinforce my faith by nudging a tiny miracle in my direction–quieting this “gale” in the middle of the night, giving me a chill down my spine over the beauty of heavenly possibilities?

So I prayed. I asked God to still my little singing friend.

Nothing changed.

I am a little bit ashamed to admit that I was disappointed. And then the true voice within me spoke–that internal sense of communication that tries to create lines of conversation between my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength.

  • Abraham Lincoln referred to it as “the angels of our better nature.”
  • Jefferson knew it as the “truths that are self-evident.”
  • Beethoven probably acknowledged it as the muse that created the music.
  • And Moses believed it to be a burning bush that was not consumed.

Saint or sinner, we all hear a piping within our breast, which sounds a lot like our own voice, but often offers contrary opinions to our will.

So this little conscience of mine asked me why I was so disappointed. My response was that I wasn’t asking for much.

“Exactly,” came the reply. “Think of it from my perspective. I am the Lord your God, the source for all of your belief, and you want me to covenant with you, creating an intimate back-and-forth whispering campaign, and you don’t ask me for world peace or the location of the Holy Grail or even the healing of the body of a friend–your cosmic wish is for Me to silence the good intentions and joy of a little bird.”

I mused for a moment and then smiled. I chuckled, realizing that I could not be trusted with such intimate sharing.

Monday morning smack-down.

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

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

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

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Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

Acada-not me … March 3, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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Academy AwardsThomas Jefferson was a fascinating gent. Attributed with the main authorship of the Declaration of Independence, he established a precept–“all men are created equal.”

Although he did not follow this philosophy through by freeing his slaves, he did contend that elitism and segregation by the hierarchy from the average man was anti-American.

So after I finished having a wonderful evening with fine folks in Chino Valley, Arizona, I arrived home just in time to see the last hour of the Academy Awards.

I nearly gagged through the whole experience. The presumption, pomp and circumstance and “holier-than-thou” attitudes expressed by Hollywood are so contrary to the Jeffersonian approach to freedom that this institution of the Academy of Arts and Sciences is more suited for the court of King George.

Let’s look at the basic premises.

Hollywood makes movies because they are artistic. So in the first premise is the notion that most people aren’t as gifted and talented as those living on “the coast with the most.”

Secondly, Hollywood makes a certain type of movie because they are superior to the masses, who may require some inspiration with their entertainment, but those wishes must be ignored in favor of more high-minded goals.

And finally, the masses are so ignorant and unable to assess quality that those in the Academy vote on their own material within their own ranks–because certainly John Q. Public is too dense to comprehend the subtle nuances of art.

Would you explain how this is any different from our two-party political system, which nowadays only marches to platform ideals, rather than to the heart of the people, or the religious system, which proclaims that the people’s desires to be ministered to in a certain way is childish, and therefore more pious avenues must be pursued?

Candidly, anytime a committee gets together and decides what anybody else thinks–other than the people on the committee–you are dealing with an arrogance which will certainly turn around and bite you in the ass.

And even though the same Hollywood that criticizes the National Rifle Association for being backwoods in their philosophy about guns takes those same guns and put them in their movies, with violent and bloody conclusions, under the guise of “realistic entertainment.”

I, for one, am weary of such hypocrisy.

I know it is considered to be intellectual and open-minded to view the movie “Twelve Years a Slave” as an exposition of the debauchery of slavery in this country, but here’s the problem: the subject is not new and we are not any less racially divided because these movies are made. The people who are already angry over slavery become angrier and the people who are defensive over the issue just become more defensive.

Hollywood continues to make movies they like without asking me–or you, for that matter. We are supposed to sit at home in our underwear watching the show, submitting to the supposed supremacy of the tuxedo-clad crowd, knowing that we have no business challenging their predilections.

I am against elitism in all of its forms. It turns our country into arrogant, bratty children, who stand across the playground from one another behind their makeshift forts, hurling snowballs.

  • The Academy is not for me. It is a self-indulgent buffet for fat cats.
  • The religious system is not for me. It is a cloister of over-educated religionists who have lost contact with the congregation.
  • And the political system is not for me. It is a conglomeration of competitive children trying to get voted into a club that doesn’t do anything but make s’mores in the treehouse.

Can we do better?

Not until we admit to ourselves that we are not great. It is not necessary to be great. It is only wise to realize what Thomas Jefferson shared–that no one is better than anyone else.

 

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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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Stepping Back … June 13, 2012

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In the pursuit of life, what is often lost is the passion which causes the pursuit to be worth the energy in the first place.

Somewhere along the line, we human beings started believing that establishing a routine was a symbol of maturity and therefore a confirmation of our legal status as adults. If it just ended up in a boondoggle of boredom, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. But the difficulty with folks who find themselves trapped on a treadmill is that anybody who comes running by with a more enlightened approach is deemed to be odd, and eventually is either attacked or ostracized. Yes, we are all tempted to reject anyone who doesn’t fall into the common death-march of “the same-ole’ same-ole.”

That is why, every once in a while, we must step back and look carefully at our history as a country, so as we try to go forward, we honor the important things that cause us to rise above our own mediocrity. When you take the time to do this, you come up with a very simple, but certainly consistent, result.

Perhaps the greatest man of the eighteenth century was Thomas Jefferson. You can certainly nominate other individuals for such a distinction, but Jefferson blended the ideas and needs of thirteen colonies, congealing them into a document that could be signed as a symbol of all of their “declarations of independence.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident–that all men are created equal.”

In that one statement, he crystallized the freedom and liberty that everyone craved, whether they actually remained faithful to the purity of the concept or not.

Moving along into the nineteenth century, you arrive at the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln, Republican candidate for the ...

Abraham Lincoln, Republican candidate for the presidency, 1860 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although to many people he was gaunt, gangly and certainly not Presidential material, he had the intelligence to retain the integrity of that original piece of wisdom from the Declaration. In Gettysburg, at a memorial service, he spoke and said, “A new nation, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Say what you will about the Civil War, and cite cases of heritage, states’ rights and loyalty, but here is an undeniable truth: if Abraham Lincoln’s side had NOT won the war, slavery would have remained and therefore, all men would NOT be equal.

Journeying into the twentieth century, you discover a whirlwind of activity and invention, but still, you discover the soul of Jefferson’s contention summed up in the speech portrayed as a dream by a man struggling for freedom, who pined, with great hope, that someday his four children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and, yes–Martin Luther King, Jr. –three men separated by nearly two hundred years, but the same message.

We are now twelve years into the twenty-first century and there are many wildernesses in the voices. There are many opinions. There are countless ideas on how to progress us forward to new prospects of prosperity. What we seem to be absent are the voices of Jefferson, Lincoln and King. What is completely devoid from our consciousness is the notion that “all men are created equal.”

And unfortunately, when that perspective is not thrust to the forefront, what replaces it are excuses about why “we are all so different.” Unity, peace, joy and liberty have never been established by people gathering in a room to acknowledge their diversity. We may feel like we are being extremely open-minded by tolerating other lifestyles and cultures, but unless we are willing to speak aloud that “all men are created equal,” we privately will contend in our hearts some form of personal superiority.

I know there are those who would insist that even though they don’t go around sharing that particular sentiment of equality all the time, it is still at the root of their philosophy. I would have to disagree. The minute you allow yourself to be surrounded by political parties or spiritual prophets who are not daily reminding each and every one of us of equality and liberty, the natural tendency of our species is to manufacture and promote some devious form of prejudice.

“All men are created equal” is the only breath mint which removes the foul odor of bigotry. If it doesn’t ring in our ears every single day, we begin to look for ways to escape from it or admit our weakness in being unable to achieve it. It is not a goal; it is not an aspiration. It is not a platitude. It is what prevents us from being cantankerous, selfish and overly focused on our own personal families instead of putting the spotlight on the greater family of man.

As I stepped back last year and looked at the history of our country, this realization overwhelmed me. With whom do I wish to side? Where do I want my portion of personal consecration to land in the spectrum of our present history? This is why I’ve been traveling the country with the message: “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

Honestly, when I share this in front of an audience, the initial response is passive. Let’s be completely candid–we have all had secret training which has informed us that there ARE people who are better than other people. Matter of fact, there are those who mock my simple little statement of “NoOne is better than anyone else,” as being hopelessly naive, if not innocently idiotic.

But we do not move forward by trouncing on the rights and dignity of others. And even if the ideals we speak are not presently feasible, they still need to be touted as the oracles of God they were intended to be.

  • Without Thomas Jefferson, we do not have the foundation for individual liberty which makes this country great.
  • If you take away the heart and soul of Abraham Lincoln, you are left with a fragmented country, where the value of each human life would vary, based upon provincial choices.
  • And when you snatch the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., from our history, you end up with a people who are freed from slavery, on paper, to be held in bondage in the marketplace.

It is time for us to step back. Otherwise, we may go through an entire one hundred years without sharing the greatest message of unity: all men are created equal. In other words, “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

I know that everybody has a life; I know weddings are important and funerals need to be memorialized. But at the forefront of our push towards excellence has to be a reverence and also an application of the equality of all. Without this, we begin to listen to the loudest voices which spout the most statistics, working off the greatest funding.

This will make us barbarians.

This will make us independent of Jefferson, freed from Lincoln … and unable to crown a King.

   

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