Catchy (Sitting Four) Ideas Are a Dime a Dozen… July 2nd, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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The day arrived for the meeting of the minds. Landy rented a small conference room and catered in some delicacies and drinks. The three partners sat at the head of a table like a trio of judges at a Miss America contest.

The Shelley Corporation was the first to present. They had been given the job of producing three slogans. The first was a poster–a man dressed in a plaid leisure suit with his hair slicked back. The caption read, “But Jesus—He will never go out of style.” There was a grunt or two and a threat of applause.

The second poster was a close-up of a Jesus look-alike. The caption read, “Here’s lookin’ at you, baby.” Too commercial and might raise some objections from Hart’s estate (and perhaps from relatives of Humphrey Bogart).

The third one was a cartoon of Jesus playing soccer, kicking in the ball for a score. The caption, in large red letters, read, “Goal? He loves you.”

The partners liked this one least of all, finding it a bit confusing and reiterating to one another that soccer would never be an American sport, anyway.

Next on the chopping blocks came the “You Want to Know Survey Company,” with the results of a questionnaire that had been given to over fifteen thousand registrants. The ten questions were as follows:

  1. Would you enjoy eating dinner with Jesus?

The choices were:

  • very much
  • might be fun
  • never thought of it
  • might give me the creeps

Fifteen percent of the people said they would enjoy dining with Jesus. Fifteen percent said it might be fun. Sixty percent said they had never thought of it and ten percent said it kind of gave them the creeps.

  1. Do you think that Jesus is popular today?

Four percent said “Very popular.” Eight percent said, “Somewhat popular.” Eighty-eight percent said, “Don’t know” or “Don’t care.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular without his beard?

One percent said, “Maybe.” Ninety-nine percent said, “No.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular if he weren’t so religious?

Fifty percent said “yes.” Fifty percent said, “Don’t know.”

Randall stifled a yawn. There were six questions to go and he was already bored. If they couldn’t come up with an interesting survey, how could they ever come up with a campaign to promote Jesus to the marketplace?

The questions droned on as Randall began to think about his own experience. He was raised in a church environment, learning about the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and Jesus all in the same week. At four years of age, all three seemed equally plausible. By age ten the tooth fairy had fluttered away. At twelve, Santa Claus was “sleighed,” and at sixteen—well, at sixteen, girls came into the picture and Jesus got in the way.

So the crucifix was tucked under the t-shirt, the Bible inserted in the closet with the Scrabble game and the Ouija board, and he was off on the pursuit of hormonal surges, drinking binges and mandatory orgasms. After exhausting all known religions, he formed his own—a delicate blending of humanism, hedonism and Methodism.

Meanwhile back at the meeting, the survey was completed, rendering no results. The only thing remaining was the panel of theologians– four in all. There was one Catholic, one Protestant, one evangelical Christian, and, for some reason, a Jewish rabbi (who was possibly selected to avoid any hint of anti-Semitism).

The Catholic priest spoke first. “If by popular you mean the Savior of the world in conjunction with his mother, Mary, and the intervention of the Saints, then Jesus is already truly the most outstanding figure in all of history.”

The partners nodded an exhausted assent.

The Protestant spoke next. “I think we have to do something to make Jesus groovy to the young people. You know how they came up with ‘Rock the Vote?’ How about ‘Vote for the Rock’?”

This time there was no way Matthew, Randall and Landy could hide their disapproval. After all, he said “groovy.” Matthew, who had long ago lost the ability to disguise his disgust, groaned audibly.

The evangelical literally leaped into the moment. “I think you need to just let Jesus be Jesus, because He said if He be lifted up, all men would be drawn to Him.”

“He has been lifted up,” inserted Matthew. “And Arthur Harts, the billionaire, didn’t think all men were drawn to him.”

“All men who have a heart for God,” replied the evangelical.

Matthew winced. He hated religions jargon. He called it “the God-out.” When in doubt, religious people would always bring God into every situation, so you could never argue with them without seeming that you were trying to disprove the heavens.

Randall smiled and thanked the enthusiastic believer.

That left the Jewish rabbi. “Well, I don’t know why I’m here, exactly, because, you may have heard, we accept Jesus as a great teacher, but we contend the problem is, he’s really not the son of God. I mean, if I were promoting him to Jerusalem, I would just put up his picture with a caption that read, Hometown Boy Is Acquitted.

This brought some laughter throughout the room, but Matthew sprang up to terminate the meeting.

Even though it was a minor disaster, both Landy and Randall still wanted to pursue the project.

Greed. No other explanation.

They had pledged long ago that when two of the three partners were in accord on anything, they would do it. But it looked bleak. The slogans had been drab, the survey droll, and the theologians a drone.

Matthew had one idea. One wild and crazy notion. He got on his computer and looked up six names.

Michael Hinston, whom he knew as Mikey.

Joanna Lawrence, Jo-Jay.

Susannah Lacey, Soos.

Paul Padwick, who tolerated the nickname, Pee-pee.

Mary Rogers, who was now Mary Rogers-Kent, known by everyone as Mother.

And Lydia Lars, who loved Eric Clapton, and so was surnamed Layla.

Along with Matthew Ransley, whom everyone affectionately called, “God-guy,” they formed the Leaven of Seven.

They were his best chance at making some sense of this queer mission.

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Invisible … August 11, 2012

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Don’t go bad-mouthin’ the tooth fairy. If there was actually some flying creature sticking dollar bills under my pillow while I slumbered in exchange for decayed enamel, I would defend the right of that being to be revered against all comers. Matter of fact, I’d be tempted to grab a pair of pliers and increase my wealth.

The problem with the tooth fairy is that its existence is dependent upon the good will of mommies and daddies, who keep the concept alive. But remember, it is why the idea still lives. The tooth fairy would not last more than twenty-four hours if we just believed in it and no parent ever took a dollar out of his or her wallet to justify and affirm the faith.

Likewise with Santa Claus. He is not going to leave the picture of humanity very soon. It is not because he’s building extensions on his North Pole complex to guarantee his position for generations to come. It’s because those who believe in what he stands for perform his duties for him in his absence.

Tomorrow morning, all over the world, churches will meet and talk about faith, hope and love. They will scratch their heads as they count the number in attendance and realize that it is shrinking. They will wonder why the younger folks are beginning to abandon a commitment to God–those same younger folks who continue to promote the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. It’s because God is not as well promoted as these two fantasy creatures. God, who certainly has more evidence through His creation, interaction, healing and general welfare of humanity, is actually believed in less than “Toothy” and the Claus.

Why? Because faith, hope and love are being passed along as ideals and goals rather than being backed up by actions. Faith has become a belief, hope is a fantasy dream, and love is normally presented as a romantic tizzy. We have given over the three greatest forces in the universe to speculation rather than providing adequate evidence.

This is why James so brilliantly states in his epistle, “Faith without works is dead, being alone.” And the writer in Proverbs tells us that hope which continually fails makes us emotionally and even mentally ill. And love, which is only viewed as interaction between the sexes, lasts about as long as the normal American marriage.

We deserve better.

When belief in God has the same intensity of follow-up that we see during the Yuletide in reinforcing Santa’s image with giving, singing carols and decorating, then we will see a rebirth in faith. Spoiler alert: after all, God, unlike Santa, is real. What He lacks are elves. What He is absent are the jubilant followers who will propagate the joy of the season and bring about good cheer.

Here is the truth of the matter–faith works. What I mean by that is that you can show me your faith without works, but I plan on showing you my faith with works so that my belief will not just be a personal triumph in the quietness of my soul, but rather, a victory to those around me who “see my good works and glorify the Father in heaven.” We can no longer mouth the words of the sacred without delivering the fruit on our tree.

Faith works. If it doesn’t, it’s dead on arrival.

Hope pursues. Jesus used the phrase, “endures to the end.” Hope is not a dream; it is not a fantasy. It is not a slogan. It is a premise of our faith that we decide to follow through to a conclusion. We’re willing to persevere through difficulty, cynicism and even a contrary spirit. It doesn’t matter. Hope does not work as long as it’s viewed in the ethereal and not changed into a workshop application. Hope is pursued.

And love–perhaps the most misinterpreted force in all the spectrum of the universe–cannot be limited to romance, or even romantic notions. Love agrees. You can really tell you’re in love when you walk around looking for reasons to be in agreement with those who have captured your heart. I can always tell when love has left the room because pickiness, grouchiness and a disagreeable attitude slither into the door, discouraging any semblance of passion. These monsters bring fear. We’re afraid that if we give out an agreeable nature from our heart, that we will not receive from others–so we withhold. We allow apprehension and suspicion to prevent us from being an agree-er. Love agrees. For it is the prayer of agreement that brings healing. It is two people agreeing at an altar that consecrates a marriage. And it is God and man agreeing for peace on earth that sets in motion the first fruits of tranquillity.

Love agrees. There would be no romance without agreement. There would be no sex without agreement. There would be no answered prayer without agreement. There would be no building constructed without the agreement of the architect and the construction worker. Love agrees.

As long as faith is a belief, it will suffer from those who are jaded against pursuing fairy tales. Faith works. And if the works aren’t there to reinforce it, it is dead.

Hope that is merely a fantasy or a dream eventually leaves us disheartened and emotionally distraught. Hope pursues. It hangs around for the meek to inherit the earth.

And love that is touted as a romantic notion is soon rendered insipid in the climate of infidelity. Love agrees. Love looks for a reason to come to terms with even its enemies on some form of sympathetic endeavor.

  • Faith works.
  • Hope pursues.
  • Love agrees.

Try to make that your new doctrine and see if your religion doesn’t become more realistic to those around you. Because when the world can actually see proof of your assertion, it is so much easier for them to launch out into the deep and cast their nets.

Faith, hope and love are not invisible. They are just well-hidden from those who only want to believe, pursue fantasy and think that romance is the only form of love.

 

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