Good News and Better News … January 8th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Bethel United Methodist Church in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Although I’m not privy to your traveling plans, it does seem unlikely that you will ever make your way to darken the doors of this particular sanctuary. I did–just yesterday morning.

With a day that folks from Wisconsin would call “brisk” and those from South Carolina deemed “polar ice cap,” some very faithful locals gathered in the building to see what the weather and the road had brought to them via our humble efforts.

It started the day before, when Wally, Johnny and Collin arrived to help us set up, and all of my equipment, which had been sitting in the back of the van, tried to “fuzz out,” insisting it was Floridian. Overcoming those little missteps, we got all hooked up, and by Sunday morning, the Holy Spirit, resilient fellow that He is, arrived in a parka.

These are beautiful people. They are delightful human beings that the political parties take for granted, and the more snotty members of our society deem to be “simple.”

It’s a huge mistake. They are full of integrity; they have hearts which can be moved with the notion of a loving God, and after a considerable amount of time, they are even willing to embrace odd-looking strangers like Janet and myself.

As I sat and chatted with these adorable brothers and sisters, I was struck by a usable idea. All during my childhood and even in my adult years, I have been encouraged by society to “find my voice.”

Yes, “find your voice.”

But yesterday it struck me that this notion is the misconception that’s driving our problems into the ditch. People are trying very hard to find their own voice, and when all these individual voices speak together, what we have is” Tower of Babel II.”

Life is not about finding your voice–it’s about finding the voice.

The voice is humble, encouraging, respectful, open-minded, free of prejudice and also gentle and kind, with good cheer.

I suppose if you sat down all the people of Bethel United Methodist and had a political discussion, they might be at each other’s throats in three minutes.

That’s why we should never do that. We should take all things pertaining to government–“Caesar”–and let them stew in their own juices.

What we need to think about are the things that belong to God.

I’ve stopped trying to find my voice, and I’m looking for the voice. It is a voice that:

1. Encourages others.

2. Knows when to shut up.

3. Doesn’t repeat information unless there’s a personal experience.

4. Looks for a reason to be kind.

5. Quotes things that lift people up.

6. Refuses to accept complaining as natural.

7. Notices when things get better.

This morning I feel as joyous as a new baby colt. (They are joyous, aren’t they? I would think so.)

Because the good news is, I got to spend time with Wally, Johnny, Collin and the blessed souls of Bethel.

And the better news is, I got to practice once again finding The Voice instead of insisting on promoting mine.

 

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If I Were a Republican … May 10, 2012


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If politics were farming, the farmer would rise from his bed in the morning, sow salt in his own field and by lunchtime, be complaining about how the former landowner had ruined the property. By dinnertime, at a fundraising banquet, he would be asking everyone to vote for him as “Farmer of the Year,” having never planted one seed.

Just my opinion.

But setting aside personal assertions and convictions, let me take one day and tell you what I would do if I were a Republican.

  1. I would take specific responsibility for my part in the present “Bungle in the Jungle.” The beginning of this century was a difficult time in this country and decisions needed to be made–some of which were overwrought. No one really denies that except when they want to portray that they are squeaky clean and the other side is stained with guilt. Any Republican politician who would take on the specific errors that were made during the previous eight years of administration and isolate them off, while temporarily ignoring the faults of the adversarial party could look like a freaking genius.
  2. I would keep the discussion on governing and stay out of religion. A quick opening of the history book will show you that whenever religion and politics have mingled, the results have been dastardly, if not lethal. Governing demands the ability to see the view of all of your citizens instead of trying to climb the Tower of Babel, to look down on the hapless masses who are lost, without a savior. Traditionally, the elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party. The creature has big ears and a long nose. The Republicans would do better to focus on their ears, to hear, and stop being quite so nosy. Is it possible to be a good Christian and be a politician? It is if you know when to render and how to render–like Jesus said. What I believe cannot be what I enforce. The minute it is, it is no longer true faith–it is legalism.
  3. I would discover a historical sense. If I were a Republican I would stop trying to be the party of Ronald Reagan, and rather, emphasize that I was the party of Lincoln. Ronald Reagan, like all Presidents before and after him, found his own unique way to place our country deeply in debt. But Abraham Lincoln did three things the Republican Party could still use–and advertise–instead of allowing the Democrats to claim Honest Abe as one of their own.  (a) Lincoln taught the sanctity of the union over the preeminence of state’s rights; (b) he freed the slaves even though he, himself, was hardly absent bigotry or misconceptions. Why? Because it was the right thing to do; and (c) he used government to keep the people in power instead of allowing corporations and business to control the issues. If I were a Republican I would talk more about Lincoln than Reagan.
  4. I would stop the battle between men and women. I do not understand what politicians think they’re going to achieve by continuing to propagate a struggle between the genders in our species. Any party that comes along and generates equality between men and women, and refuses to join into the foolish cultural battle of the struggle between the sexes will gain the respect of both sides. You can’t win an election with just men. And you can not win an election with just women.
  5. And finally, I would focus on finance. If you really believe in the free enterprise system and smaller government, favoring businesses to prosper instead of going into bankruptcy caused by the difficulty of obtaining start-up cash and high taxes, then stay on point. The issues of abortion and gay rights will not be settled in a political campaign. They will be discussed and ultimately concluded in the judicial branch of our checks and balances. So drop all of the pretense of self-righteousness–and focus on money. Do I think the Republicans have an advantage over Democrats with this issue? If they don’t naturally, they surely can promote it as such. If I were a Republican, I would never stop talking about the economy and the steps necessary to return us to a sense of responsible capitalism.

Absent of these five steps, the Republican Party greatly resembles the organization of our moms and dads, with no understanding of the current top forty. My parents were staunch Republicans. But all of my brothers became Democrats, except me–who is apolitical. The party loyalty did not continue to the next generation. Why? Because it appeared that the organization was always defending instead of leading.

So if I were a Republican, I would strongly invoke the name of Abraham Lincoln as I led our country forward to the aspirations of even greater freedoms for its people. Of course, I’m not a Republican, and if I were, they probably wouldn’t listen to me anyway. But I thought you might be interested in some of my thoughts, although they are just as valuable and worthless as everybody else’s. To be completely fair, if you will allow me, I will take the position tomorrow of explaining what I would do if I were a Democrat.

Of course, as I have stated before … I am not.

I have always made a rule in my life to never go to any party that doesn’t have refreshments. 

  

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