The Bleeping Game… April 13, 2012

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I decided to count.

I wasn’t trying to be priggy or self-righteous; I was just curious. While watching a very popular reality show, I began to count the number of times the performers on this particular episode were “bleeped.” You know what I mean, right? When they insert some sort of sound to replace what is considered to be a “bad word.”

It is the new way of handling foul language in our society–to cleanse our programming of nastiness for the general audience. Anyway, back to my counting…nineteen times in a one-hour show the Bleeping Game was inserted. I am sure this was an extraordinary situation and usually it wouldn’t be that many. But on this night, the repetition of the same phrase of controversial language kept coming up over and over again. I became agitated, which soon turned into aggravation–not because the language was used (I find foul communication to be more boring than actually evil). No, it was because the way of handling the situation is nothing but a game, inserted by some corporation to give the appearance propriety without actually achieving proper.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the Bleeping Game is self-defeating. At least when I watch HBO I see the people on the screen speaking of their own volition and therefore responsible for the content. I can then choose to continue to watch or change the channel. But the addition of the bleep is an attempt to cover up the language, and the speaker is not responsible for the words. Instead, I become the culprit.

None of us is stupid. Everybody over six years of age can tell you exactly what word is being said underneath the bleep, and therefore WE mentally fill in the word. So rather than detaching the listener from the impropriety of the language, the Bleeping Game actually involves the listener, forcing him or her to complete the sentences. It’s impossible to stop doing it–your brain just fills things in.

It’s the typical scenario of malfeasance brought about by a corporation–inadequate, ineffective and insincere. It is inadequate because the human brain still fills in the words; ineffective due to fact that the nastiness and anger surrounding such communication is still hot, heavy and present; and insincere because it is a band-aid placed on a gaping wound of ignorance and a lack of sophistication.

This is probably one of the worst schemes we’ve ever come up with in the history of the US–and when you consider slavery, internment camps for Japanese citizens during WW II and New Coke, that’s a bold proclamation.

What do we think we’re doing? Now, I am not a prude. In my day I’ve used a variety of language in a multitude of situations to produce specific results. If I write a screenplay, I allow my characters to determine their vernacular instead of trying to purify it, using a King James-version-dehumidifier. But this new outburst of language is beyond the pale. It is the phrasing used in our society when we are unable to communicate our ideas in a clever manner or if we’re trying to impress people with how “tough” and “street” we are. And it is exemplified by the Bleeping Game.

The thing that I appreciate about HBO is that it is consistently bizarre. Once they allowed the language to come into their programming, free of bleeping, the producers, directors and actors have become more and more unusual and out-of-the-box. Sometimes I giggle because HBO is determined to do a program about every type of lifestyle and business that exists in the underbelly of our society. They seem to enjoy vampires, werewolves, midgets (or are they dwarves?), down-and-out anybodies, and folks who are in various stages of degradation through alcohol and drugs. It may not be your cup of tea, but it is honest. What is dishonest is to place programming for the general public littered with trash, which merely has to be deciphered by translating the bleeps.

It is beneath us as a country. It is total foolishness and shows me how poorly our general leadership has sunk in its mission to enrich us instead of merely enthrall us.

Considering the Bleeping Game, I would like you to keep three things in mind:

1. Lying can never become the truth, no matter how loudly you say it or how frequently it’s espoused. Simply trying to avoid the problem of a language barrier in this country by bleeping out what are considered to be “foul words,” simultaneously allowing the anger and frustration to remain, is one of the worst resolutions of a problem since I put duct tape on one of the water hoses in my car engine, thinking I had stopped my leak. We continue to lie to ourselves and think that after a certain length of time, deception becomes acceptable and therefore, honorable.

2. Prohibition causes promotion. The minute we make bad language, foul talk or questionable dialogue forbidden, it is exactly what everybody will want to do. You do not keep children from swearing by putting a sound over the top of swear words. It encourages it. So most young people spout off these words during their private times–feeling very adult–never realizing that the language is not suitable for public consumption. I learned this when I was sitting in a restaurant having a lovely dinner and heard someone a couple of tables away say the “f word.” Once again, I am not a prude. I have heard the word many times–matter of fact, I’ve even used it. But when I heard it in a public setting, it was shocking–and made me wonder if the person speaking it had lost control and was on the verge of becoming violent. As it turns out, it was just a casual conversation coming from someone with a loose tongue. But it alerted me to the fact that the language that seems acceptable on film or video tape, when placed in actual public situations, is quite volatile. But we will not generate a good dialogue about good dialogue by pretending that we are prohibiting such bad speech, while instead privately promoting it.

3. And finally, teach communication and language improves. I know this about myself–when I get the urge to swear, use foul language or pop off a nasty colloquialism, it is simply because cleverness has escaped me. I have become insecure or I’m trying to scare people away so I don’t have to talk to them. Just as we have to cease making men and women enemies with each other if we’re going to see our planet move towards reconciliation, we also need to understand that off-color language is a white flag of surrender in a world of ideas.

This is not an issue of salvation, spirituality or even puritanical values. Foul language is just dumb.

It’s time for us to stop the Bleeping Game. The language is either all right or it’s not. If it’s not, we should begin to encourage people to find better ways to use our English dialect to foster clever turns of phrase instead of blatant verbal spittle.

It’s time to do better. It’s time to tell those people who have resorted to unexplainable outbursts of nastiness during their violent fits of behavior that we would welcome more creative ways of expression. Feel free to keep HBO for those folks who like to walk on the wild side, but somewhere along the line we need to stop using the language of frustration unless we’re making it clear that the people who are using it are frustrated … and have lost their advantage.

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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

Accumulation … February 10, 2012

 
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It occured to me last week as I was driving along from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Silsbee, Texas, and the rain began to fall. Almost simultaneously, the announcer on the radio was forecasting showers, punctuating his prediction with a statement: “We sure do need the rain.”
 
I kept driving–and so did the rain. After about an hour of persistent precipitation, the farm land along the road began to “pond up,” with huge puddles where fields used to be–and eventually the water seeped its way across the roadway. It was amazing. The rain suddenly ceased to be “needful.” It had gone from a mist to a sprinkle to a shower to a downpour, ending up with the first fruits of flooding.
 
You see, it’s all about accumulation–and this is where I get fooled sometimes. I’m just like the next guy. I have finally accepted that a diet high in fat content from the fast food industry lends itself to cholesterol which builds up in the arteries, encouraging heart disease.
 
On a lighter note, I have completely bought into the concept that if we teach our children to read, this action alone may succeed in stamping out ignorance in our lifetime.
 
I certainly wouldn’t want to be the person to speak against prayer. Because in many ways it has become our symbol of piety, the thought being: “The more its done, the better the results.”
 
It would be un-American to suggest that casting one’s vote could be anything other than a necessary exercise in the gymnasium of democracy.
 
Far be it from me to challenge the concept of “family is everything” as the symbol of love, tenderness and openness in our everyday lives.
 
There is a great promotion machine in America that seems to make one list of virtues and another of vices, and alternate promoting and attacking, respectively. What is curious to me are those things that kept ambiguous, or even left off of either list.  For instance:
 
Apparently, violence isn’t supposed to affect us. Eating a Big Mac will give me a stroke, but having Big Mac kill somebody on a television show is still considered to be a stroke of artistic genius. According to this theory, seeing numerous murders, rapes, disembowelments, amputations and grisly grinding of all sorts does not have the same effect on our mental circulation as French fries do on our physical one. Isn’t that amazing? It just shows you how ignorant I am because I would think that since we are basically a human unit, that some of the same procedures that apply to physical realm would correspond to the mental, emotional and spiritual worlds. But apparently not.
 
Obviously, it’s all right to make drugs illegal and to encourage our children to avoid them–except when they go to the movies or see videos of rock stars or even watch a Superbowl commercial demonstrating how absolutely adorable and cool it is to guzzle a beer with the game. I guess there are people smarter than me who realize that mixed messages do not confuse young minds (or confound older ones). Because I certainly need to sit in a classroom where someone could explain to me how the targeting against cigarettes–to finally the abolition from them being advertised on television–would not also apply to the alcohol industry, which certainly does its best to compete in the death toll.
 
I must be an absolute imbecile–because it just seems to me that  teaching young minds that romance and true human sexuality is best represented by vampires and werewolves is creating a fallacious world of fantasy, if not inviting virulent behavior. For I have this ridiculous notion that adding a bit of violence to sex is what was once believed to be the source of abuse. But apparently I have either missed the boat or, as they say, “that boat just don’t float.”
 
At one time I comprehended that an accumulation of anything creates a flood. But now, as I’m getting older, I am being harkened by my society to believe that certain vices are not nearly as easily accumulated as other ones are. I must be honest, I am baffled by this conclusion. But even in my own family, my children, who were raised with the mercy and tenderness of a loving Jesus and the prayer and belief in God’s desire to intervene in our lives, have grown up with various stages of acceptance of what once we considered to be vices, which now apparently, in small doses, have become permissible, if not virtuous.
 
Let’s look at some of the transitions that have occurred: 
  • Agnosticism is equated with intelligence.
  • Alcohol is promoted in moderation, (with no understanding that there are many who are incapable of such a modulation).
  • Cigarettes continue to be presented in the film industry as a symbol of rebellion, upheaval and “cool,” which are obviously three things that no teenager desires.
  • And violence towards women, or making the female of the species submissive to an aggressor, is certainly put forth as poetic license for the telling of great tales of romantic lure.
I guess I’m just crazy. But I still contend that an accumulation of anything eventually leads to a flood. Is it possible to have a mist, sprinkle or mere shower of violence? Is it feasible to have a drizzle of addiction and vice? This is not for me to judge. But I know that accumulation IS accumulation, and all accumulation eventually floods all of the soil in our hearts, which could have received good seed.
 
I may be a dinosaur, but before I head off to the tar pits, let me say that moderation in all things is a grandiose idea–and one well worth musing. But if you find that you CANNOT be moderate, you need to “rain yourself in” before you are flooded with ideas and tendencies beyond your control.
 
Accumulation is the piling up of anything, which eventually floods our minds.  It takes wisdom to know the difference between a shower and a flood–and it will take some fearless crusaders who are not afraid of public opinion to keep us from drowning ourselves in our own personal choices and liberty.
 
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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

The Proverbial Fork… December 26, 2011

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Jonathan in Miami

Yes, stick a fork in it. It’s done.

It is normally a proclamation delivered with a bit of dismay and resignation. But this day after Christmas, I present it to you as an affirmation of accomplishment. Well … we may want to change a few details but sometimes the best thing to do is realize that the fat lady has sung, the opera is over and we’ve completed our portion.

I spent the week with my family and friends in Miami, Florida, for Christmas. My son and daughter-in-law have a home down there and are very successful, having acclimated themselves and nearly doing an adequate impersonation of native Floridians. We decided to land there for the holiday, with people coming from all over the US to enjoy fellowship, present-giving and a jittery jaunt down memory lane.

Now understand, I was there when this little entourage was first conceived. Many of the people in the room with me this week learned through my tutelage to speak and even acquaint themselves with the greater glories of bathroom usage. But they are no longer my children. They are grown, mature people with goals and lives of their own, who still, in their magnanimous generosity, decide to include me in their earth passage.

Somewhere along the line you have to stick a fork in it, folks. If I were to spend ten minutes trying to figure out if I agree with everything my friends and family do, or if I feel that their accomplishments are worthy of my retelling to those souls I meet as I journey, as confirmation of my excellent parenting, or if I even think that my opinion carries the weight of importance instead of the burden of intrusion, I am just basically a tottering, old fool, taking too long on my detour to the graveyard.

I made two things clear to my gathered host: I have a life … and they do, too.

Their emotional lives do not completely parallel mine. Each one of them has come into the storehouse of my personality to pick and choose little treasures that they particularly relish, like careful shoppers working their way down a bargain table at Goodwill. Spiritually, they are all in transitions of revelation, no different from billions of human beings who preceded them and, I assume, will follow them. Mentally, they have selected to progress at whatever level they deem necessary, ranging from a deep interest in animals, politics and artistry to movies, books, zombies and vampires.

They are normal.

I did not raise a supernatural lineage, infilled with the anointing of a batch of Holy Spirit parlor tricks. They are people. I only ask one thing from them–do they like people and do they cut people the same slack they give themselves? (Well, I guess that’s two things…) If they do, I will leave them to their journey. After all, I will not stand at the Judgment Day and answer for any one of them, nor they for me.

I enjoyed it thoroughly. As I travel across this country, though, I find aging parents who are trying to still wean their grown children, feeling some sense of worry and responsibility for these fully aged individuals, whom they are still trying to tutor to success. How ridiculous.

They started leaving one-by-one last night and more will leave today, others later on in the week. They will peel off into their lives, probably becoming just as reflective about the experience. For me, I want them to remember three things about spending time in my presence:

1. I love them dearly but no more or less than I love all my brothers and sisters on planet earth.

2. I’m going to give the greatest gift at Christmas that I can–I will stay out of their personal business.

3. If their personal business gets nasty, they can call me any time, night or day, without fear of condemnation or critique.

Merry Christmas, family. And I’m happy that I can stick a fork in it … because it looks like it’s ready to be served.

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 12:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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