Sit Down Comedy … June 5th, 2020

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Sit Down Comedy

Mary of Moncrief, Michigan.

A triple threat in alliteration.

She is forty-six years old, the mother of three children who range in age from twenty-one down to a precocious ten.

She is the assistant manager at the local Nordstroms, where she has been employed for twenty years, ascending in the ranks, and well-respected.

The date is November 8th, 2016.

Mary was awake early that morning. She had lost her battle with insomnia hours earlier, trying to remain still as a mouse, hoping that sleep would be merciful to her fatigue. Giving up, she rose, made coffee and cinnamon toast—one of her favorites—and prepared for the day in the quiet of a very chilly pre-dawn kitchen.

She had one thought on her mind: should she go vote before work, or wait until afterwards and possibly face long lines?

Actually, that wasn’t the primary question. What had been haunting her mind for weeks was whether she could cast a vote in good conscience either way.

Politically, Mary was a moderate.

At least, moderate for Michigan.

She had voted for her share of Democrats and a similar array of Republicans. She felt she was informed and believed herself to be open-minded to opportunities offered by both parties. But the past few months had left her in a whirl, dizzy from disjointed facts and accusations.

Donald Trump seemed unqualified to be President, but his journey as a mature man of business seemed respectable.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, seemed more prepared for the position, but less sure-footed in the midst of entanglements.

But still, that wasn’t the real problem.

Deep in her heart, Mary of Moncrief, Michigan, felt that everything was just moving too fast.

She wasn’t against progress–she was upset about the speed being used to achieve it.

So many issues.

Abortion, for instance.

Mary believed a woman should have the right to choose the conclusions of her life, but she was uncomfortable about how the subject of abortion—the termination of a fetus—had become so cavalier. She especially hated the phrase, “abortion on demand.”

Wasn’t a little more humility in order?

Mary also knew she didn’t hate gay people. She was one of the first ones in her local church to rally behind the idea of civil unions.

But lickety-split, she was expected to not only honor gay marriage, but to be supportive of it whenever it was brought up, so she wouldn’t come across as a homophobe.

It felt unfair.

After all, the world of psychology and psychiatry had, for decades if not centuries, contended that homosexuality was aberrant behavior which required treatment.

Now, since that diagnosis had been recently abandoned, they expected Mary and all the American people to quickly shed several generation’s worth of comprehension and join the parade.

It was fast.

Mary wanted equal pay for women in the workplace, but when she rallied with those struggling to achieve this worthy goal, she found herself in the midst of some who decried motherhood and made fun of the simpler values Mary held dear.

Mary was especially troubled by the spiritual indifference, which seemed to reject any soul who believed in God, deeming such a person irrational or uneducated.

Everything was so quick.

Marijuana becoming legal. If marijuana was so safe, why did the people who smoked it always portray it in their movies as a brain-staller—and a pathway leading to no motivation?

And then—the candidates themselves.

Mary of Moncrief, Michigan, was very worried about a man who mocked women, weaker folks and other nationalities with a sneer. But on the other hand, how could she support a woman like Hillary Clinton, who defended her husband’s mistreatment of a twenty-one-year-old intern in the White House, and even to this day, joined into the attacks against poor Monica?

As Mary sipped her coffee in the kitchen, she heard rumblings from the bedrooms above.

Soon her family would join her. Her thoughts would be blended with their desires.

Realizing how important her decision was, she scurried around, deciding to leave for work, going to the polls early to beat the rush.

She called out her good-byes and best wishes for the day, jogged to her car, got in and drove off.

She was nearly to the polling station when she veered off at a graveyard. She sat, staring at the frosty granite stones. Still they were—and at peace.

In a moment of deep reflection, she asked herself what all these people who had once lived would want her to do.

Who would they want her to vote for?

Mary just wished that one of those who wanted to be President of the United States would acknowledge that affairs, nations, wars and social revisions were happening at such a rapid pace that we all needed a deep breath—just to appreciate where we are, who we are and what we’re about to undertake.

Was there an order in it?

Did civil rights come before women’s rights or abortion rights?

It all seemed to be happening at the same time.

Was she supposed to feel some beckoning or even a requirement to vote for a woman since she was a woman herself? Maybe she would have felt differently if Hillary had even visited Michigan—instead of assuming that the unions and the black vote “had it in the bag.”

The Democrats took too much for granted, and the Republicans granted so very little.

Time was passing.

She had a tiny window—about twenty minutes—to go vote and still get to Nordstroms for her shift.

But after weeks—perhaps months—of deliberation, she was no further along.

So she made a very quick decision in her troubled mind.

That night, as Mary of Moncrief, Michigan, watched the election returns, she was so troubled that she felt a chill go down her spine.

Donald Trump was winning. Would he rise to the occasion and be a great President?

Should Hillary have been the one?

Even though the campaign had drug on for more than a year-and-a-half, now it all seemed to be too quick. Too speedy.

Mary was not a bigot.

Mary was not conservative.

Mary was certainly not liberal either—not by present standards.

Mary didn’t hate anyone.

But Mary also didn’t favor people just because they were of a certain color or even just because they were victimized.

As the night wore on, it gradually became more obvious and then official.

Donald J. Trump would be the President of the United States.

Mary didn’t know what to feel.

Maybe she was a little relieved that there wouldn’t be any more Clintons in Washington, but also a bit frightened that a real estate developer would be leading the greatest nation on Earth.

But most of all, she was in turmoil about herself.

For she had gone to work—and didn’t vote.

Cracked 5 … November 10th, 2018


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Cracked 5

Takeaways from the Midterm Election

A. You can spend lots of money and still end up pretty much right where you started

 

B. We want people to vote–unless we don’t like the way they vote

 

C. Vote shaming has replaced fat shaming

 

D. Another Florida recount should be exciting and fulfilling

 

E. Politics makes strange fellows–forget about the bed

Republicans and Democrats


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Ask Jonathots … July 16th, 2015

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I love my church and my pastor, but every four years my preacher tells us who to vote for. I really don’t like this. Should I speak to him about this? Write an anonymous note? What is the best way to handle this? I don’t want to leave the church because of this one issue.

Well it really comes down to this point: does a minister of the Gospel have a responsibility to steer his congregation concerning a political decision?

It is not a question of whether he has the right. If a preacher insists he has a calling from God, then he can’t use the Constitution of the United States as proof of his legal authority to voice his opinion in the pulpit in political matters. If you’re going to claim a higher purpose, then you must live by the dictates of that higher calling, not merely the civil rights afforded to you by your government.

So it comes down to the question of how did the Good Shepherd handle the issue of political favoritism? And of course, when I say Good Shepherd, I am speaking of Jesus.

  • Jesus had a congregation.
  • Jesus had a flock.
  • Jesus had a following.

Unquestionably, they were swayed by his opinions.

Judea in the 1st Century A.D. was politically charged. It was Jews against Samaritans, Samaritans against Gentiles, Gentiles divided over their allegiance to Rome, and Rome basically swallowing up most of the air with its imperialism and desire to conquer.

There was tremendous pressure on Jesus to pick a side. For instance:

He was invited to the palace of Herod to discuss his work. He declined.

The woman at the well suggested that he should show a bit more favoritism to the Samaritans to balance things out. He didn’t.

And of course, the Jewish hierarchy wanted him to speak out against Rome. And his classic phrasing of “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” still remains as a guideline for those who preach the Gospel.

They even wanted Jesus to express sympathy for Jewish folk who had been killed by Pontius Pilate while merely worshipping in the synagogue. Although it would have been easy for him to do so, he remained neutral.

Since he taught that “the Kingdom of God is within us,” how we are governed doesn’t make nearly as much difference as the decision we make on how to live our personal lives. Your pastor has absolutely no right to color the vote of his sheep. But confronting him on such an issue is not only disrespectful, but would certainly be unproductive.

If your church does not use Jesus as the primary example, then your pastor will probably fall back on Old Testament nationalism to condone his choices.

At that point, you have to make a decision.

Do you want to be part of New Testament church that follows Jesus, or a church which haphazardly mingles Jesus and Moses together with equal authority and power?

I see nothing wrong with posing the question to your pastor, “Do you think Jesus would campaign for a candidate, and if you do think so, what story from his life do you use to confirm that?”

Even the Apostle Paul told us to pray for those who are in authority over us–not campaign against them.

The church will become a much more powerful unit for spiritual and social change when it pushes for separation from the state.

 

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Populie: Good People Vote … November 5, 2014

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It is quite possible for something to be good but handled so poorly that it becomes bad.

This is how ideas that are popular can be infested with a lie, and end up being a populie that brings dissension and even destruction.

This is obvious to me on the issue of voting.

Entertainment, which has something good to work with and often handles it poorly, ending up with mediocre or bad results, loves the issue of voting because it’s so easily twisted into either a civil responsibility or a sense of frustration over horrible elected officials.

Politics, which takes something good–governing and taking care of people–and handles it so poorly that it becomes something bad–loves voting because it gives the illusion of giving power to the voter, while stealing the real decision-making away from them.

And religion, which is something good to bless the hearts of people, and is poorly handled as mere ritual and greed, loves voting because it gives us another way of expressing supremacy and proving that we’re patriotic.

I will become a firm believer in voting when it actually begins to matter, and is not the victim of the electoral college, gerrymandering, the 24-hour news cycle intrusion, PACs, and incessant polls elections by smearing manure on opposing candidates.

I refuse to accept something which has become evil through the cheating and lying of manipulative individuals and call it good, simply to fall in line with some holy patriotic march to commonality.

Right now my vote does not matter.

That makes me mad.

Even if we could take one or two of these perversions and demand that they be changed so that the vote of each individual American IS counted as valuable, I would be pleased.

If we would just do away with the electoral college and forbid polls to be taken daily during elections, this country would be stronger and the politicians would be responding to the people instead of their parties and the pundits.

I won’t even deal with the gerrymandering which segments districts based on demographics or the intolerable negative ads which permeate the television screen in an attempt to prove that “my political dog is better than your political dog.”

Stop stumping for the power of the vote. There are simply too many interferences in the democratic system.

  • Voting is good.
  • The way it is handled in this country is horrible.
  • Therefore the result is bad.

Take your vote and use it to change the voting process in this country, and you will really achieve something rather than goose-stepping your way to the polls at the bequest of the system.

People are not avoiding the movie theaters because they hate movies. Their emotions and spirits are starved by entertainment which is both repetitious and uses too much sensationalism.

People are not leaving the church because they hate goodness. They are departing because form has overtaken reason and intolerance has been thrust forward instead of the love of God.

And people are not indifferent to good government–but they do feel they’ve lost the power to initiate change.

Good people vote–if good people have secured the path to make sure their vote is not interrupted by corruption.

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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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