Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 29) The Crowd of the Press … November 13th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

On Thursday, shortly before dawn, a crack team of seventeen go-getters–including technicians, make-up artists, investigators, reporters and what they call the “camera darlings” who actually speak on the air–arrived from the USBN, the United States Broadcasting Network.

One of their representatives had come into town two days earlier and spoken to the elders, pastors, school administrators and parents who were chosen to be part of the series proposed about the Garsonville community. Meningsbee was invited, but only stayed long enough at the meeting to lodge his objection, suggesting that a measure of privacy was warranted for the experiences that the town had endured over the past few months.

He was ignored.

The townsfolk could not wait to be inspected by the lenses of the intruding horde from the West Coast. Although Meningsbee refused to be interviewed, Patrick Swanson, who still had his church out at the Holiday Inn Express, was scheduled, as was Sammy Collins, the Bachman family, numerous teenagers from the high school and David’s mother. (She had asked Meningsbee what he thought about the offer to share her story, and even though he discouraged her, she still felt it would be good for some other parent to know the warning signs of a depressed child who was contemplating suicide.)

Patrick Swanson planned on taking full advantage of this publicity, and touted that his congregation was known as Swanson’s Sweethearts.

Sammy Collins got wind of it, and during his interview, shared about their vision of being Collins’ Crusaders.

As the promos began to be aired on the station, the congregation at Meningsbee’s church wondered if it might be a good idea to develop a nickname. Trying to keep from laughing, the Reverend donned a serious expression and replied, “Maybe you folks could be called Mening’s Bee Stingers…”

No one found it humorous. (Often the wit of the pastor escaped the understanding of his faithful.)

Meningsbee stayed out of it, figuring it would only last a few days.  Then a rumor spread through town that the USBN had decided to do a full six weeks worth of broadcasts about burg, based upon the information they had uncovered.

Meningsbee was suspicious.

For you see, there was a time in history when journalism was the reporting of a story, but now, having to fill twenty-four hours of space, journalists were attempting to make things into stories. What were they up to?

A small hint was given when the advertisement for the series was released on air, entitled, “GarSINville … what is happening amidst the corn?”

This obvious slight escaped most of the townspeople.

They were grateful for the attention and hungry to be heard.

They were desperate to feel important.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 28) He That Has An Ear … November 6th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Little Hector McDougal was just fifteen days old when his mama and papa, Jessie and Marty, brought him to the Garsonville Church for an official baptism. The parents were so grateful for little Hector that they could not wait to see him sanctified in all the right spots.

Yet there was some sadness mingled in with their joy. Although Hector was born with all of his digits in place, immediately after his arrival he developed a severe bacterial infection in both of his ears, which left him deaf. No one was sure if it would be permanent, but the hospital certainly wasn’t prepared to offer much hope.

So even though Jessie and Marty had a baby, they had resigned themselves to the fact that he would never be able to hear the praises they so wished to heap upon his ears.

Now, Reverend Meningsbee was not very experienced at baptisms, so he had reviewed the liturgy and pageantry feverishly. He even bought himself a bright-colored tie with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on it, having read somewhere that children were nearly hypnotized by the bright colors.

So you can imagine how surprised the pastor was when he dipped his fingers in the water, placed it on the baby’s head, and the child began to scream and holler like a wounded animal. Everybody immediately turned and stared at the preacher, wondering if he had somehow pinched, shocked, poked, stabbed or wounded the hapless repenter.

Meningsbee just stepped back in horror.

The baby continued to scream with hellish decibels–so much so that Mama felt it necessary to hurriedly leave the sanctuary to tend to her little one. Daddy trailed behind, holding a blanket in one hand and a pacifier in the other.

This left Meningsbee standing there in his Looney Tunes tie, sheepishly looking at the congregation, feeling like he had hexed the young fella.

The screaming continued.

Attempting to be clever, Meningsbee suggested that the gathered sing “Brahms’ Lullaby,” only to realize that nobody knew the words. A nervous, tenuous, but meaningful humming ensued. It did not calm the raging storm which had burst across the brow of Hector McDougal.

As a precaution, a decision was made to rush the little one to the hospital to see if the medical field could somehow remove the screaming curse.

Needless to say, the morning’s worship service was shortened–and considerably less appreciated by the folks who had hoped that their minister would be much more successful on his christening journey.

Stranger still, four hours later the phone rang at Meningsbee’s house and Jessie McDougal, with motherly tears, explained that the little boy had been squalling because he could hear. Apparently it was quite a surprise to him, and set off the onslaught of his throat alarm.

Yes–after testing Hector, the doctors found there was a healing, and he was now able to hear just as well as any other fifteen-day-old infant.

The news spread quickly.

It became known as “the miracle baptism.” Matter of fact, three days later at the Wednesday night “Stay and Pray” service, many of the congregational members contended it was God speaking to the church–to become an international center of healing. They suggested that the whole outreach of the Garsonville Church should be using the sacraments of baptism and communion as vehicles for God to intervene–healing the sick and maybe even raising the dead.

After all, they explained, Meningsbee wanted it to be a Jesus church–and what could be more like Jesus than a “hallelujah healing?”

Meningsbee did not know what to say. He was not sure how they came up with such a conclusion based on Hector’s experience, but he also did not want to dampen their hopes and dreams.

“Folks, it could be that what happened to Hector was meant for Hector and Hector alone. Just his personal piece of God.”

Everyone was baffled at Meningsbee’s ignorance. Certainly God would not give his grace to one poor little boy, and not intend it to be offered to the masses.

Meningsbee persisted.

“I’m just saying, maybe it’s not like Coca-Cola, to be bottled up and served over the counter to anyone with a dollar-fifty who needs a magical elixir…”

No one was listening. Meningsbee was not shouted down. It was worse. He was ignored.

Complicating matters, a news organization–one of them with all the letters in its name–called and wanted to come and do an interview with the church folk, pastor, mayor, city elders and even teenagers, to discuss the strange and bizarre happenings in Garsonville, Nebraska. You see, they deemed that with all the church splits, a suicide, drug overdose and now deaf ears being opened, it was quite a feature story, and the news division felt they could market it pretty well to their listening audience.

Reverend Meningsbee was against it. But the church council saw it as a wonderful chance to share the faith and vision, and show people on the West and East Coast that God truly did favor the prairie.

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Mr. Kringle’s Tales …26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling!

An advent calendar of stories, designed to enchant readers of all ages

“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling.

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Parma Jon… October 8, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

That’s my new name. Parma Jon.

Well, at least it is for today, as I reflect back on my visit to the Parma Lutheran Church and the clipped-off version of my name, Jon. (Like so many things, the idea seemed cuter in its conception…)

There was nothing remarkable about the Parma Lutheran Church. That’s what makes it truly exceptional. While America seems obsessed with discoveirng its new Idol, X-Factor, Voice, or political savior, God is doing what He always does–searching the deserts, the villages, the huts and the crevices for anyone who’s happy being who they are, doing what they do, who might consider taking on just a little bit more possibility.

It seems appropriate to me on this Columbus Day to talk to you about discovering America. Like Christopher Columbus, I launched out to find one thing and ended up uncovering another. When I left in January, I thought that I would be going to regions of the country that were saturated with culture, preferences, political swingings and religious tendencies. I should have known better–I’m not exactly a novice in the realm of traveling and speaking. But the pundits on television are very convincing, insisting that our country is diversified and split into many sections. It just ain’t so.

Actually, it’s much simpler than that. There are those folks who still believe, pursue and persist in the Golden Rule“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”–and a contingency who have succumbed to the notion that it’s every man for himself.

In other words, whether it has a southern accent, a Yankee dialect, a Georgia drawl or a west coast coolness, “I don’t care” ends up feeling just as cold. And whether it’s Republican, Democrat, conservative or liberal, “How can I help?” is just as comforting.

I met a man yesterday who used to deliver packages for UPS. Now he stands in a pulpit and tries to deliver the best of salvation, hope, gentleness and tenderness to a congregation of people, while dodging fiscal responsibilities and fits of grumpiness from those who have forgotten the mission of the Master. You know what struck me about him? After all his years of dealing in business and now the religious community, he is still overjoyed in the pursuit of finding reasons to be joyful. Though tempted to be jaded, he instead remains gold.

I met four wonderful young humans who sat on the front row in this church and indulged in enjoyment, praise, laughter and kindness to one another without feeling the need to explain it to the old folks or make excuses for their particular profile of worship. They were intelligent and caring. They were not prejudiced against Janet and myself because we’re older, but instead, took our gift of talent and message and received it in their own space, with their own simplicity.

I met a woman who came to my book table, and because I was having a bit of trouble with my legs, brought me a cane to ease my pain in walking to my van. She also brought a beautiful hand-carved elf that her husband had whittled, which was absolutely gorgeous. He was due for surgery today, so I send out a prayer his way.

Did I mention the poet who came to the table, bringing me his recently published book? I think the reason God likes creativity is because it sparks a light in our eyes and a giggle in our souls–that we were actually able to make something instead of just using up all the natural resources around us. That was the countenance on this fine fellow.

One after another, they came before me yesterday–delightful human beings in the midst of making that very important choice between believing that NoOne is better than anyone else, or finding reasons to separate themselves from the human family.

Oh–not everyone likes me, you know. There are people who stomp out the door, angered by my presumption to mess around with perfect, Germanic Lutheranism. I do not begrudge them their opinion.

But I will tell you that the majority of the American people I have met this year, especially in Parma, Ohio, are looking for a reason to continue to believe in the idea of people and God. It is amazing.

It makes me glad that the heavenly Father has not asked me to check out of my human living quarters and move on to eternal reward. I am so honored to be part of this phase of history and to jump into my four-wheeled Santa Maria and to sail away, discovering America.

So yesterday, I was Parma Jon. Today I move on. But I want to thank all the wonderful human souls that I have met over the past four or five days in the Northern Ohio area. They have enlightened me, blessed me and made me aware that taking the time to believe in people is never wasted.

It is the only way to guarantee that you have actually tapped a little piece of the mind of God.

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