Super-ag-nuts … July 22, 2012

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I should never have accepted the invitation. Sometimes I just have trouble saying no.

A very religious friend of mine invited me to come to lunch and meet his self-proclaimed agnostic brother. I know the aspiration of my ardent-zealot-religious comrade was that somehow I would be able to offer some sort of “smart” presentation of the gospel which would win over his brother, who was moving more each and every day towards complete atheism.

The luncheon started off all right, although a bit awkward, until my God-bud felt it was time to move into more supernatural topics and broached the subject of the divine with his less-than-willing family member. What ensued was a battle of wills, which had been in full swing for many years. It also became obvious to me that one of the brothers thought he was saved and the other one thought he was smart.

The one who thought he was smart equally believed that he would lose his entire brain if he was fully exposed to salvation, and the one who was saved was convinced that the introduction of too much knowledge could possibly dissolve any faith in God whatsoever.

I left that day feeling very unfulfilled and not certain where I fit in–because I am not a superstitious religious person. I don’t spend much time thinking about Jonah and the whale nor any one of the particular horsemen of the Apocalypse. I am also by no means an agnostic. There’s just too much flow of the Spirit and needfulness for God in our lives for any one of us to dismiss His creative presence merely to maintain a social strata of intellectual superiority.

The superstition of religion causes people to say, “I am afraid I am not pleasing to God,” which causes the agnostic to retort, “I think pleasing God makes me afraid.”

But a new phenomenon has now come onto the scene. People who formerly were involved in spirituality, which deteriorated into religion and eventually became mere superstition, have now been infected with a bit of agnosticism.

They are everywhere. They have just enough Bible in them to maintain a dangerous dose of superstition and a growing amount of agnosticism, which depresses them with the lack of God in their lives–similar to the temperament of a twelve-year-old kid after the first Christmas without Santa.

So just as a superstitious person believes he doesn’t please God and the agnostic thinks that pleasing God makes one afraid, this new group, which I have dubbed the super-ag-nuts, ends up trying to please everybody because they’re afraid. Do you see what I mean?

Because spirituality failed to maintain the integrity of its message, the superstition of religion took over the sanctuary and encouraged agnosticism, which has produced super-ag-nuts.

For instance, superstition says, “I want to go to heaven–because I don’t want to go to hell.”  The agnostic says, “I hate the idea of hell, so I reject heaven.” So this new super-ag-nuts philosophy blends the two and ends up with the assertion, “I am not sure if there’s a heaven or a hell, so I’m scared to die.”

It is the super-ag-nuts who are so politically motivated in our society. Like the Jews of Jesus’ day, they have lost all hope in their faith and are looking for a political solution here on earth to remedy their disappointment. The super-ag-nuts have a form of godliness but have begun to deny the power of it, creating such a boring relationship with the heavenly Father that they, themselves, yearn for an excuse to be absent from worship services.

The super-ag-nuts are the ones who have found pet Bible verses and use them as a reason to advance a cause rather than using the cause to advance reasonableness. It is the super-ag-nuts who foster prejudices using the scapegoat of Godliness, alienating  certain groups from being included, even though Jesus was intent on establishing that no one is better than anyone else.

The superstition of religion teaches that in theory we should love people, but it’s really okay not to like them. Agnostics, on the other hand, are very suspicious of people individually, but will boldly tell you of their love for humanity. It has caused this new generation of super-ag-nuts to focus on family and friends, hoping that will be enough in the eyes of God.

I’ve always hated superstition. Honestly, agnosticism kind of makes me laugh. But when you blend superstition and agnosticism together, you get a belief system without joy. And what could possibly be the reason for seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness if all these things were NOT going to be added unto us? If we weren’t going to end up more content? If we weren’t going to become more loving? If we fail to multiply our talents? If we maintain our dreary outlook on life instead of being free–because the Son has set us free?

I am very concerned that we are becoming a generation of super-ag-nuts, having just enough Holy Book in us to answer questions on Jeopardy! and enough agnosticism and doubt to steal our faith in the moment of need.

Call it out–first in yourself, then in the superstitious agnostics around you, who are too frightened to admit they don’t know and too prideful to be willing to allow knowledge to confirm the power of belief.

My luncheon with the superstitious-religious brother and the agnostic-emerging-towards-atheist sibling was a wash. But it did make me more determined to remove the superstition from my faith and allow the truth to make me free.

And mainly free of disbelieving just because I’m too lazy to experience God for myself.

   

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Barking Dogs… January 14, 2012

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I’ve only been working on it for about a year.

Honestly, I’m not very good at it. But I still continue to pursue the idea because I realize how valuable it is–and perhaps even necessary to my own well-being and certainly to my fellow-humans. For many years I knew it was something I should consider, but candidly, I just thought people should take care of their own business, be grown-up and not involve me in their messes.

But here’s the truth–lots of people don’t take care of their own affairs. People tend to wear their feelings on their sleeves and then become easily bruised and upset when you bump into them. It causes strife, fighting, feuds and just a general feeling of discontent among the populace.

So that is why, for the past year I have been trying to listen to and note the barking dogs that hound the minds of my fellow-travelers. Because if I take every nasty attitude that’s thrown my way and assume it was meant for me, I am an idiot. People arrive in our presence already cocked to go off like a gun, with feelings of resentment, remorse and insecurity that have absolutely nothing to do with us. They may choose us as a dumping ground, but unless we take the time to suck up some air and consider their plight, we will explode all over them, further confirming their belief that life sucks. It is a step of maturity that I am ill-prepared to undertake–but I do acknowledge that it’s required in order to move forward. People have “barking dogs” on their heels all the time that they’re running from, causing them to be less than considerate, pre-occupied, frustrated and often incompetent.

Let me give you an example. Several weeks ago, I finished performing in a church and a lady came by my book table in a wheel chair and rolled on down the hallway towards a restroom. She sat in front of the restroom for a few moments and then tried to roll to the door but was unable to open it, and after two attempts, backed her wheelchair up and disappeared around a corner, out of sight. It got me thinking. I wondered if she was around that corner trying to figure out how to get into the bathroom, yet completely stymied by her situation and, for whatever reason, unwilling to ask for assistance. I took a chance. I knew she wouldn’t allow me to help her into the bathroom, so I asked a teenage girl nearby to do me a favor. I quickly explained the situation and inquired if she would be willing to go find the lady and see if she was sitting there and ask her if she would like some assistance getting into the restroom. The young girl looked at me like I was a little crazy, but since she thought it was a “worthy” nuttiness, she complied. She disappeared and short moments later, reappeared rolling the lady to the restroom, completing the mission. I don’t know how long that woman would have sat, trying to figure out how to get into the bathroom, allowing the “barking dogs” to create greater and greater dissatisfaction in her soul. But I was glad I could silence the hounds in her mind on this one occasion. You see, in the midst of a society constantly trying to judge the actions of other people based on outward appearance, the more intelligent path is to listen for the barking dogs that hound people into being less than what they really desire to be.

I find it difficult to write about the subject because I am in such an infant stage of discovery that my explanation probably sounds like baby-talk. But this is what I know–ninety per cent of the people who are mean to me are so because they think they’re attacking somebody or something else. If I retaliate solely based upon what they say or do to me, I start an unnecessary war. If I pause for a second and wonder what vicious consequence of life has caused them to arrive in such a foul mood, I allow my compassion to take the forefront instead of my retaliation. It doesn’t always work–but when it does, I offer salvation to my friends instead of incrimination.

Can we tune our ears to hear the barking dogs that are hounding the minds of those we meet? Perhaps it’s a pipe dream. You might even consider it a piece of foolishness. But I know this–to spend my whole life judging things by what I hear and see and never look deeper into the heart is to remove the essence of God from my journey.

Because it is always God’s will to look inside … instead of judging the book by its cover.

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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

Tales of Whales… January 13, 2012

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I don’t want to be a curmudgeon. The condition is usually characterized as an aging person who has become jaded and grouchy about the enjoyment of youthful passions and delights. That’s not me. But every once in a while something crosses the landscape of the American cultural-bus-tour that requires some comment–maybe even of a disgruntled sort.

I, for one, am fed up with the glorification of animals–especially to the exclusion of energy that could be spent in aiding our own race (that being the human one.)

How many movies are we going to make about whales that need to be saved? How many times do we really need to Free Willy? Do we need another scene of teary-eyed proponents of the animal cause, weeping over some creature that’s being thrust into captivity? AND we’re so type-specific! We seem to care about the porpoise getting caught in the tuna net without ever giving a thought to the thousands of tuna which are being eaten! Dogs and cats gain great favor with us, while mice and possums can be discarded alongside the road as necessary casualties of progress. What is the obsession?

Here’s a story. About five years ago, I wrote a movie called The $6 Man. Many of you may even own it. It is the story of a father who loses his financial security and finds himself on the street with his eleven-year-old daughter, attempting to live on six dollars a day, while also organizing and assisting his fellow-street-dwellers. I love this movie. It is full of heart, humanity, mercy, humor, pathos and all the good things that make a terrific flick. But when it came time for it to go to film festivals and be considered for distribution, it was rejected by many because it wasn’t “family fare.” Let me get this straight: three whales stranded under an ice floe, assisted by a young boy, is called a “miracle story for the whole family.” But on the other hand, an actual family stranded under a  freeway overpass, trying to live in a trash dumpster and love each other is “not suitable for children.”

Is this really the message we want to convey? Because when I challenged those powers-that-be about their decision, they explained to me that the situations were “too adult” and parts of the movie characterized the government and people around the homeless as being uncaring. Amazing.

I watched a television show the other night where a gorilla was seeking personhood because the animal had been taught to do sign language–and his leathery, hairy face seemed to have expressions of sadness. A quick search on the Internet will tell you that gorillas are violent, and chimpanzees (which many folks consider to be our closest ancestor) will rip your face off at a moment’s notice. Now, I have met a lot of human beings who are not particularly favorable, but none who have ever ripped my face off.

And here’s another strange thing–this issue seems to be one of the few that liberals and conservatives agree upon: family fare is any entertainment that involves animals being treated correctly, fantasy, warlocks or unlikely scenarios about young people in difficulty, trying to solve problems.

Where are we teaching our next generation to be human? Because I will tell you right now–caring for a whale, a gorilla or even a kitty-cat does not make you a quality human being. Learning to love someone who has the ability to speak his or her mind–and not necessarily love you back just because you bring them a bowl of food–is the true measurement of our earth worth.

Conservatives love to perch their children in front of “safe” movies, where animals are valued and there is a happy ending, which makes the children giddy, although ill-informed. Liberals likewise fear exposing their offspring to any practical realities of life, feeling it’s better that these experiences be “gradually” filtered into the learning process. So saving a whale or hugging a gorilla seems to be an acceptable two-hour-long baby-sitter as the parents go into the other room, sipping some wine and watching old Scorsese movies. As bad as it is to see conservatives and liberals arguing, it is even more frightening when they unite over inhumanity.

Give me a movie where a young boy discovers three homeless people–or decides to visit a trio of housebound retired folks after school. Let us explore his experiences  with these individuals. I can write it just as heartwarming, real and touching as the “whale tale.” But you will never see it–for we choose to throw money at the homeless problem rather than addressing the real need.

Homelessness in America is a three-fold issue:

1. Many of the people need social reclamation. In other words, they’ve just forgotten how to get along with other people.

2. Others lack the skills necessary to leap back into society and make a living without working all day long to still end up lacking a roof.

3. And candidly, there are mental health issues. Thousands of these individuals who are disenfranchised are struggling with their own minds, insecurities and mental lapses. They need attention.

I realize my little essay doesn’t mean much in the vast spectrum of the pursuit of “family fare entertainment.” But I don’t think we can expect humanity to improve if we don’t spend that much time with humans. And I will continue to speak out on the issue, risking being referred to as ‘the old grump,” hoping that someone who has an ear will hear, and allow their children a real education on how to be alive.

Because let me tell you, I have met many people who adore animals–and hate folks. But I’ve never found anyone who loves human beings who doesn’t stop long enough to give a bone to a stray dog.

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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

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