The D Word … February 26th, 2019

THE

WORD


Jonathots Daily Blog

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The D word—the word that is so obtuse, unusable and meaningless that it should stop being in everyday use. For me this one was easy:

Devil

Devil is the word evil with a D.

Whenever I hear people mention the devil, I immediately fight off the instinct to consider them superstitious, ignorant, backwoods, prejudiced and, to some extent, angry with the world around them.

The theological approach to the subject is that we “can’t believe in God” if we don’t “believe in the devil,” because the devil is the counterpunch to the Almighty.

I find that ignorance gets started because people are too nervous to ask the obvious question before the stupidity gets spread around.

God is the only Spirit

Even if you follow the story of Adam and Eve, the serpent mentioned in the tale ends up being cast down to Earth. It is an earth-bound misery.

Human beings produce all the evil that is necessary to make the world shitty. They need no assistance. And personifying darkness in a creature called “the Devil” is the best way to allow human evil to continue without being challenged.

  • The Devil did not make anybody do anything.
  • The Devil did not possess little girls or little boys.
  • The Devil did not command a whole brood of witches.

Perhaps the reason the word “devil” makes me conjure images of incest is that poor people, unlearned individuals and those who feel superior because of their color or religion often use the word “devil” to describe all the forces they find to be unacceptable.

“The devil is rock and roll.”

“The devil is Hollywood.”

“The devil is a political party.”

“The devil is some race.”

“The devil is a woman seeking equality.”

And once they place the D word onto you, all of your actions will have the sniff of fire and brimstone.

Why don’t we consider a world where there is no Devil and human beings are responsible for their actions?

We are not tempted by God and we are not tempted by the Devil.

We are drawn away by our own lusts to do foolish things.

I don’t care if you’re conservative or liberal—as long as you don’t blame the Devil for your objections to the world around you. It is a sign of immaturity, irrelevance, and a lack of understanding of how evil human beings can be…without ever adding the D onto the word.

 

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Populie: The Battle Between Good and Evil … October 22, 2014

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Jesus and the devil

Sometimes I believe that the promotion of “good” is merely permission to be pious and the elevation of “evil” is just a bunch of geeks from high school, who think it’s neat to scare people with their darker side.

It ends up promoting this popular lie–populie–of “the battle between good and evil.”

Religion is enthralled with the concept because it allows for an all-powerful God to flex His muscle against a strong Luciferian army which is doomed to failure, but in the meantime frightens the world with all sorts of dastardly deeds.

Amazingly, entertainment is obsessed with the notion because it welcomes witches, demons, flying dragons and all sorts of apocalyptic paraphernalia, to keep the audience on the edge of its seat, wondering if any glimmer of goodness can survive.

Politics learned a long time ago that it’s a lot easier to motivate people by getting them to hate something than to love something.

So if we hate evil and those who perform the nefarious deeds, we can don the cloak of righteousness and represent purity to the world around us.

So the original Soviet Union was not deemed to be a dumb government complexity, but rather, must be referred to as “the evil empire” in order to create a devilish enemy.

I am weary of it all.

I am especially weary of those who tell me that I can’t believe in God unless I believe in Satan. They insist that because the Bible proclaims that this fallen angel exists as a real creature of festering fussiness, that I must embrace the ideology that surrounds him or else deny the validity of the Holy Book.

Yet when the storyline plays out in the Good Book, the saner writers tell me frankly that every temptation comes from my own lust.

I am told that God doesn’t tempt me, nor does He desire for me to be tempted.

Matter of fact, Jesus said, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

So what is evil?

Evil occurs when the good that humans could have accomplished is delayed or tabled in committee.

Good transpires when evil is stopped by humans who are thinking ahead.

To me it’s just that simple.

Every evil that has happened on the planet earth since the beginning of time has human fingerprints. There are no claw marks left behind, nor cloven hoofprints. It always has something to do with someone who just failed, in some way or another, to love his or her neighbor as themselves.

We are drawn away by our own lusts.

Love is available to us but it does not allow us to dominate or destroy, so instead, we pursue lust.

  • It is the source of all iniquity.
  • It is the source of all evil.

As long as we believe that we are the pawns in a gigantic chess game between God and Beelzebub, we will fail to take responsibility for our own deeds and instead, act helpless when we’ve been given the power of a sound mind instead of a spirit of fear.

I know there will be many people who disagree with me, and since I do not hold the golden key to universal truth in my hand, these detractors may be right.

But I don’t think we become better people by blaming an outside force for our own damned laziness.

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Seek a Salem … July 16, 2012

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Seven Mile Ferry — a well-traveled path with, I’m sure, a tale to be told. Yet I was not in the mood for the ramblings of some roadway. I had come to share, and hopefully to be shared with, by some of God’s good folk. My destination was Salem.

The word has two meanings for me. First, “Salem,” from the Hebrew, means peace. Of course, any good reader who has spent any time in the gospels will tell you there’s really no such thing as an actual location for peace. Matter of fact, there’s a warning that those who pursue such a utopia will often find “sudden destruction”–or a “sword.”  No, the Good Book tells us that peace requires a maker.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Which, by the way, is a far cry better than being referred to as the “Brats of Beelzebub…”)

The second image that pops into my mind when I think of “Salem” is the town in Massachusetts, which for one reason or another, decided to begin looking on its young lasses as witches. Although we might be tempted, after an evening of perusing reality television, to sympathize with these forefathers, it’s rather doubtful that any of these characters are possessed with much more than themselves. Yes, Salem, Massachusetts, went on a witch hunt–and even though the conclusions were rather dubious, there was an awful lot at stake, so they went ahead a burned a bunch of ’em anyway.

So I was curious, upon arriving at this new sanctuary of possibility, which Salem lay before me. Would it be a building filled with peace-makers or those who are just making pieces out of everything, breaking their world apart into black and white?

The difference is really quite simple. Those who have decided to make peace always arrive in life with anticipation. They have discovered the key to making the human journey pleasant and plausible lies in determining that God is ready to bless instead of curse or ignore. If you really believe that we have all fallen so short of the glory of God that He’s basically abandoned the human part of His creative mission and is searching for the nearest whack to destroy us, then you will find it very difficult to want to make peace. You will also find it unnecessary to have “ears to hear”–because one of the true signs of a peace-maker is that he or she has taken their anticipation and has put on ears because they believe there are blessings to be had.

On the other hand, those who make pieces out of life, looking to fragment everything into its parts for careful scrutiny, always lead with suspicion. Let’s be honest–if you’re convinced the world is evil and God is doing battle with iniquity, then the only conclusion you could possibly come to is that most people you meet are flirting with darkness, and it is your duty to expose their bleakness and proclaim them to be transgressors so as to do the will of God and protect yourself from destruction. It is a fascinating fact that those who have suspicion crawling up their spines only have ears to fear. It doesn’t matter what you tell them–they will translate it into some sort of horror or pending doom.

So you can imagine–I was curious upon arriving at this beautiful, well-constructed, country church, whether I would find Salem, the peace makers, or Salem, occupied by those trying to make pieces out of something truly holy.

Walking into the building, I was greeted. That’s always a good sign. A hand should always come our way before a stare. At least that’s my opinion. I was engulfed by a sea of hands, and proclamations from people’s lips that they had been looking forward to what God was going to be doing. The comical part of the preamble to the service was that these delightful human beings were so anxious to communicate their excitement that I got prayed for three times. Usually, in a United Methodist Church, if you get one prayer, you are fortunate. But I got a triple anointing. So that put a giddiness in my heart–that the message my Father gave to me to share with my brothers and sisters was actually going to be heard instead of being criticized by those wanting to find something absurd. Because as I told you, when there’s anticipation in the room, there are ears to hear. And as Jesus said, “when people have ears to hear, let them hear.”

Salem United Methodist Church has discovered a great truth–God doesn’t bless us. Blessing is everywhere and we either arrive to receive it or we stand firm in our stubbornness, to reject it. It really comes down to one question–is peace in my control? Or in the control of God and the devil?

If you think that the heavens or hell are manipulating what happens next in your life, you will very suspicious and have ears to fear. But if you know that we are the peace makers, the children of God, then you will show up in life with anticipation, with ears to hear. Ears to hear? Or ears to fear? It’s the difference between finding God or fearing life.

I had a beautiful morning. People were touched and likewise with me. But it all revolved around the fact that this little chapel out on Seven Mile Ferry Road decided to be filled with anticipation instead of suspicion. They made a decision not to hunt for the witch, but to be a congregation which hunts … for peace.

   

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aPATHy … May 31, 2012

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Puritans.

They were some of the first souls to settle on the shores of the new America. As the story goes, they climbed into a ship and crossed waters to escape religious persecution in their homeland. I’m sure there is truth to this. But here is what I know about persecution–there is real persecution, brought on by people who are mean-spirited and want to make sure everybody is just like them. And then there is a perceived persecution of those who have their own intolerance and are eventually ostracized by others for being cranky and belligerent.

We may never know the whole story—but somewhere between those two definitions for “persecution” lies the truth about the Puritans. Because they didn’t get their name because they spent their time keeping nasty things out of their churning butter. They got their name because they deemed spirituality to be best expressed by attributes of the flesh instead of attitudes of the heart. Otherwise they would never have put people in stocks for committing small indiscretions, or, for that matter, have burned women as witches because they were somewhat different from the other lasses in town.

Puritanism is in the cultural genetics of the United States of America. It has been in-bred into our thinking, cross-sects most racial barriers and certainly is absorbed into all the states of the Union. It makes us overly conscious of the actions of others, burning them in a cauldron of gossip, while proclaiming that we’re doing so for righteousness’ sake. We have become a nation of busy-bodies who are fascinated with sin, while simultaneously wanting to publicly crucify it.

I was raised with this. My mother and father were absolutely delightful inhabitants of a small town in Ohio, frightened of any kind of newness, freshness or difference that might  creep into our community and taint our mediocrity. Therefore being a Puritan is inside me. I can never become truly spiritual and gain a world view—which Jesus wanted me to possess—until I acknowledge that my spiritual DNA has been infused with the mutation of Puritan probing, and therefore my opinions are suspect, if not downright rancid.

I can cite to you the day I became a man. I was fifteen years old, sitting in a church service, when some gentleman from the board of elders began to recite what he perceived to be the evils of a person who was not present at the gathering. I became so thoroughly disgusted that I quietly stood to my feet and walked out of the room. I lost a little bit of the gusto of my Puritan ancestors that day—and ever since then I have been working hard to dispel the remnants of the garbage.

I will tell you that the first step on the path of being truly spiritual and having a world view is apathy. I know that apathy is normally considered to be a negative attribute but when used correctly it is one of the more positive steps a human can take.

The definition of apathy is “a lack of interest or concern.Exactly. If you want to discuss sin, unrighteousness, immorality or the actions of other people—I am apathetic. I have no interest. I have devoid of concern. Even if you believe the decisions on the part of transgressors are evil, Jesus told us to avoid resisting evil. It’s useless. Nothing dies because you kill it. Things die because they lose the energy and nutrition to sustain life. Bad habits, stupid actions and immoral inclinations are best fought with apathy. If you ignore evil, you steal the only true power it possesses—which is intrigue.

“I don’t care.”

Jesus told me not to judge–or I would be judged, and that a measure would be set for ME from that point on how I would be evaluated in the cosmos. Wow. There are three reasons right there to not be caught being a Puritan, eyeballing other people’s activities.

  1. Judging is in itself nasty, boring and eventually demands that you stop talking and start being even meaner.
  2. I don’t want to be judged. I don’t even like scrutiny. Sometimes I have to take a deep breath to receive critique. So if I can promote myself not being judged by avoiding doing so to others, I am all for it.
  3. And finally, the measuring stick. I just make too many mistakes and think too many stupid things to have some judgment perpetually laid on me by my decision to be critical of others.

I love this country, but the Puritans who settled it have ingrained into us an over-zealous inclination to have an opinion on everything and to feel like we’re doing God’s will by shunning others for their choices.

If we’re going to gain spirituality and a world view, like Jesus wanted us to, we need to practice apathy. “I don’t care.”

And the best way to show that I do care is by “letting my light shine before men that they can see my good works and glorify the Father in heaven.”

America is plagued by the ghosts of our Puritan forefathers, who believed they did God’s will by peering into the lives of other people and executing judgment. It’s not true around the rest of the world, and we certainly would not be pleased by being aligned with nations which maintain that kind of strict religious and moral configuration. There are many Muslim nations which hold to legalities of the Koran who would agree with the Puritans on issues of the flesh. Just as we must be careful to love our enemies, we also must be very aware of who we suddenly find ourselves in fellowship with.

There is  a path and the first step on that path is to acknowledge that you and I have come from Puritan roots set deeply within us, causing us to believe that our convictions are more holy than others, and therefore granting us the privilege of evaluating the world around us.

“Don’t judge or you will be judged.” Jesus’ words.

Beautiful, spiritual apathy.

A man walked up to me the other day and said, “Did you hear what those people are doing?”

I interrupted him. “I don’t care,” I replied. I walked away feeling better, not judged myself and with a measuring stick put up against me that has more grace than gravel.

Apathy. The first step on the path to true spirituality and having a world view.

I am not a Puritan, mainly because I could never keep up with my own philosophy. And when I try to measure it out to other people, it swings around and always punches me in the face.

 

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