Cracked 5 … February 13th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

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What People Under 20 Years of Age Think You Mean When You Mention Historical Events

A. Valley Forge

A mall??

 

B. Woodstock

The name for the non-metal parts of a rifle

 

C. Gettysburg

The new triple-decker vegetarian patty at Panera Bread

 

D. Watergate

A bridge of some sort?

 

E. Vietnam

The food you have to get when the Thai restaurant is too busy

 

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G-Poppers … January 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

18 years of age.

G-Pop’s granddaughter is celebrating today.

She is so excited. She has waited a lifetime for it–at least, her lifetime.

She is ready to be a person instead of a passenger.

A participant rather than a daughter.

A mover and not just a child.

G-Pop could share many superlatives about this young woman and bore you to tears.

She is intelligent to the point of being sharp.

She is clever and creative.

She is tender-hearted and allows tears to flow without shame.

Even though her life has been peppered with missteps, she went back, corrected them and took responsibility for the stumbles.

She is talented, she can sing, and dear Lord, she even plays the ukulele.

The canvas set before her is prepared for the beautiful colorations of her dreams.

But she is still plagued by one concern:

She doesn’t want to miss anything.

She doesn’t want to be considered an “also ran.”

She does not want people to believe she’s just a preacher’s daughter who cushioned herself from the realities of human life.

She wants to do it all.

She is frightened of becoming a “goody-two-shoes.”

It is a sensation that jolts the heart of every person who dares to pursue goodness. Can you chase the star of purity and still enjoy the cosmic journey?

But here’s the reality: nothing bad ever made anything good.

No vice ever actually promoted a versa.

No inhalation stimulated respiration.

No liquid spirit ever conjured a Holy Spirit.

Side-tracks. That’s what all those are–little temptations to distraction that we’ve convinced ourselves are necessary to add to our diary to make our lives seem plausible instead of merely a fairy tale.

What G-Pop would like to tell his granddaughter on this glorious day is that good is the only thing worth living for.

But you must never preach it.

Preaching good always leads to self-righteousness, selfishness and anger over missing out over some sort of sinful delicacy.

The more the reverend reverberates against iniquity, the more he is drawn to it. It is a historical fact.

God never gave us permission to preach good–thus the warning, “Don’t judge other people.”

G-Pop would also tell his granddaughter that being good is the curse of a thousand yearnings.

None of us are good. No, not one.

So every time we try to be good, we punish ourselves, incriminate our hearts and tear down our confidence. It’s why the phrase, “I’m sorry” needs to be at our tongue-tip, prepared to be uttered at any moment.

We’re just not good.

And those who try to be good often end up either lying or preaching. (I’m not sure if there’s a difference there.)

What G-Pop wants to wish to his beautiful, creative, gentle, comical granddaughter is the mission of doing good.

Good becomes very obvious because it’s always the thing that includes somebody besides yourself. It’s not hard to find–and even though you’re not going to preach against evil nor claim to be pure, the least you can do for a battered, bewildered and betrayed mankind is grant them the touch of grace brought by a moment of goodness.

I’m always enamored by the story that comes out of the 1969 music festival, Woodstock. Even though all the parents were critical of their young ones who went off to this “den of iniquity”–and perhaps there was a farm-load of sin being perpetuated in every field–when it was discovered that the purple acid was hurting people, they interrupted the concert and got on the microphone to warn their brothers and sisters to stay away from it.

They did good.

I suppose some pious parents might suggest that if the children were not taking acid in the first place, there would be no reason to avoid the purple.

But you see, that’s not life.

Life is realizing that wherever you are, whoever you’re working with, and whatever the rules for that environment, there is still a way to do good.

It does not make you a goody-two-shoes.

It means that you walk with feet of blessing.

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Cracked 5 … April 5th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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History As Remembered in the Mind of a Millennial

A. Abraham Lincoln won World War II and freed the slaves from the Eiffel Tower, where they were held hostage by Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan.

 

B. The Beatles came with the British Invasion, causing Benjamin Franklin to write the Declaration of Independence, which ushered in the Grammy Awards.

 

C. When the Viets attacked, Richard Nixon opened the Watergate to drown the Nams and save Woodstock.

 

D. The Pilgrims brought turkeys from their boat to feed the starving Indians at the Plymouth Rock Festival.

 

E. Two guys built an airplane and they did it so well that people called them the “Right Brothers.”

Plymouth Rock Festival

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Jesonian: Belly-Aching … May 4, 2014

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belly acheHe said, “Everybody understands the problems. There’s no need to keep talking about them. We should stop belly-aching.”

He is a minister of the Gospel.

Over the years he has convinced himself that he prefers the “more positive” teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and wishes to focus on them in order to build a congregation of believers who think good thoughts and don’t generate any negative energy toward the world around them.

Here’s the problem: injustice will never leave as long as it’s making a profit. So it’s up to the prophets to chase injustice away through pointing out its hypocrisy and deceit.

Even though Jesus is portrayed by many churches as a combination of Gandhi and a hippie attending Woodstock, the young Nazarene actually has quite an edge.

Especially as he reached the end of his Earth journey, he began to spout off profusely against the excesses of religion, the selfishness of systems and the indifference of leadership.

There are three chapters in a row–Matthew 23, 24 and 25–where he exhibits his own form of belly-aching. Because you see, belly-aching occurs when you consume something that doesn’t agree with you, and is only relieved when you dispel the thing with which you do not agree.

Understanding that most of you may not want to read the three chapters, if you will allow me, I’ll summarize:

In Matthew 23, Jesus viciously attacks the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers who used their position to extort wealth while doing nothing to relieve the burdens of the people around them. He claims that they cared more for their traditions than they did for the human beings placed in their charge.

So because of their iniquity, in Matthew 24 he informs them that the Romans would come and dismantle their entire hierarchy and destroy their city.

To further reiterate the necessity for repentance, he tells a series of parables in Matthew 25 about a Judgement Day in which God, our Father and Creator, will expect us to deliver evidence of our faith and victory during our human escapade.

The three chapters are full of complaint, warnings, admonitions and some downright insults.

We forgive this belly-aching because the prophesy came true and we understand that the message Jesus preached survives today. To determine whether we are just purveyors of doom and gloom or messengers of hope, we have to keep three things in mind:

1. Never do anything to hurt people, but also do not permit anything to happen that is hurting people.

2. Never offer a warning without giving an olive branch of hope. Nothing is over until God says it is.

3. Always note progress–even if it’s a little–and appreciate it when you see movement toward sanity.

So am I a belly-acher?

If I run across ideas which historically have been proven to be foolish, and I see injustice which is cheating people out of the value of their human lives, or if I come across greed which is suffocating the life out of the needy, I will speak out, using every bit of cleverness, comedy and even cunning that I can muster.

Because without doing this, we become part of a third clump … the ones who stood by and watched the oppressor oppress the helpless.

 

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Balder … April 18, 2013

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hatI like hats.

I think I always have liked hats, even though I don’t remember wearing one until I was into my mid-thirties. Before that age, I took great pride in having hair. Matter of fact, in my twenties I grew it down to my shoulders and flipped it in the air when I sang, pretending I was Roger Daltry from the Who onstage at Woodstock, although obviously metabolically challenged.

But as I lost my hair I started wearing hats, the premise being that if you covered up the disappearing area of locks, people would not know that you were actually bald and you could still pull off being extraordinarily youthful and virile.

But I always ran into one problem: sooner or later you have to take your hat off.

Even though I would arrive at my engagements and set up for my show wearing a hat, it was generally considered inappropriate to sport one during the presentation. So actually, donning the beanie on top of my head for the first part of the event made the removal of the same more noticeable–and truthfully, I ended up looking … balder.

I know that sounds odd. But if people don’t know what’s under your hat, when you do finally expose it, it’s even more shocking. So about four or five years ago I stopped wearing hats so as not to send unnecessary electrical waves through the minds of those who meet me. Instead I establish my baldness from the beginning and never have to appear balder.

It’s a powerful idea–and can be applied in so very many ways.

About eight years ago I lost eighty-one pounds. I was VERY, VERY fat. I succeeded in shedding enough tonnage that I became just VERY fat. At that point there was one remaining goal–don’t get fatter. Traditionally, those who lose weight put all their weight back on. So even though I may be fat my whole life, I don’t have to get fatter. There is a certain regality to that which I shall rejoice in, even as I attempt to address losing additional ounces.

You want to know what the problem is with being angry? No one takes the advice of the Bible, which states, “Be angry and sin not.” So instead of getting angry and getting over it, we try to put a hat on it–a lid–and in the process, we become angrier.

Have you ever been hurt? If we’re not able to express the emotion of that pain, crying out some of the frustration, there is a great danger that people who are hurt become hurters.

We have a decision to make. Are we going to take what we are and share it from a pure heart, unashamed, or are we going to put a hat on it and pretend for a while that we really don’t have a problem?

Because I will tell you, I sin–but I am not a sinner. A sinner is someone who attempts to hide from what is done by sporting some fig leaves over the problem area, and end up looking more ridiculous.

  • I am bald–but I will not wear a hat, cover up, and end up looking balder.
  • I am fat, but plan on being conscientious enough not to become fatter.
  • I have been hurt, but I am going to work it out to keep myself from becoming a hurter.
  • I can’t lie to you–I do get angry. But I express it so I don’t become angrier.
  • And God and I both know that I sin. But I like to let my Daddy know when I break a vase in the house, so I don’t become a sinner, hiding out in my room and missing out on the blessings of the household.

So I am bald. But ironically enough, if I try to hide it under my hat, it really does become … a hairy situation.

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Kneiling… August 28, 2012

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I don’t know much about him.

I mean, I know his name–Neil Armstrong. I know that he walked on the moon. I’ve picked up bits and pieces about his history by listening to spurts of conversation over the past couple of days on the news blabber.

But honestly, I have chosen to remain ignorant about his specifics, and only consider his life as it pertains to me. Yes, I have granted myself a bit of indulgence. I don’t want to study the life of Neil Armstrong to discover patterns of behavior, reveal his denominational affiliation or find out if he’s conservative or if he’s liberal. I am fed up with that type of analysis. I am interested in what Neil Armstrong did and how it pertains to me.

He arrived on the scene in 1969 with his crew cut and space suit, climbed into a capsule which certainly promoted claustrophobia, and was exploded into outer space, to land on the moon.

It fascinates me that in that same time, the United States was fighting a war in Viet Nam while simultaneously opposing the same war, with young folks marching in the street. We were reeling, trying to recover from two recent assassinations in the previous year of Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. We had just elected a new President and were on the verge of fulfilling a promise by another President, who was also assassinated, who vowed to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Also in the midst of this pursuit of the moon, a bunch of hippies from New York were planning a rock concert, which ended up being one of the largest music festivals ever held. They called it Woodstock.

All of this was going on at the same time. (If we’d had a twenty-four hour news cycle, they actually would have had something to report on instead of trying to make hay out of all the straw polls.)

There was a sense that to do anything less than pursue radical excellence was to be  un-American. Even in my small town, our church started a coffee-house, which had grown to 125 kids showing up on Saturday night, in a town of only 1400. When some of the parents objected to the fact that the coffee-house was held in a church and they didn’t want their children pummeled with religion, our board just went down the street and rented a small house where the young folks could have their gathering. Nobody argued about it; nobody called it religious persecution. We just adapted.

In the midst of this confusion and activity, Neil Armstrong, from Wapakoneta, Ohio, took a trip to the moon. He walked around, said his famous line–“one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”–and returned, received a couple of medals, waved from a car in some parades and went back to being Neil. He didn’t host a new reality show. He didn’t start a business off of the fame of being the “Moon Walker.”  He didn’t appear incessantly on television news programs as an authority on every subject thought to be even partially peripheral to his expertise. He didn’t demand anything.

He walked on the moon and then he came back and lived on the earth.

It is a style I would like to study–a better way of “kneeling.” Some people take their posture of prayer and rise to condemn the world around them. But Mr. Armstrong did his “Neiling” and returned to be just one of us.

Here are three things I have learned about “Neiling:”

1. Do something well until somebody notices. Then you might get a chance to do it even better.

2. When you get that chance, do your best walking, your best work and leave behind an example of magnificence.

3. Don’t make a big deal about it, but instead, blend in with your fellow-human beings, thus confirming that the same potential exists in all of us.

It is ironic that the death of this great astronaut is simultaneously commemorated with the termination of manned flights into outer space. They say he was very upset about that. I would imagine so. Someone who prospered and excelled in a season of war, protest, rock and roll and dancing on the moon might find our times and attitudes a bit anemic.

This I know–an eighty-two-year-old man passed away who quietly lived his life with one major exception: for a brief season, to each and every one of us, he confirmed that there was a man in the moon.

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Come… June 21, 2012

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In the fall of 1971 I traveled around small towns in Ohio, playing piano and singing in coffee houses where young humans were attending to sip watered-down Pepsi, munch on stale popcorn and listen to amateurs sing, speak, recite poetry and just postulate on the issues of the day. I did this activity, never wondering if anyone was actually going to show up, because there was a climate of curiosity in our country.

It would be a mistake for anyone to surmise that the children of the 60’s were less sophisticated than today’s I-pod grandchildren. After all, they came up with rock and roll; they planned and executed Woodstock, and they protested and basically stopped the war in Vietnam. They were active. Somehow or another, they were able to mingle the silliness and lovelorn nature of the Monkees with anti-war demonstrations, and in their spare time, start Earth Day. They weren’t better or worse than the kids today, they just believed that nothing happens until we come.

You can’t sit behind a computer or a television set, watching the world go by, and shake your head as you jump on the Internet to look at the next crazy YouTube and think that you’ve made your daily contribution to planet life. It doesn’t make you bad, but it does show that you’re masking a silent anger. Yes. That is the fourth silent killer infecting our society.

As I was planning my fall schedule, I realized I needed to do more concerts to welcome people to join together to laugh, reason and believe again. I have dubbed this series of events the Really Rally–a chance to get together and find out what’s really important–so we can rally around it. As I have shared the idea with various individuals, I discover that I am immediately greeted with cynicism and pity that I still have an idea that people will actually come out from their homes and join together instead of just sitting behind their keyboard and downloading.

We’ve given up on the idea of congregating. This is why some people say that books will soon be a thing of the past. After all, books demand that you either go to a store, visit a library, or talk to someone at a publishing house and order a volume which you actually place your hands upon and read. I was told the same thing in the 1970’s, when cassettes first came out. Everybody was making fun of vinyl records because they were a thing of the past, but as you well know, they’ve never really gone out of style. There will always be someone who wants to put a needle down on a whirling disk to hear music, as likewise, there will always be people who like to get their inspiration flesh to flesh instead of merely checking out the headlines on Yahoo.

But the reason we don’t want to come is because there is a silent anger in this country. Yes, we are angry. What are we angry about? We’re angry because it’s not working and no one has any idea how to fix it. “It” can be anything from politics to religion, and “fixing it” could be something as simple as someone admitting that we are at a loss about what to do. But no one’s going to do that, so a silent anger fills our culture and keeps people from coming together to feel the warmth of each other and be infused with new ideas.

So the invitation from God to “come let us reason together, saith the Lord” is being ignored in favor of hiding out in our homes and pretending that we’re self-sufficient. We are not. No matter how many talents, abilities or financial blessings we may procure, there will always be just enough lack in us that we will feel a sense of frustration that breeds a silent anger.

We need each other. This silent anger is keeping us from achieving our full potential and causing us to boast about past achievements instead of working for the future.

Let’s put it together:

Whosoeverthere is a silent prejudice in our society that will not allow us to embrace other people for fear of changing our minds and becoming more open to new ideas.

Willthere is a silent surrender that has swept across the soul of America, which keeps us from being creative out of a great apprehension that failure would be possible, and that failure would demand that we evolve, and then, that evolution would require that we admit our weakness.

Maysilent doubt. We seem more ashamed of what we don’t know than interested in learning more. So it seems prudent to just remain silent and stop believing.

Comesilent anger traps us in a prison of our own making, keeping us from interacting with one another and discovering little pieces of truth about ourselves in the process.

“Whosoever will may come.” What a brilliant invitation. But it demands that we expose our silent prejudice, our silent surrender, our silent doubt and our silent anger–and allow ourselves the opportunity to leave our houses and arrive at a place where we do not control all the circumstances, but instead, trust that a bit of inspiration might just fill our souls.

It may be the only reason for the church to still be around. Even though the religious system is flawed with many excesses and errors, it still maintains the premise that we’re just better when we’re together.

  • I will not give up on people.
  • I will not believe that technology is a replacement for fellowship.
  • I will not consider myself to be old-fashioned simply because I want more of humanity and less of contrivance.

Whosoever will may come. It is the only worthy invitation.

It is the only way to find a better path … to survive.

   

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