Not Long Tales … October 8th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4191)

9.

Write Before My Eyes

At age twenty-five, just shortly before his wedding day, Nathan Merced decided he wanted to write a novel. Energized by his romance and a bit greedy for some notoriety and profit, he envisioned a book showcasing all of his art and much of his heart.

Now, nearing his fortieth birthday and a father of two, he returned to the dream, determined to once and for all pen a lasting tribute to immortalize his name and offer credence for his time on Earth (or words to that effect).

Staring at the page, with the working title, “Monstrous,” Nathan paused, considering his byline. What name should he use for his book? He had never favored pen names—how would people know it was you who wrote it? Nathan Merced was a solid handle, he thought, but it didn’t have that three-name flow common to writer—like Edgar Allen Poe.

He thought about using all three of his names: Nathan Edward Merced. But suddenly, Edward sounded very common. He decided to transform Edward into Edvard. So now typed on the page in front of him was:

Monstrous

A Novel

By Nathan Edvard Merced

And the morning was the first day.

Coming back after a lunch (which he tried to make continental and light, so as not to bulge his brain with fat grams) Nathan felt his best approach was to conceive a work with a popular theme—of course, nowadays that would be science fiction or a graphic novel. Bringing up something about the Apocalypse would be a plus. Bouncing a few ideas around, he decided to write them down, just in case one of them fired up the ferocity of his writing thrust.

How about a book where a human becomes a monster, while simultaneously, a monster from an alien planet becomes a human? Yes, yes…then they mysteriously meet somewhere in the middle of their transition, and in those few hours of complete similarity—one being half monster and one being half human—they fall madly in love, only to move away from each other as the human becomes more monster and the monster more human, until finally, the human (now monster) kills and eats the monster (now human) whom he or she had once loved.

Nathan sat back and considered. It could work. It could really work.

But did he know enough about monsters to write about one? He laughed. Since there really weren’t any monsters, anything he made up would be fine. No one could challenge him, citing the “Book of Monsters.”

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. He had told his wife he needed to be left alone, so assumed she would answer, running interference. But the knocking continued. Finally, Nathan’s next-door-neighbor, Jack, was standing outside his bay window, pointing to the front door. Nathan heaved a sigh of despair. Apparently, his wife got caught up in some temporary difficulty and failed to be the watchman required.

So Nathan waved at Jack, slowly stood to his feet and walked to the front door. He welcomed a man who was obviously agitated. He invited Jack into the study where Nathan had just been involved in writing the Great American Tome. Before he could offer Jack drink or even seat, the man launched.

“My daughter Cynthia,” he began frantically, “I need help. I need wisdom. I came to you because you have more education than me. You’ve got some sort of degree, don’t you?”

Nathan sat down slowly in his desk chair. “Well, I’ve got a bachelor’s in fine arts.”

“Perfect,” Jack said quickly. “That’s more than I’ve got. I thought you maybe could help—here’s the problem. In high school, my Cynthia’s history class has been studying the 1970’s and she has become obsessed with Patty Hearst.”

Nathan frowned, trying to remember the name. Jack, seeing his confused face, offered, “You remember her, right? That rich girl that got captured by the Symbionese Liberation Army.”

Nathan’s eyes grew wide. “Listen, Jack—you obviously know more about this than I do.”

Jack objected. “That’s only because I looked it up. I thought I should at least know the name of what was destroying my daughter. Do you understand? My beautiful, young daughter, Cynthia, came to me today with a headband tied around her head and insisted that from now on, we should address her as ‘Scratchy.’”

“Scratchy?” repeated Nathan, trying to keep up.

Jack shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t know why she wants to be ‘Scratchy.’ She’s read up on all this stuff, she knows all the details. She even knows what Patty Hearst wore the day she was abducted. Nathan, for her sixteenth birthday, she’s asked for an Uzi.”

Nathan chuckled nervously. “Come on, Jack,” he said, trying to sound reasonable. “She’s a teenager. It’s a phase she’s going through.” He motioned to the page on his computer. “Listen, I’ve got some work going on here. I think you should back off—don’t do anything to either discourage her or encourage her.”

“Did I tell you the worst part?” jack responded impatiently. “She is advertising—posting on the Internet—asking for someone to come and kidnap her.”

Nathan crinkled his brow. “Oh-h-h. That’s not good.”

Jack sat, shaking his head, staring at his hands, not saying a word. Thirty seconds of silence went by, creeping up to a minute. Nathan, realizing that Jack was awaiting some kind of guidance of divine proportion, finally responded gently, “Hey, Jack…”

Jack stood up, and Nathan rose, too, speaking. “Listen,” he said, “I am gonna help you with this, but not right now. I think I told you last week. I’m on a jag. I’ve hitched a plane. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m really buzzed about writing this novel, and here I am. See? I’m sittin’ here and it’s happenin’. We’ll talk about Cynthia later. Just go home, lock all your doors and keep an eye on her.”

They arrived at the front door. Jack turned and looked at Nathan like a desperate man on his way to the gallows. “Okay,” he said slowly, “if you say so. But I don’t think I can keep crazy people from attacking my house to snatch my daughter.” A quaver invaded his speech as the last word was spoken.

Nathan nodded his head, walked over, patted him on the back—but literally pushed him out the door and on his way.

Nathan quickly returned to his computer, trying to regain the energy of his monster-human story. He was on the verge of coming up with an idea concerning how the sexual parts of the emerging monster and unfolding human were difficult to…what would be the word? Well, he decided, let’s go with “reconnoiter.” But their love was so strong that somehow, they found a place for everything.

As Nathan turned back to type up the ideas that were eeking out of his brain, there was another knock at the door. He was stuck. He now knew his wife wasn’t home to sidestep the danger, and he didn’t want anyone else doing jumping jacks to get his attention through the bay window, so he eased to his feet and went to the front of the house, peering through the curtain to see who had come to invade his privacy. He recognized him immediately. It was the new minister from the church down the street. (Nathan had only met him twice. Church didn’t come up often on the Merced schedule.)

All at once, the minister winked at Nathan, glimpsing his peering position behind the curtain. Exposed— “made,” as they often said in police dramas—Nathan pulled the curtain back to its former position and stood tall for a moment, trying to remember the preacher’s name. He remembered that when he first met the fellow, his name reminded him of donuts. Powered? Glazed? Jelly-filled?

Unlikely.

Nathan went to the door and opened it. Fortunately, the minister, well-trained by his seminary, solved the problem. “Hello, Mr. Merced,” he said brightly. “I hope you remember me.” He reached out his hand to Nathan and continued. “I’m Reverend Thomas Duncan.”

Nathan laughed inside. There it was. Like Dunkin Donuts. He shook Duncan’s hand but decided to keep the conversation at the door instead of letting it spill out into the house.

The polite parson, realizing he had not been welcomed inside, began to launch on his mission. “I don’t mean to bother you, but I’m contacting all the church families because we have a…how should I say? Well, I guess it’s a crisis.” He quickly added, “But also an opportunity.”

For a crisis, Nathan felt forced to invite the minister in. They walked back to the study where the novel had been on the verge of being unleashed, Nathan perched behind his computer, hoping to create a visual for not talking too long.

The young minister perched and explained. “We have gotten information about a refugee family from Central America. They were just rescued from the Atlantic Ocean. You see, Mr. Merced, they were so poor, so frightened of military retribution, that they made a raft—to the best of their ability. Although I have to be honest. I don’t know how they would have any information on how to construct such a vessel. But somehow or another, they got together a raft and launched it into the Caribbean—all six members. Mom, Dad and four kids, the oldest being twelve.”

Nathan was frustrated. He felt a long discourse coming on and he was not in the mood for it. He could just feel the inspiration dribbling out of his body. Here he was, on the precipice of writing the first paragraph—or maybe even chapter—of “Monstrous,” and he was being held captive by an overwrought reverend. Yet Nathan had no idea how to shut the man up, so the soliloquy continued.

“Well, as you probably guessed, they got the raft past the tides and into the ocean, but it began to fall apart. The family members ended up clinging to it, holding on for their lives. As the story goes, they figured out a way to catch fish, or some sort of sea life, which they broke apart, shared and ate raw. On hot days, they licked the sweat off each other for moisture, and when it rained, after the storm passed, they would remove their clothes and wring them out into each other’s mouths to achieve hydration. After six days on the ocean, they were rescued by a fishing trawler, begged for asylum and arrived on the mainland of the United States with no place to go. When the notice of their plight went out on the Internet, I immediately contacted the authorities and offered our town, and said that our church would provide this family lodging for two weeks, until they could gain their admission, get assistance and make their way to becoming part of our great country.”

Even though Nathan was absorbed in his own concerns, the tale was so compelling that a tear came to his eye, yet he bravely fought it back in respect of regaining his muse. “Listen,” he said, “we can’t have a family near here. You see, the problem is, Pastor, there’s a girl who lives next door and she’s kind of crazy right now. She wants to be abducted by…what should I call them…scoundrels. I don’t have time to give details—but I don’t think this is a good place for this lost family, but I will tell you what I’ll do. I’m gonna sit down right here—right here at my desk—and I’m gonna write you a check. Yes, I’m gonna give you a donation to help these folks.”

Nathan grabbed his checkbook from the drawer, took his pen and scrawled the gift. He ripped it out and handed it to Pastor Duncan, who said with as much vigor as he possibly could, “Oh! Twenty dollars! Well…that should help.”

Nathan interrupted him. “That’s what they say, Pastor. Every little bit helps.”

The startled preacher responded, “And this is just that. A little bit…”

The young pastor quickly stood to his feet, shook Nathan’s hand and headed for the door, asking him as he walked, “If you have any other people you know or ideas, please contact me.”

Nathan, a bit ashamed, confused, yet a tad irate over his donation being trivialized, tried to change the subject. “Hey, preacher,” he said. “You know how I remembered your name?”

The minister shook his head. Nathan chuckled. “Donuts. I remembered ‘donuts’ and that’s how I knew your name was Duncan.” Nathan laughed.

The minister smiled. “Huh,” he said. “I never heard that one before.”

There was no more conversation.

Nathan’s mind was already floating back to his computer and the pastor’s focus began to float to the lost souls who had floated his way.

With the departure of the cleric, Nathan gleefully shut the door behind him and ran to the computer to resume his quest for the Great American Novel. He hadn’t even made it to his seat when his phone buzzed. He glanced down at the screen. A text from his wife. He wanted to ignore it. He wanted to purposely set it aside to demonstrate his devotion and dedication to his mission. But after all, it was his wife. How could he ever explain to her that he had declined her text?

So he punched the button and the text came up. “Son arrived at school dressed in drag. Meeting required immediately. 2:00 P. M.”

Nathan wanted to throw the phone across the room, but such actions always ended up costing money, only offering temporary satisfaction. He glanced at his watch. Twenty minutes until two, and the school was ten minutes away.

He shouted at the walls around him, “How the hell am I supposed to write a masterpiece in this environment, where I am constantly interrupted, and I don’t have the chance to transform small ideas into great ones? My God! How did the masters ever achieve their successes, surrounded by sniveling mortals?”

He finished his little speech, so enthralled with his boisterous outburst that he quickly typed onto his screen the phrase, “sniveling mortals.” He would certainly want to use that later.

He decided to take ten minutes—ten holy minutes, ten consecrated minutes—and see if he could add to the already burgeoning possibilities of “Monstrous.” But rather than being inspired by his efforts thus far, the plot line began to mock him.

Who would be interested in a half-monster and half-human, getting busy?

How would he sell the book to kids under fifteen once it was dubbed too racy? They would certainly read it, but they would download it from their friends, and he wouldn’t make a penny.

And finally, the worst realization. What kind of name was “Monstrous” for a novel?

He was so discouraged.

Why couldn’t Jack take care of his own daughter?

Why didn’t the preacher start somewhere else to seek aid?

Why didn’t his son choose Saturday to experiment with women’s clothes?

A sense of gloom, and then doom, fell upon him like a pelting summer rain. He closed up his computer, heaved a sigh, stood to his feet and walked toward the study door, turning for a moment to address his computer.

“Good-bye, old buddy,” he said softly. “I don’t think I’ll come again. There just don’t seem to be any great stories left to tell.”

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … January 31st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3569) 

On The Pot

I sit on the pot

Trying to decide

Should I go to the other room,

Chilly and looming with shadows?

Or remain warmer, but totally unenlightened

The difference matters only to me

And I am indifferent

Listen to me, child of God

There is no such thing as writer’s block

Just writers

Who attempt to block out whiny ideas

Mostly because they don’t glisten

Yes, they sniff of trite

Grab the thesaurus

Meaningless, worthless, no value, vacant, without purpose, without…

Readers

Therefore without the honor of being deemed a writer

But it is the trivial that dances for us

Not the Austrian princess swirling to a Strauss waltz in a gala ballroom

But rather, your aging mother swinging her hips to the music

As she stares out the kitchen window, washing dishes

You see, there is no mundane

Unless we are all mudheads

If that be the case, then fascinate ourselves we will

By using the butterfly flitting across the babbling brook?

How ridiculous

After all, we are the babblers

Given life, but demanding LIFE

Yet living is always best experienced first hand

For now, I neither travel to the chilly space

Or return to the toasty surroundings

I am writing on the pot

Historical porcelain

The unheralded, magnificent seat of inspiration

 

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Confessing … November 7th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2745)

XXVII.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

I was 23 years old, and already the father of two little boys. I had no regular job and was quickly becoming known for mooching lodging and meals off of friends and relatives.

My saving grace was that all the people of the town knew I had some musical talent.

I had proven this recently by winning a contest, and in so doing, being awarded a recording session with 100 free albums.

I was thrilled.

Every time somebody would ask when I was going to get a job, I explained that I was getting ready for the project. I was blessed to have a music group filled with friends who believed in my writing.

We went to do the record and ended up having a studio engineer who had seen us at the talent contest, and was very excited about working with us.

The first couple of songs went really well, but when we came to the third selection, I went into the booth to record my piano first, before we laid down vocals.

In the process of playing the tune, I hit a really bad note. It was isolated off by itself. I was trying to hit a Db, but my finger slipped and I ended up with a C included. Without going into too much detail, it sounded terrible and it was obvious I had made an error.

When I finished the piece, the engineer waited for me to request another go-through.

I didn’t.

I asked him to play it back and when the foul-sounding note came over the speakers, I pretended I had planned it that way. He even gently took me to the side and asked if I was sure I did not want to go back in to correct the note.

I told him I was fine with it.

Matter of fact, that note remained through the whole session, mix-down, and was pressed onto the final record.

I was so defensive over being a jobless dad that I did not want to admit I had made a mistake.

You see, my sin was not in being young, foolish and without money. My sin was being prideful and defensive about my situation.

I look back on that day in horror.

It is difficult for me to believe that anybody could be so stupid–and then I turn on the television set and listen to grown men and women in politics, defending their mistakes as if they had actually planned them.

Sometimes we hit sour notes.

Our only advantage is to point them out before others discover them, or at least change them … before they become part of the permanent record.

confessing piano

 

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Ask Jonathots … October 22nd, 2015

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ask jonathots bigger

I am a senior in high school and they want me to declare my major for planning my college career. I can’t make up my mind because there are too many things I like to do. I play piano and french horn, I’m very good with computers, and I also love to write. How do you decide “what you want to be when you grow up?”

If you don’t mind, I’d like to give you two parts to this answer.

First of all, it’s difficult to know, when you’re a senior in high school, that the reason family and adult counselors are trying to push you to discover your major for college is that they want to brag to other people about it.

It has little to do with you. The relatives want to say, “Well, Brian is going to be an attorney…a doctor…a professor…an engineer.”

It allows for the “oohs” and “aahs” which cause grown people around you to feel they have succeeded in raising you up to be a fine young person.

Yes, I’m asking you to be a little suspicious of people who are in a hurry for anything. You’re on the verge of making two major decisions which will determine your peace of mind and your sense of soul satisfaction:

  • How do I make a wage?
  • Who am I going to live with for the rest of my life while I make that wage?

Making the wrong decision on either of these proposals is the main ingredient in unhappiness.

So don’t be in a hurry. There are people who do not declare a major until they’re juniors or seniors in college, and as long as they’re willing to buck up to the course requirements, it doesn’t make any difference.

But as to the second part of your question, “What do I want to do when I grow up?”–that is a bit more intricate and a deeper issue.

It’s a good idea to peruse what you enjoy, but I believe there are three things that go into picking an occupation or answering a calling:

1. Can I do what I want to do for long periods of time without complaining, while still finding new ways to enjoy it?

Boredom is your worst enemy in life. It is the source of poorly timed accidents, and bad choices which can lead to all sorts of misfortune and sin. Make sure that what you choose to do evolves enough that it keeps you interested.

2. Is it going to help anyone else?

If you are able to make money and make blessing for other people at the same time, you will never have any trouble sleeping or have any misgivings about your choice of work.

3. Does it offer a branch?

Here’s a fact: if you go into a line of work that allows you to branch out into other aspects of your interests at the same time, it is most excellent.

So of the things you listed–music, computers and writing–use your great intelligence to find a direction for your efforts, where all three of those might come into play.

Just a thought.

But since you’re in the thought process, also remember: thinking, by its very nature, requires that you slow down and not be in any big hurry.

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We need a good Christmas this year.

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G-Poppers … June 5th, 2015

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G-Popper

G-Pop just decided not to do so.

He was considering offering some insights for his children and grandchildren on the “Jenner-gender-bender” situation with Bruce emerging as Caitlyn.

He passed.

Why? Because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

It’s not that G-Pop thinks he’s ignorant, ill-informed or without some degree of wisdom. No–G-Pop contends that none of us know what we’re talking about.

So the question might be raised: why does G-Pop write books and post blogs if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about? That’s simple.

Somebody who doesn’t know what he’s talking about needs to remind everybody that we don’t know what we’re talking about.

For truth is a mysterious mixture of understanding history and assessing the present, while including the chaos of the future.

Who could possibly accurately discern such things?

So what we tend to share is what we feel, believe and think.

Of course, the trouble is that what we feel is based on our preferences; what we believe can be contingent on doctrines of people who lived nearly 4,000 years ago, and what we think has an overly exaggerated sense of importance from analyzing some statistics and data.

Here’s the truth of the matter–nobody knows Jenner. He is known by God and his own heart, when he’s open to such revelation, just like the rest of us.

So G-Pop realized that what he feels, believes and thinks is insignificant. What he’s going to do is the only thing that counts.

So what is G-Pop going to do about the “Jenner-gender-bender” situation?

Absolutely nothing.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant…February 11, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn Feb 11

Nearly seven years ago I began this daily essay called Jonathots–2,500 entries. I would like to dedicate today’s offering to all the little voices I have cried out into the wilderness.

I Write

I write because I am wrong.

I am wrong because I am not right.

I scribble, searching for truth.

Truth scurries from my pen, mocking me.

I persevere because I require a mission.

I seek a mission to learn the power to persevere.

I question, starving for answers.

I want answers to justify my questions.

I believe in God because I don’t want to give up on people.

I study people. They are the breath of God.

I love my neighbor because hate is exhausting.

I am still exhausted because my love is incomplete.

I laugh to avoid crying.

I cry because the laughing fails to heal.

I have stopped judging because the blowback is ferocious.

And being ferocious only scares the infirmed, who need my gentleness.

I write to question the wrong.

I am wronged to have reasons to write.

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Boiler plate 

Come Out … May 1, 2012

(1,501) 

You are living in Paris, France, in 1942.

You have just finished your morning croissant and tea, and you step out of your house into a world filled with huge red flags sporting swastikas.The Nazis are in control. The Nazis are everywhere. The Nazis seem powerful–hell, invincible. The Nazis insist they make sense, so you are gradually lured into accepting the perceived sensibility. The Nazis … well, the Nazis are Nazis.

What should you do?

Move ahead in time. Conservative, liberals, Puritans, Epicureans, religious, atheist, Republican, Democrat, “innies” and “outies.” The world is determined to start a gang, get as many members as are willing to submit to the rules, and reign with power and intimidation as necessary, in order to achieve the agenda.

It never makes it right.

How about 1958 in Birmingham, Alabama? It was not only improper, but illegal for a black person to partake of a white person’s drinking fountain. The rule of the day was wrong–but that didn’t make any difference, because it was not only the law but also the custom, which was also the preference–which ended up being the acceptable. But it wasn’t really acceptable.

There is no way to be part of this world and ever find a path of righteousness. Simultaneously, you can’t hate the world around you and think that you are enacting the love of God. What is right? What can you do if you are living in Nazi-occupied France in 1942? How about Jim-Crow-Alabama in 1958? Vietnam War era 1969? Watergate, 1972? Moral majority–1985? Clinton and Monica, 1998? Weapons of mass destruction, 2003? Banks, finance corporations and lending institutions–2008?

Don’t you think these are good questions? Because it doesn’t make any difference whether the goal of your organization is to reestablish purity or if the aspiration or your particular clique is to push forward some more liberal agenda. In both cases a standard is being established which alienates human beings, and therefore will historically be foolish.

I have friends who hate the world. I have friends in the world who hate the church. I know churches who hate sinners. I know sinners who think they despise God. All of these friends make their cases, scream their arguments and at the end of the rant, are all wrong. Because here’s the truth: NoOne is better than anyone else.

Any movement, doctrine, philosophy or disposition that mocks and contradicts that concept is in itself going to be the source of ridicule within a generation. In other words, stupidity seems powerful until truth sheds light on its weaknesses and leaves it naked and barren of purpose.The only principle that remains steadfast–since the beginning of time– is NoOne is better than anyone else.

So if you’re sitting in some religious conclave, deciding that some individuals are inferior in God’s eyes because you have discovered the essence of doctrinal supremacy, you are wrong and will be left desolate. The only truth that has lasted since Adam started his gardening is that we’re all in this together and separating ourselves off into ANY kind of difference only creates conflict, which when resolved, makes the combatants look like imbeciles.

I love the church. I love the world. I love Republicans. I love Democrats. I love Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and anyone else that has human skin and a soul. And what do I mean by love?

  1. I will leave you alone to the evaluation of our heavenly Father.
  2. If you insist on being detrimental to humanity, I will defeat you by continuing to enact that “NoOne is better than anyone else.”
  3. I will use the greatest weapon available to achieve those purposes by instituting good cheer in my own life and allowing Jesus to overcome the world.
  4. I will come out and be separate, refusing to participate in any endeavor which targets human beings for scrutiny instead of embracing them as brothers and sisters.
  5. I will honor only one tradition–my space is sacred as long as your space is, too.
  6. I will undermine efforts to create any kind of super-race, super-cult, super-party or super-god which is determined to alienate instead of rejuvenate.
  7. I will outlast you.

I have friends, members of my family, acquaintances and notables in our society who all believe the best path is to give in to the present insanity. They are Frenchmen, devouring their croissants, and reluctantly–but still faithfully–saluting Hitler. They are trying to get by through giving in. They see a world that has gone crazy, and are assuming that some form of lunacy is necessary in order to maintain integrity. They are surrounded by tanks, flags and despots who really have no idea what to do next–yet they believe they are in the hands of the powerful.

The United States of America is one major disaster away from bankruptcy, yet we still continue to listen to our economists, politicians, intellectuals and pundits offer their predictable opinions with little revision. As Jesus said about the Pharisees, you should give them respect for their position, but for God’s sakes, don’t listen to anything they say.

Hear, hear. We desperately need some intelligent people of fortitude who will cease to argue with the world, but at the same time, will come out from among the confused horde and be separate. Is this a popular message? No. Quite the contrary. “Popular” is what gets us in trouble. This is a voice crying in the wilderness, saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord and make His path straight.” It is a voice that refuses to give into the voice of repetition simply because it’s so loud.

It is a voice that holds ONE truth to be self-evident: NoOne is better than anyone else.

 

  

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