Correctional Facility

Correctional facility: (n) a prison, especially for long-term confinement.

I think it’s safe to say that a plurality, if not a majority, of people think about prisons just about as much as they do the city dump or changing the batteries in their smoke detectors.

It’s not that we’re uncaring. It’s just that sometimes we are at such a loss as to know what to do that rather than taunting ourselves with the frustration of considering something, we pretend it vanished into thin air. (Kind of like when you pick your nose and pull one of those crusty funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
things out and rub it between your fingers until there’s no further evidence…)

Early on in my career in music and the arts, our musical group was invited to come and perform at the State Prison. I was traveling with two girls, and most folks thought it was a very bad idea for us to go to such a dangerous and potentially violent arena.

But if you think about it, as long as you’re not sleeping in, a prison is one of the safest places on earth. Everyone is restrained, threatened and guarded. (Perhaps we should consider this profile for Washington, D. C.  I digress.)

We did not take the gig because we wanted to bring hope or good cheer to the prisoners. No—it was because we were just starting out, and anyone who wanted us to play was our next best opportunity. (After all, you get tired of performing at nursing homes or church pot luck dinners.)

We arrived at the prison and discovered that the entire population was not invited to the concert. Matter of fact, only 150 inmates would be present—these being members of a Bible study held twice a week in the rec hall.

Well, I was young and impetuous, so I objected. I said that if I’d wanted to come and play my music for a bunch of Christians, I could have gone down to the Baptist Church, which “may or may not have just as many felons.”

Both the warden and chaplain were patient with me. They realized that I was immature and did not understand that I was carrying along with me two delicious “human treats,” which these men had not partaken of in some time.

They explained that even though they could protect the girls in our group from attack, they certainly could not shelter them from the trauma of being accosted with foul language.

I grumbled.

Well, we did our first show in front of the Bible Club, and it went so well that the warden asked me if we would do another show in front of about 200 of the inmates who were presently on “good behavior status.”

I immediately agreed.

Boy—did I learn a lesson. If those 200 prisoners were the “good behavior boys,” I shudder to think what would have happened if they had released the lions on us young Christians.

It was loud, overbearing, and it was difficult to get the inmates quiet enough to listen to the music—and only when the beat reached a certain level of intensity did they clap their hands and participate in the event.

Afterwards I felt humbled. I told the warden and the chaplain that I was sorry for being such a jerk.

They corrected me. The warden said, “Don’t you ever give up on the idea of trying to help someone—especially if it looks hopeless.”

I nearly cried.

Even though there’s a reason they call them correctional facilities—because most of the time, correction is the name of the game instead of rehabilitation—it is not our right to ever give up on those that God decided to create in His image.


Donate Button


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Advertisements

Bass

Bass: (n) a voice, instrument, or sound of the lowest rangeDictionary B

Tom was my friend.

I think that’s why we hated each other so much.

There are people we meet that we were never meant to be linked with, but because of projects, proximity and maybe even personality, we get slammed together with them in an uncomfortable relationship of tension. Unwilling to call them adversaries, we resort to the generic term, “friend.”

Tom and I sang together in a quartet. It was a group of our own making, and considering the fact that we were just teenagers, we did a good job of holding it together and doing more than practicing–on occasion actually performing in front of living people.

Tom wanted to be in charge of the group, but unfortunately, I already held that position–with accompanying diadem. So there was always friction about every decision and every musical composition we selected to mutilate in our inimitable style.

When Tom joined the group, I sang bass. There were many reasons for this.

First of all, I was the only one who could sing a Bb below middle C, which is mandatory for those with testosterone tones.

I also thought the girls really dug guys who sang low, feeling confident they were masculine simply by hearing them warm up on scales.

Tom didn’t think I was a good bass singer. He was always trying to undermine my efforts.

One day, he brought in a record to introduce us to a song that had a very low bass note, which was showcased in the middle of the tune as a solo without accompaniment. He coyly asked me if I could hit the note, and being young of years and mostly insane, I insisted it was within my range.

It wasn’t.

Honestly, it wasn’t within anybody’s range unless they were in a recording studio with the help of knobs and buttons.

So the first time we sang the song in public, Tom waited for that part to come along, where I was supposed to growl something in the basement of human vocals, and when the music stopped and it came my turn to lay in the part–well, let us say that I didn’t even come close.

Tom was ecstatic.

No one could really say that I missed the note, since I was not even able to frog out anything near its pond.

Tom later convinced the other members of the group that I was not a bass singer, and shortly thereafter, I left.

It was only a few weeks later that Tom and the boys returned to me, asking me to sing again–since I was the only one who knew how to read music, play piano and arrange vocals.

They now wanted me to sing lead instead of bass, and we launched the group again.

A few days passed of peace and tranquility.

And then Tom decided I couldn’t sing lead …

Donate Button

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

*******************
Don’t let another Christmas go by without purchasing Jonathan’s bestselling Christmas book!

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

Click here to read all about Mr. Kringle's Tales...26 Stories Til Christmas! Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling.

Click here to read all about Mr. Kringle’s Tales…26 Stories Til Christmas! Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling.

 

“The best Christmas stories I’ve ever read!”

From the toy shop to the manger, an advent calendar of Christmas stories, beginning on November 30th and ending on Christmas morning.

We need a good Christmas this year.

Mr. Kringle’s Tales will help you make it so.

Buy today.

"Buy

  

 

 

 

 

Ballad

Ballad: (n) a slow sentimental or romantic song.Dictionary B

There are only two reasons for music.

I guess I should present that better.

After many years of playing, writing and performing music, I have found that it offers two functions better than almost anything else: it makes people dance and it makes people feel.

Honestly, music that doesn’t elicit either of those reactions tends to be either manipulated or industrial.

That’s why I like ballads.

Even though I find the dictionary definition above to be a bit passive-aggressive by referring to this style of music as slow, sentimental and romantic, I feel that slowing things down, having enough sentiment to produce emotion and on occasion to be romantic, to be confirmation of a more enlightened human life.

I favor ballads so much that someone once commented, “You can’t do a whole concert of ballads.”

I am so amused by anyone who thinks they can manipulate things of beauty to do exactly what they want them to do to fit into the box provided. You can do anything with music you want as long as it makes people dance or it makes people feel.

And every once in a while… there is a time to dance and on other occasions, a time to feel.

 

Donate Button

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

*******************

NEW BOOK RELEASE BY JONATHAN RICHARD CRING

WITHIN

A meeting place for folks who know they’re human

 $3.99 plus $2.00 S&H

$3.99 plus $2.00 Shipping & Handling

$3.99 plus $2.00 Shipping & Handling

Buy Now Button

 

Adrift

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adrift: (adj) 1. of a boat or its passengers, floating without being either moored or steered. 2. Of a person, being lost or confused.

You see, I think we have a quandary. We have to learn how three words are quite different:

  • Uncaring
  • Bohemian
  • And peaceful

When I graduated from high school, I didn’t want to be normal. I had studied “normal” through twelve years of the educational system. Now, I was not critical of it. Those who found it appealing were not my enemies, but I did not get in line to take my number, waiting to be “the next one served.”

I found myself adrift. Those around me believed I was uncaring.

Not knowing what to do, I basically chose to do very little. Truthfully, I didn’t do enough to survive–at least, financially. The critics rolled in their opinions. Family was enraged. Friends deserted me.

I was on my boat and decided to float for a while instead of feverishly paddling or hooking some sort of motor up to my life so I could troll the waters of existing social acceptability.

I knew what I liked. I liked music, I liked performing and I liked writing. Was I good? Honestly, it was difficult to find out because I was always dodging the bullets of my pistol-packing townsmen, who were determined to “gun down” my laziness and put me back into submission with the grown-up way of thinking.

Yet I resisted.

Because I didn’t paddle and try to resist the tides and currents, I bumped into a lot of things, did some damage and appeared to those around me to be Bohemian.

“Adrift,” by definition, connotes a loss of control. But you see, I believe the GREATEST loss of control was giving it to someone else, who held my life as a timecard and asked me to punch in for permission to eat and breathe.

It took me about eight years to finally blend my motivation, talent, purpose and opportunities together, to come up with a lifestyle which was acceptable to those around me because it possessed some sort of pay stub.

I never resented those eight years that I was adrift. They were painful, often stupid, frightening, lonely and occasionally enlightening. They gave me the determination I needed to set a course and right my ship in a direction to follow my dreams instead of toe the line.

So even though “adrift” may seem to be a negative posture for any vessel, be it nautical OR human, for me, it was an oxymoron: a meaningful aimless quest.