Codicil

Codicil: (n) an addition or supplement that explains, modifies, or revokes a will or part of one.

It was probably a Saturday morning, and the young fellow was perched in his tiny office in the back of the sanctuary, wondering what in the hell he was gonna talk about the following morning during his sermon at the church.

Although he wanted to be a minister, he forgot how terrifying it could be, to try to come up with a twenty-one minute homily once a week which would both appease and inspire. (Unfortunately, those two words–“appease” and “inspire”–often tend to contradict each other.)

So imagine his glee when he came up with the thought that God’s love–which he had taught about many times–was unconditional.

How good that was going to make everybody feel! The classic warm-and-fuzzy and oh-so-cuddly. He certainly had enough Bible verses to back up his contention.

So when he shared it the following morning it became so popular that it spread across the town, the Internet and eventually became a phrase that evoked tears and deep-rooted reflection from everyone who uttered it: unconditional love.

Unfortunately, the young minister who began this tumbling dice of good feeling failed to remind his congregation that there are codicils.

If love is the will of God, then we must sit down like good attorneys and read over the “will” a bit more carefully to understand how it is executed.

Just as grace demands that we be gracious and mercy is obtained by being merciful, God’s love is possessed by expressing affection and concern for those we deem to be “the least.”

If we fail to do this–in other words, be gracious–He resists our pride.

No mercy? Well–no mercy.

And if our love is not extended to those whom we psychologically view as untouchable, then God is completely willing to view us as equally uninteresting.

If I were to sum up the Bible in one word, it would be “if:”

  • If you want love, give love.
  • If you want mercy, share mercy.
  • If you want grace, be gracious.
  • And if you want understanding, try to understand something that you pretend is completely unacceptable.

 

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Clueless

Clueless: (adj) having no knowledge, understanding, or ability.

Three categories.

No knowledge: Hardly seems likely. In this information age, a decision to go without knowledge has to be a purposeful dodge to avoid it. It’s feasible, but even if we’re trying to escape, some of the volume still pierces our defenses. Therefore it’s difficult to use “no knowledge” as an excuse for avoiding responsibility.

No understanding: The ability to interpret the circumstances around us and come up with a suitable solution does require engaging our souls. If we’re just looking into a pool of self-interest or trying to ignore becoming connected with the people around us, we can certainly pretend we did not understand the severity of the situation.

Yet if you’re around someone who’s crazy and they threaten to do something drastic, it is unlikely that you can claim ignorance of the crime.

No ability: We might lack expertise. Expertise is achieved when we take the ability we have and teach it to be useful.

The concept of “natural talent” is humorous. The idea that our ability arrives intact and ready to go is mind-boggling.

Ability demands an obstacle course before it can be classified as capable of overcoming obstacles.

Clueless is a choice.

Attempting to remove oneself from knowledge, understanding and ability might temporarily give us the free pass of grace, but ultimately exposes us as charlatans who run away from the heat of the battle.

 

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Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart: (n) a person considered to be dangerously softhearted

Dictionary B

Human understanding might be possible if we would just come to the conclusion that it’s not our right to decide for others.

As a conservative might be willing to explain how certain types of people have cultural differences which cause them to react in unacceptable ways, a liberal will turn around and decide that the same people are victims of a greedy culture which does not care for them at all.

Here’s the truth: human beings are not nearly as organized, sinister or motivated as we would like to believe.

If I were comparing the average person to a substance, I contend that Play-Doh would be most appropriate. It sits on its can and does nothing until somebody frees it.

Free, it then becomes part of the playtime experience and is able to be molded into something that at least resembles a possibility.

I find myself at a disadvantage when I am in a roomful of conservatives because they are too damn sure of themselves to be smart.

And I am equally as uncomfortable when the bleeding-heart liberals target the rich as the offenders of the unfortunate poor.

Here’s what I know:

If I found myself extremely wealth, I would have to learn how to use my wealth productively, intelligently and generously–or else I would end up feeling like a big pile of rhinoceros poop.

Likewise, if I were suddenly homeless, I would have to tap the same initiative to find the best soup kitchens, odd jobs and warm, inexpensive places to sleep–to ensure that I didn’t turn into a belligerent mental case.

We will make progress when we realize that people do better when they are neither judged nor pitied.

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Arcane

dictionary with letter A

Arcane: (adj) understood by few; mysterious or secret

Arcane:

1. War has no purpose other than thinning the herd.

2. Self-esteem never leads to unity of human beings and greater understanding.

3. Women are better than men or men are better than women. Just not so.

4. Politics has no function in governing people.

5. A religion of rules is a prison of morals.

6. It is impossible to watch dark things without becoming darkened.

7. There is no way that studying one’s culture ever aids you in becoming a citizen of the world.

8. All religion is not the same. It must be held to a standard of mutual respect and cooperation with fellow humans.

9. Money does not give happiness, but the lack of money certainly welcomes despair.

10. The pursuit of knowledge without the appreciation of life is owning a race car without fuel.

11. Just as choosing up sides at basketball in gym class was an extraordinarily unsuccessful adventure, so is any attempt to segregate one another.

12. As soon as we stop being known by our skin color, our politics, our religion and our sexual orientation, we can actually begin to be known by the openness and good cheer of our hearts.

These ideas may be arcane, but they will continue to follow us until we turn around and welcome them in.

 

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AMA

dictionary with letter A

AMA: (abbr.) American Medical Association

Much to the chagrin of a physician or two who have crossed my path, I look on the medical field with the same level of respect–and caution–that I do with politics and religion.

I know that doctors want me to have faith in them and to accept their diagnosis and treatment without question. But like politics and religion, medicine has things it does well and other things yet to be achieved.

For instance, politics affords us a rudimentary form of democracy which is certainly better than any other style of government presently available. But it also thrusts upon us politicians, gridlock and a ridiculous amount of debate, which stall needful expansion.

In the same fashion, religion stands as a symbol of goodness and kindness in a world gone mad, while simultaneously translating the mercy of God into the misery of restrictions.

The American Medical Association is much the same. Although they offer many advances, it is undoubtedly true that much of what they do will be viewed in the future as the equivalent of placing leeches on the body of the ailing George Washington.

It’s just important to understand:

  • What medicine knows and what medicine doesn’t know
  • What religion does well and what religion does poorly
  • And how politics advances the cause of humanity, and also how it can deter

So here’s a clue: don’t do anything until you understand. And that doesn’t mean that you should comprehend, or why don’t you “get it?”

Move out on the basis of your own understanding.

Several years ago I told my personal physician that a certain medication made me feel sick, and rather than lowering my blood pressure, was actually raising it. She doubted my assertion. So the next time I went in I brought a report, explaining that the pill was under scrutiny and needed to be carefully administered. She was still not convinced, but I insisted that she take me off the medication. When she did I started feeling better.

Two months later the drug was removed from the market.

This is not my doctor’s fault; she was following the precepts of her particular religious practice. It was my responsibility to avoid something I didn’t understand.

There are many things I don’t understand about politics and religion–and also medicine.

But rather than assuming I’m ignorant, I just choose to delay joining the party … until I’m sure of what’s in the punch.

Already

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Already: (adv.) before or by now or the time in question: e.g. Anna has suffered a great deal already

It’s a bratty word.

Oh, I’m sure you could convince me that the term can be uttered without exuding exasperation. But every time I hear the word “already,” somebody is complaining about being surprised, caught off guard or ill-prepared to make a transition.

Just think about the things that have been suggested in our country, with the response from the populace being, “Already?”

  • Black people should be treated like human beings. Already?
  • Women should be given the right to vote. Already?
  • Students should have a council in school to voice their opinions. Already?
  • Baseball should be integrated. Already?
  • Women should make the same amount of money as men in the marketplace. Already?
  • Gay people should have rights. Already
  • We should put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Already?

Remember this–bad people are bigots; good people are procrastinators. The only difference is a timetable. Bad people will continue to blow things up even when society has adopted the concept. Good people are reluctant to accept reform, drag their feet, and then later insist “they were behind it the whole time.”

Here’s what I’ve learned: by the time an idea is able to be aired, it probably should be considered. Whether I am comfortable with it or not will not change its importance.

“Already” is a way to slow things down so we can feel that we control everything around us,instead of accepting our role as participants in growing toward more understanding … even though we don’t always understand.

 

Allegro

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Allegro: 1. (n) the name of a passage or movement of music in a fast tempo 2. (adj.) at a brisk tempo

I used to believe with all my heart, soul, mind and strength that appearing to be smart, intellectual, well-versed and verbal was essential in order to maintain the integrity of the self-deception of my general superiority. I did stupid stuff:

  • I lied about my qualifications.
  • I embellished on my abilities.
  • I touted my sexual prowess.
  • And I exaggerated the depth of my understanding.

I was afraid that the package of human ability provided for me was insufficient to my personal indebtedness.

One day I just woke up and got sick of being a fool. I stopped wearing the jester’s hat and dancing for the kings. I realized that the greatest gift I could give myself was to stop faking it.

The greatest gift I could give to God was to find a way to get along with human beings.

And the greatest way to get along with other human beings was to simplify what I shared with them.

You see, when I read the word “allegro,” I think of all the pretentious musicians I have ever met, who think they are extraordinarily sophisticated by expressing musical notations in Latin or Italian, which, when translated, still mean “fast, slow, loud and soft.” You see, the Italians were not trying to be “poofy”–it was just their language.

If you find yourself searching for a word to express a simple idea so that you can impress those around you, then you are probably suffering from a severe case of viral “jerkitis.” Especially if you need to say the words with a foreign accent or a bit of flourish in your pronunciation.

So when I’m discussing music in a recording studio and find myself surrounded by the “hierarchy” of the craft, I don’t use the word “allegro.” I merely say, “This is faster.”

Yes, often they correct me, using the proper term for such a maneuver.

But I just smile, knowing in my soul that the art of simplicity is the true definition of intelligence.

Aladdin’s Lamp

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Aladdin’s lamp: (n) a talisman enabling its holder to gratify any wish

I guess I’ve thought about this. Who hasn’t?

What would I do with three wishes?

It’s been the plotline of dramas and comedies throughout the history of entertainment. And indirectly, both religion and politics have alluded to such an unlikely possibility.

I guess, for me, it’s easy. Before pursuing three wishes, I would have to deal with my own needs. Maybe I should use a wish for it: “I wish I understood my own heart better.”

What is my heart?

  • It’s the emotional part of me which controls who I am, which I publicly deny as having any authority over my being.
  • It is how I carefully learn to maneuver my selfishness into a practical application which still includes room for others.
  • It’s where I learn to budget sufficiency until it becomes wealth.
  • My heart is a place where I am no longer afraid to express my feelings for fear of transparency
  • It is a journey into a cave with the hope of finding light at the end of the tunnel.
  • It is admitting that I have love for myself which I should translate equally to others.
  • It is taking my position as the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth” without it ending up being a pompous boast.
  • It is stopping to think that if I am thirsty, someone else might need a cup of cold water.
  • It is clearing out my inner being without being afraid of discovering too many rats and spiders.

Yes, before I could rub Aladdin’s lamp and promote my three wishes, I would have to understand what I really desire and why it is of value to me.

After all, what is of more consequence?

The idea? Or the person who thinks?

The prayer? Or the faithful soul?

The well-sung hymn? Or the passionate singer?

Sometimes we forget: wishing for things means they have to be used by people.

In order for that to be effective, we should wish for understanding.

Akin

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Akin: (adj) of similar character: e.g. genius and madness are akin.

One of my favorite quotations from the Good Book is: “Wisdom is justified by all her children.”

What that means to me is that great ideas, noble causes and desirable notions are not always spawned from altars and pulpits.

Wisdom bears children which point to certain parents. What is the mother and father of great wisdom? What is akin to divine understanding?

I’ve discovered there are three great uncles who let me know when I am in the presence of lasting promises and golden principles. Everything akin to these three entities is worthy of our time and eternal in prospect:

1. Nothing is going to happen without me.

Every time someone tries to convince me that good things can occur without human involvement, I quietly slip out of the room to avoid the pending disaster.

2. It’s not about what I deserve.

Actually, what I deserve is not relevant. If it were balanced, I would also have to accept the times when I deserve punishment and instead am granted grace. The word “deserve” should be eliminated from the English language and replaced with “get.”

3. Nothing acceptable is accepted until it is rejected and continues to insist on being accepted.

Please understand, I do not think human beings are devoid of intelligence, but our intelligence suffers from blindness. We seem incapable of catching a vision for anything that isn’t immediately in the spectrum of our present doings.

So when I run across anything that submits to, aligns with or honors these three ideas, I realize I just may be sitting in the presence of greatness … because greatness is always the blending of need, sensitivity and curiosity.