Conclave

Conclave: (n) a private meeting.

Yet another word a writer should never use, because everyone reading his or her work would know a thesaurus had been consulted.

Too bad.

Because right now our world is plagued with a convergence of unrighteous conclaves.

Since we’re convinced that we can’t get along, we are shrinking our circle of affection down to those who agree with us on every point, and then meeting funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
together to be critical of all opponents to our ideas.

Such a conclave of young boys caused me to believe, until I was in the sixth grade, that girls actually did have “cooties.”

Such a conclave made seemingly rational monarchs and religious leaders decide to go on Crusades to slay the infidel in the Holy Land.

Such conclaves deemed it necessary to lynch those with black skin who dared to be “uppity.”

A conclave was responsible for the Third Reich.

Conclaves brought about the assassination of a great leader–whoever he or she may be.

A dynamic human being once stated that “wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst.”

But unfortunately, often such conclaves of a gathering of a pair or trio do not always bring about the sharing of Good News.

 


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Conceit

Conceit: (n) excessive pride in oneself

What is excessive?

It reminds me of the old saying about prunes: “Is two enough? Is six too many?”

Of course, the source of that little piece of whimsy is that if you eat too few, your bowels won’t flow, and if you eat too many, you end up funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
gushing.

I guess that’s the way it is with conceit.

If you don’t have enough self-awareness to believe in your abilities to get you through the tough times, then you’ll probably have a life that’s constipated–gripped in fear.

On the other hand, if you think the journey is all about proclaiming the power of your excellence, you will produce so much information that people will not want to be near you.

Here’s a simple way to handle it:  when someone asks what you do, tell them without adding any of your credentials and awards.

For instance, someone asked me the other day: “What do you do for a living?”

I responded, “I’m a writer.”

I stopped. I didn’t explain what I write, how much I write, or whether someone, somewhere decided to give me an award for my scrawlings.

As it turned out, they were completely comfortable with my answer and pursued no further.

Had I produced one more “prune of thought,” my questioner would have been turned off by my self-gushing.

 

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Comport

Comport: (v) to conduct oneself; behave.

In an attempt to avoid being considered assholes, we have gradually deteriorated the quality of character in almost every profession in our country.

By no means do I want to come across as a prig, and certainly not self-righteous, but it does occur to me that without some guidelines on howfunny wisdom on words that begin with a C we should comport ourselves–conduct our affairs–in the everyday world, we will start settling for less…until we have none.

For instance:

If you’re going to be a teacher, you should comport yourself by being willing to listen to things that sometimes may seem ridiculous.

If you’re a father, you should choose strength by respecting the equality you have with the women around you.

If you’re a preacher, you should comport yourself by being a student of humility.

If you’re a banker, you should reluctantly refuse loans and joyfully and gratefully accept deposits.

If you’re a politician, you should comport yourself by rejecting the erroneous concept that dishonesty is necessary to propel good ideas.

If you’re a writer, you should be an encourager.

If you’re a musician, you should uplift.

If you’re a laborer, you should believe that your work will endure.

If you are a believer in God, you should make God believable through the life you live.

If you’re an atheist, make sure you bring something to the table of caring humanism.

It is not necessary for us to judge one another.

But it is certainly required that we set standards on how we comport ourselves when we’re given the humbling opportunity of serving others.

 

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Comment

Comment: (n) a verbal or written remark expressing an opinion or reaction.

Having abandoned journalism, many forms of etiquette, courtesy and basic grammar, the Internet continues to pass along ideas from people who refuse to accept the fact that others have a creative bend and require consideration.

Somewhere in the past two decades we have lost the true definition of commenting. Let me begin by telling you what it is not.

A comment is not you offering an opinion. In other words, if someone writes an article stating that the President of the United States is a great historical figure filled with virtue, a comment would be on the writer’s approach, delivery, information and process in drawing conclusions. A comment is not jotting down, “Idiot, moron, and son-of-a-bitch” with multiple exclamation points. (A single exclamation point is supposed to express great passion. When I see two, I perceive stupidity.)

Commenting is letting folks know how what they had to share, think, or even a meal you prepared was received. It is not replacing their input with your dogma–feeling as if this resolves the issue for all time.

Often my children recommend a movie to me. If I watch it, I offer the following comment:

“I can see why you liked it. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for this movie on the night I watched it, but I did not garner the usual impact or inspiration that I normally enjoy from a flick. It is certainly the kind that I normally do pursue, but this particular one left me cold. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand what the writer and director were trying to communicate.”

This is commenting–a blend of honesty and humility allowing the person who has shared to leave the house without fear of being gunned down by a maniac.

I welcome comments.

I make errors.

But I do not give you permission to ravage my material simply because it busted out the walls of your mental one-room sublet.

 

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Comfortable

Comfortable: (adj) clothes or furnishing providing physical ease and relaxation.

I didn’t become a writer because I favor timeclocks. Deadlines were always dead to me.

I avoid them.

It happened to me this morning. I got up in the middle of the night and enjoyed a creative time of scrawling and bawling. I often do that.

The sheer beauty of God’s Universe and the joy I have in emoting about it sometimes turns me into a silly little girl who just found out that the boy she likes
didn’t check the right box on the note she sent asking if he liked her.

So when I awoke again, at what would be considered a normal “getting up time,” I was not comfortable with such an explosion of energy.

Guilt slipped in.

I thought to myself, I’ve got to get busy–write my blogs and post my articles, prepare my podcast. Hardboil my eggs.

My God, without all of these responsibilities, who am I? I become just some sort of guy walking around, breathing air, enjoying life as it happens, appearing to be without reasonable constraints.

I rolled over.

Sure…my blogs are getting posted later today. I assume this will merely create intrigue rather than disapproval. And if there are people out there waiting for them, they shall have the pleasure of perusing them in the afternoon.

It is important on our journey to be comfortable. You can tell when you’re around someone who is festering a gut-full of tension, because all you have to do is suggest the idea of pursuing comfort in your adult life, and they will quickly explain why this is impossible, irrational and a sign of having a “Peter Pan Syndrome.”

Peter Pan wanted to stay young.

I don’t need to be young. I can get old…

Just as long as you let me be comfortable.

 

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Coated

Coated: (n) a layer of covering

I, for one, appreciate and enjoy the candy coating on my aspirin.

I know it’s just a brief whiz-by of sweetness, but it keeps me from tasting any of that aspirin flavor that sticks in the back of your throat and makes you cough.

It’s just damned considerate.

This crossed my mind about twenty years ago, but I didn’t really do anything about it until last year. (Sometimes it takes nineteen years to work up the gumption to follow through on one of your own pieces of brilliance.)

But twenty years ago, I thought to myself, the problem with human relationships is that they aren’t candy-coated.

We walk around with some adult, grown-up notion that things should be nasty, and the more bitter they are the better it is–because we’ll end up with such a great, complaining story.

It wasn’t until last year that I realized that this applied to me. I was waiting for somebody else to put it into practice. But then I sat down one afternoon and realized that I am sometimes hard to swallow:

I can be bitter

I can be nasty

I can be sour.

And the truth of the matter is, my responsibilities require that I use candor and truthfulness to get the job done. After all, can there be anything worse than a writer who’s a liar–which may force him to write more lies later?

Yet there are human ingredients of sweetness that can be added to truth, so that we can feel love as we embrace reality.

May we never lose kindness.

May we never forget the power of being gentle.

May we always take into consideration a sense of humor.

And certainly, may our daily lives be blessed by the power of apology and the simplicity of a thank you.

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Chosen

Chosen: (adj) having been selected as the best or most appropriate.

Without spraying dark, sticky thoughts into the air, I must admit that if I knew what I know now, I might not have chosen to be born.

I don’t think I would have chosen Mary and Russell as my parents. Considering my youthful antics, they might not have chosen me.

I certainly would not have chosen to be raised in the Midwest of the United States during a season when prejudice, bigotry and self-righteousness were considered to be “American values.”

I wouldn’t have chosen to be fat. Even though some people try to gain their self-esteem while encased in blubber, the excess poundage does take its toll.

I don’t know exactly what I would have chosen–I mean, I could continue this list and probably offend everyone I know.

But I certainly would have chosen Jesus.

This is not because I’m a religious person. Matter of fact, I have been known to doze off immediately at the mention of prayer.

It’s the practicality.

It’s the humanity.

It’s the responsibility that Jesus of Nazareth placed on himself and his followers that lets me understand that he “gets it.”

He gets what it means to be a human being on this planet called Earth. I don’t know if his manifesto would work on other planets. I don’t know anything about habitation in other galaxies.

But Earth requires a certain payload to launch your rocket.

I’ve chosen that.

I fail at it, and as long as I realize it’s a failure on my part and not a master plot against my happiness, I’m usually just fine.

I don’t know what else specifically I would have chosen.

I would not have chosen a career as a writer, because criticism and obscurity are your only friends.

Would I have chosen to pen this essay? Probably not.

I got up in a rather relaxed, lazy mood, and your interest just didn’t interest me that much.

So I’ve chosen, at times, to persevere–even though the immediate benefit does not scream its worth.

 

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