22 February 2018

Second Thoughts ~ End IT Now!!!!!!!!!

Greetings Dear Reader,

Today is the day the I try to call attention to the End It Movement.  The desire is to shine a light on slavery and human trafficking.  For those of you who do not realize it, this happens every day in every large city in America and many other leading nations. 

We are talking millions of humans trapped in financial, cultural, or sexual slavery.  Fifty-five percent are women and young girls.  It is worse that the horrors you just imagined.  It is.  I will not tax you further for time.  Click on the End Link above and learn what you can do.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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On Guns and Their Control ~ The Nature of Humans

Greetings Dear Reader,

In the opening scene of Star Trek Five: The Final Frontier (arguably the worst of the Star Trek movies), we find ourselves witnessing events on Nimbus III, The Planet of Galactic Peace.  On a planet devoted to peace guns are not allowed. 

This has not prevented the locals from designing and building weapons.  They have compressed air rifles that shoot stones.  The Federation ambassador on the planet states, “Our new age died a quick death. The settlers we conned into coming here were the dregs of society.  They soon began fighting amongst themselves.  When we forbade them weapons they soon began to fashion their own.”

In the popular game, Skyrim war is called the “Season Unending”.  We have been killing each other for all of recorded history.  The progression of our ability to do this is perhaps one of the most significant and tragic demonstrations of our creativity.  We become continuously better at creating ways to destroy each other.  Our entertainment is filled with violence.  We make sport of killing in virtual worlds.  We are surprised, however, when real people pick up real guns and attack the innocent. 

In the same Star Trek movie Dr. McCoy states that “Human life is far too precious to risk on crazy stunts” when Kirk almost kills himself trying to free ascend El Capitan.  I submit that we have lost the understanding of just how precious every life is.  I will not delve into this too deeply but it is necessary for us to regain the value of life before we will stop taking it from others. 

Currently we ignore killing on a mass scale when it is far enough away.  We tolerate injustice in other countries to save on petrol and obtain cheap consumer products.  We value life until it truly inconveniences us to do so.  Yet, we say it is too much when it is a man with a gun in a school.  I submit that it is too much when it is a child in the womb, a homeless veteran sleeping in the cold, or refugee in another country where we barter aid for power. 

Until we face that our disregard for life is a significant part of our poorer selves, taking away the guns will not stop the deaths.  I am not in favor of weapons designed to kill humans at any level.  It is not what we are designed to be doing.  We have, however, built violence toward each other into our nature.  We fail to love each other as we are supposed to love.

I used to be a very violent and angry person.  It is only through faith and following Christ that I have found that I no longer need these things.  I still struggle with the angry selfish part of my nature.  I suppose I will all my life.  I cannot commit violence and claim to love others.  It seems once again Dear Reader that we are what needs to change.  We are what needs to be different. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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21 February 2018

Second Thoughts ~ A Loss Extraordinary

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you, Dear Reader.

William Franklin Graham Jr. KBE (Knight Commander of the British Empire), known as Billy Graham, passed away today.  In my fifty plus years of knowing who Billy Graham is I have only heart two people say anything bad about this man.  Both of them had trouble with anyone who loves Jesus. 

I am impressed with his attitudes about civil rights.  In the fifties he was already forbidding segregation at his rallies, installing African American ministers as leaders on his council, and advising the SCLC.  He had a very close friendship with Dr. King and did much to speak against segregation in support of the Civil Rights Movement.  In the 1960’s he and Dr. King held many joint campaigns.

He advised presidents and in 1983 was awarded the American Medal of Freedom.  He even held many conversations with Queen Elizabeth II.  The later resulted in his knighthood in 2001 for his contributions to the world. 

The loss for me is this:  There are so very few men who have a high-profile ministry who do not succumb to power, greed, or their own desires.   Here, however, is a man who never met privately with any woman other than his spouse.  He did not dwell on money.  He did not seek power.  The loss is a voice of reasonable faith in the midst of a sea of controversy and excesses.

I cannot fill this gap.  I cannot compensate for this loss.  Someone can.  It will take what Billy Graham exemplified.  It will take humility and faith untouched by human weakness.  He would be the first to say that he is not better than any of us.  He would give all the credit to Jesus. 

I do my bit to try and represent Jesus through my life and my writing.  I do not have what it takes to command the world stage as Billy Graham did.  Someone does  Perhaps the best way to honor him would be to live our faith consistently in the corner of the world we do have.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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On Guns and Their Control ~ Thoughts and Prayers

Greetings Dear Reader,

My Sons and I used to regularly play paintball in a private wood.  We would spend an afternoon hunting each other and then cool off in the land owner’s pool.  One particular day my eldest Son would often be about to shoot me and I would somehow still get the upper hand.  I had always made it a practice to remind my children that I loved them whenever I would win at a game.  After shooting my Son for the fifth time in one day I called out, “Hey Son…”
He responded with a very frustrated, “I know dad, you love me.”

One of the things that saddens me is when things that I take seriously are mocked by those who do not understand or do not agree.  I do not mock anyone who believes differently than I believe.  It is not only unkind but it is wrong. 

I noticed that in social media there is mockery of the expression of thoughts and prayers.  The gist of the meme is that our thoughts and prayers are useless.  I will never agree that praying for others when they are in crisis is useless.  I will agree that if someone is in crisis and I only express that I am praying or worse “thinking about them” it can be insulting. 

It is like walking by a homeless person in winter and wishing them to be warm and well fed.  Jesus’ brother James points out that doing this is useless: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

It is wrong to simply tell others that you wish them well and do nothing.  I am not sure what should be done but until we find a way to stop the violence we need to shut up with our epithets.  I do not mean that we should not pray.  I mean that we should not talk about it publicly. 

Jesus makes it clear that prayer should be private: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  

If we really want to make a difference we need to put action with our prayer.  If you follow Christ then you know you are required to love your enemies.  How is killing anyone showing love?  I am not saying there is no need or use for a gun.  I am saying that guns designed for hunting humans violate the premise of loving our enemy. 

The alignment of the two issues, our lack of love for our enemies and expressing our “thoughts and prayers” without doing things that make a difference have caused mockery of the genuine expression of our faith.  There will always be those who mock God and us for believing.  We cannot change this. 

What I can do is assure that any expression of my faith is accompanied by action.  I must pray privately for those in need and in pain.  I must also work for new ways to show love to everyone including those who hate me.  If I fail to put action with my faith it will be useless and I will deserve the mockery.  Once again, Dear Reader, it seems that the problem is not the gun.  It is us.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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20 February 2018

On Guns and Their Control ~ A Gun Tale

Greetings Dear Reader,

If you read my writings regularly you know that I grew up in Georgia.  I am proud of most of my southern heritage.  We are not the ignorant sloths that we are sometimes depicted as.  It is also true that stereotypes spring from something.

When I was a boy my Grandfather, a retired police officer, taught me to shoot.  He taught me how to respect and handle guns.  I had to learn to clean and store them before I ever learned to load and shoot.  There were rules and I knew to obey them.  I practiced for hours shooting clothes pins from a wire with my BB gun.  I graduated to a .22 when I could hit 22 clothes pins from twenty yards away without breaking any of them.  The trick was to hit them at the bottom so that they would spin around the wire. 

After a summer of practice and hard work I was taken hunting.  I used a .410/.22 Savage.  Later in the fall I graduated to a bolt action .410 with a five-round capacity and a .22 semi-automatic which held ten 22-long rounds.  After the day’s hunting, if I had obeyed all of the gun rules I was allowed to fire my Grandfather’s 30/30 Winchester and his 20-gauge shotgun at the targets behind the farm house.

I was seven years old.  That same year I took shooting classes in my elementary school.  I also learned to shoot a bow and how to hunt with one.  There really were gun racks in pickup trucks and people did hunt before and after school.  My story of learning and shooting is not an uncommon one. 

There were not school shootings.  We were somehow different.  I am not saying that there is not a problem to be addressed.  I will not, however, blame the presence of guns.  It does not scan.  We can rant and rave all we want about the presence of guns being the problem but the truth is that this is not the problem. 

If we do not deal with the truth then nothing will get solved.  We need to remember how to teach discipline and respect to our children.  We must embrace the idea the we have changed as a society in some ways that are not good.

I must deal in truth not conjecture.  The truth is that we have lost a level of respect for each other, for authority, and for life.  I am not sure what the answer is but removing the medium of our expression of our own failings is never the problem.  Prohibition does not stop a thing from existing.  It does drive that thing into the shadows where it becomes aligned with other problems. 
Until we realize that the problem of violence is in us we will not change.  Until we embrace that we do not treat each other the way we should things will only get worse.  I long for the day when no one causes harm to another human.  That is the problem that exists daily whether there are guns present or not.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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19 February 2018

On Guns and Their Control ~ Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

I hesitate to write about this.  It is, however, a social issue that requires my evaluation.  I must know what I think and be prepared to express that thought with conviction, love, and kindness.  I do not at the moment know if this will be a single post or a series of musings.

I do know that guns have been an issue in my life since I was a small boy.  This perhaps requires a tale or two and, therefore, it may be that I need to spend some time on this set of thoughts and questions.

When it came up with the Crema Counsel this past week I could tell that there are very strong feelings in the hearts and minds of my friends who sit on said counsel.  I thought to stay away from the issue.  I cannot do this and remain honest in my search for ways to be more faithful in my following.

I suppose I will ask you to venture with me Dear Reader as I attempt to navigate reasonably that which both sides of the discussion refuse to consider with good reason.   I will not entertain emotional, pejorative, or situational thoughts.  These are neither productive or conducive. 

I will not attack anyone nor will I reject anyone just because they disagree with me.  I will address what I think is true whether I like it or not.  If I tread on your toes, I apologize in advance.  Please walk with me so that I have someone to show me what I miss.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

18 February 2018

Café Comments ~ Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Gone are the days of the market and small village shops.  We still have diners, taverns, and coffee shops.  In these places we find our common custom houses.  In these we find the regular attenders, well known servers, and random acquaintances. 

It is here as well that we can find good people who will share with us good conversation.  We can easily find common ground or verbal fencing if needed.  The ills of the world can be codified and sorted over a cappuccino and a scone. 

For me, however, the value is in knowing and understanding the people. It is in seeing that there is no one in the place who does not have some unique feature that enriches the world.  I constantly learn from each person I observe.

At times I am even given opportunity to be kind to others.  I am allowed to cross that barrier from the unknown to the known; from stranger to at least acquaintance and sometimes even friend.

In a world where our electronics and lives tend to isolate us from each other this is an oasis.  There is opportunity to live my faith by being observant and available.  There is the chance to be there for others and show them that I care.

It also serves to keep me from getting too far inside my own head.  I must always be aware of the world outside of the many dramas that dance through my writer’s mind.  Focusing on real people in a real place with real needs does this.  We must move on to other matters Dear Reader.  Thank you for sharing my table for this one.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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17 February 2018

Café Comments ~ Pointed Pondering

Greetings Dear Reader,

Yesterday at the café one of the Crema Council was anxious to ask me some questions.  The first topic of the morning was gun control in light of the recent shootings.  I will not weigh in on that here.  I do think that violence against anyone is not justified.  I do not believe that the problem is limited to guns.  We have much deeper worries to address.

His second question to me was concerning the purpose of the Ten Commandments and whether I thought they were what was the premier instruction from God.  I wrote briefly about this in 2012.  His question, however, allowed a different approach.  As a teacher I immediately answered his question with a question.

What is the purpose of the Ten Commandments and the Law?  I am not sure what your answer is Dear Reader, but I know what mine is.  It is the same answer that Paul gives in his letter to the Galatians:

Galatians 3:19-25: Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.  A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.  Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.  But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.  Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.  So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.  Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

The purpose of the Ten Commandments is so that we realize that we all do things that are wrong.  I do not need to go further than the first two commandments to understand this clearly.  My friend on the Crema Council had yet another agenda.  His hope, in jest, was to see if he could “raise my hackles.”   He was having fun but I was reminded of something very valuable.

I was reminded that if my faith is real then I do not need to be agitated about questions that seem difficult or invasive.  I have worked hard to be hard to offend.  I have put forth a standard that those who see my faith as something to question present an opportunity for me to live it.  Even in the current tensions in my life the mantra must be, “If my faith does not work now then it was never worth it.”

To be clear the Crema Council is never unkind or abrasive.  The young man in question likes to ask difficult questions. That is what friends do for each other.  Iron sharpens iron.  I was presented with a beautiful opportunity to articulate what I believe and why.  Thank you, sir, for good questions and for listening to my answer.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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16 February 2018

Café Comments ~ Single Serving Friendships

Greetings Dear Reader,

One encounters “strangers” every day at the café.   People come for breakfast or they are in and out to get their morning coffee on the way to whatever is next.  This allows one great opportunity for single serving friendships.

I will encounter people that I may never encounter again.  It is my one opportunity to inject kindness into that life.  It is my chance to show love and respect to a human that may or may not need it in that moment.  I do not think anyone complains when you are kind to them in the moment.

The idea is that in this space our paths are going to collide.  We are going to reach for the cream at the same time.  We are going to be in each other’s way when refilling coffee.  I must be the one who backs away politely.  I must be the one who gives a genuine smile and allows the other to meet their need of the moment. 

It fills my heart with joy to see someone else smile just because you did this.  It reminds me that my agenda or purpose of the moment can almost always take a back seat to the opportunity to be a friend in that instant.  This fosters the peaceful spirit of this particular café. 

After months of this behaviour many of those single serving friendships have gotten refills.  People who do not know my name wave at me when they rush in for their coffee.  They smile and there is another moment of positive human connection in the world.

Everything about following Christ is based on showing love to others.  If I want to evidence this in my life then I must focus on those moments that are insignificant to me but may make a difference in the lives of others.  Further I must extend that to moments where I put aside my convenience for the good of someone I do not know just so that I can show them love and kindness.  If I choose this, I will never run out of refills for those single serving friendships.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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15 February 2018

Café Comments ~ Snapshots

Greetings Dear Reader,

Back in the time of the dinosaur people collected their pictures in books called photo-albums.  People would share their wedding, honeymoon, or vacation photos by handing you the book.  This was always difficult for me.  If I was not at the event I had problems finding context that worked in my understanding of their adventure.

Snapshots tell us very little about the actual story.  They may tell us much but that does not mean we get the entire significance of the moment.  The same is true for the tiny bits of the life I witness at the café.  I have very little context even with those I encounter weekly. 

This means that I hear only a bit of what is real for people when they interact.  Only some of the things I overhear or witness can be understood with my frame of reference.   I only get a glimpse of personality and character. 

We can infer from language, conversation topics, and food preferences.  By way of example I offer the following:  A lovely young mum comes in with her high school age son.  They eat a healthy breakfast and review his school work.  She is kind, friendly, and outgoing.  He is quiet and studious.  The things that I infer a very good.  She invests her time and attention to her son.  She works with him toward success.  The body language between them is positive. 

After all that observation I do not really know anything about them.  I do not know what their real lives are like or what struggles they face.  I do not understand their prevalent life needs.  My impression of them is good but that does not mean that I know them.

This teaches me why it is so vital not to judge others.  It is a continuing lesson on how little we know of each other.  For good or ill these snapshots do not give me enough information to judge anyone.  They do not put me in any position to approve or condemn.  My only available honorable option is to be kind and show love.

In the snapshots at the café I must always look for the good.  I must be good to others no matter my opinion of their lives.  Most important, I must always filter my opinions, thoughts, and responses through the love that Christ has for each and every soul in the place.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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