30 June 2013

Taking a Breath

Greetings Dear Reader,

Some things have taken me away from the keyboard today.  I am taking a breath to assure that when I write my heart is right.  Please pray for me Dear Reader.


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."

29 June 2013

Issues I must address - Homosexuality

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am going to say some things here that may offend you, Dear Reader.  I give you my word that my intent is not to harm anyone.  To my friends who are homosexual I assure you that I am not about to launch into a list of reasons why it is right or wrong to be gay.  I think that if someone wishes to evaluate honestly the status of his or her life it will be found that we are all sinful fallen creatures in desperate need of help.  I am not going to say what I think about the rightness or wrongness of this issue.  Please do not post anything in response that speaks to this aspect of the thought because I will delete it.

What I do need to address is the problem of compassion.  As a follower of Jesus Christ I am forbidden to withhold compassion from anyone.  No matter what I feel about actions, attitudes, or life styles I am not right to deny an individual or group of individuals social justice.  IF (that is a shouted IF) I think that it is wrong to be gay it does not mean that God hates that person and it is not my place to do active or passive harm to a person who is gay.

If I see someone “overtaken in a fault” I am to love them and be humble.  So IF I think that anything is wrong it is my obligation to show that person the love and acceptance of Christ and allow God to convict the individual of sin.  More it is my responsibility to assure that the individual is not mistreated by others.  No matter what lifestyle an individual lives, if they are in need of health care, social benefits, and personal care it is my obligation to see and assist in meeting those needs.

It seems that every generation the Church focuses on an area of sin and ostracizes the individuals who are committing that particular sin.  IF I see homosexuality as a sin I am not free to judge, condemn, hate, or neglect the sinner.  Why?  I am a sinner.  I sin.  My sins are in need of mercy, grace, love, compassion, and forgiveness.  To deny the social needs of anyone because of his or her sin is to sin against that individual.

If Christ follower treated all sin as some treat homosexuality then liars, gossipers, gluttons, and politicians would all be in dire straits.  I cannot judge one sin and ignore others.  My pastor reminds us often that we are all crooked sticks.  The list in Proverbs that numerates sin that God sees as abhorrent is very inclusive.  Before we dare say that God hates gays we had best look at what the Word of God says he hates and assure that we are not doing things on the list.

Pro 6:16-19 There are six things that the LORD hates, even seven that are disgusting to him:
·         arrogant eyes
·         a lying tongue
·         hands that kill innocent people
·         a mind devising wicked plans
·         feet that are quick to do wrong
·         a dishonest witness spitting out lies
·         and a person who spreads conflict among relatives

If I think I am not included in that list I should consider Paul’s list to the Galatians:

Gal 5:19-21 Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious:
·         illicit sex
·         perversion
·         promiscuity
·         worshiping false gods
·         drug use
·         hatred
·         rivalry
·         jealousy
·         angry outbursts
·         selfish ambition
·         conflict
·         factions
·         envy
·         drunkenness
·         wild partying

and similar things. I've told you in the past and I'm telling you again that people who do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If I think I am not included in this list then I am lying and, therefore, included in the first list.  If I have any hope of there being forgiveness and mercy for my sin then I had better assure that I am not judging others.  More so I should assure that everyone is treated with love, compassion, and social justice. To do less is to assure that I will be judged in the same way that I judge others.

Be clear that I am not saying that if something is wrong that I am accepting the wrong.  What I am saying is that believing that something is wrong does not equate to hating someone else or rejection of the individual.  No matter my thoughts on the right or wrong of homosexuality those who are in that lifestyle are my fellow travelers.  They are humans in need of love, compassion, grace, and mercy just because they are humans. 

To place anyone in a special category because I disagree with what they do is to ignore that Christ sees us all equally.  I may not deny respect and love to any person and say that I am following Christ.  I may not categorize any sin as worse than my own and have integrity before God.  No matter what my view of homosexuality in terms of sin, I may not mistreat, shun, or fail to love anyone.  I believe that denying things like insurance, group benefits, and social justice to anyone is failure to love them. 

I may not even be passive in my compassion for the needs of others.  The Gospel is active in its social response.  The needs of others are implicitly also my responsibility and the responsibility of all Christ followers.  I may not compartmentalize this when considering the social needs of anyone no matter what I think of their lives. 

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."

28 June 2013

Issues I must address - Abortion

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that I am about to hit a hornets nest with a stick and then just stand there.  Please remember that I am not telling anyone else how to live but rather speaking about my own thoughts on an issue.  I am not going to ask anyone else to change his or her mind.  I am going to explain why I think that we have a terrible problem here.

I recently read an excellently reasoned article concerning the simple reasons why being pro-choice is a violation of human rights.  The article, The Abortion Debate: A Reasoned, Scientific Pro-Life Argument avoided emotion and rhetoric by presenting a simple syllogistic argument for disallowing abortions.

This argument alone is reason enough for me to be pro-life.  If there is a chance that abortion takes a human life without it being guilty of anything and without its consent, should I not err on the side of protecting that life?  I realize that there are things like ectopic pregnancies that justify the ending of a pregnancy.  One cannot apply a position with a broad stroke that ignores the genuine need of another.  That, however, does not mean that the “right” to choose negates another human’s right to life.

I must also address the issue of what is a right and what is not.  I am sure that we can raise situational arguments such as assault and incest that would be exceptions to the rule but how did avoiding consequences become a right?  I do not mean consequences in terms of negative outcomes but rather in the literal sense of that witch naturally follows; that which comes in sequence.  Since our science gives us very successful forms of contraception (I do not believe that this is wrong) failure to use them has natural consequences.  Since contraception can be applied in multiple layers one can make the possibility of conception statistically improbable.  The choice not to do so has a binary consequence: One conceives or one does not.  If one conceives how is it a right to avoid this consequence at the cost of another human life?
Again, I can hear the hornets buzzing with emotional arguments about body, rights, and lifestyle but can we truly say it is not a matter of choosing to avoid the consequence of another choice?  

If the aforementioned article’s reasoning is not enough for me then the simple math is.  I am going to be very conservative with these numbers so that I am not accidentally dishonest.  What this means is in every case I have rounded down.  As I ponder this whenever I think about the issue of abortion the weight of it crushes me.  Please honestly think about these numbers.

65 – Average life expectancy of someone born in the USA
40 million – Legal abortions since Roe versus Wade
2.4 Billion – Years of potential life destroyed by a choice

How many lives do we take before it is considered genocide?  One can be as emotional or non-emotional as one wishes over an issue but the numbers alone give me pause.  As I ponder the number 2,400,000,000 I wonder what we have lost along with those lives.  Were a nation to kill 40 million toddlers, teens, or adults systematically I believe there would be a much louder outcry against it. 

I would be remiss if I did not address my fellow believers in this issue.  Again the Church does not do enough to provide kind, safe, and respectful alternatives.  I am not saying it does nothing, but instead of attacking those who make this choice we must provide for the needs of those about to make.  If we do not offer an alternative that is viable and loving then we must not demand that someone face the issue unsupported.

I am not asking anyone else to change what he or she thinks.  I am simply explaining why I feel that aborting a child before birth is an illogical and homicidal choice.  We are so bipolar on this issue.  We have seen people tried for two counts of murder when they have killed an expectant mother.  How can they be guilty of murder when the mother could have chosen to end the pregnancy if she wished?  I cannot help but think that just as we are quietly disposing of millions of humans in sterile clinics and operating rooms we are also disposing of the humanity that is so vital to our survival as a free society.  

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."

27 June 2013

Issues I must address – Health Care

Greetings Dear Reader,

I pondered what to begin with and found that this one is the easiest to walk through in my mind.  I think that by politicizing this issue those who follow Christ miss the mark.  When we turn the social need of available and affordable health care into political game we are guilty of letting others die at the hands of our complacency.

Can we say we are following Christ by denying any means to heal the sick?  It was one of his top three miracles.  The apostles did so as well.  When Jesus is describing those he knows and says, “When I was sick you visited me,” he is not talking about coming around to chat.  The Greek word for “visited” here means to care for another.  The Church should lead the charge in demanding that our neighbors have what they need to be healthy. 

By relegating the care of the sick to the government or insurance companies we deny the insistence of Christ that we care for the weak and the ill.  One cannot deny the commands of Christ or his example and claim to be following him.  If the church is not willing to rise to the need then we should not oppose those who do so.

I personally believe that this is too big a task for our government and that we as Christ followers lose credibly when we do not involve ourselves in meeting the need.  My Sons have made it their vocation to care for those in need.  I am so proud of them for this.  They see the needs every day and wonder why those who claim to follow Christ do not do more.

What if the resources of the Church were poured into medicine instead of gold domes, gilded podiums, and stained glass?  I do believe that there is a place for art in the church but not when it overrides the needs of those it is called to serve.  If we are not going to work to solve the problem of health care for others we should not be surprised when it is done poorly by others.  We should not complain about how they do it if we are not doing it ourselves.

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."

26 June 2013

Issues I must address - First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

It is necessary to be clear from the outset of this maelstrom that I am not telling anyone else what to think.  I am, however, trying to be transparent in who I am in terms of some social issues.  I believe that followers of Jesus must address social issues if they are to have any voice in spiritual matters.

Please know that I start off with this premise:  I love everyone.  It is assumed that when one takes certain positions on some issues that they are hateful, racist, or judgmental.  I assure you that as I address each issue I am none these things as it relates to those issues. 

It is more important that I address who I am to be in light of these issues.  If the issue ever overshadows my duty to the individual then I fail in my first duty.  It is too easy in our culture to use media and rhetoric as a drumhead.  We dispense judgment based on implication, epithet, and pejorative rather than discernment and wisdom.  We treat our freedoms as license to do as we please rather than as counterbalances to our responsibilities. 

I will speak of what I think and believe for the dual purposes of being sure that I am honest with my own heart and in sparking thinking in others.  As a follower of Jesus Christ I have some very specific obligations.  When the social climate disagrees with those obligations then I must weather it in love and grace.  It must be said of us that even in our political incorrectness we have given love and grace to others in great abundance.

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."

Second Thoughts - When I Wish to Stop Writing

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.

I wrestle with this every couple of months.  I want to only write for a living.  Then I face the page, lack of progress, or lack of support and want to just walk away from it.  I have tried this a couple of times and the result has been painful.  There is so much inside my head that wishes to get out.  

The problem is that making a living steals my time and more importantly my energy.  I get to do a job that is my second best love but it is demanding and taxing.  So at times I am beset by a sad loneliness that seems to rip away at my resolve to continue writing.  Then the story unfolds a little further and the path becomes a little clearer.

I suppose that any journey of passion is the same.  We reach places where we cannot face the next leg, day, or step.  Then it comes down to choice.  It comes down to if I want it or not.  It becomes an action.  Open the file.  Edit the page.  Share the idea.  Write the blog.  Pursue the book.  Create the outline.  Find more resources.  In each of those is a series of smaller steps.  Write the title.  Edit the sentence.  Hone the dialogue.  Filter the words.  Remember the comma. 

Too often I feel I am climbing the Stairs of Cirith Ungol alone.  Then I realize that I am never truly alone.  I just need to narrow my focus and take the next step or a genuine rest. 

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."

25 June 2013

The Sea

Greetings Dear Reader,

A few nights ago I dreamt of the ocean.  It started out with a memory dream of catching crab on Folly Beach with my dad.  It transitioned to being on a ship and then on that ship in a vast storm.  I have experienced this and it is both amazing and terrifying.

So much of the world’s vast water ways are still a mystery to us.  It is still the most likely place that we will discover new life on our planet.  The energy and constant of its movement is beautiful.  It can still rise up and destroy coast lines overnight.

The seas provide great bounty to the world and we should be more careful how we manage this.  I believe that this is possible if we work at it.  It would take a great deal of work but we are responsible and in need.

The sea has been used for so many metaphors and to teach so many lessons.  It also has much to teach us about ourselves.  I cannot ponder this without remembering the things I learned about the ocean in dreams when I studied psychology.  This long dream of the sea is significant to me.

I do not know yet what change is on the horizon but it is coming.  As I write this a storm thunders outside and inside.  The one outside seems angry the one inside seems more like power and beauty.  Whatever is coming I am reminded of what the unknown writer of Psalm 107 said

Psalm 107:23-24 Those who sail on the sea in ships, who do business on the high seas, have seen what the LORD can do, the miracles he performed in the depths of the sea.

I look forward to the unfolding of things.

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."

24 June 2013

Does God Exist – In the Morning and Evening – Concluding Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

The truth about the existence of God is simple.  It is a binary choice and from that choice leaps infinite possibilities.  Over the centuries men have used the belief, love, and fear of others to manipulate them.  At the core of that is a choice.  I have been involved in this choice at an intimate level since I was nine years old.

When it came down to it I do not ever think that I denied the existence of God.  I spent many years angry at him for not doing things my way.  I blamed him for circumstances that caused me pain.  I saw him as responsible for the things that tore at my heart and pushed him away. 

I realize that this is not everyone’s experience and I accept that.  For me, however, in the late weary evening and wee hours of the morning it comes down to a choice.  That choice is an honest one that everyone must face.  It is personal, private, and vital.  My choice to believe that God exists informs everything else about me.  It is where my moral compass is forged.  It is where I find my true north.  

I fail miserably at following sometimes.  I am a crooked stick and at times a poor example.  None of that is because of unbelief but rather it is because of disobedience.  As much as I wish I knew all the answers to all the mysteries of the universe I know that no one does.

For me it really does come down to the morning and evening.  When I lay down in the loneliness that is my bed or when I rise to the fresh morning to face a day in which I do little that is what I truly wish to be doing there is only a single constant.  I believe that God is there and that he is doing much more than just listening. 

I know that it is hard for some people to embrace that faith is necessary.  Like many things that is just the nature of the universe.  I want to fly, but there are laws of gravity and aerodynamics.  I want to travel at faster than light speeds to distant stars but there are no warp engines (yet).  I want to move things with my mind but we have yet to develop our brains to use telekinesis. 

The universe has a design, laws, and moves in a beautiful cosmic dance.  As I look up at the stars and ponder all the mysteries that are still out there I make a singular choice.  I answer the question, “Does God exist?” with a single word, “Yes”.  I neither reject nor judge those who disagree with me.  Instead I try to live a life that reflects the love, kindness, generosity, and faith that this choice demands.  I think if everyone who said yes to that choice did the same then faith might be an easier choice for those who disagree.

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."

23 June 2013

Does God Exist – Sovereignty

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am not going to venture into the thought that many use in defending God’s existence.  Too often we have used the sovereignty of God dismissively toward others.  I think that this is probably always wrong.  What I am aiming at here is that I believe that it is always wrong to say that “someone has to believe because God says so.” 

From what place can I stand to say what God would or would not do?  This is not a valid reason to say he does not exist.  I can take the written revelation of the Bible (which I do believe to be valid) and gain a measure of understanding from that.  The most, however, that I can do with that revelation is learn to love God and love his creation, man. It does not give me permission to judge, hate, condemn, or neglect anyone else. 

I am not free to do anything but love with all that I am both vertically and horizontally.  God does not seek to prove himself to us.  Rather he assumes that we get that he exists and that he has a desire to know us and have us know him.  It is logical given my belief in intelligent design that I should accept the designer as sovereign.  I am not asking anyone else to accept this but it is what I believe.

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."

22 June 2013

Does God Exist – The Miraculous

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that many people wish for God to reveal himself in some outstanding way that transcends the laws of the natural world.  I know that for some time I felt this way.  The problem is that God requires faith from us and this would denude the need for faith.

The Old and New Testament contain records of miraculous deeds done by God.  They were not good enough.  Why did I think that they would be good enough for me?  It is human nature to forget the special events that teach us valuable lessons.  An honest look a the world tells me that we seldom learn from the profound or the uncommon.  With God, however, I went through a period where I demanded that he show himself in a larger way.

What I was demanding was something that I knew God would not do without his own reasons.  Instead he sent someone my way who helped me see why faith was an integral part of following.  I cannot insist that God violate the tenant he has set up for a relationship with him.  I will say that I have seen things I cannot explain.  I will say that I have experienced the supernatural in a couple of instances.  If you wish to know about this Dear Reader, ask me privately and I will tell you.

The reason that I do not talk about specific revelation publically is because invariably well-meaning people try to explain away my experience.  I think that we come to the place where we think our own knowledge trumps God.  We come to “I understand how this works so God is not involved” thinking.  I think that this is not honest thinking.  Just because I can understand something does not limit God’s involvement.

We want things that are direct revelation or that violate the laws of nature.  I came to faith because I realized that if God did either of these things I would still have to have faith in him to follow.  It was not reasonable for me to demand direct evidence.  I was just as likely as those who had seen direct evidence to fail in following.  My insistence on the miraculous was self-centered and violated God’s requirement that we follow in faith.

There will always be the unexplained in the universe.  I will never deny sound science that explains things.  After I came to faith I did experience things that no one will convince me were not direct intervention by God.  Most of the unexplained things in the natural world will probably have explanation as our understanding grows.  However, I will not see the growth of our knowledge as a dismissal of God. 

I need to be humble and see that no matter how great my knowledge there are things I cannot explain.  Some of those are seminal to the origin of who I am and what I become. 

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."

21 June 2013

Does God Exist – Questioning

Greetings Dear Reader,

I try to always make it clear that questioning the existence of God is never wrong.  I grew up in an environment where the church told me I was wrong to have questions.  I was told that doubting was sin and that all my doubts would lead me to unbelief and condemnation.

It was my questioning that ultimately led me away from belief and then back to it.  As I said in my posting on The Universe I had to come to the conclusion that there had to be a first cause.  I could not be honest with myself and deny that this question possessed no other logical answer. 

I found people who were willing to answer my questions.  I found people who told me my questions were acceptable as long as I was honestly seeking truth.  As I stripped away the trappings of religion and truly looked for God it became easy to understand the differences.  A kind and loving man spent hours listening to my questions without judgment or condemnation.  He let me work through it on my own.

The problem in front of me was if I would keep my honesty about my questions.  I could not look at a religious system or a group of followers.  I had to search only for God and what he had to say about me.  Please remember that I am not trying to convince anyone else that God exists.  I am simply relating my journey to that belief.

I try not to Bible thump when I write because I believe that the Bible only has credibility to those who already give it credibility.  I do, however, wish to point out that it encourages us to seek God.  The promise is that if we wholeheartedly seek him we will find him.  As I viewed the words of the Bible through the lens of someone wishing to forge a relationship with me it became easier to answer the questions I had.

Those who claim to follow God are too quick to present him as harsh and condemning.  That is not what an unfiltered reading of either testament presents.  It presents someone who loves me and wants what is best for me.  My questions were valid and could be lovingly and gently answered.  This is what led me to keep seeking.  This is a foundational stone of my faith.

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."

20 June 2013

Does God Exist – The Necessity of Faith

Greetings Dear Reader,

One of the things that cemented my belief that God exists is that he did not see the need to prove his own existence to the people he called.  Genesis does not stand as a testament to the existence of God but rather is the report of his interaction with us. 

We all wish for our children to take things we say on faith.  We have times when our children do not understand and we have to ask them to trust us.  Unfortunately we and by we I mean I fail sometimes.  We violate that trust and our children either recover of they do not.  Oscar Wilde said, “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”

God requires faith because we cannot understand him in our capacity without it.  I do not think I would want a God that I could completely codify.  We demand things of him much like a toddler demands things.   One of them seems to be the desire to not need faith. 

I have watched my Son, Maxim lovingly try to reason with my eldest Grandson.  He simply wishes for the child to trust that his father knows best at the moment.  My Grandson wants what he wants and will hear none of it at times.  My Son still lovingly explains things and gives the child the opportunity to develop trust in his father.

Every time I see this it reminds me of the ways in which God asks us to follow him by faith.  I have realized that sometimes I need to forgive God even when I am the one that is wrong.  I do not like that I do not know some of the answers to spiritual matters that plague me.  That is when I am glad that faith is an option.  If I trust God then I know he has things under control (we will discuss sovereignty later). 

I think that the need for faith is what made me understand that God is there and is leading us toward him.  I think that we could not take the full revelation of who he is and endure it in our present state.  I also think that those who saw the power of God revealed still struggled with following. 

We exhibit faith daily.  There are very few things to which we can point to with absolute certainty.  We use faith in our most intimate relationships.  We see others things that make us trust someone but there must be a facet of faith as well.  Since our most intimate relationship is to be with God then there must be a facet of faith to it as well.

Faith is not an absence of reason.  We come to the end of reason in many things and are left with what we believe to be true.  It would seem unreasonable then to think that God would not require faith as well.

The requirement of faith actually gives us some softer ground on which to approach God.  If God fully reveals himself and shows his power we become much more accountable for everything.  That God wishes me to trust him gives me room to grow and learn.

I think that like children we judge God and dismiss him.  We reject that he wishes us to trust him and fail to forgive him for not meeting our demands.  I do not think that man could take the risk of believing that others would cling to something invented just by belief. That I can follow in faith and that this faith can increase is to me sure evidence for me that God is there. 

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."

19 June 2013

Does God Exist – The Universe

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am probably not going to say this correctly but I am going to try.  The major truth that I embrace is that almost everything has a beginning.  I only say almost because I believe that God is eternal and without prior cause.  However, an expanding universe, no matter what you see as its progenitor, had a beginning.

We constantly search for the beginning of things.  It seems part of our nature to want to know where we and other things come from.  I am not saying that sound science does not offer alternative theories for where the universe comes from.  I do say that like everything else there is a beginning.  If science tells us that they have found that beginning and it turns out to be a group of multiverses I am alright with that. 

My question then becomes “What caused those?”  If it turns out that there are constant streams of universes being created by some quantum engine I am OK with that too.  Who built the engine?  It is not that I will reject science.  It I that no matter what we discover we have to reach a place of first cause.  There must be a prime mover.

I choose to believe that this prime mover is God.  It is not logical to me that something can come from nothing without an outside influence.  I have yet to hear a sound refutation of the thinking that there must be a primary cause to the effects that are the universe.

It saddens me that many who claim to have faith use faith as a dismissive to sound reasoning and solid science.  I think that this is part of the reason that good theology and good science are both ignored by well-meaning people.  No matter how far back one regresses causality one must come to the point that there is a prime cause.  I think that this cause must be both intelligent and eternal. 

Hubble image of the Crab Nebula - NASA
One of my favorite things up there.
My beloved friend Tom has expressed that he finds the puerile reply “you must have faith” offensive.  In the context of responding to honest questions about God I must agree that a dismissive demand that one must have faith is in error.  When I come to the end of my understanding I do use faith.  It is; however, wrong to demand faith when people have honest questions. 

I think that the need for faith is attached to the desire that God has for us to have free will.  It is our nature to believe in things.  Those things may be God and his desire for us or they may be that we believe there is no God.  Either way we have faith in something.  It is also our nature to disbelieve in things no matter how much evidence there may be for that thing.  The bottom line is that we have free will.  We are not forced to believe.  We choose.  This is why I try to be honest in my dealings with those who do not believe in God.

You cannot convince someone against his will.  In our freedom to choose we either believe or we do not.  In my experience, and therefore, not a universal truth that I can assert, there is often a personal event or series of events that move us to or from faith.  We seek.  It is in our nature to seek out things.  I will not dismiss another’s strong belief that God does not exist because that is both unloving and disrespectful.  I will say that this belief is just that, a belief.  As I said in my opening thoughts, everything comes down to faith. 

I do not mean that in a simplistic way.  I mean that until someone can claim to have full knowledge and evidence of all that there is one cannot honestly claim that they do not believe in something.  The very best arguments for the existence of or non-existence of God require a measure of faith.  I choose to make my “leap of faith” in the direction of something rather than nothing.     

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."

18 June 2013

Doe God Exist – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

So I stand on a precipice and I know the water below is deep.  I am not a true scientist and I am not a true theologian.  I do believe that God exists.  I have very specific beliefs about this.  I am not going to enter into a debate about the existence of God but I do need to work through why I believe.

Ultimately one cannot prove or disprove the existence of God.  One cannot point to an event and say that faith is no longer necessary.  That God requires faith is part of the problem and part of the solution.  That we cannot lay hold of evidence that works in an scientific venue creates a problem for some.

What I am going to do is walk carefully and ponderously through some issues that explain why I believe.  Please realize that I am not trying to prove that God exists nor am I attacking anyone who says he does not.  I came to faith from years of doubting God and it is by faith that I maintain my beliefs. 

Everyone believes in something.  Even if it is pure science there is at the root of it faith.  It may be true that there is empirical evidence for things in our current understanding, but one must have a belief in that process to exclude other conclusions.  I do not reject science but I think that there is an arrogance to claiming that we know when there are still unanswered questions.

Feel free to walk and interact with me on this.  I will do my best not to offend or malign anyone.  I realize that may not be possible for some things but I will try.  These are my thoughts and not meant to be great theology or reasoning.  I am not trying to do anything but be real about my own journey.

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."

17 June 2013

The F Word

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that the world around me changes much faster than I change.  I understand that language changes and meanders with the changes in culture and society.  I cannot get used to the common use of the F word.

We live in a country where freedom of speech is guaranteed.  I think we have lost sight of what that truly means.  Freedom of speech is intended to allow a free exchange of ideas between people.  It is the right to express your thoughts on an issue without fear of government persecution.  It is not the freedom to be as offensive or aggressive as you wish.

I think the other casualty of our culture is that we have forgotten that with freedom come responsibility.  I am responsible for the way in which I express myself impacts others.  It is not a matter of whether I care or not.  It is a matter of truth.  I am responsible for the impact of my words.

As we take the vulgar and make it common we do things to our society that have lasting results.  I realize that in the vast sea of problems in our culture that this may be a small thing, but is not the rose colour in a child’s cheeks what leads us to check for fever on the brow?  When we are coarse commonly I cannot think that it does not belie a deeper issue.

I must consider who hears what I say and how it will impact them.  I must always be aware that even idle conversation can hurt others.  I am responsible and accountable.

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."

16 June 2013

My Son the Father

Greetings Dear Reader,

As a Grandfather who dotes on his Grandsons I mention them often.  I do not often mention Maxim, their father and I should.  It fills me with great joy to watch him sculpt the souls of his sons.

He is gentle in patient.  He shows love to each of them in the way they need it.  One can tell in the way he explains different behaviors that he really knows them.  He observes.  He allows input from others.  I love the way he explains to others how they wish for their sons to learn.

He is aware of the gifts each child possesses equally.  He expects good of them but loving corrects that which is not good.  He sons love him and respect him.  They have a great chance to grow into good men under his care.

So much of the way Maxim deals with his sons reminds me of the Father’s love for us; for me.  He is an example of that love in so many ways.  Every interaction with the my Son the father drives me to be closer to my heavenly Father.

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."

15 June 2013

Kilts and Vows

Greetings Dear Reader,

I attended the wedding of friend yesterday.  I wore a kilt and was glad I was there.  It was beautiful and sweet.  I met people from the south who knew who I was though we had never met.  It put me in mind of how I impact lives.  It put me in mind of how weddings impact me.

I will not delve into the philosophical aspects of this for me today.  Today I will just offer a prayer and my best wishes to my friends as they begin their lives together.  It was an honor to be part of the celebration.

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."

14 June 2013

The Voice of God

Greetings Dear Reader,

First I will be clear that I am no having audible delusions.  This is rather my way of calling attention to the literal translation of a name in Hebrew.  The Kal-El means “the Voice of God.”  The message of last night’s Superman movie was clear.  The message was one of hope.

It amazes me that this is so true.  I realize that it is popular to dismiss God and Jesus as an ineffective belief system.  I would say that the followers of this faith have done a great deal to make it that way.  I know that in some ways I have not honored the things that Christ would have us be as his followers.

That, however, does not define who God is.  We live in a failed system that needs hope.  Jesus was the voice of God to bring us that hope.  The more I see things around me falling apart the more I see just how vital that hope is.

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."

13 June 2013

Thunder Storms

Greetings Dear Reader,

We had a good one last night.  Windows rattled and the power flickered.  It grew dark at five in the evening and stayed that way.  One could hear the storm coming from miles away as the thunder reverberated and rolled across the landscape.  The sound reminds me of youthful summer nights sleeping on the porch. 

As I said earlier this week I am trying to keep things light and enjoyable whilst on vacation.  I do wish to relate the power I see in storms.  They always amaze and intrigue me.  I love the wind and rain.  I care about the damage done to people’s homes and that there are disasters. 

I am just always reminded of how little control I have and that God is so powerful.  In the midst of a terrifying storm Jesus took a nap.  He then reminded his followers to have faith.  That is what comes to mind when the windows rattle and the power flickers.

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."

12 June 2013

A Rainy Season

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have been hearing many complaints about the rain over the last two weeks.  A rainy spring does bring with it some challenges.  Lawns grow faster and are too wet to cut.  An extended winter brings the desire to be out and enjoying the world but the rain holds many people inside.

This time last year things were brown and very dry.  The heat was oppressive and the complaints ran in that direction.  Air conditioning ran constantly in my home.  Going outside was challenging and uncomfortable.

It seems that no matter the weather someone is dissatisfied with it.  I say all that time that God does not get the weather wrong.  I have seen days that are deemed perfect weather wise.  I hear all that time that the weather is beautiful when it is warm, sunny, and comfortable outside. 

I wonder how it would change our outlook if we accepted each day’s weather as God’s design for that day.  If I begin with the things I cannot control and am thankful for them perhaps I can follow Christ more closely in everything.  If I put God’s sovereignty in play in everything and am thankful for it perhaps I see him more clearly.   

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."

11 June 2013

Cherries

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that this is an odd post but that is understandable for me.  I often speak of my love for peaches but I seem to neglect other fruit that catches my attention.  Anything that is a “berry” is delicious to me.  Today, however, it is the cherry that has my attention. 

I am enjoying some perfectly ripe Bing Cherries for breakfast.  They are cool, sweet, tart, and tender.  They are one of those fruits that I enjoy in almost all possible forms.  Fresh cherries are to me the essence of late spring.  They capture all the cool dampness of spring.  They harbor the reminders of the bitter winter and the sweet life of spring for me.  The pits make them an effort to consume and occasionally the outside firmness belies one that has gone off in the middle.

The joy I find in them is not as long lived as peaches are for me, but when I have them I am reminded of picking them with my maternal grandfather one summer.  It is one of those memories that stands out as tart and sweet.

Mostly I am reminded about the vast variety that exists in creation.  I ponder the many ways in which God gives me joy in eating well.  We all have so many things we enjoy.  I try to turn consuming each cherry into an act of grateful worship. 

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."

10 June 2013

The Days of Summer

Greetings Dear Reader,

I will probably be very brief this week.  I am committed to writing almost every day this year and will keep that commitment but I am also feeling the need for some down time.  I am going to give my thoughts on some simple things this week.  You may do with them as you will.

Up for today’s pondering is summer.  It varies in length depending upon where you live.  For my Australian friends it is coming on winter and I apologize that you are not getting this six months hence.  I love many things about summer.  This week as summer approaches I was thinking about summers past.  There has been much wasted time and many good times.

I yearn for the beach and down time with family and friends.  I long for fishing and swimming. Mostly I look forward to the thing that God continues to provide even though I am hundreds of miles from the source.  In a few weeks we will have Georgia peaches. 

Today I will do a few things but most of the day will be spent just unwinding.  Join me if you can.

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."

08 June 2013

Sensitivity Training – Friends in Need

Greetings Dear Reader,

How often do we find ourselves in a situation where we can truly help someone else?  I think that we do not find this opportunity because we do not look for it enough.  I have a coworker who has a lot placed on her shoulders daily.  Part of her job requires getting information from other very busy people in a timely fashion.

It is my responsibility to anticipate this recurring need and not make her have to chase me down.  It is an easy thing I tick of my to-do list by getting it done right away.  What is the second mile then?  How do I go beyond the easy to the place where I am doing all that I can to show Christ to this person?

I am not going to answer in specifics at this point but I do need to make the thinking my focus.  I should always be looking to the needs of my friends and colleagues.   I should anticipate the needs of others and when possible and appropriate meet them without being asked.

Everyone has needs.  Sometimes people have the courage or humility to ask for what they need from people they trust.  If I am known for meeting the needs of others when I can then more people may be willing to ask.  I, however, must anticipate them.  I must be more sensitive to the needs of others.


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."

07 June 2013

Sensitivity Training – The Lives of Others

Greetings Dear Reader,

I made a new friend this week.  He is a Christ follower and his life is in transition.  As I am first getting to know him, the challenges he is engaging cause me to realize just how good I have it.  He is just moving to the town in which I live.  He is just beginning a new job.

In order to start this new job he is going to be away from his wife and children for three months.  He will travel three hours one way on weekends to see them when he is used to being there every night.  They have Skype but it is not the same.  As I have listened to his life unfold this week I am driven to pray for him and his success in his new venture.

It seems very clear that God continually gives me opportunity to have some small input into the lives of others as they are in transition.  I know that this is an honor and a privilege.  I must follow Christ closely in this so that I have the best possible chance for being ready to be there in the moment. 

I do not that this encounter has made me think less about my own circumstances and instead how to be a loving fellow traveler in his.  That, I think is at the heart of being what Christ has called us to be for others.  

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."

06 June 2013

Why am I Aramis Thorn?

Greetings Dear Reader,

My first thought when I was asked this question by a Dear Reader was, “there is a story behind that.”  There is.  That, however, is not what the Reader was asking.  They wished to know in general why I choose to use a pen name. 

Even though I wish to make my living as a writer, I do not wish to be famous.  I do not wish to be on talk shows and have my picture on the back of my books.  At heart I want to give thought, entertainment, and fuel to the lives of others.  Also it seems that the story behind the pen name has taken on a life of its own.

My Shield
My alter ego, we will call him Peter (there is a story behind that as well) often insists that in some way I “really” exist.   I have been around since he was eight years old.  He often converses with me and insists that I am often irritating.  I wake him at odd hours with ideas.  I pester him to write when he has other things he must do.  In general I have few social skills or consideration when it comes to the rest of the world versus the mission of writing. 

Peter says that there is also a freeing aspect to a pen name.  I will write things that he would never have the courage to put on paper.  I can delve into aspects of who he is that he prefers to avoid.  I open doors that he wishes left closed, sealed, and forgotten for the great good.

As much as I am a bother to Peter we agree on one thing always.  We both wish to direct glory and honor to God.  It is much easier to do this if we do not have to worry about his name being all over a bookshelf somewhere.  The veil of anonymity is thin but it is an easy to keep perspective.

The story of how I came to be is available out there somewhere and he does tell it at book signings and such.  The story of why I call him Peter is not going to be told to anyone outside the family.  Which reminds me, he has not invited me to any of his gatherings lately.  Would someone mention this to him?

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."

05 June 2013

Why Do I Write?

Greetings Dear Reader,

This part of my life is never easy.  I love writing and watching things emerge on the page brings me a measure of satisfaction.  That said, it is often a painful and frustrating process.  Were I able to do so I would only write. 

What that means for me is facing an empty page and attempting to tell the story, emote the poem, or wrestle with the feelings that are current and precipitous.  I write every day; usually when most of you are asleep.  So when I write my stories, poems, and blog why do I write each thing?

I write stories because I love telling a story.  Eventually they take on their own life and I am enslaved to them until the end.  I hope that my stories raise good questions about things that matter.  I hope that they entertain but know that I am always up to something in those books.  My ultimate goal in every tale is to ask that one see Christ in a new light and perhaps forge a friendship with him.

My poems are altogether another story (pun intended).  They are where I emote my pain and joy.  I have written hundreds of them and one or two are good.   I do not share these with anyone.  If you wish to read some good contemporary poetry buy Stars Through the Clouds by my dear friend Donald T. Williams.  My poetry, since I was very young is meant to express things that I do not share with others.  It is intended to keep me from bottling up feelings that I would rather only show to God.  I realize that some of them should be shared with others but I am not there yet.  I have to sift through the pile and find the few gems in the muck.  I will get to it but not yet.

This blog has two purposes.  The primary purpose is for me to be open about my journey with Christ for others.  If you wish to know where I am or what I am pondering about Jesus, the church, or my own journey, this is a good place to look.  The second purpose is for you Dear Reader.  I hope that I can spur some thought.  I hope that perhaps you will carry something away that makes your life richer. 

I avoid weighing in on some issues intentionally.  I am not here to preach or tell others how to live.  I am trying to live my journey openly without judging others or ridiculing anyone.  I do have a difficult time not railing against bad drivers and people who leave used diapers in parking lots but I must govern my passions or they will be my undoing.

I am determined to get to the place where the bulk of my working day is committed to writing.  Some days it seems that I will never get there.  Some days the blank page terrifies me.  Then a comment, a fortune cookie, or especially you Dear Reading will remind me that someone is listening; someone is reading.  Even a single life enriched by what I write is of value to me. 

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."

04 June 2013

A Walk with Aqualung – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

This was my introduction to Jethro Tull, Ian Anderson, Aqualung, and beginning to think for myself.  I went the wrong way for quite some time.  My journey was toward anger, hatred, and destruction.  Drugs and alcohol helped me along.  Loneliness and feelings of rejection were my constant companions.

I believe there are some wounds from which one never truly recovers.  Those inflicted on me both intentionally and unintentionally between ages eight and eleven created soil fertile for my descent into destruction.  I realize that this seems young but that does not change the truth of it.  I mastered hiding my pain and self-destructiveness.  I was brooding and miserable.

Music became my only friend for some time.  In the early seventies there was plenty of dark music.  Fortunately there was also Thick as a Brick.  This is a true concept album containing a single 43 minute song.  It is worth the listen but be sure to do so with a copy of the lyrics.

In 1974 I had another encounter with a man who would change my life.  I had plans to take my own life and this man saw through my bravado and reached out for the damaged child screaming inside me.  He patiently answered all my objections to God and acceptance of Christ. 

What broke my willful resistance to the love and grace that Christ offered was this man looking into my eyes and with no knowledge of my past or thoughts saying one simple thing.  He put his hand on my shoulder after listening to my objections to the church and smiled.  “God is not the kind of thing you wind up on Sunday’s and ignore the rest of the week.” 

I may have used my introduction to Jethro Tull to begin my path to hating God.  God used my love of Jethro Tull to draw me back to him.  No matter where you are in the theological journey I think that faith and following saved my life.  I do not hate anyone that believes differently than me.  I do not think that one can get around that being a part of any faith or being an atheist contains a measure of arrogance.  Believing in anything means that others are excluded.  This requires that one approach faith with humility.  In that is learning possible. 

I do know that I have learned that there is a vast difference between organized religion and following Christ.  I do not mean that church or a certain pattern of practice is wrong.  What I do mean is that choosing that pattern must be done with a firm understanding that it is the following and not the function that matters.

I have a friend who got some bad clam chowder at a restaurant in Florida about thirty years ago.  To this day he refuses to eat clam chowder.  I make really good clam chowder and it is never poison.  I have had bad clam chowder as well.  It just seems foolish to reject a food for life that is wonderful and can be safe to eat. 

Rejecting God because of the bad actions of some of his followers seems just as unthinkable to me.  That does not mean that I disrespect or dislike anyone who has.  Rather, it is my responsibility to cultivate love and humility that will allow others to see the difference between churches and Jesus.  It is not my job to covert others, to save souls, or to judge. 

It is my job to see Aqualung and have real compassion for him.  It is my responsibility to see Johnny Scarecrow and want him to have a coat and more.  I must brush aside wind up gods and caged images so that Christ can be seen for who he is.  Guilt and gilding are both improper ways to treat faith and following.  I must choose to live what I believe in a way that makes others feel accepted and welcome. 

What I believe is my choice.  What I do about it must comply with who Christ is in a way that is both confident and humble.  What I believe must be seen long before it is spoken.  I have failed in this in the past and should not be surprised at the damage it causes when I do so.  I do not pretend perfection.  I do with to be identified with both the crucified and risen Jesus.  By God’s grace I hope to live it out in a way that is honest and genuine.  You see after all is said and done, how I live out what I believe is not up to some religion, denomination, or system of theology.  It is truly, Dear Reader, Up to Me.

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."

03 June 2013

A Walk with Aqualung – Lick Your Fingers Clean

Greetings Dear Reader,

This song was intended for the original album but the technology prevented it.  Some years later I encountered this song.  It was reworked into Two Fingers on the Warchild album.  I think it would be a disservice to the work to not comment on it here.  Keep in mind that I was in a much different place mentally when Warchild came out in 1975 and when I heard this song live for the first time.  

I love the imagery of the offering plate being a chamber pot.  Again Ian Anderson fits a very honest message into the song without being preachy or snarky.  The key for me is when he talks about election.  Most people do not realize that he is speaking of one of the vast arguments of faith. 

Some believe that we are chosen (elected) by God to be perfected by God.  If we pretend perfection and do not realize how far we have to go to be like Christ then we are dishonest.  If we pretend that we are perfect we will not crucify the flesh as we are required.

If we are not going to accept God over the institutes of the church then we should be sure that we make a good deal with the church.  Remember that the Christian church is guilty of selling salvation in many ways.  Faith, however, cannot be bought. 

If we are going to buy into the systems of religion we had best do so in a way that leaves us a good name with them.  If we are going to truly follow Christ we had best adopt some humility and realize the depth of our failure to be what God wishes us to be as his followers.

By the time I heard this song I was already on a path that included Christ and following him.  I still had much to learn about what that meant but God was slowly healing my mind and heart. 

Lick Your Fingers Clean – Ian Anderson

I'll see you at the weighing in
When your life's sum-total's made.
And you set your wealth in godly deeds
Against the sins you've laid.
So you place your final burden
On your hard-pressed next of kin:
Send the chamber pot back down the line
To be filled up again.

Take your mind off your election
And try to get it straight.
And don't pretend perfection ---
You'll be crucified too late.

And he'll say you really should make the deal
As he offers round the hat.
Well, you'd better lick your fingers clean; I thank you all for that.
And as you join the good ship earth
And you mingle with the dust
Be sure to leave your underpants
With someone you can trust.

And the hard-headed social worker who bathes his hands in blood
Will welcome you with arms held high
And cover you with mud.
And he'll say you really should make the deal
As he offers round the hat.
Well, you'd better lick your fingers clean, I thank you all for that.


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."