28 February 2014

On America – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

I love where I live.  I know that there is greatness in this nation.  I know that I have responsibilities relative to that greatness.  I have those responsibilities because of my responsibility to Christ.

I have written before on why I believe that America is not a Christian nation.  That does not me that I do not have an obligation to put Christ first in my thoughts and actions relative to my citizenship. 

I am required to care for those around me.  I am obligated to love everyone and look to the needs of others.  Beyond that doing so assures a better world in which to live.  We erected a statue inviting exiles to flock to us for acceptance and safety.  We beacon those “yearning to breathe free.” 

If this country is to retain its power, is freedom, and its very soul then we must look to the care of all who accept that this is a place to breathe free.  We must care for each other in any way possible.  We must see that we are each other’s responsibility.  I am my brother’s keeper.  I am accountable for anyone who is poor, oppressed, or enslaved. 

Any man’s death diminished me.  Any injustice that I allow makes me unjust.  This is a land of plenty but I must not feast if I do not care for those who cannot do the same.  I must assure that I will sacrifice all to aide some.  America is not the greatest nation in the world but is used to be and it could be again.
           
Statue of Liberty Poem - The New Colossus – Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

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 February 2014

On America – Slavery

Greetings Dear Reader,

It has been over one hundred and fifty years official steps were taken to end slavery in this country.   It did not end.  It slunk into the shadows and became less public and more malevolent.  There are still 27 million people kept in domestic, industrial, and sexual slavery worldwide.  That includes 60,000 plus people in the United States.

When we talk about human trafficking we are talking about women, men, and children forced to be commodities in a 32 billion dollar industry.  Most of the slavery in this country is forced labor and sexual servitude.  Real humans on American soil are being used, abused, and sometimes killed at the whim of people who claim to own them.

This outrages me.  This puts me in a place where I must think and reason so that my emotions do not control my words and actions.  This is too close to home for me to ignore.  My Daughter Christmas was a victim of this for years.  She escaped from human bondage to come live with us and has made vast strides in recovery.  She still carries the scars of the things done to her.

We cannot say that we are a great nation as long as we allow a single individual to be bought or sold within our borders.  Today is the day when we raise awareness by supporting organizations like End It.  There is not a single reason why Americans should allow a human being to think that they own another human being.

To allow slavery on our soil is reprehensible.  It violates the very fabric of our nation.  It is too common and too ignored for us to sit silent.  We must stand and focus a light on the truth.  We must act to end it.  I cannot claim to follow Christ and ignore this festering wound to our collective soul.

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 February 2014

On America – Laws Based on Morality

Greetings Dear Reader,

Before we set up any straw men or yell that people’s morality is different I want to acknowledge that we cannot legislate morality.  I will not claim to know the answers where the lines blur.  It is difficult to balance things where moral views conflict. 

I consider the situation of the new Arizona law in light of the actual circumstances of the baker involved.  Matt Walsh has written about this far better than I could and an objective reading of his post is beneficial for anyone who is honest.

We need to return to laws being made on the word of the people to their constituents and not on loud voices of any special interest group.  I am increasingly bothered by the screaming and chest pounding from both sides of any issue.  We need to reason together and not shout each other down in anger and disrespect. 

As a conservative Christ follower I am to love and respect everyone.  If I assure that I take responsibility for doing this then I have a better chance of not saying something foolish or unkind.  I hold some very unpopular beliefs but that does not mean that I must harm others in the way I express or live out those beliefs.

We must return to the place where we talk to each other with dignity and respect.  We cannot continue to be run by special interest groups who are loud and unjust.  This happens on both sides of the isle and it is killing our connection as a nation.

Let me be clear about this.  No matter how I feel about homosexuality I must assure that everyone who is gay is treated with love, respect, and kindness.  No matter what my stance is on abortion I must treat those who provide and receive them with compassion and love. 

We cannot legislate someone into faith, morality, or good living.  I cannot influence anyone for Christ if I do not treat them with love and respect.  It is not right for me to refuse love and respect to anyone.  It my responsibility to love everyone.  It may be difficult to know where to stand on the issues but if I show love and respect to everyone I will still find my footing.

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 February 2014

On America – War on Poverty not the Poor


Greetings Dear Reader,

This seems to be a thread throughout this particular part of the dialogue.  How a nation treats its poor says so much about that nation.  The problem to me seems that we have relegated the responsibility of caring for the poor to our government instead of taking personal responsibility for it.

If every individual who has enough gave out of that abundance then those who do not have enough would have their needs met.  Instead we have put into place an un-navigable quagmire of bureaucracy that is both ineffective and un-compassionate.  It is the giving that makes us what we are and not the trappings we put around it.

Most of the people who struggle to make a living do not want us to just feed them.  Most want us to help them learn to feed themselves.  If I assure that I am looking for opportunity to help those individuals then I make a difference.  If every American who has enough were to make that difference the millions of dollars spent on government programs would be unnecessary.

A poor hungry human is my responsibility.  He or she is your responsibility.  We cannot lay this off on institutions and pretend we have done our part.  “Are there no work houses?”  I cannot pretend to follow Christ if I do not do something for those in need when I have the opportunity.  The problem is not too big.  Our vision of what we can do is not big enough.

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 February 2014

On America – Personal Sacrifice

Greetings Dear Reader,

We waged and won two world wars because of the personal sacrifice of multitudes.  What has been called the greatest generation of Americans gave in every area for the common good.  It seems that in almost every area we have forsaken the common welfare for personal preferences. 

No matter what your view on issues like poverty, health care, and the economy we cannot recover without a measure of personal sacrifice.  We need to come together for the common good of our nation and focus on how to fix the problem.  We need to lay aside our political differences and save the ship. 

As a Christ follower I am required to always be willing to sacrifice personally for the better of others.  This is never to be viewed as a loss to me.  How can we call ourselves followers if we allow the poor, the sick, and those not receiving justice to go uncared for?  There is no room on the journey for indifference or negligence. 

Everything about our redemption is tethered to sacrifice.  We have allowed the excesses we have to dull our understanding of sacrifice.  If the journey is to continue for us then we, I must remember the cost and be willing to pay it.

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 February 2014

On America – Personal Responsibility

Greetings Dear Reader,

When I make a choice to do or not do something then I am acting in my own locus of control.  As a writer I write or I do not write.  It is my choice.  As Christ follower I either obey or I do not.  As an American citizen I either work toward what is good or I do not.

A great America requires that we reconnect with the idea of personal responsibility.  It is not anyone else’s fault if I do not give my best to make my life all it can be.  Everyone can have a better life if they take personal responsibility for that life.  There are challenges, setbacks, and obstacles.  All that means is that I must be tougher, persistent, and creative.

I must be responsible for the choices I make.  I have an education because I studied.  I have a good job because I kept seeking better jobs.  I am not a self-made man but my work and persistence has played a part in where I am.  It will play a part in where I am headed as well. 

I have heard too many people say that some entity or other prevented them from succeeding.  That is just impossible.  We can become almost anything if we work hard and chase our dreams.  It is in that personal responsibility that greatness lies.  If we want a great nation we must re-embrace the idea that it is great when it is make up of millions of its citizens striving to be individually great whilst helping others do the same.

If I do not give my best effort for my life then I should not expect anyone else to do it for me.  Christ demands my best and my country sure needs it.

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 February 2014

On America – Defined by Issues

Greetings Dear Reader,

There was a time when our politics were defined by issues and a partisan stance.  It used to be that when Mr. Smith went to Washington he went there to represent the interests of his constituency.  Now the candidates tell us what the issues are and serve their interests.

This great experiment was designed by men who put their lives and fortunes on the line so that everyone had a voice.  It seems that only money and power have voice now.  Both conservatives and liberals (you can rename these terms all you wish but it will not sound better) have agendas that are self-serving and profit motivated. 

Whether you believe in God or not it is in the best interest of all concerned to pay attention to the issues that Christ saw as important.   He asked for people to care for the poor, the sick, and the prisoner.  He asked us to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.  I think that any other political issues are just so much talk.

I do not think either side of the isle makes progress in these areas.  They are too busy hating each other to make progress.  I must assure that I do not fall into the trap of being anything over being a Christ follower.  The aforementioned issues, if attended to, will resolve most of our twenty-first problems.  I must assure the my daily life is one that attends to these things in some way. 


Which way are you going, which side will you be on
Will you stand and watch while all the seeds of hate are sown
Will you stand with those who say, let his will be done
One hand on the bible
One hand on the gun
One hand on the bible
One hand on the gun

Which way are you looking, is it hard to see
Do you say what’s wrong for him, is not wrong for me
You walk the streets, righteousness but you refuse to understand
You say you love the baby
Then you crucify the man
You say you love the baby
Then you crucify the man

Every day, things are changing, words once honored turned to lies
People wondering, can you blame them
It’s too far to run, and too late to hide

Now you turn your back on, all the things that you used to preach
Now its let him live in freedom, if he lives like me
Well you light has changed, confusion rains, what have you become
All your olive branches turned to spears
When your flowers turned to guns
Your olive branches turned to spears
When your flowers turned to guns

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 February 2014

On America – Money Where Your Mouth Is

Greetings Dear Reader,

Please be sure that as I write this I am not one of those who think it is wrong or evil to be wealthy.  Money is not the root of all evil.  The love of money is.  One of the ways that our country erodes its greatness is that it no longer puts its money where its mouth is.

A recent report says that for the first time in our history the majority of our members of congress are millionaires.  Again there is nothing inherently wrong with this being true.  It is that these people who want for nothing seem to be failing to realize that so many of their constituents want for much. 

We have so many resources and so many surpluses.  That we allow anyone to go hungry, homeless, or with medical care is beyond me.  I am neither a socialist nor a communist.  I do have a social conscience and deep sense of community.  I believe that what impacts the least in my circle impacts me.

History has taught us that when we neglect the needs of the weak, poor, sick, and marginalized in a society that society does not survive.  If our nation is to get back to being great it needs to put its money where its mouth is again. 

We cannot speak out about homelessness if we are not providing funds to provide homes.  We cannot tout the needs of the poor if we are not sacrificing our seven dollar latt├ęs to care for those needs.  Churches that insist on right to life need to be providing free safe alternatives for those who choose to not kill their babies. 

Our nation needs to change the way it thinks about money.  Debt is not an answer.  Selling the future of my Grandsons is not an answer.  Every time someone gets into to limousine they should think of those forced to walk and do something about it.  It is not riding in the limo that is wrong.  It is the indifference to the needs of others that is.

My Grandfather used to say, “You do what you believe.  Everything else is talk.”  If we as a nation want to be great then every one of us must act.  I must not take a penny of what I have for granted and I must act.  I must put my money where my mouth is.  I cannot make a difference for everyone but I can make a difference for someone.  I have.  I do.  I will.  


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 February 2014

On America – Care for Neighbors

Greetings Dear Reader,

We have a wonderful neighbor who is in his eighties.  He is kind and very knowledgeable about local history.  He is a veteran.  He has helped us in some situations where we needed help.  He has been to our house a few times and my Daughter Christmas has helped him with his home in quite a few ways.
He is really our only neighbor. 

I am not sure when we quit knowing our neighbors.  I know that we cannot care for them if we do not know them.  I am a better man for knowing my neighbor.  One of the things that diminish us as a nation is neglect of those around us. 

I am command by my faith to love my neighbor.  It is essential to my following that I do so.  I cannot hope to be a faithful follower of Christ if I do not care for my neighbor.  Beyond that, I believe that as a nation we are founded on the idea of caring for each other.  We used to do this fairly well.

It seems that one of the things that will right the decline of our culture is to remember how to be neighbors.  The late Fred Rogers understood the value of being good to everyone in a neighborly way.  Sometimes when I am feeling less than neighborly I listen to the theme song from his show. 

Once again the idea of being a good neighbor is one vital to following Christ.   It is also vital to being a good citizen of my town, state, and nation.

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 February 2014

On America – Standing for What is Right

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that “what is right” is subjective to some people.  If you follow my writing you know that I am pretty conservative.  To me there are things that are universally right.  As a nation there have been plenty of times when we have violated what is right in the name of programs and progress.

It is wrong that in the essence of it that some things happen.  Standing for what is right as a nation has to be the work of individuals standing for what is right.  How can we ever hope to be grate when we permit there to be 600,000 homeless people and 68,000 of them are military veterans.

We cannot call our nation great when we do not agree that everyone deserves healthcare.  I do not think the current system is a good one.  A great nation would be fighting over the best way to provide it and not whether or not to provide it.  Do not try to tell me that we are doing good by denying health care to a child with cancer. 

It is immoral to decide if someone deserves the same healthcare as you based on your position on his or her
morality. Again, I am very conservative in most of my beliefs but do you realize who Jesus cared for.  He cared for sinners.  He insulted and challenged those who thought they were righteous.  He made it very clear that we are all equal in God’s eyes.  Our equality is that we are all fallen and in need of God’s love and redemption. 

Everything about the human trafficking industry disgusts me.  We cannot be great if we allow it: Full stop.  Men and women are bought and sold daily in this country for domestic, sexual, and drug slavery.  A great nation would end it now. 

I can go on but you get the picture.  If I am to follow Christ in making our nation one he can bless then I must not allow any of this.  Anyone who wishes to consider our nation great will realize that standing for what is right is what makes greatness.  I am not saying that you have to believe what I believe.  That is between you and God.  We do, however, need to agree that slavery, homelessness, poverty, and healthcare are a few issues that are shameful if neglected. 

If we ever hope to be great we cannot allow these things to continue. I cannot allow them to be acceptable.  It is time that we remembered that certain things must not be neglected or politicized.  We must stand for what is right by standing next to those we disagree with on others issues to do what is right no matter the cost.

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 February 2014

On America – Intellect

Greetings Dear Reader,

One of the curses of spending most of one’s adult life as an educator is that one witnesses firsthand the destruction of education in our culture.  The college that I taught at when I first began my teaching career had a very simple motto: “Where character is developed with intellect.” 

For some time I have viewed the erosion of intellect for its own ills and problems.  The new students that enter my classroom seem increasingly unprepared for college level education.  I recently saw a quote that moved me to this thinking.  “In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in High School to teaching remedial English in college.”  In fact it is less than that.  I was in High School a mere thirty odd years ago and I took Latin for two years. 

We have forgotten that knowledge is power.  We have sacrificed thinking for participation credit.  Everything about leaning matters.  It is impossible to have education with it being influenced by politics.  The problem is when politics drives education.  We have sacrificed a generation to poor education and it hinders our entire growth as a nation.

There must be intellect to have character.  I must follow Christ in my head and my heart.  I must honestly examine every issue.  I cannot ever ignore the responsibility to think well about the things of God.  Thomas Traherne wrote, “To think well is to serve God in the interior court.” 

I cannot follow Christ well if I do not think well.  I cannot be an honorable disciple of Christ if I do not do so with my intellect.  I must think through the issues.  I must promote honest thinking.  I must be able to reason with others to provide a reason for the hope and faith I carry.  We are in grave danger if we do not remember how to think, learn, and apply.  I must do it daily if I am to pass it on to my students, friends, and family.

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 February 2014

On America – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

As I write this it is President’s Day.  This seems a good day to being a series on my thoughts and questions about the country in which I live.  I was recently introduced to a HBO series called The Newsroom.  In the opening moments of the first episode Will McAvoy, played brilliantly by Jeff Daniels is asked “what makes America the greatest country?”  The ensuing monologue touched on several things that I wish to ponder. 

I want to be clear from the outset how grateful I am for the country in which I live.  I am, however, concerned that we do not see that we are in dire need of change.  We are headed down a path that has led to the demise of other nations.  I know that faith is a part of it, but common charity, honor, and intellect factor in as well.

As I think through these things I want to do so in light of what is good and right not just as a follower of Christ.  There are causes vital to Christ followers that are also common to everyone who lives in the United States of America.  This is not a political undertaking but rather a social one.  I value your thoughts and questions.

"It’s not the greatest country in the world professor, that’s my answer.

Sharon, the NEA is a loser, yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck but he gets to hit you with it any time he wants. It doesn’t cost money, it costs votes, it costs air time, it costs column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so god damn always?

*Turns to conservative pundit*

And with a straight face you’re going to tell students that America is so star spangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world that have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, BELGIUM has freedom.

So, 207 sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.

And you, sorority girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day there’s some things you should know. One of them is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, Number 4 in labor force and Number 4 in exports, we lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending where spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies.

Now none of this is the fault of a 20 year old college student, but you none the less are without a doubt a member of the worst period generation period ever period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Yosemite?

It sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chests. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men, we aspired to intelligence, we didn't belittle it, it didn't make us feel inferior.

We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn't scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed, by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. Enough?”
  
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 February 2014

This Morning’s Snow

Greetings Dear Reader,

I was awake before sunrise today and chose to drink my coffee on the porch.  It is a balmy 12 degrees so a jacket and boots were necessary.  The freaky cardinal was attacking the window at first light.  I could see where Cyros the skunk has made his way from the shed to the evergreens in search of food.  The squirrels were up early and chasing each other through the trees.

As I enjoyed my coffee and the relative quiet the sun broke over the trees.  My drive, yard, and field, all covered in a fresh layer of snow exploded into twinkling diamonds.  I am not a good enough photographer to capture the beauty.  It gave me a moment of true worship.  I was reminded of just how in awe I am of the beauty that is snow.  I pondered the moment when each flake crystallized into its unique form.  I considered how the wind and terrain had sculpted what lay before me. 

In that moment I again felt the vastness of creation and the amazing power of the Creator.  This is why I have faith and follow.  This moment is where I see and feel that just like the snowflakes I am uniquely created.  This Creator is the one who loves me and wants all good things for me.  This is the one in whom “I live, and move, and have my being.”

This vast expanse of temporary art will pass.  The moment, however, served to remind me of the creativity of the God I follow.  It reminded me of his vast power and love.  I hope that I can do the same 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."

15 February 2014

An Honest Boy

Greetings Dear Reader,

I frequently have great concern for the youth in our world.  As the world slips further away from common morals and values there is less example for them to follow.  I had some of that fear lessened last evening.

My Daughter Christmas and I were attending a game night at a local shop.  Neither of us have significant others to share Valentine’s Day with so we agreed to do this and it was fun.  There were about fifty other people there to spend their solitary Valentine’s Day gaming.  As a side note it troubled me that there were at least three young men there whose wives were at home alone.

About midway through the evening I was at the counter purchasing some gaming supplies I needed and was enjoying a particularly nerdy conversation with the proprietor.  A young man, I would estimate his age at twelve, tapped me on the shoulder.  He proffered a twenty dollar bill and said, “Excuse me sir but your dropped this.”

I quickly checked my cash to assure that he was correct and then smiled at him.  I took the money and thanked him.  He immediately started making excuses for why his honesty as if it were a flaw in his character.  I reassured him that I was thankful for his integrity.  I also put things in motion to reward him for it.

Throughout the remainder of the evening my spirit was lightened by the honesty of this young man.  I observed him and his small circle of socially awkward friends.  I am sure they receive little respect outside or their circle.  What I saw were half dozen young boys who are good to each other and those around them.

They are too loud and communicate in ways that most people will not understand.  They are also honest and intelligent.  I look forward to further interaction with them.  I hope to get the opportunity to show them Christ in a way that matters. 

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 February 2014

Erosion – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Everything that is not tended erodes.  No matter how good I am today at being patient, kind, or respectful I must mindful of erosion.  I cannot allow my care and vigilance over the good things that pass from me to others to lie fallow.
 
Even though some of these good things are habits I must not allow them to diminish or be neglected.  I must tend the soil in which my good habits grow and assure that those habits are deeply rooted.

This can only be done if I daily commit to following Christ in a way that places my goodness to others at the forefront.  It is easy to be focused on my own heart and needs.  It takes work to develop a lifelong pattern of being good to others.

The only way to prevent the erosion of good things in our society is for individuals to choose to be the roots that cling to them.

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 February 2014

Erosion – Respect

Greetings Dear Reader,

Some weeks ago I was shopping in a local store.  Three young men were walking through the aisles.  One of them had headphones in his ears and was singing along with his music.  He had a decent voice but the language of the song was more expletive than poetry. 

I was with a young lady and I asked the young man to stop using that language in public.  His response was to tell me that he had freedom of speech and could say whatever the f*** he wanted.  I responded by suggesting that we ask the store manager if that were true.  One of his friends stepped in and politely pointed out that it was improper to be using that language in public.

As they were walking away I heard the friend who had intervened say, “You have got to learn to respect people.  You will get us all in trouble if you do not.”

I often wonder what has happened to the idea of respect in our culture.  It has changed vastly.  It used to be that people showed respect.  It used to be that actions and honor commanded it.  Now people insist that it cannot be granted but must be earned.  People demand it instead of humbly accepting it.  People lose respect for others and treat them disrespectfully.

As someone who cares about being respectful to others it burdens me that this aspect of our social interaction has eroded so vastly.  The lack of respect for people grows in so many areas.  It used to be that we did not attack people even when we disagreed with them.  I was taught to disagree with others through respect and humility.

So much of what we do to congress with each other depends on the use of respect.  As it erodes society follows.  I must show respect if I hope to follow Christ well.

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 February 2014

Second Thoughts – You Shall Not Pass

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.

As a teacher I am very demanding.  I am also a nice guy.  Last night I had a student tell me he was tired of my attitude because I kept criticizing his work.  He swore at me using several colorful metaphors pointing out that he did not like me expecting him to do his best all the time.

I live in the odd world between knowing a student’s potential and seeing his or her product.  This student is capable of far more than he is producing.  Sometimes it gets the better of me and I lose heart in the job that I do. 

I have another student who is being distracted from his work by other things.  He is capable of greatness and is settling for mediocrity due to his energies being divided.  I do not think students know how deeply this hurts us as teachers. 

This thinking always puts me in mind of how I sometimes squander opportunities given me by God.  I am offered opportunities to be loving, generous, or kind and I let them pass without thinking about what I am giving up.  I must use the pain of my students’ failures to spur me on to success in following Christ by not losing opportunities.  I cannot always get them to do what is best.  I can always attempt to do what is best if I choose. 

If you do not do the work, you shall not pass.  It really is that simple. 

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."


Erosion – Charity

Greetings Dear Reader,

When I think of charity I do not mean the simple act of giving to the needs of others.  I am thinking of a more Dickensian definition that embraces a benevolent love of all humanity.  I am thinking of humanism that is not secular.

I find the erosion of benevolence for humankind to be the cause of many ills in the world.  The callousness that envelopes this erosion leads to the destruction of lives.  How is it that we tolerate the hunger, homelessness, and abuse of other humans?

It is this erosion of charity that causes the rise of things like homelessness and human trafficking.  I cannot end any of these things alone but I can do something.  I must always be aware of the needs of others.  I must not allow the massive need to overwhelm me and make me insensitive of it.

At one point I decided to do something about someone in need.  It worked.  When any human suffers we all suffer.  I am reminded of the end of Schindler’s List when Schindler ponders how many more lives he could have saved had he done this or that.  It is too easy for us to be satisfied with what we have done.

Charity is not a feeling but an action.  It is doing what must be done to insure that others have common necessities.  It is paying the price to protect the humanity and dignity of others.  I must be aware of this and seek opportunity to show charity to others.  If I allow it to erode then I contribute to the horrors caused by its absence.

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 February 2014

Erosion – Civility

Greetings Dear Reader,

I suppose this is one of those things that is coupled with kindness and humility in an inseparable way.  The specific that I see in my life is that I need to be civil to everyone I encounter.

Growing up in the south I walked through a world where people greeted each other even if they were total strangers.  When I moved to the Midwest I had not shed this habit and found that it was not so here.  My friendly greetings where often met with head down ignoring, looks of shock, or expletive filled dismissals.

A friend tried to explain that one does not do that here.  In my reasoning it was my duty to be civil with everyone.  I have tempered this over my years here out of respect for those in my community but I think that being civil is eroding in our society.

It seems that we do not treat others with sense of community they deserve.  Neighbors do not know each other.  People do not look out for each other.  When we lose this we lose some of the richness that exists in those around us.  We are not as invested in others as we should be invested.

As one who desires Christ I must remember that he wants me to be a part of the lives of those around me.  Civility opens the door to 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."

10 February 2014

Erosion – Humility

Greetings Dear Reader,

There was time when athletes talked about the team and a common goal during interviews.  There was a time when celebrating a victory meant joy for you and respect for your defeated opponent.  I remember being taught that when you win you must not forget to respect your opponent.
 
The reason for all of this was humility.  Somewhere in our growth of pride in accomplishments we have lost the idea of humility.  The erosion of humility leads to the wrong and deadly kind of pride.  This kind of pride destroys things.  It is arrogant and unloving. 

As a Christ follower I must be humble.  The problem is that humility erodes so quickly when I am angry or feel slighted.  I forget so easily that I must put other first and love them where they are.  In addition to that I must remember that I must not feel prideful when I succeed in being humble.  It is constant dance with a dervish to work at this.

It is only by looking at Christ and not my own worth that humility can when.  I must constantly be a reflector and never try to be the light.

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."

09 February 2014

Erosion – Kindness

Greetings Dear Reader,

This is one of those things that is so easy to do yet so easy to neglect.  I am always impressed with how kind my children are to people.  They see others with a simple need and will stop what they are doing to meet it.

Kindness seems to be one of those things that is greatly eroding in our society.  I listen to others in public places.   The way in which people treat each other often alarms me.  It is so easy to be kind if I choose to do so.

When I get too involved in my own schedule, work, and troubles I can be very unkind.  Failing to be kind erodes quickly into selfishness and impatience.  It costs me so little to take a moment to inject kindness into the lives of others. 

If I allow kindness to erode then both my following of Christ and my impact on others will erode as well.  I cannot follow Christ closely if I am not kind.  I cannot effectively share Christ with others if they do not see kindness in me.  I want kindness to be a natural part of my fiber.   

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 February 2014

Erosion – Tolerance

Greetings Dear Reader,

As I ponder tolerance I think it must follow patience.  I am not talking about the kind of tolerance that accepts everything as allowable.  All things are not good.  There are things that are absolutely wrong and one should not tolerate them.

Now before you assume what I am talking about let me assure you that I do not hate anyone.  It is not logical to assume that the position that something is wrong automatically means that I hate, dislike, or dismiss the wrong doer.

The type of tolerance to which I must adhere is that which allows for infinite differences in people as the journey toward God.  I do not get to choose how one prays, worships, or follows.  That is not my place.  

I think that when I get comfortable with the ways in which I do things that I must not presume that is the only way to do them.  I must not allow my mind to develop an intolerance of the infinity diversity that can be found in truth.

I think that the ability to hold fast to my convictions must not erode my tolerance for those who do not share them.  To do so would be a violation of my convictions.  I cannot be intolerant of others and show them the love Christ commands at the same time.  It is my obligation not to allow social acceptance, political climate, or personal dislike to make me dismissive of others.

If I believe that something you do is wrong then it is my obligation to love you and hope to see you realize that you are wrong.  It is not my place to badger, criticize, and reject. 

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 February 2014

Erosion – Patience

Greetings Dear Reader,

I wonder if we realize that most red lights are two minutes or less.  I know that almost daily I see people stopped next to me creeping into the intersection from almost the moment of the stop.  I know that at an alarming rate I see people run a light that is clearly red.  At least once a week the person behind me honks the moment the light changes. 

It seems to me that the world is becoming increasingly impatient.  I know that I can be very impatient at times.  Impatience breeds impatience.  It is one of those places where my following Christ erodes quickly if I do not ride heard on it.  I never wish to be impatient with anyone but I must always practice being patient. 

I use the red light analogy to remind myself.  It is not as big a deal with traffic or grocery lines.  When I work at being patient at these things there is a benefit.  It is much easier to be more patient in things that matter.  I have to assure that I do not let my bent toward impatience consume me when family, friends, or colleagues are involved.

My impatience can be both positive, when I am excited about something.  It can be negative when I simply want what I want when I want it.  Both can erode my demeanor into forgetting to put others first and respect the needs of those around me.

As I see patience erode in our society perhaps I can be more patient with others and by that help them see Christ more clearly. 

Patience – The Music Machine

There was a snail called Herbert who was so very slow
He caused a lot of traffic jams wherever he would go
The ants were always getting mad and the beetles,
they would fume
But Herb would always poke along and sing this little tune

Have patience, have patience
Don't be in such a hurry
When you get impatient, you only start to worry
Remember; remember that God is patient, too
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you

When Herbert was much younger, he often got in trouble
Forgetting that he was a snail, he did things on the double
He'd crash through every spider web and with crickets he'd collide
'Til one day Herbert's father took his speeding son aside

Have patience, have patience
Don't be in such a hurry
When you get impatient, you only start to worry
Remember; remember that God is patient, too
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you

As you can well imagine, there's a moral to this tale
Some of you may find yourselves behind a creeping snail
So if you get impatient and you're easily disturbed
Think about this little song and take a tip from Herb

Have patience, have patience
Don't be in such a hurry
When you get impatient, you only start to worry
Remember; remember that God is patient, too
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you

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 February 2014

Erosion – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

When I was in primary school we had a science fair every year.  Participation was compulsory and my creativity had not found its footing yet.  A teacher who cared about me suggested I do a project on erosion. 

I did.  It failed miserably.  Instead of a cool mountain of dirt that show the impact of water cascading down leaving devastated land, I ended up with a box of mud.  It did ignite in me a passion for the power of water and the effects of erosion.

I have also realized that erosion may be the most destructive force there is for Christ followers.  None of my great failures started with me deciding to do something terribly wrong.  They all started with me choosing to do something small and rationalizing it away. 

Please understand that I indulge in very little “slippery slope” thinking.  I also recognize, however, that the wolf is always at the door.  The siren always calls.  A small series of compromises can lead to great tragedy.  It comes down to knowing the areas where there is no room for compromise or erosion.

I see erosion all around me.  Please join in the conversation as I ponder some areas where it threatens the journey and harms those around 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."

05 February 2014

Stupid Human Tricks – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

I do not need to do anything to make the Gospel better.  It stands on its own just fine.  I do not need to force, coerce, or manipulate people into the faith.  The Spirit of God will draw people and allow them the freedom to respond or not respond.

Anything I do that is not motivated by my love for Christ and others hinders the Gospel.  Christ wants everyone to follow him.  He wants them to see who he truly is and follow him out of love.  No stupid human tricks are necessary for me to enhance the Gospel.

What I must do is follow.  I must set an example with honesty and love.  I must be all that Christ wishes me to be and not reject, hate, or dismiss anyone.  There is forgiveness, acceptance, and joy available for everyone.  I must assure that I realize the only the purity of Christ can deliver that.  I can add nothing to it but my obedience.

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 February 2014

Stupid Human Tricks – Manipulation

Greetings Dear Reader,

One of the great crimes that the church commits against its people and those outside the faith is that of trying to manipulate them into what is “right”.  One cannot manipulate someone and achieve lasting results.  As I think through this there is some reasoning through which I need to travel.

First I consider what it means if I seek to manipulate someone else.  If my faith is as strong as I feel it is then I do not need to “trick” someone else into following Christ.  I do not need to put pressure on them.  My faith should be able to stand on its own without me coercing anyone to do anything.  If it cannot then is it really worth having?

Another aspect of this is that manipulation always hurts both parties.  The damage is not always evident at first but the lasting impact is there.  It causes people to see Christ as the problem and has the opposite desired impact.

No matter what I think my motivation is for being manipulative it is wrong.  It is far better for me to motivate through love and honest following.  The impact of humility is much larger than of trying to bend others.  If I am to have a voice for Christ it must be one that can be trusted.

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 February 2014

Second Thoughts – Magic Moments

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 truly savor time with my children.  Last Friday night was one of those times.  We got to indulge in a late night event connected to one of our shared interests.   We play a card game that has quarterly releases of new cards.  Our group of shared friends often gathers around the game and there is much enjoyment.

During the Friday event I had another great experience.  I was matched against someone in the tournament who is a kindred spirit.  Even though I lost my time was filled with the winning moment of getting to know a young man who cares about kindness and honor above pride and winning. 

In following Christ I revel most in those moments where I can meet someone on the journey with whom I share common values and interests.  These serendipitous events fuel me to be a better follower and more faithful example.  I am always thankful for them.

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."

Stupid Human Tricks – In-Fighting

Greetings Dear Reader,

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I feel that Georgia peaches are better than any fruit in the world.  To me all other peaches are inferior and I rarely will eat any other kind.  It is completely allowable that I feel this way.  After all, they are peaches.

When humans become stupid they translate this feeling to the way in which they practice following Christ.  Since finding Christ I have been in Baptist, Lutheran, Charismatic, and Independent churches.  Except for one each church I regularly attended decided at one point that they were better than the others. 

When Christ followers indulge in this type of behavior precious resources and time are wasted.  Damage is done to the name of Christ and the furtherance of the Gospel. Teaching time and discussions are consumed in explaining why this practice is better than others.  People get judged based on the particular practices they prefer at worship.

All of this hinders the faith.  It is Christ that matters.  It is following Christ and living his commission that matters.  If I exclude anyone based on his or her preference in that following that I cease to follow.  It is foolish to do so.

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."



01 February 2014

Stupid Human Tricks – Guilt

Greetings Dear Reader,

I was raised in an environment that both religiously and socially held guilt in the highest esteem.  Whilst I believe that the feeling of guilt has a proper place in the redemption process, it is neither to be the prime mover nor the whip.

I can recall teachers insisting that I feel the proper depth of guilt over transgressions I had committed.  I can recall being instructed to feel guilty over this or that thing and to let said guilt rule my choices.

It seems to me that the Gospel of Christ teaches the opposite.  The purpose of genuine guilt is to help us see our need for forgiveness and redemption.  It is not to be a chain upon our souls but a motivator toward freedom.  The freedom found in forgiveness is to be the thing that shows us that our guilt had weight.

When I feel guilty I should feel in from within and not from the insistence of and outward source. Genuine guilt leads to conviction and actions of repentance.  This is to be what moves me toward Christ.  The stupid human trick of imposing guilt for the purposes of compliance and the tool of shame are not the nature of the living God.

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."