31 March 2014

Things I Need to Own – Hypocrisy

Greetings Dear Reader,

One of the things that people seem to find the most offensive is hypocrisy.  I must own that over the centuries and currently those who follow Christ have done things that are in direct opposition to what Christ commands.  The formula is a simple one.  I must not do things that I tell others not to do.  I must do the things I say that Christ followers should do.

In failing at this we erode the image that we wish others to have of Christ.  I cannot claim to follow Christ and not live the love, kindness, generosity, and faith that he demands.  The big picture is simple.  I cannot condemn others for sin when I sin.  I cannot judge anyone else as long as I am in need of judgment.

This does not mean that I do not say that things are sin when they are.  It means that I do not treat the person guilty of that sin badly in any way.  It means that I separate the sin from the needs of the individual.  It means that I do not throw a drowning man a book on swimming.  It means that I realize we all have the same affliction and that I am in recovery. 

Christ addresses this so clearly.  He makes it clear that I need to base my actions on the degree to which I have been forgiven and not the sins of others.  The comparison I am allowed to make is my sin and God’s holiness.  I will always come up short in this comparison but that is the standard. 

The only way I can own the things I must own as a Christ follower is to acknowledge that I am in too great a need of grace and forgiveness to condemn anyone else.  This is to be a mirror for me.  I know that there are those who will read it and not see their own need to do the same.  That, however, is between the reader and 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."

30 March 2014

Things I Need to Own – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Let me say first that I am not talking about possessions here.  My greed is sufficient that I could write something humorous about that but it seems an exercise in the inappropriate.  I am pondering things I need to own as a Christ follower.  I am considering who is really responsible for the ills in our society.

I think we are too quick to blame the ills of the world on those who do not believe as we do.  Our detractors and our opposition are not to blame for our failure to address the world’s issues.  I must own that when the church poorly handles its social obligations it loses the ability to further the Gospel.

It is my obligation to own the failings in this area and do what I can to redress them.  There is ample interest in who we are as Christ followers.  Most people simply want to see honesty in others.  When the church neglects its duty in the areas of social justice and community service the Gospel becomes a cold and detached message. 

In beginning to prepare my heart for Holy Week I feel I need to assess these areas in my own life.  Feel free to walk with me as I do.  I could use the conversation along the way and you, Dear Reader are always good company.


Oh, the suffering souls
Crying out for love
In a world that seldom cares
See the hungry hearts
Longing to be filled
With much more than our prayers

And a young girl sells herself on Seventh Avenue
And you hear her crying out for help
My God! What will we do?

Don't tell them Jesus loves them
Till you're ready to love them too!
Till your heart breaks from their sorrow
And the pain they're going through
With a life full of compassion
May we do what we must do?
Don't tell them Jesus loves them
Till you're ready to love them too!

All the desperate men
Are we reaching for the souls,
That are sinking down sin?
Oh, cry for the church
We've lost our passion for the lost
And there are billions left to win

And another 40,000 children starved to death today
Would we risk all we have
To see one of them saved!?!

Don't tell them Jesus loves them
Till you're ready to love them too!
Till your heart breaks from their sorrow
And the pain they're going through
With a life full of compassion
May we do what we must do?
Don't tell them Jesus loves them
Till you're ready to love them too!

Why have we waited so long
To show them Jesus lives
To share salvation's song!

Why have our hearts become so proud
That we fail to see
To love them is to love God!

And a young girl sells herself on Seventh Avenue
Hear her crying out for help
What will we do?

Don't tell them Jesus loves them
Till you're ready to love them too!
Till your heart breaks from their sorrow
And the pain they're going through
With a life full of compassion
May we do what we must do?
Don't tell them Jesus loves them
Till you're ready to love them too!

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 March 2014

The Movie Noah – A Review with Spoilers

Greetings Dear Reader,

Yesterday I saw he movie Noah with my younger Son Bezel.  I wish to say from the outset that it was a very interesting experience. Bezel was arguably the youngest person in the room.  The reactions of people to Darren Aronofsky’s interpretation of the Noah story was both sad and humorous.  Anyone who has seen Requiem for a Dream, Pi, or Black Swan should not have expected a pure telling of the tale.  My review will be aimed at both Christian and non-Christian audiences for the sake of being honest to both the film and my faith.

To those who do not follow Christ:
Do not expect this story to follow the Biblical narrative.  It diverges very quickly from the truth.  There is not any credence to the inclusion of the industrialized society or the Watchers.  I could have tolerated this but Noah descends into the role of a madman bent on wiping mankind from the earth.  I find little of the truth in the story.

If, however, one can set aside this and see it as just a good Aronofsky film it is a good movie to watch.  The story is compelling and has a reasonable resolution.  Do not use this film as an example of what we believe.  You can instead use it as an opportunity to show the true character of both God and Noah.

To those who do follow Christ:
First let me apologize for the poor representation of who God is and how we should see this story.  The intent of the actual story is to show that God is intent on the redemption of man.  If you do not know any Christ followers feel free to discuss this with me.

If you do know someone who believes as I do then use this as a great discussion opportunity.  I promise that the actual story is quite different.  That said, I am a fan of Aronofsky and he has told a good tale.  Not all of my fellow travelers will agree with this as their standards differ from mine.

To Everyone:
The movie does not fail to entertain.  The imagery as the creation story is told is amazing.  I find a few of Aronofsky’s post production devices more distracting than entertaining but they are negligible compared to his skilled story telling.  I do, however, wish that someone with his skill would make a Bible based movie that clings to the actual story and message of the Bible.  As always, the book is much better than the movie.

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."

On Apologetics – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that I have not delivered any deep or new insights into apologetics discussion.  That was never my intent.  What I have done, I hope is revive my expectations of how I should behave in those times when I must defend why I believe.
The Humble Servant - Dan Pogue

I hope, also that I have cemented in my thoughts the purpose of apologetics.  It is not so that I can look smart or win an argument.  The purpose is the same as another exercise in the arena of the thinking follower.  That purpose is twofold.  It is to allow me to follow more closely with a deeper faith and to allow me to show that faith to others as reasonable and viable.

The honest apologist must carry the burden of the times of failure in the church.  He must also recognize those failures do not define and honest Christ follower.  Living the love and grace of the Gospel can heal those wounds.  Earning the right to be heard through the life of Christ is the only way we can erase the resistance that our failures have caused.

I must assure that my life his humble and generous.  I must insinuate love and kindness wherever I can.  Then when I speak of Christ and the validity of the Gospel I can do so on firm ground and there is a reason for the hope that is in 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."

28 March 2014

On Apologetics – Arrogance

Greetings Dear Reader,

An issue that I think we often skirt is that of the seeming arrogance of our stance as Christ followers.  It is going to offend people when I align myself with Christ’s statements concerning the singularity of his position as the path to God and faith.

Following Christ is exclusive.   If I do not assure that I am honest about this I betray both my faith and my integrity with those who do not believe as I believe.  If I do not accept that my position as Christ being the only path to God sounds arrogant then I am not honest.

It is arrogant that I think my truth is right and that others hold “truths” that are incorrect.  I must proceed from this position or I will not deal with the insult it insinuates into the discussion. 

When I defend my faith I am saying that it is the path to God.  It is the narrow trail by which we reach the clearing where God is.  It is in this admission that I find the deep need for unconditional love and humility.  It I have any hope of transcending the arrogance and being heard it lies in a life that his loving and humble.

I must approach this arrogance from a position of love and acceptance not judgment and condemnation.  I must not waiver in the position but I must not allow that position to instigate pride or prejudice. 

I must not use the singularity of my faith to create an event horizon that rejects others but rather one that draws others to it.  I cannot do this from a position of pride, hatred, or avarice.  I can only do this by living the humility and grace that the Gospel commands.

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 March 2014

Second Thoughts – Rachel’s Rhythm

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.

She dances in and out of my conscious thoughts with the ease of wind through sea oats.  The waves and whispers of the thoughts she delivers are always there.  She slips suggestions unseen into my writing and my interactions.  She is most clear when I am sad or hurting; reminding me to keep the faith and hold fast to the hope that got me through her loss.

I do not get to hold her hand or listen to her stories about the day she has had.  Instead she reminds me of who I am to be and how I am to act.  I miss her almost daily.  So today, her birthday, I ponder my life and the debt I owe her.  I want her to be proud of her father and see that he loves her even though we are separated by death and the veil.

I whisper her name and raise a glass to her as I end the day alone wondering what she would wish of me were she here.  The pain of her absence rises as I ponder her.  I embrace the pain afresh and let it live.  No solace is mine in this moment save that in future moments I will go to her.  For now I will honor her and remember that she is ever with us.  I will recall the promises we made each other as she left us.

Happy Birthday Rachael.  I love 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."

On Apologetics – Listening

Greetings Dear Reader,

It seems that when we attempt to put forth a proper apology for our beliefs that we do not do enough listening.  If we carefully listen to and honestly consider the things that our detractors say it may be that we can more easily understand how to give an answer.

If I focus on truly understanding and honestly hearing the arguments against my faith it will be easier to see the needs of those who disagree with me.  Good listening shows integrity and respect.  It also arms me with the truth about what others think and believe. 

Since we are in part guilty of creating a fissure between faith and science through persecution, rejection, and false evidence we must show that we are willing to listen.  We must secure the more noble ground of honest interaction rather than bitter argument. 

I must remember that if I give honest attention to being good to those who oppose me I am living out the Gospel.  No amount of evidence on my part can take the part of barrier crushing love for those who do not believe.  In this arena I have no enemies just opportunities. 

If I am honest then there will be honest discourse.  If there is not then the fault is not mine.  If I truly listen and accept what is honest and true then I am better for it.  If I am honest and report only truth then failure of others to heed that truth is out of my control. 

I am accountable to listen.  As my Grandfather used to say to me, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  A good apologist must seek first to understand then to be understood.

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 March 2014

On Apologetics – The Resurrection

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize how crazy it sounds to some people that I follow a God who allowed himself to be killed and the rose from the dead.  The idea of a resurrected god is not unique to those who follow Christ. 

The problem is that if we follow logical reasoning as our tenant in pondering the resurrection we need to look at the life of Christ to do so.  I will return to the reasoning of Richard Swinburne as he has developed an excellent argument for the resurrection.  It is predicated on his sound argument for the deity of Christ. 

In his book The Resurrection of God Incarnate Dr. Swinburne uses Bayes’ Theorem to build and elucidate his argument.  He also points out that those who try to present apologetics for the resurrection do themselves a disservice by ignoring this argument.   

If I believe that Jesus is God then it is reasonable to believe that the account of the resurrection is true.  I believe not only that Jesus has risen form the dead but also that this is vital to the reasons why we should understand and promote our faith.

The empty tomb is intended to be a symbol of hope for us that we can live a loving and holy life knowing it is valid to do so.  I am to see the resurrection as a pivotal event that directly impacts my life.

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 March 2014

On Apologetics – Jesus

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am going to keep my word concerning not Bible thumping to express my thoughts on this.  I must, however, point out that we have little written records outside the Bible to explain who Jesus is.  I say is because was would indicate that he is in the past and my belief that he is God negates that usage.

I went through a period where I challenged the validity of God taking on human form.   As I emerged from this doubt I read as many facets for the argument as I could.  C.S. Lewis does a much better job at explaining things than I can.

In later years after I had embraced faith I found that the philosophical approach of Richard Swinburne lends to a very reasonable understanding of why it is credible that Jesus is God.  He avoids the minimalist arguments and instead takes a very systematic approach to the topic.

I will not parrot back his discussion here but if one honestly listens to his reasoning that must concede that it is both accurate and valid.  Outside of my own experience and my belief in the validity of the Bible I hold a sustainable belief that Jesus is the “Son” part of a living God who loves us.

I think that as his followers we really mess up the message but as my Daughter Christmas know, I believe the Jesus is God.  This belief is central to all that I am and hope to 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."

24 March 2014

On Apologetics – I believe God exists – Intelligent Design

Greetings Dear Reader,

First let me say that I value science.  I think that people who dedicate their lives to research and discovery provide us with many things of value.  I think it disrespectful to dismiss or discount an honest scientific endeavor.

I also think that if we are honest that we need to lengthen the list of things we cannot explain.  I realize that we gain knowledge in the areas of physics, astrophysics, and astronomy at a rapid pace.  I value all of these discoveries and find them amazingly beautiful.

I also think that historically those who believe in God are guilty of harming and persecuting scientists in the name of religion.  This is extremely wrong.   This has led some people in the scientific community doing the same to those who see a created origin at a viable possibility. 

Simply put, we cannot prove that God does not exist.  To say that the complexities of some things suggest a designer is an honest statement.  We line up on either side of the issue instead of working together to honestly research both probabilities.  Honest research does not care about the outcome.

Because there are things in the universe that suggest a designer I choose to believe that there is one.  My mind cannot align that everything that exists is a vast cosmic accident with the truth.  I think that an honest scientist would not have an issue with this.  I do think he would have an issue with what I do with that belief.

This puts me in mind that I must not let my faith be something that can be pointed at as a detriment to belief.  If I claim to believe then I must live in such a way as to make the belief something others value in me.  If I could prove beyond the need for faith the existence of God but then used that to treat others badly then my proof has no value.

If I am wrong and still treat others with love and respect then I lost nothing.  If I am right then it is the designer whom I must follow and not scoff at those who do not.  I must honor the work or science with integrity.  I must also concede and remember that none of us has all the answers.  If I believe in an intelligent designer who is all knowing and all powerful then I should not feel threatened by those who do not.  I should love the respect them for the work they do and trust that all things will unfold as they should.

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 March 2014

On Apologetics – I believe God exists – Prime Mover

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am going to try to explain this in very simple terms.  I am not going to use Biblical sources as this would be an error in reasoning.  Since the belief in God that I hold stems in part from my belief in the veracity of the Bible, I must exclude this to be honest with those who do not believe it.

People believed in God before the first lines of Genesis were written.  If I am to be honest with those who do not believe then my apology must come from a position outside of the Bible.  I have no new insight here.  I am simply explaining why I believe.

Almost forty years ago when I was wrestling with what I believed a friend carefully reasoned through the concept of a prime mover with me.  To this day no one has ever presented a position that makes this one illogical. 

Where did we come from?  So many theories exist on this that to address them all would exceed the bounds of my purpose here.  Instead I will simply state that I have seen no scientifically sound hypothesis, theory, or evidence that strongly supports the opposite.

If we say that the universe is an accident or happened randomly then we need as infinite number of random regressions.  As we regress back infinitely the mathematical improbability increases exponentially.   Whether one holds the singular random event or the collective interdependence of multiple events one must still regress backwards to the cause or causes of those events.

If each event is random and accidental then it must have been caused by a previous random accidental event.  How many times can one regress this until it becomes absurd?  I believe in God because I believe in a prime mover.  Something outside of the event or events set them in motion.

One does not need to embrace the events in Genesis to concede that there was a genesis that caused the universe.  It is logical to me that there was a prime mover outside of the events that yielded the universe. 

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 March 2014

On Apologetics – A Means to an End

Greetings Dear Reader,

Apologetics is a tool.  It is a tributary path that leads to the grand journey.  I have said before that we are all on a journey to God.  It is dishonest for me to avoid that I believe that Christ alone is the means to that end.  The purpose of apologetics for a Christ follower is to back up his actions in following with sound reasoning for that following.

When I live out the love, kindness, and care of the Gospel people will want to know why I do these things.  It is with sound reasons that I am to voice my faith and following.  The purpose of apologetics is not to bully others into agreeing with what I believe.  It is to explain why I believe what I believe once I have earned the right to be heard.

The process should be that others should see my actions and that they are done because of my obedience to Christ.  This should give me an opportunity to share the reasons for the hope I have in Christ.  It is not that I am good and loving to others so that I can tell them about Christ.  That is not what Christ wishes of me.

I must obey Christ for the sake of obeying him.  My love for others and kindness to them must flow from my love for Christ then I have clear ground on which to stand.  If I treat others well just so I can share Christ with them then I am nothing more than a salesman manipulating my customers. 

Apologetics is a natural outflow of my faith and not a weapon for spreading that faith.  If I focus on the apologetics and not on Christ then I am seeking arguments not the wellbeing of others.  It is living out the Gospel by lovingly impacting the lives of others that leads to me gaining opportunity to share why I believe.  We have “turned a passion for the lost into the business of saving souls.”

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 March 2014

On Apologetics – Why Defend the Faith

Greetings Dear Reader,

With the foundations of truth and love as your platform what is to be gained by becoming one who can defend the reasons for faith?  How am I to take up apologetics and assure that I do so with love and integrity?

We have covered the first tenet.  I must move forward with the understanding that faith is required by God; therefore, there will be no conclusive proof that eliminates the need for faith.  This does not mean that there cannot be reasonable apology for what one believes.  It does mean that no matter how close we come in knowing there will still need to be some believing.

It is easy to say that our faith is absurd and foolish.  It is.  Absurdity and foolishness do not make something wrong or untrue.  The concept of an all-powerful, all knowing, and eternal being who created us, loves us, and died for us is quintessential foolishness.  I believe that understanding this aspect of who God is gets lost in the discussion.

The idea of giving back good for evil is not one that is “normal” to our nature.  We defend our faith because we are fools for Christ.  We defend our faith because we believe the unbelievable.  The first truth from which I must proceed is that the entire framework of following Christ is foolishness to the common observer.

The abundant array of opposites leads one to believe that the life of following Christ is one foolish. 
I am to:
·         Love my enemy
·         Return good for evil
·         Be humble to advance
·         Give up everything to get what I need
·         Die to live

The primary reason to defend my faith is to show with love and kindness that there will not be answers to everything.  When I lovingly live out my faith I must be willing to be honest is saying that everything will not have a scientific, logical, or reasonable answer.  From this we may proceed.

God’s Own Fool – Michael Card

Seems I've imagined Him all of my life
As the wisest of all of mankind
But if God's Holy wisdom is foolish to men
He must have seemed out of His mind

For even His family said He was mad
And the priests said a demon's to blame
But God in the form of this angry young man
Could not have seemed perfectly sane
Chorus

When we in our foolishness thought we were wise
He played the fool and He opened our eyes
When we in our weakness believed we were strong
He became helpless to show we were wrong

And so we follow God's own fool
For only the foolish can tell-
Believe the unbelievable
And come be a fool as well

So come lose your life for a carpenter's son
For a madman who died for a dream
And you'll have the faith His first followers had
And you'll feel the weight of the beam

So surrender the hunger to say you must know
Have the courage to say I believe
For the power of paradox opens your eyes
And blinds those who say they can see

So we follow God's own Fool
For only the foolish can tell
Believe the unbelievable,
And come be a fool as 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."

20 March 2014

On Apologetics – Understanding “Argument” as Truth

Greetings Dear Reader,

One thing that is a great challenge to Christian Apologetics is that there are Christians who are not honest in their apologetics.  There are two very important sides to this coin.  I feel that when we fail in either of them it hurts our image in the eyes of our detractors and it hurts our faith.

The first is that we are not always honest with our apologetics in terms of what we accept as evidence of our faith.  One of the glaring examples from my early days as a Christ follower was the Lost Day story that tries to explain account in the Book of Joshua.   There are several honest and good attempts to explain what happened but the only genuine answer I can give is that we do not know how it happened.

The point here is not to attempt to prove or disprove anything.  Instead I wish to cast an honest light on admitting that we have as a body told some awful lies to attempt to give credibility to our faith.  If we need to lie to prove our truths then of what value are our truths?  It is much more important that we speak the truth and hold fast to it than we convince others through deception and slight of mind.

The second truth that we seem to either be ashamed of or wish to circumvent is that we follow a God who demands that we have faith.  I have a dear friend who has told me that he will not believe in a God who requires faith.  We try to get around the need for faith when we offer false proof.  There is a place for good apologetics but in the end there is a singular truth that requires our attention.  If we try to evade faith then we are not honest in our apologetics.  “I do not know” is an acceptable answer for some things.

We cannot escape the truth that at some point we must make a step, stride, or leap of faith.  I cannot tell anyone else that I have proven the existence, power, or love of God.  All that I can do is give honest and reasonable account of the faith I have.  As a story teller I love to create fictions that reflect the truth of who God is.  As a follower of Christ my obligation is to always speak the truth in love. 

Having laid this foundation I can move on to the meager attempt to explain why I have faith in Jesus as a living God who became human for the sake of my reclamation.  I am commanded to “Speak the truth in love.”  Both must be present if we are to deliver apologetics in a way that is true to the faith we claim.

I do not have answers for everything.  I do not KNOW everything I wish I knew.  I do, however, have a reasonable faith.  Please feel free to question me as I unfold the reasons why.

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."

World Story Telling Day

Greetings Dear Reader,

Since it is World Story Telling Day I thought I would share a story from my book Sheetrock.  Enjoy with my dearest wish that you have excellent stories in your life.

Putting Food By

Sometimes you hang on to things that are gone through the things that are left behind.   In my Grandfather’s house was a pantry.  It was a large closet ringed with varying height shelves.  These shelves held the usual canned and dry goods common to a proper southern home in the sixties. 

My grandmother was very particular about her pantry in that she had each section of each shelf assigned for certain items.  Canned goods were housed on the left ordered in categories from fruit to vegetables, subdivided alphabetically.  Dried goods belonged in the rear and home canned foods filled the right. 

Placing new items in the pantry was a ritual for my grandmother.  She would set her bags or boxes of goods on her kitchen stool outside the pantry and begin the ritual of rotation moving the older items to the left of the shelf and newer items to the right.  She would spend an hour sliding and placing each week when she brought home groceries.  At the end of canning season there was always a major overhaul.  The left shelf of the pantry would be emptied to the dining room table and then the new items given precedence over the space. 

Once the new items were placed in proper order the older ones were given any remaining space.  Anything that would not fit was sent home with me or given to neighbors and friends in need. 
I was allowed free reign of the pantry when I visited my grandparents as long as I did not disturb the orderly placement of things.  I would often sit on the stool in the pantry eyeing the full shelves of canned vegetables and preserves.  Possessing a severe dislike of most vegetables, I could never understand why freezer or pantry space was given to the likes of Brussels-sprouts, Lima beans, and okra.  I understood the need to put by the beauty that is sweet corn, cucumber pickles, Vidalia onions, black-eyed peas, green tomatoes[1], pickled watermelon rind[2], and pickled beets as they were revitalizing tastes of summer that could be served up mid-winter to restore the heart yearning for the far off thaw of spring.

Concoctions such as her corn relish, chow-chow, and piccalilli[3] lay in store for holidays and Sunday dinners.  For the unfamiliar these are preserves made from vegetables that serve to highlight meats and salads.  My Grandfather would blend the sweet corn relish and fiery chow-chow so that the sweetness and heat balanced each other perfectly.  We often passed a Friday night watching Live Atlanta Wrestling, Tarzan, and eating fried catfish laden with chow-relish.     

Most important on the shelves were my grandmother’s stores of pickled peaches, prepared cobbler fruits, and pear preserves.  These homemade delights fascinated me for hours on end.  Memories of meals past and dreams of meals to come revolved around that pantry wall full of lovingly prepared southern finery. 

I know that many of you will not understand the true value of pickled peaches until you have tasted them.  Properly put by they represent the perfect balance between tart and sweet, appetizer and desert, delicacy and provincial fare.  Even in the canning jar they look supremely elegant.  Their rich yellow color beckons you to open the jar.  Pickling spices swirl around the peaches infusing their various flavors into the rich tender peach flesh.

In addition to peaches my grandmother put by blackberries, strawberries, pears, and apples.  These sweet fruit preserves served as ice-cream toppings, cobbler and pie filling, and toast spread.  Often on Sunday afternoons I would help my grandmother pack a basket with canned vegetables and preserves to take to a family in need or someone who was sick or shut in.  I could always gauge my grandmother’s level of regard for the person by what she packed.  She never sent things that were useless or unwelcome but some things were only sent to those she held in highest regard or for whom she felt the most compassion.  The way to tell if she really cared for someone was if she put in a jar of her prized pear preserves.

I have never been a fan of pears.  They are acceptable as a common fare, but to me they are a humble mealy fruit.  On occasion I have enjoyed them prepared in some exotic form but given the choice I will choose most other fruits over them and they disappear in my mind when on a shelf next to strawberries or the ever alluring Georgia peach.   The only exception was my grandmother’s pear preserves.  Quart jars of dark brown pears rich in sweetness and thick in syrup lined her pantry shelves in a place of honor.  If my grandmother sent you her pear preserves she held you in high regard. 
Just a few weeks ago, I sat in a Chick-fil-A in Smyrna having breakfast with my sons. [4]   I had not thought of my grandmother’s pear preserves in easily a decade.  As my sons and I dined on our exquisite breakfast I watched an elderly gentleman move from the counter to his seat.  In his hand he carried a tray with two biscuits and a cup of coffee.  Tucked under his arm were a newspaper and a brown paper bag. 
The man sat near the window, spread the paper out on the table, and withdrew from the bag a quart jar of pear preserves.  Reverently he opened the lid to the jar and carefully spooned the preserves onto the hot biscuits.  Just as reverently he replaced the lid, bowed his head for a moment in prayer, and ceremonially held half a biscuit up to the jar before taking a bite from it. 

My mind raced back to weekend breakfasts with my grandparents.  I could smell the richness of my grandmother’s biscuits and taste the sweetness of home churned butter and over sugared pear preserves.  The syrupy juice of the preserves flowed from the jar over the biscuits luring the mouth and flooding in with anticipatory water.  

Long gone is that era when fast food was not even a term.  No one went through a drive-through.  You pretty much only got fries with burgers and hot dogs.  Milk shakes were made with milk, ice cream, and fruit or chocolate.  People were polite and did not swear in public.  Shrill cell phones never interrupted important conversations.  Those days left some time ago, but the man at the other table reminded me.
 I could see my Grandfather tipping his coffee cup so that the coffee flowed into the saucer allowing him to observe that waning tradition of drinking his morning beverage “saucered and blowed.” 

I wondered to whom the old man paid homage as he prayed over and honored the jar of preservers.  Perhaps they were a gift from someone who prized his friendship.  Maybe they were lovingly put by in his home and they are all that remained of a spouse now gone on to glory.  All that is certain is that my sons saw me light up.  They asked me why and I told them of my grandmother and the richness of her pear preserves.  They are young men I love and respect but for a brief beautiful fleeting moment they were boys with me crowding onto the stool in my grandmother’s pantry.




[1] Yes I said green tomatoes.  My grandmother possessed an ability to put by these rare delicacies in a way that allowed them to retain their firmness and flavor.  Often during my stays in winter she would surprise me with a plate of fried green tomatoes as succulent and tart as if it were high summer and the tomatoes had just been pilfered from my Grandfather’s garden.  How she did this is lost to antiquity and I will send a free copy of my next book to the first person who can tell me how she did it.  Recently these trademarks of southern cuisine regained popularity through a movie by the same title.  Please note that all fried green tomatoes are not created equal.  They must be fresh, firm, and fried.  They must be tart and breaded.  They may not be seasoned, sautĂ©ed, baked, or battered.   If someone tries to give you fake fried green tomatoes expose them for the carpetbagger they are and show them the road.

[2] Yes, I said pickled watermelon rind.  My grandmother introduced this true southern delicacy to me in order to teach me to waste nothing.  A little sugar, cinnamon, and vinegar turn unwanted green rind into cold sweet refinement.  Properly chilled one can stretch summer into the bleakest day of January.  John Tobias has rendered a poem on the subject which I will supply in the appendices along with my grandmother’s recipe.    

[3] Corn Relish, Chow-Chow, and Piccalilli are all amazing combinations of vegetable and spice that enhance any meal by brightening both plate and palate.  The recipes are in the in appendix.

[4] If you have never had a Chick-fil-A sandwich you are truly mistreated by life.  The sandwich is a perfect balance of breaded moist chicken breast, butter, and a pickle on a soft bun.  The soul of all that is southern cuisine is captured in this simple and delicious delight.  Mr. Truet Cathy, founder and owner of this restaurant chain is an amazing man.  He is good to his employees, insists on hard work, and does not allow his stores to be open on Sundays.  Guess what.  This works.  

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 March 2014

On Apologetics – Understanding “Argument” as Love

Greetings Dear Reader,

When we consider the meaning of the word “argument” the first thing communicated is not what is intended.  The idea of apologetics is to present well-reasoned civil interactions for the hope and faith we have. 

Too often we resort to passionate condemning anger.  One of the things my Grandfather used to say was that “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”   I realize that is originally credited to Benjamin Franklin but when I think about it my Grandfather’s voice is in my head.

I think that there are clear guidelines as to how I am to represent my faith when I must do so with words.  I am sure that I am not supposed to allow any passion I feel about what I say to rule what I say.  In fact the truth is that I am not supposed to be angry at someone just because they disagree with me.

I am not supposed to become angry with someone when they do not believe.  Even when they say things that are not true about me because of Christ I am to count it a blessing.  If my faith is real there is nothing that can be said to me or done to me that should move me away from loving the person doing it.  If I am to love my enemy then my “arguments” must be delivered in love.  

Even seeing and adversary in a debate as an enemy is suspect for me.  Just because those outside of my faith may consider me an enemy does not mean that I must consider him one.  In fact I am required to collect very few enemies in the journey.  If I am practicing love and forgiveness in every area of my life then those who oppose my faith must be part of that practice.

Speaking the truth in love means doing it in love.  Understanding argument first means that I recognize that I must make every move in the discussion out of love for Christ and those with whom I engage.  Once I am firmly grounded in the position that I will be loving in every act of argument for my faith I can move forward to the truthiness of it.  I will ponder that tomorrow.

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 

18 March 2014

On Apologetics – Humility

Greetings Dear Reader,

When I attempt to show reason for why I have hope then I must do so with humility.  As my Grandfather used to say and I have said before humility is an elusive thing.  The moment you think you have it you have lost it.

I used to have a great deal of knowledge concerning apologetics but I had little humility.  I could win battles but seldom the war.  I came off as arrogant and loveless.  If I do not approach the subject of apologetics with humility then I am just another loud arguing fundamentalist alienating those I am required to love.

Nothing about defending the Gospel requires pride.  It is not my reasoning or truths that make the Gospel valid.  It is Christ and his sufficiency that matter.  Jesus does not need me for the truth to be valid.  He does not need my meager understanding for who he is and what he teaches to be valid. 

What I am to do is live and teach the Gospel from a position of humility.  My journey to and journey with Christ has at times been carried on anger and hard teachings.  I was much more an angry prophet than a loving fellow traveler.  It is not my place to judge or condemn anyone else.   

So how does one “argue” for the faith of Christ without arguing, judging, and condemning others?  It is simpler than one would think.  I first must embrace that my place in apologetics is to be an example first.  I must realize that as much as I think others need Christ and to follow him, I need that same thing every moment to fight the fallen nature in me.

Any good I do is because of God’s grace and not my own goodness or power.  When I am successful at loving, giving, and accepting others it is God’s grace at work in me.  When I offer a successful explanation of the hope I have in Christ it is Christ in me that speaks and not my own fallen tongue.

So for me the first order of apologetics is to seek humility as an always available and sometimes attainable place in my heart.  God has blessed me with intelligence and a gift with words.  God and my parents provided me with an excellent education.  I have worked at reason and articulation.  If, however, I do not approach the discussion of my faith and the reasons for it with humility then I fail at the start.

That humility must spring from a clear realization of who I am: A fallen man who has be graced with the love of God.  It must also account that I am not better than anyone else.  True humility will inform me that I owe a debt of love to God and that he commands I pay by loving those around me.  It is humility born out of love than can crush the barriers to faith.  “I may speak in the languages of humans and angels but if I do not have love I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal.”

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 March 2014

Second Thoughts – Prayer of St. Patrick

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 I close out the day today I am mindful that it is my Dad’s birthday.  It is also Saint Patrick’s Day.  Today is meant to be a day when we see Christ.  For so many it is a day of drinking and revelry.

For me it is a day to remember the devout men and women who preserved the Western Church during the Middle Ages.  It is a day to recall those who came before me and held dear the faith that I share with them.  I pray this prayer in honor of them and the Christ we serve.  I hope to be this person every day.



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."

On Apologetics – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am concerned about the trends I see in those who share my faith.  I am supposed to be able to give an answer for the hope that I have.  I can and often do give those answers.  My concern is that I do that with love and humility.

In the past I have offended my eldest Son.  I have hurt him because I have not engaged in discussion with him on this issue.  It is not until recently that I could explain this.  I have a difficult time with anger and humility when it comes to theology.  I own my Son an apology for not sooner explaining this so her it is.  It is not a lack of desire to engage him but rather my own fear that I will alienate him through my own weaknesses.  I publically ask for your forgiveness Son. 

That said, I must address the issues that seem to be extent in our culture if I am to follow Christ with all my heart.  I feel that there is a vast difference between being an apologist for my faith and using apologetics to further my faith.  I am not attempting to engage in arguments about my faith but rather to give an honest answer for why I have faith. 

I will read and respond to any questions or discussion.  I will not argue or Bible thump.  I am trying to openly work through some things so that I can give reasons for the hope I possess to others.  I will begin by discussing what an apologist should be and proceed from there.  I welcome the company as I travel.

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 March 2014

Three Brothers and Their Mum and a Cousin

Greetings Dear Reader,

I do not often focus on other people when I write.  When I a write fiction I focus on my audience and the story.  When I write here I try to focus on Christ and my journey toward him. 

Today in the echo my thoughts on ripples I wish to both honor and show gratitude for a family from my past.  This family is an example of how many individual acts of faith and kindness can have a cumulative impact on the lives of others.

I will not name them but I will recall some of those acts of kindness to show how the cumulative influence of goodness still echoes in the world.  First I will recall the brothers.  I met the middle brother first.  He was a leader in the youth group where I first found Christ.  He accepted a rough and angry young man and helped him see that faith in Christ had value.

His cousin and close friend helped me develop my love for music.  He was always good to me even when I was a pest.  In later years he accepted my word at a time when it mattered and stepped in to help me with a significant problem. 

I later met the youngest brother in that same youth group.  We remained friends for years after that.  He was one of the first people who ever spoke honestly with me about things in a way that challenged me.  He made me want to be a better man.

I must interrupt here to talk about their mum.  When I was in my senior year of high school I broke my leg in a way that required surgery.  That first night after the surgery I was in severe pain.  The brothers’ mum was a nurse at the hospital.  She came in during the night even though I was not under her care.  She whispered words of comfort to me and fed me ice chips.  I still carry the lessons in compassion I learned from this woman.

The eldest brother mentored me when I went to college.  He gave me guidance and opportunity.  He awakened the writer in me and helped me find voice.  He also helped me learn the value of doing something until it was right.  He taught me how to perfect things until they were the best they could be.  He taught me how to manage time and meet deadlines.

This single family has touched my life along the way in so many ways.  All of it was because of their faith and faithfulness.  All of it was in the name of Christ.  I still have tethers to them and still benefit from the times they were good to me.  Some of their music is still part of my music.  I still write because of lessons learned from them. 

This family put so many ripples out that are beautiful and strong.  They helped me become some things that never would have become.  They have helped the lives of many others.  The things they have done in the name of Christ will echo for all of time and eternity.

Thank 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."

15 March 2014

Ripples in a Pond – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am going to impact those around me no matter what I do.  I was created and intended to impact things in a good way.  The ripples I am supposed to leave behind should be those of love and kindness.  I am to leave ripples of generosity and compassion. 

Ripples can be a beautiful thing.  In all of creation we see patterns of ripples and mark the beauty that they produce.  We are supposed leave beauty in our wake.  When I think of ripples it is not only those in a pond that come to mind.

I see the eternal ripples of those who follow Christ faithfully. I see the families that have been good to others for generations.   I know that if I work at it I can leave echoes of love and kindness in the lives of others.

I want to leave you with a final image of what can be if I try.  I want to leave behind lives that feel the ripples of love and compassion that I carry in my heart.  There is a place in China called The Rainbow Mountains.  These are in the Danxiashan Geopark,  in the Guangdong Province.  Just the pictures left me in awe.

They for me are the ripples of beauty I wish to leave in the lives of others.  They are the brush strokes of God in his creative perfectness.  I realize that I am being more emotional than practical here.  The intent is to speak loudly to the beauty and grace this is possible if I maintain which ripples I send into the lives of othes.

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 March 2014

Ripples in a Pond – They Can Put us in Danger

Greetings Dear Reader,

Yesterday I mentioned the TĂșngara Frog who uses ripples to aid in attracting a mate.  Whenever we communicate we do so by cause a form of disturbance in the environment.  Keep in mind that disturbance is not necessarily negative. 

When I say kind words to someone I create a disturbance in the air.  The disturbance is not bad of good.  It is just a disturbance.  When we do things that are good to others we create ripples in the universe.  There are, however, those who will take advantage of those ripples.

The Fringed Lip Bat is a predator who takes advantage of the ripples created by our aforementioned amorous frog.  When the frog sends out his mating ripples into the universe the bat uses the ripples to echo-locate his way back to the frog and eat him
What the frog sends out is good but it puts him in danger.  The frog is in peril not because he does anything wrong but because a predator uses that act to hunt him. 

We are warned that when we do what is right we will be rejected by some because of our good deeds.  This cannot deter me from doing what is right.  It must, rather, embolden me to see the cost and the need of putting good things out there. 

Even if there is negative cost to love and kindness to others I must be willing to pay it.  That is part of following Christ.  There will be Fringed Lip Bats but that is not how I am to measure seeking life.

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 March 2014

Second Thoughts – Good Samaritan Day

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.

It did not occur to me until after I posted yesterday’s blog that it was Good Samaritan Day.  It put me in mind when I realized it that we do not always get the full impact of the story Jesus tells in this case.  The parable is a short read:

Luke 10:25-37 
Then an expert in Moses' Teachings stood up to test Jesus. He asked, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"   

Jesus answered him, "What is written in Moses' Teachings? What do you read there?"  

He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.' And 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'"  

Jesus told him, "You're right! Do this, and life will be yours."  

But the man wanted to justify his question. So he asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?"

Jesus replied, "A man went from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way robbers stripped him, beat him, and left him for dead. By chance, a priest was traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he went around him and continued on his way.  Then a Levite came to that place. When he saw the man, he, too, went around him and continued on his way.  But a Samaritan, as he was traveling along, came across the man. When the Samaritan saw him, he felt sorry for the man, went to him, and cleaned and bandaged his wounds. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  The next day the Samaritan took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. He told the innkeeper, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than that, I'll pay you on my return trip.'  

"Of these three men, who do you think was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by robbers?"  

The expert said, "The one who was kind enough to help him." Jesus told him, "Go and imitate his example!"

A man from Samaria acts with love, compassion, and charity on the behalf of someone whose people hate him.  Jesus makes it clear that our “neighbor” is not limited to those across the street or next door.  Every man is my responsibility.  The needs of others are my domain.

So very much of what we do involves our neighbors.  We live in a constantly shifting community of neighbors with needs.  I must always be aware of my need to see their needs.  If I am looking to follow Christ closely then I must see those needs.  I must see that being a “Good Samaritan” is a way of life in every moment. 

If I practice being this person daily then when those big moments come I will be in the habit of doing what is needed for others.  Love, compassion, and kindness can be a way of life but it means practicing it in every moment.

Distressing Disguise – Michael Card

He is in the pain, He is in the need
He is in the poor we are told to feed
Though He was rich, for us He became poor
How could He give so much, what was it for?

In His distressing disguise
He waits for us to surmise
That we rob our brothers by all that we own
And that's not the way He has shown

Every time a faithful servant serves
A brother that's in need
What happens at that moment is a miracle indeed
As they look to one another in an instant it is clear
Only Jesus is visible, for they've both disappeared

He is in the hand that reaches out to give
He is in the touch that causes men to live
So speak with your life now, as well as your tongue
Shelter the homeless, take care of the young

In His distressing disguise
He hopes that we'll realize
That when we take care of the poorest of them
We've really done it 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."