30 June 2016

Percent Logic - Refugees and Terrorists

Greetings Dear Reader,

We will hear all kinds of statistics about how few of the refugees that seek safety are actually a danger to us.  Those statistics are likely accurate.  We will also hear the argument that we have to get it right all the time and that they only have to succeed once.  We reduce the argument of being humane to others to numbers, possibilities, and probabilities.

In all of this I ask the same question:  What is my obligation to Christ in aiding others?  I am not supposed to put my safety first if others are in danger.  Yes I must consider the safety of others.  Yes there will be a flood of scenarios and circumstances where the answers are hard. 

This is why there are very clear guiding principles for those who follow Christ.  We must love our enemies.  We must meet the needs of those in dire straits.  I have to see the hungry as hungry, not as hungry “fill in whatever group you wish to avoid”.   I must risk it all for others. 

So the statistics are simple in this.  100% of the people who are terrorists are worthy of being loved.  They can and must be stopped but not by denying the needs of others.   What would be the impact of every Christ follower acting in this way?   

I cannot say that I know what the answer is here.  I do not know that there must be a way to find the true path.  There must be a way to love our enemies, protect our own, and meet the needs of our neighbors no matter how big the neighborhood.  In this case the statistics are only used to justify avoiding one of these.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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29 June 2016

Percent Logic – Belief equals Truth…

Greetings Dear Reader,

…or does it?  One of the ways in which we fail to respect the science of statistics is when we force the data to reflect our position.   This misuse of statistics is called a statistical fallacy.  

I am going to lapse into educator mode for a moment.  The basis of cognitive learning is the gaining of knowledge, leading to understanding, then to application.  Statistics are used to help us understand things.  When we create statistical fallacies we limit or even manipulate understanding.

Some of the ways in which this is done are discarding favorable data, asking loaded questions, using biased samples, asserting a false causality, data dredging, and many more manipulations.  There is ample reading out there on this topic if one cares to pursue it.   The point is that when we intentionally misuse or skew data we create false understanding that leads to false application.

The process works like this:
I believe X is true
I skew my data so that it proves X
You are told that X is true.

It should work like this:
I believe X is true.
I gather, analyze, and report honest data.
I adjust what I believe based on the honest data.

I say all this with an open an honest caveat.  Some things require belief and cannot be proven or disproven.  In honesty we also must consider that Aristotelian logic is not the only type of valid reasoning.  There are other forms of reasoning that are valid.  Truth that cannot be found in statistics may be found in other forms of reasoning such as metaphorical logic.  We will touch on that later.

For now we need to focus on the principle that the use of statistical reasoning must be honest and avoid fallacies.  We may gain followers through statistical manipulation but we build our foundations on shaky ground when we do so.  Those inside my faith have done this and caused great damage. 

I have a dear friend who has walked away from faith because of this.  He actively pursues proof for his unbelief because of the harm done him by false data used to represent God.  It is necessary to view honest data.  It is also necessary to realize that we cannot prove some things.  Most importantly God does not command that we prove his existence.  He requires that we follow in faith.

I was reminded by a dear friend yesterday that this is not as easy for others as it is for me.  It is not up to me to prove that the Father wants you to see the Son Dear Reader.  It is up to me to follow in love and grace so that faith becomes an undeniable certainty. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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28 June 2016

Percent Logic – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Statistics are important.  We can use them honestly understand behaviors, opinions, and conditions.  Statistics allow us to measure and quantify.  They are a valid part of research and understanding.

The problem with statistics is that they are subject to abuse.   It is easy to dishonestly represent what they say and mean.  It is easy to manipulate data to get the answers we wish.  Without integrity statics are a dangerous weapon. 

In this political and oddly violent season we see all kinds of statistics supporting this or that position.  Beyond the manipulation of the data comes the inequitable application of statistical logic to social situations.  We use percent logic to create memes that support our position but do not allow that to be equalized across a spectrum.

I believe that it is very difficult to legislate morality and do so equitably.   It is also difficult to measure some things equitably.  We cannot say that all things are equal statistically and have a moral society.  It just does not work that way.

I am thinking through the things that are being measured in our society and wondering how to assure that I filter the data through faith.  I hope you will walk through some reasoning on logic with me Dear Reader.   I always value your thoughts and questions.  After all, 100% of you are precious to me.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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27 June 2016

Centrality

Greetings Dear Reader,

Centrality: cen·tral·i·ty. noun. The definition of centrality is the quality of being in or near the center or the middle. When something is at the center of the heart of a crisis, this is an example of something that has centrality.

This is not a common word but I heard it used yesterday.  Most of the time this word is used by adults trying to sound intelligent.  I have never heard it used by four year old until yesterday.

My Grandson was in crisis.  He had to go to the bathroom for the third time during our two hours at the pool.  We asked him if he was OK.  We speculated aloud as to why he was having to go so often.  His answer was, “It is centrality.  When I am by the pool it makes me have to pee.” 

Whilst he was explaining this he was obviously in crisis.  I do not know how he learned this word.  What amazes me is that he used it in context.  He used it for his situation.  He made three adults talk about it off and on all evening.

It also caused me to think deeply.  Do I note the times of centrality in my life and deal with them appropriately?  I was near the center of a real crisis this weekend.   I was doing my best to handle it and still be there in ordinary things.  My mind was constantly praying for those around me who were dealing with the crisis (I am not being cryptic just respecting privacy).

It is in the position of centrality that as a Christ follower I can make a difference.  I can love and support.  I can care for the people at the center and meet obvious needs.  I can just be with them and keep watch over them.  At the heart of unconditional love is being in the place of centrality for each other.   Thank you for the reminder Bastion.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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26 June 2016

Praying with Those Who Cannot – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

We need to be able to pray with others who cannot or wish us to pray with them.   It is a privilege to do this.  It is our duty to do so in faith that we are not violating the integrity of that faith.

Most common prayer is safe.   It is not who writes the words.  If the words are truth then they are God’s truth.  When we speak the truth in faith it does not matter if the words are ours or written for us.  It is our heart that the Father longs to hear.

I am supposed to always pray.  I am required to pray for others.   I try to do both of these with joy.  I try to be in constant conversation with the Father.  I attempt to pray in every situation even if it were a muted cry for help. 

We must pray with those who need it.  We must respect their traditions without compromising our own faith.  We need to let go of our preferences in order to embrace the needs of others.  It is rewarding and will ultimate benefit us in following Christ. 


You make my life a prayer to You
I wanna do what You want me to
No empty words and no white lies
No token prayers no compromise

I wanna shine the light You gave
Through Your Son You sent to save us
From ourselves and our despair
It comforts me to know You're really there

Well I wanna thank You now for being patient with me
Oh it's so hard to see, when my eyes are on me
I guess I'll have the trust and just believe what You say
Oh You're coming again, You're coming to take me away

I wanna die and let You give Your life to me, so I might live
And share the hope You gave to me, the love that set me free
I wanna tell the world out there, You're not some fable or fairy tale
That I've made up inside my head, You're God the Son
You've risen from the dead

Oh I wanna thank You now for being patient with me
Oh it's so hard to see, when my eyes are on me
I guess I'll have the trust and just believe what You say
Oh You're coming again, coming to take me away

I wanna die and let You give Your life to me, so I might live
And share the hope You gave to me
I wanna share the love that set me free

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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25 June 2016

Praying with Those Who Cannot – The Mysteries

Greetings Dear Reader,

I do not know if “Mysteries” is the best term for the topic at hand but it is the term we have.  There are mysteries in following Christ.  They are worth pondering.   When we use the Rosary we meditate on these to remind us of how much more God is than we realize.

Here are the “Mysteries” as designated by tradition:

The Five Joyful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Mondays, Saturdays, and Sundays of Advent:
The Annunciation
The Visitation
The Nativity
The Presentation in the Temple
The Finding in the Temple

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays of Lent:
The Agony in the Garden
The Scourging at the Pillar
The Crowning with Thorns
The Carrying of the Cross
The Crucifixion and Death

The Five Glorious Mysteries are traditionally prayed on the Wednesday and Sundays outside of Lent and Advent:
The Resurrection
The Ascension
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
The Assumption
The Coronation of Mary

The Five Luminous Mysteries are traditionally prayed on Thursdays:
The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan
The Wedding Feast at Cana
Jesus' Proclamation of the Coming of the Kingdom of God
The Transfiguration
The Institution of the Eucharist

I think there are many mysteries that we may ponder.  It is in these mysteries that we are reminded of the power and creativity of the one we follow.  It is in them that we see the uniqueness of our faith.   If we find that we must pray in this manner it is good to keep our focus on the nature of the one to whom we pray.

It is a mystery to me why he bothers with us, but he cleared that up as well.  The Father loves us.  “Here’s a riddle for you; find the answer.  There’s a reason for the world, you, and I.”

To the Mystery – Michael Card

When the Father long to show
The love He wanted us to know
He sent His only Son and so
Became a holy embryo

That is the Mystery
More than you can see
Give up on your pondering
And fall down on your knees

A fiction as fantastic and wild
A mother made by her own child
A hopeless babe who cried
Was God Incarnate and man deified

That is the Mystery
More than you can see
Give up on your pondering
And fall down on your knees

Because the fall did devastate
Creator must now recreate
So to take our sin
Was made like us so we could be like him

That is the Mystery
More than you can see
Give up on your pondering
And fall down on your knees

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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24 June 2016

Praying with Those Who Cannot – Glory Be

Greetings Dear Reader,

My paternal Grandmother used an expression when she would wonder at something.  She would look skyward and say, “Glory be!”  Because I grew up in the Catholic faith I knew the prayer call the Glory Be from a very young age.  Here it is:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: And to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

It is a prayer that anyone who follows Christ can pray in good conscience.   It is an excellent affirmation of worship.  It is short, simple, and worshipful.   If my intention is to always glorify God then my intention fulfills the command the love God.  

Once again if I am praying with someone who cannot I can pray this in faith that I am doing good and not speaking words that I cannot express with my whole heart.  It is good to be reminded that I am to glorify God in all that I do. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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23 June 2016

Praying with Those Who Cannot – Hail Mary

Greetings Dear Reader,

Let me first be clear in that I mean no disrespect to anyone in this writing.  What I am about to say is controversial depending upon what you believe concerning the mother of Jesus.  I have expressed what I think in the afterword of The Foster Father of God.  Feel free to read it and share your thoughts with me.  

When praying the Rosary the most frequent prayer is the Hail Mary.   Here is the most common text:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

First let me say that I find the original version of this prayer as handed down by the church fathers much more in line with what I believe:

God-bearing Maid, rejoice, grace-filled Mary, the Lord with thee. Praised thou among women, and praised the fruit of thy womb, because it was the Saviour of our souls that thou barest.

The only issue I take with the extant version is the request that Mary pray for us.   Since we have direct access to the Father through faith this is unnecessary.   It does not mean that I do not value that others intercede for me.  In truth I cherish it and ask that you do so as often as you feel compelled. 

It also concerns me a bit that the rosary is dominated by prayers to Mary.  Again I am not trying to offend anyone but the focus should always be on God.  Again I feel that the earlier version of this prayer meets this obligation.  

We must not forget that Mary payed a great price for us to have our Saviour.   She suffered ridicule and loss.  She was there as her Son died for those who killed him.   She deserves honor and respect for the woman she is.  

When I pray on behalf of others I must respect their beliefs without compromising mine.   This is the compromise I have found that works for me with this particular item.  It bears repeating that what matters is that we pray in faith. 

Mary’s Song – Petra

Hold that blanket closer Mary dear
All the world waits with you for your day
But for now the wind is cold and it's drear
And Bethlehem's still so far away
Do you remember the way you felt back then?
Joy and wonder filled your soul and when
The angel slipped away
You knew your life would never be the same

And now you're travelling, travelling on a road to Bethlehem
Wandering thoughts fly away
If you knew the road that lay ahead of Him
Would you break down and cry?
Your child is born to die

Feel that hand of strength upon your own
A husband's love that guides along the way
And as his understanding has grown,
His hopes too are centered on that day
For do you remember the way he looked back then,
Pain and sorrow filled his eyes until when
The angel came to say
The Savior's birth was meant to be this way

Think back on that promise you received
For him in whom the prophets long believed
Now belongs to you, you've been chosen too
But He's the One Who's gonna shine
We call His name Jesus, Immanuel
He'll save His people from sin and hell
And of His kingdom there will be no end

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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22 June 2016

Praying with Those Who Cannot – The Apostle’s Creed

Greetings Dear Reader,

So we arrive at the heart of what started this thinking.   The prayers involved in praying the Rosary are common and known by many both Catholic and not.   To say that it is wrong to pray the Rosary is something that reflects puerile thinking and makes too many assumptions to be valid. 

If we examine the actual prayers of the Rosary we may find that there in good there into which every Christ follower may tap.   The first thing to consider is what we have already discussed; any prayer spoken in faith has validity.  Another consideration is that it is healthy to review things that we believe in an ordered manner.  It can reassure us and help us to ponder new questions in the proper framework.

The first thing we consider is the Apostle’s Creed.   I had to memorize it in grade three.  Here is the text:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

It is worthy to note a few important details here.  First is that this is the earliest creed of which we have record.  It influenced the Nicene Creed.  It is first recorded in Milan in 390 A.D.  In text we should consider a few distinctions that make it common to all. 

The first is that the word “catholic” here does not refer to the denomination of that same name but rather to the original meaning of this word which is “universal”.  It speaks to the common connection between all followers of Christ.   

Second the word “communion” refers to our common union in Christ.   We symbolize this in celebration of bread and wine.   No matter how we dress or windows or our ceremonies if we follow in faith we are united.  We cause the divisions when we fail to see this.

The last thought for this is that praying this creed affirms what we believe to the Father.  It reminds us that we have a common mission.  In Christ alone we stand and work.  His command is for us to do this in love.  There is no use in praying this rote.   The power comes from the affirmations and our faith in them.  In that I can stand in faith as I pray.  In that there is no shadow or doubt. 

Creed – Petra

I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ His only son, I believe in the virgin birth.
I believe in the Man of Sorrows, bruised for iniquities.
I believe in the lamb who was crucified, and hung between two thieves.
I believe in the resurrection, on the third and glorious day
I believe in the empty tomb, and the stone that the angel rolled away

He descended and set the captives free
And now He sits at God's right hand and prepares a place for me

This is my creed
The witness I have heard
The faith that has endured
This truth is assured
Through the darkest ages past
Though persecuted it will last
And I will hold steadfast
To this creed

I believe He sent His spirit, to comfort and to reveal
To lead us into truth and light, to baptize and to seal
I believe He will come back, the way He went away and..
Receive us all unto Himself but no man know that day

This is my creed
The witness I have heard
The faith that has endured
This truth is assured
Through the darkest ages past
Though persecuted it will last
And I will hold steadfast
To this creed

I believe He is the judge, of all things small and great
The resurrected souls of men, receive from Him their fate
Some to death and some to life, some to their reward
Some to sing eternal praise, forever to the Lord

And through the darkest ages past
Though persecuted it will last
And I will hold steadfast
To this creed

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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21 June 2016

Praying with Those Who Cannot – Constant Prayer

Greetings Dear Reader,

I do not think that I ponder enough the aspect of constant creation.   We are renewed always by the Father.   We are constantly being recreated in his image.  Every moment he invests in every individual.  We are constant creation.

In the same way the Father desires constant conversation.  There was a time when Bezel, my younger Son would constantly ask me questions.  They were usually simple and childlike but I never tired of his desire to know.  I also never tired of his desire to know me.

The Father is the same.  He wants us to know him in every moment.  He wishes for us to be in constant conversation with him.  We formalize things too much and call it constant prayer.  It is not wrong to call praying prayer but we do have an aspect of it that is informal.   We can just talk to God and he loves it when we do so.

If we are going to pray with those who cannot we need to be familiar with the Farther.  We need to be in constant conversation with him.  All that we have is from the Father and he wants us to know him in all things.  I would begin with just saying how I feel.  It always 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.”

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20 June 2016

Praying with Those Who Cannot – Thoughts and Prayers

Greetings Dear Reader,

In the recent tragedy of the shootings in Orlando, Florida many as usual have expressed their offered “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their families.  This has been met with a new response.  Things have been said like “keep your thoughts and prayers and ban assault weapons.”

The things that come to mind here are twofold.  First is the idea that we should do anything without prayer.  I will not weigh on the gun question here.  I have often made it clear that I abhor violence against anyone.  Others in my clan have weighed in on this better than I could.

Inside this is the idea that we can succeed at anything good without the support of the Father.  Prayer has validity and is needed more as the world darkens.   Those who follow Christ are supposed to be in constant conversation with God.  The response we are to have to tragedy is to ask the Father to aid those in need.

This gets rejected by the masses because faith without works is dead.  Jesus’ brother explains that we cannot wish well for someone and not act.  We dare not expect the world to hear the sincerity of our offered prayers if we are not going to act.  People trust how they are treated.

The problem is that we are not on the front lines when others are in need.  We are not living out the faith we profess in sacrificial undeniable ways.  Until we do we have no right to expect any acknowledgement from those who do not believe.   We do not give enough yet.  We do not love enough yet. 

Another thought is that we do not look people in the eye and engage with them.  We do not tell them that we are praying for them.  We water it down as the socially acceptable “thoughts and prayers.”   If we are not confident that saying we are praying for is evidence in our lives then we should be silent.  If we are living out our faith then our expressing that we pray out of compassion may be heard.

Our failure to live our faith erodes both the effectiveness of our prayers and our words about faith to others.  As my Grandfather used to say, “You do what you believe.  Everything else is just religious talk.”

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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19 June 2016

Praying with Those Who Cannot – The Father

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that I am late in the day.  I had not planned this segment of this to coincide with Father’s Day but here it is.   Please know that as a father and grandfather I truly am grateful for my Children and Grandchildren.

When Jesus wished for us to understand more clearly how to pray he taught us:  “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”

The Father wished for us to love here as he loves there.  He desires for us to forgive to the measure that we need forgiveness.  He desires for us to depend on him.  He wants to deliver us from the power of the evil one.

The Father loves us.  We can repeat this prayer as often as necessary to understand this.  As it is above we are to be below.  We need to live out forgiveness and dependence upon the Father.   We must pray for things to be as the Father wishes.  We must count on the fact that we will ultimately be delivered from evil.   

When we pray for those who cannot this is what we must wish for them.  We need them to see the love and providence of the Father.   We need to help them see their need for him.  It is in the Father that we find our place to live and move in freedom.  It is the Son that leads there in faith. 

He is OUR Father.  He is loving and kind.  He makes no distinction other than faith or no faith.  He asks only that we love him and our fellow travelers.  I pray for those who cannot pray to understand this.   Everything else rests on this.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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18 June 2016

Praying with Those Who Cannot – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Recently my friend Joy posted a question about praying the rosary.   She cares for a woman who used to do this but no longer has the capacity to do so.  Rightly so Joy was concerned about doing what is right.  Rightly so she felt that the Father would allow such a thing.

When she posted about it I was happy to support her.  Then I realized that there was more here.  Why do we not speak more about praying for those who cannot pray for themselves?  It is clear that we are to pray for others.  It is clear that we are to pray for their wellbeing and their needs.

What I think we need to embrace is that we can also pray with those who cannot pray.  We do not even have to know what they would pray.  The Spirit intercedes for us when we do not know what to pray.

Not only do we honor the Father when we do things like this but we are caring for the “least of these” in the way Christ wishes us to care for them.  The faith we exercise when doing benefits us as well. 

Many would think that rote prayer would not be a good thing.  I would posit that any prayer, prayed in faith is more powerful than we can imagine.  We have lost our understanding of the extreme power that prayer holds.  We may be able to learn something about how to pray.  I am going to spend a little time on what the Rosary can do for anyone.

I am not telling anyone to do this.  Neither am I saying it is what we should do as our common practice in prayer.  What I do wish to do is acknowledge that the practice of many of my Catholic brothers and sisters has value and examine how I might walk closer to Christ through it.   Walk with me Dear Reader.  Talk with me.  Pray with 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.”

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17 June 2016

A Family Story - Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

The story of all humanity is a family story.  We are all connected as a race.  We are all accountable for each other.  When Cain asks the Father if he is his brother’s keeper the resounding answer is :”YES”.   Jesus makes it clear that the “least of these” is his brother and that what we do to them we do to him.

So much of the strife and hatred in the world could be abated if we simply acted loving to our family.  We need to love at all costs.  It is not that we demand that others love us at all costs but that we determine to love others at all costs.  It is that we dare to hate anyone that dooms us to wars and violence.

How I treat the least among us is how I treat family.  How I treat the innocent is how I deal with justice.  How I treat the weak is the statement of my true power.  If we fail to love others at any cost then we have failed to follow Christ. 

We are a family.  This is a family story.  We are all orphans on a journey back to home.  Until we face that we cannot hope to end the loneliness and pain in the world.   We need to seek to love rather than to be loved.  It is in this that we can find peace.  It is in this that we can find the power to end suffering. 

No matter how I express hatred I am wrong.  It is not hatred or prejudice to disagree about social or moral issues.  It is wrong to fail to actively love those with whom you disagree.  Murdering anyone from the unborn to the infidel is just wrong.  Allowing anyone to starve no matter what their social or national status is unloving.  Denying the healthcare needs of anyone no matter what you think of his or her life choices is failure to be compassionate and kind.

Until we choose to love we will choose to hate.  Until we refuse to see disagreement as hatred we will be blind to love when it is there.  I cannot call myself a Christ follower if I reject my obligation to love anyone.  It really is that simple.  Anything that works to complicate it is smoke and mirrors. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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16 June 2016

A Family Story – Clans, Tribes, and Banners

Greetings Dear Reader,

Some of the family we create is under a belief or cause.  We band together for a purpose.  It may be social, political, or leisure.  It can range from the great social cause to the support of a local team.  We band and bond around things and events.

These things are good when they unite us.  They can provide comrades and solidarity in a way that is healthy and re-creative.  It is when our tribal alliances cause strife and division that they are dangerous.

When we use our alliances to hate or harm others we violate the very purpose of family.  It is in family that we are to find peace and safety.  It is in love that we are to treat everyone in and out of our selected tribes.  Instead we use these as lines of division. 

This leads to anger and darkness.   It puts us at odds over things that do not matter.  It causes us to act wrongly over things that do matter.  We forget that no matter what our alliances we are one tribe; once race.  We are human.

It is in our humanity that we must realize that we can disagree about things without harming or hating each other.   As a Christ follower I am commanded to love everyone including Yankee fans (insert laughter here).   I must care for the needs of those with whom I disagree. 

If there is division over a social issue then I must assure that in my disagreement I do not neglect the needs of others.  Recently I have seen a social meme that says, “If your religion tells you to hate then you need a new religion.”   Perhaps we should replace the word “religion” with “tribe”, “clan”, or “anything”.   If anything tells you to hate then you need a new anything.

An honest examination of Jesus reveals that he commands us to love always.  He does not allow us to reject anyone.  We are to love at all times both the Father and all humans.  The journey requires that we journey together.  It is much easier if we do so in love.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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15 June 2016

A Family Story – We Family

Greetings Dear Reader,

When I was still teaching one of the students whose life was vastly improved by getting a new career referred to the collective body of staff and students as his family.  He would look a people and simply say “We family.”

There is something so enriching to the spirit when we realize that someone thinks of us as family.  It is also devastating when those same people decide you are no longer family.   A friend is going through this now and I can see the pain it inflicts. 

The idea of family needs to be permanent.  The Romans had a law that if you adopted someone it could not be revoked.  It is the idea or permanent belonging that we need.  It is that touchstone of assured connection that sustains us in the journey.

I believe that is why God represents himself as the Father; our Father.  It is why he sent the Son.  It is why followers are adopted as sons.  It is a family that the Father redeems for his own. 

It saddens me greatly that we see loyalty to family as something transitory.  We reject those we have promised to keep as part of our clan. We dismiss those we have taken in as family when things become hard.  We are family and the revocation of that is a pain that never fades.

We are all connected.  When the Father brings all things back to good we will realize this.  Until then I must love and forgive and keep following.  I must do so even when those who have called me family reject me.  I must do so even when they sit with me in pain over others rejecting them.  It is what family does and “We 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.”

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14 June 2016

Second Thoughts – Anguished Anniversaries

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.

Today is one of those days that became significant with promises and potential.   Things changed.  Plans changed.  Resolve change.  Now it is rife with sorrow and momentary reminders of hope unrealized.  Some years this annual reminder is harder to carry than others.  This year it has attacked me full force without warrant or warning.

Tears come unbidden and unwanted.  They do, however, wash the eyes and the heart.  I suppose one of my gifts/curses is that I never let go of love.  On Sunday I deeply missed my Grandfather.  Today another loss haunts me and begs me to despair.

I know that all things will be made right some day.  I know that my current distress is less than others, but it is my distress.  I am thankful for distractions and sidebars but at the end of the day it is the same.  I turn in to attempt rest tonight feeling the pain fresh and warm instead of old and cold. 

Tomorrow will have new opportunities and challenges.  Tonight if I could have one thing it would simply be to not be alone.  It would be to have a fellow traveler who could hold on to the promise to travel with me.  That is not to be but I cannot let it bar me from giving my best to others.  I cannot let it make me bitter or unloving.

So in this absent anniversary I cry out in the darkness knowing I am heard by the Father and loved but also knowing that dreams await me that will torment and tear.  I think some trick in our mind prevents us from knowing the damage we leave behind when we leave, else we would not do it.

“I wonder would it have hurt us to gather a few laurel leaves” – James T. Kirk; Who Mourns for Adonis? 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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A Family Story - Chosen

Greetings Dear Reader,

There are family members we choose.  We marry someone.  We adopt a child.  We become part of a group that becomes our family.  We choose some of our family. 

This is such a clear picture of redemption.  We take those outside of the family and pay the cost to bring them into that family.  Paul uses this as the metaphor for redemption.   We are adopted into the family of the Father through faith.

When we reject those we have taken in we do the opposite of what the Father intends.  He adopts us permanently.  He does not reject us.  When we divorce or abandon those we have made family it rends an eternal bond.  It sets up a pattern of damage that can echo for generations.

When we offer others a place to belong we need to recognize that it is for the long haul.  It is why there is so much legal regiment around marriage, adoption, and family.  As our culture erodes these lines it becomes easier to reject family.  It becomes harder to see that the Father will never reject us.

Our obligation is to care for those we have chosen at any cost.  Most of the time instead we harden our hearts.  In the same way, when we reject the Father, once we have chosen him, we fragment the eternal.  Once we have chosen to follow Christ we create an eternal bond.  We should not be surprised that when we fail to do so our lives are not as they should be.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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13 June 2016

A Family Story - Unchosen

Greetings Dear Reader,

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”  - Oscar Wilde

We do not get to choose many aspects of our natural family.  Parents, aunts, uncles, and the like are part of the package when we are born.  Even our siblings are not our choice.  This is the family that we are born into.

We find as we grow that some are good to us and others are not.  We draw close to some and distance ourselves from others.  We judge and condemn.  We do not always forgive.  Our obligation is to love and forgive. 

We cannot control what others in our family do and how it impacts us.  We can control our response to it.  We can also control our expectations of others.  Most of the offenses we take up against our family is the result of them not living up to our expectations.  We decide how others should act or be and then judge them when they do not live up to those decisions.  This is preventable if we simply stop placing expectations on others. 

Often we cause strife because we are trying to get our own needs met.  The way family works is that we need to meet each other’s needs.  We must all work mutually to care for each other.  When we focus on our own needs above others we create strife, division, and even wars.

As a Christ follower I must love my family.  That does not mean that I do everything they wish or allow abuses.  It does mean that my interactions with them are loving and kind.  It does not mean that I accept their bad behavior.  It does mean that I keep the door open when they do good or show that they understand their errors. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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12 June 2016

A Family Story - Grandfathers

Greetings Dear Reader,

My Grandfather was born in 1910.  He reached the clearing at the end of the path in 1969 just before the Braves claimed the National League pennant.  He is one of the central people in my life even today when he would have turned 106.   He is one of the primary influences of my faith, following, and the way view the world.

In Sheetrock on the Road. he appears often at the beginning.  He is the one I think of when I need counsel  and have no one to whom I can turn.  He is the one who prayed for me to have faith and did not live to see me find it.  He is the blueprint for how I wish to treat my Grandsons.

I miss him more this year than on his past advent anniversaries.   His guidance would be invaluable to me today.  When those I love are hurting I long for his words and wisdom.  I find them occasionally in the writings he left behind for me. 

My progenitor, his son hated him.  He rejected everything my Grandfather believed and treated both my Grandfather and his faith with contempt.  My progenitor was an abusive alcoholic and a conman.  When I look at the lives of these two men in light of how I wish to be the answer is obvious. 

The contrast of these two lives forces me daily to ponder what my Children and Grandchildren will say about me five decades hence.  It drives me to my knees to pray and to follow Christ more closely.  It is in this man that I see the closest I have ever seen to the face of God.

For FFB – Michael Card

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

11 June 2016

A Family Story - Fathers

Greetings Dear Reader,

I think one of the keys to the ills in our society is that so many fathers are no longer fathers.  They are absentee, disengaged, or not responsible.  They do not engage win raising their children.

This destroys a legacy that the Father intended from the beginning.   The Father takes on the role of father for a reason.   All of human history is intended to be a family story.  When we fail as fathers we damage the future.  I am still trying to be better as a father and my failures motivate me.

I had poor training from my progenitor.  He was never a father to me.  The few times he inserted himself in my life were filled with pain.  I discuss this briefly in Sheetrock on the Road.  The point is that I was working blind with my own Sons.

I do not know if I can mend my mistakes but I work at it.  I know that I see my Son working hard to be a good father.  What I conclude is that fathers are vital to the fabric of our culture.  As long as we have children we have responsibility.   Our society suffers when we fail to carry that responsibility.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

10 June 2016

A Family Story - Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Family gets defined in so many ways in our culture.  The common thread is that in so many ways we yearn to be in a family.   Our clan, family, or tribe calls us from somewhere deep within us.

It is in the construct that we find belonging.  It may be the natural family through which we are born and descend.  Often it is a tribe that we join to bond with those like us.  Sometimes it is a combination of both.

As I move through this journey the tethers of family attach and tear at odd intervals for me.  The damage that natural family can do to an individual astounds me at times.  I know that I have failed at times and that my children still suffer from it.   I know that the things with which I wrestle are because of the failures of my forebears. 

I love my family and need to mentally walk through all the things about family that are vital to me.  I cannot change the past but I must find a way to more clearly show Christ in my life as the thing that can heal us.

Walk with me Dear Reader.  I will need your thoughts and cherish your questions.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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09 June 2016

Pokémon Faith – You Got to Get Them All

Greetings Dear Reader,

My Grandsons and my Daughter are quite interested in the game and cartoon Pokémon.  The boys play games and make up stories.  The theme in this entertainment that catches my attention is the theme that “You got to catch them all.”

One of the reasons I see the church losing its effectiveness in the world is its division.  Jesus made it clear that a house divided against itself cannot stand.  We are very divided.  We fight over things that are not important to faith and following.  We judge and condemn those who do not follow Christ when he commands us love them.

Because we judge, reject, and condemn those outside of our faith we hinder out ability to “catch them all.”  We hinder our ability to reach others when we reject them.  We do not earn the right to be heard when we judge others.  We fail to love and so cannot reach others with the Gospel.

What is the solution to this?  The obvious one would be for Christ followers to stop acting in ways that are unloving.  It is our obligation.  It is our primary command from our Divine Master.  It is why we are given power and authority.  It is what we are supposed to embody as Christ followers.

To those who do not share my faith I offer this.  First I ask that you not judge us all based on those who do not follow in love.  Second and maybe more important I ask that you hold us all accountable.  If anyone claims to follow Christ, insist that they love sacrificially.  Demand that they treat everyone with kindness and respect.  Require us to act in a Christ like manner to everyone. 

Do not think that we have to approve of everything to act this way.  We do not.  I can believe that something is wrong and still be loving and non-judgmental to those who do those things.  I do not have to approve of all your actions to love you.  I do not have to judge you or condemn you to disapprove of your choices.   I am not required to accept everything that someone does or believes to love him or her. 

We are accountable to reach them all.  I am accountable to do that in love.  I ask the world to hold us all accountable.   Judge us on this benchmark.  Then notice who is willing to wear it.

Prayer of Saint Francis – Sarah McLachlan

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal 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.”

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08 June 2016

Poll Positions in the Race

Greetings Dear Reader,

First a gentle reminder that I hate politics is needed.   I think that there are few aspects of the election process that are not overrun by corruption and special interest.  I try to avoid the subject and feel that following Christ is to be a constant no matter what the political climate.

That said I am very concerned over the coming presidential election.  It troubles me greatly that the two leading candidates are subject of real criminal investigations.  Either of them could be arrested and indicted any moment.   Neither of them has integrity.  Neither of them has a good reputation.  This should trouble us all.

Please do not misunderstand.  I am not saying I am any better than them.  I am saying that they are not qualified to be president of this nation.   Why do so few people see this?  Why do we settle for loud and proud over humble and articulate?  Why are we content to have greed and dishonor lead us?

Perhaps it is because it is what we deserve.  Our banner of decency is torn and stained.  We no longer lead the world in being honorable and good.  We no longer hold the lion’s share of moral value.  We deny justice to so many while screaming that it is our banner. 

We judge our forebears for their wrong actions whilst justifying our own.  We cannot live with contradictory values and hope to prosper.  We cannot pander to our own interests and divisive preferences and survive.  It is late but it is not too late.

Those at the head of the race are not the best we have to offer the world.  There are those who would do the job well.  We need to rise up as a nation and demand a leader worthy of the office.  We have forgotten how to set aside our differences for the greater good.  Christ followers need to set the example for the rest.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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07 June 2016

Abdication Disallowed – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

There are so many things for which Christ followers are responsible.  We are not permitted to abdicate any of them.  We are not permitted to relegate any of them to others sources.  We are our brother’s keeper.  We are to love our enemies, our neighbors, and the Father at any cost.

This means that no matter what our moral position on someone’s actions, we are not to deny our responsibility to meet their needs.  We cannot use judgment of character as an excuse to fail in caring for others.  We cannot abdicate the command to love unconditionally. 

Whenever the church fails at this the cost is devastating.  The church is made up of people who claim Christ.  It we claim to follow Christ and do not adhere to this then we are not following.  We are instead using his name for our own purposes.  Part of loving God is refusing to use his name for our own purposes.

The simplicity of this encompasses the entire complexity of the world.  We are to humbly, lovingly care for others no matter who they are or what they believe.   If we do this one job it changes the world.  It crushes resistance to faith.  It destroys hatred.  It is in this one command, to love that we find the path that is follow Christ.

If we fail to do this we abdicate all that Christ calls us to be as his followers.  I must assure that I do this above all else.  I must become this and not abdicate it for a moment.  It was entrusted to me and is not mine to give away.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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