31 January 2015

Honest Words - Ugly

Greetings Dear Reader,

First step is to be very clear that I would never condone calling a human being ugly.  That lacks the kindness and love that is to be the basis for all my communication.  With the exception of referring to mankind (yes I realize that some of you do not like that word either.  Research the actual etymology of the word before you judge me.) there are some perfectly good uses for the word ugly.


There are things that are ugly.  I am not content to call a Blob fish visually challenging.  This fish looks like someone melted Jimmy Durante.  It is honest to say that his creature is ugly.  That does not mean that God made an error in creating it.  It is just ugly.  For the record I would be opposed to melting Jimmy Durante.

Some things people call art are ugly.  There is a multimillion dollar sculpture in this town that looks like a pile of rabbit poop.  I am not sure if poop is acceptable but it is the word I intended to use.  No matter how you put it there is some stuff that is supposed to be art that is ugly to the perception of some.  Ugly is the only word that works.

There is also ugly fruit.  It is even named Ugli.  It is like a badly formed grapefruit.  Ugly is an honest word.  It communicates.  I like it and will use it.  I will try not to act ugly when I do but it is an honest word and has a place in communication with others.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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30 January 2015

Honest Words - Failure

Greetings Dear Reader,

Some of you may wish to curl up your toes hear.  When I was still teaching I was actual told that I could not tell and adult college student that he had failed a class.  I was instructed to tell the student that he had “delayed success” in his English Composition effort. 

This particular student had failed to attend two thirds of the classes.  He had failed to turn in the weekly homework for the entire term.  He had failed to complete his term paper.  He failed to tell the truth to his instructor, my friend, when confronted numerous times about his deferment of his success.  I failed to be politically correct with him.

I have seen bad teachers and my friend Katie is the opposite.  She went above the requirements for every student who showed the possibility of being successful.  She did everything possible to make students feel safe, capable, and motivated to avoid delaying success in her classes.

We fail sometimes.  As a school chair I did dismiss a teacher who told a student that she was a failure.  That is mean and horrid.  No one is “a failure.”  Failing, however, is a part of the learning process.  You fail.  You evaluate. You learn more and then you try again.  There are also some things some students will never be able to accomplish.  They are not a failure but they will fail at some things always.

To me it is dangerous to teach others that the never fail.  It sets a state of mind that they can do anything.  There are things I cannot do.  I will never set a record for the long jump.  I fail at jumping most of the time.  Even puddles do not fear me.  They know that I will land in them.

We fail.  We are a fallen, flawed, and fractured species.  Without the understanding that we fail we may not see our greatest failure.  We may not understand that we need something beyond ourselves for redemption.  If I do not acknowledge my failures then I will not see my need for God. 

I sin (we will visit this word a little further down the path).  I do not always follow Christ in daily situations.  When I fail to follow in the moment that moment passes.  I have not delayed success.  I have FAILED.  I can still follow but the moment is gone and will never return.

It is my responsibility to acknowledge that I fail to do what is right at times and use that knowledge to learn, grow, and fail to fail in the future.  If I do not learn from my failures then I will not follow Christ faithfully.  If I do not embrace the full weight and length of the coil of my sin then I will fail to be horrified by it.  I will fail to see my depravity so that I might fight against it.  That would lead to failing to follow which in turn would be the greatest failure of all. 

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 January 2015

Honest Words – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Recently I was watching the first season of Parenthood.  I realize I am late to the party on this one but other things have my primary attention.  In episode 3, The Deep End of the Pool, Zeek Braverman played by Craig T. Nelson said something the struck a profound cord in me.  He and his daughter are looking for car parts.  He says, “I love how they call it ‘automotive recycling’ now. What's wrong with ‘junk’? Junk's an honest word.”

It seems our culture needs to rename everything to something that sounds green, socially acceptable, or politically correct.  This grates on me in a way that I find more irritating every day.  I just told someone yesterday when he was struggling to find the right word that he never needs to be politically correct with me.  He seemed so relieved. 

In a world where we need honest communication we instead shroud things in an ambiguity of minced words.  Layoffs become “reduction in force.”  I was recently told that I could not use the term “brainstorm” because it may offend those with cerebral disorders.  Instead I was instructed to use the term “thought shower”.   It is good that my inner clutch was working because my thought response surely needed a shower.

In addition to someone trying to control what I say, I am truly opposed to being told that perfectly honest words need to be replaced because someone might not like the words I choose to use.  I really get steamed (forgive me if I am offending people who use steam for some arcane purpose) when someone tries to tell me what I mean by what I say. As an author I believe in and will die to defend authorial intent.

I am going to explore some words that I feel are perfectly good words and that I intend to go on using.  I will try to be humorous but may drift into the curmudgeonly, recalcitrant, and irascible.  Words are so vital to me and the way in which we interact.  I tend to get very emotional about this issue.

My goal is to honestly examine how I communicate and assure that I am not being obtusely offensive.  It is also to remember why I use the words I do.  Words have meaning.  That meaning is assigned by the user.  I need to assure that the words I use truly communicate my intent and my heart.

This will hopefully be fun.  Feel free to interact and ask questions.  Feel free to disagree. Mostly remember that this journey is for me to learn to be a better human.  I realize that “human” has “man” in it but I assure my intent is to include all genders in that word.  I do not want my love and kindness to be hindered by words that do not communicate that.  Sometimes though I might just need to come with a warning label. 

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 January 2015

Start the Movie

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am not cheap but I do like to save money.  I also like to go to the movies.  One of the things I do is to attend early Saturday morning movies at my local theatre.  The price is cheap and the place is less crowded. 

Recently Christmas and I went to a move and there were perhaps thirty people there.  We noticed that the time had come and gone for the movie to start but did not really care.  Once the movie was ten minutes beyond start time a young girl, one of the ushers, came in and announced that there was a problem in the projection booth but it would be fixed momentarily.

Many of us expressed a simple thank you.  One man, up and to my left yelled at the girl, “Tell them to hurry up.” 

The girl responded by saying, “I am sure they are doing all they can.” 

He responded dismissively, “Just start the movie.”

It took just another minute for the movie to begin.  I spent that minute reminding myself that the way of following Christ precluded me from doing verbal or physical harm to the man behind me. 

Later my Daughter and I discussed how sad someone’s life must be that they need to be unkind to a teenage girl who had no control over the situation.  To my delight I could hear compassion in Christmas’ voice as she said that she was embarrassed for the girl. 

It troubled me greatly that we have lost the ability to just be decent to people in our daily interactions.  I said this to Christmas and she pointed out that the other 29 of us were either silent of had thanked the girl. 

Her reminder made me more determined to be kind to people who are in the service industries.  They do so much that we take for granted.  They work on holidays. They work late hours.  They have to deal with the crowds, lines, and complaints.  If I dare to think that I am following Christ I had better have a heart of kindness, compassion, and gratitude toward them.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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27 January 2015

Did You Hear? – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

We use so many clumsy words.  Most of what we say is really useless.  When we say things that are harmless it can still be idle chatter.  When we gossip and slander we move into the sinful and destructive.

Again the matter seems to be choosing for focus on doing good and positive things so that I am without time to do the wrong thing.  If I think the good thoughts then I will say good words.  If I ruminate over the good in others and enhance that in my interactions with them then perhaps others will see the example and follow it.

I must not harm others with my words either to their face or behind their back.  I must follow Christ in being honest in my dealings with others.  Everything about gossip and slander goes against being honest and kind.  Even if the gossip is true I am not being honest to my obligations to God.

In order to protect those thoughts I must be careful what I listen to and read.  Social media can be laden with traps of gossip about my friends.  Vigilance in my congress with others is paramount to keeping my mind clear of gossip. 

I am to dwell of things that are good and kind.  I cannot do this without avoiding gossip.  I really do strive to love everyone.  Being good to them in my thoughts and words is, therefore, paramount to this endeavor.

Thank you for walking with me whilst we discussed this Dear Reader.  Your company and insight are invaluable to me.  I hope I have not put too fine a point on anything.  I promise to only say good things about 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.”

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26 January 2015

Did You Hear? – Practical Practice

Greetings Dear Reader,

I said earlier in this conversation that I had quit preaching and gone to meddling.  I am about to meddle some more.  I am going to suggest some very practical ways to avoid gossip. Please remember that most of this is for my own sake.  It is to learn how to be the best I can be in my interactions with others. 

As I dive right in to these practical steps I urge you to keep the meat and throw away the bones.  If I have helped you in some Dear Reader, it would do me good to know.  The first thing is something I have heard often.  I do not know where it originates but it is of great value.  We must always THINK before we speak.

T-Is it true
H-Is it helpful
I-Is it inspiring
N-Is it necessary
K-Is it kind
 
I think that those are self-explanatory.  You have other options as well.  If someone else is doing the gossiping one can instead say something good about the person upon who others are feasting.  People will either stop, reinforce their hurtful position, or not gossip around you.  If the gossip is reinforced then one can politely extract one’s self from the conversation. 

Another practical thing for me is to remember that the very least of those among us is still someone loved by God.  There is no one who is not worthy of kindness and love.  There is no one to whom I am not committed to give my respect.  I must always speak and act in love to everyone.

If none of the external motivations work for me there is always this:  Christ promised that I would give account for every word I spoke.  I must capture every thought.  I must ensure that my inner life can be exposed with a slip of the tongue and weak moment.  If what is in my heart is love and respect then out of that abundance I will speak.

It I assure that I am thinking kindly of everyone then I will gladly speak my heart.  It I am good to others then they will be more likely to see my meager attempts to reflect Christ.  It is after all how I wish to be treated. 

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 January 2015

Did You Hear? – Closer to Home

Greetings Dear Reader,

Families are masters at gossiping about each other without even considering they are doing it.  “News” about a family member can spread faster than fire in dry corn field.  In the southern culture that is my heritage there are formalities in asking for gossip.

The dance is an interesting one.  There are ways of asking for gossip.  A lull in the conversation at a meal may yield the question, “any news?”  This is an open invitation to gossip about anyone.  A family member in crisis will trigger questions such as, “Is Brian doing OK.”  This sounds so very compassionate.  It can be from some but more often is an invitation to tell all the details of Brian’s crisis.

The natural ebb and flow of family conversation can so easily unleash a tidal wave of gossip that goes unrecognized until it breaks around us.  Further we do not understand that it that same wave will someday crash upon us. 

Family members that are cruising through pain, crisis, or scandal become the flotsam and jetsam or our wicked plunder.  We raid their lives for lunch time entertainment.  We judge and condemn without compassion.  Worse, we hide our scandalous talk in the pretense of concern and care. 

When it comes to family we have a DNA deep requirement of love and compassion.  We are to wield heavy weapons for forgiveness and kindness.  It is our responsibility to be more forbearing. 

It is my duty to put the true wellbeing of my family over my desire to know the news.  Further it is my obligation to redirect dinner conversation that is feasting on the misfortunes of others.  I am to love my family enough to be the lone voice of protection for them if necessary.  I must love them enough to keep my own mouth shut as well.  I am to serve them not serve them up as a feast for evil appetites.

The Basin and the Towel – Michael Card

In an upstairs room, a parable is just about to come alive.
And while they bicker about who's best,
With a painful glance, He'll silently rise.

Their Savior Servant must show them how,
By the will of the water and the tenderness of the towel.

And the call is to community,
The impoverished power that sets the soul free.
In humility, to take the vow,
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

In any ordinary place,
On any ordinary day,
The parable can live again
When one will kneel and one will yield.

Our Saviour Servant must show us how
Through the will of the water
And the tenderness of the towel.

And the space between ourselves sometimes
Is more than the distance between the stars.
By the fragile bridge of the Servant's bow
We take up the basin and the towel.

And the call is to community,
The impoverished power that sets the soul free.
In humility, to take the vow,
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

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 January 2015

Did You Hear? - Neighbors

Greetings Dear Reader,

My Grandfather used to say during his sermons, “I am about to quit preaching and go to meddling.”  What he meant by this was always that he was to put a finer point on his message or call for real life application.  I am about to do the same so I will remind you in advance that I ponder these things so that I am a better man.

As I ponder this question I ponder my neighbors.  I think that in our culture this is not just the people that live near us but the people who sit near us at work, take our money when we shop, or serve us at our favorite restaurant.  The people with whom I have daily congress are my neighbors.

How often do we form opinions of the neighbors based on very little knowledge of the people.  I live almost in the sticks and have only two neighbors.  Both of them are good and kind people.  Even though I never say it to others I will catch my mind speculating things about them that are not at all neighborly.  This is always wrong. 

The things I think are serious or heinous in most circles.  They are, however, unloving.  They are, therefore, wrong.  It does not happen often but it is something about which I must be vigilant. 

How often do we form an opinion about one of our neighbors and turn that in to fact in our minds?  We then speculate to others about a person’s life, character, and behaviour.   We judge and condemn with no real truth in evidence.  

Jesus made it clear that we are to love our neighbor.  He did not say to love them unless they do something we do not like.  I know a man who will say the most raw and unkind things about his neighbor simply because he does not approve of the frequency or method that the man chooses to cut his lawn. 

Everything about having neighbors is an opportunity to live out the gospel.  Jesus made it clear that loving our neighbor is second only to loving God.  One cannot love God without loving one’s neighbor.  Jesus also said the every idle word we speak we will have to account for to God.  What you say about your neighbors will be asked about later.

Loving your neighbor can destroy barriers and tear down walls.  Slandering your neighbor and build barriers and create walls.  “Good fences make good neighbors,” is a lie.  As a Christ follower I am required to be a destroyer of barriers to faith. 

Mending Wall – Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

For those of you who like such things here is a song version of the poem based on the Oasis song Wonderwall.  Mending Wall – DursinMark

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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Second Thoughts – Among the Wild

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.

Tonight is one of those evenings I will remember long after I have lost most other memories.  I was privileged to hear a new band perform their second show.  Tuck away the name Among the Wild so that when they become famous you can remember that you heard of them here.

You know how much music means to me Dear Reader.  So many things about this self-acclaimed Indy band are so very right.  Their sound is pure and fine.  The guitar and cello combine to bring forth strains sublime and sweet.  The voices of Emily Phillippi, Gavin Jones, & Sam Gryzwa harmonize in a way that reminds one of the great folk ensembles of the last century. 

The message in the music asks questions we all need to answer.  Whether serious, romantic, or humorous their songs ask you to consider more than just a good sound.  As an example check out their song The Mend.   The band recently changed their name from To Course and Company to Among the Wild. 

As one who values content in lyrics as highly as a good sound this band is aces.  Follow them on Face Book.  Listen to their music.  With their musical talent, song writing skills, and natural humility I am sure they will do well.  Thank you Among the Wild for an evening worth recalling every time I listen to your music.

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 January 2015

Did You Hear? – Oh he is so Guilty

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that I am about to hit a hornets nest with a stick.  I am, however, inclined to swing away.  It has gotten me in a great deal of trouble over the years.  I think that our involvement in legal matters and gossip about them is akin to our fascination with celebrities. 

It seems to me that we immediately form an opinion on crimes in the news.  We decide if someone is guilty or not.  We judge and condemn without access to all the evidence and facts.  Sometimes we even riot.

It is never allowable for me to pass judgment on someone I do not know.  If the legal system asks me to serve as a juror I have to give my very best.  I have to listen, discern, and humbly cast a vote. 

The choice to say that juries are wrong and to react violently to that is a product of gossip and speculation to which I have not right.  The further choice to act out based on the gossip is heinous. 

It really is this simple:  If I were the accused and putting my fate in the hands of twelve fellow citizens, would I not want everyone to accept the decision of my innocence?  If I am not guilty should the judgment of the court not be the end of it?  I know that I want the trial to send the message. 

That is not what we do though.  Instead we second guess the people privy to all the evidence.  We march, shout, and rally.  We replace the facts with political position and speculation.   We make the issue about race or social status instead criminal behaviour.  We judge someone based on the extra baggage we want their case to carry for us. 

I submit that none of want to be on the negative end of that scenario.  We are comfortable, however, to do it to others.  It seems to me that Christ was very clear that we are to do to others what we wish done to us.  That alone is enough for me to stop speculating and gossiping about high profile criminal cases. 

There is another piece of this that is vital for me.  No matter what the crime or situation is, every moment I am talking slanderously about someone involved I am failing to love and pray for them.  Once again, when I am in trouble I want love and prayer.  Once again, how do I dare not give the same to those accused? 

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 January 2015

Did You Hear? – Shooting the Wounded

Greetings Dear Reader,

I think as we have walked through this together we have established that we all love a good scandal.  Some love it most when it involves leaders in the Church.  When there is scandal involving a pastor the air becomes electric with judgment and rancor.  Even those in leadership rush to condemn their fellow travelers.

I always think of Jesus response to the woman that the Pharisees were about to stone for adultery.  “Let the one without sin throw the first stone.”  Incidentally the one who could have thrown the stone was Jesus.  Instead he went to the woman, lifted her up, and told her to go on her way and not repeat the behaviour:  “Go and sin no more.”

It seems to me that too many Christ followers carry around a bag of rocks.  We are quick to judge and condemn other believers at the first hint of something scandalous.  We share the “news” in the form a saying, “oh pray for Pastor Parson.  I heard he was caught doing unseemly things with his secretary.”

Let me tell you what a small church in south Florida did when their pastor was caught in an affair.  They found someone to take his duties for a year.  They arranged counseling for him and his spouse and separately the woman with whom he had the affair.  The promised to continue his salary for the year and restore him if he and his wife would stay together and spend the year building the strength back into their marriage.

When the pastor asked his elders why they would do this the response was so very holy and righteous.  The lead elder said that as a council they unanimously agreed that they had placed too many demands on the pastor without attending to his personal and family needs.  The board acknowledged their part in the sin and neglect that had eroded the man they had chosen to lead them. 

The means they chose to atone for the sin was to hopefully set an example for other Christ followers.  There was scandal in the church and some people left when the board dealt with the situation in a congregational meeting.  There was ample judgment and hate in the room.  It was, however, trumped by love and compassion.  As of last Sunday, eleven year after the events, that husband and wife are still at that church and he is a fine pastor.

Should this not be the normal response when a Christ follower sins.  We are commanded, when we see someone overtaken by sin to restore them in humility and love.  Instead we shoot our wounded as often as possible.  We find reason to condemn and hate.

What if every scandal were responded to with restorative, barrier crushing love?  Would this not increase credibility?  Would it not save families and churches?  I know that have been on both ends of the gun when it comes to shooting the wounded Christ follower.  By God’s grace I hope to never again be on either side.  I hope to always choose to love and restore.  If Jesus is not throwing rocks, I should not be either.

Fighting to Survive – Building 429

Crying on the inside and it cuts me deep
'Cause I know you're gonna smile when I fall
I can't help but feel the fear when I'm standing here
'Cause I know you're gonna laugh if I have to crawl

Can you see the desperation?
But you don't know my situation

'Cause I, I'm fighting to survive
Can't you see it in my eyes?
Please don't push me anymore
But I, I'm still fighting to believe
That there is hope for me
Somewhere beneath the very least of these

And I can't help but feel ashamed when I know the truth
That there was more than I surmised inside your heart
I want to make it go away but you bear the proof
My words burnt through your skin and left you scarred

I didn't see the desperation; somehow I didn't see your situation

Because I've been fighting to survive
I didn't see it in your eyes
But I won't hurt you anymore
And I, I'm fighting to believe
That there is hope for me
Somewhere beneath the least 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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21 January 2015

Did You Hear? – Blessing and Cursing

Greetings Dear Reader,

Let me first say that I am not going to offer any partisan opinions here.  My point is to discuss an issue regarding all politicians and not to take sides in any debate. 

As long as there has been government there have been both good and bad politicians.  In his novel, Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett’s character Carrot makes mention that “policeman” comes from “Polis” and “Man”.  He insists that a policeman is a “Man of the City.”  The Patrician of the city, Vetinari asks Carrot if he knows the origin of the word “politician”. 

A politician is literally a citizen that serves the city.  There are those, however, who would deconstruct the word “politic” to be “Poly” and “tic” or many blood suckers.  Whilst I find that humorous but it also points to an abuse that is too easy to employ.  We constantly gossip about and slander political figures with whom we disagree. 

We are commanded to respect and pray for those who are our leadership.  We are told clearly that God sets up and deposes rulers.  When challenged on taxes Jesus insisted that we “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”.  Paul requires us to respect those who rule over us even when they are dead wrong.

It does not matter which side of the isle you occupy.  It makes no difference how you feel about an issue.  We are not allowed to spew hatred and epithets about anyone in public office.  We required are to love them.  The person who is corrupt or stands for all the things we hate is still someone that God commands us to love.

We seem to have lost the ability in our culture to hold civil discourse over civil issues.  We hurl insults and indulge in dishonorable speculation.  We hate people we do not even know.  We deny people the opportunity to be heard and instead shout them down.  Someone I love dearly has done this to me over a political figure.  Instead of listening and hearing what I had to say he hurled insults at the political figure and at me.  He has no idea the damage it does.

I am required to be respectful no matter how I feel.  I am not allowed to hate anyone regardless of his or her political stance.  I must be involved and do my part as a member of this society.  I must always do so with love and respect.  I must disagree with deference to office and position.  I must follow Christ in every word I speak in this arena.

Jesus’ brother James weighed in on speech.  He said that as Christ followers we are not allowed to have blessing and cursing issue from the same mouth.  As with any other area, I must conduct myself first as a Christ follower and then as a proponent of an issue or supporter of a politician.  I must assure that my Christ centered conduct governs my political speech.  Otherwise I am bound to utter words that are unkind and unloving.  No matter how clever or well-crafted those words are I become just another banging gong when the words lack 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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20 January 2015

Did You Hear? - Celebrities

Greetings Dear Reader,

We sure do love our celebrity gossip.  There exists an entire billion dollar industry tasked to mine, manufacture, and produce celebrity gossip.  Many see this as allowable and harmless.  Our society treats its celebrities as a type of royalty.

People think that the actions of those in the public eye are fair game for talk, speculation, and judgment.  Lindsey Lohan’s drug problems or Tiger Woods’ affairs become lunch conversation.  Their problems and failures become our entertainment.

There are many reasons why this is wrong for me as a Christ follower.  The first is that I am commanded to love everyone.  Gossiping about people and their problems is the opposite of loving them.  I have no right to say anything negative about someone I do not know. 

I have the privilege of knowing a few famous people.  It makes me keenly aware of how media speculation and public judgment hurt those at the center of the gossip.  My responsibility is to love.  My obligation is kindness. 

What I do to combat this is express my compassion when someone brings up a celebrity in the news.  I pray for them.  I ask God to send someone to help them.  Not knowing the persons does not limit my ability to care about his or her needs. 

We are warned to treat strangers well.  We are commanded to love our enemies and neighbors.  Speculation and judgment about a celebrity violates all of this.  Gossip about celebrities does great damage.  The damage that we need to worry about is the damage it does to us. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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19 January 2015

Did You Hear? – First Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Whether it is social media, the entertainment portion of the local news, or friends at a gathering there is often a portion of the information that is filled with gossip.  That combined with my overdrive imagination caused me to wonder why words can do so much damage.

Even an indirect implication can cause others to think ill of someone.  We indulge in put downs, judgment, and slander.  We use words to shoot our wounded.   We feast on the woes of others.  We say things about others we would never or should never say directly to them.

Photo from Pathos.org
I do not mean to make this sound overly harsh but at the same time we are all guilty of this.  Whether it is a close friend, family member, or complete stranger what we say about others matters to us as to God.

One of the things I ponder is what it would look like if the words we said about others actually showed physically as damage or healing on their bodies.  I am sure I would have killed people.  I am also sure I would be dead. 

As I ponder this I want to make a clear distinction.  There is a difference between gossip and honestly reporting events to someone when seeking help.  There is a matter of the heart that must be considered.  If I speak to someone about a situation seeking counsel or direction that is not gossip.  If my heart is directed at restoration I will choose words that indicate that.

Whilst we walk through this together know that I am as guilty as anyone.  I work harder at it and am better than I was but I have far to travel.  Please feel free to ask questions and interact. 

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 January 2015

No One is Irreplaceable

Greetings Dear Reader,

I think that in every job I have ever had I have heard this at some point.  More often it was said to me about others.  Once during tech week of a theatre production the director lost it for no good reason and started screaming obscenities at a young woman in the cast. 

Another actor had unintentionally made a sound that drew attention away from critical action in the show.  The director wrongly assumed that it was the actress and launched his tirade in the wrong direction.  He would not listen to her protests that it was not her and the actor was too much of a coward to admit he was the culprit.

I stepped forward and informed the director that it was not the actress who had made the sound.  He was too far into the fervor of his anger to listen and turned his fury on me.  I had at least gotten him off the girl and that was enough.  Not having mastered my own anger to the degree that God’s grace has allowed me to at this point, I kept silent but he could see the rage building in me.

He had left anything substantive about the production and was indulging in speculation about the legitimacy of my forbears.  Something in my look must have quelled his resolve to keep attacking and he ordered the cast to sit in the house.  After we were seated he resumed his rant about the importance of getting everything right.

I took a seat at the back of the house seething.  I was already on the path of trying to master my own anger and knew that if I listened I would escalate things.  Instead I tuned him out and began to pray.  His wife came and sat next to me.  Her words were worse than anything he had done.

Quietly she said, “It would be a shame if because of your anger we had to replace her a week before we open. Then again, no one is irreplaceable.”  The girl had done nothing wrong.  My outrage at the injustice boiled over and I locked eyes with the woman.  She did not know me well enough to realize she had just poked a bear with the stick of injustice.

With all the rage that lurks within my soul I whispered in that screaming whisper that is so threatening, “If you or your husband do anything to that girl to hurt her further I will tell the whole world how abusive you both are to your casts..  My words will open a floodgate of people coming forward to attest to the abuse and your directing days will be over.  The girl did not even make the sound that set him off.”

I could tell she was unused to anyone pushing back and she retreated without a word.  The director ended his invective and we went back to work.  I saw the director and his wife talking quietly in a corner backstage.  For the remainder of tech week they both treated the girl, one of the leads in the show with deference. 

I recounted this because I have since realized something.  No one is replaceable.  We may fill a roll, play a part, or do a job that was once someone else’s. We may “fill the shoes” of someone lost or dismissed.  The truth, however, is that no one will do it just like you.  No one can replace you.  In all the universe each of us is unique. 

God makes it clear that each of us is designed by him.  There will never be another Aramis Thorn.  There will never be another Maxim, Bezel, or Christmas.  There will never be another Avalon.  It is my obligation to see every individual as the unique gift to the world that they are.  It is my duty to love the beauty and grace reflected in each of them.  I must honor the benchmark of the divine in everyone.

When I dismiss, reject, or hurt my fellow travelers I betray that uniqueness.  I squander the opportunity to revel in the greatness of my Creator.  I deny the pricelessness of the moment with another human.  It is not right to see anyone as lacking value, unworthy, or  replaceable.

I must treasure those whom God puts close to me and respect everyone that breathes.  I am required to love them all.  This I must do with all my heart.  Each one is more precious due to his or her uniqueness.  Each one is worthy of God’s blood and, therefore, my time, attention, and compassion.

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 January 2015

Losses Not Our Own

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have mentioned often my favorite diner.  I go there Friday mornings for breakfast.  Since my first visit a particular waitress has been accepting and kind to me.  She is good to my children and grandchildren.  She always treats us well.

Angel of Grief - Daniel Hartwig
Yesterday as she poured my coffee she informed me that her mother had just passed away.  Tears filled her eyes as she accepted condolence and comfort from me.  She if from Israel and will not be able to return home for the family funeral.  She sat with me for a few moments and expressed her pain and loss.

Last year my dear friends Ashley and James lost a daughter suddenly and unexpectedly.  As a parent who has lost a child I can tell you that this inconsolable pain.  As they worked through their grief I could see the love and faith they carry.  There was little I could do for them but pray.

I think that this is a very central piece of following Christ that we carry a bit of the losses of others with us.  Every man’s death diminishes me.  Every soul is a soul that is God’s and he calls it back to his presence when he wishes.  We do not understand or accept always.  It is up to us to care for each other until acceptance is possible.

My friends’ losses are my losses.  Their pain must be my pain as well. I cannot feel it the way they do but I can assure them that I know loss and accept theirs with love and compassion.  Not knowing what to “do” for those in pain must not keep us from loving, listening, comforting, and praying.  It must not drive us away but pull us closer.

There is not loss of life that does not impact me.  Death keeps me honest by asking constantly if I care.  It keeps me honest by reminding me that everyone I encounter deserves my best in love, compassion, and kindness.   Any hope of faithfully following Christ must include for me the sure knowledge that there are no losses that are not my own.  After all, there are no losses that are not Christ’s 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.”

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16 January 2015

To Be or Not to Be – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

David Thoreau said that he went to the woods to live deliberately.   I think that he had the right idea about living.  We must “be” on purpose.  We must “suck the marrow out of life.”   I must assure that pursuit I am feasting on the proper things in life.

My choosing to exist deliberately must be in that existence that reflects who Christ is and what he wishes of us as his creation.  To be is to be what we are designed to be by God.  I think that we do not truly comprehend the level to which we are uniquely made.  There will never be another Aramis Thorn.  Each of us is mapped out by God with infinite potential for greatness.

We must choose to be that greatness by following Christ in any way that we can.  We can only see and reach that potential if we choose to live.  We were designed to be good.  We are not a random pattern in the cosmos without an eternal purpose.  Our lives are not ours to keep or give away.  Every breath is on loan from God.  We must use it to the fullest whilst we have it.

I am determined to be.  I must exist deliberately.  I must take the path, the risk, or the option that is life.  I must follow Christ with all that I am.  If I am to truly “be” I must take every moment in which I seek only to live in Christ.  After all, it is in him that we live and move and have our being.

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 January 2015

To Be or Not to Be – Involved

Greetings Dear Reader,

Too often we choose a cause, gear up, and jump into the fray.  That is not what I mean by being involved.  To be we must be involved in every moment of life.  We must be a part of the things that are going on around us. 

I cannot travel through the day uninvolved in the needs of those around me.  Opportunity presents itself more often that I realize unless I am ready to be involved.  Tiny kindness that cost me little or nothing are opportunities to be involved.  Greeting people with real engagement makes a difference.  Being aware of the needs of others should be a part of my interactions. 

I must be constantly involved.  My life is supposed to be about others.  If I am involved and engaged in life I will see those needs and can reach out to help.  It is too easy to click “like” and not really engage.  If I am to follow Christ then I am to engage with those he loves.  That would be everyone. 

If I am not involved then I miss the opportunities to live the gospel that are in my path.  Everything about those around me is my business.  I am supposed to make an impact that makes the lives of others better.  I cannot do that if I am not involved.

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 January 2015

To Be or Not to Be – Prepared

Greetings Dear Reader,

I am not just talking Boy Scout “be prepared”, although, that does apply in situation.  The level of being prepared I ponder here is one of anticipation not just preparation.  I mentioned earlier that one must be observant in order to be all that one must be as a Christ follower.

One must also be prepared to have positive impact in the lives of others.  One must be anxious to be kind.  One must prepare to be good to others.  It is my duty to walk through the world prepared to be good to others.  This requires a discipline that can seem daunting until engaged.

I must order my life so that I am emotionally, socially, and practically prepared to assist with the needs of others.  I must be able to readily respond to emerging situations in which I can be of service.  My heart and mind need to be attuned to the needs of others.  It needs to be my practice to stand always on the edge of helping others. 

I need to be ready with a kind word, a listening ear, and a helping hand.  I need to desire to be “activated”.  I need to want to help in any situation I can.  I need to be a ready sentinel to the needs of others.  I can only do this if I daily address my own issues and prepare my life to be available to others.

In following I may spend much time waiting but I must be prepared.  I must be vigilant.   I must stand ready.

I Stand by the Door - An Apologia for my Life - Samuel Moore Shoemaker


I stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out.
The door is the most important door in the world -
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door - the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man's own touch.
Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it - live because they have not found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints; go all the way in -
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. 'Let me out!' they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life, they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.
Where? Outside the door -
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But - more important for me -
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.

So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.
'I had rather be a door-keeper
So I stand by the door.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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13 January 2015

To Be or Not to Be – Holy

Greetings Dear Reader,

Before we travel anywhere on this topic let me assure you that this is not holy in the sense of being better than anyone.  It is not an exercise in self-aggrandizing or claiming to have arrived at any level

To be holy one must be set apart.  One needs to be outside of the common stream of the world whilst still participating in the reality of the world.  The common perception of being holy is prideful and arrogant.  The actual state of being holy is dedication, work, and humility.  As I said earlier, I am so not there.

But I want to be.  I want to be set apart for Christ in every aspect of my life.  That does not put me above anyone.  It makes me the servant of everyone.  It does not make be better than anyone.  It requires that I realize the depth of my own failings in comparison to God.  It does not debase me or make me worthless.  It informs me of who I am as a child of God and the responsibilities associated with that standing.

To be holy is to be involved in following Christ on every internal and external level conceivable.  It is doing what is right no matter what the cost whilst realizing that one can only do right through Christ.  It is not my power that follows.  It is my submission to the mission.  It is setting my life apart to the following and obeying.  It is the power that Christ instills in me.

To be holy one must submit to following.  I must realize that until I arrive at the end of the path I will never have arrived.  Holiness is a pursuit not a state.  It is a journey not a destination.  It is choosing in the moment to be what I am called to be in Christ.  It is taking up my cross, denying my own wants, and living the journey.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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12 January 2015

To Be or Not to Be – Observant

Greetings Dear Reader,

When considering the things I must be there are prerequisites to being compassionate, generous, and good.  If I am going to communicate and act on these things I must be some other things first.  If I am to see the needs of others I must be observant.

I cannot bury my head or thoughts in my problems, my worries, or my phone.  I must see the world around me as it is.  I must strive to see it through the eyes of Christ with his love for that same world.

If I am caught up in my own agenda I will not observe the needs of others.   I must be trying to see what is needed.  My predisposition must be to help.  I must be approachable due to others having seen me be observant. 

I must see the good others do and acknowledge it.  I must live my life really seeing the things that are there as I journey.  If I am to really “be” I must do so with my eyes open to the things that allow me to be aware.

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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11 January 2015

To Be or Not to Be – Compassionate

Greetings Dear Reader,

I think about this so much.  There is potential here that too often goes unrealized.  By unrealized I do mean that we miss the opportunity to make compassion real.  When confronted with a moment where we can act we instead do not. 

Recently I went to one of the local eateries I frequent.  I was not doing the best and simply wanted a hot meal with no prep and no dishes.  I wanted to get lost in a crowd and do a little private writing to work out some inner turmoil.

I had a couple of hours to use for this.  I ordered my meal and opened my tablet to give the impression that I was lost in what was on the screen.  Things were slow at the diner so my food came quickly enough.  With it came the waitress wanting to talk.

For the first time in years of frequenting this wonderful place the waitress sat down at my table.  She wanted to talk about her ailing mum.  She dove right in completely ignoring my attempts to be aloof and feign distraction. 

Her need and my heart seemed determined to set aside my needs and worries.  I listened whilst my grilled cheese and soup grew cold.  She talked and cried.  Twenty minutes later she excused herself to fix her eye liner and tend to other duties.  When she returned with fresh Diet Coke for me she was smiling and her usual chipper self.

She leaned over and whispered, “I was hoping you would come in today.  Thank you for listening. I knew you would listen and understand.”

She and I have never had a serious conversation before this one.   We are not friends in the true sense of the word.  In that moment, however, God pushed aside my own desire and intervened in someone else’s life. 

He used my past pattern of kindness and compassion to make a difference.  I did not really do anything but sit and listen.  Instead of my solitude I had unwanted company and compassion took over.  It is compassion that can make the difference in people’s lives.  It always costs us something to risk compassion but it is vital to representing who Christ is.  “…and for some, have compassion, making the difference.”


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.”

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