18 June 2019

I Said All That… ~ Mercy Me


Greetings Dear Reader,

When my sons were wee lads, they knew when they had done wrong.  They knew also that there were consequences for doing wrong intentionally.   Sometimes, however, I wanted them to learn about mercy.  We would discuss why what they had chosen was wrong.  Once I was clear that the one committing the infraction understood why what was done was wrong, I would explain that I wanted him to understand about mercy as well.

I would explicate that this time there would be no consequences for the infraction.  I would explain that it is as important to understand mercy as it is justice.  My eldest Son caught on quickly.  He evidenced it through the kindness he would show to others when they did not deserve it.  My younger Son got it as well.  He also thought that he could use it to his advantage.

One early Saturday morning when was I writing, Bezel, my younger Son came into my office looking very nervous.  He asked me if I was busy and I responded that I was not too busy for him.  He came over and gave me a big hug.  I asked what was the matter.  He responded in his most adult four-year-old tone, “Papa, I think that today I need to learn about mercy.”

It took all I had to not laugh immediately.  I asked about what I needed to be merciful.  He told me that he had eaten the blueberries that I was going to use for breakfast.  I was moved with great compassion as my boy put his hope in my hands that there was forgiveness and mercy for his wrong of taking what he was told not to take.  In his defense, blueberries are one of his favorite foods of all the foods that are food.

I could tell that he needed to be heard and we had a good talk about how it hurt the whole family that he took something that was meant for everyone.  He did receive mercy and we took a one on one trip to the store to get more blueberries for breakfast.  Mercy may be one of the best uses of power there is.

Mercy is that reverse of the coin of grace.  Since grace is receiving something we do not deserve, mercy is not receiving something that we do deserve.  Whether we admit it or not, we are at the mercy of the Father constantly.  We do not merit grace and it is in his mercy that we are given it.  Mercy is what gives us a path to reconciliation, reclamation, and redemption. 

It takes humility to choose mercy.  It takes sacrifice.  We do not deserve any good thing from God but he shows us mercy all the time.  He makes a path for us to follow.  The path to mercy is blazoned with God’s own blood.  It is easy to find and hard to follow.  He gives us mercy and asks us in return to be merciful to others.  Therein, Dear Reader is the great challenge.

There are people in our lives who have wronged us deeply.  They may be friends, family, parents, or children.  It is common in the current culture to cut them off and disavow them.  It is encouraged that we label people as toxic and remove them from our lives.  We do this, claiming still to love them.  We may be completely right in our assessment of the character and actions of the other person.  We still have an obligation to mercy.

When someone has wronged us over and over, we have great power.  Even if they do not see the wrong they do, we are commanded to love them.  We are required to be merciful.  We must set clear boundaries that protect us from enabling the wrong people commit.  We must also always provide a path to reconciliation.   The absolute expression of love for someone who is consistently, undeniably wronging us is to find ways to show love and mercy with faith and humility. 

That person that we have cut off may not deserve our mercy and kindness.  He or she may deserve to never again feel the genuine love we carry in our hearts.  Instead of measuring by that standard, Dear Reader, I must measure by the standard of the great mercy I need for the wrongs I have done.  My love and mercy must be expressed out of recognition of my debt, not my power.  Only then can I use the power I hold.  Only then may I employ deft strokes of retribution for the wrongs done to me.  Strokes of retribution must be acts of love, fueled by mercy, dealing out grace. 

I said all that to say this: At that intersection Dear Reader, where love is trafficked through the joining of grace and mercy is where real healing can begin.  It is where we find power and strength to continue.  It is where we begin to rise above the mire of the wrongs we commit against each other and begin to get a glimmer of what we can be if we choose grace and mercy as a way of life.  The path is clearer and easier if we carry these things in our heart.  I have plenty for you and could use all you can spare.  Oh, and because we get our grace and mercy freely from the Father, we never run out.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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17 June 2019

I Said All That… ~ Grace


Greetings Dear Reader,

Of the things I mention often, grace is at the lead with a few other things.  It seems that we have a diminishing understanding of this term so vital to our journey.  An understanding of grace may lead to a deeper understanding of why I mention it so often.  It is paramount to understanding the foundation of this path.  It is necessary to walk.

What then is grace?  It has been explained in the context of following Christ as “God’s righteousness at Christ’s expense.”  It is also defined as unmerited favor.  It is receiving that which we do not deserve.  It is free but it is not easy.  It is a gift but it comes with responsibility. 

Grace is that which moves the Father to build a way for us to return to him.  It is grace that gives us a way to find faith and then to follow.  Grace is the mover that draws us to other key facets of our journey.  It is the grace of the Father that we are to emulate in all things.

Think about how the world could look.  Ponder if we moved in grace every time someone offended us.  We could pass on to others that undeserved grace that we ourselves so desperately need.  When someone does not respond the way we hope or wish, we could refuse to get offended.  When love is not expressed to us in the way we wish, we instead offer grace and show him or her more love instead.  When others intentionally harm us, we can deal in grace rather than offense and hurt.  Grace is choosing to see things in a way that perhaps the other person does not deserve but will communicate the love of Christ.

Genuine grace only functions out of love with humility.  We cannot think proudly that we will be gracious.  We must act based on the grace we need.   It is vital that we deal in grace with everyone with hearts that understand it is not power but service.  It is, however, service that yields great power.

“It is by grace we are redeemed through faith.  It is not of ourselves.  It is a gift from God.  It is not what we do for then we could boast.”  We cannot merit grace and we are to deal with others in it freely.  It is one of the things that smooth the path for us and makes love obvious.  We need grace too desperately to avoid showing it to others Dear Reader.  We all benefit from it when given and received. 

Grace is not excusing the wrong that others do.  It is not dismissing justice and right.  It is choosing that love is greater and giving dry ground for others so that they do not drown in their own flood of failures.  I need it and so do you, every day, every moment.

I said all that to say this:  Grace is one of the stones we build on a foundation of love for God and each other.  It is in this that we are to build our journey.  When we abandon grace, we get angry, anxious, and afraid in advance.  We carry things of the past that harm us into new future situations.  We must be gracious to show love.  How about we work on that together Dear Reader?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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16 June 2019

I Said All That… ~ Copperhead Quips


Greetings Dear Reader,

We all know someone who is deft at the subtle but painful barb in conversation.  He or she will be talking merrily along and you are engaged in the palaver.  Then, without warning, the strike comes.  The pleasant moment is transformed into one where you are bitten and the poison is injected.

There are people I love dearly who do this regularly.  A recent example can refine my point.  I was having a nice conversation with someone about project Tortoise Shell with someone who should be supportive and loving.  The person seemed to be engaged in this very vein.  Then, I paused in my description of the motorhome that fits my needs and desire.  This person struck: “You won’t really do this.  You don’t have what it takes.  You won’t follow through.”

There was no thunderous warning like a rattlesnake.  There was only the instant strike of the copperhead.   The poison was there trying to kill my joy.  It put my dream on the knife-edge of doubt and tried to murder my heart for it.  I felt my pain and doubt try to surface.  Worse than a hemotoxin or neurotoxin, this form of spirit-toxin can kill dreams, aspirations, and goals.    

We are supposed to use the power of our words to build up each other.  We are supposed to be kind and loving.  Still, the world is filled with copperhead quips that poison dreams and destroy hope.  I must not engage in them and must find ways to fight the poison of spirit-toxin.  It is vital to be sure that my words are encouraging.  I am required to be good to you and never inject harm just because I can.

I said all that to say this Dear Reader:  If someone treats you this way, you do not have to believe, endure, and embrace it.  It might be hard but you are better than the copperhead quips of others.  I love you.  I believe in you.  Even if you are one of those who bite at me, I will love you and never do it back.  I know that some of you have copperheads in your life.  Remember that it is not you, biting is just their nature.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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15 June 2019

Second Thoughts ~ One Brown Mouse

Greetings Dear Reader,

When Avalon and I still shared a home, that home became home to mice as well.  They discovered peanut butter M&M’s in our cupboard and proceeded to dine, nest, and procreate in our home.  We did not welcome this.  Perhaps were their toilet habits better it would be different.

I immediately offered to get mouse blocks to offer them a last meal.  Avalon objected.  She insisted that we get live traps and then set them free elsewhere.  Out of love for her, I agreed to her approach, though skeptical of the outcome.  We went to the store and acquired a pair of live traps that seemed simple enough.  We baited them and set them near the offending cupboard.  

The next morning, we had mice in our traps.  We did the following morning and the one after that as well.   Avalon collected them in a box that they could not chew through.  She fed the captured ones and threatened to name them.  I sent her to the park to set them free before we became foster parents to a brood of mice.

I learned a lesson then.  I learned to think before taking the path of death for creatures unwanted in my home.  That has allowed other mice, bats, snakes, and spiders to received mercy and even respect from me.

That was then.  Since Avalon went walkabout, I have had other encounters with unwanted creatures wishing to invade my space.  Thus far I have been able to hold onto the good attitude and usher varmints away without harming them.  Avalon and I were talking this week and I told her that I suspected that I had a mouse.  I had ordered a pair of live traps similar to the ones we used back then.  In brief, I caught the whiskered, wandering sneaker this morning.  He was quite frightened and I immediately took pity on him.

After preparing for my morning prayer time I took the live mouse, Mr. Delacroix to the nearby park and set him loose.  He sat there for a moment squeaking at me.  I could not tell if he was thanking me or inviting me to tea.  After of moment of pondering that I was probably too dumb to understand him, he scampered off to a nearby wood.

I was reminded of how beautiful a creation the small brown mouse is.  I was intent on the way in which they are so confident and frightened all at once.  I am also certain that my conversation with Mr. Delacroix about love and mercy was better received that it would be by most humans.  We will see if he has relatives inhabiting my abode.  I will name them all and release them there.  My goal is to be a good steward of creation and be kind to a few mice.  This also protects them for the mating pair of Black Racers living in the garage.

One Brown Mouse - Jethro Tull 

Spoken:
“Wee sleeked cur and timorous beastie,
Oh, what a panic’s in thy breastie.
Thou needenenst start away so hasty,
With bickering brattle.
But a mouse is a mouse for all that.”

Smile your little smile take some tea with me awhile.
Brush away that black cloud from your shoulder.
Twitch your whiskers. Feel that you're really real.
Another tea-time another day older.

Puff warm breath on your tiny hands.
You wish you were a man,
who every day can turn another page.
Behind your glass, you sit and look
at my ever-open book:
One brown mouse sitting in a cage.

Do you wonder if I really care for you?
Am I just the company you keep?
Which one of us exercises on the old treadmill?
Who hides his head, pretending to sleep?

Smile your little smile take some tea with me awhile.
Brush away that black cloud from your shoulder.
Twitch your whiskers. Feel that you're really real.
Another tea-time another day older.

Smile your little smile take some tea with me awhile.
And every day we'll turn another page.
Behind your glass, we'll sit and look
at our ever-open book:
One brown mouse sitting in a cage.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

I Said All That… ~ Opening Thoughts


Greetings Dear Reader,

I was talking word count with my agent last week.  She mentioned that I should probably make a couple of stories in the book coming out in the fall longer if I could.  I mentioned that it was a collection of short stories.  She countered that I could add a couple.  I said that the idea of the book is that it is twelve Christmas stories.  She countered again that no one is going to get mad at me for giving them more.

It is the word count that got me thinking.  If I average 500 words per BLOG post and there are over 3,000 posts on this BLOG, that is over 1.5 million words (this estimate is low so as not to be exaggerated).  I suppose that it is time to take a look at what has evolved over fourteen years of facing a blank page.  For the last six years, I have not missed a day and it is part of my life that I treasure. 

There is a question begged by this constant conversation.  That is, “what is the point?”  I am not sure how many days it will take to get it out Dear Reader, but I intend to make one.  This is the first year that I have chosen to choose a central theme that is deeper than that overarching one of following Christ.  That is what I wish to be the focus in all that I do but I fall, flag, and fail at times.  Still, there is a grand theme of following in faith in and unfollowing world.

Still, since you have walked with me through one and half million words, I wanted to give you glimpse into what drives me.  I wanted to review clearly some of the things I am saying so that you can enjoy or endure my musings with clear understanding.  This may motivate your love or anger depending on the way in which you see things in the world.  I get as many agreements as disagreements.  I do not allow the hateful comments to go live.  I read them and respond to them, but disagreement and hatred need not be companions.

I said all that to say this:  Please walk with me and consider some of the things that are subtle or not so subtle subtext to this constant conversation who’s primary purpose is to make me a better man.  The goal is to openly analyze my life in the moment in hopes of making the next ones better.  If I can benefit you in the process that is a true blessing to me.  When comes to truth and following Christ, I truly believe in the concept of sauce for the goose.  As always, your thoughts and questions are welcome Dear Reader.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

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

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14 June 2019

Trending Now ~ Closing Thoughts


Greetings Dear Reader,

There are so many things that clamor for our attention.  The engine of the world is run on getting and spending.  We are asked to invest in what trending but then it is out of fashion before we have a chance to enjoy it.  We are driven to be in the know and to fit in the trends that are popular today.

We have to choose what is going to get our time, attention, and resources.  We increasingly seem to invest in things fleeting in popularity and value.  The entire day is filled with choices about where our time and attention will go.  The choices are ours but they get weighted by our desire to be part of whatever trend is attractive to us or embraced by our tribe.

The filter for me becomes more simplified daily.  If I cannot see Christ in the moment of attention, investment, or participation then I do not want to give it my time.  This does not mean that everything is focused on the church or doing things that are religious.  It is determining that I will seek Christ in every moment for every purpose.  It is hard to see him ranting about politics or social issues instead of lovingly assisting.

We are supposed to communicate the love of Christ in all that we do and we are supposed to seek him in every experience.  If we do that then trends wash around us like the changing tides they are.  We see things for their true value instead of being towed under by the receding worth of the latest social distraction.

I am certain that things will shine and get my attention.  I am particularly sure that some things will distract me.  I must shorten the time between seeing something shiny and realizing that it is just clever packaging and sly marketing.  I must avoid the trends and invest constantly in the things that last.

Love, kindness, mercy, grace, and peace are all things that we can invest in with confidence Dear Reader.  Even when no one admits it, they are always trending where it matters.  Shall we hashtag them 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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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13 June 2019

Trending Now ~ And Then…


Greetings Dear Reader,

Consider how long you spend on any one item in your social feed unless that item really catches your attention.  Consider the brevity of advertisements.  Even our articles and books have been broken down into smaller lengths and more digestible chunks.  It seems that we are all seeking something predigested instead of something hefty to chew on with our minds.

We seem to no longer give thought to things that are deep and long.  Our business, leisure, and social communication have become the traffic of short responses and clever quips instead of thorough analysis and thoughtful interaction.  The idea of careful discourse with reason and respect seems to be lost.

In the depth of who we long to understand and be understood.  We find great solace when we connect with others at a genuine level of communication.  It is the basis for enduring relationships. 

Earlier this week, I was pondering the relationship I have with my brother.  In over forty years of relationship and friendship, we have never had an argument or been at odds with each other.  I know he is the only human that I can honestly say this about.  We have disagreed but we have done so properly. 

We have conversations about important matters but we take the time to hear and see each other in an attitude of love and respect.  We give attention to the time and patience required to communicate well.  We defer to love and kindness over being right or making our point. 

We are all in need of expressing our hearts and minds.  As our attention takes on deficit, our circle of friends increasingly expect faster responses.  We scroll through conversations and interactions as if we will actually catch up with all the information coming at us.  We will not.  The idea is to filter out the things that do not matter and not grasp at things just because they are trending or speak to our pet causes.

I have been without commercial television for nine months now.  I am blissfully aware of the things of which I am unaware.  I have missed out on months of political, medical, and product ads that want to grab my attention long enough for me to vote, ask my physician, or act now to buy.  It is all the same; they want my money and support in the middle of me trying to watch something that I am paying to watch.  Those thirty-second spots are much more costly than I consider because they train me to digest things as they are given to me rather than chewing on them first.

I must take my time and evaluate what is sent my way.  I must filter what I take in.  I must further and better filter what I put out.  It does not matter that the trend is to be clever, quippy, and brief.  What matters, Dear Reader is that we communicate love and kindness.  Those are things worthy of long and focused attention.  This is where we should act now.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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12 June 2019

Trending Now ~ Meme - Me Me – Meme Me

Greetings Dear Reader,

I love a humorous meme and often find good food for thought in them.   I also find that they are used as stones so that others can hurl insults, hurt, and anger whilst hiding behind the wall of social media.  People I love will launch venomous attacks using humor that is trending across the social pages of our lives.

This psychological defense mechanism, hurling and hiding, is focused on expressing hurt, anger, anxiety, or outrage without having to deal with the consequences of that expression.  The meme is focused on the poster’s expression or social signal and not considering the negative impact on those who see it.  Or, worse, the individual realizes the impact and either does not care or wishes it to be thus.

The harsh or negative meme is about the individual.  It imparts feelings of cleverness or pride when posted.  When one becomes viral or even locally (as in recognized by your social media circle) popular, then the feelings of power and validation become stronger.  The trend toward negative memes is a clear signal of our frustration with the world and our self-centered way of dealing with it.  Memes are about me even when they are not.

If you disagree with this, I would ask you to ponder something, Dear Reader.   I would ask you to consider that negative or hateful memes break the hard deck of our journey.  You cannot create or redistribute hate of any kind in a loving way.  It does not matter how witty or clever the meme is crafted. 

When we celebrate causes or social issues of the day, then we are free to celebrate them with love.  It does not matter what your cause is, it is not celebration to attack, insult, or generalize negatively about your opposition.  It is a trend that only does harm to others and weakens one’s position.

I see clever memes often that attack and insult things that I think are wrong.  I have to check my heart when I find that I want to enjoy them or pass them on to friends.  What I need to do is reaffirm that I must not think that way.  I must love others with all that I am.  I must avoid insults and refuse to hurl and hide even from the relative anonymity of social media.  The memes that are trending now are not always good for us Dear Reader.  If I am going to make it about me, I want to make it about creating a better 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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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11 June 2019

Trending Now ~ Intolerant of Tolerance


Greetings Dear Reader,

My pen stroke is broad today.  I do not think that there is any group that does not trend toward this particular problem.  Well, there are extremes that avoid it but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. 

I had already chosen this topic for today.  Avalon and I happened to discuss it deeply last night.  We agree that this is a problem that plagues every group and not just this conservative or that liberal one.  We claim that we are tolerant of those who are different from us and the trend is not to judge, be prejudice, and tolerate hate. 

There is nothing wrong with those things.  I think that we are lying to ourselves.  I think we claim we are tolerant but we hold out exceptions because there is that one group or sect that we make the exception and outwardly disavow.  There is also the idea that we think our ideas are right and that is the end of it.

We are not supposed to tolerate anyone.  I submit that tolerance is intolerant.  When someone says to you, “Hey, I like your coat!”, should our response ever be, “Hey, I tolerate yours”?  We need to get over the idea that being tolerant is a good thing.  It is not because we should be tolerant.  It is because we must be much more.

The trend is to be tolerant of everyone.  Let me say some things about what I am required to be and we can go from there.  I am not allowed to be simply tolerant.  I am supposed to actively, practically, and inclusively love every human there is.  It goes far beyond tolerance.  The requirement is to sacrifice and to love.  The demand is to see every life as precious and worthy of my love and God’s. 

Further, I am required to love with this depth and intensity without compromising my own standards.  I think this is how the tolerance trend began.  In place of love or hate, we put tolerance.  We construct something bland that we can social signal whilst nursing our rejection and judgment under its summer parasol.  The problem is our parasol cannot shield us from the thunderstorm of conflict that has risen because of the intolerance we still carry.

The storm of difficulties exists because in our failure to love we have believed that lie that if we feel something is wrong then we must hate those who live in that wrong.  That is not how anything is going to work.  It is not how love ever works.  Love is never tolerant because that is condescending.  Oh, and in case you wonder why I do not get down to real examples, it is because I will offend someone because I either did or did not use their pet example. 

I know what I believe about right and wrong.  I know that some of those things will cause others to hate, sideline, discount, or tolerate me just because I do not agree with the popular or trending thought on their issue.   I will try to choose a neutral way to make my point.  There are people out there who think it is WRONG to put pineapple on pizza.  It happens to be one of my favorite pizza toppings.  Paired with bacon or ham and slivered almonds, it is my favorite full stop.

Now, I would not deny healthcare, social status, or human rights to anyone who hates pineapple on pizza or hates me because of my love for it.  I would go further and say that I will love and demonstrate that love to anyone no matter their pizza topping identification choices.  I might even buy him or her a pizza. 

Tolerance is trending but it cannot sustain.  It is not what we are meant to do Dear Reader.  It is instead, our obligation to love deeply every human that exists.  There is no room for simple tolerance or half measures.  If you would like to discuss it further, I will buy the pizza.  You can get yours with whatever toppings you choose.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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