Christian: (n) a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.


Please describe. Yes, take a moment and grant me your visual interpretation of a typical person who lives in Montana. Here come the

  • Cowboy hats.
  • Rodeos
  • A slight drawl in speech
  • Independent thinking
  • Might even carry a gun or two

That is what we think about Montana. If we encountered someone who lived in Montana who did NOT fit any of those stereotypes, we might feel a little irritable, wondering why they insisted on living in our Montana.


As long as we cling to the typical stereotypical definition of what this creature seems to be, we quickly will find out that Jesus, himself, would not make a very
good Christian.

  • He did not favor ceremony.
  • He didn’t like being called “good.”
  • He didn’t seek the praise of people, but rather, encouraged them to prosper in their own faith.
  • He certainly wanted to be known for his teachings instead of the time he spent on a cross.
  • And it was his habit to rebel against any tradition and formality which took away the intimacy of personal belief.

So the truth is, when Jesus is presented the way he really was, we get irritable.

How dare he be a Jewish Messiah, fulfilling Old Testament prophesy as the “Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world,” and instead, present himself as the Good Shepherd, who welcomes everybody and does not think that judging others is a legitimate practice.



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Burger: (n) short for hamburger

Everybody’s looking for good.

But somewhere on that journey, a conflict arises between the idea of what is good and what tastes good.

Trying to apply angelic mannerisms to the human being is not only a fruitless task, but might fall into the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

We are people. We are always looking for new ways to pleasure ourselves.

Even though our poets and theologians may suggest a different path, we smile at them as we quickly pass by on our way to pick up another deliciously greasy hamburger. Sometimes we’re willing to make it a turkey burger, but we’re never willing to make it a non-burger.

I think you have to consider where money is best spent. You could put your finance into training human beings into eating five servings of vegetables a day with very few carbs and little meat. But might it be better to accept the fact that we are burger-addicted, and work on a sandwich that tastes great and has few to no calories, so as to appease the need for flavor while still making us look good?

Let’s refer to it as the “Viagra of nutrition.”

If we swallow this pill or eat this particular burger, it will satisfy our need to be naughty without destroying our cardiovascular system.

Doesn’t that seem like a good expenditure of resource?

After all, have attempts at self-discipline in the human family ever done anything but create tension, self-doubt and furious outbursts of rage?

Burgers are not going away. Actually, we are finding that people go away before burgers do. So since they aren’t going away, why don’t we work on making them less harmful?

And while we’re at it, do the same thing with politics, religion and guns.


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dictionary with letter A

Arena: (n) a place or scene of activity, debate or conflict.

I grew up hearing stories about Christians being killed in various arenas of the Roman Empire. Recently, I’ve discovered that some of these reports are erroneous and that the Romans didn’t really deem such uncontested murder to be entertaining enough to bump the gladiators off the sports line-up.

I was always curious about it.

I know the Romans were quite brutal, but what would be so harmful about the Christian philosophy, requiring it to be condemned in a public arena?

It is a message that attempts to be inclusive, and blend in to the mixture like yeast in dough, allowing for expansion without destroying the surroundings.

But of course, there are certain things that need to be placed into the arena of public debate, which are too often taken for granted. Perhaps I should remove the phrase “public debate.” We certainly have enough of that. There are people who make a living by stirring up trouble and never hanging around to clean up afterwards.

Perhaps I should say there are certain ideas which should be taken into the arena of our hearts, where they can be battled through to a conclusion which causes us to be non-harmful to ourselves and others.

1. Drug use.

Even though we’ve tried to make it an issue of freedom, in the long run, it is a medical dilemma.

  • What happens when any drug goes into our bodies?
  • How does it alter us?
  • Does it improve us?
  • Is the improvement worth the alteration?

2. Killing.

The trouble with killing is that it’s very permanent. There is no such thing as a temporary murder. Since it tends to hang around forever, we might want to think a bit more about enacting it–whether it’s war, guns or abortion, would it (pardon the expression) kill us to consider, in the arena of our thoughts, the ramifications of our deeds?

3. Intolerance.

First, I don’t like the word. It has an arrogance about it which connotes that I reluctantly “tolerate” something or someone. I actually prefer the word “indifference.” There are many things I disagree with, but since I don’t have to participate, why should I care?

Do I really think God in heaven is sitting around musing over color, culture, sexual orientation or preferences? If He is, He’s a real nudge and a brat.

Since He made us inconsistent, He might just want to be patient with our inconsistencies.

Every single day of my life, I try to go into the arena of my heart and think about these three monsters that have basically been welcomed into our midst and devour parts of humanity without our permission as we allow them to lumber about.

I don’t like drugs.

I’m against killing.

And it’s not hard for me to be indifferent about things that aren’t my business.



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Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Aim: (v) 1. to point or direct an object at a target 2. have the intention of achieving.


There seems to be a missing step.

Matter of fact, as I looked at the definition of “aim,” I realized what is creating much of our social upheaval. People are deciding they are ready, and they’re just firing away.

The aim is not clear.

Whether it’s about politics, religion, abortion, pornography, drug use or even guns–we figure that as long as we are ready, we should be able to fire. No wonder so often we’re missing the mark.

There is no aim. There is no taking a moment to find out if we’ve actually got a bead on our target.

So it become all right in our culture to call “close” a “direct hit.”

People speak their minds and then get criticized for their comments, only to return the next day to apologize in pre-scripted contrition. Might it have been a good idea to aim–even though you thought you were ready to fire?

Can I give you three considerations we can use as human beings if we will practice the art of aiming?

1. Excitement is not passion.

You can get people excited about almost anything, as long as they believe there will be approval or money. Passion is finding the root cause and the value of our endeavors before we start pursuing the mission.

2. “Firing” places a bullet in the air which cannot be retrieved.

As I get older, I find myself less willing to pull the trigger, and having much more fun practicing my aim. When I was younger, I thought it was powerful to do as much as I possibly could until exhaustion rendered me useless. Now I realize that saving my energy for heavenly ventures is the guarantee for earthly pleasure.

3. Being sure is the only guaranteed path to ending up wrong.

The slight adjustments we make in the brief moment after being “ready”–when we aim before firing–alleviate most of the embarrassments that come through shooting the wrong target. And it’s just fun to slow down and then discover that your choice of delaying prevented tons of stupidity from having its day.

If life is a firing squad, it’s important to be ready. Clean your gun, load it and be available. But don’t ever fire off in some wild direction because your temper, your beliefs or your friends have forced you to do so.

  • Take aim.
  • Find out what’s important before you squeeze one off.

Because it’s much more difficult to swallow your pride and admit you’re wrong than it is to lower your weapon … and be grateful that you didn’t do something reckless.


Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Advance: (v) move forward, typically in a purposeful way: e.g. the troops advanced on the capital. 2. to lend money to someone 3. an approach made to someone typically with the aim of initiating a sexual encounter.

He asked me if I was “a progressive.”

I realized it was a trick question. He obviously did not approve of progressives and had found a box he planned to stuff me into, to satisfy his simplistic way of thinking.

For it seems that somewhere along the line, a desire to advance the cause of mankind and progress us toward better solutions has become unsatisfactory.

In my lifetime, many of the things I was told were irreversible and immutable in their sacred nature have been abandoned in favor of easier practices.

For after all, I grew up thinking that black people were black, homosexuals were homosexual, women were women, north was north, south was south, divorce was evil, technology was mistrusted and that the hula hoop was actually a toy to entertain children.

All of these things have been pushed aside to advance one universal concept: freedom.

Yet the people who want freedom for one thing in this country want to restrict it for something else, and those who are determined to promote their particular agenda will be more than happy to pour gasoline on yours and set it on fire.

What does it mean–to advance? What is the definition of making progress? When do we know that we are moving forward instead of stumbling backwards or doing a two-step side to side?

Am I just an idiot to think this can be answered with one question:

Is it making better humans?

Because it would be impossible to help stray dogs, cats and Bambi, for that matter, if the human beings around them want to hurt them and kill them.

It would be ridiculous to think that we could give equal rights to the mass of the multitude if portions of the crowd have already decided that some people are inferior.

And we certainly will not be able to stop war–which may be the antithesis of advancement–until each one of us realizes that we are probably not going to get everyone to conform to our ideals.

Is it making better humans? That’s my yardstick.

  • I’m sorry–I don’t think pornography makes better humans. I’m not going to rail against it, but I also am not going to pretend that it’s “a rite of passage.”
  • I don’t think guns make better humans. I’m not suggesting they should be prohibited–just not promoted.
  • I don’t think abortion makes better humans. I prefer contraception, education and adoption.

My list goes on and on. I’m sure it would vary from yours–but we might be surprised at how many cross-references we would have.

I would love to see us advance. I have been fully warned NOT to call it being progressive–but at the very least, could we take some time to think about our survival and how we might want to make the lives of our children and grandchildren richer, more spiritual and laced with intelligence instead of dulled by drugs, attitudes and practices … that leave them in a stupor.


by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAbbasid: (1) adj. of or relating to a dynasty of caliphs who ruled in Baghdad from 750 to 1258.  (2)  n.: a member of this dynasty.

I remember a time when the mention of guns would conjure in my youthful immaturity the concept of cops and robbers. Also, I guess, was a flash or two of soldiers.

It was simpler. As a young kid, I would finish my breakfast hurriedly and head outside on a summer’s day to play all around the neighborhood with my friends, to return for a lunch of a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of yucky tomato soup, to then run out the door again and play and play with wild abandon.

I didn’t have a monitor on me to make sure I wouldn’t be abducted, nor did my mother worry about whether the neighbors were perverts.

Now, you see, some of them WERE. Perverts aren’t new. We didn’t come up with them in the past twenty years. It’s just that perverts were aware that they were odd–and tended to hide their predilections away from the neighborhood.

The reason I bring this up is because when I read the word “Baghdad” in the definition, I thought about how much that word has changed in my mind over the years. When I was a kid, Baghdad was a place in stories where people rode camels and when they got tired of moving so slowly, they leapt upon magic carpets.

It was cool. It was magical.

I didn’t know they were Muslims … because I didn’t know what a Muslim was. I didn’t know they hated America … because why would you hate us when you’ve got TENTS that look small on the outside but when you walk inside, they’re palaces? I didn’t know their women were subjected and mistreated. In the stories, they were all princesses.

Move ahead a little bit and Baghdad turns into kind of a stronghold for some guy named Saddam, who lives next door to another strong-arm dude named the Shah of Iran–but we’re told it’s cool because they’re our allies. This, of course, pleased me. Because they were our friends, we had a lifetime supply of magic carpets available to us.

Then we find out the Shah is a jerk and Saddam is kind of crazy–followed by some of their people abandoning their carpets and jumping into our jets and flying into our big buildings–and those folks from Baghdad suddenly become our enemies. Since then, my public perception of this place has been going constantly downhill.

It’s too bad.

Maybe Baghdad people never WERE Ali Baba, but I’m sure they’re not all Ali Bad-Bad either. I’ll never know, will I? I’ll never get the chance to find out about their caliphs and their Abbasids, because basically they’re our enemies–or is it now our friends? It’s hard to keep up.

There are not a whole lot of things I would like to return to. I certainly think that knowledge has progressed us, holding back the tide of disease and stupidity, but it would be nice to recapture some of the trust and gentleness we felt towards our fellow-man–even those in Baghdad.