Decisions–With Frogs

Friday, September 19, 2014

Last night my youngest son, Donald, and his wife, Helen, treated me to pizza and a beer as we talked about cob houses, art, creativity, God’s will, and the possibility of my moving in with them.

We have a lot of decisions to make about such a life-changing event.

Helen, a noted artist working in glass, is perfecting a method of mixing powered glass of different colors and using it to paint pictures on glass plates and firing all together to fuse textures into a single unit (At least I think that’s what she does; it’s more complicated than that).

Here’s a photo of an experimental dish she created this week:

Frog plate 1

Here’s a detail of the frog:

Frog plate 2

More of Helen’s glass art can be seen on her website at (http://www.patreon.com/hcowart).

We also spent time talking about the role of Christian creativity in this life and the next: Will we still be creative in Heaven?

But the main issues of the evening’s conversation were decisions about finding God’s wil,l and logistics involved in the possibility of them taking me into their home. At the moment, a mud hut in the backyard, called a cob house, looks promising.

Here’s a photo of a cob house:

cobhouse

Yes, I may become a Hobit.

Unfortunately, my physical condition is deteriorating faster than I anticipated but I want to put off decisions related to that as long as possible.

I’m a procrastinator.

However, seeing Helen’s glass frog dish reminded me of a saying by my long ago friend, newspaper columnist Poke McHenry; once as he and I talked about God’s will in a complex decision I faced, Poke said, “John, when there comes a time in life when you absolutely have to eat a live frog, it’s best not to look at it too long beforehand”.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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I Skipped Church

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Had anyone with a video camera been at my home last Sunday, I might be a comic star on YouTube by now.

Thing is, Saturday I awoke to find my arthritis spread to my left hip as well as my right. This meant I could lift neither foot more than an inch or two off the floor.

So, as I tried to dress for church, no physical contortion worked to put on my pants. I tried to get my pants up for 20 minutes and just could not do it and the process left me exhausted.

The church I attend has a casual dress code, but not that casual. Some folks do show up for early service in shorts but wearing some sort of pants is encouraged.

I’m much better now, but Sunday because I was unable to stand, my sons Fred and John rescued me, loading me in the truck for breakfast out, then in the evening Donald and Helen brought in Chinese. All day my joints cracked like fire crackers.

Next Sunday is National Back To Church Sunday, during which people who have not attended a church recently are welcomed to return and see if they have been missing anything.

I’ve invited several friends and family to check out a church on this welcoming Sunday. But, even though my arthritis attack seems to have passed to a certain extent, I wonder if I’ll worship the Lord with the congregation this week, or whether I’ll spend the morning rolling around on the floor again.

See you in church… Maybe.

Anybody got a camcorder?

Back to church

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Two-Ton Grasshoppers

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Last week I spent much energy lifting grasshoppers.

My youngest son exercises with weight training at his company’s gym; he tells me about crunches, curls, and bench-pressing.

My own main exercise is to lie down on the floor in my home and then try to stand again without pulling up on furniture. This heavy exercise seems prudent to me because I live alone and I may fall and need to do this for real someday. It takes me about ten minutes to get on my feet again. And my arthritis hurts big time.

I’ve never been an athlete, although in my youth I’m proud to have won a couple of trophies in swimming and karate competitions—but all that was 50 years and 80 pounds ago; now, just getting up off the floor taxes all my strength.

King Solomon in his old age recognized the problem. In his book Ecclesiastes, he poetically described getting old:

They shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”.

Boy, did Solomon hit the nail in the head.

Worries about high curbs in the parking lot, falling, white hair, grasshoppers, and all that stuff fill my days. And when he says desire shall fail….

Well, let me tell you, everything is getting harder and harder except for me!

Of course, when I read Solomon’s words about the grasshopper being a burden, I naturally think of Florida’s ugliest bug—the Lubber grasshopper.

Lubber grasshopper 3

I find these in my garden all the time. The lubber grows between three and four inches long. So tough they drink insecticide, and when I stomp one with my full weight, his exoskeleton enables him to hop three feet away as soon as I lift my foot. A lubber can reduce a plant from flourishing to a mere stalk overnight.

Even a crow will not eat a lubber.

Stomping one on a concrete walk and grinding him underfoot is about the only way to get rid of one but even then he may flap red wings and fly away laughing.

I wonder if King Solomon had lubbers in his palace gardens. I doubt it because most Bible scholars say that in describing old age Solomon used the phrase, “The grasshopper shall be a burden” to mean that to the elderly even doing little things, tiny little green grasshopper things, takes all our strength.

And don’t tell me about the 107-year-old who climbed Everest—he’s a freak!

Thursday night when Donald and Helen took me out for barbecue, just walking across the parking lot from the car to the restaurant left me panting and hardly able to stand because of my arthritis pain.

And this morning I could hardly lift the whistling tea kettle off the stove to pour water for my cup of instant coffee. Getting out of my chair to answer the door is a burden. Hunting my glasses is a burden. Buttoning my shirt is a burden. Bringing in the mail is a burden.

I have to think and plan ahead before trying to lift any little grasshopper; they all feel as though they weigh two tons.

So, where is God in my grumbling?

Where is He who said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness”?

My first thought is that my six children bless me. One or the other of them checks on my well-being practically every day and they come help me with any needed task I can’t manage for myself. I’m thankful for them.

Then, I think that Jesus never cured anybody of old age, and that you play the cards you’re dealt.

Then, the arthritis in my hip reminds me of Jacob who wrestled the Angel. The gentlemanly translators of the King James Bible render that passage in Genesis eloquently by saying the angel, “Touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint”– I think in modern English that means the angel kicked Jacob in the nuts and he limped worse than I do for the rest of his life.

King Solomon began his poem about aging by saying we are to remember our Creator in the days of our youth. Honoring God spans youth, old age and eternity.

I also remember that after He rose from the dead, Jesus told Peter:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not”

Then the Gospel writer explains why Jesus said this:

This spake He, signifying by what death Peter should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, ‘Follow me’”.

Yes, even when you have trouble dressing yourself and have trouble getting around, you can still follow Jesus. In feeble old age as well as in vibrant youth, it’s possible to glorify God.

He is worthy of all our praise, worship and living energy however much we have, or don’t have, of it.

And Jesus once said this also:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.

I take that to mean there are no lubbers in the green, green grass of Home.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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The Dingy Murk Of The Soul

Monday, September 8, 2014

Great saints of yesteryear spoke of an experience they called The Dark Night Of The Soul. In this state spiritual comfort disappears, Christ seems distant, prayer dry, guilt rampant, and life futile—yet some vestige of faith remains.

Not much fun.

I’m not enough of a believer to claim such a deep experience; I’m going through common ordinary blahs, more of a dingy murk than a dark night.

Over the past few weeks I’ve tried to analyze what’s wrong with me and what factors contribute to my present sorry state—it ain’t pretty.

I believe Jesus is Lord, but so what? I can’t get too excited about that. I attend church and pray but the Heavens are brass, life tedious, happy things suspect, work drab, and few things interesting. I’m world-weary, sorrowful for no apparent reason, indifferent to amusements, joyless—and I don’t look for things to change.

Why?

Naturally, my first thought was grief. Ginny died only 18 months ago and I miss her like a toothache, but I feel we both came to healthy terms with her death before it happened. I yearn for her but I don’t think I grieve all that much.

Is my trouble physical?

Dr. Naheed Ali, in his book Arthritis And You: A Comprehensive Digest, tells me, “Joint pain experienced by the arthritis sufferer is often persistent in nature. Extreme fatigue, lack of energy, and a general feeling of malaise are also symptoms”.

But I’ve lived with degenerative arthritis in my right hip for years, and while it is indeed a pain in the ass, I’ve come to terms with that. So I doubt I can blame physical pain for my present spiritual ennui.

Ahhaa! Sin separates from God. Am I a sinner?

Well, duhh.

Sure I am. In fact last Thursday I boasted to my son Donald about the first book I ever stole. I stole it over 60 years ago and the book— Dracula, in case you wonder— still sits on my shelf, where it’s likely to stay for another 60 years.

So, has God tracked me down and burdened me with guilt over something I did as a Boy Scout? I hardly think so. Didn’t Christ die for my petty sins as well as for my heinous vile nasty ones?

I’m not sinless but I relax in His forgiveness.

So, if it’s not grief nor pain nor sin that creates the murk of my soul, what else could it be?

Isn’t a Christian supposed to be glowing and happy and rejoicing in the Lord?

Sure. Look at Job… Well, maybe not. He knew that his Redeemer lived but he hardly ever sang, I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.

So, I’m down. Got spiritual blahs. What am I supposed to do about it?

Maybe nothing.

Except obey.

In the demon Screwtape’s advice to Wormwood, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys”.

The introduction to A.W. Tozer’s book The Divine Conquest says, “Only the hopeless will benefit from this book”. Tozer examines spiritual pain and the dark night of the soul.

He said, “The Christian who is seeking better things and who has to his consternation found himself in a state of complete self-despair need not be discouraged.

“Despair with self, where it is accompanied by faith, is a good friend, for it destroys one of the heart’s most potent enemies and prepares the soul for the ministration of the Comforter. A sense of utter emptiness, of disappointment and darkness can (if we are alert and wise to what is going on) be the shadow in the valley of shadows that leads on to those fruitful fields that lie further in…

The term Way of the Cross means what it has always meant, the way of rejection and loss. “No one ever enjoyed a cross, just as no one ever enjoyed a gallows,” Tozer said.

So, what do I see in my murky vision?

I’m horrified with the terror of great darkness!

This is scary stuff.

The Father is taking off my training wheels!

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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The View From My Own Ditch

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The pastor’s sermon last Sunday discouraged me.

He spoke on Proverbs 31, a Bible chapter often titled The Virtuous Woman, but he pointed out that this chapter is not a rulebook for women, but an acrostic poem personifying Wisdom. Thus it describes the overall life of a godly person of either sex.

I realize more and more that when it comes to wisdom, virtue, or godliness—I miss on all counts.

Even though the pastor emphasized that the marks of wisdom in Proverbs are not a legal text of harsh laws but common-sense observations for an orderly life, and that our life hinges on our personal relationship with the living Christ, nevertheless, I left the service early feeling such an utter low-life looser having lived a wasted life.

But that’s me, not the Bible, church, or sermon.

After church I sat around puffing my pipe with a bunch of guys and gals in the designated smoking area. We critiqued the sermon, church events, and a thing called co-dependency.

I asked for a definition of that word; I’m not familiar with it; What is co-dependency?

They enlightened me saying it is where you gain your own identity by compulsively helping others. You step in to help fix other people’s lives and thereby define yourself as one of the good guys.

I thought that sacrificing yourself to help others was called common ordinary Christianity. But it seems that in modern parlance, co-dependency by helping others is not a virtue but a sin.

Or at the very least a mental defect.

I must not be co-dependent because this discussion reminded me of something that happened to Ginny and me on September 5, 2005; here’s how I recorded the incident in my diary entry on page 160 in my book A Dirty Old Man Goes Bad (www,bluefishbooks.info) :

Most Fridays Ginny & I go out for dinner here or there depending on our finances. Recently, we ate at a Kentucky Fried Chicken place. Even though there are only two of us now, we ordered the big bucket planning to dine on extra cold chicken over the weekend.

While Ginny was packing up our leftovers, I walked outside to smoke my pipe.

“Help! Help! For God’s Sake Help Me!”

I heard a man yelling. I ran across the parking lot to see a man down by a culvert in a drainage ditch leading to a retention pond. I scooted down the embankment and waded to him through just a foot or two of rushing water. I grabbed him by the shoulders and tugged him up on to the embankment.

“I’m sick. I’m sick,” he moaned.

“I’ll call an ambulance,” I said.

“Don’t want no fucking ambulance. I need food. I’m sick. I’m starving,” he said.

I climbed out of the ditch and went to Ginny. She took food out of our bag – chicken, fries, biscuit – and folded it into a napkin for the man in the ditch. I carried it back down to him, again assuring him that I could call an ambulance.

Again he refused vehemently.

He was wearing one of those plastic ID bracelets showing that he’d been in a hospital recently.

He began to wolf down the food.

“I need something to drink with this stuff,” he said.

Now, I’d put my own take-out cup of soda on top of our car when I came out of the restaurant so I got that for him and carried it back down into the ditch.

He took a big gulp and spit it out at me.

“This is got sugar in it! What you trying to do, Kill me? I’m a diabetic. I need diet soda. Go get me a diet cola,” he demanded.

I straightened up.

I said, “If you die in this ditch, how is my world going to be diminished”?

“Huh”.

“If you die in this ditch, why should I care,” I said.

And I turned my back on him and walked away.

Next time we were at that Kentucky Fried, I glanced to see if there were a body clogging up the culvert.

There wasn’t.

So I suppose he got out of the ditch ok.

Or not.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Unbelievers

(From page 93 of my book, A Dirty Old Man Gets Worse ( www.bluefishbooks.info ); I originally wrote it on March 22, 2006).

During a smoke break from research, I sat by the fountain in our garden thinking about people who feel compelled to defend their religious beliefs with violence.

To me it’s obvious that an urge to defend God reveals a lack of confidence in God.

Do these Believers, who do not believe enough to trust God, really think He is helpless?

Does the Lord God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth, lack strength to defend His own honor?

Truth is true whether anybody believes it or not.

Suppose, for instance, that centuries ago a pirate crew buried a chest of gold coins under the ancient oak tree in your back yard and they left a map pinpointing the location.

Suppose that you’re scrounging in the back of a closet and find that old map.

The treasure is there whether you believe the map or dismiss it as a hoax.

I think that’s the situation with truth in the Bible.

The treasure is there whether you choose to dig it out or to ignore it.

If you choose, believing makes you a winner with untold riches; if you choose not to believe, you miss out on the treasure.

A sure mark of people who do not believe very much, is that they feel compelled to adamantly defend their choice. They know that their choice is shaky, cowardly, dishonorable, questionable — but pride compels them to force their wobbly beliefs on other people.

They want to be affirmed.

They’re scared not to be.

We don’t defend truth, we defend sin. I’m so hellbent to justify that — in spite of whatever my favorite sin is — I’m a good man, that I’ll go to any length to prove that I’m right, even when I wallow in sin.

In his own mind, no man is an asshole.

I know I’m not…

Although the people who have to live around me may have a dissenting opinion.

You see, the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

I’m not positive but I’d bet that people who insist on self-justification most vehemently are most likely to be harboring some secret sin, some personal evil, some wicked, vile inclination or practice that entangles their souls but that they never want to give up. They want to hold on to something they know damn good and well is wrong, but at the same time they want to think of themselves as good guys. Not sordid squalid fallen human beings, but right.

If I do it, it’s me. And I’m right. And you’d better agree or you’ll be sorry.

God did not come down from Heaven to die on the cross for our petty self righteousness. Jesus did not rise from the grave just to prove that we are right.

The well have no need for a physician; it’s the unhealthy who need a Savior.

But we live in denial.

We refuse to admit that black spot is melanoma.

I’m alright. Nothing wrong with me,” we say.

So unbelievers try to affirm their own unbelief of truth to their own wicked hearts by loud, violent, fanatical, irrational defenses of their substitute for truth.

This vile practice is not limited to religious fanatics burning flags or bras or cars or draft cards or whathaveyou. I mean, look at the scientists who attacked Richard Sternberg at the Smithsonian last year (see my August 20, 2005, blog posting).

If you are a true believer, if you are confident that what you believe is true, then you can tolerate, even love, people who do not believe the truth. You pity them and, out of brotherly love, try to show them Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. But you need have no compulsion to beat them over the head thinking you’re defending God.

Relax. God needs no defence.

He’s a Big Boy. He can take care of Himself.

Only unbelievers would believe otherwise.

Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief.

Lord Jesus, be merciful to John Cowart, a sinner.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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13 Pipes

Monday, August 25, 2014

13 Pipes

About midnight Friday I spotted an ad for an estate sale offering some 1950s vintage tobacco pipes. Since it was located in a residential area unfamiliar to me, I hesitated driving by myself, so I recruited Donald and Helen to drive me there on Saturday morning.

I bought a box of thirteen pipes—five were drug store pipes, but eight were signature brand names. At a tobacconist shop any one of the signature pipes would cost more than I paid for the whole box.

After church Sunday, I cleaned the new/old pipes and began to retire some of my own battered pipes—ones held together by black electrical tape with cracked bowls patched with children’s Play Dough– yes, that’s how I mend cracked bowls.

Thus, I spent a happy rainy afternoon listening to 1960s music, cleaning pipes– and gloating.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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One More Hurtle?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I thought I was done with it.

Silly me.

About three weeks ago I posted the final revision, number eight, of that book on the history of Christ Church Jacksonville Anglican. I understood that the church planed to order a couple of hundred copies to use as free giveaways during the National Back To Church services in September.

Not so apparently.

Although the editorial committee of the church staff had approved the book before I posted it on my bluefishbooks.info website, yesterday I learned that only a handful of copies are to be bought now; these are to be passed out to the leadership council for their approval, corrections and revisions.

Everyone on the council may love it.

Or not.

At any rate, this means another 12 to 20 people will be supplying their input about the history book.

Not sure how I feel about that. I heard the news with dismay.

I feel I’ve already gone the second mile. I thought the thing was finished—not perfect maybe, but as good as I could make it.

Now, I’m inclined to put my clothes on and go home. This party is not as much fun as I thought it was going to be.

I believe they call situations like this… life.

Looks like I should be used to it by now.

Visited the library yesterday afternoon. Picked up a dozen murder mysteries. Reading them is how I hope to spend next week.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Fallow? or Useless?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I first wrote the following posting on Wednesday, May 23, 2007; I could just as well have written it this morning. It’s from page 249 of my book A Dirty Old Man Stumbles On:

I Feel Useless

Tuesday, I did nothing.

Well, I did go out for breakfast with my friend Wes, and I caught up with laundry washing four loads of cloth, but I didn’t do a lick of work.

Over breakfast Wes and I talked about Drama Queens in our respective families.

We concluded that if Jerry Springer ever wants to air a week-long, 24-hour-a-day marathon tv show, for material he’d have to look no farther than our families.

We could supply Dr. Phil with material for a season’s worth of shows too — without having to look up a single phone number.

Later, while waiting for washer and dryer to do their thing, I finished reading a book on Florida archaeology and I started reading a murder mystery.

But, I didn’t do a lick of work.

I let my work pile up. There’s plenty of it: I’m a third of the way through editing the Ward Diary; the fire department history waits my attention; my next novel sits in a file drawer; a shopping bag full of clippings to be sorted haunts me; and other projects both larger and smaller will not get done unless I do them…

Yet I did nothing useful all day long.

So, I began to feel guilty. Shouldn’t I be working? Doing something useful? Marching toward my goals? Writing great literature? Making a difference? Serving God, uplifting mankind, rescuing damsels in distress? Something useful?

After all, today is all we have. If I do nothing useful today, then that opportunity is gone forever. Water under the bridge.

Doesn’t God want me to be engaged in worthwhile activities?

Not necessarily.

I got to thinking about King David. He lived a lot of days (I forget how old he was when he died). On one of those days he killed a giant. With a slingshot. How long did that take?

Zap!

Clunk.

Crash.

Ever afterwards, history regarded David as a giant killer.

Most days in his life, David tended a herd of a thousand sheep, either watching where he stepped or scraping off his shoes. He practiced harp. He endured rebellious teenage children. He squabbled with other kings. He wrote Psalms. He peeked over his balcony to watch a naked woman in her shower… But, he is most well known for what he did on one single day out of a lifetime of days.

And in Scripture God calls David, “A man after My own heart”.

I feel useless.

But, I got to thinking that perhaps today I am lying fallow. That means… What does that word mean? I’ve heard it all my life but I’m not clear on the meaning.

I looked it up and it’s a farmer’s word referring to a “field left unplowed and unseeded during a growing season; cultivated land that is undeveloped but potentially useful; a basic way to improve soil fertility”.

In crop rotation, the farmer plants that field one year, then he lets it lie fallow for a year, then the third year he plants it with a different crop.

This process enriches the soil.

While the land lies fallow, underneath the dirt earthworms do their work to the glory of God while on the surface thistles grow and birds nest. Foxes and rabbits and badgers die in their burrows and their decay fertilizes the earth. Snakes move among the weeds catching mice. The land rests. Nature takes its course.

In useless times, invisible stuff is going on.

Good stuff.

The field comes back stronger than before because it has lain fallow for a season.

Not useless.

Fallow.

While all around me others are growing and thriving and bearing fruit and winning souls and proclaiming Christ and getting things done and moving mountains — here I am lying fallow, undeveloped, unseeded, unneeded, resting for the moment, awaiting future use.

Nothing wrong with that.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Fun With Wes

Monday, August 18, 2014

Last night my friend Wes treated me to supper out and a couple of hours conversation about God, life, history, disease, and endurance.

Wes is one of the most thoroughly Christian men I have ever met. He is brilliant and dogmatic (I love to bait him on theological points) but his compassionate heart is bigger than his brain.

Last week, Wes, a medical professional, volunteered for service in an Ebola unit.

No, he is not headed for West Africa; the hospital where he works is setting up an isolation ward as a precautionary measure against the future possible arrival of Ebola patients in Jacksonville.

In my recent readings of local history, I find that epidemic diseases have decimated Jacksonville in the past—Yellow Jack, the popular name for yellow fever made the city into a ghost town several times. Typhoid Fever in 1898 killed more soldiers here than in the battles of the Spanish American war. And Spanish Lady, the influenza epidemic of 1918 caused death carts to roll and mass burials in open pits–whole families dying the same day.

Then there were polio, and scarlet fever, and Creeping Corruption (TB), and break-bone fever, and a host of less well known epidemics which scoured the city—all of which seemed to have been forgotten by the Chamber of Commerce within in a few months after they passed.

So, yes, it can happen here.

No danger yet.

But preparations are underway just in case.

I’m proud of my friend for his facing even the remote possibility of Ebola.

Another, more immediate, thing he faces, which strikes closer to home, is that his father, a man in his upper 80s, has a puppy, Bella, his constant companion for the past 13 years—this week the vet said that Bella has a tumor which will soon lead to her death.

Wes’s dad wants his pet to be comfortable and not to suffer, yet he needs to hold on to Bella as long as possible; Bella was his late wife’s dog.

He is devastated at having to make such a decision.

Wes and I talked about dispensationalism, diving healing, the charismatic movement, prayer, death, parables, the will of God in our workaday lives, and the role of faith in our mundane decisions—usual guy stuff as Wes puffed his cigar and I stoked my pipe.

Of course we enjoyed discrete, tasteful Christian jokes too.

Here’s one Wes told me which I hadn’t heard before:

This godly man winds up in a modest house on a far back lot in Heaven.

One day he spots his notoriously wicked neighbor floating by on a cloud with a fifth of whiskey in his hand and a curvaceous woman snuggled in his arm.

Outraged, the godly man stomps to Heaven’s complaint department to protest.

Why should that wicked man float around Heaven with a fifth and a beautiful woman,” he demanded.

The recording angel explained, “You don’t understand. The whiskey bottle has a hole in it; that woman doesn’t”.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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