Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Beautiful Boat Parade

Last Saturday Jacksonville hosted the 21st Annual Light Parade featuring over 50 decorated boats cruising up and down the St. Johns River. Thousands of people lined up along both stretches of the city’s riverwalks to watch the boat parade.

Unfortunately Ginny and I lacked the energy to attend and take photos – but the website of the Florida Times-Union, the local newspaper, posted a photo feature of the event at http://jacksonville.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=79841 It is well worth your time to visit the three galleries supplied by photographers Becky and Tom White. Here is a sample of their work:

I spent Monday engaged in one of the world’s most boring human activities, hanging around a doctor’s office, tied up for six hours, waiting to drive a friend home.

Doesn’t God have anything better for me to do?

Apparently 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 @ 4:27 AM

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Monday, November 28, 2005

A Blatant Sales Pitch

Tv news showed an appalling scene: a Christmas shopping mob racing into a store on Black Friday – That’s what they call the day after Thanksgiving when the Christmas shopping season opens and retail stores record their biggest sales and profits.

The first people through the door ran screaming as though Godzilla were stomping hot behind them.

Good thing they ran fast because the second wave of shoppers knocked down folks in front of them and stomped them in the floor.

In the mall parking lot irate drivers deliberately rammed cars into other cars battling over parking spaces. Fast shoppers trampled slow ones. Tiny tots screaming for Mommy got lost in the crowd. Old folks got shoved aside. Husbands got separated from wives. Women’s heels were bumped with shopping carts. Young men rolled on the floor fighting over a computer game. People cursed and elbowed and kicked and shoved and snatched merchandise; they actually tore items to bits as they fought to buy.

Some shoppers ended up with human bite marks on their arms and I heard a rumor that one man lost an ear.

Let me assure you that not one single one of these shoppers were fighting to buy my books… No, my books sell on-line to readers of refined, dignified taste who do not bite or gouge out eachother’s eyes in a buying frenzy just to own a copy of Glog,or The Lazarus Projects, or I’m Confused About Prayer.

I mention this because the tv commentators call today Black Monday or Unproductive Monday. This day is given such names because when people return to their offices after the holiday, they go on-line to shop and do no work whatsoever for their companies. Apparently this practice has become a holiday tradition.

Therefore I hope that today as you shop, you will consider buying some of my books on-line at http://www.lulu.com/bluefish .

I can’t promise, but I doubt that you will get trampled or leave the site with bite marks on your arms.

And I guarantee you no one has ever lost an ear from buying one of my books…. Yet.

Thank you for your support.

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 @ 5:06 AM

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Up On The Housetop...

Saturday morning I spent up on our roof with a leaf blower clearing off sticks and leaves and cleaning the rain gutters.

Then I watched the Gators beat the Seminoles at football. Since I’ve had family at both schools, I did not know which team to root for.

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 @ 4:10 AM

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Dressing For Heaven

Traditional imagery pictures people in Heaven as wearing gold-foil hats and flowing gauze robes. Friday, I imagined a different picture; I imagined that I would stand before the throne of God wearing the very same clothes that I have given to the poor.

Yes, all afternoon Ginny and I padded around the house in our underwear trying on all our clothes to see if they fit as we cleaned out our closets and packed up clothes to send to the poor at the mission.

Ginny is infuriatingly systematic, methodical, and self-disciplined. In her closet she has 20 green clothes hangers, 20 blue ones, 20 white ones, and 10 clear plastic hangers. She keeps 20 dresses for work on the green ones, 20 casual outfits on the blue ones, etc. I’m not sure about the exact numbers or color codes but you get the idea.

She refuses to add to the number of hangers.

That means that whenever she gets a new office dress, an old one must go. A new casual blouse means that one now on the hanger must come off.

That way she only has her very favorite clothes in her closet at any given time. No muss, no fuss, no clutter.

She’s the same way about her books. She has one bookcase. When she gets a new book, an old one must be replaced so her shelf space remains constant…. On the other hand, I have ELEVEN bookcases in our house and piles of books on the floor, in chairs, under the bed, in the closet… Well, you get the idea.

Yet, somehow this strange woman and I remain married.

Another factor adds to the clutter in our house. For some reason our friends, neighbors and children bring us stuff to go to the mission. I mean, even back when we did not own a car, folks who did would bring mission donations to our house and I’d have to borrow a van or something to get the donations out there to the poor. That still goes on, so the foyer of our home is always piled with bags and boxes of stuff to go the mission.

We cleared the foyer yesterday morning and took out a load, but already another three black plastic garbage bags full of clothes are in our foyer. I’m looking at them right this minute!

Anyhow, yesterday Ginny and I also cleaned out our own closets. This meant we were constantly having to make decisions as to what clothes to keep and which items should go to the poor.

This presents me with a dilemma.

What do I sent to the poor, what do I keep for me?

Pants are easy.

If they still button and zip and I can sit down in them, they stay. Those that have shrunk too much for me to zip up, some poor guy can wear them.

Shirts present a different problem. Some are easy to send to the suffering poor. For instance that tee-shirt with cute fuzzy kittens in a basket on the chest that Aunt Hazel gave me – hey, the poor like kittens, don’t they?

But here’s that neat tee-shirt I bought myself, the one with the pack of wolves eating into a harp seal with blood and seal guts strewn about in the snow, that’s a keeper. Definitely a keeper. I’ll be such a hit when I wear that one to Jennifer’s Christmas party.

So I made choices about which shirts to send to the poor – that’s when I got the idea that the clothes we’ll have to wear in Heaven will be the ones we give to the poor here on earth.

As I recall, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy said that what we have there, is what we give here; and I think C.S. Lewis said the same thing about the books we’ll still have in Heaven. Apparently, we lay up treasure in Heaven by giving to the poor on earth.

I doubt that’s right. Sounds too much like salvation-by-works to me but, nevertheless, I suspect that Christ approves of us giving our best.

We can’t brown nose God. Giving to the poor should simply be an expression of our love for the Lord Christ, Prince of the Poor, who though He were rich yet made Himself poor for our sakes.

Be all that as it may, as I packed stuff to go to the mission, I got this ridiculous idea about what clothes I might have available to wear in Heaven.

Do I really want to appear before the throne of Almighty God in castoffs, with my bare belly hanging over pants that won’t zip and wearing fuzzy damn kittens on my chest?

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 @ 5:38 AM

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Friday, November 25, 2005

When You Give A Feast...

Yesterday we drove to the Thanksgiving feast at Jennifer & Pat’s new home.

We’d been invited to celebrate with Pat’s family. About 20 or 30 people showed up. The girls had set up tables in the yard by the pool to accommodate the crowd. They are all wonderful people and I really tried to be sociable, but being so shy and so fearful of being seen eating in public, I made myself a plate of goodies and slipped in the garage to hide and eat my meal.

On the drive over there, Ginny and I got to reminiscing and laughing about former thanksgiving days in our own home.

Years ago we’d read the words of Jesus in Luke 14:12-13 where He said, “When you give a banquet, invite the poor” etc. He said that people who do this will be blessed, or happy.

So, for ages at Thanksgiving or Christmas as part of our normal family preparation for the feast, we’d go out and pick up a hitchhiker or homeless guy and bring them home to share the feast with our family. Our kids have carried on this tradition by bringing in foreign students stranded at college with nowhere to go for the holidays, etc.

A funny thing happened the first time Ginny and I tried this. It was back in the early ‘70s when Jennifer was just a babe in arms and we were abjectly poor ourselves. In fact some church folks have given us a food basket weeks before Thanksgiving and we’d eaten all of it except for a bird, which we thought was a chicken, and some green beans and corn.

This was the only food we had left in our house except for some baby food jars (As I recall they were named High-Meat Dinners and made for the worst smelling poop in history!)

We did not have a car at the time and we’d walked pushing the baby stroller to a corner church for services and on our walk back home, we met this bum who said he was broke and hungry and could we give him a few dollars for something to eat.

Well, we did not have even a dollar, but we invited him home with us for the chicken dinner. At the time, we ate off a card table which Ginny had covered with a white cloth. She put out our best china. She had baked this bird on a timer setting while we were at services. She cooked the corn and green beans.

The three of us sat down to eat with the baby in her highchair at the table.

We said a blessing.

Ginny placed the bird in golden perfection in the center of the table. It appeared to have a golden glaze on the breast.

Then she started to carve the bird.

She had trouble.

The knife would not cut it.

The bird, though it appeared perfect, had the consistency of rubber. Our guest bum said it was not a chicken but a duck. He tried to cut off a drumstick. He could not pierce the skin. Apparently, whoever had given the bird to us had once frozen it then let it thaw and then frozen it again.

Thinking that if we held it firmer, Ginny would be able to slice it, the guy took one leg of the duck and I took the other and we pulled while Ginny tried to cut a leg off.

The legs stretched to an impossible length and Ginny sawed like mad but we could not penetrate the golden glazed skin. When the guy and I let go, like a chunk of rubber tire, the bird snapped back together again.

The three of us started laughing.

Here we had this golden duck which looked and smelled delicious and which could not be sliced under any circumstances. I mean a chainsaw would not cut this duck!

We laughed and we laughed and we laughed and tears streamed down our faces and we laughed some more.

We gave up on the bird and feasted on corn and green beans alone.

When it came time for him to leave, the bum said to me, “Mister, I lied to you when I said I was broke. I’ve got ten dollars here and I wants you folks to have it”. He slipped the money into my hand saying, “This was the best Thanksgiving meal I ever had”.

We ate off that man’s ten dollars for another week.

Thanks be to God.

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 @ 7:23 AM

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Last night Ginny said the photo I planned to post for Thanksgiving day is tasteless.

It is a photo of my holiday matchbox for Thanksgiving and I feel the picture of the alligator feasting on a raw chicken captures the true spirit of Thanksgiving here in Florida.

But she says it is tasteless and that I should post a more appropriate picture.

So, here goes:

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 @ 4:33 AM

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Somebody's Hiding In Our Cassia Tree

Tuesday I tried to catch up on yard work. As I edged the front yard, a car stopped at the curb and the man called me over; he asked me if he could root some cuttings from our cassia tree. I snipped off a few branches and advised him to peel back the bark a bit and worry the cut, then to place the branches in a bottle of water with an aspirin to foster root growth.

Our friend Barbara gave us our Cassia tree about three years ago. At first we planted it beside the house, but there the plant stayed only about knee high. Two years ago I transplanted it into a spot with full sun at the foot of the drive and it took off growing.

Each night the leaves of our plant fold in on themselves like clasped hands. Butterflies, the kind called cloudless sulphur I think, throng to the plant.

They lay eggs.

Caterpillars hatch out.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of caterpillars.

Mockingbirds swoop in to eat those caterpillars.

Here’s a picture of a caterpillar-covered branch:

Just look at all those caterpilars!

What? You don't see them?

Lets look closer:

Just look at all those bugs… What? You still can’t see them?They are yellow with brownish-black markings like the flower stamens.

Here, I’ll get one down for you to see:

They blend so well with the flower parts that, even though I know they are there, I have to search for one.

I’m impressed.

I realize that the protective coloration of creatures does not necessarily prove any intelligent design, or a divine plan, or the existence of God above the natural world ... but their camouflage does make me wonder if Somebody isn’t hiding these caterpillars from hungry mockingbirds.


Back when we were poor, eating with Food Stamps and living in HUD housing, I wrote a Thanksgiving article for a local newspaper. If you’re interested in what a person living in deep poverty has to say about being thankful, here’s a link to The Little End Of The Horn.

While Ginny & I were away, my son Donald and his friend Shawn started a new ongoing computer project which I suppose could be called The Geek Bible. It generates a translation updating King James english into modren speech -- I think. Since I can bearly cut and paste with a computer, the intracacies of this computer code project escape me. But Geeks among you will want to check this out at http://www.rdex.net/projects/KJV_Translation/index.php .

It's 6 a.m. and I have no idea what my children are doing!

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 @ 4:51 AM

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Virginia's Song

All day Monday I rehearsed a song to sing for Ginny when she got home from the doctor’s office after picking up her hearing aids.

I wanted that song to be the first thing she would hear when we met.

It’s a song I wrote 38 years ago especially for her. I wrote the lyrics. I actually made up the tune. She is the only person in the world who has ever heard her song. And I have only sang it to her a dozen or so times over the years.

So when she arrived home from the doctor’s, I cuddled her on my lap, enfolded her in my arms and sang Virginia’s song to her.

She deserves more than a song but it’s what I have to give. It’s hers alone.

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 @ 6:04 AM

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Chugging Along With Joy

When Ginny & I saw this ancient train in Blounstown, we were first shocked -- then broke out laughing.

According to the historic marker beside the relic, this train linked the town with the outside world carrying mail, passengers, lumber and staples before automobile travel became commonplace in the Florida panhandle. The M&B Railroad ran from 1909 to 1972. To us it looks like the sort of train Jessie James or tribes of Indians might have attacked.

The thing that shocked us and set us laughing is the realization that this train was still actually running when we got married in 1968!

Makes us feel antique.

Yes, we have now entered our 38th year of marriage and we’re still in love and chugging along just fine.

For over a year we planned to observe this anniversary with a vacation trip to Port St. Joseph Peninsula State Park but until just 30 minutes or so before we actually left on the trip, we thought we might have to cancel, so we left in a state of mild confusion.

Here are two links to photos of our trip and the cabin we stayed in.

Rather than try to catch up a day by day journal of the past ten days, here are a few highlights:

Dancing Naked In The Moonlight: We had the park pretty much to ourselves during our stay; I doubt if we saw ten other people including park rangers the whole time. The balmy weather allowed us to live in shirtsleeves during the day and the nights were just cool enough for a fire’s glow in the evenings. The moon waxed full in a cloudless sky. Mars and Venus were fully visible and stars blanketed the night.

So one morning I packed a picnic breakfast and woke Ginny at 4 a.m. for a beach walk under the full moon. We crossed the dunes to the Gulf side of the peninsula, stripped off our clothes, and strolled naked in the moonlight. I splashed surf on her and we danced on the sand.

Personally I envisioned a scene out of From Here To Eternity in the breaking waves but sharp shells, sand, arthritis, and common sense (her’s, not mine) prevailed -- so we dressed and ate breakfast as the moon settled over the Gulf and the sun rose over the bay.

I did quote some poetry to her from Lord Byron:

She walks in beauty as the night
Of cloudless climes and stary skys
And all that’s best of dark and light
Meet in her aspect and her eyes…

Birds We Saw: Ginny & I carried our binoculars and bird books as we strolled over the dunes and in the woods. On our first walk we encountered an American Bald Eagle which glared at us malevolently. We also saw quail, eastern phoebe, kingfisher, plover, red-bellied woodpecker, great blue heron, a huge flight of red-winged blackbirds, and several species of sandpiper, along with a host of other birds we could not identify.

Deer Hunting: On our drive over to the Florida Panhandle, we stopped in the town of Perry. I soon noticed that I was the only male in town who was not wearing camouflage gear. Hunting season had just opened. Rifles were evident everywhere.

Ginny & I decided to go hunting with our camera, the digital camera Donald gave us a few weeks ago.

We tramped through the woods for two days without seeing even a squirrel but one afternoon Ginny spotted a doe lying in the undergrowth and we got our photo. But before we left, the deer had become so accustomed to our presence that a herd of seven grazed right outside our cabin. We could watch them as we ate breakfast.

Snakes: We saw one water snake while in camp.

However while we were gone, another snake showed up at the door of Eve’s library. This time a patron who lifts weights saw the snake curled up at the door. The man went out to the trunk of his car, brought out a barbell and squished the snake with it. Eve should get hazardous duty pay for managing that library.

Speaking Of Books: I should go camping more often. While we were off in the piney woods, a bunch of people ordered copies of my books.

Thank you.

I really appreciate your interest and I hope you enjoy my writings.

Oh, the printer says that unless you want to pay for express shipping, book orders are best in by December 8th if you want on time delivery of any books you want to give for Christmas.

Two Odd Bits Of Human Behavior: In a restaurant in Perry we observed two interesting snippets of human behavior.

The waitress who took our order, a lovely young lady in her mid-twenties I suppose, wore a rather low-cut blouse. Whenever she spoke to a female customer in the crowded restaurant, she stood bolt upright; when she addressed a male, she leaned forward toward him. I’m sure the girl was entirely innocent and unconscious of her action, she was not at all flirtatious. But she looked like one of those bobbing birds that dip their beaks in a glass of water. It was really amusing.

As we ate a late supper, a local man entered the restaurant and spoke to the cashier. Together they went from table to table asking about a car in the parking lot; the man had hit it as he pulled in. Unable to find the owner at first, he borrowed a cell phone from a customer and called the police. Before they arrived, the woman who owned the car (she’d been fussing with her grandbaby and had not paid attention) realized that it was her car he had hit. They went out in the lot, looked at the damage and came back inside. She told her daughter, “Hell, he only knocked off a little chunk of the bumper. Forget it. No harm done”. The guy, who was apparently a stranger, sat at the table with them and ordered coffee. Perry doesn’t seem to be part of our litigatious society.

Spiritual Restoration?: One of our goals in taking this trip was to refresh ourselves spiritually. But, to tell the truth, the whole time we were gone I didn’t so much as open a Bible. I hardly gave God a thought except to be thankful now and then for this and that.

When Ginny and I returned to Jacksonville, we drove up to Five Points for supper. Park street was closed off being decorated for some holiday event, so people thronged the streets. Kids on skate boards whizzed all over. And sweet young lovelies paraded past in various states of dress and undress.

As we sat on a brick wall smoking after supper, an old man passed by and spoke.

“G’Evenin,”.he said.

“G’Evenin. Nice night,” I replied.

Where upon he fell to weeping. He threw himself into my arms hugging me and nestling against my shoulder as tears streamed down his face.

He told me he is dying and that he’s afraid of dying alone.

“Bet you’ve never had a black man cry on your shoulder a’fore,” he said.

Oddly enough, this is the second time this year this sort of thing has happened. If you’ve any idea how I cringe at being touched, you may credit a touch of divine grace in my being able to stand this stranger’s embrace.

Anyhow, here this man wept profusely in my arms as I rubbed his shoulders and cradled his head and soothed him. “I’m so scared to die alone. I got nobody,” he said.

I assured him that we all die alone. That Jesus is our only hope.

I told him that he probably knows more about Jesus than I do because he’s heard preaching all his life – but now it the time to give up fighting God and trust.

The guy eventually walked away muttering, “But I want to be forgiven. I want to be forgiven”.

Ginny and I do not know what to make of this. The same sort of thing happened up at Walgreens a couple of months ago.

Why is it that old dying black guys throw themselves into my arms? Why not some of the sweet young lovelies who were on the street?

I don’t understand at all.

After breakfast out Sunday Ginny and I came home and dabbled at our own projects around the house. As always after a time of intense intimacy, we need to distance ourselves a bit. So we ignored eachother all day. She worked in a different room and we hardly spoke but it is so good to know she’s there.

Anyhow, now it’s Monday morning. Ginny gets her hearing aid today. The kids are full of Thanksgiving plans and I need to clean the yard and get back to work on my Strangers manuscript. Vacation’s over. Damn it!

Oh, be sure to check out those photo links up top; we took Gin’s laptop and downloaded hundreds of pix but I’m just posting a few for the folks who asked what the park and cabins are like.

Another Oh – My foot precluded our taking that 18-mile hike I’d so looked forward to. For much of the time, Ginny & I sat in rocking chairs listening to the pine needles whisper in the wind and talking for hours and hours and hours. I left those crutches at home and used only my cane but the swelling in my foot is down and I was able to walk fine on the short tramps we could take….

It only hurts when I blog.

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 @ 8:20 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Closed Door, An Open Door

Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” but fortunately Ginny & I have this spy-peek hole thingy so we can see who’s out there. If it ain’t the Lord Himself, we are not opening our door to anybody for the next few days.

Once again Ginny did not get the promotion at work she applied for; the position went to a political appointee. In the past two years, they’ve appointed seven different bosses this way!

Each time, they’ve asked Ginny to train the person they appointed over her.

Grumble. Grumble. Grumble – not Ginny, me.

She’s a Christian type who believes that God has placed her where she works and she does her job as service to Him. And while she seeks advancement, she’s also content.

So she trains the new person as best she can.

Me, I wouldn’t even tell the turkey how to find the bathroom.

However, on the good side: Ginny is taking the next few days off work so she can nurse me and rub that lotion on my feet (what a turn-on!) and cook my favorite foods and cater to my every whim and fantasy.

Yes, I’m still enjoying ill health.

So for a week or so we’ve told the kids that we will not answer the door or the phone. We intend to hide from the world, get reacquainted, and recharge our batteries.

I am probably not going to post blog entries for a while either.

Depends on what bugs me and how bad.

On a different note, our librarian daughter is posting blog photos of her Roll Over And Read program; that's where they bring dogs into the library and kids having trouble reading get to read to a trained service dog. The results are astounding as the kid builds self-esteem and reading skills by reading to a non-critical, adoring audience.

I think that’s the coolest thing.

Eve’s site address is http://www.eveyq.blogspot.com/

She took us out to dinner last night and she’s tickled to be raising a bunch of money from sponsors of her walkathon for the American Diabetes Association. She claims that she’s walking as a tribute to Ginny and that all the charity funds raised are dedicated to fighting the disease.

I tried to talk her into cutting out the middleman by giving the donations directly to Ginny but she insists that they go to the Diabetes Association.


Just you look and see if we’ll open our door to her!

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 @ 5:56 AM

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ken & Barbie & Mary Magdalene

I got an e-mail from a stranger asking me to send $200,000.00 to a poor widow in Appalachia.

I didn’t do it.

Yesterday, my friend Ken discovered that Barbie scammed him out of several thousand dollars.

Earlier this week a woman in her 20s at Ginny’s office died abruptly; .

Last night Ginny knelt before me and soothed some moisturizing lotion onto my stinging feet.

These four things caused me to think about one of the most interesting women in the Bible, Mary Magdalene.

For years Ken, a generous young Christian gentleman, tried to help Barbie over a rough patch in her life. A long rough patch.

He’s “loaned” her thousands of dollars but now finds she has no intention of paying the money back as she promised.

He feels let down.

While trying to exercise Christian charity, he feels he’s been played for a sucker.

I told him that it is better to be conned by a scam artist than to let one genuine needy person go hungry. It’s God’s money and He can sort it out.

Ken and I talked for a long time about how we can best give to the poor and naturally the conversation turned to Mary Magdalene.

When the prostitute washed the feet of Jesus and anointed him with spikenard, one of the disciples objected saying that the lotion could be sold for $300 and the money used to help the poor.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone… you have the poor with you all the time and whenever you want to, you can do them good”.

Then He gave this woman the highest sort of commendation saying, “She hath done what she could”.

This story is told in Matthew, chapter 26; Mark, 14; Luke, 22; and John 13. The anointing of Jesus is one of the few incidents recorded in all four gospels.

Some Bible scholars question whether the lady’s name was actually Mary Magdalene; they question how the ointment could be both in an alabaster box and in a flask. Obviously these guys aren’t married. Ever seen Ginny’s cosmetics on her side of the dresser?

Anyhow, here’s my own paraphrase of the words of Jesus when he spoke about this woman:

Throughout the world, in every age, in every place, anywhere my story is told, her story will be told also. That’s her memorial.

Her act of love in washing His feet, anointing him with “an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious”, and drying his feet with her long hair strike a cord in our hearts. He said that she had done this aforehand to anoint his body for burial.

Yes, He knew full well that he faced crucifixion and burial.

The torture came as no surprise to Him.

Yet, He went ahead… for us.

And after we nailed Him down. After we stood the cross in its socket. After we mocked. After we stuck His dead body in a hole in the ground. After three days, the very first person to see Him after He shook off death and walked out of the grave… that person was Mary Magdalene.

There’s a tendency to think of Jesus as a local boy who made good as far as death is concerned.

That’s not what the Scripture says.

He is declared to be the very Son of God, the Prince of Life by His resurrection from death. He constantly said that He had deliberately come into this world to seek and to save the lost, to destroy the works of the devil, to give us abundant life, to forgive sin, to die and to take up His own life again…

Doesn’t sound as though He was from around here, does it?

I sometimes have a tendency to think that helping the poor is the most important religious thing we can do.

Not necessarily.

Giving a few bucks to the poor makes me feel important; big daddy feeding the big-eyed starving kid with the begging bowl. But Jesus said the poor are always with us and we can do good to them whenever we will. So paternalistic motives and nonsense aside, we should do it, but that is not the main thing.

Giving to the poor is such a tangible thing. I can see results; I can feel peeved when I don’t see results.

But the worship of the Lord Christ is not tangible. Over the ages all over the world many great artists have chosen Mary Magdalene as their subject. A Google search turns up about 6,000 images from every age and every place throughout the world. Sometimes the artists portray her in her prostitute days, sometimes they show her washing the feet of Jesus, sometimes they paint her as running to hug the risen Christ when she recognizes Him – that sort of painting sometimes caries the Latin quote, Noli Me Tangere – Don’t touch me or Don’t cling to me.

God is spirit and we are to worship him in spirit and in truth.

While giving to the poor is important, the more important thing is that I try to recognize Him as who He is, to honor Him in the way I act, to try to appreciate what He does for me, to pay attention to what He said – to face reality.

And yes, I should give cash money to help the needy; and yes, sometimes I’ll get conned out of that money. But if I am giving to God, using the poor as a channel of that giving, then it’s His money.

And if my few coins happen to fall through the cracks, that’s OK.

He can afford it.

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 @ 7:59 AM

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It Only Hurts When I Blog

Recently I’ve gotten virtually nothing done at my computer.

I need to keep my busted foot elevated. But the configuration of my desk, computer and chair forces me to work with my feet on the floor. So after just a short time spent typing, my foot begins to first tingle then ache. I can only stand to be at the computer for brief stretches… Besides that, I have little to say today.

I spend all my time trying to get comfortable. But that’s not easy. Heck, last night I had a hard time even watching Monday Night Football from my recliner.

Just before the game, Ginny discovered a nice surprise when she clicked onto our daughter Eve’s blog; Ginny found her own picture when she followed Eve’s link to the American Diabetes Association site. Eve is in one of those walk things and has dedicated her mileage to Ginny.

Me, I ain’t walkin’ no place till my foot gets better.

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 @ 4:57 AM

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Monday, November 07, 2005

I've Got A Secret

Medical Update: Well, doctor #2 says my foot is not as bad as doctor #1 said it was. Hurts just the same and the treatment is just the same whichever doctor is right. But I’m on the mend, more or less.

Post Secrets is updated every Sunday so every Monday I check out the Post Secrets website at http://postsecret.blogspot.com/ .

On that site a gentleman in Maryland displays postcards folks mail to him as they anonymously reveal some secret they’ve been keeping.

Some secrets are heart wrenching. Some are hilarious. All are fascinating.

Every time I look at these secrets they remind me of how I goof over the three things Jesus said we should all keep secret.

“When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”.

I suspect Jesus wants us to give in secret for two reasons. First, to save us from embarrassment. If other people really knew how little I give, I’d be ashamed. The pittance I give doesn’t amount to beans.

Saw a cartoon once of a guy talking with his pastor. Guy says, “I’m concerned about world hunger, about AIDS in Africa, about the homeless, about cancer victims and the plight of unwed mothers. I want to volunteer my help to relieve suffering, aid the needy, and spread the Gospel of light throughout the world. I’m free to volunteer between 2 and 4 p.m. every other Thursday”.

I identify with the cartoon guy.

I piddle about giving a buck or an hour here and there, now and then, when it strikes my fancy. I slip God a little pocket change … And I feel proud of myself for these pitiful acts of charity.

For Heaven’s sake! I’ve even written magazine articles about my own generosity.

But Jesus said we should keep our giving secret… it is really nothing to brag about.

I think the second reason Jesus said to keep our giving a secret is to emphasize that our faith is strictly between us and God. The Lord is real. Christianity is real. If I really have faith in Him, then there is no room or need for showboating. If I’m convinced that my relationship with God is real, valid, then there’s no reason to show it off to anybody else.

Dose that mean hiding my light under a basket?

No. People in darkness will see a light if there really is a light and they can tell the difference between a lighthouse and a glowworm.

Jesus also said, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray… to be seen of men. … When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”.

We are to give in secret and to pray in secret.


Those of us who are even remotely religious face a temptation to show off our religion. We support a whole bumper sticker industry! We want folks to know we are special… but when I boast of my own piety, I’m simply using Jesus to enhance my own reputation.

That’s not honest.

It's dumb.

Again, if folks knew how little I actually pray, I’d be ashamed of my lukewarm attitude toward God Almighty.

And again, if I really believe in the Unseen God, I don’t cheapen Him by displaying my own piety. It’s wise to pray in secret and to avoid public prayer. Want to pray? Go in the men’s room and lock yourself in a stall… Er, I don’t recommend kneeling to pray in that environment, sitting is ok.

But isn’t praying in the bathroom irreverent?

Why should it be?

Hasn’t God ever caught us with our pants down before?

Jesus said to keep my prayers secret.

Even if I boast to some poor slob, “I’ll pray for you”, the implication is that I’m above him in my own imagined spiritual hierarchy. The superior prays for the inferior. I’ve got this special in with God and my prayers count more than yours. Nayah. Nayah. Nayah.

But, if I really believe God hears my prayers, then I don’t need to make my prayers obvious to anybody else; God himself will make His answers to prayer evident…

Or don’t we believe that?

So, what do I do about praying in secret myself?

I believe in secret prayer so much that I wrote a book about it! A book that’s been translated into several languages and spread all over the world. No secret prayer for me.

No wonder I’m confused about prayer!

So, if Jesus said I should keep secret my giving and my praying, and instead, I’ve written whole books and articles on these very subjects, Where does that leave me?

Let’s not go there…OK?

Here’s another thing Jesus said to keep secret:

“When you fast, do not look somber… But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”.

To fast means to go without food in order to devote yourself to prayer, service or something else more important that eating.

When we do this, we should fast so that it will not be obvious to men…

Along with giving and praying, it should be kept secret.

I’m home free here!

I’m a winner on this one.

Look at a photo of me anywhere on my website or this blog.

Look at that photo close.

Go ahead, guess my weight.

Now, would anybody anywhere ever ever ever suspect how often I go without food?

This one secret thing out of the three that I’ve got down pat!

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 @ 8:31 AM

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Friday, November 04, 2005

The Pattern Of My Life

All day Thursday I lounged in my chair reading murder mysteries, napping and keeping my busted foot elevated. Looks as though this will be the pattern of my life for another week or so.

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 @ 7:58 AM

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Why Did This Happen To Me?

Remember how in Fredric Forsyth’s action thriller Day Of The Jackal the assassin smuggled the sniper rifle close to French President Charles deGaulle?

Well, I’ve got me a pair of those… not sniper rifle, but the camouflage device.

During my scheduled doctor’s appointment Wednesday, after we’d talked about important things, I decided to mention the board I dropped on my foot last week. The doctor had me remove my shoe. He has ordered that I keep all weight off my foot and do nothing for at least a week before seeing him again because he wants to consult a specialist over my x-rays. A cast or foot surgery may lie in my near future. The doctor wants me to use either crutches or a wheelchair until our next appointment.

Seems that I cracked a metatarsal lengthways.

This is a pain in the ass… and the foot.

I have other plans!

Being a person who looks for spiritual realities in everyday life I’m questioning why God would let such an awful thing happen to me?

Doesn’t He know that I’m one of the good guys?

Apparently not.

When a bad thing happens to me – like cracking a bone in my own stupid foot, for instance – I ponder five possible reasons it may have happened:

* 1. This happened to me because there is something God wants me to do – Like maybe He’s enforcing that I sit at my computer and finish rewriting Strangers instead of gallivanting about (which is how I busted my foot).

* 2. This happened because there is something God wants me to avoid – Like for instance, Ginny & I planned a trip to celebrate our 38th anniversary next week, but if I can’t drive then we may avoid killing someone on the road or being mangled in an accident ourseves. So perhaps God is using this bad thing to save me from a worse thing.

* 3. This happened to me as the natural consequence of my doing something stupid.—Like trying to carry four boards instead of one because I didn’t want the guys I was working with to think I’m a wimp so one of the boards slipped from my arms and whacked my own foot. Jesus saves us from our sin, not our stupidity.

* 4. This happened to me, not because of God, but because of physics and physiology – Like, put your foot on a concrete slab, raise a ?? pound board four feet in the air above your toe, and let it go. Board, concrete and foot all obey the laws of physics and physiology which God instituted at the foundation of creation. The board hurt my foot because I live in a created world where it’s my responsibility to move my foot.

* 5. Maybe this happened to me because God is punishing me for something. Now that could be. Heaven knows over the years (Heck, this past week) I’ve done enough stuff deserving of punishment. But I find it hard to imagine God resorting to a sort of celestial hot foot to put me in line; actions do have consequences -- but I just don’t see Him as that sort of person.

He looks at my aching foot and feels my pain.

He feels every pain we ever suffer.

He knows what it is to hurt.

He know how much an injured foot can hurt.

After all, both of His were nailed down.

His hands too.

And while my injury may be attributed to any (or all) of the five reasons I’ve mentioned above --numbers three and four seem especially prominent -- the pain Jesus suffered when he spread out his hands on the hard wood of the cross came about because of only one reason…

What do you suppose that reason was?

You’re right!

You’re absolutely right.

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 @ 6:32 AM

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Way James Bond and I Spend Most Days

One trouble with keeping a daily journal or posting on a blog every day is that during most of my days nothing much happens.

I sit at my computer and make corrections to my text which generates other corrections that need to be made. Yet 87 readers checked into this blog yesterday and I feel that I let you down if I don’t have something exciting to say.

But I don’t.

But what the heck. Even James Bond doesn’t save the world every day; he washes his socks every once in a while.

So here’s what I’ve been up to:

Enjoyed breakfast at Dave’s and a long conversation with my friend Wes then I resumed work on the Strangers manuscript.

I hope, God willing, to have this one ready to publish before Ginny and I leave on vacation but I doubt that I’m going to make that goal. A lot of the text has been previously published and even translated into several other languages so the work should go quickly. However, my computer ineptitude makes the work sluggish. Again, I battle headers, footers, gutters and all those details I normally don’t even think of while writing.

This sort of work represents a new discipline and I feel clumsy doing it. I think that learning new skills stretches my mind – too much. Ruts are so much more comfortable.

A week or ten days ago, while moving some yard stuff, I dropped a board on my foot. A dumb thing to do. This hurt a bit at the time, but has not bothered me until Monday when my toes began to turn black. I’d almost forgotten about it. But yesterday the pain flared up. Puzzling. Why would the thing wait a week to really start hurting? Makes no sense.

In other family news: Monday, Ginny was interviewed for a promotion she applied for; we’ll see what happens there. And our librarian daughter is now regularly posting on her own blog at http://www.eveyq.blogspot.com/ I really enjoy her postings, but then I would. I’m her dad.

How come James Bond never drops a board on his foot?

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 @ 5:51 AM

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween Was Slower Than Expected

Last night fewer children showed up at our door for Halloween treats than ever before. I suppose Monday’s being a school night may have something to do with it, or maybe it’s just the general graying of our neighborhood. Or perhaps parents are fearful of letting kids go our; we do have one registered sexual predator living on our block.

However, we had a great time with the kids who did come. Ginny & I set up tables and chairs and candles and such out in the drive. Ginny cooked one of her special stews and we ate our supper under the stars and greeted the children as they arrived.

The low turnout means we will have plenty of gift packets for next year. We’ll remove the candy from the packets and find something or another to do with it :-)

But we’ll be all set for the first 50 or so kids next year.

Fortune comes to the prepared.

Ginny took the afternoon off work to drive me for an eye exam to get new glasses. I am really looking forward to being able to see better.

We stopped for lunch on the deck at Harpoon Louie’s where we lingered talking and watching a white crane spear shrimp in Fishweir Creek. We could get used to such fine living.

In the morning I did actually get a little work done formatting the next book, Strangers On The Earth, but an elderly couple from the neighborhood dropped by to chat for no apparent reason that I could discern. Neither can read or write which severely limits our conversations, but for some reason they just wanted to be with me for a while.

So all in all Halloween turned out to be a slow day; I hope Tuesday is even slower. That’s how I accomplish so much in life: I start slow, then I taper off.

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 @ 6:21 AM

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