Rabid Fun

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

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Closing The Book On 2005

It’s time to close the book on the past year.

Looking back over past blog entries to see what I’ve acomplished, I see that I’ve done a lot of yard work and washed a lot of dishes. That’s about it.

One thing that pleases me is that back in May my book on prayer was translated and published in the Indonesian language under the title, Mengapa Doaku Tidak Dikabulkan.

Isn't that a cool title!

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

The same day I learned of the book’s publication, riots broke out in Jakarta, the American Embassy was attacked, and a market frequented by Christians was bombed killing many people. All this in the immediate aftermath of the Tsunami which killed 175,000 people in Indonesia alone.

In all that turmoil, I hope my little book brought some comfort to someone.

Mengapa Doaku Tidak Dikabulkan -- in English that’s “I’m Confused About Prayer” or “Why Don’t I Get What I Pray For?”. The Indonesian publisher’s website is http://www.perkantas.org/ . English copies are available on-line at http://www.bluefishbooks.info .

The book takes a humorous approach to problems I myself have with praying. I really hope it contributes a modicum of peace to readers who have just about given up on God.

As far as my book sales in the U.S.A. are concerned, I can proudly announce that for the 48th week running, my books have ranked number 82 on the New York Times Book Review’s Worst Seller List!

Eat your heart out, Stephen King.

So, I’d like to close the year out with a poem. I wrote it years ago but for some reason it’s been running through my head today:

Today I Killed A Unicorn

Today I killed a unicorn.
It was a silver little beast,
No bigger than an inch,
With tiny wings of feathers on its back.

It lighted on the pages
Of an ancient book I’m reading,
And it pranced a stately gallop
Up and down the printed lines.

I watched the little creature
As it roamed across the pages,
Then, with greatest care,
I slammed shut the ancient book.

I hate unicorns!

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 @ 6:40 AM

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Wind and Spirit

When Ginny and I were on vacation, our cabin stood next to a stand of pine; we often sat in porch rockers and listened to the wind whisper though pine needles.

We walked and heard the wind rasp sand along the beach.

I have heard the wind moan and whistle through the columns of a deserted church at midnight.

I have heard the howl of a hurricane and the roar of a summer storm.

I have heard the wind snap a flag and ding the rope against the flagpole.

I’ve heard leaves rustle in the wind and watched beards of Spanish Moss sway among the oak branches

And I have heard the silence of falling snow …

And drifting fog.

Yesterday, as my friend Barbara and I sat talking in the backyard, we heard the wind moving through a stand of bamboo.

Barbara said, “The sound the wind makes depends on the material it moves through”.

That explains a lot.

Jesus once told a man, “You should not be surprised at my saying, you must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit”.

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 @ 5:46 AM

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Friends, Photos, Family & Phone Calls

Wednesday my friend Wes took me out to breakfast where he showed me some photographs he had taken of a shipwreck uncovered by waves and tides back in 1985. We have a few hints that this was a famous Spanish-American War vessel but I want to do a bit of research to confirm the facts before posting the pictures on www.cowart.info .on a future date.

Remember the tale about the Christmas anvil I told yesterday? Well, I inadvertently gave Wes an even worse gift. He collects old medical books and a few months ago I ran across a tattered, coverless book with no title page in a thrift store. It cost a dime. Seeing it was a medical book I snatched it up and last week I wrapped it and presented it to my friend as a present representative of my generosity and thoughtfulness.

Yesterday Wes informed me that the book I gave was not a medical book at all – or rather, it is a medical book but it was written for veterinarians!

Hey, medicine’s medicine ain’t it?

Anyhow, he got a good laugh at my chagrin.

I’m ashamed to have wasted a whole dime on this gift for him. Just you wait till next year!

In the evening Ginny & I drove to Office Depot to shop for an executive calendar/planner for her. She examined dozens of them carefully before choosing one she can live with for a year.

Over our supper at Denny’s we talked for a long time about sex and marriage. Every time I mention my own temptations in this blog, I receive a number of private e-mails from folks concerned about the same things. For several weeks now I’ve been mulling over a post about my views on the subject but my own thinking is too jumbled to write about it yet. So we talked about reality in marriage at length. Perhaps soon after the first of the year, I’ll know what it is I want to say and how to say it. I don’t want to give snap, glib answers because it seems so many people’s happiness is intertwined with sex.

And, No. Rest assured, when I write my post ,I will not reveal anything other people have asked about in their private e-mails.

Our kids have often urged us to write a book on happy marriage… we tried once but floundered because we’re not sure what it is that we’re doing right and whether or not the things that work so well for us would help other couples.

O, by the way, Ginny’s new hearing aid must be working right – yesterday morning, for the first time in five or ten years, she said, “Oh, John, would you hush up”.

This is a problem we’ll have to address – I know, I’ll hide her batteries.


I have trouble distinguishing opportunity from temptation.

Two weeks ago I learned of the chance to volunteer to care for a gentleman, an atheist, dying of cancer. He needs round-the-clock care in his home and a number of his friends from a local church take turns staying with him a night or two each week. I could join this group of helpers if I choose to.

But I already feel stretched to the limit trying to finish the books I’m working on. My books could possibly nudge some reader closer to Christ – or not. Caring for this sick guy may—or may not – help him.

I’m the kind of writer who uses any excuse to keep from writing. So I wonder if my inclination to join the gang helping this guy is a temptation to avoid the work I’m supposed to be doing; or is this a legitimate call of God for hand’s on service.

I’m well aware that I can’t write Christian if I don’t live Christian.

And the woods are full of fine Christian writers; on the other hand, the woods are also full of Christians who wash out bedpans. Both serve Christ equally, but where do I fit in?

Another factor that Ginny points out is that my own physical limitations may make me unable to care for the guy as well as I should; he needs to be lifted between wheelchair and bed, etc.

I think I’m willing to do either service for the Lord. But, like I said, I can’t tell if this is an opportunity of a temptation.


This evening I enjoyed a long phone chat with Donald. He’s doing something technical with our dedicated computer server. He’s been making movies and he’s enthusiastic about his one site where people write down their dreams and other people comment – like a dreamblog, I suppose. His address is http://www.dreamlibrary.org/

I could not believe that really over 100,000 readers have spent at least ten minutes on my website this year so I asked him to verify the Webalizer statistics. He did and they do.


Ginny says, “That means there are a lot of people with waaay too much time on their hands”.

I’m definitely going to hide her batteries.

Donald also discovered that if you do a Google search for Pool Boy, Socks the number one listing is – ME! Isn’t that a hoot?


Ginny’s Mom and Dad called right after I hung up the phone from talking with Donald. They spent Christmas with other family in Virginia and they tell us that Ginny’s little brother, the lawyer, and his wife sold their home for – get this -- $150,000 more than their asking price. Potential buyers got into a bidding war over the place.

All the family up north had a very nice Christmas. But not one of them got a ten cent veterinarian book for a present.


Right after they called, I talked with my friend Barbara to ask her out for breakfast tomorrow. The chemotherapy/radiation treatments seem to offer a bit more hope for her daughter this week.


This morning PatH also phoned. She’s the near-blind lady I tried to help set up with her own blog on December 15th, the lady who can’t spell chew-wah-wah dogs. I must have screwed up something or another because her own site locked her out until today. Then for no apparent reason, it let her in again and now she’s able to post. Pleased give her a welcome to the blog world; her site address is http://pjsdoghouse.blogspot.com/


O, one last medical/phone thing:

This afternoon my friend Bernice called. She trains new nurses at a local medical facility. In the wee small hours of Christmas morning this one new nurse had the first patient in her care to die.

This understandably upset the young lady.

Bernice assured her that the patient, a 90+ year old man, had received the very best in compassionate care.

“But,” the young lady cried, “Isn’t it bad luck to die on Christmas”?

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 @ 1:23 PM

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Gifts Of Love

Tuesday I looked forward to an outing with my youngest daughter but that fell through and while I was casting around for alternative plans, I half-listened to a local radio station.

Apparently the disk jockeys had asked people to call the station to tell about the worst Christmas gifts they had received. One caller told about a six-pack roll of paper towels attached to a subtle note about cleaning her kitchen. Another caller said a co-worker gave her a statue of copulating frogs.

Now remember, I was making phone calls and such with the radio providing background noise, so I can’t remember the exact words, but one lady’s voice caught my attention and her conversation went something like this:

“The worst Christmas gift wasn’t something I received,” she said, “But something I gave”.

“What was that?” the announcer asked.

“I gave my husband a 55-pound anvil”.

“A 55-pound anvil”?

The lady said that she asked her husband what he wanted for Christmas and he circled a number of things he’d like to have in the Home Depot catalog.

She browsed through the catalog perusing the things he had circled and decided to buy him an anvil.

As anyone who has been married a long time knows, there is no telling why your spouse wants anything and it’s best not to ask because you won’t understand why they want it even when they explain (Case in point, why Ginny once wanted a paper shredder for our wedding anniversary!).

So the radio lady drove to Home Depot, bought a 55-pound anvil. She had a store employee put it in the trunk of her car.

At home she found someone to help carry the anvil to the backyard and hide it in the bushes.

On Christmas Eve, she got more help lugging the thing into the living room and putting it under the tree.

Christmas morning her husband saw this anvil and asked, “Why in the world did you get an anvil? What am I supposed to do with that thing?”

“But you had that circled in the Home Depot catalog as something your wanted”!

“I certainly did not! Why would I want an anvil?”

“But you had it circled”.

She brought out the catalog to show him … it seems he had circled his wish list with a felt-tipped pen and when he circled a toolbox on one page, the circle bled through to the anvil on the next page!


Our kids lavished gifts on us this Christmas.

Jennifer and Pat presented me with some Jesus Of Nazareth chewing gum and tee shirt which says: I Used To Be Schizophrenic But We’re Okay Now.

Eve and Patricia gave me a world globe made of stones from each different country. They also baked scads of cookies and pies for the feast.

Donald gave me a tee shirt picturing Godzilla (as a reminder of my Glog book) and this upgraded computer. On the package containing the tee shirt, he fastened an old artist’s paintbrush from the days when I used it to paint pictures as a street-preaching tool and his card said, “Same Street Preaching – World Wide Canvas”.

This refers, I suppose, to my website which, according to the Webalizer counter software, has drawn 100,898 readers from 85 countries so far this year. That outreach would not have been possible were it not for Donald’s constant help and encouragement all year long.

Ginny and I did not exchange gifts this year. Sometimes we do, sometimes not.

The main thing is that we are on the receiving end of a lot of love.

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 @ 6:11 AM

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rusty Pipes

Monday, after meeting the kids for breakfast,, I took Ginny to see a pipe of rusty pipes.

Hey, you can take any ‘ol gal to the yacht club, but you only take your True Love to the really special places.

I’d seen these pipes when I drove to the cemetery Christmas Eve and I wanted to show Ginny these beautiful rusty pipes.

Construction crews unearthed these along Riverside Avenue and dumped them as trash to be hauled away. Although the workmen probably didn’t notice, they inadvertently created a spot of unintentional beauty, of what – to my eye -- is organic art. And I wanted to share it with Ginny.

Who else would take her to see such lovely things the day after Christmas?

Ginny picked up an embossed brick as a souvenir of the place.

We prowled amid the debris for an hour or so relishing the odd shapes and textures and contours as we snapped photos of the city in the background :

Ok. Ok. I know this is nothing but a trash pipe – but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and with Ginny beside me, even a trash heap become a garden of beauty.

Recently I’ve had a couple of dizzy spells and troubling spots of forgetfulness. At the breakfast buffet this morning I picked up a bowl of grits, put it at my place then went back to the counter for something else and returned with another bowl of grits. I knew there was something off kilter but I couldn’t put my finger on it till I got back to the table to find I had picked up two bowls of grits – that’s a bit worrisome.

And just a week or so ago, Donald and Helen came over and taught me how to do a computer thing I needed to do in order to edit the manuscript I’m working on. But when I tried it last week I’d forgotten how to do the things they taught me and I feel embarrassed to ask again.


Whenever I’m not befuddled, I’m just plain fuddled.

I was hoping that I would mellow as I aged, but I fear I’m just curdling and getting more and more sour.

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 @ 6:29 AM

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Peace On Earth And Good Will Toward Everybody Who Goes The Hell Home After The First Nine Hours Of Visiting!

Christmas Day I got so tired and irritable I snapped at everybody.

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 @ 6:11 AM

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve At The Cemetery

Merry Christmas!

First, I can’t resist one more cartoon from Reverend Fun:

Sometimes I don’t understand why I do the things I do.

Among my other activities on Christmas Eve I drove out to the cemetery where my mother, father and grandmother are buried to tend their graves.

This is my practice every Christmas Eve but I don’t know why I do it.

There is no physical need. the gravediggers maintain the cemetery without fault. Nevertheless, I carry out a rake, trimmer and broom to spruce up the graves.

There is no spiritual need. It is appointed unto man once to die and after that, the judgment. Once people go where they go, they’re there. When Christ returns for us, those already dead will leap to meet Him, and if we’re still living we’ll join the throng. So, I’m convinced that whether our bodies lie in a beautiful cemetery, or in a mass pit, or have been lost at sea and eaten by sharks, or burned in a crash – The God who called all molecules together in the first place is perfectly able to reassemble them.

Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. And hath given him authority to execute judgment also. Because he is the Son of man.

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation”.

So even though I feel there is no need to pray for the dead, in actuality, I do it.

Doesn’t everybody?

Neither, do I feel there’s any need to talk to the dead – although, in actuality, I do that too. I sit by my parents’ grave smoking my pipe and telling them a bit of what’s been going on in my life. There’s no need for this. The Scripture hints that the dead are aware of what’s going on among the living; they are in that great cloud of witnesses, sitting on the 50-yard line cheering for us to make it. I believe this, but I sort of mentally talk to my parents at the graveside.

So, if there’s no physical need, and no spiritual need for me to visit these graves each Christmas Eve, then I wonder why I do it?

I’m not aware of any emotional need within my self for this practice. I did what I could for my parents while they lived. All said and done, we parted on good terms. I don’t particularly miss them or anything like that. So I wonder why I practice visiting their graves each Christmas Eve.

And I can’t come up with an answer.

It’s one of those things -- like so much in my life -- that I do because I do 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 @ 7:19 AM

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Some Christmas Treats

Well it’s Christmas Eve and unless you’d like to read about how I crawled around under the car yesterday working on the radiator, I have nothing else to write about – except a few of my favorite cartoons.

Every once in a while when I need a lift I visit some of the hundreds of cartoons in the archives of Reverend Fun at http://www.reverendfun.com/artchives/

I never fail to find something to make me laugh out loud, Here are a few of my favorites:

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 @ 4:44 AM

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Friday, December 23, 2005

A Profound Thought For Christmas:

For the past hour or two I’ve been casting about in my mind for something profound to say in my blog – I got nothing. Even though I’m noted for writing at length even when I have nothing to say, today I’ll avoid that vanity and leave you with a single profound thought for Christmas:

Teacher says, “Every Time A Bell Rings, An Angel Tinkles”.

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 @ 4:50 AM

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Depression At Christmas Tide

I am older than my father.

I’ve already lived more years than he had when he died.

As Christmas approaches, I think of my parents often. I remember Christmases past and the things I remember strongest are the disappointments – not how I felt disappointed but how I disappointed people I cared about.

The one phrase I remember most our of my childhood is “John, I’m so disappointed in you”. My Dad really wanted me to succeed as a truck driver and told me how disappointed he was that I never made the grade. My Mother’s greatest fear was that I would embarrass her.

And I did.

As Christmas approaches I recall how often I’ve disappointed others in my life. From my oldest son to my youngest daughter, I keenly feel how I’ve failed them, slighted them and not lived up to their expectations. And around Christmas, my mind dwells on these things.

Like that time back when we were poor and my teenaged son Johnny wanted a guitar so bad he could taste it. With a guitar he felt he could be such a hit with his high school crowd. He knew he would win girls and influence girls if he only had a guitar.

Well, times were hard back then. The winter was hard. My job was hard. Keeping the family afloat was hard.

Everything got hard but me.

But Johnny needed that guitar, so I prowled the pawn shops at Eight and Main till I found one I could afford. It cost ten dollars. Ten dollars was all I had in the world.

When the man took it down from the wall I found that it was a five-string guitar, but there were only three strings on it. The pawnshop man told me he could sell me a pack of guitar strings for an additional ten dollars.

But I didn’t have another ten dollars.

I paid for the guitar thinking I’d be able to buy the strings after payday – but my next payday wouldn’t be till after Christmas.

So I ended up giving my son a guitar with no strings.

I remember how his face lit up when he saw that guitar under the tree; and how his face fell when he realized he couldn’t play it. Oh, he was thankful and appreciative and said it was alright and that he’d wait till payday came …

But at one time or another I’ve seen that same expression on the faces of virtually every person whose path crossed mine in life. My parents, my children, my first wife, my teachers, my bosses, my friends – and, sometimes I imagine God Himself, has worn that expression.

The biggest fear in my life is that someday Ginny will come to her senses and realize what a disappointment I am; I fear that people who read my books and stuff will suddenly realize what a fake I am.

I worry that I will be found out. Uncovered. Exposed.

Then I realize that I am not the center of other peoples’ universes.

Instead of being shocked at me, they are most likely to just say, “O, that’s just John” and move right along with their lives undisturbed.

I am not alone with my annual Christmas depression.

Yesterday morning Jacksonville’s sheriff was on the radio saying that this time of year traffic deaths increase 18%. Heavy drinking increases. Suicides increase. Family squabbles and domestic battery increases. Depression increases.

Besides that, there are dozens of Christmas songs that trigger depressing feelings. You’ll be bobbing along to Sleigh Ride when the radio switches to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and the load drops.

What are we to do about such depression?

Sometimes about the only thing we can do is pray the prayer of Ziggy:

That helps.

Another thing that helps me when my mind tracks with depressing thoughts is to say the word STOP! Right out loud. Or silently if I have to. That halts the negative thought train and I can deliberately switch it to another track.

I also try to think about why Christ came into this fallen world – to seek and to save the lost, to give us abundant life, to destroy the works of the devil, to help us beat whatever’s got us licked.

He came to make us accepted in the Beloved.

Yes, we’ve disappointed others. Mostly we’ve disappointed our own high opinion of ourselves…

That hurts.

But someday mobs of people, thousands of thousands and ten thousands of ten thousands of people from every tribe and tongue and kindred and nation on earth will stand before the throne of God to hear him say, “Well done, you good and faithful servants”.

There is a chance – an excellent chance because Christ is good at what He does-- that you and I will be back there in Row 832, Section G-7, cheering right along with all those others.

Yes indeed, whatever else it does, Christmas reminds us of hope.

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 @ 8:15 AM

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Crisis of Belief & An Old Temptation

Monday night Ginny chipped a tooth as she brushed her denture.

Tuesday she visited the dentist for repairs. This afternoon, she can pick up the repaired bridge with a new tooth installed.

This makes me think about the Tooth Fairy, God, and Santa Clause.

Every year parents struggle with the question of what to tell their kids about Santa: is he real or ain’t he real.

When our kids were little, we never had that problem. From the start we told our kids that Santa was a legend that we pretended was real because it was so much fun. So, as far as I know, there was no crisis of belief when the kid questions whether the parents have been lying about everything previously believed.

I rather suspect that the root of most religious skepticism lies not in intellectual process but in disappointment. Yes, I spent much of my youth in the atheist/agnostic camp. And the roots of my own skepticism lay in my finding out the truth about Santa. I remember thinking, “If Santa is not real, then God must not be real either; they’ve been lying to me all along”.

So I taught my kids that Santa is an old legend which we pretend is real because it’s so much fun.

I think they believed me.

On the other hand, they refused to believe what I tried to teach them about the Tooth Fairy.

I told them that when you loose a tooth, if you will put it and a quarter under your pillow, then in the morning both will be gone because the Tooth Fairy charges a quarter toll to haul old tooth away and cause a new tooth to grow.

I collected a lot of quarters till other kids corrupted their minds with false doctrine.

I like my version of the Tooth Fairy story up until now.

Ginny finds that to replace her missing tooth will cost us $106!

Maybe I should convert to the kids’ idea that the Tooth Fairy is the one who pays.


On a more serious note, I’m again being tempted to browse internet porn sites. I keep thinking of young women wearing santa hats and red skimpies; they’d make such a festive screensaver for my computer.

But, so far, I’m sticking with images of snowmen, decorated trees and such.

Nevertheless, I’m tempted.

Why is it that at a time when we celebrate the coming of God into the world, that I feel the holiday gives me some sort of license for self-indulgence?

I over eat, justifying my gluttony because it’s Christmas. I spend money I don’t have justifying the budget breaking because it’s Christmas. The other day I found myself standing in front of the wine section in the grocery story thinking about buying liquor when at any other time of the year I wouldn’t even notice the shiny bottles.

My Aunt Hazel, God rest her, once commented on something I said by observing, “John, you were born an old man”.

I suppose she was right.

That’s the story of my life – A Dirty Old Man Goes Bad.

Anyhow, the temptation to look at pictures of naked women has been a constant with me for most of my life and here approaching Christmas it’s particularly strong.

I haven’t indulged it recently – not because I’m strong-willed, Christ-centered, and virtuous -- but because I’ve been too damn busy to take the time.

But anyhow, for what it's worth, that’s where I am today.

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 @ 6:19 AM

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Exchanging Gifts With Bill & Melinda

If Time magazine's Persons of the Year Bill and Melinda Gates, the richest couple in the world, stop by our house this week with a Christmas gift for me, I’m ready for them.

Yes. Big Lots had chocolate covered cherries on sale for 99 cents a box; these make great retaliatory gifts.

You don’t know what I mean?

A retaliatory gift is when somebody you don’t expect to brings you a gift and you haven’t bought anything for them,so you run in the back room and bring out some generic trinket and say, “O I haven’t had time to wrap your’s yet” and give them something just to keep from admitting that you haven’t given that person a thought.

They give you a gift, so you retaliate with some gift of your own.

That way you can feel smug and equal.

You ain’t beholden to anybody.

You are a giver, not a receiver.

Ain’t in anybody’s debt.

You are a player.

Sound cheesy?

Well, yes it is.

But we all want to be superior givers, not humble receivers.

So when Bill and Melinda come over to deliver my Rolls Royce with the red bow on top, I’ll proudly hand them a box of chocolate covered cherries in exchange.

Sound ludicrous?

Absolutely ridiculous?

Maybe so.

But you and I do something like that all the time.

There is Someone who gives us a gift of great value, and we attempt to avoid the embarrassment of being receivers by trying to hand Him something or another in exchange – Like, maybe, a tube of Neosporin for those places on His hands.

What says the Scripture?

“By grace are ye saved through faith…. It is the gift of God,…”

But instead of receiving, instead of accepting His gift, all too often I feel proud and offer Him some trinket – “Here’s my life. I’m gonna live for Jesus from now on” –

When I do that, I feel as though I'm offering Him a box of chocolate covered cherries after I've already eaten half of them.

Why not simply say ‘Thank You” and enjoy His gift gratefully?

Isn’t that a bit more realistic?

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 @ 4:25 AM

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Monday, December 19, 2005

The Curse Of Laocoon

When the ancient Greeks attacked the city of Troy, they couldn’t get inside the walls so they made this hollow wooden horse filled with soldiers.

You know how that worked.

In Troy lived a seer named Laocoon who tried to warn the people not to bring that Trojan Horse inside the walls. He said:

Do not trust this horse, Trojans,
I fear the Greeks, even bearing gifts.

When everyone ignored his warning to Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, Laocoon got peeved and threw a spear at the horse.

This annoyed the god Poseidon who had a thing about horses, so he condemned Laocoon and his sons to an eternity of wrapping Christmas presents.

Thus the miserable trio remain forever entangled in miles of green and red ribbon, yards of wrapping paper too small for the packages, strips of Scotch tape that stick to every surface but the paper, and thousands of stick-on bows that have lost their stickiness..

About the year 42 B.C. the Rhodian sculptor Agesander carved a statue of Laocoon and his sons entangled in Christmas wrapping.

You can see that sculpture in the Vatican today:

Why does a vision of that famous statue stick in my mind?

Well, yesterday for SEVEN HOURS!!! I helped Ginny wrap Christmas presents.

Enough said?

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 @ 6:18 AM

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Joy Of Christmas Shopping

Heavy, pouring rain all day yesterday.

Ginny drug me out in it Christmas shopping.

I will not reveal the name of the store, but outside at the door a man stood tolling a bell...

And the quote inscribed above the entrance says:

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.

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 @ 3:59 AM

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Harried Preparations For Christmas

Ginny & I have been eating our emergency supplies all last week.

No. There’s not a hurricane. It’s just that nothing remains in our refrigerator except a pack of fish sticks and we have not been able to go grocery shopping.

You see, it’s only eight days till Christmas and I still have a few things to do:

  • I need to buy antifreeze, drain the car radiator and re-fill it.
  • Jennifer has a birthday next week.
  • Eve has a birthday next week.
  • I expect the church lady to call asking me to serve soup at the mission.
  • I need to clean my neighbor’s yard thoroughly because they’re hosting a family get together.
  • We have a closet full of presents to wrap.
  • Breakfast with Wes Tuesday?
  • Breakfast with Barbara Wednesday?
  • I’d like to get out to the cemetery and tend my parents’ graves.
  • Patty is coming home from college.
  • Luminary Night is Sunday.
  • I’d planed to have the current book manuscript ready to publish but I’m not finished formatting and editing.
  • I have to cut my hair before someone shoots me thinking he’s bagged a Yetti.
So, let’s see the first thing I have to do is…..

“Be still and know that I am God.”

O Sure.

I’ll add that to my list somewhere.

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 @ 6:20 AM

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Friday, December 16, 2005

The Things We Guys Suffer For Love

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”.

I’ve seen these words inscribed in stone above the entrance to a Post Office; they are a sort of unofficial motto for your mail man.

The Greek historian Herodotus first wrote these words concerning the postal system of the ancient Persians during the reign of King Cyrus, who is ,mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Esther by his Persian name, Ahasuerus.

Ahasuerus lived about 500 years before Christ.

Herodotus marveled that the Persians could get a letter from the Mediterranean coast all the way to India in only three days!

What brings this to my mind?

Well, Thursday morning Ginny wanted me to mail a Christmas package for her.

I spent three and a half hours just trying to get that package from my house – not to India -- but to the local post office!

Yes. My Beloved Wife actually sent me to a post office…

In December…

Just days before Christmas…

And here I thought she loved me.

Of course she needed the car to go to her office Christmas Party, so I went to a restaurant near the Post Substation to hang out till the window opened, then I walked down to the substation only to find a sign on the door saying it was closed due to a fire.

Ok. I’ll just walk to another substation in the other direction; it’s only about two miles… but I haven’t been there for a while so I’d better call ahead.

That substation was closed due to budget cuts.

So I walked back home carrying this dumb package Ginny wanted me to mail.

I called my daughter Eve for a ride to yet another Post Office.

No answer.

I called my daughter Jennifer. She was getting ready for a school program to help kids make gingerbread houses but she rushed by and drove me to a Post Office where less than 800 people stood in line.

Mostly guys.

Carrying packages.

The clerk asked me how soon I wanted the package to get there.

I told him I didn’t care if it ever got there as long as I didn’t have to carry it around anymore.

He asked me what was in the package –Flammables? Explosives?. Guns?

“I have no idea, my wife told me to come to the Post Office and mail it”.

“Oh,” he said, “The things we do for love”.

He’s obviously a married man too.

When I finally got back home, Eve called saying she’d got my earlier message off her machine and was sorry she missed my call but would I like to go to lunch?

She took me to a Chinese buffet and filled me in on what’s happening at her library. She’s spearheading a drive to cull duplicate books from the Jacksonville library system to restock libraries in town flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

She’s also involved in a project where people in her library knit warm afghans for an old folks home up in Wisconsin where they’ve been having a blizzard with sub-zero temperatures – and where, last week, according to the Chicago Tribune newspaper, in the town of Mauston, Mr. Ralph Hamm pulled out of his drive and hit an animal.

He got out of his car only to discover that he had run over and killed a kangaroo.

Yes, a kangaroo.

Now the burning question I have about that incident is why would anyone, even a yankee, go out of his house in a subzero blizzard?

The newspaper doesn’t say, but perhaps he was mailing a package for his wife?

We guys do crazy things for love. Once, back when I was young and dumb and unmarried, I actually drove Ginny to a shopping mall on Christmas Eve!

How insane is that!

And what happened as I drove her there was one of those things that are hilarious funny to read about but terrible embarrassing to live.

I wrote a piece about it called Warnings & Illicit Kissing On Christmas Eve.

Ah, yes, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… but going to a mall or a post office again before Christmas ain’t one of them.

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 @ 5:44 AM

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Blind Leading The Blind

Wednesday I helped a lady who is legally blind set up her brand new blog.

Considering that my own computer skills range all the way from cut to paste, this was a major undertaking.

It was a real life case of the blind leading the blind.

But we did get her registered and set up so she can begin her own postings.

If you’re inclined, drop in on her site and welcome her to the wonderful world of bloging in a comment box. Her site is called P&J’s Dog House and the address is http://pjsdoghouse.blogspot.com/ .

Her home is infested with those little yapping animals I call rats but Mexicans call dogs, and we laughed because neither one of us can spell Chihuahua. She needs to trade her five Chihuahuas in and upgrade to a seeing-eye German Shepherd that I’m not as likely to step on when I visit.

In the morning, my friend Wes called and took me to breakfast at Dave’s where he explained -- at length -- the system of Hebrew vowel points in the Massoretic text of the Old Testament comparing those with an engraved copy of the Decalogue in paeleohebraic script on a rock carving.

While he explained, I folded my napkin to look like a ducky.

Wes has a heart much bigger than his brain.

Back at my house we lit up our pipes and talked about the phrase “Glory to God in the Highest…”

I asked what it means to give glory to God and how do we do that???

Wes, who is an expert in Greek as well as Hebrew, used the English word phenomenal to explain:

Phenomenal is made up of two Greek roots, one has to do with mental activity, the other with physical activity.

Wes taught me that we glorify God first by our mental assent that God is who He says He is in the Bible. That’s what we believe in our hearts. Then our physical activities are to spring from that assent; that’s what we say with our lips and live in our lives.

In other words, we glorify God by both faith and works.

Trying one without the other is like trying to row with one oar, or to eat Chinese food with one chopstick.

And so the seraphim before the throne ever cry, Holy! Holy! Holy. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory, O Lord Most High”.

And the angels told the shepherds “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, Peace, good will toward men”.

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 @ 6:19 AM

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My Most Productive Day In Ages

Tuesday: No phone calls. No visitors. No friends. No family.

I edited 70 pages of text.

That was my day.

Since I have nothing worth saying, let me refer you to two people who have:

Last Sunday (12/11/05) my e-friend Big White Hat (http://bigwhitehat.blogspot.com/) posted a stimulating article touching on discipline for children. It was the third in a series of postings honoring his grandfather, Ozzie. This one generated over 30 comments as readers voiced their opinions. It’s worth checking out.

Also on Sunday Moogie (http://www.moogiesworld.com/index.php) did it again. I think her posting on ice scraping is the funniest video clip I’ve ever seen.!

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 @ 2:15 PM

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Spent The Day Eating

I spent Monday eating.

I called my friend Barbara and took her to breakfast at Dave’s. Her daughter has been diagnosed with a particularly virulent lung cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments but the outcome does not look hopeful.

Barbara observed that when we become aware that we have nothing to offer God, then we can offer that nothing, and He will accept it and use it to fill in empty spaces between threads in the tapestry He weaves.

As soon as Barbara left my house, Jennifer and Pat arrived. I took them back to Dave’s for lunch. They are gathering toys and goodies for a waif they’re sponsoring for Christmas. We talked a lot about bloging and Pat may start one soon.

When Ginny got home from work, I cooked supper for her and we talked over her day at the office before watching football…

Last week Ginny bought this nice box of chocolates as a gift for a coworker on her Christmas list. She had not wrapped them yet… They were delicious.

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 @ 5:40 AM

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Good Will Among Aliens & The Alienated

Saturday I balanced atop a rickety ladder to pull six to ten boxes of Christmas decorations down from the attic. Among the treasures I recovered was a large balloon which, according to a note on it, we’d put up there in 1997; after nine years it remained fully inflated.

Ginny & I decided to hang it up as our outside decoration this year. Usually we arrange a display in our yard, but we just lack the energy to try that this year so we are just going with the balloon. It’s shaped like a green, round-headed space alien and it carries a sign declaring “Earthmen Have Been Visited – Merry Christmas”.

In my mind this display hints at the Incarnation of Christ, God imposing self-discipline on Himself to come down to earth – you know, the sort of thing I wrote about in Friday’s blog. Ginny thinks my idea for a display is too esoteric to get across to most passers-by. She’s probably right, but like I said, we lack the energy to string exterior lights and do a more elaborate display. Besides, our decorations are for our own pleasure, who else pays attention?

Here’s a photo of some of our front yard decorations last year:

Now in this season of peace and good will, for some reason Ginny & I were at odds all day Saturday. It was one of those rare occasions when nothing I did pleased her and when I found her aggravating. Know how it is when you introduce a new kitten in the house to your established cat? Well, we circled our house like those two cats, observing the formal courtesies but estranged and leery of eachother.

I have no idea what caused this alienation. It’s easy to blame it on external circumstances. I’m antsy from being so far behind in my work; Friday she’d just finished writing the annual report in her office. We both feel that we’re treading in deep water just to meet normal daily obligations and duties so the added activities associated with Christmas overwhelm us… Or maybe, the tension was physical: her blood sugar being off; my sleep depravation…. Or maybe some demon picked today to goad us … Or maybe, we’re getting sour in our old age… Who knows?

It was one of those times when we had to say, “I love you forever, but I can’t stand you right this minute”.

You know, just part of the normal cycle of being in love but having to live under the same roof. (We’ve observed that there is a cycle to that rhythm of life).

Anyhow, we acknowledged that we were having a bad day where we were not meshing as usual, and we moved on from there.

In the evening we watched a video tape of O Brother Where Art Thou and enjoyed it thoroughly.

When we woke up Sunday morning the tension was gone and we resumed our normal intimacy. Ginny arranged our manger scene (We’d bought that when our honeymoon began almost 40 years ago and in all that time only one piece got chipped) while I played with toy soldiers beside the tree.

I also added to the festive atmosphere of our home by gracing the bust of Shakespeare on the bookcase with a Santa hat.


We sorted presents and wrapped a few while listening to Christmas music and enjoying flickering candles. We ate lunch at a yuppie sandwich shop where we paid more for soup and a sandwich than we normally pay for a full dinner at a real restaurant (never going there again). We shopped for groceries and a few additional presents. We watched football on tv snuggled under one blanket with her head nestled on my shoulder.

So maybe it is the season of peace and good will among couples, and Saturday we just hit a Grinch glitch.

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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Saturday, December 10, 2005

I Need To Buy A New Tux

I’ve won an award!

Yes because of my debonair charm, keen wit, masculine physique, handsome face and great humility, yesterday the Academy notified me that I am a recipient of a 2005 Wise Funky Blogger Award.

Actually, what the e-mail said was, “You made it into my Wise, Funky Bloggers post! If you want the code to post your award on your blog, e-mail me using the link on my blog! Cheers!”

But I’m sure an awards banquette must be scheduled. Searchlights will sweep the sky. Red carpet rolled to the curb. Photographers will flash bulbs in my face as my limo driver opens the door for me and Ginny (She can wear that low-cut blue thing with no back)…

I’ll modestly strut to the podium amid thunderous applause, straight-up cool as I always am, while starlets swoon and losers who did not win an award bite chunks out of their Champaign glasses…

I have my acceptance speech already written:

Ladies & Gentlemen, I want to thank the academy, Ms Funky Bugs, and the United States Department Of Agriculture Food Stamp Program for enabling me to be here tonight…

To read the entire Press Release concerning my prestigious award, please visit the Wisdom of Funny Bugs at http://funkybug.blogspot.com/

And under my United Bloggers’ Union contract, Funky has to pay for the limo, Champaign and my tux…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 @ 5:00 AM

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Friday, December 09, 2005

A Long Post About Two Things Occupying My Mind Recently

Well, it’s Friday already and I still haven’t finished Monday’s 2do2da list. I’ve stayed busy all week but have accomplished little.

Story of my life.

Two things have occupied my thoughts recently:

A few months ago I decided to stop clicking on internet pornography sites to look at girly pictures. So far, so good. But I’m being tempted to return to that practice.

What is it about the Christmas season that makes me want to lower my own standards and look for license? Observing the incarnation of God into the world should make me grateful to Him, but instead I’m tempted to celebrate the season by cutting loose to look at girls in (or out of) red flimsies.

I’ve been told that mature Christian men out grow such adolescent fantasies, but you couldn’t prove that by me. Apparently I’m a 67-year-old man with the mental outlook of an 11-year-old boy.

I have not given in to the temptation yet, but knowing my own history with temptation – I have rarely been tempted to do anything that I eventually didn’t do it -- .I’m not guaranteeing anything.

But at the moment, this bugs me.

At the other end of the spectrum, I have also been thinking about the essential nature of God. (Hey, my mind works that way).

At breakfast Monday, my friend Barbara mentioned something about God being “Wholly Other” and I’ve been thinking about that.

God is unique. That is there is nothing else like Him. He is one, complete in Himself, and therefore He is not exactly like any other being in, or beyond, the universe.

He is Creator, all the rest of us are creatures of His making.

Men, roaches and archangels have more in common with each other than we have with Him. He is Creator; we are all created entities.

Yet, in creating us, He apparently stamped nature with some hints as to His own nature and character. The majesty of thunderclouds, the power of the tornado, the potential of an egg, the wings of a butterfly, the protective coloration of a caterpillar, the love shared by man and woman, the splendor of an angel, the thoughts of the human mind – all these dimly reflect some element of the One who created all.

He is above all and in Him we live and move and have our very being.

That’s scary.

For one thing it means He’s big.



I don’t picture the Incredible Hulk when I think of God, but that’s close.

In a way I think of when I go downtown and stand at the base of a skyscraper and tilt my head way back and look up; even though I’m standing on solid pavement, I feel as though I’m falling and I get dizzy.

God scares me because He is so big. He holds all the universe in His hand as though it were no bigger than a peanut.

He makes me feel fragile.

I don’t think my view is uncommon.

Remember for yourself one of those times when you felt close to God in your own experience. Regardless of the circumstances, I suspect that you felt some of the same things that I felt.

In my own 67 years, I can only remember a few times when I’ve felt particularly aware of God’s presence. These experiences were almost overwhelming and I feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, even remembering them much less speaking about them.

Oddly enough, only one of these occasions occurred in a church service. Once it happened when I was a kid in my bedroom, once when I was out camping in the woods, once when I saw a girl in a yellow dress, and once when I was dissecting a pig in a biology class.

Odd places to encounter God.

Whatever works for you.

My experiences probably have a few things in common with your own:

While I felt a fear of God, I also felt a strange attraction to Him. I was afraid but at the same time, there was an incredible sweetness. I wanted this awareness of Him to never end.

Was it that way for you too?

I became keenly aware of my own unworthiness, insignificance, uncleanness – not for particular things I’ve done, but just in the light of His holiness. I felt as though I was someplace I didn’t belong – but I was being welcomed anyhow.

Know what I mean?

Now I’m a guy with all sorts of questions, complaints and problems, but during those time I felt aware of being in God’s presence, all that stuff faded into insignificance. No questions were worth asking. No complaint worth voicing. No problem worth discussing. The only thing that mattered was God Himself; nothing else counts.

So here I was, a worm and no man, in the presence of the Almighty, yet I felt loved, accepted in the Beloved, welcomed. And this felt overwhelming, that the Mighty God cared about me. The King of the Universe really cares.

That’s a hard thing to get over, isn’t it?

Now, I’m thinking about the incarnation, that the Creator of the universe, King of Kings and Lord of Lords cares about us.

He sees that we’ve scrambled the eggs He gave us, and He reduced Himself to become a human baby to come into this world and unscramble the mess we’ve made and are helpless to unscramble ourselves.

Somehow I envision the Incredible Hulk in a straw manger.

Yes, in the incarnation, the Lord God emptied Himself of some of His prerogatives, focused His scary immensity into a tiny baby – nothing to be scared of – and came to seek and to save the lost.

So the angels told the shepherds, “Don’t be scared… it’s only a baby”.

Then … well, you know the rest of the story as well as I do.

But there is one other thing I recall about my own experiences of being aware of the wholly other God. I was aware that the scary, sweet bliss I felt would not last. I knew that I was only seeing a temporary glimpse for that moment, that the real, permanent awareness of God still lies far ahead.

Meanwhile there remain bills to pay, phone calls to make, oil to change, leaves to rake, people to love (or at least tolerate), Christmas presents to buy --Yes, in Him we live and move and have our very being – but we do that here and now.

So I need to spend this day catching up on Mondays list -- and not clicking on porno sites.

Lord, please 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 @ 10:12 AM

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Another Happy Day

Wednesday morning as I was fixing up my matchbox for the season, the girls, Eve, Jennifer & Pat, called inviting me out.

We drove way out in the boondocks to another town and ate a delightful lunch in a country dinner. Then we went for a long crisp walk in the piney woods, along a boardwalk over a Cyprus swamp, and around the border of a spring-fed lake.

Ginny got off work early to have her hearing aid adjusted by a computer then we went Christmas shopping and out to supper at a favorite restaurant where we managed to hit at an off hour. So the two of us took a booth usually designed for six. We spread out, lounged and talked for about two hours enjoying the Christmas lights and overhearing the banter of the waitresses who had little else to do.

We plan to give those ladies a little something extra for Christmas… maybe an autographed copy of one of my books with a green bookmark.

Ginny & I discussed that new animal just discovered in Indonesia. Google news has been full of it for the last couple of days; it’s the third major new species discovered by western scientists in the past year. They are calling this one a Bornean Carnivore. Somehow this discovery brings Glog to my mind. Who knows what creatures live unseen among us? Space is hardly the last frontier; I think that is right here on earth.

Oh. About my matchbox…

For the outside cover I pasted on a picture of Santa with toys by a Christmas tree; inside the cover is a young lady in red … She’s wearing tassels, so I guess she must be an elf.

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 @ 6:02 AM

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christian Ornaments

In upgrading from my old computer system to this one, I fell behind in reading the blogs I regularly track, but yesterday I played catch up and discovered a delightful treat at the December 3rd posting on Moogie’s World ( http://www.moogiesworld.com/index.php ) under the heading Christmas Lights.

I turned my speaker volume all the way up and gleefully clapped my hands as I played this video clip four times back to back. Then when Ginny got home from work, she played it twice.

Great fun.

I’m delighted!

It’s a clip of Christmas lights flashing in time to a happy tune and it just blew me away… Then I watched the evening news on tv.

Two nearby towns are involved in a squabble and someone is initiating lawsuits over whether or not to display a Manger Scene, a Menorah, and a Holiday Tree in a public park.

This sort of things appears to have become a national issue while at the same time here in Jacksonville vandals have attacked and destroyed various Christmas displays in private yards.

Now it seems that some people in my community are up in arms over these Christmas trappings. They seem to regard holiday decorations not as emblems of seasonal fun but as essential symbols of faith.

But if, as the Bible says, God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth, then what exactly marks that?

What did Jesus say would indicate whether or not we are His followers?

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye decorate trees in your homes and put Ten Commandment plaques in your courthouses, if ye sport fish outlines on thy bumpers and wear crosses around thy necks, if ye place manger scenes in your parks and sleighs on your roofs, if ye erect crosses on your watertowers and play Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer on your radios, if ye…

Maybe I’m not quoting this Scripture exactly word for word; let me look it up in my concordance… Ah, yes, here it is in John’s Gospel, Chapter 13, Verse 35; That’s where Jesus said there is only one mark, one symbol, one single indicator which designates whether or not we are His people:

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”. (John 13:35).

Anything less is just flimsy tinsel.

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 @ 10:24 AM

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

One Of God's Little Digs

Remember how just before we left on vacation Ginny had applied for a promotion but was turned down and a political appointee from outside was given the job?

Well yesterday was the appointee’s very first day in the office.

Yesterday was also the day when everyone in the office drew names out of a hat and the person whose name you drew is the person you buy a nice Christmas gift for.

Can you guess whose name Ginny drew?

You’re right!

Ginny is to buy a nice gift for the outside appointee who bumped her from the promotion.

Doesn’t that situation just cause the Christmas spirit to well up inside you?

As Ginny and I talked about the situation we decided that this may be one of God’s little digs to remind us to concentrate on making our way toward Heaven rather than making our way on earth.

“But I want it both ways,” Ginny said.

I sympathize.

I find her situation distressing because years ago I found myself facing a similar dilemma, the big boss at work brought in a guy just released from prison and gave him a job I wanted. And to top that off, about that time folks from Kairos, a prison visitation ministry, recruited me as a volunteer for a one year commitment.

You might enjoy reading a little piece about my experience, The Elder Brother's Side Of The Story. My tale is not related to the holidays but it reflects the Christmas Spirit around the Cowart house tonight.

For some reason the graphic shows up in Mozilla but not in Internet Explorer so if you can’t see it, it’s just a picture of a guy frowning. I’ll try to post it here:

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 @ 5:58 AM

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Day Of Rest

Sunday, in need of intellectual stimulation, I clicked on the tv to watch Mars Attacks, but fell asleep on the sofa and zapped out for close to seven hours while my new computer spun its wheels 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 @ 6:03 AM

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Donald Gave Me This New Computer

Saturday evening Donald and Helen came over bringing me a new computer. It is less than a third the size of my old one but four times as fast and has four times the memory. That means I can generate four times the mistakes that I made on the old computer.

Inside the old computer, two of the cooling fans wobbled on their bearings making a buzzing sound. Donald decided that instead of replacing these bearings, it would be better for me to have a new computer system.

So he bought me this new one and spent a couple of hours installing and testing it. It cost a bundle but for some reason he thinks it worth the investment to keep me writing on line. I appreciate his confidence and his gift.

This came at a time when again I was thinking of throwing in the towel. Thinking in terms of an end-of-the-year financial statement, I’ve landed on someone else’s Boardwalk – with a hotel!

So from that standpoint, the game is not worth the candle.

However, financial considerations are not the only factor. My writing does bring me a certain amount of satisfaction, and a few people do seem to find it helpful.

If it were a case of being called by God to this task, then there would be no question but that I’m to continue, but I have never felt any particularly calling to do anything. One job seems to be the same as another. The Lord seems to say, “Go outside and play” and He doesn’t much care if I play football or baseball as long as I play fair and don’t squabble with my playmates.

But writing is what I do and Donald’s gift will certainly help me do it better.
Problem is, that now I have no excuse for not producing. I’ve got this high-tech straw and now I should buckle down and churn out bricks like crazy.

After Donald and Helen set up this new system --Did I tell you it has chrome trim and, like a new car, it’s so quiet that I can’t tell when the motor is running? – After they installed the system, we all went out to a Chinese buffet. Much of our table conversation revolved around how to pray for somebody you don’t like.

For instance there’s this one guy, whom I consider to be walking garbage, who has recently been diagnosed with an illness which carries a minimal survival rate. I know he’s hurting. I know he needs comfort. I feel he needs salvation. I know he’s scared and upset… Yet, when he comes to mind in my prayers, I’m likely to think, It’s about time for the world to be rid of this sleazy trash.

Ginny and the kids say that while my feelings are real and it’s ok to “complain to the Management”, yet the very fact that I’m aware that my judgmental attitude is unacceptable and that I do try to consciously re-adjust my prayer to request good things for X’s benefit, then I’m on the right track.

As the Bible says, “The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet”.

I’m so thankful for my family; they constantly show me what it is to live Christian instead of just write about it.

And, as for X, well perhaps there will be a need for garbage men in Heaven; somebody has to sweep up those golden streets. The most honest prayer I can muster up for X is that I hope he gets the job.

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 @ 5:59 AM

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Friday, December 02, 2005

A Naive Guy In The Lesbians’ Bathroom

Wednesday Ginny got sick at work, just a passing malady unrelated to her diabetes, but yesterday I drove her to the doctor’s office and I’m nursing her again today. In sickness and in health and all that jazz -- but I definitely prefer her in health.


A friend e-mailed me a cartoon that for some reason reminded me of an odd incident that happened to me years ago in a lesbian couple’s bathroom… actually, as I recall there were two separate incidents:

Now, before my evangelical readers get all hot and bothered, let me state that I think homosexual guys and lesbian girls are missing out on something nice. I think they miss the best by substituting something less.

Besides, in the first chapter of his letter to the Romans (verses 24 to 32) St. Paul ranks homosexual behavior right up there with envy, greed, arrogance, disobeying parents, bragging, and gossip in his checklist of things which God considers reprobate. Boy, folks who do awful stuff like that had better watch out on Judgment Day!

But since you and I don’t do any of those abominable things, we’re ok… Right?

Anyhow, over the years I have held dear a number of folks who’d make St. Paul’s list, and one time this lesbian couple, who cared for a senile old grandmother, called on me to help them tear down this termite riddled shed in their backyard.

The girls had to run to the store and asked me to keep an eye on Granny till her visiting nurse showed up.

When the young nurse arrived instead of the usual caregivers, she found this strange man, me, in the house. She needed to go into the bathroom to wash up before giving Granny her shots or whatever.

She closed the door.

After a while she pounded on the bathroom door and yelled that she was locked in. I tried to open the door from the outside. It wouldn’t budge. I tried to slip a plastic credit card between the lock plates like James Bond does in the movies. I couldn’t trip the lock.

The nurse was beginning to get a bit excited thinking I had shut her in there for some nefarious purpose.

I found a screwdriver and tried to pry the door hinges to let the lady out. Bent the screwdriver.

By this time she was in a near panic and Granny realized that the nurse was locked in the bathroom. She found that funny and began to cackle, loud as a jackhammer.

Finally, I went outside and pried off the screen, forced open the bathroom window which was painted shut, and helped the nurse (who was wearing an interestingly tight skirt) climb out the window.

She was not happy.

But she treated Granny -- quickly -- and left.

When the girls arrived home they said, “Oh we never close that door all the way; that lock sticks. We’ve been meaning to fix it for years”.

I crawled through the window, got the door open and fixed the lock.

On another occasion I’d gone over to help the couple move a monster-huge sofa bed. This time, I was the one who needed the bathroom.

While I was in there I noticed this strange appliance prominent on the shelf. At first I though it was a flare gun… A flare gun in the bathroom??? A pink, plastic flare gun???

It appeared to have a thick barrel leading to a circular chamber attached to a pistol grip with a long black electric cord… What in the world is that thing?

What would a lesbian couple use a thing like that for?

I mean I know that there are stores that sell adult toys… but what is this thing? What would it do? You could get electrocuted…

I imagined this and I imagined that, but nothing I imagined made any sense. How could they use that to…? I mean how would it fit ?

I puzzled and puzzled but nothing in my limited experience supplied an answer…

So when I came out of the bathroom I worked up my courage and asked a very embarrassing, personal question, I described the thing I saw, and asked what they used it for.

The girls started giggling.

Then they laughed.

Then they howled in glee.

“John, that’s a hair dryer!!!! What did you think it was???”

Hey, I’d never seen one before; what was I to think?

Anyhow, here’s the cartoon that reminded me of that bathroom:

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 @ 9:50 AM

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

When The Faith Hits The Fan

Sometimes I hate being a Christian.

Case in point – last week an elderly lady of my acquaintance phoned asking for help with a minor chore, a chore which should take me about three or four hours to do.

Instead of telling her to go to Hell, I agreed to help the dear old soul.

It turned out that the simple chore consumed three whole days of my life and mind because she kept changing the perimeters of the chore so that it became more and more difficult for me to help her. She just made the thing harder and harder for me to do.

Could it be that she treated me like I treat Jesus???

Instead of a one-shot deal, this lady’s chore expanded like the Chicken-Heart-That Ate-Cleveland. It involved three personal visits from me, two from Ginny and between eight and 12 phone calls.

And each step of the way, I grew more and more resentful and frustrated and bitter until what started out as a simple act of Christian charity transmogrified into an occasion of black seething sin inside me.

At one point I vowed never to help anybody with anything ever again in my whole life! Ever!

You know, it’s relatively easy for me to think I’m a Christian when I alone with my books and my computer, when I’m thinking deep thoughts about my imaginary god and imaginary people – but let me get out in the world dealing with the Living God and real people, let my faith hit the fan, let my idealized version of Christianity inconvenience me, then I feel put upon and I grow bitter, resentful, depressed, angry… Mad at God and man.

What the hell kind of Christian am I anyhow?

Probably a typical one.

But we won’t go into that.

So dawns the season of light and joy, of Peace on earth and Good Will toward men – and here I’m peeved and ready to kick ass.

In spite of my vow to never help anyone anywhere ever again, will I eventually calm down and act like a Christian again?



But today might not be the best day to ask me for a favor.


Thanksgiving is past, the first furor of shopping is over and now, in the lull before the frenzy picks up again, is a time to enjoy a few minutes of reading something happy. Back when we were poor, I supported my writing habit by working at various odd jobs, flipping burgers, writing obits, delivering fuel oil, and digging graves at a local cemetery. Here’s a link to Gravedigger’s Christmas., a piece I wrote during that period. And yes, this really happened.

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 @ 5:58 AM

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