Rabid Fun

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

Friday, March 31, 2006

Two Fat Guys Smoke Pipes & Talk Theology

Thursday my friend Wes came over and took me to breakfast at Daves where, like the good quidnuncs we both are, we caught up on personal news: he, on a medical conference in Orlando he’s just returned from; me, on the denial of service attack on my computer server.

Afterwards, he drove me to a post office to mail the Library of Congress their copies of my most recent books.

Then comes the fun part:

For over three hours we sat in my garden enjoying the sound of singing birds and flowing fountain, smoking our pipes and discussing theology — a conversation others might find boring but I find stimulating.

Among other things we thought over Romans 10: 17, “So then, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”.

Wes, who is proficient in Greek, pointed out that the word hearing means more than listening to background noise like music on the radio or even listening to a sermon in church; the Greek meaning is corresponds to our legal term hearing in which people evaluate the evidence before them and form a verdict.

And our own nature determines our evaluation of the evidence before our eyes.

For instance, When Jesus called dead and stinking Lazarus to life again out of the tomb, a lot of people were there and observed that fact. This incident is recorded in John, chapter eleven.

When Lazarus, still wrapped up like a mummy, came forth, “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him.”

They evaluated the evidence and acted according to their nature.

On the other hand, “But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done… Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death”.

Evaluating the same evidence according to their nature, they went their way.

Emmanuel, God come in the flesh, the very Lord of Life at whose call all dead everywhere will come forth from all graves on the last day was followed by some people and put to death for our sin by others.

Then He rose from His borrowed grave under His own steam.

The record about Lazarus shows the problem lies not with the evidence before our eyes, but the way our nature reacts to that evidence, the way we evaluate Jesus.

Our nature, unless changed by God, is to rebel, to fault God, to demand our own way, to strive to be god and to manipulate all things and people around us ourselves.

To become Christians, we must be touched by a supernatural factor, a change of nature which results in putting God in place, in acknowledging Jesus as Lord of my life.

So far, so good.

But here’s where Wes and I hold different views.

The way my nature evaluates the Scripture, I feel that God exposes every person ever born to enough evidence to evaluate. Jesus is the “True light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world”.

I believe that if any person moves toward the light he has, he will eventually come to Jesus, the Light of the World.

Unfortunately, “Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil”.

Wes, on the other hand — if I’m presenting his view correctly — quotes a phrase from a long convoluted sentence in Ephesians, chapter One, verse eleven, which says, Christ, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will”.

Wes reasons from this Scripture and his studies of Paul’s letter to the Romans, (Wes is a big Romans fan) — he reasons that all humanity has fallen so far and is so rebellious by nature and is so depraved, wicked and evil, that the whole lot of us are bound for Hell.

And justly so.

Sooner the better.

But, for reasons of His own, God chooses to change the nature of some of us according to His will and good pleasure — but He lets the majority of us continue in our own way to where that leads us.

I mentioned the good social works of one Christian group.

“Yes,” Wes said, “They work diligently to make the world the nicest place possible to go to Hell from”.

Let me assure you that Wes lives a better Christianity that he talks; I know of no one anywhere more given to acts of kindness and charity than him.

Wes reasons that the saving of any person at all , even though nor a one of us deserves it, reflects the mercy and glory of God.

I suspect that in maters of theology Wes and I are both equally wrong.

And equally right.

We enjoy talking about things far beyond us.

The Lord God Almighty is bigger that the both of us and His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways higher than ours. He is past our finding out. He is Creator, we, creatures. He is holy, we’re not. He is just, we’re self-serving. He is love, we are recipients of that Love.

After Wes left, I mowed grass.

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 @ 9:17 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fire History & Onions

If you are having trouble reaching this site, my comment box, or e-mail, please see note at top of my March 25th posting.

The way of the historian, like that of the transgressor, is hard.

Wednesday I wallowed, like a happy pig in a puddle, in research and writing on my history of the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department book. I’ve revised sections up to World War I and the more I work on this history, the more facts and incidents I find I want to include in the book.

At one time I bemoaned the scarcity of material; now I’m wondering what to cut.

Between sessions at the computer, I ran outside to move the sprinkler from place to place in the yard. We’ve hardly seen rain in weeks and none is predicted for yet more weeks. I hate to pour money on the ground, but to keep lawn and flowers alive, I’m forced to water.

Actually the watering sessions made for pleasant breaks in my work. I’d sit for a time in a lawn chair smoking my pipe and watching the spray sparkle in morning sunbeams and watching birds bathe in shower.

I often reflected on how I can enjoy such a peaceful idyllic scene because American soldiers fight in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world to insure such peace as mine at home. I feel thankful for their sacrifices.

Although I live a sedentary quite life, I admire the heroic actions of others.

I suppose that’s one reason I chose to write this history of firefighters.

Yes, I know the traditional picture is of a bunch of guys hanging around the firehouse playing cards most of the time. One firefighter I interviewed described his work as “hours of boring tedium punctuated by moments of sheer terror”.

Yet in my research I keep uncovering astounding acts of heroism and valor and self-sacrifice. I’m writing this history largely as an expression of my admiration.

Yet, as an amateur historian and a Christian, to be honest I have to also deal with the realities of political infighting, corruption, racial tensions, and plain human goofiness.

These elements are part of our history too. And they should not be ignored, but the thrust of my book is not to dwell on them but to focus on the good, decent and dangerous things firefighters do daily, even as I acknowledge their … what’s the word I want… cowboy-ness?

For instance, a few years back somebody thought it would be a good idea to take photos of a young woman in an abbreviated swimsuit posing with a city fire engine as a backdrop. These photos were posted on the web and came to the attention of a local newspaper reporter. The newspaper went ape with indignation condemning the moral turpitude of Jacksonville firefighters and calling for an investigation.

It’s interesting to note that while the newspaper, from the high ground of shock, outrage and offence, did not publish the photos — it did, however, publish three web addresses where the photos could be viewed!

Of course in the name of historical accuracy I checked out the sites. In hundreds of photos there, I did not notice a single fire truck.

Ah, the burden of historical research!

On the homefront, Sunday a friend gave us a huge sack of onions. So tonight I cooked an enormous pot of onion soup. After supper Ginny and I stayed at the table dicing even more onions to put in Ziploc bags and freeze.

Somebody (to save her embarrassment I won’t tell that it was Ginny) knocked over the trashcan squishing onion chips into the carpet even though somebody wiser and more careful (it was me) had warned her to watch out and not do that.

Of course, I had just emptied my big ashtray overflowing with 12 hours worth of ashes from my knocking out my pipe. Onions and ashes and onion juice fanned out across the carpet.

Glade just ain’t gonna do the job this time.

Being the kind, gentle Christian husband that I am, I did not tease Ginny at all about this incident — not while she still held the dicing knife in her hand.

The way of the husband, like that of the historian and the transgressor, is hard.

But I have learned a few things in 38 years of marriage. (When not to tease being one of the most important).

Oh, but I love her so. And I love my work, and my garden. And my hometown. I have so many things to relish and enjoy.

Thank You, Jesus. I appreciate the life You’ve given me.

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 @ 6:15 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Christian To The Bone?

If you are having trouble reaching this site, my comment box, or e-mail, please see note at top of my March 25th posting.

Tuesday I responded to 80+ e-mails stacked up in my box by the server problems. I visited a number of favorite blogs and attempted to comment on each one just to let friends know I’m still reading their stuff, but only one in every five or six of my comments would take. I’m still reading your site but the server on my end acts temperamental.

Or else, I never have learned how to work a computer.

As I worked on my book on the history of firefighting in Jacksonville, I hit a snag, a discrepancy in my research which calls for yet more research. This may change the basic structure of the book.

I just couldn’t handle that at the moment so I shut down the computer and went out to water the garden and think things over.

My thoughts turned to Abdul Rahman, the man in Afghanistan threatened with death because he is a Christian. News reports say he was released because he is “mentally unfit” to stand trial. To be a Christian there equals being insane.

Of course to my way of thinking, anyone staying in Afghanistan must be nuts whatever their religion. And it looks as though America troops are being used to replace Taliban I with Taliban II.

All that aside, the thing I wonder about is that Rahman said he was converted by watching the daily lives of some Christian aid workers.

I’m impressed that it is not our words or our arguments or our political stands but our daily lives that draw non-Christians to Christ… or repels them.

I wonder if my own daily life attracts people to Christ?

The other day my friend Barbara and I were talking about the biblical phrase “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. I mentioned that I certainly don’t feel much glory (whatever that is) in my life. And Barbara pointed out that Christ in you does not mean glory for you but glory for the people who observe you. It is for others.

So, Lord, help me to live Christian to the bone.

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

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bambi Doesn't E-mail Me Anymore

Some server problems fixed, but still having problems. Please see note at top of March 25th posting.

Monday, Donald repaired some of the glitches in my websites. On his blog today, he gives an explanation of what’s wrong and what he’s doing about it. His blog address is http://slackv.blogspot.com/ .

I don’t understand what he says there but you computer people will.

I took a computer basics for seniors at the local library to increase my level of computer skills.

I can cut.

I can paste.

Anything beyond that, I rely on Donald’s expert help.

I would have been hopelessly entangled in the net long ago without him.

My dedicated e-mail site is back up, and after weeks of getting nothing, I find 84 messages dating back to February on my screen this morning. If you have messaged me and have no response, I’ve not been ignoring you; your mail was clogged by cat hair in the system.

The denial of service attack screws up several of my other computer functions also. At least, I think the attack is responsible — but maybe not.

My book sales dropped drastically recently. Either readers have suddenly developed good taste, or maybe the drop is caused by readers not being able to access www.bluefishbooks.info . Comments I make on other people’s blogs have not made posting; and I suppose comments other folks have made on my blog were hindered also.

The morning devotions I used to read daily were also curtailed, and my photo gallery disappeared. Those are other problems Donald is working on now.

This denial of service attack bugs me.

I feel I should have recognized it sooner.

My first clue was that Bambi stopped sending me e-mail.

Ever since Donald first gave me a computer three years ago, without fail every morning’s e-mail brought a message from Bambi offering me various unsolicited erotic sexual favors.

Yes, I have a spam filter, but Bambi, a resourceful girl, always got her message across.

I always deleted her messages unopened.

This was not because of my high sense of Christian morality but I just didn’t want to pick up some unsolicited virus. I have the impression that Bambi never denied her services to anybody.

But, I’ll admit, her subject lines intrigued me.

When she stopped e-mailing me, I missed her cheerful greeting each morning.

I wondered why she’d stopped. I sort of half-way worried that something bad may have happened to her.

Then I started wondering if the poor girl may have clicked on my website and saw my photo there. Maybe seeing it, she decided that there are some things she just won’t do for either love or money.

The girl has her standards.

Anyhow, Bambi’s e-mails don’t get through to me anymore.

I miss her.

It was kind of nice to feel wanted.

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 @ 8:55 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Monday, March 27, 2006

Not Our Best Weekend

Still having server problems. Please see note at top of my March 25th posting.

This past weekend proves that Ginny & I do not handle unstructured time well.

Friday I’d cleaned the yards, vacuumed the house, washed all the dishes, and done all sorts of household chores in advance, clearing the field so we could have uninterrupted time together to do anything we wanted.

Problem is that there was nothing we wanted to do all that much.

“What would you like to do?”

“I don’t know. What would you like to do?”

“I don’t know. What do you have in mind?”

“Nothing really. Anything you want….”

We fell into the trap of me suggesting things — everything from a walk in the woods to dance lessons and everything in between — and her rejecting my every suggestion but not offering any of her own.

We’ve been here before. Can’t stay married and in love for 38 years without hitting a few bad patches like that.

We ended up —even though there were beautiful Spring days outside — vegging on the couch watching videos of movies we neither one really wanted to see.

In spite of what the preachers say, even for Christians not all days are happy, happy, happy. Some days are just a waste…. And that’s where we’re at at the moment.

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 @ 6:09 AM

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Jesus Loves Me and Saved Me $400!

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have had trouble connecting to my blog, website, book catalogue, or e-mail in the past couple of days, my son Donald, a computer network manager, just called telling me that our remote server is under a “distributed denial of service attack”.

As I understand it, that means that somebody set his computer or computers to send small messages to my server every second round the clock

These thousands of messages clog the server so that readers who want to get to my sites get timed out and can not read or comment.

In other words, you get a busy signal because the attacker is tying up the line.

Donald is doing geek stuff to correct the problem.

My sites and Donald’s run off a remote dedicated server which runs through yet another server so we may be innocent bystanders and not the main target of the denial of service attack.

On the other hand, last week I wrote some things which may have been offensive to cat lovers (or others). They may be sending me thousands of cute kitten photo every second of the day. It’s cat hair clogging my server.

Please be patient.

I’ve already got a call in to Orkin Pest Control.


Friday I put my fire department history manuscript on the back burner so I could edge and mow our yard.

This chore takes me about six hours.

That indicates both that our garden is huge and that I’m slow.

Whenever the phone rings, Ginny says, “Oh good, there’s somebody with plans for our life”.

Had she been home, she’d have been right today because when I came back inside the house, I saw the little red light on the phone answering machine flashing like mad.

I’d missed an important call.

It had come in hours before and I’d been outside whacking weeds.

I listened to the message and returned the call.

The caller had wanted to borrow $400 in the morning and the “need” was so urgent that when I didn’t answer, she called somebody else and got the money from them instead of me.

And who says Jesus doesn’t love me!

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 @ 6:49 AM

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Tell Oprah I'm Available

Worked on my fire history book and odds and ends Thursday.

Those piles of research books bugged me so much that I shuffled my clipper ship models around to make room for the books in a bookcase so now they’re still handy but out of my line of sight.

Odd, the things in my life that I feel MUST be corrected and the things I’m so comfortable with that I blithely ignore.

My website e-mail got screwed up during the server break-down last month. But yesterday an interesting e-mail (which had been sent ten days ago) got through. A famous local radio commentator requested permission to read one of my history articles on the air. He plans to divide it into sections and read it daily over the course of a week or so.

I’m excited and flattered.

Today the Dick McMeekin show — Tomorrow Oprah!

Tell her I’m available.

Stephen King, eat your heart out.

While surfing Next Blog I found this fascinating video link to the Man With Three Balls; Turn your sound up and prepare to be amazed. The site address is :


I wish I could do that!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 8:21 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My Pile Of Books Is Level Now

First, after a long hiatus, Sunnybunni, my youngest daughter who’s in college, resumed blog posting this week. She only has two courses to pass (more A’s in her future) before graduating. This young lady has overcome enormous obstacles to reach this point and I admire her greatly. Please drop in on her blog and encourage her with a comment. Her address is The Rabbit Hole at http://www.holerabbit.blogspot.com/


Wednesday I sat at my desk for ten or 12 hours researching my book on fire department history.

During this time I gave no thought to God, nor man, nor even girls in green bikinis.

One thing I did think about was two side-by-side piles of 16 books on Florida history on the table beside my desk.

These books, each of a different thickness, did not make even piles.

Several times I rearranged the stacks.

Getting them even became an obsession to me.

I found that if I place nine books in the left-hand pile and seven books in the right hand pile, they come out level. But now I ended up with a green book on top of the right pile and a red book on top of the left.

I kept fooling with them again and again till they finally satisfied me.

What’s the difference?

What does it matter if two piles of books level out in equal stacks?

It’s just that every time I looked at them, they looked wrong.

That bothered me.

It bothered me a lot.

Perhaps this obsession reveals the onset of a mental illness.

Maybe I’m going crazy… crazier?

That could be the answer; after all, I am a Christian.

Oh, you haven’t heard? News reports from Afghanistan say the officials judging Abdul Rahman may not execute him for being a Christian after all.

No, there’s talk of declaring him “mentally unfit” to stand trial. That way they don’t have to face international outrage over killing him for being a Christian, they can just put him in an insane asylum and “treat” him for the rest of his life.

Good call.

Problem solved.

Everybody knows that you have to be crazy to be a Christian.

I wonder, if they allow him to have books in the insane asylum, will he stack them in nice, even, level piles?

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 @ 8:54 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Tuesday I got in a good solid day’s work on my history of firefighting in Jacksonville; I’m filling in gaps in my original manuscript.

Apparently some of the people who attended the local history presentation Monday night talked to others about it; Eve called this afternoon saying enough new people have asked about it that she wants to schedule me for a repeat lecture next month.

During smoke breaks from fire research, I sat by the fountain in our garden thinking about the Abdul Rahman case and about people in general who feel compelled to defend their religious beliefs with violence.

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

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

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

Truth is true whether anybody believes it or not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They want to be affirmed.

They’re scared not to be.

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

In his own mind, no man is an asshole.

I know I’m not…

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we live in denial.

We refuse to admit that black spot is melanoma.

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

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

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

If you are a true believer, if you are confident that what you believe is true, then you can tolerate, even love, people who do not believe the truth. You pity them and, out of brotherly love, try to show them Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.

But you need have no compulsion to beat them over the head thinking you’re defending God.


God needs no defense.

He’s a Big Boy.

He can take care of Himself.

Only unbelievers would believe otherwise.

Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief.

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

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 10:34 AM

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Milestone To Nowhere... & Prayer Request

Preparing for to teach a Bible lesson or to give a lecture obsesses me.

Monday I dropped all else to prepare for the local history presentation at the library. I cleaned the antique ax head, the Civil War sword, the big penny, the ox shoe, all the stuff I use in my hands-on lecture.

I practiced burning tea bags.

I re-checked facts and dates and quotes.

I rehearsed a sort of Power Point presentation to illustrate my talk.

I shaved.

I chose a shirt which would provide a contrasting background to any object I’d hold in my hands so people would see the item clearly.

Ginny took two hours off work to drive me and all my stuff to the library in time to set up the room and practice with computer/projector system which shows websites on a giant screen.

In making local history come alive I emphasize tales of heroism, tales of romance, courage and adventure. Pirates and Indians. Plagues and conflagrations. Conquest of wilderness and strength of character. Clearing raw wilderness and overcoming alligators. Feats of endurance and trials of faith.

So, how did my lecture go last night?

Eight people showed up.

Three of them left early.

Pissing against the wind.

Another milestone on my road to nowhere….


The above describes the typical pattern of obsession, elation and depression I go through every time I teach a lesson or deliver a lecture. I’ve been through this painful pattern hundreds of times over the years.

It’s my way of doing things whether the audience is eight people or 80 or 8,000, whether I’m teaching in a tiny class room, on the street, or during an interview on tv.

Obsession with preparation, elation during the presentation, dark depression immediately afterwards -- that's the pattern.

I suspect that the Holy Spirit applies this pattern to my speaking, and to my writing books, to protect my vain soul for getting too fat headed because I do so love the spot light and the smallest sign of success and acceptance makes me giddy with pride.

I expect so much of me.

All this reminds me to stay faithful whether I’m successful or not.

It reminds me to live for Him, not them.

It encourages me to be humble.

I hate being humble.

Damn shame that I can’t learn humility without being humiliated.

I still say that someday I’ll write another book entitled, THE WORLD’S GREATEST BOOK ON HUMILITY.

I’m getting giddy. Thus endeth today’s lesson.


E-Mail Prayer Request:

An E-mail this morning and a Google news search for trial, Christian, Afghanistan provides me with fuel for prayer.

According to a Chicago Tribune news report, after a one-day trial, a judge in Kubul sentenced Abdul Rahman to be shot for being a Christian. The prisoner will be granted a stay of execution if he renounces Christ and reverts to islam.

Now, in a major test of Afghanistan's fledgling court system,” The Tribune says, “Rahman, 42, faces the death penalty for abandoning Islam for Christianity. Prosecutors say he should die. So do his family, his jailers, even the judge. Rahman has no lawyer. Jail officials refused to let anyone see Rahman on Monday…

"We will cut him into little pieces," said Hosnia Wafayosofi, who works at the jail. "There's no need to see him."

“We are Muslim, our fathers were Muslim, our grandfathers were Muslim," said Abdul Manan, Rahman's father, who is 75. "This is an Islamic country. Imagine if your son told a police commander, also a Muslim, that he is a Christian. How would this affect you? It's very difficult for us."

"He is my son," said Manan, crying. "But if a son does not care about the dignity of his family, the dignity of his father, God can take him away. You cannot make anything out of such a son. He is useless."

The link to this news story is http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/world/3737107.html

More information can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4823874.stm

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 @ 4:43 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Monday, March 20, 2006

Nothing to say... Neat Bricks

The Blogger server was down early this morning but that’s ok because I really didn’t have anything to say and I’d have been tempted to pad the site if it had been working.

Of course, not having anything to say has never stopped me from posting in the past. I’m a great one for talking a lot without saying anything.

Anyhow, today I’m gathering material for my lecture on local history tonight; maybe, if God gives me strength and energy, I’ll have something worthwhile to say tomorrow….

Or not.

Meanwhile, my e-friend Karen in England ? Britian? Wales? (not sure which is proper) overseas, clued me into The Brick Testament, a site which tells Bible stories with Lego blocks. Ultimate cool!

You’ll find it at http://www.thebricktestament.com/

Various chapters are marked as to adult content, violence, etc. You may want to check them out before turning the kids loose with these Lego blocks.

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 @ 9:08 AM

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

St. Patrick's Day Is Over... So Is Christmas

Friday when I bemoaned the fact that my son’s Cat Cam draws more hits in a day than my books do all week … (Go ahead, click on the cat cam, leave my blog and look at cats. I know you want to. Never mind reading what I have to say). …

Anyhow, as I bemoaned that cats are more popular than my writings, Patricia, my youngest daughter, said, “Dad, how many people read your books is not as important as the effect the book has on the people who do”.

Yes, Patricia is home from college for the weekend. She spent the day with us yesterday working on various projects:

Of course she brought her laundry home to wash — that’s a given.

Then she and Ginny worked on her income tax.

Then I reduced her to tears by pushing on with unsolicited, unwanted, un-needed fatherly advice; Will I ever learn to keep my damn mouth shut? I am in no way qualified to be a dad!… But she forgave me.

And she helped me put away Christmas decorations. No, not take down decorations; they were already down and sealed in boxes.

But she climbed a ladder and stored those boxes in the attic till next year for me (I don’t do well on ladders).

This project reminded me of an article I wrote several years ago. I wrote the article to address the burning theological question uppermost in every thinking person’s mind: Are There Reindeer In Heaven?

Of course there’s no question in my mind at all about what should happen to cats in the afterlife, so we won’t go there.

But you may enjoy reading about reindeer.

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 @ 5:45 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Upstaged By Cats!

Yesterday I mentioned that Donald installed a computer camera so anyone can click on and watch his seven cats. This cat cam has been in operation for 24 hours and drew One Thousand Eight Hundred (1,800) hits.

Day before yesterday I announced that I published Strangers On The Earth, a book that I have worked on for years — a book designed to inspire, to comfort, to encourage to educate, to inform. A book to teach the ignorant, to uplift the fallen, to rescue distressed maidens, to spread virtue and light…

Less than a hundred hits on that link.

Damn cats!

W.C. Fields said that no actor should work with animals or cute kids; he said, “A man who hates dogs and children can’t be all bad.”

I understand where he is coming from.

I’ve been upstaged by the cat cam.

Oh well, I’ll get over it.

Everyone knows that all cats are illiterate.

That must go for cat lovers too.

I write to reach a readership with higher standards.

Besides, when I clicked on the cat cam site, there wasn’t a cat to be seen on the screen. I think they deliberately hide from the camera.

Speaking of cameras —Patricia came home from college Friday afternoon. We drove to the Fire Museum where she re-did the photos I goofed up the other day.

Again, the curator, Ms Treadwell, helped tremendously. I was concerned about spelling the names of firemen who died in the line of duty and she looked them up and gave me a printout with all the information I needed.

We talked about methods of preserving the archive collection and I offered a few tips about possible grant sources for such a project.

She told us about some of her experiences working with Rescue and revealed a compassionate heart. When we left, Patricia said, “Dad, I just wanted to hug that lady.”

We joined the rest of the family for supper at a seafood restaurant. I think there were nine of us at the table. “Honest, Ms Waitress, I’ve never seen these people before in my life”. We enjoyed a riotous time. (Ginny cheated; she turned off her hearing aid).

Ginny & I met Helen’s daughter for the first time and I mystified and amazed the charming young lady with my famous straw restoration magic trick. She was truly amazed in spite of the usual groans from lesser family members —Hey, this is the only magic trick I know.

Afterward, we retired to Jennifer’s garage and talked for a few hours. Besides the usual catching up on news (Donald’s new job, Helen’s moving, Jennifer’s remodeling, Pat’s need for a seeing-eye dog, Patricia’s classes) other topics of conversation included the murder of a student nurse about a hundred yards from Eve’s apartment, bird flu, American Idle, school plays, diseases of the urinary track in cats, how to disassemble an antique upright piano, and hurricane relief volunteering for the next one (“You can loot some really neat stuff,” said our experienced disaster relief humanitarian.)

When someone unfamiliar with the house asked directions to the powder room, Jennifer, ever the gracious hostess, said, “Just wander around till you see a room with a toilet in it”.

Then Maggie broke out the Monty Python Cow Catapult and we all dodged flying cows that pinged against the metal garage door, while her embarrassed mother tried to get her to stop — and all the rest of us wildly cheered her on.

Who are all these people anyhow?

And why am I so incredibility blessed as to be a part of them?

Hummm.... Maybe if I posted a picture of a cute fuzy kiten on my site, I'd draw hits too. I'll try 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 @ 7:02 AM

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day... with cats

Happy St. Patrick's Day... with cats.

The profile of St. Patrick which I suggested earlier this week, is chapter three of my book, Strangers On The Earth, which I mentioned yesterday. I posted it early so teachers and such would have a little background material in advance of today if they needed it..


Yesterday, after only 36 tries, yes, that’s right, 36! — Count ‘em: 1, 2, 3, 4,…36 tries to revamp the pdf back cover — I finished work on the autobiography of Joseph Piram King, the 100-year-old great-great-grandfather of my friend Wes. It is at the bottom of my on-line Bluefish Books catalogue at www.bluefishbooks.info .

Our youngest daughter plans to come home from college this weekend. Looking forward to that. She plans to go with me to the Fire Museum and take some photos; because my hands get so shaky at times, I messed up some of the shots I tried last Monday and Sunnibunny will take them again for me.

Next Monday, March 20th, I’ve been invited to give a talk at the Maxville Branch Public Library. I’ll be giving an overview of Jacksonville history and illustrating my lecture with various rusty objects I’ve dug up here and there around the city. My show-and-tell session will be at 6:30 p.m.The library is located at the junction of Highway 301 and Normandy Blvd. If you’d like to attend, I’d be happy to see you there.

Anyone doing a Google search for “Live Pussycat Cam” is in for a big disappointment. My son Donald has set up a 24-hour surveillance camera so he can watch his cats even while he’s online while he’s at work. I think it’s because he can’t trust the vile creatures not to demolish his house, he says it’s because he enjoys seeing the kittens at play.

Personally, I can see all the cats I want to see during a drive on the Interstate. But, if anyone else is crazy enough interested enough to want to watch Donald’s cats, the link is http://www.rdex.net/webcam/ .

After the server problems last month, Donald has also restored his on-line Dream Library site where you can record your dreams and read other people’s dreams and comment on them. The Dream Library can be found at http://www.dreamlibrary.org/forums/index.php .

Donald is very smart with computers. He’s a network manager. He teaches Linux Cluster classes. He could have set up Wes’ book in maybe only 34 tries… but look what he does with his computer skills and talent!

Wasted! All wasted!

Cat Cam, indeed.

Where, O where did I go wrong as a parent!

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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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Please Don't Avoid Strangers

Tuesday I didn’t do a lick of work; Wednesday made up for my slacking; I spend close to 20 hours in front of the computer correcting minor glitches in the proofs of Strangers On The Earth.

That book is now published on my Bluefish Books Storefront. Along with a bunch of my other books.

I suppose I should write some fluffy promo extolling the virtues of Strangers, but truth is I’m sick of it and never want to see another copy.

It’s been a bear of a book to produce (as they all are).

I wonder if that happens to other writers?

My idea starts out as an inspiration and I get excited about it. I eat, sleep and live anticipating the book. My excitement mounts as I discover fascinating tidbits and back alleys in research. I write fervently until my system overloads and by the time I’ve battled spelling, syntax, reference problems, computer formatting, stupid mistakes — I’m sorry I ever started the thing.

The finished product becomes just another book to throw on the pile.

And then I meet somebody who has actually bought a copy of one of my books; “I bought one of your books,” he says.

I mentally prepare myself to respond modestly to a compliment; then he says, “Haven’t got around to reading it yet.”

Can’t tell you how many times that has happened.

Then, ages later, my royalties check comes in. And I wonder why I bothered. I’d earn more cash money in my pocket working behind the counter at McDonalds. But, by the time I think that, I’m already mind deep in writing another book.

Oh, in case I haven’t mentioned it -- and you haven’t guessed it -- Strangers On The Earth is an inspirational book. It profiles a bunch of people whose lives have inspired me to try to be a better Christian. The Bluefish Storefront offers sample preview chapters when you click on a book cover.

A shorter version of it was published years ago by InterVarsity Press and that edition was translated into several foreign languages before it went out of print, so I suspect that maybe it does inspire readers.

But right this moment, I only find it depleting.

I’m at my lowest whenever I finish a book.

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 @ 5:47 AM

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Productive Day -- With Refined, Tasteful Jokes

Tuesday my friend Wes called inviting me to breakfast at Dave’s Dinner where we shared jokes and laughed so hard I thought we get kicked out.

Wes tells it far better than I can but the gist of one story goes like this:

This church (it could be any church but let’s say Trinity Wall Street) needed a new preacher so the vestry had this young man deliver a trial sermon.

He mounted the pulpit and said, “In the beginning a sower went forth to sow and he sowed on the Mount of Olives and he came down from the Mount with the Ten Commandments engraved on stone and he saw this tower and the wicked Jezebel was up there with her servants and the sower called forth, “Fling her down” and the serveants flung her down. And he called again, “Fling her down” and they flung her down again. And he called a third time, “Fling her down” and they flung her down again. And that softened her up so that dogs would lick her fingers whereas they wouldn’t before. And she became the tenth virgin with oil in her lamp and the meaning of this story is that you should write your congressman about the Oil Depletion Allowance. Amen”

The deacons met to discuss the sermon and the vestry chairman said, “Well, he is young and he’s not too eloquent, but that boy sure does know his Bible!”

Wes also told this tale he heard from his friend from Brazil. I’d never heard of it before but apparently there is some tension between Brazil and Argentina.

A Brazilian and an Argentinean found a magic lamp on the beach, rubbed it and a genie appeared offering to grant each a wish.

The Argentinean said, “I want to be back in my own country and I want you to build a wall around all of Argentina. I want this wall’s foundations so deep no one can dig under it. I want it so think no one can break through it. I want it so high that no one can ever get over it. This wall will prevent any Brazilian from ever getting inside.”

Immediately it was so. The wall appeared.

The genie asked the Brazilian what he wanted.

He said, “Now fill it with water.”

So I told two genie jokes too. The first, as I recall, is a Yiddish joke:

A man finds a lamp, rubs it and the genie tells him, “I can grant your wish but whatever you wish for, your worst enemy gets double what you get.”

“You mean, if I wish for 30 pounds of chopped liver…?”

“Yes, your worst enemy will get 60 pounds.”

“If I wish for a million dollars, then he gets two million?”

“That’s right. He gets double whatever you get.”

The man thought of all the things he might wish for, but it all soured when he thought of his neighbor getting double. Finally, he arrived at an answer.

He said, “I want a woman to wife, one whose sexual drive and desire will exactly match me at my best. That’ll fix him!”

Then I told the one about the office manager:

An office manager, a secretary and a clerk went out to lunch and as they walked back they found a lamp at the curb. They rubbed it and a genie appeared offering to grant one wish to each of the three.

The secretary said, “Hawaii! Hawaii! I want to be at a luxury resort with an umbrella drink in hand and admiring surfers gathered around me.”

Immediately she disappeared.

The clerk said, “I’ve never been to the Bahamas. I want to lounge in a hammock by the sea, with tropical breezes and cloudless sky.”

Immediately, he disappeared.

The genie asked the office supervisor, “Now what is your wish; I can give you anything you want.”

The manager looked at his watch and said, “I want those two back in the office by one o’clock!”

Wes picked up the printer’s proof copy of his great-grandfather’s autobiography. That book will be ready to publish as soon as he proofreads it.

My neighbor Rex supplied gas and mower for me to mow the strip at our community’s entrance where we planted flowering trees over two separate years, so I spent much of the afternoon pushing the mower through the high weeds. In one place I encountered a large bed of wild onions; as the mower trimmed the tops, they gave off a lovely aroma.

When I returned the mower, I sat in Rex’s yard smoking my pipe and scratching Spot’s ears. That collie believes that God put me on this earth for no other purpose than to scratch his ears. And who knows, maybe the dog knows more about the divine will than I do. There are less worth reasons to exist than scratching a dog’s ears.

Then I came home and instead of working, I indulged myself reading the Diary of John Bright, an English Quaker and member of Parliament who kept a daily journal for 50 years during the mid 1800s. I found it really pleasurable reading history just for relaxation instead of research.

So, I didn’t do a lick of work today, but all in all I’d say I spent a very productive day — at least Spot thinks 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 @ 4:56 AM

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Historic Day

For some reason known only to God and Bill Gates, Blogger will not take the photos that go with this posting; after fighting this thing for two hours, I give up. I've left blank spaces where I can insert them if the image upload thing ever works again..... So, here are the words without any photos:

No one I know if enjoys life more than I do and Monday really iced my cake!

Even on computer frustrating days I love my work and today I practically wallowed in it. Not only did my work go well, but I found three minor but peculiar adventures.

This day was too good to miss a moment of it:

Up at my usual 3 a.m. to enter yesterday’s blog and study till time for Ginny to wake at 6. Packed lunch for her then drove her to work so I could keep the car.

Did a few life-maintence chores, gas station, drug store, etc., then drove to the Jacksonville Fire Museum to photograph exhibits for my fire history book.

The Fire Museum, old Fire Station 2, stands at the edge of Metropolitan Park on the St. Johns River immediately adjacent to Kid’s Kampus, Jacksonville’s premier playground for children.

That’s important to what comes later.

Last week I’d made an appointment with a young woman, Mrs. Linda Treadwell, the museum curator. She showed me every possible courtesy and cooperated fully giving me access to every thing I needed. At the same time she was shepherding classes of school kids through the museum and I learned a lot as I eavesdropped on her lectures.

For instance, she showed the kids a flag which had flown over the World Trade Center site and was presented by New York’s mayor to Jacksonville Firefighters for their help in rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the bombings.

When I walked into the museum, the first thing I saw was a barefoot woman stretched out on the polished hardwood floor doing yoga contortions. No, this was not the museum curator. This was a mother chaperoning a kindergarten class; she was exercising while the kids were at the other end of the building. She challenged me and demanded that I explain my presence.

Because she was so snotty, I refuse to answer her questions except in monosyllables. She was not pleased and remained suspicious, but since I did nothing but stand to the side and wait for the class to leave, she could not convict me of any crime.

Thank God for her and others like her.


Anyhow, I spent a couple of hours pouring over old albums and Alarm Records upstairs in the bunk room which is not general open to the public. I love doing that kind of research. I discovered that in 1951, nobody appears to ever know how any fire started:


Don’t know. Don’t know. Don’t know — That’s the reason folks gave the firemen to explain how their house caught fire… Like the old hotel joke about not smoking in bed: “It was on fire when I lay down on it.”

The day was warm, mid 80s, so I’d parked a ways away from the museum in the shade. As I left the museum, I noticed a black, or dark green, pickup truck parked in the same area; it was backed in against some bushes so the tag was not visible.

A man in his mid-30s, had the look of a construction worker, sat in the truck watching the children at play in the park as he jacked off.

He was so intent on his recreation that he did not see me until I banged the trunk of my car shut. The noise startled him and he reved up his truck and sped away.

Unfortunately, I did not get the tag number. Nevertheless, spooking this guy may have been the most important thing I did today.

Let me emphasize that the Kid’s Kampus is well patrolled both by city cops and belligerent, watchful parents. Horny adults should find some place else to play.

Back home I downloaded the photos I’d taken (sorry, but my photo gallery is still down or I’d post them all).

As I drove to Ginny’s office to pick her up from work, my mind kept writing passages from this book or that. I was not paying attention to where I was driving.

You know, Jesus saves us from our sins but He doesn’t often save us from our stupidity.

He made an exception for me today. Because with my brain on autopilot, I wheeled around the corner in a left turn on Jefferson Street which is One Way — One Way coming toward me!

Some God-inspired guy on the street called me a nasty name that got my attention and I realized that hundreds of rush-hour cars were speeding toward me headon. I bumped over the curb into a vacant lot to the sound of blearing horns.

Thank You, Jesus.

I made a dignified U-Turn and drove the right way with traffic without making the acquaintance of Jacksonville’s fine Fire/Rescue Department first hand.

Now here’s where it gets cool:

When I got to Ginny’s office building in the slums, I parked in the designated Employee Of The Month parking space. (At the old office, Ginny earned that distinction several times but the rat-finks didn’t give her a parking space there).Since this building is new construction workmen had dug the hole putting up the sign recently.

There poking from the dirt left over from the posthole, lay a rusty horseshoe. The metal is warped, twisting the shoe back in on itself. The warping makes me think this metal had been exposed to intense heat.


I’m pretty sure that there haven’t been horses in the area more recently than 1920, but I’m not sure if this site was among the 400+ acres of Jacksonville that burned in the Great Fire of 1901…

But this ends on a sad note.

The nails are still in the horse shoe.

Does that indicate that the horse was still wearing them when it burned?

So, there you have it. Just a typical day in the life of a writer.

Thank You, Lord.

I’m really enjoying the life You give me… but, being what I am, I still wait for the other shoe to drop.

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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Monday, March 13, 2006

The Ride Of His Life

A plastic whirligig hangs from our fig tree in the back yard.

It’s shaped like a birdcage, even has a little wooden bird on a swing inside. Each bar of the cage is twisted slightly to form a wind vane; that makes the cylinder into a turbine that spins with the wind.

There was no wind Saturday night.

A little garden spider spun a web between one vain of the whirligig and a fig leaf.

Ginny & I noticed it yesterday as we sipped our morning coffee on the patio.

We noticed when a stiff breeze started. The dot of web anchored to the leaf broke loose. The whirligig revolved at the speed of the wind. The little spider clung at the end of a strand of web about eight inches long. Around and around flew the spider holding on for dear life. Centrifugal force caused the spider’s lifeline to flatten out; it looked as though the creature were riding on the tip of an airplane propeller.

Spider got the ride of his life…

When the spider chose to build a web there, it must have looked like a safe, stable location, a solid foundation to build on.

Until the wind came…

There’s a life lesson here somewhere.

Darn if I can figure out exactly what it is.

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 @ 4:59 AM

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ready For St. Patrick's Day?

This morning aching muscles inform me that I need to either quit doing heavy yard work or to do it a lot more often.

Saturday from dawn to dusk Ginny & I continued our fence clearing project. Problem is that each time we got one area looking good, our work reveals other areas that need work also; cleaning produces a self-perpetuating mess.

The postman delivered the proof copy of Strangers On The Earth. My hands were too dirty to examine the book closely, but a casual glance showed several structural defects I need to correct before I can release the book to buyers.

No big deal. I’d targeted this book for release before last Thanksgiving but I’m slow and lazy and just have not done the work as I should.

However, I hope to round off the rough edges and have it published by the end of this week.

This year, March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, falls on next Friday. One of the chapters of Strangers profiles St. Patrick largely in his own words. Yes, he did write an autobiography, Confessions, which I find to be a classic in Christian literature even though he doesn’t even mention green beer.

If a short biographical sketch of St. Patrick interests you, I’ve posted an HTML copy of that chapter on my website, www.cowart.info . It’s in the left-hand column about half way down the page.

OH, speaking of St. Patrick — he does not mention that snake legend in his Confessions either — but this morning when I checked over that flower bed along the fence line I’d cleared Saturday, I found that over night a snake had shed it’s skin right where I’d been working.


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 @ 4:07 AM

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Cat In My Garden Of Earthly Delights

Yesterday I mentioned how I find lawn mowing and yard work provides me with a sense of tranquility and both physical and spiritual exercise.


Doesn’t that sound pious?

Discovering the ecstasy of mental prayer is a hallmark of mature spirituality.

Wouldn’t Brother Lawrence, who wrote The Practice Of The Presence Of God, think that I’m the cat’s meow when it comes to spiritual discovery?

Well, Friday as Ginny & I cleared thorny undergrowth from the fence line and I crawled along on hands and knees in the dirt rooting out thorn vine roots between the flowers Ginny treasures, I discovered exactly where our neighbor’s cat shits.

Lots and often!

What do they feed that creature? Anchovies?

Since my discovery was not of a spiritual nature, I said a few words which aren’t exactly spiritual either.

That set the tone of my day.

Then, after working in harmony among the flowers of our garden all day, Ginny & I found ourselves at odds this evening over sex.

Looks like after 38 years of marriage we’d have ironed this sort of thing out, but we still haven’t mastered it all yet.

I think we need more hands-on practice; she thinks Agatha Christy writes a great mystery novel.

So we had this long meaningful talk about our feelings.

Just talk.


The person who said, “Communication is so important in marriage” had to be some blazing. flaming, tattooed, ear-ring-wearing, orange-haired whimp of a hair-dresser who wants beautiful women to cut their hair short so they’ll look plainer than he does (not that there’s anything wrong with that, you understand).

On the other hand, in his movie Octopussy, James Bond, who along with his other sterling qualities must be a true spiritual giant, said, “Actions speak louder than words”.

I, of course, remain a cool, impartial Christian gentleman amid the negations.

You know, it is so much easier to write Christian stuff than to live it; if I didn’t try to live Christian, then I could write a whole 26 volume Encyclopedia Britannica of spiritual tips for other people.

But the longer I try to follow Christ myself, the less I know about it and the fewer answers I have.

I write a lot but I’m most often at a loss for words.

Recently my heart has really been touched (how would James Bond say that?) by the postings of T. in her blog at . http://missingmybug.blogspot.com/ She’s such a beautiful lady. Her postings for the last couple of days ring with the solid majesty of reality

I’m impressed.

During our devotions after supper, Ginny read an old version of Psalm 99 which says, “The Lord is King, be the people never so impatient. He sitteth between the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.”

I’m not positive what that means but I find it comforting. Especially when I’m frustrated, and without answers, and up to my elbows in unexpected cat shit, and my life is not making a whole lot of sense, and I’m impatient and unquiet—even then the Lord is King.

About that cat situation….

I’ve read that the city health department loans out these humane animal traps. Apparently, you put bait, maybe a tiny baby bird, inside and the lurking cat slinks through the dark of night; claws extended to shred the baby bird, it enters the cage —and the trap snaps shut capturing the vile creature alive.

Then the next morning, I suppose, you have to put your own shotgun through the bars to make garden mulch.

Sounds like a winner to me.

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 @ 6:50 AM

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Friday, March 10, 2006

My life as a great writer/yardman

First, scientists have done it again.

Today’s Seattle Times
reports the discovery of a mammal, a rockrat, which they thought had been extinct for 11 million years.

A biologist in Laos saw the creature being sold as groceries in a meat market. No, not as a fossil but as food.

Again, I’m reminded that my novel Glog may be realer than I thought when I wrote it. Who knows what’s living in the bushes?

You can read the rockrat article at (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002855664_rockrat10.html

Here's a photo of one, looks delicious for a fossil:

Thursday I spent the day mowing and doing yard work instead of writing.

Ginny has all these dirt-eating plants that she has me lug in and out of the house according to temperature or wifely whim. She decided to re-pot the things so I left off writing my history of firefighting in Jacksonville to chop bushes and mow grass under her adult supervision.

How can I produce great literature behind a lawnmower?

Can you imagine Chaucer mowing grass? How could he have written Cranberry Tales if he had to push a mower?

Does Stephen King mow his own lawn? No! I imagine he has little people to do mundane things like that. Of course his little people have fangs and only come out a t night.

Did Dante mow grass? Did Hemmingway? Not a chance; he just drank and let it grow.

I mean can you picture Truman Capote pushing a lawnmower all hot and sweaty, wearing black socks and tennis shoes with his shorts and wearing no shirt…

Maybe it’s best not to picture that.

No wonder my books never make the best seller list.

But, I’ll have to confess that it’s while mowing the lawn that I get most of my thinking and praying done. For me it’s easier to pray while doing some mindless, repetitious task; I let my hands do the work while my heart focuses on the Lord.

Unfortunately, Thursday my mind focused on an unpleasant aspect of Christianity:

Christians tend to shoot their own wounded.

We’re inclined to blame victims for their misery and make painful situations worse, to hurt the hurt worse than they’re already hurt.

That’s a shame.

Back in the First Century the apologists defending the faith against Nero’s paganism would point to the lives of Christians as proof of the truth of our religion.

Justin Martyr, a Christian apologist writing about the year A.D. 150, said, “Many (pagans) changed their violent and tyrannical disposition, being overcome either by the constancy which they witnessed in the lives of their Christian neighbors, or by the extraordinary forbearance they have observed in their Christian fellow travelers when defrauded, and by the honesty of those believers with whom they have transacted business.”

I don’t know that I’d want anybody pointing at my life, constancy, forbearance or honesty if they were arguing that Christians should not be fed to lions.

Nowadays we tend to shoot our own wounded.

Case in point, about ten or 12 years ago a young pastor came to our house. He ministered at a church of a different denomination from mine; we’d met and became acquainted at an interdenominational feed the hungry drive but I hardly knew the man.

I was out mowing grass when he stopped by unexpectedly, so we sat on our back deck as he hemmed and hawed over small talk working up courage to ask me something.

Poor bastard was worried sick.

He’d done something which he worried may have exposed him to AIDS and he was feeling this horrible itching and he was scared shitless that he had it and he was scared that if anybody in his church found out they’d fire him and that his deacons would ostracize him and other pastors in his group would brand him as a vile nasty sinner and he his physician was a member of his board and he would die in shame and all the people who looked up to him would ….

Well, you get the idea.

Somehow at the food drive, he’d got the idea that I would not whack him with an ax if he came to talk to me.

Now, I’m not a pastor, counselor or professional Christian of any sort, but the guy felt he could talk to me while he was worried sick over all this.

Now, I’ll admit that I feel the thing he’d done was sin.

Big deal.

I said, “Bill, you’re a pastor so you know more about handeling the sin side of things than I do. So do what you know about that. Christ is Deliverer and a delivery man takes things from where they are to where they ought to be.”

That’s about all I had to say about the sin part of his unfaithfulness.

But I made arrangements for him to be tested for AIDS by a state agency; he did not know that this could be done anonymously. Turns out he had scabies not AIDS!

Wow. What a happy camper.

He was so relieved. And his deacons would not find out. Or his wife. Or his congregation. Or even his physician (who was a member of his church).

I advised him to “Go and sin no more. Stick with your own wife and leave that other woman alone unless you want to feel that way again”.

I have no idea if he did or not.

Having revealed his affair, his anxiety, and his relief to me, he became embarrassed and withdrew from contact.

That’s ok.

It’s what we do.

The thing is, it’s such a shame that he was so scared of his fellow Christians, that they’d turn on him instead of dealing with sin honestly and supporting the guy.

I mean we’re all in this boat together and … don’t know how to finish this.

Anyhow, that’s the sort of thing I thought about while mowing the grass.

Today, I'll be clearing a fence line -- again, under adult supervision.

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 @ 7:18 AM

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lobster Thoughts

Remember how back on my February 25th posting I got a kick out of a newspaper running the wrong photo of a new fossil mammal? By mistake the newspaper attached a photo of a buxom young lady to their article about the new mammal.

To me that was hilarious.

Yesterday another thing happened in the same vein:

Yesterday at work Ginny saw a newspaper article about yet another previously unknown animal which marine biologists recently discovered near a volcanic vent off Easter Island.

When she came home she told me about the new animal, a blind lobster-like creature which appears covered with blond fur. I had not heard of the discovery so I immediately did a Google search.

If you wish to read about it, BBC News carries an excellent article found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4785482.stm

Here is a photo of the new —to us — creature:

A rare find indeed. A creature of exotic beauty. A living creature previously unknown to science…. But what struck me as funny is that my Google search not only turned up this photo of the Kiwa Hirsuta, but Google also enhanced my search with targeted ads geared to appeal to the specific taste of a searcher.

The ads on my screen were for the Red Lobster chain of seafood restaurants!

Well, maybe you had to be there to see how funny that is.

Anyhow, I think that each new discovery of creatures nobody has noticed before reminds us of how little we really know about the wonders of the creation around us. A family of beautiful flying squirrels lives in the tree in my neighbor’s back yard. He’d lived in that house for over 30 years and never knew of their existence until I pointed them out to him last summer

Who know? A unicorn really may graze in those woods by the Interstate. Angels may hover above us. Trolls may hide beneath the bridge. Seahorses may be real — and mermaids ride their backs.

Perhaps my novel Glog is not as far-fetched as it seems.

A line from an old prayer book says something like, “Lord, open our eyes to behold the wonders of Thy creation.”

. On a sad note, the same Google news that tells about the blond-haired lobster, also tells about another scientist accused of fraud in his research. That’s becoming commonplace. Almost daily the news tells about a scientist who falsifies research findings to enhance his reputation or to get more grant money. Such things just indicate that even the best and brightest among us are human sinners needing a Savior.

However, that’s nothing for me to dwell on. It behooves me to think little about the sins of other men and more about my own.

For instance, recently I’ve been wrestling with a problem in intellectual honesty involving my manuscript on the history of firefighting in my hometown.

Usually, my books run in the neighborhood of 300 pages; to qualify for a Library of Congress pre-publication catalogue number, a manuscript should run to at least 200 pages. At the moment, this fire history of mine comes to only 109 pages.

I am tempted to pad.

I’ve been adding a lot of historic photos. That’s legitimate. But I’ve been enlarging them to cover a whole page. That’s unnecessary.

I’ve also tried to insert three chapters from another local history book I wrote. This increases the page count but these chapters dilute the focus of the fire history book.

I want to give the readers who buy my books good value for their money and to pad the manuscript with extraneous crap is just wrong.

But in my vanity I want to say I wrote a BOOK not a pamphlet!

I’m not sure if writers face more temptations than say exotic dancers or scientists or Enron executives or housewives or politicians but I know that my own heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

Ain’t nobody nowhere needs a Savior more than John Cowart.


Such thinking wearies me.

Ginny is taking a couple of days off work to tend our garden over this long weekend. I plan to take her out for dinner tonight.

For some reason I’m thinking about seafood.

I wonder if she’d like to go out to Red Lobster?

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 @ 6:37 AM

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bad Night

Sorry to be so late posting, but I had a bad night, up and down all night punctuated by thirst and disturbing dreams.

Not worth a damn today.

Now, that’s unusual.

I may have something worth saying tomorrow.

Or not.

We’ll see.

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 @ 1:34 PM

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Musings on books, ants and bird flu

Monday I worked adding footnotes to my book on the history of firefighting in Jacksonville. I hope to have that book ready for publication in about three weeks.

As I worked on it, I mused about possible futures for my books.

Pipe dreams really.

For instance I imagined that Stephen King stayed awake all last night worried that this is the book that will bump him off the best seller list and that I’ll usurp his place as the best writer alive today.

My book traces the history of my hometown from the viewpoint of how many times the place has burned down. And while my book touches on politics within the Fire Department, it focuses on the bravery and heroic deeds of firefighters who save lives and property daily.

I can envision massive crowds of readers huddled in sleeping bags on the pavement and fighting for places in line as they wait for bookstores to open so they can buy my book.

Little kids will dress in fireman costumes. Books store owners will stack copies of J.K. Rowling’s books on the floor to make steps so little kids can stand on them to reach the countertop to get my book.

Adoring teens will chant my name and throw themselves on the hood of the limo as I pull in for the book signing.

Luscious young women will mob me ripping their own bodices open, screaming for my autograph as tears stream down their faces..

Bankers will secure first editions in vaults gloating over the increased value as my book goes into printing after printing.

Computers sit idle, screensavers flickering, as nerds abandon the net to pour over my book..

On the other hand…

I also envision that library book sale Sunday where thousands of books—whose authors worked just as hard as I do— languish on tables picked over by indifferent crowds who think a dollar is too much to spend on a writer’s life work.

Every book on those tables represents as much work and as many dreams as my own books do. Sobering thought.

“Of the making of many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh,” said wise King Solomon.

That didn’t stop him from writing his books though, did it?

Hey, he even wrote poetry and we all know what a booming market there is for that stuff.

Of course, King Solomon lucked out and got his books included in the pages of the Bible—which didn’t become a best seller till long after he was dead.

Even kings are frustrated writers at heart.

And other parts of the Bible show that Solomon’s own children paid no attention to the wisdom he wrote down.

“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes,” Solomon wrote, “But the Lord weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

Another thing he wrote says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. (The ant) provideth her meat in the summer and gathereth her food in the harvest.”

Wise words indeed.

I thought of his advice as I read this morning’s Associated Press report on bird flu. The disease spread to 17 new countries last month alone. It has crossed from birds to some mammals (cats, of course).

Considering what the Black Death did in medieval times, what Spanish Lady did in World War I, how Yellow Jack decimated Jacksonville in 1888 (a tidbit from my history book) and how Typhoid Fever killed more soldiers right here in Jacksonville than died in all the fighting of the Spanish American War—

Well, it might not hurt to prepare our souls and pantries for bad times ahead.

Be sure to stock your bunkers with a few cans of beans and copies of my different books to read during the possible bad times ahead.

I hope bird flue fizzles out. I really do.

But, if not, my history of firefighting in Jacksonville—or my book on prayer—might help surviving readers get through tough times.

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 @ 6:08 AM

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Reading Frenzy!

When I was a student back in the late 1950s, my archaeology class surveyed two identical Indians mounds out on an island in the Gulf of Mexico.

I forget the official name of the site, but we called the twin mounds "Sandy’s Nipples" in honor of a young lady in the class. The accolade pleased her.

The island was accessible only by boat.

On one trip to the island we saw a commotion in the water.

Splashing, blood spraying, violent turmoil.

Drawing closer, we saw a pack of sharks attacking a giant sea turtle. They’d already bitten off a flipper or two, yet the turtle, bigger than a table top, attempted to escape by struggling on the surface and actually trying to jump from the water.

Each shark viciously grabbed a bite, thrashed around to tear off a chunk of bloody meat, and fled with it to keep brother sharks from snatching it away. Gulping down the meat, the shark would flip around for another bite. It looked as though dozens of sharks engaged in this feeding frenzy.

What calls this vivid gory memory to mind this morning?

Well, Sunday afternoon Ginny and I attended the annual Friends of the Library Book Sale at the fairgrounds.

There, over a hundred thousand books, culled or donated to Jacksonville libraries, are stacked on hundreds of long tables for buyers to purchase at $10 or less each.

A vast warehouse stuffed with every kind of book, books lying peacefully, tranquilly on long tables. Books filling boxes under the tables, not bothering anybody.

Then here come the buyers!

Hundreds, if not thousands, of readers of every size and description cruised the tables grabbing treasured books, clutching them close to their breasts, packing them in boxes. Grabbing armloads. Filling shopping carts especially stolen from grocery stores for the sale.

Ginny & I separated to cover more ground. When we met by chance in the G section, we each looked as though we just played three quarters of NFL Football on a rainy field.

I made three trips out to stack books in the trunk of our car when my canvas bag overflowed. Ginny made two trips out. We had to break off to replenish our cash at an ATM then back into the fray.

Spending money we don’t have for books we don’t need and books we’re unlikely to ever read. But we couldn’t stop.

Materialism run rampant.

But we got books.

Great books.

There was blood in the water.

Books to be had for the grabbing.

Yes, hundreds of other readers crawled under tables and elbowed eachother aside for another bite at the turtle.

But we got ours!

We got a carload.

I got books on archaeology and history and old diaries and journals and travel and....

They are MINE! All mine. My very own. My books. Mine! Mine. Mine.

I’ll rip down our old bookshelves and build new bookshelves then sit back and relax and say to my soul, “John, eat, drink and read, for thou hast much books”.

So we came home replete, happy and exhausted.

Then guess what we did all evening?

We watched tv.

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 @ 8:41 AM

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Dirty Old Man Gets Worse

Reading back over my posting yesterday I see I’ve glossed over three things which leave a false impression:

First, in the Kepler engraving, the folks on the ground are Christians too. The famous 15th Century astronomer (who discovered the laws used in satellite launching today and who invented the first vacuum cleaner) lived in a time when warring Christian factions hung each other from trees over religious disagreements. Both sides wanted to hang Kepler; and he tried to follow Christ between the adversaries.

Forgive me for implying that in matters of faith there were good guys against bad guys. I don’s see any white hats in that picture.

Second, I pass off in a phrase that I made my matchboxes (see my September 25, 2005 blog) with bikini girls inside the covers. Nothing to it, right? What I didn’t say was that to select pictures of women wearing bikinis or less, I spent three hours browsing girly photos to get just the right ones for my four matchcases.

This is the first time in months I’ve looked at such photos.

Odd, isn’t it that at a moment of spiritual triumph (just finishing a manuscript on people who remained faithful to Christ in the worst circumstances) I reward myself by browsing photos of naked ladies – and I munched chocolate donuts as I browsed!

How decadent is that?

How could a Christian man be so two faced?

Well, if you want to read about piety, maybe the Pope, or Billy Graham, or your rabbi, or the Deli Lama keeps a blog.

My reality is that I’m a dirty old man.

I’m not very good at it, but I’m getting worse.

Do God and my wife know about my inclinations?

Of course. A hypocrite fools no one but himself.

Are they shocked, horrified and left aghast and in disarray?


Both know me exactly as I am and both love me in spite of what I am.

That’s grace.

And I’m a recipient.

The third misimpression I left yesterday concerned my age and my worries about Alzheimer's. Yes it bothers me when I forget something or have trouble learning new things…

I mentioned my concern to Ginny last night at the restaurant and we got to talking about age and health. Remember the phrase from Grumpy Old Men —when Jack Lemon would hear of some guy dying suddenly of a heart attack, he’d say, “Lucky Bastard”Well, one of the biggest fears I have as I get older is that I won’t die quick.

Hey, if you don’t die first, you’re likely to grow senile.

Not too many other options.

Following a risen Lord makes a lot of sense in that light.

But, my brilliant accountant wife broke out a pencil and began figuring dates on a scrap of paper. She subtracted the date of my birth from the date of my next birthday and she proved mathematically that I’m an idiot.

I’m not 67 years old.

I’m only 66.

I’ve been a year off.

I’m younger than I thought.

What a relief.

I’m not old at all….

Er, Do early-stage Alzheimer's guys have trouble with math?

Oh, one last thing: Ginny just read over my last week’s postings. She objected to the nice things I’ve said about her. “You make me sound like a darn saint,” she said, “I ain’t no saint”.

I just record my own impressions of her and I do hold her in high regard.

That’s my perception of her.

But I do remember something Frank Foster, the pastor who gave me pre-marital counseling 38 years ago, said when I enraptured about this beautiful girl I planned to marry.

He said, “John, if you put a woman up on a high pedestal, you’d better carry a big umbrella”.

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 @ 7:41 AM

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Christians In A Tree

Yesterday I fought software ad nausea all day trying to design two book covers. I’d checked out an armload of computer books from the library and studied them diligently. I followed the instructions step by step. Each step worked just as it should; but when I combined them…


Double zilch.

Double damn zilch!

Ginny came home and made both covers in less than an hour.

As I age, I’m finding it harder and harder to learn new things. I understand a joke told by Gene, (http://oldhorsetailsnake.blogspot.com/ ) who lives in a nursing home in Oregon and who tells worse jokes than I do:

More money is being spent today on breast implants and Viagra than on Alzheimer's research. Thus, by 2040, we will have a great population of oldsters with perky boobs and huge erections but no recollection of what to do with them.

Anyhow, I was able to send the manuscripts, with covers, to the printer for proof pages. We’ll see how they come out.

To reward myself for my efforts on these books, I spend this morning making new tin boxes for my matches. Bikini girls inside the covers, Spring and work related pictures on the outside. I did use one picture from a book cover on one matchcase:

This is from Strangers On The Earth, A Collective Biography Of People Whose Faith Got Them Into Trouble. It’s about people who followed Jesus even when it meant suffering; the engraving is from the chapter on Johannes Kepler.

The Christians are the ones in the tree.

No software hassles for these folks.

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 @ 3:00 PM

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Working On Fire Photos

Wednesday morning started with a doctor’s appointment where he gave me the usual dire warnings. The physician spends one month every year in Cameroon, Africa, caring for ailing folks there.

It wasn’t clear if this service is motivated by religious conviction or humanitarian feeling. Not that it matters to the sick folks; they’re getting care either way.

When I escaped from the doctor’s clutches after being diagnosed as needing two more appointments, I drove into Southside where it’s easier to park. Then I rode a water taxi back across the St. Johns River so I could photograph the spire which commemorated the Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901.

I’m working on a history of firefighting in Jacksonville. The text is written and now I’m gleaning photos to illustrate it. Actually, this book is a history of my hometown told from the vantage point of how many times the place has burned down.

The boatmen were enormously helpful when I explained what I was doing. They proved a wealth of information and pertinent questions.

Since no one else was in the water taxi except a young couple so busy smooching that they did not know if they were on the water or in a hotel room, the boatmen brought me close into the memorial and paused the boat there and allowed me to go outside the roped off area to take my photos.

This memorial marks the spot of the Market Street Horror.

When the city burned, hundreds of people crowed onto a dock at this spot to escape the flames. In the scramble for safety, in the press of people, some were shoved into the water and drowned. Not Jacksonville’s finest moment.

Anyhow I had a great time with the boatmen. Then I drove to Fire Station One to photograph a monument to firemen killed in the line of duty:

During our prayer time after supper, Ginny and I got into a long discussion about the meaning of the word ascribe in Psalm 29. In the version we read, ascribe is used several times in verses such as “Ascribe unto the Lord the honor due His name”. The King James the Hebrew word is rendered “Give” — which makes more sense that ascribe.

We broke out the dictionary and see the word has a lot of different connotations.

I’m only familiar with ascribe in a literary sense such as “The plays of Shakespeare are sometimes ascribed to Bacon”. In that way the word seems to mean “give credit to”.

Anyhow, we concluded that we have no idea what it means.

I agree with a quotation ascribed to Mark Twain, “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that give me problems, it’s the parts I do that bother me”.

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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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I Do Not Turn Green!

When I get uptight, scared or angry, my ribs hurt.

Why do my ribs hurt?

Because I press my elbows so tight against my sides; I also cross my ankles and press my knees together so hard that they hurt too.

I spent most of yesterday and last night and a good part of this morning in that condition.

This is not good.

Oddly enough, this doesn’t happen in times of real danger or crisis, just in social situations. I can speak before a large group with no problem because that is a structured situation, but at a party or funeral or Sunday School breakfast, or such… I clam up big time. It’s really painful.

What about the peace Christ is supposed to give us Christians?

Doesn’t work for me.

Not in social situations.

Anyhow, inspired by the movie I watched last night, as we dressed this morning I put on my Incredible Hulk tee shirt to work in while I formatted the Joseph Piram King autobiography.

Ginny noticed my Hulk tee shirt and said, “Are you going to be the Incredible Hulk today?”

“No,” I said. “I wish I was. When I get hurt or angry I don’t turn green, grow huge biceps and smash things; I just get quite and withdraw into my shell.”

“I’ve noticed that,” she said. “When you get upset, you turn into --- the Incredible Sulk!”

I love her dearly, but sometimes Ginny is a smart ass.

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 @ 4:13 AM

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