Rabid Fun

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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Two Happy Songs

At church this morning our pastor read the following announcement:

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week. Larry LaPrise, the man that wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.

Internet research shows a discrepancy about PaPrise’s age and date of death but here is a link to his famous dance tune: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/hokey.htm

Another happy song ran through my head a lot yesterday:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all…

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

Saturday the words to this old hymn occurred to me several times as Ginny and I enjoyed the wonders of God’s world found in our own yard.

Actually, our encounter with nature began before we even went out to work in the yard. We saw a large house spider underneath my desk where all those wires from computer stuff hang down; you know, power cable, two surge protectors, mouse, keyboard, monitor cord, wires for desk lamp, scanner, microphone, two speakers, router, and for all I know a microwave and hair dryer. Donald installed all this stuff and I have no idea what wire goes where.

Anyhow, this poor spider seemed to think this tangle was a giant web and scuttled from wire to wire looking for a moose or something caught in the wire web. It was really funny to see the perplexed creature.

We decided to clean out our front flower beds and again we encountered God’s creatures going about their business with intent purpose:

  • We watched a father cardinal feed seeds to a raucous baby bird nearly as big as himself.
  • We uncovered earthworms as we dug up flowers to transplant.
  • We squished all kinds of bugs.
  • We saw a field mouse sitting on a log munching a sunflower seed fallen from a birdfeeder.
  • A hawk eyed us as we pruned an oak branch.
  • A squirrel couple in love frolicked beneath the porch swing.
  • And a huge white crane, largest I’ve ever seen, landed in the neighbor’s backyard intimidating Felony, the pit bull, who stood in awe of this bird which stood close to six feet tall.

Yes, the Lord created all sorts of creatures to inhabit the earth and not one of them, except man, has ever sinned.

St. Francis said, “Try to realize the dignity God has conferred on you. He created and formed your body in the image of His Beloved Son, and your soul in his own likeness. Yet every creature under heaven serves, acknowledges and obeys its Creator in its own way better than you do.”

What a shame!

But, as our pastor said in church this morning, “The name Jesus means God Saves, or God Heals, or God Makes Whole. While God created us out of nothing, the Resurrection is a new demonstration of God’s power. Jesus is the expiation of our sins. The old word was propitiation but to make it clearer they changed it to expiation! That’s a real help! What it boils down to is that Jesus covers it, that He takes care of it. The love of God is shown toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.

What a joy!

If you’d like to see all the words to “All Things Bright And Beautiful, they can be found at http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/l/allthing.htm … but I was not able to make the music play! Satan invented computers just to frustrate humanity – especially 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 @ 12:44 PM

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

No cat hair to worry about here:

Last night as Ginny and I enjoyed our usual Friday night date at a favorite restaurant, Martha, one of the waitresses, asked for prayer as she faces cancer next Tuesday.

Internet technology presents computer owners with an untold treasure of educational opportunities.

It broadens our world view, exposes us to other cultures, enables us to blog, brings us classic Bible studies, enlightens our spirits, and lets us view the collections of the worlds great art galleries right on our desktops.

How does my son utilize this great learning tool?

He installed a cat cam so all the world can watch for his cats as they avoid ever appearing on screen. (I’m beginning to wonder if he actually owns a cat).

Not to worry.

Cat Cam has been topped.

Your Public Broadcasting System — you know, the folks who always have fund raiser specials on tv instead of the program you want to see — Friday, they announced Cow Cam!

Yes, it’s available at: http://www.mootube.com/

Or you can get streaming video at http://www.mootube.com/from_the_pasture/2006/04/sunset_dinner_1.html

When I showed this latest computer technological advance to Ginny this morning, she said, “Makes me wonder if someday your porno sites will seem the most honorable thing on the net”.

No cows or bulls were harmed in the making of this website.

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 @ 8:57 AM

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Proud Dad Requests Feedback

Yesterday I spent the day with my daughter, Eve.

She brought laundry over from her apartment to do in our washer and dryer. Her laundry had piled up because she’s been heavily involved in planning and coordinating a staff development day for 500+ librarians.

It all came to a head Wednesday, and Eve is taking a few days off to recuperate.

I’m so proud of her. She used her organizational skills to the maximum for this professional event.

Among the things she did was recruit 24 organizations to set up booths with displays ranging from art museums and banking to tai chi and computer scanners.

She arranged shuttle transportation for the handicapped and a police escort for attendees in a change of venues, plus a catered luncheon, door prizes, 10,000 stars, name badges, special speakers and presenters, and a pep talk by the mayor. Plus a dump truck and horses … no, wait, those last two were for another event she’s also involved with.

Here is a quite, shy girl marshaling forces like General Eisenhower at the Normandy Invasion.

I’m impressed.

Anyhow, her own laundry got neglected in the swirl of activity and I’m glad we could help her out in this minor (if you can call five loads minor) behind the scenes need.

After supper, as usual we had a short devotional time. Ginny read a Bible passage but when it came time to pray, neither she nor I nor Eve had even a thought.

We just didn’t have a heart to pray so Ginny read a prayer for us.

Sometimes the best we can do is pray, “Lord, I’m so weary. Help, please”.

Incidentally, on Friday, April 21st, Eve requested some feedback on her blog about a problem that troubles her. I’m too close to it to be of any use. Please take a look at her blog and offer your feedback. It will be appreciated. Eve needs more wisdom than I can give.

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 @ 6:47 AM

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Yo Ho Ho & A Bottle Of Rum

If I ever grow up I’m going to be a pirate.

You guessed it. I’ve been reading again.

Thursday I read a reprint of an 1836 edition of The HISTORY OF THE LIVES & BLOODY EXPLOITS of the MOST NOTED PIRATES.

It’s a collection of case histories of individual pirates.

The title page contains no information on the author, but he compiled these accounts from contemporary magazine and newspaper accounts, letters written by prisoners who escaped from pirates, journals, and trial transcripts.

The book portrays pirates in a different light from my previous mental image.

For one thing, contrary to Hollywood razzle-dazzle real life pirates of the late 1700s and early 1800s seldom attacked other ships by a blazing, cannon-thundering frontal assault on the high seas. Yes such attacks sometimes happened but most often Pirates stole by stealth, deceit, subterfuge and treachery. Most often they appear to have taken their prey in ports while the victim was at anchor.

At sea the pirate ship often posed as a vessel in distress (as though they were out of drinking water, etc.) to lure the victim close enough for boarding.

Sometimes in port the pirates would pose as merchants come aboard to buy legitimate cargo. Once they were ensconced aboard, they’d attack and sail the ship away to another port and sell the cargo themselves.


But the pirates among themselves adhered to a twisted code of honor.

For instance one pirate crew bought goods from a Dutch merchant ship. They stole the whole ship and looted all the money on board — except for the money they had paid for the goods they bought. They felt that taking that money back would be dishonest!

One pirate explained that the purpose of a voyage was to “honestly and quietly rob what Mores that fell in their way, and return home with clean consciences, and clean, but full, hands”.

Many pirate crews did not see themselves as bad guys, but as independent nations afloat, at war with all other nations on earth.

They stood among the world’s first true democracies in that captains, officers and various lower posts were chosen by vote. All in a crew stood equal regardless of race, religion or national origin. And stolen loot was divided by strict contract ratified by all aboard.

When one man was killed in action, the others made sure his portion of the loot went to his widow and children.

Yes, they acted fair and square among themselves (allowing for treachery, lying, cheating, double-dealing and human nature, of course).

Outsiders did not fair as well in the pirates’ hands.

While some were noted for gentlemanly conduct, especially for prisoners of their own nationality, most believed that dead men tell no tales and slaughtered all prisoners taken so that no witness could ever testify against them should they come to trial.

This could get rough.

Pirates played for keeps.

When one captured captain refused to tell where he hid his money, the pirates cut off both his arms at the elbows. This motivated him to tell the cash was sealed between ship ribs. But, because he’d been slow to answer, the pirates coated his bloody stumps with turpentine and set it afire to see him dance.

They laughed at his amusing antics.

Pirates didn’t have cable tv.

Other captives they stripped naked and set on barren sandbars to sunburn to death.

When they felt one captured pilot may have tried to run their ship aground, they nailed both his feet to the deck and left him there for the seas to wash over.

A 17-year-old female captive was passed around among the crew till they approached a port where they feared she might be noticed. They felt that because she had been of such good service, they’d show her mercy by poisoning her instead of giving her a more unpleasant death.

As the pirates considered their nation at war with all other nations, so all other nations hunted down pirates for execution.

On Friday, February 7, 1823, in Kingston, Jamaica, ten pirates were hung.

The judge at a pirate trial used the legal formula “Be carried to the prison from whence you came and from thence to the place of execution, where you are to be hanged by the neck till you are dead, dead, dead”.

Yes, he’d say it three times.

The account goes on to say, “The gallows was of considerable length, and contrived with a drop so as to prevent the unpleasant circumstances which frequently occur”.

I have no idea what that means.

But it doesn’t sound nice.

One chicken-hearted pirate fainted when he saw the gallows. They sat him in a chair and tied him upright. Then they hung him and his chair.

After a hanging, the dead pirate’s body was chained up to rot on display as a warning to other men about the fate of pirates. That’s what happened to Captain Kidd:

Nevertheless, even though some pirates died on a rope, others returned to their homelands with fortunes, set themselves up as gentleman merchants, married into titled families, lived in mansions, became government leaders, and died in old age respected by all as successful men.

That’s the kind of pirate I want to be…

Only one problem…

I get seasick.

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 @ 5:18 AM

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Last Night I Talked About History

Last night I gave a lecture on Jacksonville history to a group at the Maxville Branch Library.

As usual, a bunch of rusty artifacts I’ve found over the years illustrated the lecture. A hand-forged ax, a Civil War sword, a toy cast iron horse, a 1901 rum bottle, a burning tea bag, a newspaper front page announcing the sinking of the Titanic, and other odds and ends which I use as lecture notes and crutches to help me in public speaking.

The folks who attended the talk displayed a keen interest and contributed greatly to my understanding of local history because many of them have ancestors whose stories they told.

  • One lady told about finding arrowheads near a local creek.
  • Another told how she once had the first issues of Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman comic books — which her mother gave away!
  • A retired sailor told about icebergs he encountered.
  • Another man talked about his knife collection…

Thus the audience enlightened me as much as I could them.

We talked about how fires and disease shaped much of Jacksonville’s history.

My grandmother, an old country Cracker, only recognized two types of illness: the dying person either had Creeping Corruption, or Galloping Eruption. Those two terms covered it all as far as Grandma was concerned.

The lecture group also talked about the heroic actions of nurses during the 1888 Yellow Jack plague.

Yellow Jack was the personification of yellow fever.

During the quarantine, the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, offered a $100 reward to anyone shooting or capturing an escapee from Jacksonville.

Other cities even refused to accept mail from Jacksonville.

On the other hand, a contingent of 18 Red Cross nurses from New Orleans took a train to come relieve suffering in Jacksonville, but the train engineer refused to stop in the plague zone.

It was after midnight in a torrential downpour when the nurses jumped from the moving train in MacClenny in order to reach the sick who needed them.

They stayed in this area for 79 days often working shifts of 72 hours without sleep. Some carried patients on their backs for miles to seek help. These nurses earned $3 a day.

Apparently, eight of them died of the fever.

An editorial cartoon of the day shows other cities defending stricken Jacksonville:

But of course there was no defense; no one at the time knew the cause or cure of Yellow Fever. Plagues of Yellow Jack decimated Jacksonville in 1872, 1877 and 1888.

In 1898, during the Spanish American War more soldiers died here in Jacksonville because of typhoid fever than were killed in battle.

No one knows how many people Spanish Lady, the personification of Spanish flu, killed here in 1918. The record keepers themselves died. In Evergreen Cemetery row after row of markers show that six or eight members of the same family died within a day or two of eachother.

So many died that mass pit burials became necessary. Some of these were located near the present-day Gateway Mall.

The prospect of epidemic disease, such as bird flu, which could be a more efficient killer than either Yellow Jack or Spanish Lady, frightens us.

Yet even in the face of wide-spread disease the death rate stays the same as always.

Whether we face plague, fever, or Captain Trips himself, the death rate does not change.

Cancer, AIDS, a drunk driver, swallowing a peach pit, heart attack, shark attack —no matter what the threat, the death rate remains the same — One per person.

That’s something to think about.

Of course we should take prudent measures to protect life and to comfort the dying. That’s common sense.

But a plague death is certainly nothing more for us to worry about than any other kind death.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.”

If nothing else, history shows that the road doesn’t end here.

You may not have guessed it, but I really love giving history talks.

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 @ 9:18 AM

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Here's The Plan:

This past weekend Ginny and I planned.

Sunday, we spent six hours just talking over our options in a number of areas, discussing our goals, deciding on various actions, and setting a loose timetable for doing this or that.

For most of our talking we sat outside by the fountain watching birds raid the feeders and listening to the fountain, but as we got down to core decisions, we came inside and sat at the kitchen table with calendar, phone book, pencils and 3X5 cards.

We do not engrave our plans in stone.

The ancient Proverb says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth”.

The Apostle James echoes that adding, "Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that”.

But Ginny and I are planners so naturally during our planning we often asked God to guide us to the best decisions to make at the moment. And we suspect that He does so guide us but nevertheless we hold our plans lightly.

We realize that a single phone call in the night can disrupt any plan we may make yet it behooves us to look ahead as far as we are able – which realistically is about as far as from here to the coffee pot.

But we can’t sit around talking about stuff forever either because sometimes the future depends on what we chose to do today.

So, we canceled some things dear to us (no new car; repair the old one).

We postponed some things we’d thought of (Trip up north in November or December instead of next month).

We solidified some intentions (Make reservations for our Anniversary getaway).

And we decided on several changes in day to day living (No more grocery shopping on weekends, we have better things to do with that time together).

We also reviewed our hurricane/bird flu preparations.

Incidentally, for a good rundown on family and individual information about bird flu check out www.pandemicflu.gov . That site offers comprehensive information I haven’t seen elsewhere.

After all our long-range planning and decision making on topics as varied as world-wide plague and buying bicycles — we then came to the decision about where to have lunch.

That’s where things broke down.

As Alpha Male, head of this household, man responsible for our health, safety and well-being, I decisively chose a restaurant.

We drove there.

It closes at 2 o’clock on Sundays.

We’d talked in such detail and planned for so long that we’d missed the closing hour.

Settled for Chinese carryout.


“I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future”.

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 @ 12:13 PM

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Moving Experience

Spring breezes wafted away the morning fog. New green leaves filtered slanting rays of sunlight. Coolness crisped the dawn. Butterflies flitted among the flowers of our garden. Ginny poured cracked grain into the birdfeeders and we lingered with our morning coffee, binoculars and bird book, rocking in cushioned lawnchairs trying to confirm our tentative identification of an indigo bunting. A lizard lounged on the rim of our fountain flicking its tongue to capture moisture from the damp surface of the Grecian urn beaded with diamond droplets escaped from the fountain's cascading burbling flow.

The sparkle of Ginny’s eyes, the soft brush of her hand against mine, the husky aroma of her perfume, that tantalizing gap in her robe, the splendid prospect of the day ahead with no plans or duties — all carried the sensuous promise of untold, unhurried, lingering, day-long erotic pleasures of love, passion, tenderness spiced with lust and …

And then the phone rang.

Eight a.m. on a lovely spring morning and the phone rang!

And John Cowart, the idiot, answered the damn thing.

“Dad, if you and Mom don’t have anything planned, I’m in trouble and need some help”.

Of course we had nothing planned.

Nothing that I’d mention on the phone to one of our kids anyhow.

So Ginny and I spent Saturday helping Donald move his girlfriend from a three-bedroom house with home office equipment to a two bedroom apartment. Rental truck. Homepack job. An energetic but inexperienced 14-year-old boy the only other helper.

The house was being repainted for sale. All furniture had been piled in the garage along with sheetrock, painter’s buckets, sawdust, scrap boards, file cabinets, laundry baskets, kitty-litter box and garden tools.

Picture the neat, orderly arrangement of the Third Circle in a Dore engraving of Dante’s Inferno.

Now, Helen is the world’s sweetest girl, vivacious, energetic, personable, pretty, intelligent, artistic… it puzzles me how she could have alienated all humanity so that she is alone and friendless in the earth so that no other person in the world would show up to help her move. I mean, Saddam has more friends who would help him move than she does.

And, Donald, of course, is a computer geek who knows no actual live human beings.

Now, Ginny and I, in our younger days, worked as professional movers. That was almost 40 years ago. Recently, the heaviest thing either of us has lifted was the tv remote.

So, for ten hours we strained and lifted and levered and dollied, and slid and carried and trudged up and down the truck ramp, in and out of the house and apartment.

File drawers and lamps and bicycle and antique wardrobe and clothes on hangers and chairs and chests and hampers and tables and paintings and damn big things and a baby-changing table (??? Is there something they’re not telling us???) and paint cans and groceries and mink oil (? I didn’t know she raised minks??) and sofas and unsealed boxes with coat-hangers and glass bottles sticking out the top so you can’t set anything on top of them and garden hoses and treasures and — O damn, they packed all the rolls of toilet paper — and lawn furniture and a suit of armor and pole lamps and rugs and …

It took two truck loads.

As Ginny and I drove home we joked about how sore and stiff we felt. Aching backs and arms and leg muscles.

Naturally, when alone like this our conversation turned to risqué jokes, the kind of jokes which only can be shared (or even understood) by a couple who’ve been in love for 40+ years.

Our car lacks air conditioning.

We drive with the windows down.

We were paused in traffic in the kicked ant-hill that is Jacksonville’s Orange Park section. We were laughing like crazy about one of our erotic jokes….

I think I’d just said, “If my dick were as stiff as the rest of me…”

And Ginny said… Well, never mind what she said.

But the guy stopped in traffic beside us , who also had his window down, burst out laughing.

“He’s eaves dropping on us,” Ginny said. “He heard me say that. Young people have no idea, do they?”

We ate supper at a familiar restaurant where the waitress sat at the table with us for a few minutes complaining about her six grown children who are visiting at her house for two weeks. She joked that if she got enough in tips that instead of going home she planned to buy a deck of cards, check into a motel alone and play solitaire all night.

I slipped my shoes off under the table and lost them and had to crawl under to find them again. My feet were so swollen that I had trouble getting them back on my feet.

We felt too tired to bother unloading our car of the cast-off stuff we gleaned from Helen’s when we finally got home.

Ginny said, “John, I’m going to get these shoes off and stupefy in front of the tv. I love you but for the rest of the evening. I don’t want you to even speak to me.”

I didn’t.

But we fell asleep in front of the tv holding hands.

True 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 @ 7:17 AM

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Protective Coloration

Thursday I attempted to resume work on my history of firefighting in Jacksonville. I got entangled in Word transfers and gave it up as a bad job for the moment.

Failing that, I decided to scan in a long-out-of-date history pamphlet. Although I’ve done the exact same thing in the exact same way numerous times before, the scanner refused to scan…

I’ve heard that there is no computer problem you can’t fix if you have a big enough hammer.

Frustrated, and fearing that I might go out to the toolshed and get a 12-pound computer repair kit, I thought it best to walk away from the machine and spend the day reading Dave Barry’s novel, Tricky Business.

Friday as I mowed the yards, I mulched a snake in our front yard.

Honest, if I’d seen it, I would have avoided running the mower over it. But the snake’s protective coloration matched the ground so perfectly that I did not see it till it was too late.

When it heard the mower coming, why didn’t the snake slither out of the way?

Stupid snake.

No it didn’t run; it hunkered down in the grass thinking it’s protective coloration would protect it.

The snake’s protective coloration lets it blend in with its surroundings so that it can sneak up on it’s prey and so that predators hungry for snake meat will not see it hiding in the grass.

I have macular degeneration and my vision does not always distinguish things where there is little contrast.

Too bad for the snake.

Sometimes blending in doesn’t help a bit.

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 @ 6:39 AM

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ginny Amid the Flowers

I dabbled in the garden a bit yesterday; when Beauty came home, I snapped a photo of her with some hibiscus:

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:56 AM

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Divine Guidance Seven Years Ago?

I read brain candy all day yesterday so there’s nothing really to enter in this journal… So, for a blog posting I decided to see what I was doing on this date seven years ago.

Surprise! Back in ’99 I was in a slump of depression and I was concerned about how God guides us… A lot of this old post could have been written yesterday!

Caution: the following contains profanity, adult, and religious content; if you are offended by such things, you may want to skip this posting:

Wednesday, April 14, 1999:

This morning I biked to the Murray Hill Library to return books. The building had not opened yet and books overflowed the external book drop.

A train across the tracks had delayed me before I got to the library and I puzzled over why I appeared to be held in the area. The thought of leaving my books on top of the book drop tempted me, but a large number of high school students clustered around the library waiting for a school bus to show up and since one of my books was the latest Stephen King, I felt reluctant to leave it in plain sight.

I rode down the street to see if anymore goodies had been put out from the closed Greyhound Bus Depot but the fence was locked and the pile of trash/treasures out of reach. Nothing for it but to hang around till the library opened; so I decided to eat breakfast at DeLoache's — where something odd happened.

I had almost finished my eggs, sausage and grits when a trio came in, two guys and a girl. They sat near my table and their conversation grew loud enough to overhear. One guy appeared to be a bystander but the other spoke cruelly to the woman. At one point he said, "Just because I fuck you doesn't mean you can hang around my apartment while I'm at work".

He threw some money on the table to pay for the meal and he and the other guy stomped out.

The woman sat there smoking cigarettes and looking miserable.

She sported enormous tits unencumbered by a bra. She was quite pretty but with an aura of roughness. A woman who has been around... but she was obviously very unhappy.

None of my business...

Now I don't readily speak to strangers. I went to the cashier and paid my bill and returned to my table for my library books. I felt a compulsion to speak to the young woman. I sat back down sipping coffee and thinking of reasons I should leave; but the nagging feeling that I should talk to her about Christ persisted. Given my current low spiritual state, I'm in no way qualified to speak with anybody about eternal matters.

Besides, I have things to do, plans for the morning. Her boyfriend may return. She might think I'm hitting on her. I'm no preacher. I have nothing to say. I'm empty. Depressed...

"Miss, are you OK? You look so unhappy over here. May I sit with you for a minute?" I said.

She nodded, on the verge of tears.

" What's the problem?" I asked.

"The problem is that I am a whore," she said.

I said, "Whore is not what you are. It is something you do. And you can change that anytime you want to".

She explained that she sold pussy to buy drugs for herself and this guy she'd been with. He is not exactly a full time pimp but he does take her money and beat her, and this has been their off and on relationship for a year of so.

She has done exotic dancing and whoring on the side but she’s stopped dancing and just whores now, picking up guys on street corners. She's sick of herself and some of the things she’s done.

For instance, recently some guy at the beach had her push the spike heel of her high heel shoe up his ass while she sucked him off.

Later, he stood over her and pissed on her breasts as she masturbated.

Glamorous life, no?

She told me that she suffers from chronic depression (no wonder), and that she is bi-polar as well as manic-depressive. She also takes crack cocaine and drinks to excess.

"My life is in a deep, dark hole and there's no way out," she said. "I want to change but I can't. I just stay in this hole".

"Good," I said.

That got her attention.

"Jesus Christ knows all about holes." I said. "He was tortured to death for our sins and they put Him in a grave, the deepest, darkest hole there is. But because He is the Prince of Life, He came out of that hole. He knows what it's like. He knows where you are, and He cares about what happens to you".

I again emphasized that whore is what she does, not what she is. "You are a woman created in the very image of God Almighty. He treasures you. He cares about how other people have treated you and about how you have treated yourself. He values you. He actually loves you no matter what.

"If you ever decide to change what you are doing, He will help you. And there are other people who will help too."

I wrote down phone numbers for Liberty Center for Women, Hubbard House, WSCO, and Laurel (a Christian counselor I know).

"If you want to go on doing what you have been doing, you can. No one is going to stop you. If you ever decide you are sick enough of the life you are leading and really want to change then Jesus will help you. It will be tough but it is possible. You don't have to keep on doing what you are doing and feeling the way you are feeling. The ball is in your court."

"Mister," she said, "I think God sent you here this morning."

Her name is Cindy.

When I got home, I called Hazel, my 86-year-old aunt. "Oh John," she said, "I think God had you call me this morning," she said. She is upset about Medicare problems and prescriptions.

Later, I called K.K at church. "The Lord must have had you call," he said, "I've been thinking of calling you all morning".

Thus three times today it appears that God's hand has been directing my activities and using me... yet I am not conscious of being any more devout or spiritual than at any other time recently. I still feel empty, dried up and useless...

Perhaps these three contacts have been sent from Heaven to encourage me not to give up altogether. The three incidents were not for the benefit of the other people involved but for me because I am so low and discouraged and depressed.

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 @ 8:52 AM

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

John Cowart, Hemorrhoid Salesman

I spent yesterday reading and cleaning up cookout debris.

I didn’t feel like working on the fire history book.

Back on April 10th I recorded how a bit of depression fell on me. Well, it’s still on me and I haven’t been good for much of anything recently.

You’d think that being a Christian and spreading the good word about the resurrection and the joy of Easter would temper the way I feel but I find that what I believe and what I feel are two very different things.

I believe that Christ died for the sins of the whole world.

I feel that all sin is forgivable —except mine.

I believe that God loves all the people He created.

I feel that He can barely tolerate me.

I believe that life has meaning and purpose.

I feel as though I’ve spent my own life just circling the drain.

I believe and write that there is hope for everyone in every situation.

I feel hopeless.

I believe that I have a message of hope, deliverance and joy to share with readers when I write.

I feel as though nothing I do or write makes any difference.

This dichotomy of belief and feeling is difficult to cope with. On one hand I want to be honest; on the other I don’t want to scare readers away from Christ by being my normal morbid self. The temptation is to fake it; but how can I win folks to Christ by being dishonest?

If I come across as happy, happy, happy all the time that’s false advertising at best.

If I write about my own depressed feelings all the time … well, that’s like trying to sell readers on the benefits of hemorrhoids.

It may be true, but who wants it.

So, my feelings condemn me.

Make me feel like a hypocrite.

What am I to do?

In his first letter the apostle John says, “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things”.

I can only conclude that while some Christians feel the joy of the Lord and skip from hilltop to hilltop like spring lambs, some of us trudge like dumb oxen in the dust. Yet I believe we (of both types) are headed toward the same eventual destination.

The lamb types think in terms of joyous reunion with the Shepherd; we ox types feel we’re headed to a slaughter house

I’m tempted to say, “Stupid lambs! The Shepherd’s gonna shear your dumb asses.”

But who am I to judge another’s servant.

Meanwhile, here’s another of my favorite cartoons:


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 @ 6:17 AM

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Tax Deadline Today

The deadline for filing Federal Income Taxes falls at midnight tonight.

The Cowart family spent Easter afternoon enjoying a rousing pool party and cookout.

The party was fun but left me exhausted; I’ll post more photos when my photo gallery is back running.

Oh About those taxes:

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 @ 6:14 AM

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

Here are a few of my favorite Rev. Fun Cartoons to enjoy.
Scads more can be found at


Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:06 AM

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Titanic Anniversary

Friday marked the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on April 14, 1912. Among those lost in the shipwreck was Dr. Robert Bateman of Jacksonville. A letter from a prostitute lead the minister to be aboard the Titanic. Here is a link to a profile of the preacher whom newspapers of the day called “The Most Popular Man On The Titanic. This is a sample chapter from my book Strangers On The Earth.

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 @ 4:05 PM

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Grasping At Straws

I encountered the first snake of the season Friday.

Ginny & I had not planned anything for this weekend but a flurry of phone calls reveal that we are hosting an Easter cookout; so I worked all day Friday preparing the yard for visitors.

I found the garden snake, between 18 and 24 inches long, sunning in the grass near the pool steps. Not wanting to mulch him with the mower, I captured him and moved him into a fern bed — three times.

He kept running back to the same spot I picked him up from so I’d have to move him again.

Here’s the odd thing, every time I’d try to pick him up, Mr. Snake would bite a stalk of fern straw or something anchored to the ground and hold on for dear life.

I’ve never seen a snake do that before.

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, April 14, 2006

We Were Just Friends

Her name was… Let’s say her name was Susan.

We both worked for a huge government agency in Washington.

Things fell out that we took our coffee breaks at the same time every day and took to sitting at the same table in the snack bar for our allotted 15 minutes morning and afternoon. Then we started eating lunch together every day.

Our conversation often revolved around inane things the supervisors were doing at the moment.

Susan’s parents brought her to America when she was a teen. Susan, her family, parents, grandparents and back for generations and generations in the old country were not Christians. They worshiped something other than Jesus Christ.

As we became friends, I often “witnessed” to Susan hoping to win her to Christ.

I gave my “testimony”.

I handed her tracts to read….

I showed her Scripture verses.

Then a better job offer came along for me.

I left the agency.

Something came up that I wanted to do. Something I wanted to do bad. Something entirely at odds with my being a Christian.

I weighted my desire on one hand against my Lord on the other.

I chose my desire.

I did what I wanted.

One day I got a call from Susan. She asked if I’d meet her for lunch in a quite and private place. I agreed.

“John,” she said, “I’ve thought about those things you told me. I’ve thought about them a lot. I think I want to become a Christian. Can you show me how?”.

I said, “I don’t believe that stuff anymore”.

“But you told me…”

“Yeah, but I’ve changed my mind. I don’t believe any of it’s true”.

“Those beautiful things about Jesus?”

“Nothing to it,” I said. “Nothing to it at all.”

We finished lunch.

I never saw Susan again.

I never even heard a rooster.

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 @ 3:43 AM

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Happy Easter Ritual

Years ago my friend Henry, a Jewish man I greatly admired, received a shock, one he probably should have expected but didn’t.

Because of deaths and other changes in his family’s structure, he abruptly realized that he would be the oldest man at the Seder table. As a boy, when he’d been the youngest kid, he’d been the one to ask, “Father, why is this night different from all other nights?”

Now, he would be the one to answer the Passover questions.

The power of his changed roll in this ancient ritual instilled him with a sense of awe and just about overwhelmed him.

Over the years, the Cowart family has also observed a number of simple customs that became rituals for us.

For instance one year Johnny, my middle son, decided that our family ought to have a Bible reading and prayer time after supper each night. We began the practice, it became a regular custom, and today, even though all the children are grown and gone, Ginny and I still follow that ritual — except on Saturday nights.

One Saturday when the kids were little and supper was a later than usual, Donald announced, “No use having devotions tonight. God is watching the Muppets!”

“Well,” I said, “Maybe we should join Him”.

So on Saturday nights ever thereafter we watched the Muppets instead of devotions.

Our rituals are not engraved in stone.

One ritualistic practice that Ginny and I observe — and I don’t remember when we started this or how long we’ve been doing it — but every day after our morning coffee while still in our bathrobes, Ginny comes over and sits on my lap to kiss and cuddle while we silently give thanks and pray for eachother’s day.

Better than Maxwell House!

Problem with that is that sometimes I am are not in peace and harmony with that left-handed, wrong-headed, exasperating woman. Or, for some impossible unreasonable reason, she’s decided to A-bomb my calm, peaceful Luxemburg — yes, she occasionally finds fault with the St. Francis Clone she’s married to — Anyhow, our morning ritual of post-coffee cuddling forces a truce and re-evaluation of our marital harmony.

That doesn’t always help, mind you, but it tempers our anger. It’s hard to stay pissed at someone you’re thanking God for. Especially when I’m aware that He’s not too keen on hypocrisy.

I’m becoming a specialist at grumpy prayers.

When the kids were home, we fell into another family ritual. Every year on the Thursday before Easter, after supper I’d crawl on the floor around the table and wash the feet of each person in my family. We treated this not as some solemn religious ceremony but as a time for jokes, foot tickling, and expressions of love.

Then the kids would squabble over who got to wash my feet and inevitably the basin would get knocked over and water splashed everywhere…

Happy chaos.

After Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the last supper (John 13) he said, “Ye also ought to wash one another’s feet… If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them”.

I may be wrong but as best I can recall, that’s the only thing Jesus ever specifically said would make us happy.

I know that when our family was all together for this, we’d have a blast.

And, yes, I know that Jesus regarded this not as a mere ceremony but as symbolic of hands-on, down-and-dirty real service to others.

In Bible times, thousands of sheep, donkeys, camels, horses and whatever plied the streets of Jerusalem. None of this traffic carried emissions control devices.

People walked these streets also.

Think of what may have squished through those open-toed sandals.

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet because their feet were dirty.

Anyhow, after we’d do the foot-washing thing at the table, we’d talk about the Crucifixion. The gory details. The meaning to us. The love of Christ.

It was not for few or small offences that God became a human being; not for little and small sins only did He suffer torture in our place. His love brought him to this night of terror because of the sin which so permeates us that we think it normal

I tend to think: Really, Jesus, you should not have gone to all that trouble! Sure I mess up a little now and then but I’m really not a bad guy. I think you’re over reacting to this sin thing. I’m not that bad. After all, I’m only human.

Obviously, God in His pure white-hot holiness, thinks my behavior, my attitude, my heart me, my sin, my core — are all in more serious condition than I think they are.

But Jesus has been know to save people too dense and dumb and dark to know they needed saving in the first place. — folks like me.

I thought that little snake was rattling because he was happy to see me.

Anyhow, I’m getting carried away here.

I could have just said that Jesus died for a reason and left it at that.

The kids all grown and gone now. They won’t be with us for supper tonight.

What got me to thinking about these things is that tonight after supper, I plan to wash Ginny’s feet…

In fact, I like Peter’s idea — not just feet, but hands and head also …

In fact, I think I’ll try to lure her into the bathroom for a shower together!

What a cool idea.

I’ll try to make that a family tradition.

Wish me luck.

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 @ 9:33 AM

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Easter Parade

I love a parade.

Back on February 14th & 15th, I wrote about how in the Dark Ages, Ginny & I designed a few parade floats. Well, I haven’t constructed a parade float in 20 years but parades still fascinate me.

No, I’m too nervous, uncomfortable, and shy in crowds to want to actually go to one, but I watch them on tv and enjoy thinking about how I’d handle this or that challenge with a particular float.

Recently I came across a church newsletter in which the Rev. H. Marshall Lowell, rector of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville, Florida, explains the fascinating origin of the Easter Parade.

Here’s a copy of his happy essay:

The first Sunday in April we will lose one hour’s sleep. Two Sunday’s later we will gain victory over death! Unfortunately, most people do not know that Easter gives us victory over death. To them, that hour’s sleep is more important than Easter. It is tragic and almost incomprehensible that after two thousand years, the Word is still not out there. It is still a dark and despairing world. The church (us!) has a lot of work to do.

Most people know about Easter eggs, Easter baskets, Easter bunnies and Easter bonnets. Many people have no grasp of why we are celebrating. The “Easter Parade” is not about showing off our new finery, not about ministry — which is what it started out as so long ago.

Well over a century ago, the parishioners of St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue in New York would bring flowers and small gifts in baskets to church on Easter Sunday. Following the glorious Eucharistic Celebration of the resurrection of our Lord, they would walk up Fifth Avenue to St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital (thus the Easter Parade) where they would visit each patient and give them flowers and little gifts. They would also share with the patients the Saving Grace of our Lord Jesus and His Easter Victory over sin and death. Many lives were changed as a result.

One of the dictionary definitions of parade is “a pompous show”. The church today is very good as such things, especially on occasions such as Easter. But does the show lead us to ministry?

The word just ahead of parade in the dictionary is Paraclete — another name for the Holy Spirit. If we truly understand the Easter Event we so love to celebrate, then we will ask the Lord for the power of the Holy Spirit to move us into ministry. It is, after all, a Victory Parade. It is the Victory Parade for all time and eternity — and that is certainly more important than an hour’s sleep. May you feel the total power and joy of this Victory. Happy Easter! …


P.S.: It is a good thing that I have a 29-year-old desk dictionary in which Paraclete follows Parade. The dictionary in my new super deluxe computer does not recognize this pseudonym for the Holy Spirit. It wants to change the word to Parakeet. Perhaps this is appropriate. We have allowed our concept of the spiritual power of the Lord to “go to the birds”. It is time for us to reclaim this power and use it to His glory!

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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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Today and 1982 - An Instant Replay

Monday evening Ginny & I attended a Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting where the group discussed the usual problems.

Our neighborhood made the tv news recently because a young man a few houses down from Ginny & me killed his baby son.

Shook it to death to shut it up.

Poor bastard. (I’m referring to the dad, not the kid here).

I’m sure every parent in the world has been tempted to use such a direct means to quite a screaming baby; the wonder of it is that so few of us give in to that temptation. But we are the adults and should learn how to endure kids.

Of course this dad was not exactly an adult; late teens, early 20s I think, hardly more than a baby himself.

The family had moved in just a few weeks ago.

Now the house stands abandoned.

The landlord put all their furniture and stuff at the curb. Brand new baby crib, stroller, playpen, changing table, a new giant-screen tv — and a used ratty sofa, cheap dinette, some adult bedroom fixtures that has the look of rented furniture…. All the stuff you’d expect to see in the home of a young couple just starting out and trying to make a life for themselves — new stuff for baby, make-do stuff for the couple.

Anyhow, the dad’s in jail, the baby’s dead, the mom’s disappeared.

Three lives shot to Hell in one flash of frustration.

Not a whole lot Neighborhood Watch can do there.

Instead of working on the fire department history yesterday, because of the depression welling up inside me (and because of pure laziness) I decided that reading was better for me than writing.

I finished the Dave Barry book and I also finally finished the Diaries of John Bright. John Bright, a Quaker and a member of British Parliament, kept a diary from 1837 to 1887, a span of 50 years. As a young man, he considered entering the ministry but decided that he would be of more service to Christ by fighting poverty, war and slavery by serving in the government.

I enjoy reading the journals and diaries of other people. For one thing, a person who keeps a diary seeks to discover pattern and meaning in his own life, as I do.

I’d have to unpack boxes in the closet to see just how far back my own diaries go, not nearly 50 years, but close to 30 I guess.

This morning, just for fun, I pulled down my 1982 journal to see what I was doing on this day (April 11th) that year. My entry started:

“Patricia (then age 4) woke me this morning as she struggled with the cat in our bed. She was vigorously brushing its teeth with my toothbrush — an omen of how this day was to go…”

The entry goes on to describe how I was trying to repair an old clunker of a car while a drunk guy from next door told me a better way he’d do it, and how a counselor suggested that Ginny and I get a divorce!

Until I looked at my old journal, I have forgotten all about cat and car and counselor!

I think keeping a daily journal (such as this blog) helps me see what are some of the important things in my life because on the day while they are actually happening, I have no idea of what is important and what is not!

I don’t understand life as she is lived.

Here’s something odd, a quote from my next 1982 posting reads:

“I wonder if Jesus would have been a Christian if He’d had a car to fix & a drunk to kibitz? …but still, as Job says, “Though He slay me; yet will I trust Him” but that doesn’t mean I have to like it”.

That’s the very same Scripture I comforted myself with yesterday!

Do I detect a pattern here?

Oh, I should hasten to add that even with a member of Parliament, 50 years of journal rambling of an old man can get boring as hell!

Enough of mine for today.

(Darn, I read the hand-written 1982 dates wrong above but you get the idea.)

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 @ 6:30 AM

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Wallowing In Depression & Rejection

Sunday at lunch I felt fine as I forked a bite of roast beef, but by the time I lifted it to my mouth a wet blanket of depression overwhelmed me.

Yes, it came on that sudden.

Waves of depression have hit me periodically before but never so clearly marked or so abrupt as this one.

No big deal; it’s something I live with.

Because of the sudden onset, I recognize a couple of the triggers this time.

Sunday afternoon Ginny frolicked scattering flower blossoms in the air as she figured our income tax for several hours.

As she played, I diligently studied financial matters also by reading Dave Barry’s Money Secrets.

Dave Barry is one of my favorite writers.

Chapters in his financial planning book include such timely topics as:

  • Why Is There A Giant Eyeball On The Back Of A Dollar Bill?
  • Teaching Your Children About Money: Let The Little Bastards Stave
  • Start Your Own Business: Harness The Awesome Power of Human Stupidity
  • Retirement Planning: The Financial Advantages of Early Death

From this sage volume I learned (as I have long suspected) that the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board who determines the flow and future of the U.S. economy, and Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who predicts six more weeks of winter if he sees his shadow — these two are actually the same person using the same techniques in their different professional capacities .

Anyhow, as I read this excellent book, I urged Ginny to forget that stuff they taught her while getting her accounting degree and to fill out our WD-40 according to Dave’s advice.

Even though she ignored me, we will get money back.


Friday night Ginny & I went out to dinner with our friends Warren & Carol. After we ordered, Carol asked me about where I’d gotten the idea for writing Glog, the novel which I consider the best thing I’ve ever written.

As I prepared a modest answer in my mind, she elaborated by saying she’d read the first 50 pages and decided the book was so horrible it gave her nightmares and she put it aside and has no intention of finishing the other 283 pages.

Her evaluation stunned me.

In my mind, Glog is a happy, bumbling, loveable creature who, although he devours an occasional human for food, should generate sympathy and identification in a reader. I never imagined that anyone would find him horrible.

Doing our taxes involved reviewing my book sales for 2005... I'm not nearly as depressed as I should be.

Of course all writers experience rejection; it goes with the territory. I once submitted a book manuscript 19 times before a publisher bought it.

Writers consider rejected manuscripts an occupational hazard.

One of my favorite cartoons shows an editor hard at work on one of my manuscripts. If profanity offends you, you may want to skip this, but here is a link to that cartoon.

Years ago I sent an article to a magazine. After a few months, the editor returned it. The editor had gone over my work with a blue pencil correcting typos and such as he read the article. He strengthened some weak verbs and removed redundancies — all work which indicated that he was considering the manuscript for publication… Until he arrived at my concluding paragraph…

Then he stabbed his blue pencil completely through all pages of the manuscript!

That was one ticked off editor.

Something must have touched a nerve.

I’ve never had that happen before.

Glad I didn’t deliver that manuscript in person.

Oddly enough, the article was an Easter-related piece. Here’s a link if you’d like to read Was Jesus A Ghost?

I wonder if Stephen King or Dave Barry ever had an editor stab a blue pencil completely through one of their manuscripts?

O well, I suspect Jesus Himself knows a bit more about rejection than I do.

And even while I’m blanketed with depression, I echo Job’s words, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”.

Jesus is Lord even of my depression.

There were other things this weekend which also gave me a kick but taxes, finances and book sales are quite enough to whine about 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 @ 9:35 AM

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Rainy Sunday Morning

We are enjoying the first rainy day in months.

I woke up at my usual 4 a.m. but when I heard Ginny’s alarm start to sound at 6, I ran in and clicked it off to let her sleep another few hours..

Sometimes the most spiritually uplifting thing you can do on a rainy Sunday is to sleep in.

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 @ 8:10 AM

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

O Wow! They’ve Discovered Another New Gospel-- Put It There On The Pile With All The Others

Easter must be approaching: flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and media hype is spreading doubts about the resurrection of Christ again.

Happens every year about this time.

Sure as Spring weather generates tornados every year, about this time as Easter approaches, somebody somewhere releases a new film or book or song or tv show to prove that Jesus is not who He was, that He never did what He did, or that He never said what He said.

Astounding “new” information appears annually to reveal that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a torrid affair, that Judas was a hero, that crucifixion didn’t kill Christ, that the dead body of Jesus is hidden in a bank vault, that Saucer People took Jesus to the Mother Ship, that Jesus and Judas planned to come out of the closet, that Jesus and Elvis live in a trailer park in Phoenix, that this year there will be a jellybean shortage so you’d better stock up now…

Well, we’ve all heard all this stuff before

Every year, sure as fireants in the lawn, startling new information says the same old thing — that jesus christ rotted.

Well, He rose or rotted.

No other alternatives.

If he rotted then nothing he said or did matters; if He rose, then nothing else matters.

Anyhow, next phase of the Easter cycle is that some folks get all aflutter and pushed out of shape. Accusations and counter accusations will appear on tv news shows. Protesters will march with signs. Conservative scholars will huff. Liberal scholars will puff. Media will enjoy a field day until another politician does something stupid and the news moves on.

What’s all the excitement about?

So another old book comes to light. Big deal.

This is a surprise? It shouldn’t be.

Remember the last sentence in John’s Gospel?

“There are many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”

Old books about Jesus have been around for ages and ages. We’ve all seen ads in the tabloids for reprintings of “Hidden Secret Books Of The Bible”.

Bible scholars call such writings by names such as apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, extra canonical, deutero-canonical, Gnostic Gospels, and National Inquirer Geographic.

Other early related versions include the Diatessaron, the Peshitta, the Bohairic, Armenian, and the Georgian with a text known as Caesarean.

(And yes, I looked those names up because although I’ve know about them for 50 years or so, I couldn’t spell any of them. I’m by no means a biblical scholar).

But my point is that “new” books of the Bible are nothing new.

Among the 50 or so “new” old books which are not found in the Bible are such titles as:

  • The Acts of Pilate
  • Gospel of Nicodemus
  • Protoevangelium of James
  • Gospel According to the Hebrews
  • Jesus and Salome
  • Gospel of Peter
  • Gospel of Thomas
  • The Ararus Letters
  • Didache
  • The Sibylline Oracles (written in Maccabean times and not to be confused with the Roman Oracles of Sibyl)

And the list goes on and on with other names I can’t spell and I’m too lazy to look up.

Now the news announces — with fanfare — the Gospel of Judas.
Big deal.
Put it on the pile until you’ve read the Four Gospels in your own Bible first.

And be sure to stock up on jellybeans; Wal Mart is running out…

You know, sometimes I wonder if we Christians don’t get upset over the wrong things. O well, by their fruits shall ye know 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 @ 8:17 AM

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Gnaws: An Oral Adventure

When I went to mow the lawn last week I had trouble starting the mower; dust clogged the air filter and I had to clean it. I usually mow on Fridays but, since I was not sure if I’d need to work on the machine, I got started a day early this week.

Needn’t have worried; mower started on the first pull.

And of course as I cut grass, I thought about teeth.

Something I read on an e-friend’s blog reminded me about a Christian businessman’s seminar I attended back in the late 1950s.

I didn’t really belong at this seminar but I attended because I wanted to meet important people, network, make contacts, advance my career, brownnose and manipulate successful people so I could get ahead myself.

You know how it is at these Christian business seminars.

After the first lecture I mingled, searching for somebody who could do me good.

This seedy-looking guy approached me.

Smiling brightly, he said, “Jesus is wonderful, Isn’t He?”

His smile revealed a mouthful of broken or rotten teeth.

I wrote him off.

I nodded and made some innocuous response and gave the looser a cold shoulder. I mean this guy’s mouth was so messed up. One look at him and I dismissed him as being a person of no importance. Not worth my time.

I saw someone substantial-looking across the room and I hightailed it over there to join the circle of sycophants around the successful Christian businessman.

When the bad-mouth guy had said, “Jesus is wonderful, isn’t He’, my unspoken thought was, “Doesn’t look like He’s done much for you”.

And I shunned the man.

I eased away leaving him alone in the corner holding his Styrofoam coffee cup in his hand.

A Bible verse says, “Man looketh on the outward appearance; God looketh upon the heart”.

Not being a preacher, I’ll leave the part about what God does to the professionals, but I understand the part about man looking on the outward appearance.

We do.

That’s why we dress for success. That’s why you should dress for the job you want not the job you have. That’s why we follow the leader’s example when it comes to fashion. Because man does indeed look on our outward appearance.

Now fast forward about 30 years, to the mid-1980s:

My teeth ached. Years of neglecting basic dental hygiene resulted in my developing sever periodontal disease. I suffered excruciating pain. Being without either cash or insurance, I went to a charity hospital emergency room and was screened for a pilot dental care program. X-rays showed that several of my teeth actually grew parallel to the floor underneath the roots of other teeth. Several operations were necessary.

They’d render me unconscious and cut out handfuls of teeth at a time.

Again and again.

Over several months, they discovered that my head was so rotten that essentially there is no facial bone left above my mouth; nothing there to anchor false teeth to.

My face began to cave in.

Not nearly as pretty as I used to be.

“Jesus is wonderful, isn’t He?”

Funding for the pilot program ran out.

The hospital cancelled further treatment.

My remaining teeth ached like sin. One abscessed. I tried to find a dentist who would pull it. All wanted health insurance or cash money and I had neither.

In anguish and misery, I cried and prayed and cursed and despaired.

Remember the scene in the movie Castaway where Tom Hanks used the blade of the ice-skate?

No one in the audience cringed more than I did.

Because I remembered the agony of pulling one of my own teeth.

Yes, the pain overwhelmed me so I boiled a pair of pliers, washed my mouth out with Listerine, swallowed a handful of aspirin, and tried to pull that abscessed tooth myself.

I whimped out.

Couldn’t stand that pain.

Then the other kind of pain got so bad that I knew I had to try again.

I took me numerous tries over three days but I finally pulled that tooth.

This is a practice that neither the American Dental Association nor I would ever recommend to anybody!

So, the last state of the man was worse than the first.

But I survived.

I’m not as pretty as I once was what with no teeth, no denture, no bones, and a caved in face, but I survived.

There are words I can’t for the life of me pronounce anymore, but I survived.

I don’t care to be seen eating in public, but I survived.

I avoid ever smiling at anyone, but I survived.

I drool, but I survived.

Worst of all, when I kiss Ginny, my mouth goes all spongy, but I survive.

To show their love and support, my then-teenaged children went to a silk-screen artist and had a special tee-shirt made for me. It shows a comic rendering of the shark of movie fame but it is toothless and the caption reads GNAWS!

Although the Scripture says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, somehow I don’t believe that God indulges in cruel payback, that He’s punishing me for shunning that man at the seminar… Yet hardly ever do I brush my few remaining teeth that I don’t remember the look on that guy’s face when I walked away leaving him in the corner holding his Styrofoam coffee cup.




Is this blog just a pity party, or do I have a message to convey here?

Do I really have something important to say?

Is there some point to my rambling post?

Yes, there is.

What I want to say is this:

Jesus is wonderful.

Isn’t He?

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 @ 6:53 AM

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Long Nap

The Wednesday morning radio announced the fire department’s hazardous materials team had been called out and there are local road closings because of a chlorine gas leak.

Since I’m working on a history book about the fire department this caught my interest so I went in at noon to watch the news on tv… I fell asleep in my chair and did not wake up till Ginny came in from work at 6:30!

Six hours of wonderful, glorious sleep!

See why I love doing historical research?

But if my history puts me to sleep now, what will it do to readers?

Anyhow, during my long nap I dreamed one of the sweetest dreams ever:

A young woman and I floated on air mattresses in the St. Johns River which was crystal clear as spring water. Vivid colors in the air mattresses reminded me of the striping of hot air balloons, sharp, bright green, blue, yellow, and reds.

The golden girl wore a tan bikini which matched her skin exactly and she was laughing and happy. Splashing and playing, frolicking in the sparkling water

She showed me that by laying on your stomach and paddling with your arms, you could make the air mattresses move, not only through the water but up into the air. We paddled faster and faster soaring above the river, swooping in and out among the girders of Jacksonville’s Main Street Bridge. We rose high above the city, looking down on the skyline, on sailboats in the blue river, on bathers lounging along the beach, on deer running through marsh grass, and on hawks circling far below us.

We saw a restaurant with diners on an outside deck and we drifted low, light as thistle down, lighted on the water’s surface, and paddled to a welcoming shore.

That was my dream.

I’m going to make an odd transition here from this beautiful dream in my long nap to a memory from real life which I also found beautiful but which many people might not be comfortable with:

When I was a young man for a time I worked nights as a security guard. The company usually assigned me to a different place each night. Sometimes I’d be on duty in an office building, or a warehouse, or at a sports event.

The worst assignment for me was the early shift at a bowling alley where the noise drove me nuts.

The best assignment for me was to guard the anatomy lab at one of America’s oldest medical schools. I’d spend from 11 p.m. till 7 a.m. alone in this huge room filled with marble slabs containing human bodies in various stages of dissection.

The vast room resembled the inside of a church emptied of pews and lined with dissection tables. Rust red brick walls, timbered ceilings, tall arched windows of mullioned glass, clear and rippling, only a few dim night lights here and there. Silent. Holy. A place of worship.

Apparently the same room was used for different classes because the naked gray bodies on the tables showed various stages of work. Here internal organs were exposed; there an arm’s muscles were separated into individual strands. In one section the students in an advanced class had opened skull tops and removed brains which lay in shallow pans. In another section, each corpse’s feet were laid bare to the bone.

In no case did I see any sign of disrespect to the dead people who were educating the future doctors.

All night long I’d wander (er, make that patrol) the aisles of this lab and marvel at how wonderfully and fearfully made the human body is put together. The aroma of formaldehyde (or whatever it was they used to preserve the bodies) rose like incense above the lab. It gave the preserved flesh a uniform gray color and a texture like Jello that’s been in the frig too long, rubbery, tough, yet pliable.

I’d look with fascination into the innards of these dead people and think about who they’d been in life and what they were contributing to the student physicians in death. Sometimes I’d pray for the deceased and for the student learning from him or her.

One of the most interesting sights in that ancient building was the receiving area vat. An arched doorway, a left-over from the horse and buggy days when the school was founded, led from the outside world into the receiving area where bodies were delivered to the lab. I would have thought they’d come in boxes or body bags or something, but all the bodies in that area were naked.

There was a huge galvanized metal tank the size of my living room and God only knows how deep, filled with formaldehyde or some preservative fluid. Dozens of naked bodies floated on the surface or lay sunk beneath the surface.

Here’s an incongruous sight, some wag had hung a life-preserver on the wall.

And in a corner stood one of those shepherd crook poles used by life-guards at a swimming pool to aid swimmers in trouble. I understand the young medical students used it to hook out the body of the person they are to work on.

What is it about the happy dream of me and the golden girl flying over my hometown and the gray reality of that anatomy lab memory that link the two in my mind?


I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

The Lord God Almighty who created us and who fashioned our intricate parts in an astounding array and infused life into us, He himself came down to become one with us. He died the death for our sin to redeem us from the clinches of the enemy. Jesus Christ died as dead as any corpse in that vat. And He rose again from that death because He is the source of all life.

And because He lives, we too shall live.

At times, Jesus compared death to a time of sleeping.

And our resurrection to a time of waking.

“The hours is coming and now is,” said Jesus, “When the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live… Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth…”

St. Paul gives another picture of this event:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words”.

Can you see why my mind links my nights as a security guard in that medical school with its vat of naked bodies 50 years ago and the soaring bright flight with the golden dream girl, my anima figure, during my long nap yesterday?

Death and glory; I see the connection.

It’s a happy one.

Oh, the chlorine gas leak was quickly brought under control with no injuries.

And by the way, for whatever it’s worth, Ginny and I are both signed up to be whole body organ donors. At my age and condition, I doubt if they can salvage any usable parts for transplant so there may be a vat in my future.

Watch it, Doc, I’m ticklish there.

But that's ok, I have a flight to catch.

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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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Movie Night & Memories

Ginny’s time off work ends today so our mini-vacation is over. Back to the office for her, back to the fire history book for me.

We spent most of Tuesday dabbling around the pool and talking about future plans. We’ve been toying with the idea of selling this house and moving, but decided there are other things more important to us. So, God willing, we’ll stay right where we are for the moment.

Last night we watched a library DVD, the movie Kinsey which traces the career of sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey. We know what pleases us and what doesn’t, but the movie sparked an interesting conversation. After 38 years of marriage, we’re still learning to know eachother.

For me, the film triggered some really troubling memories; I could just as well have done without a reminder.

Each day has enough pain of its own, no need to dredge up ones from the distant past. It’s a wonder of God’s grace that I made it to adulthood without being an utter emotional basket case.

It surprised me how bad these memories hurt. I thought they were long gone, scabbed over, but the movie reminded me that 60-year-old anguish can be as fresh as a Google news update.

Of course some of my memories return as hilarious (now, not then) or as crushingly embarrassing (even still).

Like the time when I was a Boy Scout and a young lady invited me to an orgy but since I’d never heard the word before and didn’t know what it was she was asking me to do, I turned her down.

Yes, over the years, ignorance has protected my virtue far more often than my sense of morality ever did.

As a youth I fell into that category of folks just too dumb to sin, I suppose.

That’s not to say I stayed that way.

Thank God we only have to survive adolescence once!

But memories, sin, chagrin, regrets and embarrassment aside, I think the thing to know is that Jesus meets us where we are, not where we ought to be.

Back when I used to teach Bible lessons at the rescue mission, a thing I’d always emphasize to the men and women there was that no matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, our holy, righteous God stands ready to forgive.

Yes, even that.

God is good.

He cares about you.

Jesus said, “Whosoever will may come” –

and, (Kinsey movie aside) no, He wasn’t talking about that kind of coming.

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 @ 5:36 AM

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Just an observation:

In our neighborhood not everyone who walks down the street alone talking loud owns a cell phone.

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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Monday, April 03, 2006

Within the borders of respectability

Multimillionaire hotel/railroad magnate Henry Flagler began building Jacksonville’s Union Station as a freight and passenger railroad terminal in 1890.

Here’s a 1920s photo of the station in its heyday:

The last train ran out of Union Station in 1974, and a few years ago the city converted the building into a convention center.

During the conversion, construction workers disposed of hundreds of thousands of old bricks.

I salvaged a truck load of those antique bricks and outlined flower beds in our backyard garden with them.

Sunday after church Ginny & I dabbled in our garden. While she re-potted plants, I refurbished a brick-outlined bed beneath the crepe myrtle tree.

Over the winter a run-away vine had transformed this bed into an eye-sore.

My own fault.

I’d planted cuttings of this vine (which I’d found in a ditch) in the flower bed amid a stand of aloe. The vine produced hundreds of tiny white flowers which produced thousands of seeds which produced tangles of vines choking out the flowers we want to grow in the bed. The vine overflowed the bed hiding small garden statues and a birdbath; it spilled over the train station bricks so you couldn’t even see the boundaries of the bed any more.

I decided to clean up this mess.

A weed is any plant growing where you don’t want it to.

I moved out the birdbath and statues and I crawled around and around the bed with my clippers trimming back the vine enough so I could see the brick border.

I just wanted the vine to stay within the border.

Yet the vines covered a mat of dead brown winter leaves; the more I trimmed the thing, the worse it looked.

Time for a smoke break.

I glanced down to see a wolf spider running up my arm headed for the dark cavern of my shirtsleeve. I brushed him off thinking little of it.

I know a guy who drives a bulldozer. Macho man. But he’s deathly afraid of tiny spiders; the sight of one drives him into a panic attack.

The weeds, the spider and a phrase from the Scripture reading at church ran together in my mind.

The Scripture simply said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

But I don’t want a clean heart.

I’m quite comfortable with my heart the way it is. As long as I can trim my internal weeds back enough to stay within the borders of respectability, they don’t bother me all that much.

I don’t want to be clean, just respectable.

I like me the way I am.

I have self-respect.

I admit that I may not have a clean heart, but I like to think of it as only a trifle dingy.

This thought reminded me of a passage I read last week in the diary (that’s what they called blogs before computers were invented) of a man writing in 1876. He met a millionaire who, “Gave me an interesting account of his early life and the sources of his success. His industry, anxiety to study, his resolve to instruct himself in everything connected with mechanics and machine making. Referring to his conduct when young, he said, ‘I was a very good lad, never a better — worked hard, studied, conducted myself well.’”

Those self-centered words could be my very own.

I too am pleased with myself.

I can’t see the garden for the weeds.

But as long as my sin stays within the borders of respectability, that doesn’t upset me very much.

I realized that the only way to expose the flowers in that bed beneath the crepe myrtle was not to just trim around the edges, but to clean the bed thoroughly.

To root out.

No half-way measures just to stay within the bounds of respectability.

The vine with the pretty white flowers had been choking out better plants.

Then I remembered a tale about an old-time Methodist camp meeting. A young fellow felt conviction, went forward, and knelt at the mourners bench. The preacher came to pray for him to “break through” but the young mourner said, “I can’t. There’s just too many cobwebs in my mind”.

The preacher called the deacons to gather round, lay hands on the fellows shoulders and pray. “I can’t break through; there’s just too many cobwebs clouding my mind,” he said.

Preacher and deacons prayed long and loud for the cobwebs to be cleared away.

An old lady on the front row could stand it no longer. She marched to the altar, lifted the young man up by the hair of his head, swacked his forehead with her open palm and shouted, “Lord, kill that spider! Lord, kill that spider!”

I pulled up the vine.

By the roots.

I suppose I can pray, “Create in me a fair-to-middling heart, O God.”

Will that be acceptable?

Is that good enough?

I suppose I already know the answer to 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 @ 7:30 AM

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

At Blooms Galore My feet Got Sore

To me, the term "working in the garden" means sawing down trees, digging deep holes, pruning branches, pulling stumps; to Ginny it means walking for hours and hours and hours around a flower show.

Saturday, the 1,400 members of the Garden Club of Jacksonville hosted a festival called “Blooms Galore & More”. The event featured 55 booths donated by member circles and 35 vendors.

“It’s an effort to fulfill the garden club’s goals to reach out and educate the community on environmental issues and the beautification of Jacksonville, said the announcement which Ginny found.

She lugged me to this educational thing where speakers at various displays educated me about plants.

I learned:

  • Some plants have flowers.
  • All plants eat dirt.
  • They need water every once in a while.
  • At Blooms Galore my feet get sore.

To learn these valuable gardening facts took only two and a half hours.

An Ancient Memory — Back in 1970 while I was an over-the-road truck driver, we were passing through Oakland, California, and somehow Ginny discovered that an Iris Society was having a show.

I escorted her to it.

Once there, I found hundreds of female women looking at a room full of green things and lying to each other that they could tell the difference between one plant and another.

I thought I was the only male in the place, till across the room I spotted what had to be one of Oakland’s original Hell’s Angels bikers. Studded leather jacket, chains, jeans, beard — this was in 1970 remember, and such an outfit was not to be seen in just any mall.

I approached the guy and said, “Looks like we are the only two men in this place”.

“Yeah,” he grunted. “I had to be here. Drove my mother.”

“I’m here because of my wife,” I said. “I’m not really into this sort of thing”.

“Me neither,” he said. “I’m a camellia man myself”.

For some reason I’ve never forgotten his words.

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 @ 4:48 AM

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Fat Guy Up On The Roof Top

Ginny plans to take a few beautiful Spring days off work to dabble in our garden. As usual when she plans this, I tried to get all the yard donkey work done ahead of time so we can enjoy pleasure gardening.

Since our Before-Christmas cleanup, I have not climbed the ladder onto our roof to clean rain gutters and blow away the residue of oak pollen, leaves and twigs from the four oaks which overhang our home.

Friday was the day for that job.

I went up on the rooftop.

A thick mat of mast makes our roof look brown when actually the roof tiles are gray. Those oak trees sure know how to pollinate.. Pounds and pounds and pounds of mast cover the roof. I have not cleaned up here since before Christmas.

And now I, with my trusty leaf blower, plan to scour it all away…

What’s this?

Here beside the chimney I see a cigar butt.

How could a partially-burned cigar butt get up on our roof?

I occasionally read Sherlock Holmes mysteries so I put my acute powers of deduction to solving this problem. Three possibilities come to mind:

First, the only man I know who smokes cigars is my neighbor Warren. Could he at some time while visiting me, have flicked his burning cigar up onto our roof?

No! That would be out of character for him. Besides he smokes dinky thin girly cigars and the butt on my roof is a regular hefty stogie.

Second, could this cigar butt been left beside the chimney by one of the many bluejays which inundate our bird feeders? That’s a possibility. Maybe in collecting nest building materials…?

A picture springs to mind. ... When I was a kid there were movie cartoon characters called Heckle and Jeckle, two mischievous crows. As I recall, they smoked cigars.

But they are fictional characters, crows not bluejays.

Besides, how would a bluejay light his cigar? He holds the cigar in his beak with one claw, he strikes the match with the other claw, and he stands on his other claw…

But, that’s impossible.

Bluejays only have two claws.

The cigar by my chimney can not have been left by a bluejay.

In The Adventure of The Blanched Soldier, Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Applying the Great Detective’s wisdom, I have concluded that Santa Clause stopped for a smoke break by my chimney and contrary to popular ledged, he does not hold “a stub of a pipe clinched tight in his teeth” — Santa smokes cigars!

See there.

We Christians can too apply objective reasoning to arrive at a logical conclusion.

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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