Rabid Fun

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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Man After My Own Heart

In his research, my friend Wes uncovered more ancient family photographs belonging to an elderly relative who had them squirreled away.

Yesterday Wes came over to my house to work on the autobiography of his great grandfather Joseph Pyram King. (I mention this work in my August 4th blog.) But now Wes had ten “new” photographs to insert — photos virtually no one has seen before.

Here is one of these photos. The story that goes with it touches my heart:

This is a turn-of-the century photo of Joseph Marian King, the eldest son of Joseph & Eliza King.

“Uncle Joe” was an inventor; he’s holding one of his inventions in the photo. It was taken at his brother’s home. “Uncle Joe” lived with his brother, Archie, his sister-in-law, and their numerous children.

Here’s a 1912 photo of that family:

The mother sewed all the clothes in the photo by hand including the suits and shirts all the young men are wearing. Family legend says she could just look at a picture in the Sears Catalogue and immediately sew a replica of that store-bought clothing.

Her name was Laura.

After her husband died, Laura took in sewing jobs to keep the family together and she continued to let “Uncle Joe” live in the home. The inventor seemed a bit eccentric because he practically lived in his bathrobe while inventing his devices.

The children loved him. They said he told magnificent bedtime stories.

The kids wanted a dog.

Mama said, “No dog. We can’t afford a dog”.

The children ran upstairs to his bedroom and appealed to Uncle Joe. After all, he was an inventor with degrees in both engineering and chemistry. He’d convince Mama to let them have a dog.

Uncle Joe glanced out his bedroom window and called all the kids over to see. A neighborhood dog squatted on the lawn “leaving his calling card”.

“You see what that dog is doing,” Uncle Joe asked.

The clambering children nodded.

“What you need to do,” said the master inventor, “Is take a coffee can. Fill it halfway with sand. Scoop up what the dog left in the can. Top if off with more sand. Put it under the edge of the porch. Then water it every day — and grow your own dog”.

The excited children bounded down the stairs intend on growing themselves a dog.

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 @ 3:56 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Brains In A Blender

Note: the server’s security settings blocked me from blogging till late yesterday. Donald reset things so I should be allowed to post ok from now on. - jwc.

Now let me see if I’ve got this straight???

Abe married Bo.

Abe and Cat work together in the same office.

Abe and Bo have two kids: a son, Xerxes, and a daughter, Yolanda.

Cat is married to somebody or another (but she’s not satisfied with him) and has one daughter, Zelda.

Abe, Bo, Cat and Cat’s unsatisfactory husband are all four college professors. Real brainy people. Intellects. Smart. Cultured. Refined.

Have you already heard this story?


But you can guess where it goes, can’t you?

Cat sets her eye on Able. They stay late at the office. They fall in love. Start an affair.

Cat leaves what’s-his-name. He’s been dallying with a grad student.

Abe leaves Bo. He never learns that she’s been having an affair with a clergyman.

Cat marries Abe.

After three years, Cat’s daughter Zelda suffers a breakdown and is admitted to a mental hospital. Therapy there uncovers that she has been molested by Abe. They tell Cat that her daughter has been molested.

Cat confronts Abe.

Abe says there’s nothing wrong as it’s all in the family.

Cat leaves Abe… but she gets to thinking, “If he did this with Zelda, then I wonder if he did it with Bo’s children before I ever met him”.

Cat calls Bo. They talk. Bo asks Xerxes and Yolanda about their father.

Sure enough, it comes out that he molested them too. Both of them grew up, earned PHDs, started careers, lost jobs, turned alcoholic, live with their mother. And Zelda has been in and out of mental hospitals and drug rehab for years.

Abe escaped prosecution by having a convenient heart attack and dying.

Cat has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The other victims also survive — if you can call it that.

These were all smart people. Brains. Intellects. Cream of the crop. Educated.

But life takes more than brains.

And it looks to me as though these folks put their brains in a blender and hit the puree button.

From personal experience, I know how that feels.

The only fiction I’ve made up in the above story are the alphabetical names.

Yesterday a friend I’ve known for years revealed how all this had happened in her life. I bumped into her at the hardware store; both buying hurricane supplies. We stood in the parking lot beside our cars talking for an hour.

Catching up on family news..

Yes, I’ve known her for 20+ years but she’d never told me about all this before. She’s been carrying it all alone. She felt too ashamed of her role in the matter, and her own illicit affairs, to ever talk about it before.

Is her tale unusual?

Not hardly. With variations as to details, I’ve heard it many times before from many different people. In fact, in some chapters of such a sordid tale, I have played my own staring role.

At some time in our lives virtually all of us have been victims, perpetrators, or instigators in such a tale. Sometimes we play all three roles in the drama.

Is it any wonder that we all need a Savior?


Well, “The Father sent the Son to be the savior of the world”. That’s what the Bible says.

But how would the Savior of the World handle such a can of worms as the typical slice of life story I’ve just told?

Jesus never once said, “What you should have done is…”
Never once.

He never told anyone that!

What He did say — often — was, “Thy sins are forgiven thee. Thy faith has made thee whole. Go and sin no more”.

The Scripture calls Jesus “The Deliverer” and what does a delivery man do?

He takes things from where they are to where they ought to be.

Jesus takes us from where we are right this minute, not from where we should be ideally, but from where we really are. It’s from that point that He begins to move us toward a specific happy destination.

The Christian life is not a story about our destination; it’s the story of the process.

We have to fight God tooth and claw to avoid being delivered.

And we do do that. We do just that.

Our weapons?

Apathy and indifference more often than overt hostility..

But God doesn’t rape anybody.

He respects the choices His creatures make — to go where He would take us, or to make our own way to where our own way leads.

The ball’s in our court now.

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 @ 5:32 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

John's back

In the ten days since my last journal entry I’ve accomplished a lot, but there was little to blog about unless you count 20-hour days spent sitting in front of the computer.

As a result of the intense work, all the dishes mugs are washed; we are no longer drinking morning coffee from the Christmas mugs.

And the printer now holds the text for both the holiday book and the Civil War soldier’s diary. Proof pages should arrive in a few days ready for final tweaking.

Of course, with the Civil War diary, since it’s been hidden away for 140 years, I don’t suppose a few more days will make much difference for it’s unveiling.

I’ll say more about these two books after I’ve gone over the proofs.

Just for fun, I entered a contest for books based on blogs. It’s for the 2007 Blooker Prize. If you use your own blog as source material for a book, then check out http://www.lulublookerprize.com/ for contest information. Other than giving the judges printed copies of your work, it costs you nothing to enter.

This is the first writing contest I’ve ever entered.

Usually, Lotto is my game.

I like to feel I’m a potential millionaire.

I’ve been praying for wisdom about making several business policy decisions that have me stumped. Insights from Ginny, Donald and Eve proved invaluable but the final decisions are mine. Jesus once said, “Don’t let your right hand know what your right hand is doing” – or something like that.

That’s one almost-scripture I truly follow all the time.

Ginny has been teaching me a new software program and I’m experimenting with graphic design for book jackets.

My son Donald fixed two new things on my website — actually, they’re old things that have been broke for months but he came over last week and got them working again:

First off, you’ll notice in my blog sidebar that the photo gallery is working again. Donald repaired it so that now every time you click on my blog or refresh the page, you get to see a different book cover. That’s just a pure vanity but I get a kick out of it.

If you click on the link it opens the gallery where I posted those photos of our visit to the junk yard last December.

Donald also repaired the Webalizer counter showing how many visitors came to my site. That’s been down since the last hurricane and it’s nice to have it up again — although I don’t believe the information it presents.

According to Webalizer over 130,000 people have spent at least ten minutes each on my site since last September.

Unless these visits are all from robots or webcrawlers, I can’t imagine that many real live people actually visit my site.

I can only conclude that somebody needs to get a life.

Here’s a copy of today’s Webalizer page:

Well, I thought I could post the photo but I can’t figure out how to do it. If you are one of the 130,000 people deeply interested in such stuff, Click Here .

Not only can you read all about the astronomical numbers, but the Webalizer will count you again and add your visit to them.

Finally, be sure to read the comment section in my August 18th blog. The comment by Jellyhead’s 3-year-old son broke me up. I predict that young man is destined for a brilliant career as a great literary critic!

Hurricane Ernesto approaches.

Guess where I live?

The weather people call it the Cone Of Uncertainty.

That’s what I call it too.

Here is this morning’s National Weather Service projected storm track:


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 @ 4:49 PM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Friday, August 18, 2006

There’s A Snowman On My Mug

Dear Readers,

Here it is 4 a.m. on August 18th and the picture on my coffee mug shows a snowman. This hints that it’s time for me to wash that sink full of dishes. A pile of 50 dirty coffee mugs awaits my attention.

And you could film a Tarzan movie in our back yard. Perhaps I should cut the grass and whack the weeds.

And final formatting for the manuscripts of the Civil War journal and my short story collection nears completion; another week’s work should see those two books close to publication.

It dawns on me that I have to live some life before I can blog about it.

What a drag.

But much urgent work demands my attention.

Besides that my batteries are drained. I stand in need of recharging.

So, what I’m leading up to is that I intend, God willing, to take about ten days off from posting on this blog.

Feel free to rummage through my blog archives while I’m gone. Doesn’t cost you a penny…

On the other hand, if you’ve got a few pennies in cash to spend — and you can’t live without reading my blog each day — please consider buying a copy of my book A Dirty Old Man Goes Bad. It’s a published version of my 2005 blog. It’s not backwards, like Blogger posts things, but arranged in chronological order for easy reading at beach or bathroom.

I wish my hiatus were a vacation time, I’d rather go fishing, but it looks to be an intense work time. I’ve neglected ordinary duties too much recently. I need to catch up on some of that reality I’m always writing about.

If God gives me life and sight and strength, I intend to resume posting on Tuesday, August 29th. Hope to see you then.

Love, John

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:33 AM

Your comments are welcome: 9 comments

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nothing to say today, So I won't say anything

That's it.
That's my post.
No use padding when I have nothing to say.

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 @ 6:38 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Book Tag

Over the weekend someone tagged me for a meme, a questionnaire related to books and reading.

The person who did this used to use his real name in his blog, but a few months ago he decided to hide behind a secret identity and just be known to the outside world as Career Guy!

I suspect that the reason for this change is that he is in the Federal Witness Protection Program …

But if anyone anywhere really wants to locate him for any reason whatsoever, you’ll find him at http://careerguy.blogspot.com/. He lives in Ohio where he claims to be a Eucharistic minister.(must be one of those mafia things). He wrote a book called Careers In Action published by Kendallhunt — that should give you enough information to gun him down track him down.

PS: if you pay him a visit, he owns a dog (thot you’d want to know) Please don’t hurt his family, they’re nice people.

PPS: Is there a reward?.

Anyhow, enough about him, here’s the book and reading questionnaire which is all about me me me me! Nobody but me meme!

First off I should say that I read all the time for both business and pleasure and I keep an annotated bibliography of everything I read in my journals so I can find a book again when needed. Checking this list, I see that so far in 2006 I’ve read 58 books, mostly fluffy suspense novels.

So I’m hard put to narrow my answers to single books in this questionnaire; but since it’s all about me, I’ll answer as I please and skip the hard questions.

1. Name one book that changed your life:

Of the several books which have most influenced me, Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula tops my list. Stoker wove several purported diaries into his narrative. When I first read Dracula in about 1954, I had never even heard the words diary or journal. The idea that a person’s daily life was worth recording captivated me. So much so that off and on from my teen years till now I attempted to keep a daily journal.

Two years ago my youngest son introduced me to the word Blog and encouraged me to record my days and thoughts on line for other people to read. It feels odd to make journal entries knowing that others read over my shoulder so I’ve cleaned up my language, stopped recording erotic encounters with that woman, and stopped using real names in most cases. Other than those changes — and the fact that now people comment — my journals continue just as they’ve all ways been.

And, no, I have not kept them all. Scads of them were lost through divorce, fire, moving, and general wear and tear. But I still have a closet full of the ones since the late 1970s.

Therefore, I feel I owe Dracula a great debt. I wouldn’t have done it without him.

2. Name a book you’ve read more than once:

The Bible. Watership Down. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Nevil Shute’s novels. Stephen King’s Desperation, etc. etc.

3. What one book would you want with you on a desert island?

I’d want a 1951 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, which, as I recall, contained extensive chapters on how to trap animals, identify eatable wild plants, and distill drinking water from the ocean.

4. Name a book that made you laugh:

Donald Westlake’s wonderful series featuring the Dortmunder Gang: Hot Rock, Bank Shot, etc. I liked Drowned Hopes the best.

Anything by Dave Berry! My favorite is Babies And Other Hazards Of Sex.

5. What book made you cry?

This may sound odd but I can’t remember ever writing a single one of my own books that I didn’t cry over. Glog and The Lazarus Projects especially. Heck, I’ve been known to cry when I wrote blog entries. Utter damn wimp!

6. Name one book you wish had been written already:

For years I’ve dabbled at writting a book set in London in the 1660s. It features an apprentice cook and includes adventures, news stories and recipes current at the time. The thing looks to run about 900 pages and I keep starting and stopping work on it as life intervenes. I wish I had finished that book. That’s one I’d really like to get done before I die. My working title for it is The Cook’s Book.

7. Name one book you wish had never been written:

False religious works that lead people astray spring to my mind first, but I loath censorship. Even false works deserve to be published in a free society. Besides, if the book doesn’t lead us astray, something else would. It doesn’t take much to corrupt us.

So I would not censor any work. I may chose not to buy it or have it on my shelves, and I would encourage anyone who asked me to read something better, but I think every person should have the right to publish his ideas. God is perfectly able to correct false ideas —He’s corrected me many times.

8. What are you currently reading.

Doug Lowe’s Powerpoint 2002 For Dummies — I just wish he’d made it simpler.

9. Name a book you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t:

I can name tons of them! Eleven bookcases infest our house, every one of them chock full of things I hope to read — someday. Heading my list would be: William Law’s A Serious Call To A Devout And Holy Life; Jeremy Taylor’s Rules and Exercises For Holy Living And Holy Dying; Francois Fenelon’s Christian Perfection and other works. But if another Dave Barry or Stephen King or Donald Westlake book comes out, I’d read that first..

10. The last book you read because it would “be good for you”:

Last month I tried a self-help book by a noted psychiatrist whose book has sold millions of copies. My mind balked at the very first exercise and I couldn’t stomach going any further. This says nothing about his book; it says a lot about me.

11. The book your ninth grade English teacher raved about, but that you vowed you would never read precisely because of her recommendation:

Ah, contraire! As an adult I have read Caesar’s Commentaries, Beowulf, most of Shakespeare’s plays, and, my favorite, the complete Canterbury Tales. Loved ‘em all!

It’s a waste of time to tell kids about these adult pleasures, and early exposure spoils them — the books that is, the kids might be improved by the practice.

12. Best essential desk reference books:

Here are the three I consult almost every day: the Holy Bible, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Holy Scriptures, and Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

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 @ 5:07 AM

Your comments are welcome: 5 comments

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Dazzling Smile Of God

Saturday morning I woke at 3 O’clock and posted my journal entry about getting Fancy on Friday. By 4 o’clock I lay on an air mattress in the pool looking into the pre-dawn sky for shooting stars.

Yes, the annual Perseid Meteor shower explodes today and tonight.

I expected to see something like this display from an 1833 engraving:

What I actually did see was two shooting stars — maybe. Perhaps all I saw was a glint of light reflected from the line in my bifocals. I prefer to think I saw two meteors.

The full moon dominated the sky with so much light the stars were nigh invisible.

So, the morning panned out as a bust for astronomy but it proved valuable in another way. You see as I floated in the pool watching the faint stars, I sang.

And I worshiped the Creator of stars and moon and me.

I sang in a low voice so as not to alarm the neighbor’s dogs but I sang half-remembered hymns of praise to the Lord God.

I floated on water and on thoughts of His majesty and love.

No one else in the world seemed awake. Just me and the Beautiful Lord Christ.

I sang that ancient, 7th Century Crusader hymn, Fairest Lord Jesus; and the recent hymn, How Great Thou Art; and a song I have never known the name of about an engineer’s worship while blasting rocks to build the Panama Canal.

As best I can remember that one goes:

Got any rivers you think are un-crossable?
Got any mountains you can not tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible;
And He can do what no other power can do.

And I prayed. I know I’m not supposed to mention my prayers because that is one of the things Jesus commanded that we keep secret. So suffice it to say that I did not ask Christ for a single thing; I just appreciated Him and told Him that on some low level, I love Him.

And as I sang and prayed I thought about Judgment Day and I remembered this woman I saw once in the Post Office:

A line six or eight people long ahead of me stood waiting a turn at the window. Many more inched along behind me. Each of us minding our own business. Each of us carrying our own packages. Each of us shifting from foot to foot. Suddenly the clerk behind the counter shouted, “Oh, My God! Would you look at that!”.

As one, we all turned to look.

The most exquisite, gorgeous. woman I have ever seen, any person in the Post Office had ever seen, opened the glass door and stepped into the crowded lobby.

All conversation stopped. All business halted. A reverent hush settled over the place. And as she walked forward, the crowd parted before her, men and women moved aside and turned to face her like nobles making way for a queen.

She gave the tiniest of nods in modest acknowledgement for our adoration and proceeded unhindered to the counter. No one objected. Our line of people just stood on either side like an honor guard. I’ve never seen anything like that happen before or since.

But, here’s the oddest thing.

This regal woman looked in my direction and her face broke into a dazzling smile.


Her smile radiated. It haunted. It glowed. It stunned me.

My spirit soared. This magnificent creature recognized me!

Then I realized that she was smiling at someone behind me, someone she knew.

Disappointment crushed me.

I saw her smile, it was aimed in my direction, but it was not for me.

I felt so ashamed at my mistaken presumption. That dazzling smile was not intended for me.

When she left the building conversations resumed, lines reformed. Life went on — but with something wonderful missing. I felt a sense of incredible loss.

Oddly enough, not once person mentioned what we had all seen and felt. Some things are just too important, too serious, to talk about.

Last night, as I floated in the pool below the stars, I recalled the opening chapters of the Bible where God smiled at His handiwork and pronounced it Good.

The thing He had done pleased Him.

Then I thought of that great and terrible day of the Lord when every person ever born will stand in resurrection before the throne of the Almighty and every single one of us will see Him smile.

We will see that dazzling holy smile of pleasure.

But some of us will realize that His smile of recognition is not for us; it is for someone behind us in the line. It is turned in our direction but passes right over our head and alights on someone else.

It could have been on us.

But it’s not.

Need any more horrid definition of Hell?

In the early days of U.S. history, in that 1883 meteor shower, some people panicked, thinking the falling stars signaled the end of the world. They confused the merely spectacular with the reality of judgment.

What a shame.

What are only a few falling stars compared to missing God’s smile?

I learned one important lesson during my dip in the pool — even when the day time temperature here in Jacksonville reaches 98, it’s still possible to freeze your ass at 4 a.m.!

Ginny woke at 6:15 as usual and she spent the first hours of her day coddling Fancy. That is one pampered bird. Ginny made kissy sounds and tried to teach the bird to talk. She wants it to say wimpy stuff like “Pretty Bird” and nonsense like that.

I hold higher aspirations for Fancy. I figure that a bird living in a writer’s living room should say something literary. I want Fancy to say:

Once upon a midnight dreary,
While I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore…”

If that bird is half as clever as Ginny thinks it is, then it should soon be able to recite all 18 stanzas of Poe’s Raven.

When I explained my idea to Ginny she laughed till she about fell out of her chair.

Of course the silly bird never says a word; it just chirps.

Guess how we spent the next five hours of our Saturday?

Shopping for a mirror and cuttlebone for Fancy’s cage! Yes, we searched two pet stores and a cosmetics store before finding just the right the mirror that suited Ginny for her bird.

She doesn’t spend that much time shopping for my birthday present!

But, since we had absolutely nothing else planned for today, we shopped for bird stuff and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It’s been a glorious Saturday.

I’m writing this journal entry about 2 a.m. Sunday morning. I’ve just been back outside to look for shooting stars again, but rain clouds hide the sky tonight.

I hunger to see the stars again and think about who created them. I hunger to recapture last night’s sense of wonder and worship. I just remembered that long ago I wrote a fluff piece about this kind of hunger once. Sometimes, most times in fact, I forget that we daily walk amid ordinary wonders.

Oh, by the way, earlier this evening the Jacksonville Jaguars won their first pre-season football game.

And, as sportscaster John Madden said, “One in a row is a streak”.

And on that giddy note, giddy John Cowart is going to bed.

Wake me if the stars fall.

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 @ 6:24 AM

Your comments are welcome: 7 comments

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Reason # 873 Why I Never Get Any Work Done

Yesterday I confessed to having frittered away most of my workday watching Google videos.

None of that nonsense today.

No siree!

No more of that guilt trip for me.

Today I frittered away most of my workday listening to Internet bird calls.

Here’s how that happened:

All set for an intense day of no-foolin work, I opened the file of the Christmas book. I actually started editing the Table Of Contents when the phone rang.

Jennifer my eldest daughter said, “Dad, what kind of bird is bright yellow with a pink face?”

No native Florida bird I know of fits that description.

About 6 a.m. as Jennifer and Pat sipped their morning coffee by their pool, they heard a commotion — blue jays squawking and attacking a small bird near the bird feeder. Jennifer ran out, chased the jays off and rescued the small yellow bird with the red face.

The jays had frayed the little bird’s tail feathers. It quivered in fear as Jennifer picked it up. She handled it freely and it appeared comfortable in her hands. Obviously this bird escaped from a cage somewhere.

Jennifer turned it loose inside the screened porch. She checked with neighbors to see if anyone had lost a bird. She called first a pet store, then me. She asked if I wanted this bird. She and Pat already have five dogs, two cats and a ferret so there’s no room for a bird in their life.

Her call to the pet store identified the bird as either an Australian Cinnamon or a Peach-faced Lovebird.

Lacking cash to buy a cage, Jennifer and Pat drove to pick me up. We drove to the pet store where I bought a cage, a packet of caged-bird seed, a 40 pound bag of wild bird seed, and gas for their SUV.

I figured a love bird would make a great For-The-Hell-Of –It gift for Ginny.

I decided to name the new bird Fancy, short for Fancy Feast Cat Food.

Here are two photos I took of Fancy in its new cage:

Yesterday someone at Ginny’s office gave her the yellow flowers in the background.

After lunch Jennifer and Pat drove me and Fancy back to my house where Pat promptly fell asleep in my chair. Jennifer and I browsed the internet looking for information on lovebirds. Jennifer located a site that plays bird calls at http://www.christiananswers.net/kids/sounds.html#birds .

When Fancy heard these birdcalls, he/she went crazy trying to answer the birds she/he was hearing on the computer.

Fancy chirped and sang and preened and bobbed and bounced around trying to contact these other birds.

Jennifer and I laughed so hard we woke Pat who had to see Fancy’s performance too. The three of us spent close to three hours listen to computer bird calls and laughing at Fancy’s antics.

I never did get back to work.

That table of contents can wait. Who reads it anyhow?

As I write this journal entry, Ginny is not home from work yet. I’m anticipating her pleasure. She loved Matilda the Duck (see my blog archives for May 13th thru 31st for the saga of Matilda) so, that I think Fancy will delight her too.

Then I’ll just have to turn the computer back on and go through the bird call sites again. I’m tempted to call her to come home early.

Work, who need it?

So, if I never get my next book finished — it’s all the bird’s fault.

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 @ 3:45 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Friday, August 11, 2006

An Insidious Plot

O God, who on the mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thine only-begotten Son wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistering; Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may be permitted to behold the King in his beauty, who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

That was the prayer Ginny and I read last night as part of our regular devotions after supper.


Thursday was a day of disquietude.

On the Cowart home front, the doctor says Ginny’s heart murmur sounds worse; even though she’s had this same condition for over 30 years, he now recommends she visit a specialist.

According to the tv news police in England arrested 24 moslems who intended to board a dozen or so airliners as passengers and explode bombs in mid-flight over American cities. Apparently the plotters intended to manufacture the bombs by combining ordinary household items, hair gel, peroxide, toothpaste, etc., into an explosive mix; they would carry the ingredients aboard then mix the stuff in flight to kill themselves, everyone on board, and anyone on the ground where the plane crashed.

This news generated chaos and disquietude, especially at airports, all over the world as thousands of travelers were screened for hand lotion, sun block, perfume, any sort of liquid or gel.

In fact the news per se created almost disruption as the attack itself would have.

No real surprise in any of this.

Jesus once told His disciples, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service”. (John 16:2)

The murder and disquietude that goes on in this world is to be expected.

The old saying, To Hell In A Handbasket originated for a reason.

No one needed hairspray baby formula or toothpaste to disrupt my day yesterday — Google did it for them.

Yes, Google hatched this insidious plot to undermine my life and work.

When I started to work intending to produce great literature in the morning, I clicked on my Google homepage and noticed a new feature: Google video.

Curious, I clicked the link to see what’s new now.

Thumbnails appeared so I could watch video clips. Thousands of video clips.

I watched two guys drop Mentos breath mints into 115 bottles of diet coke — Spectacular!

I watched canoeists crack up on rocks, buildings implode, kids ride bikes into bushes, and an oriental guy fold a tee shirt.

I watched guys throw darts at each other, people lip-sync songs, a volcano erupt, a cute puppy with a ball, and a spider eat a bug.

I watched a motorcycle jump a moving truck (almost). I watched a guy do a split trying to board a row boat. I watched a thief snatch a purse, and old lady ride a merry-go-round, and a girl in a bikini vigorously bounce on the edge of her bed without coming out.

In the interest of research I watched that last one three times.

Even with buffering, each Google video search clip only lasts from eight seconds to five minutes, but there are thousands of them. When you click any one, a menu with dozens of others appears in the sidebar. Like potato chips, you can’t eat just one.

Instead of working, I watched mindless video clips for hours.

If God had not created me with kidneys, I would have never left the computer (in a rush, running toward the back, bursting).

If ever doctors, moslems or Google-related terrorists want to disrupt and destroy my life, mind, and productivity, they don’t need to fiddle with the mess and bother of hair gel, all they have to do is provide me with more video clips.

I’ll take it from there myself.

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 @ 4:54 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thinking Inside The Fox

Ever notice how no one on earth is too stupid, too ignorant, too uneducated or too dense to be a Christian?

Case in point:

Wednesday Ginny had two doctors’ appointments, one in the morning, other in the afternoon. In between, she and I ran errands — drug store, Office Depot, etc. We also engaged in a generous act of Christian Charity — er, make that, we cleaned a bunch of junk out of our house and carted it to the mission for the poor to use.

We also killed some time at the Fox Restaurant in Avondale, Ginny’s favorite place for breakfast. Here she is at the door:

Newspaper reviews frequently rate the Fox among Jacksonville’s best. Crowds of people line up on the sidewalk every weekend waiting to get a booth in the Fox. It’s worth the wait. Even this midweek morning people stood waiting to get in:

Various unique wall hangings and examples of folk art contribute to the charm and ambiance of the Fox. I’m not sure if the restaurant draws its name from the fox hunting pictures among the other decorations, or from the foxy waitresses — either way, the name is appropriate.

As we enjoyed our brunch, I noticed, among the things posted on a rear wall, this intriguing sign:

I reacted with scorn; How ignorant, I thought.

I reacted with mockery; That’s dumb, I thought.

I dismissed the sign with vain arrogance; How quaint, I thought.

But the more I ate and the more I thought; the more my thinking changed.

In this crude poster somebody tried to the best of his ability to honor Christ.

Do I do as much?

Really? To the best of my ability?

The sign-maker tried to testify, to share his faith, in the best way he knew how.

Do I do that?

In my scornful, mocking, arrogant manner, here I was putting down someone who tried to witness to Christ. Yes, his idea of a great hymn is I’ll Fly Away, but that last line of his message is clear — Jesus said, Come to me and I save you.

The guy who made this sign probably never earned a degree in systematic theology, but he made the Gospel as clear as he knew how to make it.

Brother Lawrence said that God does not regard the greatness of any deed so much as the love with which it is done.

The guy who painstakingly printed this sign stands tall above me in expressing love.

When I try to witness to Christ to someone, I subject my poor target victim to arguments about teleology and ontology. I want to show off that I’m not your run-of-the mill Scope’s Trial hillbilly fundamentalist.

I want to rank right up there with mankind’s smartest thinkers, to link my name with Calvin and Aquinas and Kepler and what’s-his-name — you know that real brainy Danish theologian nobody reads or can spell.

I don’t want to be perceived as a dummy but as a smart ass guy. So, I show off me more than I display Christ.

(Incidentally, you can tell the folks to whom I witness by that glazed, haunted expression in their eyes.)

But I wonder if victims of my evangelistic efforts ever get the message: that Jesus sed, “Come to me and I will save you”.

I do so want to be in the Christian smart set.

What a crock!

There is no Christian smart set.

In fact, there is no human smart set. We all miss the mark and fall short of the glory God intends for us. Stupid fuzzy sheep go astray no more often than we do.

Saint Francis of Assisi told the intellectuals of his day, “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.”

That’s right.

The dumbest dodo never sinned.

We, of all God’s creatures, are the only fallen ones.

Collectively and individually, we blew it. We screwed up royally. We sinned. Then we rolled in it like a happy dog in cat vomit.

There’s not a teddy bear in the lot of us.

Head lice, warthogs, and roaches have no need of a Savior, only smart guys like us.

So, while I first mocked and scorned and dismissed the sign in the Fox as the work of an ignorant lout, the more I thought about his message, the more I realized something:

I could not have said it better!

Jesus said, “Come to me and I will save you”.

Lord, please be merciful to John Cowart, a sinner — and a smug know-it-all.

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 @ 5:10 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Matters Of Faith

Historical evidence convinces me that Jesus Christ is trustworthy.

Spiritual experience convinces me that Jesus is reliable.

My internal feelings negate both of the above.

Neither history nor spiritual experience outweigh negative things I learned at my mother’s knee.

Topping these negative things is the precept that nothing matters.

I think I heard Mama say the phrase, “It doesn’t matter” millions of times as I grew up. That was her mantra for coping with life’s problems. She felt that nothing really matters, and she ingrained that idea into me from my youth.

Approaching life with that mindset influences how I interpret life experiences. Even though I now believe as a Christian, yet that undercurrent of thought drags me down. Rather than picturing life as a progression toward beauty, the joy of Heaven, the radiant presence of Christ, the vision of God — my inclination is to see myself, and everyone else, as circling the drain, the dark hole to nowhere.

I have tried so many things in life, strived for so many goals, exerted great effort —only to see it all come to nothing. Watched so many of my dreams turn to vapor. Pissing against the wind. Wasted effort. Futility.

Why keep trying?

What’s the use?

It doesn’t matter.

Nothing I do matters.

Historical evidence convinces me that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth from Somewhere else, that He fed the hungry, healed the sick, taught the ignorant, made right whatever was wrong. He died because of, and for, our sin. And He, as Lord of Life, rose again from the tomb under His own steam before going back to where He came from for the moment.

Spiritual experience convinces me that Jesus is reliable, that contact with Him enlivens people, that knowing Him generates joy, that spiritual realities exist and that they are wonderful. That He is wonderful.



But, in practical day to day living, my core feeling, belief, mindset, whatever-you-call-it undermines every facet of historical evidence and spiritual experience.

For me the crisis of belief always boils down to “What Does It Matter?”

The opposite of faith is not doubt but apathy.

I wallow in that stuff.

Not a pretty picture is it, John Cowart, Christian warthog.

But it’s an accurate picture — high pixel, digital quality, focused, real.

How am I supposed to attract other troubled souls to Christ when I’m such a mess myself? How can I let my little light shine, when my batteries are dying dim?...

Wait, do I have some inner glow? — No, that’s just indigestion. Never mind.

On some level, I do want to shine for Christ, to be a beacon attracting people to Him. Yet, I do not wish to contribute to the aura of Christian fakery rampant in society. We’ve all seen too much of that. Fading glowsticks just don’t cut it.

So I seek and acknowledge reality, my reality at least.

I do what I do because I do it.

In spite of all my feelings and my interpretation of life to the contrary, what I do matters. That’s a matter of faith.

So yesterday I watered the garden, it matters whether the flowers survive or wither in the drought. I formatted the Christmas book, that matters to me. I checked whether that date should be 1926 or 1929 in the King autobiography, accuracy matters. I browsed a porno site. I learned more about that new software program Ginny is teaching me. I cooked supper. I took a nap. I read a history book. I ranted and cursed over headers and footers. I prayed. I lived out my own little can of worms.

On some level, good or bad, I believe all that stuff matters.

That’s a matter of faith.

Thanks be to God.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:43 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Party’s Over, Time For A Joke

Guess who slept till noon Monday and didn't post a journal entry?

Did anybody notice?

Anyhow, Sunday's cookout rocked.

The young lady I’d talked to Saturday did come and we laughed over our mutual embarrassment. She took a printout of yesterday’s blog home to show her mother. She hails from Maine and actually met Stephen King there. She told about his benevolence toward the town where she lived. She was a hit! Our kids want her to go to Europe with them in the Fall — that would make for not two, but three girls all with the same first name going.

At future cookouts, we’re going to make them all wear numbers!

We met my youngest daughter’s new friend.

I always feel as though we are under inspection in these situations and I hope we met with his approval. He seems like a great guy and treats our daughter with kind respect and attentiveness.

He hails from north Africa. He works as a waiter at an upscale restaurant and he aspires to be a printer. He explained the intricacies of process called web printing, which, if I understand what he said, involves running paper through a press eight times using a different color ink each time in register to produce a fine crisp quality.

He said he is a Coptic Christian and explained that some traditions trace that faith back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; other authorities trace it to the eighth chapter of Acts where the Apostle Philip talked with the Ethiopian eunuch in the chariot. Still other authorities say that faith is of more recent origin.

He also explained the difference between idols and icons, but I have a hard time distinguishing the difference.

Coptic artists created a unique, exquisite and intriguing artistic style. The Newark Art Museum features an on-line exhibit at http://www.newarkmuseum.org/afterthepharaohs/index.htm ; another fine display can be found at http://touregypt.net/featurestories/copticpainting.htm

Here is one example of Coptic calligraphy in a book of prayers:

The one glitch developed at our cookout.

Certain women in the family — let me re-word that -- All the women in the family complained that the jokes I post in my journal are tasteless and terrible.

What do they know?

Anyhow, to avoid offending delicate female readers, instead of telling one of my jokes, I’ll just present one from my e-buddy Gene in Oregon. He is known through the web world as a man of culture, discretion and good taste.

He says that he is an atheist and that he’s enamored of dung beetles. Although I am a Christian, I enjoy his refined, genteel humor. He posts at http://oldhorsetailsnake.blogspot.com/

Here (instead of one of mine) are two of Gene’s recent jokes:

The blonde walks up to the librarian and asks, "How do you spell 'tequila'?" So the librarian obliges, and the blonde leaves.

Pretty soon, the blonde is back. "I still can't find it," she says.

The librarian says, "Find what?"

"Tequila Mockingbird."


So, this guy named Wayne is a painter, and a sly one at that. He discovered that he can make his paint go farther by thinning it with turpentine. And he thinned it a lot.

One day he got a contract from the First Baptist Church to paint their huge edifice. So he got out his scaffolding and began painting away. When he got near the end of the job, there was a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened and the rain poured down. It washed the thinned paint from the church and Wayne slipped to the ground, surrounded by telltale puddles of the thinned and useless paint.

Wayne is no fool. He got on his knees and cried out: "Dear God, forgive me! What should I do?"

And from the thunder, a mighty voice rang out: "Repaint! And thin no more!"

Satisfied, Ladies?

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 @ 1:42 PM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Reputation As A Dirty Old Man

I have a daughter — let’s say her name is Grendel.

I have another daughter — let’s call this one Broomhilda.

I have a third daughter — but she doesn’t enter into this because she’s off attending a gay pride parade at the beach today. I also have three sons — they’re not involved in this incident either.

I have a wife — her real name is Ginny. She’s deaf and wears a hearing aid — but not always around the house.

That’s the playbill.

Grendel called me last week saying that Broomhilda would be in town from down state this weekend and they wanted to have a cookout at our house Sunday.


Grendel said that both she and Broomhilda wanted to introduce me and Ginny to their respective boyfriends. You know, a It’s-Time-To-Meet-My-Parents sort of affair.

Well, yesterday about noon the phone rang.

Ginny answered it but she was not wearing her hearing aid — got that?

At first she though the caller was our neighbor Carol but when she realized it wasn’t Carol, she handed the phone to me saying, “I think it’s Broomhilda”.

I said, “Hi Honey. Are you in town already”.

The woman on the other end said, “Yes, I’m here at the library. Grendel was supposed to meet me here to drive me to the cookout”.

“That’s tomorrow,” I said. “Is your boyfriend with you”?

“I don’t have a boyfriend any more,” she said.

“Oh... I’m sorry you two broke up,” I said.

I proceeded to urge her to come to my house so she could tell me all about it. I mentioned that my wife was not wearing her hearing aid and couldn’t hear us talking. I urged her to come to my house again.

She sounded terribly upset.

She said she did not want to come by the house. She seemed reticent about talking about the situation with her boyfriend.

My dad-genes went to red alert. I perceived that my little girl was disturbed and upset. In my consolatory roll as concerned father I think I addressed her as Sweetheart, Honey, Princess, Darlin’, and maybe even Babydoll.

You know, Dad-Speak used for when my little girl falls off her bike and skins her knee or something.

I suggested that she come to the house to cool off in the pool. “If you don’t have a swimsuit with you, I’m sure we can find something or another around here for you to wear,” I said.

She didn’t want to come to the house.

Her reticence confused me.

What was wrong? This split with the boyfriend must have really hurt.

She came across as so reserved and uncommunicative that I really worried about her.

I tried to comfort her and said if she would come to the house, we’d go out to lunch. I asked her for details about the breakup with her boyfriend. I urged her to come to my house. I offered to come get her and drive her here.

She said she did not want to come to my house.

She said she was going to call Grendel.

These two confide in each other.

She sounded strange and leery.

She hung up abruptly.

I told Ginny all about this odd conversation and we speculated on what could have happened between Broomhilda and her boyfriend. We though they were happy. We though she was bringing him to meet us. This breakup must have happened just last night. She sounded really confused, upset, dismayed.

We speculated that in the split, the boyfriend may have beat her and she was ashamed to come home with a black eye. I began thinking how I might explain to ex-boyfriend that it’s not wise to beat a Christian father’s daughter.

But that was pure speculation.

Ginny and I just could not understand why she didn’t want to come home at my urging.

About thirty minutes later, I called Grendel at work to see if she knew of some explanation…

She did know.

She explained it all right!

How was I to know that she had invited a girl friend — a girl I’d never even heard of before — to attend our cookout also?

How was I to know that there are TWO young women in the world with the same name — Broomhilda?

How was I to know that the one I was talking to was not my daughter but a girl I’d never met or talked to before the phone rang?

My mind ranged back over my conversation with this unknown young lady.

Understand why she got more and more upset the longer we talked?

Ever wonder how I gained my reputation as a dirty old man?

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 @ 5:20 AM

Your comments are welcome: 5 comments

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cut and Paste — Big Time!

You’d never guess it from reading my journal but books excite me.

I read them. I write them. I admire them.

But I watch tv too and the tv weather report Thursday night started this train of thought for me:

I knew it was warm here in Florida before I even turned on the tv. Then the weather guy told me how hot it really is. He said, “The Heat Index today reached 110 degrees”.

What’s he talking about?

Have you ever heard any human being except a tv weather guy say the phrase “heat index”? When I looked at the back porch thermometer, it only read 96 degrees. That’s the real temperature. But television, in its determination to increase viewers’ anxiety level, has to make the heat sound even worse than it really is.

I believe those in control of tv stations have that agenda.

That’s my rant.

So broadcasters use terms like heat index in summer to make it sound hotter, and wind-chill factor in winter to make you feel colder than you really are, I thought.

Never heard the term wind-chill factor anywhere other than on tv either.

Ahgggggh! I thought.

Wind Chill Factor! I thought.

Winter is coming, I thought.

Christmas is coming, I thought. And here it is August already I still haven’t put together my Christmas book!

In order to have a Christmas book ready for the market before Thanksgiving shopping season, I need to kick in the afterburners or I will be too close to Christmas for readers to be able to buy my book in time to send it as a gift.!

That alarming realization startled me.

For ages I have intended to slap together carefully craft some of my columns and holiday magazine articles into a single Christmas book. But I keep putting the project off and I never get around to actually gluing the thing together. assembling the manuscript.

So, Friday, I stayed out of the heat by working on a Christmas book from bits and pieces and magazine articles I’ve already written. (Never sell anything but one-time rights to any magazine so you retain your copyright).

I know that each article makes a stand-alone chapter for the book all I have to do is cut and paste and string them together.

But, when I did that at first only an 86-page manuscript resulted.


That’s not long enough for a book… let me think.

I know. I’ll add Thanksgiving articles. Halloween articles. Easter articles, 4th of July, Veteran’s Day…. It will be a Holiday book. I’ve been writing this sort of thing for 20+ years, so I have plenty of material.

Again I cut.

Again I pasted.

Now the rough draft of the holiday book came to 228 pages. Not too shabby. By the time I edit, add graphics, proofread, get an ISBN, design the cover, write the promo text, register copyright with LC, and all that, this book should be ready — by the 4th of July!

But that’s only if I put the Civil War Diary, my Fire Department History, my Dirty Old Man Gets Worse manuscript and my entire life on hold, dropping everything else and concentrating on just the holiday book.

It’s going to be a cold day in — Somewhere they don’t usually talk about a wind chill factor — before I get all that done.

Yes, books excite me. So this morning when I stumbled across a web site about the Archimedes Palimpsest, it thrilled me!

You can read all about it at http://www.archimedespalimpsest.org/ . Their site is wonderful! Great! Don’t miss checking it out. It’s thrilling.

Now you should know that I know less Greek than a radish. I took first semester Greek four times in college failing the course each time. Hey, it was a 7 a.m. class after I’d worked till 2 a.m. each night. At least that’s my excuse.

But scholars at the Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center have unraveled a Tenth Century Greek manuscript of a text by the mathematician Archimedes.

Like many biblical manuscripts, the Archimedes Palimpsest was written on velum, a sort of paper made of animal skin. Since velum was a rare and expensive material, in some ancient time, a scribe decided to scrap the ink off the book’s pages, cut them into smaller sheets, turn them sideways, and write a new text on those pages. Thus making a new book.

But his cutting and pasting destroyed the old one.

Here’s what a news report from the eetimes said:

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Using X-ray imaging technology, the Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) claims to have deciphered the last unreadable pages of the works from ancient mathematician Archimedes.

Scientists at SLAC (Menlo Park, Calif.) used X-ray fluorescence (XRF) imaging technology to decipher Archimedes' "scientific secrets" written on goatskin parchment manuscripts. Until now, the manuscripts have been unreadable for more than 1,000 years. …

The text of the "Archimedes Palimpsest" presented a major challenge to decode. In the 10th century, an anonymous scribe copied Archimedes' treatises in the original Greek onto the parchment.

Three centuries later, a monk was said to have "palimpsested" the parchment. In doing so, the monk scraped away the Archimedes text, cut the pages in half, turned them sideways and copied Greek Orthodox prayers onto the recycled pages. The result was the near obliteration of Archimedes' work, except for the faintest traces of ink still embedded in the parchment.

In 1998, this manuscript was purchased by an anonymous collector at international auction, who then entrusted it to the care of The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, Md.).

Using modern imaging techniques, the faint traces of the remaining original ink brought to light stunning discoveries about Archimedes, according to SLAC. But certain pages resisted even the most intensive attempts at deciphering, according to SLAC.

SLAC, in turn, used an X-ray beam produced at its Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL). "We're getting a vastly better understanding of one of the greatest minds of all times," said SSRL scientist Uwe Bergmann, in a statement. "We are also showing it is possible to read completely hidden texts in ancient documents without harming them."

This display of scholarship and technology awes me.

I have know about palimpsest Bible manuscripts for years and I have seen a couple in museums. Bible scholars have recovered many such texts. But to see how these great scholars at SLAC have treated this mathematics text — well, it just blows my mind.

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

Maybe so.

But I like books.

I can tear them apart and paste them back together too.

I feel like I’m part of a great tradition.

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

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Friday, August 04, 2006

Donuts or Divine Guidance?

“I’ve got a hankering for a donut and coffee this morning,” said my buddy Wes.

He’d arrived at my house early to take a truck load of donations to the mission and to work revising his great great grandfather’s autobiography.

We loaded the truck and set out driving.

We drove right past a bakery on Edgewood Avenue. They sell donuts but every time I’ve ever been in there, the owners acted snotty and I refuse to buy anything from them.

We drove right past the old Krispy-Kreme Donut factory because it’s closed for renovations or something.

We drove right past the Dunkin Donut shop, because we were jabbering so hard that I forgot to tell Wes where to turn.

We drove out of our way to the Donut King on Normandy Avenue. A Korean family opened it recently. They make the best donuts I have ever tasted, and believe me I’ve tasted quite a few. In fact, donuts have made me the man I am today. Just look at any photo of me for proof.

Now, here’s where this gets odd.

Wes noticed that the young Korean man behind the counter was reading a book. “What’s that you’re reading,” Wes asked.

The counterman showed us a beautifully bound and printed Bible, a real work of art. He said his mother had sent it to him from Korea.

As we admired the squiggly incomprehensible oriental letters in this Bible, the young man told us about how he sends money home to his Mother who is a Christian. He told us how he is a highschool student and wishes to enter the Air Force Academy — or to become a dentist (Typical highschool student!). He told us how happy he is to be in the United States.

Wes asked a favor, “Can you read a verse for me in Korean? I’d like to hear how John 3:16 sounds in your language”.

The young man searched the table of contents in his lavishly ornate Korean Bible trying to find the Gospel of John.

He couldn’t.

A customer came in and while he waited on her, Wes took the Korean Bible. From the printing he recognized the separation of Old and New Testaments. He counted off the first four books of the New Testament — again without knowing a word of the language or Korean alphabet — just by recognizing changes in typeface. (Wes is a retired master printer).

Then he counted the first three chapters of that Gospel by heading typeface; then he counted 16 verses down!

When the young man came back from serving the lady he exclaimed in surprise that this foreigner had indeed located John 3:16 in the Korean language. The young man had never read or even heard of that verse before.

I can’t swear I’ve got the right on-line verse 16 here, but in case you’re wondering, it looks something like this:

In English that’s, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

That’s all there was to this incident.

But when we left the Donut King, the young man was studying his Bible intently.

Makes me wonder if we had been guided to that spot for some purpose more than our own carving for donuts..

As we got in the truck I told Wes, “Now I know how God guides us in the modern world — He gives us a hankering for donuts”.

After delivering the truck load to the mission we returned to my house and spent the morning scanning, resizing, captioning and inserting newly-recovered family photos into the second edition of Wes’ book.

Doesn’t seeing such a photo make you want to rush right out and buy a copy of Wes’s book?

No? How about this next one?

This photo is from an old newspaper clipping about the Rev. J.P. King, M.D. Yes, Wes’ great great grandfather was both an evangelist and a medical doctor. Unfortunately Dr. King wrote and finished his autobiography long before this interesting marriage took place. The couple were married for nine years. Dr. King lived till just days short of his 100th birthday. The full clipping quotes the bride as saying, “Those years with Mr. King were the best years of my life — No matter what happens to me, I’ll always remember him”.

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 @ 4:08 AM

Your comments are welcome: 5 comments

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Beware The Rice!

In today’s news: Monday night at the home of John and Ginny Cowart in Jacksonville, Florida, a bowl of rice exploded causing great confusion but little damage.

Although the explosion created great panic, no one was killed or injured in the explosion.

The incident happened just after Mrs. Cowart removed a glass casserole dish from the microwave and placed it on the dinner table.

At first the bowl of rice just sat there looking white.

But as the Cowarts joined hands across the table to give thanks to God for the meal, as is their custom, the dish shattered with a loud crack spreading slivers and shards of sharp glass all over the dining room.

“Eeeek!” said Mrs. Cowart.

When the steaming rice hit Mr. Cowart’s lap, he, being a Christian gentleman of the old school, said, “Oh, my! Oh dear! This is distressing” — or words to that effect.

Mrs. Cowart told this reporter that she has used this same glass casserole dish in exactly the same way for over twenty years but that it has never exploded before.

As the Cowarts cleaned up the resulting mess, the incident remains a mystery. It is still under investigation.


At the time of the explosion, I had cooked my Famous Sausage, Rice & Tomatos.

Here is my receipt:

Take a big cast-iron skillet and get it hot.

With a knife or your kitchen scissors cut a long hickory-smoked sausage into half-inch circles. Fry them up in a bit of olive oil.

Shake in a whole bunch of black pepper (the sausage has enough salt in it already)

When the sausage is brown, cut up a couple of onions into chunks and add to the frying sausage. Fry them till they begin to get soft. Maybe dice up some celery stalks and half a bell pepper and add those at the same time; I also like to add a can of mushrooms to the brew.

Ask your wife to microzap a big bowl of rice (Never have been able to cook rice!)

About ten minutes before you’re ready to eat, dice up two or three or four large tomatoes and dump them in the frying pan… if you don’t feel like fooling with fresh tomatoes, open a can of stewed ones and use those. A dash of hot sauce doesn’t hurt either.

Serve this over a bed of white rice.

Garnish with some green thing you can throw away like thistles or brussels sprouts or broccoli.

To add a touch of grace and elegance to your table, serve with a sparking bottle of Mad Dog 20/20, the wine of preference among Jacksonville’s elite. (Last Thursday’s vintage has a unique bouquet).

But beware of the rice.

If it explodes, go out for dinner and clean up the glass the next day.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:02 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Looking For Women On The Internet

Yesterday I needed a picture of two ladies to illustrate an entry in the Civil War soldier’s diary that I’m editing for publication.

No problem; there are hundreds of thousands of pictures of women on the Internet. (I know). So all I had to do was google for “Ladies” in the Library of Congress photo files.

I discovered that there are no Ladies at the Library of Congress.

The term “Southern Belles” produced no better results. OK. I tried the search term, “women, 1864” and “Dresses” and “Girls, 1860s” and “Fashion, Civil War era”.

None of the pictures Google offered struck my fancy.

Good Heavens! Are there no photos of dressed women on the Internet? You know, “females wearing clothes”.

What I wanted was a picture of two ladies in a garden, a haunting picture like the one in — Light bulb above my head!!! — like the picture hanging in our back room, a picture I found in the trash about 40 years ago when I walked by an old house that was being torn down.

Pulling down the old picture from our own back room, I dusted it off and scanned it into my computer, frame and all.

This is just what I wanted.

Sometimes, in your own backyard.

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 @ 5:49 AM

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My Life As A Grapefruit

Monday I withdrew a book from my on-line book catalog; I discovered that the text contained two fatal errors.

My friend Wes pointed these out when he took me to breakfast at Dave’s.

This devastating news means that the time and work I put into publishing that book was wasted. The whole project must be dismantled and revamped from scratch to correct the errors. Fortunately, Wes discovered the errors in time for me to pull the book out of the catalog before it could circulate. Whew!

Nevertheless, I’m discouraged.

I did check and double-check but still screwed up with that book. I hate thinking I’ve finished a project only to have to go back and do the whole thing over again.

Futility is my middle name.

This came on a day when I was down in the dumps anyhow.

I feel I’ve spent my whole life pissing against a strong wind.

In spite of my giddy optimist worldview, I often feel useless and wasted.

Remember that series of quotes and sayings I posted Sunday? Here are two to add to it:

“Johnny, you’re as useless as teats on a boar hog” — that’s something I remember my grandfather saying.

The other one comes from a former boss:

“Cowart, you’re not worth the water it would take to flush you down”.

Yes, I have generated a tiny bit of constructive criticism in my day.

Of course, those sayings are nothing compared to what my own mind tells me about myself all the time.

So, in the light of many such strokes to self-esteem, why do I dare feel loved and valued by God? What makes me think that the Lord cares about me?

It sure ain’t cause I’m a teddy bear.

Yet the Scripture says, “The love of God is shown toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

He did not suffer, die, and rise to life again for successful, wealthy, beautiful people only.

“Whosoever will may come”.

When I look at my failures in the light of His love, even then I question my value. I wonder, if I’m a Christian, then why do I still get bitter, discouraged, angry, grouchy, envious, etc. Why am I so attracted to pornography? Why do I still sin every time I get a chance? Why am I a sneak, a cheat, a lair, a hypocrite?

Shouldn’t having Christ as my Lord make some visible, evident difference?

Like say, if I were to loose a hundred fifty pounds then shouldn’t folks mistake me for Mother Teresa?

That’s not too likely.

I remember that once a missionary told me that a Christian’s life can be viewed as a grapefruit.

Yes, a full-grown, mature, ripe grapefruit is perfect, sweet, colorful, delicious — but a baby grapefruit is also perfect. Even though it’s the size of your thumbnail, hard as a hickory nut, bitter as bile — yet it is still a perfect grapefruit.

I am a baby grapefruit Christian — petty, hard, bitter, sour — yet accepted in the beloved. Perfect, at least in potential. No fatal errors. Just forgiven. Just as I am.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:40 AM

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