Rabid Fun

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Happy Halloween Story

Here’s a link to a light, happy tale I wrote for Halloween. It’s called Bad Children/ Good Children. It’s a chapter from my book Gravedigger’s Christmas And Other Tales.

My story is sure to bring light, joy and happiness into your dull drab existence.

Or maybe not.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:01 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Monday, October 30, 2006

Breakfast With A Rhinoceros

Early Saturday Ginny and I packed a picnic basket and drove out to the zoo to eat our breakfast with the rhinoceros.

The stupid beast kept standing in the shadow so I had to lightening the photo:

For a cheap date, you can’t beat breakfast at the zoo. We have done this every once in a while for close to 40 years. We are usually the first visitors through the gate and have the zoo pretty much to ourselves for an hour or so.

Jacksonville’s Zoo features not only animals but lavish landscaping and walking paths which lure us deeper and deeper into the exhibits. The zoo is one of the city’s best features.

Here’s a photo of Ginny among the water lilies:

Yes, those are pumpkins reflected in the water behind her. For their Spooktacular promotion, the staff decorated the paths with displays of hundreds of carved pumpkins. These make a great holiday display and after the promotional event, the pumpkins go for animal food:

We lounged a while at an aquarium exhibit where I grew frustrated trying to pose giant fish in the same photo with Ginny. Stupid fish kept moving. The ones you can’t see in the photo are four or five times as large as the ones you can see.

I took a dozen or so photos to come up with just this single one.

The birds in the flight cage weren’t much more cooperative.

After ten or twelve shots, I had to settle for this one:

Yes. Ginny is laughing at my frustration. She hates to see me break out the camera. She claims I get grouchy.



All I wanted was a perfect photo.

Is that too much to ask?

Stupid fish!

Stupid birds!

Stupid rhinoceros!

After church Sunday we first pasted a wallpaper border around the ceiling in the bathroom. Balancing on a ladder set up inside the slippery bathtub brings out the best in me (like holding a camera does).

After that chore, we decorated our yard for Halloween.

We use our display to perhaps remind viewers of the encouragement found in the 23rd Psalm, the passage of Scripture most often read at funerals:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You, Lord, are with me.

Actually, Ginny and I are not much when it comes to evangelism; however, when anywhere from 30 to 80 people come to our door trick or treating, we see that as an opportunity to perhaps let some of them give a thought to Christ.

So we put together a Ziploc bag packet of goodies, candy, color books and crayons, toys, spider rings, whistles, etc. and always include a couple of religious comic books. We try to make the gifts we hand out into the nicest thing the kids will pick up that night.

Here’s a photo of the contents of a typical treat packet:

To us, the tract proclaiming Christ is the most important item in the packet but we want the kids to take home a fine lot of goodies (I like the dinosaur gliders best). And we want them to associate the Gospel message with a thoroughly fun, pleasant experience.

Maybe on Halloween night I’ll break out the camera and snap some photos.

No. I can’t do that — Ginny says I’m horrifying, a real monster, when I get my hands on the camera.

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 @ 5:27 AM

Your comments are welcome: 5 comments

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Long Post Of Random Thoughts About Happy Marriage

Last Tuesday Ginny and I had a long talk trying to get things straight between us.

For the past three weeks we have been at odds and hardly speaking; we circle eachother wary as two strange cats introduced into a new home. To mix the metaphor, when threatened both of us deploy out turtle defense systems and withdraw into separate shells — rock solid but with no tender part showing.

This is not an enjoyable way to live.

Our conversation Tuesday went a long way toward re-establishing contact.

We realized that in the conflict between us, we’d forgotten some of the basic principles which have kept us happy together for so long.

Once last summer we visited a local restaurant usually haunted by tourists. When she brought our check the waitress asked us, “Are y’all here on your honeymoon”?

Naturally I answered, “Yes”.

“How long you been married”?

“Thirty-seven years now,” I said, “But we still like eachother”.

She was amazed. She had really thought we were newlyweds.

By the grace of God we’ve had more ups than downs in our marriage — but when we hit a down, it’s a way down! An estranged Don’t-Speak-To-Me down. A Pass-In-The-Narrow-Hall-Without-Touching down.

Our conversation Tuesday went a long way towards fixing that. As I said, we’d forgotten some basic principles which have helped make us happy in the past.

We have not “solved” the problem.

But we are dealing with it.

The first thing we hashed out is that it is not a Me-Against-Her situation; we must approach things as thought it’s an US-Against-The-Problem situation.

We are both on the same side VS whatever tries to separate us.

That attitude puts the problem in an entirely different perspective.

Years ago when we decided to marry, practically everyone we knew was against our plan. My parents opposed our union. Folks we knew from church opposed it. Mutual friends opposed it.

This opposition caused us to adopt an US-Against-The-World stance which has served us well over the years.

Once our pastor told us, “You two have a siege mentality”.

Ginny replied, “That’s because we’re under siege”.

The first couple of years we were married, we drove an over-the-road tractor-trailer truck. We’d be in Miami one day, New York the next, New Orleans the next, then to Denver, LA, Chicago, wherever… We lived as Gypsies with no permanent home in this world except our truck.

We lived three feet apart, 24 hours a day, every day.

This fostered an enforced togetherness.

We had fun!

We attended art shows in San Francisco, the Field Museum in Chicago, a rodeo in Texas, a street-dance in Little Italy, a Viking museum in Minnesota, Disneyland, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, a school carnival in Ohio, an old home tour in Delaware, Civil War battlefields, National Parks, art galleries and museums all over the country.

We loved doing stuff together.

Till it got to be too much.

Three feet apart. 24 hours a day. Everyday.

We learned how to enjoy spaces in our togetherness. We learned that there are times for private space. We each learned to say, “I love you forever, but I can’t stand you right this minute”!

We are two separate individuals joined together by mutual conscious choice.

We discovered that each of us has talents, interests, and inclinations which have nothing to do with the other person. So we learned a bit about how to let our individual strengths compliment the other’s weaknesses.

We also learned that, short of World War III, there are certain things we can not, not ever, not under any circumstances, do together!

I can cook.

Or she can cook.

We dare not work in a kitchen together.

Not and stay married.

We’ve heard it said that communication is the most important thing in marriage.


Ginny says, “If we communicated, we’d have divorced long ago”.

The most important thing in marriage is assuming the good will of your partner!

Even when she can not communicate what’s going on inside her, even when I can’t understand what she may try to communicate, even when there is no communication — the most important thing in marriage is to assume the good will of the other person.

That kind of love covers a multitude of sins.

Another statement bandied about is that the couple who pray together, stay together.

I doubt that.

I’ve seen too many religious couples break up or live in mutual misery for me to give that statement much credence.

Here’s an odd thing, while Ginny and I have been estranged over the past three weeks, we continued to read the Scripture and pray together each night.

But, we cheated.

We worship at a liturgical church which encourages reading written prayers. Thus, each night after supper, we read a Bible passage then read a prayer aloud.

That’s handy when you’re too pissed at eachother to really pray aloud about the one thing bothering you most. By reading a prayer, we can trick God into thinking that we are in love and charity with one another.


You mean that doesn’t work?

Darn! I thought I had Him fooled.

Anyhow, that’s what we did. But I’m not at all sure of the value of it to us these past few weeks.

Maybe so. Maybe no.

Another time of prayer also proved difficult for me.

For years it has been our practice that each morning right after our morning coffee and before life in the outside world barges in, Ginny cuddles in my lap, I enfold her in my arms, and we pray silently for the other’s safety and success in the coming day's activities.

That’s hard to do when you’re pissed at the left-handed, wrong-headed woman cradled in your lap.

But, we have done this for so long that to start a day without it, would be as bad as facing a day without coffee first. (Also, guys, it’s a great way to cop a feel).

I find that the hardest teaching of Jesus to put into practice is the one about how I should act when I have something against someone else or they have something against me. (Want a bunch of references? Try Matthew 5:23, 18:15 and Luke 17:3 — I’ve read them all looking for loopholes).

In essence, Jesus taught that when I’m at odds with someone, yes, even Ginny, I am to be the one who goes to that person and to be reconciled. He says that this action is more important than giving or praying or anything else.

The part of this that sticks in my craw is the part about me being the one to leave my cash beside the altar, stop praying, or whatever and going to the other person first.

Why should I be the one?

She’s the hard-headed one. She’s obviously in the wrong (as any husband on earth would agree). She’s the one offended.

But Jesus said that if I am aware of a problem with any other person, then I am to be the one to go and set things straight.

I am the one.

That galls me.

Maybe in the original Greek that teaching is worded different.

Nope. That’s what He said.

I am to go to whomever offends me, or to whomever I offend, and set things straight.


Why should I be the one to make the first move?

Because, like it of not, I represent the character of God to the party I’m at outs with, whether it be my wife, my boss, my coworker, my neighbor.

The Lord always makes the first move.

He’s the one who came into the world and died for our sin to reconcile us.

He made the first move and He teaches us to do the same.

Yes, you and I alike, represent the character of God Almighty in everyday petty bickering situations.

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven,” Jesus said.

We are His children and He expects us to act like He does.

We stand in His stead.

The world judges what God is like based on what they see in you and me.

“But”, you think, “We’re not worthy”!

No one ever said we were.

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 @ 12:16 PM

Your comments are welcome: 9 comments

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blog Flu Epidemic?

I feel a sense of loss.

Drink got one.

One found a job.

Teenage kids got another.

A jealous husband removed another.

A stalker chased one lady off the net.

Health problems made one too sick to blog anymore.

Another lady stopped her personal blog to establish an on-line magazine for women. Another e-friend whose blog I have followed for months had his son involved in a mess and the ex-wife was using his blog as evidence in the divorce proceedings. A lady whose blog I followed stopped posting when her husband was shipped to Iraq.

I feel a sense of loss. My e-friends are disappearing. People whom I have never met, yet feel as though I know and care about, and for whom I pray daily — these people have stopped posting blogs over the past two months.

Funny thing. I have regarded these e-people as my best friends even though in reality I only see words and photos made of pixels. I don’t think I’ve ever met another real live human being (other than family members) who keeps a blog, yet these strangers in far places represent life and love to me.

I laugh at their jokes and the cute things their kids say, I worry over their finances. I comment on their ideas. I read their life stories with interest. I share their tales with my wife over supper each night…

Yet, here recently, they have been dropping like flies.

I feel a sense of loss.

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 @ 5:22 AM

Your comments are welcome: 5 comments

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another Book Added To The Pile

Tuesday my friend Wes came by to pick up the first copy of the book he edited to come off the press. It’s called Adventist: The Autobiography Of Joseph Pyram King. That’s his great-grandfather’s autobiography.

Dr. King lived till just days short of his 100th birthday and his autobiography will be of great interest not only to his many descendents but to genealogists and historians.

This brings to ten the number of books I have published in my on-line book catalogue at www.bluefishbooks.info . (And many, many thanks to those of you who have encouraged me and bought copies of my books)!.

Naturally this benchmark causes me to reevaluate what I’ve been doing.

The King autobiography, along with Rebel Yell: The Civil War Diray of John Thomas Whatley and Letters From Stacy makes the third book I’ve published in my self-appointed role as a preservationist. These three works existed only in manuscript form before being put on line; they would have disappeared forever without someone’s trying to preserve them.

I feel it was worth the effort to put them in circulation.

That gives me great satisfaction.

The other seven books I offer in the Bluefish Books Catalogue are my own works; three of these were once published by commercial publishers but had long been out of print until I revised and republished them myself.

I’m Confused About Prayer and Strangers On The Earth were previously published by Inter-Varsity Press. Both books have been translated into several foreign languages. These two books have sold more copies than any of my other books.

Of all the things I’ve written, my own favorite is Glog: A Dinosaur Novel Of Sorts. That book satisfies me more than any other. This story does exactly what I wanted it to do.

Although the title story is one of my most popular, the book I like least is Gravedigger’s Christmas & Other Tales. It reveals altogether too much of me. Which is an odd thing to say considering that A Dirty Old Man Goes Bad is a published edition of my on-line journal which unveils my life and thoughts on a day by day basis.

Another of my books which has sold well is The Lazarus Projects, a novel in which modern scientists travel back through time to witness the crucifixion of Jesus and determine whether or not he actually rose from the dead.

Then come my history books about my hometown which are hardly of interest to anyone outside Jacksonville, although I’m proud to say that local library reference collections recommend those books to school kids doing Florida history homework.

Thus lots of kids probably hate me.

My current writing project is an expanded and updated edition of my previously-published history of the Jacksonville Fire Department. I feel as though I’m wallowing in waist-deep mud with this project and I’ve reached the point — I do this with every book — where I’m sorry I ever started it.

Oh well. All my work may interest few other people, and it certainly is not making me rich or famous, but at least it keeps me off the street.

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 @ 8:30 AM

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Heavens Declare

Sunday’s temperature of 92 degrees set a record high, but by Monday night that temperature dropped to 39 degrees for a low with an expected high of only 72 degrees today. A cold front passing through brought about this change.

As I ate breakfast at Dave’s Diner, from my booth at the window I saw the cold front moving through the sky. When I got home, I picked up the camera Donald gave me and went down to the railroad tracks for a clearer view of the heavens.

Here is a snapshot showing the distinct lines of the cold front as Winter came to Florida:

Unfortunately, my camera will not catch the full panoramic view of these straight lines of clouds running from horizon to horizon straight as the shining railroad tracks

Every evening after dinner Ginny and I read a few Bible verses following a systematic scheme through the Scripture; Monday evening’s reading came from the Nineteenth Psalm:

The Heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament sheweth His handiwork.
Day unto day uttereth speech;
Night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out
Through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

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 @ 5:05 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Monday, October 23, 2006

Poor Starving Kitty

We spent an uneventful weekend with tv, church, laundry and football.

For lunch Saturday we went out to Harpoon Louis, an expensive seafood restaurant where we stayed out on the deck overlooking Fishweir Creek. The high point of the outing was watching a kingfisher bird hunting minnows along the opposite bank of the creek; we identified it from its distinctive flight pattern.

Ginny and I each ordered fried fish sandwiches and as we ate the restaurant’s resident cat wound around our legs begging tidbits which, of course, we fed it. Then the beast moved on to other tables to pester other customers, who also fed the creature tidbits from their plates…The cat slinks from table to table performing its Poor Starving Kitty act for every person in the restaurant.

I figured that if each diner on the deck gave the cat just one morsel as the cat systematically worked the tables, by the end of the day that cat will have eaten $179 worth of seafood!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:58 AM

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Wild Man In The Swamp

Why should I be the one to apologize?

I didn’t do a thing wrong, did I?

I’m sure I didn’t.

I’m tired of being the one who tries to reconcile things between us. Why can’t she be the one to make the first move sometimes?

When she finally kicks me out, I intend to go into the swamp taking only my pipe, tobacco, matches, a sheet of plastic, a change of clothes, a water bottle, and my net. I’ll catch a fish now and then to eat and I’ll stay out of sight.

I think I remember enough of my scout survivalist training, how to find fresh water, eatable wild plants, etc., to live in the swamp for the remainder of my life. And right now, like Glog, I don’t feel fit for human contact.


No problem.

The only creature on God’s green earth to ever hurt me has always been some other person. There’s no reason to put myself through this kind of pain ever again. I’ll never see or speak to another person ever again.

To withdraw utterly is my solution to any relationship problem.

My mindset is All Or Nothing. I don’t half-way love or hate.

This worldview causes me a lot of anguish.

It’s just that I hurt at the moment.

I seriously doubt that she’ll kick me out; she doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with the way things are. And I doubt if I’d go into the swamp on my own; realistically, I wouldn’t last ten days as a swamp hermit. Too damn soft. I love my creature comforts too much.

Inertia is a saving grace.

Now. Seeing as that’s how I feel, how does being a Christian help?

Isn’t Christ the Prince of Peace?

Doesn’t God help?

Doesn’t He give hope to the hopeless?

Well, right this second, my being a Christian does not help me a bit. My despair over present circumstances clouds any vision of God’s love, any thought of His care.

The mental/emotional trap which entangles me at the moment tempts me to think that while God loves everyone in general, He’s indifferent to John Cowart in particular. That while Christ died for the sins of the world, He did not die for me. That while other people are forgiven, God is disgusted with me and given up on me.

My heart tells me that crap is not true — but it sure FEELS true to me.

So which is more reliable, my feelings or my Bible?

I may win Lotto tonight and my feeling will rocket to elation. Or my numbers may not be drawn and my feelings will trudge on. Feelings fluctuate.

On the other hand, even when I feel like I’ve spent my whole life pissing against a strong wind, what does the Bible still keep saying?

“Beloved, if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things”.

PS: if any of my kids happen to read this post — bug off. This does not concern you! And, NO, I do not want to talk about it!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:14 AM

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Beauty Through Other Eyes

Note: This post contains graphics which may take a while to download, but they're worth it).

When I have a hard time seeing beauty through my own eyes — and I’m not seeing much beauty here recently — I look for beauty through other eyes.

Wednesday proved an overcast, gray, rainy day.

A day for reading not working.

But I longed to see something beautiful.

Of course, being the dirty old man that I am, I was tempted to browse porno sites and in the morning I did that for a while; but soon I choose to do something else I enjoy so I visited Olga’s Gallery.

Of all the courses I ever took in school, my high school art class influenced me more than any other. Except for the fact that I can’t paint, draw, or sculpt, I’d like to have been an artist.

Three years ago when my son Donald gave me my first computer, among the first sites I visited were on-line art museums. Olga’s Gallery ranks in my top ten.

This site collects great paintings from all the world’s galleries, museums and private collections so the viewer can sample them in one place. It lists the world’s great painters alphabetically with hundreds of thumbnails to click on to see their work.

When I see a painting that strikes my fancy, I do a Save As file then transfer them to a Make-Your-Own screensaver program. That way paintings that sell for hundreds of millions of dollars parade across my desktop for me to enjoy.

I have systematically worked my way up to the Ks

Olga’s features biographical sketches of the artists, tells the location of the owner, and sometimes reveals stories behind the subject of the paintings.

For instance the Louvre in Paris, France, displays a painting called in Roger Delivering Angelica painted in 1819 by Jean-August-Dominique Ingres.

Until yesterday afternoon, I had never heard of Jean-August-Dominique Ingres.

And the only Roger I knew of was a rabbit in a movie.

And who is Angelica? And why are there two dragons in this painting?

With a bit of research I found out that the legend portrayed dates back to the time of the Emperor Charlemagne who lived between the years 747 and 814 A.D.

He beat Moslem terrorists back from overrunning Europe. (Yes, the current war has been going on that long).

Anyhow the terrorists kidnapped the beautiful Angelica (not sure who she was) and chained her to a rock in Ireland (yes, Ireland) for a sea monster called an Orc to rape. Charlemagne’s young relative, Roger, tamed a hippogriff to ride to her rescue… but then he left Angelica to go off and marry another lady.

I got all that from seeing this single painting

What a great way to spend a rainy afternoon!

I also learned that all reputable artists paint a self-portrait; I think it’s a job requirement.

If I were an artist and I painted my own self-portrait, I’d look something like this:

That’s exercising a tiny bit of artistic license, you understand.

But if it’s realism you want, maybe my self-portrait should look like this:

Take away the cool hat and the beard and that’s my spitting-image.

I marvel at what real artists can do!

Imagine doing all this dress pattern in oils as Ingres did:

Or, if you prefer simpler prints, consider this image called Fishblood by Gustav Klimt in 1898:

In 1903 Gustav Klimt did another painting which really speaks to me on this gloomy day when I see little beauty in my world, when dark things hover in the background to cloud my mind. If you click to enlarge it, you’ll see why he named his painting — HOPE:

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:42 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Writer In The Family

Tuesday my computer server shut down for most of the day — a great excuse to read all day instead of working.

When Ginny got home we went to the library for more books then stopped at a new pizza place to munch and read for the evening.

I thought I was a writer, but my daughter Eve’s posting for Monday about the situation with her sister makes me wonder just who is really the writer in our family.

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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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

For The Kid In The Attic

Monday afternoon, Jennifer, my oldest daughter came out of the courtroom hysterical with fright.

A weeping, deflated, trembling, frightened shell

Apparently the judge did not believe her testimony.

Apparently the judge did not believe the testimony of her sister.

Apparently the judge did not believe my testimony in the matter either.

One person in the courtroom referred to my blog and told the judge that I lied in my postings. Computer terminals surrounded the bench but I have no way of knowing whether or not the judge actually read any of my blog or whether she just accepted the other person’s word about my lying.

The incident makes me feel like Cassandra.

So be it.

I can live with that.

Perhaps the other folks feel vindicated and now peace will reign.

On the brighter side, as Eve talked with some cops outside the courtroom, they gave her a length of official crime scene barrier tape for a display in the mystery section of her library. This elated her because she plans a mystery event around Halloween and this tape will set it off special.

Ginny and I took Jennifer out for supper and ice cream. She calmed down considerably. I think that ice cream is the Christian answer to all of life’s overwhelming problems.

We advised her to relocate out of state. (I hear Montana is nice this time of the year). But meanwhile, the whole family is pitching in to help her find an apartment, buy furniture, and get reestablished on her own. We’re fronting her for a temporary apartment but she’ll be camping in there sleeping on an air mattress on the floor till we come up with a bed.

With “The Recent Unpleasantness” now past (Southerners will recognize the reference), she can reorient her life and pursue her own dreams.

Once she’s recuperated from her trauma and can decide what those dreams are, she has a chance to start anew.

Yesterday two people contacted me asking why I have not posted a journal entry on my blog in the past couple of days

Ever since I began keeping a daily journal about 25 years ago I’ve tried to record things that are important to me or things that strike my fancy, jokes I hear, news that catches my attention, trains of thought — or whatever.

Normally I wake up about 4 in the morning and write my journal as a springboard into my regularly writing. It’s a warm up exercise for working on my books.

Occasionally, I write up the happenings of my day in the afternoons while they are fresh in my memory, then I post the entries to the internet the next morning.... (Of course today my server was down till almost 2 in the afternoon!)

When things happen which are too bland or too painful for me, I don’t post a journal entry at all.

Essentially I haven’t posted recently because I’m bone weary, bland, discouraged and disheartened. Last week something came up — unrelated to anybody else — which makes me realize what a total failure I am in every area of life.

So I’ve felt too ashamed to write about it.

As far as I know I have no secrets; but I do regard certain things as private and do not record them in a journal entry accessible to the public during my lifetime.

Mystics call what I am going through by the fancy term “The Dark Night Of The Soul”. Ginny calls it “Adjusting to the normal aging process”. Personally, I call it “floundering chin-deep in mushy liquid shit”. (But then I have always been a giddy optimist in my worldview).

Whatever you call it, its hardly any fun at all.

But, it is survivable.

Sometimes, survivable is the best you can expect in this life.

And yes, I do know about Victory in Jesus, the Abundant Life, the Joy of The Lord, and all those other religious buzz words. If other people feel all that, good for them. Such things, at the moment, are beyond my reach and experience.

Yet, as Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”.

For Job, that’s faith.

For me, it’s pigheadedness.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at precisely 7:48 this morning a baby was born who officially makes the population of our country to now number 300 million people.

You know, I’ve always written with a specific reader in mind. The reader I envision is a teen-aged boy who lives 50 to 75 years from now, and who stumbles across my journals in a dusty attic on a rainy day and begins to read these old musty papers.

Some stupid joke catches the kid’s attention and he begins to read further. As he reads, he catches some glimpse of what it means for me to be a Christian. He sees a relatively unvarnished picture of one Christian guy’s life, a life soaked in problems, temptations, discouragements, failures, and defeats — yet resounds with hope.

I dream that the kid in the attic will look at all the crap in what’s-iz-name’s diary and that this kid will see through it all and see that what I write about is real. I dream that he will see through me to the beauty of the living Christ and commit his life to Christ 100%, without reservation.

Hey, Kid! Here’s a bumper sticker joke for you:

I Did Not Escape From The Insane Asylum — I’ve Got A Day Pass!

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 @ 1:46 PM

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

For Sande Dawn Jordan

My friend Wes stands beside himself in grief and anguish over the death of his 17-year-old granddaughter last Wednesday. She died of a particularly virulent form of cancer and Wes, who has worked in hospital intensive care units, described her dying as the most gruesome he’s ever seen.

In the midst of his anguish, Wes restructured the dedication page of the book he has been working on, Adventist: The Autobiography of Joseph Pyram King, so that the page includes a line of tribute to Sande Dawn Jordan.

King, a minister and a physician, lived a hundred years from 1848 to 1948 and was a founder father of the Christian Adventist movement. He stood trial for heresy over his views of the afterlife in 1880 and wrote a defense of his stance which is reprinted in Wes’ book.

Sande lived only 17 years and was just at the threshold of life. Today, she knows as much about the joys of the afterlife as the good doctor.

Yesterday, Wes and I made the last minute changes from the printer’s proofs and published the book on-line at www.bluefishbooks.info .

Wes has collected all this material, text, photographs and anecdotes, mainly as a labor of love toward his extended family to preserve elements of family history which would otherwise be lost.

Ironic that tributes to the 100-year-old great-great-grandfather and the 17-year-old granddaughter lie together in the same little volume.

However, for those of us who have not crossed the finish line yet, the race is still to be run; the duties of this day remain.

As some poet said, “Life must go on — I forget just why”.

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 @ 5:41 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thoughts On A Ladder About The Evolution Of The Mouse

NOTE: I wrote the following using Mozilla Foxfire as usual; but for some reason if you are reading it with Internet Explorer, many of the pictures show up as white boxes with red Xs. I have no idea why. But if you click on the white boxes with red xs, the photo will show up in a larger size. Sorry. I just don't know enough about computers to fix this.
--- jwc

Tuesday I intended to work on the fire history book, but instead I spent much of the day on top of a ladder nailing metal plates up on the roofline of our house to seal holes the mice have gnawed in the siding.

They can’t come inside anymore.

And as a special treat for the ones who may already be inside, I put rat poison in each hole — Welcome to My Magic Kingdom, rat!

Regular blog readers know of my battle with the beasts ravaging our house.

Of course as I worked, I pondered the evolution of the mouse.

I’ve mentioned my love for biology before. Never have I felt any deeper sense of worship than in a biology lab dissecting an earthworm, frog, pig or cat; and once I was privilege to witness the dissection of a human cadaver. To see how living things are put together inspires me to worship the Creator of such wonders.

Therefore when my kids were little and came home with biology assignments from school, I wanted to help them with their homework.

They hated that.

They never believed my explanations of how things work, such as evolution.

The process of evolution is perfectly logical.

For instance, take a mouse.

A mouse scampers around in the fields all summer eating seeds. Come Autumn, the mouse burrows into a deep burrow and goes to sleep. This deep sleep is called hibernation. It takes a long time. As the creature sleeps, it evolves; its hair grows thicker and its tail longer, until come Spring the creature emerges as a rat:

It is the same animal, but over the course of time it has evolved. The rat spends the summer avoiding cats and eating trash. At the approach of another Winter, the rat snuggles in its nest and hibernates. During the long sleep, evolution continues as the fur changes from black to gray and the tail grows longer.

The following Spring it emerges from its den as a Possum:

Anyone can see the resemblance the possum bares to its evolutionary ancestors.

The possum spends Spring and Summer foraging in fruit trees, But come Winter, the happy creature again hibernates and again evolves. Evolution takes a long time but after months of sleep, the possum greets Springtime with even thicker fur which by now has evolved to cover its tail. Yes, every spring a new crop of raccoons emerge from hibernation and evolution:

The raccoon is known in some places as a wash bear from its habit of rinsing anything it eats in water. No wonder. Raccoons will eat anything.

But in the cycle of life, Winter again comes. Mr. Raccoon goes to sleep in a cave and evolves as it sleeps for a long, long time. The animal becomes more complex, it increases in size, and its tail just about disappears. The animal emerges from its den in Spring as a bear:


Do you see the progress here?

A simple animal becomes more complex and larger as it evolves.

Now bears do certain things in the woods, including eating berries and hunting bee hives. But bears also hibernate deep in the caves of the earth. And as they sleep for a long long time, certain changes take place. Evolution is a complicated process and for reasons no scientist really understands, sometimes a bear will emerge from the cave as a rhinoceros and sometimes as a hippopotamus. In either case, notice how the tail has reverted back to it’s original rat-like appearance.

Of course, even with all the time in the world, not all creatures evolve.

Some degenerate.

Consider the lizard:

Were this creature to hibernate properly it would evolve into a noble Gator and go to the University of Florida where it would eat bulldogs every season.:

But for some reason sometimes evolution goes horribly wrong and perfectly nice lizards degenerate into insurance salesmen:

Such tragic mutations have been known among birds also.

God intended every titmouse to evolve into an eagle:

But this upward progress does not always happen in evolution; sometimes creatures fall. Sometimes they degenerate lower and lower. Sinking below insurance salesman, the once happy titmouse falls:

Yes the avian unwed mother falls into a gutter to pick purses on the street while its victims are distracted by the fatherless offspring.

But there is hope for fallen birds… and for fallen people.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?” Jesus said. “And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven”.

Anyhow, that’s what I thought about up on the ladder sealing possible mouse holes to keep potential hippos or insurance salesmen out of our attic.

Maybe tomorrow I can get back to work on that fire history book.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:13 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Truly Beautiful Day

Monday I intended to resume work on my book on the history of the Jacksonville fire department but…

How many times in the past month have I started this journal with those words?

I often repeat myself.

Instead of working on the fire history, I enjoyed a perfectly beautiful day.

Clouds overcast the sky and a tiny nip of chill laced the air, so I sat in my chair with pipe, tobacco pouch, tin of matches, ashtray and coffee mug right at hand, and a book open in my lap — and I dozed off and on all day.

Not a single phone call.

Not a single visitor.

I imagine Heaven must be a lot like my day today.

When Ginny got home from work we went out for supper before going grocery shopping at Publix. I’d planned our two-week menu so there was a lot of stuff to buy.

As Ginny finished up our list, I meandered outside the store to sit on a bench, watch the stars come out, and smoke another pipe.

A couple walked by and the beautiful young woman commented on the aroma of my pipe.

He went inside the store but she strolled back, joined me on the bench and began to ask questions. As a curvaceous young blond, she was fashion-model beautiful but she also proved to be a brilliant conversationalist.

By that I mean she asked leading questions to draw me out and keep me talking about my wife, my books, my blog, my website …

As I said, she was a brilliant conversationalist.

Her show of interest gave me a real lift.

No, she was not hitting on me — just a nice young lady being kind to an old man.

Speaking of beautiful girls, let me record what happened Sunday:

Ginny and I attended a church which has these huge stained glass windows. I suppose they depict biblical scenes but I really couldn’t say because I didn’t pay that much attention to them.

The preacher expounded on the meaning of the Ten Commandments, but my attention focused on how the light passed through those slivers of colored glass and bathed Ginny with an ethereal, angelic glow.

We attended an early service and when we arrived the church was dim. But as the sun rose, it poured through facets of colored glass and focused on Ginny’s almost pure white hair. This gave her a warm glow of gold or red or green or blue as the sun moved higher and higher illuminating her as she prayed.

I’ve never seen her more beautiful.

That’s another phrase I use all the time “I’ve never seen you more beautiful”. I remember that I told her that in Dave’s Dinner on Saturday as she sat across from me engrossed in her library book…. And Friday morning as she drove off for work.

I’ve said that phrase more and more over the past 38 years as I see more and more facets of my beautiful wife.

I have never understood what such a beautiful woman saw in me to want to keep me around for all this time.

Must be the aroma of my pipe.

Yeah, that’s it.

There can be no other explanation.

My pipe is a chick magnet.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 2:49 AM

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Monday, October 09, 2006

The Shortest One

Back in the early 1950s in the Jacksonville public schools, teachers made us endure a thing they called Opening Exercises. This meant we had to answer role call, listen to announcements, pledge the flag, repeat the Lord’s Prayer and read a Bible verse.

This last one was the kicker.

Alphabetically by name, every kid in class had to read the Bible verse of his or her choice to the whole class – Aloud.

A cruel and unusual punishment dreaded by kids of all faiths.

But the practice soon made Bible scholars of us all — I don’t remember any other Bible fact from those days, but we all learned that the shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35. It is only two words:

“Jesus wept”.

That’s it.

That’s the whole verse.

Up and down the alphabet, day after day, kids of all faiths, creeds and conditions chose to read this single Bible verse — Jesus wept.

Try to force religion down our throats will they!

I remembered this verse again last Friday because Donald and Helen came over in their capacity as computer consultants (who usually charge in the neighborhood of $100 an hour) to work on my computer. They spent three hours at my keyboard then took extra work home with them to finish.

Thank God, they were helping out of love for me because I could never afford to hire them!

Donald’s professional site is at http://www.rdex.net/ Helen’s is at http://www.elemental.name/

Just to fool around, Donald brought over his new webcam. He plans to post movies on his site someday soon. But relax, no one at my house took off their clothes for his webcam movie… Although I must admit that I did undo my top button just to thrill viewers.

But seriously, among the other things Donald and Helen did was to install some special fonts so that I can now write in calligraphy script.

To experiment and to see if Blogger will take such fancy writing, I’m going to try a Bible verse in a couple of scripts. Of course, you can guess which verse I chose to type:

Jesus Wept

Jesus wept

Jesus wept

Jesus wept

Jesus wept

When I post this to Blogger, we’ll see how (or if) this experiment comes out; if it doesn’t, I won’t use it any more. No sense quoting Scripture that people can’t read.

The verse comes from the passage of Scripture which tells how Jesus wept at the tome of Lazarus even though He knew that in a few minutes He would call Lazarus out of the grave alive.

I think it not only shows the compassion of Christ but also the basic obscenity of death. This is one of those miracles which preview coming events.

“The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live,” Jesus said.

Even knowing that, Jesus still wept.

I thought that was the only place in the Bible that says Jesus wept, but the other day I ran across a second verse that tells about Him weeping.

At the Triumphal Entry when Jesus approached Jerusalem riding on a donkey and while crowds waved palm fronds, Luke 19:41 says:

“And when he was come near, he beheld the city and wept over it saying, ‘If thous hadst known…(but) thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

Jesus wept because they did not know the day of their visitation.

That’s an unsettling phrase.

I wonder how many times I have ignored the day of my visitation?

Jesus comes to mind before us. We feel a vague attraction. We put it off to think about at some more convenient time. Then we go our own way and forget Him in the normal course of life. And if we think about the incident at all again, we wonder what it was that attracted us in the first place.

Jesus said, “No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” He also said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me”

Each of us has a personal “Day of Our Visitation”.

If we ignore it …

Jesus wept.

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 @ 7:03 AM

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Third Time In 100 Years

Yesterday I got so worked up ranting about my garbage cans that I forgot to get a newspaper. So I missed seeing the article that quoted me!

How dumb is that?

Here the reporter had interviewed me last Monday for an hour but I missed seeing what he did with my eloquent words in print because I was so worked up over trash.

Fact is, the reporter trashed most of my words and only used a single snippet from our hour’s conversation.

Here is a link to the on-line copy of Dan Scanlan’s article: http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/100706/ner_5456707.shtml

The occasion for the article is that one of my old college professors turned 100 years old on Friday.

Dr. Robert Gee Whitty served as a prominent Baptist minister here in Jacksonville for over 70 years. He also was founder and president of Luther Rice Seminary.

It was funny that Scanlan chose to interview me because I was one of the few non-Baptists ever to study at the school. The reporter tracked me down from a reference to Dr. Whitty in one of my Jacksonville history books.

Here’s the passage concerning Jacksonville’s Bay Street back in the 1950s when I was a kid sneaking into the movies:

On Friday nights we'd have to stand in line to get into the movies at the Palace theatre and across the street -- on the steps of City Hall -- Dr. Robert Whitty, pastor of Central Baptist Church, would preach to us sinners going into the movie

"Turn Ye. Turn ye; for why will ye die," he would plead.

And the line into the Palace would inch along.

"Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him turn unto the Lord," the preacher said.

And we boys saddled close behind some tall grownup.

"Come to Jesus, tonight," he called.

But for us boys, Bob Steele, Nyoka the Jungle Girl, and Bulletman called harder.

In the '70s when I enrolled at Luther Rice Seminary where Dr. Whitty was president, I reminded him of his street preaching days.

"What took you so long to come forward," he asked.

Anyhow, sinners that we were, my buddy and I never thought of going onto Bay Street until my Mother warned us not to.

Here’s a photo of Dr. Whitty taken two years ago:

From Dan Scanlan’s article I learned that even at his age of 100, Dr. Whitty maintains a website; his address is http://www.rgwitty.com/ .Please stop by and sign his guestbook.

To me, the two most interesting of many features on Dr. Whitty’s site are his published diary (http://www.rgwitty.com/mylifeandtimes.html) and his flash presentations in the Meet Jesus section -- take a look at his "Roman Road", that's typical of his message.

He bought his first computer at aged 80 and taught himself how to use it to establish his website!

I’m impressed.

I seriously doubt that Dr. Whitty would remember me; I was an unimpressive student.

And until the reporter called, I had not thought of Dr. Whitty for ages.

So I find it strange that our paths cross a third time in the course of his 100 year career and that Dr. Whitty still has important things to teach 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 @ 4:52 AM

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

They Are Sorry Rascals! … But I Have An Excuse!

Today’s post rants philosophically against my garbage men.

Yes, Friday they collected our yard trash.

City law mandates that a yellow light flash on top of the truck to warn passersby that jerks roam our streets scattering more trash than they collect.

All the garbage men have to do is dump the cans into the maw and put the can back where they picked it up from. Then the job gets complicated; they have to punch a button and the hydraulic jaws compress the trash.

But, can these guys do all that?


Some people are just too sorry to be garbage men.

Yesterday, they managed to dump the cans and press the button, but putting the cans back at the curb proved beyond their level of skill.

Instead, they threw the cans into the middle of our driveway blocking in our car so I had to traipse out barefoot to move the cans out of the drive before Ginny could leave for work.

I grumbled mightily, accusing them about their slovenly, sorry, low-down, conniving, degraded, uncouth, degenerate, highly over-paid, work habits.

That’s when the Holy Spirit of God chose to remind me of a Bible verse.

He does that you know.

He picks times I’m peeved to remind me of times when I have not been the peevee but the peever — of times when I did the same thing I’m griping about to someone else. And He usually does this via some half-remembered Scripture passage.

He picked a dozy for me this morning:

“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doeth the same things!”

So as I bitched about the garbage men, I was reminded of times when my own work has been slipshod and slovenly, when I cut corners, when I made life a little bit harder for somebody else than it needed to be.

Not a pretty picture.

But wait! I have an excuse!

In fact I have a whole bundle of excuses:

That job didn’t pay me what I was worth! That boss was unreasonable. The other guys on the job did it the same way. I had a headache. They were rushing me…

Now, here is an interesting fact:

When we accuse somebody of something, we acknowledge the existence of a natural moral law. And while local custom and culture varies as to detail, natural law is universal.

For instance everywhere on earth deeds of bravery are praised while deeds of cowardice are condemned. A loyal person is highly regarded while a betrayer of friends or family is regarded as contemptible. Nobody no where loves a hypocrite.

You don’t have to read a Bible to acknowledge the existence of such standards, everyone everywhere has a highly developed sense of “ought”.

“They ought not to invade,” we say.

“She ought to control her kids,” we say.

“He ought not to break in line ahead of me,” we say.

“They ought not to put the garbage cans in the middle of the drive,” we say.

We accuse them because they have not met some standard, transgressed some law, broken some rule — which makes them Bad People.

On the flip side, every time we offer an excuse, we are also acknowledging the existence of some recognized natural law written within our hearts. We acknowledge it exists, but we offer good reasons why it applies to other people, but not to ourselves.

“My wife doesn’t understand me,” we say.

“She deserved it,” we say.

“They’ll never miss it,” we say.

“The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” we say.

With every excuse, we acknowledge that a law exists and that we have broken it, but we don’t want to be held accountable.

We want wiggle room.

Even godless nations do this:

“That land belongs to us because our people used to live there before these new comers settled,” they say.

“The treaty is invalid because the previous regime signed it,” they say.

“Yes, we said we wouldn’t but now we need atomic bombs to defend ourselves,” they say.

“Dumb A-rabs were cooking their supper over fires of dried camel dung before we showed ‘em what oil was for,” they say.

So we accuse others.

We excuse and justify ourselves.

And God sees through all our smoke and mirrors.

St. Paul said of the Gentiles, “(They) shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; in the day when God shall judge the secretes of men by Jesus Christ…”

Jesus Himself worded that same thing even stronger, “Judge not that ye be not judged. For with the same judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”.

Then He went on to talk about the speck in my brother’s eye and the splinter in mine.

By His standards, I am too sorry to be a garbage man.

You suppose that sort of thing is why we need a Savior?

So, with these thoughts in mind yesterday morning, I quit complaining about the garbage men and walked out to the end of the drive, picked up the empty cans, and put them back over the fence…

But, that didn’t stop me from blogging about it today — Did it?

But, wait a second.

Here’s a thought:

Going back to that measure for measure thing…

Do you suppose that somewhere out there in the blogosphere, my garbage man is posting a rant on his blog about this fussy, prissy customer on his route who wants things done just so?

If you’re out there, Buddy, may God have mercy on us both.

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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Friday, October 06, 2006

I Am Master In This House!

As you know, yesterday’s post was interrupted at 5 a.m. when the mousetrap snapped.

The filthy beast broke its neck and died.

Here is a photo of the vile creature and the trap that killed it just before Ginny disposed of the body and re-set the trap.

Ginny disposed of the dead rat?

Darn right!

Let’s get this straight. I am brave, strong, handsome, and pure-hearted.

I am the head of this house.

If the car stalls, I jumpstart it.

If the drain stops up, I unplug it.

If firewood needs chopping, I chop it.

If Ginny needs loving, I love her.

If someone needs prayer, I pray for them.

If the lawn needs edging and mowing, I cut it.

If the all the windows need washing, I wash them.

When the world intrudes, I chase it away.

I wear the pants around here.

I am patriarch of the family.

I am Lord of this Manor.

I am Head of the House.

I am King of the Castle.

I am Master of the House — but I don’t do rats!

They terrify me!


On a serious note: Word came last night that Sandy, the 17-year-old girl I wrote about in my September 15 blog, was likely to be dead this morning. It was just too much for her young body to handle. Thank you for your prayers and concern.

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 @ 4:36 AM

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Deer In The Headlights

When my kids were little we were so poor that we lived in HUD housing, a government charity place which was regularly inspected for safety, order and cleanliness by a HUD official.

To prepare for an inspection, the girls erupted in a frenzy of cleaning and straightening their rooms.

Not little Donald — he’d simply unscrew all the light bulbs in his room!

Earlier this week I enjoyed lunch with a preacher friend who is active in Alcoholics Anonymous. The preacher told me about a young man addicted to drink and drugs, who came to him terrified. This young man had done something terrible and when he realized what he’d done, felt horrified at his own actions.

“He looked like a deer caught in the headlights,” the preacher said.

Yesterday as I washed dishes before Ginny got home, I remembered how Donald would “clean” his room, and the phrase the preacher used, and a Bible verse about light.

The Bible says that Jesus is, “The true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world”.

I’ve never thought about that verse much. On the surface it seemed to me as though it meant that every baby born brings a little divine spark, a light that can be fanned to flame — or flicker out.

If the True Light lightens every man that comes into the world, then we can all be like one of those Thomas Kincade paintings, snug little homes glowing with light and warmth.

Or maybe, this Scripture can be read to indicate that every person everywhere at some point or another in their lives, catch a glimpse of Divine Light and have a chance to accept Christ and be saved. I even thought the fact that the True Light lightens everybody might hint at some sort of universal salvation for all.

Giving it more thought, I believe I was wrong about this.

The Bible also says that “Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil”.

I often pray for light in dark situations (And yes, even with all the stuff I’ve written about my family recently, I’m still struggling with depression myself. But with all the crap that’s been going on, I just haven’t had time to indulge it much)…

But in praying for light, just what is it that we pray for?

To be glow-in-the-dark Christians?

My friend’s choice of phrase to describe the man’s terror “Like a deer in the headlights” reminds me of another aspect of Light.

Light reveals things we’d rather not have revealed.

Say you’re parked in Lover’s Lane with the car windows steamed up and the cop taps on the roof and shines that six-cell flashlight into the window blinding you. (Voice of experience speaking here, Kiddies)

We’d all like to be in the spotlight when we’re onstage performing… but say you’re hanging 30 feet above the ground on knotted bed-sheets dangling over the prison wall when the spotlight hits you.

Say, you’re elbow deep in the safe clutching the diamonds when the homeowner turns on the light and levels his shotgun…

Jesus is the True Light that spotlights every person in the world.

In the brightness of His presence everyone of us is caught in the act. I am revealed for just what I am — a deer caught in the headlights.

What hope is there for me now?

I can’t even see God because His light shines in my face. I stand condemned, blinded by light.

How can anyone escape the intense shining glory of God?

Isn’t it all hopeless?

There’s a certain masquerading angel of light who’d like us to think that.

“If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost,” St. Paul said, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel pf Christ, who is the image of God, should shine upon them”.

Yes, light exposes things we’d rather keep hidden, but Light also reveals a way out of the darkness, the glorious gospel that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, that He died for us, and that He rose from death because He is the Prince of Life.

That’s the good news!

Or, as Paul words it, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”.

Yes, we are hopelessly lost walking along this world’s Interstate highway to hell, but that light bearing down on us is not an 18-wheeler — it is the light of the Rescuer searching to bring us safely home.

“To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”.

But what about the darkness?

Walking away from the Light, the darkness is cast by your own shadow.

So, don’t be afraid.

It’s ok.

The more we are exposed, the more He is revealed….

OH! Goody. It’s 4:57 a.m. and the mousetrap just snapped in the kitchen. I think I got one!

I’ll stop writing 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 @ 5:20 AM

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Second Post Today:

It’s 11 O’Clock. Do I Know Where My Daughter Is and What She’s Doing?

Jennifer’s Saga Continues:

She just called.

This morning she contacted one of Jacksonville’s several agencies serving battered women. The folks at Domestic Violence Services issued a restraint order (Case # 6-2844DV) so that she and Pat must not see or contact each other under penalty of law.

She continues her ping-pong pilgrimage of staying among relatives.

If I’ve got it right, Patricia’s boyfriend Greg moves in with Patricia; Jennifer leaves Eve’s and moves into his apartment while the White Knight moves to Black Queen’s Bishop 3 then Jennifer places her right elbow on the red circle and her left knee on the blue circle then punts a field goal aiming for a triple letter score.

At least that’s the way I understand the situation.


I’m going to wash dishes and vacuum.

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 @ 11:27 AM

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On November 26, 1925, Jacksonville’s city-owned radio station broadcast its first program.

In those days, few homes had radio receivers.

My father told me that the city installed speakers on poles in city parks; in the evenings, families would walk to a park, spread blankets on the grass, and listen to the radio.

That radio station carried the call letters WJAX.

WJAX —That’s important to something that comes later my blog post this morning.

Early Monday morning I enjoyed an hour-long phone conversation with Pat, who assures me that the gun I mentioned in several earlier posts only came out of hiding because of brief, fleeting suicidal thoughts, and that Jennifer has never been threatened or abused in any way.

Jennifer and Pat split up this past weekend.

Pat told me that Jennifer’s interest in a married man triggered the break up.

I don’t know who to believe about what, and it really doesn’t matter to me. The only question for each of them is “What to do now?”

The busting up of a relationship is like the sinking of an ocean liner. The torpedo hits. The ship sinks to the bottom. It’s over and done with…

Yet, for weeks or months or even years afterward, things float to the surface. Body parts pop up out of the wreckage. Deck chairs, bottles, empty life vests, bits and pieces of wood and insulation — debris keeps coming up.

If you survive the wreck, your concern should not be about floundering in the debris field but in making it to a lifeboat. To survive.

Later in the morning Jennifer and Eve took me to breakfast. Eve took a “Mental Health Day” off work to comfort her distraught sister.

I told Eve that its insane to spend a Mental Health Day hanging around her crazy sister!

Jennifer does not know what she’s doing or where she’s going at the moment. One second she talks about moving down state, the next she plans to hunt an apartment here.

My main concern is that she not drag the rest of the family into the debris field any deeper than we already are.

The UPS man delivered the proof pages for the autobiography of Wes’s great-grandfather. The manuscript is not too shabby. Wes came over immediately to pick up a copy to proofread again. I hope to have it published on-line next week.

I made an appointment with the urologist for that prostate exam…

Remember those radio station call letters? WJAX.

I live in Jacksonville, Florida.

For some reason — I suspect it goes back to those 1925 radio call letters — most folks who live here abbreviate the name of our town to Jax.

That’s reasonable.


JAX for Jacksonville.

Well, my physician, the one who wants me to get a more thorough prostate exam , is named, Dr. Jackson So&So, a fine doctor.

Well, the papers authorizing this other doctor, whose name is Mohamed, to probe my nether regions with a 4-foot-long, barbed steel spike came to me yesterday.

The papers were signed — Dr. Jaxson So&So !!!

This means that some illiterate clerk signed the physician’s name to the orders — or that my doctor does not know how to spell his own name.

Neither explanation inspires confidence.

But this brings me to another subject altogether:

As a writer I draw inspiration from other writers.

The works of my favorite writers fill my bookshelves.

Their faces flash on my computer as a screensaver.

And, whenever I find a bust of a great writer at a garage sale, I buy it.

Last night I snapped a photo of my bust of Shakespeare:

Here is my bust of the blind poet Homer, author of the Iliad and the Odyssey:

So when Ginny and I visited a church yard sale last Saturday, you can see why I got excited. Across a church hall lined with row after row of tables laden with junk, I spotted the bust of a man. I immediately recognized him as Jack London, author of Call of the Wild.

I pushed and shoved and elbowed my way through gaggles of blue-haired old ladies — hardly knocked any of them to the floor — I grabbed the bust and clutched it to my chest.


All Mine!

My very own bust of Jack London!

I paid 50 cents for this literary treasure and brought it home to place it in honor with the busts of Shakespeare and Homer…

Then I got to looking at the thing…

Did Jack London sport a mustache?

Did he smoke a pipe?

I’m sure that I once saw a photo of him wearing a cap and sea-coat like that … didn’t I?

A Google image search broke my heart.

Jack London looked nothing like the bust I bought.

Who is this guy?

Why, he’s nothing but a green-ware, generic old sea-dog.

There is no engraving on the base of the bust to identify this guy.

Well, I have an engraving tool.

I plan to inscribe the statue myself.

I think I’ll write the inscription to read:


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 @ 5:03 AM

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Divider Of Stuff

Note: Donald posted photos of our family gatheringSunday here.

Jesus is smarter than I am.

Once when He was teaching, a man in the crowd yelled, “Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me”

Jesus replied, “Who made me a judge or a divider over you”.

In other words, Jesus knew better than to get caught in the middle as people bickered over property. He refused to get involved. “For a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses,” He said.

This passage of Scripture came to mind when my daughter called Monday afternoon asking me to go with her to load her possessions. Jennifer and Pat split up last week. Bitterness, rancor, and pain seem to exist on both sides as you might expect when a couple breaks up after 12 years together.

On the good side: Jennifer’s spinal operation, scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed for a couple of months.

I’m relieved.

On the other side: Jennifer had talked with two counselors in the morning and they advised her to remove her stuff from the home as soon as possible and, since Jennifer says a gun is involved and she felt threatened, they advised her to ask a policeman to go with her when she picked up her stuff.

She rented a U-Haul trailer and hooked it to her car. Then she called me to go with her to help load the stuff “To divide the inheritance”.

I had 20 minutes to prepare.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Here goes good ‘ol dad, right into the middle of the division.

As we drove over there, I envisioned myself being gunned down in a hail of bullets, caught in a crossfire between cops, disgruntled lovers, and irate neighbors — What does any of this have to do with me?, I wondered.

Two police cars, with Officers Davis and Rothweiler, escorted us to the house. When Pat came to the door, the officers explained why we were there. Pat’s son, his wife, and their baby came over to be there during this ordeal. Pat had already packed most of Jennifer’s stuff in the garage, so I loaded boxes with plenty of supervision.

Department policy prohibits the police from moving stuff during these domestic disputes; they need to keep their hands free. Jennifer’s cripple arm keep her from lifting anything. No one else had a vested interest in the process.

I felt as though I were walking on eggs as I loaded boxes alone while seven people watched my every move.

But I got it done.

I hate to see people in pain. And there was so much pain and anguish and so many emotional entanglements in this can of worms.

When I finished loading the trailer, Pat hugged me and sobbed on my shoulder.

When we got away, Jennifer hugged me and sobbed on my shoulder.

No wonder Jesus did not want to be a divider of stuff.

He’s smarter than I am.

I had urged Jennifer to just forget her stuff, to treat the breakup as though she’d suffered a house fire and lost everything. To just walk away and leave it all. You can always buy more stuff.

But she worried over Christmas ornaments, medicines, toys from her childhood, stuff, possessions. And although she said she feared a major confrontation, meltdown, and maybe even getting shot, she still wanted this stuff.

Lord, the things we do for stuff!

The two police officers told me they go through these domestic dispute calls all the time, so they were the coolest customers on the site… These guys deserve a raise.

A Big Raise.

Even though it all went smoothly as such things go, I’d never want to go through such a thing again. Ever!

Maybe I should write an Advice To The Lovelorn column.

Here’s my advice — You two work this out and leave me the hell out of it!

When there’s an opening on the Jerry Springer Show, I am available.

No sooner had I arrived back home than Dan Scanlan, a well known reporter for the Florida Times-Union newspaper, called to interview me cold turkey about my memory of Dr. Robert Whitty, a local pastor who celebrates his 100th birthday next Saturday.

So I walked straight from loading that trailer in tension, fear and trepidation to trying to think of something coherent to say to the reporter.

I have no idea what I said — but I talked a long time.

And, backtracking to early this morning: I had intended to spend the day working on my history of the Jacksonville Fire Department, but my friend Barbara drove over from the old folks home and we went to breakfast at Dave’s Diner then we sat in my garden and talked for almost two hours about doing little things for the love of Jesus.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that peaceful conversation prepared me for a rigorous day of cops and trailers and boxes and distraught lovers and people weeping on my shoulder and a newspaper interview. Plus some important phone calls missed.

And the mailman delivered a notice that our homeowners goes up another $200 next month.

And besides all that stuff, this afternoon I was supposed to set up an appointment with my urologist for an additional, in-depth, prostate exam.

Sure hated to miss that.

I was so looking forward to it.

Anyhow, in the midst of all this upheaval, distress and turmoil around me, what is my deepest, most heart-felt prayer?

Dear Lord, please let there be something good on tv tonight!

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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Monday, October 02, 2006

Losing My Grip

Last month Patricia, our youngest daughter, turned 27, but logistics prevented us all getting together to celebrate till yesterday when ten of us gathered at a Chinese restaurant to feast and rejoice with her.

The family showered her with useless gifts and even more useless advice about how to live her life.

I feel enormously proud of her. When she was a teen, I despaired of her surviving to adulthood. We grated on one another and tensions ran high. I’m so happy she proved me wrong in my dire predictions for her future. She now displays wisdom and insights and maturity I never guessed at. Sometimes water does rise higher than its source.

After the birthday feast, we re-assembled at our house for a family conference over several issues that concern all of us.

I pontificated as usual but I made sure that each and every person in turn had a chance to put in their two cents worth. The collective wisdom of the whole family far outshines my old-foggy opinions.

These wonderful people amaze me.

I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this group.

At times our conference turned uproariously funny as we teased and taunted and offered outrageous suggestions; at other times our meeting turned solemn and silent as we prayed and gave thanks for one another, committing ourselves on some level into God’s hands.

Speaking of hands…

Say you pull into a parking space in the grocery store’s crowded parking lot and walk with your four-year-old toward the store holding hands.

A parking lot is a dangerous place for four-year-olds.

The child holds your hand — sometimes. Maybe. But sometimes the kid fidgets and even tries to pull away and run off into traffic.

The adult guardian also holds the child’s hand — all the time and does not let go.

I read recently that this is a picture of our walk with Christ.

We are the children of God — but we are not grownup, adult, responsible members of His family; we are the four-year-olds of God.

Sometimes we hold His hand. Makes us feel big, in charge, in control of things. But often we pull away. We lose our grip.

God never loses His grip.

I find that a comfort.

After the family left, Ginny and I lounged in front of the tv watching football.

The Jacksonville Jaguars lost their football game to the Washington Redskins led by Mark Brunell, a former Jaguar quarterback — one they treated shabbily and fired before trading him to the Redskins.

Do I detect a bit of justice here?

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:14 AM

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Wear Steel-toed Boots To This Church

For years I’ve tried unsuccessfully to break our family from the habit of exchanging Christmas gifts but I’m over ruled every time.

The habit of gift exchange remains too firmly engrained to be removed.

Saturday Ginny and I browsed a church rummage sale thus beginning our Christmas shopping for cheap treasures.

When we returned home, I found a friend had e-mailed me a set of photos of a church constructed out of Lego blocks:

Ms Amy Hughes, a computer programmer, with the help of her cat, Precious, constructed this seven-foot long model of a fictional church. Apparently photos have been on the web for a while but I’d never heard of the wonderful project before yesterday.

For a batch of details, photos of Precious, and a sample Lego sermon, check out Ms Hughes’ website at http://www.amyhughes.org/lego/church/ . You’ll be glad you did.

Seeing this unusual act of devotion reminded me of a website I ran across last year, The Brick Testament at http://www.thebricktestament.com/ .There, you’ll find Bible stories, not all of them suitable for children, illustrated with Lego block constructions

The range of all this creativity astounds me.

It inspires me to do something creative myself — like maybe eat a donut.

The only thing I know about Lego blocks is how they feel when you step on one barefoot on a hardwood floor in the dark of the night when checking on a child.

Therefore, heed this warning if you’re tempted to construct a cathedral or something out of Lego Blocks — wear a hard hat and steel-toed boots.

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

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