Rabid Fun

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

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Thanks To Many Readers Of Rabid Fun

I find it hard to believe how many people have visited my blog,(www.cowart.info/blog/ ), my online book catalog ( www.bluefishbooks.info ) and my website (www.cowart.info ) during 2006.

I love you, but you really do need to get a life.

According to the Webalizer Counter Software for this blog, over 62 thousand readers have visited during the year. They hail from 82 different countries and over the course of the year, they wrote 846 comments about my postings.


Thank you very much for the interest you’ve shown and for the encouragement you have given me through thick and thin.

I appreciate you.

Webalizer Stats For My Rabid Fun Blog:

Overall statistics from my website, The Rabid Fundamentalist, show an even wider variety of readers from as many as 106 countries:

Webalizer Stats For My Rabid Fundamentalist Website:

I do wonder if some readers may have been scared off by my title, Rabid Fundamentalist?

I chose that title because the editors at the newspaper where I worked as a mail clerk years ago teased me with that nickname. “Here comes Cowart with more of that rabid fundamentalist crap of his,” they’d say.

I chose to wear their loving taunt as a badge of honor — not because of some high moral principle but just to bug the hell out of ‘em.

I began signing my submissions to the editors with that nickname, Rabid Fundamentalist. We used word processing software called Logicon which only allowed for a three digit extension so my files came through the computer tagged, Rabid.Fun.

That seemed appropriate because much of the stuff I wrote takes a light, superficial approach to life and fun and faith.

On a deeper lever, I like my title because the word rabid conveys the idea of enthusiasm, and I am indeed enthusiastic about life and the love of God.

The word fundamentalist conveys the idea of someone who sticks to the fundamentals, and mine is at best a rudimentary faith for a simple man.

Jesus rose or rotted.

That’s the one fundamental.

If he died and rotted in the dirt then what He said or did has no more weight that the words and actions of Jessie James. Jesus is just another dead guy. The world’s full of ‘em . You can’t walk anywhere without kicking up their dust.

If he rotted then that stuff he taught — nice as it is — just doesn’t matter.

But, if Jesus Christ walked out of that tomb after we tortured him to death, if he walked out under his own steam, then he is declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead — and what he taught really does matter.


Because we are also headed toward a tomb.

Our own.

If He is indeed the Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, the Prince of Life, the Bright and Morning Star, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Almighty God, then nothing else in my life counts other than my relationship with Him.

And that means commitment.

Life commitment.

If he’s dead, he’s dead; if he’s living, he’s Lord.

I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He rose from death, and that He’d kinda like for us to behave till He comes back; everything else is peripheral intellectual froth.

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

Anyhow, thank you for reading Rabid Fun this past year.

I hope that your watching this particular dirty old man as I flounder daily in problems, confusion and temptations helps make your own life easier.

We’re all in this together.



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 @ 4:28 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Look. Look. See Spot. See Spot Ruin! Ruin, Spot, Ruin.

My lawn grows shaggy.

Leaves litter our front yard.

I have not mowed the grass since before Thanksgiving.

But I have an excuse.

Our great neighbor, Rex, lets me use his lawnmower because I broke mine when I attempted to mulch a horseshoe that was buried in the sand in my yard for decades. Horseshoes don’t mulch. Anyhow, I borrow Rex’s lawnmower whenever my grass gets too high.

Rex’s dog, Spot, protects their home from suspicious characters like meter readers, postmen, trash collectors — and neighbors wanting to use the lawnmower.

Spot, a miniature collie no higher than my daughter’s Chihuahua, guards his domain like an ankle-high King Kong.

He barks mightily to chase me away when I go over to get the mower — until I scratch his ears, then he turns into a wiggling, fuzzy ball of jelly.

Spot likes to chew things. He will chew anything. He will reduce an aluminum drink can into tiny shreds of metal. And woe be to any plastic toy kids may leave in the yard. Spot chews everything in reach.

Just before Thanksgiving, Rex went out to mow his grass and found that Spot had chewed the lawnmower’s starter cord handle to bits. Without the handle, the spring-loaded mechanism swallowed the length of cord into the guts of the mower.

Rivets held the housing in place so to rewind the cord, Rex would have to drill out the rivets, replace the starter cord, buy a rivet gun, and replace the whole mechanism.

He decided it was less trouble just to buy a new lawnmower.

He used it one time.

He cut his grass and mine (I told you he is a great neighbor) about a month ago.

Yesterday, I went over to borrow Rex’s new lawnmower to cut my own grass again.

Guess what.

Yes, Spot has chewed the handle off the starter cord of the brand new lawnmower!

I think Spot may be in trouble when Rex comes home from work.

The kind of trouble that cuteness won’t get you out of.

So, my yard looks shabby because I have not cut my grass — but I have a good excuse.

Funny thing about excuses: Whenever we excuse ourselves about not doing something, by definition, we have admitted that there exists a standard which we have failed to meet, a moral law that we have broken. Other than that, there is no reason to ever offer an excuse for anything.

By the same token, whenever we accuse someone else of doing us dirt, then we also admit the existence of a standard, a moral law, which the other person should have met but didn’t. If they had done nothing wrong, then we’d have no reason to accuse them.

The Scripture speaks of certain people, “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another; in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ…”

So whether I excuse myself, or accuse someone else, I have admitted the existence of God’s law, a law I have broken. And I admit that Judgment Day lies ahead. I admit that I stand in need of God’s mercy.

Heavy stuff.

So my yard looks shabby. My grass grows high. My lawn disgraces the whole neighborhood…

But I have an excuse!

The dog ate my lawnmower.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:47 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Friday, December 29, 2006

Fret Not

My Scripture reading this morning included the first phrase of Psalm 37 which says, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers…”

I wish the Bible told me exactly HOW I’m supposed to fret not!

Not a clue!

Thursday both Jennifer and Patricia called assuring me that Patricia’s drug addiction is being managed.

We’ll see.

Patty sounded bright and cheerful and optimistic.

But, I worked in a half-way house with drug addicts even before she was born, and I fret. With an addict you can never be sure if you are talking to the person or to the drug. So everything must be heard with cautious optimism or outright skepticism. Especially when dealing with someone you deeply care about, your hopeful heart only wants to hear the best and tune out signs of deceit. Besides, over the years, she has mastered twinning Daddy around her little finger and she knows how to push every one of my buttons.

But, The Lord tells me to Fret Not.

I sure wish He’d have included specific instructions about how to do that.

I’m confident that the Lord Jesus will help us get through this but, naturally, I’m leery about the whole process.

Living with faith can be scary.

Oh, in case you haven’t noticed, I stand among the world’s foremost fretters, especially in areas where my children are concerned.

I not only fret for Patricia herself but for all the rest of us as well. Drug use by one member hits the rest of the family like an airplane in the side of the World Trade tower. Collateral damage, I think they call it.

Last night Ginny and I enjoyed an outing with Donald and Helen. They presented me with a packet of tobacco for my pipe — but I won’t be able to smoke it for months. It’s tobacco seeds which I can plant and grow my own.

I’m about to become a farmer.


We roasted hotdogs over an open fire in their backyard, toasted marshmallows, and talked for a couple of hours while watching the moon rise as the fire died down.

Of course Beauty and I regaled Helen with stories of Donald’s childhood designed to embarrass him. Great fun.

We also discussed the impact of Patricia’s drug use and we talked about how to protect ourselves from the possible legal, emotional, financial, health and moral implications. Donald seems to be hit harder by this than the rest of us.

We are one injured bunch of bunnies.

We will continue to strive to help Patricia, without enabling her drug habit — but it is really hard to juggle those two bombs in the air. I mean why help pay for an education for someone who’s sickening her own brain?

But, that’s getting into fretting again.

We also talked about their plans to establish an internet business and about how to market my books more effectively. Looks as though my work-in-progress needs to see print as a hardback, and Helen says she will help me design a wrap-around cover — something neither of us have tried before.

My December sales showed a marked increase from the previous quarter but are still nothing to brag about. Many thanks to those of you who bought one of my books; I hope you enjoy my work and find it helpful in your own Christian life..

After we left Helen & Donald’s, we drove around to see some spectacular Christmas lights on streets Eve had told us about. One guy had hooked a computer to his light and sound system which caused portions of the lighting to flash and throb in time to the music. Delightful.

Back home, we watched something or another on tv for a while — trying not to fret.

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 @ 7:09 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Thursday, December 28, 2006

We Are Party People!

“You’re doing what!” my eldest daughter asked when she called catching us just as we were walking out of the house.

I explained that Ginny and I were off to visit not one, but two libraries.

“You people sure know how to party,” she said.

“Think about it,” I said. “Can you name anyone you know anywhere who is happier than we are?”

“You have a point there,” she admitted.

We visited the first library to pick up some reserve materials being held for me. The copy of Samuel Ward’s Diary I’d ordered on interlibrary loan had arrived!


Ward, a Greek scholar, kept a diary between May 11, 1595, and July 1, 1632. I’ve wanted to read his book for ages.

Ginny and the librarian laughed, they actually laughed, at my excitement over finally getting this important book. Poor things. Some people lead such dull, drab lives that they just don’t understand excitement.

At Jacksonville’s new Main Library, various organizations display dozens of glittering Christmas trees decorated with that organization’s theme.

For a treat, I took Ginny to see this colorful holiday library display.

Do I know how to show a girl a good time or what!

Here’s a photo of Ginny in front of the new Library:

This was our first visit to the newly opened library and we discovered that the place actually has several books I wrote in their collections. One of the books is rare enough to be kept under lock and key to be consulted only in the Florida Room. Isn’t that impressive! (Not very. I’m working on a revision of that history to make it available on-line).

I got a kick out of seeing my own works on the shelves.

Doesn’t take much to please me.

We also checked out several science fiction videos to enjoy over the holiday.

From the library, we drove out to Moon River Pizza where we ran into Dave, Beth & Ray, who formerly lived in our neighborhood. We hadn’t met for about six years and enjoyed updating each other on our children’s activities and things going on in the neighborhood.

The trio has taken up kayak fishing. They paddle the shallow-draft boats deep up into the salt marshes where huge redfish spawn out of reach for larger boats. Beth caught a 42-inch-long fish recently!

They said their daughter is off on her first ski trip and they asked about Patricia, the only one of our children they knew. So I bragged about her accomplishments over the past six years (See my January 4, 2006, blog archive for an example).

I briefly touched on Patricia’s missing Christmas with us this week and Beth said they’d pray for her. She holds my daughter in fond memory.

I’ve wondered what triggered this recent problem for Patricia?

I know that for myself, the dirty spirit can use anything to lead me into doing wrong. I’ll think, “I feel good, so I’ll celebrate by …”. Or, I’ll think, “I feel bad, so I’ll comfort myself by …”

My end action is the same whatever the trigger, good or bad, that sets me off.

We all fall off the wagon, usually more than once, and the only thing to do is say, “Damn that hurt” and get back on track.

I think that sometimes the Lord deliberately lets me fall just to keep me from being too uppity.

He withdraws His restraining influence and lets me fall flat.

But that’s part of life.

It’s not fatal.

The Scripture says, “The steps of a good person are ordered by the Lord… Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand”.

Anyhow, Ginny and I enjoyed our pizza with our friends then came home to watch a classic video, The Giant Gila Monster, a 1950s film in which this big lizard eats these kids running desert roads in their hotrods.

Who says we don’t know how to party?

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 @ 6:12 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Good Day -- With Bad News

Tuesday Ginny and I spent an idyllic day at home fiddling with things that are too long.

She cut off and hemmed two pairs of cargo pants I’d bought for a dollar at a garage sale. Her sewing machine hummed as she shortened the legs. I worked at my desk formatting a book manuscript that I need to shorten by 200 pages (ever notice that I write long?).

We’d break to smoke and sip coffee and talk over our projects.

She stored away Christmas presents and wrapping paper for next year (The kids tease us about recycling Christmas wrappings; we have one set of gift bags still in use that are dated 1995).

We discussed where to put the three new cat statues people gave her and the best location for my two vultures.

After lunch, we strolled through the park and fed squawking ducks. On an island in the pond we spotted a pair of Great Egret.

We rested on a bench with the sun warming our backs as we talked about medical options and character. Beauty revealed facets of herself that I’d never noticed before; after being married for 38 years, I thought I knew the woman but I still discover new and wondrous things about her that surprise and delight me.

As we talked a massive flight of White Ibis circled the pond and landed. Their distinctive curved yellow bills, the long legs trailing in flight, the black wingtips and white wings in the sunlight — a magical sight.



Then we came home.

To the telephone.

Yes, our youngest daughter missed Christmas with the family because she’s been sick. Yes, she felt uncomfortable about coming home because she could not afford both college and presents (as though the lack of presents would have mattered).

But complicating the situation, it seems as though she is on drugs again.

When she was a teen, she went through a bad patch with drugs. She conquered her addiction and thrived for a while excelling in studies and maturing in outlook.

I’m so proud of her and so concerned for her.

I understand that it is not unusual for addicted people on the road to recovery fall off the wagon a few times before finally winning their battle. But each setback is enormously painful.

Ginny and I ponder how we can help her without enabling the drug habit.

Of course, she has not asked for our help yet.

So on one level it is none of our business.

She’s a grown woman and free to make her own decisions and live her own life apart from us. But at the same time, she’s our little girl, our little sis, and the whole family grieves that she’s in danger.

Yes, the shit she’s into may well kill her.

We can set an example of a happy life for her, we can pray for her, we can practice tough love, we can encourage, praise and support — but the ultimate choices and the ultimate consequences are hers.

Concerning the pair of vultures:

Beauty and I decided to separate the pair. The inside vulture, still with ribbons, broods atop Fancy’s cage (birds of a feather, you know). Our outside, vulture, minus ribbons, will perch on the back rain gutter.

I really wanted the outside vulture to sit on the chimney, but there it could be seen from the street and in our neighborhood some citizen might try to shoot it off the roof, so we nixed that idea.

I wonder where Martha Stewart would place hers?

I’ll have to write and ask her advice.

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 @ 6:54 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

No Wimpy Partridges For The Cowarts’ Tree

Because Donald and Helen removed most of the work side of Christmas off our shoulders, Ginny and I enjoyed the easiest, smoothest Christmas Day I ever remember.

Although they have not even finished unpacking yet, they hosted a buffet breakfast in their newly-purchased home. And we all enjoyed a great time gathered in a circle and exchanging jokes, jabs and gifts.

I made out like a bandit!

Maggie made me a pipe-cleaner crab (in the tree branches photo). Jennifer gave me peppermint candy (an earlier blog mentions the sand casting she and Patricia gave me). Eve & Mark gave me an art book featuring optical illusions. Donald & Helen presented me with some fine quality pipe tobacco and two life-sized black vultures.

With those bright ribbons round their necks, my vultures look just so damn Christmassy! (I think these gift birds relate to my interest in bird watching rather than to my recent medical tests. Although with that crowd, who knows?)

As usual Ginny & I did not exchange gifts. And my three closest friends Barbara, Wes & John don’t exchange regular Christmas gifts either, although all during the year if one sees something the other will like, we give it but we have just outgrown formal gift-giving just because of some holiday.

Patricia did not show up for Christmas with us or call. We expected her and I don’t know what happened so anything I say about that would be pure speculation. But, being a dad, I speculate plenty.

Ginny and I have tried to establish our own home as a Crap Free Zone where people can come and go and do as they wish without having to justify anything to anybody but know they will be accepted (although maybe teased unmercifully by the others).

We seek to live in reality without game-playing.

So I was very pleased to see that Donald, Helen and Maggie are starting that same sort of thing in their new marriage.

Because they had other family things they wanted to do, at 11 o’clock, Donald said, “There’s no place like home for the holidays, so go home. You’ve got your loot. Now pack it up and get out. We’ve got other things to do”.

I taught him that.

We all packed our goodies and left in good will and joy having enjoyed a wonderful Christmas morning together.

Beauty and I retired to our home to nap, listen to Christmas music, gloat over our treasures and watch football.

I understand that later in the day, a van load of the others drove down to Gainesville to see about Patricia, but I haven’t heard back any details yet.

Right now, the most pressing issue in my life is where to display my two vultures to the best advantage.

Should I keep the festive ribbons or remove them?

Decisions. Decisions.

You can click to enlarge the photo if you wish:

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 @ 5:34 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Monday, December 25, 2006

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

Yesterday, I poured a cup of coffee on my parents’ grave.

I don’t understand why I do a lot of the things I do.

As is my custom on Christmas Eve, I drove out alone to the cemetery where my father and mother and grandmother are buried to visit their graves. I worked with a string trimmer, rake and broom to tidy up the gravesites. I edged the stones and raked fallen leaves.

I remembered.

And I cried.

I cried because my parents were always so disappointed in me.

Remembering how much my folks loved their morning coffee, I carried a cup with me and poured some on each grave as though I were some pagan making an offering to the dead.

Why did I do that? I certainly don’t believe they are thirsty or in need of any earthly thing. I have attended pagan funerals where mourners threw offerings into the grave, money, cigarettes, liquor. But such a practice plays no part in my own belief system, yet here I was pouring coffee on my parents’ grave.

The Scripture says that it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.

Although I tried hard to dwell on good things they had done for me, the memories that welled up, were all those about their disappointment in me even when I had done no particularly wrong.

When I was a Boy Scout, I won scads of awards; never once would my parents attend an awards function. They were so afraid I might do or say something that would embarrass them.

When I became an adult, my mother refused to read the articles I wrote because she found me such an embarrassment.

Poor thing.

My mother embarrassed easily.

She even lied about her age — by one day.

Going through her papers after her death I found that, while she always claimed her birthday fell on November first, she was actually born on October 31st. I’ll bet she lied about that one day difference so nobody would know she was born on Halloween.

Oh well, I did what I could for them while they lived and now I visit their graves on Christmas Eve each year although I don’t believe in flowers or such for the dead, yet I do it.

And, I poured out a cup of coffee on the graves as some sort of sign of respect.

I don’t understand why I did that.

To get to the cemetery involves a drive through the toughest section of town. Bums and derelicts and winos and nut cases huddled in many doorways, in bus stop shelters and on park benches.

Although I must say the neighborhood improvement tactics must be working because only one prostitute accosted me as I drove past. Used to be there’d be dozens on a Sunday morning. Once a telephone repairman was up a pole at Eighth & Main when he felt something tug on his boot. He looked down to find a girl had climbed the pole to solicit him!

When I was younger and more involved in hands-on mission work, This was my area to serve among incredibly poor people. Families living in cars. Men dying in the streets. Women ravaged. I served in a soup kitchen a couple of times a week, distributed clothes, and other such goodie goodie stuff. Don’t know that it did anybody much good but it was what I could do.

Made me feel superior if nothing else.

Driving from the cemetery, I felt a longing to be serving in that world again.

The greatest honor I have ever been paid was back when I taught Bible studies on Saturday nights at a dirt-floor mission. My car broke down and I called the director to say I could not make it to teach. He put it to a vote among the 20 or 30 men at the mission offering them the choice of having a free Saturday night or sending someone to pick me up and bring me in to teach a Bible lesson.

They voted for the Bible study!


The greatest honor I’ve ever had.

Speaking of Bible study:

A slew of our children attended the Christmas Eve service with Beauty and me and that pleased me so. But afterwards, as Ginny and I watched the late local news, the anchorman said, “Tonight for Christmas, thousands of people are gathered in Jerusalem where Jesus was born”.


In Jerusalem?

Later, we watched the tail end of It’s A Wonderful Life:

“Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel tinkles”.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:30 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Thief In The Grocery Store

I didn’t steal anything at all Saturday.

In times past I have stolen money and things.

Stealing is a constant temptation to me. Something I struggle with all the time.

But I didn’t steal anything at the grocery store yesterday and I’ve been mentally kicking myself ever since for not taking advantage of my chances to steal a good haul.

Yes, I regret not stealing the money.

I blew my chance.


Here’s what happened:

Thinking to beat the crowds, Ginny and I rushed to the grocery store right after breakfast.

That must have been a great idea — throngs of other Christmas shoppers thought the exact same thing.

After we loaded our cart with essentials, Ginny approached the deli section to buy sandwich makings for easy meals over the holiday. She drew number 25 from the machine and waited to be served.

A young woman ahead of her held number 22.

The deli ladies were serving Number 18 or so. Not wanting to clog the area more, I pushed our cart out of the congestion and parked beside the cart belonging to young Miss Number 22.

Her purse lay open in the cart, cash, credit cards, cell phone car keys all clearly visible. She perused the deli case choosing whatever. Engrossed in her shopping.

Temptation lured me.

We paid our homeowners insurance and property taxes this week. We had to draw money out of the credit union in order to buy groceries and here, inches from my hand, lay a bag full of cash.

I looked this way and that.

No one paid me the slightest bit of attention.

I glanced at the ceiling. No sign of a security camera.

We could really use that money.

I wanted that money.

I wanted it bad.

Miss. 22’s number came up and she began a lengthy discussion with the counter clerk. She brought back one party platter and dropped it in her basket.

I said, “Excuse me Miss. But it’s really dangerous to leave your purse unguarded in the cart like that. Anyone could take it while you’re shopping”.

She thanked me in a huff — if that makes sense.

Really snotty about it, she said, “This is a nice neighborhood”.

I said, “Yes it is, but bad people can be in good neighborhoods”.

Obviously I offended her.

She went back to the counter and resumed her conversation with the clerk leaving her purse right where it had been.

She paid no attention to my warning.

Last week a friend described a woman he works with; He said, “John, she’s not mentally retarded. She’s not mentally unbalanced. She’s not emotionally retarded, and she’s not emotionally unstable. She’s just plain dumb-ass stupid”!

That’s the way I felt about Miss. 22.

I mentally kicked myself for not stealing her money.

She deserved to be robbed.

Besides, she acted snotty.

I felt should have ripped her off big time.

Once I read about another thief who cut through two padlocks to steal a garden tractor. When the cops caught him, he justified his action by saying that the owner did not really want to keep the tractor. “If he’d really wanted it, he’d have locked it up better,” the thief said.

Anyhow, I did not steal Miss. 22’s cash although I wanted to badly — but I mentally kicked myself for not taking advantage of my temptation.

I regret not stealing the twit’s money.

Most of the time I just drift into doing wicked things hardly aware that I’m being tempted to sin. But not taking snooty Miss. 22’s money presented me with a conscious decision to make.

Another such decision followed right on the heels of that one:

In the checkout line the cashier made a mistake.

She overcharged us on one item by two dollars.

Of course, Ginny caught the overcharge and called the cashier on it. With her accountant background, Ginny keeps track of what rings up on the register as fast as the clerk rings things up.

Although a line of people waiting to check out stretched behind us, the cashier halted everything to dispute Ginny’s correction. She called for a price check only to discover that Ginny was right.

The store was cheating us out of two dollars.

Cashier called for manager.

The line stretched back.

Ginny, cashier and manager consulted disputing the two dollar overcharge.

I told the bagboy that we also needed a carton of cigarettes.

He strolled over to the customer service counter to get them — while visions of sugarplums danced in his head.

He returned with the $37 carton of cigarettes, stuffed it in a plastic bag, and dropped it in our cart with the other bagged groceries which had already been rung up.

The cashier had not scanned in the $37!

In the questioning about the $2 the store was overcharging us, they were cheating themselves out of $37 — and nobody noticed this transaction but me.

I looked at the carton of cigarettes in our cart.

I listened to the creeps huff and puff and argue with Ginny over two dollars.

I looked at the carton of cigarettes again.

Unless I said something, we would walk out of that store with a free carton of cigarettes.

Finally the two buck dispute was resolved. Ginny, of course, was right. They gave her her two dollars overcharge back.

The manager stalked away muttering about us delaying the long line of customers.

I was so tempted.

So very tempted.

But, I halted the cashier and called her attention to the carton of cigarettes which had made it through checkout without being scanned.

We paid the full price.

But again I mentally kicked myself for being such a sap.

The grocery chain has more money than I do. They can afford the loss. They were snotty in the way they handled us. They tried to cheat us out of our two dollars; why shouldn’t I cheat them out of their $37?

My mind supplied a million reasons why I should have kept my mouth shut and walked out of that store $37 richer.

I’ve been mentally kicking my own ass all day for not taking Miss 22’s cash, for not staying silent and walking out with the cigarettes.

I think I’ve mentioned before in this journal that petty theft is one of my many temptations. It is a particularly strong one. I’m constantly lured to steal things.

Oh, I’d never rob a bank — that takes guts.

I’m not that kind of thief.

No, my forte is being a petty, sneak thief — the sly, conniving, nasty kind who wants to steal, but to justify my stealing.

I used to think that as a Christian and a writer, my temptations would be towards noble, mental sins — you know, pride, vanity and all that lot.

But actually, I find that my real temptations are not to such wimpy sins but to squalid, dirty, nasty, shameful sins of the flesh.

So, why am I writing about such sordid temptations on Christmas Eve?

The Scripture says, “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world”.

Peace of earth, goodwill, shepherds, wise men, and all that jazz is all well and good, but the main business of Christmas is sin.

The angel said, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus because he shall save his people from their sin”.

Within myself, I am all the time so inclined toward squalid sin that it took an act of God to redeem me.

That’s the message of Christmas — that God did act. That He lowered Himself to become human in order to die for our sin on the cross. Yet as the living God personified in flesh, He rose from death.

All that because John Cowart is a dirty, low-down sneak thief.

All that because you are whatever you are and you do whatever you do .

Everybody has different temptations just as we all have different tastes in music, but we all sin and fall short of the glory God has for us.

Yet, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

How about that?

Merry Christmas from John Cowart, an ineffective thief.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:53 AM

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas On My Computer

Friday I met some of our kids for breakfast up at Dave’s Diner to celebrate birthdays (two this week) and to plan if or where the whole family would attend a midnight service on Christmas Eve.

We all want to go together.

We all want to go different places.

We all agree that we want to attend a church with stained glass windows.

Negotiations are ongoing.

After breakfast they went shopping; I returned home to my computer. I began to realize what a huge role it plays in my life now. Even in how I celebrate Christmas.

My books sell online; I order gifts online; I check football schedules, weather reports, and tv listings online; I send e-mail cards; I enjoy blog friends online. I even decorate online.

I live a virtual life.

In a recent past blog I mentioned how I collected a set of online photos of ladies in (or mostly out of ) Santa suits to make a screensaver for my computer.

Well, while waiting for Ginny to get off work and start our long Christmas weekend vacation, I put that screensaver together.

I did another one featuring winter scenes in Currier & Ives prints.

Ginny stayed at her office catching up chores before taking off, so I made still another screensaver featuring stained glass windows.

Got to keep myself amused somehow.

First I did a Google search for stained glass windows — that turned up guys wanting to sell me one. Then I did a search for Our Church Windows — that turned up better pictures.

A good place to start is http://www.freefoto.com/browse.jsp?id=05-14-0 where I found a number of intriguing windows.

To make a slideshow, I’d select a photo, right click to Save As into a folder, then drag and drop all the windows in the folder into my Make Your Own Screensaver program (You can find a bunch of those at http://www.freesaver.com/tools01.htm )

My screensavers turned out great!

The window above is a Biblia Pauerum or Poor Man’s Bible window at Canterbury. I think it dates back to the 1300s.

The idea was that while poor people might not be able to read, they could learn the Gospel from the bright panels of the window which depict different Bible stories.

For more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poor_Man%27s_Bible#The_Biblia_Pauperum

In the 1600s Roundheads under Olive Cromwell smashed stained glass windows in many English churches; they felt the windows constituted a subtle form of idolatry. Being an iconoclast myself, I think they had a point. God is Spirit and too great to be captured in mere images; nevertheless, I appreciate the windows as an art form.

If you prefer non-religious stained glass windows, check out the giants of learning and literature windows at Harvard at: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~memhall/staingls.html

Anyhow, I dabbled at constructing holiday screensavers all day Friday.

The decorations tell a lot about my character.

The dirty old man side of my nature expresses itself in the screensaver of Santa ladies frolicking around a Christmas tree in various states of undress. My interest in quaint antique things shows up in the Currier & Ives saver. And my joy in great art appears in the stained glass windows saver.

Were I a more serious Christian, I doubt if I’d have wasted a day fiddling with any of these ghee haws. I did have serious work to do which I neglected to play with my computer.

I know that I contain a mixture of diverse elements, some ok and some not so nice, but somewhere in this mix the Spirit of God has a toehold making me rejoice and celebrate — appropriately or inappropriately — that the Savior Christ the Lord is come.

That’s why this particular window struck my fancy:

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 @ 5:37 AM

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Need A Lift?

Practically every morning I visit the site of Plutos The Bubbleman’s blog at http://www.simunation.blogspot.com/

He is a yachtsman from London who owns neither a tv set nor a telephone. Sometimes he posts intriguing seascape photos (I’ve saved several as desktop backgrounds).

But almost every day, he draws cartoons which are …. Well, let’s say interesting.

Recently he added a Flickr album featuring 200 of his latest drawings.

His site is well worth a visit.

Here are three of my favorite among his cartoons:


Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 2:03 AM

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

WWAD — What Would Abraham Do?

Some people drive cars with What Would Jesus Do bumper stickers.

As a kid I used to read Captain Marvel comics, so I think I know what He’d do in my situation.

He’d shout, “Shazam!” and the problem would be fixed.

I’ve tried that. Shazam! Shazam! Shazam! — Doesn’t work for me.

But now Abraham, he’d understand the problem I face.

According to Genesis, chapter 18 verses 11 and 12, when Abraham was over 90 years old, three angles appeared unto him with hard words.

They told him he was going to be hard enough to father a child!

When his wife heard that, “She laughed within herself saying, ‘After I am waxed old, shall I have pleasure?’”

And then maybe Abraham (or maybe it was Sarah) said Shazam or something, and she ended up pregnant.

What brings that section of Scripture to my mind?

Now, at our age neither Ginny nor I desire another baby, but we do relish joyous recreational sex.

When we went yesterday to the doctor’s office, my biopsy report said:

“Prostatic Adenocarcinoma. … The Gleason score of your cancer is 6, Prostate cancer with a Gleason score of 6 is considered low risk. It tends to grow faster than cancers with Gleason scores or 2,3,4, and 5 but is not as aggressive as cancers with higher Gleason scores. About 50% of low-risk cancers will spread beyond the prostate within 10 years”.

The doctor presented Ginny and me with five options about how to handle this.

Each option comes with certain advantages and disadvantages…

Mostly disadvantages.

Ever lace up an old shoe?

A shoe with the end of the shoestring frayed and missing that little stiff tip?

It’s just about impossible to get it through the grommet in the shoe.

If you are too young to know what I’m talking about, get down on your knees and thank God! I pray you will never understand!

Abraham would have understood.

Genesis 18:14 asks, “Is anything too hard for the Lord”?

I know that quote is taken out of context, but I find it appropriate because Ginny and I will face some interesting decisions over the coming months.

What Would Abraham Do?

Oh, here’s a bit of bizarre biblical news:

In the doctor’s waiting room, I read an article from the December issue of The Florida Frontier, a monthly student newspaper.

It seems this music recording company (which I will not dignify by naming) has recorded a tape on which 250 famous actors, actresses, and singers speak roles as characters in various stories from the Bible.

For instance, on this tape Samuel L. Jackson speaks as the voice of God.

And, the article says, “Due to last-minute casting, Michael Jackson was the only choice for the voice of Eve”.


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 @ 8:27 AM

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Ramp From Hell

(First An Update: My doctor’s office called asking for Ginny and me to come in together tomorrow to discuss the results of my biopsy; we’ll know soon).

Tuesday I enjoyed breakfast with my friend Wes and lunch with my daughter Jennifer. What with one or the other of them driving, I rode hither and yon all over Jacksonville most of the day.

Wes and I get together a couple of times a month to talk about theology.

Jennifer reminded me about one time a few years ago when Wes & I ended up literally rolling in dirt on the ground laughing so hard that neither one of us could catch our breath:

I don’t remember just how I met the lady, but as I roamed to and fro over the surface of the earth I’d met this old cripple lady who could only get around by using one of those motorized wheelchairs — but she could not get out of her house without being carried.

Since being a Christian involves a little more than just talking theology, Wes and I decided to build a wheelchair ramp for her.

Do I need to tell you that neither one of us had ever built a wheelchair ramp before… Although, as an experienced carpenter, I did actually hang a picture once.

No problem.

I once saw a preacher’s car with the bumper sticker that said, “My Boss Is A Jewish Carpenter”.

Since Jesus was a carpenter and Wes and I are both Christians, it naturally follows that we’d be able to construct a wooden wheelchair ramp in no time at all…

That’s logical. Isn’t it?

Not necessarily.

We bummed plywood, 2x4s, Krispy Kreem Donuts, and other essential building materials.

We measured and estimated we could nail together a simple ramp by noon.

Our first try at the ramp proved so steep mountain climbers would not be able to get up it; I understand that people slide down ski jump ramps like that at Aspen.

Our second try was not long enough to reach the ground — which made for a four foot drop at the end.

Then to anchor the thing at the lady’s front door, we had to drill holes in concrete which had been poured around 1930; it was real concrete, the kind with flint pebbles embedded in the mixture.

Off to Home Depot to buy a new drill — burned out the motor in the old one.

Our third ramp ran both steep and long. If the old lady had started down that thing, she would have careened across traffic into the bushes on the other side of the road.

Three days later into our construction project, the ramp worked but wobbled. The Disney people wanted to buy it to add to their Pirates Of The Caribbean ride in Orlando.

We tacked cross braces underneath to stabilize the structure. We glued rubberized mats to the deck to slow down run-away wheelchairs. We nailed a banister in place.

Then we stood back smoking our pipes and admiring our handiwork.

“Wes,” I said, “I have just had a vision of Jesus.”


“I just had a vision of Jesus. He was wearing a leather carpenter’s apron and He spoke directly to me.”

“O Yeah? And Just what did He say?”

“He said that if anybody ever asks, say that it was atheists who built the ramp. He doesn’t want His name associated with 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 @ 5:50 AM

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wise Men (and women) Bearing Gifts

Beauty and I lacked the energy to decorate outside this year as we usually do.

Here’s a photo of last year’s outside display:

But, while we felt decoration-impaired at home, Ginny’s office encourages workers to decorate their cubicles for the holidays. So Ginny pulled six or eight beautiful Christmas card fronts which featured the Wise Men off the web, draped them with garland, and posted the caption:

Wise Men And Women Still Seek Him!

I offered her a picture featuring the Wise Men.

A picture I find touching.

A picture capturing the spirit of the season.

But, would my beautiful wife use it?


Here is my favorite Wise Men Bearing Gifts picture:

Why wouldn’t Ginny use my picture for her display?

The woman has no taste.

Monday I took my friend Barbara to lunch and we talked about church stuff.

She said that Liz, a mutual friend, collapsed in her kitchen this morning as she was putting coffee on the stove. Her son found her on the floor and called rescue. They took her to the hospital — Condition unknown.

When Ginny got home from work she told me that one of the ladies there woke up this morning expecting her husband would be up getting ready for work and making coffee. She found him still in bed beside her.

He’d died in his sleep without making a sound.

He was considerably younger than I am. His wife knew of no previous medical problems at all.


Ginny’s father called last night to tell her he’d already opened the Christmas gift she sent him. It is so hard for any kid to give a gift to any dad. I used to agonize over what to give my father when he was alive. But Ginny hit right on target this year; in an antique store here in Jacksonville she found a bronze plaque from some turn-of-the-century machine.

And this plaque had Jack’s name on it!

I think the thing dated to about 1909 and it came from some kind of huge boiler or pump, maybe it was once on a train engine, but it had her dad’s namesake in large letters corroded green with age.

That just pleased him to no end.

He seemed really thrilled and that pleased Ginny to no end.

Relax kids, we dads are easier to please than you will ever imagine.

Yes, we have it all.

We’ve done it all.

We’ve seen it all

We know it all.

But don’t despair — You are what pleases us.

Oh, by the way, no word about my biopsy results yet.

Sufficient to the 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 @ 5:42 AM

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Curbside Beauties

After breakfast with Donald and Helen Sunday, Beauty and I visited their new home (which they moved into Saturday) and while there we browsed in the boutique for goodies both for ourselves and to carry to the mission.

What we call “the boutique” other people might call curbside trash.

People throw out amazing things, especially when they move from one home to another. Ginny collected a slew of toys kids in that household had outgrown; she’ll sanitize them and take them to the mission for poor children.

We also gleaned (gleaners is a biblical word which sounds so much better than dumpster divers) pots and pans and dishes and kitchen utensils and all sorts of household items. It’s not too unusual for people who lost their homes to a fire to show up at the mission needing absolutely everything from scratch. For years we have collected such things from curbside, washed and cleaned them, then distributed them to the poor.

Please, instead of throwing your castoffs in the garbage, take it to some mission in your city. There are people desperate for just normal household items.

At various missions I’ve met women who escaped abusive relationships with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the baby in their arms. To get reestablished in life they’ve needed something as simple as a can opener. So why throw your used items in a landfill when you can help the poor at no cost to yourself?

Beauty and I have enjoyed some thrilling adventures while boutique shopping and once I aided a young artist in getting his own show at an art museum because he was kind to me when he found me going through his trash. He had no idea in the world that the bum rummaging in his garbage can knew a museum official.

You may enjoy reading about one of my adventures in one of my old journal entries at John’s Great Brassier Hunt.

When our kids were little we taught them to dumpster dive glean curbside treasures for one mission or the other. Once when Patricia was about six, she found a mannequin hand for displaying rings in the trash; her find thrilled her so that she announced to the family, “When I grow up, I want to be a bag lady”.

Yesterday as Beauty and I were just leaving for lunch, Patricia and Jennifer called all excited about finding an early Christmas present for me in a curbside trash pile.

They brought it over immediately.

The girls know that pictures and models of old clipper ships interest me because when my sight was better I constructed models of these. So when they saw a huge sand casting of a clipper ship, they knew I’d love it.

The casting weights close to a hundred pounds.

It is a signed work by renowned artist Charles Faust whose sand cast murals graces museums, zoos, airports and other buildings all over the country.

Darn, I wish my camera worked. When it gets repaired I’ll post a photo.

This is real art treasure and I’m so thankful the girls found if for me.

After the girls left, Ginny and I went to Georgie’s BBQ, one of Jacksonville’s best, for lunch. Because we arrived at an off hour, few customers were in the place. After we ate, the waitress gave us our bill (we qualify for the decrepit discount) but as we sat sipping tea and talking about books, the girl came back to our table.

“You two are the nicest people I’ve ever met,” she said. “I just had to tell you that”.

This surprised us to no end. We had done nothing at all out of the ordinary with this young woman. We have no idea what impressed her so; maybe other customers had given her a hard time that morning. We mentioned that we are just common, ordinary, run of the mill Christians, but that wouldn’t account for the girl's reaction to us.


As we drove away, we talked about the courtesy of God in dealing with us and wondered if the young lady had glimpsed some dim reflection of that in our demeanor.

It was just a strange thing to happen.

Sunday night Beauty and I walked the streets of Riverside and Avondale enjoying Luminary Night — that’s always the thing we enjoy most about the Christmas season. (I busted my camera so the photos are web shots from other people).

Years ago the Riverside Avondale Preservation Society began encouraging people in the area to put out Luminaries on a specific night.

Now thousands and thousands of white paper bags holding a candle anchored in a bed of sand line area streets on Luminary Night.

And thousands and thousands of people roam the streets enjoying wholesome fun.

The event grew grassroots and everybody celebrates exactly as the fancy strikes them. Some people throw open their homes to all passers-by. Others serve cider and cookies to anyone passing. You are welcome to sit on porches to watch the impromptu parade.

Everyone dresses as they see fit. Some girls fill tight sweaters (I noticed). Some folks wear tuxedos and evening gowns. Some dress as Santa or giant chickens. Some hold hayrides pulling open trailers filled with kids who toss wrapped candy to the crowds.

A number of people greeted Ginny and me by name although we had no idea of who they were or how they knew us.

There is no order to the parades because everybody decorates as they please and drive where they will. Dozens of bicycle clubs, each with hundreds of riders cruise the streets. All the bikes decorated with Christmas lights travel in packs.

We saw one kid on rollerblades cruising with a bike club; he held bicycle handlebars with a headlight out in front of him. That looked so funny!

We saw golf carts loaded with revelers. Some guys driving riding mowers pulled garden carts filled singers. Several churches sported enormous living manger scenes and you could feed the donkeys straw or give the sheep drinks of water out of hand-held paper bowls.

Garden parties abound and folks are likely to invite strangers in.

The Family Bible Church of Ponte Vedra brings in a terrific choir to perform on the lawn of a member and huge crowds sing along with the choir.

A formally dressed string quartet played hymns in one yard; a guy with a trumpet played Rudolph from the back of a passing pickup truck. Square dancers dotesy doed in the back of another.

We saw no sign of rowdiness or drunkenness anywhere in the throngs. When traffic tangled, someone or another would step off the curb and direct traffic till the snarl cleared, then he’d move on about his own touring.

There seems to be no organization. It’s just a matter of people being there just because they enjoy what they are doing in an outpouring of simple courtesy and good will as everybody does their own thing.

Here goes an ATV with moose antlers mounted on the front. There goes a horse-drawn carriage. When floats pass on the avenue, the kids engage in a candy war flinging peppermint at eachother (yes, the impromptu parade goes in both directions simultaneously along the avenue).

Open top convertibles, antique cars, motor scooters, bikes, baby carriages, dads pulling kids in wagons, old folks on walkers…

Back in the ‘60s we’d call this a Happening.

All this stuff goes on along the main thoroughfares but when we strolled off the beaten track onto quite residential streets, cars crept along with headlights off so passengers could better see the luminaries. The paper bags glow with candles as they line the curbs and up the walks to most homes I think the tradition of luminary candles found its roots in the idea of lighting the way for the Christ Child to find His way to your home.

Beauty and I wandered these quite streets of happy Christmas for hours then came home for a bowl of hot chicken soup.

Can Heaven be much better?

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 8:10 AM

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Moving Experience

Of all the strange, beautiful and even miraculous events associated with that first Christmas, to me one stands our as more miraculous than any of the others.

I refer, of course, to the Flight Into Egypt.

Modern manger scenes compress the events surrounding the birth of Christ.

The star, the shepherds, the inn, the wise men, the slaughter of the innocents, the annunciation, the circumcision, John The Baptist, angels, Simeon, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Anna, gold, frankincense and myrrh — it all gets jumbled together in our minds and consolidated as though it all happened in one silent night.

Bible scholars tell us that these events actually took place over a span of two to four years.

This morning I’ve been thinking about the Flight Into Egypt because on Friday my daughter and her boyfriend moved in together from their separate apartments into a new home.

And on Saturday Donald and Helen moved from their separate apartments into their new home.

Eve hired professional movers.

Six or seven of Donald and Helen’s friends volunteered to help them move.

These young men — strong, handsome and pure-hearted to a man — spent their entire Saturday lugging boxes, beds, and books up and down stairs. They loaded a U-Haul, two pickup trucks, an SUV and a van with stuff to move across town.

Ah yes, as the Scripture says, “Greater love hath no man than that he helps some dumb friend move just a week before Christmas”!

Or something like that.

To complicate matters, the previous owners of Donald’s home were moving their stuff out of the house at the same time as Donald, Helen and friends were moving their stuff into the house.

Ginny and I delivered pizza to the moving crew.

That was our only contribution to the migration.

I just don’t have the stamina to do more.

But these kicked-ant-hill events got me to thinking about that most unusual of biblical miracles, the Flight Into Egypt.

You see, Moses only parted the Red Sea. Joshua only made the sun stand still. Elijah only called fire down from Heaven — but Joseph moved.

He moved his household in a single night.

Here’s what the Bible says:

“Behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream saying, ‘Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him’.

“When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod…”


Talk about a miracle!

Ever move anywhere with a baby?

I remember how it was just going across town to visit Grandma.

I’d load the car with a contraption called a Porta-Crib. Then strapped the baby in a car seat. Then there was the diaper bag, the teddy bear, a case of Similac, bottles, squeaky toy, change of clothes, lawn mower, pop-up books, fishing gear, bottle warmer, blankie, and a partridge in a pear tree — all the stuff it takes to go anywhere with a baby.

So, here’s Joseph, sound asleep, and this angel appears telling him to pack and move that same night.

No indication that this angel told Mary anything.

Joseph got the job of informing her.

“Honey, wake up. We’re moving to Egypt”.

So the couple begin loading their donkey with car seat, Porta-Crib, diaper bag, etc. etc.

Of course the insane jealousy of the child-killing king spurred them with a bit of incentive, but this young couple moved whatever they owned.

Yes, they moved.

By themselves.

In a single night.

Right at Christmas time.

It’s a shame they didn’t have good friends like Donald and Helen’s to help.

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 @ 5:50 AM

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Biopsy Phone Tag

The doctor told me to call Friday morning to learn the results of the biopsy.

I waited all morning then called about 10:30 a.m.

No results in yet.

The nurse who answered the phone guessed that the tissue samples, or the lab reports, got entangled and trapped in the hundreds of thousands of Christmas cards and packages flooding the U.S. Postal Service.

She told me to call back later.

I spent my time waiting by browsing porno sites looking for photos of ladies in (or mostly out) of red negligees or Santa outfits; I plan to blend these into a festive Christmas screensaver.

I called the doctor back about 3 p.m.

Still no word.

The lady said the office might call me back if they heard anything before 4:30 when they close for the weekend.

I continued my quest for Santa ladies.

4:30 passed.

I can call again sometime Monday.

I’m going to have a very interesting screensaver.

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 @ 4:40 AM

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Geeks Had A Word For It — Aphenphosmphobia

And old joke asks, “Know the difference between major surgery and minor surgery”?

Minor surgery is anything the doctor does to you; major surgery is anything the doctor does to ME!

Yesterday’s post about my biopsy neglected to say that the procedure I underwent was a perfectly routine minor affair which my doctor must do for guys a dozen times a week. It was only my personal skittishness that made it unusual.

I was more of a pain in the ass to the doctor than he was to me!

Since Ginny knew I’d not feel like doing much after the biopsy, she brought me a mind candy book to read and relax with yesterday. She brought me Carl Hiaasen’s most recent novel, Nature Girl, just released last month.

Hiaasen, a Miami Herald newspaper columnist, writes best-selling novels with a theme of preserving the natural beauty of Florida. He presents kooky characters, bizarre situations and odd world-views with side-slapping humor.

I love his books.

On page 54 of Nature Girl, Hiassen introduces a sleazy character, villain of the piece, who suffers from aphenphosmphobia.

I had never heard this word before and I have no idea how to pronounce it; it means a fear of being touched!

Never in my life have I ever met any other person that feels like I do about being touched and here …………

(I’m writing this about 4 a.m. when the phone rang with a frantic call from my panicked, frightened neighbor saying his home is being broken into. I called 911 to report a break-in in progress. I ran outside barefoot in my robe to hear a loud altercation in their backyard, a fight between the homeowner and the intruder. From our driveway I called police dispatch again and directed officers to the scene. Good thing. Responding officers had gotten lost trying to find the place. Our cul de sac is off the beaten track and hard to locate. I don’t know why the neighbor called me instead of dialing the cops directly. Two patrol cars darted up and officers raced into the neighbor’s home. They are still there — a normal morning around here).

Now, where was I?

Oh, yes.

Never in my life have I ever met any other person that feels like I do about being touched and here Carl Hiaasen’s novel reveals that not only are there others but that there is even a name for this condition.

I Googled the word aphenphosmphobia and found about 800 listings, most of them just lists of phobias. There is even an organization which seeks to cure aphenphosmphobia, although I can’t imagine why anyone would need curing. After all it is just a background idiosyncrasy in my world.

In fact, I’ve never thought of it as being a fear, just a quirk, an aversion to being touched. I adjust my life accordingly. No big deal.

Now ours is a hugging, affectionate family and my aversion to touch seldom bothers me around Ginny, our children, or friends. I do not do well whenever we have visited one of those “friendly” churches where members hug and paw and shake hands all the time; such places are agony for me. But since that’s an expression of their worship, I endure it whenever I have to go to such a church.

I have noticed that when my duty calls for hands-on compassion, the Holy Spirit seems to lift my aversion so that I can hug and comfort someone in need (see “Tits & Tobacco”, in the July 30th, and “Chugging Along With Joy”, in the November 21st, posts of my 2005 blog archives for two such instances).

So, I manage to function.

Causes me discomfort, but it’s no big deal.

It just came as a surprise to me to read that I’m not the only person in the world with this particular quirk. It also surprised me to find that there is a name for it. And it was especially surprising for me to read this the day after the biopsy ordeal (which my mind created for myself).


On page 96 of Nature Girl, one sexy female character says, “Leprosy is a disease. The fear of being groped is a mental condition”.

On reflection, it should not surprise me that I am not the only person to feel as I do. St. Paul once said: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as in common to man”.

In King James English the word temptation not only means temptation to sin but the word also carries with it the meaning of problem, or trial or trouble.:

So Paul’s words can be read as, There is no problem that you have but that other people go through the same sort of thing.

He goes on to say, “But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”.

Or: God is faithful who will not let you have troubles more than you can handle but will with that same trouble make a way to escape so that you can endure it.

No matter what trial or trouble or problem or even temptation to sin we face — we are not in it alone.

God will help us to manage, to put up with, to endure, and to eventually triumph.

Well, I see the cop cars have left my neighbor’s house. I didn’t see them put anybody in the car cage. No shots fired My night has turned dark and silent again. Mine is the only light on in the block. Probably much ado about nothing. I suspect it was not a break-in but a domestic dispute. I’ll call later to pick up the gossip about what happened.

Time for me to put on coffee. Then I’ll read some more in the Hiassen book before Ginny wakes up. I can’t wait to see how the story ends.

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 @ 6:47 AM

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Biopsy Fun

This morning I am happy to report that the physician, his assistant, and both nurses successfully survived my prostate biopsy procedure. They all are resting comfortably and are expected to fully recover.

I, on the other hand, feel a bit woozy and wobbly.

For one thing my ankle hurts.

Apparently when they tried to turn me over, before they had actually done anything at all to start the procedure, I kicked the edge of the table and whacked my ankle.

Have I mentioned that I don’t like to be touched?

I have no idea why I harbor such an aversion to being touched. Ginny speculates that something traumatic must have happened in my childhood but, if so, I have no memory of it.

The doctor gave me four or five shots to relax the general area of interest; but when he started to touch me, I cringed so violently that cramps knotted my shoulders, calves and thighs.

I’m just not a touchy, feely kind of guy.

The medical team backed off and gave me a hefty shot of Dontgiveadamnatole and waited for it to kick in.

I lay there butt naked talking with a young woman from Ohio about northern snow storms for a while.

Then, even though I still gave a damn, my doctor inserted a tv camera (complete with sound boom and dolly) into me and watched the film on his monitor (When my segment runs on American Idol, please vote for me).

He decided to remove some suspect tissue using a spring-loaded device which any scuba diver after grouper would tell you is called a speargun.

This spring-loaded harpoon makes a pinging sound which I found of great interest.


Ping. Ping.

Ping. Ping. Ping.

Then a nice young lady helped me find my underwear and get dressed.

I thanked the doctor and nurses for their care for me and I apologized for being such a crybaby wimp. They will tell me the results of the biopsy in a few days.

Then Ginny drove me home and fed me strawberry ice cream and let me crash.

It was not nearly as bad as I expected.

I did learn a few spiritual lessons from this experience — the main one being that Jesus never cured anybody of old age.

He is Lord even in my discomfort and pain.

God willing, I’ll post my thoughts about some of the other lessons tomorrow.

Right now, I just want to go back to sleep…

On my side.

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 @ 3:20 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kicking The Manger

You’ve got to kick our manger to start it.

Ginny & I think like tightwad skinflint Scrooges when it comes to buying Christmas gifts. All year long we shop at garage sales, jumbles, and thrift stores to buy gifts for the many people we care about — This year there are only 25 people on our list but we can’t afford to get things for all in the local Family Dollar Store.

Yesterday we examined a unique manger scene we’d acquired for only $3.98.

Let me emphasize that this item is a decoration only; it is paint and plaster and a computer chip. It bears no more religious significance to our actual faith than had it been a replica of a Daytona 500 race car.

Yes it has a stable, a star, angel, animals and people all entwined around a mountain. And actually this device combines a tabletop fountain with a manger scene, a music box, and a motion sensor.

Some puzzled worker in the Orient assembled this machine with no concept of western taste, religious or secular.

Ginny put batteries in the base and filled the reservoir with water. She flipped the switch on.

Nothing happened.

I glued the wisest of the wise men back in place. (I call him the wisest of the wise because he was the only one trying to escape).

She figured it was broken. But $3.98 is no great loss if it did not work.

I fiddled with the device and discovered the motion sensor is out of whack — but, when you kick the manger, the star lights up, water flows over the waterfall, and the angel sings:

“Up On The Roof Top Reindeer Pause,
Out Jumps Good Old Santa Claus”.

Actually, the angel does now so much sing as stand aghast at the tinny tintinnabulations of a western song played to notes on some oriental music scale… Picture Andre Rieu with a kazoo instead of his Stradivarius .

The Creche must play 15 or 20 such songs, but at the end of each piece of music, the star goes out and the waterfall ceases. The whole show stops.

Yes, the trouble is, with the sensor out of whack, the only way this wonderful manger scene will start again is for someone to kick the coffee table it sits on.

Ginny and I sat for an hour taking turns kicking the manger, laughing our heads off, and trying to guess what possible song the thing was playing at the moment. “Jingle Bells” and “O Holy Night” we recognized; but much other music left us mystified.

Now, some folks might be offended by a Nativity Display that plays “Rudolph” but I delight in the association combining of secular celebration with the holiest of Christian doctrines.

We do one because it’s fun; we observe the other because it’s real.

From the time our kids were tiny, we taught them that we all pretend there is a Santa because that’s so much fun; and that we worship Jesus Christ because He is God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth, Emanuel come down to earth as a helpless baby to save us from our sin.

It’s hard to confuse the two facets of Christmas, secular and holy.

All indications from Scripture are that Jesus enjoyed secular celebrations like weddings and harvest feasts as well as Passover.

He enjoyed a firm grasp of reality.

The holy and the fun, each in its place, or both blend together with joy and common sense.

Some malls ban Christmas trees in favor of Happy Holiday; some churches advocate renouncing decorated trees and giving gifts.

I think both parties need to get real!

Celebration, exuberance and joy are in our very nature. A hunger for the Holy One, a longing for His reality, a thirst for the pure joy of His presence is also deep seated within every heart.

What’s to confuse?

To deny either one is to warp.

People aren’t too dumb to know the difference.

It’s odd but I think one of the songs our Creche plays is the Easter hymn, “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today”, the very essence of the good news the angels proclaimed.

Another song on the menu contains the lines:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pinning
Till He appeared and the soul found its worth”.

Heavy stuff.

Wonderful stuff.

The essence of Christmas joy…

Such thoughts excite me, but, I’ll get down off my soapbox now.

Ginny and I intend to keep our treasured manger. It works fine -- if you kick it. I could try to repair it but as Ginny said, “How can you tell if this thing's broken?”

So, we intend to keep kicking our manger to start the fountain, light the star, and play the music.

No we aren’t planning to give it to anyone else as a gift.

Some gifts are just too, too good to pass on.

Also, there is that Scripture about not casting pearls before swine …(Er, not that I think there’s anything wrong with swine, you understand).

My camera is still broken so I can’t post a photo of our manger scene.

That’s a shame.

Because our kickable manger is unique.

In fact, Ginny said, “I’ll bet we’re the first ones on our block to own one”.

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 @ 2:35 AM

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Hodgepodge About A Stellar Weekend

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters…”

The words of that Psalm have been wonderful to live over the past weekend — but they provide little material for blogging.

So minor odds and ends comprise today’s post:

After a day of heavy shopping Saturday, at 8:47 p.m., Ginny and I dashed out into the backyard in our robes to shiver on the pool deck and watch the red fiery launch of Space Shuttle Columbia into the heavens.

Sunday’s dawn found me outside in the front yard to see the rare conjunction of three major planets. Astronomers promised that Curley, Moe & Larry would line up close enough to look like a single bright body in the heavens.

Some folks think such a conjunction of planets account for the original Star of Bethlehem observed by the wise men.

I think astronomers like to pull our chain.

I think what happens is: the astronomers rotate the giant Hubble Telescope so it points toward my backyard whenever they announce some comet or eclipse or meteor shower or other spectacular Star Of Bethlehem sort of phenomena.

Then the rascals chuckle to see me standing in the yard freezing in a flimsy bathrobe while they sit inside their observatory warm and dry, drinking chocolate and eating donuts and laughing their heads off at that dumb guy in Florida craning his neck to see thin air without realizing — That there are really no planets in the sky.

Yes, it’s all a hoax!

If there really were planets up there in the air, then why would our astronauts have to build an artificial space platform to stand on?

Answer me that, can you?

Speaking of space exploration, Ginny and I drove out searching for the place the doctor told me to go for my biopsy next week. Turns out that there NINE buildings with the exact same street address!

Thinking that Sunday morning traffic would be light, we wove through a maze searching for this place. We drove amid a frenzy of mall shoppers all searching for a parking space anywhere on this planet.

Took us almost two hours to locate the medical center clinic building!

Good thing we found it before the day we’re supposed to actually be there; we’d have never found it in time for my appointment if we’d waited till the same day to go there for the first time.

Speaking of this biopsy thing, we have a lot of preparations to make beforehand, and I’m not sure what shape I’ll be in to blog during the week afterward. Doc says there’s nothing to it. Of course there’s nothing to it from his end of the chainsaw, but from my end… We’ll see.

Anyhow, I’ll post whenever I know anything for good or ill.

It’s all a pain in the ass.

And I’m not speaking figuratively there.

In happier news, my e-friend, Pete (who is studying to be a preacher in the United Kingdom) delivered his first assessed sermon yesterday. In it he points out that when you become a Christian you do not have to go to where God is — you are becoming where God is!

Of course, he forgot his sermon notes in the car and had to wing it, but he did a great job. It is well worthwhile to read his brief (only nine minutes) sermon text at http://www.3cephas.blogspot.com/ via his links.

Please drop by his site and leave a comment about this, his first assessed sermon.

Ginny & I decided to forgo putting up outside Christmas decorations this year; we feel weary and we’re keeping things to a minimum till we see how this biopsy thing goes.

I’m nervous — not about the biopsy per se — but about being touched.

I’m so skittish about being touched that for years I have cut my own hair rather than let a barber touch me and I cringe and have to steel myself when a nurse takes my blood pressure. So this is a big deal to me.

However, I realize that I am in God’s hands and He’ll make sure I get through this minor non-ordeal. People survive being touched all the time.

At least many of them do.

Humm… Maybe I could just go to the airport and stand in front of one of those see-through-your-underwear machines…. Suppose that would work?

Anyhow, when I opened this posting, I left off the next line of the Psalm, the line I count on to get me through whatever lies ahead, even being touched:

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters — He restoreth my soul”!

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 @ 7:11 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Friday, December 08, 2006

Symbols Of Christmas

Yesterday my friend Carol send me an e-mail with this great joke:

Three businessmen died in a car crash on their way home from an office party on Christmas Eve.

The Recording Angel greeted them at the Pearly Gates and said, “In honor of the season, each of you must show me some symbol of Christmas to get into Heaven”.

The first guy fumbled through his pockets and came up with a Bic lighter. He flicked it on and said, “This flame symbolizes a Christmas Candle; will that do?”

“Good thinking,” said the angel, “Go on into Heaven”.

The next man dug into his pocket and pulled out his key ring. He jingled his keys and said, “These symbolize Christmas Bells.”

Impressed with the man’s ingenuity, the angel admitted him into Heaven.

The third man searched his coat pockets desperately. Grinning sheepishly he lifted a pair of black lace panties up to show the angel.

“And just what to those panties have to do with Christmas,” demanded the angel.

“These are Carol’s,” the man said.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:38 AM

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

"What Is Truth"?

Tuesday my friend Wes treated me to breakfast at Dave’s Diner where a waiter told us they’d been robbed Sunday before last.

The gunman came in ordered a cup of coffee, pulled out a pistol, lined the waiters up, and ordered the cashier to empty the register. One of the guys who’d been working in the back saw what was happening through the kitchen door and called the cops on his cell phone. The guy ran out with the money but the cops caught him a few blocks away.

No one was injured. But the robbery shook everyone up; they closed the diner for the rest of the day.

Wes and I spent the morning discussing prostate cancer, local history, race relations and the Hegelian Dialectic.

Perhaps I should re-word that:

Wes discussed Hegel.

I listened.

As I understand it, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a German philosopher of the late 1700s, believed that there is no such thing as absolute truth.

He formulated that our ideas of truth involve becoming, not being; and he taught that our thought processes involved first a thesis, then an antithesis and then a synthesis.

But he said that there is no absolute truth.

To me this statement is self contradictory. When you say, “There is no absolute truth”, then you are stating that premise itself as an absolute truth— which makes no sense.

I’ve probably got Hegel’s idea’s garbled, but then I often garble my own ideas.

Wes, who is a member of the International Society Of Theologians, Philosophers & Other People Smarter Than John Cowart, groves on such discussions of ideas.

Wes says that Karl Marx used Hegel’s idea of there being no absolute truth as a cornerstone in developing communism and that Hegel’s thoughts form the roots for much of the materialism, idealism and negativism in the background of today’s general thought atmosphere.

What a downer.

My desk dictionary defines Truth as “the body of real things, events and facts… the property of being in accord with fact or reality… fidelity to an original”.

The word True is defined as “being in accordance with the actual state of affairs… conformable to an essential reality… the quality or state of being accurate”.

If we do not live in truth, then we generate a world of trouble!

Partial truth just don’t cut it.

Say, for instance I were to tell Ginny, “Honey, we’ve been married 38 years now and I’ve been true to you 98 per cent of that time”.

Wouldn’t she be tickled?

Not hardly — and that’s the absolute truth!

On the night in which He was betrayed, during His trial before Pontius Pilate, Jesus said, ”To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice”.

And Pilate asked, “What is truth”? and turned away.

But Jesus spoke no further.

That’s odd because all the previous evening at the Last Supper, Jesus had talked a lot about truth, especially as truth relates to the Spirit of God:

“When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth,” Jesus said, “He shall testify of me”.

Later at the supper Jesus said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but… he shall glorify me”.

Jesus equates Himself with absolute truth, with reality, with being in accord with the actual state of affairs.

Once I heard truth described as something which does not disappoint you, something which meets your expectations.

Right as that Last Supper was getting started, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me”

The Way that does not disappoint us.

The Truth of being in accord with reality.

The Life that meets our deep heart expectations.

Sounds like a winner to me.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:25 AM

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fan Mail

Monday morning’s e-mail brought this missive from F*** V***:

RE: Aucas
I have never read so much biased and innacurate shite
in all my life,you should write for the national enquirer.
Fuck me are you stupid, you must be American.
Feel free to reply. Please.

Mr. F*** V*** refers to a piece I wrote about five missionaries who were murdered by the Auca Indians of Ecuador on January 8, 1956. All five were associated with Mission Aviation Fellowship.

Their story touched my own spirit deeply, and the motives which led these young men to die for the Aucas interested me.

I wrote this piece about them to inspire readers to a deeper commitment to Christ. I used it as the next-to-the-last chapter in my book Strangers On The Earth.

Here is a link to the article in html; and here is a link to the book:

And here is my reply to F*** V***:

Dear Mr. V***

You are right.

I am an American.

You are also right about my often being biased; that’s a sin I easily fall prey to. I'm working on it.

As to inaccuracies in my work, I wrote the Auca chapter about 20 years ago. Since I was not an eyewitness to the events described, I did rely on secondary sources which I believe are reliable.

My notes on this chapter are packed in a box in a storage closet, but as best I can remember, these sources included:

  • Time, Life and Newsweek magazines; The title for my chapter, “The Worse People On Earth” is a quote from Time.
  • Through Gates Of Splendo, a book by Elizabeth Elliot, wife of one of the martyred missionaries.
  • The Shadow Of The Almighty by James Elliot, one of the murdered men; it’s a book made up of his diary entries.
  • Jungle Pilot: A Biography of Nate Saint . Nate Saint was another of the murdered missionaries. I may be wrong but I think his sister either wrote the book or contributed to it. Sorry, but I’ve forgotten her name.
  • I may have also consulted The Dayuma Story ; a book telling about some of the wonderful things resulting within the Auca Tribe from the martyrs’ deaths. Nor sure of the author’s name. (Not sure but I may have read this one after I'd already written my chapter).
  • I remember using the New York Times Index to locate various newspaper reports about the incident;
  • And I also recall at least one phone conversation with an official at Mission Aviation Fellowship (don’t remember his name) to confirm details.

I do try to quote and attribute sources accurately — but I can goof.

All of these sources are still available for you to check out for yourself.

I wish you joy and peace of heart in your search.


John Cowart

PS: Once I did submit a freelance article to National Enquirer, but the editor rejected 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 @ 11:59 AM

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Be All That You Can Be!

Years ago when I visited my dying friend in the hospital, I asked, “Prince, how are you doing”? And he said, “Well, John, I’ll tell you. I’m down to the last few sheets on the roll”.

That statement epitomized the crusty world view of my friend Prince Overroad, a grouchy, bitter, sour old man who used to live down the street from us.

I have not thought of Prince in years. Yesterday a lunchtime conversation with my son Donald and his new bride Helen reminded me of him.

Ginny and I relished telling Helen embarrassing tales of Donald’s childhood.

When Donald began talking about the relationship between Christianity and masculinity, he brought up a dangerous incident involving Prince.

This morning I dug in the closet trying to find one of my old journals so I could just quote my entry on the day it happened. But all of my earlier diaries were hand written and not indexed. I browsed back as far as August, 1979, when my father died, but I could not locate the entry about the night Prince threatened to shoot his wife, and the cops threatened to shoot me.

I’ll just try to tell this from my own memory. Donald filled in important blanks I’d forgotten, but here’s the best I recall:

Bitterness, gall and hatred for the whole world and all the people in it characterized this sour old man, but for some unfathomable reason, he liked me.

His father had been a North Carolina tobacco farmer and in the 1890s (?) named his son Prince Albert Overroad — named not for the prince of England, but for the farmer’s best paying tobacco customer.

Prince sported an odd talent. He remembered every item he’d ever bought, the date he bought it, and exactly how much he’d paid for it.

Much of his conversation consisted of: “Back on July 14, 1943, I bought me an Indian motorcycle; cost me 307 dollars and 32 cents. Sold it in ’56 for an even 400 dollars. Used the money to buy That Woman a used Maytag washing machine for 45 dollars, then put the rest of it into a little bit of property over in Arlington…”

“That Woman” was his wife of 50+ years, Nancy. He never referred to her any other way.

Once he even told me all about fluctuations in the price of eggs from 1909 on!

I listened.

Late one hot summer night I was working at my desk in the back room. We had no air conditioning and I worked stark naked beneath a ceiling fan.

Suddenly, out of the blue, with no feeling or thought beforehand, an urgent compulsion came upon me. It demanded, GET UP AND GO OUTSIDE IMMEDIATELY! RIGHT NOW!

I snatched my threadbare robe, which was way too small for me, from the hook on the back of the door and ran barefoot out of the house, down the drive, and into the street.

Here comes Prince stalking along wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. He carried a bottle in one hand and a huge pistol in the other.

“Where you going, Prince,” I asked.

“That Woman locked me out again. This time I’m gonna shoot the lock off the damn door then shoot her right between her teats,” he said.

He’d been down to the shed on another lot he owned to get the gun.

“Mighty hot night to be doing something like that,” I said, “Wouldn’t you like to sit on the porch and cool off a bit first?”

He agreed that it was hot and I persuaded him to let me carry the gun for him. I put it in the pocket of my robe.

The pistol’s weight made my robe sag to one side.

I got Prince to sit in a rocker on his front porch. I knocked on the door and whispered to Nance to bring us some ice tea or coffee. She said she’d already called the cops.

And here they came: two young patrolmen responding to a complaint of a naked man in the street with a gun.

Guess who was on the steps naked except for a too small, threadbare robe with a pistol in his side pocket.

I reached to pull it out of my pocket to give the first cop.

Bad idea.

His partner whipped out his sidearm and leveled it at me. The first cop reached into my pocket and retrieved the gun himself. They did not need to pat me down because my robe flapped open revealing that I carried no other weapon.

About then Nancy unlocked the door and came out on the porch. She explained that the cops had the wrong drunk pervert.

Prince commented long and loud on the efficiency, intelligence and ancestry of police officers. They hauled him away.

“John, That Woman’s nothing but trouble. But you and me, we sure showed them stupid police bubbies a thing or two the other night, didn’t we,” he later said.

Another vivid memory about my friend:

One morning Nancy knocked on my door asking me to help her get Prince to a clinic in another city. She’d arranged for him to be committed for treatment but she’d never learned how to drive.

This clinic, world-famous for success with alcoholics and other addicts, catered to movie stars, tv personalities, CEOs, etc. — but it was 120 miles from where we lived.

I found Prince passed out on his bed soaked in filth.

By phone Clinic doctors instructed us not to clean him; they wanted him to wake realizing what bad shape he was in. So I wrapped him in his soiled bedding and I took down their plastic shower curtain to seal the wrappings.

Another neighbor helped me load him in the back of our station wagon and came along with Nancy and me for the 120-mile trip.

Trouble was this neighbor had an inordinate fear of crossing bridges (I’ve forgotten the psychological name for such a condition). When we approached any bridge on the Interstate, this man would cringe and tremble, or scream in fear and thrash about.

Made for an interesting drive.

Me driving; Nancy crying and praying out loud; the neighbor cringing or screaming; Prince dead to the world but stinking to high Heaven.

The gagging aroma of shit and piss and puke filled the car.

Christian service is so glamorous.

After treatment, my friend survived a few more years till the cancer got him — Down to the last few sheets on the roll.

As I’ve been writing this, I realize a couple of things Prince taught me about faith.

Serving Christ can take any form He wants. Whether it’s as simple as listening to a bore recite the price of eggs, facing an armed drunk naked in the street at midnight, caring for a sick friend, visiting a dying man in the hospital.

When we stop fighting God, surrender unconditionally, and let Christ take His rightful place as King of our lives, then we never know what Christ may enable us to do.

He’s boss.

We serve at His pleasure.

I also realized that the abrupt urge, that compulsion I felt that midnight is an unusual thing for me. Of course I have no way of knowing if that were the voice of God or whether I’d just heard some subliminal noise, or whatever.

As a Christian I recognize the supernatural element in our faith; we deal with a risen, living Savior, not a static system.

It’s not unheard of for Him to issue direct instructions.

But I think that works the same way it did when I was in the army. Only once did a general speak directly to me; the rest of the time, I just followed general orders. And in the ten years I worked for a large company, only once did the CEO ever speak directly to me; the rest of those years I just followed company policy and procedures.

Why should I expect the Kingdom of God to be much different?

So, no, I do not hear divine voices; I just blunder along minding my own business but keeping an eye out just in case the Boss wants to interrupt my routine.

Nevertheless, whether through mystical experiences, reading the Bible, happenstance, duty, or natural inclinations, I believe that at every moment we brush up against the edges of the unseen world and that God speaks continually.

Only our deliberate selective hearing enables us to ignore Him.

I do not recall that Prince ever made any profession of faith, converted and became a Christian; of course I have no way of knowing his deep heart beneath the whisky.

I do hope that when Prince and I both stand naked before the throne of Christ on the last day, we’ll both be shown mercy for our different sins.

In the meantime, for some reason I think of that Army slogan:

Be All That You Can Be!

Christianity: It’s Not Just An Adventure — It’s A Life.

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 PM

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ginny & I Go Christmas Shopping Today

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:48 AM

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Alligators, Crocodiles, Naked Women, Old Diary, New Lawn Mower, & The King James Bible

All the stuff mentioned in this post’s title came into play in my life Thursday.

Believe it or not, it’s all interrelated.

Makes no sense.

But then the happenings in my brain and in my life seldom do.

Downstate where my brother lives (he called yesterday) four sheriff’s deputies waded neck-deep in swamp mud to rescue a drunk from the jaws of an alligator. They could not shoot the gator because this happened in the dead of night and they feared hitting the thrashing man, so they entered the swamp and fought off the gator by hand, got the guy back on dry land, and discovered he was drugged high on crack and had wandered into the swamp in a stupor. When they killed the attacking gator yesterday, it measured 12 feet long.

Now, instead of working editing my book, I decided to read yesterday. Since earlier this week I finished Stephen King’s latest, Lisey’s Story, and Sturat M. Kaminsky’s. Denial: A Lew Fonesca Mystery, I chose to expand my mind with some nonfiction by delving into Adam Nicolson’s excellent book, God’s Secretaries: The Making Of The King James Bible. I’m finding it every bit as exciting as King or Kaminsky!

About 150 pages into God’s Secretaries I came across a reference to a diary kept in the early 1600s by a young Puritan named Samuel Ward; he mentions his thoughts on seeing an alligator for the first time. It had been captured in Virginia and taken to London for exhibit.

Old diaries fascinate me.

Just last month I published that Civil War diary that had been hidden away for 150 years (it’s in my online book catalog at www.bluefishbooks.info ) And for the past 15 years or so I’ve been working on another project involving an old diary.

So naturally I wanted to see a copy of Samuel Ward’s diary.

I began searching on-line and when I found a reference to Samuel Ward’s Diary, I clicked on the site to discover that it is mentioned at http://postednotes.blogspot.com/ in the blog of a young man named Iain MacDonald — who was also reading the same book I am!

Of course I could not resist browsing in his archives where I found this odd, odd bit of information in his April 22, 2006, posting:

The worst crocodile attack in history took place on an island in the Bay of Bengal. In the battle for Burma, over 1,000 Japanese soldiers had been trapped in the mire, cut off from rescue and pounded with artillery and mortar fire by the assembled British forces. As darkness fell, another 'army' of huge and voracious crocodiles was attracted to the swamp by the smell of blood on the tide. All night long the British troops could hear the turmoil in the water as the huge reptiles snapped up the quick, the injured and the dead. By morning the battle was over and just twenty Japanese survivors could testify to the victory of the strangest allies the British have ever had. (PS The Guinness World Records site confirms it.)

I had never heard of such a thing before!

Anyhow, I finally tracked down two copies of that 1600s diary and made arrangements for an Interlibrary Loan to read it.

Even in 1600, Samuel Ward’s conscience bothered him about having lustful thoughts.

I identify with that.

While I was on-line I browsed several porno sites looking at naked women. I have this fantasy about a dream girl, a lady between 30 and 60 years old, in a specific pose, with a specific hairstyle, and with a specific expression on her face.

I have no idea why what I envision obsesses me so.

I doubt if such a person really exists.

My wife says I’m a 67-year-old, dirty-minded, adolescent boy.

Wow, she has me pegged.

Conscience or no, the easy availability of pornography on-line is a constant pesteration to me, so I can identify with my Puritan brother’s struggles from 400 years ago.

Sometimes just knowing that another person struggles with the same temptations helps.

I try to excuse myself by thinking that I’m concerned about ending up impotent and dangling from my impending prostate biopsy. But I know that’s rationalization and no excuse for my browsing porno sites.

Oddly enough in my search for Ward’s 17th Century .diary, I stumbled across an article by William Martin about his own prostate surgery at http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/prostateandme3

Although Martin writes a light tale filled with good humor, believe me, Stephen King has no corner on horror stories!

But, I’m wandering far afield from my thoughts as a dedicated Christian wanting to know more about the transmission of the English Bible.

It’s all part of the same package.

And my blog purports to show nothing more that what God is doing in one ordinary guy’s life, so I do try to be thorough.

On two happier notes: Ginny came home exhausted from an all day meeting in government offices downtown. She expects to get a promotion tomorrow and maybe her Christmas bonus too.


Even though it was not the night for our regular weekly date, we went out to dinner and enjoyed a long conversation about our days’ work.

Another cool thing: as I worked late this afternoon, my neighbor passed my window pushing a lawnmower cutting my grass.

I went out to see what that was about and found that he’d bought himself a new lawnmower as an early Christmas present and he was playing with his new toy testing it by mowing his grass and mine as well

I think he should buy a new mower every two weeks!

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 @ 8:43 AM

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