Rabid Fun

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Me And Other Victims Of A Cruel Hoax

I’m not the only one.

Hundreds of people all over the Internet were suckered in by a youtube site post which claimed to produce a bright glowing light by mixing Mountain Dew soda pop with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

Since my Halloween coffin collapsed, I thought it might be a neat idea for a yard display to do something with glowing green lights, so this morning I experimented with the ingredients and I produced a stick mess which does not even twinkle.

I tried again and again thinking I was doing something wrong, maybe adding too much baking soda or something.

More sticky mess.

Maybe if I shook the bottle harder…

I spilled some of the glop on Ginny’s dinning room table and it corroded the finish! (No, I did not think to spread waxed paper first.)

Boy, am I in trouble when she comes home!

Maybe if I put a placemat over those bloches… Thank God for Antiques Roadshow; I’ll tell her that I’ve added to the patina of the table top. Yes indeed. Patina is a great word; I’d never heard it before watching the Roadshow. Now, I use it all the time.

Since shaking the bottle harder did not produce light, I decided to check back online to read the instructions again. I Googled the words “dew & glow” and I found that the whole scam is a hoax.

I’m not the only one to get fooled. Scads of people produced the same sticky mess I did without a glimmer of light; they posted their results online too with comments ranging from puzzlement to outrage.

No wonder.

We’d been promised light only to get sticky glop.

We were deceived by a slick liar.

Who does that remind me of?

Who is it who imitates an angel of light only to spread darkness and nasty sticky mess? Who lures gullible people into doing foolish things and making a mess of their lives? What hoaxer tricks us into mixing up perfectly good ingredients in ways their Maker never intended?

Some people think Halloween celebrates the power of this creep.

The power of evil?


What power does evil have?

But doesn’t evil hold sway in the world? You see evil things on tv news every night.

Would it be news if it were not unusual?

Don’t most people try to lead useful, peaceful, purposeful lives as best they can? Evil makes the news because it is an anomaly.

What would a news broadcaster have to say about a man who kisses his wife bye, goes to work, eats lunch with friends, knocks off at five, enjoys a beer with buddies, goes home for supper, watches the game, tucks the kids in, makes love to his wife, and drops off to sleep?

Most of us are so used to a peaceful, loving life, that we take it for granted.

That’s why evil things shock us. The cancer diagnosis, the affair, the child abuse, the divorce, Daddy’s death, getting fired — all these evil things seem powerful not only because they are evil but also because they do not fit our normal pattern of life.

Yet the imitation angel of light shines his spotlight on vile tragedy to magnify the worst things going on in the world. He appears to be in charge because his acts are all he wants us to see. He can not obliterate the glory and majesty of God’s creation, he only obscures it and misdirects our attention to lesser things.

If we lived in a cave, the enemy would shine his false light only on bats and spiders, he would never illuminate the crystal stalagmites shimmering all around us.

He fosters a distorted view of life, and creation.

What a looser.

I’m involved in writing a book on the history of firefighting in my hometown and I’ve gotten up to the Civil War period… Not to disparage my northern brethren, but here in the South, to hear my grandparents tell it, the yankees personified evil.

At 1 p.m. on March 12, 1862, yankees invaded Jacksonville, the first of four such occupations. When they retreated, according to my Grandmother, they torched homes and businesses, they poisoned wells, they chopped down pecan trees, they slaughtered livestock. They raped women and molested children, they uprooted crops, they stole Bibles from the churches, they robbed banks, and drank up all the whisky in bars. They plundered and looted and destroyed and burned and spoiled.

Reminds me of the power of evil.

That looser angel is beaten and in full retreat to his appointed place, but as he goes down, he acts like a yankee spoiling all the good things in his path. Not because he has any use for good, but just to keep God’s people from having it.

The above is a bad example because in real history the yankees won and many returned to Jacksonville to live after the war and some of those immigrants assimilated into Southern society and eventually became almost civilized.

(Would you ever guess that I’m from the South?)

They had no monopoly on atrocity; our brave Southern troops did the same sort of things. Remember Andersonville?

And I’ve done more than my share of evil in my time. Hate to admit it, but in my own way I have out-yankeed those old-time yankee soldiers. Jesus is my only claim to righteousness and that is only because Christians are accepted in the Beloved.

All have sinned and fall short. There’s not a teddy bear among us.

But, my point here is that like a defeated, loosing, retreating army, the enemy of our souls acts out of pure spite.

A spoiled brat on his way to bed down where he ought to, he’s throwing a temper tantrum as he goes.

This is not to say the looser does no damage. He does plenty of damage. He ruins lives, corrupts love, spoils life, squelches hope. He lies and cheats and steals joy. He wastes good things like a rat in a flour package pissing and crapping on the grain he can’t eat.

That’s the pathetic power of evil.

Yet the Apostle John said, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil”.

And Jesus Himself said, “The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them”.

Remember, the evil one has no use for human souls. He just wants to spoil us.

The love of God is shown toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us, nailed to a cross, pinned down and splayed out like a frog on a dissection tray.

The regard of satan is shown toward us in that he…in that he… Er, come to think of it, the evil one never suffered so much as a hangnail to gain us.

Some prince, huh?

The matter is really quite simple:

God loves; satan deceives; man chooses.

But, alas, men chose darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

The only wormglow the adversary offers us is a deceitful, spiteful hoax that will never light up no matter how hard we shake the bottle.

Now, it’s time for me to stop writing — I need to dig in the linen closet to find a really big placemat for the table.

Happy Halloween.

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 @ 3:27 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

John Cowart, Ex-Coffin-Maker

If I never make it as a best-selling author, apparently I can not fall back on coffin making as a second career.

After all the weekend work Ginny and I invested in our beautiful, meaningful, front yard Halloween display, look what happened last night:

Yes, a smattering of wind and rain Monday morning crumpled my coffin.

How tragic.

Here’s what it looks like from another angle at dawn this morning:

And it was only a touch of rain that did that!

Maybe if I’d have used more duct tape?

I thought I built that coffin strong enough to last for three days; I planned to remove it after the last trick-or-treaters leave on Wednesday night. I never thought it would be permanent, but I did expect it to last long enough to accomplish its purpose.

Alas, even more duct tape would not have helped my display last a full 24 hours. My skeleton was doomed from the start… as are all things.

Recent tv news reports are filled with pictures on multi-million-dollar homes in California which burned to piles of rubble in the forest fires. Some homeowners woke from a sound sleep to see flames, run dive into their swimming pools, and watch their homes burn to the ground in less than 30 minutes.

Things it takes years to build can be destroyed in seconds. Remember the World Trade Center skyscrapers?

(The postman just walked up our drive way. He paused looking at the wreck of our display. I see wheels turning in his head as he wonders, “What the heck is that supposed to be”? This display may not be polished effective evangelism but perhaps, it gave him food for thought).

When I first saw the soggy mess this morning, the temptation arose to see it an allegory of my entire life. Time and again I have invested myself into what I thought were good, worthwhile projects only to see them come to futile ruin.

This tempts me to despair.

Why bother doing anything if it all comes to naught?

And every human endeavor does.

The pyramids may stand longer than my coffin, but it’s only a matter of time till they crumble too. The sun will not have time to reach entropy before the pyramids turn to dust in the wind. The degradation of matter and energy in the universe presses on toward an ultimate state of inert uniformity.

So why bother building or doing anything?

Even with the most up-to-date medical care and miracle cures, all patients eventually die. The most educated brain dies — or disappears under Alzheimer’s. The sea claims all ships.. Bridges fall. Money flys. Fame vanishes.

Of course great literature always endures.

That means the books I write are sure to last forever … Won’t they?

Not necessarily.

Can anyone name America’s first best-selling author? She became a celebrity in her day. Her book went through numerous printings. Her fame resounded throughout the English-speaking world.

Ever heard of her?

Her name was Mary Rowlandson. She died in 1678. And I would never heard of her either except I included a few pages about her in my book Strangers On The Earth.

The temporary is not permanent.

St. Paul recognized the true state of things when he wrote:

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire (or in the case of my cardboard coffin, by rain drops); and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Wood, hay, stubble, cardboard & duct tape — such things have their place. But it is temporary, not a permanent place.

The only thing to last forever is people.

You and I will spend all eternity somewhere.

All things considered, the Bible says surprising little about either Heaven of Hell. The Scripture emphasizes our journey more than our destination, our here and now more than our there and then.

No foundation but Christ — then it’s all about what and how we build on that foundation, the Chief Cornerstone, the Stone which some builders rejected.

So, how do I build anything that will last?

If I write like an angel, if I have the gift of prophesy, if I understand all mysteries, if I have faith to move mountains, if I go broke feeding the poor, if I get burned as a martyr — if I do any or all of those things without love, I’m building a temporary shanty on shifting sand right on a fault line.

Love lasts.

Love lasts.

Only love lasts.

Isn’t that romantic?


Love is not a notion. Not a warm fuzzy. It has more substance. Love is dead serious.

The first and great commandment says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”.

And, like that first, the second commandment says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Anything less is cardboard in the rain…

I’m not sure what to do about our Halloween display now. Repair seems futile because the weather report projects more rain over the next few days from an approaching tropical storm.

I may uproot the whole thing and trash it.

I may just leave the ruin and move the signs.

Not sure what to do.

Oh well, that’s the way the coffin crumbles.

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: 1 comments

Monday, October 29, 2007

John Cowart, Coffin Maker

Saturday afternoon I spent in a dumpster.

Behind an appliance store I fished for a large sheet of cardboard, the flattened box a washing machine or refrigerator had come in. Of course the large sheet I needed lay in the bottom of the tall dumpster and I had to drag over a wooden pallet to use as a ladder to climb over the top then use my cane to hook the cardboard being careful not to bring out anything I would not want to fish out.

I wanted the cardboard to make our front yard Halloween display. Ginny and I give out a special packet of candy and goodies to trick-or-treaters each year; these packets include evangelist tracts which are the only reason we bother with Halloween at all. We try to make the goodie packet we hand out the nicest treat the kids will get anywhere. They include candy, flying frogs, dinosaur models, color books, spider rings, whistles, and such stuff as well as the religious comic books.

Back on October 19th, my posting explained the noose problem in our traditional display and how we want to avoid offending our neighbors.

Since this year, we don’t feel comfortable using the gallows and noose that we’ve used in years past, we faced a dilemma over how to illustrate some positive Scriptural thought in our front yard Halloween display.

I thought of I Thessalonians 4:16, “The dead in Christ Shall rise first” but I could not think of a way to illustrate that verse in a display.

Same thing’s true of Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”.

And how would I make a yard display illustrating Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”?

None of those Scripture verses seemed right for our front yard.

But then I thought of a fun thing for the kiddies.

I suggested to Ginny that we build a merry-go-round for the skeleton to ride. The kids could spin it and read that happy verse from Ezekiel, “Turn ye, turn ye … for why will ye die”?

I thought that display would be cool but Ginny nixed that one.

The photo shows her beneath our just-beginning-to-bloom Cassia Tree as she helped set up our yard display. Her shirt says, I Only Look Sweet And Innocent!

How true. How true.

Anyhow, Saturday I prowled the dumpster, retrieved the cardboard, and fashioned a coffin for our display skeleton to welcome trick-or-treaters and to remind them of the Bible verse we hear recited at practically every funeral:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me”.

I hope our new display carries over our theme from previous years’ without spooking neighbors.

P.S: Those are pineapple plants anchoring the coffin in the Valley Of The Shadow Of Death.

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 @ 5:02 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Barnacles On The Cross

During our breakfast and conversation session this week, my friend Wes and I focused mainly on family and work-related problems. But we also touched on the subject of Christian accretions.

Accretions, like barnacles on the hull of a ship, stick to the main body (of which they are no part) and grow thicker and thicker till they slow everything down and sometimes take over entirely.

These parasites cling tenaciously.

They distort the shape and destroy the function making the original surface unrecognizable; like barnacles, oysters and Toledo worms eat away at a on a dock piling till the once-solid post assumes an hour-glass figure and eventually falls into the mud.

There are accretions to Christianity that do exactly that.

Yet, sometimes these accretions appear to be the main thing. They assume such a large place in our Christian thinking that we defend them as though the salvation of souls depended on believing the accretion rather than the Gospel.

When I first became a Christian, the church I began attending assigned me a mentor, a mature gentleman who undertook to show me the ropes of my new-found faith.

Boy was he happy.

He had found himself a listener and he intended to make the most of it.

Now, please understand that he was a good man, a sincere Christian, but he’d allowed some accretions to overgrow his basic faith until …

First, he told me that no one can be a Christian and smoke a pipe. Being a pipesmoker, I found this doctrine difficult but I complied at the time. He said that Christians never play cards; I’d never learned how to play anyhow, so that was easy for me. Then he revealed that no Christian ever goes to movies because attendance at a movie supported the ungodly lifestyle of Hollywood. OK. I hardly ever went to movies anyhow, I watched them at home on tv, so I could go along with him on that.

Next he said that no Christian ever drank tap water because tap water is fluoridated and that process is a Communist plot to over throw America.

So I’m supposed to give up tap water. No problem, I’m a Pepsi man myself.

Then he said that Christians never eat white bread because all the nutrients are leeched out. “Real Christians only eat whole wheat bread,” he said.

Screw that!

Merita Bread sponsors The Lone Ranger on the radio!

The Lone Ranger was my childhood cowboy hero. No way is the Lone Ranger a Communist! Communists don’t give out silver bullets like he did at the end of every story.

I balked.

I decided that I’d never make the grade as a Real Christian. I decided that instead of being a Real Christian, I’d just follow Jesus from a distance.

Only years later did I realize that my mentor relished accretions that have not one thing to do with following Jesus Christ. I also realized that my mentor was typical of a certain mindset which outsiders mistake for Christianity because that’s what they see.

Accretions obscure Christ.

Yet accretions abound in religious circles.

Wes told me about a preacher who insisted that the Bible teaches that e-mail addresses, product bar codes and ATM PINs relate to the Mark Of The Beast in the Book Of Revelation.

I assure you that the terms e-mail, bar code and ATM never appear anywhere in the pages of Scripture.

Neither do the terms rapture, millennium, abortion, Republican Party, school prayer, ban the bomb, In God We Trust, tobacco, movies, fluoride, nor whole wheat bread.

Beliefs about such things are accretions on the Gospel. Such issues are barnacles on the cross.

It is much easier to get excited about accretion issues than solid Christianity; none of these things involve following a living Lord. It’s much easier to follow causes than Christ.

Accretions demand less of us.

They can be managed.

Yet their proponents proclaim them loudly as essential to the Christian faith. Sometimes to the exclusion of that faith per se.

While the accretions make many believers miserable as we try to fit in with man-made, traditions and impossible rules, these accretions also muddy the water for many nonbelievers. People who are not Christians yet see and hear the accretions and mistake those for faith; thus they feel that all Christians believe the ridiculous.

So, when we scrap away accretions, the barnacles, what’s left?

What is the real rock substance of Christianity?

The Scripture says, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”.

That confession with thy mouth may be as simple as, “Oh Wow. I never realized that before!” It’s a realization that comes from exposure to Jesus. It is realizing His worthiness and value. It’s acknowledging Him as who He is, your Lord. It’s linked to realizing that He is not a system of doctrine but a Living Person.

Believing in your heart means acting like it.

As many as believe the Gospel should live as becomes the Gospel.

As the Prophet said, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God”.

That’s easier — and harder — than it looks.

The very nature of turning to Christ involves turning away from something less than Christ. That something less may be our own feeling that we are always right, or our own feeling that we are doing wrong.

The important thing is not what we turn from — that’s something different for each of us — but Who we turn toward.

Jesus Christ is either living Lord or just another loser, dead as a doornail.

Risen or rotten.

Nothing in between.

What about all those accretions?

Some are nonsense. Some are evil. Some are worth keeping.

Whichever, they should never be mistaken for the real underlying faith.

I have an entrenched idea that a Christian gentleman will always stand up and give a lady his seat on the bus. This in spite of the fact that buses are no where mentioned in Scripture. That is just one of my personal scruples, an accretion that has nothing to do with root faith.

But, I still eat white bread.

That ain’t in the Gospels, but it’s good enough for me and the Lone Ranger.

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 @ 3:58 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stultified. So An Instant Replay

Overwhelmed with work which I’m ignoring, and events I’m not planning for, and tasks for which I lack energy, I remember a recent promise I made to write about desire.

I’m stultified.

So I typed desire into that little searchbox in the upper right hand corner of my sidebar above About Me, and I find that I’ve written about desire back in June, 2006.

So, at the moment the best I can do is give an instant replay of that post — the flower bloomed again last week so I could have written these same words then:

Last night Ginny’s Nightblooming Cereus plant (sometimes called Queen Of The Night) blossomed. We’ve had this plant since the mid 1970s and it blooms erratically. Some years we get just a single flower; once we had 22 bloom in the same night.

A bud will start opening after dark; and the flower wilts permanently at daybreak so you have just a few hours of darkness to see the beauty. The flower opens fast enough to see it move as it blossoms releasing a haunting aroma which permeates the whole neighborhood.

Last night Ginny and I saw a tiny, pure-white spider busy inside the bloom; that’s something we’ve never seen before. If we had not seen movement, we’d have never spotted the spider inside this natural cathedral. The Lord builds His own church. Here is a photo of one of the blossoms:

This flower got me to thinking about desire.

Desire, wanting something, indicates that that something exists.

When we thirst, we desire water. And water does exist to satisfy that thirst.

When we feel hunger, we desire food. And grits do exist to satisfy that desire for food. (Dry beans satisfy yankees).

We feel horny. And sex exists to satisfy that desire.

Sometimes we desire Something we can not define or identify. We yearn for the eternal. We long for the touch of Something or Someone beyond nature, above anything in our experience.

Every once in a while something strikes a cord. We hear a strand of music; we see a misty landscape; we catch the haunting scent of an unseen flower — and this desire wells up in our hearts.

We want that beauty. It calls to the depths of our hearts.

To desire something means that somewhere in the universe that something exists.

Just as thirst means there is water and hunger means there is food, then our desire for God means …

We never want something that does not somehow, somewhere exist.

We want what is, not what ain’t.

What a horrible tragedy to desire something vital and not get it. That does happen. People die thirsty. Some starve. Some live without sex. Some perish without God. What a horrible, horrible tragedy!

An ancient Psalm comes to mind:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

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 @ 4:46 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Conversations & Cole Slaw

First, earlier this month my friend Wes and I enjoyed a stimulating conversation about hope, miracles and authority. I wrote about it in my October 9th blog “Thirsty As A Moose”; Wes wrote about that same conversation in his post yesterday, “A Hot Stake or a Cold Chop”. It’s interesting to see our two different takes on the same conversation.

Speaking of conversations…

Yesterday my eldest daughter, Jennifer, dropped by to pick up her mail, treat me to lunch, and touch base. She told me what she’s been doing recently.

For instance, she just went down to Daytona Beach, just a two-hour drive south of Jacksonville.

Last week she met a young man, a friend of a friend, who invited her to a quaint Florida festival — Biketoberfest — also known as Bike Week At Daytona.

During this annual festival thousands upon thousands of bikers from all over gather to see and be seen drinking beer.

Instead of joining this new acquaintance pillion on his bike for the festival, Jennifer insisted that she drive her car and be the designated driver. Also, she refused to stay overnight in Daytona — a prudent move on her part. Things do get a little rambunctious there as the drinking day wears on.

Jennifer said every possible style of motorcycle and motorcyclist were on the scene. She described bikes covered in chrome and bikes covered with rattlesnake skins. She saw one bike for sale that had been reduced to only $50,000.00.

One of the first places Jennifer visited was the famous Cabbage Patch, known among sports fans as the World Capital of Slaw Wrestling.

What? You’ve never heard of Cole Slaw Wrestling?

Cole slaw is shredded cabbage mixed with relish, mayonnaise, oil and assorted spices. And, in this sport young ladies enter a plastic arena filled with cole slaw and wrestle. Sometimes in the competition participants have been known to experience a wardrobe malfunction. In fact, that happens in nearly every match.

This is a good clean sport because helpful volunteer spectators hose the ladies off after each contest.

Because so many motorcycles and throngs of bikers congest the streets, Jennifer said that the best way to get from point to point is by tram car.

Jennifer and the young man were riding aboard one tram car with a bunch of other people as the tram pulled away from a stop. Two very drunk young ladies, who were dressed appropriately for the occasion, ran to catch the tram trying not to spill their vodka barrels. The two girls swung aboard and plopped down into a seat facing two elderly tourist women there for the people watching.

One girl looked up and exclaimed in shock, “MAMA! What are you doing here!”

Neither girl nor mother had realized that the other was attending Biketoberfest. The drunk girl complained loudly to her friend, “I’m 30-years-old and I still can’t get out from under Mama’s thumb”.

Jennifer made it home safely.

I hope everyone else does too.

Maybe next year Ginny and I can drive down to Daytona for the festival. I’d like to attend Biketoberfest because it’s culturally broadening.

Besides, Ginny makes the best cole slaw in the world.

Maybe she would…


No, I seriously doubt that.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:49 AM

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Travel On The City Of Jacksonville In 1917

First, Helen finished the poster for Barbara’s Art Show display which I mentioned yesterday; Here is a copy. I think it’s terrific!


For the past four days I’ve suffered with a sinus headache so I’ve not been able to concentrate on work.

Yesterday I got caught up answering an e-mail request instead of working on my fire history. At least it gives me something to blog about:

Can you tell me what travel would have been like on the “City of Jacksonville” in 1917? My grandmother traveled to Enterprise, Fla and stayed in the Benson Springs Inn when she married my grandfather in 1917.

Thank you,

Asheville, NC

Hi Robin,

The source you want is First Coast Steamboating Days by Edward A. Mueller. Published by the Jacksonville Historical Society. © 2005. ISBN 0-9710261-3-0. If your local library does not have it, ask the librarian to arrange an Interlibrary Loan for you.

This book contains page after page of information on the City of Jacksonville. Attached is one of several photos of the ship.

The coal-powered, side-wheeler City of Jacksonville, built in 1883 by Harlan & Hollingsworth of Wilmington, Delaware, was 169 feet long and 52 feet wide with a draft of 7 feet. She ran 459 gross tons, with a passenger capacity of 275 people

In 1917, Woodrow Wilson was President and the U.S. was in the First World War so your grandmother may have encountered uniformed doughboys on her trip. The Spanish Lady flu epidemic had not broken out yet, but there may have been some early indications, health posters, etc. There may have also been No Smoking signs on the salon deck as gentlemen’s cigar smoking on shipboard was a controversial topic that raged back and forth.

Ladies back then never smoked. (At least not in public) although they may have dipped snuff at home.

In those days travel was a special occasion and people dressed their best for it. Your grandmother would likely have worn gloves, her Sunday best, a travel cloak and a hat with a veil. The cloak and veil were to protect her from smoke — not from the gentlemen’s cigars but from sparks, ashes and smoke from the ships boilers. Although the ship’s stack should lift smoke high above the deck, passengers sometimes complained about flying sparks burning holes in their travel costumes.

If your grandmother was a Suffragette, she may have worn a sash or pin advocating women’s right to vote (not passed till 1919) or denouncing U.S. involvement in the World War and “Kaiser Wilson”.

The ship consistently left Jacksonville about 3 in the afternoon and arrived in Sanford the next morning.

The ship changed owners and configuration several times over the years.

The City of Jacksonville, then owned by the Clyde Line, ran her last trip on Memorial Day, 1928, She was converted into a dock-side dance hall and finally broken up and scuttled in the Intercoastal Waterway just prior to World War II.

Hope this helps.

Be sure to get the Mueller book; it’s chock full of information.

John Cowart


Five Quick Historical Notes For The Kid In The Attic:

1. The Space Shuttle Discovery launched yesterday with seven astronauts aboard. They plan construction work to expand the International Space Station. I’d planned to watch the launch from our backyard but I forgot the time and missed it.

2. Wild fires along a hundred mile front have forced the evacuation of between 500,000 and a million people in Southern California. The fires, driven by Santa Ana wind gusts up to 100 miles per hour, jumped a ten-lane-wide Interstate highway. Over a thousand homes and businesses have burned in the past four days. No end in sight. News reports are calling this the worst disaster in U.S. history.

3. Staph infections have broken out of hospital environments and are appearing in public schools and college campuses around the country. More commonly known as MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is blamed for several deaths.

4. For ages high school football games in Jacksonville have been played on Friday nights. But a recent spat of shootings during high school games have resulted in night games being canceled. Yesterday, officials announced that games will have to be played during daylight hours.

5. Recently Florida chose to hold our Presidential primary earlier than we have before. Both Democratic and Republican parties threaten to ban Florida delegates from national conventions because of the change (although both parties continue fund raising drives here). If either party does override state law and bans our delegates, many of us vow not to vote for any candidate they pick without our representation but to vote for some third party candidate. Our votes ought to count.

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 @ 4:01 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two Rain Storms, 25 years Apart

Monday my friend Barbara White drove over to our house through a blinding rain to pick up some materials for an art show next weekend.

Barbara attends an art class in which she painted the scenes which my daughter-in-law Helen, a graphic artist, transformed into book covers for the four books collecting Barbara’s newspaper columns, the Along The Way series.

Barbara’s books are available through my on-line book catalog at www.bluefishbooks.info

The art teacher sponsoring the show wants to feature Barbara’s original paintings along with the book covers as the centerpiece for the show.

I printed some preview chapters from each of the four books as part of the display. Then Barbara and I drove up to Silver Star for delicious Chinese food. Barbara dropped me at my house on her way to run other errands.

Again, there was a blinding rain.

This weather reminded me of how Barbara and I became friends about 25 years ago:

This is a weird friendship because, other than a mutual regard for Jesus Christ and a love for Chinese food, Barbara and I have virtually no other common ground. She is an opera buff and I have no taste in music. We both worked for the newspaper but she was an exalted editor, while I was a mail clerk. She was quite wealthy, I supported my family with the help of Food Stamps. She is a local celebrity, I’m unknown. She moved in realms of high society, lead retreats, enjoyed luncheons with the bishop, etc.

Nothing in common.

I had a nodding acquaintance with Mrs. White through the newspaper. She read a magazine article I’d written about family prayer and came to dinner at our house once to write an article about my family and how Ginny and I worship with the children.

But I didn’t know the lady at all except from a far distance.

News came that Barbara was hospitalized facing cancer surgery.

I felt an odd urge to go visit her the night before the scheduled surgery. I planned to just pop in and out because I was sure that swarms of editors, reporters and other famous people would be visiting and I certainly had no place among them.

It would be silly for me to even put in an appearance but I felt strongly that I should.

Now, at the time, Ginny, our four children and I lived in an upstairs apartment across from a school in Springfield, one of the rougher slum sections of Jacksonville.

That afternoon as Ginny and I stood at the front window looking down at our car which was parked on the street, we saw a mature gentleman walking past. He appeared clean-cut and was dressed as though he had just come from church or something of the sort.

As the man neared our car, he passed a chain link fence surrounding the school playground. He turned aside and grabbed the corner fence post and ripped it up out of the ground. The cement clump anchor came out of the ground with the metal post.

The man swung this post over his head as a club and smashed our car window.

He dropped the metal post with a clang on the side walk, wiped his hands and continued his stroll as though nothing had happened.

How bizarre!

Obviously this proved that God did not intend for me to drive far across the city to visit the editor in the hospital.

Yet the feeling persisted that I was supposed to go.

Ginny and I talked and prayed about the matter but the compulsion to go grew stronger and stronger. It made no sense at all. I hardly knew this lady and we hardly had gas enough to drive anywhere and with the car windshield smashed out…

The feeling that I was commissioned to go resisted all common sense excuses.

After super I showered and got dressed still debating whether or not I should go.

A rain storm broke. A super driving gully-washer, frog-strangler of a rainstorm.

I could not drive in that.

Not with a missing windshield and glass shards all over the soaking car seats…

“In as much as ye have done it unto these, the least of My brethren…”

We just knew I had to make that drive regardless of external conditions. Ginny and I felt this trip was a divine mandate for me.

Few other cars ventured on the streets that night; the storm was too violent. Roads flooded. Branches across the roads. Traffic lights out. Electric lines down.

Blinding, torrential rain driven horizontally by the winds.

I got to the hospital soggy.

I went up to the room and found Barbara alone praying on the eve of her cancer surgery. Not one other person was there. The violent storm kept her friends from visiting till the next day.

For several hours we talked about Christ and the wonders of His love.

And she and our family have been fast friends for the following 25 years.

Yesterday’s rain storm reminded me of how this odd friendship began.

I don’t put a lot of stock in religious feelings. The vision or compulsion or urging may indeed be, as Scrooge said, an undigested bit of beef.


When we feel that God is guiding us to do something out of the ordinary and even against common sense, we never know what will result unless we obey in spite of the circumstances.

We’ll never know — unless we obey.

Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness.

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

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Monday, October 22, 2007


As Ginny and I traveled to and fro yesterday, we stopped at a drug store so I could buy some pipe tobacco. When I took two packs up front to pay, the young man at the register asked me for a picture ID to prove that I am over 18 years old!

This confused me because I turned 18 over 50 years ago but I dug in my pocket and showed him my senior citizens bus pass.

He said that the chain management has decreed that anyone, without exception, making a tobacco purchase must show proof of age.

Since no one else was waiting, I told the young man about something that had happened to me back in 1969 or ’70 when I drove a tractor trailer truck all over the United States.

I happened to met a bunch of other drivers in some city; I think it may have been Indianapolis or Okalahoma City or Omaha — doesn’t much matter. Anyhow, six or seven of us got to talking and decided to go out for supper and a beer.

We settled in this bar and the cocktail waitress, a youngish but veteran blond, came over to our table. She appeared very shy and spoke to the youngest guy among us saying, “Can I ask you a personal question?”

All conversation stopped as we focused on her.

She dropped her eyes and spoke just above a whisper, “How long are you?

She captured our attention now as she extended one arm and began to measure off inches with her other hand. The flustered young man stopped her when she’s measured about a foot. “I believe that! A handsome young guy like you. You don’t have to prove it… not here. Not now,” she whispered throatily in a voice laden with undefined promise.

She really had our attention now.

She demurely spoke again, “Can I ask you another really personal question?”

The flustered young man bobbed his head, too stymied to speak.

She leaned close and said, “How old are you”?

“I’m 22” he replied.

“That, you are going to have to prove,” she said, “Let me see your ID”.

At that the lot of us roared laughing. Not a one of us had seen that coming.

That clever, diplomatic waitress created a lot of good will for her bar without embarrassing anybody about being carded.

She entrenched her tact in the memory of a crusty old truck driver 40 years later — and earned herself an extravagant tip.

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 @ 3:52 AM

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

An Unexpected Pain

Saturday Ginny and I shopped on the other side of the river where we seldom venture. I imagine it’s been a couple of months, maybe two years even, since we crossed the bridge into Southside.

When we finished our errands we decided to eat lunch at Blue Boy’s Sandwich Shop in Arlington.

Back about 30 years ago we used to eat at Blue Boys often. Back then they were on our side of the river not far from our home. We took the four children there as a special treat and had a slightly more than nodding acquaintance with the owner, his wife and several of the waitresses.

Then we moved to Riverside and they moved to Arlington and our contact lessened, although our family still gathered there for special occasions like birthdays and college graduations.

But, as I said time and distance lessened our contact with the staff of Blue Boys.

When Ginny and I walked in the door yesterday, the owner’s wife welcomed us profusely as did one of the waitresses who still works there after 30 years.

We enjoyed one of their fabulous sandwiches for lunch and wrapped halfs for supper. Ginny had the Italian Veal and I had the Mushroom Omelet sandwich. These sandwiches are so huge that Blue Boys bakes their own bread because normal bakeries don’t make loaves that large. We can only eat a quarter of a sandwich at a time, so buying one sandwich is actually buying four meals.

When we walked up to the register to pay our bill, for a few minutes we talked with the owner’s wife. She told us that a couple of weeks ago they became grandparents for the first time.

She asked about each of our now grown children whom she has known since they needed boaster seats to get up to the table.

We told her about the successes of our eldest three.

Then she asked about our youngest daughter, the one we may have lost to drugs.

I mumbled something or another about her.

And this near-stranger lady said, “I will pray for her”.

I started crying.

And I couldn’t stop.

The surprising thing about my reaction was that it caught me completely by surprise.

I thought I was coping with the pain.

I thought I was dealing with it.

I thought I was managing.

Apparently I’m not.

I could not stop crying. Ginny and I went out into the parking lot to shelter under a shade tree and smoke. I began trembling and I still cried.

Later in the evening — we were watching some stupid zombie movie on tv — and tears still streamed down my face.

I certainly didn’t expect that.

This does not mean I’m cracking up or loosing my mind. Doesn’t everybody cry when paying a bill or while watching a zombie movie? I’m not ready for a straight jacket.

I’m no crazier now than I’ve always been…

Er, that didn’t come out quite right, but you know what I mean.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve known something undefined was wrong with me. Even more trouble sleeping than usual. Impotence. Lack of spirit to work although I normally love my work. No interest in Bible reading. Rote prayers if any at all. Cursing people who bug me by crossing my path. Irritability with Ginny. Inability to plan ahead. Slinking around reading murder mysteries when I should be working. Looking at naked ladies on the web. General malaise. Letting the yard grow un-mowed. Not shaving as usual in my daily routine. Letting e-mails go unanswered. Paying little attention to my blog. And a host of lesser symptoms.

I thought all these were just symptoms of aging, I did not identify them as manifestations of grief.

I had no idea that I have been in pain.

After all, we’ve been dealing (I thought) with our daughter’s drug thing for over a dozen years now. I thought I had it in perspective, pigeon-holed in the back of my mind. Written off.

I thought I had desensitized my self into a state of not caring. I feign an aura of indifference. Of taking it as it comes. Of blessed numbness. Of positive thinking and cognitive therapy techniques. Of hardening my heart.

Apparently, I’m not very good at that stuff.

I’d just managed to paste a thin veneer of coping on the surface of my soul.

I had the pain and grief nicely bottled up and sealed.

When that lady at the cash register said, “I’ll pray for her”, her concern triggered something inside me; the bottle shattered and my tears flowed.

This unexpected manifestation of pain caught me completely by surprise.

I’ve heard of people in a bad traffic accident walking around with a ripped and broken arm dangling by a thread and saying in shock, “I’m alright. I’m alright. I’m not hurt at all. I’m alright” while their blood dribbles on the pavement.

Maybe I’ve been in that sort of shock too.

“I’m alright. I’m handling this. I can cope. I can function,” I say daily.

Part of my problem is a background attitude, not a deliberately taught doctrine, that as a Christian, I should be able to deal with anything the world, the flesh or the devil throws at me.

I quote St. Paul’s statement, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me”.

I believe that.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Not because I am strong, but because He is Lord. He is love.

That doesn’t mean I don’t hurt.

Thanks be to God — anyhow.

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 @ 6:00 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Comfort Me With Apples

The Song Of Solomon, a strange book of the Bible, contains this strange, strange passage:

I am the rose of Sharon,
And the lily of the valleys.
As the lily among thorns,
So is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood,
So is my beloved among the sons.
I sat down under his shadow with great delight,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.
Stay me with flagons,
Comfort me with apples:
for I am sick of love.

I have no idea what that means.

What the heck is a flagon? How do you get stayed by one?

And what does it mean to say, “Comfort me with apples”?

A reference note in my Bible margin explains the phrase “Comfort me” can be translated, “Straw me with apples”.

Isn’t that helpful!

In camp settings I have heard people sing “His Banner Over Me Is Love” to a catchy tune — and there are hand motions to the song too.

There’s a lot about the Bible I don’t understand, but that doesn’t bother me unduly, I have enough trouble living with the parts I understand all too well, thank you.

What got me to thinking about Solomon’s love poem was that Friday I did something I have never done before in my life.

We have not been to the grocery store this week so our cupboard is bare. No ice cream, no Twinkies, no potato chips, no Nutty Buddies. Nothing but some green leafy things called vegetables. — we face starvation.

To remedy this dire lack of real food, like the folks in the Donner Party, I took matters into my own hands. They solved the problem their way, I solved it my way.

I baked an apple pie!

My first ever.

Here’s a photo of it:

From scratch I baked it.

Here’s how:

I pared and cored all the apples we had in the house. I chipped them up small. I sprinkled them with a tiny bit of cinnamon sugar (Ginny is diabetic so I used little sugar) and threw on some nutmeg (First time I’ve ever touched the stuff).

Since I could not add sugar, I dumped in a box of raisins. Those sweeten it enough without adding to Ginny’s problem. I melted the end of a stick of butter and poured that on the mixture.

Then came my light, flaky pie crust (it’s much lighter than a flagon). I put two cups of flour (more or less) into a mixing bowl, melted the rest of the stick of butter and poured that in with a touch of water and a sprinkle of salt and cinnamon.

Somewhere in this house — only God and Ginny knows where — there’s a rolling pin, but I could not find it. So I put most of my clump of dough on a sheet of waxed paper, covered it with another sheet of waxed paper, and flattened the dough out by rolling over it with a plastic two litter bottle of soda pop.

Worked fine.

I lined a round pan with that flattened dough, added my filling, and rolled out the rest of the dough for a top.

I crimped the edges of the two dough sheets together with a fork then circled the lot with a strip of aluminum foil. I’d pre-heated the oven to about 400 degrees (or maybe it was 425) and let my pie bake on a cookie sheet for as long as it took to wash the dishes, answer two phone calls and read a chapter in my spy novel.

Baking times may vary depending on the length of the chapter in the novel you’re reading, but it’s somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes.

Looked alright to me. So I took it from the oven and let it cool.

When Ginny came home from work tonight I surprised her with my pie.

It tasted delicious!

Like a kitten catching its first mouse, I’m pleased with my accomplishment.

I feel so proud of me.

If the Iron Chef feels threatened by my culinary prowess, I’ll bake another pie and comfort him with apples.

But, he’ll have to bring his own flagon.

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 @ 5:02 AM

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Friday, October 19, 2007

A Knotty Halloween Problem

When I turned 11 years old and joined the Boy Scouts, first thing, they taught me how to tie a square knot; The second knot they taught me how to tie was a hangman’s noose.

The sheepshank, clove hitch, sheet bend, timber hitch and diagonal lashing came later.

To this day, I can tie a bowland knot around my waist with one hand.

I’m a bit rusty with knots. I still have trouble keeping straight how, “The rabbit comes out of the hole, runs around the tree, and goes back down into the hole”.

But I can still tie a hangman’s noose. That’s the sort of practical thing a boy does not forget. It’s not like fractions and declensions and 1066, the useless stuff they try to teach you in school.

Every once in a while in Scouts some guy would tie a hangman’s noose and drape it on some other guy’s tent. When the victim found it, he’d unravel it and use the rope to snap ass with like a wet towel in a locker room. There’d be a big game of chase, lots of laughs, and we’d all pile into the spring for a swim.

Just kid stuff.

I’m remembering these knots this morning for two reasons: our annual Halloween display and the book I am writing on the history of firefighting in Jacksonville.

Since we moved into this house 12 years ago, Ginny and I have set up essentially the same Halloween display every year. We use it as an evangelism tool to illustrate that phrase from Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou, Lord, art with me”.

For photos of our display and explanations of what we do, please chick on October, 2005 or October 2006 in my blog archives.

Among the kids in our neighborhood, a visit to the Cowarts on Halloween is a big event and each year they will ask me well in advance if we will be giving out treats again this year. We try to give them the best packet of treats they will get anywhere.

Apart from this chance to spread the Gospel in a low-key, non-threatening manner to people who come to our door asking, we would not bother with Halloween at all. It’s just not a holiday we care anything about.

A new factor this year means we may not put up a display at all …

This bring me to my fire history book.

The main thrust of my book involves the bravery, sacrifice and heroic deeds of Jacksonville firefighters. Yet, to be historically accurate, I’m obligated to at least mention some of the less noble events related to our fire department.

Recently some guy draped two hangman’s nooses on the equipment of two firefighters. Instead of unraveling the rope, snapping ass, chasing the culprits and all going out for a glass of Kool-Aid, there came an internal investigation, calling in of the FBI, lawsuits, recriminations, name calling, and all sorts of ill-will.

I wish these guys would grow up like Boy Scouts.

But, they haven’t.


Anyhow, in recent days a certain segment of the community has taken to putting hangman’s nooses around where other segments of the community would find them.

To some people the hangman’s noose has become a racial symbol.

And other people get up in arms taking offence.

Doesn’t anybody ever grow up?

Criminals were being hung long before the Civil War, long before there was a United States. This form of execution dates back to Bible times.

In the book of Esther, the king hung Haman, the bad guy, and his ten sons from a gallows scaffold fifty cubits high (that’s about 75 feet tall).

I used to wonder why they built the gallows 75 feet tall, then I realized that this was a public hanging and they wanted the stage high enough so that all the crowd could get a good view. Then I read somewhere that while the gallows was 75 feet tall, the rope was only say 60 feet long.

That way, when they shoved Haman off the platform and he hit the end of his rope… his head would pop off.

Hey, they didn’t have cable in those days.

But, what a show!

Scouts would love it!

In parts of England, public hangings took a slightly different from. They would tie the criminal’s hands behind his back then place the noose around his (or her) neck, then the executioner would tighten the rope till the criminal rose up on tip-toe barely touching the platform. That way as long as he could “dance on the end of his rope” for the amusement of the crowd, he would stay alive dancing until his legs gave out and he strangled.

If someone in the crowd really cared about the hanging man (or woman) that person would run up on the gallows to the hoots and cat-calls of the crowd, and grab the criminal’s legs pulling down with added weight to tighten the noose quicker and end the dance faster.

That was an act of love….

Anyhow, with all the racial tensions floating around, Ginny and I decided that in order not to potentially offend anyone in our racially mixed neighborhood, we’d come up with some other idea for a Halloween display…

But we can’t think of anything appropriate.

I wish people would just grow up and move on.

But Halloween is not the only night evil is loosed on the world.

This is about more than our cute traditional Halloween display

The Apostle Paul said, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as in you is, live peaceably with all men”.

Sometimes, folks make that hard to do.

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 @ 5:13 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Like A Dog Chasing Its Own Tail

A curious thing happened yesterday.

My work on my history of firefighting in Jacksonville has progressed to 170 pages so far. I wanted to confirm a fact related to the Great Fire of 1901 when over 400 acres of the city burned and over a thousand homes and buildings were destroyed.

A hundred years after the 1901 fire, in the year 2001, the Jacksonville Historical Society published a glossy, coffee-table sized book by Bill Foley and Wayne Wood; this fine book is titled The Great Fire Of 1901.

It is a definitive history of that fire.

So naturally when I wanted to check out a particular fact for the book I’m writing, I turned to those pages. I wanted an authoritative answer to my question. So I checked the bibliography at the end of the book to see where Foley and Woods had come up with their information.

Guess what I found?

To conform the information I want now, I’m to check the book Men Of Valor, the Fire Department history book which I myself wrote back in 1986.

They cite me as a source!

This strikes me as so funny.

To find out what I want to know, I’m to consult me.

Isn’t that ridiculous?

How can I find an authoritative answer to my question when I’m the authority and I don’t know diddle-squat about the subject?

Years ago, Bill Foley, now deceased, and I often used to talk after our fashion (Bill was a mute) about Jacksonville history. I don’t recall that we’d ever discussed my Fire Department history; so I was really surprised to find my book cited in his book.

What a nice honor.

I’m inordinately pleased.

But, naturally this odd situation reminds me of a verse of Scripture where St. Paul addresses the issue of authority.

The Apostle says, “We dare not … compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise …

“For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth”. —— II Corinthians 10:12-18

In moral situations if I compare myself with myself, I come off pretty ok.

After all, who do I know that’s nicer than me?

I measure up to my measure because it’s mine.

When I compare myself to myself, I find my self incomparable.

King of my hill.

Lord of all I survey.

Top dog.

But that top dog chases its own tail.

If the standard I measure by is me, then that’s a pretty low standard.

If the standard I measure by is other people, then I come off pretty well there too because deep in my secret heart of hearts I’m convinced that I’m as good as anybody, better than most. I have reasons for the things I do.

After all, those poor people are dying. Just a matter of time and they’ll be gone. They are only part-time temps. They hardly count at all. Of course I’m better than them.

However, if God is the Standard, if His word is the authority, if His approval and commendation is the only thing that counts, then …

How short we fall. How we miss the mark. How ridiculous we look proclaiming our own puny claim to righteousness.

That boils down to proclaiming, “I am right because I am me”.

No wonder we need a Savior.

No wonder it took an act of God to redeem us.

So yesterday the historical society book I turned to as authoritative cites me as an authority.

What were those people thinking?

Makes me wonder if some books just ought to be burned.

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 @ 4:57 AM

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Three Cheers For Seeker

Several years ago I received a phone call from a young man from Brazil.

No, he was not calling long-distance; he was at Jacksonville International Airport changing planes on his way from Rio to someplace north.

He identified himself as an engineer. He said he’d been in his dentist’s office in Rio de Janeiro waiting for his appointment when he picked up a magazine which was two or three years old. It contained an article which I had written.

When he learned that he would be changing flights in Jacksonville, he made a point of looking up my phone number to call and say how much reading that article had helped him with a spiritual struggle he was facing.

That feedback certainly gave me a lift.

Because so few of my books sell, I often feel as though I’m typing on air when I write. I wonder if anybody anywhere ever reads my stuff and I get discouraged.

Well, yesterday Seeker, a blogger from Illinois, gave me another such lift.

You never know who or what you will find on the Iternet.

Last Friday my son Donald send me this link to a site in Brazil: http://jorgebll.blogspot.com/2007/10/tome-sobre-si-sua-cruz-e-siga-me-mat.html

I mentioned this site in my journal noting that I had no idea what the intriguing cartoon panels, which are written in Portuguese, say.

Other than that young engineer from the airport, I don’t think I’ve ever in my life encountered anyone familiar with Portuguese.

The electric ink on my blog posting was hardly dry before my e-friend Seeker, the lady who is always posting pictures of her cute grandkids, e-mailed me saying she speaks Portuguese and offering to translate the cartoon strip for me.

How kind!

Isn’t wonderful to find such talented friends online, people you are unlikely to even see in real life but who form a caring community in the electric world?

Seeker’s blog address is http://www.thefirsthundred.blogspot.com/

Here is a copy of her translation.

John, this is the translation of the first paragraph of that cartoon. (I haven't spoken Portuguese in a long time, but it's still easy to read.)

We all have a cross,
But God knows that we can carry it…
So don’t think that yours Is too heavy,
Because it has a reason in the end (after all)

The guy tells God his cross is too heavy and asks Him to lighten it.
Then he cuts a piece off by himself.
He asks God to make it even smaller and it would be easier to carry.
Then he cuts off some more by himself.
Then he thanks God, and continues on his way.
The rest of the story is understood by the pictures, I think.
Makes a good impact, don't you think?
Here's the rest of the translation:
Whatever your cross, whatever your pain,
There will always be sun after the rain.
Maybe you will trip and even fall,

But God is always ready to answer your call...

He knows all your worries, sees all your tears.
One word from His lips can calm your heart...

Your sorrows may last the night,
But quickly disappear in the morning light...

The Savior is waiting for you, to give you His grace,
And send you His love...

Whatever your cross, whatever your pain, "
God will always send the rainbow after the rain..."
God bless you!!! Even through treacherous nights...

If your cross is heavy...
God will be with you.
The world may even make you cry,
But God wants you smiling!

Thank you, Seeker!

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 @ 7:59 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Monday, October 15, 2007

Higher Up The Tree

Over the weekend the guys across the street hired tree trimmers to cut down a huge pecan tree in their side yard.

Sad news for me.

Our house faces west and this pecan tree shaded our living room window from the glare of the setting sun. My computer desk sits facing that window and now I’ll have to avoid the computer in late afternoons because even with the blinds down, it’s just too bright for me to see the computer screen.

Everyone in our neighborhood gathered to watch the spectacle of the tree coming down.

The workmen began taking off the lower limbs and working their way up the main trunk. They would rope each heavy limb to some higher branch, then as it was detached, they’d ease it to the ground via a pulley system to avoid dropping it on the rooftop.

All this activity and the noise of the chainsaws panicked the squirrels who inhabit the pecan tree. They tried to escape by rushing higher and higher up the trunk.

There’s a limit to how much you can escape by climbing higher.

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 @ 5:33 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Queen of the Night Amid Angel Trumpets

Last week’s rains spurred the growth of vegetation, mostly weeds, in our yard.

Dog fennel, dollar weed, sandspurs, beggar lice and a thousand other nameless weeds abound, spotted here and there by fairy rings of mushrooms. Our bromeliad beds sprouted and flourished. The flamingo plants we use as a hedge brought forth clusters of flowers. Rain lilies rise overnight. Living growth surrounds us.

Saturday morning Ginny and I joined some of our neighbors in chopping down some of this living growth.

We helped clear, trim and mow a two-block long strip at the entrance to our community. That’s a neighborhood beautification project we began five years ago.

When we returned home, we enjoyed a swim in our pool and admired the angel trumpets growing by the pool steps. Here’s a photo of Ginny amid the angel trumpets:

The huge white blossoms look lovely but the whole plant is a neurotoxin; every part of it is a deadly poison like the oleander you see planted along the highway. This tree dies back in winter but comes up larger every year and cuttings root easily.

The flowers set off Ginny’s hair — an angel amid the angel trumpets.

Then last night several buds of our Night-blooming Cereus opened. This member of the cactus family brings forth huge flowers which open, flourish and die in a single night. Light wilts them.

The common name of this plant is Queen Of The Night. Here is a photo of Ginny who also holds that title:

I snapped this snapshot about 11 p.m. so the flower she is touching has not fully opened yet. When it does it becomes one of the most aromatic of plants rivaling our night-blooming jasmine for perfume.

So, yesterday I got photos of Ginny amid the angel trumpets and another of her as Queen of the Night.. The flowers make appropriate settings for her beauty.

Saturday afternoon we discussed plans for our 39th wedding anniversary.

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, October 13, 2007

A Visit With Dr. Woody

Ginny took off work Friday to drive me to my mid-morning appointment with Dr. Woody.

After a leisurely breakfast lingering over coffee at Dave’s Diner, we drove to a nearby park to smoke and talk about our vacation plans next month. We so enjoyed ourselves that we were almost late getting to the doctor’s office.

As soon as he came into the exam room Dr. Woody told us that in an hour he and his wife were leaving to drive to Carolina where her father has had a debilitating stroke.

The old gentleman is in his 80s but has lived a fiercely independent life on his own before this stroke. He served as a medic during World War II and served in the D-Day Invasion of Europe.

Dr. Woody said his father-in-law is an intense, strongly focused man who finds the limitations imposed by this stroke greatly frustrating.

Dr. Woody and his wife face some difficult decisions, medical and practical, about the old man’s life-style and care.

What a heavy thing to carry.


You Don’t Have To Speak Portuguese

My son Donald send me this link to a site in Brazil:

It’s a blog for October 12th. I do not understand a word of the text, but I find scrolling down the cartoon strip intriguing.

It’s based on Matthew 16:24 where Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me…”

I wonder what this strange cartoon teaches?

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 @ 4:25 AM

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Reminds Me Of An Old Joke

Jesus said, “If a blind dork attempts to lead an untutored, unsighted innocent through the maze of ordering a Bluefish Book online by telephone, they shall both get an an Access Denied screen and fall into a ditch”.

Maybe that’s not exactly what He said, but an experience yesterday convinces me that’s what He meant.

I got a long-distance call from a lady who’s been trying to order some Bluefish Books without success. She is 76 years old and she has owned her computer for at least ten years.

Her old system is a different brand from mine.

But, being an experienced computer illiterate who has never even heard of her kind of system before, I nevertheless tried to walk her through the order process step by step.

And the last state of the lady was worse than the first!

As she followed my directions, her computer screen turned black and no pixels would show at all.

Isn’t that odd?

Was it something I said?

It’s so simple to order one of my books. All you have to do is type www.bluefishbooks.info on the Google screen. That brings up seven listings and I’m the top one, Lulu/bluefish. Click on that and you go to my Welcome screen and John Cowart’s Online Book Catalog. Pick a book from the listing and click on Add Print To Cart (that means put a printed copy in a shopping cart). You can add other books to the same cart if you use the Back Button. Once you have picked out your books. You view the cart to make any adjustments. Then click Go To Checkout. The screen will ask where you want the books delivered and your e-mail address and for you to chose a password. Then you Save And Continue and Update Cart. And finally chose how you want to pay for the books, credit card or Pay Pal, and how you want the books shipped (US Mail is cheapest), then you click Place Order.

Nothing to it.

Except the lady speaks softly and I’m a bit hard of hearing and we had a hard time arriving at the step which says Google before her ten-year-old, dial-up computer would time out and kick us out into limbo.

Obviously, I have no business trying to help anyone do anything on a computer; I’m an utter child when it comes to these mystery machines. I can cut. I can paste. Anything beyond that is beyond me.

Finally the lady gave up and said she’d ask her son to order for her on his laptop.

That’s the answer to many of life’s confusing problems — Ask the Son.

Anyhow, our comedy of telephone errors, the blind leading the blind, reminded me of an old, old joke:

The boss needed to call one of his employees at home on a holiday weekend.

A little girl answered the phone, “Harris residence. This is Melissa. May I help you?”

Impressed with the little girl’s good telephone manners, the boss said, “Yes, may I speak with your father please”.

“Daddy’s not home; he went to gas up the car,” the child said. “Do you want to leave a message”.

What a well-trained, polite child, the boss thought.

“Well, may I speak with your mother then,” he said.

“She’s still asleep. She’s got a migraine and I’m not supposed to wake her.”

“It’s important that I speak with your dad”.

“Would you like to leave a message”?

“Yes. Tell him to call Mr. Morris as soon as he comes in”.

“Just a second, let me get a pencil to write that down,’ the child said, putting down the phone.

In a moment she picked up the phone, “I’m back. Thanks for waiting,” she said just as business-like as could be. Obviously this kid has been listening to the grownups, the boss thought. Sharp as a tack.

“Tell him to call Mr. Morris,” he said.

“How do you spell that,” she asked.

“M-O-R-R-I-S,” he said.

“How do you make an M?” she asked.

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 @ 2:24 AM

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Thirsty As A Moose

The stag at eve had drunk his fill
Where danced the moon on somebody’s rill
And deep his midnight lair had laid
In lone Glen someplace’s something shade…

I can’t remember that poem.

It’s something I read in an English Lit class way back in the dark ages. As best I can remember, dogs chased down the stag and killed it while hunters on horseback blew horns and followed the howling pack.

I have never seen a stag — although I often feel like the one in the poem.

I got to thinking about this poor beast yesterday following a conversation with my friend Wes. We’d been talking about religious revival, that is a manifestation of God among people with little, if any, human leadership.

On one hand, it’s something I long to see; on the other hand, I dread an encounter with such raw holiness.

After Wes went home, I realized what our conversation had been about.

That happens to me a lot, I often think of just what to say — an hour or two later.

While our conversation was going on, we were a bit at loggerheads because I was not making myself clear at all. In reviewing the conversation in my mind, I realized that I’d come across as demanding some kind of miracle from God.

A personal burning bush, a Red Sea parting, fire falling from Heaven, a ring-side seat to watch the stone roll away.

Wes assured me in the words of Jesus that it is an evil and adulterous generation that seeks a sign.

He reminded me of the dead rich man in Hell and the dead beggar in Abraham’s Bosom. The rich man, concerned for his brothers, wanted the beggar to go back to warn them. But Abraham said, that they have the Scriptures and that if they do not believe Moses and the Prophets, they would not believe even if one rose from the dead.

What that boils down to is I get no sign from Heaven and I’m forbidden to commit adultery on Earth.

Raw deal.


Cain’t have no fun nowhere.

I kept saying I wish to see a supernatural element in my daily life.

Wes kept saying that believing the Scripture is sufficient for life and godliness.

I believe the Scripture, but I want to see God at work here and now, not there and then, in my daily life as an affirmation of what I already believe.

Wes assures me that I’m unlikely to see a miracle.

By their very nature, miracles are unusual.

Wes said the basis of our Christianity is the authority of the Word of God; if we trust subjective experiences then we tend to base our faith on personal experience rather that that sure foundation. Personal experience may reflect the state of our digestion rather than the state of our soul.

Wes explained my spiritual anguish as a case of imagining what an ideal god would be like, then being disappointed that such a god does not exist.

“And you’re right,” Wes said, “Such a god does not exist. It’s imaginary in the first place”.

He said our only sure knowledge of God comes from God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible.

After Wes went home, that bit of poetry about the stag began to run through my mind. Haven’t thought of that poem, whatever it is, since tenth grade. But my mind linked that line about the stag to a verse of Scripture in Psalms about a hart.

(A hart, like a stag, is a kind of deer. I’ve never seen one out loose.)

The Psalm says:

As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
So panteth my soul after Thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God,
For the living God.

That’s what I’d been trying to say all morning!

I do not yearn for miracles.

If I saw a burning bush, I’d grab a fire extinguisher. If I saw Saint Bambi’s image on my slice of pizza, I’d eat her up in a minute. (Ain’t sharing my pepperoni with anybody). I’d complain about having to gut, head and scale a miraculous draught of fishes.

I have no use for miracles.

What I long for, what I yearn for, what I desire most, what I pant after is the Living God in my life.

Nothing less will quench my thirst.

Nothing less will quite my heart.

Nothing less will satisfy my hunger.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks…

But I’m not finding any water brooks recently. I’ve never seen a stag, nor a hart either for that matter.

Saw a moose once — does that count?

The moose I saw was not nearly as impressive as the one in this photo taken by my e-friend Karen on her recent trip from England to Canada:

So, for me

No stag.

No hart.

No moose.

No Miracle.

I guess I’ll just have to keep believing the plain ol black and white print of the Bible. —— Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief…

As the hart panteth…

P.S. — Last night at a Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting, the group suddenly, unexpectedly, elected me as coordinator. We’ll see what happens.

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 @ 5:08 AM

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

I Missed The Boat

In the midst of my activities last week, I neglected to check my e-mail for three days.

That means I missed the boat.

Besides this blog, Rabid Fun at (www.cowart.info/blog ) and my on-line book catalog (www.bluefishbooks.info ) I keep a general website of religious humor essays and Jacksonville history articles; that website is called The Rabid FUNdamentalist at (www.cowart.info ).

I started Rabid Fundamentalist first when my son Donald I first gave me a computer. That site is horribly crude because I was learning as I went along, yet it filled a gap in the local Jacksonville history available on the web.

It is not unusual for readers to e-mail me asking questions about local history and I always try to answer as best I can.

Last week, a reader in Asheville, North Carolina, sent me some photographs of a river boat departing a landing; they were taken in 1918:

The reader thought there was a chance these were taken somewhere on the St Johns River and asked my help gathering more information.

But I had not read my e-mail for three days.

I missed the boat.

First, I consulted the closest expert on St. Johns Riverboats, my wife Ginny, author of the article “Paddlewheelers On The St Johns” .

We discussed at length how to go about finding the location, the name of the ship and information. Ginny suspected the photos were taken at Captain Jacob Brock’s landing in Enterprise. I thought they were taken on the west bank of the river at Green Cove Springs.

We asked Donald to enhance the photographs so we might read the name plate on the ship and a sign on a nearby business.

We prepared to sent e-mails to various people knowledgeable about riverboats, etc.

Then came another e-mail from the reader.

Our help was not needed.

Because I had not checked my e-mail and delayed answering, the needed answer had come from another source.

The reader thanked me for my efforts and said, “Since I wrote to you, the photos have been identified. They are of the Manatee River at Bradenton, and the ship is the “Favorite”. There are more interesting parts to this story too. The photo of the old lady and the little boy watching the steamer is my great grandmother Harriett Steele and my father Jack Steele Wallace. That much we already knew. The ship, “the Favorite”, we were able to identify this week. As a twist of fate, my mother’s father was the pilot of “the Favorite”. About 10 yrs after this photo was taken my father’s family built a home next door to my mother’s family in Pinellas County. It was then that the 2 families met for the first time. Small world”....


Ginny and I stood down in our search.

I think I may have learned either of two lessons from this:

1. Check my e-mail daily or risk missing the boat.

2. If I neglect a problem long enough, someone else will solve 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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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fast Cash

A Quick Post Between Lightening Strikes before I have to unplug the computer again:

Yes, another storm rages outside here in Jacksonville at 4:30 this morning, so I’ll quickly record two things:

Maybe, with all the rain recently, I should title this post after the old song, Pennies From Heaven... “Every time it rains, it rains pennies from Heaven”.

Looks like that recently:

Over the past few days $1,160 came into our hands from five different and unexpected sources. The givers stipulate that Ginny and I are to use this God-send for our anniversary next month.

Strange. We didn’t even pray for extra cash. It must have been the Lord’s idea through the hearts of good people who care about us.

I’m humbled.

Last week my friend Wes and I had a long talk about prayer; he pointed out several factors I’d never thought of before… but, I need to be quick here. I’ll get to that discussion some other time.

My point is that I am very thankful to the people who gave us these gifts.

My second point also involves money.

Ginny works for a semi-charitable agency involved in feeding hungry children and providing help for needy families. Yesterday, because of her attention to detail, she recovered $750,000 which would otherwise have been lost to the children.

Yes, that’s three quarters of a million dollars that had fallen through the cracks until she initiated its recovery. She’s as delighted as if the money had come to her personally.

Although she did say, “Instead of my salary, I wish they’d pay me a percentage of what I re-coop. We’d be rich”.

Know what?

We already are.

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

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Friday, October 05, 2007

A Perfect Occasion To Sin

Obviously I posted that Dore engraving of Noah’s Flood too soon; there was more rain yesterday and yet more forecast for today and through the weekend.

I posted the engraving as a joke. Turns out it may not be so funny after all.

Helen’s operation Thursday appears successful. She’s back home and complaining about being hungry so I assume she’d doing well.

Because of thunderstorms and lightening strikes, I unplugged my computer most of yesterday. During the time it was up and running I browsed bikini girls sites knowing full well that there were better uses of my time.

I have virtually everything I need to write my history of firefighting in Jacksonville, yet I’m reluctant to get on with the task.

Back in 1986, I wrote some magazine articles and a similar history of the Jacksonville Fire Department for the Jacksonville Fire Museum. It was a rushed job (their rush, not mine) and I’ve wanted to expand and update if for years.

Essentially the book I envision is a chronological history of my hometown told from the standpoint of how many times the place has burned down. By moving from disaster to disaster and showing what led up to the crisis, then showing the city’s recovery in the aftermath, I’ll be presenting a coherent history of the city.

That’s my plan, anyhow.

But, I’m reluctant to get on with the project.

I just don’t have the spirit for it.

Maybe my problem is just the rainy, dreary days recently. Maybe, I did not give myself a break between formatting Barbara White’s books and resuming work on the fire history. Maybe I’m just a lazy lout.

I’ve noticed in the cycle of my own spiritual life that immediately after some triumph (and getting Barbara’s Along The Way books edited is certainly a major triumph) but after any triumph, I’m inclined to fall into sin.

This is strange because after any defeat, I’m inclined to fall into sin.

Then on perfectly normal days when there is no outstanding triumph nor suffocating defeat, I’m inclined to fall into sin on those days too.

I’m a consistent dirty old man.

Fair weather, bad weather, Winter storms or Spring breezes, spiritual triumphs or ignominious defeats, I can fine some reason to justify doing things I know good and well that I ought not to do.

Isn’t that shocking?

I must be the only Christian in the world to act that way.

Oh well, Someone said that those who are whole do not need a physician.

The rest of us need a Savior.

In fact, I often wonder if we use the wrong terminology when we say we are saved, I wonder if it might be better worded to say that we are being saved.

Anyhow, Christ our Savior came to earth and died and rose from death for lazy louts, dirty old men, apathetic sophisticates, indifferent almost-intellectuals, and us normal degenerates.

His glory shines brighter than cloud to ground lightening.

He sets His rainbow in the clouds after the storms.

And He shall reign forever and ever.

But, until He comes in glory, I really need to get this fire history written… Although I rather doubt if He’ll question me about my progress on this book if He comes again before I finish writing 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 @ 9:19 AM

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rainy Days

According to the tv weather people, we’ve had more rain in the past three days than in the past three years. We've been in drought but that looks to be suddenly over.

At places in Jacksonville, the rain fell at a rate of two inches per hour. Many streets are flooded and underground water pressure buckles the pavement.

Ginny stayed home from work only at my insistence; she actually intended to go in although the radio urges people to stay off the roads.

We saw Helen for breakfast. She goes in for her surgery today (Thursday). On our way back we encountered a man whose car was stuck in a mud ditch beside the road. Helen circled back to help him out. She and I were going to try to push his car but as we stood there puzzling out how to do it, a truck load of good ol boys screeched to a halt beside us.

These five guys clambered out with boards and ropes and pry-bars. They hooked cable to the disabled car, stopped traffic on the road, and yanked the car out of deep mud.

As they were doing this, Helen and I got back in her car and drove away laughing.

I’m sure the five Good Samaritans had stopped thinking that it was Helen’s car that was stuck in the ditch.

The moral of this lesson is that if you’re ever stuck in a deep mud ditch and you want young men to spring to your aid, it pays to have a pretty girl along.

Ginny, Helen and I spent several hours hanging out and talking about computers, art, family and spiritual matters.

Because of the rain, thunder and lightening, I had shut down and unplugged our computers. I don’t trust my files to a $9.95 surge protector made in China and painted with lead paint. I unplug whenever there is lightening danger.

Florida is the lightening capital of the world. More people are killed by lightening strikes here than anyplace else.

It is still sprinkling rain outside.

A tropical system is forming just south of us and it is expected to bring even more rain; so, I just snapped this photo in our backyard…. Well, if there’s much more rain, I could have!

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 @ 4:46 AM

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Upset Over Uncials

Monday, my friend Barbara White came over to finish the corrections in her fourth book’s proof pages. All four books in her Along The Way series are now available at www.bluefishbooks.info .

My August 20th journal entry tells a bit about how this project started for me with a shopping bag. My entries since then tell the saga of the manuscript’s progress from shopping bag into four 200+ page books.

During the editing and production process, I illustrated each chapter of Barbara’s books with road signs from around the world. Each road sign relates so some aspect of the journey Along The Way. I think they’re cool and sometimes really funny.

During the final proof corrections, we ended up with a blank page.

To fill the empty space, I wanted to insert a promotion for one of my own books, Glog: A Dinosaur Novel Of Sorts. I think Glog is the best thing I’ve ever written. It is my favorite of all my books.

Barbara objected because my promo ad said, “Glog ate muskrats, lots of muskrats, and illuminate the uncials in a biblical manuscript”.

Barbara, a supposedly educated woman with a Phi Beta Kappa key, had never heard of uncials.

Can you imagine that!

She said there was no such word.

I called Ginny (she was home from work today) in to referee.

Ginny reads the Bible now and then; she’d know all about uncials and illuminations.

She didn’t!

My own wife who’s lived with me in my own house for nearly 40 years didn’t know what an uncial is either.

I was shocked!

How can anyone be a Christian without knowing about uncials? Isn’t that a requirement for Heaven?

If not, it ought to be.

If I were in charge, it would be.

The earliest Greek and Latin manuscripts of God’s Word were written by hand in uncials, a hand written calligraphy of capital letters with no spaces between words. Here’s a sample:

In latter times, velum copies of such manuscripts were decorated, illuminated, with fine colorful drawings often inlayed with gold leaf.

I think illuminated manuscripts and clipper ships are the two most beautiful things ever created by man.

Years ago when I worked at the Library Of Congress, I actually handled some of these manuscripts in the Rare Book Room and all I really know about them is that they are heavy. Unfortunately, I do not know enough Hebrew, Greek or Latin to actually read such manuscripts (reading Greek is not a requirement for Heaven), but I do recognize their beauty.

Early Bible manuscripts were illuminated in gold and treated with such care, respect and reverence because they were so valuable — they convey the Word of God.

And what God has to say is important.

But, hey, wait a minute here.

If these words were so important to God, how come these books were all hand written and hand copied for generations?

Doesn't that mean the Bible we have today got messed up when some writer's hand cramped and he didn't copy his lines right?

Good point.

Ever wonder why, if they are so valuable, diamonds are split by hand?

Ever wonder why a Rolls Royce is more valuable that a Yugo? Why a precision Swiss watch is more valuable than a Timex?

In each case, the one is hand-crafted individually; the other, mass produced. Precision hand-crafted workmanship is what you want for solid value and God's word has not come to us cheap.

Many people, such as Jan Hus and Archbishop Cranmer, were burned as the stake for transmitting the Bible to us. Aren't you glad that our Constitution's First Amendment links freedom of the press and freedom of religion in practically the same breath?

I made all these points defending the inclusion of my ad for Glog on that blank page of Barbara’s book. She and Ginny overruled me. Instead we inserted some wimpy cutesy about prayer or something.


Just you wait and see if I pray for any of Barbara’s books to sell.

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 @ 7:49 AM

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Happy Financial Matters — $$$

Whenever my Daddy would pay a bill, he’d say to the cashier, “That’s my last dollar, but don’t worry about it — There’s plenty more where that went”.

This past weekend Ginny and I proved the truth of Daddy’s statement.

We sat down at the kitchen table to go over our plans and obligations for the next three months, to see what we have and what we need, and to plan for our anniversary vacation in November.

“There’s plenty more where that went”.

Yes, in November we will have been married for 39 years. Sometimes it seems longer; sometimes, like we’re just getting started. For a long time now, each year we plan a vacation trip to celebrate our love and survival.

Usually we like to rent a cabin in the woods at some state park where we can walk on the beach, stroll through a forest, watch birds, linger over coffee and talk for hours without interruption.

After our planning session we decided to cancel such a trip this year.

“There’s plenty more where that went”.

Increases in homeowner’s insurance and car insurance, gas and food prices, medical expenses, major utility increases, and other such stuff of normal life render us a bit shorter of cash than usual.

We always take our anniversary trip go on a shoestring budget but this year we’re down to flip-flops.

And cash we’ve invested in my publishing venture with Bluefish Books drained us a bit also. In fact, I think we have fulfilled a biblical prophesy thus proving the absolute truth of Scripture.

You know the prophesy I refer to, don’t you? The prophesy found in the first chapter of Haggai.

The ancient Prophet foretold that in the last days people would earn coins only to put them into a bag with holes in it.

I feel he must have foreseen me and Ginny when he said that.

Anyhow we have made alternate happy plans for our anniversary. No cabin in the woods or antique stores or lounging on a bear rug before a blazing fireplace. But somehow, I think we’ll manage. Actually, I suspect we’d be happy living in a packing crate beside the railroad tracks as long as we could be there together.

Which brings me to the real subject of today’s journal entry: money matters.

For a long time we’ve talked this move over with our family and friends and yesterday we made a decision about my book sales.

I searched for clip art to insert on the sidebar of my on-line book catalog. I wanted something to show a poor man but which was not demeaning. I googled homeless, man in a barrel, empty pockets, hobo, tramp, bum, bag lady, etc until I arrived at a cool graphic:

It looks like a poor version of me with a pipe in my mouth and a book in my pocket. Ginny and I decided it would be perfect for our announcement on the Bluefish Books sidebar.

I have no idea how to change anything on a sidebar. So, we e-mailed it to our daughter-in-law, Helen, to post. Helen is a graphic artist who has designed many of my book covers and she acts as computer guru guiding me through the intricacies of internet morass.

Imagine our surprise when we flipped our wall calendar over to October during our personal vacation/financial planning session to find that this same graphic is the October picture on our calendar!


What a laugh.

Anyhow, Helen added the graphic and the following announcement to the sidebar of my Bluefish Books On-line Catalog:



I earn my living selling my books. I have no other source of income, so sales are important to me. No sales, no money.

However, I’ve spent much of my life in poverty. I’ve often lived in want myself. Many’s the time I saw books which I did not have money to buy. That hurt.

Therefore, if you honestly do not have money to buy one of my books, please e-mail me at bluefishbooks@gmail.com and tell me that you honestly can not afford a book, and I will e-mail a pdf, read only, copy for you to read on your computer. One per customer please.

I know you can’t served God and mammon, but I try.

—— John Cowart

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 @ 5:29 AM

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