Rabid Fun

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

Friday, July 31, 2009


First, my eldest daughter came through her surgery fine and the biopsy showed nothing untoward. She’ll be up and around in a few days.

Next, my friend Barbara White is up and around. After this third course of chemotherapy, she has bad days and worse, but Friday morning she felt well enough to drive to my house and treat me to breakfast at Dave’s Diner.

Over breakfast we talked about the 23rd Psalm and dogs.

Barbara noted that the Psalm starts off with the Shepherd leading: “He leadeth me beside the still waters”. Here we see the Lord Jesus going in front of us.

But the Psalm ends with :”Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me”. To follow me means to come behind me.

In one sense the whole picture is that of the Lord compassing us about on all sides—but there’s something more here.

Barbara’s pastor recently showed a video of two sheepdogs herding a flock. The dogs ranged back and forth behind the sheep, barking now, laying low then, rushing in, backing off, nipping flanks—dogging the sheep toward the safety of the corral.

The sheep would not ever name a sheepdog, Goodness.

Sheep would not name one, Mercy.

Goodness and Mercy are the names the Shepherd gives to what follows us yapping and nipping at our heels.

Among the sheep, these harassing herders-of-sheep are more likely to be called by names like Trouble and Aggravation, or Problem and Pesteration, or Misery and Frustration—any name but Goodness and Mercy.

But the Lord surely sets them to harry us all the days of our life till we’re hounded safely Home.

Those are spiritual observations that Barbara made as we talked.

But I made a contribution to our conversation too:

Heard about the dyslexic agnostic who suffers from insomnia?

He stays awake all night wondering whether or not there really is a dog.

Barbara groaned.

I wonder if the pain of her cancer is coming back?

Incidentally, Barbara White’s Along The Way series of books can be found at www.bluefishbooks.info .

And, You-Tube has a great video of two Border Collies herding sheep to a shepherd at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HwwdSKrqEk

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 @ 4:17 PM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I am excused.

I have a note from my wife:

Ginny wrote this excuse note for me back in November of 1984. While she was writing excuse notes for one of the kids’ teachers about missing some school function, she gave me this one to cover any contingency I may face in life.

I treasure my excuse note. It’s comforting to have an excuse ready at hand to use when I need it. It’s been taped to a shelf in my office for years. When I need an excuse, I’m covered.

Yesterday I applied to be excused from jury duty; within minutes, the court excused me so I do not have to serve.

This has been a source of brain-eating anxiety for me since I first got the summons.

In Florida, a person 70 years old or older who wishes is automatically excused from jury duty unless they chose to serve.

At first I looked forward to serving. I have some minor sense of civic responsibility. I’ve voted in every election since I was 21 years old, the legal age back then. I served a stint as president of our neighborhood watch. I planted trees along a public right of way. I trained as part of a civilian emergency rescue team. And I was prepared to act as a juror.

I checked out my one suit, which I haven’t worn since Mark and Eve’s wedding 18 months ago. I’ve grown fatter since then so I bought several shirts large enough for me to button the collar so I can wear a tie. I polished my shoes. I gathered stuff to cut my hair…

Yes, I’ve cut my own hair for decades to avoid being touched by a barber. Due to some quirk in my make up, when touched, especially when I don’t expect it, my body shudders and stops breathing. I avoid being touched.

Even when I go to church I chose to sit beside a big stone pillar with Ginny on the outside so that no “friendly” person can garb at me. God save me from friendly churches! I think that going to church should be like going to a movie—you go in, see the show, and go home without speaking to others who happen to be in the audience.

I do understand that other Christians feel differently about church functions. Good for them. I’m just stating my own preference. I am that shy.

Incidentally I don’t go to movies or football games either because I choke up bad in groups of people.

And the closer the time came for me to report for jury duty, the more tense I became. The thought of being closed in a room elbow to elbow to elbow with other people overwhelmed me.

I thought I might overcome my idiosyncrasy enough to perform my civic duty. I steeled myself to do it. But the prospect overwhelmed me, so yesterday I applied to the court for the automatic senility option on the basis of my tottering old age and the court excused me.

A sense of peace came over me. I felt I’d done the right thing.

Sometimes it’s good not to do a good thing.

I’m glad I was excused.

Funny thing excuses—every time we use one, we unconsciously admit God’s existence as the Giver of moral law. Every time we accuse someone else of something, we admit that same thing.

Listen to school kids in the lunch line:

“Miss Thompson, Miss Thompson, he broke in line”!

“No, I didn’t! I was here first”!

The accuser appeals to a moral law that it is not right to break in line; that people who break in line are law-breakers.

The accuser also appeals to moral law with his excuse—I was here first, so I do not wrong.

Our sense of right and wrong is engrained.

The nations of the world act just like school kids:

“You broke the treaty!”

“Did not. Our people occupied Gaza for generations. We were here first”.

We accuse and excuse because we know that somewhere God’s absolute moral law exists and that it matters whether or not His law is broken.

As saint Paul wrote to the Romans,

There is no respect of persons with God.

For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.

Even before Paul talked about the meaning of accusing and excusing, he’d already concluded we are all without excuse before God:

For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened

No wonder we need Jesus, the only Savior!

So, it may be that the local court excused me

But there will come a day before a Judge when no excuse will hold water.

Not even my note from Ginny.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 11:31 AM

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Killing Dogs

Last night when Ginny and I drove to the main library, we noticed a large police presence in the streets around City Hall, which is just across Hemming Park from the library.

Last night the Jacksonville City Council scheduled a vote about increasing property taxes. A large crowd of protestors, observers, and interested citizens surrounded City Hall spilling out into the street and into Hemming Park.

I immediately thought of killing all dogs.

I hope I’m misinformed or just plain wrong, but this is the way I see what’s going on:

Recently, to meet the current budget crisis, city government has juggled property assessments and added various “fees” which they say are not taxes but still cost most citizens more cash out of pocket. At the same time our state government decreased property taxes for some people saving the wealthiest among us and the real estate developers thousands of dollars yearly. Ginny and I benefited; we got a property tax bill for seven dollars ($7) less than last year.

These issues distress people as our city government threatens to curtail library hours, to close homeless shelters, to reduce fire fighting so your home will burn, to stop sending ambulances when you have a heart attack, to collect no more trash, to leave potholes unfilled, to close parks, to stop controlling mosquitoes—and to kill every dog in Jacksonville.

Yes. I exaggerate—a little.

But the dire predictions I hear from City Hall make the Prophet Jeremiah look like a standup comic.

I think I’m seeing a political process my friend newspaper columnist Poke McHenry, God rest his soul, once explained to me.

Poke said, when government wants to do something, say a councilman’s neighbor has a white poodle that digs in his yard, the council first proposes killing every dog in Jacksonville.

Dog lovers rise up in protest. Write letters to the editor. Print tee shirts. Paste bumper stickers on their cars.

What about seeing-eye dogs for the blind?

The council grants an exemption to seeing-eye dogs.

Then they exempt hounds used to search for missing children. And show dogs with pedigrees.

The dog lovers begin to calm down.

But still they hand out flyers and post SAVE OUR PETS notices on phone poles.

Hunting dogs gain an exemption. All black dogs gain exemption under affirmative action clauses in existing laws. Then brown and yellow dog owners demand equal status. Then white pit bulls are exempted; even though dog fights are supposedly banned.

By this time, the fear tactic, smoke screen has worked. The call to kill all dogs diverted people’s attention from what’s really happening. Pet owners feel relieved that city government is listening to them. Our system works. Now that emotions have been damped, folks go about their daily business feeling disaster has been averted.

And that damn lawn-digging white poodle gets the ax—and hardly anybody notices what’s happened.

Looking at the current tactics of our state and local government, I can’t help remembering what Poke said about killing dogs.

Poke said when a volatile emotional issue, no matter what it is, generates a lot of publicity, it’s wise to look around at what else may be going on.

I have no problem paying fair taxes—across the board taxes that apply to everyone without exception—but I think our city’s budget shortfall lies not in how taxes are raised but how they are spent.

Since the Civil War, Jacksonville has earned a reputation as being a sucker town. Carpetbaggers flocked here and took over after the war. That set the tone for Jacksonville’s pouring cash money into foolish projects.

We actually pay businesses to relocate here! That’s supposed to good for our economy. If Jacksonville is really such a good place for their business, why don’t those companies pay us an impact fee?.

We allow highrise offices buildings to sit on land taxed as greenbelt property for dairy cattle. Our city government paid cash money for vacant lots to be developed into the Shipyards condominiums. Money spent. Lots still vacant. No wrong doing found although $34 million is gone with nothing to show for it. And the city subsidizes the football team—for the prestige of having a team. And the city lost money for HarborMaster’s restaurant. And Jacksonville Landing.

And don’t forget, Off Shore Power Systems—a company dedicated to the bright idea of floating nuclear power plants in the ocean in spite of hurricanes—our city sank money into that project before it went belly up.

The city just installed mood lighting on streets around the Gator Bowl (except the carpetbaggers don’t call the stadium that any more). That’s a good use of tax money. It will light the way for football fans—if anybody bothers to buy a ticket to games blacked-out on tv because of lack of ticket sales. But, no fear; the city government also pays for stadium skyboxes for dignitaries.

Then here in Jacksonville, politically appointed city workers get paid thousands more than civil service employees doing the identical job.

Our mayor and others in government found money in our direly distressed city budget to travel to Paris earlier this year to an air show—a hot air show?.

Our city paid contractors to build a Northbank Riverwalk, rushing to complete it before Super Bowl only four years ago, and now that portions of the structure are collapsing into the river, the city pays anew. And the roof in the newly constructed Children’s Commission building leaks, as does the roof of the Willowbranch Library on which the city recently spent $3,000,000. But the original builders are not held accountable for their shoddy workmanship.

And then there’s the $64 million dollar courthouse being built while dozens of derelict downtown buildings sit empty within blocks of City Hall. These could be renovated so that every judge could have his own floor. So although core Jacksonville is a donut of empty buildings, a new courthouse just must be built.

It’s not tax money the city lacks but common sense.

Oh well, this is the way the world works.

I think that when Jesus told a minor government official, “My kingdom is not of this world”, the Lord saw the way things worked in government and was issuing a disclaimer.

So amid the protesters and politicians and smoke and mirrors and corruption and irresponsibility and pettiness and dullness of our government, it amazes me that the system works as well as it does.

I’m confident it will all work out.

Nothing for me to rant about.

Besides, my dog is black.

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 @ 10:10 AM

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sick Days

Ginny returned to work today after having been ill all weekend.

I’ve played nursemaid.

She came in from work last Thursday saying she felt “a little off”.

On Friday we went to her doctor for a scheduled routine appointment and he said she checked out fine. Her diabetes appears fully under control and all her blood chemistry is in an acceptable range.

But she woke Saturday night ghastly sick—to the extent that we considered going to the hospital emergency room. But, being of the old school of folks who don’t deal with physicians for anything short of a chainsaw accident, we put it off and she toughed it out.

Besides, we were poor for so long that, although we now have hospitalization insurance, we still have the mindset of the poor who only have the traditional Get-Well-Or-Die insurance policy.

So, I fed her chicken soup and ginger ale all weekend and nursed her through her downtime by showing her movies on my computer screen. We watched back-to-back movies all weekend and Monday because she was too down to do much else. In fact she slept through many of the movies.

We went to the Hulu site at http://www.hulu.com/browse/alphabetical/feature_film where I played old Carry Grant movies from the 1940s for her amusement. And we watched a few Disney movies as whitenoise background. And, of course we could not resist some Elvira horror films. And we saw Bad Girls From Mars (my choice).

Last week Donald and Helen gave us some vcr tapes of long-past Superbowl games and we also slept through a number of those.

While Ginny napped, I did our grocery shopping and I worked correcting the proof pages of William Short’s 1854 Diary (It will be ready soon). Then I’d watch more movies with her when she woke up still too ill to even read..

All this lounging around and my fine cooking cured Ginny enough for her to sit up a while yesterday to supervise my activities. This led to some tensions.

For instance, she thought my cooking curried chicken was splurging, though it cost less than a meal at McDonalds. And when she asked me to water her plants and I started, she started a load of laundry which cut off my water supply.

Ever notice that men and women have different ways of washing clothes?

I mean you put the cloth in the machine, sprinkle it with soap, close the lid and push the button.

But Ginny magnifies this task into a project requiring 18 steps so complicated that they would daunt the astronaut pilot of the space shuttle!

Yes, she began feeling better and I began feeling grumpier.

I took her suggestions and comments as devastating criticisms of my care for her.

Getting along while living together has little or nothing to do with love. Living in peace has more to do with courtesy, and forbearance, and assuming the goodwill of your partner.

Although we are deeply in love, we do sometimes snap at eachother; this is just one small part of life together. It’s not wise to make more of it than there really is.

And just where was Jesus during all this?

Same place as always.

Yes, we feel blessed in times of great prosperity; and we feel comforted in times of great tragedy. But God is never more present with us than in the ordinary, mundane, boring days of common life. He is Lord of the Ordinary.

So, watching movies, cooking curry, washing clothes, snapping, making up, being together—in all this we live in the hollow of His hand. He is a daily God.

In Him we live and move and have our very being.

But, boy am I glad Ginny’s back to work today. I’ll hurry and do up the laundry and have it hanging in the closet before she gets back home—before she sees how I do 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 @ 9:04 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Thursday, July 23, 2009

List Of 1901 Great Jacksonville Fire Dead

Yesterday a young woman e-mailed me requesting the names of the seven people who died in the 1901 Great Fire Of Jacksonville, Florida.

She said she can find no such list anywhere on the internet—I can fix that.

Last night Ginny and I drove downtown to the fire memorial at the foot of Market Street, the old ferry landing. We thought we’d once seen a plaque there listing the dead—but someone has removed it.

So we also checked the periodical room at the Main Library but my sight is now too poor to read microfilm anymore.

Of course, after all that running around, where should I find a list of 1901 Fire dead this morning, but on my own book shelves!

This list of those who died in the 1901 fire comes from Davis, T. Frederick. History Of Jacksonville Florida And Vicinity 1513 To 1924. © 1925; reprinted by San Marco Bookstore 1990. Page 226:

Henry D. Bounetheau
Mrs. Waddy Thompson
William Clark
Mrs. Solon Robinson
Mrs. Grace Bradley
March Haynes
and one unidentified person.

William Clark is the young man who died in the Market Street Horror while saving a number of other people; I wrote a little about him in my book Heroes All: A History Of Firefighting In Jacksonville.

But now there is a list of fire dead on the Internet.

After running around downtown chasing history, Ginny and I ate supper at the Jacksonville Landing. It being a Tuesday night, hardly anyone was there. We found a table outside on the balcony overlooking the river and enjoyed delicious Bourbon Chicken.

Not another person was up there.

We dined and smoked and sipped tea and held hands talking about books as we watched the lingering sunset over the St. Johns. Yachts, motorboats, sailboats, and tugboats pushing barges moved sedately over the river while sea gulls drifted on updrafts by the Blue Bridge.

Occasionally, other couples strolled by downstairs around the Landing’s fountain and across the river we watched the waters dance in the mighty Friendship Fountain on the Southbank.

A peaceful, luxurious, calm, romantic evening.

We could get used to living like this—but, alas, one of the books Ginny checked out of the library is titled Retiring On a Budget.

Do old folks really have to eat cat food?

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 @ 4:43 AM

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In The Pages Of My Bible

I wrote a note to myself so I wouldn’t forget—then I forgot where I put that note.

Not in my inbox. Not taped to the refrigerator. Not in my desk drawer.

I know. I must have stuck in my Bible. I do that. Stick bits of paper in the pages of my Bible because I don’t what else to do with them.

Hunting my lost note, I opened my Bible.

The first thing I found was an envelope of seeds from three years ago that I never got around to planting in our garden.

And I found the car rental papers from when Ginny and I went on vacation in 2003.

I found a batch of lesson notes from a class I taught, and some of those little paper things they give you when you go to somebody’s funeral that say the name and date of the deceased and you’d feel guilty to throw that sheet away because it would seem disrespectful, but you really have no reason to keep it.

And I found this brochure:

It’s dated 1965!

Can it possibly have been in the pages of my Bible since then? Yes, I’ve carried this Bible around for a long time. And yes, I have newer copies in a lot of different versions, but I’m comfortable with this one and I consider the tattered old thing, “My Bible”.

Digging deeper in the pages of my Bible, I found a hand-drawn map of how to get to somebody’s house—I have no idea of who these people were or why I’d need a map to their house….

And then I found this sad, sad thing, a crude, Xeroxed flyer once taped to a telephone post at the corner bus stop:

Back before we had a car, about seven years ago, Ginny rode the bus to work. Because we live in a rough neighborhood, each morning I’d walk her to the bus stop, and meet her bus and walk her home in the evenings.

One morning this crude flyer appeared on telephone posts up and down the street. I have blacked out Anita’s name and address.

As you can tell the writer of the flyer felt unhappy with Anita and wanted the world to know about it. Therefore, she typed this notice, Xeroxed dozens of copies, and posted it on telephone posts up and down the street.

Various people waiting for the bus took out pens or pencils and wrote their own comments on the flyers:

Commenter One said—“Let satan become your friend. He’ll show you the great life of evil”.

Commenter Two said—“Kill the fucking bitch”!

Commenter Three said—“Chop her up and eat her for breakfast”.

Commenter Four said—“ Your only solution is Jesus. He’ll be your very best friend. The Bible declares that Jesus said He’ll never leave your or forsake you. He loves you and He wants to be apart of your life—Sincerely, Concerned”.

Commenter Five said—“This is what He’ll do—J

After a few days I removed this poster from the phone post and took it in to pass around an adult Bible class I was teaching; we talked about bitterness and forgiving and being forgiven.

I believe the Bible is the word of God. It may not tell me everything I’m curious about, but it tells me all I need to know about life and godliness. It does not answer all my questions about history, but what it does tell me is true. It does not tell me everything there is to know about God, but it tells me more than I want to know about John Cowart.

And one thing I find in the pages of my Bible is this statement: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”.

Defiled by bitterness.

Bitterness besets me. When I feel a slight, real or imagined, I let resentment well up inside me. I dwell on that trespass to my dignity. It festers inside me.

I feel troubled as I chase the incident around and around in my mind. My complaints take over my mind. Prayer becomes bitching.

“ Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us … as we forgive…”.

What a kicker!

And Jesus elaborates saying, “When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses”.

Without the help of the Holy Spirit we can’t forgive others.

To be honest with you, WITH the help of the Holy Spirit, I still find it hard to forgive someone who has crossed the line—that’s what trespassing is, to cross the line defining someone else’s property, to break through some proper boundary.

One thing that sometimes helps me is to recall times when I have crossed the line myself, when I have done the same sort of thing to someone else that I am so upset about someone now doing to me. And I don’t have to search my memory very hard before the Spirit reminds me of that time when I…

Well, you get the idea.

There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man… They did it. And I did it too.

Now I have never posted a notice about my own resentment and grudges against someone on a telephone pole for all the world to see—that’s what blogs are for. But I have cherished slights inside my heart and go over them again and again as though they were My Precious.

Heck, I just observed my 70th birthday and I can still remember the names of kids in elementary school who did me dirt!

No wonder I published my recent diaries under the title A Dirty Old Man Goes Bad., etc.

So, how can I get out of this morass?

When Jesus healed a man sick of palsy, He said, “That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins”.

Yes, forgiving is serious, costly business.

Jesus died because of our sin. He rose again because He is God, the source of life.

He does not excuse us. He forgives us. There’s a difference.

And the Bible tells us about such things.

It behooves us to know what’s in the pages of our Bibles.

Oh, by the way, I did find the note I’d started out searching for. I had tucked it in the pages of my Bible. Unfortunately it did not say what I thought it said.


However I enjoyed browsing in the pages of my Bible and I was especially pleased to find that quote about how we pipe smokers are men of dignity, charm and refinement.

That quote must be true—I found it in the pages of my Bible.

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 @ 9:11 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Ghost At # 33 and The Cowart Family Birthday Party

If you watch tv soap operas, then my entry today should not be too hard to follow even though it involves events about 300 years apart—a ghost in the year 1760, and our birthday party last night.

Follow closely now:

In 1756 in London, William Kent married a woman named Elizabeth Lynes. She died eleven moths later. Afterwards, William Kent took a fancy to her sister, Miss Fanny Lynes.

Since it was considered incest to marry your wife’s sister, William and Miss Fanny Lynes could not marry.

Instead they shacked up.

In January, 1760, the happy couple rented a house at # 33 Cock Lane from a man named William Parsons.

One William loaned the other William some money.

William did not pay it back.

Still with me?

One month later, on February 2, 1760, Fanny Lynes died of smallpox. She was buried in a vault in the church of St John’s Clerkenwell.

But within a year, people at # 33 Cock Lane began to see sights and hear sounds. Thumps against the walls, and a haunting rapping sound, and a scratching sound that seemed to be some kind of intelligent code.

James Franzen,, owner of a nearby pub, and William Parsons, landlord of # 33, set up system of yes/no questions to communicate with the unseen entity through these spooky, scratching sounds.

News of communicating with the dead spread throughout London. Crowds mobbed Cock Lane. Traffic could not get through the street. People wanted to hear the dead woman scratch out answers to their questions.

The ghost revealed that she was indeed Fanny Lynes and that she had not died of smallpox, but that William Kent had poisoned her with arsenic.

Newspapers went crazy reporting this news and giving the ghost a name which lives on in history…

But how do those events in the 1760s have anything to do with the Cowart Birthday last night?

Four people in our family—Ginny, Helen, Donald, and me—we all four have July birthdays. So family and friends gather for a community celebration and cookout on July 18 (which is not anybody’s birthday). We splash in the pool, gorge on good food, catch up on gossip—Helen’s Dad gave her and Donald a new car. Randy and Lisa brought Barbara White over for the party.

And we talked theology—mostly about Christians we admire and churches we don’t.

But, while some of us floated in the pool, one young lady received an urgent phone call from her mother, Mrs. V. A could-be–crisis was developing at her house.

Being an upstanding, hands-on Christian gentleman, I offered to go with the daughter to Mrs. V’s house—and I tried to convince Donald and Randy (short for Ransom) to go with me.

Seeing their reluctance, I assured them that, “There is nothing to feel guilty about if you do not help me. No need to feel guilty at all. I mean just because I’m going over there with only a few girls to help me, there’s no cause for you to feel guilty. You go ahead home. I’ll be alright”.

Knowing that I’m an honest man, the rascals took me at my word and left for home.

Anyhow, Ginny and I followed the daughter across town through dark streets overhung with beards of Spanish moss to her mother’s house.

Here’s the problem:

A sound.

A mysterious scratching, thumping sound.

It was coming from inside a huge cast-iron Franklin Stove—a massive wood-burning, free-standing fireplace with three huge, heavy locked iron doors, two in the middle, one at the end.

Some unknown something was inside her Franklin stove.


Well, the mother and daughter and Ginny supervised as I crept up on the iron monster. I speculated that it was only a trapped squirrel that found its way down the chimney.

But what if it’s a rat?

I’m deathly afraid of rats. Could it be a rat in there?

By the way, Donald and Randy, no need at all to feel guilty about letting me do this by myself, Just wanted to be sure you know that.

What if this is a raccoon? They bite. They carry rabies.

But what if its only a baby bird lost and alone scratching the iron walls?

Hell, it could be a buffalo in there for all I know!

The daughter got a flashlight, a small sledge hammer, and a pillowcase for me. I extended my arm deep into the pillowcase so I could grab the animal then fold the pillowcase back over my hand trapping the creature—the way you’d put a snake in a bag..

The three ladies backed up.

Then I eased the iron door open a just a tiny crack and shown the light inside… couldn’t see a thing. I closed that door and cracked open one on the other side… I could hear some creature moving in there, but I couldn’t see it.

I snaked my arm in through the cracked door feeling around for some furry unseen something.

Ain’t it great to be a hand’s-on Christian?

Couldn’t feel a thing in there.

I hammered on the sides of the stove thinking I’d drive the unknown creature up the flu. I could still hear scratching.

I suspect the unseen scratcher had climbed up out of reach onto the smoke shelf at the back of the stove.

Time to open door three—nothing but soot and ashes from last winter’s last fire.

That gave me an idea.

I closed and locked all the doors, I shredded newspaper and stuffed them through the crack in the double doors. The daughter opened the damper. I struck a match.

“Nothing to it,” I told the women, “The smoke will drive the creature back up the chimney. It will go out the same way it got in”.

Unless its fur catches fire and it jumps out the door on top me and runs flaming through the house like one of Samson’s foxes…. Er, do you have home owners insurance?

That didn’t happen.

The flames died down.

Guess what we heard from inside the iron fireplace?


At First.

Then more scratching.

Scratching, Scratching. Scratching.

I’d done all I knew to do. I gave up. I sealed up the doors and propped the sledge hammer and some fire logs against the door. I suggested that Mrs. V. go spend the night with her daughter then call animal control in the morning.

As Ginny and I drove home through the dark night, I could not get that scratching noise out of my mind. Where have I heard about that sort of thing before? Then I remembered the tale of the Ghost of # 33 Cock Lane.

I’d run across it years ago while researching a book I never got around to writing.

I remembered that the incident was proved a hoax—one William seeking revenge against the other William over that borrowed money. William Parsons was sentenced to stand pilloried with his neck in stocks at the foot of Cock Lane. He went stark raving insane.

But some people still believed in the ghost at # 33. A huge controversy arose between those saying it was all a hoax and those believing the scratching was caused by a real ghost .

The press of the day gave her a name.

She became a tourist attraction.

And, oh yes, the name those newspapers of yesteryear called the phenomena, that name stuck.

It was ever afterwards called—The Ghost Of Scratching Fanny!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 1:26 AM

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

An Important Relayed Posting

My e-friend Sherri at http://matteroffactsite.blogspot.com/ wrote this yesterday and asked that it be relayed:

This is a photo of my youngest son's friend Tyson Serles. A private first class serving our country in the US Army.

I remember the night of the Senior Awards, My son Jon and Tyson shared an award for their achievements in Art. Tyson was also honored when he and a few other boys from Jon's class, received large bonus checks from the different branches of service as they signed on to protect their country. When he and the others walked on the stage to receive their awards, I said a little prayer for them, for their protection and wisdom and guidance for whatever would lay ahead of them.

I watched Tyson accept his check with that contagious mile long grin of his, and he practically skipped back to his seat and he was applauded by those in attendance.

Last week we received news that Tyson had been critically injured in a roadside bombing. Sadly, his entire group of soldiers he was traveling with, except for his Sergeant, were either killed or critically injured. Tyson bravely tried to pull his fellow soldiers from the wreckage and witnessed one friend take his last breath.

Tyson is 19 years old, and has already lost an entire group of buddies. One soldier who past away asked Tyson to start the prayer chain before he passed on.

What a load for a young man to carry. He is without family , in a foreign land (Iraq) , with no familiar faces to be by his bedside while he recovers and grieves for his friends and fellow soldiers. What if this were your son, or brother or friend?

According to Tyson's father Tim, his condition has now been upgraded to stable. Tim is asking for cards or letters to be sent to Tyson to encourage him as he recovers.

What a small task for us...what a large impact it can make on Tyson.

Would you please send something to this precious young man who has already sacrificed more than most of us will ever be asked to give. He bravely moved out of his comfort zone on behalf of others. Let's do it for him.

It will take 5 minutes for you to fill out a card, and a very small amount of money to mail it.

Please do this small gesture. I'm counting on you. I'm hoping he gets a room full of cards and letters from all over the world!

Feel free to re-post this, pass it along in an email, put it in a church bulletin, or pass along to any other group that would be willing to take five minutes to help lighten someone's load.

Start your weekend off by doing something for someone else. Whatta' ya' say? Can I count on you?

Mail to:

PFC Serles, Tyson
FOBTF Sparta
HHT, 1-40 CAV (ABN)
APO AE 09354

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 @ 5:12 AM

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Christian Guys In Love

Yesterday brought an e-mail from a Christian brother in another country saying his wife threatens to leave him.

This arrived to touch me at an opportune time because I’d just finished uploading my PDF file to the printing company; proof pages of Williams Short’s 1854 Diary should come to me for correction in a few days.

Describing the Short Diary, I had just written:

In 1854 William Short said more between the lines of his diary than he did in its pages. Back home in Illinois, he'd proposed marriage to Miss Sarah. But when he traveled to Jackson, Missouri, he was smitten by Miss Amanda. Then at a Methodist camp meeting he met Martha, "My Temptation". Suspense builds as the young minister decides which girl to marry while at the same time he feels a deep heart hunger for God. His mix of confusion about love and dedication to Christ still appeals to readers after 155 years.

Yes, when hormones flow and life aggravates and religious views regulate, tensions build. And in life, especially in marriage, nothing is harder that to get along with someone you love.

Now my e-friend from a far country wrote to inform me of the situation; he did not ask for my advise.

To me, he comes across as a very religiously minded young man; In his half-page e-mail, he cites six Scripture references. He mentions his wife’s duty to submit as being taught in Scripture. He says the devil is attacking her mind to make her think of leaving. He says it is his duty to instruct her in the five guidances of the Holy Spirit.

His letter also says, “I have informed her that without pressure we will nevertheless next week review where she apparently ignored my regular teaching of the six thought patterns for the Christian's mental health at Philippians 4:8”.

Now he wrote to inform me of the situation; he did not ask for my advise—nonetheless, I gave it:

Dear Bubba,

Sorry about the trouble you two are having. That has to hurt.

One thought: It's not polite to read someone else's mail. When the Scripture says, "Husbands..." that's addressed to me and to you.

When the Scripture says, "Wives..." Right off you and I can see those words are addressed to women only and you and I should leave that text alone! It's not addressed to us.

The only way for a couple to get along is to assume the goodwill of the other person, give the roots and give 'em wings.

And mind your own business by not reading her mail; those Scriptures are not addressed to you or me. Jesus never tells me what somebody else ought to do; only what I ought to do.

Hope this thought helps.

I am so sorry you two are in pain.

Love, John

I identify with this young couple’s problems, they’ve only been married a few years, because even after 40+ years of marriage, Ginny and I each can see the speck in the other’s eye but we each remain oblivious to the beam in …

Well, you get the idea.

Some wise Englishman, I’ve forgotten which one, (Churchill? Chesterfield?) said, “The chief end of all human endeavor is to be happy at home”.

Yet, when we are at home, we tend to “Be ourselves” which equates to dropping all the courtesies we normally extend to complete strangers.

When Jesus promoted charity and said, When ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto Me, I wonder if He referred to the people I hold as “least”—and that often means my wife, my children, my closest neighbors.

Oh, I don’t have to worry about them, they’re always there.

And they live close enough to me that I can see the tiny speck in their eyes; but I can’t see the beam in my own eye.

In his own eyes no man is an asshole.

I think that’s one reason the Scripture encourages individual religion, a personal encounter with God, a one-on-One relationship with the Almighty.

Yes, the Scripture does say stuff about wives—but not being a wife, those passages are none of my business. I need to concentrate on what God says about how husbands are to act because I am a husband.

Then there are also portions of Scripture addressed to both Ginny and me collectively. Here are two verses, for instance:

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you”.

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye”.

Heavy stuff!

To forebear means to put up with it while it’s happening.

To forgive means to put up with it after it’s happened and move on from there.

Tenderhearted means to recognize that hearts are fragile, they can be broken. And it means that I should give Ginny as little to forbear and to forgive as possible.

But what if Ginny offends my religious scruples and does not conform to my five guidances of the Holy spirit or my six thought patterns? I have no idea what those things are, but I know that in marriage arguments among Christian couples, one or the other brings out the Big Guns by citing Scripture to show that offending ME equals offending God Himself.

I’ve seen husbands harp on how she is to submit; and I’ve seen wives browbeat that sinner they married about going to church on Sunday and relish telling all and sundry to pray for his conversion.

Yes, the couple that prays together stays together—and often make eachother miserable in doing so.

St. Peter said, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered”.

In other words, Guys, it’s no good calling on God if we can’t dwell and get along with the wife.

To me “Giving honour” means I am to never put Ginny down—not in public. Not in private. Not even in joking. Never. The whole damn world is out there to put you down day after day and nobody needs that crap at home.

Compliment her on every possible occasion. There’s always something positive to say. Great tits, Babe. That was a fine meal you cooked. I feel safe with you. I need you to listen to me for a while. You picked a great place to come to. I love the way the light hits your hair. You make me feel good.

Hell, if she looks a mess and she knows it, you can always fall back on, “You have such beautiful eyes”.

And, screw flowers; Say it with words. You have not married a mind reader. You need to say it out loud. Every morning when we part for work, I make sure the last thing Ginny hears me say is “I love You”—because, who knows, that may well be the last thing she will ever hear me say.

OK. Nobody asked for my advice, but I’m on a roll here so one other thing:

Personal hygiene—lets face it, guys smell like goats because we are goats.

A little honest sweat from work smells like love. You’re doing right. But there are limits, and observing those limits comes under the heading of “dwell with them”.

It’s an eccentricity of mine, but since I work from a home office and Ginny goes out to work, I shave at 4 in the afternoon, shortly before she gets back home from work—Who more important do I want to look nice for?

Well, I’ve rambled on and on. Hope some of it makes sense. It’s almost 5 a.m. (I start work early) and for a guy who was not asked for advice, I’m full of it…

And you can take that either way.

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 @ 5:00 AM

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

He Being Dead...

When nasty weather struck the American frontier, pioneer farmers glanced out the door and repeated a familiar proverb: “There’s nobody out to-day but crows and Methodist preachers.”

Of course the Methodists were not the only Christians to inspire itinerate evangelists; Baptists, Congregationalists, Adventists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and even Quaker George Fox (in England a bit earlier), urged by God’s Spirit, did all possible to bring about the religious movement which history books call the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening

While William Short’s role was that of a teacher and he was not exactly a circuit rider, yet he contributed to the mind set of his day in promoting daily, deep dedication to Christ out of a grateful heart.

That’s one of the things that attracted me to his diary.

I feel my own heart so cold. Weariness overwhelms me and a spirit of apathy guides my activities. Therefore, this man’s words speak to my condition.

Yesterday, my friend Wes called. He invited me to go with him to breakfast and to visit our friend Barbara at her retirement home. She is off chemotherapy this week and feels well enough to have visitors.

I chose to pass.

That may have been a mistake—people are more important than projects—but I feel time constraints to finish editing Short’s diary before I’m whisked away for jury duty.

In another marathon yesterday, I worked 20 hours editing the text. Now, with another such session, all I have to do is format, set headers and footers, insert illustrations (making sure they are public domain), set gutters, pagination, addendum, proof again, design covers, make pdf files, and submit to the printer for proof pages to correct.

Is all this stuff worth doing?

Commercially, no.

I doubt if this publication will make anybody’s best seller list.

On a commercial level, I’ve been wasting my time.

However, on a personal level, engaging in this project, seeing Short’s problems with decision making, watching him try, fail, and try again—all this encourages me in my own Christian life.

Or, at least, as Ginny says, it keeps me off the streets.

I found this diary which has been hidden away for 155 years, and I rush and push and labor to get it published as though it were hot news—that’s odd.

I’ve often hoped that someday some kid blundering around in a dust attic will chance across a copy of my own diary and be inspired to follow Christ fully. I wonder if that sort of hope ever crossed Mr. Short’s mind? I see no indication of it in his diary.

Yet whether he intended it or not, William Short proved an inspiration and encouragement to me…

As the Scripture says of Able, “He being dead yet speaketh”.

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 @ 6:28 AM

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Camp Meetings And Short Bible Verses

The Clerk Of The Court summoned me to begin jury duty soon.

That puts the pressure on.

It means I need to get on the stick editing William Short’s 1854 Diary because a break in my work’s tempo may torpedo the whole project and I’d never get back to it.

But it does not pay for me to rush.

I need to carefully examine each word, otherwise….

For instance, yesterday as I checked back over the transcript comparing it with the original autograph I realized I’d made a slight mistake in rendering Short’s miniscule and badly faded Spencerian script.

I missed seeing the letters stu.

So my transcript read: “So-and-so died late last night”.

That sounds dramatic.

But when I examined the autograph manuscript closer, I saw those three initial letters—stu—I realized that “So-and-so studied late last night”.

A slight difference in meaning.

Who’s to know?

I want the dramatic rendering. If I let it stand as is, who else is going to get a magnifying glass and track down those three missing letters?

But, you can’t write Christian unless you live Christian.

Our Lord is not too keen on dramatic effects.

I changed my transcript. Under duress, you understand.

As I compared the typescript which Ginny and I made with the original, I also inserted the text of Scripture references Short cites.

William Short worked as a teacher, a professor of language and mathematics. But his 1854 Diary also records 59 sermons he preached in that year. Not only did he preach himself, but at times he acted as an exhorter when other preachers preached—especially at camp meetings..

I’ve never attended a religious meeting where an exhorter served, but as I understand the practice, the exhorter acted sort of like a cheerleader for the preacher. The exhorter walked amid the crowd encouraging the sinners to repent and the saved to live godly lives.

And at times, William Short served as an exhorter in the ministry of the famous frontier preacher Peter Cartwright.

Years ago I read the legendary Peter Cartwright’s autobiography/diary. A physical giant, this preacher challenged the rough and tumble frontiersmen of his day.

As I recall, once when a drunken blacksmith heckled the preacher, Cartwright strode into the crowd, punched the blacksmith out, and finished preaching his sermon standing on the unconscious heckler’s chest.

Billy Graham hardly ever does that.

Yet, Cartwright drew the same comparative crowds in his day. His effective preaching gleaned over 12,000 recorded converts at the camp meetings.

An online copy of Peter Cartwright’s autobiography can be found at http://www.cblibrary.org/biography/cartwright.htm

William Short attended and exhorted or preached at many camp meetings.

Don’t worry, I’ll get back to citing Scripture references in a bit; but first, I want to talk about camp meetings.

Since the sparse population of the American frontier lived in small family groups spread over vast geographic areas, few church buildings existed. But periodically, word of mouth spread the news of a camp meeting being called.

These religious gatherings drew Christians of all sorts; Short’s Diary specifically mentions Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians all involved—the emphasis was on winning hearts to Christ, not on denominational issues.

People abandoned their farms and log cabins to trek to the announced meeting place. Thousands gathered to camp in tents, in huts, or to live in the open air as they listened to marathon preaching. The camp meetings also proved a social phenomena as folks who seldom saw their nearest neighbors met together to share not only faith but news, politics, recipes, and gossip.

But religious fervor was the main order of the day.

I’ve seen reports that in fits of ecstasy, worshipers wept, fainted, rolled on the ground, saw visions, or developed the “jerks”—a convulsion so violent that the women’s long hair would crack like a horsewhip. (Hence, according to some sources, comes the term Florida Cracker—of which I am one).

The camp meetings gave rise to a particular rhythm and cadence in preaching. In those days before microphones had been invented, to speak to crowds of thousands, the preacher would line his remarks; i.e. he would say a line. Then a man at the far limits of his voice would repeat that same line to the people behind him. Thus the message was relayed deeper and deeper into the crowd far away from the platform.

Preacher and repeaters fell into an antiphonal cadence of line after line. You can still hear this rhythm and cadence in Florida’s rural churches today.

Here is an old engraving showing a camp meeting scene from a date a few years earlier than Short’s diary:

These camp meetings went on for weeks with people coming and going as the Spirit moved them. But, here’s a strange thing, on the American frontier these loud and roudy camp meetings gave rise to social responsibility. Prison reform, slavery’s abolition, care for the insane, care for the handicapped—these humanitarian endeavors are rooted in the camp meetings.

OK. I’m back off that tangent.

What I did yesterday was to insert footnotes with the text of Scripture verses into places where Short cites the text references in his messages.

You can tell a lot about a man from the Bible passages he seems familiar with; and yesterday I discovered a lot about William Short, and about myself.

For instance one of my own favorite passages is I John 3; And this is a text from which William Short preached often:

I John 3:1— Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Short also spoke on a text I’ve spoken on myself:

Galatians 6:8— For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Another favorite text of Short’s is:

John 12:26— If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

But Short seemed to preach from the Prophet Amos more than any other Scripture:

Amos 5:6— Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:

He also favored:

Amos 4:12— Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.

He also expounded a text from the Prophet Nahum:

Nahum 1:7— The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

And from the Apostle James:

James 4:8— Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Yes, William Short was a man who knew his Bible and his diary reveals that he was a happy person (He uses the word happy 44 times in his diary entries) who lived in daily, serious contemplation of religion.

And, I thought it interesting that for his last message of the year 1854, Short chose his text from the sad book of Laminations:

Lamentations 3:21— This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

Yes indeed, I want to finish up this initial work and get the pages of Short’s diary to the printer so I can begin correcting proof pages before the Court Clerk sequesters me in some dungeon with a bunch of 12 strangers.

Maybe I need to take to heart another of Short’s texts:

Galatians 6:9— And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:37 AM

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Still Transcribing

Ginny and I spent much of the weekend still studying and changing William F. Short’s 1854 diary from manuscript text into typescript.

My daughter Jennifer said, “You people really need cable tv”!

Her idea of fun is a bit different from ours.

We puzzled long and hard over one entry that has us stumped. In spite of every trick we knew to enhance the text, we finally admitted defeat. I’ll mark that entire half page as illegible and leave the mystery of its pages unsolved..

This dairy resonates with me in that so many of Short’s entries could well be ones that I could have made myself.

I’ve never heard anyone use the word before but every reader in any generation understands what Short meant when he wrote that May 29, 1854, “Felt very Mondayish”.

By the same token, even if we have not seen an eclipse, we all understand, “I am so glad Friday night has come! Saw the grand eclipse”.

And we all have boring days when we, like Short, say, “Nothing of special interest”.

Or we understand the feeling of worry when Short wrote, “My mind is greatly occupied about the future. Lord, direct me aright”.

And, like Short, we’ve all had bad days, “This has been a day of great toil and weariness to me. Was greatly tempted. Made some good resolves. Hope to keep them. Lord help me”.

And every male reader knows exactly what Short is talking about when his diary records, “In the evening called on Miss Connor. Had some temptations, but was sustained. Oh, I want to be more holy”.

I like editing old diaries because as the writers record the things uppermost in their minds, they often strike a cord inside me. Their thoughts often echo things I’ve thought about myself.

Short’s concerns resonate with honesty. In his confusion and conflict over which girl to marry, he prays for direction no less than 22 times in these few pages.

And at times his words reveal a heart-hunger for God that virtually all of us could well have written down ourselves:

O Lord, I will praise Thee. My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. Suffer the tempter to have no power over me. My heart, my life, my all be Thine. Nor would I divide the gift. I will keep back no part of the price. Unloose my tongue to tell my (illegible) of the cross—and its victim and spread Thy fame abroad. Thou, O blessed Savior! Thou doest know the love I would express. Pardon, sanctify, and save me. I am thine. I here record a vow to live altogether for God. Lord help me to keep it”.

Ginny and I finished our initial transcription Sunday afternoon. Now, all I have to do it edit, proof and format the text we developed.

The rendering of initials and people’s names concerns us. Short often refers to people by their initials and these are difficult to make our. Is that R.K. Jones or K.R. Jones or P.K. Jones… or that a K at all?

Remember that the pocket diary is tiny with five entries per page and Short’s wrote in miniscule Spencerian script. which would challenge modern readers even if it were full sized.

Oh well, in editing I’ll do the best I can to render these names and initials consistently—if not accurately.

Another week or two should get the job done—unless, or course, we do get cable tv.

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 @ 5:09 AM

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Saturday, July 11, 2009


Last night my beautiful Ginny again helped me research and transcribe Short’s 1854 Diary.

Wow! But we had fun… Er, at least one of us did.

The woman is crazy about me!

Picture a teenage girl hanging out under a shade tree while her boyfriend works on the exhaust manifold of his jalopy. Know how fascinated she is with the intricacies of the exhaust manifold? Then why is she hanging around there for hours?

When you picture that girl and you have a pretty good picture of Ginny helping me research and transcribe a 155-year-old diary.

It fascinates me—and I fascinate her.

Ain’t love grand!

It thrilled me to run across this passage in the diary:

Sunday, October 22, 1854

This has been a very gloomy day. Attended S. School. Dr. Klepper preached at night. Retired feeling perfectly well but at twelve awoke a sore throat that approached almost to sufferation.

Monday, October 23, 1854

Sent for Dr. McFarland. He cupped me and left medicine. At night felt some better.

Tuesday, October 24, 1854

My throat continues very painful. Did not leave my bed during the day.

Wednesday, October 25, 1854

Felt some better to-day. Was up a little. Took medicine. Hope to well soon again. My duties are very urgent.

Thursday, October 26, 1854

My throat is much better to-day . Did not get to prayer meeting. I hope soon to be able to attend to my duties.

Yes. The physician cupped his strep throat—that means the doctor bled him.

In museums I’ve seen old medical kits which contained cups for bleeding patients. The glass or metal cups look like little whisky shot glasses to me. The doctor would make an incision over the afflicted area, press the right-sized cup over the wound, and drain off that amount of blood.

I hope my doctor doesn’t read this. He might try that treatment on me. You wouldn’t believe some of the things he’s wanted to do to me in the past!

But being cupped must have worked for William Short because he lived at least another 52 years after this. Yes, being cupped made him feel better.

Speaking of feeling better, at 7 this morning, my friend Barbara White called. Although feeling bad sick from cancer and chemo Tuesday, she is feeling so much better that she felt like driving over here herself and going to breakfast at Dave’s Diner—where the staff hugged and greeted her enthusiastically.

When Barbara arrived at our house, she told me that the physical therapist at the retirement home where she lives had brought her a gel cushion for her chair. “It was miraculous,” she said. “I was so miserable with bone pain—absolute agony—that I couldn’t get comfortable in any position. Then I fell asleep and woke up feeling fine. That cushion worked wonders”.

Barbara said she felt relief from her pain suddenly. One minute it was there, the next minute it wasn’t.

Isn’t that odd.

I asked Barbara if she had read my blog entry for July 8th (An Odd Bit Of Prayer). She said she has not turned on her computer for a week or so.

She feels so much better. You’d think she’d been cupped.

At Dave’s she said that with her hair falling out in patches and tuffs, she must look weird.

I comforted her saying, “Barbara, you don’t look any weirder now than you’ve always looked”.

See, I do spread Christian light and joy wherever I go.

After talking about her chemo treatments and symptoms for a few minutes, Barbara said, “That’s enough of that. I am not my cancer. There’s more to me than cancer. I don’t want to talk about that all through breakfast”.

So I talked about my diary project and she told me about a novel by Josephine Tey, Daughter Of Time, a mystery involving a museum researcher.

And we talked about Christ being the propitiation for sin.

I don’t run across the word propitiation in everyday conversation often.

My dictionary says it means to regain the lost favor or goodwill of an offended party.

Paul uses that word in his letter to the Romans:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,

The Apostle John uses that same word referring to Jesus:

He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world…Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The Son of God dying on the cross for us regains the lost favor and goodwill of God.

But aren’t we God’s favorites? Isn’t He just tickled pink that we do what we do?

Not necessarily.

The Scripture also says the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all unrighteousness.

We are what we are and we do what we do, and as Paul said above, everyone of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory God intended us for.

Unrighteousness generates wrath.

The white-hot purity of our holy God does not co-exist with degrading sin.

Not only have we done wrong, unrighteous, wicked, sneaky, low-down, sinful, nasty things, we relish them. As a dog returns to his vomit to lick it up again, we go back and do the same things over and over again—that’s Paul’s image, not mine.

We fester with sin.

We need to be cupped.

Well, if that’s what it takes… “Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood”.

God loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

We lost it.

The Lord Christ came to earth so we can regain what we lost.

Didn’t mean to get to preaching, but this good news is thrilling.

Oh, speaking of getting cupped, how much blood did it take for Christ to take on our sin and be our propitiation?

All of it.

He held back nothing that would benefit us.

Yes, being God in the flesh and Lord of life, Christ rose from the dead. But that resurrection came later.

He hurt first.

After breakfast, Barbara hung around in our garden talking for a couple of hours. That gel cushion must have indeed worked wonders because she’s feeling so much better.

I told her one of Donald’s jokes:

Anthropologists found this tribe in the Amazon who worship the numeral Zero… That answers the age-old question, “Is nothing sacred”?

Barbara groaned.

Do you suppose that’s her pain coming back again?

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 @ 2:43 AM

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Friday, July 10, 2009

The Elusive F Word

Should you ever chose to write your diary by dipping a quill pen in inkblack, for the sake of readers a hundred years from now, please blot the page or let the ink dry BEFORE you close the book!

In 1854 William Short didn’t believe in that practice. When he closed the little diary without letting the page dry first, the ink smeared or bled onto the opposite page—or both.

Didn’t the guy believe that anybody’d ever want to read his stuff?

If I make it into Heaven myself, I plan to have a talk with this old-time Methodist preacher and he’d just better hide his quill beforehand lest I do something with it that he won’t like.

I have a bone or two to pick with him.

For instance, there’s the matter of his name.

He signed inside the front cover of his 3 X 4 ¾ inch diary thusly:

When I scanned and enlarged the man’s signature, I came up with:

OK. The last name is Short—in Spencerian script writers did not cross the final T in a word. In fact, in the middle of a word they often placed the crossbar of a T above the upright so it looks like an l with a line above it.

The writer of the diary uses the initial W for his first name. I guessed that would stand for William, that being a more common name than Wolfgang. Searching via Google I discovered many William Shorts alive in the 1854 time frame.

That left the middle initial—is that a capital G? or a T or an L?

Spencerian script encouraged the use of decorative curlicues and with my macular degeneration I have trouble distinguishing between a flourish and an actual letter.

My Google search led me to a William Lawson Short who lived in the right area at the right time.

I thought I’d pegged him.

From diary content I knew the date of Short’s wedding, so I traced marriage records and found that he is listed in court records as William L. Short, who married Sarah Belle Laning.

That locked it in for me. I had identified my man…..


Even his marriage license has his middle initial WRONG! The court clerk in 1854 couldn’t read Short’s writing any better than I can!

Further research led me to a 1906 Historical Encyclopedia of Morgan County, Illinois. Guess what? William Short was still alive in 1906 and he wrote a biographical sketch of himself, his marriage to Sarah Bell Laning and his time teaching at the Methodist Seminary in Jackson, Missouri, the year he kept this diary.

The encyclopedia even has a photo of him in his later years.

It even tells how in those later years, in 1893 he and Sarah Bell established a school for the blind in the town of Jacksonville, Illinois.

All well and good.

But the rascal gives his name as William Fletcher Short!


That letter in the middle of his name is an F!

And here I’d been tracking William Lawson Short all this past week.

Not L, but F.

That’s what I said when I found out.

In other news, the at&t repairman (the third one in the past five days—Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday—came here to fix the same ongoing internet problem). Each one says, “It’s not my job…”

Well one came again Thursday. He said that our internet trouble is caused by our electric telephone wires outside the house being round instead of flat… or maybe he said flat instead of round.

I’d stopped paying attention by then.

Anyhow he told me that I need to pay another $110 to get whatever fixed. That’s an extra $110 in addition to the monthly maintenance fee we already pay—and have paid for years.

When the repairman told me that…

Alas, the F word that sprang into my mind was not Fletcher!

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 @ 3:30 AM

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Bit Of An Odd Prayer

Heavy rain Wednesday. I tried to talk Ginny into staying home from work because of flooded streets; she wouldn’t hear of it. Too dedicated.

Barbara White and I had planned to go to breakfast but she called saying that bone pain incapacitated her.

Apparently her chemotherapy kills all fast-growing cells, cancer cells, hair, etc. But it also kills white blood cells (her immune system needs those to block infection) and to combat that, her doctors give her some kind of shot to stimulate growth of white blood cells in her bone marrow.

As a result she’s in a great deal of pain. And it looks like all she can do is suffer with it.

If she gets to feeling any better, we’ll try for a breakfast at Dave’s Diner later this weak or early next.

I continued work on William Short’s 1854 diary—at the moment, he and his new wife are on a paddlewheeler steamboat stuck on a sandbar in the Mississippi River 25 miles south of St. Louis.

Ginny came home from work early, bringing with her a roasted chicken for our supper. Delicious!

During our regular little devotional time after the meal, Gin read a passage from the Gospel where Jesus healed ten lepers but only one thanked Him. We discussed that incident a bit and read a written prayer as we usually do.

Then, almost as an afterthought, I added a single line of prayer about Barbara’s pain. Immediately, Ginny added another phrase. Then I did. Then she did… It was almost as though we spoke with one voice.

Yes, our two prayers for our friend blended into a single petition. Each adding phrase after phrase—sometimes in unison, some times in sequence. Never overlapping, but in order.

It was a type of prayer that I’m not sure we’d ever experienced before.

Certainly not planed nor rehearsed—just a natural flow and outpouring of our two hearts as one. As though Something beyond ourselves was praying through us.

To be frank, it was a bit scary.

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 @ 4:53 AM

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Memories & Understanding

Sorry for the delay but my internet has been down again—for the fifth time in the past six months—but here is the information Jellyhead asked about in her comment on my last posting:

William L. Short and Sarah Belle Laning married in Bloomington, Illinois, on August 23, 1854, Illinois State Marriage License # 801.

Here is a copy of a typical 1854 Illinois Marriage License:

As Ginny and I worked transcribing the Short diary over the weekend, when we found this marriage license we got to talking about weddings.

Earlier in the week someone had asked me if Ginny were a sentimental person.

I assured them that she is not.

That shows just how much I understand the woman I’ve been married to for almost 41 years now. Because as she and I talked about weddings… Well, here is a photo of Ginny in her wedding dress, one she’d sewn herself for the occasion:

As we talked, she revealed that even after all these years she still has that dress!

She also has the hat she’s wearing in the photo. And the gloves. And the turtle pin, the first piece of jewelry I ever gave her. She even pressed that orchid I bought her in a book—but she can’t remember where that flower is now.

She still keeps her wedding paraphernalia in a box marked “Memories”.

I don’t understand.

Who keeps old cloth?

It’s a girl thing I guess.

Ginny went on to reveal that in her memory box (which I never knew she had) she also keeps: a baby cap she knitted and a baby dress we bought in Mexico for Jennifer; an outfit she knitted for Donald; a tie-dye tee shirt made by Ginny’s brother for baby Eve; and a baby blanket for baby Patricia knitted by a 90-year-old lady at the church we used to attend.

Baby Patricia, our youngest, turns 30 this year…

And, just in case, Ginny saves in her box, if, God forbid, we ever need them again, several Maternity Dresses!

Maternity dresses she wore all those years ago.

Yes. Maternity dresses.

I never knew she’d treasured up all these cloth things in her Memory Box in her closet.

Just goes to show how little I understand my wife.

Of course, understanding is not all it’s cracked up to be.

A psychologist in a novel I read last week observed that sometimes our quest to understand something is an avoidance mechanism; it’s a subterfuge to avoid commitment. Instead of diving into the water, we test it and analyze it and look for contaminants.

By getting bogged down in trying to understand, we miss out on enjoying.

Yet, we appear to be respectable by saying we’re seeking to understand.

King Solomon once said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding, and He will direct thy paths”.

But I don’t understand Jesus. How could He be God and man at the same time? How could His dying on a cross 2,000 years ago be related to my sin yesterday? How could this dead guy, skewered by a Roman spear in his side, walk out of that grave under His own steam? How can He hold the universe together on one hand and be inside me on the other? And if He knows all there is to know, past, present and future, how cam my prayers have any bearing on anything?

And why is it that that glorious Being who holds nebulae in the palm of His hand, makes Himself available for a relationship to every human person?

I have no idea.

I don’t understand.

I don’t understand God any more than I understand Ginny.

Both remain inscrutable to me.

But, how about this!

It does not matter whether or not I understand in order for me to be loved.

Yes, God loves us even when we do not understand Him.

And yes, Ginny loves me in spite of everything…

And though I don’t understand why she’d keep old cloth for ages, I adore her.

Although I do have to admit, that trying to transcribe a 155-year-old diary together—I read text, she typed my dictation into the computer—transcribing an old diary together, places a certain amount of strain on our relationship…

Especially when I repeated the same line after line again and again and again only to realize that she was not wearing her hearing aid!

She said she didn’t want to wear them.

She refused to wear them.

Why was that?

I have no idea.

I’ll never understand that complex woman.

No, I’ll never understand her.

Thank God, I don’t need to.

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 @ 6:06 AM

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Short Made Long

O but Ginny and I had such great fun Friday!

At least one of us did.

You see I’ve decided to transcribe and publish that 1854 diary by William L. Short that I found last week. So I set up templates and formatting. Then I recruited Ginny to type the text as I deciphered it and read it to her. How exciting!

What fun!

Trouble is, over the last 155 years the tiny pages got wet. In places ink blotches obliterate the text. In other places exposure to sunlight fades the ink. And even when the writing is visible, the ancient Spenserian script with colloquial abbreviations…

Have no fear, John Cowart is on the track of diary writer, William L. Short… Ginny observes my obsession with this project and laughs at my glee. I feel like the cartoon bloodhound, Officer McGruff, a figure which the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office used to use to teach school children about safety and crime prevention. The trench-coat wearing hound tracked clues with a magnifying glass like Sherlock Holmes. He always got his man.

Ginny observed as I checked the Library Of Congress Prints & Photographs Division for possible pictures to illustrate the diary. She watched as I groaned my way through the Illinois State Archives till I discovered Short’s marriage license. And, I may have uncovered his burial place and I’m hot on the track of his Civil War records…

Say, could the diary have ended up here in Jacksonville, Florida, because he was one of the damnyankee invaders who overran my hometown during the war? I’m looking into that possibility.

Ginny said I show more enthusiasm about transcribing Short’s Diary than I’ve shown for any project in months.

Anyhow, as Ginny and I played History Detective, my search for clues may have gotten a little out of hand. And she may have gotten a tiny bit exasperated with my obsession.

She doesn’t love fun as much as I do.

Here’s the process I followed after she gave up being amanuensis on my quest and sulked in her rocking chair for a while then went into the bathroom …

First, when I scan one of the little book’s 3 by 4 ¾ -inch pages, say the section for February 21 to 25, 1854, it looks like this:

I scan each page three times—in color, in black & white, and in gray scale. By enlarging the scanned page 200 times, and by adjusting contrast, brightness and mid-tones while zooming in and out on a single word, and by comparing the three versions, I come up with something like this:

With a bit of guess work I can decipher much of that text….

But, what’s this?

I see a clue!

Look carefully to the left of that red line between February 22nd and February 23rd—Do you see it?

Yes, William L. Short got ink on his fingers that day—that’s his thumbprint on the page!


Isn’t that exciting!


Those wimps on CSI-Miami can eat their hearts out with envy; I retain my title as King Of The Geriatric Geeks!.

When I saw the fingerprint, gleefully I ran and got Ginny out of the bathroom. I pulled her into the living room to show her the enlarged thumbprint on the computer screen.

“You drug me out here for THIS!”

Well, my project is not exactly like piecing together the text of the Dead Sea Scrolls but I find it exhilarating.

Other women get to marry men who only drink and chase bar girls, Poor Ginny had to marry one who obsesses over old diaries!

But she only acts exasperated.

From the way she looks at me, kisses me, and hugs me, I think that even after 40 years of marriage, I still amuse her.

I’m so thankful that God put me into her life; and that He let this little diary fall into my hands.

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 @ 6:51 AM

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Another Kid In The Attic

I remember the first book I ever stole.

I justified stealing the book with simple human logic—they had it. I wanted it.

It was a copy of Dracula, the quintessential vampire novel by Bram Stoker. Another Boy Scout recommended the book when I was about 12 years old. Reading it captivated me for two reasons: one, I’d seen the Bela Lugosi movie; and two, Stoker wrote his novel in the form of journal and diary entries.

Never before had I ever heard of anyone keeping a diary. The idea enthralled me. Just imagine, someone’s life could be so exciting, so interesting, that it was worth recording.

Wow. My 12-year-old mind imagined how I’d conquer vampires if I ever ran across one. Therefore, I’d better begin keeping a journal so there’d be a record of my brave deeds. I began my first journal that same day…

Trouble was my life was a dud.

I dutifully recorded things like Mrs. Powel made us do page 174 for homework.

Jonathan Harker never had to do homework.

I gave up on keeping my first journal… and my second journal… and my third…but the idea stayed with me.

Since my own life proved so unexciting—no vampires, no mummies, no zombies, not even a stupid ghoul did I encounter—but I began reading other people’s published diaries. I found the everyday lives of people who lived generations before me fascinating. They didn’t fight vampires either, but they did struggle against the hardships and problems and villains of their own times.

I drew courage to fight my own hardships and problems and villains from reading about how diarists of former days coped.

They inspired me.

So I kept reading their old diaries and I grew more faithful about keeping my own. Off and on for 40 years I have kept an almost daily record of my life… Let me qualify that a bit. For instance when I drove an 18-wheeler over the road, I kept a daily log for inspection by government inspectors. And everyone knows that all truck drivers are scrupulously honest truthful men; therefore when my log records that I loaded a 40-foot trailer in half and hour then drove 580 miles and unloaded it all within the ten-hour legal limit—my logs, like all truckers’ logs, accurately tell precisely what I was doing and where I was that day…

Be that as it may, I have tried to be honest in my regular daily journals.

I lost all my earliest journals through moves, re-marriage and a house fire, but I still have between 30 and 35 years worth of the things stuffed in a back closet. If anyone is interested in reading my more recent ones, I’ve published them in my Dirty Old Man Goes Bad series at www.bluefishbooks.info .

Sorry, don’t be disappointed to find that I never did turn in page 174 to Mrs. Powel and I still haven’t conquered a single vampire.

One thing that I’ve noticed in my reading is how often some teen has found an old diary in an attic somewhere, read passages out of curiosity, and had his life changed.

I think of the experience of A.B. Simpson, who grew up to found the Christian Missionary Alliance, an organization which sent thousands of missionaries to all parts of the world. Or I think of Charles Finny, who found an old book in the attic and grew up to become the Billy Graham of his generation.

I often put notes addressed to The Kid In The Attic in my own journals; I want the far future kids who finds one of my dusty diaries in his folks’ attic to know that this is what one Christian’s life is really like. I want him to make a commitment to Christ, but I want him to know what he’s getting into when he does. He will see my sins and faults and faith—in real time so to speak…

Please be patient. I am going somewhere with this.

Last Saturday for lunch Ginny and I went Kosta’s in Five Points, our favorite Italian restaurant. Afterwards we browsed in the Fans & Stoves Antique Mall next door.

In one booth I ran across an old leather-bound diary.

On investigation it proved to the a pocket diary from 1854 kept by W.L. Short of Bloomington, Illinois.

Short’s diary measures 3 by 4 ¾ inches, The leather covers fold to protect the pages from getting wet. I have no idea how this diary ended up in Jacksonville.

Short likely wrote using a crow quill—crow feathers were cheaper than goose quills and they sharpened to a finer point for the tiny print needed for the book’s small size.

Short wrote in clear Spencerian script, but he used various grades of ink, some of which faded the text to illegibility—even when I scan some damaged pages into my computer and enhance the text adjusting brightness, contrast and mid-tones, I still only come up with this:.

I paid a trifle for the diary, and when I got it home to read the pages that can be read, I discovered that I’d bought a treasure. Mr. W.L . Short was a Christians recording the faith, temptations, sessions of depression, moments of elation, and the tedium of his days.

As I read, I found my own spirits uplifted.

Here was a yankee teacher/attorney/lay preacher (hard to tell which) who struggled with the same sort of thing I do.

Some of his days, such as Wednesday, April 19th, 1854, he could only write, “Nothing of special interest today”.

Other days, such as Wednesday, January 11, 1854, he said, “Feeling better. Took the morning train for Bloomington. …Received letter from Miss. Laning. … An important day in my history”.

That’s an understatement.

The diary reveals that the young man was juggling three women: Sara Belle Laning, whom he describes as “My dearest”; Miss. Amanda of whom he writes, “She is a good girl”; and another woman whom he describes as “My temptation”.

Each lady held attractions and this young man sought God’s guidance as to which one to marry.

Talk about suspense—Dracula has nothing to match it!

Yet in almost every entry Short records his prayers for direction from above; he lived daily in the presence of God.

In one place he says, “O Lord, I will praise Thee; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. Suffer not the tempter to have no power over me. My heart, my life, my all be Thine… I here record a vow to live altogether for God. Lord, help me to keep it”.

When I browse through such entries of a life lived in real time through Mr. Short’s diary, it strengthens my own feeble faith and inspires me to press on …

Say, do you suppose that I—That I am the kid in his attic?

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 1:00 PM

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Looking Fabulous

My friend Wes and his best buddy J.J. just got back from a long weekend in Charleston, S.C., where they worshiped the Lord in a Jewish synagogue, an Episcopal church, and a cigar store.

A few weeks ago the guys got a wild hair about taking this trip. The purpose of the trip was for them to buy brand new tailored suits, dress up, and “walk around Charleston’s historic district looking fabulous”.

This whim grew and grew.

What the heck. The guys decided to do it. They bought new suits, reserved rooms, arranged time off work, and drove to Charleston.

What a lark!

While visiting the city as tourists, wearing linen suits, looking fabulous, they chanced upon the oldest American synagogue in continuous use.

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (Holy Congregational House of God) founded in 1749, is renowned as the fountainhead of Reform Judaism.

Someone invited Wes and J.J. in for a service and to hear a special speaker extol the virtues of Abraham Lincoln. Wes said the format of the service resembled the liturgy of his own church as he and J.J. followed along in the Hebrew prayer book.

Then Sunday, in tailored suits, looking fabulous, they worshiped at the 258-year-old St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, the oldest church building in Charleston.

In the photo, notice the sounding shell above the lectern. In the days before microphones were invented, the sounding shell reflected and magnified a speaker’s voice so everyone could hear him clearly.

Wes said that from this high pulpit, so tall it puts the speaker on a level with the balcony, the pastor declared a powerful evangelistic message.

In the evening, Wes and J.J. ,still sporting their new duds and looking fabulous, relaxed at a gentlemen’s club…

No, not that kind of gentlemen’s club.

Not the kind we have here in Jacksonville with ten new nude dancers performing continuously.

The gentlemen’s club the guys went to resembled the kind of club you see in 1920s British films where university professors and retired colonels discuss the state of the Empire. This club—sorry, Wes told me but I’ve forgotten the name of it—stood above a refined tobacco shop/cigar store.

There Charleston’s elite gentlemen assemble of an evening to lounge in brass-studded leather easy chairs and discuss intellectual topics. Besides a regular clientele, tourists of refined taste, especially those wearing tailored linen suits and looking fabulous, engage in stimulating conversation for hours on end as smoke from pipes and cigars floats in foggy layers under the ceiling.

In that atmosphere, Wes and J.J. encountered a young man, a former cordon bleu chef, who’d had some spiritual experience and was training for the ministry…

But now that he’d made this decision, doubts and questions arose. In bewilderment and confusion, the young man’s faith was shaken. He explained his crisis of faith to these two oddly dressed strangers.

Again and again Wes and J.J. answered the young man’s questions and encouraged his reliance on the Lord Jesus. Again and again they saw his face light up as comprehension dawned after discussing some knotty problem.

You can’t get disillusioned unless you’ve been operating under an illusion in the first place.

So Wes and J.J. pointed the young man back to basic, foundational spiritual truths.

Toward the end of the evening, Wes and J.J. simultaneously felt compelled to lay hands on the young ministerial student and pray for him as he reached a new level of commitment to Christ.

As Wes and J.J. left the cigar store, they simultaneously felt that their trip to Charleston had had one divine purpose which they had not realized till that moment—to meet that young minister and minister to him.

They’d begun their road trip on a near frivolous whim; they returned, feeling that God had sent them even they’d not realized it beforehand.

I’ve noticed in reading my Bible that sometimes people do things without realizing why they are really doing those things.

We are physical beings living in a supernatural world.

We walk among wonders unaware.

Reality eludes us.

But sometimes, some rare times, we catch a glimpse of purpose beyond the mundane.

We glimpse reality.

That’s a good thing.

Well, most of the time it is. Sometimes, on the other hand, we can bob along happy under an illusion while completely out of touch with reality.

Case in point—when I think of Wes and J.J. dressed up in new tailored linen summer suits, one white, the other pale blue, strolling Charleston’s historic district… sporting panama hats, wearing dark sun glasses, puffing big black cigars, feeling cool, feeling proud, thinking they look fabulous…

Well—and I’m speaking entirely with a sense of objectively reality about this—godly men they may be, but I think they look like dorks.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 8:27 AM

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