Today In Former Years

This section of my website traces a day, or related set of days, from my diary over a span of years. Each change to a different year is marked by a yellow highlight. -- jwc

Excerpts From John Cowart’s Journals:

December 2nd , 1992 to 2002


John W. Cowart

Wednesday, December 2, 1992:

Laid around like a slug all day

Thursday, December  2, 1993:

Gin went out job hunting. I dabbled at work.

Mike came over and borrowed $5 out of my rent money which Mr. Barlow has not collected yet.

Mike returned in the afternoon to repay the five and he bought tobacco for me. As we drove up to Dunn Avenue, he showed me a house trailer he's thinking of buying and we went by the fire station where some of the firemen were out playing with a home-made cannon. They'd took sections of PVC pipe, filled a chamber on the butt end with hair spray and ignited it with a sparker from a charcoal BBQ lighter to fire tennis balls out the barrel with a loud pop. Great fun.

Gin had no luck again today. While downtown, she checked the video of Tom Jones out of the Library and we enjoyed watching and talking all evening.

Saturday, December 2, 1995:

Spent the morning moving a canoe that I'd borrowed from the Scouts for the summer back to church.

Met our pastor and talked about the class I'm to teach on the life and letters of St. Peter beginning in January. We also discussed our move, a plan for a group of homosexuals called Integrity to meet at Good Shepherd, the proposed changes in church staff, and our problems with teenagers.

This evening we went to a concert featuring Von Barlow, our landlord, on drums. It was held at Theatre Jacksonville in San Marco and Gin & I enjoyed this Christmas treat thoroughly till almost 2 a.m.

Wednesday, December 2, 1998:

I went over to church and spent a couple of hours working in the church library. One major project was to tear down the Mickey Mouse castle for children's books which was getting very worn and unsightly. I also culled and stamped for withdrawal many books from the shelves. They were either unsuitable, duplicates, or just filler. I carried load after load downstairs and placed them on the sale table for the bazaar.

While there I picked up a statue of a matador, a belt and a bicycle pump from the sale items. I'll pay for this stuff when I see the bazaar chairman.

Tonight, Ray drove Ginny & me to K-Mart to buy a new television. Our ten-year-old one gave up the ghost on Sunday. We bought a 19-inch RCA which is very nice.

As we walked in the door to K-Mart, a young man ran up to Ginny and hugged her and swung her around in delight.

I had no idea who he was.

Turns out that he is Eric Freidman, a kid from the slums of Springfield we have known since he was in sixth grade. His parents had a bit of a drinking problem and Eric hung out at our house with our kids much of the time.

Once, when we were absolutely broke, we ran into him on the street; he was scheduled to graduate from high school that night. His family planned no observation of the occasion whatsoever. In a few hours, Ginny organized a graduation party for him complete with refreshments from the bakery thrift store and a few presents! Many of his friends and his family came to our house to celebrate and it was a great success.

To us it was just another thing to do to make him feel proud of his accomplishments at high school. But apparently it meant a lot to him.

Now, Eric is the manager of the K-Mart on Normandy and a commercial success. The other employees appeared to address him with great respect and regard him as a popular boss.

The whole encounter was such a surprise for us. Sometimes, I think we did the right thing on occasion.

Saturday, December 2, 2000:

Tired of moving stuff, Gin & I took the morning off to go garage sailing, taking the bus to Five Points, eating gravy biscuits at Hardy's, then walking back home.

We bought a few trinkets including a whirligig in the shape of a logger chopping wood. As wind turns the propellers, the ax rises and falls on the block. It is a crude home-made job, true Americana, constructed by a person who was clever about designing things but unskilled with tools -- a guy like me. I love his work. It charms me.

In the afternoon we resumed moving stuff making room for the file drawers from the church office.

Sunday, December 2, 2001:

Since I was scheduled to open church this morning, we walked up early, holding hands, admiring flowers, petting cats and chatting.

Then I put the key in the church door...

All down hill from there!

Apparently yesterday was national AIDS awareness day and Good Shepherd had hosted an ecumenical service attended by over 300 people, mostly homosexuals.

They had decorated sanctuary and fellowship hall with banners and signs  promoting and approving the gay lifestyle. Huge rainbow-colored banners stretched from the second-floor balcony to the floor in Craig Hall; apparently various people contributed panels of the quilt work to commemorate sexual partners who have already died of AIDS. Gay literature littered the tables, Lapel ribbons supporting gay stuff were all over (the clergy even wore them on vestments for the service). Gay slogans were all over the church including a prominent one which proclaims:


Good Shepherd prides itself on being an "inclusive" organization. Inclusive is the current buzzword. But experience shows that means anything and everything is included and welcomed except evangelical Christianity.

And the Integrity gays (yes, I know they have changed the name several times but its still the same group with the same agenda) stay constantly IN YOUR FACE and demand that you accept them without reservation.

I wonder, how would they like it if someone were to post a huge banner in church proclaiming:


Since this ATDS celebration was promoted an ecumenical event sponsored by Good Shepherd Episcopal and St. Paul's Catholic churchs, I wonder what kind of slogans were in the roman catholic church this morning?

Now, I have mentioned before how hellbent our pastor is on roman worship in this protestant church. Well, this morning there appeared a sandbox in front of a side altar with voltaic candles and he encouraged the congregation to light candles for the dead.

And our bulletin insert explains how the Advent Wreath (we've had purple ones around for years as decorations) now contains a rose candle in honor of Mary and that one Sunday service will be devoted to the veneration of her.

Of course, on top of these Roman innovations at Good Shepherd, the sermon today was liberal gruel about “the flood legend” and “the Noah myth”.

This whole cumulative load of crap -- If the gays want to be gay, let them be gay without rubbing it in our faces; If the Catholics want to be Roman Catholic, let them worship at St. Pauls a block away; If the neo-pagans want to be liberal and new age, why in the world are they infiltrating a conventional Protestant church? -- depresses me tremendously.

In thinking about it I have determined that I am too spiritually weak to associate with Good Shepherd any longer.

I find that I easily fall prey to sins of bitterness and resentment, and a critical spirit.

These things corrupt my own soul.

Now, apparently some people must receive spiritual help on some level or they would not keep attending this church. But I am growing more and more bitter. I can not handle the innovations and the teachings I perceive as error without growing more and more sour.

              Now, I do not know for sure which teaching, customs, traditions and attitudes may indeed fall within God's approval. Probably more than I think, less than I do. I do not know for sure the measure of how God loves homosexuals and how He will judge them -- and me. I do not know for sure how accurate my own evangelical interpretation of Scripture is. But I do know that no Christian ought to feel the bitterness I feel in my soul.

I am just not strong enough to cope with the stuff I see going on at Good Shepherd even with the limited exposure I have. I've voluntarily cut back to recently. At this moment I feel as though I never want to walk inside that – or any other -- church again. When we became members 25 years ago we intended to say the rest of our lives and even be buried in the churchyard. But, we can very well be buried out of some generic funeral pallor somewhere.

As it is now, I’m scared even to attend the Christmas Eve midnight service this year for fear some new outrage will spoil it for me and I'll come away seething instead of worshiping.

Therefore at this moment I plan to call Ken tomorrow and withdraw my mane from the opening key-man job before he makes up next year's schedule. I’ve done it for three years now so I feel I’ve served my time.

I don't know what I'll do from there. I hate the prospect of picking out a different church and I'm not ready to renounce all church attendance forever. So I feel a bit in limbo -- that's one roman doctrine I fully acknowledge at the moment.

Gin enjoyed alone time all afternoon. I dug out Christmas decorations but felt too sick and depressed to fool with putting them up but at least the boxes are out of the attic.

Monday,  December  2,  2002

Away from the Real World of our vacation and back to work.

Ginny dropped me at Jennifer’s for dog duty as she drove to work (I was caring for our daughter’s three dogs while she’s out of town). I walked home from there.

I made a 16-item 2do2da list, but only got five of the chores done.

Rich Kennedy called this afternoon. He and Gertrude were evicted from a condemned house by the city, but city welfare is paying for them to stay in a motel on the northside till Thursday.

The Post Office would not deliver his Social Security check to the condemned house so he has to get out to Wesconnett to pick it up --  but son Brian goes on trial on Thursday and Rich wants to be there; and son Jonathan is already in jail in North Carolina; and  the pastor of their church is away in Orlando; and their social worker is on vacation; and on and on and on… 

Seems like I’ve heard this same story many times before.

Rich did not specifically ask me for anything this time; so I offered nothing except referring him to Circle of Love mission which is just a few miles from where he and Gertrude are staying on the northside.

 The conversation with him left me feeling like a creep: as John says in his First Letter, “Whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him”? (I John 3:17)… “Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”

That’s me James is talking about.

But I have already helped Rich and Gertrude to the limit of my ability and resources, destroying my own reputation and credibility at Good Shepherd on their behalf.

Over the years Ginny and I have furnished apartments for them with furniture from our own living room. We’ve paid electric, phone and rental deposits, and helped move them several times.

And it turns out that all our efforts have left the couple right where they started in the first place.

 My spirit is broken.

I have nothing left to give.

 I don’t think I can make a second mile.

 Lord, what would You have me do? I’m tired, so very tired, but I’ll try to do it.

Tuesday,  December 3,  2002

I dreamed about the Kennedys  last night: We had invited them for Christmas dinner and afterwards it turned out that they would not leave because they had no place else to go. They asked to live with us!


Dogified then walked home. I spent the rest of the day working on learning the intricacies of footnoting a manuscript. I used my history of the Jacksonville Fire Department as a test case, inserting 66 endnotes. This computer was designed by someone who is not a writer!

 For the first time in ages Ginny fried corn fritters for supper.


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