A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later. As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family.
Mom taught me to love the Word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries, and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening.
He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, my brother, and me to our first Major League baseball game.
He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.
The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up -- while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of far away places -- go to her room, read her Bible and pray.
I wonder now if she ever prayed for that the stranger would leave.
You see, my Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house -- not from us, from our friends, or from adults.
Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.
My Dad was a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home -- not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other way of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.
He talked freely about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
As I look back, I believe it was by the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time, he opposed the values of our parents, yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.
More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with us, but if I were to walk into my parent's home today, I would still see him sitting there waiting for someone to listen to his stories and watch him draw his pictures.
His name? We always just called him...T.V.
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