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 spell-bound for hours each evening. He was like a friend to
the whole family. He took Dad, Bill, 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 faraway
places -- go to her room, read her Bible, and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed 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 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 ways of life. He
offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars
manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (too much, too freely) about sex. His
comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I now
know that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us
more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked and
never asked to leave.
More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on
Morningside Drive. But if you were to walk into my parents' den today, you would still see
him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw
His name? We always just called him...TV.