The Stranger

[This was e-mailed to me by a long-time friend, who received it from someone else via email.  My friend mentions seeing something like this about 30 years ago.  Some of the things as it must have been originally written have changed.  I’ve edited it a little because of that.  Nevertheless, it’s still true.]

A few years after 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 from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family.  In my young mind, he had a special niche.

My parents were complementary instructors:  Mom taught me good from evil and Dad taught me to obey.  But the stranger…he was our story teller.  He would keep us spellbound for hours with adventure, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present, and seemed to be able to predict the future!  He took my family to the first major league baseball game.  He made me laugh and he made me cry.

The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn’t seem to mind.  Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other so we could hear what he was saying, and she would go into the kitchen for peace and quiet.  (I wonder if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad had certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them.  Profanity, for example, wasn’t allowed in our home, not from us, not from our friends, not from visitors.  The stranger, however, got away with four-letter words that made my ears burn, made my dad squirm and my mother blush.

He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex.  His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.  I know now that my early concepts about relationships were strongly influenced by the stranger.

Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked, …and NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family.  Though he has gotten much worse, he continues to blend right in, though he’s not nearly as fascinating as he was at first.  Still, if you could walk into my parents’ den today, you would find him in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name?  Well, I don’t remember a name.  It seems we just call him…uh, er, well, “TV”.

(NOTE [part of my friend’s email]:  This should be required reading for every household!)

He has a wife now…we call her “Computer” [with her friend, “Internet” – my addition].
Their first child is “Cell Phone”
Second child: “I Pod”.
And just born: a grandchild: “I Pad”.

MY NOTE:  I, too, remember the first TVs.  About 1950: “Death Valley Days,” hosted by Ronald Reagan and sponsored by 20 Mule Team Boraxo.  A little black and white TV with a screen not much bigger than some of today’s electronics, to say nothing of the gigantic HDTVs now available, and a terrible picture.  My, how things have changed!  Things which were generally scorned even by general society in my youth are now accepted and promoted by many “churches”.

If you don’t think TV has changed (for the worse), just check out the “old programs” and see how different they are in content.

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12 thoughts on “The Stranger

  1. This is a great story to remind us of what we are “feeding” our spirit by allowing “a stranger” to influence us. Thanks for sharing! I, too would like to reblog this.

  2. I read this years ago and then posted it in my church’s newsletter. It was very convicting. We haven’t had cable in years, but do watch things via Internet television. Last night we watched an old John Wayne western. My husband commented that today they wouldn’t show such blandness. There wasn’t constant action, no overt sexual scenes (there was one implied, but if you were naive like I was, you wouldn’t have realized it). There were good guys standing up for what is right, what is required to be “a man”. There were bad guys who tried to undermine and mock the good. The good guys won, not just the battle with the bad guys, but the battle over their own struggles. And there was some singing by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson. It was good. I wonder if kids today would even watch it.

    • The old programs do seem bland compared to the endless special effects of current programming. Still, you don’t need to have your mind washed out after watching them. Thanks for your comment and visit.

  3. Wow! This really tells it like it is. Our kids are glad now that we don’t do TV. They spent their preschool years outside instead of in front of the television. It is hard enough to be moderate with all the other gadgets distracting us…

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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