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 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 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 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 about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and
generally embarrassing. I know now that the stranger influenced my early concepts of the
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 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.
We always just called him..................TV.