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, 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
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 know now 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 forty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young
family on Morningside Drive. But if I 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 pictures. His name? We always just called him . . . TV.|
Ed. Note: If you as a parent or guardian need more control over the television set
and video game playing in your home see: