The Stranger - Who is molding the mind of our children?


A few months before I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer & soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted, & was around to welcome me into the World a few months later.

As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. In my young mind, each member had a special niche. My brother, Bill, five years my elder, was my example. Fran, my younger sister, gave me an opportunity to play "big brother". My parents were complementary instructors. Mom taught me to love the Word of God & Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our story-teller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Ad­ventures, mysteries & comedies were daily conversations. He would hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening. If I wanted to know about politics, history or science, he knew it all. He knew about the past, under­stood the present & seemingly could predict the future. The pictures he could draw were so lifelike that I would often laugh or cry as I watched.

He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill & me to our first football game. He was always encouraging us to sec movies & 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 the holy books & 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 somehow this stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house - not from us, our friends, or adults. Our long-term visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears & made my Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.

My Dad was also a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home - not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure & enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer & other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly & pipes distinguished. He talked freely & his comments were sometimes blatant, some­times suggestive & generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man-woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.

As I look back, l believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence me more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom re­buked & was never asked to leave. More than thirty years have passed since the stranger first moved in. He is not nearly so intriguing to my Dad as he was in the early years. By if you were to walk into my parents' living room today, you would still see him sitting over in the corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk & watch him draw his pictures.

His name? We've always just called him "TV".



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