Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Stranger Who Came To Live With Us

(Note: I started with an old short story that has been around for decades [author unknown], and totally re-wrote it for my blog.)


By Ken Raggio

A few months after I was born, my parents heard of a stranger who had just come to town. They heard lots of fascinating stories about him. He was the talk of the town.

One day, someone introduced him to my parents, and they invited him to come to our home. All of us quickly fell in love with him and, believe it or not, they invited him to come live with us permanently. Instantly, he became a huge part of all our lives.

Since he was already living with us when I started growing up, I never questioned his place in our home, or in our family.

We were Church-going people. We read our Bibles, and prayed about important things. We believed in obeying and living by the Word of God. We believed that the Bible should define all our values and beliefs.

But the stranger was a big storyteller. He never ran out of stories to tell. Every day, he had something new. Adventure stories. Mysteries. Comedy. Old cowboy stories. Romance stories. You name it, he had a story for everything.

We spent hours, almost every evening, listening spellbound to the stranger as he told us his stories. As our family grew, the stranger became an intimate friend to us all. We actually listened to him a lot more than we listened to each other. As long as he was in the room, we almost never talked to each other.

He took us to our first major league baseball game. He took us to almost every movie that came out of Hollywood. He introduced us to all the famous movie stars, all the celebrity singers and dancers. Thanks to the stranger, we learned about so many people and things that we would never have known without him. People that we really didn't need to know.

He was an incessant talker. Sometimes, Daddy or Mother would get tired of listening to his stories, and leave the room, while us kids just sat there and continued listening, all the way till bedtime. Then we begged them to let us stay up late so we could hear some more stories.

I wondered if they ever regretted letting him move in with us. I think we probably would have had a lot more time with each other if he hadn't been around. I feel sure that we would have read the Bible and prayed and talked a lot more about good and Godly things if he hadn't been there.

The really bad thing about the stranger is that he never had the same values that my family did. Daddy and Mother were both God-fearing, Bible-reading, Church-going people. They both ruled our household with certain moral convictions.

But this stranger never showed any respect to our values whatsoever. For example, I never heard my parents use one word of profanity. Bad words were just not allowed in our house. And they would not allow us to make friends with people who talked like that.

But our longtime visitor gradually started using bad language. At first, it was pretty rare - just an occasional four-letter word. But it burned our ears and made us all squirm. Every now and then, they would make him shut up, but as time passed, he became bolder and bolder to say things and talk about things that were really taboo - things that none of us would have been allowed to discuss. His language got worse and worse and worse.

All our family and friends were teetotalers. We did not approve of or allow alcoholic drinks EVER in our household. But the stranger did everything he could to show us that drinking was cool. Almost every day, he would tell us stories about people drinking, and smoking, doing drugs, gambling, and committing crimes, and doing immoral things. And almost every time, he made it look like there was nothing wrong with it. He made it look like all those things were perfectly normal for everybody.

He tried to persuade us to buy beer, cigarettes, and do all kinds of things that we didn't believe in. He made a hard sell, too. He always made them look like we would really enjoy them, and that we would be more popular and fit into the crowd.

And then there was the subject of sex. Our family NEVER discussed sex, but the stranger talked about it all the time. He talked way too freely about it. It was embarrassing. Sometimes, his comments were so blatant and offensive that every one of us blushed, but nobody told him to shut up. He just kept talking, and we just kept on listening. A whole lot of my earliest ideas about love and sex came from him.

Unfortunately, everything he taught us was EXACTLY the opposite of what we were told at Church, and what we read in the Bible. If we hadn't gone to Church and read the Bible, the stranger would have made us completely different kind of people than we were.

As I look back, I know that it was a miracle from God that the stranger did not influence us more than he did. I know that it was because we always heard strong preaching at Church that refuted all the stranger's values. But I have no doubt that our minds were still affected negatively by his relentless arguments.

It did not make any sense for us to allow him to continue living in our house, but he did. He was rarely rebuked, and was never asked to leave. I am sure that he made me think and believe a lot of things that I would never have accepted if he had not been there day-in and day-out.

A lifetime has passed since the stranger moved in with our young family. He is much older, and his stories by now have been told all over the world. Everybody knows him by name.

The worst part is that the stranger has turned into a really dirty old man. His mouth is so foul, nowadays. He never stops using the most obscene, profane language. And he never stops talking about sex, and violence, and immoral things. It is appalling and horrifying.

Hour after hour, he just rants and raves and spouts off all his filthy talk. He constantly shows pictures of things we shouldn't even be looking at. Even his rants about politics and religion are hateful, irrational, and intolerable. Every day, he fills the ears of his listeners with all kinds of downright lies. He really sounds like he works for a tyrannical dictator.

And now, he argues non-stop that we should approve things like homosexuality, and drugs, and all kinds of immorality and perversions. He spends an awful lot of time trying to convince us that there is no God. I've come to believe that he is actually working for the devil himself.

The last time I heard him on a rant, I was utterly shocked. He made me feel completely vile. I decided that I simply do not want to listen to his garbage any more. I made up my mind that from now on, I am treating him like the enemy that he really is.

Oh, I never mentioned his name. We just called him "T.V."

(And before you ask - I do not own a television.)
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