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Can You Hear Me Now, Uncle Sam?

By Rev. James L. Snyder, D. Litt
Posted: 6/19/2013

You can imagine my feelings when I recently found out that good old Uncle Sam was checking up on my phone calls, email messages and the rest of the social networking. Finally, somebody is really watching out for me.

It is more than that. Somebody is so interested in my affairs they are getting involved in my telephone conversations. I must admit that at first I was a little suspicious about all of this.

For example: What does Uncle Sam know about me and my phone calls that I do not know?

I get an awful lot of telephone calls during the course of a week. Some are friends, some are family, some are trying to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge. Even if I lived in New York City, I would not want to own the Brooklyn Bridge. Can you imagine how much it costs to keep that thing up and running?

As I said, at first I was a little suspicious about somebody listening into my phone calls. Then I remembered that back in “the day,” everybody did that. We had what was called the “party line” telephone system. That meant that everybody was connected to everybody else.

My grandmother for example, lived in a valley up in the mountains. She was on the party line, of course, and everybody had a special ring. Grandma’s ring was two long and one short rings. Whenever the telephone rang, dear old grandmother knew who was being called and, being a nosy person, she usually listened into the conversations. I am not picking on my grandmother, for everybody did it. Everybody knew everybody was doing it.

It was gossiper’s heaven.

I think there is something to be said for everybody knowing everybody’s business. That way everybody is up and up on the things they are talking about.

Of course, there is a dark side to it. I am semi-ashamed to reveal that I was part of that dark side.
Whenever anybody wanted to send out a rumor there was always the party line telephone system. My cousin and I got together and cooked up some juicy rumor about old Henry up the valley. Henry had never been married and was probably in his 70s at the time.

We started the rumor that Henry had a girlfriend

It did not take long for everybody in the valley to know that Henry, who had been a bachelor for over seventy years, now had a special love interest. The big question coming through the party line was, who is this lucky woman?

Before long, this got a little out of control. Everybody believed that Henry had a special love interest and it got to the point that Henry himself believed he had a love interest.

I remember going with my grandmother to the grocery store and we happened to run into good old Henry. My grandmother, who was the queen of the gossipers, took this opportunity to speak to Henry.

“Oh Henry,” she said as we approached him. “I heard the news that you have a girlfriend. I’m so happy for you. You’ll have to bring her over to my house for coffee and cake some time.”

“Thank you, Mary,” Henry said with the biggest smile I have ever seen him wear. “I’ve never been happier.”

At this point, I did not know what to do. Everybody was so happy with this rumor, especially old Henry, that the truth would have destroyed the entire valley. I did think of starting a rumor that Henry and his new girlfriend had a fight and broke up. However, on second thought, Henry was so happy these days, I just hated to spoil his life.

I never knew how that turned out. The last time I saw Henry he was smiling and thanking people for congratulating him on having a girlfriend. Some people need to feel happy, I suppose.

I guess it is my time to be fooled by my uncle, and I deserve it.

I really do not mind if good old Uncle Sam is going to listen in on my social networking “party line,” but I do have a few rules that I would like to establish.

Rule number one. Uncle Sam, do not repeat anything you hear said on my “party line.” Let’s keep some of that stuff between us. Okay? Some of what you’re going to hear may not be altogether, what should I say, truthful. Especially, if you only hear a portion of the conversation.

Rule number two. If while listening in on the conversation of mine and the other party happens to be some salesman trying to sell me something, please feel free to butt into the conversation. After all, the salesman is trying to take a dollar out of my pocket and you know how much you want that dollar!

Rule number three. If the conversation you overhear is concerning you, keep in mind we’re talking about the “other” Uncle Sam.

It is hard to keep anything secret these days. In fact, there is not much to keep secret anymore.
The only secret I’m really interested in is what God has. His promise to me is, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3 KJV).

God hears me all the time and knows everything about me.

Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, P.O. Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 866-552-2543, or e-mail him at His website is

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