Happy Earth Day!

‘Each year, Earth Day-April 22-marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.’

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‘The height of counterculture in the United State, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album , and Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’  War raged in Vietnam and students nationwide overwhelmingly opposed it.’

‘At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans.  Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press.  Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity.  ‘Environment’ was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.’    earthday.org

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Earth Day was founded by bipartisan support from both republicans and democrats.

‘Earth Day had reached into its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.’    earthday.org

I have always had an appreciation for Terra Firma…but I have experienced and increasing love for nature and the environment, since I have retired at the end of 2010.

I heard on NPR, today, that 2018 was the forth warmest year on record.

Now, I was raised in coal country….Southern Illinois!  When I graduated from Eldorado High School…I attempted to obtain a job from one of the many coal companies in our region.

As a young man…all I had to do was to look around and see that my friends who were coal miners had new homes and a new automobile and a new truck that had a fishing boat…attached!

In my, childhood, homes we had coal furnaces or coal stoves.  The Coal Man…delivered coal to our home…on a monthly basis.

When we moved from Chicago to Eldorado, Illinois…when I was five years old, we took up residence in a large and ghostly house that was, directly  across from the High School.  The first morning that I awoke in the, cavernous, house I was, struck, with how, bitterly, cold that it was!  When I asked my mom why it was so cold she told me that my dad had not yet, ‘shaken down the clinkers and stoked the coal furnace for the day!’

Years later, my step-father gave me the chore of getting in three buckets of coal, each afternoon after school, for the coal stove the he had installed adjacent to our kitchen.  He admonished me to, not bring in clinkers, but to, sift through the coal to ensure that I was, only retrieving, the good coal that would burn well!

The coal bin was not well lit!  As I searched for what appeared to be good coal…I would bring in, clinkers and…at times…dog poop…as the dogs liked to relieve themselves in the coal pile!

It was not a pleasant experience!

Many evenings I would read my Bible in the kitchen of my mom and stepfather’s home and the pages would curl up…from the heat of the coal stove!

I can, vividly, recall the mandate from our government to stop using aerosols that contained fluorocarbons…as they had created a hold in the O-Zone!

I was a foreman in the Building Services department and I thought, ‘how silly!’

But, I do not thing that any longer!

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Our climate is changing more rapidly than any one believed possible.  I have observed the glaciers calving and, although it is a majestic sight, it is frightening!

We are on the verge of a climate change…Armageddon!

Many impoverished nations that are close to an ocean are doomed for a sea rise that will obliterate much of their land mass!

I recall when tornadoes had a narrow base, that touched ground, and that you could actually flee an oncoming twister…and survive!  Now, many of them are over a mile wide and create, unparalleled devastation!

The fires in California…are unstoppable and we live an uncertainty of…where is the safe place to live?

The majesty and mystery of nature is awe inspiring….and it is governed by a delicate balance!

Earth Day is important for all of humanity.  The mechanism of climate change is already in motion and none of us can stop it…but we can lessen it…if we care about our children and our grandchildren!

‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep.  And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.’    Genesis 1:1-2   KJV

 

 

 

An Old Story and a Fancy Meal Out

A wonderful Easter 🐣 Blog from Jonathon Brooks!

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Easter is more to me than one church service and one fancy meal out. The story of the resurrection of Christ Jesus is so remarkable. One must believe in miracles to believe this story. I am 35 years of age and I have yet to see anybody rise from the dead! Although a world without miracles is too dark for me.

Jesus taught that he was the light of the world and that whoever would follow him would  no longer walk in darkness but would have the light of life. I’ve suffered with darkness throughout my life story. I’ve experienced depression, despair and melancholy. Manic depression undiagnosed as a boy was the greatest beast I have ever had to battle. The darkness of sin and mental illness caused me to go on a quest in search of light. This quest began at age 17. I’ve been following Jesus since this…

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‘Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?’

‘As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.  They came to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull).’  There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.  When they crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.  Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.’

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‘Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!  Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’  In the same way the chief priests the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.  ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel!  Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him.  He trusts in God.  Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’  In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.’    Matthew 22: 32-44  NIV

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‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: thy King cometh unto thee: he is just and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.’    Zechariah 9:9   KJV

And, so, we await the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.

‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.’    Isaiah 7:14   KJV

‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come fourth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;  whose going forth have been from old, from everlasting.   Micah 5:2   KJV

‘Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.  For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and on his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.’    Isaiah 9: 5-7   KJV

‘Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.  All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.  The divide my clothes and cast lots for my garment.’    Psalm 22:16 – 18   KJV

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‘Were you There,’ was likely composed by enslaved African-Americans in the 19th century.  It was first published in Willam Eleazar Barton’s 1899 Old Plantation Hymns.  In 1940, it was encoded in the Episcopal Church hymnal, making it the first spiritual to be included in any major American hymnal.

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”Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

O sometimes it causes me to tremble!

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’

 

‘Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross?  (Were you there?)

Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?

O sometimes is causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!

Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?’

 

‘Were you there when they pierced him in the side? (Were you there?)

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

O sometime is causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!

Were you there when they pierced him the side?’

 

‘Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (Were you there?)

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

O sometime is causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?’

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We had a lovely, breakfast and lunch with Ron and Ira Kaye today!  It was so enjoyable it has made Easter weekend…complete!

As we were enjoying each other’s company I reflected on the blessings of family and the close bond that we share with them.  We have traveled together, many times, and I am looking forward to many more, enjoyable, sojourns in the future!

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I, as many of you, have pondered why our our country…with all of it’s resources…yet…suffers from an, endemic, depression of spirit?

Why are school and public shootings…becoming so common place in America…that they are no longer major news stories and we seem to be paralyzed in a spirit of complacency as to what can we do to stop the carnage!

President Trump, in his inaugural address spoke of American Carnage…yet there is no greater than our horrible fascination with violence and destruction.

When I was a child and a young man…on Sunday there were several half-hour programs put on by the Methodist and Catholic and numerous churches that depicted christian morales and teachings, in a dramatic content…and this was on network television.

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The majority of American in the 1960’s were members of a church.

If you tour the many historic and beautiful buildings on the campus of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale…and take time to read the bronze plagues in the foyers…you will see that academic leaders, in the 19th and 20th centuries were proud of their religious affiliation and that the notation of that affiliation was high on their resume!

When we realize that our, individual, lives have meaning that is far beyond or insular experience…we have hope and faith and reason to present our best selves!

We truly do not realize how many people are watching us.  Often, in today’s society, we feel like we are living in a vacuum.  Between the screens that we set in front of all day…and the television screen…or the I Pad screen or the laptop screen or the desk top computer screen…we, are told, that we are having social interactions, when in reality….we are, desperately, lonely and hungry for real human contact.

 

 

Someone to compare notes with!

Someone to run our thoughts by…both light…and dark!

Someone who, personally, understands our human value…and that we are not a cliche!

A dedication to a faith system…brings peace and confidence and a road map for living.

 

 

Rather, Christian, or Jewish or Muslim, or any faith….it represents the desire to live in the will of our creator and friend…and it is a good thing!

 

Note: Crucifixion photos are courtesy of Google.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate With Gusto!

Please enjoy a great Blog by Jonathon!

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Last Friday, on the twelfth of April, I arrived at the age of 35. I believe birthdays are special and to be celebrated with gusto! The incredible people in my life seem to agree with me because many made a big deal out of my birthday. So here is the story of some of the happenings on last Friday and Saturday.

For starters on Friday I took the day off of work to make for a three day birthday weekend. Mom and Dad and I had lunch at The Tasting Room at Walker’s Bluff with a couple of bottles of wine. After returning home from a delicious lunch consisting of pizza and tacos and wine I was in need of slumber. I took the birthday nap because I had to rest for the evening festivities. It was a good nap.

After waking the next plan was to meet my friends…

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Maundy Thursday

‘Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter.  It commemorates the Maundy and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, as described in the canonical gospels.’    Wikipedia

‘Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus’ words ‘I give you a new commandment.’      Wikipedia

I had a painting, depicting, DaVinci’s Last Supper.  I purchased it, on a gracious payment plan, at Down’s Furniture Store in Elkville, Illinois when I was working for them and I was a lad of 17 years old.  It was one of my prized possessions and I admired it daily!

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Our little church had a convention and ministers and congregants from all over the country came to our little town, and we, the young men who were living in the house and sharing expenses, kept a minister from Canada.

When the minister saw my, beloved, Last Supper painting…he criticized it as inaccurate and told me that I should be ashamed to have it hanging…in our humble house.

I responded that I would endeavor to forget his crude comments and I would thank him to be a a, grateful, guest…as I would continue to be a welcoming host!

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I had a bust of Christ, for many years, that depicted him with his crown of thorns, and weeping.  The artistic depiction was so life like that each time that I beheld it…I pondered on the suffering of Jesus.

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Also, I had a painting of Jesus looking over Jerusalem.  Now, the painting was not expensive and I was given it as a gift from my mother…not long after I became a christian.  The portrayal was so empowering to me…as a teenager attempting to follow Christ…that I can visualize it in my mind’s eye…anytime that I think about it.

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‘On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’

‘He replied, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, The Teacher says: My appointed time is near.  I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’  So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.’

‘When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.  And while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’

‘They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?’

‘Jesus replied, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.  The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him, But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!  It would be better for him if he had not been born.’

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‘Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?’

‘Jesus answered, ‘You have said so.’

‘While they were eating, Jesus took the bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat, this is my body.’

‘Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying ‘Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will not drink from the fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’

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‘When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.’

Matthew 26: 17-30   NIV

In our sad and sullen and forlorn world…we need the Last Supper and the crucified Christ…and his resurrection!

The christian gospel is a message of inclusiveness and love.  When I began to follow Christ, as a 12 year old, it did not make me hate or cause me to want to marginalize large groups of humanity that were different than me.  Jesus example was to care for the sick and the poor and the destitute and to love each other as he has loved us!

I attended an Easter Sunrise service, as a young married man with my new and precious wife, Mary Jane!  As we sang hymns and watched the sun come up…I reflected on the opportunity that God had, freely given, his creation…for joy and peace and happiness!

‘For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’    Psalm 30:5   KJV

 

Note: The Last Supper photos and the bust of Christ are courtesy of Google.

Spring Renewal!

IMG_4328 2I may feel, oh so bad and listless, in the winter…but once spring has sprung…I experience renewal!

IMG_4352 2The dark and forbidding days are passed and the blooming of the red bud and the dog wood trees brings a surety that we can do anything that we put our minds to!

IMG_4372 2Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale is noted for it’s natural beauty!  It is unparalleled in the state of Illinois!

IMG_4350 2Students from Chicago and northern Illinois, luxuriate in the unique natural splendor of the southern part of the state.

IMG_4346 2Former University President, Delyte Morris, had trees brought from all over the world and planted on our campus.

IMG_4361 2Often, students who come to study at SIUC…never leave!  The same can be said for former chancellors and presidents and professors…who understand that Southern Illinois is, simply, one of the most lovely places to live in the United States!

IMG_4375 2The Grounds Department, on our campus, is simply outstanding!  SIUC wins awards for it’s natural surroundings and it’s trees on a regular basis.

IMG_4392 2While the majority of Illinois is flat land…Southern Illinois is hilly due to the glaciers stopping in our section of the state.  Also, the look of our region is much different than the rest of the state.

IMG_4381 2I was commiserating with an old friend earlier today, and she mentioned how much she loved the blooming of the red bud trees and the dog woods.  I must agree that the  beauty of these trees is breathtaking!

IMG_4385 2There is a placid and peaceful atmosphere at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale that is compelling and seductive!  It has a siren call that resonates with all who come in contact with her.

IMG_4396 2IMG_4358 4The regeneration of spring give us hope for our future and our place in it.  I wonder how we would we feel if we only had a few years left of the mystery of spring?

Global warming will change our lives in irrevocable ways that we can not imagine!

One of the first miracles to go…will be the majesty of God’s time clock of natural order!

 

Take a Deep Breath and Enjoy Your Life’s Walk

We all are in a hurry!

We have so many obligations and responsibilities and people who are counting on us.  Our finances, although we work 40 or 50 hours per week…do not stretch as far as our needs, and wants, require.

I have volunteered, somewhere, for the majority of my life.  I believe that it is important to not do everything for money.  Yet, to work, often two jobs, and then to volunteer and meet all family commitments…is exhausting!

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The American people are sick, and it is from our high tech…never out of touch…commitment to our profession and to being a success…as outlined in media and popular culture.

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If I am not careful I find myself still on the treadmill of hurry up and produce a tangible and time filling product to illustrate my, continued, worth as a human being!

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Being wound up like an eight day clock is not a habit that you can set aside easily.

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Walks are good for mental and emotional health.

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I was watching a television special with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of CNN, regarding the health benefits of yoga and meditation.

‘Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India.  Yoga in one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions.  There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.’    Google

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I think that we are, often, in search of time filling activity that will bring us the, allusive, search for happiness?

Travel is wonderful…but if you travel, non-stop, what is the value of home?

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When I was a manager of a large housekeeping organization, I noticed that when I was inspecting the cleanliness of a university building…I often saw things that the technician that cleaned the area…did not see.

If you sit outside and observe your yard and the natural surroundings that it entails…you will see, wonders, that you did not realize are there.

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Reading for pleasure has become, somewhat out of vogue in the past generation, or two, due to the convenience of television and the, ‘do it all for you,’ facility that it has.

Have you ever been asked what a TV show, that you had recently watched, was about…and your response was that it was good and…little more?

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Reading causes us to slow down and concentrate and be transported into the story.

It is Holy Week.

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Recently I had a chat with one of my fellow parishioners.  She was so kind to me and I have wanted to tell her for some time how I admire her leadership on our board of elders.  She told me that my words meant a lot to her…and I wished that I had said them sooner.

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This Easter Sunday…look at your fellow parishioners with the eyes of, really wanting to know them better…and understand their walk with you…back to Jerusalem.

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Paris Wept For Her Lady

I sit in disbelief as I watch the live stream of the Notre Dame Cathedral burning, in Paris!

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We visited Paris in 2012, with our dear friends Margo and Jeff, and stood for some time admiring the majestic Cathedral!

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Notre Dame dominates Paris.  It is in the heart of the city, and it’s medieval architecture is inspiring beyond belief!

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As we walked along the Seine, Mary Jane purchased a painting, from a street vendor, of Montmartre.  As we were standing on the left bank of the Seine I admired the, iconic, beauty of Norte Dame!

‘Paris is Notre Dame,’ said a Parisian being interviewed on MSNBC television.

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In real time…I have just heard that, the French government, have a news release that   fire fighters may not be able to save the Cathedral!

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Notre Dame got into my heart…when we visited Paris!  You can see it from all parts of the city…as well as the Eiffel Tower!

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‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a French Romantic/Gothic novel by Victor Hugo, published in 1831.’    Google

I first became familiar with the Notre Dame Cathedral from the, 1939, movie with Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

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Mary Jane and I visited Montreal, Canada in 1998 and she toured, their Notre Dame Cathedral, which is very similar to the one in Paris.  While she toured the edifice…I chose to smoke a Cuban Cohiba cigar and set by one gargoyles that guarded the entrance.

We are planning on returning to Paris for a longer visit.  The city is magical!

Every time I see a photo of the Notre Dame Cathedral…I reminisce that I was there…and that I want to go back….

This is Holy Week…and the significance of the Cathedral to Parisians…and to the world….can not be measured….

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Today is Jonathon’s birthday!

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He is 35 years old and has an untold number of friends!

Everywhere I go with Jonathon…there are countless greetings from people that know him and smile and are glad to see him!

People matter to Jonathon Brooks.  He never sees a stranger and has a kind word for all he encounters!

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When he worked at SIUC’s Food Service, the students formed a Fan Page for him…and it is still going…several years after he transferred to Key Control.

Jonathon is a writer and he reads his works at the Longbranch Cafe in Carbondale, Illinois on, most, Friday evenings.

He is an, avid, reader.  Not like the Seinfeld episode titled, ‘Bizzaro World,’ where Elaine was commenting on; Jerry, George, and Kramer’s, bizarre opposites, stating that, ‘They read, Jerry,’  whereupon Jerry retorts, ‘I read,’ and Elaine replies, ‘Books…Jerry…books!’

Aaron, Jonathon, and I are vintage vinyl records aficionados.  Early, tomorrow morning we are going to our local record store, Plaza Records, to celebrate, Record Store Day!

I look back on the years and I realize that they have flown by much to quickly.  I am, extremely, happy that Mary Jane and I are able to be with our sons on a regular basis and that they still enjoy our company.

So, if you want to know a great guy…and have a lifelong friend…and, ladies,…a good catch…need I say more?

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Truth?

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‘That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.’

‘A fact or belief that is accepted as true.’

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‘Truth is most often uses to mean in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard.  Though it is also sometimes defined in modern contexts as an idea of ‘truth to self’, or authenticity.’    Wikipedia

For much of my life it seemed to me that truth, was not open to debate.  Facts, being rather stubborn entities, were accepted as certainties; much as, rocks are hard and water is wet!

Everyone that I was acquainted with could agree that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west…and that it is obvious when it is shinning!

When a person wanted to tell a, ‘story’, as my son’s grandmother said of one of their cousins, Jonathon reminded her that the cousin in question…lies!

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Many liars that I have met, were, creative, prevaricators.  They took, some considerable pride, in being able to utter a, convincing, untruth.  An accomplished liar, usually endeavors to keep track of their verbal version of reality!

It is a bit disillusioning to have our public officials and leaders lie to us…and their pants not be on fire!

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It is insulting to have a leader or a manager or a boss…tell you a lie and they do not have the respect to acknowledge your intelligence and ability to comprehend a deliberate and blatant…falsehood!

Our world has so many problems, most of which have the, core issue of lack of communication, that we will never solve them without agreeing to agree on irrefutable facts.

It is neither, cool, nor a sign of, faith in God, to deny science!

The aquiesence of ourselves and researching and reading…is going to be the downfall of us…if we do not change.

If 95% of scientist agree that we are, now, in a critical state of global warming, and 5% do not agree…perhaps we should listen to what the 95% are saying?

If a politician or a preacher or a manager, lies to you, do not be fooled twice…as the poem extols!

Recently the President remarked while visiting the home of our first President, George Washington, ‘if he was smart he would have put his name on it,’ Trump said about Mr. Vernon.  ‘You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one will remember you.’    CNN

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‘Tone comes from the top and so President Trump’s dismissal of history send a message that resonates through his administration and the country.  As one person close to the White House told Politico, ‘His supporters don’t care, and if anything they enjoy the fact that the liberal snobs are upset’ that he doesn’t know much about history.’    CNN

Now, I understand how it feels to have the occasional, learned snob, look down their nose…only to find me at the end of it with my blue collar roots and red neck friends.  But, I have never let that stop me from wanting to learn more….truth!

I observed, many slick talking and gregarious individuals, bluster their way to high office at the university.  The ability to sell yourself…can not be discounted.

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Let us ensure that a persons rhetoric matches their actions!