Monthly Archives: July, 2017

The Degradation of Communication

The new White House Communications Director, [to be], Anthony Scaramucci was introduced a few days ago, as a suave and sophisticated presence on television and a good dresser.

‘Reince is a f—–g paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,’ Scaramucci said regarding, then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, according to the New York Times.’


‘In the same telephone call, Mr. Scaramucci disparaged Mr. Bannon.  ‘I am not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,’ he said.   New York Times.


There is an old saying…that has never been truer than today…Words Matter.

President Trump, during the Presidential campaign, was heard to say a multitude of vulgarities.  On an ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, Mr. Trump could be heard saying that being famous allowed him to, ‘grab women by the p—y.’

The President’s recent tweet, ‘that transgender people cannot “serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” caused fear at the Pentagon, for the nine minutes between the first and second tweet, ‘that the President was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action.  Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet.  Only after the second tweet did the military officials receive the news the president was announcing  a personnel change on Twitter.’   The Stranger


As a child I was taught that cursing and colorful language was never to be used in…public…in front of a woman…and that many words should…never be used for any reason.

The first time I heard the word, f–k, used in a movie…I was shocked…and left the movie.  I am no longer shocked.

Certainly, the communication that issues fourth from the most powerful leader in the world…is taken extremely seriously…including his favorite form of communication…tweets.

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When the White House Communication Director, [to be], says that he is, ‘going to kill all the leakers, that is chilling speech!


What is more chilling…is that the President appreciates and approves of this hateful and obscene rhetoric!

Has America become the Local Pool Hall?

Can we say that the occupants of the West Wing…are just passionate about their convictions?

‘For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words shalt thou be condemned.’   Matthew 12:37   KJV


Rememering the United Kingdom

A year ago, we were in the United Kingdom with our dear friends, Margo and Jeff.  We simply had a lovely time!


I recall our excitement, leading up to the adventure, and the initial planning of the journey…which transpired over Dragon’s Milk Beer…in a Pub in Carbondale.



It was the Holiday Season and Aaron, Jonathon, and I were fellowshipping over a few pints…in the true spirit of the UK!

Elephant sculpture

When we arrived at Gatwick Airport it was but a short ride to our friends flat.  After a few hours of necessary rest…we were ready to explore Redhill, which is a quaint picturesque English village.


I recall, fondly, the Chocolate Shop and the delicious confections that made it back to the flat.



For the first few days…I did not drink any coffee…and I was amazed at how easily and readily I fell asleep.


On our first foray into London we happened upon a Hat Shop, one of only two in the grand city that sell handmade hats, and Mary Jane and Jonathon and I came away with our prized chapeaus!


One of the first items that caught my attention, at the Hat Shop, was the prominently displayed bottle of fine scotch.  After looking at it longingly, for some minutes, I inquired as to its’ availability?  As we each purchased a hat…I enjoyed another shot.

We had the most interesting diner in London at a Turkish Restaurant.  This was after enjoying a grand performance of the Play, Showboat, and meeting some lovely friends of Jeff’s, who were from Israel and ministers.



Our next stop was the renown University City of Oxford.  This town, captivated my attention, as I was sitting listening to our tour Guide speaking of the grandeur of the ancient University…I experienced deja vu…and felt that I had been there before.



The Pubs in Oxford are famous in their own right.  The Eagle and Child was the famous Watering Hold for C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien.  We dined in the back room where they met on a regular basis as members of the Inklings, ‘The Inklings was an informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, England, for nearly two decades between the early 1930s and late 1949.  The Inklings were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of narrative in fiction and encouraged the writing of fantasy.’   Wikipedia



Stratford upon Avon was our next stop.  There we saw the most engaging and somewhat frightening performance of Dr. Faustus.  Jonathon and I sat so close to the stage, in the Theatre in the Round, that we at one point became part of the performance when a piece of chalk, that Dr. Faustus was using to mark on the stage, flew out of his hands and landed on Jonathon’s lap!


The Theatre was constructed to represent the Globe Theatre in London.  The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company’s performance…was like nothing that I have witnessed in it’s chilling and realistic portrayal.


From Stratford upon Avon it was on to Edinburgh.  This city was a delight!  The Arts Festival called, The Fringe, was a gathering of thousands of Arts Enthusiast and hundreds of extremely diverse performances.


Upon our arrival, we dined at a Mexican Restaurant…yes I said a Mexican Restaurant…where I assisted a gentleman in a wheel chair to his feet, to facilitate his ordering at the Restaurants counter.  He was such a warm and inviting person…I felt immediately at home in Edinburgh.

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Edinburgh became one of my favorite United Kingdom cities as it’s charm and allure got hold of me…much as a dream…that you can not forget…and want to return to.


On our way back to Redhill, we stopped at York.  This town was special in its’ history and beautiful spirit!



On our last night in York…I was privileged to join my friend of over 45 years, Jeff, at a business meeting that he was conducting nearby.  I was honored to be able to say a few words regarding our lifelong friendship and to witness the friendly and lovely people that had come out to hear his story of ‘Rags to Riches’…or as I like to say…A True Horatio Alger Story!


The Eyes of a Child

‘But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’   Matthew 19:14   KJV


There are many things that trouble me in life…but the suffering of children…is among the most painful and confusing.


Often I watch the commercials for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.  I see the brave faces of the precious children who are battling various forms of cancer.  Their courage and hope in the face of adversity…is inspirational!

Last evening I was watching a news segment regarding the Syrian refugees and their suffering and the children who have been maimed and slaughtered and frightened in a manner that most of us will never experience.


Those people that work with sick children and frightened and displaced children…are angels unawares!


Children are trusting and forgiving and without prejudice.  They believe that others will treat them fairly and that everything will turn out alright.

‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’   Martin Luther King

‘There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.’   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

‘It is not our differences that divide us.  It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.’   Audre Lorde, Our Dead Being Us: Poems


‘I know you despise me; allow me to say, it is because you do not understand me.’   Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

Perhaps we all can try to remember what it was like to be a trusting child…and see the other members of the human family as people that we want to know and understand and play with?


Would it not be wonderful to dedicate all of the money and effort that is spent in the trillions of dollars of War Making…to the healing and feeding and clothing and safety of our most guileless citizens…our children?

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SIU and the Solar Eclipse

‘It is 27 days and 22 hours and 17 minutes and 56 seconds,’ at the time of my writing this, according to Southern Illinois University’s Eclipse Webpage, before the total solar eclipse.


‘The first total solar eclipse over the U.S. since 1979 will reach its point of greatest duration on Aug. 21, 2017, just a few miles south of Carbondale.  On the main SIU Carbondale campus, totality will happen at 1:21 p.m. CDT.’   Southern Illinois University


‘Saluki Stadium is the focal point of the eclipse observation event, where the public is invited to a guided eclipse experience emceed by Mat Kaplan of Planetary Radio. Guests will see the eclipse happening live overhead while watching and participating in a variety of edutainment activities developed in conjunction with our partners including, NASA Eclipse 2017, the Adler Planetarium of Chicago, the Louisiana Space Consortium, The Science Center of Southern Illinois and other related groups.  Visitors will be able to see live coverage of the eclipse across America through the eyes of NASA anchored by NASA Edge from the campus of SIU Carbondale.’    Southern Illinois University


It is estimated that over 50 thousand people will converge on Carbondale for this historic event.


‘Ozzy Osbourne To Headline 2017 Moonstock Festival’

‘Carterville, Il: Ozzy Osbourne will be the featured artist during Moonstock, a four day music festival, at Walker’s Bluff in Carterville, Il. On August 21, 2017, a four day music festival, at Walker’s Bluff in Carterville, Il.  On August 21, 2017, a small portions of the United States will witness a type of total eclipse that hasn’t  been visible in nearly forty years.  On that day, at 1:20 pm, when light fades to darkness, Ozzy Osbourne will kick off a concert by singing Bark at the Moon.  This event will wrap up the four day Music Festival at Walker’s Bluff called Moonstock,’  according to Ozzy Osbourne Latest News.


The Total Eclipse of 2017 is a very big deal for Carbondale, Illinois and it’s beloved Southern Illinois University!


‘A total solar eclipse occurred on July 20, 1963.’  Wikipedia

I remember fondly the eclipse of 1963!  On television there were instructions regarding the construction of a Eclipse Viewing Box that enabled the viewer to watch the eclipse play out through a mirror image.

I can remember the excitement that I felt as a young child…in being able to view…day turn into night…it was almost Biblical!


‘The eclipse was featured in the comic strip Peanuts (July 15-20, 1963), with Linus demonstrating a safe way of observing the eclipse as opposed to looking directly at the eclipse.  It also served an important function in the plots of two Stephen King novels, Gerald’s Game (1962) and was featured in a season 3 episode of Mad Men “Seven Twenty Three” (2009).  John Updike mentioned the eclipse in his 1968 novel Couples, saying “only one other time had been so ominous [in those years], the Wednesday in October of 1962 when Kennedy had faced Kruscheve over Cuba.’   Wikipedia

I was privileged to meet John Updike, many years later, at SIU.  He signed two of his books for me.


I remember, in 63′,…my Mom and Dad were divorcing…and my life was forever being altered…but the Sun was going dark…and that was epic!


The Joy of the Future, Present and Past

Please enjoy, this great, Jonathon Brooks Blog!


It’s a joy to reminisce about childhood happy memories and treasures from the past. I’m a saver. I save stuff that others often throw away. Movie stubs have been a collectible item for me since around age fourteen. I’ve saved Christmas, birthday, friendship, get-well cards and postcards since age nineteen. My mom saved stamp books for me from 1984 through 1991. I was born in 1984. She must’ve known I’d be a saver before I did. Recently I got a new battery for an old watch. When the new battery was added, and the watch started keeping time again, the jeweler informed me the date had read 1994. It was a gift on my tenth birthday! I love talking about old times and bringing out treasures from the days of growing up.

To live in the moment is a beautiful way to travel through life. Living in the moment for…

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Life’s Chapters

A truth about life became apparent to me, since my retirement in 2010, and that is life is comprised of chapters.


As a newly married, young man of 20, I seriously wanted to better Mary Jane and my life…to attain employment that would allow us to buy our own home and have enough money to start a family.

At the age of 20, as the old saying goes, ‘the world is your oyster.’

Those days of our new babies and the thrill and the fear of doing parenting right…were awesome and scary!

My Mom and Dad divorced after eighteen years of marriage.  I was six years old.  I can remember the confusion…and fear…and uncertainty that I felt as a child.

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What had appeared to me to be an idyllic relationship and home life…that I have often likened to the popular television show of the era, ‘Leave it to Beaver’…was apparently just the opposite.

I remember, as if it were yesterday, Mary Jane getting her Master’s Degree at the age of 40.  I was, and am, so proud of her for going back to school and achieving this noteworthy accomplishment.

Around the age of forty I was named Superintendent of Building Services.  This was the department that I had been hired into, at the age of 20, as a Building Service Worker I…which is a janitor.

Shortly after my promotion…my stepfather died and my mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s’ Disease…came to live with us.

A more challenging and stressful three years…I have not experienced.  If it had not been for Mary Jane’s herculean efforts in caring for my Mom…we could not have kept her.


Over the last fifteen years our wonderful sons, Aaron and Jonathon, have grown into such outstanding men!  It is the joy of my life…just to be in their presence!

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At 53 years old I retired with over 32 years of service to the University that I love.


Since our retirement we have been blessed to travel to many great destinations, including Europe, and renew our life long friend ship with our dear friends, Margo and Jeff.


Illness has visited our little family…more than once…but we are still here and grateful to God for looking out for us!

Your might say…what is your point of this Christmas Letter?


My point would be when you think that your life is so bad that it will never get better…you may be at the dawning of a beautiful sunrise.


I am now knocking at the door of 60…and it seems young!  I recently had a health scare…and worried for six months…but by God’s grace…I dodged the bullet!

When I looked into Mary Jane’s eyes, during my waiting period, I could see the care and concern and love that she had for me.

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Do not make abrupt decisions…when it appears that your life will not improve without a radical change.


Life is like a pendulum…it swings back and forth.


The beauty and bonding of a shared life together…often develops into a carefully and masterfully stitched Quilt of Life…that is valued beyond measure!



Lenin Laughed

‘Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by the alias Lenin (April 1870 – January 21, 1924) was a Russian Communist revolutionary, politician, and political theorist.  He served as head of government of the Russian Republic form 1917 to 1918, of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic form 1918 – 1924, and of the Soviet Union from 1922 – 1924.  Under his administration, Russia and then the wider Soviet Union became a one-party communist state governed by the Russian Communist Party.  Ideologically a Marxist, he developed political theories know as Leninism.’   Wikipedia


‘We will take America without firing a shot…we will bury you!’

‘We can’t expect the American people to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their leaders in giving them small doses of socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have communism.  We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.’  Nikita Khrushchev.

‘Good evening, my fellow citizens:

This Government, as promised , has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba.  Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island.  The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.’  President John F. Kennedy Cuban Missile Crisis Speech delivered on October 22, 1962

‘Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday mocked the attention paid to meetings between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Germany, saying perhaps the two even met in the men’s room.’

‘Maybe they went to the toilet together, Lavrov jokingly injected.’   According to The Hill.


The above Photo is from the New York Times.  The Times Headline for this article is, ”Trump Told Russians That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation.”

The photo was taken at a meeting in the Oval Office the morning after FBI Director Comey was fired and no Americans were allowed into the meeting and no American journalist.  However the official Russian News Agency TASS was allowed in the meeting and snapped the above photo.

“Putin mocks claims of Russian meddling in US polls.”

“Asked abut the ‘fingerprints’ he, (Putin), asked sarcastically.  ‘Hoof prints?  Horn prints?  Technology experts can invent anything and put the blame on anyone.”   Press TV


I was alive during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  I and my family and my friends truly believed that we were on the verge of nuclear annihilation…because we were!

I watched a television news program, with highly respected Journalist Andrea Mitchell, asking a question of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson…while Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov looked on… smirking…as Ms. Mitchell is MSNBC’s State Department Correspondent and she was covering Mr. Tillerson’s Russian visit.

“NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell drew the ire of Russia’s foreign minister, who snapped at her for continuing to shout questions his way.”

“Mr. Lavrov, Mitchell began, asking the diplomat about Syria.  ‘The Russians don’t believe the [U.S.] intelligence.”

“Who was bringing you up [as a child]” Lavrov boomed, cutting her off.”

“Who was giving you your manners, you know?”  He asked sounding annoyed.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson can be seen smiling as Lavrov rebuked the 70 year old Mitchell.


Earlier this week President Trump is questioning his Pardon Powers for himself and his family.

President Trump, indicated in an interview with the ‘failing’ New York Times, that he thought that if Special Counsel Muller investigates his finances…that he would be crossing a line.

The President’s lawyers and staff are searching for information regarding conflicts of interest pertaining to Robert Muller or his staff.



Hunger in America

‘One in eight people in America Struggle With Hunger’

‘Sixteen Million Households In America Face Hunger’

‘There are more than 42 million people in the United States who struggle with hunger and more than 70 billion pounds of food from manufacturers, growers, and retailers that go to waste-more than enough to feed them all.’   According to Outnumber Hunger

Many of our schools have gone to providing both breakfast and lunch to their students.


Many of these same schools have breakfast and lunch programs for the summer recess, due to the sad fact that their students would not eat during these months…if the schools did not provide the food.


Wednesday, Mary Jane and I delivered Meals on Wheels.  The precious people that receive these vital lunches…are so grateful for them.  Everyone that I delivered…the recipient thanked me…often numerous times.

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How is it that one of the richest and most prosperous countries in the world…has rampant hunger and deprivation?

Is this the free market system in all of it’s glory?

Is this the pristine example of trickle down economics.

Would this be God blessing the rich…and the poor and destitute are somehow not making the Biblical Standard for Economic Prosperity?

‘And when Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.  And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.  But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.  And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.  He said, Bring them hither to me.  And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and two fishes,and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the the disciples to the multitude.  And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.  And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.’   Matthew 14:14-21   KJV

You may be attending church with an individual or a family that is hungry.  Many people who have known nothing but taking care of themselves and their families’ needs… are often to proud to admit their suffering.


Southern Illinois University, recently, started a food pantry for needy students.  I know from my thirty two years with the School..that many students are hungry.  They simply do not have the money to pay for all of their expenses… and eat.

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Our President promises that he is going to address the substantial needs of the working and middle class…that has often been forgotten.  He told us that he is going to bring jobs back to our country.  He is going to give us health care that is the best ever…at a fraction of the cost.


If the Affordable Care Act is repealed…32 million Americans will loose their health insurance.

He is going to insist on ‘America First’ in manufacturing…and yet his daughters’ businesses sell…exclusively…clothing made overseas.


John McCain, a war hero and a statesman, has brain cancer.  A man who serves the Constitution and his Country before blind party loyalty.


Heaven help us…when he is gone!



Gatlinburg – A Smoky Mountian Hideaway

Mary Jane and I have been vacationing in Gatlinburg, Tennessee since Jimmy Carter was President.

The sublime beauty of the haunting Smoky Mountains is captivating!

During our first sojourns to Gatlinburg…we often traveled with friends from a church that we all attended.  I recall, so fondly, my old friend, Jim Dunmyer, enjoying the East Tennessee Town and its’ surroundings…so very much.

A few years later, we had two little sons, that enjoyed visiting Gatlinburg abundantly…and especially swimming in the Hotel Park Vista’s swimming pool!

It was not unusual, in those early years, for us to make two and perhaps three trips to our preferred destination…each year.

We fell in love with Cades Cove.

‘Cades Cove is an isolated valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA.  The valley was home to numerous settlers before the formation of the national park.  Today, Cades Cove, the single most popular destination for visitors to the park, attracts more than two million visitors to the park because of its’ well preserved homesteads, scenic mountain views, and abundant display of wildlife.’   Wikipedia

IMG_3507IMG_3499IMG_3506IMG_3503IMG_3497Needless to say…we liked Cades Cove so well that…we brought it home with us!

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s we traveled several times to Gatlinburg over Christmas to be with our friends, Steve and Faye, and enjoy the brilliantly lit pageantry of the Holiday Season.

We shared a condo, in the mountains and there is no better way to celebrate the joys of the Season…than in Gatlinburg with your dear friends!

I have written about it earlier…but it bears repeating…we visited this past April with my brother, Brock, and my sister-in-law, Marcy, and my niece and nephew, Jamie and Jeb, along with Jeb’s’ girlfriend, Morgan. We simply had a wonderful time!




With the sampling of Moonshine and a hike through the park and the pristine, peaceful, restful…beauty of the Smoky Mountains…and being with new found family…that you love…nothing could be finer!

IMG_1086IMG_1136IMG_1108I have been to few places that afforded me more peace and contentment than Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains.  From the Dollywood Christmas Pageant, in Pigeon Forge, to the melodic music of the Little Pigeon River…there is nothing else like it…including the Black Bears!



I love clouds!

For many years I said that I preferred the night to the day.

Of course, it must be noted, that for almost twenty of my over thirty two year career at SIU…I worked nights.

IMG_3437Mary Jane and I visited Portland, Oregon, several years ago.  We loved the laid back lifestyle and the scenic beauty and the jazz…and I loved the clouds.

It was a work related trip to Portland, and so I told my Director, Harry Wirth, that we had enjoyed the city so much…we were thinking about relocating there when we retired.  Harry, noted that it rains in Portland much of the year.  I responded that would be perfect for my taste!

IMG_3446Clouds and rain and gloomy days…are a metaphor for life…to me.

The wonderful all encompassing magnificence of the sun and it’s illumination is always so welcome…but it is not illustrative of life in it’s infinite shadows.

IMG_3438Clouds and storms can be comforting…when your faith assures you that it is always darkest before the dawn.

IMG_0419DSC00575You will forgive me if I liken this analogy to my University?  There have been clouds of lack of resources, or no money,…and there have been clouds of changes in leadership…and clouds of a lack of focus or Vision…and clouds of not fully appreciating the complete value of each and every student that attends SIU.


But, as in life, so as in the life of Southern Illinois University…the sun comes out again…and hope is renewed…and a rededication to the fundamentals that made our School great!

IMG_1369IMG_0773A wonderful poem that my father-in-law, Berl, quoted me was;

“Don’t You Quit”

‘When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit-

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a fellow turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow-

You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man;

Often the struggler has given up

When he might have captured the victor’s cup;

And he learned to late when the night came down,

How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out-

The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It might be near when it seems afar;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.’


It seems that…the joy and the sorrow…jubilation and sadness….energy and health and pain and suffering…go together to comprise our life experience.

Clouds are important and they are lovely!