Monthly Archives: August, 2019

‘The Righteous Gemstones’

I watched the pilot episode of a new HBO television show entitled The Righteous Gemstones.  The series is about a family named Gemstone that has a mega-church ministry that is extremely wealthy.  The father, portrayed by John Goodman, is the senior pastor accompanied by his two sons, Danny McBride, as the oldest sibling, and the youngest Gemstone preacher played by Adam DeVine.

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The middle child is played by Edi Patterson as the daughter that is marginalized due to her being female in a fundamentalist congregation.

The series is undoubtably a satire of televangelism and the worldly riches that it brings to the preacher/stars of the show!

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There is a very popular doctrine that can be found in many fundamentalist churches that states that if you will follow Jesus…he will make you rich.  This is a keynote teaching for television preachers and televangelists.  Many congregations are taught that if you will pay your ten percent tithe…on your gross pay…not your net…as well as giving generously in the many offerings that are collected…you will become rich!  This teaching is actually a primary financial success plan for many in the fundamentalist movement.

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The Bible does speak of a 10% tithe and it does speak of a generous heart toward the poor and needy.  But, to extrapolate that to all who follow the financial success plan of giving to the wealthy for the automatic financial remuneration from God…is folly!

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I have witnessed senior citizen give of their meager finances, social security, to the extent that they did not have enough to eat…and they were hungry!

When the minister, in whom you trust as the spokesperson for Jesus, is living many times above your standard of living and taking lavish vacations and driving luxury automobiles and living in a McMansion or perhaps a full blown Mansion…you have been fleeced as certain as the faux shepherd who took all of the wool from his sheep and led them to the wolf!

When capitalism becomes so intermingled with christianity that it is difficult to extricate one from the other….we have created a Golem of Christianity!

I watched a series on Netflix last week that was entitled The Family.  It discussed the, basically hidden, group that is behind the National  Prayer Breakfast that occurs each year in Washington D.C.

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The Family which was founded in the’ 1930s by Adam Veride, a Norwegian immigrant and traveling preacher,’ and later headed by Doug Coe is a secretive organization that is comprised of Senators and members of Congress and leaders and elite from all over the globe!

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The Family focuses on expanding their membership of leaders to their interpretation of the gospel of Christ…while basically ignoring the human rights violations and suffering of the millions of people that these leaders are responsible for.

‘Before Coe died in 2017, he helped turn the Family into the invisible star-making machine it is.  He had personal connections to many presidents, from Dwight Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton.  In 2001, he helped kick off a peace deal between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda by inviting the waring presidents to his home.’    Refinery 29

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The Family has often used the comparison of moral failings in a political leader to King David of the old testament.  Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was a member of the Family and used the reasoning of King Davids moral failings for his affair.  President Trump has been likened to being ‘God’s man’ with the reference to King David on many occasions by the evangelical community.

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A christian methodology or dogma or doctrine that focus on the elite or the leaders of a country or organization and gives little thought to the suffering of the millions of citizens or followers of these corrupt leaders…is an aberration…and not…Christianity!

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Note: Photos courtesy of Google search.

Listening To Respond…Or Listening To Understand?

Have you ever been asked a question and encouraged by the questioner to speak from your heart and to be open and candid…only to have the seeker of knowledge not only misunderstand what you were saying but also to immediately correct your heartfelt and seldom shared remarks?

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I am a reluctant speaker both publicly and in group settings, I have noticed that, although, I ruminate and worry about comments that I have made, most people could not tell you what you said in the first place.

The art of listening to understand is easy to talk about and difficult to put into practice.  The primary component of this seldom used skill is to, when listening, the ability to take yourself and your preconceived notions and bias out of the experience.  If I want to understand what is in another human beings heart…I must accept what they say to me as their truth.

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Empathy is a virtue!  I have found that if I listen to my friend as they are speaking with me…it is possible to feel the emotions that they are conveying and the hurt that they are holding in their heart.

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So many times we feel that we have the fix for the ailments of our neighbors.  We know that we have heard their story before and that we have already developed the remedy that is similar to a form or a template that will function as ‘one size fits all!’

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We know that if our sick colleague will just allow us to dispense the medicine to ameliorate their aliment…all we be well..!  When is reality…the person who is speaking to us is looking for a someone that really sees them….

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‘Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him, and he sat down, and taught them.

And the scribes and the Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers?  hath no man condemned thee?

She said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.’    John 8: 1 – 11   KJV

I wonder what Jesus was writing?

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Note: Images are courtesy of Google.

‘This Could Be The Start Of Something Big!’

‘This Could Be The Start Of Something’ (generally known as ‘This Could Be The Start Of  Something Big’) is a popular song by Steve Allen, published in 1956′

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‘Originally, the song was written as part of the score for the 1954 television musical production of the Bachelor.’

‘In 1956, ‘This Could Be The Start Of Something’ replaced the original opening theme to Allen’s NBC talk show, Tonight Starring Steve Allen, until Allen left the show in 1957 to be replaced by Jack Paar.’    Wikipedia

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Jonathon and I strolled the beautiful Campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale this morning.  The Campus was resplendent in all of late summer beauty!  Band students were carrying their instruments and their bass drums and young women were bringing their flags, for cheering, and walking to the same area that I have seen them congregate at for the past 41 years!

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Dr. John Dunn is our Interim Chancellor and he is a good man and a great leader!  I had the privilege of working with him in the last decade before Western Michigan University had the wisdom to make him their president…while we languished!

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Chancellor Dunn’s magnetic personality and real interest in everyone in the university community…is a significant assets to our school!

Matt is the Chancellor’s chief of staff and he is a wonderful and open person!  Each occasion that I speak with Matt…I know that my University is in good hands!

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The Grounds staff has been working their fingers to the bone and their handiwork is apparent everywhere you cast your eyes!

Building Services have the floors shining and the classrooms glistening and the indoor facilities ready for the honored members of our community…our students!

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The academic programs and disciplines of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…are unparalleled!  Would you like to be a part of a community that feels like family?

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Would you like to be a member of a family where the office staff and the housekeeping staff and the faculty and the chancellor care about you on an individual basis?  If so…join the University that epitomizes the old Steve Allen song, ‘This Could Be The Start Of Something Big!’

Criticism Hurts!

I was visiting with some wonderful people the other day and the subject of leadership and how to demonstrate it…came up.  It has been my humble honor to have known many leaders in my nearly 62 years.  I have witnessed the poorest of leadership patterns…as well as those that were inspirational!

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Leadership has always fascinated me!  Having been a christian for 50 years and working alongside pastors and religious leaders for the majority of that time…I have witnessed the corrosive effect that a poor leader can have on the lives of the people that they are attempting to lead.

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On the contrary I have also seen, first hand, the deleterious effect that pithy criticisms that are aimed at a leader can have on that leaders morale and effectiveness in their ministry.

From the time that I became a crew leader in my position at Building Services at Southern Illinois University@ Carbondale…I was the recipient of, some, unfounded criticism of my efforts or my job performance…or whether or not I seemed friendly enough on a given day.  In fact…if we are honest…none of us enjoy criticism…even when it is constructive and necessary!

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Certainly management is not church and church is not secular management…but there are simalarities that apply.

Leaders both in the work-place and in the house of worship need counselors that will work with them and help them to understand when they are on the right path…and when they have strayed into the weeds…or the ditch!

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Now, a leader is neither a robot or a cyborg or in possession of a button to shut off their human emotions.  We still are all carbon based and have yet to achieve artificial intelligence.  I have been present when university chancellors were consumed by gratuitous political infighting and if you will check the calendar you will count 11 of them since 1996.

During the years that I was a manager/administrator of the housekeeping department at the university…I felt personal responsibility for the failure or termination of anyone in my organization!  Upon investigation I would order a terminated student to be put back to work if  I discovered that they had not been properly trained.  I personally trained countless full time staff and students when I had doubts regarding their training or proper motivation.

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Having upwards of 350 – 400 members of our group and reviewing each of their evaluations…and touring all of their work areas and visiting with them…I considered them all members of my family and I felt a personal failure when any of them did not succeed…until I was certain that I had done all that I humanly could do to facilitate their success!

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Please do not misunderstand me…I have terminated many people over a period of 30 years.  Always the well-being of the group is of paramount importance over the security of an individual.  It is the most difficult task that a leader has to do!

Having been a follower for the majority of my life and on more occasions than I wanted to…been asked to lead…I can assure you that I prefer following…it is much easier!

 

 

Note: Photos of leaders are courtesy of Google.

Back To School

Back to school caught up with me this year…but then again I am almost 62.  I was at my dentist yesterday getting a wisdom tooth filled, that is right a wisdom tooth…as I can not afford to loose what little wisdom that I have obtained, when she told me that today was the first day of school for her children.  I thought…what…this could not be…summer just started!

The beginning of school meant for me that the three times per week automobile trips to Pounds Hollow creek…were over for the season.  It meant that the staying out after dark to catch fire flies…had ended.  But…that was somewhat later…for the first grade….it was a totally new adventure!

I vividly recall my first day of first grade in 1962 at Hillcrest School in Eldorado, Illinois.  My mom and dad and I had recently moved from the Chicago suburbs to a ghost house on Illinois Avenue that was just across the street from the football field of Eldorado High School, that years later I would attend.  My cousin Brenda walked me to school and she was in the 8th grade.  It was so hot in the classroom.  With all of the windows open…it still felt like an oven and the fans that were meant to alleviate our suffering felt like blast furnaces!

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My first pleasant memory was Janie and Debbie greeting me…and I thought that perhaps I could do this school thing!

We studied a little while and then there was recess…and then we studied a little more…and there was lunch…and then two more recesses doing the afternoon…and cold milk to boot!

Mrs. Kittinger was our teacher and I thought that she was beautiful!  She was so nice to me that I soon forgot how badly I missed my mom!

I loved shopping for school supplies!  The notebooks and pencils and large erasers and the box of 64 Crayola Crayons….was a delight!  Also, each week we received the Weekly Reader!

Several of my classmates asked me if I had attended kindergarten and I did not know what that was…but I did not remember attending such a strange named function.

On the playground there were monkey bars and merry-go-rounds and teeter-toters or see saws…and you wanted to get on with a person who was roughly the same weight as you were.

I felt safe…I felt secure…I felt that I was in the professional hands of a society and a system and good people that knew what they were doing and who would take care of me and teach me what I needed to know.

I rode the school bus with Illinois Senator Dale Fowler…who was a consistently nice person and rather quiet….at that time.

I rode the teeter totter with Jackie Brooks…who daily held me in the air…and laughed.

The hot temperatures soon yielded to the on-coming fall and the leaves landed on the ground and the holiday season approached.  It snowed more…in those days…in Eldorado…than it seems to now.  We made snowmen and threw snow balls and made snow angels and relished being children in a small Southern Illinois community!

President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963…and the world seemed changed.  My mom wept so much that I thought that he must be a member of our family.  Things were different…life had taken a turn…and we did not know what road that we were on.

Dick Van Dyke was on television as well as Gunsmoke and Andy Griffith.  The Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits were two of my favorite programs.

Television and the movies consisted of good hearted and peaceful interactions among  human beings and even the scary movies were not really scary.  There was Mary Poppins and Elvis films…and movies that hinted at scandal and avarice and lust and greed…but it was up to the viewer to fill in the blanks.

That first grade Christmas I attended the Lion’s Club Christmas movie at the Orpheum Theatre and afterward received a large Christmas basket that was chock-full of holiday delights!

Danger at school never crossed my mind….it should be that way again.

 

‘Never Judge People By Their Appearance’

I just watched the most lovely video on Facebook depicting a well dressed and serious man waiting to interviewed for a position in a law firm.  As the gentleman waits, somewhat impatiently, for the interviewer to come out and invite him into his office he has the distinct appearance of someone who is nervous and who wants to make a good impression.

When the interviewer appears he is also in a suit and tie and offers his hand in greeting and he has Down syndrome.  The interviewer is not only very friendly but is almost theatrical in his invitation to the interviewee to enter his office…where there are movie memorabilia on the conference table.  The interviewee ask if someone is going to join them to which he is told no.  The interviewer inquires as to why the person is seeking the position which is a lesser job than what he currently holds at another law firm?  He replies that the firm that he is with is only interested in making money…while he wants to help people.

The interviewer asks the interviewee if he likes a, vey nice, post modern painting that is on the wall of the office?  He replies that he does and the non-typical executive informs him that he is the painter and that there are several of them throughout the firm.

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Suddenly, a stern looking managerial figure enters and asks the interviewer what he is doing…and admonishes him that he has to quit ‘role playing’ with people seeking positions with the firm and get back to his pastry and beverage cart.

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The stern administrator asks the young man why he wanted to interview the candidate…and he replied that he had noticed that he was seeking a position with their firm that paid less than what he was currently making…and that he had understood that this man wanted to help people…and that it was not just about money.

As the gruff man sits down he begins to read the very detailed and cogent questions that the interviewer had written down for the interviewer…and he asks the young man to sit by him and continue the interview…as he is impressed with the questions.

As the interview concluded the candidate was asked by the inspired young man…what was his goal in five years?  He answered that he wanted to be working in the firm’s Pro Bono department with the young interviewer…

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I had the significant honor and great pleasure of hiring many intellectually and physically challenged individuals during my years at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale.  The joy of working with these wonderful professionals and learning from them…was the epitome of my career!

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On numerous occasions I pointed out to both chancellors and presidents that they, perhaps, were not seeing the forest for the trees…as there were many talented individuals in both the civil service and administrative professional staff…that could help them extricate the knots from the primary problems that faced them….the recruitment and retention of students.

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The video ends with the young man and the man that he was initially interviewing…interviewing another candidate…and the young professional telling the interviewee that he had been with the firm for almost fifteen years and that he, ‘knew a thing or two about what was going on.’

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Humility Is Compelling

I had a pastor in the early 90s’ whose name was John Somers.  The first thing that I noticed when I met John was that he was a humble man.  John was a man who thought of others more than he thought of himself.  He was the kind of leader that drew people to him…to work with him and help him.

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‘When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.’   Proverbs 11:2

In 1978 I was interviewed for a position in Building Services in the Physical Plant at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale by a humble leader, Mr. George O’Hara.  Mr. O’Hara not only made me feel at ease and comfortable during the interview but I soon understood the humble nature of this manager of hundreds of people.  I left the meeting feeling that Mr. O’Hara cared about me and that I had a good chance of becoming a member of the university community!

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A gentleman and a man of humility taught english during my high school years.  Mr. Delmar Feazel was an english teacher and a minister.  I never heard him raise his voice and I never witnessed him speak to anyone in anger.

Former SIUC Chancellor Dr. Jo Ann Argersinger had a unique and compelling humility that was unlike any that I have observed in university leadership.  Jo Ann had the natural ability to cause each person that she interacted with…feel that they were of paramount importance to her and to the mission of SIUC!  During a rally of support for her prior to her untimely termination…I saw students and faculty and staff and all members of the skilled crafts and janitors and grounds workers standing in line to express their support for her and their sadness at her firing!

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Jo Ann would walk out into the middle of a field to shake hands with a grounds worker and to express how important that they were both to her and to the University!

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There is a dynamism to humble leaders!  First of all…they are rare!  Second they attract people to their cause like bees to the honeycomb!  In a society where everyone tells us how great that they are…and how they have all of the answers…we have become jaded and our ears have stopped up and our eyes have glossed over!

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We hunger for someone to have the singularity of purpose and the purity of intent to understand that they need others to help them and we listen for their call!

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I am a friend of former Southern Illinois University President Dr. Glenn Poshard.  I was privileged to counsel with Glenn on numerous occasions.  I enjoyed his company immensely because he was not haughty or proud, although he had been a five term United States Congressman and had almost been elected Governor of Illinois.  Glenn was always looking for another way to help people.  He began his career at SIUC as a civil service employee in the Physical Plant…and he never forgot where he came from!  The university president told me on one occasion that I was the humblest person that he had ever met…and I thought I wish that were true…but I still strive to be worthy of his high compliment!

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Souther Illinois University @ Carbondale is opening wide its doors of opportunity and growth and happiness and joy!  Let all of us, both inside the university community… and outside in the wider Southern Illinois Community… welcome each and every student that graces us with their presence!  They are not the fortunate ones to be with us…we are the fortunate ones…to be chosen by them!

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Thank You For Your Service…Now Do More With Less!

We were in Macy’s department store the other day and Mary Jane and I  noticed that the items for sale had been totally rearranged.  As we surveyed the scene we deducted that the purpose of the remodeling of clothing and shoes and housewares and fragrances…was to give the appearance of more items…when in fact there were less.  As we looked further we could not help but see that that Macy’s staff were as scarce as hen’s teeth!

During my career with SIUC I spent 25 years in management of Building Services which is the housekeeping department of the Physical Plant.  We were tasked with cleaning all of the academic and office buildings on campus and including the Arena and Shryock Auditorium as well as the Airport and the Carterville Campus.  I counted every building and found that there were 200 +.  Now we took our mission very seriously and worked to achieve immaculate buildings that parents would want to send their children to and students would want to study in.

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And, so, the staffing cuts came, due to budget shortfalls around 1989…but the cleaning needs did not dissipate or receive a cut.  In fact we did not experience our paramount enrollment until the mid-1990’s of nearly 25 thousand students at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale.  Now, during those boom years and budget shortfalls I witnessed game playing and work slow downs…not instituted by unions, as the myth would portray, but lead by managers and administrators…in the effort to illustrate the need for additional staff!

Today, I see civil service staff who’s numbers have been decimated do to enrollment shortfalls and misplaced priorities.  I not only see my valiant colleagues doing more with less…but performing two and three and four peoples jobs and receiving neither a minimal raise in pay nor any effort to alleviate the work stress that these precious people undergo on a daily basis!

It has been said…many times…that they should be glad that they have a job…and that is an insulting assertion!  Anyone who has ever been without a job…is glad that they have a job!

I shop at Kroger supermarket almost every day.  It is a busy store.  Although there are several checkout lines…there are no more than one or two of them staffed.  However, there are a dozen or more self check-out kiosks that almost no one wants to utilize…because we realize that they represent a cut in staff and a reduction in opportunity for our Southern Illinois neighbors!

But, the rule of our stock market driven society is that the less employees that a business has and the higher dividends that the company can produce for it’s shareholders…the mission of the organization is realized.

There is a reason that the American workforce is becoming sicker by the day.  There is a reason that job-stress clouds the mind and dampens the spirit of countless professionals who want only to work hard and produce an excellent work product.

We tell our employees to deliver service with a smile…and to replicate the old Hertz Rent a Car commercial that had the iconic catch phrase, ‘Hertz Puts You In The Driver’s Seat’….and to treat our wonderful customers with another maximum from McDonalds….’We Do It All For You!’  And then we wonder what the morale problem is when our staff has a hollow and vacant stare out of sleepless eyes and fallen hopes for the future?

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Whether you are the janitor or the grounds worker or the cashier or the department store employee…increasing work without reward…is a prescription for disaster!

There was a day…in my lifetime…that the middle class and blue collar workers did not begrudge the CEO a good salary…because they felt compensated for the yeoman duties that they were performing.  They could pay their bills and purchase a little house and drive a decent automobile and take a week vacation each year.

Now, both the husband and wife work…often more than one job each…and they continue to slip on the ladder of success and incur the mental and emotional stress of knowing that they are one paycheck away from disaster and a few weeks from oblivion!

 

 

 

 

What If We All Focused On Our Neighbor?

We humans can be a lonely lot!  With the advent of the glorious internet and the magnificent hardware to unitize its mystery and wonders…all to often our social well being is in our head or virtual reality.  Could it be that we have hundreds or thousands of friends on Facebook and a mere handful of friends that we actually speak to on a regular basis?

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Over my 32 year career at Southern Illinois University I regularly had colleagues say to me that they loved their job and did not know what they were going to do when they retired.  Upon further investigation I discovered that the heart of what they loved about their employment was their co-workers that they were privileged to interact with each day!

This afternoon we did some of our monthly shopping at Walmart in Carbondale.  When we entered the store I spoke to the greeter at the door and he answered with a happy and hearty hello to Mary Jane and I.  Later as we were checking out I noticed that it was the same young African American man that had greeted us earlier.  As I laid the rotisserie chicken on to the check out conveyer belt he said, ‘Only if you are planning on sharing!’  Theo”s eyes twinkled and he had a mischievous  grin on his face.  Theo made my shopping experience at Walmart extremely enjoyable!

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A Sunday or two ago Jonathon and I were at church whereupon after the service and as we were visiting our fellow congregants, Lisa, patted me on the shoulder and asked how I was doing.  I immediately thought, what a nice person Lisa is!  Do not fool yourself…it has been and always will be…the little things that make the difference!

‘I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.’    Philippians 4:12    KJV

I remember walking everywhere that I needed to go…because I had no car.

I remember being hungry…because I had no groceries.

I remember my pants being what we called, ‘high waters’, because they were to short for my long legs.

I remember friends telling me that I was a bit lazy…when I was working 16 – 18 hours per day.

All that I posses today is by God’s grace and I am no better than the homeless man or woman on the street!

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Some of our political leader would have us believe that those who do not look like us or who have not been a member in good standing of our tribe…are to be feared and rejected!

Mary Jane’s aunt Lauretta and Uncle Merle moved to El Paso from Southern Illinois many years ago.  We visited them on 10 – 15 occasions over the years.  El Paso was one of the safest and friendly cities that I have encountered.  Hispanic people are lovely and kind people.  They are a cultured and peaceful people.  They are a welcoming people.

Actually Juarez and El Paso are the same city divide by their countries demarcations.    We visited Juarez on numerous occasions and were treated with warmth and respect.

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I watched a PBS documentary about Woodstock which occurred 50 years ago this year.  The piece illustrated that the magic of Woodstock was the camaraderie and fellowship that those in attendance felt for each other and their mutual respect for the beautiful music that they were all consuming.  For three days they became a world set apart from the stress of the war in Vietnam and the lies of their political leaders.  They cared for each other and they loved each other and they had a brief taste of what a peaceful community of humanity could be.

 

So, for many years I have worked alongside and worshipped with many people.  Always I look for the genuine and the real and the authentic expression of another human being.  The pro-forma formalities of communication are, at times, exhausting…but the real communication from the soul of another who is sharing this walk back to Jerusalem…is profound!

 

 

Autumn Is On Its Way

We were driving yesterday when we noticed that the leaves are beginning to change.    Now it it still in the high 80’s and low 90’s…but it is a start!

I have said it before but it is worth repeating…I love the fall!

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I throughly enjoy seeing my University, Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, gearing up for the Fall semester.  Each autumn I reflect on the opportunities that SIUC offers to our wonderful students and university community.  I have referred to the entrances of our school having a very visible, if you have the desire to see it, sign that states, Opportunity, and that it exists for all those who enter the gates of learning and understanding!  The University is transformational.  It can take a person with a dim view of their future and of their life road and transform them into a person who  is clear on the direction the they are traveling and their mission as they traverse the road of life!

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Two primary outside influences transformed me into a happy person with a renewed desire each day to attempt to make a positive difference in someone’s life and help where I can.  One would be the Christian philosophy which I began as a youngster and I was subsequently amazed at the doors of happiness and purpose that it opened for me.  The other would be my fortunate affiliation with SIUC over 41 years ago.

Southern Illinois University took a young man, little more than a boy, and transformed him from a person with limited life options and a narrow view of the world to a person of purpose and a citizen of the world community of humanity!

Fall has my favorite things.  Being born on October 24th I have a natural affinity for the season!  I like Halloween more and more each year….especially the Turner Classic Movies’ running of the old monster movie classics!  The cooler temperatures are my cup of tea and the natural majesty of the leaves changing colors is resplendent in Southern Illinois!

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Aaron’s birthday is in November!  I recall, like it was yesterday, his birth on a unusually warm November 16th.  His mom and I were so excited and mystified by the challenge of a new life in our little family!

Thanksgiving is a major event in the Brooks home!  As a child our Thanksgiving festivities consisted of my watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on television and nothing more.  Thanksgiving was the day that mom began her Christmas preparations.  But, Mary Jane takes Thanksgiving seriously and has hosted our family for the past 30 years for a joyful feast and revelry and, for the past several celebrations some wine and spirits to make the convocation complete!  When  we lived in Elkville we had a four room house and many Thanksgivings we had over twenty for our magnificent dinner.

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The majority of the Christmas season is in the fall!  It is, ‘the most wonderful time of the year!’

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For many years I marked the beginning of my favorite four months of the year with Jerry Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy telethon over Labor Day.  I must confess that Labor Day being the close of summer in many people’s minds…is a joy to me!

So,  autumn really begins for me…in August.  While the temperatures are still scorching and the children have a few more days of freedom…and an old man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of fall and it’s multitudes of joys!

person woman dark girl

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