Category Archives: Uncategorized

Let’s Be Reader Aficionados

Please enjoy an eloquent blog from Jonathon Brooks!

jonathonbrooks

Books have been good to me. I became an enthusiastic reader around age 19. As a boy I did not value books or have a great desire to read them. I suppose I was too busy making the mistakes of boyhood and thinking I knew so much already that I did not need books in my life’s story. At age 36 I need books like oxygen. I need the knowledge and pleasure and entertainment and wisdom that comes from books. My life’s story is in desperate need of books.

I’m always in search of my next great read. The next book up could be a memoir or a young adult novel or a science fiction tale or perhaps a story of inspirational Christian faith. It is exciting to me, just like the reading of books, to always be planning the next book to be read. My home is full of…

View original post 298 more words

Let’s Be Reader Aficionados

Please enjoy an eloquent blog from Jonathon Brooks!

jonathonbrooks

Books have been good to me. I became an enthusiastic reader around age 19. As a boy I did not value books or have a great desire to read them. I suppose I was too busy making the mistakes of boyhood and thinking I knew so much already that I did not need books in my life’s story. At age 36 I need books like oxygen. I need the knowledge and pleasure and entertainment and wisdom that comes from books. My life’s story is in desperate need of books.

I’m always in search of my next great read. The next book up could be a memoir or a young adult novel or a science fiction tale or perhaps a story of inspirational Christian faith. It is exciting to me, just like the reading of books, to always be planning the next book to be read. My home is full of…

View original post 298 more words

I Have a Good Feeling!

5e909532886ad.imageIt is a picturesque day in Carbondale, Illinois.  Jonathon and I walked the campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and drank in the riches of its splendor!  I am seeing a lot of happy people as they enjoy the reopening of our restaurants for al fresco dining with social distancing.  Old campus had families laughing and enjoying the richness of a perfect spring day!

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Dr. Austin Lane has been named the chancellor of SIUC.  I had the opportunity of watch a zoom Open Forum with Dr. Lane.  I was struck with his ability to connect with everyone that he spoke with.  His natural ability to not only communicate effectively, but to also give the person that he is talking with a feeling of importance to the mission of Southern…was extraordinary!  I have been a chancellor watcher for over 40 years.  During that time, and many chancellors, I have not witnessed a more immediate connection and heartfelt belief that this leader demonstrates that every member of the university community is vital to the success of the Saluki family and the institution.

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The university is one of the most important elements of my life…and I have been retired for nearly 10 years!  I spent my entire career working in the custodial department of SIU…in Building Services at the Physical Plant.  Over those years I learned what many have failed to understand.  There is no us and them…for our school to succeed, it takes all of our efforts.  The Building Services staff took their mission as vital to the success of our SIU!  We not only kept our buildings immaculate…but we mentored our over 200 student staff.  When they were homesick…we were their surrogate moms and dads.  When they wanted to drop-out…we talked them out of it.  When they were hungry…we fed them.  They were our kids and we rejoiced in their success…with tears in our eyes!

During their last few years of my career I was privileged to be the president of the civil service council, for 5 years.  During that time, and before, I became friends with several chancellors…and 1 president.  I have longed for a campus leader that has the ability to bring us all together, and when I say us… I am speaking of not only the university community…but the entire Southern Illinois region.  Little Egypt is thirsty for a leader that will call us to arms…and let us know that we are essential to the success of our most prized possession…our jewel…SIUC!

I have been close to chancellors who caused the eyes of those with whom they spoke…to brighten!  I have been witness to chancellors who brought peace and unity and a vision for the future.  Success cannot be delivered by any one man or woman…but their ability to martial the love and abilities of countless people of good will…is priceless!

I emailed Chancellor Lane congratulations…although I considered that he might wonder who was, Jay Brooks, and why would he be congratulating me.  I identified myself as a former, career, employee of SIUC and that I had the opportunity to watch the zoom Open Forum.  I also noted that I had been retired for almost 10 years.  That was yesterday…and he replied to my email after midnight.  Now…that is a sure and certain sign to me that this leader is going to include all of us!

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Smiling Eyes — The Jazz Man

I was reading a cartoon today of a ventriloquist and his miniature associate… on his knee. The ventriloquist remarked that, ‘I think I may really have a shot at this now,’ as he spoke to his wife…through his mask… Also, I read a New Yorker cartoon that depicted a young man sitting under […]

via Smiling Eyes — The Jazz Man

Safety First — The Jazz Man

My first full time employment was at Essex International in DuQuoin, Illinois. Essex manufactured wire harnesses for Chrysler trucks. Throughout the factory there were a multitude of signs that admonished everyone, ‘Safety First.’ In fact the signs were posted in the rest room and the break area. As a 17 year old, I marveled at […]

via Safety First — The Jazz Man

We Are All Connected

‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

A beautiful day for a neighbor

Could you be mine?

Would you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood

A neighborly day for a beauty

Could you be mine?

Would you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you

I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

Let’s make the most of this beautiful day

Since we’re together, might as well say

Would you be my, could you be my

Won’t you be my neighbor?’    Mr.  Rogers’ Neighborhood

 

Mr. Rogers iconic song describes us before we allowed imaginations and fear to captivate our thoughts…and before we  learned hate.  It is not us against them when it comes to battling our 2020 pandemic…it is us against COVID-19.

I watched a political operative suggest that 100 thousand deaths in the United States…was not so bad.  He went on to postulate that the coronavirus was like the flu in the fatalities that have occurred…  As I considered the bizarre comparison…I wanted to say…you ain’t seen nothing yet!  We are in the midst of this plague…we are not at the conclusion.  I love literature and novels and science fiction…but I do not live my life according to the creative narratives that the stories contain.

It is a bit of a Faustian Contract to believe that the idea of either opening the economy or staying safe from the virus is the terrible decision that each of us have to make.  We can do both…if we do not allow our emotions or our political affiliations…to blind us from the common sense needed to navigate the troubled waters that all of us are sailing in!

During our stay at home time together we have learned that there is nothing that we humans need more….than each other.

During my 32 years and 2 months and 3 weeks at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, I was convinced that the university required every member of the its community to be a success.  The Building Service Worker was as important as the chancellor to the smooth operation of our beloved school.  The fallible concepts of the lesser and the greater…causes great institutions, and organizations, and nations…to falter and fail.  Churches that succeed in fulfilling the mission of Christ…coalesce together…and every member has an essential role to play and perform!

When Pastor Kerry came to us, a little over a year ago, he mentioned that he was a playwright and that he was going to write a play for the members of our congregation to perform.  As the great comedic actor, Artie Johnson, said in his portrayal on the popular show, Laugh In, ‘Very Interesting,’…I thought.  As I sat in the audience, on the night of the performance, I was gob-smacked with the clear bringing together of our church in the performance.  I had not witnessed anything like the unity that was before me…in my over 20 years as a First Presbyterian congregant.  The smiles and laughter emanating from both the actors and the audience was an object lesson for me…and for life!

My friend, Lisa, remarked to me that she felt that our church was, ‘hitting its groove,’ and I could not agree more.  There is a profound peace and contentment in being a member of a church that accepts everyone, and that loves everyone, and that is actively seeking the voice of a loving God!

Understanding comes from listening.  Listening promotes understanding.  Kindness brings love.  All of us desire others to love us and to experience others concerned about our welfare.  Love is magnetic.  It draws people to its compelling beauty and light!  If I am sad…a cheerful word can make me glad.  When you make another person happy…it makes you happy and your burdens seem lighter and easier to bear…

Antagonism is a trick…and harsh words cause indigestion…  Each of us are members of this human experience…but a short time.  Let’s be remembered for how happy we made others feel…not for what we pretended to know…

 

Thank You…All Veterans! — The Jazz Man

I grew up during the Vietnam War. As I watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, and his nightly reporting of how many Americans were killed that day…. I expected to be drafted…when I became of age. My cousin, Billy, who is a bit older than I, was drafted upon his graduation from high […]

via Thank You…All Veterans! — The Jazz Man

Who Is Watching…You?

I throughly enjoyed our Zoom church this morning!  I enjoyed every part of it…and was especially moved by a member of our choir’s rendition of, ‘It is Well With My Soul.’  I considered that really is the question…is it well with our souls.  We are in the midst of a pandemic.  How we respond to it is a mirror of our soul.  Some of us are angry and full of judgement toward  members of our human family.  It is so easy to point fingers of accusation and recrimination and inner hurt, at those who, desperately, desire to keep not only themselves safe from the Coronavirus…but also all that they encounter.  I have been witness to the eroding of societies adherence to logic and science…or facts.  There is a group of people that believe that the earth is flat.  There are people that are certain that there was never a moon landing…but rather the live televised record of Neil Armstrong placing the first step on the Moon was filmed on a soundstage.  We are accustomed to doing exactly what we want to do….Even if it kills us!  I wonder if as information has become accessible, and at our fingertips…we have grown fond of fantasy rather than fact?

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Photo by Matthis Volquardsen on Pexels.com

Now, the doubt of many of us, often including myself, has been born out by being mislead by our leaders, on numerous occasions.  We have become a nation of skeptics with reason…  Skepticism and critical thinking is a good thing…in healthy moderation.  However, to cavalierly and with abandon…ignore the medical advice of our most prominent scientist and virologist and epidemiologist…is playing with fire!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are a people of the immediate solution!  A 2020 pandemic, that will at least last throughout the year, is egregious to consider or conceive.  We are in the process of opening up businesses and restaurants and bars, as well as beaches and recreation areas.  It is common sense, on its face, that these openings must occur as quickly as they can be done safely.  Safely has a new definition when it comes to COVID-19.  The virus has not packed up its bags and left town.  Our 2020 pandemic has not been frightened or cowed by the strong statements of our political leaders and the happy talk that they utter…in preparation for the November election.   One-hundred  thousand people dying is not a badge of honor…it is a tragedy!  Political affiliations will not save us when we are hooked up to a ventilator.

 

I have heard it said that common sense…is not common.  The Old Testament tells us that the children of Israel followed Moses for 40 years in the desert.  When Moses ascended Mount Sinai…to receive the Ten Commandments from God…the Israelites demanded that Aaron fashion them a golden calf to worship.  Heaven help us when the symbol is more important to us than the substance…

Our global trial will end…as we work together and have a servant’s heart…and consider our neighbor as we consider ourselves…

I enjoyed a New Yorker cartoon, this morning, that depicted an apartment building that had a television set attached to each window frame, much as a widow air conditioner would be.  One person had pushed the TV out of they’re, obstructed window, and was sitting in the window with their arm outstretched and  a dove landing on their hand.  Now more than ever before…we need the dove…

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Photo by Garfield Besa on Pexels.com

 

Could I Be On My Way To Maine…In a Parallel Universe? — The Jazz Man

This is the long awaited day of our departure…to Maine. A family vacation that we planned, beginning, last summer. During that time a pandemic was a historical event. I vividly recall being in a constituency heads meeting with SIU President, Glenn Poshard, and his passionate description of the potential for SARS to spread throughout the […]

via Could I Be On My Way To Maine…In a Parallel Universe? — The Jazz Man

Reluctant Leadership Is a Good Thing — The Jazz Man

I have been a student of leadership for the majority of my life. From our presidents, both past and present, to leaders across the world such as, Gold Meier, and Winston Churchill, as well as religious leaders…and of course University managers and administrators. The concept of how a person has either the natural skills or […]

via Reluctant Leadership Is a Good Thing — The Jazz Man