‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’

Amazingly, Bob Dylan, wrote ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis…and yet it applies for our time.

As I was listening to the television, yesterday, I heard a supporter of Alabama Senatorial Candidate, Roy Moore, expound on the fact that forty to fifty years ago…any mother or father would be proud to discover that Assistant State’s Attorney, Roy Moore, was hitting on their fourteen years old daughter.

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Candidate Moore said that, ‘In response to a question from one of the only African Americans in the audience-who asked when Moore thought America was last ‘great’–Moore acknowledged the nation’s history of racial divisions, but said: ‘I think it was a great time when families were united–even though we had slavery–they cared for one another…Our families were strong, our country had a direction.’   CNN

Some people who identified as christians say that they are not concerned about Senatorial Candidate Moore’s being accused of sexual harassment of teenagers and pedophilia…as they point to King David of the Old Testament and Solomon as having moral failures.

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New York Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, called on President Trump to resign in light of the numerous accusations regarding his sexual harassment of women.

The President of the United States of America responded, ‘Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky of Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump.  Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!’

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I love southern people.

I grew up in Southern Illinois!

The pain and the sorrow…and deep remorse…that I heard in a gentleman from Alabama’s voice…today…was poignant.

He spoke of how his deceased daughter told him that she was Gay and that he had said hurtful things to her…and later she committed suicide.

The hurt and suffering and loving Alabama Father said, that Roy Moore calls people like his daughter perverts…and that she was not a pervert…and that he can not vote for Judge Moore.

‘Oh where have you been, my blue-eyed son?

Oh, where have your been, my darling young one?

I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways

I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests

I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans

I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard

And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

 

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?

Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?

I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it

I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it

I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin

I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin

I saw a white ladder all covered with water

I saw ten thousand talker whose tongues were all broken

I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s hard, it’s a hard

And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall’     Bob Dylan

Many Fundamentalist desire to have their influence permeate the Government of the United States of America.

Reverend Franklin Graham said, ‘no president in his lifetime had taken such a ‘strong outspoken stand for the Christian faith’ than President Trump and that he needs our prayers.’

I am a christian…and Reverend Graham is not speaking for me.

I just heard a campaign operative for Judge Moore being interviewed by Jake Tapper on CNN.  The person said that Candidate Moore would return our Country to English/Mosaic/Christian Law.  He then went on to say that our Government was founded on the Bible.

When Jake Tapper asked him if he knew that there was a Constitutional Separation of Church and State…he had no response.

When political persons speak of returning our Government to the Christian Faith…they are speaking of their faith…not yours…and what of the millions in our Nation who are not Christian?

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Southern Illinois University in Black and White

Of late, I have been producing more black and white photos.

I enjoy the timelessness of black and white.

IMG_7315Wheeler Hall, which served as the University’s first Library.

IMG_7314IMG_7244IMG_7325Shadows on Allyn.

IMG_7328And, then there is the Castle.

IMG_7141Altgeld Hall, which is modeled after the European Castles that Illinois Governor Altgeld visited during a tour of Europe.

IMG_7294IMG_7232The majestic beauty of the Old Campus is compelling.

IMG_7256IMG_7205IMG_7136IMG_7318IMG_7347‘The Stairway to Heaven”

IMG_7014St. Charles Christmas Carriage.

IMG_7138Altgeld Hall’s Winter Look.

A Church That Loves Christmas

We attended church this morning and it was a combination of two of my favorite Advent Traditions.

The first being Cookie Sunday, where many of the church members bake cookies for shut-ins and some for all of us after the service.

The second is our annual, what I call our Christmas Cantata, and this year’s was outstanding!

The spellbinding Holiday music was interspersed with the deep and heart felt writings of Lucille Clifton  1936 – 2010.

‘Lucille Clifton was born in Depew, New York, on June 27, 1936.  Her first book of poems, Good Times (Random House, 1969), was rated one of the best books of the year by the New York Times.’

‘Clifton remained employed in state and federal government positions until 1971, when she became a writer in residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she completed two collections: Good News about the Earth (Random House, 1972) and an Ordinary Woman (Random House, 1974).’   First Presbyterian Church Bulletin

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‘blessing the boats’

‘may the tide

that is entering even now

the lip of our understanding

carry you out

beyond the face of fear

may you kiss

the wind then turn from it

certain that it will

love you back   may you

open your eyes to water

water waving forever

and may you in your innocence

sail through this to that’

Lucille Clifton

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The performance included three songs by our University Student Ensemble…and they were heavenly!

The melodious blending of the outstanding voices of theses dedicated young adults…added immeasurably to my Christmas Experience.

I recall, fondly, being asked to read portions of a Christmas Prose rendering, in 2014, as a part of the Christmas Choir Performance.  I have enjoyed few things more than my participation in this wonderful event.

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Our church choir is comprised of people from 18 – to 80…and beyond.

Their beautiful singing and dedication to the worship service in our church in priceless!

Our Pastor, Reverend Janice West, sings in the Choir…as well.  Rev. West has a beautiful voice!

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Once again, I have been moved by my experience in our lovely church…that projects to me the true meaning of Christmas…and I am transported to the time of Dickens and a Christmas Carol, and the majesty and dignity of the wisdom and beauty and compassion and infinite forgiveness and patience of my wonderful African American sisters and brothers…and I listen…silently…for what they can teach me.

As I listened to the words of Lucille Clifton I was reminded of the dignity of Medgar Evers who was, ‘an american civil rights activist in Mississippi and the state’s field secretary of the NAACP.  He worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, to end segregation of public facilities, and to expand opportunities for African Americans, including enforcement of voting rights.  He was assassinated by a white supremacist and Klansman.’    Wikipedia

I reflected on the quiet dignity of Congressman John Lewis who was almost killed on Bloody Sunday in Selma over 50 years ago.  The dignified and unassuming Congressional Leader refused to attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum over the weekend due to President Trump being there.

I thought of my first supervisor, Jim Walls, and his mentoring of me in my early days at Southern Illinois University and his concern and care for me…and that I owe him my success at the School.

‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’

‘So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one

The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas

And a happy new year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

For weak and for strong

For rich and the poor ones

The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas

For black and for white

For yellow and red one

Let’s stop all the fight

A very Merry Christmas

And a happy new year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

And what have we done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so happy Christmas

We hope….’

John Lennon, Yoko Ono

 

 

 

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas

Please enjoy a Great Jonathon Brooks, Christmas, Blog.

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The Christmas season has made its yearly appearance once again! I confess I’m 33 going on 13 when it comes to my love and adoration of all of the wonderful stuff this holiday season means to me. The day after Thanksgiving through December 31 values the stuff I value highly all of my days.

I’ve been spinning my Christmas records and I already read a Christmas novella by Fredrik Backman. It’s titled “The Deal of a Lifetime” and I absolutely recommend it. Soon I plan to read some Charles Dickens Christmas stories. I’ve been picking up presents and passing them out. Once again I celebrated Robert Sabuda’s pop-up cards by special ordering them and sending them out to some of my greatest friends. I’m certain there’ll be Christmas parties soon with assortments of cookies and possibly eggnog. Although Christmas is more to me than records, books, possible eggnog, passing out…

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‘A Christmas Tale’

A Brooks Tale

 

‘Well, Melania, I think we have put Roy over the top tonight,’ the President remarked as he slipped into bed.

‘I am so tired…I am tired in a huge way,’ he continued.

‘Dear, what happened to you the other day when you slurred your words at the conclusion of your speech,’ Melania asked.

‘I felt like, that I was experiencing what I have read regarding the first signs of having a stroke…it was scary…but as usual…I did not reveal any fear,’ the President responded.

‘You must have a check-up and soon,’ Melania retorted.

‘All right my love…but it must remain secret if there is something physically wrong with me…the President can not afford to show weakness,’ he replied.

‘Dad always told me to never show weakness and to turn a failure into a success…if you can only claim it is a success…evidence is not important…what is important is what people see and hear and the ‘Good Story’ will be the one that is believed…facts are not important,’ the President remarked as he slipped off to sleep.

A noise of someone walking in the Lincoln Bedroom was disconcerting in the dark.

The President and the First Lady had taken to sleeping in the renown bedroom as it gave the President a feeling of being close to greatness.

‘Donnie, is that you son,’ Fred Trump quietly inquired?

‘Dad, what are you doing here…are you a ghost,’ the President said, fearfully?

‘Yes, son, you are screwing up and you need to change before it is to late,’ Fred Christ Trump said to his son.

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‘But, Dad, I just wanted to make you proud of me.  You sent me to the New York Military Academy to give me discipline and make me great.’

‘I know that Fred was your favorite son…and I loved him as well, but he did not have the steel to be a businessman like you wanted…and the love of alcohol killed him,’ the President said.

‘Your bias and prejudice toward African Americans and Muslims is staggering and embarrassing,’ Fred said.

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‘But, Dad, you were arrested at a KKK Rally,’ the President responded.

‘Martin is one of my best friends…he stood up for me when some said that I was not worthy of Heaven…and Medgar Evers plays Bridge with me on Tuesday nights,’ Fred responded.

‘You know, Dad, I feel like everything is crashing around me and I am having trouble understanding why so many dislike and hate me,’ the President said.

‘Donnie, I do not want you to make the mistakes that I did.  My time on the Earth was swift…and your’s will be also.  If you want people to love you…you will have to love them.  If you want people to listen to you…your must listen to them and not just the sliver of people that got you elected…you are the President of the United States and that includes every citizen…and they come in all colors and faiths,’ Fred said.’

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‘Who is that with you, Dad,’ said the President?

Hi Chief, it is your old friend and lawyer, Roy Cohn.’

‘Hey Roy, what have you been up to,’ inquired the President?

‘I have been walking to and fro in the Earth, with my mentor, ‘seeking whom I may devour,’ said the President’s former Counselor.

‘Roy, we had some fun…didn’t we…we scared the shit out of a lot of people…and what about the night life,’ said the President?

‘I was unhappy throughout my life and I manifested it by bullying everyone that I encountered.’

‘I was Joe McCarthy’s hatchet man and I ruined lives of innocent people…in the name of lust and greed and avarice and because I enjoyed it, said Roy…sullenly.

‘But, Roy, you sure helped me establish myself in Manhattan as the King of Real Estate,’ remarked the President.

‘Mr President, the dark place that I dwell in and the pain that I feel…every moment…and the chains that I forged in life…are unbearable…when all that I really wanted was to connect with others and feel wanted.’

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‘Life on Earth…is a test…it is an audition…it is standing at the outside of a great door…and then the door opens…and you enter…and then you understand the purpose of your life and how badly you missed the entire point,’ said a remorseful Roy.

‘Hi little brother, ‘said Freddy.  How are you buddy?

‘Freddy, I miss you every day,’ said the President.

‘I wanted to be just like you…you were wonderful in every way…and after your death I decided that I would become ruthless in business…and now in politics.’

‘No one really liked me…but you Freddy, and I decided that strength and being the hardest bastard in the room…was the only way to success…for me,’ said the President ruefully.

‘Buddy, you have made it,’ said Freddy!  You can be truly loved if you reach out and bring people together.’

‘The world is more lonely than it has ever been, said Freddy.

‘I was terribly lonely, ‘Freddy went on to say.

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‘We are at the crossroads of history…and you have two paths to choose from…that is why we have chosen to visit you tonight…’ said Fred.

‘You can arise, in the morning, and lead in a totally different direction than you have over your first year…you can love black and brown and red and yellow people…you can respect Muslims and Jews and all faiths…as they all have a portion of the path to God,’ said Freddy.

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‘As far as the investigations…what will be will be…but you have time to create a legacy of love and compassion and caring…that will outlive your term in office,’ said all three in a rhythmic chant.

‘I see a mushroom cloud…and I see millions of hungry being fed…it is your choice,’ said Roy.

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‘Good morning Mr. President, said Congressman John Lewis…I have decided that I will attend the opening of the Civil Rights Museum with you today.’

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‘It seems especially sunny and warm for this time in December,’said the President.

‘You know, John, I have not felt well for a long time…I would very much like to feel better,’ said the President.

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What If?

Mary Jane and I were talking this morning about the stress that many feel during the Christmas Season.

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The melodious tones of, the singer Andy Williams, tells us, when referring to the Christmas Season, ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.’

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year

With the kids jingle belling

And everyone telling you be of good cheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year’

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However, for many…the wonder…is missing.

In the United States Christmas has become a serious commercial enterprise.

Many retail stores make the preponderance of their profits during the Christmas Season.

Throughout the years I have stood in many check out lines at malls and retail outlets and witnessed numerous people attempting to purchase toys and Christmas gifts…often with credit cards that were subsequently rejected…only for the embarrassed holiday shoppers to produce another credit card…and often two or three…to make the purchases that they felt compelled to engage in…to create the ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ ambiance that popular media promises.

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Have you ever shopped on Christmas Eve and witnessed the frantic panic of last minute shoppers?

Or, what of the many who have experienced loss of loved ones…and this time of year…is especially painful.

Or, what of the lonely…the ill…the elderly…and the forgotten and homeless?

Each Christmas Season the joy of the Holiday presents itself to me in the loving and caring interaction with other members of our human family.

Almost 20 years ago, Mary Jane and Aaron and Jonathon and I attended our first Christmas Eve church service at First Presbyterian.

The magic and the reverence for the Christ Child…was compelling and it was the epitome of my Christmas revelry.

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The ancient axiom that it is more blessed to give than receive…is true.

To focus on others…the needy…the lonely…those who have given up expecting that anyone cares for them…is…perhaps…the reverence for the birth of him…for whom there was,’ no room in the inn.’

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As I have grown older, I wish for the Christmas Spirit of humanity and caring and inclusiveness and acceptance of our differences…to be my standard for living…and to have Christmas all year.

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Often, those who are not of the Christian faith see little that would convince them to want such a system of belief and lifestyle.

If Mary and Joseph and the Babe… were just the story of a select… slivered… segment of humanity…then what is the dramatic and compelling reason to be a part of this elite group?

‘For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungered, and fed thee?  or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

 

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in?  or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’

Matthew 25: 35-40    KJV

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‘The Night Before Christmas’

One of the first Christmas Characters that we encountered, when we visited St. Charles the Saturday after Thanksgiving, was a spritely attired old gentleman who subsequently asked a little boy to look into the window of a book store and observe the book, The Night Before Christmas, and then he gleefully announced that he was the author of the book.

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I, happily, announced to Jonathon that there was Charles Dickens…to which he replied…Clement Clarke Moore is the recognized author of, ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas.’

‘According to legend, ‘A Visit’, was composed by Clement Clarke Moore on a snowy winter’s day during a shopping trip on a sleigh.  His inspiration for the character of Saint Nicholas was a local Dutch handyman as well as the historical St. Nicholas.’   Wikipedia

I was amazed that I had, temporarily mis-attributed the authorship of this wonderful  Christmas Poem…as I memorized it as a child and recited it for both family and friends and classmates…upon request.

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My Mom, so loved the Christmas Poem, and she was delighted whenever I quoted it from memory!

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I identified with the Holiday Classic as Santa Claus had visited our home in Eldorado…and my Dad was still with us…and it seemed that all was well with the world.

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I wondered if Santa made pre-Christmas visits to all homes?

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‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads

And Mama in her’ kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,

Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below;

When what to why wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now!  Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,

On Comet! on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixen;

To the top of the porch!  To the top of the wall!

Now dash away!  Dash away!  Dash away all”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys-and St. Nicholas too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:

He was dressed full in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys was hung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack:

His eyes-how they twinkled!  His dimples: how merry,

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was a white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a round little belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.’

‘A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore   Wikipedia

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Alternate Realities

For the past several years I have noticed a trend toward news programs and written periodicals, such as newspapers and magazines and internet sites, and radio programs, that are focused toward certain groups.

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These focused sites exist for both liberal and conservative individuals.

As regarding the immediate concern regarding senatorial candidate, Roy Moore, when accusations, from several women, including one that was fourteen years of age at the time of the alleged incident, there was a quick and appropriate reaction by the Republican Speaker of the House and many Republican Legislature and Senators.

The Republican National Committee withdrew their support of Judge Moore…only to reinstate the support when it became clear that he had a good chance of winning the election, next Tuesday, and President Trump endorsed him.

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A similar occurrence happened when the Access Hollywood video was revealed, regarding Presidential Candidate Trump, with outcries demanding his withdrawal from the Presidential Contest.

Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, had a conference call where he notified the Republican members of the House that he would no longer campaign for Mr. Trump and that they should do what they must to secure their re-election chances.

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Morality, is a slippery slope, and should be approached, politically, with caution and trepidation.

Neither political party has cornered the market on morales.

When former President Clinton was impeached for issues surrounding the Paula Jones case…I did not defend him and expected the Senate to find him guilty.

I was shocked and saddened when the truth of the Monica Lewinsky affair was revealed.

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I am a ‘live and let live’ regarding consensual relationships…as long as they are between two consenting adults.

I do not believe that, sexual harassment and sexual assault and pedophilia are to be ‘looked over’ for the political expediency of majority political power!

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Often, my Republican friends, of which I am one at least fifty percent of the time, tell me, when mentioning, pedophilia and sexual harassment and sexual assault, what about Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton.

My answer is that this is a false equivalency and not remotely the point!

If the former Secretary of State is found guilty of a crime…let her pay the penalty that the law prescribes.

Former President Bill Clinton was impeached in the House of Representatives and found not guilty in the Senate.

I voted for Ronald Regan and at the time of his Presidency I thought that he was wonderful.

I voted for George H. W. Bush and thought that he was a ‘class act’ and that he handled the Iraq War…brilliantly!

I have become a more liberal Christian..as my life has progressed…but where are my fundamentalist friends…They would have never approved of President Trump or Judge Moore?

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year are the Silence Breakers.  These are the many women who have spoken out regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault and pedophilia.

I applaud these brave women!

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It is hight time and overdue for women to speak out on the pervasive and malignant occurrences of misogyny and objectification and assault and harassment and, God Help Us, Pedophilia!

I witnessed my mother sexually harassed…and I hated it!

I respect women as brilliant and worthy of everything…and more… that men have been the beneficiaries of for my lifetime!

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The degradation of women and the objectification of women and the harassment of women and the assault of women…enrages me…and there is no excuse for it and it should not be tolerated and it is the beginning of the end for our society…when it is sacrificed for political expediency and political power!

If it was your mother or your sister or your daughter or your granddaughter…would it be alright to elect a Republican Candidate for the Senate…in order to keep the seat out of Democratic control?

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What if your wife…or your sister…or your daughter…or your granddaughter….was sexually abused by the President of the United States…would that be alright for the sake of political expediency?

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‘Christmas Vacation’

Christmas 1989…was a particularly unpleasant experience for Mary Jane and I.

We had spent Christmas in Eldorado and had been the recipients of some hurtful comments from one of my aunts.

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Up until that time…I thought that, perhaps, we were one of the few families that had a dysfunctional family member…that was adept at spoiling everyone else’s Holiday Revelry…but I was soon to discover that there were others in our ‘Debbie Downer’ Doldrums.

As Mary Jane and I returned home, by way of Carbondale, we decided to take in a movie to lift our Christmas deflated spirits.

We saw the National Lampoon masterpiece, Christmas Vacation, and literally forgot all of our bad yuletide experience.

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We laughed so hard that tears came to our eyes…and we knew…that there were others like us.

I could relate to so many of the scenes.

In one scene Clark Griswold, Chevy Chase’s character in the movie, is a junior executive who hopes to rise on the corporate ladder.  He stands by as the CEO and several of his executive staff enter a conference room where he begins by greeting each one with, Merry Christmas, until it is obvious that they are responding to him as if he was not there.

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Clark, then wishes the last four of the long line of sycophants; ‘Kiss my ass,’ Kiss his ass,’ ‘Kiss your ass,’ Happy Hanukkah.’

Cousin Eddie arrived with his family and dog, Snots, in the RV…unexpected.

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In another, classic scene, the family is preparing to sled down a steep hill on metal saucer sleds, with Clark spraying silicone lubricant on the bottom of each.

Cousin Eddie asks Clark to not spray his as he would not want to have the metal plate in his head dented…or his hair part would not look right.

Eddie goes on to mention, in regards to his metal plate, ‘Every time Catherine, his wife, revved up the microwave, I’d piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour or so.’

Or as Clark’s Uncle Leo asked, as Clark was cleaning up his massive live Christmas Tree…that had burned up in his living room due to a squirrel biting through the extension cord, ‘If you are not doing anything constructive…bring me my Stogie!’

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The hope that Clark has for his annual Christmas bonus is not forthcoming and is replaced…on Christmas Eve…with a Jelly of the Month Club Membership.

Clark had been counting on the annual bonus for a down payment that he had already placed on an in-ground swimming pool.

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Clark Griswold had given his best efforts to provide a quality and memorable Christmas holiday for his family…and was thwarted by less than considerate family and a Boss…that new him so little he refereed to him as ‘Greaseball.’

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Toward the conclusion of the movie, Clark asks his father how he made it through all of the Christmases that he oversaw…he responded that he had a lot of help from Jack Daniels.

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So, Christmas brings surprises…every year.  It is about a natural and loving interaction with family and friends…and should contain no expectations.

Christmas is a mindset…it is in your control…it can be a Season of Joy…but it starts from within you!

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Photos: Stock photos of Christmas Vacation.

 

What is Time?

‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.’      Albert Einstein

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My buddy, Steve, and I were texting, last evening, and we both commented on the swiftness of time.

I began working at Southern Illinois University on October 10, 1978 and Steve began working for the University nine months later.

Steve noted, that when he and I began our SIU’ careers…we were the youngest members of the department.

It seems that everyone with whom I speak regarding the return of the Christmas Season says the same thing…how did it get here so quickly?

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It was just yesterday that Mary Jane and I were putting up our first Christmas Tree, a full seven foot tall model, and hanging all of the new ornaments that we had purchased to adorn it and wrapping the Christmas gifts for our new baby, Aaron,…Jonathon had yet to make his appearance on the Stage.

I was hoping and praying that I could become a foreman in Building Services…as there were not many of them and I knew that the additional money would greatly aid our little family.

We attended church services on Thursday night and Saturday night and twice on Sunday.

To this day…I think in scriptures…and I am pleased that I do.

I remember Reverend Hazelip, from Texas, who visited our little church so many years ago.

He said that all of life is a stage and we are players upon it…’So play your part well!’

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I recall, one Christmas Season, after Christmas Day.  We did not have much money and we did not have many groceries in the house and I had received a Texas Instrument Computer and a used portable black and white television to display the computer on.

I was reading a book on Hunger in America and it was cold in our little drafty house and…I was a little hungry.

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When I became a foreman in Building Services an African American Building Service Worker told me that he believed that I had come from humble beginnings and that he thought that I was a young man who had fallen on his knees and asked God to help him.

The gentleman who told me this…was so right.

Mary Jane and I visited the Paducah Art Colony, one Christmas Season, several years ago.

We entered Nancy Calcutt’s Studio and fell in love with a pastel of a young woman with a large hat.

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Later, we were riding in the horse drawn Christmas Carriage that was driven by, Jay who is another artist in Paducah, and Nancy joined us for the ride.

The combination of our first Calcutt’ Pastel and the Christmas Carriage ride and the connection that we felt with Nancy and her husband Charlie…propelled us on our love of Original Art or Fine Art.

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I recall, celebrating the Christmas Season with our dear friends, Jo Ann and Peter, and our exchange of gifts…shortly before Christmas.

Jo Ann and Peter had a magnificent Christmas Tree…such as I have never seen.

And it was adorned with the most unique and rare and antique ornaments and I marveled at it.

Jo Ann made the most excellent Italian Coffee for us.  And, I liked it…almost to much.

We spoke of adventures to come and our friendship and our love for SIU.

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I remember Christmas with Mom and Dad…and Laughing Santa and the love that I felt and the security and joy of the Season…and the smells that were unique and special to the event.

Mom looked like a model and Dad made me think of John Wayne.

I was happy and I knew that life was going to be wonderful and complete and happy and fulfilling…and you know what…it has!

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The Jay Brooks that you see at sixty years old…is the culmination of all of the experiences that I have had over those 60 years.

‘When I consider they heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained: What is man, that thou art mindful of him?  and the son of man, that thou visitest  him?  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.’   Psalm 8: 3-5

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‘All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,’

As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII [All the world’s a stage]   William Shakespeare