Buzz Brookman leads off 1st Things Last Conference

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Buzz Brookman leads off 1st Things Last Conference
Brookman Sheets
Buzz Brookman sitting at his desk.

Old Testament professor discusses innate skills and passions, development of communication skills and humble attitudes towards humble beginnings.

Buzz Brookman, who holds a Ph.D. in ancient studies, led off North Central’s annual 1st Things Last conference on Feb. 17 where he discussed with students about finding what drives their passions, and not being afraid to start from humble beginnings.

Brookman titled his message “The Mummy, The Artifact, and the Fox in Socks.” It was “not a sermon, nor a homily, not even a little mediation,” according to Brookman.

Brookman did not base the majority of his message from scripture, but elected to take a closer look at the first three objectives listed in the student handbook. He elected to compare it to a pre-graduation address.

“For in a commencement speech, one usually challenges the graduates to take what they’ve done over the past four of five years and go change the world,” said Brookman. “The premise, of course, is that they have changed, that they are not the same people that came as freshman, thrashing about in a kettle of ignorance, boiling over onto the kitchen floor of society, so that teachers like me need to mop up the linoleum of civilization.”

Brookman’s first point was a metaphor based on the film, “The Mummy.” He described nightmares he had after watching this movie as a young child, but how it became a catalyst for his fascination of the ancient past. After seeing a real mummy, he realized his “innate God-given interests and talents.”

Students were treated to clips of Brookman humorously being edited into trailers for both versions of the movie. This resulted in a roar of laughter from the congregation.

He then transitioned to discussing The Artifact, his second main point. An artifact, according to Brookman, is something that leads one to think new thoughts that go against the stereotypical thought process.

For Brookman, this was a Mesopotamian artifact, a tablet that he wanted to be able to read. He would go on to the University of Minnesota to study ancient languages. He encouraged the student body to find “your own artifact.”

Brookman’s third-point used “The Fox in Socks” as a metaphor. This Dr. Seuss book is designed to teach children basic communication skills.

He described us living in a “video game age” where fewer students are mastering skills in reading and writing. Brookman used a powerful quote by Mark Twain to further emphasize this idea.

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them,” said Twain.

Brookman has noticed a gradual decline in student’s reading and writing abilities and suggests placing on emphasis on practicing these skills in all classes, not just in English courses.

Brookman used a children’s book in this instance to relay a message for students that is okay to start from the very beginning. He describes a danger to feel too proud to begin at the bottom level.

“You don’t start with third year Greek,” said Brookman. “You go to class, you do the exercises. You ask for help, and so on and so on…the transformation doesn’t happen over night.”

He told a story in which he was attending a seminar at Harvard University to learn how to better use Macintosh computers. He was asked to help an individual at this conference who he later found out was a Nobel Prize winner.  Brookman shared this story to show someone being humble and not ashamed to start at the beginning stages.

He finally asked the students to respond, but acknowledged that each individual was to respond differently. Some students will avoid skipping classes so often, while some will work on their communication skills.

“There is more to being a good leader, than simply being a spiritual person,” said Brookman.