Sunday, February 19, 2012

Baltimore - Liverpool - London - Manchester

February 19, 2012

Peace and Good,

This past week I have been travelling around Ireland and Great Britain for a series of conferences to the friars of our delegation. This delegation is part of the province of St. Anthony of USA. That province took charge of the delegation to help it back on its feet after several bad years and a loss of numbers. They now have a number of vocations at their programs in Canterbury and Misshawaka.

Fr. Paul, the delegate in charge of this jurisdiction, asked me to give a report on the activities of the Congress of Nairobi on multi-culturality. As an order, we have more and more friars from the southern and eastern world, and this is changing the complexion of the order. This is a good thing, but it does cause certain challenges as we try to deal with different cultural understandings, different ways of seeing things.

I also informed the friars of a few recent developments in the order. That is an important part of my job - to inform friars about other parts of the world and what is going on. Many of them easily get caught up with the world they are doing (which is most often very good work, laudable) and they can lose track of what other friars are doing. It is great to see how interested and excited they become to learn about friars on the other part of the world.

This past weekend I travelled up to Manchester to our parish to help out. One of our older friars here has been ill lately, so the friars have been coming up from London and Canterbury to help out. This didn't work this week because the sisters of one of our friars passed away, and the friars here had to help him out a bit during this difficult time.

Tomorrow I head back to Rome.

These are the books that I have been reading.

Lord of the Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

The best way to describe this novel is to call it a 19th century British romantic farce. It is about a man who, because of the way he had been treated growing up, turned out to be an absolute scoundrel. He meets his comeuppance when he encounters a young woman who turns out to be as clever, sensual, and insightful as he. There are some sex scenes which sort of fit the tenor of the book for those who don’t want to read those things. But it is clever and funny. Not exactly a heavy read, but once in a while you’ve got to cut loose.

Making History: the great Historians interpret the Past by Allen Gorlzo

This is a series of 24 lectures from the Teaching Company on how historians write about history. It helps one to get behind what is said to the question of why it was said that way. What prejudice did the author have in describing events as he did? Did it approach it as a gradual improvement in civilization, or the result of decadence? Were there religious motives (or political or economic or revolutionary) in what he is saying and how he says it. This series was quite good, although it is the kind of thing that you would really have to be a history lover to enjoy.

Lenin: a Biography

This is a long, detailed biography of Lenin, the father of the Russian Revolution. Service has written a series of three biographies about the founders of the communist movement: this one, one on Trotsky and one on Stalin. He is neither too negative nor positive. It is frightening to enter the mind of someone who is so convinced that he has a monopoly on the truth that he was willing to sacrifice countless lives to bring about his vision (which was not all that consistent either). He sacrificed almost everyone in his life to his ideal, including most of his communist collaborators. While some of what he wanted was laudatory (justice for the oppressed in society), his way of accomplishing it was horrifying. The book is long with enormous amounts of detail, but one never gets the sense that the detail was put there just to pad the book a bit. At the end of reading the book, one has a very good sense of who Lenin was. I am going to read the other two biographies when I get a chance.

I hope you have a good week.

fr. Jude


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