Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rome - Geneva - Rome

November 29, 2012 Peace and Good, This posting is a bit late this week because I had to leave on Monday to fly to Geneva at a last minute’s notice to take care of some business up there with Franciscans International, the NGO lobbying organization sponsored by the Franciscans at the UN. I flew back last evening after the meetings had concluded. The weather in Geneva this time of year is not great. It rained from the moment the plane touched down until it was time to go to the airport to return. I cannot believe how expensive everything is up there. It is sometimes double the prices down here in Rome, and Rome is already at least 50% more than in the States. This past week was spent trying to get ahead with articles, web scriptural reflections, etc. I have managed to get into a position where I am several months ahead with the articles and have finished the reflections until after the New Year, so I am in good shape. Tomorrow I will begin translating some important documents for the General Chapter. We usually have another translator for documents, but these are documents produced by the Minister General and the General Definitory, and I was present when they were written. I know what we were trying to say, so it was thought that it would be best for me to do these particular documents. There will be about 150 pages of them, so I will quite busy with them for the next ten days or so. I have also been hosting some friars who came through from our province, including our minister provincial, fr. James. We all went out for pizza Thanksgiving evening (and no, they didn’t have turkey pizza anywhere). I have finished a few books: David King Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi Occupied Paris This was a very interesting book about a mass murderer in the city of Paris during the Nazi occupation. It seems as if the man involved, a doctor, Dr. Maurice Petoit, convinced people that he could transport them to safety to the unoccupied part of France and eventually to Argentina. He offered these services to those who were desperate to escape: Jews, criminals, just normal people. He killed people in one of his properties and was only caught when the smell coming out of the building tipped people and eventually the police to the fact that he was burning bodies. There is no clear idea of how many people were actually killed. It might have been more than one hundred. The author speaks about the situation in Paris, the life of the doctor, and the eventual trial and death of the murderer. The irony was that the Nazis were killing hundreds and thousands of French in their death camps at the exact same time. The investigation into the deaths actually began during the occupation period, and only ended after the liberation. It was complicated by the fact that many of the people involved in the investigation were removed from their responsibilities because they were being accused of collaboration with the Nazis. This was a good book, although it is messy and troubling. Yalta: The Price of Peace by SM Plokhy This conference was one of the most infamous of gatherings of the leaders of the World War II allies. It resulted in the surrender of most of Eastern Europe to the communists for most of the rest of the century. This book surveys what really happened at that encounter. The book is well documented and not a difficult read. It deals with the motivations of Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt. It deals with many of the accusations that have been put forward concerning that meeting. It asks what could have been done to save Poland when it was already occupied by Soviet forces. The only real alternative would have been a new war when most of the world was incredibly exhausted from the war that was not yet over. I like the realistic tone the book takes. Stalin comes across as a shrewd manipulator of the other two main negotiators. One sees how much he controlled the government and army of his country. His underlings did not dare propose anything to the allies without first passing it by him. I would definitory recommend this book for anyone interested in World War II and Cold War history. Barcelona Betrayal by Steve Kenning This is a detective novel that takes place in Barcelona. The heroes of the story are a couple of soon to be married detectives. They are both beautiful and highly intelligent. All the other police in the story come across as incompetent or corrupt or both. The story dabbles with idea of multiple personalities, but the psychological information seems to be mistaken and confused. It is a good presentation of the environs of Barcelona, but the heroes come across as two dimensional and I wouldn’t recommend this particular author. Hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude


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