Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hermosa Beach (Los Angeles) - Dingley (Melbourne, Australia)

October 20, 2013 Peace and Good, Well, I finally made it to the next part of my journey. I had to cancel the India part of the journey because of visa problems. I had a panic moment at the airport on Thursday evening when I tried to check in. They had difficulties finding permission for me to fly to Australia. It took them over 40 minutes to process my ticket. It might have to do with the fact that I had originally arranged for the e visa for the next day (because that is when I would have been flying in from India) or it might have been that I was flying into Australia on United but flying out on Quantas and they did not see a round trip ticket. Whatever it was, the agent at United was great and kept at it until she firmed up the travel arrangements. The trip was uneventful but very long. It was about 14 hours to Sydney, a 2 hour layover, and then another hour flight to Melbourne. I was fortunate because the entertainment system on the overseas flight did not work, so I was compensated with extra frequent flyer miles. I usually don't use the entertainment system anyway because I am either reading off my Kindle or listening to books on tape on my MP3 player. I will be here in Australia for about a week doing a canonical visitation. Every several years, one of us has to visit each jurisdiction to see how things are going. We visit each site and speak with each friars. This is not too difficult here because there are only four friaries and about 15 friars. The weather is nice. It is Spring here now. The only difficulty is terrible fires on the outskirts of the cities. Over 200 houses were burned to the ground yesterday. I finished an enormous number of articles for the two magazines for which I write this past week. I am pretty well set until July with one and until the end of next year with the other. That gives me quite a bit of breathing room. I have finished some books: Hitler’s Spy Chief: the Wilhelm Canaris Mystery by Richard Bassett Canaris was the head of military intelligence in Nazi Germany. In certain ways, he was a brilliant spy master. But in other ways, he would be considered a traitor in most countries, for he actively revealed secrets to the British to a lesser degree to the Americans so that the Nazi’s would not win the war. This was eventually discovered and he was arrested after the plot against Hitler and executed toward the end of the war. He was a gentleman who tried to live according to his conscience. He collected information about the atrocities that were being committed in the east (Poland and Russia) in the hope that the Nazi leaders would be called to account at the end of the war. The biography is good and informative, well written. Mystics and Saints of Islam by Claud Field This is an account of Muslim mystics throughout the ages. It gives a short biography and some of the teachings of those mystics who proposed a direct way of coming to know God. We hear of how some of them were accused of heresy and even executed for this. We hear of the Sufi tradition of mysticism which strongly emphasized emotion and asceticism as opposed to observance of the law and study of the Koran. At the end there are a series of appendices concerning Christian teachings to be found in the Koran and the teachings of the mystics. Overall, it is a good book, even if the scholarship is quite dated for it was written in 1910. Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell I have read a number of the Kay Scarpetta series written by Cornwell. She has drifted more and more from a presentation of forensic science to the very dysfunctional relationships of the investigators. Her portrayal is, honestly, getting annoying. Kay Scarpetta is opposed by some female figure who wickedly attacks her. Her adopted daughter gets more and more obsessive. Kay’s relationship with the man she supposedly loves, Benton who works for the FBI, is strange. Her side kick investigator, Marino, becomes more and more bruttish. I have got to admit that I am going to try to avoid her books for a while. A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940 by William Trotter Shortly after he cooperated with Hitler to invade Poland, Stalin demanded territorial concessions from Finland (so that he might have more defensible borders around the city of Leningrad. The Finns refused. So the Soviets invaded. Even though Finland is a small country with a population of only four million, it all but fought the Soviets to a standstill. The poor performance of the Soviets was one of the factors that led to Hitler’s decision to invade the Soviet Union the next year. It is the story of incredible bravery in the face of insurmountable odds. The book is well written and not overly technical. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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