Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rome - London - Chicago

December 22, 2013 Peace and Good, This has been a jet lag week. I finished off my meetings in Rome a week ago Friday. They went quite well, and I think we got a lot accomplished. Sunday, a week ago (the 15th), I took a flight out to London where I spent the next few days. The weather in London was pretty much what you would expect at this time of year. It is overcast with rain every once in a while. I met with the Custos, fr. Peter Damian, who is doing a great job. He has a lot of decisions to make in the next few months, but he has a calm, thoughtful spirit about him which will help him a lot in his responsibilities. Wednesday I flew from there to Chicago. Thursday I had a couple of meetings in Rockford, a two hour drive from Chicago. I asked one of the friars to drive me there. Normally, two hours is nothing for me, but working on jet lag, it just seemed too much of a risk. The meetings went very, very well, and we got a lot accomplished. Friday I preached a day of recollection for the students of this province. We looked at two scripture passages, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, and applied them to the season and their lives. I was pleased with how it turned out. In between conferences, there were some more meetings. Saturday I drove up to Milwaukee to complete the series of meetings. There was a lot of wear and tear in all these meetings, but we did get some good things done. Today, Sunday, I fly back to Rome. This morning is the first day when I feel the jet lag loosing its tendrils, and it is time to return to the European time zones. I will be in Rome until the 27th when I fly back to Montreal for another short series of meetings. I finished some books: 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance by Gavin Menzies This is the second book by Menzies that I have read. The premise of both is the same: that much of our scientific knowledge in the Western World actually came from the east when the emperor sent large fleets on exploratory journeys throughout the world. He has an enormous amount of documentation, but listening to this book, I was struck over and over again by his tendency to attribute every single scientific discovery to the east. If there was a genius in the West such as Copernicus or Leonardo da Vinci or Guttenberg, it was because they stole their discoveries from the east. He speaks about an enormous fleet that brought this knowledge to the Western world, but there just is not enough outside data to convince one of the fleet’s existence. That is not to say that what he says is wrong, just that it seems overdone. This is not a book that one would want to read for relaxation because it has a large number of technical terms, but it is informative. The Italians before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean by Kenneth Bartlett This is a Teaching Company course about the various city states in Italy which gave rise to varied cultures all throughout the peninsula. It especially deals with the machinations of the great lords of these states during the late Middle Ages and the period of the Renaissance. Bartlett speaks about the usual great cities such as Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and Naples. He also speaks of Urbino, Pisa, Ferrara, Genoa etc, smaller cities that nevertheless played a significant role either in the politics of Italy or the art and literature of Italy or both. He also deals with the tension between supporters of the Holy Roman Emperor and those of the Pope, as well as the invasions of the Spanish and French royal families. The lectures are well done, and they do give insight why it is so difficult to speak of a unified Italy. To give just one example, the people of Genoa and Pisa still dislike each other so much that when someone dies, they say that at least it is better than having a Pisan at the door. The series of 24 lectures is well done. Undue Influence: a Paul Madrini Novel by Steve Martini This is the story of a lawyer who is called upon to defend his sister-in-law who is accused of killing her ex-husband’s new wife. There had been very bad faith between the ex-wife and the new wife due to questions concerning the custody of the two children from the first marriage. There is intrigue, political scandal, affairs, etc. Both the investigation part and the trial part of the book are well written. There is also a good sense of humor throughout. It was quite enjoyable. Vespers by Ed McBain This is another of the stories from Ed McBain which revolves around a fictional police station. Each of his novels usually involves two main crimes. That is true of this volume as well. The center of the book, though, is the murder of a priest. As the detectives dig more and more, there are elements including drugs which a young punk has hidden in the Church, a grumpy man who fights with the priest, a possible affair the priest is having, a church dedicated to Satan just down the street, etc. The second crime involves a woman who loves a detective, but she has had a bad past which included prostitution, murder and theft. Both stories are well developed. I always find McBain’s books easy to read and enjoyable. Hope you have a Merry Christmas. Shalom fr. Jude


Post a Comment