Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rome - Chicago - Pismo Beach

January 14, 2014 Peace and Good, Well, this has been another travel week. I started last week in Rome. On January 7th, we had a meeting of the new provincials from all over the world. They asked me to do a spiritual introduction on the Franciscan concept of authority. I used St. Peter as an example, especially in terms of his willingness to serve even with his brokenness. I am so impressed by the fact that he was the major source for information in the Gospel of Mark (for Mark was one of his disciples), and yet the portrait of Peter in the Gospel is not all that impressive. Peter was not afraid to admit that he had made mistakes so that the early Christians would know that you don't have to be perfect to be a disciple. That was on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I flew to Chicago for a couple more meetings. They are getting ready for their chapter, and there is quite a bit of work to do with various things in their province. I will be going back in February. Then on this past Sunday I flew out to Pismo Beach which is in California. It is mid way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The friars have a house that was donated to them by two sisters, and they put me up there. The sun room has an incredible view of the beach. I had been in Pismo Beach for a couple of months a number of years back on a Sabbatical. It is good to be back. This morning I have a meeting with the California provincial and his definitory, and then I head down to Los Angeles to start my visitation. The weather changes these weeks have been incredible. Montreal and Chicago were around 0, while Rome was around 50, and Pismo Beach gets up into the 60's. I finished some books: Boss Tweed: The Corrupt Poll who conceived the Soul of Modern New York by Kenneth D. Ackerman I had often heard about Tammany Hall and how it controlled the politics of New York City. Its most famous leader was Boss Tweed who reigned from the 1860’s to the 1880’s. He controlled all the contracts made in the city and took a cut of everything. He controlled elections in the city. He lived a spectacular life, but he also shared his riches with others, including with the poor. He was brought down by the efforts of a cartoonist who worked for Harper’s Weekly and by the investigation of the New York Times. Eventually, Governor Tilden joined in the campaign. (Tilden lost a very disputed election in 1876 to Rutherford B. Hayes.) Tweed eventually died in prison, all but pennyless. The book is well written and gives a decent portrayal of this scoundrel. The Surrender of a Cockney by G.K. Chesterton This is a short story about a Londoner, a Cockney, who chooses to live in the country not because he actually likes it. Rather, he goes there so he can long all the more for his beloved city. He sees the city as the climax of all that is good. He cannot understand those city folk who think that the country life is ideal. This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History by T.R. Fehrenbach This is a thorough history of the Korean War. It gives information both about the political issues but also the human dimension of the soldiers fighting on the allied side. It freely admits the mistakes that the US made in letting its army degenerate after World War II, and also in letting a spirit of easy service enter the mentality of the soldiers which left them unable to affront many of the hardships they faced in fighting the North Koreans and the Chinese. It dealt at some length with the controversy surrounding the dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur by President Truman. A thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena de Blasi This is the story of a elderly couple, a American woman who write on cooking and an Italian, Venitian banker who decide to sell everything and move to a small farm house in Tuscany. They meet the people from the village and begin to fit in. They have a warm relationship with an old, crotchety local and his woman friend. There are details of the relationship of the couple, of what they do, and especially of what they eat. It is an enjoyable book, filled with insight into life. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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