Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Detroit - Peoria - Chicago - Sydney - Melbourne

Peace and Good, February 26, 2014 This has been another travelling week. I am having a series of meeting with the friars of St. Bonaventure Province both in the United States (the Midwest) and Australia. Today is the 5th and last in the series. We are preparing for their provincial chapter this summer (actually, the first session is at the end of April), and there were some unusual circumstances that had to be taken care of before that happens. The meetings have gone very well. I always try to approach the meetings with the spirit that I have some ideas that I must share, but I do not have a monopoly on the truth. I try to listen and explain why things were done, but I don't want to become defensive and try to defend things that could easily have been done differently and probably in a better way. That takes a lot of work on my part of keep my own ego under control. The friars are looking forward to this chapter as a time to take a good look at the way the live their lives and make some fundamental choices for the future. Not every chapter works that way. Sometimes they only confirm things the way they are going. But we have a good opportunity this year to make a big difference in things, and I am very hopeful. I flew down here to Australia on Friday (arriving on Sunday because you lose a day at the International Dateline when you are flying in this direction). It is late summer down here - a pleasant change from the cold weather in the Midwest. I fly back to Ellicott City on Friday and arrive there Friday night (because you pick up a day at the International Dateline flying in that direction). I finished some books: The Appetite of Tyranny by G. K. Chesterton This is a short work that defends the British choice to war against Germany during World War I. I uses much of the propaganda that Britain used against Germany for the atrocities against the Belgians and the French (some of which stories were true while others were simply lies). It is typical of Chesterton’s type of logic. He is never afraid to use cynical arguments to prove his point. Midnight Rising by Tony Horwitz This is the story of John Brown and his raid on Harper’s Ferry just before the beginning of the Civil War. His stated goal was to begin a slave insurrection to free slaves all throughout the south. It is not clear if he really believed this, or whether he set up a scenario in which he would be put to death and thus serve as a martyr for the cause. He was a fanatic who was willing to sacrifice those he most loved for the cause. While most in the north thought he was foolish right after the raid, by the end of his trial and his execution, he was seen as a hero. His action helped stoke the fire that led to the Civil War. The book gives a very good insight to this complex and strange figure. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy This is an action spy story published at the beginning of the 20th century about a rich, indolent English noble who is actually a daring spy whose work is to liberate French aristocrats who are condemned to death during the French Revolution. The story is told from the point of his wife who only slowly realizes who her husband really is. The story is enjoyable even if the style of writing is dated. The Crimean War: A history by Orlando Figes This is a good book about a strange war during the 19th century which occurred just before our own civil war. Russia was threatening to take territory in Eastern Europe from the Ottoman Empire. The British and the French did not want Russia to become more powerful, each for its own reasons. They sent a fleet and army to attack Russia at a port named Sevastopol in the Black Sea. The war was horrible in terms of suffering of all of those involved. The leadership of almost all the forces was incredibly dumb. Those who were injured were treated more like animals than people, especially until Florence Nightingale arrived to help them. Russia lost the war, but won most of what it was fighting for in its next go around. The book is well written and comprehensive.


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