Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Castro Valley, CA - Soquel, CA - Castro Valley, CA - Chicago - Savannah

July 22, 2014 Peace and Good, This past week I was in the middle of the redwoods at a retreat house for the second session of the Chapter for the California Province. It went very well, and we finished on time. The retreat house, run by a community of Franciscan Sisters, is about an hour from San Jose and not too far from the Muir Woods. It is in the midst of some new growth redwood trees. It is a really beautiful area. This was the second of four sessions for the various chapters. The next two will be next week (in New Mexico) and the week after that (in Buffalo). I headed back to Chicago on Saturday and off to Savannah on Monday for a meeting. So far I have been fortunate with my flights. No delays, no lost luggage, etc. While in Chicago, I was able to go to my favorite Vietnamese Restaurant for some Pho (soup with noodles). Vietnamese food reminds me of Italian food: simple ingredients prepared simply. This week I will be in Mishawaka (near South Bend, IN) for a day of recollection and the simple profession of some friars. I finished some books: The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi by Peter Popham This is the story of a woman from Burma (now called Myanmar) who was the daughter of one of the leaders who fought for independence of his country (and was assassinated shortly after that independence was achieved). She travelled to Burma to be with her mother who was deathly ill. When she arrived, she became entangled in the movement for more freedom against the military dictatorship which ruled the nation. Even though she won an election to take over the country, the military refused to acknowledge her victory. They placed her under house arrest where she remained for decades. Yet, she never gave up, and in fact renewed her fidelity to the cause by embracing her Buddhist heritage. She won the Noble Peace Prize and countless other awards for her heroic witness to the truth. Early Judaism: A comprehensive Overview, edited by John Collins and Daniel Harlow This is a series of 24 lectures by the teaching company on the late Old Testament period and early centuries of this era period of Judaism. It speaks about the history of the peoples, their difficulties, their literature, their worship, etc. The material is presented by a Jewish rabbi, and it is packed with information that comes from a non-Christian viewpoint (which can be very valuable to get another perspective on various things). It was one of the series of lectures from which I learned quite a bit. The Taj Majal: The History of India’s Most Famous Monument by Charles River Editors This is a short presentation of the building, architecture and history of the Taj Mahal. Built as a tomb for a beloved wife of a Mughal Emperor (Muslin Emperor of part of northern India), it was also a monument that proclaimed the grandeur of that empire. It was located at a critical juncture of a river over which much commerce and travel passed and thus was a constant reminder of the power of that reign. It is an interesting mix of Persian and Hindu motifs that show the blending of the various cultures. The Religion by Tim Willocks This is a rather long saga of the story of a number of people involved with the siege of Malta in the 16th century. Suleiman the Magnificent sent his Turkish forces to invade Malta which was the base of the knights of Malta. They had proved to be an irritant to his commerce through their piracy. He intended to do away with them once and for all. Against all expectations, the knights were able to defend themselves until the Turks finally gave up and went away. It is also the story of a noble woman (Carla) and the man who falls in love with her, Matthias Tannhouser. There are also a number of memorable characters. There is much bloodshed in the story given the stage upon which the story is set. Yet, the story flows very well, and there are a sufficient number of heroes (on both sides) and villains to give the story a vibrant tone. It is well worth reading. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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