Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ellicott City

July 5, 2014 Peace and Good, I have been in our friary in Ellicott City for the past couple of weeks. This has been an opportunity to visit my doctors and dentist, something which is quite difficult with all the travels that I normally do. I had seven appointments over the past couple of weeks, and everything went well. My biggest concern is always the cardiologist since I had some difficulties a few years back, but all is in order. I have also had a chance to visit the local library and take out tons of books on CD and transfer them to my computer so that I can listen to them as I travel and do my daily walks. I especially love history, and I was able to find a number of books which I had wanted to read for quite some time. Today I fly out to Chicago for the beginning of a series of provincial chapters over the next month. I was in charge of leading the first session of these chapters, and now I sit back and participate as the Minister General's representative. I hope that means I will have more time to talk with the friars about what is going on in their lives. The first sessions were filled with business and getting ready for the next event. Now, I don't have to worry about those things. These past couple of weeks allowed me to get in touch with some of my friends in the Baltimore area. That was great, because I don't get to pass through Baltimore all that often, and sometimes when I am here, it is just to go from one meeting to another. I finished some books: Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert P. Bix This is an extensive biography of the emperor who rules Japan during World War II and all the way into our era. Over the years there has been a tremendous controversy concerning how involved Hirohito was involved in the launching of the war and its atrocities during the war. From this book it is clear that he both knew of all of this, and that his role was whitewashed after the war by Japanese authorities and American authorities (including Douglas McArthur, who was the Governor General of Japan during the after war period). He is not presented in his best light, but it is clear that much of what he was was determined by those who formed him during the reign of his father (which was tragic considering the mental instability from which his father suffered. The Craft of Intelligence by Allen Dulles This is a book that explains the origin of the CIA and the need for intelligence and surveillance in a free society by one of the great directors of the CIA. At times it turns into a bit of an apologia for his organization, and it often only tells half the truth, but it is overall a solid book. Dulles began his career as a spy of the OSS in Geneva during World War II. I read a book last year that was about one of his German spies. His brother was John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State during the Eisenhower years, and his other brother was Avery Dulles, the Jesuit author and teacher at Catholic University. (It was said of Avery Dulles that there was dull, duller and Dulles). Brilliant Prey by Brenda Wallace This has to be one of the worst written books I have ever read. It is supposed to be the story of a member of Mensa (the organization for brilliant people) who is given a challenge by an unknown person. As she tries to solve the puzzle, she is lead to a story of murder and worse. But there is little connection between the characters and their character development is poor. The story jumps from one event to another. The book tries to be religious, but then descends into depravity. I really don’t know what the author had in mind. The Red and the Black by Marie-Henri Beyle Stendahl This is one of those classic 19th century novels that I had never read and desired to put under the already read column. It was not quite what I expected. It is filled with never ending dialog and monolog. It is a love story, but really the story of a man who loves himself so much that he would be willing to use others to reach his objectives. It is the story of class distinction in France after the restoration of the monarchy (after the fall of Napoleon). Overall, I found the book tedious, and really could not wait for it to be finished. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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