Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rome - Tegucigalpa

September 11, 2014 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. This posting is a bit late because of two reasons. First of all, I have been travelling. I am in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for a meeting this week. The second reason is that my laptop died. It was over 5 years old, and with all the travel I do, it took a lot of wear and tear. I was able to buy a new laptop over the internet and have it shipped to our provincialate in Baltimore and fr. James McCurry, who also attended this meeting, was able to bring it to me down here. I was in Rome for a week after my trip from Saigon. It was a good time to slow down and relax a bit, as well as get caught up with some taping and writing projects. On Sunday I flew into Chicago where I overnighted. Early Monday morning it was off to the airport for a 6 AM flight to Miami and a flight from there down to Tegucigalpa. Honduras is a very violent country with all the gangs. This is the reason, in fact, why so many young people are fleeing to the States right now. The gangs force the young people to join them, or they will kill someone in their family. The meeting I am attending is in a complex which is safe. I will be here til tomorrow when I fly back to Rome. The friars have been most hospitable. They live simple lives and are very good men. This jurisdiction and one in Costa Rica are getting ready to join together in 2017, and every six months there is a joint meeting of the counsels of each jurisdiction to plan things out a bit. The Latin American Assistant General, fr. Jorge Fernandez, is in charge of the negotiations, but they hit a bit of a snag and the General asked me to join Jorge to help with the process a bit. It went very well this week and I believe that things are back on track. I finished some books these days: Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage by Douglas Waller This is the story of the founder of the OSS, the secret intelligence service for the US during the Second World War. The US wasn't ready for the war. They had disbanded their intelligence organization after World War I because of a tendency toward isolationism. Donovan, a hero from World War I, was called upon by FDR, to create a new one. He sought aid from the British, and eventually made a creditable organization which was the predecessor of the CIA. Donovan, while being a hero, was also a bit of a cad and egomaniac. He came from Buffalo. In fact, there was a major government building there named after him. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism. With the establishment of the OSS, he not only had to fight against the nation's enemies. He also had to combat enemies within our own government who were jealous of their responsibilities (like J. Edgar Hoover in the FBI). The book is well done, neither a book of praise nor a hatchet job. Matterhorn: A novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes This is a novel of a hill in Vietnam and the marines who fight to conquer it. One hears of the difficulties of the military authorizes and they often pettiness which caused deaths among those for whom they were responsible. One hears of the drinking, drugs, racism, etc that plagued the forces during the war. One is overcome by the sense of futility to all that was going on. The marines were ordered to build bunkers on the hill, then abandon the hill to fight elsewhere, then retake the hill with the very well fortified bunkers that they themselves built. It is a good account of those years. Deathride: Hitler vs. Stalin - the Eastern Front, 1941-1945 by John Mosier This book is intended as an account of the war on the Eastern Front during World War II. The author is clear that he dislikes Hitler and what he did, but he even more dislikes Stalin. The book is intended to destroy some of the myths concerning the so-called heroic defense of the mother land against the German invaders. Stalin is portrayed as a monster. It is difficult to decide who is worse, Stalin or Hitler. The author contends that Stalin was also a terrible military leader who carelessly sacrificed the lives of millions of his citizens to win the war. The book gives a lot of good facts, but the prejudice of the author is just too evident at times. The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine Jazz Age New York in by Deborah Blum This book tells of the attempts of the medical forensic investigator's office to find means for assessing when poisons were used to murder people. This is especially centered on the toxicology lab in New York which became the standard against which other such labs in the country were measured. Some of the poisons include wood alcohol, methyl alcohol, cyanide, lead, etc. The book has a bit of a crusader's tone to it, but it is well written and documented. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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