Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rome - Dublin

December 16, 2014 Peace and Good, These past two weeks have been a marathon set of meetings in Rome. They all went very well, but by the end of the second week this past Saturday, all of our minds were definitely fried. We don't have any of these big meetings again until mid January, so at least we get a bit of a break. During the meetings, we had a very nice experience. The Minister General of the OFM Franciscans (the ones who wear brown habits) came over to give us a talk on Social Justice and to share some of his experiences. We broke apart as an order 500 years ago, and slowly, slowly we are starting to reconcile. Rome has gotten cold and rainy. This is typical of winter in Rome. This morning when I left for Dublin, there was even a bit of a thunder storm. We don't get much snow - only a bit every few years. I am in Dublin for the next couple of days visiting with two friars from India who are working here. Their provincial chapter will take place this Spring, and we assistants try to visit all of the friars from the various jurisdictions before their chapters to see how things are going. I will meet with them tomorrow. Dublin is cold and rainy, no big surprise. I finished some books: Double Cross: the True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre This is the story of the group of spies whom British Intelligence ran during World War II as double spies. Some were agents sent by Germany who had been caught and put to work for the British. The majority, however, were agents who either were recruited by the British or who offered their services. They include a Russian exile, a Serbian playboy, a Spanish chicken framer, a Peruvian socialite, etc. They fed the Germans false information, especially in the run up to D Day. The British seem to have arrested and stopped all of the actual agents that the Germans sent into Great Britain. One, agent Garbo, actually developed a whole string of false agents (totally fictional) who fed moutains of misinformation to the Nazis. The book and the action described in incredible, but true. Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Harris This book speaks about Western Dakota, an area that is quickly loosing population and which is an expanse of emptiness and beauty. Harris, who is a poet who had previously lived in New York, settles there with her husband on the farm of her grandmother. There she encounters a space which shapes the mentality of those who live there. She speaks of their difficulty in seeing the crisis as it is, often blaming outsiders for problems beyond their ability to resolve. She also speaks of her fruitful relationship with various Benedictine communities in which she find great wisdom and peace. This is a truly beautiful and insightful book. “The Two Headed Dog”: The Adventures of Ellery Queen The title of this story comes from a motel at which the hero, Ellery Queen, stays during a vacation trip. While there, he is told what seems to be a ghost story of how one of the cottages is haunted. He is also told about a jewel thief who stayed in that particular cottage but who escaped a police raid some months before. He is able to sort out what is really happening through a process of clever deduction. For Emmy by Mary SanGiovanni This is the story of two young girls and their father. He owns a book shop, and the younger girl mysteriously disappears one day and is not found again for months. She just as suddenly reappears again in the shop, but sadly changed. She seems to have seen things during her lost period, terrible things. Eventually they sort out that she had been swallowed up by a pocket or a window upon an alternate reality which was cruel and murderous. They book deals with the question of being able to trust in the fundamental goodness of the world, and how that becomes impossible when one has experienced the dark, terrifying alternate realities that lie in the shadows. The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future by Victor Cha This is the story of the dictatorial regime in North Korea which has run the country since the end of World War II. There is incredible inhumanity there, while the elite live in luxury and billions of dollars is wasted on a nuclear bomb development program. The book speaks of the ineffective negotiations that have taken place over the years, and of the attempts to change things through aid given by South Korea, Japan and the US. The only hope, according to the book, is an overthrow of the family that has continued to run this country into the ground for so long. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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