Thursday, January 8, 2015

Buffalo - Ellicott City

January 8, 2015 Peace and Good, I have been taking off for a couple of weeks. I was not able to find time for a vacation this past summer because of all of the provincial chapters and other assignments that I had, so this has been a good time to slow down a bit. The first week I spent in Buffalo with family. In spite of the time of year, the weather was not all that bad (especially for Buffalo). It is good to just have nothing to do for a while. This week, from the 2nd, I have been at our provincialate in Ellicott City, just taking it easy and visiting some friends. One of the things that I do during my off times is read while I am copying some of the books on CD to my computer. I listen to books as I take my daily walks. It gives me a good time out every day. I also listen to them when I am flying. I start out reading, but then, when my eyes get too tired, I will listen. I usually do not sleep on planes, so the night rides can seem long if I don't occupy myself with something useful. Also, I have found that I just cannot work (e.g. writing) when I am on a plane, so I just go with the flow. I received some sample copies of the latest children's book that I have written. This one is on Pope Francis. I will be flying back to Rome this evening. Next week we have our retreat, and then a week of meetings with the new provincials from throughout the Order. I finished some books: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth Silver This is the story of the execution of a young woman who has killed another young woman. The author slowly reveals the background for the killing. None of the characters in the story are totally innocent, and a few are much more culpable than Noa who is to be executed. This is not a call for the end of the death penalty or for its justification. Yet, it is very well written and makes one ask some of the more important questions about life. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho This is the tale of a young shepherd who leaves everything with which he is familiar to follow the dream of his life. In the process, he discovers the Spirit of the World as well as the very holiness of God. This is not a long book, but it is a very pleasant tale of the need to discern the signs of follow the path that leads to the fulfillment which God intended for each individual person. He seeks a treasure which he finds in a most unexpected place. Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II by Arthur Herman This is a fascinating book about how the country geared up its industrial complex just before and at the beginning of World War II. The country had hardly anything at hand, especially because much of its industrial capacity had been mothballed during the Great Depression. Yet, as Roosevelt saw the war coming, he called upon industrial leaders to head the process of rearming America and its allies as well. America went from producing hardly any warplanes to almost 50,000 per year. It made Liberty boats so fast that it halved and halved again the time needed to produce the boats (including a publicity stunt in which one boat was manufactured in less than five days). Our productivity overwhelmed that of the axis powers combined. Robert Louis Stevenson by G.K. Chesterton This is one of those short biographies in a collection of biographies of famous authors. The problem with this one is that it is done by Chesterton. He seems so fascinated with his own witty rhetoric that one does not come to know Stevenson all that well. What I did gather from this study is that Stevenson suffered from ill health all his life, and his adventure stories were a way of escaping from his painful adult reality into a youthful, playful alternate world. Chesterton speaks of how his characterizations are lacking at times, as if Stevenson has used a few brushes of the paintbrush instead of filling out the character. Yet, he speaks of how his over popularity at one time and his then current lack of respect were both exaggerations. He respects Stevenson without canonizing him. The Seven Black Cats: The Adventures of Ellery Queen Typical of all of the Ellery Queen stories, this one is filled with mysteries. Two elderly women disappear, one of whom was paralyzed in bed. Furthermore, over the course of seven weeks, she has purchased seven black cats even though she despised cats. There seems to be a question of money hidden in their apartment. Ellery is able to solve the mystery, but the twists and turns are quite well done. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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