Friday, January 30, 2015

Rome - Atlanta

January 30, 2015 Peace and Good, I spent the last week in Rome. We had our meetings with the new provincials and the new secretaries from around the world. When that was over, I spent the next few days catching up with a couple of writing projects. One of the friars had asked me to write a series of reflections for the Sunday readings for July and August for the magazine that he edits in Poland. I wrote them in English, and he will have them translated. I finished that project on Monday. Then, on Tuesday, I finished typing and editing a series of articles for one of our magazines in Great Britain. I am now free to address a couple of projects that have been on the back burner for a little too long. Yesterday, I flew out from Rome and traveled to Atlanta. I am here just to visit the friars, especially those at a parish we recently took charge of. This will also give me a chance to see the Super Bowl here before I head out to El Salvador for a meeting on Monday. I finished the following: The Point of Death: An Elizabethan Murder Mystery by Peter Tonkin This is a murder mystery set in the days of William Shakespeare. Tom, who is a master decipherer of codes, stops a brutal rape by a number of young lords during a war in Holland. Later, these lords hatch a plot of poison the rightful owners of a fortune of an inheritance. Tom is caught up in the middle of it when one of the spies trying to discern the plot is killed by his side during a performance of Romeo and Juliet. The action is clever. The dialog is good, but it can be a bit difficult to keep the characters names and titles in place. It was a good read. G.K. Chesterton by Julius West I have been reading books by Chesterton for a few years now, and I thought that I should like him because he wrote an important biography on St. Francis, but I have come to progressively dislike his writing style. He is aggressive in his attacks on others, mocking of their positions. I thought it was just me, but reading this short biography confirms what I was feeling. This author describes Chesterton as being comfortable in a mythic period that resembles the Middle Ages in his mind but which probably never existed. He enjoys debunking the liberal attitude of his era. Interestingly, he leans toward socialism, but nevertheless attacks the doctrinaire followers of that theory. The word curmudgeon seems to fit well. The Gunpowder Gardens, or a Time for Tea: Travels Through India and China in Search of Tea by Jason Goodwin The premise of this book is that it is written by a man whose two grandmothers both lived in lands where tea was produced. The author travels to those lands, specifically China and India, to learn all about tea. We hear of the history of its trade, the preparation of the tea leaves, the different qualities of tea, the societies that built up around its exploitation. The book is good. The Last Crusade: the Palestine Campaign in the First World War by Anthony Bruce This is the story of the conquest of the Holy Land by General Allenby and the Arabs guided by Lawrence of Arabia. Many military and political leaders saw this theater as a side show when compared to the main act occurring in the trenches of France. But this invasion which succeeded in 1918 drove the Turks out of the war, which had a domino effect upon the other Axis forces. It speaks of the logistical difficulties of fighting a war where there were few roads, few railroads and little water and food available. The book is well done. Red Orchestra by Anne Nelson This is the story of a group of spies in Germany during the Second World War. They wanted to end the tragedy of the Nazi regime. They used every means to show the opposition to what was going on, including printing posters and leaflets, sabotaging train schedules, and spying. They tried to send the information they collected to the allies, but they especially worked for the Soviets. The Soviets tended to mishandle their work and put their lives in danger. They were eventually discovered and most of them were put to death. The story is well told, even though it goes a bit easy on the terrors of the Soviet system as opposed to the terrors of the Nazis. Both were a disaster beyond telling. Hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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