Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chicago - Rome

March 20, 2015 Peace and Good, This past week I was at two of the houses of the Chicago Province. One of them is on Kenmore Avenue which is a few blocks away from Loyola University on the north side of the city, and the other is called Marytown and it is adjacent to Mundelein School of Theology. The latter is a retreat house and shrine. The friars are doing great work there, and I was talking with the administration there of how we can support their activities. I know most of the friars there quite well. The weather in Chicago was terrible. It snowed a couple of times in the past week, and it was very, very cold (especially along the lake). That didn't stop me from doing my daily walks, but I had to bundle up quite a bit to keep close to warm. (No, no socks with my sandals - one of the friars, when he saw this, said that my toes would fall off). I came back on Saturday. The flight was a bit more complicated than normal because there had been a change in plans. Instead of flying back directly from Chicago to Rome, I had to go from Chicago to Raleigh, Raleigh to London and London to Rome. Fortunately, the connections were great (we had a tail-wind across the Atlantic that got us into London an hour early). My luggage was not lost. All in all, not a bad trip. I will be here in Rome for Holy Week, and then head out to Australia on Easter Sunday. I finished some books and stories: Martin Cruz Smith Tatiana This is another of the Inspector Renko books. This one takes place in Moscow and the small and incredibly corrupt Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Renko is trying to discover the murderer of a Moscow newspaper reporter. He travels to her sister’s house in Kaliningrad and tries to sort out which plutocrat (if not all of them) had her killed. This story takes place in the present era, after the fall of communism. Smith’s books are incredibly well written and provide a true insight to the mess that now rules Russia. A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS by Jennet Conant Julia Child as an OSS agent. Can that be real. Yet, this is exactly what she did during World War II. She helped set up OSS offices (which was the predecessor of the CIA) in Sri Lanka and then in China. This is where she met her husband. The book is about her, but even more about one of her friends Jane who was accused of being a communist during the McCarthy era. It turns out that even though she denied it, she probably was at least a collaborator with the communists. This book chronicles the period from the beginning of the war until Julia became a sensation for her cooking books and her cooking shows. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson This is the story of the American ambassador who Franklin D. Roosevelt sent to Nazi Germany during the beginning of the Hitler Regime, William Dodd. It is also the story of the idealistic and somewhat flighty daughter who first fell in love with the Nazi movement, and then switched her loyalties to the communists. Dodd tried to deal with the German government in a normal way, but that was largely unsuccessful. He was also undercut by many of the career diplomats who resented his populist ways. The title of the book comes from the address at which he lived which was across from the Tiergarten, which literally means the garden of beasts (which was used as a symbol for the beastly behavior of the Nazis. Double Cross by James Patterson This is an Alex Cross story about a widowed black police man/psychologist who pursues both a crafty murderer who escapes from prison (who had been a FBI profiler) and some of his fans who have gone on a murder spree. This search is very personal, for both of these pursued criminals intend to hurt the people whom Cross loves. As with all of Patterson’s stories, it is well written. There is a romance sub-plot between Alex and a female police officer with whom he works on the case. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor This is a very odd story from the southern Catholic author Flannery O’Connor. A family travelling down to Florida run off the road. The men who stop to help them turn out to be murderers who then kill the family members one by one. The grandmother, who is the last killed, is given a chance to change her life in a moment of clarity. O’Connor speaks about grace as coming into our lives as a violent force that makes us make life decisions. The imagery is troubling and challenging. Have a good Holy Week. Shalom fr. Jude


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