Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ellicott City - Mt. St. Francis (Louisville) - Rome - Assisi

June 27, 2015 Peace and Good, I finished off my many appointments at Ellicott City. I came out of them pretty well. I just have a touch of carpal tunnel in my left hand (I am right handed) so I am wearing a wrist brace for the next couple of weeks. It is not all that big a deal, but had drawn tons of comments from the Europeans who ask whether it is a type of boxing glove or whether I am trying to be a Ninja Friar. From Ellicott City I flew out to Louisville. There I conducted a day of recollection for the definitory of the Midwest province on the topic of Franciscan leadership. It was a nice relaxed day. The day after we had the jubilee celebrations for profession of vows and priesthood. Counting up all the years in religious life and the priesthood, there was more than 1,000 years of service in the room. The day after the celebration it was off to Rome. I had come down with a heavy cold and bronchitis, so the flight back was not all that much fun. I am just now recovering from it. We had a one day definitory meeting on last Saturday. We were not able to finish all the business, so that meeting has continued all throughout this week. We also had our annual meeting of the presidents of the various federations of the Order. We divide the Order up into seven geographic regions, and each one is called a federation. Each federation has a provincial or custos who is the president to organize the federation along with the Assistant General. The president of our federation is fr. Jim Kent from the Midwest province. So all day long we have been meeting with them, and in the breaks meeting as a definitory to finish our business. It had been very busy. Today we finish and we head back to Rome. I have finished some books: The Moghul by Thomas Hoover This is a saga about an English sea captain who travels to India during the 17th century to try to establish trading relations with that country. He encounters many strange and exotic situations. He falls in love with a beautiful Persian woman who had been the wife to the moghul. He is part of a battle of one of the Moghul’s sons to take over the empire. There is a lot of reflection on the sharing of cultures and learning from one another. Overall, the book is quite good. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid This is a very interesting book. The action takes place at a restaurant in Pakistan, and it consists of a dialog (although we never hear one side of it) between an American and a Pakistani professor. The Pakistani had been educated in the States and worked there for a major company, but he lost heart over a love interest who drifted away from him into a psychological breakdown and also through the fact that he was collaborating in the oppression of people for profit. (His company evaluated the success of companies and recommended ways to save money which often led to the loss of jobs for employees.) Furthermore, he saw his homeland drifting into an almost inevitable war with India that would probably have resulted in disaster. While the professor is always extravagantly polite, there is a current of tension just below the surface. One is never quite clear whether the American is there to assassinate him, or he is plotting to have the American killed. April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How it Changed America by Michael Eric Dyson Dyson presents the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, and also of the aftermath in the civil rights movement. He speaks of two dangers in speaking of King. There are those who would like to demonize him for bigoted reasons, and there are his followers who have a tendency to canonize him, ignoring his very real humanity. He speaks of his successors, especially Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. He deals with the question of how much has really been accomplished in the battle for equality, stating that the upper and middle class blacks have benefited most from the civil rights movement, but the poor have been left behind in many ways. The presentation is a bit polemic, but it is good to hear certain things from a different point of view. Conspirata by Robert Harris A couple of years ago I read a book by Harris called Imperium. That was the story of how Cicero rose to power in Rome. This is the book of his rule and his difficulties both during his year long reign and especially in the period immediately afterward. The book is very, very well written. The presenter is Tiro, who was a slave and secretary to Cicero. One gets a very good picture of the terrible machinations and very flawed people at the end of the Republic period, just before everything fell apart and Julius Caesar ended up as dictator of Rome. Those Angry Days by Lynne Olson This is the story of the period of time right before the entrance of the United States into World War II. Great Britain was lobbying for the US to assist it, whether by arms or possibly even by joining the battle. There was a huge movement of isolationists in the States who wanted nothing to do with the war. Charles Lindbergh was one of the main proponents of this point of view. The book covers the personality and actions of Lindbergh and his wife Anne. It deals with Franklin Roosevelt’s tendency to equivocate and procrastinate as much as he could. The book gives a good portrait of this very vocal, very contentious debate. I hope you have a good week and a great July 4th. Shalom fr. Jude


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