Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Accra - Saltpond - Takoradi - Accra - Rome

August 18, 2015 I am a bit late this week because the last few days in Ghana were not good for wifi connections. They have daily blackouts because of a shortage in power generation facilities, and this can wreck havoc on routers. This past week I was with the friars. I preached at two different churches in Accra, St. Francis and St. Clare. The first is a parish and the second is an outstation (but within the city limits). Both masses were great. My heart really is in Africa in the way that they celebrate their liturgies. If it weren't for the heat of equatorial Africa, I would volunteer in a minute. During the week, I stayed at novitiate at Saltpond to give some talks to the incoming class of novices. That went very well. Then on Saturday they asked me to preach at the solemn profession of friars in Takoradi. This is a city on the far west of the country along the coast. This is where we have a printing press which is very successful. Saltpond in in the center on the country on the coast. It is named after the saltponds along the coast which were used for salt production. Accra is in the far eastern part of the country along the coast. I very much enjoyed my time in Ghana. The weather was not bad at all because it is rainy season right now. Yet, I could feel the wear and tear physically after three weeks in the country. It was good to get back to Rome yesterday. Today I am catching up on various things, and tomorrow I head to New York City for a project for Franciscans International. This is what I have been reading: Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly This is the story of the last year of life of General Patton and his strange death at the end of the war. There is the possibility that he died because of a plot inaugurated by either the KGB or the OSS (the predecesor of the CIA) or both. O’Reilly’s analysis is at times very good, but at times it is calously foolish. One good example of the latter is O’Reilly’s attack on the fact that the Americans at the end of the war did not continue on and try to conquer Berlin before the Soviets reached it. First of all, the Soviets were already there. Second, over one half of a million Soviet troops were killed in conquering it. Would O”Reilly have had that many Americans die to conquer a city that the leaders of the big three powers had already decided would be in the section of Germany controlled by the Soviets? Overall, this is a good book. The War at Sea: Volume 1 The Defensive by S.W. Roskill This first volume is a good analysis of how Great Britain responded to the threat of the Nazi attack at the beginning of the war. This includes questions of how to slow down the Nazi juggernaut, how to combat submarine depredations against merchant shipping, how to mine the waters around Nazi ports and defeat the mines in their own waters, etc. Of particular note is the war in the Mediterranean and what happened against the French and Italian navies, what happened in the siege of Malta, and what happened to the navy during the invasion of Greece. The Year that Changed the World: 1989 by Michael Meyer This is the story of the call of the communist world in Eastern Europe in 1989. The auhor was a correspondent for Newsweek magazine and he was stationed in this part of the world almost by accident in 1989. He travelled from crisis site to crisis site, documenting the almost accidental fall of the communist world. The fall began with an economic crisis in Hungary and the decision to place the government into the hands of a reformer (in order to have someone to blame when the inevitable fall would come). He and his friends consciously conspired with the West German government to bring down communism. The book is well written and quite exciting. He also gives an insightful analysis of the reaction of the Western world to the fall and how it led to our present difficulties. The Blackmailer of Park Lane by E.F. Benson This is the story of a rich man who is bored with life. The bring an little excitement into his dull existence, he decides to blackmail a man who is about to become a peer of the empire with a vague accusation. The man who is blackmailed responds by paying up, but then blackmails in turn his blackmailer for he catches him spending some of the gold coins which had been the money that he had used to pay the blackmail. Hunting Eichmann by Neal Bascomb This is the true story of how operatives of the state of Israel first discovered and then kidnapped and carried to Jerusalem Adolph Eichmann, one of the main architects of the final solution to kill all of the Jews under the rule of Nazi Germany. He is brought to Germany and put under trial, condemned to death, and executed (the only person that has ever been legally executed by the Israeli government). The Mossad, which was in charge of this operation, was a relatively new organization and this was at the other end of the world in a country with a large German minority, many of whom were sypathetic to the Nazi movement. One of the things that strike one is that even after everything this man did was brought out into the open, he continued to deny responsibility, saying he was just following orders. Good Country People by Flannery O’Connor This story is another of the Flannery O’Connor short stories. It tells of a woman and her daughter who had lost a leg in a hunting accident. The daughter is named Joy, but changes her name to the most ugly name she can find, Hulga, to get back at her mother. They meet an innocent Bible salesman who describes himself as good country folk. He and the daughter, who is a confirmed atheist, take a long walk by themselves. The daughter, with her dispeptic personality, turns out to be a better person than the faker Bible salesman. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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