Monday, November 23, 2015

Rome - Geneva

November 23, 2015 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I began this week in Rome, resting up a bit from my trip to Kenya and also visiting with some of the Kenyan friars who are studying in Rome for their masters and doctorate degrees. When I get back this Friday I have still a few more friars to visit, and then I will be able to write my report. On Monday evening I was invited back to the Bishops' TV network for another interview. This one was part of a program called Pope Francis' diary. It is a half hour program. There were three topics that we covered: the massacre in Paris, one dimension of Pope Francis' teaching at my choice (and I chose his emphasis on mercy) and then what I had seen in Kenya where Pope Francis is visiting this coming week. On Thursday I flew up to Geneva for a meeting from Friday until this morning, Monday, of Franciscans International. This is a NGO of the Franciscans throughout the world which lobbies for human rights at the United Nations. The staff here in Geneva and that in New York is doing a fine job. It is thankless work because you rarely see a big victory in one's lobbying, but one makes contacts and plants seeds of thought and slowly it has an effect. One example is how they lobbied to have the right to drinkable water to be seen as a human right. That is essential lest companies control the distribution of water and monopolize water in a particular country (which would weigh very heavy on the poor). This morning we had to register some of us at the cantonal office of the canton of Geneva as part of the registering of the organization as a legal entity in Switzerland. The country is very, very well run, but also very heavy on requirements (which especially makes sense given the number of terrorist funding agencies that have arisen). Tomorrow I fly out to Gdansk for a meeting with one of the provincials there. Then Friday I head back to Rome. I have finished some books: Fade to Black by Steven Bannister A light arises out of an ancient mound near the city of Glastonbury. This light represents the arrival of an evil force that is set on murder. A young police detective who is a descendant of an ancient family which has fought this evil force in each generation must team up with the archangel Michael to combat both this force and its human accomplices. The Aztec Opal by Rodrigues Ottolengui This is the story of a very expensive opal which disappears during a dinner held on a boat trip. The boat strikes a sand bar and the lights go out. When they are turned back on, the opal around the neck of one of the women is gone. The detective must figure out who has stolen it from among the guests around the table. Scavenger by David Marrell Unfortunately, I have picked up a couple of not so good books in the past couple of weeks, and this is certainly one of them. The premise is that a very rich person kidnaps a number of people so that he might use them in a real video game in which the object is to find a time capsule hidden in 1900 by an insane preacher. People are killed in this game. The problem with the book is that the characterization is weak, the premise improbable and the reader (I listened to this one) not all that good. Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio and Steven Davis This is an account of the opposition to the Kennedy administration in Dallas from the time of his election as president to his assassination. The author does not propose that the far right killed Kennedy. He seems to think that it was Lee Harvey Oswald. However, he does speak of the atmosphere of violence that was established in Dallas in those years by people like the billionaire Hunt and General Walker. These men fought for the continuation of segregation, the exit of the US from the UN, and other favorite positions of the John Birch Society. They orchestrated violence against LBJ and his wife and against Adlai Stevenson. This book gives a good outlook of what was going on when Kennedy visited the city where he was killed. Where the West Ends: Stories from the Middle East, the Black Sea and the Caucasus by Michael Totten This is a travel story of a newspaper correspondent who travels through areas of the world where Western culture is mixed or collides with eastern. He travels to Kurdistan in Iraq, Georgia during the Russian invasion, Serbia, Kosovo (which turns out to be more Western than not even though the majority of its population is Muslim), Montenegro (where the Muslim population is being proselytized by missionaries from Saudi Arabia), Romania and Ukraine. He encounters adventures and near disasters. He recognizes his foolishness at times (e.g. travelling in Ukraine without knowing either Russian or Ukrainian). He finds very friendly people (especially in Kosovo) and people who would cut his throat if they had a chance (e.g. some Serbs). It is well written and an easy read. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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