Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Seoul - Bangkok

June 16, 2016 Peace and Good, I finished my visitation in Korea with a meeting with the provincial and his definitory to present the preliminary results. I must reflect upon it a bit and then write it down to be presented to all of the friars in the province. On Monday I flew down to Bangkok to do a few days of work for Franciscans International. For five years there was an office down here, but it closed in 2012 and there were six boxes of records and about two meters of binders to sort through to see what was worth carrying to the archives in Geneva. There was really very, very little. Most of the records were for travel and lunches, etc. Although one normally keeps the records for a full five years, these results had already been audited and there was no reason to carry worthless documents all the way to Switzerland. So the big job turned out to be to sort out those documents that were to be thrown away, and those which had to be burned. The friars here have been very hospitable. They run a retreat house and also an AIDS hospice. I visited the hospice yesterday. There are about 25 patients here, and the staff does a great job taking care of them. We also visited the local Catholic church and the local Buddhist temple. The Catholic Church has a reproduction of the paintings of Michaelangelo at the Sistine Chapel on its walls. It is quite impressive. The Buddhist temple has a structure that is called the path to heaven and hell. It reminds me of those Halloween productions by the evangelicals to show the wages of sin, but with much, much more detail. The climate here is very, very hot and humid. It is over 90 each day, and I am very grateful that there is air conditioning in my bedroom. There is also a Gecko, but he does not bother me and I don't bother him. He is busy eating the insects, and so far there have been none to bother me in the night. I am just worried that at sometime he will decide to try to sell me some insurance. I head out to Nairobi this evening and will arrive at 8 AM tomorrow morning. Then I will be there for a week for the custodial chapter (for I did the visitation there last November). I finished some books: Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child I have read several of these authors books and have enjoyed every one of them. They are about a detective from New Orleans, Pendergast, who is an FBI agent. In this story, he comes to New York to investigate a series of gruesome murders at the Museum of Natural History. His investigation is inhibited by the museum director who is worried about the effect of the publicity on the grand opening of a huge show on superstition. The culprit turns out to be not quite human and is tied to an expedition done by one of the scholars at the museum some years back in the Amazon. Jewish Humor: What the Best Jewish Jokes say about the Jews by Joseph Telushkin The author has written a series of books about Jewish culture. This one is more light hearted than many of the others, but nevertheless valuable for the insights it gives to Jewish culture (or rather, its cultures, for a Reform, Orthodox or Conservative Jews are all different). He speaks of the persecution that the Jews have suffered throughout the centuries and how their response was often an ironic humor. One of my favorites was the discussion of three Jewish mothers. The first one speaks of how much her son loves her; on her 80th he gave her a trip around the world. The second says that her son gave her a big party in a fancy hotel and invited all her friends. The third says that her son goes to the psychiatrist three times a week, at $150 every visit, and all he speaks about is her. Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni This is the story of the great Stoic philosopher and politician Cato who was the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar. He so hated him that when his forces were finally defeated, he committed suicide rather than surrender to Caesar to receive what would probably have been a pardon. He became a hero of those who fought for freedom in the British empire and the US, in spite of the fact that he was a very conservative aristocrat who fought against the rights of the poor. He is not all that nice of a person, but he had enormous influence in his teachings and even more in his life. His greatest problem is that he just could not compromise in anything. His attitude, more than anything else, probably led to the beginning of the Roman Civil War. Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly Harry Bosch, the detective, investigates a murder that seems to have been caused by the Chinese mafia. In the meantime, his daughter is kidnapped in Hong Kong. He knows that she is being held to insure his cooperation in the investigation. There are any number of twists and turns in the story. Like all of Connelly’s stories, this one is well worth reading. The name comes from the English meaning of Kowloon, a part of Hong Kong, where Bosch searches for his daughter. Trotsky by Robert Service This is an exhaustive treatment of one of the founders of the Soviet system in the Soviet Union. He does not come across as that nice of a person, ready to commit what we would call atrocities in order to establish revolutionary terror during the Russian Civil War right after the communist revolution. He hides his Jewish background for he considered it to be unimportant in comparison with his revolutionary credentials. The Cortes Enigma by John Paul David This is one of a series of mysteries in a collection which deals with the gold that was brought back from the New World and shipwrecked off the coast of some of the islands in the south of England. A man is murdered at the beginning of the 20th century, and then his relatives come looking for the reason why he was killed and possibly to find the hidden treasure. It is not too bad of a story. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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