Friday, July 1, 2016

Nairobi - Rome

July 1, 2016 Peace and Good, I am here in Rome for our definitory. We are meeting all week, and as usual talking about every corner of the earth. I presented my report on the Korean province and have now sent it off to Korea for their correction. By the end of this month it should be made public to the friars of the province. It will certainly give them something to discuss as they prepare for their chapter in October. Getting here to Rome was a bit of an adventure. I flew from Nairobi to London on British Air without any difficulty. The problems started in London. I boarded the flight to Rome, but they could not fuel the airplane, so we had to deplane. There was very little guidance on what to do at that point. They finally got another airplane, but when it was time to board, they could not find a crew. They rescheduled us for later in the afternoon. They were late in boarding us, and it took us about an hour to get air traffic control permission to leave. In all, I arrived in Rome nine hours late. I really like British Air, but their entire performance that day was horrendous. They still have not gotten back to me about my complaint. I have finished some books: Collision of Empires: The War on the Eastern Front in 1914 by Prit Buttar So mush has been written about the first six month of World War I on the Western Front, on how the Germans all but overran the defenses of the French and were stopped at the Battle on the Marne, resulting in four years of trench warfare. This book deals with the battles fought on the Eastern Front, in Prussia, Poland, Serbia and the edges of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The battles were enormous and bloody. The Germans were the best organized and suffered the least from these conflicts. The Russians were terribly led by generals who hated each other and at times purposely sabotaged the activities of their own forces led by another general. The Austro-Hungardians were terribly led, believed in the force of the offence, which might have worked well before the invention of the machine gun and modern artillery, but which only led to butchery afterwards. The book is well written and worth of a read for those interested in the First World War. How Paris became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City by Joan DeJean This is the story of how the city of Paris came to be the center of culture that we recognize it to be today. King Henri IV began the transformation of the city. Many of the things which we associate with a great city: boulevards, sidewalks, parks, street lighting, haut coutoure, etc. were invented in Paris. The Pont Neuf became a center of city life when most cities were still closed in upon themselves. City planning at a grand scale occurred again and again in the history of the city. We hear of investors and financiers who became the nouveau riche. This is a very good book that describes how simple changes in architecture and planning changed the city from a medieval warren of alleys into a grand city. The Secret History of Mongul Queens by Jack Weatherford This is a study of the role that women played in the governance of the Mongolian empire and people. The daughters of Genghis Khan were married off to the rulers of various neighboring tribes and nations. Those rulers were then expected to join Genghis Khan in his invasions, while the daughters remained in those kingdoms and ruled them. We hear of the role of the queen mother which was very important among the Mongolians. We also hear of various queens who stood out in importance over the centuries. A History of Eastern Europe by Vejas Liulevicius This is a Teaching Company course. Despite the interesting name of the professor, he was born in the States (of Lithuanian background). He is very informative, and this course traces the history of Eastern Europe from the Middle Ages to the present. It is well done and very informative. Who Put the Butter in Butterfly by David Feldman This is a clever book that traces the etymology of words and expressions that seem a bit odd. It is actually a collection of individual studies done by many people over the years. Some of the expressions are more interesting than others, but it is still entertaining to read where these things came from. Hope you have a good week. I am off to Chicago this coming Sunday. Shalom fr. Jude


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