Monday, September 5, 2016

Ellicott City - Austin - San Antonio

September 5, 2016 Peace and Good, This past week has been in the States. Tomorrow I head back to Rome for some meetings. I finished my doctors' visits. All went well. I then flew down to Austin for a meeting with the provincial of our Mid-Western province and Mexico. These two provincials have a lot on which they could work together, and this meeting was an initial encounter to speak about the possibilities. I am very pleased with the results, and both of the provinces will spend the next year discussing the possibilities and presenting their determinations to their provinces. I then went down to San Antonio. There is a formation house here, and one of the friars, fr. Don Barassa, whom I know since his earliest days in the Order, made his solemn profession of vows on Saturday. These days have allowed me to share with these friars what is going on in the larger Order, especially in terms of the fight for justice and peace. I was very pleased with their questions and the discussions we had. I was able to finish a project this morning of editing a prayer book for our friars in Padua. The prayer book is in English, and it is especially intended for pilgrims to Padua. I have finished some reading: The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng This is a most unusual story that is set in Malaya at the beginning of the Second World War. A young man, half English and half Chinese, the son of a shipping magnate, finds a Japanese friend who teaches him the martial arts. The Japanese man was using the boy to find out information needed for the coming Japanese invasion. When it comes, the boy is caught between serving the Japanese in the hope of saving his family and fighting against the Japanese. It is an incredibly ambiguous story told from the point of view of someone whom most would classify as a collaborator. It is well done. Skinhead Central by T. Jefferson Parker This is a well written short story about a policeman and his wife who move to Idaho upon retiring. Not too far away is a group of skinheads, one of whom steals something from the couple. We also hear about the son of the couple who was shot while on duty as a policeman. In a very short space, the author manages to paint a touching and not trite picture of loss and redemption (although not exactly a whole new start for the thief). The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy by Adreinne Mayor This is the story of a king from Asia Minor who challenged the growing power of the Roman republic. He was famous for his use of poison and his remedies to prevent poisoning (which makes sense given that his father was killed after having been poisoned by Mithradetes’ own mother). He was remarkably successful in his battles, but then faced a series of defeats because of bad luck, poor training, etc. This book is very good, but it tries to demonized the Romans a bit too much. Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt Hannah Arendt was a correspondent from the New Yorker who was a Jewish woman born in Germany. She fled and practiced her journalistic career in the States after the war. She went to the trial of Adolph Eichmann in the 1960’s. Her observations are very good. She sees Eichmann as a not too intelligent bureaucrat who probably never thought through the consequences of his choices. She speaks of the banality of evil. The Jewish government of Israel were hoping that they might portray Eichmann as a historic evil figure, and he turned out to be quite different. This is a good reflection on the issue. The Thirteen Colonies by Louis Wright This is an overview of the history of the English colonies in North America from the time of its discovery until the time of the American Revolution. Although I have studies these topics a number of times, it was good to get an overview of the history. The book is not terribly insightful, but it does give a good portrait of the issue. The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarril This is a thorough study of the Inca Empire at its inception and then during its conquest by the troops of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish Conquistador. How is it that so few troops were able to conquer a mighty empire of millions of people. The Spanish soldiers do not come out looking all that good. For all their protestations that they were doing this for the spread of Christianity, they proved to be incredibly greedy and cruel. They certainly didn’t act like Christians. The book also treats of the discovery of Inca ruins, including the famous remains of Machu Pichu. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


Post a Comment