Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rome - Castro Valley, CA

February 23, 2017 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I finished off the definitory meeting in Rome. It was a bit of a marathon meeting, lasting eight days. By the end, we were all exhausted and all of us had caught a cold. The first day, the Minister General had come in with a cold, and by the end of the meetings it has spread to all of us (which is common when you are closed up in the same room with others for over a week). Sunday I flew out from Rome to San Francisco. I am staying in a town just outside the city, Castro Valley, where I have begun the visitation of the California Province. I will be doing that off and on for about a month. It involves visiting all the houses and meeting with all of the friars in the province (here and wherever they reside). Next week I will be combining the visitation with a workshop that I will give at our novitiate to the present class of novices. The weather here has finally cleared up. It is odd that I was in Manchester and Aberdeen (which are famous for their miserable winter weather) and it was clear, and I get to California and it was raining cats and dogs. The Californians, while inconvenienced by the travel problems due to mudslides and flooding, are nevertheless thrilled that the drought is over. I have finished some reading: Whirlwind by Barrett Tillman This is the story of the aerial bombardment of Japan during World War II. It goes from the Doolittle raid in 1942 up to the final attack on Japan by planes from the air force (which was still part of the army) and the navy. This includes the fire storm attacks on the Japanese cities led by Curtis LeMay and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The author is definitely writing from a point of view that intends to defend the actions of the United States and denigrates any criticism of our actions, even when they were quite questionable. The Price of Love by Peter Robinson A young boy who has lost his policeman father is on vacation with his mother and his new “uncle.” He feels left out of everything, a fifth wheel. He wants to follow the example of his father, so he investigates some suspicious activity of the uncle, eventually uncovering that this man and his mother conspired in the plot that led to the death of his father. The Touchy-Feely Methods of Wallace J. Nichols by Michael Roberts In this essay, a scientist explores whether people might be more willing to invest in saving the environment, especially the seas, if they were to meditate more on how they feel about water and its creatures. It comes across as a new age, touchy feely method of approaching people, but it seems to be bearing some results. People often react to situation on an emotional level, and this approach tries to get in touch with that level and harness it for good. The greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow that Changed the course of World War II by Andrew Nagorski This is an epic study of the German invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II and their drive on Moscow. The author speaks extensively of the motivations of Hitler and Stalin (neither of whom comes off looking all that good). He reports the eye witness accounts of many of the events. He gives an enormous amount of information without getting bogged down in minutia. This is a book well worth reading if one is interested in this topic. Sleeping with the Enemy by Elizabeth Kolbert This is a scientific essay on the study of the DNA of Neanderthals and their relationship to humans. The author finds that there is more similarity to European and Asian human DNA and that of Neanderthals than we once thought, while that of African human DNA is much less. This would indicate that humans and Neanderthals had interactions and probably at least occasionally interbred. The essay asked the question of why Neanderthals disappeared, and it was probably due to the pressure of human presence in their territory (whether this means hunting for similar resources, or more violent means, it is not clear). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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