Monday, April 3, 2017


April 4, 2017 Peace and Good, This past week I have been in Rome getting ready for our definitory meeting which began yesterday. The agenda for this week's meeting does not seem all that long, so we might even finish early. I will be heading back to the States this coming Sunday for some medical tests (nothing beg - just the usual tests and a small medical procedure which should not be all that important, but for which the doctor wants me in one place for 10 days to make sure there are no infections). For some reason, the jet lag from my last trip was just about the worst I have ever suffered. It might be the changing of the seasons, or my spring allergies, or just the fact that I am getting older. Whatever, I hope that this is not a sign of what is to come. The weather here in Rome is pleasant these days. We did have a thunder storm this past Sunday morning, which was unfortunate because it was the morning of the annual marathon. I have finished some reading: What a Wonderful World by Paul Guyot This is the story of a detective who goes off the deep end trying to investigate the murder of a hot dog vendor. She had caught his imagination by her zany antics and her unconquerable optimism. It is not that he was having an affair with her, but he certainly was smitten by her. When she is found murdered, he does everything in his power to find her killer, eventually even committing a crime to get even with the one responsible. Eye of the needle by Ken Follett One of the greatest tricks that the allies played on the Germans during World War II was to set up a fake army under the command of Patton right before the Normandy invasion. The placement of this virtual army was right across the channel from Brittany, which was one of the most likely landing sites for the invasion. This book proposes that there might have been one Nazi spy who had evaded the British Secret Service (which had captured most of the German spies and turned them into double agents) who visited the site of Patton’s army and found out the secret. Most of the book is the search for that agent by a small group of anti-espionage agents and his attempt to flee to a submarine to present evidence to the ever skeptical Hitler of his findings. Follett is not my favorite author, but this book is very, very well done. Pakistan on the Brink by Ahmed Rashid This is the third in a series of books on Afghanistan and Pakistan. The author speaks of how American policy has fallen short when dealing with Pakistan, especially during the Obama era (although he also traces many of the problems in the area to the presidency of Bush). He speaks of the role of the secret service in society, often all but running the state in secret. He speaks of the various insurgent groups and how Pakistan is all but falling apart as a nation. The book is a good primer on the situation there, even if reading or listening to it is terribly frustrating because it almost seems as if there is no way out of the mess. Great and Terrible King by Marc Morris This is the story of King Edward I of England who ruled at the end of the 13h century. You might remember him from the film Braveheart for he was Edward Longshanks (known this was because he was so tall). He was the first English monarch who conquered all of Scotland and Wales. He was good in certain ways (a legal system) but horrible in others (his conquests, his dishonesty, etc.). He lived a very long life for those times (68 years old). He was followed by a miserable son who lost much of what his father had conquered. The account is very well done and I would recommend it. The Korean Mind by Boye Lafayette Mente I read this book because I was doing the visitation of the Korean province. It has helped me understand how Koreans as a people think and why. As always, it is quite generic in the way it approaches this topic, but I was surprised how it explained certain things to me which puzzled me. One example is how courteous Koreans tend to be, unless they don’t know you. If you hail a cab on the street, it is not uncommon for a Korean to steal the cab, possibly even pushing you out of the way. They have long lived in close contact with others, so they developed a system in which your loyalties were owed to the family and not the outsider. The book was good, but also exhaustive. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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