Sunday, May 21, 2017

Assisi - Rome

May 22, 2017 Peace and Good, Our meeting in Assisi went very well. When I got home to Rome, I was able to work up a set of minutes for the three day meeting along with a number of different addenda from other side meetings that we had in those days. This last week has been a meeting of our monthly definitory. This time the agenda was not packed, so we actually finished early. Today I have a couple of writing project that I must finish if possible, and tomorrow morning I head out to Padua for a few meetings on various topics. Padua is up in the north, not too far from Venice. It is only a few hours by train. I will meet with the editors of the magazine for which I write (the Messenger of St. Anthony) and then with the heads of the charity organization called Caritas Antoniana to see whether they might be able to help Franciscans International. One of my jobs is to be a liason between various groups to help each of them do its job better. The weather has turned quite warm. We have even had early summer thunderstorms in these days. We have a new guardian in our community: fr. Francesco Celestino. He is from Calabria, the toe of the boot of Italy. He was the custos down there, but their chapter was coming up and his job there would have ended. Our previous guardian was called back by his home province so that he might be the vicar (number two man) there. I have finished some books and articles: History of Hitler’s Empire by Thomas Childers This is a teaching company course (twelve lectures) on the history of the rise and fall of Hitler’s regime. This topic could easily have used double the lectures, for some of the stading lectures seem a bit rushed and enormous amounts of detail are sandwitched into the available space. Nevertheless, the presentations are good and thoughtful. In the Dark of the Night by John Saul This is a horror story in which a doctor collects the implements that mass murderers used to conduct their evil task. He dismantles them so that they will lose their mystic power. After he died, his lake side house is rented out to a family, and their son and his friends begin to reassemble the objects which reacquire their power which results in a series of murders. This is the first time I have read something written by John Saul, and I have to say I liked his style and would read more of his writings. The Bully Pulpit by Doris Dearns Goodwin This is a rather long account of the relationship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft. They started out the best of friends, but ended up running for president against each other in 1912 when Roosevelt bolted from the party and formed a progressive party. They fought against each other, ending in the election of Wilson. The relationship was only healed much later. Ostensively, the title of the book has to do with Roosevelt’s relationship with the press. That is handled well, but it is not really the central topic of the book. Nevertheless, the book is well worth reading. Lonely Vigil: Coast watchers of the Solomons by Walter Lord Lord is famous for writing well-resourced accounts of events such as the sinking of the Titanic or the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk during World War II. This is another World War II account about the coast watchers (Australian, British and American) who resided on islands in the Solomon chain (in which one finds Guadalcanal) and reported to those higher up the movement of ships and planes. This gave timely warning to bases that were about to be bombed or to contingents that might have to defend themselves against enemy troop landings. This was a highly dangerous work, often behind enemy lines. One had to deal with jungle and sometimes hostile local populations (although many of the locals gave heroic assistance to the coast watchers). This is a true story that reads like a spy novel. Ivory’s Ghosts: The White Gold of History and the Fate of Elephants by John Frederick Walker From ancient times, people have used ivory as a gem, as a material to use for decoration, for worship, etc. Most ivory used has come from the elephant, although some has come from hippo, walrus, etc. This mostly involved the death of the elephant (although in early years much came from elephants that has already died and whose remains lay scattered on the ground. The trade was also long associated with the slave trade, for locals were captured by Arab traders to carry the ivory to the coast where it and they were then sold. This was a horrendous trade that led to the deaths of countless people and elephants. This book tells the story of the use and trade of ivory. It is not a sentimental work but rather is highly practical in its approach (e.g. in dealing with the question of a total ban on ivory trading which has led to unfortunate consequences for the local populations both of people and elephants). Mad Science by Mark McClusky The subject of this article is a man who is using scientific discoveries and apparatus to cook food. This includes vacuum pumps, centrifuges, etc. He has produced a massive cook book of the very best techniques to acquire the absolute best flavor and texture for meals. The problem is that the techniques are often long and difficult, and other than a few enthusiasts, the cook book will probably only be used by a few. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World by Ken Alibek Ken Alibek, the author of this account, was a chief scientist in the bioweapons effort of the old Soviet Union. He describes his and others attempts to weaponize the worst of all bacteria and viruses to be found, including smallpox, tularemia, Ebola, etc. While the Soviet Union constantly denied its existence, this program was extensive and often successful in their efforts. The effort continued into the present days (with Russia taking over the impetus) and it has spread to many other countries (e.g. North Korea, Iraq before the invasion, Iran, etc.) It is frightening in its consequences. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


Post a Comment