Thursday, June 1, 2017

Rome - Mt. St. Francis, IN

June 1, 2017 Peace and Good, I hope that all of your are well. I spent the last few days in Rome doing some writing projects and getting caught up on paper work. I had intended on being there until this coming Saturday, but one of the friars in Our Lady of Consolation Province passed away and it was important for me to attend his funeral. His name was fr. Juniper Cumminngs, and he died in a nursing home in Minnesota at 92 years of age. He had been an Assistant General, the Provincial of his home province, the Custos of the Custody of St. Francis in Zambia, the Rector of the Seminary for their province, and the rector of the Shrine in Carey, Ohio. He was a kind and generous man, always joyful. I am attending his second funeral here in Mt. St. Francis, IN, just across the river from Louisville. Then, on Saturday, I will fly down to El Paso where I will spending a week doing a visitation of three friaries in that area in preparation for their provincial chapter next year. The trip yesterday was a bit of a jumble. When I got to the airport, the flight that was to take me to the States (Dallas) was already over two hours late. They booked me on another flight through Charlotte, but when I got there, I was three hours late because of thunder storms in the area. That is what happens with summer travel, especially later in the day. I got here, though, and tonight there is a wake service and tomorrow the funeral Mass. I finished some reading: The 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the destruction of the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama by earthquake and fire in 1923. The Charles River authors are former MIT students who got together and have produced a series of short topic books. It is almost like a lengthened form of Wikopaedia. Zoo Station by David Downing This is a book about an English reported living in Berlin just before World War II. The end of the book coincides, in fact, with the takeover of the Czech republic by the Nazis. The reporter has a German ex-wife and son, and we hear about the strained relationship with his son was he is more and more nazified. In the meantime, the reporter risks everything to help a Jewish family get out of Germany. The topic reminded me a lot of the books of Alan Furst, one of my favorite authors. A Disposition to be Rich by Geoffrey Ward This is the story of the son of a Presbyterian missionary to India who became an investor on Wall Street. His partner in this enterprise was the son of ex-President Grant. Grant invested in his fund, and lost everything that he had. It turns out that the investor was a bit of a sociopath who created a big Ponzi scheme. He was eventually sent to prison for ten years. The whole time he was there, he played the martyr, blaming everyone but himself. The book is quite good, although the coverage of his parents years in India is longer than it really needed to be. The irony is that the book was written by the great grandson of the investor. The Crypto-Currency by Joshua Davis This is an article that speaks about the invention and use of Bitcoins, a currency that was invented by a computer programmer that does not have any authority, but which is traded and used for commerce throughout the world. Its only value is what it receives in its trades. The author tries unsuccessfully to identify its reclusive inventor. It is an interesting idea, but until some nation actually back up the currency, it is doubtful that it will have a lasting value. Dream Machine by Rivka Galchen This is the story of a theorist in Great Britain who has spoken of the possibility of inventing a quantum computer. Normal computers communicate in a series of choices between yes and no. This one would have a third choice, both yes and no at the same time. That would allow for an incredible number of possibilities to be evaluated at the same time, thus speeding up the process in an incredible manner. Some prototypes at a very primitive level are already being tried. Machiavelli in Context by William Cook This is a teaching company course on the writings of Machiavelli. He is best known for his work, “The Prince.” His name has given rise to the adjective “Machiavellian,” which means unscrupulous, conniving, etc. Yet, Cook shows that while one could question some of his conclusions, Machiavelli was at heart a republican. He places him in the context of his society (16th century Florence) in an Italy that was torn by divisions (especially after the invasion of the French army). Cook also studies Machiavelli’s other writings, including his history of Florence and his discourses upon the writings of Livi. Cook also produced a course on St. Francis, and both of these courses are enlightening. Have a good week Shalom fr. Jude Winkler


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