Monday, January 8, 2018

Rome - Ellicott City - Rome

January 8, 2018 Happy New Year. I travelled back to the States on December 30th for a series of doctors' visits this past week. This is routine stuff, and all went well. I have the green light for the next 50,000 miles (which unfortunately come rather quickly in my life). I was able to be with a number of the friars last Friday night when we held a celebration at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore. Every year at the Feast of the Epiphany we pick a patron saint and a religious saying to guide us throughout the coming year. I received St. Francis for this year, which is great. It will remind me to work at being more like out founder. The trip back and forth was uneventful. The weather is much, much warmer here in Rome than it was in Baltimore. I am here for meetings over the next two weeks, and then off to the Philippines and Vietnam. I finished some reading: The Case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg by Charles River Editors This is the story of the life, trial and execution of two of the most notorious spies in America during the 20th century. They were accused of spying for the Soviets, stealing nuclear secrets and thus shortening the process for the Soviets to obtain atomic technology. They always claimed to be innocent, but there are indications even from the Soviet archives that at least Julius, the husband, was guilty. Long Knife: The Story of a great American hero, George Rogers Clark by James Alexander Thom This is a ficional history of George Rogers Clark. He is a little known figure of the War of Independence, but he is responsible for conquering much of the western part of the then united colonies. That would mean the territory from the Appalacian Mountains to the Mississippi. He did this by taking a militia of Virginia hundreds of miles and conquering a couple of important British outposts from which Indian attacks on settlers were organized. He was never as fully recognized by his state officials or by federal officals as he should have been. Enemies at the Gate by William Craig This is a very well written, very well documented history of the siege of Stalingrad, both the German siege to conquer the city and the Soviet siege to surround and decimate the German armies holding most of the city. There is incredible cruelty in this story: for the way the citizens were treated, for the way that the soldiers of each army treated each other, and even for the way that each army treated its own soldiers. No one comes out of this looking good. The whole battle was not even intended in the beginning. Yet, once the prestige of either conquering or defending the city that bore the name of the Soviet dictator got in the way, there was no turning back. Blood Memory by Greg Iles This is a story that takes place in the south, New Orleans and Natchez. It is of a dental forensic expert who is investigating a mass murderer. The story takes a horrific twist when the crimes are tied to child abuse, and the investigator realizes that she, herself, had been abused as a child. It is difficult to view the characters in the story with any warmth or compassion because they are all deeply flawed, either by their own choices or by the wounds that life had dealt them. The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester This is the story of a very eccentric Cambridge scholar, Joseph Needham, who fell in love with China and everything that it represented. He was sent to China during the Second World War to bring assistance to the suffering academic world there. While he was there, he made countless discoveries of how many things which Europeans assumed were their own inventions were actually found in China many years and at times centuries before the West every received them. He eventually began a huge project of documenting the Science and Culture of China which was published by Cambridge University Press. Needham was not necessarily an easy person to work with. He made some serious political mistakes over the years, especially by uncritically backing Mao after the Communists took over, but his contribution to the knowledge of China is inestimable. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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