Friday, February 23, 2018

Rome - San Diego

February 23, 2018 Peace and Good, We finished out definitory at the end of this past week. This is the one when we sort out the various requests for assistance for the friars in formation from throughout the third world. We have many, many vocations in those countries but few resources to help them. We worked until Saturday lunch, and it went quite well, everything considered. At lunch, I went with fr. Mark Folger, our friar from California who works on our translations, and two of our Vietnamese friars to try out a Vietnamese restaurant to celebrate Tet, Chinese New Year. The food is actually quite good there. I finished off my visitation of the friars in Vietnam with this interview. On Monday morning I headed out to San Diego. I am here to begin a parish mission this Saturday. I came a few days early to get over the 9 hours of jet lag between Rome and San Diego, but also to rest up a few days for all the jet lag I have built up over these months. I am on Coronado Island where I have given a series of retreats in Sacred Heart Parish. Coronado is beautiful and I am enjoying the rest. I am doing a little bit of writing and editing, but just as much as I want. There are a lot of retired military people on the island (which is a naval base and the training center for the Seals). The staff and the parishioners are very, very friendly. I will be giving a talk to the clergy of San Diego on Friday. Then I will be here until the Thursday after to continue resting before I go back to Rome to preach a retreat to one of the Italian provinces. I have finished some reading: The Lost Girls by Apoorva Mandaville This is an essay on the difference in symptomology for autism between boys and girls. The girls have been more difficult to diagnose, for many of their symptoms are hidden behind a fa├žade of social convention. Furthermore, they tend to suffer from greater social anxiety, eating disorders, suicide attempts, etc. The essay also speaks of attempts to address the needs of autistic girls. Prince Felix Yusupov by Christopher Dobson Prince Felix Yusupov was one of the richest men in Russia at the time of the Russian Revolution. He is also the man primarily responsible for the assassination of Rasputin. He was a strange man, gay and yet married, often dressing up as a woman, partying without limit. He was related to the ruling Romanov family. The story also covers his difficult years in exile, for he never really learned to husband his resources for a rainy day. 1864 Lincoln at the Fates of History by Charles Flood This is a very good account of this fateful year in the Civil War and the year in which Abraham Lincoln was re-elected for a second term. At the beginning of the year, up to the summer, it looked as if he would not be re-elected. So many men were dying under the leadership of Grant. So many battles ended in defeat or a Pyrric victory. It didn’t look as if there were any exit from the war. Then Sherman captured Savannah, and everything changed. I could easily recommend this book for an excellent read. Lie Down With Lions by Ken Follett I really don’t like Follett’s books that much, but this was one of the discount books I picked up sometime ago, so I decided that it was time to read it. The story is quite good – a battle between a French doctor who is a spy for the Soviets during their invasion of Afganistan and a CIA spy trying to help the Afgan fighters. I find many of Follett’s books formulaic – good man, bad woman, heroic woman who much teach the good man how to be a better man. He also presents sex scenes that are much too graphic for my tastes. Not a bad read, but not the best either. The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson This is an interesting presentation of the life of lobsters and the attempt of lobstermen to make a living catching them off the coast of Maine and of scientists to understand and protect the lobster population. There is so much that is not known about lobsters, including mating practices, how they decide to release their fertilized eggs, why some areas are full of lobsters while others are not, why their population plummets at times and then later explodes. The book is a good introduction to the topic. The Haj by Leon Uris This is one of those epic stories like those produced by James Michener, but this one is one generation instead of the multi-generational works that Michener produces. It deals with the Haj, the leader of a clan of a Palestinian family which is dispossessed of their land during the War for Independence in 1947-48. The story is really told from the point of view of an intelligent son who is part hero, part tragic figure. Uris is not all that sympathetic to the Arab point of view – in fact I found some of his portrayal as racist and demeaning. Yet, there is much action and he gives some insights that are worth notice. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

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