Monday, June 18, 2018

Castro Valley, CA - Buffalo, NY

June 18, 2018 Peace and Good, I was in California this past week for the provincial chapter of St. Joseph of Cupertino Province. This week I will be in Buffalo for the chapter of Our Lady of Angels Province, my home province. This has been a busy time, travelling from one city to another each week. This morning, in fact, I was speaking to one of the friars who said something about being "here" and it took me a few seconds to figure out where "here" was. One of the things that really impressed me this past week was the massive commitment that the California Province has made toward their mission in Vietnam. The mission is going very well, and the only thing holding back the numbers is the amount of space available for men in formation. The chapter decided to give approval for the construction of a new building to hold the postulants (which is the first step in the formation process). After this week, I will be heading off to Chicago for the last week of chapters in the States. From there, I will head back to Rome for a week and then off to Nairobi for a week of chapter. I finished some reading: The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner I wish this book had been better for the premise was very good – a study of how the English translation of Sacred Scripture differs from the nuances that one finds in the original Hebrew. Yet, it fails to deliver. The author gets caught up in her own life and its difficulties, and she goes on and on about how the English translation gets it all wrong. (Unfortunately, much of what she used to prove this is commentary by rabbis who lived over several hundred if not thousands of years after the text was written.) Japan’s Countdown by Eri Hatta This is the history of the year before Pearl Harbor from a Japanese perspective. We so often hear about what the Americans did or did not do, and this was refreshing for its honesty and complexity in dealing with Japan’s rush to war. (In the decision to go to war, the Japanese were not even sure who the enemy should be, for they were torn between the US and England and the Soviet Union.) We hear about the two levels of debate and positions taken by the men running Japan, that for public consumption and that which they really felt. We also hear about the danger that they faced from fanatical forces that had already assassinated several government officials. Whatever you do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison This is an interesting collection of anecdotes collected by a safari guide. The author is from Australia, and ends up working in Botswana. The title comes from the recommendation that one encounters what appears to be a dangerous animal, the last thing one should do is run from it. The book is quite entertaining. The War that Killed Achilles by Caroline Alexander This is a retelling of the action in the book by Homer the Iliad. The scholar who presents the action is able to deal both with the inside story and those details of ancient history and myth (and even at times the history of warfare) that make the story come alive. We see one week in the history of the siege of the city of Troy, for that is all that the story covers. There is the question of pride and honor which color all that happens. I highly recommend this book. Nazareth: the History and Legacy of the Hometown of Jesus Christ by Charles River Editors This is one of those short studies of various topics. This one is about Nazareth, from its foundation until the present. It especially deals with Nazareth at the time of Jesus and then of the shrines that were built to commemorate various events in his life. The Spy’s Son by Bryan Denson This is the true story of a spy who originally worked for the CIA, but who betrayed his country to the Soviet Union. He is eventually caught and sent to prison. While there, he sets to work to continue his espionage again, but this time using his youngest son as a courier to the Russian Secret Services. The book gives a good overview of the type of work Harold James Nicholson did before his betrayal. While certain reasons are given for his betrayal, the bottom line for what he did seems to be some malignant effect of his extreme narcissism. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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