Friday, July 20, 2018

Rome - Nairobi - Rome

July 20, 2018 Peace and Good, This past week was taken up with a quick trip to Kenya. The custody there was having an extraordinary chapter, and fr. Thaddeus, the Assistant General for Africa, and fr. Casimir, the custos, asked me to come down and help them with the spiritual dimension of their decision making. They were meeting to decide whether to ask to become a province or not. I had been the General Visitator for the past two chapters, so I knew the situation well. There were two other presenters. The first presented the question from the point of view of canon law, and the second from the point of view of the economy. I was surprised at how cool the weather was while we were there. It was in the 60's and low 70's every day. This is their cooler season, and even though Kenya is on the equator, Nairobi is on a plateau which is over a mile high which makes the weather much more temperate. I left Kenya early Thursday morning, and was not there for the final vote. I have heard in the meantime that they voted with a 2/3's vote to ask the General Chapter next year to become a province, which I think is a very good decision. They will be one of two new provinces in the Order, the other being Indonesia. I have finished some reading: Catherine the Great by Hourly History This is one of those short overviews of the life and career of an historic figure. These accounts are under 100 pages, and they only present the general outline of the story, but they give enough information to be able to shape an educated opinion on the topic. In this case, we see the contradictory opinions and actions of a woman who esteemed the enlightenment and yet ruled like an autocrat. Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed by Edwin Barnhart This is a teaching company course that deals with the civilizations of Meso-America including the Aztec, Maya, Tolmec and Olmec. It speaks of their cultures, religions, recreations, food, etc. It deals with the mysterious disappearance of whole populations from certain cities which were abandoned (plague, famine, the end of an era on their calendars??). The professor who presents the course is good, but the length of the course sometimes means that he gives more information than that which would really interest me in a particular archaeological dig. A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva Like most of Silva’s books, this is about Gabriel Allon, a Mossad agent. He is trying to find out who assassinated some women at a claims office for persecuted Jews. He finds that the prime suspect is a hidden former Nazi officer who was responsible for covering up what the Nazi’s had done to the Jews during the war. The most dangerous aspect of the story is that officer is the father of the main candidate for being prime minister of Austria. The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston I have read a number of novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. This is a true story of an expedition to a jungle covered city in Honduras which is called the while city or the lost city of the monkey god. Douglas Preston accompanied the expedition as a reporter for National Geographic. It was an incredibly dangerous trip, and in fact, most of those on the trip came down with a dangerous tropical parasite. They had discovered the city by running a new type of radar over the jungle and they found shapes which were obviously a manmade city. The book is quite good. Lincoln’s Spymaster by Samantha Seiple This is the story of Alan Pinkerton. He was one of America’s first detectives. He served the Union during the Civil War, especially in protecting the newly elected president from an assassination plot while he was on his way to Washington. The account is positive, and avoids speaking of some of the more sordid episodes when the Pinkerton’s were used against organized labor. It is a good, although not very profound book. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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