Monday, August 27, 2018

Nemi - Assisi - Rome

August 27, 2018 Peace and Good, I am writing this from Santi Apostoli, my home in Rome. We finished our General Chapter this past Saturday. We were up in Nemi, which is just outside the city near Castel Gondolfo, for the chapter. The retreat center where we stayed was on a hill overlooking Lake Nemi, a volcanic lake. This has always been a place for Romans who wanted to escape the heat of the city during August. It was actually quite comfortable each evening. Strangely, there has been over a week of thunder storms almost every day. This is the first time that I remember this happening at this time of year in Italy. The chapter has now passed the constitution and in a couple of weeks we will be handing it over to the Vatican (the Congregation for Religious) for their approval. That process should take about a year. We have our ordinary chapter in late May of this coming year. I will be heading out to Vietnam and South Korea tomorrow. Vietnam is an ordination of two of our friars from Vietnam who have been studying here in Rome along with one living in Vietnam, and Korea will be a meeting with the provincial and his definitory. I was the visitator there twice in these years, and now I am visiting them half way before the next visitation to see how they are doing. I have finished some reading: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot This is about the first years of the career of the veterinarian James Herriot. It thought from the title that the book was going to be about the animals, but instead it is about his relationship with the veterinarian who hires him and gives him experience, the vets brother who is incredibly irresponsible but at the same time fun, the woman who would become his wife, and many of the characters into whom he came into contact. In spite of my misconception concerning the content of the book, I found in enjoyable. Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert This is an extensive treatment of the growth, use and business of cotton. There is a tremendous amount of information contained in the book, but I often found that I wished he had used a better editor for it was often repetitive. He speaks of the early years of the use of cotton when it was tied in with the colonialist movement which was based on terror and conquest. The later period of its use was tied to the industrial revolution (cotton in fact being one of the catalysts of that event) and the capitalist exploitation of poorer parts of the world (often destroying their homegrown industries to force them into cultivation of cotton, which was a far less rewarding enterprise). It was well worth reading, but, as I said, the book could have used a bit of work before it was published. April 1865 by Jay Winik The title pretty much tells one what this book is all about. It is about the last month of the Civil War in the United States, which includes the conquest of Richmond, the surrender of Lee and the other generals, the death of Abraham Lincoln, the confusion sewn by the assassination, and the end of the Confederacy. The author is more sympathetic to the plight of people living in the south after the war, which is probably good to get a different perspective than that which one often receives. The book is well written. Ghana Must Go: A Novel by Taiye Selasi The is the story of how a family from Ghana living in the US heals after the death of their patriarch. The mother (an Ibo from Nigeria) had been divorced by her Ghanaian husband, and she attempted to bring up her four children. Each of them was somewhat damaged by what had happened, the their journey to Ghana for the funeral of the surgeon ex who had died of a heart attack proves to be the crisis that forces the family to face some ugly issues and get over them. It is very, very interesting to hear a story from a different cultural starting point which ultimately is not fully either Ghanaian nor American, for like many immigrant families they are neither and both. Secret Weapons of World War II by Gerald Pawle This is an overview of the special squad established to experiment with odd concepts during the Second World War. This was a favorite endeavor of Winston Churchill who often had outrageous ideas that sometimes turned out to be quite brilliant. The greatest difficulty of the inventors was to be listened to by the establishment organization which tried to kill any creativity before it could get off the ground. I really could not recommend this book because it turns out to be wordy and gives more detail than most readers would like, but it was interesting all the same. 12 Major World Religions by Jason Boyett This is a quick overview of the twelve major world religions, with a bit of their history, their major figures, their major sources of literature, their geographic extension, etc. It is really very cursory, but it nevertheless gives some good information on some religions that are not usually treated in a similar study such as the Jains, the Baha’i, etc. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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