Monday, August 13, 2018

Nemi, Italy

August 13, 2018 Peace and Good, We have finished the third week of our Extraordinary General Chapter. Things are going quite well. We are actually ahead of schedule, although not enough that we could finish early. It just means that we will not have to work from morning to night as we have in the earlier part of the chapter. There are a couple of committees, though, which put in a lot of hours once we have finished our work, and I admire their commitment. One of the friars from my province, fr. Tim Kulbicki, was instrumental in the revising of the constitutions, and he is basically running the chapter. He is doing a fine job. We will finish two weeks from yesterday. The Friday before we end will be a one day pilgrimage to Assisi to celebrate what we have done. Saturday after lunch I travelled into the city to sleep in my own bed at least one night. It felt great to get off the property where we have been for the past three weeks. The city was very hot, probably about 10 degrees farenheit warmer than here. Furthermore, there were 60,000 young people in pilgrimage there to meet the pope, so the city was very crowded. I am still preaching every morning. I am down to about 10 more days of preaching. I have finished some reading: The Titanic and the Lusitania This is one of the Charles River Editor books which is actually a combination of two shorter books on the Titanic (its building, its luxury, its passengers, its sinking and the aftermath) and the Lusitania (a passenger ship that was torpedoed and sank off the shore of Ireland during World War I with a large loss of life, including many Americans. This proved to be a remote cause of the US entry into the war. The difficulty with the Lusitania is that it was later discovered that the ship was carrying more munitions than was allowed by a passenger ship, something that the Germans had claimed all along. The twelfth Imam by Joel Rosenberg I have to say this is one of the most disappointing books I have read in a long time. The author has talent when he writes about spy craft in Iran, but then he resorts to the lowest ethnic slurs and attacks on Islam all in the name of proposing Christianity. The twelfth Iman proves to be a diabolic figure who is opposed by Jesus who appears (and mouths pious Gospel verses and is a cardboard figure in this book) and the CIA. This is one of those examples of Christian literature which commits the heresy of implying that the US is always on God’s side and anyone who opposes the US is with the devil. An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson This is the story of the first major ally offensive against the Germans and their allies in World War II – in North Africa. The author is fair to all of the participants, speaking of the American unreadiness for combat (which quickly diminished as the troops learned their role) and the British arrogance (especially certain British generals who looked down on the Americans when they themselves had little about which they could brag at this period of the war). This is part of a trilogy on American involvement in the war, and it is very well written. Ghosh, Amitav In an Antique Land This is a very interesting book about a student anthropologist who visits Egypt (the ancient land in the title) and comes across an account of traders and a particular slave/partner of the traders from India, the author’s homeland. These passages were found in the Cairo Geniza, a storage room in an ancient synagogue that contained discarded sacred texts along with almost anything else written by the community. He deals with human relationships in the villages where he lives, and the peasants’ incomprehension of anything that lay many kilometers outside of their village. It is a book that invites one to imagine other worlds and times, and is very, very well written. Cod by Mark Kurlansky This author has taken to writing books on a particular topic such as cod, or salt, or paper. He studies the history of the use of the item. In this book, he includes a number of historic recipes for the use of cod. He also speaks of how it was tied to the slave trade (for dried cod was a cheap source of protein for the slave plantations on the sugar islands. Finally, he deals with the overfishing and the collapse of the cod population in many parts of the world. He is an excellent author, and this is worth reading Black Fire, the True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer by Robert Graysmith This is the story of the original Tom Sawyer whom Mark Twain met in San Francisco and used as a model (at least in terms of his name) for his famous work. The book deals with the problem of lawlessness in the early days of San Francisco, especially with the case of arson set by outlaws to cause panic and give them an opportunity to loot the gold being held in various safes throughout the city. The author also recounts the origin of the vigilante movement in the city. The style of writing is folksy, and while I enjoyed it, might not be appreciated by everyone. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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