Saturday, November 24, 2018

Chicago - Ellicott City - Durham, NC - Burlington, NC - Winston Salem, NC - Pittsboro, NC - Ellicott City

November 24, 2018 Peace and Good, After our meeting in Chicago, I flew into Baltimore and took off an a trip to North Carolina to visit four of our friaries. I had never seen them before, and it was great to spend time with the friars. In Durham, our friars are the chaplains at North Carolina University and Duke, as well as taking care of an African-American parish. In Burlington, they take care of a large parish (anglo and hispanic) and are chaplains at Elon University. At Winston Salem they take care of a large parish (anglo and hispanic). In Pittsboro, they take care of a small Hispanic and Anglo parish. The last setting, however, is about to change, for there are plans to build housing for about 60,000 people, along with a center for high tech industries. These past few days I have been in Ellicott City. I got to visit our friars in formation in Silver Spring, especially for the Thanksgiving meal. I took care of a few other meetings as well. Today, Saturday, I am heading back to Rome. This week I will have time to catch up my writing projects. Then we have two weeks of definitory. I finished some reading: Ardennes 1944 by Antony Beevor I have read a number of books by Beevor. He is an unparalleled war historian. This one deals with the Battle of the Bulge at the end of World War II. He gives a tremendous amount of information in a way that is not overwhelming. He tries to mildly defend Montgomery (who, like himself, was British), but he is merciless against General Bradley (which is odd, considering his high reputation among many army people). The book is well worth reading. Water, the Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization by Steven Solomon This book deals with the use of water for transportation, trade, growing crops, sanitation, manufacturing, etc. It speaks of the exploitation of water in dams, streams and rivers, underground sources, etc. It covers over 3,000 years of history and the whole world. It really is a monumental work, and its last section dealing with the challenges of water policy in the modern world is worth reading even by itself. This is an important book for anyone interested in the use of water and its misuse. Lenin’s Brother: the Origins of the October Revolution by Philip Pomper The older brother of Lenin, Sasha, was arrested in a plot to assassinate the Tsar. He and his band were convicted and he was executed. This book speaks of Sasha’s life and character and his conversion to revolution. It compares and contrasts Sasha with Lenin, and delves into the question of whether this execution hardened the character of Lenin so that he would later become a merciless executioner of his enemies. Catilina’s Riddle by Steven Saylor Catalina is usually seen as a revel in the Republican period of Rome, defeated by the famous Cicero who was counsel at that time. This book which centers on this particular period of history from the viewpoint of a type of Roman detective who is known as Gordianus the Seeker questions whether the portrayal of either Catalina or Cicero is completely valid. It also presents some aspects of Roman life that we would consider horrible and explains how they were simply accepted as what was normal. It deals a bit with the question of class struggle that led to the eventual destruction of the Republic. I did not find this volume quite as good as Saylor’s others, but it was good enough to enjoy. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kimeade and Don Yaeger This is a short account of the small war that the young US navy fought against Barbary pirates during the days of President Jefferson. It was not an unmitigated success until the last days of the war when the dedication of the US forces to their mission managed to force the various Barbary (North African) emirates to accede to the demands of the Us (without the US having to pay any ransom money or having to bribe the not to attack US ships). The authors use this as an object lesson in how to fight for our rights when we are endangered by outlaw (and especially Muslim) forces. The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter This is a book which speaks about a valuable sword that a US ex-marine gives to a Japanese family in honor of their father, but who are then murdered by a mobster (Jakuza). The American studies how to fight like a Samurai and defends the rights of the family who were treated so badly. It is a bit of a swashbuckler story, but not all that bad. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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