Sunday, January 13, 2019

London - Rome

January 13, 2019 Peace and Good, I finished my visit to London. It was not all that cold, but incredibly dreary. I understand why the British left the island to colonize all over the world. I also got to my favorite Chinese restaurant. I got my tripe which I try to get every time I get to London. This past week as been dedicated to a meeting with new provincials, custodes and provincial secretaries from all over the world. There were twelve of them this time. It was a good group that really tried to participate as much as possible. They asked a lot of questions and shared quite a bit. In the middle of the week I had to scoot up to Assisi for some business. While it was cold in Rome when I left, it was super cold in Assisi with a strong wind. By the time I left there were snow flakes in the air, something that occasionally happens in Assisi but rarely in Rome. We finished our meeting yesterday with a pilgramage to the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber Island. This basilica is dedicated to the martyrs of the 20th century (from the communists, nazis, rightists and leftists, religious groups, etc.). It is a moving experience to see the various items which these martyrs used and to read a bit of their story. Tomorrow we begin our definitory meeting here in Rome. That will continue through Friday, and then it will be off to the States (Ellicott City, Clifton, Bridgeport and Boston). I finished some reading: Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico by Gustavo Lozano and Charles River Editors This is a short treatment on Emperor Maximilian. Right around the time of the Civil War, Mexico was falling apart. There were various debts to other nations and they were threatening on intervening to make sure that they were paid. The chief among them was France which actually invaded. The US could not really invoke the Monroe Doctrine because of the civil war. Maximilian, a Hapsburg from Austria, was invited to become the emperor. He was actually liked by many Mexicans, but Juarez fought a rebellion which eventually overthrew him. He was executed, and his wife Carlotta travelled back to Europe where she lost her mind. Marshall Josip Broz Tito by Charles River Editors This is the story of the Communist dictator of Yugoslavia. He ruled from the time that he liberated his country from the Nazis until he died. The book is very fair, speaking of his relative success in establishing a mixed economy in his country, but also ruthlessly eliminating his enemies. The book also treats his attempt to establish a reformed version of communism which did not depend upon the communism of the Soviet Union. Since Yesterday: the 1930’s in America, September 3, 1929-September 3, 1939 by Frederick Lewis Allen This is a very good treatment of life in America during the 1930’s. This is volume two, the first dealing with the 1920’s. The book deals with major figures, movements, political issues, etc. One of the things that most impressed me was Allen’s judgment of why the Depression lasted so long (for it never really ended until the beginning of World War II). His diagnosis is that major corporations had gained so much power in the nation that they all but closed out of the market any entrepreneur who wanted to start a new business. Lincoln’s Bishop: a President, a Priest and the Fate of 300 Dakota Sioux Warriors by Gustav Niebuhr At the beginning of the Civil War, there was a disaster in the state of Minnesota. The Sioux rebelled and conducted a series of massacres in which hundreds of people died. This book deals with that period, but also with the Episcopal bishop of Minnesota who fought for just treatment of the native Americans. He studied the various treaties that had been made with them and chronicled how the government and its agents had violated all of them. He even travelled to the White House to lobby President Lincoln. I had never heard anything about this story, and the book was very good. Medieval Russia: The History and Legacy of the Groups that Developed the Russian State in the Middle Ages by Charles River Editors This short treatment of the history of Russia in the Middle Ages speaks of the slow amalgamation of the various city states to become the country of Russia centered on Moscow. It speaks of the Mongol invasion and their influence upon Russian culture and politics for over one hundred years (through the Golden Hoard). It also deals with the inauguration of the serf system. Great Trials of World History by Douglas Linder This is one of the Teaching Company great courses. This particular course covers a series of 24 lectures, each dealing with a particular trial which had great influence upon history. Some of the trials are from long ago (e.g. Socrates, Giordano Bruno) while others are more recent (of Nelson Mandela, the Scottsboro boys, the Chicago eight, etc.). Each lecture gives information about why the trial occurred, how it was argued, and how it ended. The course is very well done. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Rome - London

January 3, 2019 Peace and Good, I spent the Christmas days in Rome. Many of the friars headed out to visit friends and family, so I helped baby sit the Curia. We always need someone at home in case there is an emergency somewhere. On December 31st I flew into London to visit the friars here. We have a custody in Great Britain and Ireland, and it is good to touch base every once in a while to see how things are going. So far it looks good. The custody has its problems, as does every jurisdiction, but over all I see improvement in what has been going on. Tomorrow I will fly back to Rome and next week we have our annual workshop for new provincials. That goes a week, and then the week after we have our usual definitory meeting. I finished some reading: Will Rogers: American Legend by Charles River Editors Will Rogers was a comic cowboy during the early decades of the twentieth century. This is a short biography of Rogers along with some of his witty political commentary. My favorite saying what when he told people that he did not belong to any organized political party – that he was a Democrat. CSI Reilly Steel Inferno by Casey Hill Reilly Steel is an American forensic expert working for the Irish police. This particular story deals with a series of murders that are tied to a trial in which a rapist got away with a very light sentence due to his connections. Someone is killing people involved with this miscarriage of justice using scenes taken out of Dante’s Inferno. The Art of Deception by Ridley Pearson This is a detective novel dealing with a series of murders. The story is quite good, and I enjoyed listening to it. It is not all that deep, but it was entertaining. The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman Barbara Tuchman is a great historical author. This book deals with the period between 1890 and the beginning of World War I. It treats both Europe and the US. She deals with major characters, major movements, attitudes, etc. I could always recommend any of her books. They are packed with information without being overwhelming. By Its Cover by Donna Leon Donna Leon is one of my favorite authors. She writes detective novels in Venice. Although she is not a native, she is able to catch the nuances of life there. She will throw out comments here and there that, when one knows how Italian think, are just great. This volume deals with a theft of rare books in various libraries and museums along with a murder. The First Battle of Ypres by Charles River Editors This is the overview of the horrific Battle of Ypres at the beginning of World War I at which there were tens of thousands of casualties on both the allied (French and English) and the German side – about 130,000 on each side). It speaks of the foolishness of the generals on both sides who tried to use antiquated techniques of battle in a changed world (for the artillery and machine guns that were deployed made battle patterns used during the Napoleonic Wars insane). It marked the destruction of the veteran strength of both armies along with the devastation of the newly trained troops (entire classes of University students and those who were considered to be natural leaders on both sides of the battle). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude