Friday, September 27, 2019

Montreal - London - Nairobi - Sabukia, Kenya - Nairobi

September 28, 2019 Peace and Good, I have just finished two weeks in Kenya for the first provincial chapter of the province of Kenya. I have done two visitations in Kenya, and I helped a bit in the process of working to make the custody into a province. The old custos asked me to preach each morning at the Masses of the chapter. Then, one of our friars, fr. Robert, who had been asked to preach a morning of recollection at the beginning of the chapter, found out he could not attend due to other obligations. He asked me to give that as well, which I did. The topic was on the Order (and the province) as a family. It went very well. This is the rainy season, and we got quite a bit of it at the site of the chapter, Sabukia. This is the national Marian shrine, and it was entrusted to our friars by the national conference of bishops. The friars there are doing a great job, including building a basilica size church for the pilgrims. They are depending only on funds collected in Kenya. Not a penny of money for the church has come from outside the country, which is a very good thing for it creates a sense of ownership to all the people of Kenya. The facilities in the retreat house there were quite comfortable. Our trip up and back to Sabukia led us along the Rift Valley. The country is beautiful, especially because everything is green now due to the weather. I am back in Nairobi and tomorrow morning we have the solemn profession of vows for five of our men. Then tomorrow night I fly back to Rome. I have finished some reading: Legends of the Bible: Prophets and Prophecy in Ancient Israel and the Middle East by Charles River Editors This is a very good short treatise on the topic of prophecy in Israel and the ancient Mid-East. It is well researched, and can serve as a primer on the topic. Before the Bear: the History of California before it joined the United States by Charles River Editors This is a short treatment of California in the period before it became a states: thus, under the Spanish, then Mexico, and then eventually under the US. It deals with the topics of Spanish exploration (but strangely giving much more notice to the role of the Jesuits in this than of the Franciscans). It speaks of the rapport between whites and native Americans. It deals with the topic of the gold rush and what that meant for the growth of the state. 1947 Where Now Begins by Elisabeth Asbrink This is a book which deals with this critical year, two years after the end of the World War II. At first I was a bit perplexed by the very Jewish overtone, but then I realized that it was written by a survivor. It deals with the birth of Israel, with the attempts of ex-Nazis to relaunch their movement in Sweden, the rest of Europe and Argentina. It speaks quite a bit about Simone Beauvoir and George Orwell. It is good, but not as good as some of the other treatments of an individual year that I have read in the recent past. Arnold Rothstein: the Life and the Legacy of the Notorious Mob Kingpin who was Accused of Fixing the World Series by Charles River Editors This was one of the famous mobsters in the 1920’s, a type of protégée to Bugsy Seagal and Myer Lansky. He was very involved in gambling, rejecting the advice of his Jewish religious father. He was eventually assassinated, probably because he had had another mobster’s friend killed. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metexas Metaxas has written a series of religious biographies. This one is a laudatory biography of the man who pushed through the bill to end the slave trade in the British Empire, and eventually to suppress slavery in the British West Indies (for it had already been suppressed by a judge’s decision some time before). Wilberforce based his policies upon his Methodist background, and he tended to be an energetic, sincere and humble figure. The book is certainly a praise fest, and although Metaxas mentioned some for the criticism that was leveled against Wilberforce during his life, it is always in terms of denouncing those who spread what he considered to be base calumnies. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein This is a rather old book about science fiction. One of the first missions to Mars all but fails, but a child is born from one of the couples who is then raised by the Martians. He is found by later Earth explorers and brought back to Earth. He has great difficulties adjusting to the new environment. Heinlein emphasizes a bit too much his sexual growth and practices. He also has subtle and not so subtle digs at religion. But much of the book is entertaining and even makes one think about greater ideas. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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