Monday, December 23, 2019


December 23, 2019 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome all throughout this week. The weather is turning cooler and more rainy. This is typical weather for Rome at this time of year. We have been in definitory all this week. There is still a lot that must be prepared after our General Chapter this past summer. We managed to get quite a bit of that work done at this definitory. I will be in Rome until January 12th. The days after Christmas tend to be very quiet here which I look forward to. I have finished some reading: The Apostolic Fathers by Moody Classics I have so often read passages from the Apostolic Fathers, those authors who wrote in the period right after the production of the New Testament but whose works did not make the cut to be included in that collection. When I saw this book on sale on Kindle, I decided it was time to read the books themselves. Some of them are very beautiful, but I was greatly disappointed in one of them: the Shepherd of Hermes. I had always read descriptions of this book and thought it would be an edifying tome, but it turned out to be a strange series of very judgmental and hypercritical visions. This is one book that I am glad did not make it into the canon of the Bible. Vlad the Impaler by Hourly History This is a short account of the historic figure who was the basis for Dracula in the Bram Stoker novel of the 19th century. Vlad was a prince in southern Romania who fought the Turks to maintain the independence of his reign. He was incredibly cruel to both his own citizens and to captured enemies. His favorite form of execution was impaling people – somuchso that accounts speak of forests of poles in fields with impaled victims on them. The author deals with the question of whether Vlad actually was the inspiration to the Bram Stoker novel (there are arguments pro and contra). Leningrad: the Epic Story of World War II, 1941-1944 by Anna Reid This is a horrific account of the siege of Leningrad during the Second World War. It speaks of the incalculable suffering of the people from famine (due to the siege but also to the incompetence of the Soviet leaders). He speaks of the continuing suffering of the people by the KGB (the arrests, the murders, etc.). Most of the book presents stories of individuals who wrote or spoke about their experiences. Max Planck: the Life and Legacy of the Influential German Physicist who Pioneered Quantum Theory by Charles River Editors Max Planck was a brilliant mathematician who came up with the theory of Quantums, opening up the whole field of quantum mechanics. He lived in Germany from the late 19th century and died shortly after World War II. He hated the Nazis, but as with many people in significant positions, had to compromise in certain things (although he fought hard to protect Jewish intellectuals whom he knew). He invented (discovered) the concept of quantums when he was trying to describe light and the energy contained in it. The Pharaoh Key by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child I have read quite a number of book by these two authors. Their work is always good, and that includes this volume. Two of the characters appeared in other editions, including a certain Gideon who worked for a magnate in adventurous projects. The two are fired by the magnate and they decide to get their revenge by discovering a hidden treasure under his nose. There are a number of adventures involving their trip to the hidden valley in southern Egypt and what they encounter there. Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez This is an interesting book on nature, especially human treatment of wolves. The author gives a number of good points that wolves have often been demonized in the past. The problem is that he canonizes wolves as holy martyrs that are being persecuted for being themselves. He adds a mystical sense to the story. Nevertheless, it gives some ideas that are well worth reflecting upon. Merry Christmas fr. Jude


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