Monday, December 30, 2019


December 31, 2019 Peace and Good I am still in Rome. It has gotten quite cool here. The heat is on in the buildings, which is not as common as it would be in the States. There are even laws here which regulate how many hours you can heat your buildings based on how far south you are and at what altitude you find yourself (because of the scarcity of oil, etc. here in Italy). I will be here until the 12th of January, when I fly out for a week of travel in the States. The week before my departure is another definitory. The last one went quite well. We have a good mix of friars on the counsel who are willing to share their opinions and work to find a consensus on the issues with which we deal. New Year's Eve is this evening. I always stay inside here for that, given the tendency to throw things out one's window. In Naples, that can include old furniture, etc. I have finished some reading: Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel by Adrian Graham-Dixon This is an overview of the history and message of the ceiling (and Last Judgment scene) in the Sistine Chapel. The book gives a very good artistic and religious reading of the images. The author is not quite as good as Ross King in art history, but this book comes close. Tinkler, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Caree John Le Caree is an expert of the spy story, especially told from the approach of the British decline after World War II. In this one, George Smiley is looking for a double agent in the organization. The story is well told, with great humanity. I always enjoy Le Caree’s books. Amor vs Roma by Bob Chelmick This is an account of the history of the Catheri or the Albigensian movement in Southern France in the 13th century and their destruction by Church and State authorities. The experts cited are all highly prejudiced in favor of the Catheri, so nowhere is there a balanced approach to the story. I am not saying that the Church was innocent in the affair, but it would have been good for the author to research the story a bit more evenly. The Cities that Built the Bible by Robert Cargill This is an interesting treatment of the cities that contributed to the production of the Bible. It is a good archaeological treatment, but the author has two short falls. First of all, he is a name dropper, insisting on speaking of all the important people who are his fans. The second short fall is that he is very disrespectful of things that go beyond the normal. He mocks the miraculous, which is odd in someone who wants to deal with Biblical topics. In spite of this, however, the book is well worth reading. Susa: the history and legacy of the Elamite Capital in the Ancient Near East by Charles River Editors This is one of the Charles River Editors books, this one speaking about a city that was important in the area east of Mesopotamia for thousands of years. It was the Elamite capital, conquered by the Assyrians and Babylonians, an important city during the time of the Persians and Alexander the Great, etc. The book describes the history, architecture, and archaeology of the city. The Good Years: From 1900 to the First World War by Walter Lord This is a collection of stories in a year by year pattern dealing with great events or tendencies between the year 1900 and the beginning of the First World War. This is the same author who produced a number of famous history books, including A Night to Remember which speaks about the sinking of the Titanic. His style is good and entertaining, while he is quite honest about messy details. I would recommend this book. Happy New Year fr. Jude


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