Tuesday, October 13, 2020

London

October 13, 2020 Peace and Good, I have begun my second week of quarantine in London. I am staying at our friary not to far away from Waterloo Station. Here is Great Britain, the quarantine means that you cannot leave your house. For the first six days, that meant to stay mostly in my room and avoid the other friars when I went down to eat. Fortunately, there is a nice roof on which I can do my daily walk. Corona has spiked again here, but especially in the north of the country. The Prime Minister has established a three tier system according to how much danger there is, and each tier has a different level of restrictions. I have been editing my Franciscan meditation book. 2/3's of it is done, and I am awaiting the proofs of the last third in the next couple of weeks. The weather here has been atrocious. It has been raining almost every day. I will finish my quarantine this coming Saturday, and then I have a series of meetings. I will be leaving London for Chicago on the 24th. I have finished some reading: Archaeology: An Introduction to the World’s Greatest Sites by Eric Cline This is an excellent and entertaining series of courses from the Teaching Company. It deals with archaeological techniques and finds throughout the East and West (centering on the ancient civilizations of the Mid-East). The professor who gave this presentation has a witty and funny style that makes series a joy to hear. Mysterious Polynesia: the Myths, Legends and Mysteries of the Polynesians by Charles River Editors This is a short book about the various myths among the Polynesian people. The book spends quite a bit of time talking about the stone monuments found at Easter Island – why they were constructed, how, etc. While the myths of the Polynesians are often similar throughout the range of their settlement, one nevertheless finds quite a bit of individual content in each band of islands upon which they are found. Pearl Harbor: Hinge of War by Richard Freeman This is a short overview of what led up to and what happened on December 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor. The book is not intended to be all inclusive, but does give a good synopsis of the situation. Postwar by Tony Judt This is an extensive treatment of Europe in the aftermath of World War II up to the present days. I deals with the period of reconstruction in the immediate aftermath of the war, and then with the various movements that swept across Europe (both West and East), including labor agitation, industrialization, the failure of the soviet system, terrorism, etc.). The book is well written, and a source of an enormous amount of information, but its length requires a real commitment. The Battle of Tarawa by Hourly History This invasion of the small Pacific island during the early days of World War II by the marines was one of the bloodiest battles fought during the war. The island was small, but the Japanese were well prepared, and the US forces had not yet learned many important lessons about amphibious warfare that they were to learn and incorporate into the plans after this battle. Emperor Hirohito by Hourly History This is a short biography of Emperor Hirohito of Japan, especially in the years leading up to his reign and his role during World War II. The book, in fact, all but ignores what he did following the war, even though he continued to reign for another thirty years. It asks the question of whether he should have been indicted as a war criminal, given his acquiescence to many of the things his army and navy did during the war. Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child This is another of the Preston and Child books that I have read. I like the series very much. This involves FBI investigator Pendergast and the death of this wife by the hands of a group of renascent Nazi’s who have set up a secret human breeding program in Brazil. Some of the action is a bit more fantastic than the other volumes in the series, and I could say that this is not my favorite of their books, but even so it is good enough to recommend. Have a safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 5, 2020

Chicago - London

October 5, 2020 Peace and Good, This past week I have participated in a provincial assembly in Chicago for the St.Bonaventure Province. The meeting went well. Originally it was to be a provincial chapter, but they could not guarantee a quorum because this province is in charge of the delegation in Australia and the borders there are closed. There was a very fraternal discussion, and a couple of decisions were made which were painful but necessary. The flight to London was good, although again there were not more than 1/6th of the seats filled. The border control was very easy. I had to fill out a long form on the internet before I flew, but at the passport control it did not take more than 30 seconds. I will be quaranteened for the next two weeks in our friary near Waterloo Station. The friars here have already shown great hospitality. I am trying to stay in my room most of the time because a couple of the friars here are hospital chaplains. I would hate to give them the virus. I have to stay in my room for the first week, and in the house for the week after that. The weather here is pretty much what one would expect: cloudy and rainy. I finished the following reading: All that Remains: A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality, and Solving Crimes by Sue Black This is the story of the life and work of a forensic pathologist. She speaks of the necessity of autopsies, both for the person involved and for the teaching of medical students. She deals with her work in crime cases, as well as in cases of crimes against humanity such as the massacres in Kosovo. She does not speak much about the afterlife, for she seems to be a skeptic in that, but she does speak about the need to respect the dignity of life and even of the dead. Deep Down by Lee Child This is a short Jack Reacher novella. He is presented as a type of macho, secret agent who is sent to investigate the leaking of secret munitions data to industrial spies during a Congressional hearing. It turns out that the mole is actually a secret Soviet agent who was gathering information on gun specifications to intuit Pentagon warfare plans. The Good Pope: The Making of a Saint and the Remaking of the Church – The Story of John XXIII and Vatican II by Greg Tobin This is a short, but finely written biography of Pope John XXIII, especially centering on his papacy. We see John as a traditionalist in many ways, but also someone who was so pastoral and so open to the movements of the Spirit that he was able to call the Second Vatican Council and steer it in the right direction. Firestorm by Marshall De Bruhl This is an overview of the air warfare fought by Britain and American against Germany, concentrating especially in the firebombing of the beautiful city of Dresden toward the end of the war. There has been a lot of judgment cast upon that decision, but De Bruhl tries to explain how the reasons for doing the bombing were actually more complicated than often notices (e.g. the specific request by the Soviets to destroy marshalling yards for railroads to prevent reinforcement of Nazi troops at the front, and the fact that Dresden was one of the major marshalling yards). Yet, the terror of the event leaves one breathless. King Henry VII by Hourly History This is a short biography of the founder of the Tudor dynasty. He was an unlikely heir to the throne, but he managed to invade England and defeat Richard III. There is a huge debate over whether Richard III was really as bad as he is sometimes portrayed to be, for most of what was written about him was written by authors working in the Tudor era, so naturally their portrait of him come out negative. Henry is portrayed as a good ruler and a tightwad (whose accumulated treasures were then squandered by his spendthrift son, Henry VIII). The Dissolution of Czechoslovakia by Charles River Editors This short book deals with the creation of the state of Czechoslovakia, its difficulties with the Nazis, its time under the soviet system, and its regaining of freedom which led to the dissolution of the state into the Czech republic and Slovakia. King Darius the Great by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the great emperor of Persia who managed to extend the boundaries of the empire to its widest extent. His one failure was his invasion of Greece when his troops were turned back at the Battle of Marathon. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, September 25, 2020

Chicago

September 25, 2020 Peace and Good, I arrived in Chicago this past Sunday. I flew from Rome to London, and then from London to Chicago. I was a bit worried about the connection in London, but I should not have been concerned. So few people are travelling that there was no problem making my way through the airport. The flight from London to Chicago could not have been more than 1/10th full. I fully understand why the airlines are asking for help. The flight from Rome to London was the only BA flight that day. Usually there are four or five flights a day. The weather here is wonderful. It is warm, but not super hot. One of the friars here is working on a series of podcasts for our vocation office. I did a who bunch of podcasts on peace (especially from the Bible) for him. What is good is that it can be difficult to get friars to do things on time, so he will not have a stockpile of possible podcasts (only between 2 and 3 minutes each) to use when needed. I always enjoy doing projects like that. Tomorrow morning I will write an article for one of the province's newsletters. I have come here for a province assembly which will be held this coming week. Then on Friday I will fly over to London for some meetings. I have finished some reading: Roosevelt by Edwin Grosvenor This is a series of essays by scholars and others on FDR, especially speaking about his role as president and commander in chief during the dual crisis of the Great Depression and World War II. The essays vary in value depending on the particular topic and the talent of the individual author. Nevertheless, some of the topics treated are valuable. Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin This is an extensive collection of short essays on topics of Jewish history and culture prepared by Rabbi Talushkin (this being the second book by this author which I have read). The information was collected to serve as a type of adult education for Jewish people who did not know enough about their faith. The book contains a ton of good information, and is well presented and documented. Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile This is the story of how a representative from a rural district in Texas who was addicted to womanizing and drink and who nevertheless plays a crucial role in the financing of the Mujahidin rebellion in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. The author is very honest in his appraisal of both Charlie Wilson and the CIA during this time. The story is very, very good, and it leaves one wondering at the eventual unintended consequences of actions taken (e.g. the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of Islamic terrorism, etc.). Colossus by Michael Hitzik This is the story of the construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. It was begun at the beginning of the Great Depression. The project was so great that the only ones who could build it was a consortium of six construction companies. While the book praises the organizational ability of those who built the dam, it also deals extensively in the poor treatment of the workers, including the dangerous conditions in which the workers were forced to do their work. The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States 1983-1789 by Edward Larson This book deals with the period after the resignation of Washington as General in Chief of the US forces and his eventual assumption of the presidency of the republic after the ratification of the Constitution. It deals especially with Washington’s role in the production and acceptance of the constitution, which was far from a given considering the opposition of many to a more centralized form of government. Ndrangheta by Charles River Editors This is an outline of the formation and history of the Mafia which grew up in the southern Italian region of Calabria. It is one of the less known groups, and thus it was able to grow in importance and wealth in an almost stealth manner. Al Capone by Hourly History This short book gives an account of the life and career of the famous Chicago mobster. He made his money especially on illegal alcohol during the prohibition, but that did not stop him from getting into all sorts of other illegal activities. He was imprisoned for income tax evasion, and eventually ended up in Alcatraz. He was released in poor health because of his advanced case of syphilis, and died all but lost in dementia. Have a good week. Stay safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, September 18, 2020

Cortina

September 18, 2020 The Feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino Peace and Good, We have been in the north of Italy, in a valley in the Dolomites, all this week. We have tried to balance work (our definitories) with time in the country. This area is incredibly beautiful. We are surrounded by medium size mountains. The weather here has been magnificent, compared to Rome where we hear there is a heat wave. Tomorrow we head back to Rome, and then on Sunday I head out to Chicago for a province assembly. I have finished some reading: Patrick Henry by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the famous author of the saying, “Give me liberty or give me death,” a line that he probably stole from another author. It follows his career, coming out of nowhere to become a patriot of the first order. It also deals shortly with his opposition to the constitution of our country, for he felt that it produced a government that was too centralized and too powerful. Interestingly enough, he fought against the proposal of a couple of states that would have allowed them to negate federal laws whenever individual states did not agree with them. The Han Dynasty by Charles River Editors This is one of the short books on a particular topic by Charles River. Unfortunately, this one is packed with so much detail about the intrigues of various emperors and their courts that is all but unintelligible except for an expert on the topic. Carl von Clausewitz by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the famous author of a course book on how to wage warfare (compiled by Carl and then edited and published by his faithful wife). While he was never in charge of great numbers of troops, he studied the various aspects of fighting and produced a work that is still considered a classic on the topic. The Tree of Life by Roland Murphy This is a very good overview of the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament. It is a book that I intend to read over and over again every couple of years, for it was packed with good information about the books themselves and also other wisdom literature from ancient Mideastern cultures. Soapy Smith by Charles River Editors This is a short account of a flim flam man in the West. His career was mainly in the mining towns of the West, such as Denver and Skagway, Alaska where he met his end. He set up an entire gang which controlled the towns in which he dwelt. Wilberforce by OpenLearn This is a short account of the career of Wilberforce, the great hero of the battle against the slave trade in Great Britain. The course centers on his initiative to purify the morals of the country. He wrote a compendium of the spiritual life from a Methodist point of view in order to address the lack of religiosity that he found in society. The Fall of Saigon by Charles River Editors This is an account of the final battle of the Vietnam between the forces of the North and those of the dying republic in the South. It goes into great detail, more than I would have wished to read. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Rome - Cortina

September 13, 2020 Peace and Good, I have finally finished my third isolation (of two weeks each). At least two of these were in my own room, so it was actually quite comfortable. The friars were great in bringing me whatever I needed. I was able to get some good work done. I finished the daily reflections until the end of October. I also was able to write 11 articles for the Messenger magazine printed in Padua in English (and distributed throughout the world). I am set with them up to the end of 2022. Yesterday, the definitory travelled up to Cortina, a town in north Italy, for a bit of time among the mountains (the Dolomites). We will be working here, but also take a couple of days off to enjoy the surroundings. We return to Rome this coming Saturday, and then on Sunday I fly off to Chicago. I am healthy. My heart problem of earlier this year has not bothered me since I received treatment in the States. Granted, I am taking a boat load of medicine every day, but that is part of the price of getting older. I am 66 years old right now, and the only serious complaint I have is that it takes me longer and longer to get over jet lag. It used to be one day for each hour difference, but now that has come closer to two days for each hour. On our way here, we stopped in Padua and had lunch with the friars. We then went into the Basilica to pray at the tomb of St. Anthony. It is such a prayerful place. The basilica in Assisi has a lot of beautiful artwork, so it often feels like a museum. That in Padua is not all that great, so people come to it to pray. They took a poll years ago asking Italian to whom they pray when they need something. St. Anthony won by huge margins. A distant second was Mary. The a very distant third was Jesus. I am not saying this is good, only that this is the way it is. I finished some reading: The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde This is a very funny account of a group of police who work for the fable investigation squad. They are searching for the killer of Goldilocks, as well as trying to apprehend the Gingerbread Man who has escaped from a mental health facility. It is almost silly at times, but rescues itself by creating a world in which all of the action makes sense. I was surprised at how much I got into the book and enjoyed it. The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver This is an excellent police story. It takes place in a small town in the Midwest, and the hero of the story is a small town detective, Bryn, who has good police techniques. The side story is how she fails in her relationship with her husband, and how that relationship goes. There are many twists and turns, as I have come to expect in Deaver’s books. Birth of a Drug by OpenLearn This course offers an outline of the work and research that must be done to find a new medicinal drug and to bring it to market. The specific study involves finding a high blood pressure that has few side effects and was longer lasting than those on the market at that time (which required a few doses a day). Hadrian’s Rome by OpenLearn This is like the other OpenLearns courses, a quick account of how the Emperor Hadrian changed the landscape of Rome. Among his most famous constructions was the renovation of the Pantheon, redone with a massive amount of numerical and symbolic content. Unlike the other courses in this series, this one also offers translations of firsthand accounts of his reign from various ancient historians. The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard Evans This is the first volume of a three volume production on the Nazi era. The author is very balanced, giving the historic, political, sociological, etc. reasons for the victory of the Nazis over the other political movements during the Weimar Republic and then for the initial activities of the Nazis once they came to power. The next volume covers the period from their taking of power to the beginning of the second World War, and then the third volume covers the time until their ultimate defeat. The books are very, very well written. I would recommend them to anyone. David Farragut by Charles River Editors This is an account of the life and activities of the first Admiral of the US Navy. This was an office that was not used until his time. He led the conquest of New Orleans and Mobile Bay (where he is famous for uttering to D..m the torpedoes – which were sea mines in those days – full speed ahead. Edith Stein by Charles River Editors This is the story of the Jewish phenomenologist who converted to the Catholic faith and joined the Carmelite cloister. Her community shipped her to the Netherlands when it became too dangerous to live in Germany, but even there she was not safe. After the Nazi conquest of that country, she was arrested with other Jewish converts and she was sent to Auschwitz where she died. She is one of the martyrs of Auschwitz who has been canonized by the Church. Have a good week and stay safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, August 31, 2020

Rome

September 1, 2020 I have returned to Rome after spending a couple of weeks in Ellicott City going from one doctor's office to another. These were mostly just annual checkups, but I have to get them all in at one time because I am so rarely in the area. For the first time I had a couple of web visits with the doctors. I was not sure how that would go, but I was very pleased with the result. I am now in isolation for two weeks. I am in my own room, and there is a terraza outside my room upon which I can take my daily walks. It is actually quite comfortable. The friars bring food to my room, and I get to see or talk to them at a distance. After the isolation, we will have another definitory meeting. This time we are going up to the mountains in the north for a bit of time together. These months have been so strange that we are rarely in the same place at the same time. The weather is quite nice in these days - the 80's pretty much every day. The summer heat seems to be over for at least a while. I have finished some reading: The Making of the President 1972 by Theodore White This is an extensive account of the second election of Richard Nixon to be president. The book concentrates on the mistakes of George McGovern and the Democratic Party. They allowed themselves to be high jacked by interest groups which then controlled the process. The actual election campaign proved to be chaotic and contradictory. Nixon’s campaign, on the other hand, proved to be highly professional and successful in fund raising. That makes the irony of their having gotten involved in the Watergate break ins all the more inexplicable. They simply did not need to do it for they would have won no matter what. The Lakota Way by Joseph M Marshall, II This is an interesting book which contains some of the legends of the Lakota people. Each of the stories contains a message which invites the listener to a particular virtue, such as compassion or hospitality or courage. The presentation is well done. This is a book I listened to through a new service I found called chirpbooks.com. The Good Spy by Kai Bird This is an account of the career of Robert Aimes who served in the CIA, the Mid-East division for a long time. He was known for his openness to the cause of the Arabs, and he secretly established lines of communication with the PLO. He was killed in the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut. The book is well written, and gives one an insight to methods of spying as well as the influence of political turns in the environment of the country and their effect upon the work of those working for the government. Uluru by Charles River Editors This is the history of Ayers Rock in Australia, a place of great interest to tourists, but a sacred site to the Aboriginal population. This short books gives a geologic explanation for the rock, as well as a series of the Aboriginal legends concerning various events that occurred there. The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny by Ian Davidson This is a very good, very thorough presentation of the history of the French Revolution. The author’s premise is that the revolution started out as a revolt of the middle class which was burdened under a very unfair taxation system. Only later did it develop into a class revolution with the onset of the Terror. There are many, many names of those involved, and it is easy to lose tract, but the book is never boring. Binary by Michael Crichton This is a story of a mad internal terrorist who wants to set off a poison gas attack during the Republican National Convention in San Diego. An investigator of the State Department must track down the terrorist and figure out his plans. The story is well written with a good amount of intrigue. The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts This is a very good presentation of World War II, but as is often true on books about World War II, from a particular point of view (British). It is quite long, but never boring or overly detailed. I could easily recommend this book to anyone. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Ellicott City

August 22, 2020 Peace and Good, I have been in Ellicott City for the past ten days or so for a series of doctors and dentist appointments. I have to admit that after all these visits, I am a bit tired of being poked and prodded. I have one more appointment and that will be it. I am heading back to Rome on the 26th. I have a letter saying that my presence is required for a meeting of our business. That is a reference to our next definitory meeting in a couple of weeks. I will still have to do a two week quarantine in my room. This will be the third one that I have done. I have finished some reading: Famous Romans by J. Rufus Fears This is a course with the Teaching Company that follows the example of Livy to produce a list of famous Romans. The information in the course is very good, but the presentation by Rufus Fears is much to dramatic, almost comical. The Etruscans by Charles River Editors Like all of the Charles River Editors books, this gives good information concerning the civilization in central Italy that preceded Rome. It speaks of the many elements of the Etruscan culture that Rome later borrowed (e.g. roads, augury, etc.). The Oceans by OpenLearn This is one of the free courses from the Open Learn company concerning the oceans (what type of water, salinity, currents, weather, etc.). It is highly technical and, in spite of the fact that it presents a good amount of information, difficult to understand at times. The First Italian War by Charles River Editors This book speaks about the intervention of France and Spain in the politics of Italy during the 15th century which involved the battles in Florence, Venice, Rome and Naples. It took a very bad situation of warfare between various city states and made the situation much worse. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Paris by Charles River Editors This is the story of the basilica on Mont Marte in Paris. The story is well told, but it is very odd that the author spends the whole first third of the book speaking about Celtic worship on the hill where the basilica was built. It was built after the war between France and Prussia, a disastrous affair for France. It thus came to be identified with the religious right in France against the left (following the establishment and the destruction of the Commune in Paris at the end of the war). There was also a bit of controversy in the design of the Basilica, but it has grown to be a significant site for tourists in the city. History of Havana by Captivating History This is a short account of the history of the city of Havana from the days of its foundation early in the Spanish colonial days up to the present. The story is well told, with all the invasions and hurricanes and internal rebellions. Be safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, August 10, 2020

Arroyo Grande, California

August 10, 2020 Peace and Good, I have beenout at our Novitiate in Arroyo Grande for the past two weeks. This is located mid way between Los Angeles and San Francisco in a rather rural area, not all that far from the ocean. The weather has been great with the marine layer (morning fog) cooling off the temperature to the 70's each day. I have been giving conferences to the novices on Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, the Book of Revelation and the Psalms. There are six novices, and they are a good group of young men. The novice director is Br. Joseph Wood, and the assistant is fr. Maurice Richard. They are both very good in their service to the novices. We also have an elderly friar here (as we try to have in each house of formation). This is fr. Julian Zambinini who served in Rome and Assisi for many years. While here, I have a covid 19 test. I have to say that the service offered here was tremendous. The people on the internet site were helpful, the test itself was quick, and the results took only four days (which is much, much better than many other sites). I needed the test because I am heading out to the East Coast in these days and have a series of medical check ups, and they all require one to have had the test. I am negative at this point. I will be heading out to Baltimore tomorrow. I am not thrilled to pass through a couple of airports, but.... The flight from San Francisco is only about 5 1/2 hours, which is not bad considering some of the flights I have been on in these months. I have finished some reading: Biofuels by OpenLearn This is a short account of the various forms of biofuels and their possible environmental impact. The presentation is not all that extensive, but it does give quite a bit of information that is useful. Caligula by Hourly History This is an account of the emperor who followed Tiberias and preceded Claudius. He actually started out quite well, especially after the absentee and capricious and cruel reign of Tiberias. Only shortly into his reign, however, he suffered from a near fatal illness, and he seems to have become unhinged afterward. This account speaks of some of his cruelty and the horrific manner in which he treated his subjects. He was assassinated in a plot to end the madness of his reign. George Patton by Captivating History This is the story of the famous World War II general whose battle tactics were incredibly successful against the Germans. As good as he was in battle, he was that unsuccessful in his actions and speech which were at times disastrous. This account gives a good overview of his life. Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery and the Genius of the Royal Society by Bill Bryson This is a series of essays by members of the Royal Society on topics that deal with science and its impact upon the world today. This is an unusual book by Bryson who usually writes humorous accounts of his travels. The essays are on various topics and they vary in density of content (a few being quite dense). The Kingmaker’s Daughters by Philippa Gregory Philippa Gregory has written a number of novels set in the pre-Tudor and the Tudor era. They are from the point of view of the women who were involved. From what I can see, they are very well researched. The characters are believable, and the action is well laid out. This particular volume deals with the daughters of Warwick, the kingmaker (putting Edward IV on the throne and deposing Henry VI). I truly enjoy listening to these books. Men and Cartoons by Jonathan Lethem This is a very odd collection of short stories, many of which involve super heroes (but often not of the first grade of importance, e.g. Goat Man. It is entertaining, and some of them make one think. The Black Death by Captivating History This is an account of the great plague which hit Europe during the Middle Ages. Typical of a number of the captivating history productions that I have read, it is very down on the Catholic Church, blaming it for the poor response to the plague. Furthermore, it is incredibly judgmental of society for not responding with more rapidity when they heard that plague had broken out in China, etc. This charge is absurd, given the poor communication between Europe and East Asia at the time. I am not sure how many more of the captivating histories I even want to read. The Greek and Persian Wars by John Hale This is a series of lectures on the relationship between the great Persian Empire and the city states of Greece from the foundation of these states to the end of the reign of Alexander the Great. Like almost all of the Great Courses lectures, this presentation is well done and I could easily recommend it to others. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, August 3, 2020

Arroyo Grande, California

August 3, 2020 Peace and Good, I have been in our novitiate all this past week giving lessons to the six novices. I will be here til the 11th, which is good because that fills out my two weeks of self-isolation requested at the airport when I arrived. No problems so far, although I do admit that I have bought a thermometer and have gotten in the practice of measuring my temperature twice a day, no matter what. The lessons are going very well. I covered major topics in the Gospels this past week, and will look at the Psalms this coming week. The novices are very interested, and they have great questions (which I always like, because even if I don't know the answer, it forces me to investigate and further my own knowledge). The weather is incredibly beautiful. We are not all that far from the ocean, so there is the marine layer which moderates the temperature. The mornings are wonderfully cool. I went into town (Grover Beach) to go to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I found out that during the crisis they only have take out. I went to another restaurant which only has out of doors service. It was such an odd feeling that I ended up going home to eat lunch. It was almost dystopian. I can't wait til things are settled out (although I do have a lot of worries that they are rushing the vaccine too much for political reasons). I have finished some reading: Saint Augustine by Hourly History This is a short overview of the life and work of St. Augustine. It is well done, without any of the anti-Catholic prejudice that I often find in the Captivating History series. Rediscovering the Dead Sea Scrolls: An Assessment of Old and New Approaches and Methods This is a series of essays on various methodologies used to study the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some of them have to do with the process of reconstructing the original text from a series of disjointed fragments. Others deal with sociological and historical studies which, while on the surface don’t exactly have a lot to do with the scrolls, nevertheless offer insight into the meaning of the texts. Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock that Shaped the World by Tom Zoellner This is an audio book that I listened to concerning the element uranium including its discovery, mining, use and misuse. It deals with those who would like to use it to provide energy, as well as those who consider it to be too dangerous to use extensively. It also deals with the difficulties its mining has caused to indigenous populations such as the Aborigines of Australia. While it presents some of the science behind its use (both for energy and weapons), it does such in a way that is not overwhelming. A Devil is Waiting by Jack Higgins This is one of several books by Higgins that I have read. The premise of most of them is that there is a team of soldiers and ex-IRA provos who are working for the Prime Minister of Great Britain (directly) to fight against communism, which often involves Islamists, ex-IRA members who have not given up the fight, and Russian oligarchs. I have to admit that I liked his first books better for now the formula is starting to get a bit old. How do Empires WorK? By OpenLearn This is a short course that describes the difference between the Chinese empire of the last centuries and the British Empire and their collision during the Opium Wars. American Colossus by HW Brand This is the history of the US from the time of the Civil War up to the First World War. It especially deals with the growth in economic power in the States, but it also deals with social problems like the plight of African-Americans in the south, the labor movement, immigration, etc. It is a very well written book with an immense amount of information which is well delivered. Patrice Lumumba by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of one of the leaders of post-colonial Congo. The Belgian king Leopold exploited the colony for his own purposes, allowing the murder and torture of so many people. The Belgian government eventually took the colony away from the king, but never prepared the people for independence. When it did become independent, a civil war broke out almost immediately (often fostered by the economic interests of rich investors in the mining industry. Lumumba was a civil servant who tried to govern the country as it was falling apart. He applied for assistance to the Soviet Union and China (largely because the US and Great Britain would not help the new country because of their ties to those businessmen who were destroying the country). He was labeled as a communist, and was assassinated by Congolese rebels with the complicit approval of the CIA. Have a safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Rome - Arroyo Grande, CA

July 28, 2020 Peace and Good, Yesterday I flew in from Europe to be at our novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California ( just outside of San Luis Obispo). There are six novices this year. I will be here until August 11th, presenting lessons on the Gospels and the Psalms and just sharing information about the Order. Travelling these days is no fun. There is a lot of paperwork and checkups along the way. I flew from Rome to Munich, there to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo. I flew Lufthansa this time. The flight to Los Angeles was at most 1/6th full. Very few people are flying. The airports are all but empty. Everyone is wearing masks, although some are wearing them the wrong way and some take them off a lot in public. Arriving in the States was not bad. There was a form to fill out, they took our temperature, and gave us a brochure on self-isolation. The weather out here is perfect. The marine layer comes in at this time every year, so the temperature is about 70 during the day. It was much, much hotter in Rome. I finished some reading: Hangman by Faye Kellerman This is the first book I have read by Kellerman. She writes about a detective who is a practicing Jew (which enters often into the book). It is a good story. In this case, the story is about two mass murderers who are tracked down by the detective’s team. I intend to read other books by her. Ivan the Terrible by Captivating History This is the outline of the life and madness of Ivan. The title terrible is really a mistranslation of his title, for he was considered to be Ivan the Awesome, but he was also terrible, especially as he descended into murderous paranoia. The book speaks of the good he did, but also of the terrible massacres he committed with his accomplices. The author goes out of his way to excuse Ivan for this due to the murderous atmosphere in which he was raised. Wall Street Wars by Richard Farley This book deals with the attempt by the FDR administration to deal with the monetary difficulties during the depression. It included dealing with the stock market, the banks, and the gold standard. It deals with the various debates in the Congress and the lobby techniques of the moneyed class. The most interesting section deals with the work of Joseph Kennedy as the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. This was the father of JFK, and the author is very complementary concerning his efforts. The Texas Revolution by Charles River Editors This is the story of the settlement of Anglos in Texas after the time of the American Revolutionary War which meant that they outnumbered the Hispanic settlers. It speaks of the tensions among them and the Native Americans. The Americans eventually broke away from Mexico which had gained its independence. The book speaks of the siege at the Alamo. It also speaks of the eventual annexation of Texas into the US. JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President by Thurston Clarke This book deals with the last few months of JFK’s life before his assassination in Dallas. It has an enormous amount of inside information. The author is honest about what he knows and what he does not know. What is interesting is that Kennedy was doing an internal review of the US relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba, as well as rethinking our involvement in Vietnam. The book covers the assassination of the President of Vietnam in a coup approved by the US. The book also deals with the relationship between Jack and Jackie, which seems to have been improving in these months. The Darkest Summer: Pusan and Inchon in 1950 by Bill Sloan This is a long and good treatment of the first year of the Korean War from the invasion by the North Koreans to the entrance of the Chinese into the struggle to countermand the invasion of ally troops into the far north of North Korea (along the border with China). It necessarily deals with the various military leaders for the Americans, including the always temperamental and sometimes unhinged MacArthur. The book gives extensive remembrances from the troops who fought. It is well done. Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Hourly History This is a short biography of the heroic Lutheran Church pastor who opposed the Nazi’s in his homeland. It speaks about his insights, his attempts to influence policy during the time of the Nazi’s, his insistence that he belonged in Germany (and his refusal to flee to safety) and finally his execution in the closing days of the war. One would have wished for a bit more insight into his personal struggle with his decisions and the dynamics of his faith life. Keep Safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, July 20, 2020

Rome

July 21, 2020 Peace and Good, I hope you all are well. I finished my quarantine in Rome and am now free to go around. Most of the people do not wear masks on the street, but it is required in mass transit. I still like to put mine on whenever I go out. We have our definitory meeting this week. Every morning is our usual business, and then in the afternoon we have a Zoom meeting with the presidents of the various federations throughout the world (7 of them). This kept the presidents from having to travel to Rome in this uncertain times. The rules of various countries seem to change by the hour. Spain and France have now closed their borders due to a new outbreak. I am able to be in Italy because of our meeting. I will be leaving Italy on Monday, heading to our novitiate in California. On the one part, California is not doing that well with Covid, on the other I will be in the novitiate which is fairly isolated. The weather here has gotten hot, hot, hot. This is normal for the end of July and August. It is strange to see so few tourists in the city. The Europeans tend to come here in the late Spring and the early Fall, while the Americans come during the summer. There are no Americans around this year. I finished some reading: Influenza: A Case Study by OpenLearn This is one of those free university courses on an individual topic from OpenLearn. This one tends to be highly technical and really only serves someone who has studied the dynamics of disease transmission and control. World War II: D-Day by Hourly History This is a short account of the planning, execution and aftermath of the D Day invasion. The author gives a good amount of information in a very short format. The Eucharist in the West: History and Theology by Edward Kilmartin, SJ This is the study produced by Edward Kilmartin and edited after his death by another Jesuit. It is highly complicated and intense, but had a wealth of information. I had to read it slowly and carefully, but it gave me a series of insights into various topics about the Eucharist and the celebration of the Mass. Anglo-Saxons by Captivating History This is a short account of the settlement and kingdoms of the Angles and Saxons, Germanic settlers in England. It offers too much information about individual kings, leading to a confusing mix that is not all that helpful. The Abbey by James Martin, SJ This is a short but very nicely written book about a custodian of an abbey and his landlady and their relationship to a couple of the monks of the abbey near Philadelphia. It is not the best book I have read on a topic like this, but it is good. Especially good is the author’s attempt to recognize the need for a difficult and complicated faith journey in the characters. Werewolves by Charles River Editors This is a short book on the various traditions and myths concerning werewolves throughout Europe. Much of what we know from films and TV programs is a later development in the legends. Sometimes the legends have the werewolf an accomplice of the devil, other times not. Have a safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Rome

July 14, 2020 Peace and Good, Today marks the 43rd anniversary of when I first set out for Europe to begin my studies there with my classmate, fr. Robert Twele. I have only a couple of days left in my quarantine. These days have been very productive. I have finished my daily reflections on scripture up to the end of August, and I have finished all of my articles for the Messenger of St. Anthony until the end of next year. Next week we have a meeting of our definitory, and after that I will head to California to spend some time with our novices. After that I will head to Ellicott City for some doctor's and dentist's visits, and then back here again. The way things are going in the States, I will most probably have another two week period of quarantine. Needless to say, I have gotten quite a bit of reading done in these days: Bunker Hill by Nathanael Philbrick All that Philbrick has written is well done, and that is especially true of this book. It deals with what preceded the battle, the battle itself, and its aftermath. It gives a good insight into some of the major characters involved, and provides ample background information on the whole period. This is a book that I can easily recommend. Trail of Tears by Captivating History This is an account of the ethnic cleansing decision by President Andrew Jackson to exile all of the native Americans in the Southeast US to Oklahoma. Although they signed a fraudulent treaty, the US authorities never kept the provisions of their own agreement. Thousands died along the way from North Carolina and its environs to Oklahoma. The author goes a little overboard in declaiming the blatant racism of this (which it was), but the story needs to be told. Halicarnassus by Charles River Editors This is a major city in Asia Minor that played a major role in various wars and advances and retreats of world empires. It was the birthplace of Herodotus, the famous Greek historian. It was also the site of the famous tomb of King Masalaus, which gave the name to the structure known as the Mausoleum. Gene Manipulation in Plants by OpenLearn This speaks about the techniques of gene manipulation in plants used for agriculture. It gives two major examples: to resist the effects of herbicides and antibiotics, and to add nutritive value to the crop. It also deals with some of the questions raised by those who are deeply suspicious of genetically altered crops. The Dark Ages by Captivating History This is a short account of the history of Europe from the fall of the Roman Empire in the West until the coming of the Renaissance. The author of this series tends to be anti-Catholic and anti-Church, but other than that, his information is interesting. The Battle of Kursk by Hourly History This is the story of a great tank battle that occurred in the Ukraine in the summer after the defeat of the Germans at Stalingrad. This was an attempt by Hitler to regain the initiative, but the Soviets knew about the coming battle and prepared well for it. The German loses during the battle meant that they were henceforth on the defensive until the end of the war. I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter This is a fictional account of the career of Jack the Ripper told from three perspectives: that of a diary written by Jack himself, that of the memoirs of a reporter who followed the story, and that of a series of letters written by a prostitute in this era. The book is not intended to be the official solution to the mystery, but simply a take on the story. It is well done. Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests that History Forgot by Joseph Cummins We tend to know about the Boston Tea Party, but we often don’t realize that this was only one of the many forms of resistance involving the tea trade that took place in the colonies around the same time as the affair in Boston. This book goes through the various stories of other episodes, asking at times how historic the accounts are. Managing Coastal Environments by OpenLearn This is a very short course on the dynamics of dealing with estuary and marshland maintenance. It deals with human manipulation of the environment (for agriculture, for seaside houses, etc.) as well as the mega-effect of global warming and the rise in sea levels In precarious areas. It speaks of efforts to rehab some coastal environments as well. The short course is quite informative. Keep Safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Seoul, South Korea - Rome

July 5, 2020 Peace and Good, Well, I made it back to Italy. The trip was long, going from Korea to Doha, Qatar, and then from there to Rome. The first plane was almost empty, but the second was packed to the gills. There was absolutely no social distancing. We had to wear face masks and shields the whole way. I did not know if I would get into Italy because of Coronavirus restrictions. In Seoul, they had to call Italian immigration to make sure they would accept me. That took about an hour and a half to get an answer, and I was really starting to get nervous. Then the thumbs up came and I flew out. In Rome, there was absolutely no difficulty. I do have to make another two weeks of self-isolation, but that is in my own room in Santi Apostoli. Furthermore, I have a beautiful terraza outside my room, so I can do my daily walk there. It has gotten hot in Rome, much more so than in Korea. I will be here in Rome until the end of the month, and then head out again to California. All of my travel plans are tenuous, though, because of rules that change every other day. I have to admit that we Americans don't look that good around the world right now because of our poor response to Covid 19. Korea worked very hard at their infections, and they are down to 20 to 30 per day in the whole country. I have finished some reading: Madamn de Pompadour by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the famous mistress of King Louis XV of France. Although not glamorous nor of the nobility, she managed to become indispensable for the king for a long period of his life (even though he was also married). She used her power carefully, and also served as a procurer of younger and more beautiful women to amuse the king (without ever endangering her hold on his affections and attention). Loos 1915: the Unwanted Battle by George Carrigan This is one of the many pointless and hopelessly lethal battles of World War I. It has a lot of military detail, much more than the casual reader would be interested in considering. Yet, it is good as an example of how cheap life became when one’s goals were out of perspective during a time of crisis. The Fear Index by Robert Harris Robert Harris has become one of my favorite authors. He is the author of a trilogy upon Cicero, a novel about a Tony Blair like figure, of Alfred Dreyfus of the Dreyfus Affair. This novel is a bit different. A brilliant Artificial Intelligence scientist develops a plan to invest money in the stock market based on playing against the fears for some sort of turmoil that the market might be facing. Being an artificial intelligence, though, the machine begins to think and plan for itself. The book is very good. King Edward VI by Hourly History This is a short biography of the son of Henry VIII who took the throne after him. He died a very young man the throne passed to his half-sister Mary who tried to restore Catholicism to England, using considerable violence. The author is clearly prejudiced in his book, cheering every way that Edward worked to make England more Protestant. The Origin of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms by OpenLearn This is a short university course that speaks of the reign of Charles I and the origin of the wars that developed in Scotland, Ireland and England. Each of the rebellions had its own cause. Some of it was based on religion, while other aspects like Charles’ attitude toward his reign (believing in the divine right of kings) played a role, as did the party of Puritans who wanted to make England more clearly Protestant. Boudicca: Warrior Woman of Roman Britain by Caitlin Gillespie This was a warrior queen who rebelled against the power of Rome during the reign of Nero. She and her followers managed to burn three important Roman cities and they fought bravely against the legions of Rome. She died when she was defeated. Boudicca fought the Romans largely because her husband, the king, had left his inheritance to Nero in the hope that the Romans would protect and respect Boudicca and her daughters, but the Romans abused Boudicca and raped her daughters. Have a good and safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Seoul - Inchon - Busan - Ilgwang - Daegu - Seoul

June 29, 2020 The Feast of Ss Peter and Paul Peace and Good, I have entered into my last week in Korea. I will leave for Rome very early on Friday morning. As you can see, I have been travelling around the nation visiting the friars. When I took the train with another friar, there were no problems. The only thing is that one is supposed to wear a mask whenever one is in public. The friars have been most hospitable. Theoretically, after I write my report, I am supposed to travel back here to give the report at their chapter in October. I doubt that is going to happen given the requirements for quarantine. I will probably have to give it over Zoom. The weather is warming up. Korea can be very hot and humid in the summer. This week also begins the rainy season. I have finished some reading: Delphi Complete Works of Giotto This is the first of the Delphi collections that I have read. This is a series of books on various authors. It covers their major works, and also reprints major works by art critics on this particular artist. Giotto is famous for passing from the Byzantine style of art to a more modern form with different coloring, more life in the characters, and background rather than static formulas as in Byzantine icons. His work is especially evident in Padua (the Scrovegni Chapel), Assisi (St. Francis Basilica) and Florence. The Apache and Comanche by Charles River Editors This short book deals with these two famous and ferocious tribes from the American Southwest (especially in the area of Texas and New Mexico). It gives the history and major characteristics of the tribes as well as their eventual defeat by American or Mexican (or both) invaders. Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway by Walter Lord Walter Lord has written many good books on individual topics, such as the sinking of the Titanic (A Night to Remember). This book covers the miraculous victory of American aerial forces against a Japanese invasion of the island of Midway. Much of the victory was due to the fact that the Americans had broken the codes of the Japanese, but much of it was incredible luck for most of the waves of American bombers were shot down without doing any damage. Only a few of the last planes got through, and ultimately the Americans destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers for the loss of one American one. Dunmore’s War: The Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era by Glenn F Williams Governor Dunmore was the head of the colonial government of Virginia, and this is the story of how a series of Indian raids (which were often caused by settler encroachment upon their territory) led to an Indian war just before the War of Independence. In fact, news of Lexington and Concord reached the colonial troops during their battles. The book tries to give a balanced view of the events, but it does lean at times to an apologia of the Virginia forces. Patrick Kingsley by Audible Interviews This is an interview with a reporter who has written a book on the refugee crisis in Europe (The New Odyssey). He tries to understand the state of the problem from every viewpoint without being too judgmental. He tells the stories of various refugees whom he has met. Ann Morgan by Audible Interviews This is the author of a book about twins who decide to take each other’s place (Beside Myself), but one of them ends up suffering from mental illness. She hears voices in her head, and has manic and depressive moments in her life. As always, there is a difficult dynamic with members of her own family in dealing with this problem, especially “mother.” Revolutionary Summer by Joseph J. Ellis Joseph J. Ellis is a good author of topics concerning the Revolutionary era of American history, and this book is a good example of that. It deals with the aftermath of the colonial victory at Boston and their defeat in the New York City area. It is honest about the missteps of both the British and American leadership. It is a good read. Have a good and safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Inchon - Seoul - Gangwa - Yahgpyeong -- South Korea

June 22, 2020 Peace and Good, I am out of quarantine and doing my visitation of the Korean province. There are about 65 friars, spread out in 8 friaries in Korea and one in the States. They are involved in many different apostolates (parish, care for handicapped children, care for the elderly, retreat house, etc.) Visiting the province is a bit of a challenge, because I must always remember not to apply my US or Roman way of judging. It is a very different culture. I will be in Korea until July 3rd when I head back to Rome. I don't know yet whether I will have a quarantine when I arrive there or not. The weather here is getting very hot. It is also quite humid here in Seoul for it runs along the Han River. The food is very good but you have to like it spicy because it always is. I finished some reading: 1861 Civil War Beginnings by Nick Vulich This is one of the worst books I have read in a long while. Vulich portrays himself as a new type of historian, but some of his writing borders on childish. This is the last book I will read by this author. Ernest Hemingway by Charles River Editors This is easily one of the best biographies that I have read from Charles River Editors. The life and works of Hemingway are treated honestly, showing the talent and the personal shortfalls of Hemingway. The author delves into some of Hemingway’s personal history to explain some of his plots and his self-destructive tendencies. I strongly recommend this particular treatment. Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiler I read this book as part of a research for a talk I am giving in Romania in a short while. The author is a Jewish man who studies the story of Abraham and its treatment by Jewish, Christian and Islamic commentators. He sees this common figure in these three religions as a possible starting point in dialog. His treatment of the story is at times creative, and is always well studied and from the heart. Inheriting Abraham by John D. Levenson This is a book which I read as part of a research for a talk that I am giving in Romania. It speaks about Abraham from the perspective of Jewish, Christian and Islamic sources. Part of the premise of the book is that Abraham is not a figure to base an inter-religious dialog upon. He argues that the positions taken by authors of each of these religions has made that type of exercise futile and irrelevant. Many of his arguments are well taken, but some of them are made by taking the most extreme of possible interpreters and then positing that position as exemplary of the entire school of interpretation. Elizabeth and Essex: a Tragic History by Lytton Strachey Essex was a noble in the court of Queen Elizabeth during her last years. This book deals with the queen who could be both capricious and maddingly unable to make a decision, and Essex who was impetuous and sought glory at any cost. Although she madly loved him, she also did things that acted as a red flag in front of this vain and at times foolish man, until he finally chose to rebel against her and she executed him. Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower and a Dangerous World by William Lee Miller This is a comparison on these two important American figures. The author speaks of how contemporaries judged them (with Eisenhower more popular at the time) and how historians not judge them (with Truman seen as the better president). He deals with how they dealt with the Korean War, the McCarthy Red Scare, the Atomic Bomb, Civil Rights, etc. In all, Miller holds in favor of Truman, even if he is able to recognize his shortfalls. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Inchon, South Korea

June 14, 2020 Peace and Good, I am still in quarantine in a hotel near the airport in Seoul, South Korea, but the end is in sight. I will be released on Wednesday morning, and yesterday they sent around a form to ask about my transportation needs. The food has been very good (brought to the room three times a day). The room is nice, although taking my 40 minute walk each day is a challenge. I have had a good amount of time for writing and have finished half of another book ( a children's Bible aimed at 5th and 6th graders). Once I am out of the hotel, I will be doing my visitation of the province. It is about 65 friars, and they have 8 or 9 friaries. I have already visited their friary in California, in Torrence, where they have a chapel to serve the needs of the Korean Catholic population in that region. The weather is nice, and summer is slowly arriving. I have finished some reading: The Rise and the Fall of the British Empire by Patrick Alitt This is a 36 lecture course on the growth and the demise of the British Empire. The professor, while British, is remarkable honest about the positive and negative dimensions of the empire’s treatment of its colonies. He is also entertaining, with a dry sense of humor that makes listening to the courses a joy. The Wonder of Birds by Jim Robbins This is an interesting account of what we can learn from birds, how we can celebrate them, and what we don’t know about them (e.g. how they navigate during migration – is it possible that they are conscious of magnetic or quantum forces that we cannot perceive). It also deals with the value of caring for birds both ecologically and for troubled people who are consoled by the beauty and majesty of birds in flight. World War II in the Arctic by Charles River Editor This is an account of the two wars fought in the Arctic during World War II: the Nazi and Finnish invasion of the far north of the Soviet Union, and the Japanese invasion of the two Aleutian islands of Attu and Kisha. It gives information of how the battles were fought, what the stakes were, and how both invasions ultimately failed. John Connolly by Audible Interviews This author speaks about his book on Stan Laurel from Laurel and Hardy fame. Laurel had been married five times with numerable affairs. His book is historical fiction. This is a bit of a change from his usual topic which is the Charlie Parker detective novels. What is Europe by OpenLearn This essay deals with the question of the identity of Europe and the Europeans. Is it to be a geographic definition, or a cultural one? How tightly united should Europe be, especially in the European Union? Should periferal areas be allowed into the definition, like Turkey or Georgia? The essay does not have many final solutions, but it does speak of unity in diversity as the best policy. Joan of Arc by Helen Castor This is the first book I have read by Castor, but it won’t be the last. The book is a brilliant presentation of the history of the times (the hundred years war). It presents a portrait of John of Arc in as much as we know about her. It is not saccharine or over negative, finding the proper balance in the presentation. It includes account of her two trials (the one the condemned her and a later, posthumous one that overturned that verdict) as well as her canonization. This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the topic. Living in a Globalized World by OpenLearn This is a short course on how the globalized economy developed. The professor gives a good outline of the historic process and the pluses and negatives involved in the process. For a very short presentation, I feel as if I learned a lot. Aaron Burr by Captivating History This is a short account of this man, one of the Founding Fathers and the third vice-president of the country, who was always known for his blind ambition and very loose sexual morals. He is the one who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, and also planned a treasonous act of conquering the western parts of the US and parts of Mexico to set up his own country. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, June 8, 2020

Ellicott City - Seoul, South Korea

June 9, 2020 Peace and Good, Well, I finally left Ellicott City. The friars there treated me wonderfully, but given the peripatetic life style that I have lived in these years, I found it strange to be in the same spot for so long. On the other hand, it was great not to be suffering from jet lag which is often the case with me. I flew to South Korea via Atlanta. It was a long, long flight, especially because there was a screaming young child behind me for almost 15 hours. When I arrived in Korea, I wanted to self-quarantine in our friary where the friars had set aside an isolated room. But the authorities told me that since they were not officially relatives, I would have to stay at the government center. This is actually a hotel that the government is using for quarantine. It is very comfortable, and the only problem with the food is that there is too much. The food is brought to your door three times a day. You open the door, take the food, and close it again. That is the only time you are even close to leaving the room. I will be here until the 17th. It is really not bad at all, and I am getting some work done on my next book, a children's bible for the fifth and sixth grade level. The weather is nice, warming up. Seoul can get very hot and humid during the summer, but it has not yet hit. When I finish the isolation, I will visit the friars in this province to prepare a report for their provincial chapter (this November). I have finished some reading: Misery by Stephen King I had seen the movie with Cathy Bates and James Caan. That was scary. The book is every more so. There are some events that the film could not possibly have recorded which appear in the book. King in an incredible author in painting a scene of absolute terror. I highly recommend this book (and all of his books, which I especially like for the richness of the language used). Gene Miller by Charles River Editors This is a pleasant, short history of the band leader from the 30’s and 40’s. The book speaks about his rise in the music world, his collaboration with other band greats, his success, and his untimely death in December of 1944 in a plane crash over the English Channel when he was serving his country by organizing entertainment for the troops. The Flavian Dynasty by Charles River Editors This is a short history of the dynasty that succeeded Nero (and his immediate, short-lived successors) to take over the Roman Empire. They included Vespasian and his sons Titus and Domitian. The first two are ranked as quite good emperors (especially after the madness of Nero), but the last, Domitian (who may or may not have poisoned his brother, Titus) turned out to be paranoid and murderous. Volcanic Hazards by OpenLearn This is a short university course from OpenLearn (which are free on kindle) concerning the various ways that volcanoes are dangerous with a definition of terms. This particular course is not all that profound in its treatment of the topic. David Baldacci by Audio Interviews This is an interview of the author concerning his new series which revolves around an FBI agent named Atlee Pine. She runs an independent office in the countryside in the West (which involves two Native American Reservations). Exploring a Romano-African City: Thugga by OpenLearn This is a short university course with audio-visual supplements on a particular ancient city in Africa near the border with Mauritania. It shows elements of Roman culture from the time it was incorporated into the empire, but these elements grew as time went by. It is interesting to see at first the imposition of Roman culture and then gradually the tendency of the local population to embrace it (although always retaining certain of their own cultural elements). Stay healthy. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Ellicott City, MD

May 31, 2020 Peace and Good, I hope all is going well with you, and that you have been healthy. I have been in Ellicott City for the past few months. The friars here have been great, and made me feel very much at home. Tomorrow it is time to get on the road again. I will be travelling to South Korea for a month. The first two weeks I will be in quarantine in one of our friaries in Gangwa, not too far from the airport. There quarantine is interpreted not only as staying in one place, but actually being isolated in one room. Then I will be doing a visitation of the province as they prepare for their chapter this coming fall. On July 3rd I will head to Italy. I don't know at this time what the rules will be when I arrive there. I might have another two weeks of isolation. I have asked my publisher to give me a project to work on those days. I have already finished one book, a meditation book on Franciscan Spirituality. The new project will be to write another children's Bible, this one for fifth and sixth graders. I have finished some reading: Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child This is one of many books I have read by these authors. This one deals with zombies and a voodoo church located at the outskirts of New York City. Inspector Pendergast investigates the murder of one of his friends, which leads to more murders and a kidnapping. The action is well done, and the dialog is brilliant. I sometimes just enjoy hearing some of the vocabulary the authors have chosen. I would recommend any of the books of this series to anyone interested. The Devil’s Punchbowl by Greg Iles This is a story told in Natchez by the great novelist of that part of the south. It is about a gambling boat which is run by Chinese interest by some most unsavory characters. The narrator is the mayor of the city who tries to find out what is going on and stop it, in the meantime protecting his family and friends. The book is very well written. It can be a bit graphic in terms of the violence, so I would not recommend it for everyone. But it made me want to read more of Iles’ novels. Garibaldi and the making of Italy by George MacCaulay Trevelyan This is the story of the revolutionary leader of the forces of Sicily and southern Italy which helped to unite the country in the 1860’s. Garibaldi is presented more favorably in this account. Since this book is written by a British protestant, the view of the Catholic Church is almost universally negative. While the Church was reactionary in certain decisions, the author is non-stopping in his criticism. Overall, the book is interesting, told from a British point of view. Interestingly enough, President Lincoln offered to make Garibaldi the leader of the Union troops during the Civil War. Dunsmore’s War: The Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era by Glenn Williams Just before the Revolutionary War, there was a series of attacks on settlers to the south of the Ohio River in what today is Kentucky and the western parts of Virginia. The native Americans of certain tribes went to war against settlers whom they believed were encroaching on their hunting grounds. There had been a treaty ceding those lands, but it had been signed only by some of the native groups. Governor Dunsmore organized a punishing expedition against the tribes with whom there were difficulties. It was not a war of conquest as such, for the borders remained the same after the war as before. But there were atrocities on both sides in this brutal episode. Ironically, the militias that went to war served as the core of the very troops that chased Dunsmore out of the colony when it declared its independence. Investigating American Presidents by Paul Rosenzweig This is a series of lectures from the Teaching Company dealing with the history and application of the idea of investigating the actions of a president. It is a most timely topic, and gives much information on such topics as impeachment, investigations, presidential privilege, pardons, etc. The author is a constitutional lawyer, and his treatment of the topic is fair and very, very informative. The Battle of the Atlantic by Hourly History This is a sort overview of the Battle of the Atlantic (submarine and surface vessel warfare) during World War II. The information is good, but the treatment seemed a bit cavalier to me. Take care and keep well. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Ellicott City, Maryland

May 9, 2020 Peace and Good, I am still in Ellicott City awaiting permission to travel. I spoke with the Minister General this week, and I am planning to fly to Korea on June 1st. The schedule of this visit is arranged in such a way that even if I must spend two weeks in quarantine, I will still have enough time for the visit. Then I will be heading back to Italy, the first time that I will have been there in a long, long time. I have been working on a minute meditation book for Catholic Book Company. I have most of the text done, and will be editing it on Monday is all goes well. One of the things that I have found in these weeks in Audible which is a division of Amazon. Not only can you buy their books on audio, you can also acquire a good number of books and articles for free (e.g. articles from Foreign Affairs). There is plenty of space in this property to take long walks, which I really appreciate. I have finished some reading: The United States Camel Corps by Charles River Editors This is one of those short books put out by Charles River Editors to deal with a well-defined topic. In this case, the topic is the use of camels that was explored just before the Civil War. A good number of camels were brought over to the States, but the use of camels (for transport of goods, of soldiers, etc.) never really caught on here, and the advent of the Civil War sapped any energy for this type of experiment. Collapse by Jared Diamond This is a masterful treatment of the collapse of various societies throughout the ages. Diamond accumulates a wealth of information about particular societies, e.g. Easter Island, the Viking population of Greenland, Australia, etc. and speaks of how the group either degraded their environment or managed to deal with it in a way that allowed for the culture’s continuity. He then speaks of the modern era and lessons to learn from what we are doing today. I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in anthropology, or environmental science, or sociology. It is so rich that it covers all of these areas well. Traitor to His Class by H. W. Brand This was a short biography of Franklin Roosevelt. I thought it would deal more with his relations with members of his social class, but in spirt of the title, it dealt mostly with what he did and how he decided to do it. While I consider Roosevelt to be a great president, I do not always like his character and his gamesmanship with those who sought to do his will. The Story Luke Tells: Luke’s Unique Witness to the Gospel by Justo Gonzalez I enjoyed this short overview of the Gospel of Luke. The author deals with the most important topics. Only occasionally does he allow his own interpretative background color his evaluation of the message of the text. It found this book useful as a meditation on what I mostly already knew, but which was useful to review. Nixon and Mao: the Week that Changed the World by Margaret Macmillan This book deals with the journey of Nixon (and Kissinger) to China during the closing years of Mao and the Cultural Revolution. Nixon had been known as a staunch anti-Communist, so he was a most unlikely character to open up relations between the two countries, but it was his very conservatism that allowed him to do it (since it quieted many of those who would have been opposed if he had been more liberal). This book brings out the duplicitousness of Kissinger and his incredible need for power (all but side-lining George Rogers, the Secretary of State). It also brings out the good and the bad of these initial negotiations (especially how they caught some of our most important allies by surprise). This is a very good account of that era. The Republic of Genoa by Charles River Editors The city of Genoa, a port city on the northwest coast of Italy, was a major force during the Middle Ages (and in fact was a major rival to Venice for many years). While not exactly the most beautiful city in Italy, the author of this book nevertheless speaks of it being a city worth the effort of visiting and exploring. The Marquis de Lafayette by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the Marquis de Lafayette. He arrived in this country to fight for our independence as a very young man. At first discounted, he eventually proved himself a good soldier as well as a constant friend of the cause of the American Revolution (intervening with the king of France to help our cause). After our revolution, he lived through the confusing time of the French Revolution (with which he sympathized at the beginning) and Napoleon. I am praying for all of you. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, April 20, 2020

Ellicott City

April 20, 2020 Peace and Good, Like just about everyone else in the US and almost around the world, we are still locked down. This has been a restful time, being in the same time zone for weeks on end. My heart is staying in rhythm, which is very good. I don't know when it will be possible to return to Rome. I have e mailed my travel agent this morning to see if he knows anything. In the meantime, I have started writing a book of minute meditations on Franciscan spirituality. I have done two other of these books on other topics, so I know the style. Spring keeps coming and going these days. One day it feels like summer, the next like winter. But the flowers and the birds are beautiful. I finished some reading: The Dust Bowl by Charles River Editors This is the account of the ecological disaster that occurred when large regions of the West were plowed under during a historic cycle of wet weather, to be followed by a long and severe drought. With the land plowed (and therefore the cover of vegetation removed), massive amounts of dust and dirt was carried into the air on windy days which travelled for hundreds of miles and destroyed crops and killed people through dust pneumonia). This short account gives a good account of the tragedy that so many families faced and their attempts to survive this disaster. Dynasty: the Rise and the Fall of the House of Caesar by Tom Holland This is an excellent treatment of the Augustan dynasty from the time of Julius Caesar to the death of Nero. It gives a balanced account of what happened, informing the reader about rumors (such as the conduct of Livia, the wife of Augustus) without getting into gossip mongering. I would highly recommend this particular volume. The Philippines Campaign of World War II by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the capture of the Philippines by the Japanese at the beginning of World War II (especially concentrating on the capture of Corregidor and the Bataan peninsula). It then treats the recapture of the islands by allied forces in 1944 and 1945. The latter part of the book is a tedious account of the various battles fought in this campaign. Island of Vice by Richard Zachs This is the story of the two years that Teddy Roosevelt served as a commissioner of police in New York City. At that time, New York was under the control of a very corrupt administration. Roosevelt attempted to clean up the police force, but he also proved to be a pedantic enforcer of the laws against selling alcohol on Sundays (which was especially detested by many of the immigrants who were used to enjoying their Sundays at beer gardens in their home countries). The author is able to show the whole picture of Teddy, both his good intention but also his stubborn intransigence. The Vicksburg Campaign by Charles River Editors This is a quick version of the story of the siege of Vicksburg, the last city along the Mississippi that was in the hands of the Confederates during the Civil War. It was conquered by Grant, although after a series of frustrated attempts. The Olmec and Toltec by Charles River Editors This is the story of two early Meso-American cultures which were antecedents to the Mayans and the Aztecs. The story of the Olmec’s is somewhat clearer, even though there is very little written documentation. That of the Toltec is not quite as clear because much that was written about them was produced by the Aztec, and they tended to rewrite history (including the supposed story of the Toltecs) to make their own culture more important. Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer and Paul Boehm This is the incredible story of the attempt to preserve a large trove of scholarly documents from the ravages of El Qaida which had captured the ancient city of Timbuktu in the country of Mali. Many of the manuscripts had been kept by families for decades to keep them out of the hands of those who would destroy them (including an Islamist invasion in the 19th century). The man especially responsible for this intervention also received funds from the West for the conservation of the documents which had not been treated kindly for a long time. The manuscripts give evidence to an incredible flourishing academic tradition in this desert city for centuries, an interesting story in itself. The Berlin Airlift and the Berlin Wall by Charles River Editors This is an account both of the Berlin Airlift to bring assistance to the city of Berlin when the Soviets cut of surface access to the city shortly after World War II, and the construction and maintenance of the Berlin Wall in the 80’s, and then the fall of the wall in 1989. It gives a good, balanced version of the events. Stay well! You're in my prayers. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Ellicott City

April 11, 2020 Peace and Good, I continue to stay in place at our provincialate in Ellicott City. It has been a peaceful time with a lot of reading, some study, and the beginning of a new book on daily meditations from Franciscan Saints. I am collecting sayings right now from the various saints and blessed throughout the ages. Spring has arrived down here in fits and starts. One day it almost feels like summer, and the next you need a winter coat. The flowers blooming are magnificent, especially the cherry trees. Audible has made a good number of books available for free streaming, and I am listening to the first Harry Potter book again. It really is well written. I know that some people find a book about witches to be dangerous, but I never saw it that way. I have finished some books: Jungle of Stone by William Carlsen This is the account of two explorers, one English and one American, who travelled to Central America in the 19th century and discovered the ruins of ancient Mayan cities. Stevens and Catherwood faced enormous difficulties in their task, partly due to the jungle nature of the area in which the cities were located, and partly due to the political instability of the area in those years. Their published accounts on their travels were enormously popular and led to much greater interest in this topic. The Hundred Years War by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the hundred years war fought between England and France in the 14th century. It actually was a series of wars fought over questions of how the king of England might also serve as a vassal of the king of France for those territories over which he had control on the continent. At a certain point, the king of England also claimed to be the king of France and fought for that right. This book also includes the story of Joan of Arc who rallied the French in order to allow the coronation of the dauphin of France. The Cambridge Five by Captivating History Captivating History is a series similar to the Charles River Editors books. They are short accounts of various historic topics. This book speaks about five Cambridge University students who became secret agent of the KBG during the 30’s, some of whom served the Soviets into the 60’s. Kim Philby was the most famous of all of them. They were responsible for the loss of many secrets throughout their careers, including the names of many Western agents and even Catholic activists in Nazi Germany who were killed by the Soviet secret services. Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamps by Helen Morgan The blue Mauritius is a stamp that was one of the first issued in this island colony of Great Britain. It was a blue stamp with the image of Queen Victoria. It became a famous and very, very expensive stamp due to its rarity and the fact that there was a variance in its printed title in its first version. The book gives a history of stamp collecting as well as stamp frauds. It is quite good, but definitely a book that would be more enjoyed by someone who is involved in this hobby. Surrounded by Love: 7 teachings from St. Francis by Murray Bodo Murray Bodo is a Friar Minor who is also a poet. I read one of his works when I first became a friar and was quite inspired by his ideas. I recently came across this book on sale on Kindle and purchased it. It was well worth it. It gives a good overview of Francis’ spirituality without being overly scholastic. Great Battles of the Ancient World by Garrett Fagan Fagan is a great presenter of various ancient topics, and this is a series of lectures from the Teaching Company on great battles of the ancient world. It deals with the various societies, the causes of war, and the way that battles were fought. He gives good insights into how this topic is important to us today. The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon The is a type of Utopia story when a ship comes to a unknown country. There the people live their Christianity faithfully (for it was revealed to them by a supernatural revelation). Bacon, being an amateur scientist, describes how the sages of the country apply their energy to all types of practical science. Happy Easter fr. Jude

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Ellicott City

April 7, 2020 Peace and Good, I certainly did not expect to be at Ellicott City all this time, which is what a lot of us are saying. This time has helped me get way ahead on daily reflections, and even to begin a new meditation book that the publisher asked me to consider. The community here is very good, and very supportive. My health problems seem to have been solved, at least for now. Spring has arrived in Maryland, and there is plenty of land to walk at the friary. I have finished some books: Beastly Things by Donna Leon I love the books written by Donna Leon. She writes about a police Commisario in Venice. Her read of Venetian society is perfect, and there are many hidden jokes and insinuations that can be understood only by someone who has lived in Italy. The Commisario is a decent man with a good family who treats others with respect, even when he has to face the maddening politics of Italy. The Spy and the Traitor by Ben McIntyre I have read a number of books by McIntyre, and this is one of his best. He writes especially about spy (true) stories. This one is about a KGB officer who defected to serve the British Secret Service. The most exciting part of the story is how the British were able to smuggle Oleg Gordiev out of the Soviet Union in the trunk of a car. He was eventually betrayed by a CIA traitor, Aldrich Aimes, who sold the KG the names of all those Russians who were serving the West. Haile Sailaise by Charles River Editors This is the story of the last emperor of Ethiopia. He is famous for his defense of his country during the invasion of it by the Italians just before World War II. He is also considered to be a God by the Rustifarians (their name being a version of a title that he bore, the Rustifar, which more or less means the Marshal). He started out as a reformer, but by his death he was an autocrat surrounded by his servants who failed to inform him of the real situation in his country (which included a famine which killed millions). Watergate: the Scandal that brought down a President by Charles River Editors This is an overview of the scandal of the Watergate. Ironically, Nixon did not need his dirty tricks to win the election over McGovern. Furthermore, the worst thing he did was not even the original crime as much as the cover-up. While some of the things that he did were already done by others before him (and after), nevertheless Nixon’s personality did not lend to sympathy. Catherine the Great by Robert Massie Massie has been a biographer of a number of important Russian figures such as Peter the Great. This biography is filled with important information. It explains the motivation of how someone who supported enlightenment ideas would end up being a sometimes cruel autocrat. While she supposedly supported a higher morality, she certainly did not live it in her personal life, having one lover after another. The book is well done. The Rosicrucians by Charles River Editors This is a short history of this secret mystical society founded in Europe in the early 17th century. It is an amalgam of Jewish, Christian and hermetical mystical ideas. At times, it has been associated with Freemasonry. It is difficult to say exactly what it is given its secret character. Some would associate it with famous modern figures. Anthony and Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworthy This is a masterful account of the lives and times of the Roman Marcus Antonius and the Hellenistic Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Goldsworthy is a very good historian, and he uses all of his talent to outline what happened and why in these two figures. He deals with the fate of the decline of the Roman Republic and the murderous, incestuous death of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt. I would highly recommend this particular book. I am praying for you and your families. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Ellicott City

March 31, 2020 Peace and Good, Like many of you, I have been closed in at our house in Ellicott City. This has been a great time to get a lot of work written, especially the daily reflections. The friars here have been very welcoming. It has also given me a good chance to read and listen to a number of books. The weather here is changing. The cherry trees are all in bloom, and it is really beautiful. I suspect that I will be here til at least a couple of weeks after Easter. It depends not only on the situation here, but also in Italy which was hit so, so hard in the pandemic. My heart rhythm has been good in these days ever since the last cardioversion. I have finished a number of books: Enemy in the Shadows: the World of Spies by Norman Gelb This is a short history of the use of spy craft during war and outside of war. I have read a book by Gelb on Dunkirk, and have found his style very good. This is not a comprehensive study, but it is more anecdotal and at times entertaining. The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Anthony Beevor Beevor is a great author of the history of warfare, and this is one of a number of his books that I have read, including books on the Spanish Civil War and on the siege of Stalingrad. He is very thorough, giving not only details but also background information about the people involved. His account is very long and very involved, but also very well done. Main Fleet to Singapore by Russell Grenfell This book, written by a British mariner, speaks of the tactical mistakes made by Great Britain before and during the outbreak of World War II concerning the defense of Singapore. It outlines the naval disasters which were largely the result of a lack of preparation for a war which would have a large air component. The author is an outspoken proponent of Empire, and his treatment of Churchill might be stilted by his lack of perspective concerning the need to balance the needs of one theater of warfare against another, but the account is good. The Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virginia Cowles This is a relatively short account of the lives and careers (especially the mistakes) of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra. The book is not as academic and extensive as the books done by Robert Massie, but it does give sufficient information on the topic. The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal This is a highly artistic account of an attempt by a British artist who works in ceramics and pottery to investigate the travels and careers of his family which began as Russian Jewish traders in grain from Odessa, Russia. They ended up as bankers and businessmen in Paris, London, Vienna, etc. The premise of the book is a reflection upon a collection of netsuke, small carved figures from Japan which the author inherited from his uncle who had settled in Japan. The story includes information on the plight of Jewish families in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially his branch of the family which resided in Vienna when Hitler came to power. The author’s language is elevated and his reflections serve as a source of meditation on art, politics, family, etc. World War II – 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945 by History by the Hour This is a series of short accounts of the years of World War II. None of them provide deep insight, but they give a good outline of what happened in a particular year and why. Majestie: the Man Behind the King James Bible by David Teems This is the story of King James VI of Scotland, who became King James I of England. It deals with the horrific circumstances of his early years (father killed, possibly in a plot hatched by his mother, Queen Mary of the Scots, and mother beheaded by Queen Elizabeth of England after a series of failed attempts to escape and possibly overthrow Elizabeth). The major part of the book centers on King James’ most important project: the sponsoring of the King James Bible. This bible was produced in an especially fertile era of literary production (Shakespeare, Marlowe, etc.). It was also produced at a time of increasing tension between the Anglican element of the Church of England and that of the Puritans. The author obviously has great affection for the figure of King James, but that never allows him to paper over his almost constant imprudence and decadence. Walt Disney by Charles River Editors This is the story of the famed cartoonist and amusement park mogul from his earliest days up to his death. In his earliest days, he was often in debt and surviving from one cartoon to the next. It was only after Mickey Mouse was invented, and even more when his feature films were issued that he had the money to dream into life his Disneyland. He was not exactly the most attentive of husbands, always being caught up with his projects. Furthermore, he comes across as a distant and at time abusive boss. I am praying for you and your families. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, March 20, 2020

Ellicott City, Maryland

March 20, 2020 Peace and Good, I hope you are well and are keeping safe. I have been in Ellicott City for about a month now, and given all the travel restrictions, I will probably be here for quite a while. I am trying to self-isolate as much as possible, given my health problems lately. I had another procedure done on Wednesday, a cardioversion, and the cardiologist has finally gotten my heart in its proper rhythm. I do not know if this will last, but it is good that I have arrived at this point. I was in Atrial Fibrilation so long that I didn't even know what not being in it felt like. I can notice the difference now, and it feels good. I have another meeting this coming week with the cardiologist. I have to admit that I am not sorry not to be in Italy in these weeks. The poor people there. There have been so many deaths, largely because of the elderly population there as well as the hospital system which I do not think is up to par. I finished some reading: The First Battle of Kiev by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the conquest of Kiev by the German troops during World War II. At this point, the Germans were all but invincible, while the Soviets were saddled by the interference of Stalin who refused to allow his troops to make judicious retreats in order to save them from utter destruction. The Fall of Constantinople by Charles River Editors This account gives a short history of the city that the emperor Constantine made into the capitol of his empire, and eventually became the capitol of the Eastern Byzantine empire from its origin to its fall to the Turks in 1453. Hadrian’s Wall by Adrian Goldsworthy This is an account of the building and maintenance of the defensive wall built between England under the Romans and Scotland under the local tribes. Goldsworthy, along with many other authors, argues that the wall itself would not hold out the invaders. It was intended as an early warning device so that local troops could slow the invader down while other troops could be collected and advanced to the threatened positions. Furthermore, through much of its history, it was used to regulate trade (and taxes upon such trade) between the north and the Roman south. As always, Goldsworthy’s treatment is scholarly without being boring. America at War by Terence Finn This is a book which covers the various wars (and policing actions) which America has fought. Each chapter covers another war, and the author gives a good treatment of why the war developed, what were the major actions during the war, what were the right and wrong choices made by civil and military leaders during the war, and what the aftermath of the war was. The author is not a gung ho militarist. He gives reasoned arguments to show why this or that decision led to victory or failure. Medical School for Everyone: Emergency Medicine by Dr. Roy Benaroch This is a teaching company course on dealing with emergency situations in hospitals. After numerous disclaimers concerning this not being intended to diagnose medical situations, it gives a case by case account of diagnosing and then treating patients who come into the emergency room. Benaroch insists that the most important diagnostic tool is listening to the patient. Their information is not always clear and ordered, but it is the best source of information to make a diagnosis. The Irish Identity: Independence, History and Literature by Marc Conner This is a Teaching Company course on the resurrection of Irish culture in the late 19th and early 20th century. The author gives a good account of the various authors (and some politicians) who played a role in the renaissance of Irish culture and the Irish state. Some works (books and/or plays) are covered in detail. The work is quite good. The Afghan Wars by Rupert Colley This is a short account of the numerous wars that have been fought in this corner of the world. This has been a terribly troubled area since ancient times, as it continues to be up to this day. I am praying for you and your families. Shalom fr. Jude