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

Friday, March 13, 2020

Ellicott City

March 13, 2020 Peace and Good, I have been in Ellicott City for these past few weeks. At one of my recent cardiologist appointments, they discovered that I was in atrial fibrillation and my cardiologist has been working with various medicines to try to get the heart beat back in synch. So far, it has not worked, but we continue to work on it. In the meantime, I feel great. I am still doing my 40 minute vigorous walk each day without any difficulty. Obviously, I am trying to be very careful about exposure to the coronavirus because what I have would be considered to be a pre-existent condition. I am glad that this was all found while I was near my regular doctors (as opposed to somewhere in Asia or Africa). I am working on a couple of projects. One of the nice things I am doing is a series of short podcasts for the Companions' website. I have been doing 6 a day for the past couple of weeks, so we have built up a very nice library of topics. I am also working on the translation of a book from Italian to English on spiritual direction for priests. I have finished some reading: The Taj Mahal by Charles River Editors This is a quick historical overview of the great Indian monument to the love of a Mughal leader toward his wife. It was also a massive edifice to demonstrate the power of that empire, placed at a key point along a river so that all the merchants passing by would be reminded of who was in charge. It is a mixture of Hindu, Persian and other Islamic influences. The book gives a good rendering of why the building is so impressive. Discovering Genesis by Iain Provan This is an interesting overview of the book of Genesis by a Protestant author. Even though the background of the author is not what I normally read, I found the book enlightening with some insights which I had never considered. I had obtained this book when it was on sale by Kindle, and I will keep my looking for other volumes in the series to notice when they are on sale. The Swamp Fox by John Oller and Joe Barrett This is a biography of Francis Marion, the militia leader who led troops against the British during the Revolutionary War in South Carolina. He has become a mythic figure, and this biography is largely a paean to his greatness. The book is well written, not quite objective (but making no pretenses that it is). Stalin by Ian Grey This is a biography of this unusual and frankly frightening figure. Some of the chapters in the book are quite honest and forthright on the pluses and minuses of Stalin, while others are sadly simply a mouthing of communist propaganda on certain topics (such of the arrest of resistance figures by the NKVD when Poland was being conquered, the reason why Stalin installed communist governments in Eastern Europe and his techniques, etc.). 36 Books that changed the World by The Teaching Company This is a series of lectures by multiple professors on what are considered to be some of the most important books published throughout the centuries. It is a mixed bag of presentations. Some fit better into the format of an overview of a book, while others present only one aspect of that work (since they are taken out of context from a much longer presentation). Nevertheless, as always with the Teaching Company courses, it provides a lot of useful information. Discernment by Henri Nouwen This is a series of lectures by Nouwen and edited by his followers concerning discerning the will of God in our lives. As with his other books, it centers upon the idea that God loves us and wants what is best for us. This is part of a series of books on Nouwen’s thought that are relatively short, but very meaningful. I am praying for your health and that of your family. Shalom fr. Jude