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


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