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