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


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