Sunday, December 27, 2020


December 28, 2020 Peace and Good, It has been a quiet holiday season here in Rome. We have been in lockdown for a few days around Christmas and again around New Year. There are very, very few tourists this year, and many restaurants and shops have been closed. Italy begins its process of vacination today, as does most of the rest of Europe. I am not sure when I will be able to get mine. If I do not qualify in January when I am in California, I will have to wait until March and fly back for that. The weather these days is cool and rainy. (It would happen on the only days we can get out and take a walk around town.) I will use the day to catch up on a number of small projects. A group of friars have volunteered to cook these days so that the staff could have a few days off. That is quite a project for there are around 30 of us. They have done a great job. I have finished some reading: Henry Clay: the Essential American by David Heidler This is a long and drawn out account of the life and career of Henry Clay, one of the great politicians at the beginning of the 19th century (along with Calhoun, Webster, etc.). Clay was a key figure in the development of the Whig Party, which eventually died due to internal squabbles, especially concerning the slavery question. The book is good, but its length would mean that it should be tackled only by someone who is very interested in this era. Abandon Ship! By Richard Newcomb This is the story of the sinking of the cruiser Indianapolis. The ship had just delivered the atomic bomb to Tinian, and it was sunk by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea. For some unknown reason, help did not arrive for the survivors for over four days, with many dying due to injury, the sea, and sharks. The book speaks of both the American and Japanese stories, of the actual sinking, if the struggle for survival in the sea, and of the legal aftermath. The account is well done, with much eye witness material. The Revelation of St. John by Martin Kiddle This is a fairly good commentary on the Book of Revelation. With that book, one always has to be careful because so many authors try to interpret it as a guideline of when the end of the world will occur and how. This author does not do this. I do not agree with every single interpretation he uses throughout his study, but overall his material is good. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey This is one of those books that I have long wanted to read. It is about a man who gets himself committed to a mental health facility to be able to escape a conviction on rape. There he ends up in a clinic run by a nurse who portrays herself as serving the needs of the patients, but who is really trying to control everything according to her own whim. The two inevitably clash, with horrific results. It is also a story of the liberation of those in the clinic who were too afraid to confront the abusive power of the nurse. Art Matters by Neil Graiman and Chris Riddel This is a lecture on the importance of art and reading for the culture of our day. The presenter is himself an author, and he speaks of the process of inspiration and the need to produce art for art’s sake and not to make money. One Night Stands with American History by Richard Shenkman and Kurt Reiger This is a series of interesting and often very humorous episodes in American history. It is definitely a light read, but one needs those every so often. Chasing the Ripper by Patricia Cornwall This is a short, strange account of how Cornwall reacted to the reaction of her theory as to who Jack the Ripper actually was. She was attacked by a number of conspiracy theorists. It was so strange to hear an author become so defensive. You're all in my prayers in these tough days. Shalom fr. Jude PS On this feast of the Holy Innocents, think of saying a prayer for the innocent who are still suffering throughout the world.


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