Thursday, May 27, 2021


May 27, 2021 Peace and Good, I am still in Rome. We finished our General Definitory meeting this past Saturday. I did take a three day trip to Assisi to meet with some of the friars there. Going to Assisi is always like going home for a Franciscan. I spoke with all of the U.S. friars while I was there, along with the new Custos of Assisi (a man by the name of fr. Marco Moroni). The trains going to and coming from Assisi were all but empty. Going around Rome, I keep getting the sense that Italy is a few week behind the U.S. in its recovery. There is still a rule that only those over 50 can receive the vaccine. Furthermore, they are running into problems because instead of having to wait three weeks for the second dose, one has to wait six weeks (which is about the time when most Italians want to go on vacation). The weather here has been nice. It is not yet hot, but the rains have more or less ended. Next Tuesday I head to the States. I will start out in Atlanta, visiting three friaries in that area. Then I will go to Louisville, Baltimore, Buffalo and finally El Paso. I will head back to Rome at the end of the month of June. I hope by that time things have gotten better here. There was something in the news that the barriers for tourists in the EU were going to be relaxed for those vaccinated. I finished some books: Roman Arches by Charles River Editors This is a short treatment of the topic of the various arches that the Romans built throughout the empire. Unfortunately the author goes into great detail about individual arches which leaves the reader overwhelmed with detail. Probably the most useful thing in the story is the fact that while arches began as a sign of the triumph of a general into a sign of the power of the empire and the emperor. The Rise and the Fall of Alexandria by Howard Reid and Justin Pollard This is a masterful history of the great city of Alexandria from its founding by Alexandria to its downfall many centuries later. It especially deals with the importance of the library and associated centers of learning which created an intellectual flowering in the ancient world. I would highly recommend this particular volume. Sulla: the Controversial Life and Legacy of the Roman Dictator by Charles River Editors Sulla is famous as being the lst century BC dictator who established prescriptions, list of people who could be killed at will and the person doing the killing would receive a reward. This short treatment gives a more complete picture of Sulla and the reason why he began such a violent purge. It doesn’t quite wash his hands of the guilt, but it does put things in context. The Woman who would be King by Kara Cooney This is the story of Hatshepsut, the daughter of a Pharaoh of Egypt during the 18th dynasty. When her husband, who was also her brother, died, she became the regent for a young boy who was also Pharaoh. Over time, she accumulated more and more power and eventually had herself proclaimed co-Pharaoh. She even had statues with clearly masculine features carved to commemorate her reign. Her co-reign seems to have been peaceful, but many years after she died, her co-ruler had most of her monuments destroyed (probably because of something that was going on in that time and not because she was a woman). The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro This is a novel about a Jewish painter who is sponsored for an abstract mural by the WPA and through the intervention of Eleanor Roosevelt. She is also trying to save most of her family in Nazi occupied France and the Netherlands. The second level of the story is that of a great niece who is trying to find out more about her great aunt who at a certain time disappeared and was never heard from again. It is a well-organized, well written story. The Great Barrier Reef by Charles River Editors This is a quick study of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of eastern Australia. It deals with its discovery by European explorers, its significance, and the danger it faces with pollution and other forms of destruction. Stephen Fry by Audible Interviews This is an interview that speaks about Stephen Fry’s new show, Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets. While the Victorian period presents itself as a cultured and moral era, there was a lot of hypocrisy just under the surface. His views on morality are very libertarian, but his observations nevertheless have something to offer. The Chrysler Building by Charles River Editors This is an account of the construction of the Chrysler art deco building in New York. Unlike buildings like the Sears building in Chicago, this one was built not for the car company but from the wealth of the founder of that company. It was part of an effort to build the highest building in the world, which this was for a few months until the Empire State Building topped it. Dutch Painting in the Golden Age by OpenLearn This course deals with the height of Dutch Art in the 17th and 18th century. There is a big debate whether the artists were attempting to produce realistic art which mirrored what they actually saw, or whether there were hidden, often spiritual, lessons hidden in the choice of objects and their location in the paintings. While the symbolic interpretation has something to offer, one has to wonder how much, at times, the critic is reading into the object that might not be there. Keep safe. fr. Jude


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