Friday, July 23, 2021

Chicago - Los Angeles

July 23, 2021 Peace and Good, I spent about five days in Chicago visiting the friars and also participating in a friars' day (for the celebration of the patronal saint of the province, St. Bonaventure) and the simple profession of one of the friars. On Saturday I flew out to Los Angeles. I am staying in our parish in Hermosa Beach, about a half of a mile from the sea. It is a beautiful area, and the weather has been very nice. From Monday til yesterday I was with the friars of the province for their extraordinary chapter in Malibu. We staying at the retreat house run by the OFM Franciscan Friars. It has a beautiful view of the ocean, and is right next door to the home of Dick Van Dyke. The meeting went extremely well. There was a great spirit among the friars. The most important thing approved was the raising of the mission in Vietnam from the category of a delegation to that of a custody. It is now just below the level of a province. The mission has been going for about 18 years, and they have made incredible progress. We are very happy that they are now in this higher category which gives them quite a bit more autonomy. The only down side of my visit here is that LA county has reinstituted the requirement for masks when indoors. The covid rate is rising rapidly here. I will be here until Tuesday when I fly out to Baltimore for a couple more celebrations. Then a week from today I will heading over to London for a couple of weeks. I have finished some reading: Coney Island by Charles River Editors This is the story of the resort island which served the people of New York for so many decades. It deals with its low life origin, and then its transformation into a center of hotels and amusement parks. It was there that the hot dog was invented and named. This was also the location of the first Nathan’s red hots. The island suffered in the era in which travel became so much easier with the family car (and therefore freedom from the trains that would carry people to Coney Island. Washington’s Immortals: the Untold Story of an Elite Regiment that Changed the Course of the Revolution by Patrick O’Donnell This is the story of an elite group of soldiers from Maryland who accompanied the revolutionary forces from the early days of the revolution to the end of the war. They arrived in time for the battles in the New York area. They were always dependable forces for Washington throughout the war. The history is well done. LBJ in 1968 by Kyle Longley This is an account of the last hellish year for the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. Among the difficulties he faced were the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the capture of the ship Pueblo by North Korea, the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviets and their allies, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy, etc. The book presents the story in a sympathetic but not fawning manner. The author admits Johnson’s flaws, e.g. this stubbornness and refusal to admit having made mistakes, but he also presents him as a good leader who was most of all dedicated to the poor and downtrodden of society. A Different Drummer by Michael Deaver This is a fawning account of Ronald Reagan and his political career. Deaver was an advisor to Reagan beginning with his time as governor of California. There were ups and downs in the relationship. After Deaver’s last resignation, he formed a lobbying group that got him into trouble with the law. But his overall view of the Reagans, both Ronald and Nancy, is highly favorable. How Winston Churchill Changed the World by Michael Shelden This is a series of twelve lectures on the career of Winston Churchill from his early days in the military and politics up to his death at a very advanced age. The professor presenting these lectures sees Churchill as the right man at the right time. He recognizes his shortfalls, but also sees him as a prophetic figure in his ability to foresee the danger of the rise of the Nazis in Germany. The presentation is very favorable to Churchill. The Mahdist War by Hourly History This is the story of an Islamist rebellion in the Sudan that was fought against the forces of Egypt (and behind them Great Britain) and which was also a reform movement to purify the practices of Islam. The leader of the movement called himself a Mahdi, a messianic figure in Islam. When he died, much of what he did fell apart. Geronimo by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the famous Native American chief from the US Southwest (as well as Mexico). It especially deals with his capture and the way he was treated after that. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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