Friday, August 13, 2021


August 12, 2021 Peace and Good, I have been in Great Britain since the beginning of the month, and will only be leaving here on the 17th. This week I took a quick trip to our friary in Barton, which is just outside of Manchester (only a couple of hours by train from London). I have been meeting with friars and talking. There is no special agenda, just giving the friars a chance to share with me whatever they would like. This is especially important given how closed we were during the pandemic. The weather has been miserable. There has not been one sunny day since I arrived. It has rained, at least for a while, every single day. I have been helping out a bit in our parish (very, very small) near our custodial office in London. It is good to have Mass with the people. That is something I don't often get when I am in Rome. The regulations concerning mask wearing have been somewhat lifted here, but many people are still wearing it inside of stores, and almost every on mass transit. A good number of people still wear them outside. I finished some reading: Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese This is a history of the use of coal from the earliest days of its exploitation in China and England to the present. The author deals with its mining, the pollution it causes, the problem of Carbon Dioxide and Sulphur Monoxide, etc. She speaks of its present use to generate electricity, especially in the US and China. The work is well presented, and somewhat balanced in its approach. A History of India by Michael Fisher This is a series of lectures from the Teaching Company that runs from prehistoric times to the present day. It speaks of the Indian subcontinent, meaning the modern states of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. It speaks of the influence of the Hindu, Muslim and other faiths (e.g. Christianity, Jainism, Sikes, etc.). It deals with colonialization and the fight to obtain independence. The courses are very informative and well done. Nicholas II by Captivating History This is a short biography of the tragic figure of the last czar of Russia and his family. It deals with his desire to retain an autocratic system even when history was moving against that tendency. Of course, it also deals with the influence of Rasputin. Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines by Charles River Editors This short work is an overview of the lives and careers of two of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution at the beginning of the 19th century. The led what turned out to be an incredibly violent revolution, a reaction to an incredibly violent exercise of slavery. Toussaint comes across as a stabilizing factor, while Dessalines is much more violent and ruthless. Lincoln’s Last Trial by Dan Abrams and David Fisher This is the story of how Lincoln and Stephen Logan defended a young man on a charge of murder. He had been attacked by another man from the village along with his brother, and the much smaller young man defended himself with a knife, killing the man attacking him. The trial is one of the first cases to have a full transcript, produced by Robert Hitt. Lincoln is shown as clever, wise, personable and brilliant in his presentation. The book is very good. Nat Turner by Charles River Editors This is the story of a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831 led by a man named Nat Turner. It was especially brutal, both for what the slaves did to the whites and the revenge that the whites enacted upon the slaves. It was the nightmare of the slave owning class for the next decades. The Kill Room by Jeffery Deaver This is one of the Lincoln Rhymes books. The paraplegic forensic investigator is called to investigate the assassination of an anti-American activist in the Bahama Islands. The assassin is from an obscure intelligence agency whose task is to kill dangerous enemies of the US. The book is filled with twists and turns. I especially like these books because they involve flawed characters, including Lincoln Rhymes. Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien This is an account of the role of the US women who were the pioneers of flight in the 1920’s and the 1930’s. This includes Amelia Earhart as well as other female flyers who faced terrible prejudice. This was a dangerous time to fly, and not a few women and men died in plane crashes in these days. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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