Saturday, November 27, 2021

Buffalo - Castro Valley, CA

November 27, 2021 Peace and Good, I visited my family in Buffalo, and I also had a canonical visitation with one of our Croatian friars who serves in Our Lady of Bistrica Parish in Lackawanna, NY. The weather was good, and the food even better (as it always is in Buffalo). I flew to Oakland on Tuesday to visit our friary in Castro Valley, CA. We have two friaries in this town, the provincialate where I am staying and a parish down the street. The Minister General and the Assistant General for Asia will be arriving here Monday for the beginnin of a short tour of the States (in preparation for the provincial chapters this coming year). We will be heading back to Rome on December 10th. The weather here is most pleasant, around 70 degrees today. This morning the provincial of California signed the official document which establishes the delegation in Vietnam as a custody. This is the last step before they become a province, something that will probably not happen for 10 years or so. I would like to ask you to pray for my nieces husband, Reid, who is seriously ill. He and Crissy have three small children. I finished some reading: Chile and Argentina by Mark Szuchman This is a review of the history of these two South American countries from the time of the European exploration until the present. The narration is good, but the production has the annoying habit of reading quotes from various figures with the supposed accent they would have used, a bit racist in my opinion. The information contained in the presentation is quite good and thorough, if not exhaustive. This is one of the series of productions by Knowledge Products made available on John Jay by Captivating History This is a short biography of one of the principle figures of the American Revolution (significant in the writing of the constitutions) and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the prime mover in the establishment of the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, and the governor of New York. These short biographies (c. 110 pages each) give a good outline of the significance of the figure to history, and also a bit of information about the personal life of the subject. Krishna by Charles River Editors This is a presentation of the figure of Krishna in the Hindu religion (as well as Buddhism and Jainism). The book gives an explanation of who Krishna is, and how he is worshipped. It also goes into a long overview of some of his exploits when he lived upon the earth. The Pigeon Tunnel by John le Carre I very much like the books of John le Carre (David Cornwall), but this is not exactly one of his spy novels. It is a type of autobiography, a presentation of times and places and situations which gave rise to many of his characters and plots for his books. I listened to this book, and I have to say it was absolutely entertaining. Le Carre’s writing style is always clever, and this book is one of his most masterful presentations. Gettysburg: A History for the People by John Cox This is an overview of the battle of Gettysburg. It is filled with useful detail, but also quite a bit of information that would be on interest only to those who are fascinated by the battle. One of things that I most missed in the book was a series of maps in the text that would help one to follow the various movements being described. An American Spy by Olen Steinhauer This is an incredibly complex spy story which leaves one wondering from the beginning to the end. What further complicates one’s understanding is the tendency to back track to an earlier episode to describe what really happened (or at least what happened according to someone else who had been present for that person). It involves the CIA, the Chinese spy agency and a secret UN agency that has been set up to spy. One is never quite sure which side the participants are on, or rather which sides (for they are often playing one group off against another). Yet, the book is very well written and I could recommend it. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Chicago - Buffalo

November 21, 2021 Peace and Good, This past week I presented a workshop on the Letters of St. Paul to our postulants. Postulancy is the first year for men who are entering out community. There are eight postulants in Chicago this year. This group was filled with questions, which I truly enjoy. Yesterday I travelled to Buffalo where I will visit some of my family and also do a canonical visitation to one of our Croatian friars who has worked here for the past 30 years. He is now quite elderly, and he probably intends to stay here at the Parish of Our Lady of Bistrica, a small parish in Lackawanna. I will be here until Tuesday, and then I will travel to Oakland (Castro Valley, CA) where I will spend Thanksgiving. On the 29th, our Minister General will arrive and I will travel with him throughout the country for about two weeks. I have finished some reading: Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet by Andrew Reilly This is a series of short essays on what it would take to establish a human presence on the planet Mars. Rather than bringing everything with them, future astronauts would have to discover how to use the resources that are already available there. Furthermore, some of those who would go there would have to intend to settle there for the rest of their lives. The author presents a list of the difficulties involved, but he also presents some of the possibilities that are available today, and what might be available in the near future. A History of Korea by Captivating History This is a history of Korea from the earliest settlements to the present era. Given its location, it has often been caught up by the national rivalries of the nations surrounding it, e.g. China, Japan and Russia. The book speaks of that dynamic, and the efforts of the local population to develop and maintain their own local culture and government. Unheard: the Story of Anna Winslow This is a series of podcasts which purports to outline an investigation into the death of a student in England possibly due to negligence by a research facility and/or a mental health facility. The premise of the podcasts are that they are part of a research project being developed by a fellow student of the deceased. Twentieth Century Ghosts by Joe Hill This is an anthology of ghost/horror stories gathered together by the author of NOS482. Some of the stories are true masterpieces, while others less so (as one often finds in any type of anthology). I would say that the book is well worth reading if one likes this type of literature. Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown This is the classic account of the fate of native American tribes during the 19th century seen mostly from the point of view of the native Americans. The stories are often tragic, and leave one furious at the blind point of view of many of the settles and soldiers during this period. There are any number of incidents that today would be called ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Battle of Cannae and the Battle of Zama by Charles River Editors This is account of Hannibal’s most famous and most complete victory over the Romans at Cannae, and also of his defeat in North Africa at the end of the second Punic War. It gives a good portrait of the personality of Hannibal and the reasons for his choices. The short book is well done, as are most of Charles River Editors productions. Hitler’s Furies by Wendy Lower This is a most troubling account of the women who collaborated in the murders machines that the Nazi’s ran in the East of their empire during World War II. The women outlined at times tried to outdo their male counterparts in cruelty. After the war, they often tried to discount their culpability, blaming it on being young and easily influenced by what was going on around them. David Hume by Nicholas Capaldi This is a scholarly (but readable) outline of the great Scottish philosopher who challenged many of the beliefs on knowledge and science of his era. It is a part of the great philosophers series by Audible Books. Have a happy Thanksgiving. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Rome - Louisville - Chicago

November 11, 2021 Peace and Good, I am on the move again, and will be in the States until December 10th, travelling here and there. International travel is getting marginally easier. One still has to have Covid tests and fill out form after form, but other than the mask wearing while one is in flight, it is really not all that bad. I was at a three day meeting of Our Lady of Consolation Province (Midwest and Southwest) at Mt. St. Francis, a site just outside of Louisville. The meeting went very well. The frias spoke of the present situation of the province and its dreams. Yesterday we drove to Chicago, about 5 hours of travel. I will be here next week to give a workshop to our postulants (postulancy is the year before novitiate). The weather here is changing, rain today and snow tomorrow. This is to be expected in Chicago at this time of year. I have been working on a new book in my mind. These days I hope to get an initial outline completed and we will see what comes of it. I finished some books: Samuel Adams: a Life by Ira Stoll This is a good portrait of the revolutionary Samuel Adams, and cousin of the second president John Adams. He was one of the most responsible for stirring up revolutionary spirit first in Massachusetts, and eventually throughout the colonies through his committees of correspondence which shared news about what was happening. Stoll is not afraid to show the flaws in Adams’ personality, the most troubling of all being his rabid anti-Catholicism. Adams served on countless commissions during the Second Continental Congress, and later helped write the Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Constitution and served as the second governor of the state. Lawrence Welk by Charles River Editors This is not exactly a scholarly production, but it is an interesting note on popular culture during the 50’s and 60’s. I remember how my parents turned on the Lawrence Welk show every Saturday evening. The book goes through Welk’s career, and the interesting note is how good a businessman he was, dying incredibly rich. The Seven Days: The Emergence of Robert E. Lee and the Dawn of a Legend by Clifford Dowdey This book deals with the beginning of Robert E. Lee’s career as the general in charge of the Army of Virginia which was protecting Richmond. The book is an honest evaluation of the characters and the successes and failures of all of the major characters in this drama. McClennan comes across as a great organizer but a terrible general. Lee is seen as something who is taking over a massive operation in mid-stream due to the injury of the commanding general Johnston. The surprise is the failure of Stonewall Jackson who had performed so brilliantly during the valley campaign, but who seemed out of sorts during this particular battle (possibly a victim of exhaustion). The book is well done. Van Gogh by Peter Russell This is one of the Delphi Masters of Art series. It deals with Van Gogh’s life, and his art. Then there is a massive appendix of his correspondence with his father, with his brother, and with others. The correspondence well shows the development of Van Gogh’s emotive difficulties that eventually led to his genius in art but also his collapse and probable suicide as a person. The Great Upheaval by Jay Winik This is a brilliant series of stories about three of the major players in the late 18th century and how revolution changed them. The author, whose works I have previously read, deals with the American, French and Russian revolutions. The Americans managed to find a balance between authority and change, the French failed terribly in this attempt due to a series of factors, and the Russians under Catherine the Great drifted from being the darling of the enlightenment to an autocratic empire. Winik is able to show how these three movements influenced each other for the positive and the negative. Nigeria and West Africa by Wendy McElroy This book gives a history of the area in Africa that eventually became Nigeria. It is not all that exhaustive, but it does give an outline to the history of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Nigeria. I would recommend it as a primer on the topic. The Forgotten Tudor Women by Sylvia Soberton This is an outline of the lives and careers of various women in the Tudor circles. The book deals with court politics and the explosive personalities of Henry VIII, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth. It is the kind of book that would be appreciated by Tudor fans, but for those who are not, it is filled with unfamiliar names and titles and is honestly not all that well written. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude