Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Rome

December 29, 2022 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome these past couple of weeks. It is mostly clear but cool (not cold). The city is packed with tourists. We finished our definitory meeting on Decmeber 23rd. I have not been doing a awful lot these past few days, just enjoying a bit of time without travel. Yesterday and today I have dedicated myself to a series of short jobs, mostly reports. Tomorrow I have to begin a research project for a presentation to the meeting of new provincials here in Rome. We are keeping Pope Emiritus Benedict in our prayers. When the Vatican announces that someone is very sick, it means at the point of death. I have finished some reading and listening: Meeting Manson by Erik Hedegaard This is an audible book presentation by a journalist who did a series of phone interviews with Charles Manson. The story is as strange as was Manson, and the author never quite gets beyond his fascination with his subject (almost strangely hypnotic in his appeal). I would not recommend this particular book. How to be a Tudor: A Dusk to Dawn Guide to Tudor Life by Ruth Goodman This is a “how to” book on life in Tudor England. The author speaks of food, dress, marriage, morality, hierarchy, etc. She is quite thorough. It is obvious that she is a bit obsessed by the topic, but that actually makes the presentation better. She is entertaining and informative. A Mystic’s Work: Julian of Norwich by Christina Carlson This is a very good presentation on the life and teachings of Julian of Norwich, an English anchorite from the 14th century. Anchorites lived in small cells attached to churches, dependent on the charity of people in that region. Julian had mystical revelations, the most famous of which is, “All will be well, and all will be well.” She had an incredibly optimistic view of God’s rapport with humans, especially in an age where guilt and punishment were often emphasized. The author is a bit of a feminist and sometimes the teachings and phrased in that key of understanding, but overall she is quite objective and helpful. Three More Jack Reacher Novellas by Lee Child This is a series of short stories of novellas about Jack Reacher, a former military policeman who is now dedicated to a life of wandering and adventures in which he tries to help those who most need his assistance. He has a remarkable sense of observation and deduction. The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch Most of Aaronovich’s books occur in London, dealing with Peter Grant, an apprentice practice of magic (for the purpose of maintaining peace in magical circles). Occasionally the books mention that this is also occurring in Germany. This book deals with the parallel team in Germany and their attempt to solve a series of murders in Trier tied to vinelands and wine production in the area. It is very good. The Branch Davidians by Charles River Editors This is the story of the Branch Davidian movement led by David Koresh and especially of their tragic downfall in the raid by the FBI which resulted in the conflagration which destroyed their compound and killed so many of their members. The account shows how some of this was all but inevitable as Koresh became more and more messianic and apocalyptic. World War II: Dunkirk by Hourly History As Churchill said, an evacuation is not a won battle, but it certainly was an event which permitted Great Britain to fight on during the Second World War. While the heads of the army expected to be able to evacuate only a small number of troops, with the cooperation of almost any ship afloat in Great Britain, but by the end of the operation, over 200,000 British and allied troops had been brought to England. Famous Dirigibles by Charles River Editors This is an account of some of the major hot air (hydrogen or helium) balloons from the 18th century to the present. It speaks of experimentation with the balloons, of their use in war and in transport, and of their eventual replacement with fixed aircraft and drones. The Siege of Vicksburg by Hourly History Like all of hourly history’s presentations, this short account of the battle of Vicksburg is informative and useful. It deals with various aspects of the army of the union and the confederacy, of the strategic importance of the city of Vicksburg, of the various troop movements and counter- movements during the long and confusing battle. A Grown-Up Guide to Dinosaurs by Ben Garrod This is a short series of lectures on various aspects of dinosaurs. It is not an ordered presentation, but rather topics here and there which nevertheless give one some good information. Have a Happy New Year fr. Jude

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Rome

December 20, 2023 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome for the past couple of week (except for a day trip to Assisi). The weather has changed, and it is cool and a bit rainy. The Italians are thrilled about the rain for they have been suffering from a drought all summer. We have a long definitory meeting in December - about two weeks. This one is that long, but with a number of gaps in the schedule because some of the members of the definitory have other important meetings, etc. We will finish it up on the 23rd. We have two big meetings in January, the week of the 9th and the week of the 16th. After the second meeting, I will be flying to Baltimore for some vacation. I have not really had a decent vacation for about 10 years, so it is time to slow down and rest a bit. I have finished some reading: We Put the Spring in Springfield by Justin Sedgwick This is a humorous account of the best years of the Simpsons, at least according to this author. He considers their willingness to deal with edgy topics, their use of guest stars, their willingness to portray movements in society, etc. The account is well done and entertaining, but also thought provoking. A History of France by John Julius Norwich This is a rather long, brilliant overview of the history of France from its pre-Roman days up to the end of the Second World War. This is not the first book by Norwich which I have read, but it is one of the best. He has some ties to the country, having a father who served as ambassador to it right after the Second World War, and having vacationed there often. One can hear his love for the country in the account, without becoming dreamy or obsequious. Czar Nicholas II by Hourly History Like all of the hourly history biographies, this is a short, well-written account of the life and the career of Russia’s last czar. There are no great discoveries, but it is a pleasant read. Uxmal by Charles River Editors This is the history of the rise and the fall of the ancient Mayan city Uxmal. Not a lot is known about the people who lived there, but from some of the archaeological evidence, the author was able to discuss the monarchy, theology, and social relations of the people. What continues to be a mystery is why it and other Mayan cities in its area suddenly ceased to be occupied. Charles Dickens by Kelly Mass This is a short biography of the famous 19th century English author who portrayed the true situation of the common people. He became wildly famous both in Great Britain and the United States. His marriage history is a bit mixed, having divorced his first wife. Kelly Mass has an odd way of telling the story, for she attempts almost to enter into a dialog with some of the major characters of his books, which can be a bit confusing. Shattered Sword by Jonathan Parshall This is an historic re-reading of the battle of Midway, one of the turning points of the war between Japan and the United States during the Second World War. The author gives a very good account of what led up to the battle and the battle itself. He is very good at speaking of the battle from the Japanese point of view. The only difficulty with the book is that he goes out of his way to disprove other people’s theories, and then glories for page after page on how his account is more historic than theirs. The Crusades by Abigail Archer This is a medium size book which goes through the history of the crusades. Archer gives all of the pertinent information, and her account is well done. It is not a book for those who wish to go into the topic in depth, but it is good for an overall vision of things. Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger This is the account of the first NASA flight to circle the moon. The author deals with the choice of the crew, the previous history of Apollo flights (including the tragic accident of Apollo 1 which killed three astronauts), the strengths and weakness of the individual astronauts on this particular flight, the reaction of their families, and the reaction of people around the world. It was a very good listen. The History of Rum by John Donoghue This is a course from the Teaching Company concerning this particular liquor which served as an easy way to ship the end product of sugar production, but which also gave rise to a slave culture that was most deadly. Donoghue deals with rum in the context of its use by pirates, native Americans, colonial Americans, etc. The course is quite informative. The Battle of Fort Sumpter by Captivating History This is a quick history of the siege of Fort Sumpter, a battle that turned the Civil War from a possibility into an active conflict. The author gives a good background into what led up to the war, why the fort was so important (both in strategic and symbolic ways), and how the battle actually was fought. It was certainly not one of the deadliest battles of the war (only one man died in an accident after the battle had actually ended), but it was one of the most meaningful. The Battle of Stalingrad: Hitler vs. Stalin by Francis Hayes This is a book which speaks of the climatic battle between the forces of Hitler and Stalin at Stalingrad. It goes into the personalities and histories of the two main protagonists, the beginning of the war, the battle itself, and the aftermath. Merry Christmas fr. Jude

Friday, December 9, 2022

Baltimore - Louisville - Baltimore

December 9, 2022 Peace and Good, I have been in the States for a couple of weeks now. The main purpose of my trip was to meet with the friars from India who are working in our federation. Some of them have been here for quite some time already. Their province is preparing for a chapter this coming year, and we try to visit all of the friars belonging to the province all throughout the world. The meetings with the Indian friars went very well. They show an incredible hospitality. This evening I am going back to Rome for a couple weeks of our definitory meeting. I have begun to bring my things back from Rome and am storing them at the provincialate until I get a permanent assignment. I finish up on June 30. I have also been visiting doctors in these days. They have diagnosed neuropathy. I have been having a bit of a problem with balance every now and then. I am going to start practicing Tai Chi to see if that helps. I finished some reading: Churchill by Paul Johnson This is a biography by the famous history author Paul Johnson of one of his favorite characters, Winston Churchill. It is a bit obsequious, but not so much that it is unusable. This is only a mid-sized book, but it presents quite a bit of useful information. Anais Nin by Hourly History This is the biography of a very strange author who fought for a feminist perspective but who lived a very avant-guard lifestyle. She was actually a bigamist for many years, having one husband on each side of the county (USA). Her books and her biographies were banned for many years because of their blatant eroticism (including more than a hint that she had an incestuous affair with her father). This story in no way made me want to ever read anything she had written. Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustine to Constantine by Barry Strauss Barry Strauss is an ancient historian, and all of his books are well done. This account of the monarchy from its inauguration up until its fundamental reinvention in the days of Constantine is well done and filled with useful information. I could recommend this book and anything which he has written to anyone interested in ancient Roman or Greek history. Astronomy by Jack Arnold This is a medium size presentation of the history of astronomy from ancient times to the renaissance. The book is well organized, and the lectures well presented. Suleiman the Magnificent by Kelly Mass This is a very short presentation on the life of Suleiman the Magnificent (or the Lawgiver as he is known in Turkic countries). He was mostly successful in his wars, except for his attempt to conquer Malta. His was the greatest of the reign of the Turkish sultans, and after him the empire slowly went downhill. Hedy Lamar by Charles River Editors This is an honest short biography of the actress Hedy Lamar. She came from Austria from a family with a Jewish background. She was known as a beautiful but not particularly talented actress (at least in terms of her ability to express emption). What she is not known for is the fact that she made a number of inventions, including a process to shift broadcasting frequencies, something which is used in wifi today. The People’s Temple by Charles River Editors This is the story of Jim Jones and the group of his followers who committed suicide in Guyana after it was discovered that he was holding many of them there by force. He was a champion of civil rights and other social action movements, but he was also an insidious controller of those who joined him, making himself into a godlike figure who could do anything to women or men. Long Way Home by Jonathan Maberry This is a short horror story of a man who comes back from combat in Afghanistan to investigate the mayhem left by a rightest movement which slaughtered thousands of people because they thought that they were vampires. Needless to say, things are not quite what they seem to be, as this man discovers to his horror. The Axis Power’s Nuclear Weapons Programs by Charles River Editors This is an account of the German and Japanese attempts to develop nuclear weapons during World War II. The German side was handicapped by the expulsion of so many world class nuclear scientists by Hitler as well as by budgetary constraints. The Japanese never really funded their project as much as would be needed (and were probably incapable of doing it because of the enormous expenditures that the US used to develop their weapons). Silence by Shusaku Endo This book tells the story of a Jesuit missionary who sneaks into Japan during the persecution of Christians. He is captured and the Japanese authorities try every technique to make him recant his beliefs (so that the lay believers would realize that their attempt to remain Christian was futile). The greatest weapon the authorities use against him is the suffering of others for their faith. The question which is not explicitly asked, but which is in the background, is whether it takes more faith to be willing to die for the faith, or to deny the faith and believe that God would still forgive one. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Melbourne, Australia - Rome - Baltimore

December 1, 2022 Peace and Good, I finished my visit to our friars in Australia, and on Saturday flew overnight to Rome. The trip is so incredibly long (13 hours to Doha, 5 hour layover, 5 1/2 hours from there to Rome) Overall, the visit went very well. We had a three day meeting at a retreat house, and there was a good sense of fraternity and honesty. We need to find a way to support the friars, especially since some of them are ill and can no longer serve full time. The weather in Rome was quite cool and the winter rains have begun, which is a very good thing considering the drought from which Italy has been suffering. Tuesday I travelled from there to Baltimore. I have been visiting doctors these days. I go to Louisville on Saturday to visit some of our friars from India. Their province is getting ready for their chapter, and I am visiting the Indian friars who are living in our federation. I finished some reading: The Battle of Manzikert by Charles River Editors This was a climatic battle between the Turks and the Byzantine empire which led to the loss of the Anatolian peninsula, what we today call mainland Turkey (for the Turks were originally nomads who came from the area around Mongolia). This crippled the empire for they were dependent upon the area for many of their army recruits and for much of their food and wealth. Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius This is a series of lectures from the teaching company that outlines the history of communism from the days of its early triumphs to the later stage of its development. This was the second of a series of three courses on communism (its rise, its development, and its fall) presented by this lecturer who is very, very good. Gutenberg the Geek by Jeff Jarvis This is a somewhat comical overview of the invention of the printing press and how Gutenberg did not fully benefit from it because of some of the debts that he owed those who financed his project. The author draws the parallel between this and the found up companies in the Silicon Valley. The short book is clever and a bit informative. The Battle of Saipan by Charles River Editors This is the story of the conquest of the island of Saipan by the US marines and army during the Second World War. It deals with strategy (why this island), plans preceding the invasion, the invasion itself both from the American and Japanese sides, and the long term consequences of the conquest (which meant that B-24 planes could take off from its airports and bomb the islands of Japan. Americas in the Revolutionary Era by Marshall Eakins This is a very good overview of the revolutionary movements throughout the Americans in the late 18th and early 19th century. The course (The Great Courses) is well done, speaking initially of the US and Haitian rebellions, and then those of Latin America. The professor also explains why there was not a major rebellion in certain countries (Paraguay, Cuba, Puerto Rica, and the Dominican Republic). He speaks of the heroes of the various wars, as well as their shortfalls. The course is very well done. What we Know about the Brain (and what we don’t) by Jessica Payne This is a one hour examination of some of the myths of the brain. Payne speaks of how we always use all of the brain, even in sleeping (and not only a small percentage of it). She speaks of the left brain and right brain thesis (which she holds is only partially true). She deals with the need for sleep and the benefits of meditation. Although it is very short, the lecture is informative. King Arthur by Christopher Fee This is a longer presentation by Learn25 (a company similar to the Teaching Company) on the story of King Arthur. Fee is a very good scholar and presenter. He deals with the historic origin for the Arthur legend (especially in Wales, England and France). He deals with the reason for certain turns and twists in the plot in various retellings. He speaks of later works on Arthur, and even theatrical and movie presentations. Small Wars by Lee Child An officer in the War Planning staff is murdered, and Reacher must find her murderer. She presents herself as rich, and she was involved in the Middle Eastern planning section. This story involves Reacher’s brother, who is also in the army. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson This is an overview of Bryson’s trips throughout England and Scotland, some decades after the publication of his book Notes from a Small Island. He goes from the most southern tip to the most northern island of England, and comically tells of his adventures. I don’t know if it is because he is getting older, but he has a tendency to be crabby at times and highly sarcastic, something he presents thinking it is just funny. Buried Treasure by Charles River Editors This is the story of various episodes of buried treasures and their discovery, from pirate gold to silver and gold mines, from Nazi plunder to other cases of war booty. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Rome - Melbourne, Australia - Sydney, Australia

November 20, 2022 Peace and Good, This past Saturday I travelled to Australia for a canonical visitation. I actually arrived on Sunday, for the trip took about 22 hours. I used Qatar airlines, which I cannot praise enough (service, food, cleanliness, etc.) Yet, the trip goes on forever. I visited our friary in Springvale, which is near Melbourne. The friars have a parish there which has a very large Vietnamese population. The weather in Melbourne was terrible. It was quite cold, and very rainy. Furthermore, the rain comes suddenly. I would feel a few drops and see people running. I soon saw why, for the rain goes from sprinkle to downpour in seconds. On Thursday I flew up to Sydney, to the town of Kellyville. Here the weather is much nicer, mostly in the 70's. This parish has a large Philippino and Indian contingent. I celebrated Mass this morning in the parish. Tomorrow we hear to a retreat house for the assembly of the friars here. Then, on Friday I travel down to Melbourne again, and on Saturday night off to Rome again. Even here in Australia I have been hearing about the snow in Buffalo, especially Hamburg and Orchard Park which is where I grew up. I finished some books: Paul: A New Covenant Jew by Brant Pitre, Michael Barber and John Kinkaid This is a tremendous study of the theology of St. Paul. Pitre has proven to be one of my favorite theology authors. He studies all of the various manuscripts and Jewish writings to show that Paul is a Jew who believes that Jesus has come to establish a new covenant. This doesn’t sound like a tremendous discovery, but some scholars would propose that Paul was just making things up about Jesus and that his message and that of the historic Jesus were fundamentally different. The authors show that this is in no way true, and he traces the message of Paul to the Old Testament sources, showing how it is consistent with the rest of the New Testament. The Song of a Bird by Anthony de Mello This is a series of very short stories that are intended to make one reflect upon a mystical approach to God. My favorite was right at the start and it gives the title to the book. A master of theology tells his students that their ideas about God are all wrong. They ask him why they should even try, and he responds with a question, “Why does the bird sing?” The bird does not sing because it wants to make a statement, but rather because it has a song to share. Stoicism by Ferdinand Jives This is a short presentation on the origins and content of Stoic philosophy. Oddly, the author insists on throwing all sorts of unrelated material in this account, which makes it a bit confusing. Red November: Inside the Secret US-Soviet Submarine by W. Craig Reed The author dedicates his father who served in the submarine service. He also is a diver who works on a submarine during the Cold War to try to obtain secret information from the Soviet Union, often by diving into very dangerous places to tap their cables which carry information from one base to the next. The story is quite compelling. The Mind of Plato by AE Taylor This is a scholarly overview of the writings and teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Taylore deals with the question as to the relationship between Socrates and Plato, and since what we know about Socrates is through Plato’s writings, he also deals with the question of how much of his account is accurate. He speaks of the other writings of Plato, especially the Republic. Young Einstein and the story of E=mc2 by Robyn Arianhod This is a short account of the late studies of Einstein, his marriage (which ultimately failed), and his struggle to find meaningful work, ending up in the Swiss patent office while he wrote papers which changed the way we think about mater and energy, time, movement, etc. A World Undone by GJ Meyer This is a masterful account of the First World War, from just before its origins to its conclusions. All throughout the account there are very useful excursi about the individuals, movements and politics of the times. Although the author presents mountains of material, he does it in a way that is not overwhelming or boring. Saint Peter by Hourly History This is a short biography of St. Peter. It draws upon Sacred Scripture and does not use extra-biblical sources, which limits its treatment of the story. It is a nice outline, but not much more. Versailles by Charles River Editors This is a short history of the great palace outside of Paris built by King Louis XIV and adjusted by his successors. After the French Revolution there was danger that it would degenerate into a ruin, but some creative curators found ways to preserve it up to this day. 11 Days in December by Stanley Weintraub This is an overview of the battle of the Bulge fought in December of 1944 as a last effort of Hitler to throw back the allied forces on the Western Front. The allies were greatly surprised by the attack and thrown back, but they quickly recovered and actually caused much more damage to the German forces than they caused to theirs, especially due to the efforts of General Patton. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, November 11, 2022

Rome

November 11, 2022 Peace and Good, I have been here in Rome for the past couple of weeks. This past week we had a definitory meeting which began on Monday afternoon and ended on Saturday afternoon. One of the things that was decided is that I will remain here in Rome for another six months, until the end of June. The friar who will be my successor will not be able to free himself up until that time. The weather has been cooler but nice. The fall rains have not yet begun, which is not really a good thing. Italy has been suffering from a drought. Tomorrow I head off to Australia for two weeks. The first week will be a visit with all the friars in the delegation, and then we will hold an assembly the second week. This week has been great for writing and taping daily reflections. I have finished my articles for the Messenger Magazine in Padua til May, and have finished my daily reflections til the week before Christmas. That is good since I will not have too much time for those projects when I am on the road. I finished some reading and listening: The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura This is quite an odd but a very good book about a pickpocket in Tokyo and his involvement with a professional criminal. It also speaks of his effort to protect a small child who is being groomed by his mother to steal. Although the story was strange, it was entertaining. The Magna Carta by James Daugherty This is a short history of the conditions that led to the declaration of the Magna Carta, the struggle between the nobles and the King (John), the immediate aftereffects of the declaration, and finally of its eventual influence upon the various efforts to establish societies with greater freedom. The study is not all that serious, and eventually turns out superficial at some points. The Intruder by Jeffery Deaver This is a short novel on a man who believes that he is being staked by a murderer, the mentally ill brother of his deceased wife. It turns out that he has caused her death. There is signs around his house that someone is watching him and seeking to enter his house during the night. There is quite a surprise ending to the story. America’s Founding Women by Cassandra Good This is a teaching company course on some of the women who were important in the early era of the American Revolution and the American Republic. The course is very much a feminist history, which at times is very valuable and at other times a forced interpretation. Yet, I did feel that the course was worth its effort. The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw This is a very good book that deals with the German side of the end of World War II. He deals with the governments, the armies, and the civilians. He shows why many Germans fought with everything they had long after it was clear that they had lost. He speaks of the terrible destruction, the terrible fear, the terrible suffering in those days. He deals with the question of the Soviet treatment of captured German towns and people. The book is very, very well written. Four Trials that Changed the World by Austin Sarat The presenter of this lecture deals with four major trials: the Scope Monkey Trial, the Nuremburg trial, the OJ Simpson Trial and finally the Clinton impeachment. It is an odd mix of trials, but Sarat uses each to show how judicial events can help to change society. South Africa by Joseph Stromberg This is a short history of the Republic of South Africa from its settlement by the Dutch (who would become the Boers) and the English. It deals with the battle between Europeans and native communities. It speaks of the discovery of gold and diamonds and the effect of this upon the country (and especially its international relations). A major part of the work deals with apartheid, and this book was written before the final destruction of this horrible system. The History and Archaeology of the Bible by by Jean-Pierre Isbouts This is a Great Courses production, speaking of the message of the Old and New Testament seen through the eyes of an archaeologist. He speaks of what can be proven by records (whether written which is rare and more commonly ruins). His view of religion is certainly a bit liberal (e.g. his theory of miracle healings), but this course does provide some valuable information. Erasmus by Ferdinand Jives This is an overview of the life and writings of Erasmus, the Dutch free thinker who produced an important critical edition of the Greek New Testament. He hated pietistic and hierarchical forms of religion, but he never broke with the Catholic Church (even though Luther urged him to do so). He also argued strongly for the proper education of children, judging a failure to do so as akin to child abuse. Although quite short, this book does give valuable information on the man and his times. Marie Antionette by Evelyne Lever This was a thorough treatment of the life and death of the queen of France during the French Revolution. The author gives good detail and provides an honest portrait of the good and not so good aspects of the queen. She deals with her naivete and her tendency to allow herself to be used by others, e.g., by her mother, the Empress of Austria, her mother. She also tried to use others, but she was not all that successful in her attempts. By the time of the revolution, she was hated as an agent of Austria and a woman whose spending helped bankrupt the country. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, November 4, 2022

Rome

November 4, 2022 Peace and Good, I really like it when the title of the blog has only one city to mention. I have been home in Rome this past week (when I caught up on some taping and writing projects) and this week (when we are holding a definitory) and next week (at the end of which I travel to Australia). These past few days have brought a chance to my calendar. Originally, I was to finish my job in Rome at the end of this year, but I will not be in Rome until the end of June. The man who will be taking my place will not finish his current assignment til then. The weather has cooled off and is a bit cloudy, but we have not yet begun the winter rains. That should be coming soon. I have fished some reading and listening: Too Much Time by Lee Child Reacher, a former army policeman, witnesses a robbery and helps the police stop the thief. When he is called in to give a statement, he is then accused of being part of the plot. He is able to escape and find the true culprit in the plot. The Tartars by Charles River Editors This is a short history of the Tartars, the descendants of the Mongols, who settled in the south of what today is Russia (including the Crimean Peninsula). They were highly successful in their early days, but then after the time of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, they slowly became less and less important. Their saddest days occurred when Stalin deported all of the Tartars he could find in revenge for their supposed support of the Nazi invasion. Animals in Ancient Rome by Charles River Editors This is an overview of the treatment of animals in the Roman Empire. This includes a fascination with certain animals (like wolves), a manipulation of other animals (such as the animals that were killed in the gladiator contests), and as service animals (such as horses used in the calvary). The Spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi by William Short This course from Learn25 is an excellent treatment of the spirituality of St. Francis himself and the Franciscan movement (including figures such as St. Clare and St. Bonaventure). William Short gives a profound overview of Francis’ view of his God, his world, and especially his Lord Jesus. I would recommend this audio course to everyone. The Grim Reaper by Katherine Ramsland This is a short story about an Italian woman who killed and then rendered down three of her friends to make soap and candles and cookies out of them. She thought that she would save the life of her son who was away at war by killing someone else. She proved to be a murderous psychopath who felt no true remorse for what she had done. Rampage by Harold Sthechrer This is the story of one of the first mass murderers in America. He was a World War II veteran who returned home and one day picked up his guns and began to kill his neighbors whom he thought were plotting against him. The Whirlwind: the X Files by Charles Grant This is one of a series of X file stories that have been offered by Audible Books. This particular volume is about how a group of native American shamans are able to develop a powerful force that seems to be killing people. Mulder and Scully have to determine why the particular victims had been attacked, and which of the shamans was actually directing the murderous force. Blitzkrieg by Lloyd Clark This is an overview of the military technique used by the Germans against Poland and especially against France. Clark is able to evaluate the German techniques honestly, showing the positive elements of the coordination of land and aerial forces, but also the negative dimensions of the attack (that the blitzkrieg attacks have been overestimated by a simplistic view of the techniques). There is a tremendous amount of information about troop movements that might be too much for most readers. Thomas Merton on Chinese and Greek Philosophy by Thomas Merton This is a course that Thomas Merton offered to young men in formation in his home monastery of Gethsemane. It does provide a good overview into some of the philosophical ideas of those two civilizations. I have to admit I don’t especially like Merton’s teaching style, which often is an attempt to show how much he knows as opposed to providing true information to his students. The Edge of the World by Michael Pye This is a historic overview of the civilizations that existed along the Baltic Sea from the earliest days of the Frisian traders to the events that followed the Protestant Reformation. He includes a study of the Hansa League, an association of trading cities along this sea. The author speaks of how the weather and the geography of the land influenced the peoples who lived there. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Santa Cruz, California - Rome

October 26, 2022 Peace and Good We had a very good meeting of the federation of English speaking friars at Maria del Mar retreat house in Santa Cruz. It was right along the ocean, and during our stay I saw some seals and dolphins swimming just offshore. The food was great, as was the hospitality. There were many new members to the leadership of the federation, and this meeting allowed them to get to know each other better. They seem to work very well together. We elected the leadership of the federation, with fr. Michael Heine, the provincial of OLA province, being named the president. They have also nominated a replacement for me which will be voted upon later this week. The weather here in Rome is nice - fall weather. I just got in on Monday evening, so I am in the midst of jet lag. I swear it get worse and worse. I can't wait until I have finished with these transatlantic trips. I finished some reading: Celtic Mythology by Bernard Hayes This is a short overview of the mythology of the Celtic people, both those in Great Britain and those in Asia Minor, France, Spain, etc. It also deals the question of those whom one would consider to be Celtic. Their extension is much more extensive than one would expect. America’s Weirdest Riots by Charles River Editors This is an account of some of the stranger riots that have occurred in the United Stats in the past couple of hundred years. There was, for example, the eggnog riot at West Point Academy. There was also the grave robber riots in which people attacked medical schools because it was thought that they were robbing bodies from the cemeteries for anatomy lessons. The Chicago Outfit by Charles River Editors This is a short history of the crime network that developed in Chicago (in fact, different gangs in the different parts of the city). It deals extensively with the career of Al Capone, but also deals with what one could call the Mafia mob and the Irish mob. The Life and the Writings of John Milton by Dr. Seth Leher This is an overview of the literature of John Milton, the most famous of whose writings was Paradise Lost. The professor is able to point out the literary patterns and allusions throughout the text of the various writings. He uses a bit of psychology to show why Milton shows a certain response whenever he deals with a father figure (based on his own difficulty to his own father). The treatment is too reverential, and it cannot truly be called objective. Images of St. Francis by Wayne Hellman This is an excellent course on the way that St. Francis has been imaged throughout the centuries, including seeing him as a prophet, a saint, a founder of a religious movement, etc. Wayne is one of our friars, the current provincial of OLC province, and he taught at St. Louis University for many years. Prisoner of Guantanamo by Dan Fesperman This is a novel which speaks about an Arabic interrogator working at the prison in Guantanamo for Arab prisoners after 9/11. There are a whole series of surprising developments. The author gives a good mystery/thriller. Many of those whom one would expect to be on the good side and seen to be less virtuous than one would have thought. The Fiery Trial by Eric Foner This is a very good treatment of the growing movement toward emancipation of the slaves during the Civil War. Foner traces the growth in Abraham Lincoln and his ability to do what he really wanted to do from the start (but did not yet have the political ability to do so). Lincoln is seen as opposed to slavery, but unsure how to respond to it due to his need to placate the border states that had not yet left the union, the opinions of many of the white people in the north who were not all that favorable toward blacks, and his own opinion that the solution to this problem would be creating colonies in foreign countries to expel blacks from this nation. Martin Luther by Hourly History This is a short biography of Martin Luther, one of the founders of the Protestant reformation. It deals with his theological background and reasonings, but also with his psychological motivations (including some of the negative factors of his personality). Although it is short, the study is well done. Gastronomy in Mesoamerica by Charles River Editors This is a short description of the normal diet of the people in Mesoamerica before the arrival of Columbus. It also deals with the crops that were exported to Europe and Asia and Africa, and those were imported from those continents in what was called the Columbian exchange. The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China by David Sibley This story of the Boxer Rebellion at the end of the 19th century which was a movement to destroy the influence of foreign powers and religions in China. It deals with the rebellion largely from the point of view of the Western powers which eventually crushed the rebellion. The author does recognize the imperialistic intentions of the various power who all claimed to be totally charitable in their intentions. I will actually be in Rome for a few weeks now, until I head to Australia in mid-November. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Llandundo, Wales - London - San Francisco - Santa Cruz

October 18, 2022 Peace and Good, The chapter in Great Britain/Ireland went very well. The friars were very realistic as to where they stood and what has to be done in the coming years. After the chapter I took a train to London (actually a train ride with three changes). Saturday I flew out to San Francisco, and today we begin a meeting at a retreat house in Santa Cruz (right on the ocean). It is a beautiful spot. I can hear the waves right from my bedroom, and that sound always has a way of calming me. The meeting this week is of the ministers of the various jurisdictions of the English speaking, first world establishment of friars (e.g. US, Canada, Australia and Great Britain/Ireland). We will meet until Friday evening, and then I head back to Rome on Sunday. The weather is nice, in the mid 60's. Most of the friars who are coming to the meeting are new in their job, so a lot of our work will be getting to know each other and what is expected of each one during these coming years. I finished some reading: Heart of Europe: A History of the Holy Roman Empire by Peter Wilson This is a very long, very detailed study of the Holy Roman Empire and its institutions. It is not an easy read, but it presents an enormous amount of information. Only someone who is really, really interested in this empire (at times a true empire, at others only an amalgamation of small states) should read this book. At the same time, it is a good study. Sermon on the Mount by Amy-Jill Levine This is an audiobook from Chirp books written by a professor of the New Testament who was raised in a Jewish family. She is able to draw information from the best of both of these worlds. There are times that I would exactly agree with her conclusions (e.g. she has a tendency to water down some of the more radical challenges of Jesus), her study is nevertheless quite valuable. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch This is one of my favorite author. He has written a series of books about Peter Grant, a mixed race detective in London who studies how to be a magician so that he can investigate and regulate magical occurrences in Great Britain. He is studying under a mentor (Nightingale) who is over 100 years old. This is the first book in the series in which Peter discovers his magical talents. What did St. Francis Teach: Interpreting the Admonitions of Francis of Assisi by Jay Hammond I listened to this audiobook/course on the Admonitions of St. Francis to prepare for a retreat that I was asked to preach to the post-novitiate friars in San Antonio. The retreat has gone very well, largely to the profound study of this topic. Some of the elements of the study are a bit technical (and they could easily be skipped by someone less interested in this element in the study), but Hammond has a profound insight into the thinking of St. Francis. I listened to it at least five times over the past couple of weeks, and found new insights every time I listened to it. Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva This is a book that deals with Gabriel Allon, a spy from the Mosad, the Israeli intelligence network. In this volume, he must sort out the complicated dealings of a Russian arms merchant who was now selling anti-aircraft missiles to terrorist states and groups. As always, Silva’s books are filled with action and insight. Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations by Kenneth Harl This is a Great Courses series on ancient civilizations of the Middle East. The professor is very informative, and his presentation is very palatable. I would gladly listen to any of this professor’s presentations. Wolves and Werewolves in History and Popular Culture by Shannon Scott This is a very strange, very entertaining production by Great Courses and Audible Originals. The author speaks of the human fascination with wolves and werewolves. She presents tales about them over the ages (along with a judgment of why the stories were presented in their particular form). I wouldn’t say that this is a high academic topic, but it was enjoyable to listen to it. The Best American Short Stories 2019 by Heidi Pitlor and Anthony Doerr This is a collection of modern short stories that vary in topic but which were judged to be some of the best productions of 2019. I found almost every story to be well worth listening to, and I would highly recommend this book and the annual version of it. Some of the topics covered were things that I would never even have considered, but that made them all the more valuable to me. The Khmer Empire by Charles River Editors This is a short but very intricate history of the empire that led to the birth of the modern state of Cambodia. The book is unfortunately filled with names and battles and material that overwhelms the reader. The best part of the book is the description of the temple at Angor Wat. Emperors of Rome by Garrett Fagan This is a Great Courses production about the rise and fall of the office of emperor in the Roman States, opening with the career of Julius Caesar and closing with the reign of Constantine. The author is both informative and entertaining. This is the second time over the years that I have listened to this course, and found it just as useful the second time as it was the first. Have a oood week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 10, 2022

Rome - London - Llandundo (Wales)

October 10, 2022 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome this past week. There were no meetings, so it was time to start a writing project (the articles I do for our Messenger magazine from Padua). This series will be on the apostles. The weather in Rome is cooling off, but is not yet rainy. Here in London (I flew here on Saturday) is a bit different. It is cooler than Rome, and today the rains have begun and will probably continue all this week. This week we will be in Llandundo, Wales. We are holding the second part of the chapter for the Great Britian/Ireland custody. We held the first part last month. Ths will be the last chapter I will attend as Assistant General. Then this coming Saturday I will head to California for a meeting of the major superiors of our federation (US, Canada, Australia and Great Britain/Ireland). I finished some reading: The Spartans by Paul Cartledge This is a well written account of the history of the Spartan people and their kingdom from its rise to its eventual decline. The author is not an apologist for this people, and honestly presents the positive and negative dimension of the unique society which they formed. The Burgundians by Charles River Editors This is a short but terribly boring account of the history of the Burgundian people (when they were a kingdom, part of the Carolingian empire, a duchy (especially during the 100 years war), etc. There are too many facts thrown out without producing a true connection. Blizzard: the Storm that Changed America by Jim Murphy This is the story of a great blizzard that hit the East coast in the 19th century. It changed the way that America looked at the weather. Previously, each individual was responsible for cleaning the sidewalks and streets in front of his house. This blizzard was so devastating that civil governments realizes that they were often the only entities capable of dealing with disasters such as horrendous weather events. Creating the Constitution: 1787 by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier This is part of a series of short books on American history. They are written by a team which feels that too many useless facts are thrown out in history classes and works. They work to give the essential and show the movements which led to certain choices. This is well done. More Twisted by Jeffery Deaver This is a series of short stories by the famous detective author. Each of the stories is well fashioned and always carries a surprise toward the end. It is an enjoyable read. Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix This is a very amusing, clever account of horror novels (especially short, paperback ones) from the 60’s to the present. As with other studies of horror, the author shows how many of the images are products of what is happening in the larger world. He also speaks of those authors who take an idea and go overboard on it, exaggerating it to a pornographic level. Ivan the Terrible by Ian Grey Ian Grey is a very good history writer. I have read a number of his books. This biography is a good presentation on the person and the times of Ivan the Terrible. A first consideration is that the Russian word “terrible” is actually something closer to “awesome.” There is no question that he was cruel and vindictive, but that could also describe much of what was happening in his days all throughout Russia as it tried to establish itself amidst numerous enemies which surrounded it. Tales from the Folly by Ben Aaronovitch Aaronovitch has turned into one of my favorite authors. He has written the Peter Grant series about a young mixed race detective in London who is recruited by a special branch of the police to investigate magical crimes. He is taught by an experienced wizard-policeman, Nightingale. This book is a series of short stories involving Peter Grant and other characters. As always, it is quite enjoyable. The Skeptic’s Guide to Alternative Medicine by Steven Novella This is a teaching company course on the scientific proof concerning alternative medicine regimes such as chiropractors, healing touch, acupuncture, etc. The professor is very careful concerning what he says, always backing it up with credible scientific proof. The course is very well done and answered a number of my questions. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 3, 2022

Arroyo Grande, California - Chicago - Rome

October 4, 2022 Happy Feastday of St. Francis Peace and Good, I finished my presentations in Arroyo Grande on the Gospels and Psalms to the novices. The week went very well. I especially enjoyed the day we spent with the Capuchin novices studying the Gospel of Matthew which we will be using in the liturgy beginning with Advent. This past week I spent in Chicago giving a workshop on the Letters of St. Paul to our postulants. There are three of them this year, two for Our Lady of Angels Province and one for St. Bonaventure Province. I feel very much at home in Chicago. I was able to get my Pho soup (Vietnamese) a couple of times. While I was there, I got my annual flu shot and my latest covid booster (which is more effectice against the Omega variant). I returned to Rome by American Airlines so it was a direct flight from Chicago to Rome. It took 9 hours and was not all that bad of a flight. The planes are full these days. It is getting easier and easier to fly. The weather in Rome is nice. It is no longer very hot, but not yet rainy as it can get during the Autumn. I am trying to get through my jet lag, but this time it seems worse than others. I only have a few more months of this. I still am not sure what I will be doing this coming year. I should know more by the end of this month. I finished some books: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson This is the classic novella of a decent man who discovers a way to become a fiend who can fulfill all of his darkest desires. The line between the two becomes confusing as the doctor discovers he no longer needs to take his drugs to switch from one state to the other. The story is told from the point of view of a friend of the doctor who slowly discovers what is happening to the doctor. Caligula’s Nemi Ships by Charles River Editors This is the account of two massive boats that were built during the time of Caligula on a lake at Nemi, a small town near a volcanic lake outside of Rome (near Castel Gandolfo, the lake resort for the Pope). The author describes how they were built and the most probable reason why they were built, and then scuttled in the lake. He also describes how they rediscovered and why Mussolini had them excavated during his reign. Robert E Lee and His High Command by Gary Gallagher This is a teaching company course on the officers of the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The author is a good scholar and gives an honest, balance review of the leaders of the Southern side of the war. He also provides some background into the tendency to canonize the southern cause and especially Robert E. Lee. Overall, it was quite good. Written in Blood by Michael Lister This is the account of a man who doubles as a prison chaplain and a detective (a continuation of his former profession). This is part of a series of novels based on the same character which was discounted from Chirp Books (an audiobook outlet which does not let you download its product but which allows you to listen to them online). The story was interesting, and I will probably try out another of Lister’s books, but he is not yet one of my favorites. Six Frigates by Ian Toll This is the story of the founding of the US navy from the days of the Revolutionary War up to the end of the War of 1812, including the navy’s service in the Barbary Wars against pirate states in North Africa. The author is a good war writer (having already read a couple of his other books). This is not a short, quickly flowing account of the topic, but rather a detailed, involved account which is nevertheless enjoyable. History of Bali by Captivating History This is a long treatment of the exotic island of Bali in Indonesia and its history. The author insists on giving mind numbing detail about one king, one dynasty after another. It was interesting in its larger details, but is a difficult read. The Roman Army by Charles River Editors This is the second half of a two part treatment on ancient armies. The former part dealt with the army of Sparta and it dealt with the battles they fought. This one death with more organizational issues. It was helpful, but only touched on battle actions of the armies themselves. Florence Nightingale by Hourly History This is a short presentation on the life of the famous nurse in England who helped to reform the treatment of injured soldiers during the Crimean War (and whose reforms had an enormous impact in other countries as well). Coming from a rather wealthy background, Florence had a difficult time convincing her family that she should practice nursing (which was considered to be a disreputable occupation). She was eventually to be honored by Queen Victoria for her work. The book also points out the less attractive dimensions of her personality (e.g. a crotchety personality). Polynesian Mythology by Bernard Hayes This is a very short presentation on some of the figures and beliefs of the religions of Polynesia. While these beliefs differ from island to island, there are some basic ideas that are consistent. The short presentation does not go into depth into anything, and just presents the content of the myths that form the basis for Polynesian religious beliefs. Saint Augustine by Hourly History This is one of those short biographies of the lives and careers of important historical figures. This one is well done, presenting both the events of his life and some of the major philosophical and theological ideas in his teaching. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Montreal - Arroyo Grande, CA

September 24, 2022 Peace and Good, This past week I have been in our novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California, just outside of Pismo Beach (halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco). This is a yearly workshop that I give the novices on the Gospels and the Psalms. Tuesday we also invited the Capuchin novices who live about an hour and a half away for a day on the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel we will be using next year in the liturgy. I always enjoy these types of presentations. I open it up to questions on anything in the Bible or in the Order, and it creates a very good environment for discussion. I often find that the questions asked make me think about my own ideas on a topic. I hope that when I finish up in Rome, I can do more of this. The weather has been beautiful, in the 70's all week long. Even the day of rain we had on Monday was a soft rain that is a real blessing in a part of the country suffering from severe drought. This morning I fly out to Chicago to give another workshop to the postulants. I finished some books: Joan of Arc by Hourly History This is a short, well written biography of St. Joan of Arc. The author treats her visions with respect, neither denying nor confirming them. This is a good book if someone wants an outline of her life and deeds. The Most Notorious Art Thefts of the 20th Century by Charles River Editors This is an overview of some of the more notorious art thefts in this past century. Obviously, the Nazi looting of art all over Europe is high on the list, but it also includes the theft of individual works of art. The general rule of thumb is that it is relatively easy to rob art from museums (due to sometimes poor security due to budgetary constraints) but difficult to sell the works since they are so well known. The Ash Tree by M. R. James This is a novella that deals with the superstition of having an Ash Tree near a building being unlucky. This belief seems to be confirmed in the death of a woman accused of witchcraft, and of two of the owners of the house. The eventual discovery of the true cause of the difficulties only comes at the end. Medieval Science by Jack Sanders This is a quick overview of the state of science during the Middle Ages. It is not all that deep of a treatment, and it gets into a bit of Catholic and Church basing, but there is some good information in the overall perspective. The Battle of New Orleans by Raymond Todd This is an audible book to which I listened which dealt with the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. The author is a bit too obsequious toward Andrew Jackson for his story is really a bit more complicated than he would present it (e.g. occasional violations of the constitution, genocide and racial cleansing of the Native Americans each of the Mississippi, etc.), but overall it is a good book. Rising Sun by John Toland This is a long, very thorough study of the Japanese involvement in the Second World War. Toland is able to tell the story both from an American and a Japanese point of view. He is respectful throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed this large (1500 pages) book. Murder, Suicide by Keith Ablow This is a murder mystery novel concerning a genius who was about to have an operation which would cure his epilepsy but leave him without any of his former memories, and the seeming suicide of his lover. There are twists and turns which involve national security issues and corporate greed. Powerful Women Who Ruled the Ancient World by Kara Cooney This is a course from the Great Courses that deals with some of the well known women of ancient times as well as some of the largely unknown women who nevertheless shaped the history of their nations. The presenter is unfortunately so tied to the feminist interpretation that she at times ignores any other reason why events might have happened. It think that this weakens her valid argumentation which is a shame because she has a lot to say. 1491 by Charles Mann This is the story of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus and those who followed him. The author speaks of the various cultures that developed through the New World. He speaks of customs, food, animals associated with these peoples, etc. He draws distinctions based on climate and geographical consideration. The book is well done. Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered by Laura Auricchio This book deals with the life and career of the Marquis de Lafayette. The first part mostly deals with his arrival and military career in America during the Revolutionary War, and especially his relationship with George Washington. The second part deals with his return to France and his role in overthrowing the monarchy and his subsequent persecution (both by radical and by reactionary forces). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

London - Wales - London - Montreal

September 14, 2022 Peace and Good, I was in Wales last week for the chapter of the custody of Great Britain/Ireland. It went extremely well. I was still there when news came that the Queen had died. It was interesting to see how people reacted. Some were deeply moved, while others took things in stride. These days I am in Montreal, visiting the friars there. This past Sunday I celebrated the English Mass at one of our parishes and had a question and answer session with the parishioners. I love doing that sort of thing. This evening I will have another Mass and session. Then early tomorrow morning I head out to our novitiate in California. The weather in England was not bad, while that in Montreal was very warm until last night. I finished some reading: Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson This is a tour of various European cities with a constant outlook for the humorous and unusual. Bryson tends to stereotype people and their cultures. At times he is very funny, at other times he is cruel and offensive. The more I read of him the more I see that negative dimension of his personality. I have to admit I am also concerned with his frequent references to how much he drank and how drunk he got, almost as if he had never grown up from being an adolescent. The Ninja by Charles River Editors The Ninja was bands of secretive agents who would spy and assassinate for their masters. They were not Samurai who were often mortally opposed to them. This short book outlines some of their training and their techniques. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible: First Enoch by Daniel Olson I have often been interested in this apocryphal book of the Old Testament, but this is the first time that I actually studied it. It is named after Enoch, the man who walked with God and then was no more. It purports to be a series of revelations made to Enoch about good and evil angelic spirits, their role in the history of the world, the consequences of their actions, etc. It is very, very apocalyptic and symbolic in tone. It is the type of book that will require further study, but this was a good start. Hudson Taylor by Hourly History This is the story of an English missionary to China. He made several voyages there, and he was ceaseless in his preaching in England to obtain finances for the mission and more missionaries. He tried to enculturate his message by dressing in Chinese clothes and respecting the local culture. Ada Lovelace by Hourly History This is a short biography of Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron. She was a genius in mathematics and dedicated her life to helping to perfect a machine which was actually a type of computer. She invented algorithms which are still in use today in computer science. The Supreme Court by Alison Gash This is a One Day University Course on the Supreme Court, but it is much more a screed on the question of the role of the Supreme Court and the danger to democracy from recent developments. The professor did give some good insights, but I did not find the entire work balanced or greatly helpful. Carnacki the Ghost Finder: Gateway of the Monster by William Hope Hodgson This is a short novella about a room which is haunted and a man who attempts to find the ghost and counter it. The solution depends upon a ring which belonged to the first man murdered by a ghost and what it represents. Ethical Dilemmas and Modern Medicine by Jacob Appel This is a short course from the One Day University on medical ethics. The professor gives a few examples of ethical dilemmas, but it is not a profound treatment in any way. I could not say that I would recommend it. The Templars: The Secret History Revealed by Barbara Frale This is a history of the history of the monastic/warrior order that started to protect and aid pilgrims to the Holy Land and eventually became too important in the financial world. They originally guaranteed transfer of funds from a pilgrim’s homeland to the Holy Land so that he would not have to carry the money with him that might be robbed, but it became a banking empire that was tempting to the king of France who desperately needed funds. He outlawed it and persecuted the Templars and stole their funds. The author is a bit too ready to accept certain of the stories that were extracted from the Templars under torture. A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome by Emma Southon This is a book that speaks of the Roman attitude toward murder, which was not considered to be a state affair as much as a private matter to be settled between or within families. The father of the family could even kill his wife, children or slaves without any legal recourse. The author is good in terms of research, but this being the second book I have written by her, I am surprised that someone that educated would have such a potty mouth. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Ellicott City - Rome - London

September 4, 2022 Peace and Good, I finished my time in Ellicott City. The doctors are concerned about a weakness in my legs, but they do not yet know what is causing it. I did not yet get the results of my last tests. I flew back to Rome. It is still quite warm there. There are tons of tourists. We had a few days of meetings there, and then I flew to London to get ready for a meeting starting tomorrow morning. These past few days I have been attending the definitory meeting with zoom. One of the topics at this definitory was a request for me to resign as Assistant General. All the travel has really worn me out, and now with my leg problems, it makes travel all the more difficult. The definitory accepted the request, so I will leave the job on January 1st. I don't yet know where I will be heading. That is to be worked out over the next couple of months. The weather here in London is typical weather. Overcast, a bit of rain, in the low 70's, but really not all that bad. The friary is near the river (right around where you see the Eye, the big ferris wheel). I love walking along the river. I finished some books: The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad I read this classic many years ago, and I fully enjoyed reading it again. It is about a man who travels to Africa where he will serve as a boat captain. He hears of a mysterious agent upriver who has obtained more ivory than any other agent. He end up finding an almost mythic, almost divine figure who is terribly ill and is dying. Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record and Our Place in Nature by Brian Switek This is a history of some fossil discoveries and their treatment of them by scholars. It especially deals with the evolution of birds, the whale, the horse and humans, using these cases as examples of evolution in a particular line of descent. It is a bit technical, and therefore would not be enjoyable by all readers. Dynasty by Tom Holland This is an excellent treatment of the Caesar family, beginning with Augustus (actually Julius), and ending with Nero. He deals with the emperor, society at that time, the Senate’s role, etc. I would highly recommend Holland’s book given how well told this book is. St. Thomas of Aquinas by Hourly History This is a short account of the life of St. Thomas Aquinas, the great pre-renaissance theologian of the Dominicans. The author is quite respectful, speaking of extraordinary events with a critical yet not cynical approach. This is almost an extended Wikipedia article. The Great Revolutions of Modern History by Lynne Ann Hartnett This is a Teaching Company course of 24 episodes which deal with some of the most important revolutions since the 17th century. Some of them are to be expected (American, French, Russian) while some of them interpret the word revolution in a more expansive manner (Civil Rights, anti-colonialism, the influence of TV). The professor is well prepared, and the lectures are good. I could easily recommend this course. Star Spangle Men: America’s Ten Worst Presidents by Nathan Miller This is a historians account of the careers of whom he considers to be the ten worst presidents. He includes many of those one would expect (Buchanan, Taft, Harrison) but also a few who are a bit of a surprise (Grant, Carter, etc.). He is honest and not polemic in his approach. The book is really rather good and I would recommend it. The Roman Forum by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the Roman Forum which was a mix of a governmental center, religious site and market place. It give the chronology of the various important sites located there. The account is not all that well written and thus not all that informative. Agrippa Hull by Charles River Editors This is a biography of an African American from Massachusetts (Sturbridge) who fought in the American army during the Revolutionary War and who was an esteemed and financially successful member of his community. Antiogonus the One-Eyed by Jeff Champion This is an account of the life and career of one of the Generals of Alexander the Great who became one of the powers that fought for supremacy after the death of their leader. The author, unfortunately, cites a myriad of combatants and battles, making this more of a scientific study than a book which one could read at a leisure pace. The Chernobyl Disaster by Hourly History This is a short account of the Chernobyl disaster, the explosion of a nuclear reactor that released radioactivity into the atmosphere which was carried by prevailing winds to neighboring countries. The author speaks of the clumsy attempts of the dying Soviet government to deal with the crisis and its press coverage. Having read other account, I found this one somewhat superficial, but this series of studies is not intended to be much more than that. The Lady in the Tower: the Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir This is a good account of the fall and death of Ann Boleyn. I thought that this was going to be a historical novel, but it turned out to be a thoughtful true history of what happened. Weir goes through the various theories about who brought her fall about, how likely she was to have been guilty of the thing of which she was accused, the role of King Henry in all of this, etc. The book is very well done. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Ellicott City

August 23, 2022 Peace and Good, I have been in the area of Ellicott City for the past 10 days. Almost every day has involved a visit to some doctor or dentist. It is hard to get them in when I am on the road almost all the time. I have been having a bit of trouble with my legs, and so I had a few MRI's to see if the doctors could figure things out. They have not found anything serious, but they arestill looking. In the meantime, I have caught up with my daily reflections and have worked on a translation of a document for the Order (a bit over 60 pages) on formation. I finished it this afternoon, and will edit it when I return to Rome. Given that the due date was November, I am happy to have it almost finished. I will be heading back to Rome tomorrow, and then on to London on the 31st. I finished some books: The Ancient Spartan Army by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the birth of Sparta and its army. Unlike most societies which have an army, this, like Prussia, was an army that happened to have a society. The book speaks of how successful the army was in its many wars, but also of the negative dimensions (lack of respect for the individual, the horrible treatment of the Helots, etc. 8 Books That Changed the World by Joseph Luzzi This is a short course on literature that made a significant contribution to society, including the Bible, the Odyssey, the Divine Comedy, The Invisible Man (James Baldwin), etc. The professor is insightful without being esoteric. It was part of a series of short courses (an hour or two), but this gave much more detail and things upon which one could reflect for quite some time. Hitler’s Secret Army by Tim Tate This is the story of those British men and women who supported the Nazi’s during World War II, either by promoting their cause and supporting a peace with Germany, or who actually tried to spy for and assist in other ways the German war effort. The author points out the difficulties of balancing the need to control security but at the same time protect civil rights. He also points out how prejudiced the authorities were in terms of class distinctions, protecting the nobility and punishing severely the lower classes. Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz This is the first of series of books about a man who was trained to be an assassin from his youth (for he was an orphan). The program started as a government agency, but Orphan X broke off and sought to help people in disastrous situations. In this volume, he is attacked by others who were part of the program and it is not clear whether this is a government attempt to clean up the mess or a power grab by one of the former members. How 1954 Changed History by Michael Flamm This is a Teaching Company course sponsored by Audible which speaks of the important events in politics, science, sports, civil rights, etc. which occurred in 1954. The presentation is well done and entertaining. Operation Paperclip by Annie Jacobsen This is the story of the US effort to use Nazi scientists in order to work upon jet airplanes, biological weapons, atomic work, and other projects. There was a sense of urgency after the war because of the dawning of the Cold War, and the fear that if we did not use their expertise, then the Communists would. Yet, this project white washed the highly criminal background of many of the scientists shipped to the States. Probably the most famous of them was Werner Von Braun, who worked upon the space program. Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch This is another contribution to the Rivers of London series which deal with a couple of detectives who work in a semi-secret department which investigates offenses that involve the misuse of magic. The author is brilliant in his presentation, making his hero, Peter Grant, a half white and half African, has a great sense of humor as he slowly learns to use magic in his work. Hitler, God and the Bible by Ray Comfort This is a short book that deals with how Hitler twisted the idea of religion to serve his notorious plans. The first half of the book is a short historic outline of the Third Reich, while the second half deals more specifically with Hitler’s attitude toward the faith, including setting up a false national church in Nazi Germany that would be at his bidding. Unfortunately, because the author is evangelical, he cannot stop himself at taking aim at Catholicism. The Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri This is part of a very clever series on a Sicilian detective who has to solve crime in the face of a bureaucratic government that not only does not help his work, but at times actually fights against him. In this volume, the hero has to solve the murder of a woman who is found nude in a house which she was having built. The entire series is entertaining. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, August 12, 2022

Palermo - Rome - Ellicott City

August 12, 2022 Peace and Good, I truly enjoyed the trip to Palermo. We celebrated the opening of a friary for hte care of older friars. The friars also showed me the beauty of Montreale (the most magnificent presentation of medieval mosaics) and Agrigento (a series of Greek temple ruins) and a few other places. I then flew to Rome and took care of finishing off a series of articles on the prophets that I was writing for one of our magazines in Kenya. Yesterday I flew from Rome to Baltimore through London. The first part of the trip was not bad, but the part from London left around 3 1/2 hours late. This has been the pattern all throughout these past few months. I am back in Ellicott City for a series of doctors' and dentist appointments. I will be flying back to Rome on the 24th. It has been hot, hot, hot wherever I go. Italy has been having a terrible drought, as has France. I finished some books: Ripper: the Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell This is a book that outlines Cornwell’s proposal that Jack the Ripper was really an artist named Walter Sickert, an artist who studied under James Whistler. Many of the points are well made, but Cornwell becomes repetitive in attacking the forensic inability of the investigators and her tendency to go from “it could have been” to “it must have been.” Washington’s End by Jonathan Horn This is a book that covers the period of Washington’s life from the end of his second term until the time that he died. It deals with his life at Mt. Vernon, and also about his relationship with President Adams (which was not always the best, given Adams’ tendency toward jealousy). The account is rather well developed and organized. The Reislauffer by Charles River Editors This is the story of the Swiss troops that fought throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance as mercenaries. They were incredibly successful in many of the battles they fought, especially in Italy. There is still a vestige of this group in the Swiss Guard who are the ceremonial guard of the Holy Father. James Moriarty, Consulting Criminal by Andy Weir This is a clever short novel about Moriarty, the archfiend whom Sherlock Holmes fought. Moriarty uses the same deductive techniques as Holmes, but he uses them to further his criminal efforts to become the most powerful criminal in London. Odessa by Charles River Editors This is a short study of the group that is said to be formed after World War II to permit Nazi war criminals to escape from Europe to South America and the Arab world. The author admits that it is not entirely clear that this group actually existed, but given the rather large number of Nazis who escaped, it would appear that they received help from someone. The author also emphasizes how Nazi scientists helped Arabs develop weapons and aircraft to fight against Israel. The Great Mortality by John Kelly This is an excellent treatment of the Black Death in the Middle Ages. The author treats the subject from many different angles. He speaks of the actual plague and what it was (probably a mix of Bubonic and Pneumonic plague. He deals with the literature that was written as a reaction to the event (e.g. that of Boccaccio and Chaucer). He speaks of the anti-Jewish persecution. He deals with the societal effects of the plague. Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Hourly History This is a short account of the life and career of the great theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a pastor in the Evangelical faith who became a major critic of the Hitler regime. He was eventually executed right before the end of the war. Perhaps his most famous book was the Cost of Discipleship, a treatise which describes how following Jesus is not easy. It requires all one is and has. Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat by John Kovacs This is an account of Churchill and his speeches at the very beginning of his taking over as Prime Minister in Great Britain and the time of its greatest danger. The author, who is an expert in this period of history, gives good insights into what Churchill said and why he said it. He traces the transition of Churchill from being a little appreciated fool to a great leader. The Martian by Andy Weir I thoroughly enjoyed this particular book about an astronaut who is accidentally left on Mars and who finds ways to survive and eventually to be rescued. The science and engineering described is fascinating. In a course I listened to, the premise of the book is off track a bit (if there were a wind storm on Mars, the atmosphere is so weak that it would not tear things apart and cause a part of the apparatus to impale the astronaut. Nevertheless, the book is very good and I am looking forward to reading more of Weir’s writing. Books that Cook: Food and Fiction by Jennifer Cognard-Black This is a Great Courses series of lectures on the treatment of food and its preparation and earing in literature. The professor is good, but possibly a bit too excited by her topic. She also becomes speculative in her interpretation of various scenes in the books and even the films which she describes. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Ellicott City - Palermo

August 2, 2022 Peace and Good, I flew to Sicily this past Sunday for the dedication of a friary for the elderly friars in this province. It is very, very hot here in Palermo. Yesterday, the provincial, fr. Gaspare, took us to a few of the major sites for tourism. The first was the cave site where the patron saint of the city, St. Rosalia, stayed during her career as a hermit. Then, we went to the Cathedral of Montreal. The image of Christ the Pantocrator is famous for it was used in Fellini's scene in Brother Sun, Sister Moon. It is the building with the most extensive use of mosaic in the world. It was truly magnificent. Finally, we visited our church of St. Francis. I did not know that the friars has such a beautiful church here in Palermo. It was great. This evening we have the dedication of the friary. Then tomorrow one of the friars is taking me to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento (on the southern coast of Sicily). It is one of the best collections of Greek temples in the world (for quite a bit of Sicily was settled by the Greeks in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. On the 5th, I will be flying back to Rome. I finished some reading and listening: Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy I have read a number of Goldsworth’s history books on the Roman empire, and he is excellent. I thought that this book was going to be another history, but it turned out to be a novel about a group of Roman soldiers (from various backgrounds) fighting engagements in northern England during the early 2nd century AD. It was good to read this and know that the details were probably most accurate given the learning of the author. History’s Great Plagues by Christopher Fee This series of lectures through Learn25 was not quite what I expected. I thought it would be a history of the world’s greatest plagues, and it turned out to be a review of what literature said about those plagues. In a sense, this was even better. It explained certain reactions to the disasters and how they changed society. I have acquired a number of short courses by Christopher Fee, and I look forward to listerning to them. The Burning of the White House by Jane Hampton Cook During the War of 1812, the British landed troops and burned the capital city of Washington DC (at least the public buildings such as the White House and the Congress). This book portrays the British involved as well as the politicians on the American side such as President Madison and Representative King. It also gives an endearing portrait of Dolly Madison and her role in supporting her husband, the president. The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton This is the story of a train robbery in England during the Crimean War (and, in fact, it was the payroll of the soldiers fighting that war that was robbed from a train). The organizer of the robbery was a genius who take of every possibility, including what to do in the case that they were caught. The book is well written and quite interesting. The Tractate Middoth by M.R. James This is a short novella about an obscure book written in what seems to be Hebrew that has drawn the interest of various people, and which contains a secret about money that would never have been expected. Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy This is a masterful presentation on the history of Julius Caesar and his influence upon Rome and the world of his time. Goldsworthy is a good historian, and an excellent author. He sorts out fable from actual history, an especially important task given that many of the sources were written to push a particular agenda. I could easily recommend any of his books to anyone interested in the topic. Sherlock Holmes: Beyond the Elementary by James Krasner This is a short course by the Great Courses on the person of Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but especially on Holmes himself. The professor speaks of the personality of the character, who is at times almost appears to be a person on the authistic spectrum. He speaks of his relationship with Dr. Watson. The course is quite well done, and it was one of the free presentations from Audible. El Greco by Delphi Masters of Art This is a biography of El Greco, the Greek artist who ended up in Italy first and then especially in Spain. The author explains his artistic influences and how he used or rejected them. The book gives a catalog of most of the works attributed to El Greco. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Mesilla Rark, New Mexico - Ellicott City, MD

July 24, 2022 Peace and Good, I finished up a very hot week in New Mexico. It reached 106 degrees some day. It was a dry heat, but when it gets that hot, it feels like an oven. The Provincial Chapter of Our Lady of Consolation Province went very well. There was very much a family environment. Their province is one of the most committed to social justice of the four in the county. They made a commitment to study and live the lessons of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si (which speaks of how we use/abuse/honor the environment. They also recommitted themselves to planning for their most important site, Mount St Francis. I am now in Ellicott City for the week, but it is going to be quite busy. I have a series of doctors and dentist appointments. Then on the 30th I head back to Europe, to Palermo in Sicily. I finished some reading: Poland, 1939 by Roger Moorhouse This is a book that records the history of the Nazi and Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939. This is probably one of the most painful books that I have read, but it was well worth reading. The author speaks especially from a Polish point of view, showing how the Poles fought bravely but were outclassed by both the Nazis and the Soviets (who invaded later in the process and claimed to be liberators, which was never their intention). The Soong Sisters by Emily Hahn This is the story of three sisters who all had important roles in China. One was the widow of Sun Yat-Sen. The second was the wife of a rich industrialist. The third was the wife of Chaing Kai-Shek. While this is the theory of the book, it actually turns into a fawning biography of the third women. It is an apologia as to the goodness of Soong Mai-ling, this third woman, up to the end of World War II. I would not exactly recommend this book for a good read. Leyte 1944 by Nathan Prefer This is an extensive account of the American invasion of Leyte during World War II. It goes into great detail, so it would be the sort of book that would please only those who want to know all the story (at a larger level and the individual level). Stay Tuned by Jeffery Deaver This is a short novel about a woman who is endangered by her fiancĂ©e. This occurred many years after an incident at the same lake where this event happened. She lost a good friend to a murderer. The question becomes whether the deceased girl actually helped the protagonist escape danger. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz This is the first of a series of books about a young man named Odd who has the gift/curse of seeing ghosts who wish him to help them on some task before they go to the other side. The whole series is incredibly well written. Odd shows a humility and a sense of service that is astounding. This volume deals with his attempt to stop a mass killing by a Satanic group. The Rise of the Rome by Gregory Aldrete This is a series of 24 lectures on the rise of Rome from its founding until the end of the Republic under Augustus. This is not the first course by Aldrete that I have heard, and he is quite good. He presents quite enough information without being overwhelming. The Egg and Other Stories by Andy Weir This is a series of nine short stories by the author who wrote the Martian. Each of the stories leads one to think one thing and then ends with a turn that one did not in any way expect. These stories made me want to read more of his writings. War Beneath the Sea by Peter Padfield This is a long and very detailed account of submarine war during the Second World War (German, Japanese, British and American). It is quite long and it probably would not be of interest to anyone who is not fascinated with this particular period of history and this particular topic. In spite of this, the book is well done. The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake by Captivating History This is a short account of the earthquake that all but destroyed the city of San Francesco and also spawned a fire which destroyed even more of it. It deals with the initial disaster, of the response of those responsible for the city (local and national), the plights of the refugees, etc. The Great Divorce by Ilyon Woo This is a story that takes place in the early days of the 19th century in New York and New England. A man who has a history of alcoholism and visiting prostitutes decides to convert and join the Shakers. He wants his wife and three children to join him. She does not want this. Although she wants a divorce, it is all but impossible for her to obtain it. Furthermore, the Shakers help the husband hide her children for her (for at this time, the husband had total rights over children during a separation or divorce). A major topic is the fight for women’s rights. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, July 18, 2022

Los Angeles - Baltimore - El Paso and New Mexico

July 18, 2022 Peace and Good, I finally tested negative for covid and was able to travel back to Baltimore for the provincial chpater of OLA province. The week I was in quarantine, I attended the St. Bonaventure Chapter in Chicago by zoom. The chapter in Baltimore was held in the Maritime Center, a former Merchant Marine Academy which is now a convention center. The spirit of the chapter was very positive. Many of the younger friars made significant contributions during the week, and a number of them were named as guardians for their friaries. The main topic was the need for a spiritual rebirth, and the friars responded to it well. Saturday I flew into El Paso and travelled to Mesilla Park, just across the border in New Mexico. It is very hot, beyond 100 today. The humidity is very low, but it is still hot. We begin the chapter this afternoon and go on to lunch on Friday. I will fly back to Baltimore on Friday for a long series of doctor and dentist appointments next week. Then at the end of the week I fly to Palermo, Sicily, for the dedication of a building for the senior friars of that province. These weeks have been very productive for writing. A friar who is charge of a magazine in Kenya asked me to do a series of articles for them, and in the past six weeks I have been able to finish 14 of them. I finished some reading: American Monsters by Adam Jortner This is a Great Courses series. It deals with the question of why certain manifestations of the abnormal surfaced at particular times of our history. The professor shows how these were heavily influences by social and political developments at particular eras. The course covers witches, ghosts, sasquatch, aliens, etc. I was not too sure when I first saw the title, but I was most pleasantly surprised as I listened to the lectures. Verdict on Vichy by Michael Curtis This is an account of the actions of the Vichy government in France during World War II. It is especially interested in the governments involvement in the persecution of Jews (sometimes following Nazi orders, sometimes establishing policies which were more severe than theirs. Yet, after the initial trials of collaborators, little was done to bring people to justice for what they had done (some even entered into subsequent French governments). Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith I have read a couple of books by this author in the past. This volume is as good, if not better, than those. It is about a KGB plot and its effects on a family of a former agent. It goes from the early days of the 60’s to the war in Afghanistan. The story is exciting, filled with action and suspense. I could easily recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense novels. Ancient Skies by David Weston Marshall This is an account of the ancient (and some modern) names of the constellations of stars in the night sky. It gives the stories of the various mythic figures who are said to be depicted in the form that one sees. It is not a book on astrophysics as much as a light account of how people connect the heavens with their lives. Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields by Jeff Shaara Jeff Shaara is a famous popular historian. He has written on Civil War and World War II topics. This account is an overview of the major battlefields of the civil war. He tells what happened during the battles. He then speaks of what is left of those battlefields, giving suggestions on how best to tour the sights. Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization by Iain Gately This is the history of the use of tobacco, from its use among Amer-Indian cultures to the modern days. It deals with the acceptance of the use of tobacco in various countries, the invention of cigars and cigarettes, the big companies and their advertising campaigns, and the anti-tobacco movement. 1967 by Tom Segev This is the story of Israel during this climatic moment in the history of Israel. The main event that year was the six day war in which Israel defeated the forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. This book goes much further than just dealing with that battle. It gives an account of the situation in Israel before the war (recession, discrimination against the Jews born in Arab countries, a flight of Jews leaving the country) and after the war ( a new sense of being the chosen, pride in their accomplishments, new immigration, but also an arrogance due to their victories). It also deals with the personalities that lead the country, as well as what was happening at the grass roots. This book is very well done. The Battle of the Tanks by Lloyd Clark This is the story of the great battle of Kursk in which the Germans tried to regain the initiative in the summer following the loss they had suffered at Stalingrad. They gathered an enormous tank army with which they hoped to crush the Soviet resistance. Unknown to them, the Soviets had gathered an enormous defensive army for they knew that this attack was coming. They had also built layers upon layers of mines, strong points, etc. The German attacked and attacked, and their loses were much smaller than those of the Soviets, but nevertheless they were losses they could not afford. This was the last great attack by the Nazis on this front. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Los Angeles

July 6, 2022 Peace and Good, Well, I got through my covid experience. It took me 11 days to test negative. I really only had bay symptoms at the start (like a very bad cold). The last few days there were no symptoms, but I kept testing positive. Finally Saturday I got a negative test. I was supposed to fly to Baltimore last Sunday, but I had to cancel it because of the covid. I am lucky I did, for my flight called me to change planes in Chicago, and with all the delays and cancellations, I doubt that I would have made it. Today's flight is direct to Baltimore, so I hope things will go well. The weather here has been magnificent. Even when it climbs to the low 80's, it is with a very low humidity. I have been doing a lot of zooming in these days to get the work done that could not wait. I finished some reading: The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan This is the story of the relationship between a Chinese woman and her daughter, but it is really the story of the horrible life of the mother when she married her first husband who was cruel and brutal. That marriage occurred in the early days of the Japanese invasion of China during the Second World War. The story speaks of how women were treated as objects, expected to expect anything that their husbands or the husband’s mother dished out to them. The book is well done, if a bit painful to read. The Dragon Seekers by Christopher McGowan This deals with the first discoveries of dinosaur skeletons in Great Britain. An unsung hero of this movement was Mary Anning. She made her living digging up the skeletons long before others even realized their meaning. She is the woman behind the saying, “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.” The book especially with the question of the scientists dating of the materials and the question of evolution vs. creationism. A Storm in Flanders by Winston Groom Winston Groom is the author of Forrest Gump. He has also written a series of history books, mostly dealing with topics concerning war from the Revolutionary War up to the days of World War II. He manages to deal with the larger issues while still given accounts from the words of individual soldiers. It deals with the horrible battlefield in Flanders that led to the death of thousands and thousands of Germans and Brits. Both, at times, fought a 20th century war with 19th century tactics. Great Ideas of Classical Physics by Steven Pollack This is a series of lectures from the Teaching Company dealing with physics from the days of Isaac Newton to the beginning of the 20th century. The professor is informative and the lectures, in spite of the fact that it deals with a heavy topic, is understandable. The Rise of Athens by Anthony Everitt Everitt is a tremendous historian of the ancient world, and this book is one of his masterpieces. It goes from the founding to the city to the period when it became irrelevant except as an education center. He gives an enormous amount of detail in an entertaining manner. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The American Revolution by Robert McDonald This is a Learn25 course. It deals with the causes, major occurrences, and effects of the American Revolution. The professor who offers the course is well informed, but he does not pile on more detail than is needed. I would recommend this course. A Faint Heart by Fyodor Dostoevsky This is the story of two young men in St. Petersburg. It takes place around the middle of the 19th century. One is a scribe who is contracted to do a large job copying documents. He has just gotten engaged, but he is far behind on his project. It eventually causes him to have a nervous breakdown. The story is filled with dialog, typical of Dostoevsky’s style. China’s Long March by Jean Fritz This is the story of the long march of the communists (and specifically the group that followed Mao) from southern to northern China when war broke out between the communists and the forces of Chang Kai-Shek. It is a bit fawning, making the communists into great heroes and all but ignoring their atrocities (e.g. the starvation of millions during the Great Leap Forward). 10 Women who rule the Renaissance by Joyce Salisbury This is a series of accounts about famous women from throughout the world during the time of the Renaissance. It is an odd choice. Some of the women lived what could be called very disreputable lives (violence against others) and yet they are presented as heroes of feminism. I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the fawning approach toward these particular women. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude