Friday, April 1, 2022

Louisville - Ellicott City - Rome

May 1, 2022 Peace and Good, Well, I am back in Rome. I stopped off at Ellicott City for a couple of days for the re-dedication of Carrollton Hall, a house built by Charles Carroll of Carrollton (the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence) for his grandaughter. It dates to 1830, and the friars obtained it in the 1920's. It has at times been neglected, and fr. James, the provincial, worked with a committee to raise funds to renovate it. It will be used as a museum of Catholicity in Maryland, a meeting center, etc. On Tuesday I flew out of Dulles and arrived in London ahead of schedule. That is when the difficulties started. There was no gate open for us, and we waited on the tarmack so long that I missed my connection to Rome. They booked me for the next flight, but then the computer system for British Air crashed (I wonder if the Russians had anything to do with it). I was originally set to arrive in Rome around 3 PM, but didn't get in until around 10:30 PM. The weather here is rainy and windy, but not really all that cold. From what I have been told, this has been a dry winter, so the farmers really want as much rain as possible. On Sunday I will be going up to La Verna, the place where St. Francis received the stigmata, for our annual retreat. It should be about a three hour ride. We will be coming back a week from Saturday. I finished some reading: Leonardo da Vinci by Hourly History This is a short biography of the famed artist and scientist who was part of the Renaissance in Italy. The book speaks of his life and his works. It is a bit to insistent on praising him for whatever he did. John Wycliffe by Hourly History This is a short biography of the proto-Protestant preacher who translated the Bible into English and who attacked the abuses practiced by the Catholic hierarchy. While doing this, he also attacked some of the dogmas of the faith, especially those concerning the Eucharist. The Tonkin Gulf Incident by Charles River Editors This is an overview of the attack on American ships by the forces of North Vietnam. The events are somewhat questionable even now. It is not clear that there was an actual attack. Furthermore, the North Vietnamese had been attacked by South Vietnamese forces in the area in those days, so the North Vietnamese might have thought that they were defending themselves. Whichever, President Johnson used the event as the excuse for expanding the war. Congress went along with his efforts, passing the Tonkin Gulf resolution which abdicated their responsibility to declare war. Istanbul by Thomas Madden This is an extensive account of the city known as Constantinople or Istanbul. It deals with the early era of the city before the emperor Constantine, then the Byzantine period up to 1453, and the city after its conquest by the Turks and its becoming the capitol of the Ottoman Empire. The author presents an entertaining picture with enough information without becoming tedious. Midtown Manhattan’s Most Famous Buildings by Charles River Editors This is an overview of some of the most famous landmarks of New York City such as the Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building. The author of this particular volume gives a lot of information about the construction of these sites and also about the reaction of critics and the public to them. Unfortunately, containing so many accounts makes the book a bit tedious at times. Vincent van Gogh by Hourly History This is a short account of the life and work of Van Gogh. There are not any spectacular discoveries in the book, but it does present a good overview of his tortured life and how it affected the art that he produced. The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterloo by Edward Shepherd Creasy This is a classical study of battles throughout history. It is weighted toward the British (for the author is British). A while ago I read a study by Keegan on battle, and specifically referenced this volume. It is good, but a bit Victorian in its writing style. The Sixth Extinction by Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin Leakey is the son of the famous archaeologist Richard Leakey senior. He and his co-author deal with the five natural extinctions throughout the history of life on Earth. They speak of the coming extinction, due to over population, loss of environment, change in climate. One of the most important details was the study of how one species depends on another for an acceptable environment, so that if one animal or plant disappears, others are affected adversely. The book is well done, but runs on a bit long. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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