Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Ellicott City - San Antonio - Chicago - Syracuse - Montreal

May 3, 2022 There will be a lot of travelling these next few months. I was in San Antonio for the blessing of an addition to the house of studies there. The friars who were behind the construction did a great job. It provides added space for the program which is badly needed. I met the Minister General there, fr. Carlos. We then flew up to Chicago for the provincial chapter of St. Bonaventure Province. It went very well. The friars were in great spirits. We heard the reports, met in small groups to discuss the province and its future, and then elected the definitory (counsel). The Minister Provincial had already been elected by postal ballot. Then on Saturday fr Carlos and I flew to Syracuse to visit the friars there. They have a good parish which also has a soup kitchen, a good pantry, a medical service, etc. There are tons of volunteers, and in fact the parish is an intentional parish for those interested in social action. On Monday we drove up to Montreal so that fr. Carlos could visit the friars of the custody here (who serve Polish immigrants). The friars here take care of three parishes (two Polish and one a mixture of Polish and English), as well as three Polish parishes in the US. We will be here til Thursday when we drive to Toronto to visit the friars there. I finished some reading: Thomas Merton on Prayer This is a series of tapes made by Thomas Merton himself. It comes down to a stream of consciousness of his various thoughts. I can’t say that I really liked it. It tends toward the dogmatic in which he sees himself to be the judge of all practices and ideas around him (something that I have noticed in a number of his writings). The best part is a conclusion which is compendium of the ideas presented throughout the tapes. The Mongol Empire by Craig Benjamin This is a rather long (24 lectures) overview of the history of the Mongol empire. It especially deals with the great emperors Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. It also speaks of the culture and religion of this people. It speaks of their predecessors on the Mongolian Plain, as well as the ultimate importance of the empire and its conquests. It is well done, although probably containing a bit too much information for those who are terribly interested in the fraternal wars of succession. Jewish Comedy: a Serious History by Jeremy Dauber This is a overview of Jewish Comedy throughout the ages by a University professor. In spite of the fact that he gives a detailed overview of the topic, he manages to do it in a respectful and entertaining manner. It is interesting how he speaks about the self-hating (or at least self-complaining) of much of Jewish humor, and also the response of the Jewish world to persecution with a joke and a laugh. The humor tends to be quite earthy. He carries the topic to the 20th century with an overview of Jewish comics, especially those who appeared in Las Vegas and the Borst Belt on New York State. Typee by Herman Melville This is a book that I had wanted to read for a long, long time. It deals with a sailor who jumps ship in the Pacific Islands near Tahiti and who eventually is taken in by a tribe of natives who, even though they have a reputation for being cannibals, nevertheless treat him with great care and concern. The difficulty is that once they have adopted him, they never want him to leave them. Melville, who was a sailor, describes the natives with great respect, almost admiration at times. This book was the first introduction for many Americans in the 19th century to the South Seas. American’s Musical Heritage by Anthony Seeger This is a joint Audible/Teaching Company production on the distinctive musical heritage of the United States. Anthony Seeger is the nephew of Paul Seeger, from Peter, Paul and Mary fame. He is also the curator of the Smithsonian collection of American music. In these lectures, he draws upon the expertise of other scholars of American music. The course is well done. The Civil War by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier This book is part of a longer Audible Productions series on US history, written in a way that does not overwhelm the reader/listener with unwanted details. The authors managed their task quite well, producing a relatively short, but very informative volume on this topic. The Golden Triangle by Bertil Lintner This is an audible production of the history and difficulties of the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia (Laos, Thailand and Myanmar). The book is especially centered upon the complicated politics and ethnicity of the area, and the fact that it is a major producer of opium. A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch This is a novel of a member of parliament who is also a part time detective and his trip to Egypt on one of her Majesty’s navy ships. Two members of the crew are murdered, and he is asked to investigate the cases. The language is quaint, but enjoyable. There is also a side story of his responsibilities in Egypt (official and hidden). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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