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


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